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

Johnny7604

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Hunting Day 9 – One last push

We had decided there was no need to be up early so I took the morning and began packing up my non-essential gear. It was bitter sweet, on one hand it would be good to get back to the family but on the other I wished the hunting would never end. So far the hunt had been a smashing success. The physical and mental challenges of it all only made it that much better. The gears were already spinning as I worked on the logistics of getting back to Africa.

After a nice lunch we proceeded to head off to the area we hunted the day before for one last hunt. We were expecting a fairly easy hunt for the plentiful common blesbok we had seen so many times already this week. We arrived at the area and once again picked up Pieotr. I enjoyed asking him about the area and the animals that called it home. Today I grilled him about the buffalo and rhino that were present. The conservation methods that were employed in South Africa fascinated me. Pieotr gladly answered all my questions only pausing to point out directions to Chris as we merrily bounced along the road to the last location we had seen the blesbok herd the day before.

The herd was not far from where we left them. We disembarked and geared up for what we were hoping would be one last short stalk to finish my first hunt in Africa. Once again we had the wind as we proceeded into the bush after the blesbok.

One silent step after another we crept through the sandy brush towards our quarry.

The familiar grunt of the blue wildebeest broke the silence.

“Damn those wildebeest” I whispered. The wildebeest were still with them and they once again had us cold. We could see one of the bulls standing in the shade of a tree looking right at us through the brush.

We took a knee and assessed the situation. We were losing light at an astonishing rate. If we circled to the left flank of the blesbok, away from the wildebeest we would be upwind of the entire blesbok herd. If we tried circling to the right we would put the wildebeest that already knew we were here right between us and the blesbok. Damned if we did….damned if we didn’t. Pieotr checked his watch and I took another look at the sun inching closer to the horizon.

The seconds ticked by and the shadows kept growing longer. We were in a Mexican standoff with the wildebeest to see who would flinch first……then the wind switched and made the decision for us. The herd packed up and headed deeper into the bush.

“Let’s get out of here and see if we can hit the fields before we lose the light” Pieotr suggested.

“Exactly my thought’s” I agreed.

We made a quick exit back to the truck and headed to one of the three fields that frequently had blesbok in it near dusk. We stopped well ahead of the field and walked in so as not to spook any game that might be there. I couldn’t help but keep looking at the sun. The sky was turning orange now as it dropped closer to the horizon.

As we broke the tree line bordering the field we immediately saw blesbok along the far edge. Pieotr. It was too far to tell if any were male but we needed to move quickly. As we did the day before we formed into a single line with Chris at the lead and headed out into the field. Our pace was a little quicker today as we cut through the thigh high grass trying to keep the small trees dotting the field between us and the blesbok.

About half way across the field the small herd sensed something was up and made a move to the left. They were still in the open but we lost some distance. As we shifted to intercept them and stepped out from behind a tree we came face to face with another white blesbok ram. I doubt he was more than 100 yards away and staring right at us. Busted!

The group of us froze. We could see the herd slowly moving towards the edge of the field. The white male stood there looking right at us. There was only a sliver of the sun poking up above the trees now. We had to make a move and we had to do it now.

“Let’s go” said Chris as he stepped towards the herd.

It was the only option we had left. We needed to get a line of sight to the herd, quickly determine if there was a shooter ram in the bunch and make a shot before the big white male made it back to them and ushered the into the bush. The race was on.

As soon as we moved the white ram took off running as expected straight towards the herd. We moved quickly into an open area where we had line of sight to the herd. Binoculars and rangefinders were up as we scanned the herd. Female…female….female….female….I don’t know if there was any males in the bunch but if there were they certainly weren’t shooters. All we could do is watch as our last hope ran into the brush and out of sight. A quick glance back at the sun confirmed we did not have the time to get to the other fields and see if there was anything in them. The hunt was over and I would not be getting my last blesbok.

Now that I think back it was strange how not finding that one common blesbok brought everyone’s mood down so quickly. Up until that point I was really not concerned whether I got one or not. I’m not sure what everyone else was thinking but for me it was a combination of feeling as though we had been so close and failed as well as a touch of OCD screaming at me that having the white and not the common would bring the universe to a catastrophic end.

