SOUTH AFRICA: HUNTERSHILL safaris April/May 2022

TXhunter65

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Hunt Dates: 25 April - 4 May


Travel: United from DFW to EWR Newark, NJ to JNB. Spent the night with Africa Sky then on to East London and back the same route, excluding the overnight!

Type of Hunt: Plains game and cape buffalo hunt for three friends.

Method: Rifle hunting: Howa 1500 .308, Howa 1500 .300 Win Mag., .260 Remington, .270 not sure make, .458 Winchester, .375 not sure make.

Outfitter: @HUNTERSHILL safaris

PH: Jason Olivier, Grant Acton, Wes Renken

Taxidermy: @SPLITTING IMAGE TAXIDERMY

Agents: I handled all the airfare, overnight, taxidermy and will handle all the import and customs clearance.

Locations Hunted: I took 4 trophies on Huntershill's main property, 2 trophies on their Rocklands property, and 8 trophies on nearby low fence properties.

Species Hunted: Cape buffalo, tsessebe, springbok, bushbuck, impala, kudu, warthog, common reedbuck, common duiker, steenbok, vaal rhebuck, porcupine. Also hunted but was unsuccessful on caracal, jackal, baboon, and cape grysbok.

Trophy Quality: Extremely pleased with the quality of the animals.

Species Seen: Axis, Aardwolf, Baboon, Barbary Sheep, Bat Eared Fox, Blesbuck (Common, White, Copper), Bontebok, Cape Buffalo, Bushbuck, Grey Duiker, Eland (Cape, Livingston), Fallow Deer, Gemsbok (Regular and Golden), Giraffe, Red Hartebeest, Hippopotamus, Hog Deer, Impala (regular, black, and white flanked), Kudu, Lechwe, Nyala, Ostrich, Pere David Deer, Mountain Reedbuck, Common Reedbuck, Vaal Rhebuck,White Rhino, Roan, Sable, Sambar Deer, Springbok (Common, White, Black, Copper, Kalahari), Steenbok, Tsessebe, Vervet Monkey, Water Buffalo, Warthog, Wildebeest (Black, Golden and Blue), Zebra (Burchell's)

Lodging: Huntershill: The chalets were classic Africa, thatch roof, and skin rugs, very spacious. Rocklands, old army outpost during the Boer Wars, nice rooms with individual baths attached main dining hall and gathering room for drinks/stories.

Food: Many wonderful meals incorporating different game meats into the menu.

High Points: There were many high points, the vaal rhebuck on top of the mountain, the kudu that fell into the Kat River, the bushbuck that fell into the Kat River...

Low Points: Can't complain about anything...tired as hell at the end of most days but that’s a good thing when hunting. One regret was not setting up and taking proper field photos of the one horned bushbuck ram I shot.

Overall Rating: I was extremely pleased with the experience. The scenery is beautiful, but also very challenging. The staff is very friendly and always accommodating.

Would I recommend: Yes, this was a wonderful experience and I look forward to returning...again.

As I mentioned this was a trip for three friends, two of us had previously been with Huntershill. This was the other gentleman’s first experience hunting Africa. We hunted 10 days and took 38 animals. I'll likely post my pictures and leave it to them if they want to post theirs. I will post a pic at the end with all the trophies in one pic.

Day One:

We left the lodge and proceeded southwest looking for tsessebe. After glassing for a while, we found a group and slowly made our way towards them. When we got to within 600 yards my PH noticed a lone bull to the north of the herd feeding in light cover. We made our way towards him and with some minor maneuvering got a shot at about 180 yards.
tsessebe.jpg


That afternoon we went out looking for springbok, after locating a group of about 15 we made our way around behind them on top of a cliff overlooking the area they were feeding. My first shot wounded the one I was after, and we spent the next little while chasing them to get a follow up shot eventually putting him down.
Springbok 1.jpg


springbok 2.jpg


Day Two:

We spent all of day two chasing cape buffalo got on several groups but never got a shot at a mature bull. Got close towards the end of the day with a large herd and one old bull that was covered in mud, but it wasn't to be.

