SOUTH AFRICA: July Hunt With Leopards Valley Safaris


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Feb 14, 2012
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Well I just got back from my hunt with @Leopards Valley Safaris. What a hunt and fantastic time. As a disclaimer I am not a professional writer, so let’s get started.

PH Arnold Claassen picked me up at the Port Elizabeth airport. It was raining and cold. Arnold and I hit it off right away on the drive to the lodge. When we got to the lodge it had snowed earlier in the day and there was snow on the mountains surrounding the lodge. It was way colder than I expected from my previous safaris, lucky I read the info Dave provided to me about bringing a jacket. Sighted in my rifle and we were good to go. Met with Dave and Nikki at the lodge along with another hunter Larry, from Wisconsin and his PH Craig.

I had told Arnold that I really wanted a steenbok, since on my previous safaris I have never been able to get one. So the first thing we did was head out to a nearby farm with a lot of steenbok. Arnold said that he knew where a couple of nice ones had been seen on previous hunts. We found a nice one, a quick rifle step up and shot……the first animal was in the salt.


On the way back to the lodge, we spotted a nice black wildebeest. We drove past him so as not to spook him and parked about ½ mile away and stalked up on him. He was with a young male. We managed to stalk with about 300 yards of him using the brush. Set up the sticks and took the shot and heard the hit, but he took off running. We followed him through the brush and he was traveling slow, obviously wounded, took another shot at him and hit him again. He ran a little ways and laid down. We stalked to within 150 yards of him and put the finishing shot in him and he was done. I really hate when this happens, and wish I was a much better shot, but he was dead relatively quickly. Went back to the lodge and had some lunch while the tracker skinned and caped.

After lunch we decided to try a nearby farm for bushbuck. It was still quite cold and Arnold felt that they would be out in the alfalfa fields early. When we arrived at the farm, the bush buck were out in the fields. We drove to a high point and we saw several males in a far field. A plan was quickly made to drive around the farm and stalk up on them using a brush covered dam and pond for cover. We managed to get within 200 yards of the field and there were three males in the field. Arnold voice got excited when he said the one in the middle. I set up using a bipod, Arnold said in an even more excited voice that the one in middle is very large. I told him he was making me nervous and stop telling me how big he is. A quick shot off the bipod at 200 yards and he dropped in his tracks. I started learning that Arnolds plans usually come together.


There was no road access to the field so Arnold threw the bushbuck on his shoulders and headed to the road where tracker Toto drove the truck.

Took some photos and headed out back to the lodge. On the way out we passed one of the farm workers home. We offered the grandmother living there the offal from the bushbuck. Although I do not speak or understand Afrikaans, she was very appreciative and grateful. I thanked Arnold and Toto for stopping to give that women such an appreciated gift.

We went back to lodge after a great day of hunting. Had dinner with everyone and went to bed, having experienced one of the best hunting days in my life.
Very nice, congrats on some nice trophies! That was one heck of a day!
The next morning we got up and headed to another nearby farm. We were going in search of mountain reedbuck. Picked up one of the farm trackers and off we went. The road were steep and winding, but the farm had recently graded them so they were passable. There was still snow on the south facing slopes of the mountain. Spent a couple of hours looking and finally spotted some reedbuck. Parke the truck and tried making a stalk, but got busted by some blesbock. We watched the reedbuck go over a ridge. Arnold decided to try to stalk above them with the sun at our back. Well the plan worked we go in place and spotted them. They are much more difficult to see than I had thought. They know something was wrong and started walking off. A quick shot at 150 yards and the reedbuck was down.


Mountain reedbuck are small animals. But just like all mountain hunts the retrieval looks easier then it turns out being. An hour and half later photos and animal out.

