SOUTH AFRICA: Game4Africa Hunt Report February 2017

Discussion in 'Hunting Reports Africa' started by Jason Rodd, Feb 7, 2017.

  1. Jason Rodd

    Jason Rodd AH Member

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    Day 2: I met Wicks in the main lodge at 05.30 for a cup of tea and a rusk. I noted plenty of cloud cover which, in February, is a blessing for any foot hunt out here.
    We collected Mike the tracker from his home on the property just a few hundred yards away. I think it is import to point out how well the Coetzee family look after all of their staff. They have provided really nice, sizeable, detached properties with electricity and running water. This, combined with the fact that the staff are treated with respect makes them feel valued which in turn makes for a happy working environment for all. Always lots of "good mornings", "well done sir" and hand shaking. Really nice.
    So off we trundled in the Toyota, along an unmade track, again gaining height until we stopped some half a mile from the edge of huge escarpment. We decamped and walked slowly towards our first vantage point passing a small group of 5 quality Eland bulls and bumping a young Duiker. After a few minutes we reached the edge and Wicks proceeded to glass the opposite hillside whilst I, in all honesty, just stood and starred at the stunning green hills rolling away towards the horizon. Frequently these hills have one steep side and one which is sheer vertical cliff face; quite different my normal experiences plains game hunting in SA.
    After a couple of changes in position along the edge we finally located a very large Eastern Cape Kudu bull standing in the shade, pretty much broadside but well hidden in the shade of a tree. The target was some 340 metres away. The shot was taken from the sticks but unfortunately the 139 grain SST flew slightly high. Normally I should have been fine with this shot but I think I was still feeling pretty roughed up from all of the flying. Its a good point to note that on these trips you often feel pretty wiped out on the second day, adrenaline and high spirits having carried you through the first! In any case, it was a clean miss so I was thankful for that and let the bull wander off into the bush.
    We tried a few more spots up until about 10am and by 10.45 we were back at the lodge wading into a hearty breakfast. We did indeed see plenty of Kudu bulls, Nyala and other assorted game. A lot were genuinely good takers, fine trophies, but I was after old boys, a luxury after numerous visits to the dark continent.
     

  2. CAustin

    CAustin AH ENABLER BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Ambassador

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    Keep it coming Jason!
     

  3. Jason Rodd

    Jason Rodd AH Member

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    Day 2 cont.; Around 11.30am we were taking some coffee on the terrace when one of the camp staff trotted up to Colin, Wicks brother, to begin a rather animated story about how he had just witnessed 2 old Eland Bulls have a gargantuan scrap which resulted in smashed fences and suspected life threatening injuries to both parties. The decision was quickly made to go and check on the welfare of both animals which had staggered off in opposite directions. Within the hour Colin had reported back to us via radio that his tracker had located one bull which appeared to have minor injuries but was feeding moving well. Naturally this bull was left to go on his way and continue his, not so "Disney", life of a wild animal in Africa.
    On another area of the property over 6 kilometres from first bull located by Colin, Wicks, Mike and myself found the second bull in a much worse state. Although we couldn't see any external injuries the animal was leaning against a tree and quite oblivious to our presence even though we were in open ground and in full sight only 20 metres or so away. It was not a difficult decision to put an end to the animals suffering and I quickly despatched him with a round from Wicks .375.
    The bull was old and had undoubtedly just lost the fight to a younger, stronger competitor. That's nature as we hunters well understand. A big issue here is the fact that the stricken animal was initially observed because there were staff paid for by hunting and its suffering was mercifully cut short because there were experienced hunters on hand with the necessary skills and equipment to do so. To the best of my knowledge there were no anti-hunting lobbyists available at the time to simply stand and watch the animal die slowly or inform us what we were doing was wrong. Funny how this is so often the case.
     
