SOUTH AFRICA: Hunting With RANCE SAFARIS

MountKling

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Hi All!

I am sure many of you are aware of, I was the extremely lucky winner of @RANCE SAFARIS South African hunt giveaway in early 2020.

Link to HUNT GIVEAWAY BY RANDOM DRAWING CONTEST:

Link to the announcement:

I could not believe that I actually won the lottery and it took a very long time for me to really grasp it. Lots of friends and family were first convinced that there had to be something “strange” going on with this.. But after talking to Craig, PH and marketing manager of Rance Safaris I definitely was convinced that this was all 100 % real. They are super professional and easy to deal with.

The prize included 7 full days of hunting for two persons, with all meals, drinks etc included. Also included was the trophy fee for a Zebra and a Nyala EACH!

The safari was initially planned to take place in May 2020, but as with most other things it had to be postponed one year due to Covid.. We rescheduled the safari to June 2021 and Craig and I kept in constant contact during the year of waiting.

In October 2020 international travelers were allowed back into RSA. We booked our tickets with Qatar - It all went very smooth and hazzle free, I highly recommend flying with them if you are travelling to South Africa any time soon. We did not bring our own rifles, but I am sure that wouldn´t have been a problem, we saw lots of hunters who brought along their firearms.

So, after more than a year of waiting we finally landed at East London airport where Craig greeted us welcome! This was the first time hunting in Africa for both me and my travel companion “Hermi”.

After a two hour drive and arriving at the lodge we were greeted by the Rance family and all of the staff. After a few beers and dinner we went to bed, eager to wake up and start the safari!

Day 1

We started off the day at the shooting range at first light, as not to waste precious daylight. Craig let us use his Ruger M77 in 30-06 with a good Leopold scope in 3-9x42 and suppressor.

Craig had let me know that he had seen a solid “management” buffalo, and if I wanted to, we could give it a go… For this we obviously needed something more powerful than the 30-06 so John Rance (owner of Rance Safaris) was gracious enough to lend me his stunning old Holland & Holland M98 in .375 H&H.

Now we left the lodge in search for game. Craig wanted us to “blooden our teeth” so to say so we tried to get something “easy”. We went out in search of warthogs, and we saw a few but nothing that met Craigs criterias.

We did one last stalk before stopping for lunch. I saw that Craig had spotted something ahead of us coming out of a bush and he put up the shooting stick and I put the rifle up on the stick and started looking through the scope… I could tell Craig was excited and he kept asking me “can you see it? Can you see it?”. In my head I was visualizing a warthog but could not really make sense of what I was seeing. Finally I could make out what the animal in front of me was a Caracal, out in broad daylight! Craig said to me “you HAVE to take the shot” and I could hear Ryan (the other PH) say something about going to get the dogs.. But I took the shot and it rolled over. Both craig and Ryan were super excited about this, saying “do you know what you just did?!! This NEVER happens!!”. And like that we had the first animal of the safari in the bag and I had just shot my first African game.

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After a nice lunch (the food was really great the whole time we were there!), sitting in the shade from one of the ravines we went out in search of a nice old Nyala bull that Craig had spotted before we arrived. We took position on a hillside where we could scout the hills for a nice Nyala or Kudu bull. It was such an amazing evening! There was plenty of Nyala about but we did not go home with any that evening. We packed up and headed back to the lodge for some Gin & Tonics by the fire and a spectacular dinner!

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Day 2

On day two we drove to the opposite side of the reserve which took us quite some time. Long distances and bumpy serpentine roads. We stopped at strategic places to scout the hillsides for kudu but never saw one that was good and old enough. The Land Cruiser is a very good climber but eventually we had to continue on foot. From the top of the mountain we had a spectacular view while we stalked the hillside in search of kudu. We saw more Kudu, and it got interesting a few times, but no bulls worthy of our attention.

When we got down from the mountain we stopped for lunch under a big Acacia tree next to the Kei River. Craig and the trackers made up a fire over which we grilled some delicious Impala sausages (paired with some yellow-peppers, grow and processed by John Rance).

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In the afternoon I got the opportunity to shoot and miss on a Nyala bull. Broad-side, standing 200 meters out and me with an OK rest for my rifle, but a clear miss. I blame the angle of the sun..:)

In the evening by the fire, over a few Gin & Tonics, we discussed what the gameplan was for day 3.

