Greetings to all! Here is my first attempt at a South African hunting report. Grab a coffee and have a seat! *Mike gave me permission to post his photos since his hunting report is not yet finished--he is swamped with work at the moment** This trip was the most exciting trip of my entire life to date! A few little tidbits about me: 1. This trip was my first EVER vacation in my life. 2. This was the third time I have hunted in my life. But most importantly, this brings us to #3 3. This was my first ever honeymoon!! Mike and I had been together since before his last trip to South Africa. I would get to talk to him nearly every day while he was there, and the excitement in his voice when he would tell me the stories of the day cannot be described. I was very envious! On my bucket list had always been to be a nurse. Since my very first memories, I always knew I would be a nurse. Another on my bucket list was to see an African sunrise and sunset IN PERSON. I always knew being a nurse would happen, but I was never quite sure about Africa. When Mike and I married, I was right in the middle of Nursing school and he was extremely busy at work. Throw in the normal life stresses and well...I am sure you get it. We decided that a delayed honeymoon was the only option. When he asked me where I wanted to go for our honeymoon, I said, “Take me to Africa!” His face lit up and he asked me if I was serious. I told him if it was an option I was quite serious! I had been putting off over and over (for almost 3 years) a much-needed surgery because I could not miss the amount of work and school that recovery would require me to miss. Got a short break because I decided I would be alright after a couple of weeks, and so I had major abdominal surgery just a couple of months ago that I am not 100% healed from. I am on my feet daily quite literally from 4 am till roughly 10 or 11 pm. I have no trouble exceeding 20,000 steps per day on a normal basis. I can walk all day long. Mike said, “We will be walking a lot”, so in the back of my mind I was thinking well...I can walk! Mike said, “there are times you will be walking bent over” to which my mind thought….Well maybe Mike will have to because he is like 7 feet tall and I am not, so, I will not have to. I knew even though my injury, surgery, and school schedule kept me out of the gym for the last 3 years, I was still in good shape from running around hospitals and the university 13 hours per day all the time. Right? I grossly underestimated the recovery time of my surgery (because the doctor was over exaggerating) as well as the physical aspects of hunting in South Africa (because Mike was over exaggerating). I may have been mistaken on my way of thinking regarding both my surgeon and husband. I am not saying either of them was right...I am just saying that perhaps I was mistaken haha! Mike has been hunting since he was 8 years old. I have not. I can shoot really well, but I am a novice hunter and I was really nervous. I had met Marius two times already in the states. We met him the last two years at DSC and Mike had been hunting with him before. I felt a little less nervous having already met Marius, but still nervous anyway. So, this brings us to my hunting report/journal. Sorry (not sorry) for the probably extreme length. I am BEYOND excited, even still!!! I had the most amazing honeymoon that anyone could ever hope for!! Oh! One other thing! I know you cannot see expression or hear tone really when reading something like this, but please know that Mike and I joke A LOT and if you are trying to decide on how to take something I say as being mean or joking...choose joking! And, I may make references to praying. I’m not offended if you do not pray, so do not be offended that I do. DEPARTURE DAY! We woke at 0400 on Tuesday, May 14, 2019, and loaded the truck. Fed the kids (dogs) said bye to Mike’s dad who drove down to care for the kids and house and we-were-OFF!!! We drove from Tulsa to Dallas and flew from Dallas to Atlanta. Had a not terrible layover in Atlanta and then from Atlanta to Joburg. Upon arrival in Joburg, we were collected by Gilbert from Africa Sky. We went to the Africa Sky guest house and stayed the night there. Our flight was the following morning out of Joburg to Port Elizabeth. If ever you are in need of an overnight stay as we were, Africa Sky was really great! It was quite beautiful and the staff was WONDERFUL as well!! We had supper the night we arrived and breakfast the following morning before leaving. The food was quite nice! Gilbert took us to the airport and did not leave until we were all sorted out and ready to board. He assisted with the rifles and luggage. It was really great to have a friendly local who was so knowledgeable about where everything was at the airport! Two thumbs up for Africa Sky! We