SOUTH AFRICA: GAME 4 AFRICA SAFARIS Buffalo & Plains Game

Carson

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Back in November 2020, game4africa posted a deal on this site for a buffalo and plains game hunt. I had never been to Africa before, but I was already looking into outfitters and had narrowed it down to 3 and game4africa was one of them. I made the deposit the very next day. My brother also decided to join me for plains game. We ended up having to shift hunt dates around because of flights, but we ended up hunting from March 25th - 31st 2022. We just got home yesterday.

We flew on United from Salt Lake City to Johannesburg going through Newark. All of the traveling went well, however we had some full on sprints through airports to catch our connections. We also had to do a fair bit of line cutting to make our connection home in Newark. On the way there we stayed at the Africa Sky Guest Lodge for one night, and then flew on Airlink to Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Kind of a funny story, as we sat on the tarmac on the airplane the flight attendant announced that we would be flying to a place called “Gebecka” (actually spelled “Gqeberha”). Well, I knew that Port Elizabeth had been renamed to that, but my brother did not and was suddenly quite anxious about flying to a (wrong) place with such an exotic name.

Everything about our trip while at game4africa was perfect. I had read many good reviews about them, but until you get there you just don't know. We hunted with Wic (one of the owners) and got along great. They own and have access to several properties, we hunted on three of them. The main property, which is about 15,000 Acres and high fenced - and very thick vegetation, a Conservancy that is about 80,000 acres and low fenced, and another high fenced property that is about 15,000 Acres also but is very wide open and Savannah like. Both my brother and I hunt quite a bit in the Western United States and have never hunted in a high fenced area before. I had some trepidation about hunting in a high fenced area, But this was in no way a canned hunt. The vegetation is so thick on the main property that in many cases you can be 50 yards from a herd of buffalo and not know it. All of the animals acted like wild animals, they would smell you/see you and run away. The property was large enough that if they did that, you likely wouldn’t find them again. For people that hunt in the western U.S., hunting on a South African high fenced property is pretty similar to having access to private land in the states. There are almost always more animals on U.S. private land and typically larger animals, but it is still hunting.

Day 1 and 2 - The Bongo Kudu

Our first morning we woke up to rain, in fact - we had to wait a while before we went out. After waiting 1.5 years for this hunt - that was hard, even if it was just an hour or two. We finally were able to go out. We started slowly walking through the bush. We spotted several smaller kudu bulls, zebra, waterbuck, and nyala. The rain kept starting and stopping. We eventually spotted a very nice kudu bull about five hundred yards away. As we slowly got closer it disappeared into some very thick bush and we could not see it anymore. Wic sent the tracker, X, a long ways around to try and flush out the kudu bull. After about 30 minutes, X got close enough and the bull came out at around 100 yd. my brother shot the bull, which was quartering towards us and then it disappeared into the bush. It started to rain really hard and we walked down and found the bull about 20 yards from where it was shot.
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As you can see from the picture, it was very wet. we joked that this was more like hunting Bongo in central africa due to the thick bush and rain. I haven't seen a lot of kudu up close, but I'm pretty sure they don't make them any prettier than this one. it had about 3 to 4 inches of ivory on each side.

The trackers and skinners showed up and got to work on the kudu. The owners of game4africa safaris also own a Butchery in the nearby town. All of the meat, including organs and even bones is taken to The Butchery and sold to the locals. It was interesting to see them pull out the stomach of each animal, remove the contents, and then save the stomach to sell or eat later. We took a tour of The Butchery on day 6, and saw many of these items on display and for sale at the counter.