Day Three:

Left the lodge before daylight in hopes of getting on a herd before they bedded down in the thick brush for the morning. We spotted a herd down near the river feeding to the north. We made our way around them and got ahead of where they were going and got set up to ambush them as they made their way out of the river bottom. As the herd came out, they spotted us and slowly lined up as a wall in front of us with mainly the young bulls out front. We spotted an older bull with bosses that were solid and closed together in the middle. Having been on the sticks for a while at that point we waited for him to turn sideways for a broad side shot. Eventually after the herd had one by one turned to our right he finally shifted and started to follow. As soon as I had a shot, I took it and heard the bullet impact. He trotted about 15 yards as the herd came back to surround him and face off towards us once again. Through all the legs my tracker was able to see his head down and blood coming out of his mouth and nose. After several minutes slowly maneuvering left and right with the sticks around the mass of black in front of us to get a second shot I got a clear shot at his shoulder and took it. A minute or two later he laid down, then the other bulls began attacking him and actually caused him to get back on his feet, as they scattered he was quartered away facing to my left, I tried to aim back a little farther but my bullet struck right on the shoulder exiting out his right front skull just below the boss causing all four feet to leave the ground at once ending my first successful cape buffalo hunt.


cape 3.jpg


cape 4.jpg


Day Four:

This morning we moved down to the Rocklands property to chase warthogs, Chris' cape buffalo, some bushbuck and kudu among other things. I spent most of the day glassing hillsides and walking valley's looking for warthogs. Seen several but never had a shot opportunity.

Day Five:

This evening we drove to a near buy low fence sheep farm to look for bushbuck. There were several fields along creek/river bottoms as we waited for evening and the bushbuck to come out to graze. We'd checked several fields when we returned to one of the larger fields about an hour before dark. We used the topography of the field to make our way down towards the bottom. After getting set up near a small clump of brush we scanned the field to see 14-16 bushbuck feeding, mostly females and young males. They spooked and made their way back into the brush of the river about 30 mins before dark. We decided to stay put and see what if anything would come back out. A short while later they begin making their way back into the field. Just before dark we noticed a large bodied male enter the field and everywhere he walked the others scattered. It was getting late and my PH and myself were having trouble making out what his horns looked like. Given the size of his body and the other animals reactions we decided to take a shot. As I fired, I heard what sounded like an impact but with the brush along the river right behind him I wasn't sure...my PH thought maybe it was a miss as he made one bound into the cover and disappeared. We waited on the tracker and dogs to arrive and made our way down to the brush. The dogs took off and a short second later we heard one bark and the trail ended about 30 yards from the field where he lay dead, shot behind the shoulder through both lungs. The ram had massive bases with a broken horn on his left side. Unfortunately we did not take any good field photos and only snapped a couple at the skinning shed as the tracker skinned him.
bushbuck 1.jpg


Afterwards we decided to spotlight, I was mainly looking for porcupine and jackal, but I ended up taking a nice duiker.
duiker.jpg



Day Six: Started the day glassing for warthogs across the valley. My tracker spotted a nice one and so the PH and myself took off walking. We'd made our way down the valley, across and about 3/4's of the way up the other side when we walked into a group of female nyala about 20 yards from the warthogs. They made us and took off taking the wart hogs with them. We decided to continue up the valley as our tracker came around to pick us up and I spotted a group of impalas off to our left up on a rise looking at us. We glassed them and there was a nice ram in the group, I took the shot with him facing quartered towards me and dropped him with a neck shot.
Impala.jpg


