SOUTH AFRICA: Limcroma Safaris 2021

Brandon.Gleason

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Outfitter: @Limcroma Safaris
PH: Erik
Tracker: Frans
Dates: Sept 1-10, 2021
Rifles: CZ550 300 Win Mag w/ Swarovski Z6 1.7-10, CZ550 375 H&H w/ Swarovski Z6i 1-6, Winchester 70 338 Win Mag w/ Tract Toric HD 3-9
Ammunition: Hand loaded with Barnes TTSX (165, 210, 250gr)

Background: This hunt was purchased as a 2x1 package at our SCI Central CT Chapter auction in June 2020. With the pandemic in mid swing of the first wave, we were optimistic that fall of 2021 would be a safe time to travel. We were correct in the feasibility of travel, though COVID still remains a significant obstacle for travel to many.

Travel: We originally booked through Travel With Guns for JFK-ATL-JNB and return on Delta. In roughly May we were concerned Delta kept cancelling flights month over month from ATL-JNB and booked Qatar as a back up plan (JFK-DOH-JNB). When Delta announced the east one day, west the next route, it did not fit our original travel plans and we were able to obtain a full refund at no cost. TWG handled all of this for us, as well as booking an overnight in Afton House on our day of arrival, lounges in DOH, and gun clearing services.

Arrival at JFK was a bit more than 4 hours prior to our scheduled departure on the night of 29 August. I’m very glad we were so early as Qatar staff took nearly 2 hours to figure out how to check in our rifles for the trip. They were very pleasant, but totally clueless to the process. They took well to some direction from us as to the appropriate process, including the necessity (lack thereof) for temporary export permits from ATF for our rifles. NY/NJ Port Authority and TSA staff was extremely pleasant and off our rifles went to baggage. We arrived at our gate with roughly 1 hour to departure after clearing security only to be called up by CBP for further questioning and an ask to see our temp export permits (easily quelled again) and serial numbers. Being that our rifles were already in the TSA secured area, we had to hand over our gun case keys to the agents for their inspection. They were returned shortly thereafter with photos of our rifles neatly nestled back into their custom fit cases. (All arrived well in JNB).

The flight over to Doha was relatively empty. We booked the backup flight as economy and did not end up upgrading to business. I’m mixed on this decision. While I would’ve liked the Q-Suite for some added sleep, I slept fairly well in the comfortable economy seats and we had a free seat between us for our equipment. Flying out at 1am meant I had a nice meal, a quick cocktail, and dozed off. When we arrived in Doha we were met by the lounge representative and brought to the lounge for our 6 hour layover. This was a worthwhile and pleasant experience with nice bathing facilities and decent food and drink. Our 8.5 hour flight to JNB followed a similar pattern to our original with a good meal and a few hours of sleep. I will say that the timing of flights really allowed us to “step” through the timezones with relatively little jet lag the way our naps timed out. I felt no significant impairment from the time change the entire trip.

Arrival at JNB was very easy with Mr X from Afton meeting us in arrivals and taking us quickly through the SAPS process and then onto Afton where we were met by Elize. We arrived at Afton around noon and didn’t really NEED the extra day, but it was a nice way to ensure a good night sleep before getting to camp in case we DID have jet lag issues. We enjoyed a nice cigar and a few beers around the pool at Afton before a nice dinner with a number of other hunters coming in, including an AH member and one couple who we would spend the next 10 days in camp with.

Day 1:
Transfer to camp was handled in a mini-bus approximately 3 hours and the final hour done by our PH’s to camp.

We were met in camp by a cool drink and shown to our chalets for the week. They were very comfortable accommodations and very pleasant staff. Our PH (Erik) accompanied us over to the shaded range table to check our rifles at 100yds. All were shooting spot on.

We spent the afternoon strolling a nearby property getting to know one and other and seeing how the hunting would be conducted. Being a 2x1 hunt, Greg and I had already established a list of primary wants and a means of splitting shooting opportunities amongst us as they came up. Neither of us were wildly particular and we have hunted together a number of times prior, so this helped significantly.

A note on the properties: Limcroma has access to a huge amount of land. Being RSA, a significant portion of land is high (2.4m) fenced. The smallest property we were on was over 2,000 acres. The largest was over 55,0000. At no point were fences an impediment in our hunt and we both truly felt we hunted our animals. While there was a significant amount of game available, we saw zero tagged animals and did not feel anything was tame based on its environment.

Day 2:
We hunted a property approximately 20 minutes drive from the main camp, encompassing approximately 10,000 acres after a pleasant and filling breakfast at 0530. Mornings were chilly in the 50’s and warming to 80’s most days. Jackets were a staple of the morning rides. Being this was Greg’s first trip over, he had first rites and made an excellent shot on a blesbuck at a touch over 100m.

