SOUTH AFRICA: Hunting With Cruiser Safaris May 2019

Speedster

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I hunted with Cruiser Safaris in May of this year with my son along as an observer. This is my report It was mt first time hunting in Africa and I made some mistakes but had a great time. For those interested I used a 30-06 with Barnes 180gr TTSX ammo.

Day 1 On our way

Got to the airport and went to check the rifle in. I put my ammunition in a locked case in my checked bag but the woman at Delta’s counter said the ammo needed to be in the rifle case. This is directly opposite of what I was told, but when it comes to Africa, you go with the flow. We got on the plane to Atlanta with no problems. From Atlanta, we boarded a plane to fly nonstop for 16 hours to Johannesburg, South Africa. Man it was a long flight. Got very little sleep. Got to Johannesburg and were met by MR. X from the Afton Guest house where we were to spend the night. First we had to get our guns. We went to the SAPS office and while we opened our gun case for inspection Jeremy quickly got the ammo box and put the ammo in it like it should be. The police officer looked at our papers and we got through OK. Two guys with us did not have the papers filled out correctly and they had to bribe the police officer $100 each to get their rifles. Like I said, Africa. So after the bribe we waited about an hour for the officer to leisurely decide he would release their guns to them. We eventually got to the Afton house and had a steak dinner before heading to bed for some much needed sleep.


Day 2 Off to the lodge

We were met at the Afton House by Craig, a professional hunter from Cruisers. When I went to pay the bill for the stay at the Afton House, the grid was down so I had to pay in cash instead of a credit card. Good thing I brought some extra. After loading up we were on our way, with Craig stopping at a local market to pick up some groceries that the cook needed. Back on the road we entered a small town and saw the road blocked by a large truck. Craig said it was some type of protest or strike so we needed to find another way out of town. We drove down some side roads until Craig found a local policeman who had us follow him through the side streets to get around the blockade and continue on. Arriving at Cruisers, we were met by the cook, Delmarie, with cold fruit drinks. She showed us to our rooms and after settling in, we sighted in our rifles. We met our professional hunter Munsu and he asked if we wanted to go hunting that afternoon until it got dark. We agreed and soon were in the field. We saw some blesbok and a couple of waterbuck but could not get close for a shot. Finally, just before dark we found a male blesbok guarding his harem of females staring at us. We set up the sticks but I could not get a clear shot at him. He eventually moved off and we left for the lodge. Dinner that night was eland pie.



Day 3 Tough Start

Looking for: impala, warthog, kudu, gemsbok, waterbuck

The first day of hunting. We started walking and immediately saw a wildebeest laying down. Munsu said to pass on it as he wanted to concentrate on the animals I had contracted to hunt. We saw a big waterbuck but he slipped into some thick bush and we could not find him. More walking and we saw some impala but could not get close to a shot. More walking. Saw some gemsbok but they winded us and took off. We found a couple of impala and snuck up close to them but they were immature males. We also saw a couple of zebra but were not interested in shooting one. Then a big giraffe came walking right toward us. He got within 5 yards before he knew we were there and ran off. By then it was lunch time and Munsu called Sampson to pick us up. We drove over to a shady spot by a waterhole and Sampson had a fire going. Munsu got out the food and cooked us eland sausage over the fire. Quite good. Jeremy and I were talking that we were unsure about Munsu as he was so quiet and withdrawn. When we sat down to eat, Jeremy started asking Munsu questions and he started opening up and talking to us. He does not own a rifle but his dream is to purchase one and be able to hunt a Kudu and mount it on the wall of his home that he is building. After lunch we hunted hard the rest of the day. Coming out of the brush we saw a waterbuck completely out in the open standing broadside. Munsu glassed him and said one of his horns was broken off so we passed him by. We spent the rest of the day looking without success. Never got close to a shot. We had easily walked over 10 miles. I was a little disappointed but realized that is hunting and was hopeful tomorrow would be better. On the way back to camp a large warthog darted in front of the truck and Munsu could not help running over him. We quickly reversed direction and found the pig still alive in the tall grass by the side of the road. He was badly hurt but still able to move. Sampson and Munsu grabbed him by the legs and threw him in the back of the truck. When we got back to camp they put the warthog out of its misery. Dinner that night was grilled kudu filets.


