SOUTH AFRICA: First Time In South Africa With Chris Troskie Safaris

Johnny7604

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Hunting Day 1, Part 1– Out of the Deepfreeze and into the Fire

I think I managed to get about 3 hours of sweat soaked sleep the night before making a grand total of 10 hours of sleep in three days. Even with the A/C turned on the heat, humidity and lack of sleep had me feeling like I had a grade “A” hangover for lack of a better term. I had just spent the last three days dealing with crappy flights and long layovers. Leaving my -15 degrees Celsius home in Northern Alberta, I had travelled over 21,000 km to hunt with Chris Troskie Safaris in the +30 degrees Celsius Limpopo province.

No time to feel sorry for myself though I was here to hunt and Chris wanted me up early so we could go meet up with his friend and fellow PH Hannes who would be helping us out for the first couple of days. The land we were hunting on for the first day was owned by Hannes’ family and Chris also wanted to use the opportunity to try and get some new footage for a promo video. Sounded good to me, how often would I get a chance to have a 2 PH hunt?

After meeting with Hannes who is quite possibly the toughest human being I have ever met we headed out to the property near the Botswana border. Our primary target today would be Eland.

It was just after first light and the morning was cool and crisp, not at all what I expected for Africa. The dew that coated everything reminded me of a morning after a good rainfall back home. After transferring all our essential gear into one bakkie we started out looking for spoor.

The amazing animals and scenery that one can see from the back of a slow moving bakkie was incredible. Impala, Red Hartebeest, blesbok and many other incredible species seemed to be everywhere. I did notice right away how thick the bush was, after questioning Chris about this he informed me that the unusually high rainfall had made the veldt extremely thick….. good for the animals, bad for us.

It took us about an hour of driving to find fresh tracks from the huge antelope, We offloaded quickly and started off into the thick bush after the herd of Eland. Hannes was hot on the tracks of the Eland while I was busy collecting specimens of the local thorn bearing plant life…..I think I managed to get several of each and the blood dripping down my hands and forearms was the proof.

The tracks were getting fresher as we pressed on. Back and forth cutting the trail of the Eland. We were closing the gap. At one point we were approximately 80 yards from the herd when they spooked sending up a flock of cow peckers like a flare. I couldn’t believe we were that close with no indication that they were right in front of us…. God this bush was thick!

We continued the pursuit, fueled on by the close encounter with the herd. We came into a small area which had some unusually good visibility, as we skirted the left edge of this small clearing Hannes ducked down and motioned for us to do the same. My heart sped up a little, what was it he saw? He motioned for me to move up next to him. Things were moving quickly now and my sleep deprived mind was trying to keep up.

Hannes whispered “Gemsbok, about 100 yards ahead. There is a nice one bedded down in the shade of that tree” as he pointed through the bushes. I immediately saw the white and black inkblot face of the Gemsbok. She was looking right at us from her resting place. We had several small bushes between us when Hannes set up the sticks for a kneeling shot. “No shot, Hannes” I whispered. “There is to much brush”.

“OK, no problem…what we will need to do is low crawl to that next bush and that should give us a clean shot.”

“We will be crawling through thorns though but there is nothing we can do about that” he added.

“Groovy” is all my mind could muster. We started off crawling though the small thon bearing shrubs. I could feel them stabbing me in all the wrong places. Closer and closer trying to be as quiet as possible while continuing on to the small bush only 20 yards ahead. Finally we made the bush. I held up my left palm to Hannes and motioned for him to remove a two inch thorn protruding from my hand. He chuckled quietly and pulled out the thorn. “Thanks” I whispered.

Hannes gently set up the sticks on the left side of the bush. I set my rifle in the familiar “V” of the trigger stick and peered through the scope. “I can see the right shoulder, neck and head I whispered”.

“OK, good” he replied as he finished looking through his binoculars. He traced his finger in the sand drawing how she was laying in front of the tree. “She is laying like this with her head on this end.” He was indicating a steep quartering towards shot with her head on the right. “From her left ear go 6 inches left and 12 inches down….that’s where I want you to shoot.” I got back on the scope and knew exactly where he wanted it. Inside the right front shoulder for a heart shot.

I was locked on the spot. “6 inches left and 12 inches down from the left ear” I confirmed.

“Yes”….BOOOOOMMMMMM! The .338 Lapua barked. All I could see after the recoil was what appeared to be a leg kick twice.

