SOUTH AFRICA: KMG Safaris Rocks!

Discussion in 'Hunting Reports Africa' started by Edge, Jul 3, 2017.

  1. Edge

    Edge AH Veteran

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    Africa Trip Notes

    Background

    Let me get this out of the way up front, @KMG Hunting Safaris is top notch. A huge thank you to Marius & Kim, Louw & Michelle and their three fine young boys, Nicole, Graham, Lindile and everyone else who made this trip something special for our first trip to Africa. They are “good people”. I can’t leave out the four legged companions; Flex, Rigby, Tasco, Zeiss and Stormer!

    AFRICAHunting.com and KMG Hunting Safaris has changed our lives forever. My understanding and beautiful loving partner, Michelle, were married in Feb 2014. We did not have a chance to take a true honeymoon for a variety of reasons. When people asked where we were going on our honeymoon, we would reply “Africa, some day”. Year 2 rolled through and still no honeymoon, then I became hooked on this site and after reading some of the great stories decided to start exchanging e-mails with Marius Goosen from KMG. Sent a text to my wife at work asking if she was ready to go to Africa and she immediately replied. We were a go!

    We selected the Victoria Falls/Plains Game Hunt to not only hunt together but to see one of the great wonders of the world and truly celebrate our marriage. My wife doesn’t hunt herself per se, she has accompanied me a few times to the deer stand and supports all my hunting activities and we truly enjoy preparing and eating wild game. She is now experienced with firearms and handles both rifles and pistols proficiently and is a very good shot. She wanted to be with me during the hunting portion of this trip, to enjoy every minute of our holiday together and capture our memories with a camera.

    To give back to Michelle for never complaining the hunting portion was too long and in fact truly embracing the idea, I arranged a spa day with Marius’s wife Kim without Michelle knowing. I finally told her about the spa day I had arranged just a few days prior to departure, Michelle was enthused until she asked what I was going to be doing while she was at the spa. What else would I be doing, except hunting was my response! She didn’t like the idea of missing out on a day’s hunt, (Just bear with me on this fellas, you will see where it ends up) and not experiencing what Africa would share with us. Enough background info, on to the details!


    Safari operator: KMG Safaris – Victoria Falls/Plains Game Hunt Package

    PH Louw Pieterse (pronounced opposite of high)

    Dates of Hunt: 19 - 27 June (ceased hunting on 25 Jun)

    Holiday in Africa: 26 June – 1 July

    Species List Targeted/Taken:

    Kudu - Yes

    Waterbuck (The Kudu and Waterbuck were my #1 animals) - Yes

    Bushbuck - Yes

    Zebra - Yes

    Blue Wildebeest - Yes

    Impala - Yes

    Warthog - No

    Blesbok - Yes

    Springbok – No (my decision, we did not pursue)


    Additional Species Taken:

    Bushbuck (additional animal)

    Common (Gray) Duiker


    17 June, Day 0: Departure day!

    We had decided to save a few dollars (penny wise and pound foolish rings in my ears as I write this) and drive the five hours to Atlanta from our home along the Florida gulf coast as the additional airline charge for the 45 minute flight leg was ridiculous. At this time, I wasn’t sure if I was going to bring my own rifles and figured one less leg was one less chance for the rifles to not arrive in Africa. At least that was my thinking at that time. I ended up choosing not to take one of my own guns with us having to transit Zimbabwe during our time in Africa, it was a tough decision but the right one.

    The bags were over packed and loaded into the F350 and off we went, hard to describe the excitement as the anticipation that had been slowly building over the past 16 months was almost unbearable! We made the drive without incident and used the long-term parking available at the Atlanta Airport Marriott for the two weeks we would be gone. BE VERY CAUTIOUS with parking there, on our return, we discovered the F350 had been broken into. I wanted to put this up front while I had everyone’s attention.

    We met up with Mike and Nakita (she will be referred to as RBF from now on) once through security who were on the Delta 200 flight and would also be the two other hunters @ Mpunzi lodge with us. It turns out they also were staying at the AfricaSky Guesthouse upon our arrival in Johannesburg as our flights to Port Elizabeth were both the next morning.