were so close and the short flight to PE seemed to take forever to me! Mike kept chuckling at how excited I was. I was absent the day God passed out patience. We could not get to the lodge quick enough for me! We arrived at PE and was collected by Marius, Flex, and Rigby of KMG Safaris at the airport. It was a long-ish drive to Mpunzi lodge. We made our first stop to collect Lloyd. Mike had met Lloyd on his previous trip. He introduced us and we were on our way once again. Next stop, fuel. Then, since we were already in Grahamstown, Marius and Mike had to stop for milkshakes. I had heard of these milkshakes from Mike’s previous trip. They were, as I was told: “the best milkshakes EVER”. They told me over and over how good they tasted and how amazing they were. Since I cannot have gluten, dairy, or sugar, (not a fad-choice, I was born this way) I watched and heard them thoroughly enjoying big chocolate milkshakes. I only hoped briefly that they would choke on theirs. Mike offered to have Marius stop so he could get my pills out of my bag and I could try the milkshake. I declined as my stomach was already sick from airplane food and I knew that I did not want to be worse off hunting the next day. They were each very sorry that they could not give me a taste of their milkshakes. You could sense the sadness through their jokes and at times, uncontrollable laughter. Boys will be boys, right? ARRIVAL AT THE LODGE: Once we arrived at the lodge, we were escorted to our room. I could not believe the views! I kept asking Mike if this was real and perhaps he should pinch me. We wanted to go back to the lodge to say hello and meet everyone. We would unpack later. I met Nicole first. She immediately began going over all of my dietary restrictions because she wanted to make sure she had food available that I could eat and not get sick. (I am allergic to everything) Nicole said we would be eating soon. We went to the range to shoot our rifles and make sure all was good there, and it was after adjusting my rifle. I was SO irritated that my first shot was not a bullseye. I was horrified that Marius was going to ask Mike why he brought a gimpy, crap shooting, girl to hunt. We adjusted my scope and all was well in the universe again. Back to the lodge. On the menu was: Impala Schnitzels, potatoes, broccoli, coleslaw, green salad, and homemade cheese and onion bread. SO GOOD! I was quite impressed! I was quite touched actually that so much thought went into food for me. I was quite pleased to learn that I like the taste of impala a LOT! It had been a long journey to the lodge. It had been even longer since I had seen Mike truly relax. This was the first time since we met that we didn’t have our phones blowing up with work, calendar reminders, my face in a book, and other misc stuffs. The sigh of relief finally happened!! We were on our honeymoon away from everything else and not a thing except for the two of us and South Africa mattered! I will not EVER forget the feeling at that moment!! After supper, it was time to shower and unpack a bit and get some much-needed sleep. It had been a long trip to South Africa but the excitement made the nearly 24 hours total on a plane bearable! Mike and I had discussed and decided that when we were out hunting if either of us needed, we would make a second or insurance shot for one another if need be. This is not something that is required, but it is something we decided for us. It is not every day you get to go on a hunt like this and we, personally, would rather back each other up, if you will, as opposed to losing an animal! DAY 1 HUNTING: The first morning we had bacon and eggs for breakfast. (my favorite breakfast!)This was our first day out hunting and we were hunting for Eland for Mike. Mike kept telling me to just be as quiet as possible and watch and listen to Marius. In all the excitement and trying to be quiet, I was actually holding my breath without realizing it. When I nearly passed out, I realized I was holding my breath. It had not been ten minutes into our trek. My vision started getting darker and darker. I fell and landed straight in my left knee. Lilith (my .308) was unharmed, however, the rocks I landed on, cut through both layers of my double layer knee pants and gashed my knee open. Mike helped me up. I could feel blood running down my leg and the stiffness was already starting. Obviously, I lived to tell the tale….Mike and Marius inquired as to if I was ok. I thought about asking for a piggyback but decided I would reserve that for a later time as this was only 10 minutes into the first hunt. I was hoping and praying that this fall was not a sample of things to come! On the plus side, I was informed that I “fell well” because I did not yell or drop my rifle. Mike got a dirty look over that one. He said that I fell