SOUTH AFRICA: KMG Hunting Safaris, The Collector's Edition 2019

blacks

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DAY 2

After finally having a half reasonable sleep (I always struggle the first few nights on safari) we arose to a freezing cold morning and hit the road at daybreak. Marius had grabbed the dog bowls from outside to give Flex & Rigby some water, but found them both frozen solid! The thermometer in the Cruiser told us it was minus 7 degrees. I was glad I bought a jacket!

Warming up.... :ROFLMAO:

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Reaching the sheep property, we slowly worked our way higher and higher in the cruiser. The aim was to start from the top and hunt our way down, glassing for sheep feeding their way back up. As we got higher, the vegetation thinned and the country became an incredible array of sheer rock. Marius had said this was as close to a Pakistani or Mongolian mountain hunt as you’d get without going there, and now I could see why! We glassed for a fair while without seeing any form of life, then mid-morning a large mob of sheep, maybe 30 strong was found feeding their way up the mountain from the lower vegetated slopes. There appeared to be two good rams present, with one having a much better mane than the other, so he became our target.

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We backed out and circled our way around the top of the mountain, coming in down a steep ravine that the sheep appeared to be feeding into. Alas, just as we neared the edge, an unseen reedbuck spooked and changed the direction of the mob, so we headed back past our original location to start again. We could now see the ram at 300 metres as the group slowly spread around the base of the bluffs we were in. Slithering around through the rocks to our left, we eventually worked our way into position amongst some boulders, like a sniper in the watch tower high above the sheep. It was a pretty cramped spot, so I had to pass my rifle across to Marius before squeezing past the tracker and sliding into position myself, settling over my bipod for a steep downhill shot.

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I could see one ram standing broadside below, but could not see the other which had bedded in some bushes to our right. Luckily, Marius and the tracker could see him and they spent some time closely examining each to make sure we took the right one. Both were impressive in the horn department, but it was determined that the one standing was luckily the one with the long mane that we were after, so I settled in for the shot at 220 metres. Just as I flicked off the safety, the ram walked a few steps to the right, a couple more and he’d disappear behind a the rock wall in front of me. Happily, he stopped again so I settled on mid-shoulder to allow for the angle and fired.

At the shot I lost the ram as the mob scattered, but I knew the shot was good and Marius thought he saw the ram down in some bushes. Zig-zagging our way down the steep face, Marius increased his lead on me and commenced the search. As he started glassing the area I got a little concerned. I caught up and he said “I found a little blood over here”. But he couldn’t hold it in and I knew he was full of shit when he started grinning. I turned around and the stone-dead sheep was right behind me. A beautiful big ram with heavy bases and wide horns, tips curling right in. And a spectacular mane, exactly what I was after. My bullet had completely vapourised the top of his heart and aorta before exiting low on the opposite shoulder. Perfect!

Lloyd caped him out for a half body mount, so I have a few options there when it comes to the mount. What a successful day and a half. We loaded up the Cruiser and headed back to the main lodge, making it around 4pm so we were ready and waiting with a coldie in hand as the others rolled in from their day's hunt. I was stoked to find that they we all on the board with beautiful kudu, bushbuck , blesbok and impala in the salt.

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cpr0312

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Nice Aoudad(y)(y)
 

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Blacks, awesome report so far, keep it coming. Barbary sheep was definitely one of my favourite hunts I've had with Marius.
 

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Great start to your hunt. Congrats on so beautiful animals. Vaal Rhebuck is on my list for my hunt next month. Well done.
Bruce
 

blacks

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So, a week before my safari, still open to what species I'd add to round out my list, I receive this message from Marius...

"Nice bushpig on bait if any of the group wants to have a crack. Stalk-in onto the bait"....
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The huge boar Marius had arrowed in the same spot earlier in the year had certainly grabbed my attention. And this bloke looked pretty solid as well!

So I thought about it for all of a few hours, figured it'd fit in well with my 'Collector's' theme, pulled rank over the group and replied to Marius, "Let's do it"......

TBC...
 

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Good thing you've shot in the mountains before.
Well done.
 

blacks

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DAY 3 & 4

With my main three species successfully secured faster than expected, we had a fairly leisurely schedule the next couple of days. We started by assisting Chris, who had taken a shot at a kudu bull on a steep, thick face late the evening prior. Unfortunately, (or fortunately, as it may be) after a thorough search with dogs, trackers & PH’s, nothing was found. Chris and his wife were pretty down in the dumps so I spent some time with them, and I must say a good pep talk from Marius turned their demeanour around and ‘got them back on the horse’ so to speak. His generosity of spirit was exactly what my friends needed at this point, and I’m happy to report their hunt only got better and better from this point on.

With no pressure on Marius and I, we did a lot of glassing, a little relaxing, walked, talked, and shared many laughs (most of which I can’t repeat here hehe!) Not a shot was fired for a few days. And I enjoyed every bit of it. Such are the luxuries one can enjoy when you’ve hunted hard, executed well-made plans, and had good fortune early in the hunt. Besides, this was my holiday time too!