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  4. Jason Rodd

    Jason Rodd AH Member

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    Day 2 PM; My first afternoon outing this trip and the game were out en-mass. Again we took to the high ground but in another area of the property which is, believe me, quite vast. This area was a little bit flatter than the one we hunted earlier in the day, the hills slightly smaller but still they provided great vantage points to observe the game in the more open ground below. Every 30 minutes or so it seemed, Wiks and I would take a closer look at one particular Nyala Bull or another. Many were left as they just weren't quite as old as we wanted. With one hour to go we decided to try one last area. We moved a few kilometres closer to camp and began to still hunt (moving very slowly from cover to cover) an area low down near a large lake. It took great discipline for me to concentrate on the task in hand whilst, out of the corner of my eye, I could see hundreds of expanding rings ripple across the surface of the lake. Flash backs of titanic struggles with monster Vundu in other parts of Africa constantly entering my head.
    After 40 minutes slowly moving from crag to crag or crag to bush Wiks finally became excited about a bull some 120 straight ahead. It stood broadside in perfect order and a shot off the sticks did for him. Watching through the binoculars it was quickly established that although he had run some 30 metres, there was now no sign of life. Eagerly we approached the bull and it was clearly evident he was exactly what I wanted, great length, thickness and in my opinion the perfect shape for a Nyala. Lots of smiles, respectful comments concerning the old bull and the sound of the camp staff happily chatting away as they approached to help us with the retrieve. A perfect moment in the Veld.
     

  5. Jason Rodd

    Jason Rodd AH Member

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    Day 4; I awoke earlier than necessary to the sounds of crickets clicking and finches chattering in the thorn tree outside my room. My head was a little thick from a night of Nyala celebrations around the campfire the night before. Nothing too serious though. I donned boots and slid the door open to welcome the morning in only to be greeted by a steadying blast of heat. No cloud today, just bright blue sky from horizon to horizon. This hunt had been arranged as a spur of the moment thing just before Christmas and it’s now February, the height of summer in South Africa. Thus far we had been blessed with unseasonal cloud cover and this had got my defences down. No mistaking what I was in for today; the mercury was rising and I hadn’t even had my first cup of tea.

    This next stage of the hunt was going to be special. We were heading to a totally open area just over an hour from the lodge where cattle are sparsely farmed and a sustainable herd of Scimitar Oryx roam. Sadly extinct in its historical natural range in the dry lands of Chad and Sudan, herds of Scimitar are being raised elsewhere in countries where hunting is strictly controlled, in the hope that one day they may be reintroduced back in to their natural range. The Scimitar Oryx has an understated beauty having slender sweeping horns and a coat that is teak brown and taupe. A thing of beauty forms where these two colours collide and blend around the shoulder, affording the coat an incredible golden glow, a thing to behold indeed. Amongst the nomadic tribes from the Scimitar’s original homelands , their skins once tanned, are legendary for their strength and longevity.

    We pulled off the tarmac road to a vista of long, gently sloping hills folding over each other over each other as far as one could see. Now off-roading we drove for a further 15 minutes spotting good numbers of Springbok and Warthog. I was slightly alarmed at the lack of cover, there being just the odd bush every few hundred metres at most. Wicks announced it was time to take a walk. Within minutes the fiery sun had baked my clothing and with no breeze things were hotting up fast.

    We walked up the shallow slopes of hill after hill and some individual rises were well over a kilometre. We walked for about forty minutes when Wicks came to an abrupt halt and I followed his gaze. At first I could not see what he was looking out but within seconds 2 fine looking Springbok emerged from a crease in the land some 160 metres ahead and slightly to our left. Do you want to shoot a big Eastern Cape Springbok Wicks asked and I quickly replied affirmatively. “The one behind is the biggest”. I quickly positioned the sticks and took aim with the 7mm. With bullet released and a reassuring heavy thud registered. I looked over the scope to see the front leg spinning as the ram ran about 30 metres before falling to the ground, a nice heart shot getting the better of him.

    We raised Mike on the radio who took about 20 minutes to drive to us. The Springbok was swiftly photographed and loaded onto the back of the Toyota. Leaving Mike with the truck Wicks and I continued on foot in search of the Scimitar.