nice and quietly and controlled my rifle. Moving on…. We spotted 2 very nice Eland. One was noticeably larger. Details of this hunt will be on Mike’s Hunting Report. We had a very nice lunch while out even though Marius and Mike ganged up on me and teased me sometimes. Upon returning to the lodge that evening, I got to meet Marius’ wife, Kim. We chatted for a bit and I was hoping she would go hunting with us the next day. DAY 2 HUNTING: Coffee, bacon, and eggs. The perfect way to start the morning! The goal for the day was Impala and Red Hartebeest for me. I was glad Kim decided to join us! I had someone to help keep the unruly men in line. Even the playing field a bit! We arrived at our destination. We got out and began walking in the direction where some hartebeest were spotted. I was very nervous yet excited! Kim and Lloyd stayed behind in the truck. This time, I decided I would not hold my breath while walking. Along the way, we spotted a nice Impala. We did not really have to stalk long for the Impala. Probably because we were headed for the Hartebeest and not looking for an Impala at first. The sun was behind us which was in our favor and there was a decent cover for us to stay behind while stalking. There was a ram and it was just over 100 yards or so away. Mike stayed behind and Marius and I proceed forward. Marius got us to around 60 or 70 yards from the Impala. We were crouched behind a bush and Marius slowly set up the sticks. The Imala was behind a bush and looked in our direction. Marius told me to stay down. The Impala was still looking in our direction but with the sun in its eyes. I slowly put Lilith up on the sticks. The Impala was looking right at us but was behind a bush. As I moved into position, the ram stepped in our direction and out from behind the bush. That was all I needed. One shot to the heart and the Impala was down. As soon as Mike heard the shot he came to our location. My first thought was that I wanted to make sure the Impala was not suffering. Marius said it was a perfect shot. Mike was looking off in the distance for my Impala. Marius and I told him it was just right there. I had just harvested my first big game animal in South Africa!!! I hugged everyone. I was so excited and my Impala was SO BEAUTIFUL!! Kim and Lloyd arrived a bit later as they had to drive out to where we were. I hugged Kim and Lloyd too and they were all so excited for me also. I asked Marius straight away what I could have done better. I was quite pleased when he said, “Nothing. There was nothing you could have done better.” I had been practicing shooting on sticks. However, I had told Marius the day we went to shoot rifles that I did not like how I felt so wobbly when on sticks. Marius showed me that he could position himself under my right elbow to steady me. It is amazing to me how much that made a difference when shooting off sticks. It was like shooting from a bench for me! He did this for me when I was on the sticks for my Impala. I do not know how he stands so still crouched over like that but I am thankful for it for sure! We took photos next. After that, we decided to go look for that herd of Hartebeest before going to the skinning shed. We did not see what we were looking for so we needed to get the Impala to the skinning shed. This was a historic place where we went. Marius and Kim showed us around and told us stories and I got to take some pictures. We went into what used to be the prison there. It was a really cool pace! After that, we drove out to have lunch and just look around a bit. Marius and Mike spotted a Zebra. Kim and I stayed behind at the truck whilst all the guys went out. Kim and I had a really great time visiting!! Kim and I were talking about hartebeest. She, like me, thinks they are beautiful animals. It was getting to be later in the evening and we headed back to the lodge. When we arrived we were greeted by Nicole and she told us when it would be time to have supper. I met Lowe and his wife Michelle. We went to clean up from the day and on the menu was: Blesbuck cottage pie, Mixed veggies, Beetroot, Green Salad, and Homemade bread. Nicole had modified and prepared the same dishes for me minus all the things I cannot eat. It was quite the treat and SO delicious!! During and after supper, Kim, Nicole, Michelle, and I talked and visited for quite some time. We had a really nice visit and it was a really fun conversation! Being Kim and I were so silent all day long, (not) it was really great to talk and laugh and all of us get to know each other better! DAY 3 HUNTING: Today our goal was Bushbuck for Mike. By lunchtime no bushbuck yet. We went back to the lodge for lunch since we were not terribly far. We were able to have lunch with Kim before she left and it was quite a nice visit! This was, however, the one day no animals