Day 4 Good and bad

Looking for: impala, warthog, kudu, gemsbok, waterbuck

The day started as before. Lots of walking. We bumped into a wildebeest but Munsu said his horns were small. We stood still and he never saw us. Amazingly, he got to within about 20 yards and then slowly wandered off as another bull was calling He had no idea we were standing there. We ran into several shootable impalas but every time the sticks went up, they bolted. Munsu called Sampson and we got on the back of the truck to ride around and try and spot something. We topped a small hill and about 400 yards in front of us an impala ram was grazing by the side of the road. We quickly stopped, and jumping off the truck, slowly headed toward the impala just inside the row of bushes by the road. At 150 yards we saw he had moved to the other side of the road completely unaware of us and walking directly away. Munsu set up the sticks but I could not get a shot except through the impala’s rear. Munsu whistled and the impala turned slightly giving me a severe but slight angle. I lined up and squeezed the trigger. I heard the bullet thump and the impala lurched forward, fell down, but was up in an instant and ran back into the bush from where he came. We walked up to where I had hit him and found no blood. I was heartbroken thinking I had shot too far back. Munsu told us to stay on the road while he sorted out the track. He started into the bush and the suddenly turned around with his hand out to shake my hand. I was not understanding at first but then he said congratulations. I looked and there 10 feet inside the bushes lay the impala. Man, I was happy. He was a nice mature ram.
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We took a break for lunch and since it was a hot day, Munsu and Sampson lifted the impala and threw it in a water trough to keep it cool to prevent the hide from spoiling. After lunch we took off again looking for Kudu or whatever else we could find. Alternating between riding and walking we saw a couple of Kudu but nothing worth following up. The sun was starting to get low and when we were riding on the back of the truck, off in the distance, Jeremy and Munsu spotted several animals in the road. I could not see them. Probably in excess of 800 yards. Munsu glassed them and said “Gemsbok.” We jumped off the vehicle and started the stalk, staying about 50 yards inside the brush line. After about 400 yards Munsu snuck back to the edge of the road to have a peek. Still there. We advanced about 200 more yards and Munsu checked again. Nothing. They had moved backed into the bush. Slowly inching our way towards the area we hoped they were located, Munsu stopped short and slowly set up the sticks, motioning that a gemsbok was looking at us. I took aim and could see nothing. As the sun was almost directly in front of us, the glare through the scope was severe. Never mind, as Munsu gathered up the sticks and whispered they were moving off to the right. We followed on a parallel path stopping behind a large bush. Rising up we could make out two horn tips A gemsbok was facing us looking hard in our direction. We kept down and in a couple of minutes he turned and walked off to the right. We slowly followed them, and seeing a small opening in the bush about 100 yards distant Munsu put down the sticks and told me to aim at the clearing. He would tell me when to shoot as there would only be a second or two for a clear shot. A few moments later a gemsbok appeared, crossing to where I could see his vitals. Munsu urged me to shoot and I fired, the gemsbok turning slightly from the impact before running off. “You hit him hard,” Munsu said. Waiting a couple of minutes, we picked up the trail. There was lots of blood and Jeremy saw a couple of drops in the sand going off to the right as the herd had veered to the left. Following that, we found the gemsbok a short distance away. I was elated but as I walked around to get a better view, I was crushed. The left horn was long and thin, indicating a female. The right horn was short, deformed, bent at a severe angle to the rear, and splintered in 3 places. Making a split second decision, Munsu had not realized the horn deformity. I was concentrating on the shot and honestly never looked at the horns. Munsu explained that this would not count towards my license and I could shoot another gemsbok if I desired.
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Loading up the gemsbok and retrieving the impala, we head back to camp. Upon arrival Pieter met us and confirmed that I could shoot another one. Still, I was sad for how it turned out. It was a great stalk, a lot of cat and mouse. The true essence of hunting. Dinner that night was impala sausage. We also had a surprise. I had talked to Delmarie the previous day and told her today was Jeremy’s birthday. She made a cake with candles on it and we all sang happy birthday to him.