Heading down the mountain enjoying a spectacular view of the valley below, tracker Toto pounds on the roof. He says there some waterbucks in a small draw. The road is steep and we find a place to park and stalk up down the hill to a small cliff to per down into the draw. Arnold takes a quick look in the draw and says there are several and it looks like they are going to walk from the draw. The ones he was seeing was not mature. I set up my bipod and wait. The waterbuck slowly move out of the draw. Arnold get his excited voice and says there is a big one and to shoot it. From the position I am in I see several but they all look the same size. I was trying to figure out which one he is talking about. He say move closer to the edge he’s a good one. I scoot up a little to the edge of the cliff and Arnold says in his excited tone shoot him. I was still not seeing him. We were on the edge of a sheer 75 yard high cliff. Arnold says look DOWN in his most excited hushed tone. I look down and see him, a quick reposition of the bipod and squeeze of the trigger. I hear it hit him, work the bolt and try to get him back into the scope. He runs 50 yards and drops right next to a road.

Next day we head out to a farm about and hours away to hunt for a black springbok. Springbok remind me of hunting pronghorn antelope in Wyoming. A lot of glassing and driving around. After a few hours Arnold spots one that warrants further investigation. The springbok was with a small heard of common and black springbok. Springbok are always on the move and we watch them and try to come up with a plan. There are very limited roads on the property but we manage to get within about 500 yards of him. Arnold says he is a good. We parallel them with the truck when they go over a ridge. We hop out of the truck and truck it to the crest of a ridge. There they are at 220 yards. I shoot and miss. I do not know how but I did. Arnold runs back to the truck and says we will get him. A long story short we got him at a fence crossing at 330 yards after finding him and losing him for several hours. I was totally impressed with Arnold’s sheer determination and focus to get that springbok.


Spent the next day hunting nyala unsuccessfully. We saw plenty of them, but none were real monsters. The next day Arnold decided to try some nearby properties where he had heard reports of some large nyala. We got on a high area and glassed all morning. Only saw one immature bull. Arnold said he had one more place to try but would have to make some phone calls. Went to town and had lunch and Arnold made some phone calls. We headed to a property he had never hunted, but was assured had some nice nyala. The area we were hunted had free ranging nyala that had gotten out of some high fenced farms years ago. Met the property owner and one the farm hands joined us to show us around the farm. We found a high point and started glassing. Saw some females and one immature male, kudu and some fallow deer. Arnold did not give up. Right before dark the farm hand says there is one. Arnold threw up his binos and says in his excited voice lets go. The nyala is 800 yards away across the valley. We crossed the valley while Toto radioed to us the location. In the last 5 minutes of light there he is 100 yards broadside staring at us. Arnold throws up the sticks and flip the rifle on him and am so excited can’t hold still on him. He runs and stops broadside again at about 175 yards. This time I am on the sticks and Arnold says to lean my elbow into him to steady myself. The cross hairs settle on him I squeeze the trigger and I hear it hit him. He runs off, but Arnold says it’s a good hit a little bit back but he should not go far. We get to where he was and its getting dark, we take of looking for blood and jump him up…he runs and drops about 50 yards away. Nyala are just spectacular animals and he is a beautiful specimen of a mature male.

That is quite the first day! I've heard nothing but good things about Leopard's Valley Safaris and Dave Davenport!
Wow, incredible few days! Congrats on all the trophies
Spend the next couple of days looking for Kudu. Arnold decided one morning to try a remote part of the farm for a couple of bulls another PH had spotted on previous hunts. Its rough ride getting to that part of the farm but we get to a good vantage point. We spend some time glassing and a spotted two nice bulls, one very dark and one very light colored, on a ridgeline below a cliff. The bulls were in a location where there was no chance of stalking up on them from where we were. Arnold came up with a quick plan to go drive around and walk along the cliff and we might be able to get a shot at them. It was a long drive around to a remote corner of the farm where we parked the truck. It was at least a mile walk on top of the cliff line to where we last saw the Kudu. It was pretty rough going but there was a cattle trail that paralleled the cliff line. We kept peeking over the cliff into the valleys below. We finally get to where Arnold thinks they are and we set up and glass. We spot the light colored bull, but I kind of decided I wanted the dark one which looked a little larger. We glass for 10 more minutes and Arnold gets that excited voice saying there he is and he knows we are here. He said hurry up and shoot. I shifted positions to where I could see him over the cliff. The cliff was probably 75 yards high and he was about 150 yards away working through the brush. I kept losing sight of him. Arnold spots the cows in an opening and I wait. Finally Arnold says he is going to come out. I will have to shoot freehand, I raise the rifle, have his shoulder in the cross hairs and squeezed the trigger. I heard the hit. He goes about 50 yards behind some brush and does not come out. Tracker Toto who had a different angle said he is down and done. Arnold sends Toto down to the bull and we walk back to the truck.

