wesheltonj

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This review is in two parts, Part 1.

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This trip was the first time I used a travel agent in about 30 years. The only reason I used an Agent on this trip was that I was transporting a gun. The agent made the necessary internal SAA entry, but I had to call BA myself to notify them that I would be carrying a firearm. I should have done all the work myself. My flight check-in from Houston was painful as it took over 1 hour to check-in. (I could not check-in online or obtain seats as my itinerary had too many legs. Lesson learned: No more than 4 legs on one BA itinerary). On arrival at the ticket counter, the first problem was the gun. The gate agent did not know how to check-in the gun and had to keep asking her supervisor. The next problem was my minor daughter. She asked if I had a letter stating it was ok for her to travel. I told her I have the birth certificate but she said she still needed a letter. I told her that my wife and I are both listed on her birth certificate and are both traveling with her so she checked with her supervisor and that was ok. Lesson learned: Don’t travel to RSA with both a gun and minor child. Another lesson--make sure you get a photocopy gun paperwork, as I needed it to leave RSA. On the flights over crappy seats because I was unable to check-in online and pick seats. Upon arrival in RSA, it took over 2 hours to make it through immigration-- the longest wait that I have ever had. Once finished, Africa Sky picked us up and they stored my gun while traveling.

We wanted to take a tour of Joberg and Pretoria. The best we could do with Joberg was drive around the expressway as rioting was going on downtown over the election. Lesson learned: Pick date to travel when there are no elections. Next day, it was off to Kasane and Chobe NP. Stayed at Chobe Safari Lodge-- great location. We took a private 3-hour game drive. If I were to do over, we would make it a half day instead of 3 hours. In the evening took the boat safari. The next day, was to transfer to Victoria Falls. Before I left the USA, I made arrangements with the company that operates the game drives for Chobe Safari Lodge to do the transfer and even confirmed the day before and, of course, they don’t show up for the transfer. The Activities desk called a competitor and they transferred us – cheaper too. In Victoria Falls I used a booking agent located in Victoria Falls for the hotel. I was told that because of my daughter’s age of 14, two rooms are necessary and no family rooms were available. (Kingdom Hotel). We check-in and her room is a family room with 4 beds. Went to front desk and was told sorry you paid for 2 rooms, sorry no refunds, what a BFR! Went to Victoria Falls (VF) Park and tried to pay with a Credit Card. Tried 2 different cards and they claimed both declined. Called bank and no charges were presented. Had to pay in paper Dollars. Next transfer to Livingstone, uneventful. From there, air to Kruger NP and then from Kruger to Cape Town. Stayed at the Table Bay Hotel on the V&A waterfront. Very nice hotel and great location. Used Uber to travel around. The night before we were to go to Sishen, we changed hotels to an airport hotel. Asked what time we needed to be at the airport and the reply was 2 hours before as we have a connecting flight. So we arrive 2 hours early for the flight. Africa Sky meets us at airport and delivers the gun. Go to check in and was told too early to check-in. Went back to check in and Airlink wanted the ammo in the suit case. Next I take the gun to SAPS office for them to place on the flight at which time the officer asks for her tip. Lesson: take lots of tip money because everyone has their hand out. Now we are off to hunt.


Part 2. Kalahari Rangers


We arrive at Sishen airport and the property owner and the professional hunter (PH) meet us at the airport. It’s a 2-hour drive to the lodge. The first part is on black top and the balance is gravel. We arrive at the lodge and settle in. The lodge is very nice, with six rooms for guests. The first two days, I am the only hunter on the property. The Farm is 24,000 acres, divided into 3 “camps.” The next morning, I slept-in and sight-in the rifle and we are off hunting. Day One: We drive around looking for desired game and made lots of stalks-- no shots other than sighting in. I saw a ton of Gemsbok that afternoon.

Day Two: Again lots of driving and stalks, but no shots.

Day Three: Things start changing. The owner is riding with us today. We are driving around and see a Blesbok—but not the one we were looking for. The PH says it is big, shoot. I do and its down where it stood. Blesbok in the truck and we continue to look for game. Gemsbok spotted and we start the stalk but the Gemsbok spotted us and takes off. There is a Springbok that is walking and unware of us. Sticks are set up and Springbok walked into shooting lane and done. That afternoon, we are looking for Kudu. We are driving around and we spot a large waterbuck 3 different times. Both the PH and owner says it’s a very nice Waterbuck and that I should shoot it. I tell him it’s not on my list, but if I see it again tomorrow, I will shoot it. We spot a nice Kudu. Both say it’s about 53 inches. We start tracking it but the sun is starting to set and we go back to the truck. While driving back to camp, we see a Kudu--about 48 inches about 20 feet from the truck.

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Day Four: Spend all morning look for Kudu and other game. We make stalks on several Red Hartebeest but no success. That afternoon, the owner is riding with us again and we see the big Waterbuck. After a 1½ hour stalk, Waterbuck is down.


