SOUTH AFRICA: First Hunt In South Africa With Wild Wildebeest Lodge


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Aug 6, 2021
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North America, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, South Africa
Bear with me, this is a long grab a biltong and a beer...enjoy!

Just completed my first hunt in South Africa with Wild Wildebeest Lodge in Thabazimba, Limpopo. First off, it was an AMAZING experience. I now understand all the comments that there is no going to Africa just once. My wife and I were only a few days into our trip when we started talking about coming back for another hunt. We had landed in Johannesburg a couple of days early and did the tourist thing…went to an elephant and monkey sanctuary, saw a cultural village, when to Pilanesburg National Park for a photo safari, and then to a park where we walked with adult male lions! I brought my own rifle and used Henri Permits to handle things and store my rifle while we played tourist. Customs was a breeze and not worrying about security of my rifle while we were being tourists was well worth it.

The lodge accommodations were great, and the food was fantastic. I have never felt so pampered in all my life! This is the first vacation my wife and I have taken together in almost 20 years, and the first time she has ever been hunting with me. Acting as our official photographer, she went on every stalk and sit with nary a complaint. She even got into the action and started pointing out animals. Not only did I get to share my passion for hunting with her and spend some quality time together, she is now talking about doing her first hunt next time around!

Our PH Francois was exceptional. While I am very proficient with a rifle and didn’t need to get close to connect, I enjoy the challenge of stalking an animal and seeing how close I can get (There is nothing more satisfying than sneaking up on an animal, and all his compadres in a herd, that spend every waking moment on high alert, so as not to get eaten by everything else out in the bush). Francois made that happen. We hunted for seven days and took four animals: a common impala, a warthog, a blue wildebeest, and a cape buffalo. All one shot kills with my Winchester M70 Alaskan in .375 H&H topped with a Leupold VX-R 2-7 scope with fire dot, bull ring reticle. Ammo was Barnes Vor-tx, 300 grain TSX rounds. Every round was a complete pass through, to include the cape buffalo. Shots ranged from 120 yards for the blue wildebeest to around 50 yards for the buff.

First day of the hunt, we went after the blue wildebeest. We found a large old male standing away from the herd early in the morning and put the stalk on him. When I took my shot, the wildebeest was slightly quartered towards me, so my shot was a bit forward, blew his heart in half, jellied both lungs, and busted his offside shoulder before passing out the other side. Despite all that, the wildebeest still ran about 100 yards and was still trying desperately to get up when we walked up on him. Man…African animals don’t die easy!


Day two, saw us out after common impala. Again, by 9 AM, Francois had found us an old single male walking along a fence line towards us. We moved off into the brush and waited until he was around 50 yards away. I waited until he was nearly broadside and took the shot while the impala walked past. He didn’t get more than a few yards before he dropped. Another one in the salt…and again before 9:30 in the morning!


Day two in the afternoon we went looking for a warthog but couldn’t seem to find an old male with big tusks…only females with piglets, or juvenile males. So, after a full afternoon of stalking, we came up empty. Ce la vie! On the way back to the truck we did have a bit of excitement though. The sun sets quickly in S. Africa this time of year, and we were quickly losing light, so we started walking back to the truck for the short drive back to the lodge. As we passed by some holes in the ground, I stopped to look at one of them and asked our PH what they were. Before he could answer, “oh, that’s a warth…”, all hell broke loose! Before he could finish his sentence, five warthogs exploded out of the hole, basically running between my legs, and scattering in every direction. I barely managed an “Oh, sh*t!” before I started clawing for my slung rifle, Francois pulled his pistol, and my wife, who was standing behind me, tried desperately to get out of the way of the warthog volcano! Luckily, no one got hurt, and we walked away with nothing more than some nervous laughs and a great funny story for the fire pit that night. Haha!

Day three arrived and the original plan had been to go after gemsbok, but we got word that one of the concessions had a couple of cape buffalo that needed to be culled and that if we wanted to, we could hunt them instead. Because they were cull animals, the price was right and my accountant (my wife) said that, as long as I stayed within budget, I could check off one of my bucket list items and shoot a buff! So off we went. It turns out that the concession was a property that hadn’t been maintained very well. The roads were choked with thorny branches and after a day of driving down overgrown roads (there were so many thorns that they PH’s paint job on his truck got completely trashed!) we only had one brief glimpse of a herd running through the bush. We sent out the trackers, hoping to drive the buffs towards us, but the area was so overgrown with thorns that the PH decided it would be too dangerous for us and the trackers to keep hunting. The paths were so narrow that the only shots would have been head on, which is far from ideal and if the buff didn’t drop instantly, the only ways it could go is straight into the PH and myself or back at our trackers…no bueno. So, we called it and came up with a new plan.