Day 5 Good fortune

Looking for: warthog, kudu, gemsbok, wildebeest

We arrived at a new area looking for kudu but also anything else that was on my list. We started off walking and quickly encountered 3 wildebeest bulls. They were curious toward us and did not bolt right away. Munsu said they all had small horns so we did not follow them. Walking a little farther on, we rounded a bush and staring at us about 80 yards away was a gemsbok. Munsu snuck a few yards closer to get a better angle. I got the rifle on the tripod and was just starting to pull the trigger when Munsu whispered for me to hold. A second gemsbok appeared behind the first and he did not want to risk the bullet passing through the first and wounding the second. I held off, hoping they would not turn and run. In a few moments the second gemsbok moved up to the right beside the first one. “Take the one on the left,” Munsu whispered. I aimed and took the shot. The gemsbok dropped as if it was poleaxed. Reloading and keeping my scope on it in case it arose, we waited until we were sure it was going to stay down. We approached slowly and even though the gemsbok was almost gone, I put another round into it mostly as a precaution from it sharp horns. It was a nice male with the characteristic shorter but thick horn style that males have.
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After pictures, we decided to hunt a little longer but if we did not see anything within a couple of hours we would return to the lodge and drop the gemsbok off as it was a hot day. We took off on the truck hoping to find a kudu. We did just that as approaching a water hole a cow kudu took off with 2 bulls trailing, one smaller, and one that had good horns. We jumped of the truck with Munsu picking up the track. Following for a few hundred yards in rocky, thick terrain we eventually lost them, returned to the truck, and headed to the lodge for lunch. In the afternoon we tried the same property, again searching for a kudu. We drove around for a while and rounding a corner came across some kudu in the edge of the bush. Sampson backed up to try and flush them out and suddenly a magnificent male jumped out onto the road, ran a few yards, and stopped to look back at us. His horns were enormous. ‘Hold off,” Munsu cautioned. “You can’t shoot him, it is a breeding bull. Wait to see if another comes out.” On cue another smaller but still nice bull appeared. Unlike the first he never stopped to look back. Back to searching we went until almost dark. We saw some other kudu but every time we got close, they ran off. We were almost ready to call it a day when a group of about a dozen wildebeest took off from the edge of the road and stopped to watch us about 100 yards out. The bushes were low and there was no way we could stalk them without being seen. Munsu asked if I could shoot if he turned sideways off the back of the truck and I rested my rifle on his shoulder. I told him I would get in position and see. I flipped around behind him and put the gun on his shoulder. Peering through the scope I was not wobbling too bad so I told him I thought I could hit the wildebeest. Looking back, it was pretty dumb as my feet were dangling off the truck and I was not anchored very well. I squeezed the trigger and at the shot the herd dashed madly away. Munsu looked back and said he thought I entirely missed as just before the shot he felt the rifle lift off of his shoulder. We walked out to where the herd was standing and Munsu started to track them. It eventully got too dark but he was pretty confident I had missed, which actually made me feel better as I did not want to deal with a wounded animal. We decided to come back in the morning to confirm this. Afterward we both laughed at our stupidity, agreeing never to attempt such a stunt again. We left for the lodge and had a dinner of roast oxtail.
 
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Speedster

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Part 2

Day 6 A good day for wildebeest

Looking for: warthog, kudu, wildebeest

We started the morning riding around looking for Kudu. Not only did we not see any kudu we saw very little of anything. For some reason nothing much was moving. We got off the truck where I had missed the wildebeest the previous afternoon and Munsu spoored around for about half an hour to make sure there was no sign of the wildebeest being wounded. Satisfied that it was a clean miss, we climbed back aboard the truck and continued on. Finally, Munsu said “Let’s take a walk. “ So off the truck and into the bushes we went. It was a very still day with no wind. Walking along Munsu stopped abruptly and looked to our right. A flickering tail meant a gemsbok. As we started to move on, Munsu spotted another gemsbok to our left and he froze in mid-step and motioned us to crouch down immediately. Slowing bringing the binoculars up he stared for a long time just to the right of the kudu. He turned and whispered, ”Wildebeest!” Motioning me to follow, we crawled about 20 feet to the left. Looking through the bush I saw 2 wildebeest bulls lying down facing away from us. They were unaware of our presence. I looked to Munsu for help and he whispered to me the nearest bull is the one I wanted but to wait until he stood. The gemsbok was aware of us and it took off, causing the wildebeest bulls to stand, staring our way. The brush was thick and I could not get a clear shot so I waited, hoping the bull would step out from behind a bush that was blocking my view. Suddenly the bulls bolted but only about 20 yards and then turned back to look at us. A small opening in the bush gave me a view of the front of the wildebeest. Munsu asked me if my shot was clear and I told him I could make it. He said to go for it. I squeezed off the shot and the bull ran into the bush letting out a bellow as he took off. Munsu said the shot was good. Waiting a couple of minutes, we walked over to where the bull stood when I shot and began tracking. A few yards into it Munsu stopped as he saw the 2nd wildebeest bull standing in thick brush in the distance. He had us stop and wait while he continued forward. After a few steps he said come on over. As we neared him I saw the wildebeest piled up in the dirt. A nice bull with a beautiful dark hide.
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After taking pictures we loaded up the wildebeest, but as Sampson and Munsu were closing the gate it somehow slipped out of the bottom pin and fell out, falling on Munsu’s knee. I was afraid he was badly hurt but after a few minutes of limping he was OK. A close call. After taking the bull back to be skinned we ate lunch at the lodge. After lunch we went to a different property that the owner said had a few nice kudu bulls. We hunted until dark but other than 2 very immature males we saw no other kudu. Dinner that night was lamb chops.


