SOUTH AFRICA: Hunt With Tootabi Valley Safaris 2017

Discussion in 'Hunting Reports Africa' started by Hank2211, Aug 1, 2017.

  1. Royal27

    Royal27 AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

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    Me too.

    I talked to @Beans about it extensively last year, and the need for a group of hunters. This would be a group hunt I'd be interested in, with the right folks.

    I tell you though I think those "cheap" animals could get expensive quick in volume! :A Banana Sad: someone has to do it though.

    We could also pool our money and pay for @Hank2211 to do a driven ostrich hunt. The cost would be worth it for the story that would somehow come to be.
     

  2. cpr0312

    cpr0312 AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

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    Sounds like a great time! Congrats
     

  3. K-man

    K-man AH Elite

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    A driven Ostrich hunt? is that like herding cats? Maybe a driven blue duiker hunt, too.........
     
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  4. Royal27

    Royal27 AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

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    A blue duiker riding an ostrich perhaps? That could make it interesting.
     
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  5. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN AH ENABLER SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR LIFETIME TITANIUM BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    Just have to find that cull Ostrich at auction that is the crankiest bastard in RSA and let him loose on the farm where we send Hank. Now, that would be funny.
    This has to be on the loud speaker from the nearest ridge.
    http://musicpleer.audio/#!c29d154fbced0c267e789660c3857ee4
     

  6. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN AH ENABLER SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR LIFETIME TITANIUM BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    Before you guys take me too far. LOL :S Topic:
     

  7. Neale

    Neale AH Enthusiast

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    Great story @Hank2211, I am eagerly awaiting the next installment. What is over the next hill?
     

  8. Hank2211

    Hank2211 AH ENABLER GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    Oh, where to start. Not with ostriches, that's for sure.

    I would be lying if I said I didn't have the same thought. But if you put it into context, it actually can work out to be quite 'reasonable'. If I was looking for a kudu, say, I'd have to allocate around $2,000 for the trophy fee (give or take). That's 20 springbok, and while a springbok isn't a kudu, if I already have a kudu, I've been ready to pay that much for what is often (but not always) a brief hunt. Here, I can have a pretty interesting day for the same price. A blue or black wildebeest can set you back 8-10 springbok. It all depends on whether you want trophies or just to enjoy the hunting or shooting (see next paragraph!).

    Before I continue, I want to make a distinction between culling and driven hunts. Before I did it, I tended to use "culling" for all non-trophy hunting, and that's a mistake. The problem, I think, is that all driven hunting is culling, while not all culling is driven hunting. In other words, driven hunting is really shooting more than it is hunting (so I'm going to call it 'driven shooting'), while culling can be both hunting (going after an individual cull animal, as I did at Serapa) and driven shooting, where you are in effect 'culling" although, to complicate matters, not all animals killed in driven hunting would be culls if they were stalked individually (there were some great horns on some of these animals). Got it?!

    So I think a driven shoot is for someone who has pretty much all the trophies he or she wants, but still wants to get out and have some fun taking animals while also helping the landowner. Or just someone who wants to try something different. You can spend a lot doing it, but you don't really have to - you can sort of piggy back on someone else who doesn't mind spending the money! it's for this reason, in part, that you need more than two people - you can get the numbers up, make the landowner happy, and still have a great time without necessarily spending a fortune.

    Now, over to the ostriches.

    Let me start by saying if people want to pool their money to pay for my hunts, I will reluctantly go along with that. PM me and I will give you the address to which to send contributions. My wife will also thank you.

    Now, on to the ostriches. I would be up for an ostrich cull anytime, anywhere. It's difficult for me to imagine how horrible a place with a healthy population of ostrich would actually, but I'd have someone clean a nice spot for me, and get down to doing the work which needs to be done.

    Lastly, I don't think you'd ever see an animal like a blue duiker on the back of an ostrich. Far too much class for that. Now Uncle Bob (of any type) riding an ostrich - well, there you would be on to something!
     
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  9. Hank2211

    Hank2211 AH ENABLER GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    Day 6

    It had been very cold since we arrived in the Karoo (thank heavens for electric blankets) – how cold? The water pipes to some of our rooms froze, so no hot shower in the morning (fortunately, not mine!). This day was alternating between drizzle and rain - a grey day with low-lying clouds. We headed out anyway, just to see what we could see. Within a half hour, I took a long shot – about 300 yards – at a white blesbok cull ($150). She was standing on a ridgeline, and the shot brought her down within 10 yards – a good thing because we didn’t want to have to chase her in the rain.