were harvested. It was not meant to be on this day. Details on Mike’s hunting report. Fast forward to the end of the day…..For supper, we had: Pork Chops, Sweet Potato, Green Beans, Coleslaw, Green Salad, Garlic Bread. It was VERY good!! I felt overly tired and ran down and ended up going to bed early. DAY 4 HUNTING: I woke up with a VERY sore throat and a headache. I do not remember the goal of the day if it was how the day started however, the day ended with Mike getting a really beautiful Zebra! He has details on his hunting report. By the time we got back to the lodge, I, unfortunately, did not feel well. Before supper, we went to the range. I had shot Mike’s .416 Rigby and was fine with it, however, I was using Marius’ .375 HH for my Giraffe hunt. I had never shot this caliber of rifle, but the model and action were the same as the Rigby. 3 shots and I felt fine with this gun. Marius and I talked about how things would go giraffe hunting. I opted for a body shot instead of a headshot for my giraffe. Marius talked about how the rifle would be loaded: 1st shot soft, solids after that and he told me it would take more than one shot. I had been studying giraffe shots for months yet was so nervous already. Marius told me I shouldn’t be nervous. He said he sees how I shoot and I have nothing to worry about. I was still so nervous but it made me feel good that Marius was pleased with my shooting! DAY 5 HUNTING: My dream hunting day had arrived. Giraffe! I felt worse than the day before. My throat was sorer than the day before and I was quite irritated by how achy and ran down I felt. But the goal for the day was a giraffe. So….we went giraffe hunting. It was a little bit of a drive to where we were hunting this day, but I did not care. I was on my way to hunt giraffe! I napped some on the way due to feeling so icky. We stopped at a store and Marius got a coffee for me. I was freezing and the coffee was GREAT! When we arrived my nerves kicked in overdrive. Every place we went hunting, I was in awe of how beautiful and vast every single location we went so far was. We would walk for hours and hours and not pass the same spot twice. Way, way off in the distance, we spotted some giraffes. Not “the” giraffe yet though. From our starting location, we could see for miles and miles. I had on three shirts and two pairs of pants and was still freezing. However, I was the only one fighting off hypothermia out of the lot of us. We started walking. We stopped and Marius had spotted “the giraffe” that was the goal. Everyone was going on and on about how his patterns looked but we were so far away and I was shivering and could not stand still enough to see. Not until we got quite a bit closer that is. He was BEAUTIFUL!! We walked over an hour standing upright. Then, we went to crouching as we walked. Marius’ rifle was quite a bit heavier than Lilith. I was the shortest of all of us. They were walking over things in one step that it took me two steps to do. At one point, I slid down a steep downgrade of the landscape. The landowner turned and gave me a smile and thumbs up. I guess I slid well also. We were still quite a long ways away and we stopped so I could have a short rest which was nice because I did not feel well and my abdomen was burning because of the bit about not being 100% since surgery. On the plus side, I had warmed up to a comfortable temperature finally. We walked crouched down from each spot of cover to the next. Even when we were by a bush or a tree we were as low to the ground as possible and as close to one another as possible. The four of us were sitting side by side on a bank behind trees and bushes. I did not realize that we were finally less than 100 yards from my giraffe! Marius set up the sticks and he told me to crawl to him. Remember day one when I gashed my knee open? Well, I was not about to refuse to crawl and I sure was not about to stand up for that matter. Marius would have kicked me out of hunting. I crawled on my gashed, bruised knee and under the sticks to where I was on Marius’ left side. He told me to stay down and he crouched down as well. My giraffe was on the move. As I was crouched down, I could see blood on the knee of my pants. Oh well, it isn’t a fashion show, right? Good thing because with all my layers of clothes and my ball cap on, I looked like a fat little boy. I seemed to be the only one who cared about this. My giraffe was walking away and we needed to stay close. Mike and the landowner stayed behind. It was just Marius and me with the sticks and the .375. The closer I got the more nervous I became. Marius had told me it would take more than one shot but this was my giraffe. This was my #1 on my list. If I got NOTHING else, I wanted a giraffe. This giraffe was more beautiful the closer I got. Marius and I were crouched