Day Five: Spend the morning looking for game--several stalks but no luck. Driving back to the lodge for lunch and a Kudu is standing in the brush about 80 yards from the truck--brush in-between the both of us. The PH say it’s a good one. I take the shot and in the truck. At the lodge, we measure him at 57.5” Rowland Ward (might be more after the skin is removed). Very pleased. That afternoon out looking for game and see a nice Impala. Jerk the shot and miss. Continue looking for game.


Day Six: Out looking for game and spot a Red Hartebeest--164 yards and in the truck. We continue looking for game. After lunch, we see a nice Impala and he is in the truck. Finish the afternoon looking for Gemsbok. No luck.



Day 7: This morning, the wind is blowing a Small Gail--everything laying up. Tracker suggests that we park and walk to a pan to see if we can find anything. First pan nothing. Second pan has some Zebra and Gemsbok. Gemsbok are laying down and Zebra moving around. Find a suitable male and start to stalk. After another 1½ hour stalk, Gemsbok is down and in the truck. Done.


Day Eight: Up at 4:30 am to drive 2 hours to the Sishen airport for a 1 hour return to the Joberg airport. On the flight from Sishen to Joberg Airlink wants the ammo check separately. We get a day room at the Intercontinental Airport. Very expensive-- $100 more than Sofitel at Heathrow. That evening at the Joberg Airport--another one-hour check-in. The ticket counter employee cannot find in their computer system where BA carried the gun to RSA. Thank goodness I had the paper from Houston showing the transport. Otherwise, I would have been screwed. Overall, I found the prices in Africa are very first world for being third world countries. In a word, everything is way overpriced.


I would hunt at Kalahari Rangers again. Everything is first rate. Breakfast is a full English Breakfast. Lunch is salad and a main dish (usually a starch). The evening meal starts off with drinks – full bar, a Continental starter, the main course is South African (generally game) and then dessert. Then after Dinner drinks. The owner is Belgian and French is his first language but speaks English very well. He markets mainly to the French hunter, with an 80% repeat base. The other hunting party when I was there was French. He is trying to start to market to the US hunter. He has been to DSC twice and 2017 will be his first year at SCI. He has been in the hunting business is RSA for 19 years. His 24,000-acre farm is a member of Magic Safari Lodges, all very high end properties and is the only lodge in Africa that is a Leica Sport Optics Lodge, one of seven in the world. He states that he is working with Blaser to be an Blaser Lodge too. If you use his guns, they are all Browning (currently), with Leica Magnus Scopes. He has two neighbors that have hunting properties but no lodging. The one neighbor where I was hoping to get the buffalo has 100,000 acres but only 10k is available for hunting – the rest is cattle. If you want to fly into the lodge, that’s where you will land. His runway will handle any small jet. His neighbor has his jet parked there along with 4 choppers. I found Kalahari Rangers prices to be very reasonable. Every lodge that I looked at wanted full price for my daughter for the daily rate, but here she was half price, and that’s what sealed the deal.


He has a lots of Roan on the property and several Sable. I saw several Sable I wanted to shoot, but I felt that he was about $800 too high so I passed on the Sable. All were about 38 to 40 inches. His neighbor has some plus 40 inches and prices them by the inch. A 43 inch (Rowland Ward) was just over $8k. Kalahari Rangers has lots of game, this is not a “put and take” operation. Every animal that’s hunted there was born there. He does buy animals but those are to prevent inbreeding and are tagged. Also the hunting period is very limited. He hunts three periods a year and that’s it. The week after I hunted was the last one for the year. There are never more than 2 hunting parties at any one time and its usually only one hunting party. He has both management and trophy hunts available.
 

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rinehart0050

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Awesome kudu and waterbuck! Sounds like a great trip. Thank you for sharing.
 

BRICKBURN

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Lessons learned every time you head to Africa. I appreciate you sharing your insights.

If you go the tourist route you will find plenty of first world pricing.

That is an awesome Kudu and the Waterbuck is right there too.

Congrats and thanks for sharing your hunt with us.
 

cpr0312

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Congrats and thanks for sharing!
 

Nyati

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Congrats for a great hunt and very good trophies.

Thanks for sharing !
 

buck wild

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good to hear the hunting went well
 

CAustin

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You got some good trophies there sir!
 

gillettehunter

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Sounds like you had some highs and some lows. Africa likes to try your patience. Things usually work out in the end, but not without some stress. Great Kudu and waterbuck. Congrats Bruce
 

wesheltonj

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Update: Kudu - SCI 135 3/8, Gold, Rowland Ward; Springbok SCI 37 6/8, Gold; Red Hartebeest SCI 66 7/8 Silver; Waterbuck SCI 73 2/8 Silver, Blesbok SCI 41 6/8, Bronze; Gemsbok SCI 84 3/8 Bronze. Of the seven animals I harvested, 6 made SCI and one Rowland Ward.
 

johnnyblues

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Very nice trophies congratulations.
 
 

 

 

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