A report done by one of my 2014 season clients and HOW he have seen his first hunting safari (and hopefully more all over the world to come...) in Africa. Hope you enjoy! Hunting Outfitter: Bushwack Safaris PH: Grant Botha / Jacques Winterbach / Patrick Reynecke Hunter: David Ablette Country: UK Rifle: .375 side by side DG/ .308 bolt PG/ 416 bolt / 458 bolt Area: Hoedspruit / Phalaborwa Ranch size: 3700 – 9000 acres thick Jesse Time: 22nd to 31st October 2014 Taxidermist: Safari Taxidermy Trophies: Skull mounts and skins MY FIRST BUFFALO We left the lodge in the early hours for the drive to the concession in order to arrive at daylight. During the drive to the concession Patrick (The Outfitter) enthralled me with tales of past hunts and how a local experienced Professional Hunter had recently been killed by a Cape Buffalo! Very reassuring!! To say I was nervous would be something of an understatement! We arrived at the concession, which is adjacent to the Kruger National Park, and met up with two P.H. & a tracker for the hunt. Having drunk a cup of coffee with these guys I told them that if the buffalo was poorly shot or started to charge to feel free to shoot and not wait for me! They reassured me that they would be right behind me and if it did charge to stand my ground! There was quite a bit of firepower which did give me some reassurance. I had my double .375H&H, One PH had a .416 & two had .458 magnums loaded with solids. They then told me that cows were more dangerous than bulls which I found less reassuring! We climbed up into the “Buckie” (Open top 4X4) and headed out looking for sign. As we drove along they would be spotting sign and turning this way and that as we travelled on & on through the bush. Suddenly they stopped. There! Look two cows! I looked but did not see! I picked up my binoculars and scanned the bush - nothing then all of a sudden there they were standing looking at us. That is when you realise what is meant by Dangerous Game! These things are huge and look at you as if you owe them money! We turned off the road to approach them from down wind and started to stalk through the bush. I was following the PH who kept us moving through and pointing to the buffalo which were invisible to me. A quick glance through the binoculars revealed a glimpse of horn or a swish of a tail! The bush doesn’t seem so thick but these things just disappear from sight amongst it! We stalked close but the wind shifted and they were away! We followed more spoor through the bush for quite a way the P.H. informing me that it must have been the rear of the herd. They decided that we had little chance of catching them and made our way back to the buckie for a well-deserved drink! Even early in the morning my shirt was soaked by perspiration! We set off again in the 4X4 and saw all sorts of game including some large Wildebeest but no buffalo. Then we turned around a bend and a huge herd was crossing the road! My heart rate sky rocketed! These were all bulls, massive, angry looking and around 60 meters away! Then amongst them they spotted a cow! We got down and moved quietly into the bush in order to spot the cow and hopefully take the shot. I cannot put into words what I was feeling I was terrified! You see these things on the TV or even in a zoo & they look like big cattle. Stand 50 meters away from an animal weighing a tonne that sees you as a threat and you have a whole new perspective! There must have been around 50 animals and the PH was pointing out the cow that I was to shoot. He set up the sticks and said take the one on the left! I confirmed the animal sighted up along the front leg, half way up the body and pulled the trigger. The roar of the .375 shattered the silence and the cow just twitched and staggered I couldn’t fire the second barrel as the bulls had moved around and blocked the shot! The PH started shouting as we moved around and closer!! The bulls moved a few meters away giving me a clear shot of the cow that was standing swaying. I gave her both barrels and she collapsed but was still alive! I reloaded twice giving both barrels each time to ensure that she posed no threat as she gave her last death bellow. We made our way up to the beast and when everyone started to shake my hand I realised two things - I had shot my first Cape Buffalo and my hands were shaking like leaves! That was one of the most exciting episodes in my life to date and was both terrifying and exhilarating. I had been warned that it was addictive and now I can see why! If you have ever had the slightest hint of a wish to hunt Big Game, wish no more. Sell the car, do whatever it takes but get down here and do it! BLUE WILDEBEEST Following the adventure with the Cape buffalo, we went off in search of a Blue Wildebeest. Following the PH & tracker through the bush I managed to see a great deal of bush and not a great deal of Wildebeest in spite of them pointing out several beasts to me! Without a PH you would see absolutely nothing I can assure you! Eventually the PH knelt for me to lay the .375 H7H on his shoulder to take a shot. I moved the crosshairs on to the beast's shoulder just in time to see him take off at a gallop! These are really spooky animals but considering they are the main item on the predator's menu I guess it’s not surprising! A couple of days later we set off for a Wildebeest. This time I had my Steyr Mannlicher Prohunter .308 with RWs 170 grain soft points. As we headed out on the buckie, Patrick the outfitter was telling me how the Wildebeest was known as the poor man’s buffalo and how they took a lot of stopping. He told me to reload as soon as I took the shot and put another round into him ASAP. Apparently they can run a very long way when mortally wounded. The PH spotted some animals and started to make a plan of attack (I hadn't even seen the animals!) We'll climb up over that Kopje (Small hill) and come down on them from above. (I did see the hill!) We climbed up over the hill through thorn bushes and over rocks until we reached the crest and started to make our way down. Ahead were large thorn bushes which hid us from view… "there'' a good bull by the tree take that one!" (I still hadn't seen an animal!) The PH put up the sticks and pointed to the tree. I looked through the sight and there he was staring up the hill at us. He knew that something was wrong but couldn't figure out what as the bush hid us from view. He was at an angle looking at me so I aimed forward of his shoulder to allow for the angle. I didn't hang about as I had seen how quick they flee! I squeezed the set trigger