Luckily we got a hold of a lot of several of the people working on the farm to help us get it out. He was a dandy and I could not have been happier with him. He was a truly hard earned bull.


The next day we head over to a farm located a little more than an hour away. We get to the farm and met on of the farm hands who jumps in the back of the truck. We are looking for Vaal Rehbuck. It very cold and there was ice in the puddles and streams we were crossing. The farm was very rocky and the road were very rough slow going. I felt sorry for the guys in the back if the truck. The farm hand we picked up says there were other out there a few weeks ago and they could not get close to a large ram. We head to that area and only spot some ewes, a herd of black wildebeest, and a ½ dozen wild horses with one lone zebra stallion. Arnold decides to head to the opposite side of the valley to get to a high point to glass for the Vaals. We on our way up the hill the tracker taps on the rough. There are 4 ewes slowly walking up the ridge. Arnold stops the truck jumps out and starts glassing. I grab my gun ready and find a flat bolder, set up with my bipod and wait. Arnold says there he is and he is a good one. He sees us and runs to a little over two hundred yards and stops. A quick shot right behind the shoulder puts him down. He is a trophy I will always remember.

Spend two more days looking for porcupines, bush pigs and a duiker. On the last evening we are driving to check the bush pig bait and we spot a duiker across a field. He is a good. One. Long, somewhat embarrassing story short, after several shots we wind up getting the duiker. I really can’t make any excuses for the bad shooting but we finally got him. He was old and only had a few teeth left. I doubt he would have made it through the winter.


Throughout the hunt we tried multiple times for bush pigs on a baited spot. We had game cam pictures of them coming in to bait but we were never able to connect. They are clever cautious critters that will give me a great excuse to come back. Everyone on the farm said that it would be no problem getting a porcupine, as they see them all the time. After multiple attempts and dozens of miles driving the farm roads we never saw one. I guess that how it always is when you’re hunting.

I had a great time and would highly recommend hunting at Leopards Valley Safaris. Got to spend time with Dave Davenport and his family. They are fun down to earth people and Dave will keep you entertained with stories around the campfire. I can’t say enough good things about Arnold as a PH. He was one of the most competent and persistent people I have ever hunted with. Arnold never gave up!

Like Bugs Bunny says

That’s All Folks!!!

You had a heck of a hunt!!! Congrats and thanks for sharing!
Thanks for sharing your hunt with us.
You got some nice trophies. Congratulations.
Thoroughly enjoyed having you Tom. Thank you for your candid report on our humble operation . I'm so very pleased we managed to deliver for you. You came as a client and left as a friend. Thank you.
Warm regards
Beautiful trophies! Very mature animals, congrats! I love that steenbok, bushbuck and vaal rhebok....
Excellent stuff. You took some nice trophies. Congratulations. Nice Vahl rhebok it's on my hit list. Leaving in 13 days. Can't wait!
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Excellent stuff. You took some nice trophies. Congratulations. Nice Vahl rhebok it's on my hit list. Leaving in 13 days. Can't wait!

Good luck on your hunt. Vaal Rhebuck are a very cool animal. They have rabbit like fur instead of the usual antelope hide hairs.
What a great hunt, report, pictures and fine looking trophies!
Thanks for taking the time to share! It makes me envy your time in Africa!
Good luck on your hunt. Vaal Rhebuck are a very cool animal. They have rabbit like fur instead of the usual antelope hide hairs.
Thank you sir.
Congrats for a great hunt, and some very nice trophies !
Congrats sir! Great stuff, enjoyed your report!
Great hunt and a good report. You got some nice trophies and the smile says it all. It does look cold though, did I see snow on the ground in one of the photos?
Great hunt and a good report. You got some nice trophies and the smile says it all. It does look cold though, did I see snow on the ground in one of the photos?
Yep sure did

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