    After another hour of walking we finally spotted a herd of some 30 scimitar grazing at the bottom of a long slope alongside fifty or so Zebra. With no vegetative cover between us we had to move from termite nest to termite nest crouching low as we went. Due to the lack of cover and the Scimitars legendary vigilance, in all honesty, it was a big ask for our first attempt to work. In the end they spotted us and with no hesitation put a further half a mile between us before stopping.

    Plan B involved Mike driving up on to the far horizon in the hope that the Scimitars flighty nature might ultimately be its downfall.

    Mike took some 20 minutes to get anywhere near where we needed him. During this time Wicks and I had taken cover behind a not so large termite nest, the only cover available. I think this must have presented quite a comical sight as 2 grown men tried to squeeze together behind a small lump of earth literally in the middle of nowhere. With the temperature now well into the mid-thirties it crossed my mind that I had been in more relaxing situations. However, the plan began to work as after immediately noticing Mike as he appeared on the horizon the Scimitar began to move slowly towards us.

    The sun continued to glare down on us and I was convinced that my European skin would start bubbling before much longer. As sweat poured down my back the herd drifted into range. Now the pressure was on to pick the right animal and it seemed to take an age for Wicks to pipe up and identify an individual. When he did the next challenge was to make sure we were both identifying the same individual, no easy task as the herd milled around. After a few minutes of frantic whispering we were both happy we had located the same bull and continued communication ensured I was able to track him as he moved amongst females and younger bulls.

    Due to our exposed situation there was no option of a standing shot. Together Wicks and I spread the sticks wide and I leant back against the termite nest with the gun not in the cup but rested halfway down one leg, such was the angle required. The shot rang out over the vast plane followed but a resounding thud. My bull took only a few steps before collapsing in a cloud of dust which drifted slowly away in the same direction as the escaping herd.

    As we made the long walk towards the downed bull my body shook and my breaths were deep. I had dreamt of this moment for over 12 years and everything felt a little bit surreal. It seemed fitting that I had been baked half to death pursuing this animal, one that has legendary status in some of the driest and hottest parts of Africa.

    I described the well documented beauty of the Scimitar earlier and as I stood over my bull all I can say is that the legends are true, it is a beauty to behold, so delicate but so very tough. I think perhaps the photographs will do the animal more justice than any further words from me.

    Needless to say the atmosphere in the vehicle on the drive back home was electric. We had all done our bit; Wicks, Mike and myself to achieve the perfect Scimitar hunt.

    It was 3 PM before we got back to the lodge and the day was truly a scorcher. Out of respect for my bull we didn’t go back out hunting that day but instead took time to reflect on an amazing hunt. Of course being in Africa there was something else to do so we headed down to the lake for a sundowner and some light hearted Catfish fishing.
     
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  6. Jason Rodd

    Jason Rodd AH Member

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    upload_2017-2-15_22-18-53.jpg
     
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  7. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN AH ENABLER SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR LIFETIME TITANIUM BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    Nice Eland Bull.
     
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  8. Game 4 Africa Safaris

    Game 4 Africa Safaris SPONSOR Since 2014 AH Enthusiast

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    Jason asked me to assist with the photos of his animals as his computer is giving some problems, I will try post the Photos along with his story.
    It was a great hunt and alot of fun was had by all.

    On another note: I must compliment this man on his writing skills, very nice article to read.

    !cid_15a47dcd8834a3671261.jpg !cid_15a47dc8209ae7c85271.jpg !cid_15a47dd594a81aa49241.jpg
     
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  9. Tally-Ho Hunting Safaris

    Tally-Ho Hunting Safaris SPONSOR Since 2015 AH Fanatic

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  10. Jason Rodd

    Jason Rodd AH Member

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    Day 5: 6am and the buzzing of my alarm arrived with impossible haste. With my daysack readied, as usual, the evening before, it was a relatively easy to task to amble out into the half-light towards the smell of coffee. As a hunter always does, I studied the sky and noted a good amount of cloud cover and the promise of favourable temperatures at least until noon. I guessed we were in for a fair bit of walking this morning as a nice Impala ram was to be the new objective. What can one say about Impala? Well to begin with I love them. They are a stunningly beautiful animal which, if they were rarer, would no doubt attract considerable trophy fees and the due respect they deserve as a worthy quarry. In dense bush with enormous areas to disappear into they provide a great challenge to the keen foot hunter and are one of the cheapest plains game to hunt. Quite simply, whats not to like!

