SOUTH AFRICA: First Safari In The Books

Discussion in 'Hunting Reports Africa' started by AustinL, Sep 23, 2018.

  1. AustinL

    AustinL AH Veteran

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    This Little Piggy....

    Tonight we spent a little more time around the fire before retiring for the night. Upon reaching my room I called home to unfold the days events to the family and shut out the lights once again. Morning came as a great surprise to me, Jaco's wake up call would be needed today.

    Today we are going to focus on Kudu and warthog. Up to date warthog have been plentiful yet very elusive. The grass is tall and most times you are lucky to see a tail retreating through the grass. It has soon become clear that what I thought was going to be a give me may actually end up being the most difficult before it was all said and done.

    Dawn broke like all the days before, everyone gravitated to their usual positions we all knew the game and we all knew our part. We started covering miles of two track, We looked over dozens of Kudu we had plentiful females lots of young bulls but a mature old male eluded us. Halfway through the morning we moved over to another property to continue our search.

    Here we came across several groups of young warthogs and sow's along with numerous groups of Kudu, like before no proper bulls were among them. So we searched on and on with the same results. I was amazed at how quickly the temperatures rose each day and conversely how quickly they dropped each evening. By the time we arrived back at the lodge for lunch it was down right warm and we were exhausted. It's amazing how sometimes the constant never ending search can be more tiring than a day full of numerous stalks.

    While the morning's hunt did not appear fruitful we did find a waterhole that appeared very active and had a lot of warthog sign. Given the time of year and the range conditions it was decided that we would put up a blind for the afternoon and sit for warthog at the waterhole.

    My dad's morning hunt much like ours involved looking over many, many Kudu and coming close on a great bull before he slipped away just before they could line up a shot.

    Once again lunch was outstanding and we all retreated to our rooms for our customary siesta. We set out a little earlier this afternoon than days past to give us time to get the blind set up brushed in and allow things to settle down.

    As the truck pulled up to the waterhole Jaco whispered jackal, jackal get ready, and with a snap of his fingers the truck came quickly to a stop. Almost instantly the jackal knew something was up and started exiting stage left. A quick whistle on Jaco's part and the jackal made the fatal mistake of stopping to look back. This particular ranch is also a working active cattle ranch and we had been told to shoot all jackals given the opportunity.
    jackal2.JPG
    We stopped quickly for pictures then proceeded to set up the blind. Jaco and Ellias made extremely quick work of the blind setup and we were soon settled in for the afternoon. I have to admit it felt a lot like a normal sit in the deer blind back home at this point. Throughout the afternoon we were visited off and on by multiple groups of cattle as they came for water and the minerals that the rancher had out.

    The hours drug on and I occupied my time watching the dove and other matters of bird life, you don't get the opportunity to notice it nearly as much when your in the back of the truck as opposed to stationary in a blind. The sun dipped low and we were nearing the last hour when we had several kudu cow's come to water. That broke the ice and from that point forward we had Kudu cow's coming and going the rest of the evening. The shadow's grew long and we knew that if something was going to happen it would have to be soon. As if on cue I noticed a shape back in the black thorn scrub that was not there before. A quick check of my binoculars confirmed, another Kudu, but this one was not the same as the rest the body was much larger and darker grey. While I could not see the head nor horns I knew it was a more mature bull.

    We waited and waited hope that he would step out of the brush and give us and opportunity to evaluate him but it seemed as though we would run out of light long before he chose to move. Once again I have to go back to sometime it's better to be lucky than good. The bull finally moved forward up towards the water and it did not take long for Jaco to let me know he was the kind of bull we were looking for. Now just to get a shot, I eased up onto the sticks in a kneeling position but he had now moved back and his vitals were blocked by the only tree between us and the water. Time stood still, my legs started to go numb and light was fading fast when once again the gods smiled down on me and the bull started to move back into the thicket pausing for just a moment quartering away. The crosshairs quickly settled three inches back of the shoulder and the shot range out. At the shot all I could see in the scope was muzzle flash. After the shot I looked up over the scope and all I saw was kudu going everywhere in a massive dust cloud.