Day four, we went to another concession in search of some cape buffalo that was MUCH better. We quickly got onto a herd of buffalo and started our stalk. It was hot and the ground was covered in rocks and thorny, prickly things, but we managed to leopard crawl to within about 50 feet of the herd. We were so close that I could smell them, and you could feel it in your chest when one of them stomped on the ground. Unfortunately, the wind shifted, and they got a whiff of us. The herd ran off, luckily in the other direction, and we started all over again. After another long painful crawl, my PH was able to get me into position and I found my buff. It took a couple of minutes to sort the right one out, and get a clear shot, but when the time came, she presented me with a perfect broadside shot. My shot hit a little higher than I planned but the buff dropped on the spot! The herd split down the middle, and we had a couple of tense minutes where the rest of the herd rallied up and a couple of the bulls false charged us. They were not happy that we had taken out one of their group! Eventually, the herd dissipated, and we were able to load up and head back to the lodge. This was the highlight of the trip…a bucket list dream come true! I had celebrated my birthday the night before and this was an awesome gift! I celebrated that night with a double of Three Ships S. African whiskey, a fine cigar and stood out in the bush, under the S. African sky looking up at the Southern Cross and Milky Way.


Day five, we headed out early to get my warthog. We set up a ground blind and sat near a watering hole the entire day. The only boar warthog we saw was a surly old male with a broken tusk that fought everyone and everything that came near him. I was looking for a nice trophy for a Euro mount, so I passed on him, thinking I wanted something with some bigger tusks. So, we wrapped up the day, empty handed.

Day six, we went back to the same watering hole and set up in a different spot, since we just knew that we would find something, but alas, the only warthog we saw was that same cranky old warthog with the broken tusk that kept driving everyone else away. Of course, now that I had spent most of my money on the buffalo, we saw plenty of trophy sized kudu, a honey badger and all manner of really nice animals that wandered into our site, at least until that mean old warthog drove them off! Anyway, we ended up packing up with nothing but some great images of the local wildlife...still worth it.

Day Seven, our last hunting day in S. Africa. It was supposed to be a slow day, so we could pack and maybe do a bird hunt that afternoon. Instead, our PH went out extra early with us, so I could get my elusive warthog. Skipping to the good part, I ended up getting the gnarly old warthog that I had seen two days before. The more I stared at him, the more I came to admire his scarred up old face and his surly demeanor (kind of reminded me of me!). My shot was about 75 yards and he dropped on the spot. After getting a close up look at him, my PH suggested that a shoulder mount would be a more fitting way to show off this old fighters character… and I wholeheartedly agreed. We headed back to the lodge and traded out my M70 for a shotgun and climbed into the safari truck for some bird hunting. The short version is we had a blast (pun intended) shooting at Guinee fowl, quail and whatever else happened by. I’m not much of a wing shooter, but there isn’t anything that walks or crawls that I can’t kill, and I think the PH had as much fun as I did chasing after birds in a pickup truck!

In the end, it was an amazing trip…one that I still can’t believe we went on. It was like taking the best parts of deer camp, a spa, a five-star restaurant, and a luxury resort all rolled into one set in a place that is part Jurassic Park and part Paradise. For a whole week, I was able to get away from the world, no computers, no work, no television. Every night we would gather by the fire pit with bellies full from an amazing meal and tell stories about our hunt…just like our ancestors did for thousands of years before us. Priceless…and I will return some day soon.
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Nice write up. Sounds like you had a great time. It's nice your wife got involved. Congrats on your animals.
Good report!! Thanks for sharing, I'm jealous of that wart hog hahaha. Congratulations!!
what a great trip. next time go for Kudu, Sable and Gemsbuck. nice old hog with a great face, and with your wife there that made it more special for both of you and you can relive your hunt again next year when your trophies make it home, like Christmas morning when you unpack the crate. Who is doing your mounts for you? your first trip to Africa is always special and you will look forward to going again. great animals
Gillettehunter, thanks! She is definitely a keeper.

R.M.C. thank you! I had no idea they were so skittish. O never would have guessed they would have been the hardest one to get!
Hyde Hunter, thanks! Its like you peeked over my shoulder and saw my new wish list! Hahaha! I might add a Nyala too. And yes I am anxiously awaiting my trophies. Its going to be a long painful wait. Hahaha. I am having the taxidermy done in SA.
Congrats and thanks for sharing!
Congrats on a great safari. Thanks for sharing your experiences.
Well done, congratulations on a successful first safari. Thanks for the report and pictures.
Great write up as I anxiously await my too far off, 2024, first safari. I especially was glad to hear how good of a time your wife had, mine is going as well as my adult daughters son in law. Can’t wait!!
glad u enjoyed and grabbed the chance a t a female buff
Awesome Thanks for the great report
Congrats and thanks for sharing !
Thanks for the write up-I love the old warthog, he will be awesome as a euro or mounted
What a great hunt and a great report Ptero. You buff is really good, but I reckon that old hog is just the best. Nice to have your wife participate in it all.
Thank you all for the comments! It was an incredible trip. I have to thank all of you for the tips and knowledge you impart on this site and I'm glad I found this forum, it was extremely helpful before the trip.

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