After loading the ram, we decided to try another valley and had the tracker drop us off near the bottom. The PH instructed him to go to another look out and glass while we made our way up the valley and we'd radio when he needed to return to pick us up. About 30 mins later the tracker radioed and said he'd spotted a very nice kudu bull off the main property across the road on another property they owned. He hurried back and we began climbing out of the valley back towards the road. We made our way back to the look out and started trying to find the kudu bull again. After a short glass we located him on a far hillside with a cow. We got into position to shoot and dialed the scope. The first shot appeared to go right over his back. The second, I heard a solid impact as the bull began to turn away. As he turned, I fired once more striking him in high on his left ham. Him and the cow disappeared into the thick brush. We made our way down as quickly as possible with the dogs. The PH and tracker took off after him. I stayed where they left me as I knew I would only slow them down. I heard the dogs jump the kudu and he ran down hill towards the river, they would bay and take off again. They finally stopped down below me, and I saw the tracker coming up the hill towards me. We made our way down the steep hillside to the river bottom. The PH waved me to come near and told me the dogs had him bayed at the river’s edge it was very thick and any shot I had I needed to take. I peered through the thick brush and turned the magnification down as low as it would go. I spotted his face through the willows and found him in the scope. All I could see was 3-4" of horn above his head and 6-8" of neck below his head. I lowered the crosshairs on his neck and squeezed off. At the crack of the rifle, he collapsed, but his body rolled toward the river, I yelled we needed to get to him or he was going in the river. We jumped down a 6' sheer dirt bank and ran through the brush, my PH grabbed his horn just before the ivory tip went under water, the tracker grabbed the other horn and I reached in and tried to grab a base. We got his head up out of the water and had to rest, over the next several minutes we slowly inch by inch heaved his huge body out of the river. We took pictures and had to figure out how to get him up out of the river bottom. The tracker found a fence nearby and took off about 30' of cable. We drug the kudu about 20 yards to where he was close enough to connect the cable to him and use the truck to pull him up the sheer bank and onto a rise before the 3 of us could load him into the back of the truck.
kudu 1.jpg


kudu 2.jpg


That evening we drove to a nearby farm to look for common reedbuck. We'd been on the property for a while and seen a couple groups off in the distance but couldn't get a shot at any of them. We managed to locate a ram and female bedded together in some cover and I managed to get a shot at a very nice common reedbuck. This was a very long day, and I was exhausted to say the lease.
Common.jpg


Day Seven:

We left early again to look for warthogs. We set up high on a ridge and spotted a group with a large boar. After walking for 30-40 minutes, we got close...bumped a waterbuck bull and were fortunately he didn’t spook the pigs...almost a repeat of the last stalk. We got to within 20 yards and one of the piglets spotted the PH's dog. The piglet wasn't sure what was going on but knew something was off and decided to trot off to our right. The others followed suite knowing something was up but not sure what. As the sow and piglets made their way off to the right the large boar trailed the pack... Let me stop right there for a second...this was my third trip to Africa, I've spotted and stalked these things numerous times, I've sat on waterholes for the things, and I've flown in a chopper for these things and up until this point I'd never had a real shot at one. Ok back to the story...they're trotting off to our right and the boars bringing up the rear, when I see him, I have no shot as the brush is too thick. As I swing right there's one opening about a yard wide, he has to cross. As he enters, I center behind the ear and squeeze... he falls dead in his tracks and the quest for a warthog is finally over.
Warthog 1.jpg


That evening we decided to head back to Huntershill, but we took a detour to check on another ranch they own near Rocklands. While there my PH contacted a landowner with a sheep and cattle farm along the river. We decided to see if we can get close to another bushbuck with both horns intact! Which the other PH's told us we were crazy for chasing another and we'd not improve on the one we shot given his mass and 14" length on his one good horn...but we gave it a go anyhow. We sat up on the side of a cliff looking across the river where the landowner told us he'd seen some rams come out before. We waited for a while and the tracker spotted a large warthog making his way along the river bank....I couldn't pass. He came into an opening, and I fired across the river valley and he dropped.
Warthog 2.jpg