    Jaco quickly asked how did the shot feel? It felt great the crosshairs were solid just back of the should the trigger pull felt good and I heard the bullet hit. Jaco did not want to wait to long as light was fading much to fast. We exited the blind and quickly started making our way toward the place the bull was standing when the shot rang out. Their was no need for worry or concern because even before we got to the point of the shot we could see the bull laying a mere 20 yard from the point of impact.
    austin_kudu1.JPG

    As we loaded the bull into the cruiser Ellias quickly pointed out the location of the bullet just under the skin. This bullet was presented to me the following morning at breakfast and was to be the only one we would recover during our stay. I must say they preformed as advertised and the bullet truly looked like it was straight out of the advertisement.

    Once again my dad came close but the Kudu stayed one step ahead of them tonight.
     
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  2. AustinL

    AustinL AH Veteran

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    829A492E-44EB-4F1E-9FB2-0C0C860E482B.jpeg BA0F3566-DC1C-453B-8AAE-227FA0DC8FA5.jpeg Recovered 160 grain Barnes TSX
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 27, 2018
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  3. JPbowhunter

    JPbowhunter AH Fanatic

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    I always find they perform as they should. 20180927_154519.jpeg
     
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  4. AustinL

    AustinL AH Veteran

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    Nearing the End...

    Not just of this story but of the trip as well. As I sat around the campfire that evening everything was so surreal. I had dreamed of Africa for so long especially a Kudu and to have accomplished that goal was surreal. At this point I was just happy to be there.

    Dawn came just as it had on all the prior days, everyone going about their tasks preparing for the day. This day was just slightly different, we were going to another property some thirty miles from the main property that was supposed to be a great property with some large male warthogs. As a result Kelani had packed us a lunch, we would not be returning to the lodge until we achieved our goal or ran out of daylight. We departed somewhat earlier today to make the journey. Once again I found myself trying to climb in the drivers seat only to be faced with a steering wheel where it shouldn't be.

    Upon our arrival we meet with the landowner and then saddled up into our respective positions. This property followed the Molopo River which at this stage held no water but still forms the border between South Africa and Botswana. We traveled down the river bed split by a fence one side South Africa the other Botswana. This property was such a change from much of the other areas we had hunted which had very little topography, This property had plenty which actually aided us in being able to spot warthogs in the grass. It didn't take long and we came upon two rooting in the river bed. We exited the truck and commenced our stalk only to determine that neither one of these young boars were what we were looking for.

    It was not much further down the track we spotted another then another and some more over there. All of a sudden there he was, the kind of pig that we were looking for. This was a pig that even at 400+ yards you could see his smile with out optical aid. All total there were close to a dozen hogs on that hillside but only one that fit the criteria.

    Too see him was one thing, the problem now at hand was that he was on the wrong side of the river so we would have to wait and see if he was in the mood to immigrate into South Africa. The pigs seemed to be feeding down towards the river so we quickly backed the exited the truck and sent it off. From there we climbed the bank on our side of the river to gain needed elevation, then set up to wait ever hopeful they would follow the script.

    Alas it was not to be most of the pigs made there way down and spent some time rooting in the river bed but the old guy we were after had other plans and we watched as he traveled up over the ridge and out of our lives. We had spent considerable time on this pig but he was the kind that was worth the effort.

    Once he was gone we radioed the truck and continued on it our search, That morning saw us cover lots of miles and we had lots of pigs seen but the large boars were not to be found. As it neared mid day it was decided that we would go back to the nearest water source to the large boar from the morning knowing it was the nearest water on either side of the river.

    We set up a blind and set it to wait, and wait we did. Once settled we broke out the lunch which was a spectacular spread. For those who have spent significant time in a blind you know that while it is not a physically demanding proposition it can test your nerves and resolution to the breaking point. It was about 11:30 when we climbed into the blind that day and we had our first visitors about 12:30. From there on it was slow but steady till about 3:30 when we had the first mature boar come in he was a good pig but not of the caliber we had seen that morning a solid 7 inch tusk on one side but only about 2 inches remained of the other, we gave him a pass. Due to a shifting wind we decided to relocate our blind after the boar left for the remainder of or vigil. This move provesd wise as the wind finally settled down and had a steady push our direction from the water hole.

    Movement was picking up now there was a almost constant parade of pigs a couple of mature sows with nice tusks but that is just not what we were here for. We are going to go big or go home.

    And as the sunset below the horizon we climbed out of the blind ecstatic To stretch our legs and let our eyes and minds wander not ever alert and vigilant. We made quick work breaking down the blind and started our trek back to the lodge. Once again we stopped to say our goodbyes to the property owner with plans to return tomorrow morning for what would be our last hunting day.