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After obligatory photos we were off to find another for me. We tracked a small group for almost an hour before a shot opportunity presented itself and resulted in this blesbuck for myself.

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We stopped for lunch at a a(n unoccupied) biltong hunting camp on the property and enjoyed grilled cheese sandwiches stuffed with grilled onions and leftover cape buffalo tenderloin from the night before.

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After lunch we set out on foot from the camp and found a group of 3 zebra. While the stalk wasn’t terrible long, we spent a significant amount of time positioning ourselves to examine trophy quality. Greg placed an excellent shot and this zebra was in the salt.

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Day 3:
We found ourselves on another property along the Crocodile River looking for a zebra for me. There had been a good stallion roaming up and down both sides of the river for a number of months that the PH had been trying to catch up with to no avail. We spent the morning spotting and stalking for him and had no sighting.

After lunch, we travelled to another property (without game fencing) nearby with impala as our primary quarry. We were successful on the first impala for me and after a long stalk (kept bumping) a good impala ram for Greg.

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Day 4:
Today started out on the same property along the Crocodile trying to find our target zebra. We took up a perch on a high point overlooking a nearly dried up tributary of the river and as the zebra came through heading down toward the river, I placed a shot behind his shoulder and he proceeded to travel 150yds into the nastiest bit of thorn in the region.

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The afternoon was spent on the back-side (unfenced) of a very large piece of property abutting the Limpopo River. This property had a beautiful feel to it. We had a quick lunch under the shade of trees along the river before setting out to find kudu. We bumped a number of kudu and an INCREDIBLE amount of bushbuck on this property. Across the river was Botswana and we saw an amazing amount of game across the river, as well. The included waterbuck, kudu, zebra, impala, and bushbuck.

We set up on the far side of a thicket approximately 200x500m and our tracker pushed through from one side towards us with the property manager. They bumped a good kudu around us (without shot opportunity) into another thicket behind us. We re-set for a similar situation on that thicket, but the kudu snuck out towards the river rather than pushing towards us (unbeknownst to us). As we walked back to the truck, our PH and the camp manager saw the kudu walking the edge of the river (on the RSA side) and quickly repositioned us to get in front of him. As he broke cover I placed a shot on his shoulder and a follow up breaking his neck at the junction of the shoulder. He proceeded to roll downhill to the river where we recovered him to a sandbar for photos. While the water wasn’t deep where we were (maybe 1.5’) we did see crocodile further upstream near where we had lunch. This was unnerving to say the least as we recovered him.

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On the way out of the property at dark, we stumbled across maybe the greatest thing we saw the entire trip: a wild pangolin! The PH and property manager were elated. The property manager and his wife had lived in Him and RSA for nearly 50 years and this was only the fourth wild pangolin they had seen in their lives. With their popularity with poachers, I count it as a blessing to have seen one in the wild.

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Day 5:
We returned to the same property we walked the evening of day 1 and spent the morning in an elevated blind. We saw an incredible amount of game and Greg took a fantastic kudu.

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We spent lunch time at the PH’s family property (approximately 2000 aces) and open the afternoon looking for warthog and steenbuck. After a clean miss at approximately 150m, I connected on my second shot with this steenbuck.

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Just before dark, Greg took a common duiker with excellent character to his antlers and moments later I was able to take a second that hung around and was a touch too curious for his own good.

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Day 6:
Day 6 was a long day trying to catch up to either a waterbuck for me or an eland for Greg. We drove the morning with a number of waterbuck cow groups, a few bull groups, and a number of young eland. We stalked the waterbuck bull group but kept getting busted by the wind. We tried the evening at a waterhole in a blind where we were treated to a number of impala (with a few EXCELLENT rams), a few warthog females with young, and right at dark a series of waterbuck. None of the waterbuck were of trophy age and we called the sit off.

Our PH had arranged with a local farmer to try a night hunt with spotlights for bushbuck in the ag fields. This was an incredible amount of fun. We would drive the edges of the fields (large pivots) looking for eyes and trying to establish male vs female through binoculars. We identified a great male who immediately laid down below the level of the crop. We stalked into where we thought he was laying and finally got a glance at him at approximately 10 yards. Given all I had read in the past of the aggression of bushbuck, I won’t say I wasn’t a little on edge. He broke and stopped another 5 yards on where the 375 dropped him with a neck shot (more on this later).