behind a small bush and then, he quietly was setting up the sticks. I could hear my heart beating. Before he got the sticks positioned, he took them up and motioned me to follow. The giraffe was on the move again. We waited behind the small bush and then had to cross a small open area and walk up a brushy bank, for lack of a better description. Marius walked up it in 3 effortless steps. I took one step and on my second step, came the “log” that Marius was saying I “fell over”. The log was just bigger around than a pencil. I stepped up with my right foot and the toe of my left foot got caught under the pencil sized log causing me to trip and the log to break. As I tripped, I felt a quick gale force wind burst and it smacked me in the face, followed by a searing pain in my face. I was briefly concerned for the well-being of Marius’ neck. Why was I concerned? I was concerned because the quick gale force wind burst was a direct result of Marius whipping his head around to look at me as the “log” snapped. The searing pain was from the glare I got from him. I was quite pleased that I actually did NOT fall, or drop the rifle. Other than me breaking that log with my left toe, my ascent up the brushy bank was flawless. With my face burning, I continued following Marius. I could utilize the burn salve in my first aid kit for my face when I got back to the truck. Right now, we had to move with the giraffe and not scare it off because we were SO close. Marius and I were crouched down. He told me, “I want you to remember to follow through with your shot. I will steady you.” He said we would have to move quiet and fast but it was important that I make a good first shot. He put up the sticks and I put the rifle on them. There was my giraffe. Marius positioned himself under my right elbow. Shot 1 fired. I knew I made a good first shot. I immediately reloaded and still had my giraffe in my sights and he said, “Again”. So, I shot again, and as he was running off and I knew I made a good second shot as well but would not know just how good until later. We followed after him. He ran about 50 yards and Marius put up the sticks again. The giraffe was wobbling and swaying on his feet. I asked if I shoot again and Marius said, to wait because the giraffe was “done.” By this point, Mike and the landowner had arrived as well. The way the giraffe was standing and swaying, the giraffe was obviously dead on his feet. Marius wanted another insurance shot. My hands were shaking….really bad and I was shivering. Adrenaline! I wanted this giraffe to stop moving and I wanted to know he wasn’t suffering. Marius had Mike shoot with his .300 Win.Mag. and the giraffe collapsed. His lungs were collapsed. He was still. Then, some kicking. Then still. It is almost a blur, in a way. This was the first animal that I ever had to take more than one shot. Marius told me when I was shooting his rifle that it was going to take more than one. He told me exactly what to expect. I had asked Marius previously where was I to shoot it if it was running away after the first shot. He told me the day I did test shots with his rifle and I did what he told me. I was almost in tears. I was in South Africa on a dream trip with my best friend, hunting my #1 hunting goal in life and I was successful. We did not have to chase my giraffe or look for it after I shot it. Everyone was hugging me and congratulating me. I sat down. I had done it! I think my biggest fear is wounding an animal and it suffering. And worse, not being able to find it and it is vulnerable and unable to defend itself as a result of being wounded and dying a slow miserable death. This was not the case today, thank God! The events next are a bit of a blur to me because of the extreme excitement. I also did not feel well-at all. I know that a group of people arrived. Lloyd and 3 or 4 other men began skinning after photos were taken. Positioning the giraffe for photos was no easy task! I asked if the head was too heavy for me to hold in a picture. In stereo, Marius and Mike said, “YES!” Marius had told me and I had also read about how thick the hide was on a giraffe. When they began skinning, Marius told me to come look. It was even thicker than my mind’s eye had pictured it!! Seeing a photo and the real thing is drastically different! I thought it was especially neat when they gave my bullet to me that they recovered from the giraffe! We sat on a tarp for a quick bite of lunch. The entire process was absolutely magnificent! When they were loading the head and hide in the truck, it took all of them! We stopped in Grahamstown so they could begin working on the giraffe straight away. For supper that night, we had: Kudu Lasagna, mixed veggies, beetroot, green salad, and homemade bread. It was SO good!! I had my own lasagna that Nicole had prepared for me