SOUTH AFRICA: Limpopo/Silent Valley - May 2023 Hunt - Lalamanzi Safaris

Trophyhunter01

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Namibia, Canada BC, US-Alabama, New Mexico, WY, CO and TX, Limpopo SA x 2
@Lalamanzi Safaris
Abri Pistorius - owner/operator
Justin Kemp - PH (also operates Africa Sun Safaris)
PD - Tracker/skinner/driver
Hunt dates May 6th to May 14th

This was my 2nd trip with Abri on his properties with Justin being my PH. Last hunt was end of February 2020 right before Covid lock down and made it out a few days before the lock down, this time there was no urgency in flights or hunting days. Flew Qatar Airways from Houston, Tx. to Doha to Jbrg. Plane was packed, every seat full, check in at Houston was mess but made it on the plane with minutes to spare, desk agent said every plane till October is full so pack your patience and enjoy the journey. Free beer on the flight helped with this topic, watched a lot of movies and have some fluid intake. Short layover in Doha on to Jbrg. land at 4AM, nice time to clear the airport as there is not a line for anything, sailed through baggage, customs, met Abri and off to the lodge.

Hunted three properties on this trip. Lalamanzi main ranch in Silent Valley which is typical thick Limpopo bushveld, the Lalamanzi river ranch on the Crocodile River towards Thabazimbi and Justin has a new property outside of Thabazimbi on the edge of the Waterberg Mountains and has some great views with very rugged terrain.

Two of main animals for this trip are Roan and Bushbuck and then will see what else we can find along the way and see what the day brings.

Make it to the ranch around lunch time, unpack, eat some lunch and take a nap as I cannot sleep on planes and have had about 3 hours worth in 26 hours of travel. Wake up early afternoon go to the range shoot a couple of rifles get comfortable with them and decide to go for a drive about 430PM to see what we can see. I am not feeling the best at this time and knew something was up when I woke up and packed the TP in my backpack and glad I did. After an emergency truck exit my stomach was not cooperating and we come across a big waterbuck bull and cow standing off in the brush, Abri said, you should take him, I did not feel up to the task and was feeling worse. I told Abri I have a full 8 days left I will see another and he laughed and said, you know how this works TIA, and never saw another good bull the rest of the trip, lots of cows and smaller bulls but not one the size of the first night but that is the fun of it. Made it back to the lodge a little dinner and some medication and off to bed.

Wake up early, feel good, stomach back, walk to the main lodge from my room and have a morning cup of tea and listen to the bush wake up with me. Nice to be back and need to do this more regularly.
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Justin comes into camp, have some breakfast, head to range to shoot his rifle as it was decided I would use Justin's rifle. Justin pulls out his case and the 6.5 Creedmore is out, I said "no really" and the reply was "yes you are and this load and rifle is great for what we are hunting" couple of shots almost touching and follow the PH's lead and off for the first day. We all decide to concentrate on Roan first and get that done and then will go to the river property for bushbuck in the alfalfa fields that Abri grows there in the evening.

Drive the ranch and see a lot of game from wildebeest, sable, warthogs, giraffe, impala, waterbuck and finally see some roan but they are young bulls and females. Abri said he had seen one old bull he wanted to try to get so we move on. After a few hours decide to head towards the lodge and eat, take a midday break and come back out about 230 as the day had gotten really hot. Not far from the lodge Justin and Abri spot a big bodied bull coming from a water hole, bull has mud up to his knees as I cannot really see the horns but Justin said that is the bull so we bail off the truck, take short walk to cut him off, get on the sticks, the bull stops, shot fired, hear the hit and we take off. The bull made it maybe 70 yards, complete pass though, and what a magnificent site it is to see the bull on the ground and put my hands on, I wonder how I got so lucky. Bull taped right at 31.5" with great secondary growth and is a great trophy. Time for handshakes and congratulations and pictures.

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First half day is outstanding. Will finish the report over the next few nights.
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Congrats on such a fine Roan. Looking forward to the rest of your report.
 