“She’s down” Hannes whooped “congratulations”. The shot had anchored her where she laid. As I looked on the rest of the herd stood up and didn’t seem to know what to do. They were looking around dumfounded. Then they one at a time filed out of the clearing.

Hannes face became suddenly serious as he brought his binoculars back up. “Shit will you look at that one” he whispered.

I leaned over and saw what he was talking about. Out of nowhere an ancient female cleared the brush and stepped out into the open. Her horns swept way back. The curve and mass reminded me more of the pictures of the males I had seen.

Quickly Hannes turned around to face Chris , “Chris can he take another”? Chris nodded.

“John, I will give you an excellent deal, you must take this one”. I could see he was excited about the old girl. If there was one thing I learned from the forums was when your PH gets excited don’t question it.

Things moved fast, I put the rifle back on the sticks…..she was steeply quartering away and ever so slowly putting distance between us. I dropped the crosshairs on her and fired. BOOOOM the rifle barked for a second time in 30 seconds.

“She’s hit” Hannes exclaimed. She quickly darted left into the bush. “Stand up and put another one in her”.

I stood up and aimed but through the brush there wasn’t much of a shot. I rushed the shot and missed clean. At the same moment myself an Hannes noticed an opening in the brush that she would have to pass through if she continued on her present course. Hannes pointed to the opening as I was dropping to one knee. I settled the crosshair on the opening and watched her move towards it with my non shooting eye.

The old gal moved into the opening and as if on queue stopped perfectly broadside. It seemed like time stopped. The noise faded away as I moved the crosshairs slightly to the spot I learned off the shot placement guide and squeezed the trigger. BOOOOM! When my sight picture came back from recoil she was gone……What just happened? All the sounds and sights outside the scope started to come back. I could hear Hannes and Chris laughing in celebration.

“Is she down”? I asked.

“Yes, she’s down” Hannes replied half laughing.

I sighed a breath of relief and lowered my head towards the ground. Had that really just happened? Had my first successful harvest of an animal in Africa really turned into a double of one of my favorite African species?

Hannes reached down and grabbed me by my shoulders lifting me up to my feet like a child. Patting me on the back “let’s go take a look”.

I believe I was in shock for the next few minutes as we walked over to the first Gemsbok and looked her over. Then moving to the next one about 50 yards away. The two could not be in more stark contrast as far as age. The first one was young and healthy, the second was ancient. Her muscle tone was gone and she had barely any teeth left. Chris and Hannes estimated her to be over 20 years old and probably on her last year.

I was still in a little bit of shock when they set the animals up and we took the pictures. It was shaping up to be one of the most amazing days of my life. When all the work was done they cleaned and covered the Gemsbok up.

“Now let’s go get your Eland” Hannes barked.

Apparently today wasn’t over. If I only knew what was in store for me. Stay tuned for Day 1, Part 2.
Gemsbok1 rev1.jpg


Gemsbok2 rev1.jpg


Gemsbok both rev1.jpg
 
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bluey

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you gotta be happy ,mate
nice start johnny.
keep it coming ,fella
 

Nyati

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I can´t believe it, you hunted with Hannes Lamprecht !

I also hunted with him in 2008 (Limpopo), and 2009 (NW). Yes, he is a tough guy, to put it mildly, also a very good professional, and excellent company. He also had the best tracker I´ve known, Jery, who is not with him anymore.

I have fond memories of my hunts with him. Here´s a pic of both of them, hartebeest is mine !

IMG_2229M.jpg
 

enysse

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Awesome hunt so far!!!
 

ArmyGrunt

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Exciting story! I can't wait to hear more. And especially to my first hunt in Sept!
 

tarbe

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Very exciting! Keep it coming!
 

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Great story...Looking forward to day 2
 

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Hunting Day 1, Part 2– Out of the Deepfreeze and into the Fire

With two Gemsbok in the salt we loaded the gear back into the bakkie and set out after the Eland herd that had passed through earlier. We were significantly behind them now and needed to regain the trail.

It was late morning now and the sun was high overhead. The cool air had been replaced by a blistering sun and no wind to speak of. Me not knowing what the day had in store for me had left my sunscreen in my pack in the other truck.

It didn’t take long and we spotted the herd moving parallel with the road. The truck sped up, we were going to try and get in front of them and set up an ambush. The truck sped along the red sand road as we put some distance between the herd.

Suddenly the truck came to an abrupt stop and everyone lept out.