At this point I should also mention the food thus far – absolutely top notch and loved by everyone in camp. Well-prepared game meat cooked medium-rare over acacia coals, and served with a great selection of vegetables, salads and other sides. We had nyala, kudu, springbok, barbary sheep, and more, all of it mouth-watering. And all capped off by a different delicious dessert each night. And the atmosphere and fantastic accommodation at the lodge complimented it all perfectly, along with plenty of Bundaberg Rum of course. (Take me back now!) ;)

Friesland all round. Cheers!

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C.E.O. of KMG Hunting Safaris, the infamous Flex ;)

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Early on Day 4, Marius arranged for me to target a species that I hadn’t taken on my previous two safaris – a common duiker. They have always been a species that I said I’d take if the opportunity arose, but I’d never actually targeted them specifically on a hunt; which, as many would know, can be a difficult proposition!

Arriving at a huge expanse of rolling farmland, we moved slowly and glassed a lot, seeing several duiker but only one ram that interested us, which we saw from the vehicle but he busted us as we attempted a stalk. I think he’s probably in Natal somewhere still running. Late morning, Marius’ fantastic eyes found a very old ram skulking about in some thick, tall grass, about a kilometre away. We stalked in but the closer we got, the taller the grass got, until we could barely see each other, let alone a diminutive antelope lying down. So we took note of the spot and headed back to the lodge for lunch.

Just as we were about to eat, I got a message from fellow hunter Cameron. “Hit a big Nyala, found blood, searching for it”. Marius made the instant offer to bring his two champion terriers, and one questionable Aussie to assist. I was more than happy to help out a mate, with plenty of hunting days up my sleeve and most of my list dusted off. We scoffed a bit of tucker and headed off immediately to find our fellow hunters, about 45 minutes away. Happily, after an hour or so of searching we found the bull in some thick thornbush at the top of the slope. And what an absolute thumper it was too, the Nyala bull of a lifetime! I could see the relief come over my mate’s face; he was stoked, just as I was to be able to witness it. What a trophy!

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Tonight we would start on Bushpig. This was not on my original wishlist, but as I posted earlier, a week before we left home I got a message from Marius along with a trailcam photo that changed my plans. It was a stalk-in bait with a faint green LED sensor-light fitted, so I could use my own rifle; perfect. A trail camera with MMS capabilities sent out the alert when the pigs were in attendance, a great setup. I figured a good bushpig boar would fit in well with my theme of the “Collector’s Species” so committed to give it a crack.

So that night, along with PH Paul Kruger and his client, my mate Cameron, we arrived onsite just on dark and the guys cooked us a fantastic braai for tea. Even when not at the lodge, there’d be no weight loss on this trip. If it’s possible, South Africans are even more carnivorous than Aussies I think!

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Just as it approached the magic hour when the pigs were expected to come in, a totally un-forecast thunder storm rolled through the district. There would be no pigs tonight, but we were content with a few cold rum & cokes while we witnessed a spectacular thunder & lightning show. I’ll have to admit, it was a pretty reasonable substitute! As we found out the next day, the pigs actually did come in; at 3am after the storm had passed. We vowed then, that from here on in, we would go at whatever hour we had to!
 
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blacks

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DAY 5

Today we hunted on the home property around the lodge. There’s some seriously big country out the back there! We were hampered by a thick, low-hanging fog coming up out of the river valley which shrouded a lot of the early-morning animal movements. We walked a few miles, saw kudu, nyala and other species, but not as much as we’d have seen on a clear morning. It did make for some fairly spectacular photos though!

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That afternoon we did a little exploring and ended up in some thick bush, glassing over a nice little valley, looking for a duiker coming out for an afternoon feed. We called it quits as the light faded and headed back to wait and see what the pigs would do.

We had finished dinner that night and just polished off a great dessert of Lemon meringue pie and migrated to the bar, when the message came beeping through. “THE PIGS ARE IN!” was the cry from Paul and it was action stations! I put the drink I’d just poured in the fridge, and ran to my room to fetch my rifle. By the time I got to the cruiser, Marius had the engine running, and we were off at a rate of knots.

Arriving at Paul’s property, we left the truck right inside the front gate and set out on foot. Marius and I had discussed the plan well during the day and I went into autopilot – a round in the chamber, magazine full, safety on. Scope on lowest power (4x). Walking along the track in the dark, my eyes soon adjusted and we struck out across the paddock to circle well downwind of the bait. As we covered the last half kilometre, we could see the dim glow of the light over the bait. The pigs were still there.

We stopped now and removed our shoes. Anything that had the potential to make noise and spook the pigs had to be done now. From here the pace slowed, and eventually Marius and I left the others behind. 80 metres, 70, 60….I could now clearly see one pig on the bait. A sow, Marius said, not our boar. The light timed out and turned off, we froze…. Time stood still…

I dared not make a sound; starting into the blackness, willing for that light to come back on once they moved. Soon enough it did – and the green glow revealed nothing – the pigs had gone. My heart sank.