Day 3

The plan for the day was to go to a more open area located on the slope of a big hill. Should be pretty easy with all this open ground to scout and locate the animals.. But while driving up there (freezing cold by the way) we found ourselves in a very dens fog, more than a little bit eery.

We dropped off Hermi and PH Ryan to stalk a Blesbok and Craig and I drove a little further before we also continued on foot.

Very soon we heard a shot in the distance. Hermie had shot himself a nice Blesbok (an eight year old bull with 15” horns).

Not before long I had the opportunity on a Blesbok myself, the day was of to a great start with two Blesboks taken. Mine was slightly older (approx. nine years and 16” horns) with a lot of scars and character, an old brute.

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Heading back to the lodge for a bit to eat we spotted two Zebra stalions grazing. Craig and I quicky exchanged looks and stopped the car, and the stalking began. After getting into position Craig put up the sticks. Stupid stupid me janked the trigger, hitting the stallion too far back. It took a few more shots to put him down but fortunately it all went fast and we didn´t lose him. Walking up to him we examined his teeth and they were all worn down, 12 year old warrior.

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Back at the lodge we found out that Hermie and Ryan had also connected on a Zebra stallion. His stallion was also 12 years, but hes was the largest Zebra ever harvest at the reserve for sure, and perhaps the largest bodied zebra Ryan and Craig had ever laid eyes on.

Craig and I spent the evening at a beautiful spot overlooking a hillside. The hillside was crawling with kudu cows and young bulls (I think I counted 22 of them). Suddenly from out of nowhere we saw a “more than decent” kudu bull. He was still too far out for a safe shot so we waited. And we waited. Only for him to finally go in the opposite direction, good for him…

With the bull disappearing and not that much daylight left we decided to go back to the lodge early for one of those tasty Gin & Toncis, it had been a good day with four animals in the butchering sheed.

On our way back Ryan hailed us on the radio, they had shot an Impala and was not sure if it was dead or not. With not that much daylight left we went over to where they were to have a look with Craigs two hunting dogs (German Hunting Terriers, Scout and Kei. Two very good boys!). We located where the Impala had been standing when Hermie took the shoot. After only a few minutes we found blood, not very much but from the colour of it it was looking promising. We released the dogs and after only 50 meters they found the dead impala, perfect shoot placement and a massive bodied Impala bull at that!

Day 4

The Buffalo that Craig had mentioned to me before had been stalking my dreams and we figured we had to do something about it. We swapped the Ruger for the Holland & Holland and went out into the hills. We had a few very exciting (and close) encounters with buffalo but never connected with the right bull.

Day 5

For the 5 the itinerary read buffalo.

This was one of the best days of my hunting carrer. At first light we connected with the right herd at a watering hole. I was in position with the gun on the stick, and there he was. He was standing clear from the rest of the herd and I pushed the safety forward, preparing to take the shot. I was aiming at him and was about the take the shot when he moved! The bull together with the rest of his herd started to move off. If he only had been standing still for another 3 or 4 seconds

The buffalo were moving of and we went after them. Running, walking, crawling and climbing trying to get into position in front of them to set an ambush.

Once in position we were expecting them to cross a small dirt road – and Craigs plan was working perfectly. One, two, three cow crossed the road. A few more cows and some calves as well. Then the bull appeared and started crossing the road. I had him in my sight, safety off. Just as a was about to pull the trigger a calf appeared between me and him, making it impossible for me to take the shoot.

Now we had lost the herd. We tried to trace them but they had completely disappeared. While looking for the herd we spotted a couple of kudus that he thought looked promising. Luckily one of the trackers had brought the 30-06 so we decided to examen them in more detail. The one on the left looked really nice and Craig wanted us to give that one a try.

Craig filmed the whole sequence with the kudu and you can see what happened if you follow the below link:


We got into position and I took the shot. Success! For me this was a dream come true.

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Later we found out that Hermi had connected with a nice Nyala bull. Needless to say, that evening we celebrated!

Day 6

The day was spent tracking the buffalo herd that had disappeared the day before. We found some buffalo tracks and started tracking them. Suddenly we were very close to them. A cow started to pay interest in us, coming to have a look. When she was 15 meters from us I see that Craig puts his safety off and wispers for me to stand completely still. I did as I was instructed and as an extra precaution I also took the safety off. Luckily she wandered off.