It was then my turn to hunt for kudu. We spent the afternoon looking for animals and got really close to a kudu bull that was just not quite big enough. We also got our first good look at Eland. About 1 hour from dark, our guide spotted 2 nyala bulls underneath a cliff. It took a little while to get over there, and then it also took a while to spot the bull (we never saw the other one again). We kept getting little glimpses of the bull as it walked between trees and bushes. Eventually my brother got a shot at about 150 yd. He hit the bull good, but it was still standing so he shot again and it went down immediately after the second shot.
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It was now the end of day one and my brother had shot 2/4 of his animals and I had shot none. I went to bed that night excited for the next day. When we woke up on day 2 it was raining even harder. We drove up to their Conservancy, which is about an hour away, and the rain kept coming. It was also kind of cold. There was mist so thick that we could only see about 100 yards so we sat at the truck for about three hours waiting for it to lift.
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It eventually lifted a little bit but was still raining. We hiked around in the rain and listened to the baboons warn all the animals that we were around. It was honestly pretty miserable hiking around in the rain. Eventually we busted a nice kudu bull out of the bush that ran in front of us and we never got a shot. Then we rounded the corner and spotted two nice kudu bulls on an opposite hillside. They were about 220 yards away. The lower one was clearly nicer than the other one and so we got set up for a shot on the standing sticks. We had to wait at least 40 minutes for the kudu bull to give me a shot. It finally came out of the thick bush and I shot. My first shot in Africa, something I had waited for for over a decade was a clean miss. I quickly chambered another round and shot again, this time hitting the bull perfectly. it instantly jumped at the shot and disappeared into the bush.
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I was kind of upset about having missed the kudu on my first shot. Every shot I took thereafter was perfect. I guess I'll chalk that first shot up to nerves built up for many years and having to watch the kudu bull for 40 minutes through my scope without being able to shoot. As many of you who have been to Africa know, shooting things off of standing sticks at 220 yards is also not very easy.

Day 3 - Introduction to Cape Buffalo

On day 3 we were going to focus on eland, zebra, and Impala. We drove up into the hills and began to glass. My brother spotted a huge Buffalo about 2 mi away by itself. We couldn't tell a lot about it, but we could tell that it was very large even at 2 miles away. We drove over there to within about a quarter mile of where we had seen it and parked. We then walked to where we could see into where we had last seen it. Four of us used our binoculars to try to find the Buffalo and could not see anything. We looked for about 15 minutes. Wic, my brother, and I then walked into where we had seen it very slowly and quietly. Eventually, Wic said that he could hear it. My heart started beating very quickly. I eventually saw it about 50 yards away with its butt towards us. It then laid down and I could barely see its horns. This was the first huntable Buffalo I had seen, but I could tell that it was a monster. We had no shot, so we began to move even closer. We got to within about 40 yards. The Buffalo stood up and I still had no shot. This lasted for about 10 minutes and then it laid down again. We then tried to get a shot by moving closer and around the side. At this point we were within about 25 yards but still no shot. This was incredibly exciting, scary, and stressful. I remember thinking that I almost wished I was the observer and not the hunter at this point. I didn't want to be anywhere else, but I was also looking forward to the resolution of this. Eventually the bull must have smelled us and ran away, never presenting a shot.
I wasn't even mad. Even though I didn't get a shot, this was by far the most exciting moment of my hunting life up to that point. I've been on many successful deer, elk, pronghorn, moose, and bear hunts - and none of them raised my heart rate and adrenaline levels like sneaking in close to a buffalo.

We drove over to another high vantage point. Wic spotted several zebra about 2 miles away. Again, we drove to within about a quarter-mile and started walking. Wic asked me if I was okay shooting a female zebra. I said that I strongly preferred a stallion, but I would shoot a female. We slowly walked to where we thought they were and could see a little bit of movement. We stepped out to the right to get a clear shooting lane and Wic set up the shooting sticks. The zebra was quartering away and I set the crosshairs about 6 in back from the triangle and shot. All the zebra, including the one that I had shot, took off into the bush. We found the zebra about 150 yards from where I had shot it with a perfect shot 6 in back from the triangle. It was impressive to me that the zebra took a 375 shot directly into the vitals and still ran that far. The zebra turned out to be a stallion with a beautiful skin. This is the only zebra that I've seen up close, but I'm told that it is a large one.