Day 7 A wasted day

Looking for: warthog, kudu

We returned to the same area we had hunted the previous afternoon. Admittedly, I was a little concerned over a lack of kudu sign in the area the previous day but according to the property owner, there were kudu on it. All day long we drove, walked, and looked for any type of indication kudu were in the area. Nothing. No males, females, or young ones. We were all over the property and never saw anything. Interestingly enough, all of the other game we saw were relatively unfazed by our presence, including the 2 immature kudu we had spotted the previous day. This was a new property and had been hunted very little if at all. For lunch we traveled to an adjoining property and staked out a waterhole, looking for a warthog. The only thing we saw in 3 hours was a wildebeest and a bunch of gecko lizards that were crawling all over the sides of the blind. After lunch, we went back to where were at the start of the day but unfortunately with the same results. No kudu to be found anywhere. At the end of the day, I cornered Munsu and flat out asked him if he thought there were many kudu there. His opinion was it was a very poor place to hunt them. When we got back to the lodge I approached Pieter and asked to speak with him privately. I expressed my feeling of having wasted a day and a half looking for kudu with no reasonable chance of even seeing one. He understood, apologized, and thanked me for the information. He had not hunted there and was going on the word of the owner. It was decided to take a break from looking for kudu and we would try blesbok and/or waterbuck tomorrow. Dinner that night was gemsbok steak.

Day 8 Back on track

Looking for: warthog, blesbok, waterbuck

We started the day on foot. In few minutes we bumped into a nice male blesbok but he hurried off before we got the sticks down. I was not too concerned, thinking a blesbok would be easy to bag. As things tuned out I was in for a rude awakening. Walking a bit farther on, we came across a warthog hole A few pebbles rolled down into the hole and smiling, Munsu motioned us to stand on the back side of the hole. He lowered the shooting sticks down the front of the entrance and instantly warthogs exploded out of the hole, going off in every direction with their tails sticking straight up in typical warthog fashion. There were 5 in all with the largest out first and each successive one smaller than the one that came out before. We cracked up. Don’t get in a warthog’s way coming out of its den. We continued on and saw a small group of blesbok but they took off before we could get within range. After more walking we called Sampson to pick us up and try finding something from the truck. We saw a couple of jackals that darted in and out of the bush as we drove along, but we never got close enough for a shot. Munsu was hoping to see a waterbuck but we did not encounter any. We spotted some blesbok off in the distance and dismounted from the truck, quietly stalking in a low crouch to close the gap. We got close, moving from bush to bush for cover. We got close enough to put up the sticks but the blesbok saw us and bolted before I could get lined up. We swung around hoping that we could get a clear shot through an opening but they kept going. We were about to turn around when Munsu saw a lone blesbok behind some bushes a couple of hundred yards away. He had not spotted us so we maneuvered towards him. As we got closer we saw an impala off to the left watching us intently. We stopped and crouched down, hoping he would not spook and scare the blesbok off too. We sat there about 5 minutes but unfortunately the impala decided to take flight, with the blesbok running off also. As it was getting toward midday we decided to stake out a watering hole to try and waylay a warthog. We settled in about 70 yards from the water in a blind made up of a brush pile under a tree. The first thing that came in was an impala ram with 2 females. They hung around several minutes before moving on. Next came a couple of female warthogs with small piglets. They stood by the water and then, being alerted from something on the left, ran off. From the left came 2 bull waterbuck. Both were on the small side with one having a horn deformity, dropping down below the waterbuck’s face at about 135 degrees. They too eventually moved off but soon some more warthogs appeared from the right. These too were a female with little ones. It was getting close to 2:30 PM and we were almost ready to call Sampson to pick us up when 4 male waterbuck appeared to the left. Munsu said to hold off as all were immature. The water hole had a small section to the rear that was obstructed by some bushes. Around a bush came another waterbuck, darker than the others and longer in the horn department. Munsu said he was a good one but advised me to wait until he gave me a better angle. He walked around and finally turned, giving us a better shot. Munsu gave me the OK and I fired hearing the thump as the bullet struck the bull. The waterbuck dashed off into the bush. I looked to Munsu and he said he wasn’t sure but I might have shot a little low. After a few minutes wait, we called Sampson and began tracking. Sampson immediately found some flesh. It was meaty. Munsu said it was a bad sign. A bit farther on Munsu found a bit of bone and he now said that was a good sign. A short distance away lay the waterbuck, the shot through his shoulder and lungs.
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We loaded him up in the truck and took off, looking for a blesbok or warthog. It had become extremely windy, the dust blowing back on us as we rode, covering us and everything else with dust. I kept blowing on each end of the rifle scope to keep it relatively clean. We drove around looking for blesbok. Every time we saw any they were on the run away from us. Munsu had Sampson stop the truck and we got off to walk awhile. We got to an open area that had been cut through the bush for some power lines. Off in the distance were a few blesbok. Skirting the edge of the bush to try and conceal our movements, we advanced closer but the blesbok took off into the next tree line. We followed, trying to get ahead of them. When they reappeared on the other side we set up the sticks and Munsu said to concentrate on a bull to the left of the others They were about 180 yards out and the wind was fierce, blowing straight at us. I could not hold steady and told Munsu I could not make the shot. He understood and as we tried to get closer the blesbok ran off. Back to the truck. I realized getting a blesbok was not going to be as easy as I thought, as they were very skittish and hard to approach. We drove around some more and tried approaching a couple of different bulls by driving the truck up to get a shot but could not get close. We rounded a corner and off to the right we saw several zebra with a few blesbok in the bush. We stopped and took off after them. They were slowly moving away. The zebra broke away to the left with the blesbok going right. Sneaking along we saw a blesbok staring back at us. We got the sticks down but it was small so we continued trailing the herd hoping to find a good bull. The blesbok moved more to our right and using some thick bushes for concealment, we got close enough to try for a shot. There were 3 bulls together with one on the right being the one I wanted. I could see the other 2 clearly but the one I wanted was obscured by leaves. He finally turned back to the others but I could not shoot as they were all close together and I didn’t want to wound one inadvertently. They eventually winded us and ran off. Again, back to the truck as the sun was starting to go down. We drove a little farther and came across a very large herd of blesbok with a few zebra mixed in, running away from us but parallel to the road. Sampson gunned the engine to cut them off and made a 90 degree turn into the bush to see if we could get a shot. The herd split, a few going back the way they came, the rest continuing on. Sampson slammed the truck into park and Munsu yelled “Let’s go,” jumping off the truck and trailing the herd on a dead run. It was not hard following them as they left a huge cloud of dust. We ran parallel to them, about 100 yards off. The area was a series of open areas and then a line of bushes and trees. We came through the first brush line and could see the herd just entering the second line of bushes. We kept running to the second line and burst out on the other side. The herd was moving but stopped to look at us just as it entered the next line of bushes. We did not have time to set up so we kept running to the next line to get ahead of them. When we ran through to the next open area the blesbok were just emerging into the open. Munsu hurriedly set up the sticks as the herd swung in a wide arc facing us. “Which one,” I asked. The dark one on the right by himself,” Munsu answered. I lined up trying to slow down my breathing, and touched off the shot off. “Good hit,” Munsu yelled as the bull took off into heavy cover. It was starting to get really dark so we immediately took off after him. We found the bull lying out in a little clearing beyond the bushes. We set up for some pictures in the dark and after that I unloaded my rifle, accidently dropping the cartridges on the ground. I picked them up, blew them off, and put them in my pocket. Later this would have terrible consequences for me. We loaded up the blesbok and returned to the lodge for a meal of wildebeest roast.
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buck wild

