SOUTH AFRICA: Huntershill Safaris Cull Plains Game In The Eastern Cape SA

Discussion in 'Hunting Reports Africa' started by Nick Jackson, Jan 15, 2018.

  1. Nick Jackson

    Nick Jackson AH Member

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    Part 1
    I embarked on very much an entry ‘level’ African safari this year and hunted cull plains game for a couple of days in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. I now have the bug!


    We have been to Africa before but on photographic safaris only. My eldest daughter has been volunteering for a couple of months in Port Elizabeth so we decided, as a family to go and see her. We flew from Heathrow to Johannesburg then got a transfer to PE, we then all went to Addo Elephant National Park and stayed in an amazing SanParks self catering lodge called Nyathi where we saw 4 of the Big 5 from our balcony/plunge pool/bath!


    From Addo it was a three hour drive NNE to Huntershill http://www.huntershillsafaris.co.za/ which I chose because A. it was not far from Addo and B. a friend locally here in the UK is the UK agent C. they have just about every species you could wish to hunt on one (55,000 acre) property so no time wasted driving between ranches. It is fenced, as are most places in SA but is so big you certainly don’t feel they are not free roaming. (photo 66d the lodge)

    We were greeted on arrival by my PH Lloyd and after a quick chat went off to the range. I was borrowing a rifle, it was a well-used Howa in .308 with a Vortex scope but two shots within ½ inch just above the bull confirmed it and I were up to the job. As it was after the main season we were the only guests there.

    I was hunting cull plains game. The costs were amazingly reasonable, less than a 3rd than one would pay for a stag/buck in the UK and the accommodation/food/booze about the same (the Rand is weak.) I explained to Lloyd that I liked ‘stalking in close’ rather than long range shooting but now I’ve been once I will ask to do even more on foot and less in the bakkie (truck.)

    We were then off and drove for about a mile with tracker Lucas on the back spying. We parked near an escarpment and Lloyd explained we’d climb up on a kopje as below was a favourite place for Black Wildebeest to graze. Sure enough as we neared the top we saw a herd of about a dozen about 120 yards below. We edged slowly to get in position with my knees collected every acacia thorn in the vicinity along the way. It was the first time I had seen Black Wildebeest and they are indeed strange looking animals. I managed to get a rest on a rock and Lloyd pointed out and old bull that was broadside. As his walk paused I put the cross hairs on his shoulder and squeezed. A good sounding ‘thwack’ reported and he gave a good ‘buck’ before turning to his right and running off in to some scrub with the herd.

    Lloyd confirmed he thought the shot was good. We gave it a minute or two and then went down to the shot site. Our tracker Lucas (who Lloyd spoke to in Xhosa) found some blood and then I was very relieved when Luca pointed out my bull laid stone dead about 70 yards away hit through the both lungs. My first African animal, Lloyd said he was an old bull so a good one take to take out. I was chuffed, it had taken me many years to get there but I’d finally fulfilled a childhood dream and hunted in Africa

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  2. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN AH ENABLER SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR LIFETIME TITANIUM BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    You did hunt in Africa, Congratulations.
     

  3. cagkt3

    cagkt3 AH ENABLER PLATINUM SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    Congrats! Look forward to hearing the rest
     

  4. PHOENIX PHIL

    PHOENIX PHIL AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

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    Glad you had a good time!
     

  5. Nyati

    Nyati AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

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    Congrats, that was only the beginnig.....you´ll be back !
     

  6. cpr0312

    cpr0312 AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

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    Looking forward to hearing more!
     

  7. BWH

    BWH AH ENABLER AH Legend

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    Congratulations..... I have heard great things about Huntershill. I believe one of our own AH'ers is a contact for them... or used to be? Steve Scott & Boddington have hunted with them.
     

  8. CAustin

    CAustin AH ENABLER BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Ambassador

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    Congrats. Glad someone else has the bug besides me! The African hunt bug that is.
     

