SOUTH AFRICA: Kalahari Lionesses Hunt With Tally-Ho HUNTING SAFARIS

Mark A Ouellette

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Dec 22, 2018
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Limpopo, Kalahari, Zimbabwe, Canada, USA
Expectations, we all have them. How often are ALL of one’s expectations fulfilled? For me, this was the case in my second hunt with Stuart Williams’ Tally Ho Safaris. Granted, my expectations were realistic based on much research and having hunted with Tally Ho a year prior. My wife tells me that I overthink everything. To that I respond, thinking is my superpower. I plan for the worst and hope for the best!

The background is that I hunted with Stuart and his PH Rudi Nel for four days last year enroute to a Zimbabwe elephant hunt. I came back to Tally Ho because they did everything right, everything! This year I brought my wife who, post hunt is now looking forward to our next trip when she will also hunt!

I had not planned on returning to Africa so soon but around the fire last year, Stuart mentioned his South Africa (SA) lion hunt was very exciting. “But aren’t those captive bred lions”, I asked. Yes, but it’s a great hunt and depends on how the hunt is conducted. I thought for a minute and responded that I think I’d like to do that someday. Stuart paused and then advised, “If you want to hunt lions in SA, you better do it next year before those hunts are shut down”.

Arriving at OR Tambo on 2 October, Tally Ho’s PH Rudi Nel collected me the next morning at the adjacent City Lodge. I bid my wife farewell as she would spend time with family while I was in the Kalahari Desert hunting lions. Yes lions, or rather two lionesses. I selected lionesses since I can’t bring back any lion parts to the USA, at least not from captive bred lions. Also, lionesses were about 30% the cost of the males. No brainer there…

Lioness #1
Seven hours on the highway and single lane road found us near Brey, SA in the very northwest area of the Northwest Province. We were very close to Botswana and but a couple hours’ drive on bad road from Namibia. Rudi would be the second PH for my lioness hunt since Tallyho prefers two PH’s for these hunts. I could have booked directly with a lion hunt outfitter but didn’t want the possibility of unwanted surprises.

The next morning the local lion hunt PH took us into the veld. We drove over the sandy roads until the tracker spotted lion tracks where the lioness had walked. A few minutes later, I think the tracker, Rudi, and I all spotted the huge lioness at the same time! Then, she was gone. Holy Cat Woman, Batman! Now the hunt was on. After an hour the local PH pointed out the lioness sitting in the shadows under bushy overhang. Rudi placed the sticks and as I carefully raised my Heym 88B .458 Win. Once again the lioness was gone. Hmmm, at least she wasn’t just going to sit there, or charge us!

The tracker continued the pursuit into thicker bush. A half hour or so later the tracker stopped and signaled the lioness was watching us from 50 meters away. There she sat quartering toward us, with at most, disrespect but not fear. Rudi set the sticks and I placed the old four-five-eight into shooting position. I guided my Trijicon SRO’s red dot between brush to a spot on her high chest. I squeezed the front trigger as carefully as I had when competing in the Wimbledon Cup so many decades ago. Instantly the 10.5-pound Heym rocked my body with its reassuring push of recoil. I recovered with the barrels between the sticks, revealing the dead lioness. My Cutting Edge 470 grain Safari Raptor had entered the high right portion of her chest and exited above her left shoulder. Dead lioness, to which I apologized for taking her life. She deserved at least that much. The local PH estimated her at 250 kilos. Maybe she wasn’t that heavy but she was very big.


Lioness #1 shot with 458 Win Heym 88

Back at camp I watched the entire skinning and dismembering process. There were many kilos, of muscle removed from her head that had connected to her jaw. Ouch! Just thinking about her teeth sinking into me. The three skinners removed all the meat, organs, and fat. The fat was to be provided to a local “witch doctor” for his medicine. The eyeballs were large, green, and beautiful. I so much wanted them to carry them back to the USA and mount in clear polymer. I did not however want to get caught with them by US Customs! Same for her teeth and claws. I have photographs, videos, and memories of my first lion.


Lioness #1 where she dropped
Lioness #2
Day number two found us searching for more tracks. The tracker found them followed, sometimes in circles, 6:30 AM until 12:30 PM when temperature hit 105 degrees Fahrenheit. “Hot! Africa hot..” to paraphrase a line from Neil Simon’s “Biloxi Blues”. Africa in October, what did I expect? It was time for a break. We returned to the trail at 4 PM. Her tracks took us through bush where we could not see 10 meters ahead. I held my double at the ready position in case this lioness was feisty. At sundown we all knew the players of this game would switch positions. We in pursuit would soon be the pursued. Needless to say, we retired to camp until morning. I think we all slept well that evening as we logged in 10 km that day, in the sand and heat.


Ostridge eggs that Lioness #2 circled twice

The next day found us once again searching for tracks via the tracker sitting on the seat on the front of the Land Cruiser. Within 20 minutes he had us dialed in. When the tracks headed from the road into the bush we stopped to dismount. Suddenly, the local PH called my name and pointed. Rudi set the sticks and I mounted my .375 H&H pre-64 Model 70. I cranked up the Nightforce scope from 1x to about 4x to “put a bullet in her” as the local PH advised. This was a stealthy lion that if we lost sight of, we might not see again today. I think she knew exactly where we were all day yesterday and we didn’t want to play her game again. Through the scope at 80 meters, I spied her laying broadside behind an 6” wide tree. This she unknowingly used as an armor to protect her vital kill area. Not enough room between her head and ground, and her front shoulder and lungs were blocked by the tree. I moved the crosshairs just past the tree and held high on her trunk. I squeezed off a round. Video shows her spinning around dragging her rear legs behind a few more trees. As she emerged, I put another 275 gr Safari Raptor into her. She was down for good. The time was 7 AM. We loaded the lioness and returned to camp, said our farewells, grabbed our bags, and Rudi and I started a 12-hour road trip to Alldays, Limpopo Province.


Lioness #2 shot with 375 H&H

The hunt is continued in next thread...
well done on the lions Mark, its an experience no one can ever take away from you

blow up one of those pics and put it somewhere where you see it everyday!!!!
Congratulations on 2 great cats!
Congrats and thanks for sharing!

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