SOUTH AFRICA: First African Hunting Trip With Rhinoster Hoek

Discussion in 'Hunting Reports Africa' started by mikeinarkansas, Aug 6, 2018.

  1. mikeinarkansas

    mikeinarkansas AH Veteran

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    Seemed like the time to go would never get here and then boom it was right there. My buddy Mark and I flew out of Little Rock to Atlanta with Delta and then on to Johannesburg on May the 6th getting there at 5 pm local time that Monday. Thanks to all the folks on here posting their stories, we elected to upgrade to the Delta Comfort. That was a lifesaver on that long flight! Also, we used Riflepermits..com to ease our way with SAPS. Henry and company were great and we breezed right through. We stayed in the Citi Lodge prior to flying to Port Elizabeth. We budgeted an extra day just in case our flight got screwed up or rifles lost, etc. Turned out we didn’t need it but got an extra day to shake jet lag. Took a taxi into Jburg. The whole getting the taxi thing seemed a little sketchy, but things are different in other countries. Did notice all the businesses, condo’s, apartments, basically everything, had a fence around them topped with either razor wire or electric wire or both. And lots of signs for armed security. I never felt unsafe but it was a good indicator to keep your head on a swivel.

    So the 9th we take the short flight to Port Elizabeth. Warren meets us a the airport and we head for Rhinoster Hoek! We get there, meet Doug Snow, who Mark will be hunting with, and then head out to check zero on the rifles. After watching the baggage handlers, I didn’t have high hopes. Mark was shooting a Tikka T3 270 WSM with Barnes Vortek 140 grain TSX. I was shooting my very first centerfire rifle from 1976, a Remington M700 LH 30-06 (that got a face lift and a rebuilding this year) shooting Barnes Vortex 180 grain TTSX. We proceeded to each shoot three rounds and the rifles are pretty close to where we started.

    With a couple hours of daylight left Warren says let’s go see if we can find something to shoot. He didn’t have to tell us twice. Mark went with Doug and his tracker Ping Ping. I went with Warren and his tracker Patrick. We went up a small ridge and set up under a couple small trees. And then the kudu start coming out! Cows at first then bulls as the light starts fading. There are three kudu bulls weaving in and out of the brush in front of us. It dawns on me that I’m in Africa seeing animals I’ve never seen before (well, duh) but they just kind of overwhelmed me, seeing those for the first time was pretty exciting. Mark said on the way home you can tell people about Africa and show them the pictures, but they won’t really get it till they go. He’s right, and I ‘ve not been able to explain what seeing those three bulls for the first time was like. But I bet a lot of folks on here know what I’m talking about. Warren whispers they’re not quite what we’re looking for and I believe him, but they sure look big to me. More kudu are in and out of the brush when Warren tells me if I can get around on the sticks to the left there’s a shooter. I get around but with all the cows just can’t get a clear shoot. The light is fading and I have a Leupold fire dot reticle which helps, but the shot just isn’t there. Of course, this isn’t even day one yet. I’m thoroughly amazed.

    Even more amazed by all the good food that night cooked over the fire pit. If you go to Rhinoster Hoek you won’t go hungry. If you do it’s your fault. Everything over the fire was great, as were the meals prepared by his wife Belinda. Enjoyed all of it.

    So the next morning, we are up on a ridge and we spot Warthogs on the other hillside. Now if you’re like me you’re probably thinking warthogs would be on flat ground, close to water. Not here. Why do they call it plains game when everything runs the ridges? Range is about 250, get on the sticks and shoot, yep darned thing goes uphill. Not far, right behind the shoulder into the opposite shoulder. One critter down and the hunt continues. Bright sun I find out makes it easier to spot kudu. Either shining off their ears or their horns. Today seems like everywhere we look kudu are running around. No shooters but sure is neat to see. We chase after some impala but they give us the slip.

    The next day is overcast and we don’t do much good. It’s much easier to spot animals with some sun. We start our day pursuing impala and once again they elude us.


    The next day is mostly sunny and we find some zebra to stalk. zebra are a lot harder to pick out than I would have expected. These zebra roll around in the dirt a lot apparently and with the stripes blend in awfully well. We put the stalk on three, and before it’s over I’ve become well acquainted with Devils Thorn. I hate to admit this but I just flat miss with my first shot. Not exactly buck fever but a zebra looks pretty exotic in the scope, so maybe zebra fever. Warren has Patrick make a loop so they’ll see him and we head off in a different direction to set and wait on them. Sure enough here they come just as he predicted and I’m impressed. I can’t see the two he’s looking at but I have on almost broadside at 150 or so and steady down on the sticks. Squeeze the trigger and down it goes kicking and stirring up a dust cloud. The Barnes TTSX goes through both shoulders which surprised me.