  9. johnnyblues

    johnnyblues AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

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    You most definitely will start planning a return trip if your not already. Congratulations.
     

  10. mark-hunter

    mark-hunter AH Fanatic

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    Looking fwd to Part 2, of the story!
     

  11. Nick Jackson

    Nick Jackson AH Member

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    Sorry, it is my first report and I can't find how to tag/label photos. The first pic is of the lodge (at 4,000 feet) and secondly of Tracker Lucas with Lloyd's dog and my Black Wildebeest bull. Part 2 will follow tomorrow.
     

  12. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN AH ENABLER SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR LIFETIME TITANIUM BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    Just write it underneath the photo inside the post.

    Keep it coming.
     

  13. Nick Jackson

    Nick Jackson AH Member

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    Part II
    After the usual photo session (which they do much better than we do here in the UK) we were able to get the bakkie near to the bull so it was a simple task to load him up and drop him back to the skinners at the larder near the lodge. As it was early November the heat was now up to about 35 degrees so I had a shower and joined the family by the pool for a couple of hours after a great lunch of Kudu steak.

    Lloyd collected me about 3pm as it was starting to cool a bit. None of Huntershill is exactly flat but we headed up in to the hills that rise another 4,000 feet in search of Impala.

    As we climbed up through some stunning scenery we saw a good number of other antelope including some cracking Kudu and a huge herd of giraffe. However, the impala were pretty jumpy, I guess the fact that it was the end of the season didn’t help. It was certainly different than the Kruger NP where we were last year and there was hundreds of these very attractive antelope about 10 yards from the vehicle!

    We stalked in to a herd for nearly an hour but they wouldn’t settle. A fleeting glimpse as they walked through the thorn was all we were getting.

    As we set off again a small group popped up from a donga below us and an impala ewe stopped at about 300 yards. Lloyd said I could take her. I got on the tripod sticks they use and squeezed a shot off. The .308 had a moderator on and by the sound and reaction it was a miss. I saw some rock kick up behind and above here but, of course a round can do that when it has travelled through a beast. I shoot a lot off sticks here in the UK (deer) but only really out to c200 yards and I use quad sticks. I really should have said to Lloyd I wasn’t steady enough but I will be more confident next time. Lloyd also thought it was a miss but we spent a good 20 minutes double checking there was no blood at the shot site. I was disappointed but at least the animal was not wounded.

    We spent the rest of the day searching hard for impala but called it a day as the light began to fail. After a shower Lloyd and Grant the chopper pilot joined us for a fantastic supper of Nyala steak with some great SA wines. The ‘boma’ chat was great and Lloyd shared stories of his favourite type of hunting – jackal and caracal with his pack of beagle crosses. He did explain some of the hazards though – he recently encountered a leopard (a very long way from where they are supposed to be.) The photos of the tracker who was mauled showed he was lucky to survive. The big cat took six shots with Lloyds .222 to put him down!

    After a great cooked breakfast, we set out early on the second day. We headed North East in to the hills again. Not far from the lodge we spotted a herd of impala again but they were off by the time we had crawled in to try and get a shot. Back in the truck we slowly wound our way up the climbing track and got out to glass some stunning valleys covered in Aloa and acacia. We heard a baboon across a sheer valley but he was off at about 100mph before we could get a bead on him! The baboons are shot on site as they have a habit of chewing up the water pipes that feed the waterholes. He scared a herd of impala and then a bit later the same happened with a warthog. (On the hill in Scotland it is usually sheep that spoil our stalks on red deer!)

    Having climbed as far as we could in the truck we were just turning when Lucas said something to Lloyd from the back (probably a click as they are prevalent in the Xhosa language.) We embarked from the truck and walked about 800 yards up a slope through some thickish acacia scrub. As the scrub started to thin Lucas pointed out a herd of about 20 odd blue wildebeest about 200 yards away. The hunt was on and I loaded a round in to the chamber of the Howa. After fluffing the shot the day before I was glad we were able to slowly stalk through the thorns and get to within about 75 yards.