Exceptional roan. Congrats. They can be hard to get when they have been hunted.
Bruce
 
Trust your PH as they say..... but not sure the 6.5 would have been my choice for Roan. It obviously worked ! :love:
 
Load was a 143 grain ELDX handload of Justin's. It worked well and I was impressed with the performance. I am not a 6.5 owner but would say it is similar to a 270 in a short action rifle.

Afternoon of day one starts to look like rain and have some thunderstorms building to the east, not normal for this time of year but adds to urgency getting out. Not far from camp hear some impala grunting see a nice group of males fleeing a water hole so off the truck and pick out a nice male and the 6.5 did the work straight down, no tracking required. I really like to hunt impala as they remind so much of whitetails. Had to hurry to the skinning shed before the rain. Wrapped up day one hunt in for dinner and off to bed to prepare for another day.
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Moring day two comes, take a drive around but there is a full moon and not much is out early moving. See some animals driving but get the wind and walk a block but the wind keeps moving and we can hear the animals moving in front of us. Time for lunch and a break to prepare for the afternoon.

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Head out in the afternoon and have a great stalk on a group of gemsbuck but did not practice enough with the new sticks that are connected with a front and rear rest and get spotted and miss that opportunity. One thing I learned on those type of sticks to use your thumb for left to right adjustment for the shot as you cannot swing the rear of the stock around easily. Lesson learned on this stalk. Saw some zebra late in the day did not want to participate so no opportunity on those as well. End of day two with not shots fired but still a great day to be out.

Day 3 start out driving looking for sign or movement. See gemsbuck again and with 12-15 sets of eyes they make us out and move on. We keep moving in the wind and see a nice warthog. The males are just starting to follow the females. Stay on the pair for long walk but lose the male in the brush. Walk on some more nice impalas but move on and get back in time for lunch.
Head out in the afternoon find a leopard tortoise crossing the road and got some good pics. Really neat to see one out and about. See some small waterbuck bulls bulls but move on and see what else is out.
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Head to the river property to look for bushbuck in the late evening. The rain was heavy in that area and after almost getting stuck two times decided to come back in a couple days after it dries up a bit. That area is more clay soil, not sand and the roads get greasy really quick. We did see a couple of rams from the truck but was nice to sit out under the stars with no ambient light for a while and just observe what is in the sky at night until the moon came up and took over the sky.

Day 4 am. Head out looking for zebra and warthogs. See some sign but mornings are still slow with the moon up all night. See kudu and a couple of roan. Find a nice steenbok but cannot get on him as those little jokers really can hide easily but since we know where he hangs out hope to see him again.

Afternoon day 4. On the truck looking for activity and decide to get the wind and walk into a popular waterhole. Works out as we get a glimpse of some gemsbuck from about 800 yards out. Do a bit a power walk up the side of the road in the brush and get within about 200 yards and get on the sticks. Justin is watching the group and picks out a nice long old female. I agree and we wait for her to clear. Shot fired and gemsbuck down in about 20 yards.
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Get the gemsbuck loaded and off the skinning shed. Back on the hunt, see lots of other game that afternoon but nothing works out. While driving Justin stops and is listening out the window and asks me if I hear anything, I reply nope, so we get out and Justin finds a Puffadder in a scrub bush by the road. We dispatch the snake and place it under the stretcher used for loading the animals that lays in the back of the truck and back to skinning shed to ask PD the tracker, to wash off the stretcher and get it out of the back of the truck. Needless to say after he recovered from the snake under the stretcher we all had a big laugh about it.
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Back to camp for a dinner, a few beers and off to bed.

Day 5. Off to Justin's new property outside of Thabazimbi in the Waterberg mountains. Get to the property and see quite a few animals right off and miss out on a couple of big warthogs but things look promising. Take a drive see lots of game nyala, sable, kudu, buffalo, wildebeest. Head to a waterhole midday and come over the dam side and the zebra are there drinking. Get on the sticks, the zebra spook a bit but look back to see what the noise was as Justin was calling the shot, big mare walks into view, shot fired, about 2" behind the sergeant stripe and she is down within about 80 yards. Takes some work to clear brush to get her out of the draw she ran into and have to use the old ranch Landcruiser named "bones" on the recovery. Nice to have a winch to load these large animals. Still impressed with the 6.5 even on a big bodied zebra.