    Day 4 we’re driving early and Warren spots some impala. He was particularly happy that he spotted them way off ahead of Patrick and Keegans younger eyes. I follow Warren down a dry creek bed for a good ways till we get to the foot of a small ridge and as we peer out we spot the impala up top. He gives me the go ahead and shooting at a steep angle I put one through his chest, Warren tells me to hit him again and explains later it was just insurance against following it into a hard to get to place.

    So, I’m thinking things are on track so far, and then begins a dry spell for me which stretches to day 7. That’s just hunting, it happens. We encountered sneaky kudu and disappearing wildebeest and I couldn’t tell you how they just vanished. We did get within about 2 ½ paces of a herd of cows coming down the hill that didn’t see us till the last minute. I was afraid the last one would try to jump over me but that kudu spun 90 degrees like a cutting horse and was gone. Still not sure if her eyes were bigger or mine.

    Mark is in the meantime has gotten on a pretty good roll. A jackal the first day. An antelope and a blesbok. I believe his blue wildebeest was on day4. I’ll tell the story of his beest although he could tell it better. He ends up doing the crab crawl through thorn infested ground (a lesson for having gloves). By the time he gets in shooting position the wildebeest has laid down facing him. In spite of numerous efforts to get it to stand up it doesn’t cooperate. So, a shoot to the chest with his 270 wsm using a 140 Barnes TSX. Then it stands up. A second shot to the chest and it goes down. Doug and crew head back for the vehicle. At which point the “dead” wildebeest stands up and moves out. Mark becomes engaged in a running gunfight with said critter. Doug see what’s happening and enlists the aid of Buck. Buck looks to be a combination of Jack Russell and Wire Haired Terrier which we mistakenly took for a pet. Nope. Doug picks up Buck so he can see over the scrub and sight the beest. Sets Buck down and he takes off like a Sidewinder missile, passes Mark, grabs the wildebeest by the back leg. It tries to hook him and he jumps back then grabs the other leg. In this manner he occupies the wildebeest till Mark can make a close range killing shot. I left out some details because I was laughing so hard when he told me the story.

    Mark also got a kudu and on day 6 got and a gemsbok which was the animal he most wanted.

    Warren and I spotted a decent kudu on the afternoon of day 6 on the same ridge we started on, but he was screened by a half dozen cows that were locked on us. Ears forward and eyes focused, just like when you are busted by whitetail does back home. And boy their attention doesn’t waver either.

    Day 7 and Mark and Doug go to the Elephant Park leaving a disgruntled Buck at home. I kinda wish we had taken him with us. The morning doesn’t yield anything that we want to shoot. The afternoon we are heading into an area we haven’t hunted and spot some kudu on the ridge to our left. We stop the vehicle and I’m still glassing the ridge (proud of spotting a kuda standing still and no one had to point it out to me) when Warren gets my attention, he’s spotted a pair of wildebeest on the valley flats. I get on the sticks, overestimate the range as it turns out, but hear a solid whack (took him high in the shoulder, a little over 300 yds I think) and off he runs with the other one. When they stop I wait for him to get clear and he’s quartering toward me. I squeeze off and the wildebeest drops in his tracks. At this point Warren and I may the classic mistake of shaking hands before we ascertain the critter is dead. We are heading out toward him, and Patrick has gone back to the truck to get the camera when we hear Patrick shout,” He’s up!” Warren and I both utter something I can’t write here, and head out. I won’t bore you with the details but by the time the wildebeest was down for the count we were about halfway up the ridge. Lesson learned: always have a rangefinder handy, and always take more ammo than you think you need. I also learned wildebeest are TOUGH. And if that’s a poor man’s buffalo, how tough is a rich man’s buffalo?

    It was too late to chase after a kudu so back to camp we go. Buck was still peeved at Doug and Mark for leaving him home so ignoring them, he got the scent of blood on my pants and hopped up in my lap to sleep. That proved handy as I convinced them I couldn’t get up for beer and disturb the dog.

    Even though the next day was a travel day Warren asked if I wanted to take one last crack at a kudu. Well heck yeah LOL. It was a short hunt and no joy. But that’s just hunting. Warren was kind of bummed about me not getting a kudu but I told him I didn’t come to Africa to shoot a penned-up animal and that just hunting. It goes like that sometimes, but it sure wasn’t for lack of trying on his part.