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We then had lunch and set back out at round 2 p.m. The tracker spotted a nice Impala ram and we were able to get within about 80 yd for a quick shot. I was impressed with how beautiful the animal was. The horns were nice, but the hide was silky smooth and very clean. My plan was to only do European mounts, but I was very tempted to do a shoulder mount with the Impala.
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We finished the day looking for Eland. We bumped into a small herd of buffalo close to dark but never got a chance.

Day 4 - Big Animal day
We started day 4 on a high vantage point looking for buffalo. The clouds were low and we had to wait for them to clear. As soon as they cleared we spotted a large herd of buffalo (20-30) walking through some fields back into the bush. This began a 4 or 5 hour buffalo hunt. We pretty quickly got on to the back of the herd but there was not a shooter bull there. Only young bulls, cows, and calves. We tracked them and eventually got to within 60 yards of two bulls. I never had a great shot at either of them, but they were not hard bossed bulls. We then continued to track the herd and got about 70 yards from a very nice bull. In fact, I had the crosshairs settled between the bull’s eyes for about 3 minutes. I knew that Wic would not want me to take this shot so I didn't even ask. The bull and several of the cows it was with took off again into the bush. We again continued to track them and after another 45 minutes or so got within a hundred yards of the Buffalo. Wic could see that the large bull was about to step out and got me ready on the sticks. The bull stepped out and Wic made a loud bellowing noise. The Buffalo stopped and I shot. The herd took off, but my bull went into the thick bush. later we found that the shot was a good one and the bull would have died. However, we did not know this at the time so I sent two more shots into the bull before it went down. I was glad I had the experience of being close to Buffalo the previous day, because my nerves were more settled than they would have been. The Buffalo made a few death bellows shortly after my shots. We gave the bull about 30 minutes before we went down and found it. Fortunately it was dead. I can't imagine going after a wounded Buffalo in that stuff. Wic does have 2 jack russell terriers that would come in handy should the need arise.

The bull and the hunt were more than I could have dreamed of. The bull had a fairly deep curl and huge, hard bosses. The hunt for the bull consisted of three or four miles of tracking and hours of exciting close calls. It was almost 100 degrees by the time we got the Buffalo and all of us were tired and thirsty.
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It was impressive to see the trackers and skinners go to work. They cut the buffalo in half and carried it out on two large poles.

Due to the Heat, we didn't head back out until 4:30 that evening. My brother's top priority was an old Eland bull. We found three nice eland bulls, one with a nice tuft of hair, a huge dewlap, and worn down horns. The other two bulls probably had longer horns due to not being rubbed down, but my brother really wanted an old bull and he got it.
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We both got our number one animals on the same day. It was a great day. We were impressed with the huge size of the bodies on both the eland and the Cape buffalo. The eland was pretty similar in size to a bull moose. Based on the carcass weight of my cape buffalo, we estimated that the Buffalo probably weighed 1600 pounds on the hoof.

Day 5: Last animals

We each had one animal left on our list. Gemsbok for my brother and warthog for me. We drove out to another area that is very open and Savannah like. After being there for a while we spotted some gemsbok miles away and started driving in that direction. along the way I asked Wic what makes the large holes in the termite mounds. He explained the anteaters dig in there and that sometimes bat-eared foxes and aardwolves sometimes will hide in them. About 10 minutes later I noticed movement in one of the holes and we backed the truck up to take a look. Sure enough, there was an aardwolf hiding in there. It eventually ran off, and that was a cool bonus animal to see on our trip.
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Eventually, we got close to the gemsbok, but they spooked and ran off. This began a one or two hour hunt. We walked through wooded streams and belly crawled through tall grass and eventually we got close enough for my brother to take his gemsbok.
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Later that evening we went out in search of warthogs. We saw several, but it took a little while to find a nice big old boar. We eventually found one and were able to sneak within 80 yd. It was a very fun stalk because it felt low-pressure to me and we had to be wary of the other warthogs. The warthog went down instantly at the shot. I’m a big fan of warthog hunting now.
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Day 6
With all of the animals on our list done, and us trying to stick to our budgets, we decided to take a trip into Grahamstown for some sightseeing. The Butchery that we took a tour of was interesting. It was also interesting to see how people live in Africa. It goes without saying, but it is very different from the US.