    Back at the lodge we learned that my dad had finally connected on a big Kudu bull they had had so many near misses on shot opportunities I was happy that he had been fortunate that day.
    Dad_kudu2.JPG

    We again gathered round the fire for a fine meal and to recount the days events and other fireside conversation. Tomorrow was to be our last day and warthog was really all that was left that either of us hopped to take home. Given the conditions the best opportunity on warthogs was sitting water but I just did not have it in me to make another marathon sit, that was not what I came to Africa for and not how I intended to spend my last day.

    It was decided that we would again head back to the river, this time leaving a little earlier hoping to catch the big guy on the right side of the border. If that failed to work the plan was to head back to the lodge for lunch and then we would go out once again that evening to see what Africa would give us.
     
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  5. cpr0312

    cpr0312 AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

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    Your racking up some nice critters!! Congrats!
     

  6. AustinL

    AustinL AH Veteran

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    A Final Sunrise

    Today was to be our final day hunting, Tomorrow would find us on the trek back to Johannesburg to board our flight back to the US. Time to make the most of what today has in store for us. I was hoping to get a shot at a large tusked male warthog, my dad he still had impala and hopes of a warthog.

    Myself and Jaco once again climbed in the truck for the drive over to the property on the Molopo River, we knew there was a great hog on this property just to be in the right place at the right time. Just as with the day before we made a quick stop at the landowners house then on to the pasture. It is not long and we are once again in our respective seats in the back of the truck. Dang it sure is cold down in this river valley much more so than up on the flats. We comb the river bed and the surrounding hills and valleys long into the morning seeing plenty of pigs just not the pig. What I can tell you is that we covered a lot of miles and opened plenty of gates, this made me thankful for two things, first that Jaco would not stand for me to get down and open a gate, secondly that a pasture "gate" in South Africa is a far cry from the gates I am accustomed to in the states. I think we were lucky if one out of dozens functioned as it should.

    This is how we spent our morning, it was not long before the cold river valley began to feel like an oven. It was nearing lunch time and we had come with no intention of another marathon sit in a blind over water. Jaco once again asked would I like to sit for warthog. It was not a question that I had to even think about, I had no intention of ending my trip that way.

    To be honest I was ecstatic with the hunt and was perfectly content with the game we had harvested, I just wanted to enjoy the Africa experience for what time I had left. As we headed back to the lodge for lunch we got a call on the radio that my dad had been successful on a great impala ram with a beautiful cape that morning.
    dad_impala1.JPG


    Lunch was another masterfully prepared meal by our chef Kelani, my dad retired to his room and I did the same. As I sat there I thought about this our last day and just could not find myself able to confine myself to my quarters. I found my self out on the grounds and then made my way to lodge where I grabbed a soda and climbed up the stairs, I was going to enjoy some time peace on the deck taking in the beauty of the African desert. Funny thing is that as I climbed the stairs, I noticed for the first time that there was a television. I had been up here at least a half a dozen times and never noticed that TV now I am not sure that it worked and could honestly have cared less you just don't go to Africa to sit in front of a TV.

    2:30 came and we all assumed our usual seats in the high rack and we all headed out my dad and Rudolf headed one way to set on water for a warthog while Jaco and myself went out to see what was in store for us. Like so many days before we set out but this time with no real purpose or agenda. Jaco asked me what I was interested in and to be honest with everyone the answer was anything or nothing. The way I decided on it was lets go look over some managment springbok, while before I got here they were not anywhere on my list but having spent a week here I really came to appreciate the uniqueness and beauty of them. Of course I said we can look at everything if you see something that you link is a great representative of any species let's give it a look and we will make the call from there.

    It didn't take long before we were looking over our first group of springbok, then on to the next, and so on and so forth. Along the way we stopped and looked over some blesbok and several impala. For the first time this whole trip I even looked over and contemplated a red hartebeest but is was still way to early to break the peace so onward we went. We came across another bunch of springbok and Jaco snapped the truck to a stop. Jaco commented that's a pretty good ram in the bunch and we studied him for awhile. Jaco asked if I wanted to go after him he is a pretty good trophy class ram. I chose to pass and continue looking for a management ram but mostly because I wanted the hunt to continue. Onward we pressed and continued to look after group after group but not finding quite what we were looking for. It was starting to get long into the evening when we came across a good management ram but after looking him over Jaco didn't really care for his shape. He said he's a good management ram but I think we can find one with a much better shape do you care if we keep looking. Nope fine by me, so onward we pressed we stopped for a few moments to video a herd of Giraffes as they are my daughters current favorite animal. The sun started getting really low in the African sky and I began to question some of my earlier decisions when Jaco snapped the the truck to a halt. It did not take long for him to say this is the one lets go get him. In order to do so we took the truck around and got out so we could come at him with cover from the other direction.

