SOUTH AFRICA: First Safari With Cruiser Safaris Report

RandEMT

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I have been a long time reader of this forum and a heavy user of the info on this website but never felt worthy to join in on the conversation, until now. Just got back one week ago from the trip of my lifetime! My dad, a good buddy and myself all booked an 8 day 5 animal package with Cruiser Safaris in the Limpopo province of South Africa. My wife, my mom and even my mother-in-law came along as observers. The US booking agent, "Cruiser Bob", was an absolute awesome help in organizing everything and gave us every single little bit of information to make this first trip a success. Nothing about this first time trip was a surprise thanks to Bob.
We arrived in JoBurg in the evening and overnighted at the Afton House. The Afton House staff met us at the airport and even provided a gun import and permit service when we arrived at the airport. We had all three guns cleared in less than 5 minutes! Afton House was clean, convenient and provided two good meals while there.
We were picked up the next morning by Sarel from Cruiser. He would also be my PH for the week. It was about a 4 hour drive to the lodge. I saw a giant eland in a field about an hour into the drive and just about wet myself! My first African animal spotted. Little did I know that we would see hundreds upon hundreds of animals during my stay in SA. I never got tired of simply riding around and spotting game.
We arrived at Cruiser's Lodge in mid afternoon. We were met in the driveway by the camp cook, DelMarie (Tiny), with a glass of fresh squeezed orange juice. We would soon discover that she is a talented woman when it comes to food. Everything she prepared was awesome. Cruiser's lodge and room accommodations were so much better than I expected. The whole staff was top notch, top to bottom.
We dropped our luggage and grabbed our rifles and headed to their manicured gun range with a shooting bench under a thatched roof. My Remington 700 in .300 WSM with Barnes TTSX 165 ammo was happy to be in Africa! After checking the zeroes, the question was asked if we would like to go out hunting that evening, before our hunt started the next day. It was an easy decision for all of us.
I changed into my newly bought and never worn Africa attire and we piled into the cruiser for an evening ride.
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We only had a couple of hours but it was an awesome hunt! We immediately got into a bachelor group of impala. The sounds they make during the rut sometimes sounded like a pack of leopards. We easily got in close and found the dominant ram. One shot and he was mine. I think I floated the final 25 yards as I walked up on my first animal. A very pretty 22" ram with nice flared out horns.
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Less than an hour later a jackal made the mistake of getting in front of my .300 WSM. Flat skin down!
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Two animals down and my hunt hadn't even started yet! The next morning was an early start for a one hour drive to Marakele, the mountain property. The terrain there reminded me of home. Rolling hills and benches. I had a 28" wide blue wildebeest down with one shot by 7:45 in the morning.
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Throughout the rest of the day we had a blast. Lots of kudu with some monsters seen but never could get a shot off. Saw what my guide said was a true 25" impala. Still kicking myself for not taking a 2nd impala that day! Made several stalks on kudu but finally got into a group of kudu cows with several bulls just before sundown. One bull caught my eye and I knew I wanted that one. I could tell he was not the biggest one I had seen but he was wider than the others spotted. A very patient and hour long stalk got us in perfect position for a quartering away shot at about 125 yards. Kudu down!
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It was a heavy load back to camp that night with two trophy animals in back.
The next day started out on a blesbok hunt but turned into gemsbok hunt when I was given permission to substitute animals in my package. Unfortunately, I got to see first hand the amazing tracking skills of the Cruiser staff. They were simply not human in the way they could follow one track through the thousands of other tracks on the ground to eventually help me find and bring down my gemsbok. He was an old battler. Scarred up with tips frayed back but he was 36" long on both sides and had enormous 8.5" bases. A real trophy in my book!
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Since all I had left in my package to hunt was a warthog, I decided to start tagging along with my dad and buddy as they continued their hunts. This was also a blast to be with them when they took trophy animals as well. The only problem was that while hunting with my dad, I ended up spotting a male warthog and making a great (lucky) shot as he was on a dead run from right to left at 100 yards. End of day 3 and I was all tagged out! Big problem.
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So I continued to hunt with others and had a blast filming, spotting and just simply being out hunting. In our camp our group took 57" kudu, 41" gemsbok, nearly 18" blesbok, 14" warthogs, a red hartebeest that goes top 100 SCI and many other trophies. It was fun to be a part of. On day #7 I decided to head back out hunting for warthog. After a great 3 hour walk and stalk we found exactly the hog we were looking for. A symmetrical 12" Pumba that was exactly what I was looking for. Another running shot and he was down.
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We loaded the warthog in the cruiser and headed for home. As we were leaving the tree area by the river, a caracal cat crossed the road in front of us. My PH started yelling shoot! shoot! or else I will! So I shot. The cat stopped for a split second to look back at us and I shot right through a bush and brought it down. It was the shortest hunt of my whole trip but also one of the most exciting. Animals of opportunity are my favorite!
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Day #8 saw part of our group head back to JoBurg to tour around. I wanted to go but just couldn't leave the hunting and the lodge. My buddy and I went out looking for him a nice gemsbok on the last day. We soon found a monster warthog instead, then 30 minutes later he shot a 17" blesbok as well. Both SCI record animals. I was long done hunting by that time and didn't even bring my rifle that day but said to my friend, "If a blesbok happens to give me a broadside shot between here and the edge of the property, I will take it." As I finished saying those words, a small group of blesbok spooked and ran out to 125 yards and stood broadside. "Give me your gun, Dave!" were the next words out of my mouth. The next words of out my mouth were, "My wife's gonna kill me, but that will sure look good on my wall." Three trophy animals within 300 yards and less than 2 hours time. THAT, is a good morning!
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We are just a group of regular guys with average money that saved and planned for years to make this happen. Because of that, I had very high expectations for this adventure. I can honestly say that every part of it exceeded my expectations. Cruiser Safaris is a top notch organization. Everyone told me that Africa gets in your blood. It's very true. I am counting the days until I can return to the Dark Continent.
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Wheels