We all walked back to the truck with our heads hung low. At least we had a beautiful sunset to watch. I took some solace in that and decided to capture this last one with a couple of pictures.

I don’t know if someone was praying, or if I had been blessed in some former life but when I raised my head up to watch my last African sunset of the trip I could not believe my eyes. There between us and the truck running to our left across the field was a lone blesbok.

I managed to spit out a loud “PSSSTT”. Everyone snapped their heads up to look at me as I pointed at him crossing in front of us. Springing into action with the speed of an old west gunslinger Chris’ binoculars suddenly appeared in front of his face.

“It’s a male” Chris confirmed.

“Is he a shooter”? I asked moving towards the front of the group.

“He’s a good representation” was the reply.

It was good enough for me. “Sticks” I whispered.

Pieotr was Johnny on the spot and set them up for a standing shot.

I ranged the ram. 140 yards, not a problem. However as I placed my rifle on the sticks he began to move again. Angling away from us he started running. As I followed him in the scope he stopped behind a large bush. No shot.

I believe Pieotr made a suggestion we move to get an angle on him. I could see him clearly though. He wasn’t going to stay where he was much longer. “He’s going to move” I said without coming out of the scope.

“Yes, he’s going to come out” Chris whipered.

It was surely only a few second even though it seemed like hours but the ram finally trotted out. He was going to stop…..he had to stop. “Please stop” I pleaded with my best Jedi mind trick. Apparently it worked because the ram stopped broadside. I estimated the distance at around 300 yards. No time to confirm with the laser though, I held on the shoulder about half way up the body to compensate for any errors in judging the distance. I took one last breath and as it bottomed out I squeezed the trigger.

“BOOOOOMMMM……….SMACK”! My .338 barked for the last time.

“He’s hit” Chris confirmed. We watched as he took off on three legs. The left front leg was clearly non-functional. He was moving fast and going to pass behind a large stand of trees. We lost sight of him as he slipped behind the trees. You could sense everyone tracking where they thought he would be if he continued along that path. As I pointed to where he should be moving I suddenly came to the other side of the trees and stopped………seconds passed and no blesbok. He was down.

The mood was much lighter and everyone was smiling as we walked up and found him laying in the grass. It turned out the distance was closer to 350 yards. Samson later confirmed that the bullet broke the left leg and hit the heart and lungs.

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We managed to get a quick few pictures in before the light was completely gone. After loading the blesbok into the truck and saying our goodbye’s to Pieotr and his brother we headed back to Sabrisa Ranch.

We would be having dinner in the boma tonight. Fire grilled eland tenderloin and impala shish-kabobs washed down with my last glass of Old Brown Sherry and some red wine. The dinner was amazing as usual.

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Thus ended my fist African hunt and I think for the first time in nearly two weeks I finally managed to sleep through the night.

For those who took the time to read this lengthy report, my sincere thanks I really do appreciate it. Please keep in mind that I was working mostly from memory on a lot of it so some of the quotes and smaller details may not be exact but that’s what my brain remembered in the heat of the moment. If I made any errors I’m sure Chris will correct me.

I will make one more post as part of this hunting report and that will be an outfitter review for those who are interested. Thanks again.


Cheers and happy hunting,

John
 

Johnny7604

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Trip Service Provider Reviews

Travel Agent

Lori Spears with Travel Express made my flight bookings for me. She was extremely helpful with my initial planning phase. Lori’s knowledge of both the transportation and hunting industries was of great benefit and she was able to provide me with some very helpful insights into smaller details that may have otherwise been overlooked.

Thank you very much Lori and I will be using your organization for booking all my future hunting trips.

Johannesburg Accommodations

With my flight getting in at 9:30 pm RSA time I required accommodations to overnight in Johannesburg. On Lori Spears suggestion I booked with the Africa Sky Guesthouse. Conveniently they were also able to provide a firearm permit and airport pickup service .

I was met at the airport by a wonderful gentleman who escorted me through the firearms check in process. After which we made the short drive to the Guesthouse. It is an absolutely beautiful facility. Rooms have their own outdoor access. The accommodations were clean and more than adequate for my requirements. The welcome drink and honor bar were a nice touch.