along with gluten free bread. It was the perfect ending to the perfect day!! DAY 6 HUNTING: Bushbuck for Mike. I went along however opted to stay with the truck the majority of the day due to not feeling well and also, remember that bit about being absent the day God passed out patience? Also, the terrain they were hunting bushbuck and sitting on the ground or rocks proves rather difficult since surgery. I managed to get a photo of a female bushbuck that ran in front of me, however. She was quite beautiful! I was watching a bushbuck off in the distance. I could just see the smallest part of the bushbuck. I thought I would be clever and take a picture to show the guys that I was staring at what they were stalking. Turns out, it was the men and not a bushbuck that I was staring at. Glad I sorted that bit out before bragging that I was watching a bushbuck the whole time they were away. I heard the shot and Lloyd and I took off to where Mike and Marius were. I was very happy for Mike that he was successful and got a very beautiful bushbuck! For supper: Sable and Nyala Fillets, beef sausage, potato bake, creamy spinach, green salad, cheese, and onion bread. Let me just say that I love the taste of sable and nyala!! Nicole had also surprised me with homemade gluten/sugar/dairy free muffins!! She was worried about the taste and texture of them, but they were spot on!!! I was SO impressed that it was her first attempt at them!!! They were excellent!! I had fresh warm muffins and hot green tea! The perfect combination of comfort for not feeling well!! The things Nicole prepared for me during our stay really warmed my heart!!! I told Mike I wanted to put her in my pocket and take her home!! DAY 7 HUNTING: This day I woke up hoarse in addition to the other garbage, yet was excited because Hartebeest was my other BIG want. Unfortunately, I was already also longing for the day to be over because I felt so terrible. I layered on 2 pair of pants and 3 shirts...plus a jacket. I am always cold and being sick even more so. I was dosing myself with meds to be less miserable yet was quite irritated that I got sick in the first place. I had a flu shot and the flu already this year. I thought I was quite done being sick for the year. Obviously not! Anyhoot, on to the hartebeest! When we arrived, it wasn’t long and Marius spotted some really big gemsbok. Oryx was on my list as well, so we decided to go in that direction and more than likely would find hartebeest along the way. The wind was not being very cooperative and kept changing directions and as such, we did as well. Marius said we would hunt until I said I was done hunting because I was sick. The wind was not the only thing not cooperating. The gemsbok decided to be difficult as well. By lunchtime, there was no luck with either animal. We had spotted some hartebeest but not any that Marius wanted to pursue further. After lunch, we were going to go to a location where we thought that the oryx would be and then Marius spotted the hartebeest. He was quite beautiful! We were going to get that hartebeest sick or not! So the terrain in this particular area was difficult. In that, I mean there was no quiet way to walk on it. Halfway through our stalk, Marius asked me how I felt about stalking in my socks. I said ok. Marius and I ditched our shoes and in stocking feet, continued on to the hartebeest. At this point, Mike stayed behind at a large bush. My hartebeest was lying in some very tall grass but there was no problem seeing his horns above the tall grass. There were two of them. Marius made sure I knew which it was. One was standing and looking at us. The bush we were standing behind at this point had several bees flying around. We are right next to these bees that I happen to be very allergic to and my epi pens are back in the truck. I decided these bees were going to leave me alone because I wanted to live. Good thing I made this decision because Marius was setting up sticks. We were behind the bush and he was setting up sticks all stealthy next to the bush. So slow and with such precision. He had told me the plan to try to get the hartebeest to stand up. The grass was completely blocking its body. We could only see horns. I put Lilith up on the sticks and the hartebeest stood but was not looking at us but the other hartebeest still was looking in our direction. Marius made a noise and we thought it would look at us. It did not. Instead, my hartebeest took off!!!! BUT... not before I shot him! I reloaded. The hartebeest that was staring at us took off towards where Mike was. My hartebeest did not make it that far. Estimating distances is not a strength of mine, but the hartebeest seemed to me as though it leaped once or twice and was down. We looked at Mike and he has his rifle on the hartebeest that we did not want to