    The 15 hour flight from Atlanta to Johannesburg is long and grueling but no wasted time with extra stops or plane changes. I thought the 14 hour trip from LAX to Sydney was long after having taken that flight 4 times within the past year, the extra hour makes a difference! We arrived on time, found our bags and were greeted by Gilbert, the driver from AfricaSky guesthouse. A quick 15 minute drive and we arrive at AfricaSky Guesthouse. Even in the dark, the grounds and interior were very nice. We all checked in and met for the complimentary dinner shortly after as we continued to chat and got to know each other. Michelle and I had an earlier flight out on British Air in the morning since we weren’t carrying guns and Mike and RBF followed later on the SAA flight. AfricaSky guesthouse was exceptional, from our driver Gilbert picking us up at the airport, to the accommodations and the wonderful meal. I highly recommend spending some time there. More to follow...

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  2. reedy0312

    reedy0312 AH Legend

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    Very cool, glad you had a blast! Look forward to more!
     
  3. Neale

    Neale AH Enthusiast

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    OK you got us hooked, keep it coming.
     
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  4. Edge

    Edge AH Veteran

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    I'm working on it!!!

    Transferring my notes through the keyboard is taking much longer than I thought, I'll blame it on the 7 hour time difference.
     
  5. Edge

    Edge AH Veteran

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    19 June, Day 1: Arrival at Mpunzi Lodge

    Alarm goes off at 5am, and we begin to get dress. I look at Michelle and ask her why she’s not putting her hunting clothes on? “We will have time to do that later” she says, ahh no. Put your hunting clothes on! With that settled, we head downstairs and have a quick breakfast of bacon, eggs, sausage, mushrooms and toast as we need to depart by 0615 to catch our flight. Willard drives us to the airport and it turns out he is Gilbert’s brother! Very nice guys originally from Zimbabwe.

    We arrive at Port Elizabeth, grab our bags and are met by Marius and Graham. Marius is staying to pick up Mike and RBF who are coming in about an hour behind us on the SAA flight. Graham is going to drive us to Grahamstown to meet up with Louw. We enjoy a Wimpy burger lunch with Graham and talk about hunting and learn he is Louw’s brother-in-law. Louw pulls up with Michelle, a quick intro, and it looks like the two Michelle’s hit it off instantly. We transfer bags to the bakkie and we are off to Mpunzi Lodge!

    Beautiful hilly country and we start seeing animals along the road that are foreign to us, Monkeys and Baboons! My wife is excited, she says she wants a life-sized Baboon mount. I think to myself, that is going to cost me dearly and I need to stop showing her pictures of taxidermy. We turn off the paved road and begin the 6km drive to the lodge up a rough dirt road as Louw gives us the commentary on the land around us. How the prickly pear cactus was introduced from Mexico and is now spread all over the area. He warns us about the jumping cactus and we will find out later what those are! We are in Africa and its hot hot hot outside, mid to upper 80’s and the wind is now howling and gusting 20-30+ mph. Where is winter? The Eastern Cape has been in severe drought conditions for some time now and there is a lot of brown, not like the older beautiful green pictures I had seen on-line from hunt reports from a few years ago.

    We pull through the gate and immediately see a gray mongoose and follow the road until we arrive at the lodge and meet Nicole, I’ll call her the lodge manager. Turns out Nicole is Graham’s girlfriend! She shows us to our room where we assemble some kit and hurry out as we want to hit the range and become familiar with Louw’s suppressed A-bolt 300 WinMag. Louw has a new lot of ammunition and wants to verify it shoots the same. This turned into some back and forth to the targets and five or six shots from the two of us. It was tough holding the rifle in the bags with the gusting winds and dust. Satisfied enough, and its roughly 2:30 local, Louw says the magic words, shall we take a drive around the area? I was probably grinning from ear to ear at the sound of those words!

