SOUTH AFRICA: Kalahari Buffalo 2019

Vanguard2279

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Where do you start a Hunt Report that was two years into the making? I could start with me deciding on Pawprint Safaris (www.pawprintsafaris.com) for my first cape Buffalo hunt and that I really liked that Pieter Erasmus has a PayPal link thus making paying for the hunt over eighteen months very convenient. Hunting Cape Buffalo was a long-time dream that I finally was seeing come to fruition. Or I could start with the most important part:

LONDON
In May 2018, I travelled to London for Harry and Meghan's wedding. Yes, it's nerdy but I'm okay with that. I was one of 150,000 other nerds lining the streets of Windsor. It's till one of the coolest things that I've ever done. The next night, I went to the Colonel Fawcett pub in Camden for the first London AH Get Together. It was a small group: @norfolk shooter (Mani) , @dabloobana (Dev) and @ufg8r93 (Weston). I had come up with this idea a couple months before. It was a small group, but lots of alcohol was drank and many stories were told. During the evening, Dev and Mani told me how they were hunting with Pawprint in 2019 as well. Over the next several months, we coordinated our hunts to be together. Weston had a hunt planned with a different outfitter and arrived a few days after us. I settled on Pawprint's fabulous Cape Buffalo and Sable package.

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Vanguard2279

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The Hunter: 50 year old white male, widowed, grey collar professional, grandfather.

Rifles:
Ruger Guide Gun .416 (Ruger) in an HS precision stock loaded with 400-grain Barnes TSX handloads at a little over 2,300 FPS.
Forbes 24B rebarreled by Douglas to 9.3x62 Mauser. Loaded with 250-grain Barnes TSX handloads at a little over 2,500 FPS.

THE Journey
I'm fortunate that my daughter's best friend, Erica, has a job that allows her to work remotely and that she is always willing to dog and house sit for me. Outside of a plane ticket, some food, movie passes and a little money, it costs me very little to let her spoil my Goldens. I'm endlessly grateful to her.
I utilized @Travel Express for this trip and will use them next year as well.
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I arrived at Las Vegas McCarran Airport in the later afternoon of 05/21/2019 with my luggage and rifle case. I spent the next forty minutes trying to convince the ticket agent at the American Airlines counter that I didn't need an import permit to fly with my firearms and that it would be issued at JNB. Finally, she believed me and realized that I was only checking my luggage to JFK where I would check in with South African Air. Oddly, TSA wanted to open my rifle case which was a first at McCarran for five previous international hunting trips.

The first leg took me to Phoenix for a few hours and then on to JFK. Upon gathering my luggage, I had to open my rifle case for TSA. It gets better from here,....
While waiting for the SAA counter to open, I met another hunter who was en route South Africa to hunt with Cruiser Safaris. My first hunt was with Cruiser so I was able to tell him a bit about it. Finally, the counter opened and I prepared for the ticket agents to attempt to charge me the $100 Firearm handling fee even though I had purchased my tickets in 2018. Fortunately, they didn't even bring it up. Thus, I began the long flight to JNB. I won't spend too much time on this as many of us have taken the same flight. I tried to walk around a bit to avoid DVT and managed to sleep a little.

Upon arrival, I was surprised to receive my rifle case in the baggage claim area by a lady who desperately wanted a tip. I utilized a young luggage porter to push the luggage cart to the SAPS office. Upon entering the arrival area, I was greeted by old friends and a new one.
 

Vanguard2279

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From left: Dev, Pieter Erasmus, Xolile "Mr. X" Monakali, Mani and I. Mani had hunted with Pieter previously, but he had no idea what he was in for with the three of us. Many of you have had the privilege of meeting Mr. X through Afton Safari Lodge and their pre-approved firearms permit service. He is a friend to many who have traveled to South Africa to hunt.
One great thing about SAA is that the flight from Heathrow arrives at 0705 and the flight from JFK arrives at 0805. There was no need to overnight and we could get wherever we needed to go during daylight hours. The SAPS Office firearms permit process went very smoothly and we were out the door. First, we had to deal with two guys who desperately wanted to "help" us in any way that involved tips. With the truck loaded, we were on our way north to the Northwest province somewhere near Tosca.

One of the requests that I received was to bring Dev chewing tobacco. Being a good friend, I brought him a variety of Copenhagen and Redman. I honestly thought he might cry in happiness. On the way, we stopped at the Safari & Outdoor store to pick up a few things. I purchased a coloring book and Southern African Mammal fact book for my granddaughter (Penelope). Mani need short pants and we suggested looking in the children's section for his size.

Finally, we arrived at Reitzdale Farm and were greeted by Seun and Lelani. Seun would be Mani and Dev's PH for their hunts. Lelani would cook wonderful food for us each day. One thing dawned on me fairly early on: Reitzdale was the nicest lodge that I've ever been in. That is not to say for a moment that there was anything wrong with the other three outfitters that I have hunted with. I loved the accommodations there as well. Reitzdale was especially grand. The main lodge at Reitzdale is huge and they had a TV which was a first for any of the hunts that I've been on.
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Vanguard2279

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The next morning began with sighting/checking zero. I was happy to see that the Leupold 1-4 scope on the .416 remained as I had zeroed it in Vegas. With the muzzle brake, the .416 recoils noticeably less than my Ruger Hawkeye African firing 300-grain Barnes TSX. Mani and Dev checked zero on their .375 H&H's and we were out in the bush. We ran into a Cobra not long after leaving. He didn't make it. Mani and Dev would run in to a Puff Adder later that afternoon.
I'll work on this more tomorrow during the day. I need sleep. I've started this and now I'm committed to finishing it. Hopefully, some of you will find it interesting. Good night, my friends.
 