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sounds like hunting :) Gotta say the first gemsbok horn wasnt apparently a female. Did you roll it over ? :D - I love the cape color on that one also
 

Speedster

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Part 3

Day 9 The start of bad fortune

Looking for: warthog, kudu

After the success of the previous day all that was left that I wanted was warthog and kudu. We drove to a place at the foot of the Waterburg mountains that Munsu was unfamiliar with. It was decided that our driver today would be Craig’s driver, Frankie, as he and Craig had been here a couple weeks previous and knew the area. We were met at the gate by the property owner, a very friendly gentleman. He said just that morning he had spied 2 kudu about a mile up the track. We thanked him and took off down the road. Sure enough, about a mile away we came across a couple of cow kudus, an immature bull, and one very large bull. It would have been a very easy shot as he was standing broadside completely in the open at 40 yards. However, I decided to pass as his left horn had about 4 inches of the tip broken off. If I knew then what was in store I would have shot. Hindsight. We continued driving and then got out to walk awhile. It would be hard to describe how thick this area was. Anything beyond 10 yards would have been almost impossible to shoot. We decided the only way to get a shot at anything was from the truck where you would be somewhat elevated for a better view, or staking out a waterhole. Trying the waterhole approach first, we found a place with a great blind that the property owner built overlooking a small watering tank with a range of 90 yards. We set up and started our wait, eating lunch as we sat there. Several animals came by; a female warthog with babies, a kudu that was not quite big enough, impala, 3 or 4 bushbuck, and a troop of about 50 baboons. But nothing worth shooting. About 3 PM we called it off and got back on the truck. We saw several kudu but they were all a little small. As dusk was coming on out in front of us a few hundred yards, several cow kudus crossed the road, followed by a small bull and 2 very shootable bulls. Frankie gunned the engine to get us within range before we lost them in the bush. As we approached, they split around some dense brush, some going left, some to the right. One large kudu doubled back and turned to look back at us. I was not in a positon to rest my rifle on anything but he was close enough that I thought I could shoot offhand. I was not wearing my hearing aids and when Munsu said wait I thought he said shoot. The bull was partially obscured by some heavy bush but I thought I could clear it. When I shot I heard a weird impact of the bullet hitting something. I ejected the round and then my gun jammed! I could not believe it. We jumped off the truck and looked for any sign the kudu was hit. Finding no blood, we backtracked and found a small branch about an inch in diameter that the bullet had passed through and deflected away.
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I attributed my gun jam to my excitement thinking I had not completely pulled back the bolt on the ejection, not allowing the next bullet to pop up for proper loading. How wrong this turned out to be. We drove back to the lodge with a dinner of beef pie awaiting us. We would return to the same spot tomorrow.


