SOUTH AFRICA: Hunt With Tollie's African Safaris August 2021

Charlie P

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South Africa 2X, Alaska 3X, Idaho 2X, Wyoming, Alabama lifelong
After three years of dealing with airline bankruptcies, the Covid pandemic, acquiring vaccinations, passport renewals, different outfitter bookings and adjustments, etcetera the trip is finally done. I had visited the Okavango many years in the past and wanted to return and bring my wife to experience the magic of Africa. We have traveled extensively throughout the northwest US and Alaska but I found Africa to be what I experienced decades ago in the US. Being from Alabama when I first traveled to hunt in Wyoming in 1984 it was life changing. At home we see whitetail and some small game and that's about it. On my '84 hunt I tagged out on Pronghorn and Mule Deer quickly so left camp early and went to the Tetons, and Yellowstone. I was amazed. All kinds of wildlife and being September I virtually had the parks all to myself. Now when we visit you can't find a parking space. Africa I learned still possessed that frontier spirit that I loved. I had originally booked hunting in Botswana and South Africa but due to issues mentioned above I scaled back and restricted the hunt to just South Africa. Tollie's African Safaris was chosen and it was a perfect selection.

Tollie's is a family run organization with Tollie Jordaan the patriarch now stepping aside to allow his three sons, Paul, Pieter, and Willem to take over the operation. Tollie is still there everyday closely monitoring and guiding his sons which are each very well versed in the business. Don't let me leave out Ms Karen the matriarch. She is the driving force taking care of all the details. I'll leave it at details for there is no way to list even close to everything she is orchestrating. The family has religious tones which my wife and I found comforting. No hunting on Sunday and circle prayer before supper. The boy's or as I should say young men each speak to their elders in terms familiar to us in the south by referring to them as aunt and uncle although there is no kinship. In my decades of life I've done the backpack, pup tent, freeze dried thing and collected my rewards for those efforts. At this stage of life and wanting my wife to be part of it this was the perfect choice. Although I was able to truly hunt each day my wife and I had top class accommodations, and dining at all other times. Don't mention anything to them you don't want to happen because they are listening and if it is possible it will happen. While I was out during the day she was visiting spas, national parks and other adventures. Tollies has a lady that's designated to tending to the "observers" during the day. If the "observer" wishes to accompany on the hunt they are welcome to and my wife did a couple of times but due to her personal limitations chose to remain with the vehicle for extended times when we pursued game. I don't know who wants to go back more me or her. Concerning equipment Tollie's has nothing but the best such as new top of the line Range Rovers. I chose to use a rental gun due to all the hassles transporting them entail on top of all the other international travel issues. I was expecting some beat up rag that others has repeatedly mistreated. When we went to the range I was presented with a state of the art Howa with Revic scope. I shot competition smallbore in high school but that was over 4 decades ago. Here in south Alabama a 200 yard shot is long. I've practiced up to 300 yards and believed that to be my extreme range. We took a couple of shots at 100, made a small correction and then moved out to 400 and then 750 yards on plates 10 or less inches in size. Both solid hits on the first try. It was unbelievable. They shoot 6.5 Creedmoor. I looked at that varmint round (my original opinion) and questioned it as I was expecting to use some cannon. Paul assured me that if I hit the game correctly there would be no problems.

The first day we pursued Gemsbok. We located the game mid morning and made our stalk. At 560 yards we were in position. Laying in the prone position while waiting for a broadside my neck began to cramp due to the "swan neck" posture the shot required. Eventually the shot presented itself and I knew instantly I had shot further back than I had hoped. The impact was captured on video and it did appear so but only slightly. After the shot the Gemsbok immediately ran over the ridge and out of sight. Quickly we pursued and topping the ridge we saw three run off followed by a forth. I questioned Paul as all I had ever seen was four but he stated that there were actually seven in the group with the other three just vanishing. We located blood and trailed. For the rest of the day we searched up and down and all around finding nothing but the original few splatters of blood. At the end of the day we left the field feeling defeated. That night the video was shown to Tollie and he encouraged Paul to go back and look some more. Tollies runs a large sheep operation and employees at least eight farm hands and their families. Although a Sunday, Paul called in all hands on deck. Me being spent from the previous day I accompanied my wife to the Addo Elephant Nation Park. At about mid day we got the message the Gemsbok had been found. He had not gone over 100 yards from where he was shot and obviously was already dead in the short time it took us to close the distance and look over the ridge. He had simply found his way to a thicket that although we had walked within 20 yards of it several times the day before none of us had sighted him. And, yes the shot was a few inches back but the results were obviously deadly.

Second day was Sable. We drove about in the region they were known to be casually discussing the drought and what plants supported the game. Suddenly we noticed a magnificent Sable watching us. Stopping the forward motion we began backing up. Paul stating that they usually don't spook much unless they actually see or smell us. We backed until we were out of sound, smell, and sight range and then began our pursuit with the wind in our favor. Paul led us to a position where he slowly looked over. We were within 80 yards. Paul reported that there was too much brush between he and us so we fell back and repositioned. This time as we duck walked closer we were eventually instructed to belly crawl. Paul peered over our concealment and stated he was 25 yards away. At this close range I was extremely nervous about discovery. I then saw Paul's expression change and he reported that he was moving and gave instructions to freeze. What I witnessed was fairytale. This beast circled only 15 yrds from us, his great crown presenting the aurora of majesty. He stopped and looked directly at us. Now what to do? Unable to receive guidance from my PH and knowing we would be spotted any second I luckily had position of the rifle to make and shot and I did. 50 yards later he was down.

I could write volumes about the Kudu. I feel like I've hunted all of South Africa in pursuit of Kudu. We were seeing them but in August after the rut they were extremely spooky. We would jump them and watch them run over a mile before slowing. Put a stalk on them only to have them outfox us and off again we went. One thing about Paul is he has high standards and is relentless. Nothing but the best is acceptable to him. After three days of this rodeo I was spent. The weather was cold and rainy also. On what turned out to be out finial Kudu stalk we had summited a mountain and worked around it checking out the valleys. The wind was terrible and the cold bone chilling. We spotted a bull that was acceptable to Paul but he informed me that one side was not perfectly symmetrical. I had previously informed him that I would quickly give up inches for symmetry. I simply wanted a proper representative of the species. In this last spot he informed me that there was a bull below that was not a trophy but symmetrical and he would let me take it at a cull rate. At this point I think I would have settled for a yearling. As you will see in the photos and video we finished our business with great satisfaction on my part.

Link to video of Cape Kudu shot, you may have to copy and paste into the browser bar:


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The mass on that Kudu is really something. I wouldn't be happy with a 6.5 CM either. They'll do the job, just little margin for error. What bullet were they using in it? Sounds like you had a great hunt. Congrats
Bruce
 
The mass on that Kudu is really something. I wouldn't be happy with a 6.5 CM either. They'll do the job, just little margin for error. What bullet were they using in it? Sounds like you had a great hunt. Congrats
Bruce
Wish I could say but I simply don't know. They were handloads I do know.
 
Sounds like a great hunt! Thanks for writing it up! I had a wonderful hunt with Tollies in 2019. They have a large, beautiful property, and wonderful hospitality! Tollie's in house taxidermist, Tiann, is really talented and I am very happy with the trophies he handled for me- if you are having taxidermy done.
 

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