    DSC01442.jpg
    Shot the white blesbok near the top of the ridge

    We kept on our way, and found a small herd of black wildebeest. We had to work a little harder for a shot here, but we did get one, and a black wildebeest cull ($240) fell to the .300. And then what I thought was a nice shot on a springbok at a couple of hundred yards. We had seen five go behind a thicket, with a nice male (but still a cull!) eventually sticking his neck out. I estimated where his body should be and took the shot. Only 4 ran from the shot, so we expected to find our victim in the thicket, and we did.

    DSC01445.jpg
    Black wildebeest cow

    Meanwhile, Grant had again forgotten what culling meant. He was trying to shoot some female waterbuck (culls) when he saw a beautiful male. They stalked the male for almost an hour before bringing it down – almost 30 inches. This one is a trophy.

    That’s our morning. The afternoon is to be given over to another driven hunt, this time for blesbok. Niel has a property with a herd of about 30 on it, and he would like all of them off. I guess shooting all of them is easier than moving them. Once again, we get into position, but it’s apparent pretty quickly that John and I are set up in a poor position. It might have worked better with more shooters, but as it is, we spend an hour watching blesbok running at full speed some long ways from us.

    John decided we needed a change of venue, so after a brief radio call to ensure we wouldn’t be shot, we move to a new location. Within seconds, two blesbok stop about 120 yards away – John glasses them and says one is wounded. I shoot it first, and it drops. The other just stares, so down it goes as well.

    Within minutes, parts of the blesbok herd begin to show up, this time not more than 200 yards away. And I begin shooting. We shoot at any and all that stand still, and some that are walking. Once again I think the suppressor is helping – they really don’t seem to know where the noise is coming from. Eventually, I bring down 10 more. It’s a good thing, because Grant has been having a field day, and has killed the remainder of the herd. After a little more than 2.5 hours, we have eliminated the herd of about 30.

    DSC01451.jpg

    While we rarely move from our appointed spots, this turns out to be tiring work. But it does allow you to try out various shots, and is good practice. And it’s enormous fun as well.

    At this point, I should admit that I felt some trepidation at what seemed to me to be a slaughter. I know, intellectually, that Niel would prefer we do this and pay him for the privilege, rather than paying someone to do this for him. I also know that it’s no different in quality from shooting a single trophy, even though it obviously is in quantity. And the meat does not go to waste. I think it has something to do with shooting females and young animals. I grew up learning that you don’t do that, so this takes a bit of emotional adjustment.

    DSC01465.jpg
     

  10. stug

    stug AH Fanatic

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    That's a lot of shooting! Nicely done.
     

  11. Royal27

    Royal27 AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

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    So I understand this and it really all does come down to budgeting and stopping when the budget has been spent, no different than trophy hunting when things are going good.

    This does make me think of another question though and that is one of ammunition and I guess rifles? You brought your own rifle, correct? Culling is one time where I can see it making sense to rent/borrow a rifle, or at the very least have a common caliber where ammunition can be easily obtained? And if ammunition is obtained for your rifle to perhaps spend a bit more time at the local range to ensure the bullets shoot decent from your gun?

    Your thoughts on this would be appreciated.

    And @Beans, what caliber is most appropriate for Ostrich culling?
     

  12. cagkt3

    cagkt3 AH ENABLER PLATINUM SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    Good shooting, and a heck of a trip so far. I hope there will be a summary at the end, because I'm starting to lose track!

    For Hank, I say we give him a large stick...you know, to give the ostrich a fair shake.:D
    [​IMG]
     

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  13. Aaron Nietfeld

    Aaron Nietfeld AH Fanatic

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    Driven hunt is just a fancy term for pushin' bush!

    You rarely want to be the shooter standing on point during a northern Alberta winter!
     

  14. Hank2211

    Hank2211 AH ENABLER GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    I did not bring my own rifles this time (first time I didn't). That wasn't because of the driven shooting, although had I known how that would play out, I would have made the same decision. This kind of shooting requires a reasonable but not excessive caliber, and ideally, a rifle with a suppressor (which my PH had for me). As I noted, the suppressor materially reduces the recoil (so you can shoot all day without difficulty), but also seems to "change" the sound in a way which confuses the game. The result is that while they will often run after the first shot, and will eventually run after a series of shots, they will often just mill about for a time looking for the source of the noise. And that's when you can get the multiples.

