SOUTH AFRICA: First African Safari In The Books With Somerby Safaris

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

  1. LegalEagle

    LegalEagle AH Member

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    Rewind the clock to the spring/summer of 2016...My brother-in-law and I are on the way to a Kansas City Royal's game with the wives. Hunting Africa has long been a dream of my brother-in-law. Somehow or another, between my house and the stadium it is decided that we are booking an African hunt. The winter of 2017 we attended the SCI show in Kansas City where we met, talked with, and priced packages with a number of outfitters from both South Africa and Namibia. It did not take us long to decide on and book a hunt with Somerby Safaris for the summer of 2018.

    After booking, we were contacted by Somerby and after some discussion the date of our trip was moved and we were set to leave Kansas City on June 25th and to return on July 8th. Our flight was pleasantly uneventful and we had no issues with customs as we took our own rifles. After booking our trip I decided that I would develop a handload for us to shoot. As we were both taking .300 Win Mags, our thought was that if I could work a load that both of our guns shot well, everything would be interchangeable. That worked out great as my first load touched holes from both of our rifles. If anyone is curious, I loaded 165 grain Barnes TTSX pushed by 67 grains of IMR 4350. Could not have asked for a better shooting load or a better performing load.

    As we arrived in Johannesburg in the evening, we spent our first night on the outskirt of Pretoria in preparation for an early morning drive to our first hunting destination in the Free State. We departed the next morning with our PH Andre and drove approximately 6 hours to our destination. The first camp we stayed at was very cool. The grounds included a pair of 9 year old rescued cheetahs who were fun to observe and pet during the daylight hours. We spent a few days hunting an area that was about a 25 minute drive from this location. We would wake up to a wonderful early breakfast and spend our day hunting with lunches packed. My brother-in-law had decided prior to our arrival that since the top two animals on both of our lists for this particular hunt were Kudu and Waterbuck, that he would have first chance at a waterbuck and I would have first chance at a Kudu. Little did we know that we were hunting the Waterbuck mecca in this first location!

    We headed out the first afternoon after arriving and saw a number different species and a LOT of them. Red Hartebeest, Zebra, Black Wildebeest, Waterbuck, Springbuck, Ostrich, Eland and more. We had seen a bunch of waterbuck, all of which looked impressive to us newbies. Andre kept telling us "He's not big enough", or "He is a shooter anywhere else...but not here". Finally, just before sunset we spot a lone bull that we pass...or so we thought. Moments later Andre advises "I've had a better look...he is a good one". My brother-in-law put a great shot on him and a 30" waterbuck was the first trophy of the trip. I will let my brother-in-law share pictures and his own experience and will focus on my individual hunts from here out...

    Waterbuck.jpg
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 6, 2018
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  2. LegalEagle

    LegalEagle AH Member

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    So began the second morning of our trip and I was up as many more species on my list were to be found at this property than my brother-in-law's. We were focused on a waterbuck for me, but with a few others on my list we would take an opportunity if it presented itself. The second day's action began with a Zebra stallion. What a beautiful animal and I can't wait to see it's rug at my home. I was fortunate enough to make a great shot at about 215 yards and was amazed at the toughness of these beautiful animals. After a short run, a hard fall, jumping back to his feet and another short run my first African trophy was in the books.

    As Kudu was the #2 animal on our list we were focusing on a waterbuck or kudu but knew that if an exceptional trophy that was on my list gave us an opportunity that we would take it. As we were on the hunt for a waterbuck for me we came across a lone black wildebeest bull that Andre decides is a shooter. I put a good shot on him at about 200 yards and after an amazing run with his heart blown out my second trophy was down. My brother-in-law was after blue wildebeest which I didn't care about and he didn't care about the black wildebeest. After putting my hands on this guy up close I liked him even more! What a cool animal. Immediately upon getting to him Andre repeated a sentence that he said after seeing my brother-in-law's waterbuck..."You have no idea what you've just done". These words became a reoccurring theme after nearly every animal we took. We began this trip by telling our PH that we only hoped to take good representative trophies of each species and that we weren't concerned with "inches". That being said, we were very fortunate in our trophy quality and we certainly weren't complaining! My black wildebeest scored just under 83".

