SOUTH AFRICA: First Safari

Dawg2019

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My African Safari began in the fall of 2017, my wife won the live auction for a hunt for 2 with NB Safari while attending our local NRA banquet. The next week while at work I asked one of my co-workers if he wanted to go and he said yes in about 2 seconds. Over the next couple of weeks, we made arrangements, settled deposits for the two of us to hunt and for my wife to observe on safari in the spring of 2019. We sent dozens of e-mails back and forth establishing quite a relationship with Luke and Neil, asking various questions to prepare us and to getting our “wish list” of animals ironed out.

The flight was as good as any 16-hour flight could be, nothing overly good or bad. We were meet just after getting our luggage by your PH Harry, he is a tall slender man with excessive energy and excitement. He took our bags and led us to the truck. The lodge, located in the Limpopo province, was about a 4-hour drive, we did make one pit stop to use he restroom. We arrived in time for dinner, impala spaghetti, which was delicious. After some drinks, it was off to bed.

We were allowed to sleep in a little the next morning, in hopes to help with jet lag. We all met in the main lodge at 8am for breakfast and coffee. After eating we were introduced to Gabriel our spotter/driver and our truck, a Land Cruiser, where we would be spending countless hours over the next week. First we needed to sight in the rifles. (We decided to take advantage of the rifle hire offered by NB instead of embarking on international gun transport.) After a few shots our confidence was up and Harry was satisfied. We had some time before lunch, so Harry suggested we work our way back to the lodge and hopefully we would come across some game. We encountered Wildebeest first, we all got off the truck and after stalking for 30-45 minutes Harry identified a bull worthy of taking. He set the sticks up and I placed the .375 H&H on top and awaited Harrys guidance. It took a second but we finally got on the same animal. The first shot was straight on, the 375HH struck him dead in the chest and he fell in his tracks, as we approached Harry had me place a second shot in the shoulder. I was so excited; this was by far the largest animal I had ever taken to date. Gabriel was called over and he helped us set the animal up for some great pictures.

During our afternoon hunt my friend wounded a wildebeest, we spent hours tracking on the ground and driving in the truck. I like all hunters have wounded an animal before and know the feeling, I was going to help look as long as it took. As it got late and nearly dusk, Harry suggested that we go back to camp for dinner and comeback after to continue the search and also hunt for bush pig and duiker. For dinner the first night we had country fried steak and potatoes followed by dessert. Around 9:00pm we loaded back up in the truck and headed out. Although we didn’t see any bush pig or duiker, we did spot the wounded wildebeest. Harry spotted it in the middle of a field with a huge blood stain down its right shoulder and flank, my friend was able to place a fatal shot and it dropped out of sight. We all jumped off the truck and ran in the general direction to find his trophy in a small thicket. It was 8 hours in the making but well worth the memories. Now that the animal was in hand we could give him a hard time about his shot placement. We got back to camp after midnight celebrated with some drinks and retired for the evening.