We spent the rest of the day looking for the herd while also scouting the terrain for that Nyala bull..

Day 7

Last day of the safari.

We decided to focus on the Nyala. Craig seemed very certain we would find an old nice bull and we passed on perhaps 10 younger bulls. I was not as certain. My trust in Craig had paid off before and would again.

Finally we saw him. Peacefully grazing in the shade of some treas. A beautiful old Nyala bull slowly making his way towards us. We found a good position for us to wait for him working his way closer to us, into range.

After a long wait he was finally within range and I took the shoot. After the shot we could not see him. We waited for what felt like hours before approaching where the Nyala had stood. There was some blood so we let go of the dogs. The dogs were off after the Nyala with us close after. We could see there was much more blood and also blood from the lungs, as all hunters know this is a very good sign. The dogs found him dead less than 70 meters from where he was shot. We could not have had a better end to a very memorable week.

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That evening John Rance, John Rance jr, Craig and Ryan had prepared a bush braai for us. What a perfect way to end a safari!

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Oh and I forgot, Hermi had connected with a beautiful Waterbuck earlier in the afternoon!

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Petey J

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Great report and some really beautiful trophies for you both.
 

AZDAVE

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Thank you for taking us all along on your hunt. It is nice to see that the safari you won was all you hoped it would be, and Thank you to @RANCE SAFARIS for the kind donation of the hunt!!!
 

gillettehunter

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Looks like you had an excellent safari. Some good trophies. Any idea what the length was on the Kudu? Nice shot on him and a nice filming job. Congrats
Bruce
 

cpr0312

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Congrats and thanks for sharing!!
 

Shootist43

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Thanks for sharing your hunt with us. You got some nice trophies. Are you already planning your return hunt? BTW what were the measurements on the Kudu? I think I'm jealous.
 

cls

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Well done all around, congratulations and thanks for the report.
 

MountKling

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Looks like you had an excellent safari. Some good trophies. Any idea what the length was on the Kudu? Nice shot on him and a nice filming job. Congrats
Bruce
The Kudu measured 53 3/4” and was 9 or 10 years of age. I am so glad we have it all on film to re-live the moment!

Craig also put together a longer video of the whole safari. So take out the popcorn and enjoy

 

MountKling

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Thanks for sharing your hunt with us. You got some nice trophies. Are you already planning your return hunt? BTW what were the measurements on the Kudu? I think I'm jealous.
I am going back for the buffalo 100 %
 

gillettehunter

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Dang nice Kudu. I'd wondered if he wan't over 55. Good shooting.
Bruce
 

Nyati

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Congrats, that was a good hunt !
 

buck wild

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Congrats and stunning kudu.

If you might indulge me (but please feel free to ignore me also :) )

1) You don't look old enough to be drinking alcohol :)

2) You have a relatively low post count and join date in 2020, Did you come over to AH because you heard of this "raffle hunt" so to speak? Or just lucky timing? No agenda here, just wondering

Fabulous Safari once again. Cheers!

I actually stumbled across your Youtube videos before seeing this post.
 

MountKling

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Congrats and stunning kudu.

If you might indulge me (but please feel free to ignore me also :) )

1) You don't look old enough to be drinking alcohol :)

2) You have a relatively low post count and join date in 2020, Did you come over to AH because you heard of this "raffle hunt" so to speak? Or just lucky timing? No agenda here, just wondering

Fabulous Safari once again. Cheers!

I actually stumbled across your Youtube videos before seeing this post.
Thanks! Yes he is indeed stunning!

1. No need to worry - I am of legal drinking age:)

2. Before joining this forum i was sort of a ”lurker”, reading lots of posts but was not contributing. I joined to have a chance at winning this prize:)
I was planning to go on a plains game safari, but me winning this hunt enabled me to do it a lot sooner than I was planning to:)

I hope this answered any questions you might have had
 

buck wild

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Thanks for the response. It confirms that these type giveaways do result in increased membership. That’s what I was wanting to confirm as it has multiple benefits for both AH and the outfit/company doing the donation. Win Win.

Thanks again for the report
 

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