    After loading up this one and heading back to the skinning shed we were back out for more. As we are hunting we see a small group of gemsbok with one exceptional bull. Andre decides that we will circle around and try to stalk in for a shot. In doing so, a group of Red Hartebeest interrupt us by coming out right in front of us. At this point, it was clear that neither I, nor my brother-in-law were very good at judging trophy quality but at this point we both look to one another and say "Man...that first one looks big!". Andre must have agreed as he wasted no time in telling me to shoot the one on the left. After another fortunate shot and a few seconds past, my second trophy was on the ground. I should mention, that prior to our arrival and even until the second morning of our hunt I had no intention of hunting this animal, but I could not be happier that I did. This particular one had a noticeably darker coat and gorgeous markings with a striking range of coloration. This became one of my favorite animals of the trip once I saw him on the ground. What a beautiful animal. The red Hartebeest scored just shy of 68".

    On the way back to the skinning shed we see a group of 46 gemsbok in the distance and Andre stopped for a look. We glassed for several minutes. After about a minute, I literally stopped and looked at my brother-in-law and said I don't even know why I keep looking...they all look the same to me! This was particularly true since I was only permitted to shoot a bull on this property and I could rarely tell them apart. Ultimately, Andre says "there is one really good bull in that group, we are going to try to circle around and stalk in for a shot. After coming around the backside of the group and getting to within about 200 yards, Andre told me to take the 3rd from the left. Thank god it wasn't like the 18th from the left! I identified the bull and took a shot. Again, I was lucky to make a great shot and I had my gemsbok down. What an animal...I couldn't have been happier. He was still sharp and measured just shy of 37". Again the same quote from Andre! My Gemsbok scored just shy of 91".

    Zebra.jpg
    Black Wildebeest.jpg
    Red Hartebeest.jpg
    Gemsbok.jpg
    Gemsbok down.jpg
    More to come...
     

  3. cpr0312

    cpr0312 AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

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    Looks like some fine trophies so far, look forward to more!
     

  4. LegalEagle

    LegalEagle AH Member

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    The next day brought another adventure for waterbuck and kudu. I honestly don't know how many waterbuck we saw while hunting or how many I thought looked really good for that matter, but I put my trust in Andre and waited until he said shoot. We finally reach a spot where my brother-in-law and I are looking at a waterbuck and we say he obviously isn't big enough to which we hear the reply not him, the one on the right, so we look and think Okay...he seems bigger. then we hear "No...the one on the right!" Little did we realize that we were looking at the wrong one both times and by the time we saw the "right" one they all took off. We chased these three a couple more times and I finally get a good shot at the right one and after 50 yards or so we see him go down and my waterbuck is checked off the list! I couldn't have been more excited. My waterbuck had a long horn of 29 5/8" and was only 3/8" difference from my brother-in-law's in total score! What are the odds! My waterbuck scored 78 5/8".

    More to Come... Waterbuck.jpg
     
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  5. LegalEagle

    LegalEagle AH Member

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    I felt a little bad about having a handful of animals down so I told Andre and my brother-in-law that he could have the first crack at a kudu. We spent the next couple of days focusing on that animal for him and in the mean time moved from the Free State about 5 hours north to Limpopo where we met our wives at the next camp. The wives spent their days doing various things and they had their own guide who was awesome. I think they really enjoyed themselves and may even be looking forward to another trip!

    Once my brother-in-law got his kudu on the ground I was up for Kudu as it was number one on the list. But first we went after a bushbuck for my brother-in-law. This is an animal that was initially on both of our lists, but I had since decided I would forego to go after other things. My brother-in-law had a great bushbuck hunt and the first shooter that he was on got in some thick stuff and we left him to go after another that we spotted. After loading him up and on our way out of the property and back to camp Andre was talking about how big that other one was. I said to him, I'll talk to my wife tonight and maybe we can head back after him tomorrow. Andre's response was simply "He's here now...". I waited approximately 2 seconds and responded "Well then let's go get him now!" This was clearly one of those easier to ask forgiveness than for permission scenarios.

    Once we got back to the area we were able to spot that bushbuck in the same spot and I had a small window to shoot through so I took advantage and put him down. Andre was super excited. He told us he had never been on a hunt where they had taken two bushbuck that big together. Mine ended up scoring 45 3/8" with a long horn of 15 5/8" and my brother-in-law's was 45" with a long horn of 16 3/8".
    Bushbuck.jpg
    Both Bushbuck.jpg
    more to come...
     
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  6. LegalEagle

    LegalEagle AH Member

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    The next day the focus was my kudu. We hunted hard and saw several bulls but nothing that compelled Andre to say shoot. This may have been the most difficult one to hold off on for me. As I'm sure we would all say who have seen them in person, these are magnificent animals and even those that aren't huge look huge!