“Hurry, they will be coming soon” Hannes shouted.

We jogged through the brush within seconds Hannes dropped down and pointed towards the treeline “They are coming”.

Seeing twelve tonnes of Eland stampeding towards me was a little un-nerving. Coming from Alberta generally when large animals are headed towards you full tilt you get out of the way not into it. Hannes was set unfortunately just as I was getting ready I slipped up and the herd made a thundering exit stage right.

“Shit” was all I could manage.

We took off after them. Hannes and Samson (Chris’ tracker/skinner) were hot on the tracks. We chased them at a brisk pace through the thorns, never letting up.

The hours ticked by as we played cat and mouse with the herd of Eland. We were all hooked and skewered by the thorns. Sweat drenched and exhausted we pushed on after the Eland. The lack of sleep and heat were really starting to get to me. I don’t know how I managed to keep going but I can only describe it as autopilot, I know my brain wasn’t functioning properly but my feet just kept landing one in front of the other and without complaint I soldiered on.

With the sun was starting to close the distance with the horizon we were still no closer to the herd. They knew they were being hunted and were not about to let us gain any ground on them. Hannes and Chris made the decision to try and ambush them one more time before the day was up. Hannes thought he knew where they would be headed and we would set up there. He called his lovely wife on the radio and had her come pick us up. With our gear loaded and stowed we once again set off to try and get ahead of the herd.

I tried to ready myself this time. I wasn’t used to such a fast paced hunting strategy and I was having a little trouble adapting to it, especially in my current state. Once again I was here to hunt and if I wanted an Eland I would just have to cowboy the fuck up and make it happen.

We finally arrived at the location that Hannes and Chris wanted us to set up. It was a small clear area in the bush a few hundred yards wide. Hannes pointed in front of us towards a break in the thorny trees. “They will either have to come through there”, then pointing to another break to our right “or there”.

He set the sticks up and I adjusted them for a standing shot. Then we waited.

Minutes ticked by with nothing. I couldn’t believe how long these Eland had been running. We followed them nearly all day. Their tireless pace was impressive to say the least.

Suddenly I picked up movement far to the right. A herd of Zebra broke out of the trees and mixed in with them was…you guessed it the Eland. “There I pointed”.

We all shifted right. They were farther than we had originally anticipated, roughly 200 yards and right in the tree line. The Zebra parked themselves in a small break in the trees and stopped.

“There’s your bull” Hannes pointed. One lone bull was at the back of the pack behind some bushes.

I shifted y crosshairs left but there was no way through the bush. “No shot I whispered, but if he moves up to where the Zebra are I will have an opening.

Suddenly the Zebra moved out and the big bull started to move forward right to the opening. He would pass right through the opening if he continued. Forward he walked right into the spot that I wanted. I led him slightly and as he stepped out into the open I squeezed the trigger. BOOOOMM. The .338 barked again.

“He’s hit” Hannes shouted “Reload”!

I had made a classic mistake though. With my instincts taking over I had put the shot behind the shoulder as I would on a North American game animal. The big antelope jumped back into cover as we took off running towards it. Anticipating a long chase I didn’t know if I had anything left in the tank. I had waited 20 years to hunt an Eland and this isn’t how I wanted it to end.

Before we took ten steps Hannes stopped and pointed “he’s down”.

The bullet had caught the lungs and the big bull had circled back out of the thick bush and laid down in the shade of an Acacia tree. We crept up slowly letting trying not to disturb him.

The closer we got the bigger he got. He was still alive but was not getting up. I was ready to put a finishing shot in him from about 50 yards but Hannes pushed me onward.

“Come up to that shady spot” he whispered “I’ve got you covered”.

We closed within 3 yards of the massive animal. “Put the shot right in the bend of the front leg” Hannes whispered.

I knelt down, took aim and with one last squeeze of the trigger the hunt was over. The huge animal turned over on its side and expired.

I stayed kneeling on the ground for a good long while…I was exhausted, sunburnt, cut and bleeding from thorns and branches but it was all worth it as I sat and looked at the huge animal. I am not one to get emotional about a hunt successful or otherwise but as I looked over at the Eland only a few feet from me I will admit I got a little choked up.

I can honestly say that hunting Eland that day was the single hardest hunt I have ever been on. That includes hunting sheep in the mountains.