The next morning I went for an early breakfast at which I met three other hunters. After breakfast we all sat down for a couple cups of coffee and discussed our backgrounds and upcoming trips.

Dierdre was a delight and took the time to sit and talk with me while I waited to be picked up by Chris.

Why anyone would see the need to stay anywhere else in Johannesburg I don’t know but I will definitely be staying there when I return.

Thanks Deirdre it was a pleasure.

Here are a few pictures I took while I sat by the pool having winding down from my flights with a nightcap.

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Wheels

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Glad you had such a great hunt. Thanks for the detailed report and photos.

All the best.
 

Johnny7604

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Outfitter Review

Accommodations and staff

I was treated to my own two room plus bathroom cabin at Sabrisa Ranch. It was nicely decorated and very clean. All the amenities were present including A/C, mini-fridge, electric kettle and microwave and television. Laundry services were provided daily.

The ranch itself was beautiful. The grounds were kept up daily and had an abundance of wildlife to watch including a 50 inch kudu bull that was camped out behind my cabin one day and a nice bushbuck ram that would only come out when we were off hunting.

I loved the boma, it was a real treat to sit around the fire after a long day’s hunting.

There was a pool there even though I did not partake myself.

The staff was polite and hard working. Overall the accommodations and staff were fantastic.

Knowledge and experience

I wasn’t counting but I think I asked well over a thousand questions and there were maybe three that Chris couldn’t answer. He seemed to know everyone in the area and had a good working relationship with all of them from what I could tell. He certainly had no problem finding us places to hunt.

I really don’t know what else to say other than I could find absolutely no faults in his knowledge of not only hunting and its industry but everything South Africa related.

Hunting Areas

The areas we hunted were wonderful and diverse. From my dream mountain Kudu hunt, the sand veldt, forests, marshy pans and what I can only describe as dark jungle along the Limpopo river there was always new areas to explore. It was wonderful not to be locked into one area day after day and Chris was very quick to adapt our hunts to my levels of fitness and shooting ability.

I saw a marvelous variety of both flora and fauna, I wish I had taken more pictures of the scenery but I was too wrapped up in hunting. I’m sure if my fiancé had been there the pictures would still be downloading.

Animal Quality

No complaints here, of the 10 animals that were harvested 8 are definitely SCI Gold, Silver or Bronze and at least two of those should be Rowland Ward. The warthog and common blesbok are un-measured at this time so I’m not sure where they will fall.

Success Rate

With the exception of the bushbuck which I made the decision to call off we managed to harvest every animal on my list including 2 doubles. I won’t say it was easy to achieve that, we worked very hard and according to the gps on my S4 I left over 40 km of boot leather in some of South Africa. The terrain was tough and the bush was thick. Chris and Samson put their absolute heart and soul into every hunt and it showed. I did my very best to do the same.

Interpersonal Skills & Customer Service

The highest praise I can possibly give is that not once during my hunt did I feel like I was just a client. I can honestly say it felt like I was visiting old friends for a hunting trip. Chris, Sabina and all their staff did an amazing job of making me feel at home while I was there. I can’t express how much I appreciated that especially since I was there by myself.

As for customer service, I did not want for anything from the minute I was picked up at Africa Sky to the time they left me at airport security they made sure I was taken care of.

Food

Are you kidding me? The food was amazing, Sabina is a culinary genius. I took great pleasure in bugging Chris that people come for the food and stay for the hunting.

I even threw a curveball at Sabina that I had been diagnosed with IBD just before leaving on the trip. She adapted to my new dietary requirements like a champ and can say that not once did I have any issues while I was there, I probably could have left my medication at home.

Conclusion

I don’t really know what else to say other than I had an amazing time. Chris made my childhood dream of hunting a trophy kudu in the mountains a reality. There are no words that can describe how much that hunt meant to me.

I learned a ton of new things and I know for a fact I came back a better hunter than I was when I left.

It certainly won’t be a question of will I be returning to hunt with Chris but it will be a question of where will we be hunting…..but I think I have that figured out already.

Thank you Chris and Sabina and thanks everyone for reading.