    We pile in the Bakkie with Lindile the tracker and Zeiss, Tasco and Stormer in the back and raring to go and we begin our hunting adventure! We drive back towards the lodge from the range and continue on past and see our first Impala. The animals are skittish due to the heat and wind, Louw wants to get to a vantage point to overlook the valley due to the heat and wind. We follow the track and then turn left down a steep trail that overlooks the valley you can see from the lodge. Louw comes to a halt and throws up his binoculars, I quickly do the same and even I can see some big bodies feeding down across the valley in a clearing on the other side. They are in the deep shadows slowly moving and feeding, one two and now three. Louw and I talk about the animals we are seeing and he says female Waterbuck, we continue to glass and study the shadows as the sun continues its descent casting deep shadows. A Kudu pokes his head, then neck and shoulders out of the thick bush. Louw and Lindile whisper to each other, Louw says there is a big waterbuck bull. I didn’t see him but these guys know their business and we bail out of the bakkie, I load the rifle and we begin the descent down the steep hill. The rocks and soil are loose and I try to keep as quiet as possible while also trying to keep up with Louw.

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    We sneak down the road approximately 250 yards before cutting off to our right and step into the African bush. For the first time, I can truly understand what the Eastern Cape bush is really like and its pretty simple. Everything wants to stick you with something, I swear those branches and cactus reach out and grab you! Didn't take long to find a jumping cactus!

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    Did I mention it was hot out? Not as much wind down in the valley in the thick bush. I can feel the sweat rolling down my legs, my lightweight wool shirt is doing its best to keep me cool. Louw is quickly disappearing into the bush in front of us. How does he navigate this jungle, stooping low under branches, contorting his body around thorns and cactus? Michelle and I do our best to keep up while staying as quiet as we can. We wind our way down through the bush while angling across the hill. Surprisingly there are some open areas in the thick bush, only because its rock and nothing can grow. We can only get close to Louw as he stops to glass across the valley and then he is off again, winding his way through the bush. After probably 20 minutes of this stalking we come to a rocky opening with a few bushes growing out of the rock. Louw is peering through his binoculars and says “too many eyes” referring to the female Waterbuck and Kudu on the other side.


    He proceeds down and back to our left, we follow as best we can. Another few minutes pass and we find Louw in another opening, he motions us to move slowly as he peers around a bush with his binoculars. I approach him and he whispers again, too many eyes. We now head straight uphill then curve back to our left and end up in the rocky opening we had left a few minutes ago before heading downhill.

    Louw slowly makes his way across the rocky opening to the far side, about 15 yards or so, he motions me to follow as I stand frozen behind a lone bush. I stoop low and come forward as the sticks are now up. I motion to Michelle to stay where she is behind a bush as I slowly put the gun up in the sticks for the first time. Louw whispers to me, “he is on the other side in the dark shadows, do you see him?” I am looking through the Zeiss Diavari 3-12 x 56 Classic scope and find him. Louw has positioned the sticks behind the bush, I ask him if I’m going to hit the branch in front of us. He says no, we are good. I have my doubts but again, trust the professional.

    The Waterbuck bull has across the valley, probably 100 to 125 yards in the deep shadows. He is facing slightly downhill with his body pointing to the left. I am very conscious to not shoot behind the shoulder on these African species as I have studied Kevin Robertson’s The Perfect Shot II for the past year. I push the crosshairs up the front leg but the Bull has his head turned to the left covering the vital zone! I am really trying to control my breathing, my heart is pumping, I’m covered in sweat from the heat and the long stalk. What seems like an eternity was probably now more than 20 seconds.

    Since I was a kid, I was always infatuated with the Waterbuck. Of all the antelope species this is really the one I wanted to harvest the most. The thick shaggy gray coats with the white markings on the face, what a majestic animal. The first day, the first 2 hours in Africa hunting and I’m lined up on this regal animal. Is this a dream?

    The bull swings his head out of the way and I instantly fire a shot and can see the bull is hit through the scope and tell Louw he is hit. The bull begins to slowly climb the steep hill and mingles with the females. Louw tells me to shoot him again if I can, but just the few degrees I have to tilt the scope up puts it in di line of sight with the now setting sun and whites out the scope. I don’t want to shoot with the females there and can barely see him go behind a large bush and then lose sight of him. The females linger a minute or two as we wait to see if he moves out behind the bush but nothing. My wife snapped this photo as we were waiting, I believe the female looking to the right is watching the bull behind the bush.