The next thing we hear pandemonium and animals scatter into the darkness. Marius and Paul had worked out what happened. The pigs had decided to walk up over the dam bank and have a drink before they continued feeding. Unluckily for us, a lone cow was also in the dam drinking. The three of them startled each other, all tearing off in opposite directions. We were done for tonight, so unlucky! I asked what the trophy fee on Daisy the cow was…. ;)

TBC...


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Mark R

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blacks

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DAY 6

Today Marius and I headed to a new property to spend our penultimate hunting day looking for a big kudu bull that the farmer had seen. Marius explained that it was ‘needle in the haystack’ type stuff, but I was happy to invest the time on a slim chance at an exceptional trophy. We hunted hard the whole day, trying many different methods, but we never laid eyes on the big fellow. We did, however, see an incredible amount of game today. Many bushbuck rams, wildebeest, waterbuck, impala; and enough blesbok and zebra to remind me of the Great Migration. And of course, we passed up a big duiker ram early in the morning, not wanting to blow whatever chance we had on the big bull. Hindsight is 20/20…

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After another fantastic dinner and dessert, I’d again retreated to the bar and poured a tall rum, when the call rang out through the lodge, “PIGS ARE IN!” “Haha, good one, I replied”, always when I’d just poured a drink. There’s no way they’d come in at 8pm after being spooked last night, I thought….

“No, seriously, get your rifle, let’s roll!” came the reply. Shit, they were serious! Following the now well-practiced routine, we headed for the bait. AC/DC on the cruiser’s stereo, tonight was business time. I’d shot heaps of feral pigs back home over the years. “It’s just another pig,” I was telling myself. But as I cradled my 7mm in the passenger seat, listening to the unbridled excitement that a big bushpig boar stirs in my hosts, I couldn’t help but feel a few nerves. Not with the hunt, but from not wanting to let the team down after months of hard work by the boys to get the pigs into some sort of reliable routine.

Focus on the task, keep it simple….

We repeat the procedure from the previous evening. Boots off, rifle is ready, stalking in our socks in the darkness, getting the wind right. There was a little more moonlight tonight, making navigation easier but also adding to the risk of being detected. From 150 metres out we could see four pigs on the bait and the light was on. In Marius’ shadow, we closed in, being careful with my footing while crossing a drainage ditch. This brought us to within 100 yards. Marius looked again through his binos and explained the boar’s position to me. “I think you can take him from here, over your bipod”, he added.

Slowly I lay down, gripping my Harris bipod legs tightly as I swung them out, not wanting to let the twang of a spring ruin my chances. I settled in behind my rifle, the height was perfect. I could see the pigs clearly but wanted to make sure 100% that I was on the right one. Marius and I whispered through his position again. Yep, I was looking at the right one. As if to reassure me, he turned and took a couple of steps towards us, standing right under the faint green glow and turning broadside. Silently, I slid the Tikka’s safety forwards. Ensuring there was nothing behind the boar, I settled my crosshair on his shoulder and squeezed.

The boar went down like a sack of spuds, legs kicking a couple of times and he was done. “Reload, stay on him” added my PH. From behind us, Paul snuck up alongside me. He’d been watching through his thermal scope and had seen a jackal also leave the bait. “Can I shoot this Jackal?” he asked. “You’d better!” I replied. Moments later, his .270 rang out, taking the sheep-killer cleanly through the back of the head, completing a fine double and an exciting hunt.

We made our way over to find an absolute tank of a bushpig boar. What an amazing animal, far heavier than I’d imagined and with a fantastic black, white and ginger shaggy coat, huge knobs on his nose and a wicked set of tusks. This guy will make a fantastic full mount in due course, and I am just stoked with the whole experience. I must say, that they are far more than ‘just another pig’ to me now! Thanks must go to Paul for his efforts in establishing this bait station. It’s certainly produced the goods now, there are great pigs in this area!

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cpr0312

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Congrats on the nyala! The picture of the braai made me instantly hungry!
 

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That boar is a chunk, congrats! If I'm lucky enough to get back to KMG, a bushpig is definitely on the menu!
 

cpr0312

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Congrats on the bushpig!!!!!!!!!
 

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Congrats on the Bushpig and the Jackal, that must have been a very cool hunt! My Bushpig with Marius was truly a novel experience as we are not allowed to hunt at night here at home.

Keep the story coming, truly enjoying all of it!
 

blacks

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Cheers guys. It was certainly a very novel experience, and the excitement of the locals upon the successful hunt was something I'll always remember. (y)

Especially as I've got to sew the big bugger back together :ROFLMAO:;)
 

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Blacks that is a truly amazing bushpig. Congratulations. I have sat for hours at night in bushpig blinds with nothing to show but hard luck stories. A full mount will be awesome. That is your trophy of the trip IMO.
 

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