Cheers and Good hunting,


John
 
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TRAVEL EXPRESS

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Thanks for sharing your hunt report - glad you had an incredible trip and that your travels went smoothly!
 

bluebill

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Great report John! I hunted with Chris last year and as I read your report I could literally close my eyes and "see" some of the hunts we experienced. Thanks for that. I'm planning to return to hunt with Chris in a few years, but after reading your report I'm going to start saving a little harder and see if I can push that up a bit! Congrats on a great hunt and experience of a lifetime.

Mike
 

Johnny7604

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Great report John! I hunted with Chris last year and as I read your report I could literally close my eyes and "see" some of the hunts we experienced. Thanks for that. I'm planning to return to hunt with Chris in a few years, but after reading your report I'm going to start saving a little harder and see if I can push that up a bit! Congrats on a great hunt and experience of a lifetime.

Mike
Thanks for reading, I'm glad you enjoyed it. I know I certainly enjoyed reliving it while I was writing it. I wish I had taken more pictures of the scenery though. One more reason to return I suppose.

John
 

Rob404

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I really enjoyed your Hunting report. Can't wait to Meet Chris ,Sabina and Staff myself as I'm leaving for my Adventure on May 15th and will be there to Toast Chrs's Birthday' and with the help of a certain Spy in Pretoria bring him a few surprises
 

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real good write up johnny and you can def tell how much you enjoyed it , thorns and all :). what is the rifle it looks like a serious piece of kit, but it must have been heavy carrying it during some of those stalks?
 

Johnny7604

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I really enjoyed your Hunting report. Can't wait to Meet Chris ,Sabina and Staff myself as I'm leaving for my Adventure on May 15th and will be there to Toast Chrs's Birthday' and with the help of a certain Spy in Pretoria bring him a few surprises

Thank you and best of luck on your hunt. I hope you have as good a time as I did. Say high to Chris Sabina and Samson for me.

real good write up johnny and you can def tell how much you enjoyed it , thorns and all :). what is the rifle it looks like a serious piece of kit, but it must have been heavy carrying it during some of those stalks?

Thanks, it's a .338 Lapua built off of a Defiance action. It was a bit on the heavy side for the area I was in, I'm used to packing heavy rifles in the mountains but the heat was kicking my ass. I wasn't expecting the bush to be quite so thick but we managed to make it work.
 
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Takeri Reserve Zambia

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PHOENIX PHIL

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Great report Johnny, congrats on your first trip!
 

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Very nicely done, on all accounts! I'll be staying at Africa Sky Guesthouse in about 9 days myself.
 

Johnny7604

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Very nicely done, on all accounts! I'll be staying at Africa Sky Guesthouse in about 9 days myself.

Thank you, I wish I had booked an extra day at Africa Sky just to relax and acclimatize to the time and weather differences. It was a hell of a thing to go from my temperatures and time zone to theirs and then immediately start climbing mountains and chasing Eland.

It all added to the adventure but I was not prepared for it and it surely kicked my ass. One more day up front would have made a world of difference.

Enjoy your hunt, and best of luck.
 

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What a great write up.

I loved all of the detail and description. Congrats on the hunt!
 

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mate , best you get yourself straight back on the plane and do another hunt ,so we can all enjoy another bout of your writings.
well done fella.
 

Johnny7604

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mate , best you get yourself straight back on the plane and do another hunt ,so we can all enjoy another bout of your writings.
well done fella.

Thanks and believe me if I could I would. It has snowed here everyday since I got back.

Next hunt won't be until 2016 though unless I can pick up a last minute deal or something between now and then. Have to get married next year although the cash I'm going to dump on that would easily pay for another safari, hmmm.............

I am in the planning phase for my next hunt but need to figure out what region to go to next. I'm thinking Natal or Eastern Cape. I'm looking for mountains and wide open spaces. Any advice from a hunters persepctive?
 

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lve only been to Limpopo , but come aug 5 or 6 when me and my bride return from east cape l will let know .
limpoppo was a great place to stalk with the stick flinger , same sort of thick scrub and feed and water everywhere , as you encountered .
looking foreward to the mountains my self , be more like home , also some of the target are coastal so that will plenty of fun , im told .
doing a combo riffle and bow tour this time .
 

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this is great. Thank you. I am leaving June 4th to hunt Buffalo, Kudu, etc with Chris and this just got me even more excited!

Cheers from Toronto.
 

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