    Over a strong coffee and rusk we quickly agreed to hunt an area not too far from the lodge where we had seen a bachelor group of Impala the day before that included a grand old ram which looked ripe for the taking.

    After a brief journey in the Hilux we began the pain staking process of moving from ridge to ridge and then bush to bush in search of our group. We bumped into numerous groups of impala seemingly every five minutes but they were all female and young male groups. The wonderful thing about this area is the sheer quantity of animals. You will never walk far without seeing Kudu, Giraffe, Duiker, Warthog, Zebra, in fact all the usual suspects seemed to be around just about every corner. This morning was particularly good for game spotting no doubt due to the cloud cover and consequent comfortable temperature.

    At last the bachelor group was spotted by Mike the tracker some 500 metres away and the stalk was on. Impala stalking in dense bush in the summer months is inevitably a game of cat and mouse which is enormously fun and exciting. After 10 minutes the three of us were crouched behind a bush only 90 metres from the group however, as is often the case, whilst all the other younger rams presented a shot the old boy, by fair means or foul, managed to keep some cover between us at all times. In the end tolerance of the group was tested too far and they took flight over a rise and out of sight. Despite a fantastic morning of stalking and soaking up the atmosphere only the afican bush can provide we admitted defeat about turned and walked out of the bush. Today time was not on our side as we had an appointment with Wickus’s father and the open sea out of Port Alfred, some one and a half hours east.

    After a swift but hearty lunch we jumped into the Hilux and headed out on to the metalled roads and onwards towards the sea. At one stage we took a short cut through a private game reserve owned by an American businessman where rhino roam and are highly protected. On meeting the armed guards at the entrance we had to sign in with our vehicle details and had to do the same on exit. A sad state of affairs but we all know the loathsome situation with Rhino poaching. However on a positive note, to date, no Rhino have been lost in this reserve and we should be thankful that a private individual is using his own money and resources to protect them. He is a hunter/conservationist with a grip on reality.

    Port Alfred is a quaint coastal town north of Port Elizabeth. As we dropped down into town towards the sea I spotted a swish residential marina, the likes of which we don’t really have in the UK. We passed through security and entered into the complex slowly driving past numerous impressive new build properties with glazed elevations facing either out to see or over the narrow estuary. After a few quick turns we pulled up to the rear of Wiks’ parents house and were warmly greeted by John and Amanda. Suffice to say there began an evening of eating and drinking with the kind of passionate and amusing conversation only hunter-fisherman know how to pull off. Oh the stories of giant fish being battled in the huge swells of the Indian Ocean and of the grumpiest of Buffalo in dense bush. Time flew, wine flowed and amazing fresh fish from the Braai were eagerly consumed. All too soon it was time for bed and the last thing I can remember is wobbling upstairs to my room with a view across the water.
     
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  11. Jason Rodd

    Jason Rodd AH Member

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    Day 6; Life on the ocean waves.

    The tink-tink of teaspoons circumnavigating mugs woke me in momentarily unidentified surroundings. Memories of a hilarious night around the dinner table came back to me in flashes rather than floods! As I swung my legs from the bed I noted the change in air, now being tinged with ozone as opposed to the peppery aroma of the dusty ground back in the bush.

    Knowing looks and plenty of grins all around as we finished up our coffees and downed various pills and potions to counteract sea sickness. An all too short walk from John and Amanda’s house found us standing on a wooden quay looking down into El Ninon, John’s pride and joy, a 28’ sport fishing vessel. One of John’s buddies was already darting around the boat preparing rigs, filling the bait tank with squid and generally looking jolly busy with all sorts of tinkering. Despite the flurry of activity, within minutes, Wiks was at the helm and we swung around and headed at quite a pelt towards the harbour mouth. The harbour mouth is alarmingly narrow and draws your gaze through the tiny exit where you get a first glance at the swell waiting to greet you. As we headed towards it I could see Wicks notice my look of interest (to put it politely) towards the rapidly approaching situation. He explained that the exit to Port Alfred is one of the most dangerous in South Africa due to the fact that the waves are very powerful and cross at right angles to the harbour mouth. To counter this phenomenon we were to hit the exit full steam ahead.