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    The females finally decide they have had enough and move away. We wait a few more minutes but with the setting sun we move down the hill and across the dry creek bed and up the other side coming out to the right of where I had taken the shot. We climb up to an access road that ran parallel to the hillside and was slightly above where the bull was last seen. We move slowly along the road, rifle scope turned down to a low power as we are intently focused, looking for any movement or sign of the bull. Two bulls then bolt across the road and Louw says they are young and not my bull. The mind then starts playing things over, did I make a bad shot and he is just wounded. I need to concentrate. My heart is pounding.

    We are now directly above where we had last seen the bull, we slowly start down the hill and we hear rocks clattering and I can see a set of horns through the top of the thick African bush running almost directly away to my left. No shot.


    Louw spins and races back uphill throwing the sticks down as I follow, we are now back on the road and we ready ourselves to see if he crosses the road in front of us. Louw has a glock in his hand and cycles a round in the chamber as I am also ready with the rifle. We no longer hear the bull crashing through through the bush and all is now quiet. We go back and check where the bull had exploded from, good blood and lots of it and it’s of good color.

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    Louw radios for Lindile and the dogs who are in the bakkie on the other side and up the hill from where we started. Louw explains the dogs will follow the blood trail and hopefully bay the Waterbuck and we will be able to get a shot before we lose the last few mintues of light. An eternity passes until Lindile and the dogs arrive, the shadows growing longer every passing minute. The dogs arrive and they quickly track the bull and find him about 70 yards away. No follow-up shot needed!

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    My first African animal, Michelle and I pay our respects and thank him. What a magnificent animal, our Waterbuck!

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    Now to get him out of the thick bush, reinforcements arrive and we get him into the bakkie.

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    And the photo shoot,
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    What a way to begin our Safari!

    more to follow...
     
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  6. Edge

    Edge AH Veteran

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    Day 1 Continued:

    I can't seem to let go of the Waterbuck quite yet, I can't get enough of the shaggy coat and the musky odor . Michelle heads back to the lodge with Graham and I ride with Louw to the skinning shed to watch the master skinners at work. I try to help by holding the light of my phone as they worked the cape down over the front shoulders and neck, this beauty is going to end up as a shoulder mount in our living room! I was probably more of a hindrance than help, but I felt like I had to do something.

    Michelle takes a great shot of the last of the light as she was headed back to the Mpunzi Lodge. Clouds moving in, was the weather going to change? I hoped so. P6191368.JPG

    Louw finally pry's me away from the skinning shed and we head to the lodge as dinner is awaiting.

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    The smell of cooking pork chops over the hot coals made me realize how hungry I was!

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    The table was set and a lovely bottle of Dry Red South African wine adorns the table, it wouldn't be the last that night.

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    We talk about the days adventure and discuss the upcoming spa day again. After todays heart pounding stalk and harvest, Michelle doesn't want to miss a moment of time in the bush with me, to the point of contemplating cancelling the spa day!

    Happy Independence Day everyone!

    Edge
     
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  7. Ridgewalker

    Ridgewalker AH Elite

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    And a happy Independence Day to you too sir! I'm enjoying your report.
     
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  8. cagkt3

    cagkt3 GOLD SUPPORTER AH Fanatic

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    As the best way to celebrate Independence Day, might I suggest a marathon session at the computer finishing this report!!:whistle:
     
  9. Edge

    Edge AH Veteran

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    I've been at it since 4:30 this morning, still on Africa time!

    Here's a good shot showing his curve and symmetry without my ugly mug detracting from the pic:

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  10. cagkt3

    cagkt3 GOLD SUPPORTER AH Fanatic

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    Haha fair enough. Very nice waterbuck - and I agree, much better looking without your ugly mug!:D:D
     
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  11. adgunner

    adgunner AH Fanatic

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    Edge, congrats on a fine Waterbuck ... eagerly anticipating the rest of the report!
     
  12. CAustin

    CAustin BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Ambassador

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    Glad you had a good time and got some excitement following the Waterbuck. Good report so far so keep it coming.
     
