SOUTH AFRICA: Hunt With Tootabi Valley Safaris 2017

Hank2211

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I assume it's on the outside trying to get in. Dumb bliksem.
 

sierraone

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I assume it's on the outside trying to get in. Dumb bliksem.
He is on the road that exits Flintbeck. They raise animals there I'm guessing for other game farms. We saw many species each morning when we left going to our main camp for breakfast, but no hunting there to my knowledge.
 

Hank2211

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Day 2

Early the next morning we set out in different directions again. I found an impala with broken horns (which is encompassed by “decrepit”) and a hundred yard shot from the back of the truck brought it down on the spot. John’s first words were “why did you shoot it in the ass?” I pointed out that the shot had been quite effective, but had to admit that I had actually been aiming a few inches to the left, just behind the front shoulder quartering away, which would have been a nice shot if I had made it. Well, three inches to the right was the rear end, and that’s where the shot went. In one end and out the other. Not exactly crisp shooting, but it did the job.

As we were recovering the impala, John got a call to tell him Pulle had found a very fresh track and if we could get to them within a few minutes, the hunt would be on. We loaded up the impala and drove as fast as possible to get to where they had stopped. I was grateful for a tracker who knew the area and could guide us.

We got to the others in time, and the stalk began. An hour later, we were wondering what had happened to the fresh track. Once again, the lioness was going around in circles, staying in the same general area. But it was a large general area, and no one had seen her since the day before. Grant was starting to wonder again . . .

After two hours of tracking, we had stopped as the tracker had lost the track. This happened reasonably regularly, but he was always able to find it again fairly quickly. He seemed to be having particular problems this time. Now, let me paint the scene. We are standing in sandy soil with patches of low grass. Grant, Beans, John and I are standing close to a tree, getting some shade, while Pulle and the tracker are about 10 feet diagonally from us, standing next to a thicket, looking down at a track which seemed to go nowhere, and having a bit of a conversation about it. The tracker had been walking around looking for the next track and not finding it, so he kept coming back to the thicket. We had been there about 3 or 4 minutes.

Suddenly, and I do mean suddenly, a lion roared. The lioness was in the thicket, not five feet from Pulle and the tracker (which might have explained why the track disappeared there!). The tracker reacted immediately – he threw the shooting sticks into the thicket at her (!) by which time Pulle had mounted his Sabatti 500 NE double. I was stunned – although I do recall thinking something along the lines of “holy s**t.” Both John and Beans had their guns up, but neither would have had a shot – Pulle and the tracker were between the lioness and us. I can say that you haven’t been startled unless a hidden lioness roars not 15 feet from you. I wouldn’t recommend it for anyone with a heart condition, or frankly any kind of condition. And it would help to have wet wipes nearby.

Pulle showed remarkable nerves – he didn’t shoot, and she was no more than 5 feet from him. After the tracker threw the sticks at her, she ran from the thicket, and leapt into a tree some 20 yards away (who says lions can’t climb?). The tracker had recovered the sticks, and set them up. Pulle told Grant to take a breath – she didn’t seem to want to go anywhere at that moment (someone should have told me to take a breath!). He guided Grant on the best shot, given the angle, and a few seconds later, the shot rang out – a shot right into the chest. She tried to scramble, but ended up falling out of the tree, hitting the ground with a thud.

We waited for a minute, with all of the PH’s having their rifles at the ready. It became clear that she was dead, but as usual, the approach was slow and cautious. Once we decided she was in fact dead, the tension ebbed quickly, and the entire group was chattering about the roar and the fact that she had been in the thicket the entire time we had been there.

DSC01366.jpg


I feel no particular need to defend captive bred lion hunting (there are other threads for that) but I will say this. The hunt took a day and a half of hard walking, and we were at some risk the entire time. I wasn’t in the front, but I was very glad I wasn’t at the back of the column. I’ve baited leopard, and while it was fun, this tracking was much more akin to “hunting” as I understand it, than is baiting cats, and it was much more thrilling that a baited hunt.

It was a pretty hyper crowd that returned to camp for lunch. A nap was called for, if only to calm our nerves.

That afternoon, Grant headed out to try to find the male lion, while John and I decided to drive around looking to further our humanitarian mission. We eventually spotted what appeared to be an old blue wildebeest in a small herd, which had horns so pathetic it simply begged to be put out of its misery. We drove past them and decided to stalk back, as we had with the gemsbok. This time, again, it didn’t work. They saw us, and left in a hurry. John suddenly had one of his “great ideas”. I reminded him a great idea is one that works. Otherwise, it’s just a mistake.