We'd set up the spotting scope and were glassing other fields when the tracker spotted a large bodied animal at first glance appeared to be an nyala come out down the valley. Upon further inspection it was a bushbuck, so the PH and I took off. We got to within 300-400 yards and ran down the cliff to get into position...too far. Back up and further down the mountain and we tear down through the brush again....again too far. Back up the mountain and we try to get in front of where he's feeding. We run through the brush again and get set up. He's across a field feeding left to right and I squeezed off. Odd sound, but he freezes...I reload and squeeze, he reacts but it looks back.... reload and he's turned away slowing making his way to the thick brush along the river...I put it on him and squeeze and see his left rear leg buckles. He disappeared into the brush. We make our way down there and the PH is afraid to put his dogs on the trail given how thick the brush is, but we find good blood so him and the tracker head into the brush but can only make it 30-40 yards before it’s too thick. He reluctantly puts the dogs on the blood, and they go 30-40 yards, and we hear one bark and them latch onto the body of the dead bushbuck... where they went left in the thick cover the bushbuck went right and had collapsed right at the water’s edge. Now we had to drag him up out of the river bottom and carry him to the truck through the field we couldn't drive through. And now we had to go find, drag, and load the warthog I'd shot earlier!
siwe.jpg


bushbuck 2.jpg


Day Eight:

We spend the entire day looking for steenbok. We'd seen 10-15 throughout the day but no large males. Finally, right before dark we spotted a male in very thick grass, determined he was a shooter and got lucky that he didn't bolt before we could get into position to get a shot.
Steenbok.jpg


Day Nine:

Drove north a couple hours to seek out the elusive Vaal rhebuck. We met the landowner and got the lay of the land and headed up the mountain. We spotted a couple groups that morning but couldn't get within 600-700 yards before they would take off. We'd stopped to glass a mountain reedbuck on the side of the mountain and my PH told me to sit tight while he walked down the cliff in front of us to glass the bottom below. He and the tracker disappeared for about 30 mins when I saw the tracker waiving and signaling me to follow. We walked down the cliff, around a bend...no PH... around the next bend...no PH... around the next bend and down below I could see him. I made my way to him, and he told me they were laying down the cliff 180 yards, but we had to crawl to the edge and try to get set up without them seeing us. We had one small bush on the edge of the cliff between us. They already knew we were there...they just didn't know what we were. We had to adjust the sticks because they were too high. The vaal's got up and began to trot off to the left going away which worked out because where he was laying I would have had to shoot through the bush in front of me. He stopped quartered away and I put the crosshairs at the top of his back and slowly squeezed. I saw the bullet splash rock on the other side just as I began to work the bolt and said, "over him?"....my PH replied...."stone dead". He'd dropped in his tracks...the bullet entered behind his left shoulder and exited in front of his right shoulder. I couldn't believe I'd killed a vaal on my first morning hunt for one. Figures, three trips for a warthog and one morning for a vaal...that's Africa. But I'll take it.
vaal.jpg


That evening we went spotlighting for a cape grysbok but to no avail. We managed to see 4 or 5 but only two males and given the cover we couldn’t make out if they were mature rams. We settled for a porcupine and called it a night.
porcupine.jpg


Day Ten:

I decided to take it easy on the last day and just hang out around the lodge and take photos with all the animals. It was nice to rest and relax the day before we started our journey home.
trophies.jpg


It was a great trip, Mark and Chris had a great time both getting some wonderful trophies and more importantly memories that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.

all trophies.jpg


Black Wildebeest (2)
Blesbok
Blue Wildebeest (3)
Bushbuck (4)
Cape Buffalo (2)
Common Duiker
Common Reedbuck
Eland
Gemsbok
Golden Wildebeest
Impala (2)
Kudu (2)
Nyala (3)
Porcupine
Red Lechwe
Roan
Sable (2)
Springbok
Steenbok
Tsessebe
Vaal Rhebuck
Warthog (4)
Zebra
 
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Jaegger

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Nice detailed trip report … thx for sharing, congrats on a very successful trip & memorable experience.
 