  13. slam8031

    slam8031 AH Veteran

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    Great waterbuck sir!!
     
  14. johnnyblues

    johnnyblues AH Legend

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    Great report so far and congratulations on some fine animals. Keep it coming...I leave August 18 th to hunt with Marius.
     
  15. Nyati

    Nyati AH Ambassador

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    Good going, so far...
     
  16. Edge

    Edge AH Veteran

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    20 June, Day 2: Kudu Hunt and an unexpected surprise!

    Morning Hunt

    Alarm goes off at 5am, we are a little groggy from the jet lag and I believe Michelle may really have enjoyed the South African wine the evening prior as it is very good. We dress hurriedly for breakfast as the cold has slowly penetrated the walls throughout the night. The weather has changed!!! There is no heat in the lodge, only the two of us and an electric blanket at night. I get my kit together and step outside into an overcast predawn, the temperature is in the upper 40’s but the wind is still with us, but not as strong around 10 – 12 mph.

    I walk into the lodge and start the coffee pot and sit down and begin to jot down my notes from the previous day. Mike and RBF come in soon after followed by Marius while Nicole wrestles with preparing us breakfast. Michelle joins us and a good hot cup of coffee helps her along. Marius tells me we are going to a great Kudu place this morning and my excitement mounts. We gobble down the eggs, bacon, toast and hot tomato slices. What a life!

    Louw comes in and grabs some breakfast while Michelle and I go to our room, I grab my kit that I had laid out and tell Michelle to hurry. We are going to drive to another area and need to get moving. Marius, Mike and RBF are already gone as Louw is waiting for us in the lodge. We climb into the bakkie already loaded with Lindile, Zeiss, Tasco and Stormer and head out for the first full day of hunting. As we approach the gate to leave the property, Michelle says she left her camera in the room. I don’t say a word and Louw doesn’t touch the brakes. Maybe a lesson on prepping your kit needs to be silently emphasized (I love you honey!). We drive about 30 minutes and enter another game farm, Lindile opens the gate and we are through. The sun has risen but the sky is dark and mostly gray with scattered clouds. We aren’t but a few minutes through the gate and off to our right stands a nice bull Nyala, with one of the few rays of sun lighting him up! He’s not on my list but maybe will be some day as we stop and get a few seconds worth of viewing before he turns and leaves in a hurry.

    We stop at the farmhouse and pick up the local guide/tracker and he hops in the rear of the bakkie with the now regular contingent. We set off down the dirt track, Kudu is the focus today. The overcast cool morning and wind is making it a slow morning as we crawl through valley and begin to ascend in elevation as the mountain top frames the horizon. We finally spot some game, Giraffe and Zebra hightailing it away from us, parallel to the mountain ridge.

    We slow and watch them make their way through the thick bush, the road soon turns and heads in that direction but the giraffe have probably spooked most of the game. There isn’t much choice and we turn left about two thirds of the way up the mountain and begin our parallel course down of the mountain ridge. We get some great views of the Giraffe as they push along in front of us. Apologize for the poor phone pics, someone forgot to bring the camera!

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    We stop in a few places, walk a few hundred yards and we all begin glassing the vast and rugged areas in front of us.

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    I can hear Louw talking quietly to the guides as they spot a few animals, female kudu, female this female that. I can’t see a thing! Louw has to talk me through the location and I finally think I can see an animal, these guys are good. We repeat this a few times, drive a bit until we can get close to a good glassing location, hike in to a vantage point and slowly begin to glass. I bet we covered 3-4 miles of country of driving and glassing looking for the elusive gray ghost. The cool overcast morning and spooked giraffe and zebra certainly weren’t helping.

    We finally work our way past the giraffe and start down a ridgeline when a dark shape with horns bounds away. I point it out to Louw as he is looking in a different direction and the animal darts across the road in front of us from right to left, Bushbuck! He looks good to me and must have also for Louw as he turns the engine off as we drift to a halt. He whispers out the window to the trackers and decides we should go take a peak. There is tall thick bush off to our left and the hill breaks away quite steeply, the chances the bushbuck is still close probably pretty low. We quietly exit the bakkie and walk back up the road a few yards before following Louw and local tracker into the bush while Lindile stays in the bakkie with the three dogs.

