SOUTH AFRICA: Kwalata Wilderness Hunt Report

JacoS

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I was asked by Amanda to please post this report on her behalf.


Queen of Beasts!



A little more than an hour of daylight remained and the hunting clock was running out. For the past three days, we had worked our way along an endless series of dirt tracks that cut through a vast tangle of mesquite in search of nilgai antelope bulls. While there were plenty of nilgai, getting close to what had proven to be an extremely wary animal was difficult to say the least.

My dad has given, Mom (Harriet), my husband (Jerry) and my self some amazing hunting trips for Christmas over the last few years. We have been to Alaska for black bear (I shot the largest), Colorado for elk (I took the biggest) and most recently South Africa. Harriet was going specifically for a Sable, Jerry was going specifically for a lion and I wanted to shoot anything that walked. Ultimately I decided my main focus would be a lioness and something with my bow.

We flew out of Corpus Christi in May, spent the first day of travel in New York City and got up bright and early for our flight to Johannesburg. Once we arrived in South Africa, got through customs and located my bow (we chose to rent firearms from our outfitter) we headed out of the airport. I was praying our professional hunter was there, this was our first trip out of the country specifically to hunt, and I was worried. However, there was nothing to be nervous about, when I rounded the corner Jaco Strauss with Kwalata Wilderness was standing there waving and smiling. I could feel the worry and concern lift off my shoulders. The plan was to send our luggage by car to the lion camp and we would take a charter flight with Jaco and Reinhard Heuser (owners of Kwalata Wilderness). Eventually we got to the camp after a minor technical difficulty, a sick Mom and landing on a dirt runway. Oh the experiences we have.

Our first night at the Lion camp we sighted in rifles, Jerry and I used a 375 H and H and Harriet was using their 270, and shared our first meal together. The next morning the adventures began with signing a waiver of liability. I was expecting that, hunters sign waivers at our ranch (Lonesome Coyote Ranch), too. I was not expecting that the last line would read, “You acknowledge that you will be in the Death Zone of an animal”. Jerry just signs it and says lets go hunting. I read the whole thing, sign and then rethink this plan. I actually pulled Jerry into our room and told him, I was not going to die hunting some animal.

He along with Jaco and Jacques our Professional Hunters convinced me to get in the vehicle and we will have a grand time.
They all got “the look”, the one that says stop the BS or I will chew you up one side and down the other.
You all know “the look”; yep they all recognized it, too. Despite that, we loaded up in their ToyotaLand Cruiser and headed out for the first hunt.

I did make them all promise that if the lioness charged they would help me put her down because I was not very comfortable shooting a moving target.

It is always so interesting to learn how other places hunt. For this excursion, they tied a huge tractor tire to the back of the Cruiser and drag the road; it is like snake hunting on a large scale.

In the morning no fresh tracks were found but after lunch they found a huge fresh track, decided it was a male so Jerry was up. Jerry got out with Jaco and Jacques, three trackers and a videographer.

Off they went into the brush tracking this lion. Mom and I stayed in the vehicle with our PH and we continued to drag the roads keeping pressure on the cat as Jerry’s entourage tracked him. The goal of a successful lion hunt is to get the Lion to turn and fight or climb into a tree.

Several times over the course of the afternoon we would cross paths with the group, give them water and encouraging words. The last time we drove off fifty yards down we did a quick U-turn and headed back. Mom and I thought they must have lost the trail but Jerry is standing in the road waving his arms, Jaco stops the truck and says it was a female and we where going to take her.
I got out of the truck, Reinhard is taking my glasses and scarf, Jerry is handing me the rifle and now I am heading into the brush. There was no time to think about the “death zone” or the danger.

I walk up to the area where the group is, three trackers, PH's a videographer and me. They ask if I see her, all I see is a huge yellow blob in the three. This provokes a lengthy discussion about where I should shoot her, where her shoulder is and that if I am not sure of the shot not to take it (I so wanted to say no joke do you not remember my opinion about this eight hours ago). Anyway, it was difficult to make sure because she is all yellow, there are tree branches in the way and they keep suggesting following her tail up to her front shoulder. Problem is that is a lengthy distance between the base of her tail and her front shoulder.

Someone in the group finally whistled and she put her front paw up and over another tree branch. This got us all on the same page about her front shoulder, I was correct the whole time, and the time has arrived. I got her shoulder in my sights, took the gun off safety, Reinhard put his hand on my back and told me I had this and I squeezed the trigger.

She fell out of the tree with a huge thud and everyone (5 grown men) are all yelling to shoot her again, shoot her again. So I reloaded and squeezed a second time. That shot hit the bloody tree and the lioness was gone. The PH’s all said it was a good shot because of how she hit the ground and when she ran away her tail was up. Congratulations all around and adrenaline pumping, what a rush. Then they spring on me that we would wait ten minutes and go find her. I was thinking ten minutes, holy crap; we wait thirty minutes with a whitetail. Ten minutes go by and off we go. They want me to have a bullet in the chamber and the gun off safety so that I am ready if she charges. Well, they start getting ahead of me, because I am lolly gagging around, when one of the PH’s comes back grabs me by the shirt and says come on we are all here just be ready we are on each side of you. HUMPH! Maybe fifty yards from the tree they see here, I am trying to figure out how to shoot close range through the scope, I know idiot, then realize that I can shoot from the hip because we are that close. Jaco nudges her with his foot and she was dead. One shot and I put down a 380 lb. lioness.

It was a great start to an amazing hunt and worth being in the “death zone”, especially since Jerry tracked her and I had no time to think about the situation!!

Jerry was up next for his lion. That took five days of tracking before he was ready to turn and fight and it took Jerry four shots to put the 500lb. male on the ground.