    I can’t complain as I had a great time. Got to go to Africa to hunt with my best friend. Warren and company treated us well…. the food was outstanding. Shot things we have never shot, saw things we had never seen. You guys know what I mean. Ever since I’ve been home I’ve been plotting a trip back.

    I will go ahead and apologize to all, I’m not much of a writer. And Warren has sent me a game cam pic of what he thinks is “my kudu” that we saw the first afternoon. It’s got me straining at the leash. I suspect I will have to go back and look for him. I think about that trip every day and wish I was back there following Warren around looking for Kudu.
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  2. Royal27

    Royal27 AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

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    Well written and well done!

    I've seen that braii before. :) Rhinoster Hoek is indeed a special place.
     
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  3. cpr0312

    cpr0312 AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

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    Congrats on your hunt and thanks for sharing!
     

  4. Hutch01

    Hutch01 AH Veteran

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    Rhinoster is an awesome ranch! Big country, dry mountain desert with truly wild herds of critters. Shot my first kudu there with good friend Lammie Ferreira and then black wildebeest with Adolf Kleinhans couple years later. The giant yuccas looked like something out of Jurassic Park. More kudu than you can shake a stick at! I will be back Warren..thank you Sir!
     
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  5. Chukar

    Chukar SILVER SUPPORTER AH Veteran

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    You have absolutely no need to apologize for your writing, that was well described!

    Congratulations.
     

  6. HuntingGold

    HuntingGold AH Fanatic

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    Well you guys are going to have to beat me back there! I plan on going back in late May or early June to visit Warren and Belinda. I'm taking a pair of rifles just in case something catches my interest.

    Kudu is on my list for sure, not sure what else.... always a sucker for the duiker and steenbok. He grows them extra big there! My best guess is that he will "make" me shoot a jackal. That seems to be the price of admission to the ranch.

    Thank you for the write up! It makes me want to hurry time along!

    RH
     
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  7. mikeinarkansas

    mikeinarkansas AH Veteran

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    It’s just a neat place. Warren and Belinda are awful nice folks and made us feel right at home. The food was excellent! And seeing those first kudu I was thinking “dang I’m really hunting in Africa” lol. Seems like once is all it takes to get you hooked.
     
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  8. Von Gruff

    Von Gruff GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    The report of a true hunter who is there for the hunt and the experience first and formost. Good to se you got a few on your want list though Mike. next time for the others huh:)
     
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  9. Nyati

    Nyati AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

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    Congrats for a great hunt !
     

  10. Royal27

    Royal27 AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

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    I've heard that mentioned before..... ;)
     

  11. mikeinarkansas

    mikeinarkansas AH Veteran

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    Apparently very true
     
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  12. mikeinarkansas

    mikeinarkansas AH Veteran

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    To the point that I now own a pre-owned Ruger no. 1 tropical in 375 H&H. At the gunsmith now getting a proper recoil pad installed. I just felt the need. Didn’t help reading all the posts on here lol.
     
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  13. dobber

    dobber AH Enthusiast

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    I was there the week after you and glad you saved me some animals, i have had the pleasure of hunting there 3 times now, and it just never gets old. It truly is a special place full of kudu, and on our trip to Addo i was surprised to find out that some of the original stock Kudu there were supplied by Warrens dad from the farm.
     
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  14. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN AH ENABLER SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR LIFETIME TITANIUM BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    Congratulations on a fun hunt.
    No doubt you will be back.
     
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  15. kevin masters

    kevin masters BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Enthusiast

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    Sounds like an awesome trip! congrats on some great trophies!
     
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  16. WRudman

    WRudman AH Veteran

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    You definitely will have to shoot a jackal, its your price of admittance
     

  17. WRudman

    WRudman AH Veteran

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    Next year if the weather holds, it will be the "Old Man" Cockscomb!
     

  18. WRudman

    WRudman AH Veteran

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    Mike and Mark, it was a pleasure to have you guys on the ranch! We were fortunate with the weather as to have been able to spend our evenings under the stars, beers in hand and just plain relax. Do you remember the nightly ritual of who goes where tomorrow?
     

  19. mikeinarkansas

    mikeinarkansas AH Veteran

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    “Where are you going to hunt? Well where do you want to hunt? Etc etc etc” LoL Arkansas to South Africa that ritual remains the same lol
     

  20. kevin masters

    kevin masters BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Enthusiast

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    I thought I had a cool picture of my kudu, that is one of the most awesome pictures I have seen!!
     

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