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Congratulations on a great hunt. Thanks for sharing your experience and photos.

All the best.
 

BRICKBURN

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Thanks for getting those trophy pictures posted.
Well done.
Lucky man with that Lynx.
 
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Royal27

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Beautiful trophies. Love the caracal....
 

PARA45

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Congratulations and beautiful trophies! I went to SA in 2012, and hunted with Cruiser and had a blast. They are a top notch outfitter with outstanding trophies.

Now, let me tell my experience with Highveld/Oxi Shipping. This is where my nightmare starts. After waiting for what seemed for ever, my trophies finally arrived, to my horror I noticed that the crate is all busted up. I think, no worries, I have insurance. Not so much, this is where my nightmare turns ugly. The shipper Oxi tells me that my insurance coverage was only while my trophies where in transit and arrived in the US and not the final destination my house. I was never given the option to change my insurance coverage, or informed of what was covered and what was not. As of yet, and many request, I have not seen or have been provided a copy of my insurance certificate by Oxi. Which leads me to believe that I never had insurance to beggin with.

I've been in a constant argument with the shipper, and the bottom line is that they are refusing to pay for the repair of my m0unts. Oxi's suggestion was for me to ship my trophies back to SA and he would fix them for free. Meanwhile, this would end up costing me over $5,000.00 in transportation fees, customs fees, import/export fees, etc, etc. Which I could use that money to get them fix here in the US.

I know you will be going through Highveld/Oxi because that is who Cruiser uses. Make sure you ask what is covered in your insurance, what is not, have them give everything in writting, don't trust them like I did. I'm telling you this not to scare you, but to make you aware of what I'm going through and not everyone is as honest as they seem to be. Once you pay them, you become a number and no longer that valuable customer you think you are.

I paid some good money to Highveld/Oxi, and now I have a Kudu with a busted mouth, an Impala with a broken ear and broken neck, a Wildebeest with discoloration on his nose and a Zulu shield with gouges and scratches all over.

Good luck to you!
 

Nyati

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Congratulations for your hunt and very nice trophies.

Thanks for sharing.
 

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Bobpuckett

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Thanks for the great hunting report and pics are you doing a dip&pack or having your trophies done there? Enjoyed the report nothing better then having a good hunt with Family and Friends.
 

archer36

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I see Sorel was your PH. Great guy. I spent alot of time talking to him. My Ph was also excellent. Those guys bust their butts for clients.
 

James.Grage

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Nice safari.

Story line :) Pictures :D and a great time was had by all.
 

RandEMT

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Thanks for the great hunting report and pics are you doing a dip&pack or having your trophies done there? Enjoyed the report nothing better then having a good hunt with Family and Friends.
RandEMT, It appears you have hunted with the same outfitter who may be suggesting/recommending the same taxidermist and shipping company. You may want to rethink where you are having your trophies processed.

Have a look at this link.

http://www.africahunting.com/thread...th-highveld-taxidermists-oxi-logistics.16027/

Thanks for the heads up guys. I researched quite a bit on this taxidermist and had heard nothing but good. Looks like I will need to pay attention to the details with them. FWIW my family owns a trucking company that will take over for the US transport part after clearing customs. That is a very good idea to check out the actual documents of insurance up to that point. Thanks again.
 

RandEMT

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I see Sorel was your PH. Great guy. I spent alot of time talking to him. My Ph was also excellent. Those guys bust their butts for clients.

Sarel was a stud. The perfect mix of fun and professional. He's young but he knows his stuff. I would request him again if I get back to the same place. But like you said, the PHs were all good there. I just really hit it off with Sarel.
 

PARA45

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Like some have suggested on my post, look into getting them done in the states. Obviously this is your choice to choose who will the work for you, and you might not have any issues at all, but then again you might be in the same boat I'm with damaged goods and no insurance. I checked them out as you did, and I even went to their facility, bu the fact is that I paid for insurance, was supposed to have insurance, and was not made aware of the limitations of such, and now the fact that I'm being left out on my own shows the true colors of big companies. We are important to them while we are their customer/clients, but once we pay them, we become just a number. If I had to do it again, and I will, I will never ever use Highveld/Oxi Logistics again. Just my experience & 2 cents.
 

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