    The herd knew something was up but wasn’t quite sure what. Lloyd placed the sticks and I readied the rifle, I lined up on an animal Lloyd had pointed out but it walked off to the right just as I was about to squeeze a round off. I thought our chances were gone but luckily an inquisitive animal came back for a last look through a gap in the bushes and my PH said to take him. He was slightly angled so I aimed in front of the near shoulder. I took a breath, exhaled, half held it and squeezed the trigger.

    This time the shot felt good, I hear a good strike and Lloyd patted me on the back. The animal had ran to our right so with Lucas in the lead we followed where we thought it had ran through the bush. Even after 30 years of hunting with a rifle it’s still a great relief when a clean kill is confirmed and it was the same when Lucas pointed to the animal stone dead having ran 80 yards or so. There was no need for Chief, the PHs terrier cross this time. Lloyd pointed out he was a young bull as he was still light and brown in his coat colour and his boss was soft. Again though to me he was a ‘trophy’ and I intend to have the skull from both wildebeest come back with Neil the UK agent when he takes a big group out there in a couple of month’s time. Having grown up mesmerised with watching huge gnu migrations on TV it was great to connect with one of the species with a good stalk and clean kill.

    Lloyd explained why they are called the ‘poor man’s buffalo’ and showed me a video on his mobile phone with an American client delivering a sixth shot to a black wildebeest bull as it charged towards him earlier in the season. The first shot had ‘been a good one in the chest!’

    Me with my blue wildebeest bull and PH Lloyd.

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    Lbarr265, BRICKBURN and Mekaniks like this.

  14. Nick Jackson

    Nick Jackson AH Member

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    Part III. As the sun started to really reach its zenith we returned to the lodge and headed out about 3pm ish. We headed to the lower grounds and saw a herd of cape buffalo with some really big bulls among them. I said to Lloyd that I didn’t realise there was buffalo here and (only half joking) ‘where was his back up rifle?’ as ‘in the Kruger the foot photographic safaris had two armed guides!’ They have some exotics at Huntershill and it was odd to see some red hinds in winter coat in the 30 something degrees centigrade heat! We also saw a huge Pere David stag swimming across the pond to some hippos (big deer but not big enough to not want to avoid hippo!)

    Again, we had some aborted stalks on impala but in an area in the far corner of the farm under one of the big hills we spotted a small herd before they saw us. We managed to stalk in to about 85 yards and the PH set the shooting sticks up. They were milling around in the acacia but a young ram stopped broadside under a tree and Lloyd gave the nod. I aimed for the shoulder and he dropped on the spot. Finally - I had got my impala after probably half a dozen stalks on the in the past two days. Lloyd estimated him to be a 2yo ram and, as his horns were too small to be representative I asked if I could have the skin as I think they have very pretty coats.

    We had about two hours of light left and had a couple of stalks in to springbok (they have all the colour/sub species variations at Huntershill) but they were even more flighty than the impala. Lucas spotted a big herd of blue wildebeest from the bakkie and we got in to range on foot but just as I lined up on the animal the PH selected and slipped the safety they were off.

    Apart from the great birdlife we saw along the way we found some baby bat eared foxes in an old anthill which was fascinating.

    I was worrying my wife and youngest (teenage) daughter would get bored back at the lodge, not a chance! Apart from the pool and wi-fi they went on a game drive, there was 'zoo' including a hand-reared lion cub to play with and they went on their first chopper ride which included some brilliant ariel views of buffalo. (They have a Robinson R44 for game capture and culling etc.)

    I can thoroughly recommend Huntershill to anyone. The range of game (70 odd species) all in one place is fantastic. The staff were very friendly and helpful, the lodge and accommodation fantastic and all for a very reasonable cost. I will return!

    Thanks for reading. Nick

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    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 18, 2018

  15. cpr0312

    cpr0312 AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

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    Looks like a great time was had! Congrats and thanks for sharing!
     

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