Justhunt

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Cool report, thanks for taking the time. Great animals.
 

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Congrats and thanks for sharing!
 

jasyblood

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Congrats on a great hunt!
 

cls

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Well done, congratulations. Thanks for the detailed report.
 

MontanaPat

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Thanks for the write up, glad to hear you would recommend them. Doing my first hunt with Huntershill in mid June. Congratulations on a lot of nice trophies
 

gesch

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Congratulations. It sounds fantastic. Questions about the Buffalo: Were they self sustaining herds? How big was the property? Did it seem wild? Again congratulations. Your friend, Brian
 

Trogon

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I bet the skinners were happy to see you guys heading home! Impressive animals, congratulations on a successful trip!
 

One Day...

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TXhunter65, Jeff my friend, heartfelt congratulations! You realize what you have done here, this Vaal Rhebok is out of this world !!!!​

So happy for you :)

1652167510116.png


PS: the Kudu and Bushbuck ain't bad either :love:
 

TXhunter65

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Congratulations. It sounds fantastic. Questions about the Buffalo: Were they self sustaining herds? How big was the property? Did it seem wild? Again congratulations. Your friend, Brian
@gesch, to answer your questions, the two properties I saw/hunted buffalo on were over 50,000 acres at Huntershill and over 10,000 acres down at Rocklands. At Huntershill I saw 4 or 5 groups the second day. Each group was 20-40 animals per group, most were female, young, and young males. I didn't see huge numbers of what I'd call mature bulls, seemed to be a lot that needed 3-5 years and they'd be great bulls. The morning I shot my bull we spotted the group of close to 35 buffalo from up above the river bottom. The group was mostly females and calves with a few young bulls, one very impressive bull that was extremely wide just not completely hard bossed right in the front. The bull I shot was the last one out of the bottom and the only shooter in the group that I saw. This group was the only one that didn't run when they saw us. We'd gotten way in front of them and by the time they got to us we were standing still waiting on them, they knew something was up but not sure what we were. The other groups saw us either walking or driving and all took off for thick cover and made it extremely difficult to get a good look at the makeup of the herd. We saw what we saw of them while they were on the move. The buffalo at Rocklands seemed to stay in the thick draws and the only time we got to sit and observe them was when we were glassing from a high ridge, and they were in the valley below feeding unaware we were above them.
As to the question of are they "self-sustaining herds"...guess it depends on the definition of self-sustaining. To me a self-sustaining herd is not supplemented in any way which rules out a lot of hunting operations around the world as landowners routinely bring in new genetics to introduce to their herds. Which I'm fine with and have absolutely no problem. I do know just about every group I saw consisted of adult females, calves, immature males, and likely a couple mature bulls which would lead me to believe they were breeding and naturally reproducing. As to if new genetics are brought in, I can't answer with certainty, if I had to speculate, I'd say it is likely, which like I said I don't have a problem with.
Every group we saw when they knew what we were made an exit and getting close enough to identify individual animals seemed out of the question to me at that point as they were on high alert it very thick cover.
 

TXhunter65

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TXhunter65, Jeff my friend, heartfelt congratulations! You realize what you have done here, this Vaal Rhebok is out of this world !!!!​

So happy for you :)

View attachment 465693

PS: the Kudu and Bushbuck ain't bad either :love:
Thanks Pascal, I was honestly in shock for quite a while after taking this animal, it's something I didn't think would ever happen much less on my first morning out for them.
 

Uncle Sauce

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Great report and congrats on your excellent hunt!
 

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Congrats for a great hunt, and thanks for sharing !
 