and away went the round. The bull fell dead in his tracks! I reloaded quickly but the beast didn't even twitch! We waited enough time to make sure he was dead and made our way down through the thorn bushes. Gold medal head 27" spread & a smile from ear to ear!!!!! IMPALA Early morning rise & a cup of coffee before climbing up on the buckie & heading out. Beautiful morning and amazing scenery. Giraffes stroll gracefully out of your ways you make your way along rutted tracks. Ostriches, with less sense run ahead of you like the pheasants that run in front of you at home rather than move to the side! This is one hell of an adventure and I am loving it!!! We spotted a few herds of Impala but they were gone before we got anywhere near, then up ahead there appeared a large herd although all appeared ewes. Then the PH excitedly pointed to a ram amongst the ewes. He must have been quite an old boy with serious attitude to hold such a harem! The grass was high and there was a great deal of brush between us. The PH thought that if we got down from the buckie we would lose them and asked if I was ok to shoot from the buckie. I told him that I was fine and laid the rifle on the roof of the cab across a padded bar. The ram appeared in my crosshairs at around 100 meters but there was bush between us with several branches preventing a clear shot. I waited and waited as he slowly moved to the side. As soon as he came clear I took the shot into the engine room. I was convinced of a good shot but as the herd scattered one animal that ran off to the right appeared lame and I began to doubt! We marked the spot and waited while the chaps had a cigarette. We climbed down from the buckie and made our way over to the clearing - nothing! No sign of blood & no animal!! I started to think that the bullet must have hit a branch that I didn't see & been deflected. We scanned the ground moving outwards. I spotted some blood, just a few drops but I knew then that I had hit the animal and was beginning to think that I must have wounded it. I felt really bad and went over the shot again & again in my head. I was sure that it was a good shot. Then the PH, standing 10 meters from me said here is your ram. I looked but could see nothing I moved closer & closer until at about 5 meters i saw the ram laying on its side in a pool of blood. The shot was good - engine room & straight through. It must have leapt in the air & died where it fell! I was extremely relieved to know that it hadn't been wounded. He was an old ram and his horns were damaged from many a previous battle. His passing would allow a new, young ram to take his place. The skin of an impala has a wonderful feel as well as colour so I have arranged to keep the hide as well as a skull mount. WATERBUCK The day I arrived at the lodge we went to the range to zero my rifles. Having zeroed the .375H&H @ 50 meters & the .308 @ 100 meters we were ready for the off! Light was fading as we left the range but I was told not to unload my rifle as we might be able to get a Waterbuck on our way back to the Lodge! We actually did see a few but the light was not good enough to take a shot and I was in no rush. The following day we were off for the buffalo, the next, Impala, the next Blue Wildebeest! Every day a new adventure! Magic!!!!Now came the Waterbuck! Having seen two magnificent specimens in the Kruger National Park, my expectations were set at very, very high!!By the way add the Kruger National Park to the bucket list! Fabulous experience! Particularly when you have an experienced and knowledgeable guide like Patrick Reynecke, the outfitter, with you to bring so much to your attention. (Thanks Patrick!) Up on the “Buckie” and away to look for a Waterbuck bull. No problem! We had seen so many. Everywhere you looked when looking for Impala you saw Waterbuck! Unfortunately someone had now mentioned that we were after a Waterbuck bull and the word had gone out! Everywhere we looked where that had been Waterbuck – nothing. Then if we did see them – cows! Then on the way back to the lodge we tried a previously untried area to find a magnificent bull standing on an ant hill looking like “The Monarch of the Glen” No way to take a shot through the bush, far too many branches in the way. The PH & I made our way slowly forwards and at an angle, to find a clearing which would allow the shot. Your heartbeat races as you try to move quietly through dry grass & leaves. Each step moving you closer to the shot! One meter more. One meter and I would have a clear shot at this magnificent bull! One meter! Which is when he decided that enough was enough and took off towards the horizon at a rate of knots!!!Day one – fail Next day early start coffee & away into the darkness. Making our way along the tracks ready for the bush as the light begins its first glimmer through the trees. Cows no bulls! Everywhere we looked! Then a glimpse of a bull! Down from the buckie & a stalk through the bush. The bull kept just enough ahead of us to ensure no shot! Eventually we gave up on the stalk & headed back for breakfast. After lunch we set off to the far side of the reserve. Up over hills and draws and through ravines until we found a bull up on our left amongst dense bush. As I began the stalk my foot got caught in a thorn bush & I tripped pushing my muzzle into the earth & blocking it. Stalk over!!!Cleared the rifle and tried again! Day two fail! The third day was another early start. This was a determined effort! No way were we going to fail a third time! This time we managed to find two great bulls but no way could I get a clear shot at them! They were staring at us from the bush almost mocking my attempts at a shot! We drove for miles and again cows but no bulls! Last chance - we headed back to the first place with the magnificent bull. Slowly we approached the area and found several cows but no bull. Then as we neared the ant hill he came into sight once again standing over his domain proving his dominance! We had no time for anything fancy we daren’t risk losing him again. From the side rail of the buckie I had a clear shot into the engine room and down he went! We gave him 5 mins then I approached with the PH. He was still showing signs of life so I gave the coup de grace with another shot to the chest. Another magnificent beast! Three days to hunt this animal but worth every second!!! Thanks to all that helped me with the hunt! It was a wonderful adventure with a group of wonderful guys that really made me feel welcome! Do I recommend hunting in S.A.? Hell yeah! Can’t wait to get back there!!!