We drove some distance, trying to get in front of them, with the wind in our faces. When John was satisfied we’d have a suitably long march to reward me for my comment on his idea, he stopped the truck and dismounted. We began to walk, and then walked some more, and finally walked some more after that. I kept reminding John that we weren’t seeing anything, which I’m sure he found quite helpful, at least until he suddenly whispered “stop”.

And there was the herd, some 200 yards in front of us, sleeping in some shade. They would have seen us if we’d gone another 10 yards, but with the wind and John’s eyes, we were in the clear. We spent a bit of time trying to find a way to get closer, and to get a decent angle on the bull we were after, but it was difficult. When we finally did get a decent position, the bull seemed to have settled down for a long winter’s nap. It finally became clear that we had three choices. Wait him out, which could be some hours; startle them and try to get him as he got up; or take the shot lying down. I’m generally not as fan of lying down shots, nor is John. Organs get all pushed around. However, in this case, it seemed our best bet. So I steadied myself, picked a nice spot on his chest, and squeezed. He immediately jumped up and disappeared into some brush behind him, while wildebeest shot out in all directions.

We gave it a few minutes, with John all the while saying he wasn’t sure about the shot. I just smiled, since I wasn’t sure either! When we finally walked forward, we found the wildebeest stone dead not 5 yards from where I had shot him. A perfect shot, and a great ending to what I had to admit was a great idea.

When we got back to camp, we found that Grant had found lion tracks again, but had had no luck in finding the lion, nor had he seen it.
 

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Suddenly, and I do mean suddenly, a lion roared. The lioness was in the thicket, not five feet from Pulle and the tracker (which might have explained why the track disappeared there!). The tracker reacted immediately – he threw the shooting sticks into the thicket at her (!) by which time Pulle had mounted his Sabatti 500 NE double. I was stunned – although I do recall thinking something along the lines of “holy s**t.” Both John and Beans had their guns up, but neither would have had a shot – Pulle and the tracker were between the lioness and us. I can say that you haven’t been startled unless a hidden lioness roars not 15 feet from you. I wouldn’t recommend it for anyone with a heart condition, or frankly any kind of condition. And it would help to have wet wipes nearby.

WOW :E Shocked::E Shocked:
 

PHOENIX PHIL

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Riksa

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Suddenly, and I do mean suddenly, a lion roared. The lioness was in the thicket, not five feet from Pulle and the tracker (which might have explained why the track disappeared there!). The tracker reacted immediately – he threw the shooting sticks into the thicket at her (!) by which time Pulle had mounted his Sabatti 500 NE double. I was stunned – although I do recall thinking something along the lines of “holy s**t.” Both John and Beans had their guns up, but neither would have had a shot – Pulle and the tracker were between the lioness and us. I can say that you haven’t been startled unless a hidden lioness roars not 15 feet from you. I wouldn’t recommend it for anyone with a heart condition, or frankly any kind of condition. And it would help to have wet wipes nearby.

See, it's a normal Hank story (y)
 

Hank2211

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Riksa

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I think we need to hunt together Riksa . . .

Agreed! You name the place. I'll be sure that I'll take some extra socks with me (just in case). I'm planning a hunt for next year *wink wink*
 

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There you go, anything to get in the record books. Bloody trophy hunters. :ROFLMAO:
 

Hank2211

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Hank2211

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Day 3

DSC01381.jpg


The next morning we again headed in our own directions, but John got a call quite early that the others had found a fresh track. We again joined the hunt, and again, the lion led us on a merry chase. This time, though, the day was getting hotter, and we think the lion was getting tired having to move every time we came close. After some hours of the game, he was spotted walking through reasonably thick brush a few hundred yards away. We gave chase, and stopped some 80 yards or so from the bush where he had lay down.

The sticks went up, but Grant was having a very hard time seeing where he should place the shot. I can’t be critical – I could barely make out the lion, and it’s not a shot I would have taken either. So the circumnavigation of the thicket holding the lion began. Pulle had us move to our right and again put the sticks up. Again, no shot. Move some more, and again no shot. By the time the dance finally ended, we had likely moved around the bush some 300 degrees, but now, Grant had a shot.