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Looking forward to more! Enjoying the start!
 

BeeMaa

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So it's almost 8am Eastern US time, which means it's "GAME TIME" in South Africa.
Keep us posted.
 

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BeeMaa

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5.54am where he is
???
South Africa time is 6 hours ahead of the current time for the Eastern US.
9am EDT (GMT -4) is 3pm in South Africa (GMT +2).
 

Vanguard2279

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5.54am where he is
I think it's more like 0500 and trust me, I wasn't getting up yet. But don't worry, Mike. We'll be getting up this early when I hunt with you next year.
I have court this morning (not as a defendant) and then I'll work on the report some more.
 

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BeeMaa

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Vanguard2279

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Nice start. How about some more pictures of Pieter's new lodge. I haven't seen this one.

I have some pictures of the new lodge. That will be later in the report. Our chalet was nice. Overall, it is a work in progress.
 

Vanguard2279

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Okay, gents. I'm back.
After finding and capping the Cobra, we spent some time on Dev's hunt as a group. Too large of a group to be effective so after lunch, Pieter and I headed out for buffalo. I had read a lot about hunting cape Buffalo before this trip and I was not surprised by how many times we got close to a bachelor group only to have them smell us and take off. This repeated itself many times over three days.
One thing that I should mention: When I heard that we were going to be hunting in the Kalahari, I imagined a much more open environment. It was explained to me what the "Green Kalahari" was: Same sandy soil, but much more brush. I was immediately struck by how thick the brush was. No, it was not as thick as the brush that I hunted in northern Namibia in April 2018, but it was enough to make hunting very difficult. Often, there was very little of a buffalo's body actually visible. Having said that, the dumber buffalo were not afraid to show themselves. I was after a hard-bossed bull regardless of width so the young soft-bossed 44" bull stood there IN THE OPEN staring at us! And no, I wasn't tempted. The sharp horn tips rose well above the obvious soft boss. Having said that, he exuded the fearless arrogance so often mentioned in descriptions of Cape Buffalo.
Pieter's Blaser .500 NE double rifle was in the shop so he was carrying a Mauser 98 (military action) .375 H&H. During a break, Pieter showed me a root that Bushmen would shave to get water from. It was a handy piece of information to save for later use.
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Vanguard2279

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I should mention that there was a lot of walking involved in this hunt. Each day was a repeat of the previous. We would track Buffalo, get close and then they would wind us and take off. Truthfully, it was exactly what I had expected and hoped for. No hunt should be easy. Each night, we returned to the lodge for a wonderful meal cooked by Lelani and her staff. Drinks were enjoyed all around. The second day of the hunt, a Canadian (I don't remember his name) arrived with Motsomi safaris at lunch. They went out and shot a Lion within an hour of leaving the lodge. Congratulations! However, he then proceeded to drink himself stupid. For some reason, he seemed to want to pick a fight with Norfolk Shooter. For those of you who know Mani, he is a rather vertically challenged gentleman. I had no doubt the significantly more sober and skilled Brit could take care of whatever came at him. Eventually, the point was made and the clown went to bed. They left early the next morning before we even got up.
After lunch on the third day, we were making our way through the brush and came to a semi-open area. Ahead of us was a slight gap in the brush and the buffalo were crossing from right to left. Pieter urged me to mount the sticks
It's at this time that I'm going to talk about an apparatus that can change your life. The 4Stable Sticks is a great invention and incredibly steady. Upon returning to Las Vegas, I immediately ordered a set from their US distributor.
I'm on the sticks and Pieter is glassing each buffalo as it crosses the gap. Time to evaluate each buffalo is brief. The range is about 75 yards. I have my scope on 4x and I'm gaining a sight picture on each buff as it passes.
"That oneBOOM!" Pieter told me later that he was surprised by how quickly the shot went out. I immediately worked the bolt, chambering another round. I had heard the oft-given advice to smoke two cigarettes before trailing a wounded Cape Buffalo. I don't smoke so Pieter lit up. I topped off my magazine and got ready for what was coming. Pieter was about two puffs in when we heard the "death bellow" of the buffalo. Pieter, the tracker (William) and I moved forward abreast. About 50-60 yards from where he was hit lay my first Cape Buffalo bull. I asked Pieter if we needed an insurance shot to which he said no. Pieter approached from the right to confirm death while I covered from the front.
The bull had been quartering away sharper than I had realized. The round went out as the crosshairs passed his left shoulder. The 400-grain TSX had entered at an angle in the ribs, decimated the lungs and came to a rest in front of the right shoulder. I am very thankful for a one-shot kill on a Cape Buffalo. The brush was thick enough to make follow-up a nasty and dangerous undertaking. Seun arrived with the Buffalo Recovery Team and we headed back to the lodge. We recovered the bullet during the skinning process.

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