    We flew past the harbour walls and out into the ocean with much bouncing and lurching not helping to reduce my consternation in the least. If you haven’t guessed by now, I am a die-hard land lubber and no Lord Nelson. It is only my passion for fishing and the unknown that lures me out towards Davey Crocketts locker. Ok, so I am getting a bit dramatic here but, whilst I love sea fishing, suffering from Labyrinthitus is never going to help with my maritime adventures.

    First drift was just a couple of miles out from the harbour with the huge sand dunes making up the coastline still well within sight. After a few minutes I got to grips with the “old school” Scarborough reels and was enjoying feeling only mildly sick when Wicks and John brought a couple of small Cob on board. We spent about half an hour working the ,usually very productive area, but it soon became apparent that some ragged toothed sharks were in the vicinity and quite rightly, the Cob were nervous. Hence the decision was made to up anchor and head out into “the deep” a further 13 miles out into the ocean. Oh goody.

    Sometime later we got to our mark out in “the deep” and began to fish. Indeed as my Scarborough reel span round and round I was made acutely aware of how deep the sea was underneath our diminutive craft. Oh goody.

    Immediately, I saw action not with my fishing tackle but with my eyes and by now a most confused pair of inner ears. As I looked towards the horizon I was faced with the rather odd spectacle of their being not just one but 3 or 4 of them. To me this was a huge and rather unwelcome swell. Within minutes I was battling to keep my balance and my eyes rolled around in my head like whisky in a jar. I just had to lie down. For me the next few hours involved me lying on the floor in a cupboard in the wheel house interspersed by moments of me staggering from my refuge to haul up one of the many awesome sized Copperhead Stenbrass team Coetzee were hammering. The good news is that this was another fish species added to my list however the downside was that it turned out to be one of the toughest few hours I’ve ever been through. When, will I ever learn.

    After some fantastic fishing action and the inevitable monsters lost we headed back to dry land. I even managed to eat a chicken wrap which I was rather proud of, a small achievement in the face of adversity if you like.

    Arriving back at the Coetzee marina home we grabbed a quick bite to eat and decided to head straight back to lodge. Me, being full of the joys of being re-acquainted with the African continent and terra firma in general, fell asleep the whole way back.

    Overjoyed to be back at the lodge I cracked a beer and sat down to have a chat with Wicks and his girlfriend Taneal who had accompanied us on the boat and whom had fared rather better than myself. When I asked Wicks about the conditions out on the deep it was only then he casually let slip “if they had have been any worse we wouldn’t have gone out”. Oh goody!
     
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  12. billc

    billc AH ENABLER SILVER SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    Great report and you took some great trophies and even better seemed to have a trip of a lifetime.
     

  13. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN AH ENABLER SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR LIFETIME TITANIUM BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    What's to be concerned about! :ROFLMAO:

    IMG_8099.jpg IMG_8100.jpg IMG_8122.jpg

    No one left the Marina on this day. Me included.

    Congrats on surviving your day at sea.
     

  14. Jason Rodd

    Jason Rodd AH Member

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    copperhead stenbrass.jpg copperhead stenbrass 2.JPG scarborough reels.JPG
    Yes it was a lovely trip for so many reasons. Great bunch of people with access to some awesome and varied hunting terrain o
     
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  15. Jason Rodd

    Jason Rodd AH Member

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    Day 7 AM: Another tedious day at Kudu Ridge?

    Can you tire of waking up in the grey light of dawn in Africa? I cannot. As I stepped out of my room my eyes were drawn to a small group of young Waterbuck jostling for position not 200m from where I stood. The air was starting to warm up and with fresh water from the previous night’s storm dripping from every blade of grass, a cloak of mist rose around them to present a scene so evocative of my many times in Africa.

