SOUTH AFRICA: Kuche Safaris Via Bayete Group

JDMonson

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This whole adventure began in the fall of 2018 when some friends of our had the winning bid on an auction at an NRA banquet. Fast forward to January 2019 when my wife said “hey lets go to Africa with them, see if your parents can watch the kids for 10 days” now let me tell you as soon as the word parents came out of her mouth I was on the phone getting the first part of this adventure checked off the list! From there I went forward getting everything ready that I could think of from paperwork to ammunition. By the middle of February, we had our date set, August 23rd was the day we would head to Johannesburg for our hunt.

The Hunt up for auction that night was presented by the Bayete Group, it is a fairly young operation that is finding their way in and around the world of African safaris. As we got our deposit in and sent them many questions via email, text and calls we were getting more excited by the day to get off the ground and on our way to Africa. The day came and we were off on Delta from Chicago through Atlanta to Joburg. As we landed, we were greeted at the gate by a gentleman from the Afton Safari Lodge and off to baggage claim and the SAPS office. For all those travelling with weapons Mr. X is the man even though he had me in a panic at first when he told me he did not have my information and I would have to wait in line, my last name sounds different then how its spelled and with the crowd that was in the office he didn’t hear my name. Twelve really long minutes passed by as I waited behind 3 others trying to get through the old-fashioned way, he came over to me and says I guess I do have it after all! Five minutes later I was pulling my SKB double stack out of the office and to the shuttle to the Afton. As a newcomer to Africa The Afton was a great first stop rather then driving 4 hours through the night to camp, to fill our stomachs and get a great night’s sleep.

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The plan was to catch up on sleep and get adjusted to the time change and travel from WI to South Africa and meet up with our PH later in the afternoon and head off to camp. As we were in the middle of eating our breakfast a Gentleman walked into the dining room and we were told he was there to pick us up and head to camp, except he was 10 hours early and not at the arrivals terminal where we were told we would meet him. After about a three-minute span and shoveling the rest of my plate down we got it straightened out and we were getting our bags packed up and loaded into his truck and headed north. Now this was not the first surprise of the day but it was a good one.
 
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JDMonson

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On the four-hour drive to camp the four of us kept Frikkie my wife and I’s Ph for the week busy answering questions about everything we had instore for the week. We made a quick pit stop about 40 minutes from camp so he could meet up with his wife and grab a few essentials for the week it was a very needed stop as having been crammed in three wide in the back seat of a Toyota hilux for three hours I needed to stretch a minute.

As we made the last push to camp and got just up to the gate an uneasy feeling came over four out of the five in the truck. We were parked in front of a sign that read Kuche Safaris, not the camp we thought we would be at, we rolled with it and got our stuff unloaded and settled in with instructions to meet up with our two Ph’s Carl and Frikkie in the lodge about an hour later to plan out our week. After a couple emails being sent off back to Bayete on what was going on we all headed to the lodge to get it all figured out. As I had stated earlier Bayete is young in its pursuit of putting together safaris into Africa and in the midst of all the emails and calls the two weeks prior to getting on a plane, somewhere it was not reiterated to us that they had placed us into Kuche Safaris for the week rather then where we thought we were headed. Miscommunication at its finest a few thousand miles from home can get a guy a little wound up. As we sat down to plan out the week we got the first half of the story and that was, our hunt was to take place with Kuche for a couple reasons but the number one reason was the hunting. Where we originally thought we were going had been hunted hard since March and as there was still game to be had, where we were at held a much better opportunity for us. Suffice it to say that eased us a little for the time being. Off to the rifle range to check our scopes the other couple used their Ph’s .308; I had brought along my .30-06 and my wife’s .260 rem. Five shots later we were all ready to go.

We were not thinking were going to be hunting on that day as I stated above we thought we would still be in Joburg until later in the day so this got us pretty excited we had about a 20 minute drive to the concession and as soon as we got in the gate I knew we were in the right place! The other couple got off to a fast start the first evening they were able to get on a great impala and wildebeest. My wife and I got on a couple good stalks but as luck would have it as she was closing the last 50 yards needed on her Gemsbok the wind shifted and as the week went on this became a theme in our truck!
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JDMonson

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As I am thinking back on these hunts that are fresh in my mind I can not even begin to describe the amount of effort, kindness and professionalism that everybody from the skinners to the chef to the owner of Kuche Safaris showed to not only the four of us, but everyone in camp while we were there. I didn’t list the Ph’s in that last group because words can not define the way they handle their job if there are any “guides” that are on here from the states that have not been to Africa to see how they work, you need to make an effort to get there just to see for yourself what it means to be a Professional Hunter!!!