Day 3 began early, meeting in the lodge for coffee and breakfast. We drove down the road to a neighboring concession where we put quite the stalk on a Blesbok for my friend. He and Harry had come out of the woods where my wife and I settled down as they entered a field to get a better look to judge the animals. We stayed in position for maybe 15-20 minutes and during that time 4-5 male and female Blesbok kept running between us and the hunting group. They finally identified a nice male and made a clean kill. We next embarked on a long stalk for Waterbuck, we crossed a couple of open areas to get into the thick cover in-between, in the low areas. We came over a rise and Harry spotted a good male and 3 females on the opposite edge of the field. As we knelt down to see where they were going, they suddenly started to run, fortunately they ran out in to the field. Harry set up the sticks and my co-worker was able to get a shot of before they ran again. We tracked him for about 50 yards to find what was an amazing specimen. Towards the end of the morning I put a stalk on some Impala, Harry was able to get me within 50 yards. I put the rifle onto of the shooting sticks, shot and nothing. I completely missed, I wish I could blame someone or something, but I flat out missed. When Harry and I returned to the truck empty handed they let me have it, but deservingly so. For lunch we returned to the lodge for Kudu burgers and fries. After some rest it was back out, We stayed on the property where the lodge was. Gabriel spotted some Gemsbok off about 500 yards to our left. We drove a little further to get some cover before Harry and I jumped off. We set out on our stalk, crawling, kneeling and trying to stick to cover. We got with in 200 yards when we spooked a small group of sable off to my left, this pushed the Gemsbok another 100 yards off and behind a thick patch of cover, back to crawling. We again got about 100 yards out, but still not a clear shot through the brush. On our final approach we spooked a herd of impala this time, the Gemsbok took off for good. Harry decided to try another piece of property before dark, where my friend was able to make an impressive 275 yard shot on an old zebra. For dinner we had Kudu steaks, salad and pudding (My wife’s favorite meal). After dinner my friend and I went back out, wife was tired and headed to bed. That evening we got a shot off at a duiker but could not find the little guy. The trip wasn’t a bust though, as we were riding Harry yelled at Gabriel to stop, Harry ran through the brush and returned a few minutes later with a 6 foot python. He asked for our help, but me and 6 foot snakes don’t get along, thank goodness my wife wasn’t there.

Day 4 began at 5am with coffee and breakfast. The morning hunt was spent looking for Impala and Kudu, unfortunately no shots were fired. After lunch, omelets, cream corn, and tomatoes, we tried our luck again with the Gemsbok. We went back to the same general area where we spotted them before. Harry and I unloaded and again had a lot of ground to cover. Their was a small berm that we crawled along, this allowed us to get within 150 yards and finally had a clear shot. Harry set up the sticks and my shot landed on his left shoulder, down he fell. As we approached Harry recommended I put another one in him, this one was a little farther back. I could not have been happier; this was the animal I came to Africa for. While driving back to the lodge Harry was able to take a Jackal with the rifle. That night we had Blesbok casserole with rice and sweet carrots. After dinner we had some drinks at the bar and were off to bed.

Day 5 was early again 5 am we went to a new piece of property a little farther away. We had an excellent morning. Not 300 yards after getting off the road Harry spotted a warthog on the edge of a field, my co-worker made easy work of him dropping him right there. The morning was a little cool and the animals were definitely moving better. We spotted some nice Kudu 3 males traveling together. The biggest of the group tried to come around to our left and get behind us. The animal was quartering slightly and my friend paced his shot just in front of his shoulder. The big Kudu bolted and ran for some thick thick brush, fortunately he crashed after only taking 4-5 steps. After loading up the big bull we were back on the truck, after only 5 minutes a group of impala was off to the right, behind a pile of debris. Harry and I were in pursuit, he didn’t have time to set up the sticks, Harry grabbed the barrel of the rifle and placed it on his left shoulder. We coordinated on which one to take and squeezed the trigger. The impala didn’t go far. Again, we took pictures and loaded the trophy in the truck. After not even 5 or so minutes more impala standing in a clearing with some giraffe, this time my co-worker was on the sticks and again more meat on the ground. Our Land Cruiser was full of amazing animals. That was by far the best morning of hunting either of had ever experienced. For lunch we had burgers followed by a short nap. After lunch we drove to another concession Ostrich was next for my friend, we chased numerous birds all over the country side, logging many miles in the boots, we finally came across one and he made an great 200 yard shot. After seeing and getting my hands on my friends Kudu I told Harry I needed one. We came across two exceptional trophies, but as it goes no favorable shots presented themselves for me. For diner we had zebra steaks with corn and ice-cream for dessert. After eating we sat at the bar celebrating the days achievements and trophies.

The next morning after breakfast we said our goodbyes and got in the van with our guide and headed to Kruger. The park was amazing, we stayed two nights in their “chalets” seeing every animal imaginable.