Day 7
My brother really enjoyed my warthog hunt, and adding a cull warthog was inexpensive, so we did that in the morning. My brother took a very old sow with a worn down tusk.
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Wrap-up
As I said before, the trip was perfect. The hunt, accommodations, guide, staff, animals, and even the travel were all better than I could have expected. Kudu was the second most important animal on my list and game4africa has them in plethora at multiple properties - both high and low fenced. In terms of tracking and getting close to dangerous game, I don't think that a hunt anywhere else could have been much better. Yes, the buffalo live in a 5 square mile area which probably does make them easier to find initially than in Tanzania or Mozambique. But make no mistake, these were wild animals and I have no doubt that those Buffalo would stomp me with the same zeal as buffalo a few hundred miles to the north. Additionally, the thickness of the vegetation makes the 25 square miles feel even larger. Big thanks to Wic for hosting us and making sure that we had a great hunt and to my brother for coming and having a great trip!
 
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gesch

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Thank you for this great report. I really enjoyed experiencing this through you. I have ben starved for new/current reports. Thanks. What rifles and ammunition did you use. Your friend, Brian
 

PARA45

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Congratulation on a successful hunt. Thank you for taking us along. I’ll be there in less than two months :)
 

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Looks like you used their rifles on this trip-can’t wait to get back there this summer for my own trip-thanks for fanning the flames, glad you had a good trip!
 

Carson

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Thank you for this great report. I really enjoyed experiencing this through you. I have ben starved for new/current reports. Thanks. What rifles and ammunition did you use. Your friend, Brian
We used their rifles. Sako 7mm and .375 both with Swarovski scopes. The rifles and optics were very nice. They were heavier than I was used to though. I typically hunt with a very light rifle though as I hunt back in several miles on foot here in the western US. The weight of the .375 was appreciated to reduce recoil.

I actually don't know what bullets were used. One of the other guys who has hunted with them may be able to chime in.
 

375 Ruger Fan

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Excellent hunt and report! Another happy client with Wik and @GAME 4 AFRICA SAFARIS .

As far as bullets, the two times I hunted with Wik, we used 162 gr Hornady SST in the 7mm mag and 300 gr Swift A-Frames in the 375 H&H. In fact it was Wik that got me interested in trying the Hornady SST bullets in my guns at home. The SST and now ELD-X bullets I've used have a lot of one shot kills.
 

cpr0312

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Congrats and thanks for sharing!
 

slam8031

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Great read and great hunt! Congratulations!
 

Trogon

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Congratulations, enjoyed reading your hunt report. You and your brother got some outstanding animals!
 

Uncle Sauce

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Looks like you had a great hunt - Congrats! Thanks for sharing your trip with us.
 

Shootist43

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Thanks Carson for "taking" us on your hunt. BTW is your return trip already been planned or is it still in the works?
 

cls

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Well done all around, congratulations. Thanks for the report.
 

sierraone

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Great hunt and report.
 

LivingTheDream

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Thank you for the write up! You had a great hunt and took some wonderful animals. That buff is a good one!! Congrats!
 

Frederik

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Nice write up good hunt and some nice trophies too boot!!!
 

Carson

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Thanks Carson for "taking" us on your hunt. BTW is your return trip already been planned or is it still in the works?
I've been thinking about that the last few days. I have a lot of other hunting I'd like to do still and a finite budget. Ibex, red stag, chamois, auodad, moose, and caribou. So it may be a while till I make it back to Africa. When my kids are older I'd love to take them to Africa. That's not commentary on how great it was there - just have a bunch of other hunts to do!
 

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