    The next day we were again on the hunt for kudu. We again saw many cows and young ones and some bulls but nothing Andre got excited about. Andre decided at one point that we would stalk into a water hole. As we get to about 80 yards out we spot kudu but it was too late as we had been spotted first. Kudu took off and alerted and I figured back to the drawing board. That's when Andre slipped to the ground on one hip and told me to follow. He said shoot him off my shoulder. I looked and saw what he was talking about. I had an opening to shoot through and literally never saw horns, Andre told me to shoot so I shot. I saw the kudu drop immediately and when the dust literally cleared he was gone. We walked in and there was no blood in sight. I was for the first time on the trip getting concerned when we hear Andre from behind the water hole dam. We go to see what he has found and the first words I hear are those familiar "You have no idea what you've done". He isn't the biggest kudu to ever walk the planet but I couldn't be happier with his 54". He is more than I expected and can't wait to see him again. At the end of the day his total score was 131".
    Kudu.jpg Kudu down.jpg

    More to come
     
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  7. cpr0312

    cpr0312 AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

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    Nice waterbuck, congrats!
     

  8. LegalEagle

    LegalEagle AH Member

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    Next up was my Nyala. This was an animal that I was super excited about and we literally had not laid eyes on the entire trip. Once we decided to focus on hunting one it didn't take long before an opportunity presented itself. This Nyala happened to be at the same waterhole I took my kudu the afternoon before. After a little stalk I had a shot opportunity and took it. For whatever reason this was the worst shot I had put on an animal so far. Though it wasn't horrible, it was a little back. After another short stalk on his trail I had the opportunity for follow up and put him down. Again, what a beautiful and tough animal! My Nyala had a long horn of 25 7/8" and a final score of 66 3/8"
    Nyala.jpg
     
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  9. LegalEagle

    LegalEagle AH Member

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    Last but not least my brother-in-law and I had an impala left on the list so we headed to another property for these and his Nyala. After he took a great Nyala we focused on impala. He took his first then I was up. We happened upon a good bull and everything happened fast on this one. Basically we saw him, Andre said shoot and I shot. It happened in a matter of seconds. I was fortunate to put a great shot on him and he fell in his tracks. Again I was in awe of the beauty of these animals. Again my brother in law and I shot almost equal animals with mine having a long horn of 22 1/8" and a total score of 55 5/8" and my brother-in-laws having a long horn of 22 1/8" and a total score of 56 1/8".
    Impala.jpg
    Both Impalas.jpg
     
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  10. LegalEagle

    LegalEagle AH Member

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    All in all I'm not sure we could have asked for more from our first trip to Africa. We were had a great PH who was a real pleasure to spend several days with both in the bush and in camp, our wives enjoyed themselves and had a wonderful guide of their own, and from top to bottom we could not have been more pleased with Somerby Safaris. What a great group of people and I would really encourage anyone interested to give them a look. Thanks to everyone that played a part...can't wait to see you again!
     

  11. LegalEagle

    LegalEagle AH Member

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    FYI...these are all our own personal pictures as I don't have the ones that Andre took on this computer. Needless to say his are much better!
     

  12. Edge

    Edge BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Fanatic

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    Congratulations and some great trophies! Thank you for sharing your adventure.
     

  13. AfricanEclipse

    AfricanEclipse AH Member

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    Excellent hunting! Sounds like everything worked out very well for the two of you... er, 4 of you, on a fantastic first safari.
    That Gemsbok is amazing!
     
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2018

  14. Ridge Top Ranch

    Ridge Top Ranch AH Enthusiast

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  15. Joe P

    Joe P AH Member

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    Great trophys! How was lodging? I will be hunting with Somerby in about 6 weeks. Also from Kansas as it happens.
     

  16. machinistbutler

    machinistbutler AH Senior Member

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    Beautiful trophies! Sounds like an awesome hunt!
     

  17. gesch

    gesch AH Veteran

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    Thanks for the nice write up.
     

  18. Jeffrey Masters

    Jeffrey Masters AH Veteran

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    Thanks for the report! Long after the numbers get fuzzy in your mind, the memories of the hunt will still be sharp. What an incredible hunt you had. Glad you got to experience it with someone close. Congratulations!
     

  19. flatwater bill

    flatwater bill AH Elite

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    The value of a hunt is more than just the size of the trophies..............but big animals don't hurt the experience either. You have some exceptional trophies pictured.....and a great write up to boot.....I especially love the black, but that Waterbuck-from-Hell is a stunner.....................thanks for a great post...........................FWB
     

  20. LegalEagle

    LegalEagle AH Member

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    Lodging was great at each different location. Great places and great people!
     

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