shoot. Marius said, “It's ok, Mike will see you did not shoot that one.” Mike said he was looking at the hartebeest and then he saw me still on the sticks. He looked at the hartebeest again and he knew I did not shoot that one. Mike was looking for my hartebeest not realizing it was right by Marius and I. Marius said Mike’s name and asked me how good Mike’s hearing was. I said that Mike was deaf so Marius started pelting rocks at Mike to get his attention. We walked up to my hartebeest and we had seen it take a couple of breaths. I gave it one more shot as instructed to make sure and it was done. We decided that we would go try to find the gemsbok now. Regardless of the outcome, we were going to stay out until 1630 and then go back to the lodge because I was sick. We found them. We began stalking these very large gemsbok. It was a long uphill stalk and from no fault of ours, we did not take a gemsbok that evening. It was not meant for me to have any of those. Back at the lodge that evening the menu was: Blue wildebeest neck, rice, baby potatoes, mixed vegetables, green salad, and homemade bread. We were discussing the following day’s plans. It was a baboon day for Mike. I had already decided I did not want to go out for that hunt. Marius and Mike asked if I wanted to go shopping or to the spa. I declined. To each their own, but I had no desire to do something in South Africa that I can do any day of the week in the states. I wanted to hang out at the lodge and see what there was to see and rest a bit as well. DAY 8 HUNTING: Baboon for Mike was on the agenda for the day. He got a really nice one. It was stinky too! Like, I walked out the front door of the lodge and could already smell it, stinky. Details on Mike’s hunting report. I was sick and had a really nice day relaxing at the lodge and hanging out with Nicole. I even took a nap! For supper that night, we had: Chicken, couscous, butternut squash, pineapple, green salad, homemade rolls. This chicken was AMAZING!!! I mean, I do not dislike chicken, but chicken is just...well...chicken. Not this chicken though. I really want another piece now after thinking about it! DAY 9 HUNTING: Oryx for me. Except I did not want to go because I was so sick. I told Mike I did not want to go. Mike asked me if I remembered saying I did not come to South Africa to go shopping or to the spa? I said yes. He then jokingly (not jokingly) told me that morning that I did not come to South Africa to get sick and stay at the lodge, either. At breakfast, Marius told me I was not allowed to be sick on vacation. So what is a girl to do? Dose herself with just enough meds before her liver falls out and go gemsbok hunting! And so I did. I piled on several layers of clothes, and off we went. So, a really cool thing happened. We were on our way to some oryx we spotted when we came upon a rather large herd of cape buffalo. Quite close. I am no cape buffalo expert, but they did not seem too pleased that we were there. Marius said we were going to go around them. So, we deviated from our previously planned path and went around the buffalo. It was a longer walk but I did not mind. There was my oryx! Time to crouch and walk. Mike stayed behind, and Marius, the skinner/tracker and myself proceeded forward. Marius froze and so did I. Then, Marius motioned me to continue but very slow and quiet. I saw the sticks going up. He told me which one because there were several of them. Mine was a bull and was in front. They were moving and Marius said to wait until they stopped. I had Lilith on the sticks. As soon as my target stopped walking, I took the shot. I had shot my oryx! He did not get up either. The tracker with us patted me on the shoulder and was smiling and said, “nice bull, nice bull!” Mike joined us and we went to look at my beautiful oryx. Did I mention that he was just beautiful?! I, however, kind of wanted to collapse even though it was only 9:30 am. I asked Mike and Marius if I could be done and sick now. They chuckled at me and gave me permission to be sick and done. Marius turned my oryx on its other side because he was looking at the shot I made. Marius found my bullet. It was just under the skin on the other side. This was recovered during skinning and given back to me!! After photos. Since it was still early, after taking my beautiful oryx to the skinning shed, they decided to go look for a warthog. They found one too! Details from Mike… Marius said he felt bad for dragging me along because I was sick and he knew I felt terrible, but I am really glad they did! I know I would have kicked myself if I had not went so I am glad Mike and Marius ganged up on me and told me I was not allowed to be sick. We arrived back at the lodge shortly after lunch time and I went to clean up and just rest. That night for supper we had: Sable/Nyala