Day 10 Kudu disaster

Looking for: warthog, kudu

We arrived at the location we had hunted the previous day with hopes of a kudu and a warthog. As we had agreed earlier, the thickness of the bush made shooting from the truck a necessity. We took off and had not driven more than a few minutes when we ran across some kudu cows with a very nice bull among them. They retreated into the bush but Munsu directed Sampson to back up, and moving along an abandoned fence line we squeezed through some brush. Off in the distance we could see the bull kudu looking at us. I put my rifle on the shooting rest of the front of the truck and eyed the kudu. He was in thick cover with only a bit of his front half showing. I could see his shoulder so I told Musnu I think I could make the shot so he said go ahead. I fired and the bull immediately dropped. I reloaded and my gun jammed again!.By this time the kudu had regained his feet and took off. Clearing the jam and reloading we took off after the wounded bull. There was a decent amount of blood but Munsu said it appeared I hit him too far forward. Coming to a fence we saw that the kudu had jumped it and continued on. A bad sign as a badly hit animal would probably not have been able to do that. We followed the trail finding occasional drop of blood. Frankie and Munsu were really amazing at tracking, noticing the least little bit of sign and being able to decipher one track from another. We came close to the kudu as he was bedded down. He jumped up and crashed through the heavy undergrowth but we never saw him. Munsu quickly decided to have Frankie continue on the path and we would run back to the truck, hoping to cut the bull off before he crossed the next road. We piled into the truck and Munsu asked Jeremy to drive. Only problem was Jeremy had never driven stick. With a quick explanation he was able to pop it in gear and we flew down the road. At the next crossroads we set up the sticks in case the bull crossed the road hoping to get another shot. Eventually Frankie appeared but no Kudu. We retracked him and saw where he had jumped the fence before we arrived, going on to the next section. All afternoon we tracked, the trail growing fainter. Finally, we saw where it had crossed into another area. We kept on but after a lot of walking, lost the trail. I felt terrible. We got on the truck and rode around until dark, hoping against hope that we might bump into him but never did. Ironically we saw three bulls at different times, all completely out in the open and offering an easy shot. One was truly a monster with Munsu estimating him in the 58-59” range. It was a long ride home. Getting back to the lodge I looked at the bullets that were in my gun. The 3 older bullets, the ones I had dropped on the ground after shooting the blesbok, were all tacky feeling. I went into the bathroom and washed them off with soap. They were then smooth with no tackiness. In my haste I had carelessly thrown them in my pocket with only a quick swipe to get the dust off. As I sat on my bed going over the events I realized it was my own stupidity. The dirty ammo. The rifle that had gotten very dusty from the high winds 2 day before. I had wiped it down but not good enough. The combination of compromised rifle and ammunition had caused the rifle jam. I should have suspected that the previous day but I was thinking I had just gotten excited when I missed the kudu the night before and not fully ejected the spent cartridge. That still did not explain the poor shot placement. I know I was feeling pressure to get a kudu. After the wasted day and a half and the previous days of hunting with no results I knew time was running out. Maybe I just rushed the shot. Whatever the reason, my kudu, the one animal I wanted above all else, was gone. I sat there on my bed staring down at the floor for a long time, going over and over what happened. I guess it was not meant to be. Dinner that night was chicken and rice. I did not feel much like socializing and went to bed early that night.