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Day 7:
We spent the morning along the Crocodile River stalking for a bushbuck for Greg. We saw a ton of sign but no males. We did see quite a bit of hippo sign and a number of slides along the river.

The afternoon was spent again looking for waterbuck and eland. We again saw a number of younger waterbuck bulls and young eland until we spotted a great eland bull. Greg placed two shoulder shots and the eland went a max of 40 yards before piling up. Recovery of this behemoth was a sight to be held and included a tip trailer with a winch, some ingenuity and a whole lot of grunt. This animal was the only we didn’t experience a pass through with and both 210gr TTSX’s from Greg’s 338 Win Mag were recovered from this bull under the offside hide, perfectly expanded.

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Day 8:
We spent the entire day looking for waterbuck. The weather was cool and windy in the 50/60’s and we saw very minimal game movement.

Day 9:
We again focused on waterbuck and warthog. I had it in my head that there would be warthog at every turn and we saw very few. Our PH explained that in cooler weather as we had experienced the past few days, they stay pretty well holed up for warmth.

The property we hunted this day was hillier than others we had hunted and was broken into large blocks. We spotted the waterbuck at a touch over 100m, standing between two low scrub trees. He was quartering towards us and I botched the shot angle. I shot the right shoulder when I should’ve shot the left for the angle he was standing. His right leg was broken and dragging but he dragged us around for about 3 hours. We finally bayed him with the property owner’s dogs and finished him off.

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Day 10:
Today was transfer back to the airport. This all went smoothly and we found ourselves in the Shongololo lounge in JNB for a few hours before take off. The flights home were uneventful and transfer through DOH was fairly simple, albeit it involved 4 separate security checks even though we never left the secure section of the airport….

Arrival in JFK was pretty flawless. CBP was a breeze to deal with for firearms claim.


Comments:
Limcroma runs a fantastic operation. Properties were fairly large and exclusive and it never felt like we were hunting in a pen as some have described fenced hunts in RSA. Game never felt tame and the PH’s weren’t shy to say an animal needed another year or three before shooting. I would hunt with them again.

Travel during COVID was interesting but not anywhere near impossible. Testing in camp was simple and convenient. The airports were reasonable on covid precautions, but one needed to be on top of their test collection time and dates. They were very strict on the 72 hour rule.

Qatar was a great airline. Food was great. Service was superb. Beyond having to lightly educate staff on the firearm process, the gun portion was pretty simple.

My biggest gripe with the trip was actually my shooting. Prior to the trip I practiced twice monthly for about 6 months. My rifles were known shooters with the loads chosen and all practice was either off sticks, improvised rest, or offhand. I was consistently 4” off sticks at 100 and 8” off hand at 100 at the range. I think I was rushing my shooting in the field on the shots I botched. I’m contributing it to nerves as I shot both rifles equally as well as baseline this past weekend at the range again.

Greg really enjoyed his first trip and I’m glad I was able to witness it and be a part of it. We have been talking about nothing more than a return trip since we got home. We are planning to do some homework on a potential Big-5 hunt in Zim for 2023 at the SCI show in Vegas this January.
 
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Red Leg

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C A P E B U F F A L O in '23 !!!

Great trip you guys had. Hell of an eland and waterbuck. And two very fine kudu. Congrats.
 

AZDAVE

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Looks like you guys had a great trip! Thanks for sharing and have fun planning 2023.
 

Nyati

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Congrats for a great hunt, Eland and Waterbuck are very good !
 

Hunting Hitman

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Congrats on a great Safari and wonderful animals harvested! I have also hunted with Limcroma in 2018 with the family and they are an excellent organization.
 

gillettehunter

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Looks like you had a great hunt. Congrats on some fine trophies. How long were the kudu?
Bruce
 

VertigoBE

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Thanks for sharing @Brandon.Gleason ! Excellent hunting all around. I really like the look of that waterbuck, the eland and Greg's blesbuck! Congratulations!
 

Limcroma Safaris

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Congrats on an awesome safari @Brandon.Gleason !

I was our sincere pleasure to host you both... We appreciate you taking the time to write your report and share your experiences here on the AH.com forums. We look forward to hosting you in camp again one day soon!
 

jpomazi

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Great job Brandon and it was nice to meet you at the Afton House. Maybe we'll see you at SCI this year.
 

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What a great trip! Thanks for sharing.
My hunting buddy and IU were traveling at about the same time with Qatar and found them just as you described. The travel time was long but they were a very well ran airline.
 

cpr0312

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Congrats and thanks for sharing!
 

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Great hunt you had, I really enjoyed reading your story. Your animals look fantastic, the pangolin was a really nice find as well. Congrats!
 

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