    It helps to have a PH who loads his own, or who otherwise has access to ammunition. Having said that, there are gun shops in most major centres, and you can get the ammo you need - this type of shooting doesn't require anything fancy, and in most cases, the less fancy the better. Unless you're going after the wildebeests (when I used a .300), the animals you'll be shooting aren't particularly tough. And I've assumed that if you're using your PH's rifle, it's a caliber he can get ammunition for in South Africa.

    As for an appropriate caliber for ostrich, I have used everything from a 12 gauge to a .300 win mag, and I believe once, a .375. I think a stout broom handle would also do the job, although this would require a certain amount of 'up close and personal' that many would find abhorrent, especially given the disgusting nature of these creatures. I, on the other hand, am used to that, and will gladly take over from those who aren't.
     
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  15. Hank2211

    Hank2211 AH ENABLER GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    Happy to shake ostriches. Although I have a hard time understanding this picture. In my experience, this stick is too short. You'll get a toe in the belly at this distance. You need another two feet of stout stick, and then you want to whack him smartly in the head. Leave the front alone. Too many feathers, and you'll disturb the fleas and flies which have made a home there.
     
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  16. cagkt3

    cagkt3 AH ENABLER PLATINUM SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    :ROFLMAO: what about the technique? I would have thought a two-handed approach would be better.
     

  17. Hank2211

    Hank2211 AH ENABLER GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    I think I agree with you. I'm not sure what this guy is trying to do. Frighten the ostrich with some martial arts stance? In my experience, they're made of sterner stuff. Not smarter, just sterner.
     

  18. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN AH ENABLER SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR LIFETIME TITANIUM BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    You are just missing the fern and spruce bows and I'd think the Blesbok picture was from Europe.
     
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  19. Hank2211

    Hank2211 AH ENABLER GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    Day 7

    This is a bit of an unusual day. Grant has wanted to take a giraffe since we arrived, and we’ve arranged to have a look at an old male on a neighboring property. We drove to the property – a large property in a fairly mountainous area. We had been told that the male was off on his own, but when we were driving to the farmhouse, we saw a reasonable size herd of giraffe with an old male. Apparently in this part of the world the males don’t get extraordinarily dark, but they rather develop a deep golden color that I have to say I found very attractive.

    We had a brief conversation with the farm manager to make sure we had the details right, and then set out on our search. It turns out that the male we saw was indeed the one they wanted removed, but of course, when we got back to where we had seen him, he was nowhere to be found. Some glassing allowed us to find the herd, which was on its way up a mountain. We wanted to get to them before they got too high up – it would have made recovery difficult!

    We began our stalk, moving with deliberate but not excessive speed. It was important to see them before they saw us . . . and of course, it hardly ever works out that way with giraffe. If fact, when we got reasonably close, they had already seen us, and began to move off. Giraffe, though, tend to the type of animal which moves when disturbed, but then stops to look back. And this male was no exception.

    Grant was on the sticks, and was going for a high neck shot. I was going to back him up – if the giraffe didn’t drop to the shot, I would immediately take a heart-lung shot. I didn’t have sticks, so I was hoping Grant wouldn’t take too long to shoot – and I was sort of hoping he would miss . . . I'd have no objection to shooting a giraffe someone else was paying for!

    As it happened, Grant only sort of missed. The giraffe dropped to the shot, but it was a bit low on the neck. It did, though, puncture an artery, causing a fountain of blood to spout – no less than three feet. The giraffe tried to move, but was unable to, and it wasn’t long before it was all over. A beautiful giraffe after an interesting stalk, and almost its entire blood supply in a ocean around it.

    DSC01470.jpg
    How do you clean this up for a picture?

    The recovery then began and it was late in the day before we found ourselves back at Niel’s property. I had wanted a couple of zebra for gun bags, so John and I went out in search.