After the pictures were taken it took every one of us to get the massive beast loaded. Hannes and Chris estimated the live weight to be around 900 kg. By far the largest land animal I have ever harvested.

I couldn’t believe this was only day one and we had already put two trophy Gemsbok and one trophy Eland into the salt. This was shaping up to be the greatest hunting experience of my life.

Eland rev1.jpg


photo (2).JPG


Stay tuned for Day 2
 

ArmyGrunt

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Fantastic report! I like how you give details and highlights in such a way that we can almost feel like we're with you! Good luck with the rest of the week!
 

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What a beautiful eland bull! Great write up!
 

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Looks like a good old bull! Nice work!
 

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Great No Awesome first day! Congrats keep it coming.
 

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three animals on the first day ,bloody great going .
them elend are a massive antelope ,in every picture they dwarf the hunter .
nice writing , don't stop !!!!
 

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Amazing how auto pilot takes over when you are medium rare and sleep deprived!

You survived to get a great Eland trophy.

Thanks for sharing……..
 

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Hunting Day 2, Hunting the “Wilder Beast” as my fiancé calls them

I managed a couple more hours sleep than usual. This was likely due to extreme exhaustion, a delicious dinner and a couple glasses of Old Brown Sherry.

Today would be the last day I would be hunting with Hannes and his wife. We drove out to meet them at their ranch. After packing all our gear into the bakkie we set off for a beautiful 8,000 hectare property in the Steenbokpan area. I was told this area had a wonderful variety of wildlife on it and was certainly not disappointed.

Upon arriving at the property we were greeted by a nice Impala ram and a white Blesbok wandering next to the tree line off in the distance. Hannes against his wife’s recommendation decided not to put a stalk on the Impala right away as he was certain we would see much larger since they were sooooo common and easy to find (yes this is foreshadowing).

We met one of the landowners and shortly thereafter set off on the hunt. In a nice change of pace from the day before we actually spent a fair bit of time in the bakkie exploring the area and looking for sign of Blue Wildebeest so we could put a stalk on a nice bull.

One of the highlights of the day for me came as we happened across a small herd of Giraffe, the first I have ever seen in the wild. I acted the tourist and snapped some pictures and video with my Samsung S4. Hannes was quick to point out that Samsung and Samson (Chris’ always happy tracker/skinner) were very close phonetically, this began a short conversation in which Samson’s nickname changed from “Sammy”…..to “Samsung”…..to “S4”……and eventually with a hearty laugh by all wound up being “S4 mini” (don’t ask).

giraffe rev1.jpg


The second highlight came when we stumbled across a White Rhino in the bush. Again playing the tourist I snapped pictures and video. Hannes and his wife were more than happy to accommodate this.

rhino rev1.jpg


We continued driving the property seeing a vast abundance of wildlife including but not limited to Zebra, Rhino, Giraffe, Red Hartebeest, Impala, Steenbok, Duiker, Eland, Kudu, the list goes on and on.

Hannes and I were having a jolly old time telling stupid jokes and generally being retarded... suddenly the bakkie came to an abrupt stop and reversed a short distance. All eyes were up and scanning for whatever it was his wife had seen. There was a short conversation in Afrikaans, Sammy errr… I mean S4 mini jumped in telling Hannes that he must listen to his wife. Then we saw it, to the left of the vehicle under the shade of a large tree was a nice Blue Wildebeest bull.

We all quickly deployed from the vehicle and moved into a shooting position. Hannes peered through his binoculars “yes he’s a good one” he stated.

I put my rifle on the sticks and took careful aim. The bull was slightly quartering way from what I could tell. It was difficult to make out his exact orientation due to the extreme contrast with the shadows.

I estimated the distance at about 150 yards. I found the big animal in the scope and settled the crosshairs on him. A nice slow squeeze on the trigger and BBBBOOOOMMM! The bullet struck the bull right behind the shoulder…..that’s right I did it again…..shit, @#$@#, ,^&%$@, %^$#@, #$@%. The big bull hunched up and launched into the brush followed by the rest of the herd.

The herd was circling to the left and would cross the road in short order. Hannes suggested I get ready for a follow up shot if the bull was with them. I swing to the left and we watched.

The herd began crossing the road in a nice orderly single file…that was nice of them. Cow, cow, cow, calf, cow, immature bull, cow, calf, cow, cow, cow…..no big bull. He was still in there.