Yes! I rub it in that I put my cat down with one shot and it took him four to put his cat on the ground. The joys of teaching your wife the love of hunting!

The afternoon of the fifth day we took a second charter plane to Kwalata Wildernesses primary camp.

Yes, we took off and landed on dirt runways, the exciting things we do for a great hunt.

It was now Mom’s turn to put an animal on the ground and the first evening she shot a nice warthog right between the eyes.

We are a competitive family and the score was one each. Now Jerry said the only thing he wanted to take was a big lion, so I really thought he would be done. Not so much though. The minute he saw a big impala he had the rifle and shot before I could even begin to say it was my turn. Ultimately, Jerry also took a nice Kudu, a zebra, and a blesbuck. Mom got her black Sable, the largest ever taken on Kwalata Wilderness. She also took a zebra, an impala, a blesbuck, a tsessebe, a monkey, and a blue wildebeest. I am pretty sure that whatever Auntie Harriet wanted to shoot, Reinhard made sure it was accomplished. Just what a great PH is supposed to do.

Jerry and I hunted together with our amazing PH Jaco Strauss, Hunting is always a challenge on Kwalata wilderness and especially with Jaco he has no mercy!!
One day, we went up a mountain, down the other side, across the valley and back up another mountain.
Now, we are from Texas so they may have been hills but it was lots of hiking and the darn animals evaded us.

By day 3 on Kwalata I shot a nice zebra. The fourth Jerry got his zebra and we learned that a zebra’s stripes are like a humans fingerprint.
Everyone is different, we also tried several times to take a blue wildebeest with my bow but could never get close enough. Ultimately, I thought it was to dark to see my pins, and I changed back to the rifle and put him down with one shot.

Another afternoon we came across a very nice waterbuck that I took in an unusual way. I learned on this trip that Waterbucks have a large white ring around their backsides. When the waterbuck was spotted all we could see was the ring. Jaco says with a straight face shoot him right in the middle of the target!! ??

I asked several times if he was sure, Jaco said yes and I took the shot. Jaco then says that is the Texas Heart shot, I am still pretty sure he was yanking my chain, but I ended up with a beautiful waterbuck.

The only thing left on my to do list for our first trip to South Africa was that I really wanted to take an animal with my bow and eventually during our 14 day hunt that became the focus. Several hunts we sat in different bow blinds but it was early in the season and just like any place you hunt some times are better than others for bow hunting. That being said, the staff at Kwalata and our PH Jaco went above and beyond to help me accomplish this goal.

He had spotted a large warthog coming consistently to a salt lick but there was no blind. So Ryno, another PH/videographer, and several Kwalata staff members went about constructing a blind for us to sit in. I am 5’11” and the PH that went to supervise the construction of the bow blind was all of 5’6”. They measured my draw length but no one thought about my height so when we got to the blind I could barely stand up straight, much less raise my Mathews Chill to the height I needed. This triggered some last minute adjustments and raising one corner allowed for my height. Now it was time to hunt. Not five minutes after we got settled into the blind the warthog we were after was coming out of the brush. He ate and left and came back and finally quartered away. I stood up got him in my peep and released my arrow. The low profile shuttle T Stuck him exactly where I wanted and he was off and running. We waited 20 minutes (twice as long as we did for the lion) and began tracking him. We eventually found him about 100 yards from the blind. His tusks were bigger than my mom’s. My first kill with a bow and something I will always remember.

Our last full day of hunting took us back to my lucky bow blind. Where I saw a beautiful black sable. Everything coming into the blind was extremely skittish this day. Sables, warthogs, elands all would come in but nothing would stay but a few seconds. Eventually, the sable we were after came in but then dated away and stayed in the brush. Finally he quartered away and I sent my arrow right behind his shoulder. The sable ran but eventually he found him and he was gorgeous. When Mom heard that I had taken a sable she was happy but wanted to make sure it was not bigger than hers. It was not but just by an inch.

Mom's sable a great 44" bull and mine 42,5"

Final count, Jerry 4, Amanda 6, Harriet 8., Mom may have won this trip but we will give her a run for her money next time. The animals were all trophy quality, the people were wonderful and the memories priceless.
We definitely will hunt in South Africa again and with Kwalata Wilderness.

Outfitter Kwalata Safaris visit www.Kwalata.com.

Amanda Gray

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BRICKBURN

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Thanks for posting this for Amanda Jaco.

True family dynamic. First, biggest and most.
Amanda must have brothers! :)

Congratulations.
 

JacoS

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Not a single one Wayne she is an only child! :)

My best always... :)
 

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Jaco,

Tell Amanda good report.(y)

Also mention that she needs to join AH!:)
 

JacoS

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I have done so Wheels, she wrote the article as I requested a report while they were hunting, this got sent too a shot of Texas after which she forwarded it to myself and said I should post...

My best always
 

Redruff

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Great report. Thanks for sharing Jaco.

R.
 

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Great report with some fine pics. Pass my congratulations along to the hunters. Those look like some great trophies. Makes for a trip to remember. Bruce
 

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Congrats on the fine hunt. I remember my first time leaving the states to go hunting, thats part of the experience. All the animals are first rate, but really love that waterbuck! Thanks for the post.
 

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Great report and trophies. Thank you for posting it for Amanda.
 

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Nice report and great trophies!
 

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Great report - awesome sables and lion! Great PH - nice job Jaco.
 

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AWESOME REPORT AND READ! Those are some amazing trophies !
 

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congratulations on a great family hunt , Amanda
you guys took some wicked looking trophies .........
 

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Good report and nice cats!
 

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Wow, some great trophies there, that sable is beautiful!!!
 

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What a good reading and report.....awesome trophies.....Bravo....!!!!!
 

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