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Finish the skinning of the zebra and hanging in the cooler and back out for an evening drive. Have one stalk on a warthog but they are still proving had to get a good look at but still have time.
 
Day 5 afternoon. After the zebra is wrapped up do a drive looking for Mr. Warts but the pigs are not having any of it. See quite a few other animals but decide to load up and head to Abri's river property and hunt the alfalfa for bushbuck. Get to the property and it is dark so with the rains decide to just hunt the alfalfa fields and find a nice ram the the thermal. Pull in get everything set up, the stars are out and feel like they are pushing down on you, pull in to the field area and a few animals on the grass. As we pull in the bushbuck start slowly walking off into the taller border grass and about all you can see is the head and horns. Justin spots a good one but I cannot get on him for the grass, we wait and as he eases around there is a better opening but have to shoot through 20-30 yards for field grass to get to the animal, estimate the vitals and squeeze the trigger. Sounds good but with all the grass who knows and Justin said he went straight down. Off the truck with lights to search and find him shortly, a little high shoulder but rather be lucky than good and what a way to end the day of hunting...will have a few beers tonight. Ram just at 15". On the drive back to the main camp got to see a leopard run across the road which is a first leopard spot for me in 3 trips over.

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Get up the next day 6 and drive back to Justin's property to put up some trail cams, do a nice drive and animal survey and look for warthogs again or other opportunities. Spend the hole day on the ranch put up several game cams see lots of game: nyala, impala, kudu, giraffe, buffalo wildebeest and small warthogs. But a great day to be out and see what the day brings and hanging out with friends. I would say a buff hunt on this place would be a challenge for the terrain and logistics of getting the animal out. Never thought I would see buff that high on a hill/mountain in that thick cover but they have natural water springs so they seem to like the breeze and shade.

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No shots fired today so back to the main lodge for the night and dinner.


Last hunting day at the main camp. The zebra finally show themselves since there is one in the salt already. See some sable, roan make a few drives for the steenbok but no where to be found. Find a dead giraffe cow and fairly new, Abri said most like got hit by lightning in recent thunder storm. Never really thought about those tall creatures and electrical storms but not that uncommon. Found some hyena tracks near by but not sight of those. In for lunch and a break.
Back out for the afternoon and decide to talk a long walk with the wind through a block with less under growth. Not long in spot a few warthogs and one male in the group, they are walking to us so we set up but the male is not that large and I have two bigger so I decide to pass, we stand there and he turns to us walking with the females and finally notices us at about 7 yards out and runs off. Short distance later walk into a few grunting impala rams and see a really nice one but they out pace us in the brush then walk up on a male gemsbuck laying down resting we watch for a while but decide to pass as well. Finally make it back to the truck for one last waterhole tour see if a waterbuck has some out. Just small bulls and females so the hunt is over and back to camp.

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Next day off the dip and crate company, Swift Dip in Thabazimbi area, on to Jbrg, one stop at Safari Outdoors for some gifts and on the plane to Doha and then to Houston. Another great trip in the books and already thinking about the next one. Never thought I would be back several times but do have the bug and always looking forward to the next adventure.

Big thanks to Abri and Justin for making it happen and the great time that was had. Nice to return to hunt with friends and spend some time away from the fast pace of life at work and home.
The entire staff at Lalamanzi was great from the food by Chef Chance, tracking/driving/skinning by PD, and the rest of the support staff.

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Great report, looking forward to our safari with Abri in September for sable, bushbuck and lechwe.
 
Congratulations on a successful safari. Thanks for the report and pictures.
 
Congrats and thanks for sharing! What a nice bushbuck!
 
Another great adventure giant killer. Someday it will be my turn on my return to the dark Continent
 
Great hunt, congrats and thanks for sharing !
 
Glad you had a good trip-never heard of giraffe getting lit up before-fascinating stuff
 

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