    Wow, this is thick bush as we try and pick our way through and after 20 yards or so has fallen off and is getting very steep. Louw and the local tracker are much faster at navigating than Michelle or I, we were concentrating on being quiet. Slow is smooth and smooth is fast I kept thinking to myself. We have now turned to the right and begin to parallel the ridgeline above us when Louw sets up the sticks and motions me to come over to him. I set the A-bolt into the cradle and Louw whispers his location to me, I quickly find the dark chocolate shape partially obscured by brush about 40 yards away up the hill from our position. Louw tells me I can shoot, but I can’t make out which is end is which! I quietly and calmly ask Louw which end is his head, he whispers back his head is to the right and is behind a dense set of brush. I can clearly see his rump and about a third of the way forward. I move the Zeiss crosshairs to the right, there, a small hole through the bush. It looks forward enough it won’t be a gut shot and I should be able to catch the lungs, liver at the worst and both very fatal shots.

    On the sticks

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    I do not want a wounded bushbuck for the PH to deal with, they have lost three dogs over the past year, being gored by the sharp horns of the aggressive bushbuck. I exhale and squeeze the trigger and can see the bushbuck go down instantly. We give the animal a few minutes as Louw studies for movement with his binoculars as I chamber a fresh round, I’m not taking any chances. We proceed forward and there he is, a beauty!

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    I thank Louw and the tracker for executing a flawless stalk. Louw and tracker head back up to the bakkie to give Michelle and I some alone time with our quarry. The white spots on the rear quarter of the chocolate colored hide, the white splashes on this face. The dark, heavy and very sharp horns, we take a few pictures and just take in his beauty.

    The trackers arrive and I grab a hind leg and we wrestle him through the bush to find a proper place for some additional photos. Louw tells me we had only a 5-10% chance of even seeing this guy. He believes the bushbuck was focused on the bakkie with the dogs in the back, giving us a chance to sneak around and come up from below and execute the stalk.

    01fbd4d6b5558c7b7d7ff42a8cd38e066d330b8067_00001.jpg

    It’s only nine in the morning and with about 4 hours of hunting have now taken two of the top three animals! We load up and continue our search for the elusive Kudu. We continue driving, walking and glassing for the next 2 hours with only females or small bulls sighted. We do see some other game, waterbuck and some eland. We are headed up a steep hill with a deep ravine off to our left and I tell Louw there is a big dark animal bedded in the bottom. He stops and does a double take, pulls out his binoculars and says big bushbuck! He originally thought it was a Nyala as he was almost coal black with a very impressive set of sinister looking black horns.

    I turn and ask my wife who is riding in the back seat if she would like to try and make a stalk on him. She contemplated for a bit and decided no, so we moved on up the steep road and rounded the bend. Louw said he was a very large bushbuck, bigger than the one I had taken about 2 hours previously! I’m thinking I should have made a try for him, who gets to see two shooter bushbuck in a span of two hours? We move on, watching some zebra and head back to the farmhouse to skin the bushbuck for a shoulder mount and get him cooled down. More to come on the afternoon portion of the hunt!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 6, 2017
    adgunner, Dr Ray, enysse and 4 others like this.
  17. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR GOLD BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

    Joined:
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    Nice ram.

    You may be sleeping on the couch to get a return lesson about that camera!
     
  18. MarkD

    MarkD AH Senior Member

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Springfield Oregon
    Hunted:
    South Africa,Alaska,Oregon,Washington and Florida
    Looking forward to the next next chapter!!!
     
  19. gillettehunter

    gillettehunter AH Legend

    Joined:
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    I love hunting Bushbuck. You have a very handsome ram there. Congrats on stalking in on him. You are certainly having a fast start to your safari. I rarely have that happen to me. A little surprised you didn't take the 2nd one too. Looking forward to the rest of your report. Bruce
     
  20. reedy0312

    reedy0312 AH Legend

    Joined:
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    US (All over), New Zealand, South Africa(Northern Cape, Northwest), Zimbabwe
    Congrats on the waterbuck and bushbuck! Look forward to more!
     

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