Day 11 All quiet on the warthog front

Looking for: warthog

After the disaster with kudu the previous day I had 2 days to try and get a warthog. We went back to the place where I shot the blesbok and waterbuck 3 days previously. We walked and drove until about 11AM. We saw several zebra and 3 or 4 times got quite close to some hartebeest including one really exceptional bull, but I wanted a warthog. However, other than a couple of run ins with females and piglets, we were not successful. We decided to stake out another watering hole and see if we could reverse our fortune. From 11AM until dark we sat in the blind. Several impala and a blesbok came to water. A steady stream of warthogs came. I lost count, but it was over 40. Unfortunately, not one of them was a mature male. The only thing of note that occurred was while sitting in the blind, I ran my fingers through my hair and felt a bump. A tick. He had not been on too long as he was not swollen with blood. I had Munsu remove it from my scalp and he killed it, impaling it on an acacia thorn. Dusk fell and we called it a day. Driving out of the area we ran across a large snake in the road. Backing up, we jumped out to see if we could find it. It evidently had slithered off as there was no trace of it..Jeremy said it was a very heavy bodied snake so I assume it was a puff adder .As we drove back to the lodge I thought about our misfortune. The 2 other guys in camp had both completed their hunts with 3 or 4 days to spare, including 3 extra animals that each added. I know the missed kudu was my fault but even so, we had spent 6 days hunting for one before I got a shot. Warthog was just as bad. Both of the other guys shot a nice warthog the day they sat at a water hole. We had sat 4 days at different sites and had not come across one shootable male. I was not jealous of the others, just frustrated that we could not seem to get a break. Oh well, the fortunes of hunting. When we got back to the lodge all of the lights were turned off which was odd as normally we were the first ones out in the morning and the last in at night. Pieter met us and asked if we could come with him as he had something to show us. We dropped our gear off in the room and proceeded to ride with Pieter out toward the river. We pulled up to a candlelight cookout with the camp staff. It was very nice with Pieter and the PH’s grilling beef steaks for everyone. After dinner, I talked with Pieter about our plans for the last day. He suggested shooting another animal if I got the chance. With the way things were going, I agreed that would be the best course to follow.


Day 12 The jinx broken

Looking for: warthog, zebra

In the morning Munsu approached me and said he wanted to give me the ivory from the warthog we ran over the first day of hunting. It was a very nice gesture as my chance of shooting one were now very slim. After the disappointment of the last couple of days I told Munsu I would be willing to shoot a warthog or a zebra if we saw one. Of course now we don’t see any of either. After driving around and walked for 3 hours the only thing we saw that was shootable was hartebeest. Getting desperate I told Munsu if we saw either warthog, zebra, or hartebeest, I would shoot. You guessed it, now the hartebeest disappeared. By now, it was lunchtime so we headed back to the lodge. After lunch Pieter stopped by and talked to Jeremy. He said he really wanted Jeremy to shoot an impala free of charge. What a wonderful gesture. So out we went for an impala and hopefully a hartebeest. We got just inside the hunting area and what do we see but 2 impala rams fighting through the fence. Munsu got the sticks and Jeremy lined up on the impala and fired. After a short bit of tracking we found him lying under a bush. Honestly, tears came to my eyes when I said thanks to Munsu and Sampson. It meant so much for me know how great a feeling Jeremy had being able to shoot an animal.
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Now it was my turn. Getting on the truck we drove around trying to get within range of a hartebeest. We finally found a small herd but they bolted before we could set up. Trying to head them off we jumped back on the truck and Munsu yelled, ”Floor it,” to Sampson. We flew down the road checking at every intersection but were still behind. Finally, we got ahead of them and they burst out of the bush. Only problem was they burst out behind us. The sun was starting to get low and I was not feeling too good about my chances. It was hot so Munsu had Sampson drive up to the front of the property and drop us off while Sampson took Jeremy’s impala to the skinning house. We walked over to a small watering hole and off in the distance out in the open a hartebeest burst out from behind a bush and took off. We circled around the water and cut through some heavy bush when Munsu suddenly froze. Looking straight at us on the other side of the thicket about 70 yards was the hartebeest. We set up but the cover was too dense for a clear shot. Slowly moving over to the right we got in a better position but still not as clear as we needed. Again slowly moving to the right we cleared a tree and found an open lane. Munsu set up the sticks and whispered, ”Take him!” I lined up and pulled the trigger. The hartebeest swayed, stumbled for about 20 feet and went down. We waited a couple of minutes, then started to approach him. He jumped up and wobbily started moving off. We set down the sticks and I shot again, hitting him low in the shoulder and breaking his leg but he kept moving. Just as he got to the dense brush I fired a shot offhand hitting him high in the back but dropping him. We ran up and I quickly finished him off with an insurance shot. I was amazed he took that much punishment. My first 2 shots were good but he just would not stay down. I was ecstatic after all of the disappointment of the last few days.
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We loaded him up and headed back to the lodge. The meal of pork ribs that night never tasted sweeter.