The trip was better than I can explain, it has gone down as my stand alone favorite vacation to date. I can’t thank Harry and the whole NB safari family enough. Now its back to planning, we are looking to return in 2020, I still need my Kudu and hopefully a Cape Buffalo too

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Ridge Runner

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Congrats!!
Some mighty fine animals.
Thanks for sharing.
Like many of us here on AH, sounds like you have contracted the African Safari disease of always wanting to return.
 

Matt_WY

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Glad you had a good trip! Well done!
 

gillettehunter

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Looks like you had a great trip. Congrats on some nice animals. Thanks for sharing.
Bruce
 

hammerguy

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Sounds like an amazing trip but I'm exhausted just reading it.
Having never been on safari yet, is it normal to hunt from 5a until late late in the evening?
I know it's a hunt but I figure it is also a vacation. If I don't get my 8hrs I become less friendly than normal. :cool:
 

Ridge Runner

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Sounds like an amazing trip but I'm exhausted just reading it.
Having never been on safari yet, is it normal to hunt from 5a until late late in the evening?
I know it's a hunt but I figure it is also a vacation. If I don't get my 8hrs I become less friendly than normal. :cool:

hammerguy,

It depends on the number of animsls you plan to hunt, the number of days you plan to hunt them, your PH, area(s) you are hunting in, and weather, and I'm sure other factors I can't think of off hand.

In 2017, I was on a 7 day hunt for 5 listed animals and as many animals of opportunity as I could check off another list. Five of the seven days we planned on living the lodge between 5 & 6 am and usually arrived back at the lodge between 8 & 9 pm. The other 2 days: on day 5 we left the lodge around 7 and didn't get back to the lodge till 2:30 am of day 6. The rest of day six was spent resting and relaxing around the lodge and looking around Grahamstown. On day 7 we left the lodge around 7 am and back to the lodge around 2-2:30 pm. After killing a warthog and red hartebeest, and the 2 hour drive back to the lodge.

In 2018: same lodge a different PH, I had 5 animals on my lists, 10 days to hunt and sightseeing. We usually left the lodge between 6 & 7 am returned to the edge for lunch between 12 & 2, then back out till 7 & 8 pm.

I had a great time on both trips, and I've made plans for my return trip in May 2020. My 2017 & 2018 trips were in June.
 

Dawg2019

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As ridge runner said. Our hunting schedule was dictated by the animals and number of days. My hunting partner had Duiker, bush pig on his list, we pursued both at night. Without the night hunting we would have returned to the lodge around 6-8pm before dinner. Looking back it I know it sounds like spending a lot of time in the field, but it was worth it. The PH had to drag us in each evening, and we were up eager the next morning. Good luck on your future hunt.
 

Shootist43

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Dawg, I like your style, i.e. having your wife bid on and win a hunt. That way she can't say no. Are you going to be employing that same strategy next time?
 

Nyati

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Congrats on your hunt

I see a great pig !
 

meigsbucks

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Looks like you had a great FIRST safari. Great trophies, especially the waterbuck and the blesbok.
Sounds like 2020 will be the year of the buffalo!
 

fourfive8

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Year and a half late on the report but the trip looked successful. Appears that NB is still in full damage control.
 

mark-hunter

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, Harry ran through the brush and returned a few minutes later with a 6 foot python

It is great report, I really enjoyed. Congrats!

The question: what did you guys do with python? Are you taking skin home?
 

Dawg2019

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Our PH emptied out a box that he had and put it in the back of the truck with us. On the way back to camp he relocated it. No snake skin boots for me.
 

CAustin

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Man you guys did well. A bush pig on the first safari is awesome!
 

SSGBIV

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The trip was the last week of Feb and the first week of March 2019.
Excellent hunt report, Dawg, and some mighty fine trophies! I liked the meal reports; one of the great benefits of a hunt with NB Safaris is the internationally trained culinary chef employed there. I’ve never had wild game consistently prepared so spectacularly!
 

SSGBIV

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