    The morning ritual of coffee and rusk complete the conversation turned to what we must do next. Where do we go from here? So far I have shot a Waterbuck, unexpected and beyond my wildest expectations, a Nyala worthy of a place on the wall of any trophy room on the planet and a Scimitar Oryx, a hunt that will remain in my memory for ever. My decision and in my humble opinion, a good piece of advice, was to just go hunting and see what happens. Wicks agreed with my cunning plan and we drove off through the mist along dusty unsused tracks on our way to a very dramatic part of the hunting area. Here, at irregular intervals the ground simply stops and gives way to vertical drops of a few hundred feet. Not more than once did I say to Wicks “remind me not to wander around here in the dark” , Wicks agreed. I am no geologist but the dramatic rips in the earth must surely be of interest. Well if not to the geologist they surely are to me the hunter. They present a rather unique experience of being able to view African game at close quarters , across canyons that would take ages to navigate up and down on foot.

    There are many such rips in the earth in this area and by now, 2 hours into the hunt, we had walked the edges of 4 of them. As we approached the last few hundred metres of the last ridge Wicks stopped and asked me if I wanted to shoot a Bushpig. What? Halfway through the morning in full sunlight and in dense bush, what was he talking about? But sure enough, I followed his gaze and found a group of 4 Bushpig making their way up a steep game trail, far below us, on the opposite side of the ridge. No words were passed but with me swinging the rifle from my back to my my shoulder the question was, inevitably, answered. It was a tricky shot at about 160m and a crazy angle but I floated the cross hairs just in front of the largest beast as it trotted up the implausible gradient and squeezed. Once again the angry roar of the 7mm Rem Mag charged out across the valley, the bullet someway ahead and the pig was hit hard. Initially down on the spot but these critters are tough and the gradient steep. The Bushpig tried to get to its feet but the round had got the better of it and it fell to one side, initially simply sliding down the slope but as its body mass gained momentum it began to tumble. And tumble it did way way down into the bottom of the valley, its fall seeming to never end we could hear as the pig smashed through bush after bush on towards its place of rest. Once settled it moved no more and much back slapping ensued.

    But before the main celebrations could ensue both Wicks and I quickly noticed yet another group of pigs attempting the same ascent as the first. On the spur of the moment Wicks instructed me to “take another one”. In response to this, once again, I swung the 7mm up to my shoulder and took aim. This time, through my scope, pigs were darting in all directions and at first I was confused. Immediately realising I had to make a snap decision I again picked on the largest body ascending the slope and squeezed the trigger, this time, more out of instinct than of technical calculation. Once again the roar of the 7mm was met with the reassuring heavy thud of a serious strike. Again the target rolled over on the spot and slid into dense bush but this time a more sunstantial shrub prevented the beastie from a long downhill journey.

    2 Bushpigs, in full daylight, bagged with 2 instinctive shots, what a special moment. Totally unexpected and a very welcome memory, TIA.

    A brief radio message and within 20 minutes Mike arrived as back up in the Hilux. I noted a slight rise in one of his eyebrows when he realised the location of both animals down but true to form he didn’t hesitate and, along with some of the other staff, spent the next hour retrieving them. We drove around to the other side of the valley and found the staff in high spirits just finishing their ascent with the 2 pigs swinging below the carry poles. What a fantastic sight, all the guys were smiling and the atmosphere was party like. Thank you Africa once again for a wonderful morning.
     

  16. rinehart0050

    rinehart0050 GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    Great stuff. Thank you for sharing
     

  17. Game 4 Africa Safaris

    Game 4 Africa Safaris SPONSOR Since 2014 AH Enthusiast

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  18. Game 4 Africa Safaris

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  19. Game 4 Africa Safaris

    Game 4 Africa Safaris SPONSOR Since 2014 AH Enthusiast

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    Oct 11, 2014
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    Location:
    Eastern Cape, South Africa
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    PHASA, SCI, Wildlife Ranching SA
  20. bilger

    bilger AH Member

    Joined:
    May 18, 2017
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    What a very interesting read and very detailed account of what can only be described as a trip of a lifetime. Thank you for sharing.
     

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