    We quickly found a small herd of zebra, but it wasn’t going to be easy getting close. We stalked as close as we could, and I took a shot, but it wasn’t a great one. The zebra ran off, and we had to move quickly to try to follow. They had gone down a hill, and we could see them from the top. We could see the one I had hit, but it seemed as if the shot had been quite low, and likely not quickly fatal. A second shot from an awkward angle finished the job. It was as if the shooting gods were punishing me for having shot well before . . . or maybe because I had secretly hoped Grant would miss on the giraffe! In any case, it wasn’t good shooting.

    We still had about an hour of shooting light left, so we thought we’d try for the second zebra I was looking for. We found another group, not far from the first, and I got ready for the shot. It was probably 200 yards, but that’s no excuse – I did it again. A low shot that looked like it cut the brisket. Fortunately, we could see blood on the zebra’s leg, which allowed us to follow it as it decided to run up the hill we had just come down. The zebra stopped a few times on the hill, but never gave me a shot, until it was near the top. Now I had the awkward angle again, but shooting up this time. But again, the second shot did it, and we had two zebra down. I think I can get five gun bags, maybe six, out of the two.

    Filet of mountain reedbuck for dinner tonight!
     

  20. Hank2211

    Hank2211 AH ENABLER GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    Day 8

    We were up and out early this morning, heading to another property about an hour away, not far from Pearston. On the drive, John told me that the property held something approaching 1,000 springbok, but that the property was low, not high, fenced. If left alone, the herd would grow at a rate of approximately 40% per year, which would quickly become untenable. The farmer would normally hire professional cullers to take off some 200 – 300 springbok per year, but that it was more profitable for him to allow hunters to take them off. With hunters he was paid for the animal, rather than paying someone to take the animal off. There was likely marginally more spoilage of meat with non-professionals, but the fees paid per animal ($95) more than made up for that.

    Normally there would be four shooters or even five on this property, and the farmer would not normally have allowed two, just because it was much harder to reach the required level of animals, and he wanted to leave the animals alone as much as possible. His motto was ‘hit them hard for a couple of weeks and then leave them alone for the rest of the year.” He had agreed to allow us to shoot because this year, he would be taking off far fewer animals. As a result, he believed, of the drought, no kids had been born the previous year. Consequently, we would be restricted to shooting males, unlike in prior years, when both genders were fair game (so to speak!).

    Once we arrived at the property, with our beaters, Grant and I went our own way, and John and I set up with a good view of the fence line (again, note that this was a low fence). I’m not sure how big the property was, but we did two beats, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, and we moved each time. At no time did I ever hear Grant’s shots, and he didn’t hear mine. In addition, it was big enough to support over 1,000 springbok, so it must have been substantial.

    John and I were both sitting on the ground, both with binos, with a bush at our backs. I had a bipod on the 25-06. John was to be the identifier, and we agreed I wouldn’t shoot unless he had identified the animal as a male. That wasn’t a big impediment, since John can generally tell them apart very quickly at 200 yards even without his binos. The shots turned out to be pretty long – my longest was about 380 yards while the average was probably 200. The springbok is not a huge target, so I had to concentrate. I quickly learned that after shooting one, there was usually an opportunity to get more if I was fast enough reloading.

    We had a busy morning - brief moments of frenetic activity followed by long moments of calm. The animals would come our way, get shot at and leave, and then come our way again some time later. After a while, the herds began to break up and we would get smaller numbers coming by more frequently. This is what should happen on a well-executed beat. We had a good morning, followed by the collection of the downed animals and then a very nice lunch in such shade as we could find in these open fields. And then it was back at it for a few more hours in the afternoon. You have to end at least an hour before the light runs out to allow the animals to be recovered before it becomes hard to see them. While we had a general idea where they had fallen, once the numbers started to climb, it became hard to remember exactly where they were to be found. But we did eventually find every one.

    DSC01489.jpg
    A good morning's work!

    By the end of the day, I had shot over 30 springbok and Grant almost as many. Had we been able to shoot females, the numbers could well have been double. As it was, it had been a great day, and we had both had a lot of fun. I would do this again in a heartbeat - it improves your shooting, while benefiting the farmer at the same time. I will add that a rifle with a suppressor is important for two reasons: firstly, it disorients the animals a little and secondly, but more importantly, I couldn’t imagine taking 30 or more shots in a day from a 25-06, let alone a .300 Win mag. If you’re going to do this kind of shooting, better to rent the rifle with the suppressor.

    DSC01514.jpg
    End of the day - nothing wasted
     
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