Day two or as in my house we call it “Sunburn Monday” we got off to a great start got right into the action it started with a quick stalk or twenty that all ended the same way the wind switching every 30 seconds and us watching the south end of north bound game. The other couple with us just had to keep their action going with a great Blesbok and Gemsbok before the coffee in their yeti’s were gone and back to camp they went well before lunch.
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About three o’clock in the afternoon we finally put together a stalk on 2 blesboks that seemed to be working got to within 100 yards put up the sticks Frikkie said wait for them not to be stacked just as they moved instead of holding between the two trees I followed the first ones shoulder and bang first “tree buck” in Africa down!! We both got a little chuckle out of it hurried up to the spot just to be sure I got all wood and I catch something moving about 160 yards out they were just walking away put the sticks up again and let another 180 grain bullet out of the barrel with a much better result then the first time and the ice was broken!
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Just about the time we have the pictures taken care of and the Blesbok loaded up the other half of our group made it back out to go after a zebra for the afternoon and we were back after a Gemsbok for my wife. Again, we hunted hard the rest of the afternoon but again wind switching and kudu cows barking at us kept us from getting close enough to make a clean shot at anything the rest of the afternoon. The other truck got on a great Zebra about 5ish that afternoon.
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JDMonson

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Tuesday morning came and as we were grabbing something to eat for breakfast, we decided to switch it up as we were still reeling from the sunburn and 11 miles of walking we did Monday we headed to a watering hole to get on an impala for my wife. We had pretty steady action from the time we got into the blind a lot of young rams and ewes coming in to drink and about a dozen little lizards running around the blind which had my wife second guessing her decision about going on a hunt in Africa! About 830 that morning a couple of nice rams were working there way our direction. As the first one to break into the clearing stopped, she put a great shot on him and he ran just out of sight. Frikkie called in the tracker as where we were also had buffalo and he wanted to have all hands-on deck before we went wandering off into the bush.
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We had just gotten everything with the ram taken care of and got a message from the other Ph that they had a big cape 20 yards away from them at a watering hole about 3 miles away from our position and asked if we could work that way a little bit just in case. After about an hour of silence our radio started to chatter and our PH had the tracker stop the truck looked at us and said hold on they have big trouble and we need to get there fast! As we pulled up Eric one of our hunting partners eyes were as big as saucers and all he says is “its huge” we all find out it’s a huge eland with a shot that’s just a bit high and we were off in pursuit. His PH led the way to the point of the shot and the trackers took over from there 100 yards up the trail he split off and circled way out to our right and the rest of us stayed on the track about 90 seconds later a rifle reports ahead and to the left of us and we all caught a glimpse of the 2000+ pound bull running away and to the right of us. The chase was on from there running in sand hearing another shot go off our hearts were in overdrive. After the 4th shot into the bull he slowed down enough to put a final one right where it was needed. From the point of the first shot to the final shot we had went about a mile and 1000 grains of lead! Pictures don’t do this 100” Eland justice but its all I have.
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After cutting a road into the bush for the truck,getting him loaded up and putting my wife’s impala into their truck to make the hour long drive back to the skinning shed we headed for an evening sit for a gemsbok. About 515 that night we had a beautiful female come in and as our PH told her as soon as she stops take the shot and that’s just what she did. We got to watch her go down about 25 yards from the edge of the watering hole.
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I will get to the rest of the week tomorrow.
 
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gesch

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Congratulations! It’s good to hear that if things are changed up it can be for the good. I think your attitude of rolling with things is very important. Great looking animals. Congratulations again from a fellow Wisconsonite. (I live in Cedar Grove). I’m looking forward to the rest of the report.
 

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Congrats on the start of the hunt! Thanks for sharing!
 

LivingTheDream

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Sounds like an awesome trip!!! Have you planned your 2nd trip yet?
 