He lined it up, aiming for the front of the chest. After the shot, the lion jumped up and spun a few times, then began to run. Grant took a second shot, which missed. The lion however didn’t go far – he again holed up in a thicket, but this time, he was clearly hurt. He was lying on his side, not on his stomach. A quick shot caused more consternation, but he didn’t leave the thicket. And after a few minutes of waiting, we could all see that his breathing had stopped, and the slow process of approaching the lion began. Dead. Two lions in three days, both beautiful and neither hunt a “gimme.”

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After pictures, we returned to the lodge for lunch. I was keen to go out on another humanitarian mission, but Grant had decided that he’d had enough for the day – after all of the walking in sand he’d done since we started, he decided to rest up for the afternoon.

We quickly found a pair of pretty sad looking impala with very short horns, and I decided to try for the same shot I’d sort of missed the day before on an impala. At about 200 yards, I aimed just behind the left shoulder, as he was quartering away, left to right. And again, as the impala dropped to the shot, John said “you shot him in the ass again.” Well, that might have been true, but it wasn’t on purpose, so candidly, I told him I didn’t appreciate his tone (an expression I’ve often heard from my wife).

We recovered our impala, and then went to the ‘other’ Serapa property across a dirt road. This property is larger, but otherwise seemed very similar. We did visit the main “lodge” (actually a very impressive house), and met Yolande Reyneke, who owns Serapa. All in all a very impressive operation.
 

PHOENIX PHIL

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@Hank2211 glad you enjoyed your time at @AAA Africa Serapa Safaris. Pule is a good gent. I haven't had the chance to hunt with him, but he did ride in our truck one afternoon back in October. Unfortunately it was so hot that nothing was moving, so we just had a ride around the property that day.
 

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Note to self: When the tracks stop, the animal is right there in front of you! (unless it can fly)
(which I will certainly pass along to all PH School Administrators for future curriculum adjustment)

Somewhat akin to: If the tracks go into a clump or bush and do not come out the other side; the animal is in that bush!

I appreciate the laugh. Damn, that's funny.
 

Hank2211

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Note to self: When the tracks stop, the animal is right there in front of you! (unless it can fly)
(which I will certainly pass along to all PH School Administrators for future curriculum adjustment)

Somewhat akin to: If the tracks go into a clump or bush and do not come out the other side; the animal is in that bush!

I appreciate the laugh. Damn, that's funny.
I'd have thought that. But I assume there must have been some reason he or they didn't think it was right there. This was a pretty good tracker and both he and the PH are well-experienced in tracking lions. But it made for an interesting hunt, to say the least!
 

Hank2211

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Day 4

Day 4 was a transfer day. We left Serapa early in the morning, heading southeast towards the Eastern Cape. A few stops and many hours later, we arrived in Cradock, a nice Eastern Cape town, but perhaps not as nice as Graaf-Reinet, not terribly far away. Many of these Karoo town are quite pretty and seem to have retained much of their old fashioned charm. And they all have at least one magnificent church. If you're passing through, many of these towns (not all - see Richmond for example - well worth a miss!) are worth a short detour.

From Cradock it was about a 45 minute drive over a mountain pass to the home of Niel Schoeman, who maintains both a sheep farm as well as a game preserve covering I don’t now how many hectares, but a lot. Niel has a beautiful home, vaguely Cape Dutch, large, and abundantly furnished with antiques, both of the furniture and firearm variety. He is the fifth generation of his family to live at the property. His bar has what I thought was a great feature – an indoor braai, built in. You put wood in a metal box in the middle, and as the wood turns to coals, they fall under, and are then swept under grills, where they are used for cooking. We had game steaks and filet every night, cooked by Niel on this grill. It fills the house with tantalizing aromas, as well as providing a great deal of much-needed heat – it was freezing during our visit. It also allows you to bbq meat even when the weather is terrible, which is always a good thing.

IMG_1090.jpg


We were here to cull, and Niel filled us in on the drill. Most of our time would be spent on his properties but we would also venture to another property where springbok were kept in substantial numbers. I was looking forward to this, but I still hadn’t quite grasped in my mind what it was we were exactly going to be doing. I decided to let things unfold.

I should add a note about the financial aspects of this. You can hunt trophies on Niel’s place, and when you do, you pay the trophy price, which in this case is Tootabi’s price. But when you’re shooting culls, you pay the cull price, which I will show next to each animal. And if you shoot a trophy during a driven shoot, you still pay the cull price for that trophy.

IMG_0035.jpg

Niel's Farm

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Another view of the farm


Day 5

After a substantial breakfast, John and I head out in one direction while Beans and Grant head out in another. After a 10-minute drive, John suggested we get out and walk. We quickly saw large numbers of fallow deer on a mountainside some distance away, as well as blesbok and springbok.