Day 13 Goodbye Africa

After breakfast all of the hunters and PH’s jumped into the trucks and drove to the dry river bed. Once there, all the skulls with horns that each hunter had obtained were lined up and photographs taken. After that, we said our goodbyes to everyone. Craig loaded us up in the van and we headed to the taxidermy shop. I wanted my work to be done in the US so they just dipped and packed the skins and skulls. Having finished there, we proceeded to the airport. We had no problems checking in but strangely enough, before boarding the plane we repeated the entire security screening that you go through before heading to your gate. I could not figure out the thinking of that. After boarding, we were 90 minutes late taking off as the plane had a tire that needed replacing. Fortunately, our layover in Atlanta gave up enough time to get my rifle checked back in. The officers in charge of this were a rather surly couple of guys but we just put on our happy faces through it all. The rest of our trip was uneventful as we arrived back in Kokomo tired, but with memories that will last a lifetime. Goodbye Africa!



Final thoughts

It has been said once you go to Africa, it gets in your blood. I never knew the feeling but now I do. The wildness of the bush, the amount and variety of animals, and the unique culture pulls at you. I was disappointed about not getting a warthog but as I have read many times on this forum, be flexible and be willing to take something else if the opportunity arises. I do not know if I will ever go back but the experiences I had and sharing them all with Jeremy are truly unforgettable. For my friend Munsu, there is a space on the wall of his home someday, hopefully, occupied by a majestic kudu. For me, my missed kudu will haunt me for a long time. Think of me, my friend, when you look at it and of the time we shared. The long walks, the laughter, the dreams. Thanks also to my son Jeremy for coming along. What memories we share.


Update

Exactly one month to the day that I shot and lost the kudu I received an email from Cruiser Safaris. Unbelievably they had found the kudu, dead and with a few bones scattered around, but most importantly, with the horns intact. I could not believe it. They are going to take it to their taxidermist for dipping and packing and will ship it along with my other skins and heads. I contacted a taxidermist here in the U.S. who has a kudu cape and will be able to create a wall or pedestal mount.

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Speedster

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sounds like hunting :) Gotta say the first gemsbok horn wasnt apparently a female. Did you roll it over ? :D - I love the cape color on that one also
?? Yes it was a female. I don't know how we could have made a mistake. I admit that I am not an expert. Is there a reason to believe it was a male?
 

gillettehunter

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Thanks for your hunt report. Congrats on some nice animals. Nice to get the Kudu. They can be tough if not well enough hit.
Bruce
 

cpr0312

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Congrats on your hunt and thanks for sharing!
 

Firebird

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Thanks for taking the time to write it all up. I really like the atypical gemsbok-but best of all is your sons impala-very cool! Glad you enjoyed your trip
 

cls

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Thanks for your report, congrats on the trophies. I hunted at Cruiser with Craig in 2012. Your report brought back some great memories.
 

Newboomer

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Great hunt and and write up. I can sympathize with you about the warthog. I've been trying for three years and have seen only one, a female with little ones.
 

Smitty

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I am so glad your Kudu was recovered. I know how much I would have been heartbroken if that had happened to me. It was also my #1 on the list. Congratulations!
 

Ridgewalker

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Excellent account of your first Africa adventure! Hunting is hunting where ever it takes place. You definitely had a hunt! I thought it was very successful especially after they found your fine kudu!
Congratulations and thanks for sharing your adventure!
 

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A great hunt and report. However you left out much of what I thought was one of the best aspects of hunting with Cruiser Safaris. That being "Tiny's" cooking. My boys and I hunted with Cruiser Safaris in 2016 and we still talk about the meals she prepared. I went on my second safari last year with a different outfitter. The cook at that place couldn't carry Tiny's lunch. On another subject, how is Pieter's wife doing after the helicopter crash? Is she flying again?
 

Nyati

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Congrats on your hunt, and thanks for sharing !
 

cagkt3

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Well done, and congrats!
 

Speedster

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A great hunt and report. However you left out much of what I thought was one of the best aspects of hunting with Cruiser Safaris. That being "Tiny's" cooking. My boys and I hunted with Cruiser Safaris in 2016 and we still talk about the meals she prepared. I went on my second safari last year with a different outfitter. The cook at that place couldn't carry Tiny's lunch. On another subject, how is Pieter's wife doing after the helicopter crash? Is she flying again?

HaHa. you are right. Tiny is a SUPERB cook. Funny you said something about carrying Tiny's lunch. That was another thing I was impressed with. We ate lunch in the field 8 out of 10 days and even her cold lunches were good.
I actually talked to Lizelle about the crash. She does not remember the crash, just waking up later. It was a miracle she wasn't killed. Of course the copter was totaled. They have not purchased another one, but plan to. She said she is going to continue flying, but just be more careful of her surroundings!
 

Desert Dog

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Your story is a prime example of why experienced hunters value a good controlled round feed/extracting rifle. I have had several Rem700s do the exact thing in dirty conditions over the years and I no longer hunt with them.

Tiny is a MASTER wild game chef. She makes every animal taste delicious, which cannot be said of most cooks in African hunting lodges.
 

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