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@gesch, to answer your questions, the two properties I saw/hunted buffalo on were over 50,000 acres at Huntershill and over 10,000 acres down at Rocklands. At Huntershill I saw 4 or 5 groups the second day. Each group was 20-40 animals per group, most were female, young, and young males. I didn't see huge numbers of what I'd call mature bulls, seemed to be a lot that needed 3-5 years and they'd be great bulls. The morning I shot my bull we spotted the group of close to 35 buffalo from up above the river bottom. The group was mostly females and calves with a few young bulls, one very impressive bull that was extremely wide just not completely hard bossed right in the front. The bull I shot was the last one out of the bottom and the only shooter in the group that I saw. This group was the only one that didn't run when they saw us. We'd gotten way in front of them and by the time they got to us we were standing still waiting on them, they knew something was up but not sure what we were. The other groups saw us either walking or driving and all took off for thick cover and made it extremely difficult to get a good look at the makeup of the herd. We saw what we saw of them while they were on the move. The buffalo at Rocklands seemed to stay in the thick draws and the only time we got to sit and observe them was when we were glassing from a high ridge, and they were in the valley below feeding unaware we were above them.
As to the question of are they "self-sustaining herds"...guess it depends on the definition of self-sustaining. To me a self-sustaining herd is not supplemented in any way which rules out a lot of hunting operations around the world as landowners routinely bring in new genetics to introduce to their herds. Which I'm fine with and have absolutely no problem. I do know just about every group I saw consisted of adult females, calves, immature males, and likely a couple mature bulls which would lead me to believe they were breeding and naturally reproducing. As to if new genetics are brought in, I can't answer with certainty, if I had to speculate, I'd say it is likely, which like I said I don't have a problem with.
Every group we saw when they knew what we were made an exit and getting close enough to identify individual animals seemed out of the question to me at that point as they were on high alert it very thick cover.
Thanks. I appreciate the in depth answer. It sounds like a really high quality hunt. Again congratulstions. Your friend, Brian
 

degoins

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Congrats on a fantastic hunt and thanks for sharing!!
 

Scandalous Bob

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Congrats! Looks like you guys had a great time. We were at Huntershill at the beginning of April. Fun to see some familiar faces & places in your report. I still need to finish & post mine.
 

oahufish

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nice animals and great report Jeff. Huntershill was definitely a fantastic experience for us first timers and it was great meeting you folks and sharing stories each night at the Lodge.
Aloha
Lee
 

TXhunter65

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nice animals and great report Jeff. Huntershill was definitely a fantastic experience for us first timers and it was great meeting you folks and sharing stories each night at the Lodge.
Aloha
Lee
Thank you Lee. It was a pleasure visiting with you in the evenings. Wish we'd had more time to spend talking to everyone...seemed like we were gone early and came in late a lot of nights this trip.
 

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cajunchefray wrote on SAFARIKIDD's profile.
Hello Tom "SAFARIKIDD". This is Charles Ray, aka "cajunchefray" from Ponchatoula.

We spoke a year or two ago when I sold you the Swarovski illuminated reticle scope,
Would like to meet with you and talk about Cal.

I bought some brass and bullets, and book from Cal and looked forward to meeting him, we talked about DSC next year.
Let's meet soon.
Charles
Andrew62 wrote on gillettehunter's profile.
Hello Bruce, I think you are still in Africa?? I just sent payment to Bulls Eye Taxidermy to have 3 of my animals mounted, it has been years since I have had anything mounted. I hope Ronnie and Jimmy had a good hunt down Kimberly way. Anyway, so nice to have met you Bruce, it was wonderful meeting you and spending time with you in camp. I hope your store closure and building sale go well. Cheers, Andrew Fike
BigFan375 wrote on Freetrade's profile.
I'm sorry, but I'm buying, not selling.............lee
Member: NRA Life

Hunt: Alaska-Canada-NM
geoff rath wrote on Bob Nelson 35Whelen's profile.
G'day Bob,
Just had a yarn with A G, and he has filled me in on how much work he puts in to such developments, referencing QuikLoad, tightening tolerances, load development, range testing. He indicated that of you wish to contact him directly he can go into details far better than I.
If you wish , contact him directly, he has given the OK for me to pass that on.
 
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