    We played cat and mouse with this ram for quite sometime, it seems that he knew our moves before we did. If we went left he went right and when we went right to catch up he cut back left. We finally got ahead of him as he was headed towards a small gap in the black thorn brush and Jaco quickly set up the sticks and whispered I am going to stop him when he hits the clearing and as if on cue out he stepped with a quick whistle he was frozen not just him but it seemed as if everything was frozen in time until it snapped back to reality with the crack of the rifle. I watched the ram drop in the scope and with that our hunt was officially over it was a bitter sweet moment.

    austin_springbok2.JPG

    Me and Jaco walked up to the downed ram and as I looked down in wonder at this fine trophy I looked up to thank god for all the blessings and was treated to one of the most spectacular African sunsets I had every seen. This was by far the most spectacular end to a spectacular week. Looking up at that sky I couldn't help but think, until we meet again. My dad ended his hunt with a very close encounter on a large warthog but just ran out of daylight before it offer them a shot.

    the end.JPG

    The End...…..
     
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  7. Ridgewalker

    Ridgewalker AH ENABLER LIFETIME BRONZE BENEFACTOR AH Legend

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    One fine hunt and all excellent trophies! And since you didn’t get warthogs, you have a perfect excuse to return;)!
    Thanks for sharing your father/son adventure!
     

  8. BWH

    BWH AH ENABLER AH Legend

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    Time to plan your next one.
     

  9. buckcurtin

    buckcurtin AH Veteran

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    You never "need" an excuse to return to Africa! Not if you are a true hunter.
     
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  10. gillettehunter

    gillettehunter AH ENABLER AH Legend

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    Great report and pics. Thanks for sharing. Nice trophies and even better memories.
    Bruce
     

  11. AustinL

    AustinL AH Veteran

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    It was a fantastic trip. Great outfit staff everyone went out of there way to make it a very memorable trip.

    A return is definitely in order
     

  12. Edge

    Edge AH Fanatic

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    Thank you for sharing and some great trophies, congratulations!
     

  13. Mark Biggerstaff

    Mark Biggerstaff BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Fanatic

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    Congratulations!
    Enjoyed your writing style with every detail!!
     

  14. flatwater bill

    flatwater bill AH Elite

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    Great write up................................I love that kudu that your dad got. When you return to Africa.........and I think you will.....hopefully you will have a little more time. And FWIW, I have hunted 19 different places on the dark continent without ever getting a big wartpig.............thanks for posting.......................FWB
     

  15. AustinL

    AustinL AH Veteran

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    Thank you all it was a wonderful trip one I hope to make again sooner than later.

    I should mention that while that was the end of the hunt it was not the end of the trip. After another long ride to the Johannesburg airport we soon found our guns and luggage checked back in for the long flight home.

    Once that bird was in the air unlike the the flight over I had no trouble closing my eyes and going to sleep. A midnight wake up somewhere over the Atlantic for a quick snack and it was back to sleep. Once we touched down in Atlanta we made our way like cattle back through customs and we gathered our bags and gun case. I was elated and somewhat shocked that they had made it all the way there and back without issue.

    Rechecked bags, took the gun back through TSA then made our way to the connecting domestic flight. The 2.5 hr flight from Atlanta to San Antonio went without hitch. That is until we we got to the baggage carousel my dads bag was first to arrive all good. Finally my bag turns up ripped wide open but a quick check and all appears to still be there. Round and round bags come and go but where are our rifles nobody knows.

    A quick visit with the baggage desk and apparently our gun case that made it timely across the Atlantic did not make the connecting flight and would be coming on the next flight at 4:30. Arrangements were made for it to be delivered to my house later that day. It made for a restful afternoon until the case finally showed up at my door around 8:30 that night
     

  16. Neil Molendyk

    Neil Molendyk AH Senior Member

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    Fine trophies, great reading report. From the father side of a father/son safari in Africa I can assure you that your father enjoyed and cherished the trip as much as you did. And the piggy will be bigger when you return, probably sooner than you planned.
     

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