We grabbed our gear and set off to where the bull was standing at the shot so we could pick up his tracks and go find him. Hannes, S4 mini, Hannes and Hannes’ little Jack Russell “Max” headed into the bush.

It didn’t take long to pick up the trail. We cut tracks slowly picking our way towards wherever the bull had gone. We were not however finding any blood. The amount of fresh sign eventually made us split up on two different trails. Hannes and I went one way while S4 mini went the other. We pushed deeper into the bush…with every step my heart sunk a little deeper…had I just caused a long lingering death for this creature? I was extremely disappointed in myself but was determined to find the bull and put an end to its suffering if I had to stay here all night.

We had gone sever hundred yards in to the bush without finding a drop of blood when Hannes stopped and said “there is no way he made it this far without there being any blood, I think we are on the wrong trail”. Without another word we reversed course and began taking a different route back to where the bull was hit.

After another 150 yards or so heading back the silence was broken by a muffled but very distinct “hrumph….hrumph….hrumph” coming from a 2 o’clock direction just ahead. Max the Jack Russell took off and we were in hot pursuit. Lo’ and behold about 50 yards later hunkered down in the shade of a tree we found the bull. He was still alive but Max was determined to fix that.

I’m sure if the little dog could speak he would have been shouting “I’ve got this guys”! He nipped at the hindquarters of the much larger animal determined to bring it down all by himself. Hannes tried to call him off of the Wildebeest but Max was having none of it as long as it was still alive.

Then suddenly the big bull stood up, apparently even in his severely wounded state he’d had enough of the little dog pestering him. Hannes and I both stepped back and our rifles snapped to our shoulders. Hannes motioned me to circle right around behind the animal so we could put a shot through its heart with a quartering away position.

“If he challenges us again shoot him immediately” Hannes whispered.

We quickly circled around the animal. I dropped down on one knee and squeezed off the final shot. The big bull dropped in his tracks. As a testament to the strength of the animal Samson aka “S4 mini” later discovered while cleaning it that the first bullet had gone through both lungs and nicked the heart. How it was still breathing let alone still able to run 150 yards to where we found him then stand back up after that is beyond me.

wildebeest rev1.jpg

Myself, Hannes, and his lovely wife.

wildebeest rev2.jpg

Myself, Hannes, and Samson aka "S4 Mini"

After handshakes and pictures were taken we loaded the bull into the truck and headed out after the ever abundant and oh so easy to hunt Impala (more foreshadowing).

For the rest of the day we saw just about every African big game animal with the exception of Impala. Hannes caught a nearly un-ending stream of criticism from his wife for not going after the nice Impala ram we had seen at the beginning of the day. I decided it would be appropriate to join in at the end of the day asking him:

“Aren’t White Blesbok relatively uncommon compared to other antelope species around here?

“There are quite a few, but yes they are more uncommon that most” he replied.

“Then why is it I wonder that we have seen more White Blesbok today that Impala”? I laughed.

“Shut up”.

“BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA“. Of course even though it was true, I was only joking with the very large man. Honestly after the incredible first two days we had putting 4 animals in the salt I was not overly concerned about missing out on the Impala on day two.

We left Hannes and headed back to the ranch for another amazing dinner and a few drinks. Chris decided we would go into the mountains tomorrow and hunt for a big Kudu bull that we had spotted on a scouting trip on the first day I arrived. This was the hunt I was waiting for and I couldn’t be more excited.

Stay tuned for day three!
 

bluey

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nice bwb, johnny

I want a pup of that dog !
 

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One big blue wildebeest! Congrats!
 

Rob404

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Great hunting report so far,,,I hope there is still some game left for Me
 

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Hi Jody,
I have been looking for ideas on the best way to display my European mounts from Africa. I came across some of your shield work and was wondering if you would be willing to make one for me? If so, please let me know the cost. I like the shield with the two spears that you built for a member years ago. Thanks.
cal pappas wrote on Mnelson2's profile.
Nelson. Is this message a PM format. I want to send you my email, but don't know if this is the cirrect way to do it. I'm at <pappas@mtaonline.net> Send me an email with your phone and I will call you about a skull I have. I went to school in Boston and am from Bernardston in the west part of the state. Moved to Alaska in 1984 adn never looked back.
BeeMaa wrote on Justbryan's profile.
Sold a Blaser scope mount to him. He was a pleasure to do business with.
BeeMaa wrote on 375Fox's profile.
Sold a Blaser scope mount to him. Was a pleasure to do business with.
 
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