Within a few minutes I was up on the sticks, taking a shot at a fallow deer ($150) a few hundred yards up the mountain. Well, a swing and a miss, as they say. Not sure what happened, but I wasn’t even close. After that, we decided to keep on walking, and an hour later, John sent our tracker back for the vehicle. Meanwhile we were standing in a sort of bowl-like area, with hills on two sides and a treed ravine on our right. John mentioned that fallow deer often like to hide in the ravines, so he threw a stick into the trees. Nothing. We chatted, and a few minutes later, he threw a stone further into the ravine, and we immediately heard the sound of movement. We then saw a herd of fallow deer heading up the mountain. John put the sticks up and said just wait, they’ll stop. And stop they did.

DSC01400.jpg

The "bowl" where we found the fallow deer

I lined up on a female and took the shot. She dropped on the spot. John said “reload and find another one.” I think it was a combination of the suppressor and the bowl, which caused some unusual echoes – but I don’t think they really knew where the sound was coming from. There was much milling about, so I kept shooting. Within about 40 seconds, I had taken five shots and dropped five fallow deer! When they had finally run off I told John I might have shot a young one in the process, and he said not to worry – all were fair game and in fact it was better to shoot various generations rather than just one. I asked why I hadn’t seen any males, and it seems the rut was over and they had retreated to the high mountains. In fact, we saw very few males and no old ones (although we weren’t looking for them) while we were shooting.

DSC01413.jpg


We loaded the deer onto the truck, and then headed back.

DSC01422.jpg

When I say "we loaded the deer" I mean "they loaded the deer!

Almost as soon as we were in the truck, we got a message from Beans. Apparently, Grant did not know the meaning of culling. He had seen a buffalo and decided he wanted to have a go at it. A few shots later, the buffalo was down. We joined them to help with the recovery. I gave Grant a bit of a tutorial on the meaning of culling for future reference.

DSC01432.jpg


That afternoon was to be our first experience with “driven shooting.” I shoot pheasant regularly, and have participated in driven hunts many times. I wasn’t exactly sure how this would work with animals, but it turns out it’s much the same. Grant and I were stationed on hillsides looking across a valley at other areas (a hill in my case). Neither of us could see (or hear) the other. There were about 12 beaters, all wearing reflective vests, whose job it was to keep the animals moving. This would have worked better with more shooters, since there were spots the animals could hide, but we would do the best with what we had. I was a little worried about the beaters, but John assured me they knew what they were doing, and that they wouldn’t be in front of us (the first part may be accurate, but the latter part wasn’t!).

So we got set up. I had the .25-06, and John had a couple of boxes of bullets. This would be interesting.

We quickly saw some animals on the opposite hillside, but John said, “Shoot anything except the lechwe.” Oh. Well, from my angle, there were no lechwe, at least none with horns. It turns out it was a group of females. OK, no shooting the lechwe, even though they spent the entire afternoon on the hillside, almost taunting me.

As it turned out, we really needed the extra shooters. The animals would run past, and keep going, never stopping or even slowing down much. I did get a couple of fallow deer, two springbok ($100), an impala ($150) and a kudu (mid-age male) ($470). The kudu was interesting. I saw a small group on the hill and said “kudu”. John said “And?” I said they were kudu, and surely we can’t cull kudu with horns. John’s response was “Is it a lechwe? “No”, I replied. “Then shoot” was the command. Kudu dead.

Since this was proving difficult, we called the hunt a bit earlier than we would have otherwise. John and I then set out to look around the property a bit. We headed to a wide open area called “Serengeti,” stopping along the way to shoot an imprudent impala ($150). Within a few minutes in Serengeti, where we saw a good number of animals, I had shot two more fallow deer and a female waterbuck ($240), all culls.

For the day, that gave me 9 fallow deer, a waterbuck, two springbok, two impala and a kudu. 15 animals. A new record for me - by a country mile. But one which wouldn’t stand for long.
 

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Sounds like you are having a great trip! Great report too.(y)
 

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I'd have thought that. But I assume there must have been some reason he or they didn't think it was right there. This was a pretty good tracker and both he and the PH are well-experienced in tracking lions. But it made for an interesting hunt, to say the least!

There has to be a logical reason. I doubt throwing sticks for protection was the plan when they left the truck.
 

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I would love to try a driven shoot. One more thing added to the list.
 

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