kebabs, beef sausage, Sweetcorn bake, Cheesy veggie bake, green salad, tomato-cheese-onion braai breads. The bread and kebabs were cooked outside on the fire. It was a lot of fun and delicious!! I went to bed early because of being sick but it was a really great day in spite of feeling really terrible! DAY 10-FINAL DAY HUNTING: This was the last hunting day in South Africa. Mike and Marius were going to go out and just see what they could see (I think) since Mike and I had completed our “want list” plus bonuses. I had already been packing off and on so I would not have so much to pack the last day. I basically had misc things left to pack and some things I could not pack until the morning we left. We did not bring much so that was nice. On this last day, I guess Mike and Marius had not had enough excitement the previous nine days because Mike decided to kill a Puff Adder….with a stick. I know they were talking about details of the going-ons of what they were doing whilst out that day but the ONLY thing that sticks in my head is that my husband killed a puff adder with a stick. I will let him tell the details since I was not there. That night for supper we had: Duiker leg, brown rice, potatoes, pumpkin, green salad, and homemade bread. I was able to tell Michelle goodbye as she would not be at the lodge in the morning. She was ill also but we still had a nice visit! DEPARTURE DAY: We all had breakfast together and loaded up to drive to PE. I do not know how 10 days went by so fast. I was not ready to leave. On this morning I felt better than I had the previous several days but still did not feel well. We were taking photos and saying our goodbyes to everyone at the lodge. We stopped along the way at the taxidermist and dropped things off and got all of that sorted out. We also stopped and got coffee and it was TASTY! In a stop at the store, I went to the counter to pay for some things. Mike had just given me his wallet (like all good husbands should do) and told me to get whatever I wanted, and I was at the counter and the cashier told me my total and I was not quite sure what she said. I had never felt so lost (or ignorant) in my entire life!! I am looking at her and at the rand in Mike’s wallet and I pulled out a bill and she said I needed two of those. I did not have two of those. I asked, “Will one of these other colors work?” Both ladies laughed and she told me what color to give her and then she would just give me change. They then asked me where I was from. Haha! They were so nice and patient! The only bad experience I had on this trip was getting sick. And, I would not even say bad, really. I was aggravated but it did not ruin the trip. More of an annoying inconvenience! I learned a lot! For those who have not made it to South Africa and are contemplating….DO IT! Marius was out with Mike and me, and Mike is an extremely experienced hunter. I am a novice hunter at best and Marius adjusted to each of our hunting levels effortlessly. I never felt as though I did not know what to do or what to expect. Aside from being nervous, I felt quite prepared! When Mike and I decided on a hunting safari for our honeymoon, there was no question as to who he wanted to hunt with; it was Marius, and for good reason! When I was talking about the look that Marius gave me during the giraffe hunt, Marius was not mad or looking at me with malice. It was more of a “oohh….I hope that did not give us away”, type of thing because we were SO CLOSE!! Mike actually saw the look and we all were laughing about it after the fact! One important thing I learned was that Mike and I were on vacation, but Marius was working. We all had a LOT of fun and a REALLY great time. However, when it was time to be serious and work, we worked and were serious about it. It is a REALLY good thing that your PH takes what he does serious!! Marius made sure we had an amazing time. He worked very hard organizing our hunts and I never once felt there were any safety issues or that we were put in harm's way or that there was anything careless about any part of our trip. When Marius dropped us off at the airport, he did not leave until he WATCHED us get on the plane and he knew were were good! I can honestly say that I am hooked! I cannot wait for the chance to go back! I am so happy with everything I got to see, experience, and most importantly learn! I prayed every single morning for everyone’s safety and that no one was seriously injured and that every shot Mike and I made was an accurate clean shot and that no animals would suffer. I am beyond pleased my prayers were answered! Marius, my friend, THANK YOU, again from the bottom of my heart for giving Mike and Me the most AMAZING hunting experience on our honeymoon!! It was a truly unforgettable experience and I will cherish the memories made forever!!!!!