JDMonson

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As another spectacular sunrise broke the horizon Wednesday morning over a cup of coffee my Ph looked at me and says are you ready to get that kudu we chased two days ago and all I did was smile. Now a kudu has been on my mind since I was old enough to read and flip through hunting magazines and other books with animals from around the world and I was going to fulfill that dream. We were off to the concession a short while later but this was going to be a different kind of hunt as both of our Ph’s and all four of us were going out together because we wanted to get it on camera. After arriving we parked one truck and all got into one to make our way to the back end of the concession but we didn’t make it 500 yards and there were fresh tracks on the smooth road so off we went. I am going to say its just dumb luck or the reward for helping our good friend the day before with his eland but we spotted my bull just 63 yards out in front of us after a short walk still laying in his bed and before I knew it I had my hands on this beautiful animal.
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Right after we got everything loaded up after pictures and gave my wife a kiss, she tells me she wants to go after a zebra seeing how it wasn’t even 9 o’clock and the heat wasn’t on us yet we parked the truck in the shade and off we went. As we cut a track we stopped and I told her to go get her zebra as we didn’t need 6 people running through the bush. My wife our two Ph’s and her good friend with the video camera took off while me and her husband sat under a shade tree scheming up a plan to get back to Africa as soon as possible. After about an hour and a half and possibly a short nap on my part we heard the report of a rifle that got our attention. After about 10 minutes we got a call on the radio with instructions on how to walk towards them. Now you must take in mind my wife has hunted whitetail with me twice in the 10 years we have been together and has never taken an animal bigger than a mouse on a sticky trap and she now has her third animal in the salt in South Africa!!! Walking up to her still full of emotion for taking such a beautiful animal I couldn’t have been more proud of her.
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After a great break for lunch and getting the animals to the skinning shed, we made a plan to get back after it at about 3 that afternoon. That afternoons hunt was going to be much different from the others as we were going out after some meat for an orphanage, this was something set up and offered from Bayete, we also had 200lbs worth of checked luggage full of children’s clothes to donate to them as well. On the list that night was a female Impala and wildebeest. Eric was up first after the impala after a quick ride on the truck we had a group spotted and got on them quick within 10 min we had a female impala in the truck. Next I was up for a female wildebeest this did not happen nearly as fast we walked a couple kilometers to cut the herds tracks then regrouped and got back in the truck to get in front of them. After getting into a wind favorable position we set up the sticks and hoped they made their way to within range. After what seemed like an hour of anticipation which was only truly five minutes they broke through a tree line 100 yards away and the one in the lead got the nod. It was a truly amazing day from sunrise to sunset!!!!
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JDMonson

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Thursday morning was filled with anticipation as our hunting partners were after a giraffe which wasn’t on any of our lists prior to the day before at about 230 or so! We got the trucks loaded up and hooked up a trailer to drag along just to be prepared for the morning. After a couple long walks to check out a group of females only to find them with calves at their side we headed to another area to find a single adult female. Along the way we came to find an old bull that was full of scars on his neck and what caught Our Ph’s eye was the scars on his chest from fighting with the neighbors and in the process breaking the fence on multiple occasions, we had seen him fighting the first evening over the fence with another bull. We got into position and she made a spectacular shot on him and before we knew it we had this magnificent animal down.
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After the giraffe we reevaluated our lists and decided to take the rest of the afternoon off and to chase my springbok early the next morning to finish off our first trip to Africa. I wish there was a great story and stalk behind my springbok but it was a quick safari truck hunt and before we knew it we all got to enjoys the sweet smell of a beautiful animal. Per our Ph’s instructions as soon as the springbok was in the dirt, we all took off with cameras ready to get one of the most spectacular sights caught on camera.
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This is the first time I have put together this much into any kind of hunting report but hopefully not the last!!! I hope any of you that do read this enjoy it and if you have any questions on either the Bayete Group who had this hunt offered on the NRA auction or Kuche Safaris who provided one of the memorable hunts to us, feel free to message me.

Justin
 

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Glad your adventure worked out.
Congratulations on your trophies and I hope this is not your last report.
 

huntermn15

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Thank you for posting the report and photos. I'm glad it all worked out in the end!
 

gesch

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I enjoyed your report. Well done on the hunt and the report!
 

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Excellent recovery from all the changes! You and your wife did great! Some fine trophies! Some fine gifts for the kids! What more could a good couple do?

Thanks for sharing your adventure with us! And, best of luck on your next Africa adventure!
 

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I enjoyed a great 10 days at Kuche, with my brother. My PH, Pieter was incredible. Khomu our tracker taught me what a tracker really was. Looks like you all had a great hunt! Certainly have some incredible trophies to share with your family. The memories will hold you for a while, but as with most of us, I'm sure a second trip is going to be needed.
 

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A great report. I enjoy reading about hunts where the gals get their "licks" in as well. BTW that just about assures future trips to Africa.
 

cls

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Congratulations to all on a very successful safari, welcome to the African addiction club. Thanks for the report.
 

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