SOUTH AFRICA: My first Africa trip Cruiser Safaris

CAustin

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By the way thank you for sharing your report and pictures.
 

Lrntolive

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Excellent! Great report. Looks like you had a great time. Thanks for making it an exciting read.
 

huntermn15

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Thanks for posting a great report, photos, and video! I hunted at Cruisers in September on my first safari and it was fantastic. I'm glad you both had a great time.

Regards,
Mike
 

sestoppelman

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That was great, a good hunt in a great hunting area and country. Been nearly two years since my last trip over. Doesn't seem like it.
 

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Thanks for the great report! Congrats on your safari!
 

Shootist43

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Thanks for a great report. My two boys and I will be hunting with Cruisers in August. Your report answered a number of questions I had about the ranges at which animals might be encountered. Their website states that most shots will be between 80 & 120 yards. I've been more than a little skeptical of that claim. Out of curiosity was the wind a factor on any of your other hunts?
 

buck wild

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excellent write up and great adventure !!
 

Art Lambart II

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Great report, congtats on some very nice trophies. I'll be hunting with Cruisers this August, I can't wait.
 

Desert Dog

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Thanks for a great report. My two boys and I will be hunting with Cruisers in August. Your report answered a number of questions I had about the ranges at which animals might be encountered. Their website states that most shots will be between 80 & 120 yards. I've been more than a little skeptical of that claim. Out of curiosity was the wind a factor on any of your other hunts?
In August, your shot opportunities will be better than mine were. The area is very overgrown right now coming out of the wet season, which meant that our ability to even see animals was very limited. We had to adjust our hunting style to stalking on foot through the brush so we could sneak to the edge of clearings and glass.

Even so, the only long shot I made was on that Gemsbok, and i could have passed on it if I wasnt comfortable with that shot. A 300 yard shot is usually a no-brainer for my shooting abilities, but I screwed up that shot. Cruiser didnt make me take that shot, it was totally my decision and was a shot I was comfortable with. Same with the full frontal shots on the Kudu and Impala.

Also, as reported, I requested to our PH that I wanted to spot & stalk hunt only. You could set up in a blind or over water and take easy shots if you wanted to hunt that way. Like any South African hunt, your PH will tailor your hunts to your requests and physical abilities. You can make them as challenging as you want.

I wouldnt worry about being forced to take longer shots here, you will not be pressured to do so. Practice to kill reliable inside of 125 yards and your PH will make it happen for you. Practice shooting off the sticks, as almost all of your shots will utilize them. Practice with the scopes at low power, as finding the animal through the optic is half the battle for a new hunter.

I know you and your boys will have a great time and get lots of shot opportunities during that time of year.
 

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Thank you for taking the time to do a detailed and entertaining report.

Congratulations to you both on a successful hunt.

Love this load in my 375
HampH load.jpg
 

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I hunted with Cruiser for my first African Safari back in 2011. Harvested some great animals. Great outfit.
 

archer36

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Thanks for a great report. My two boys and I will be hunting with Cruisers in August. Your report answered a number of questions I had about the ranges at which animals might be encountered. Their website states that most shots will be between 80 & 120 yards. I've been more than a little skeptical of that claim. Out of curiosity was the wind a factor on any of your other hunts?
I hunted Cruiser Safaris in April 2014. I took 6 animals (Kudu, Gemsbuck, Wildebeast, Impala, Blesbok, and Warthog) all under 125 yds. If you want, you can get close.
 

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Thanks for the reply. I live in Michigan. Before purchasing my own property and planting food plots I never shot a deer at over 100 yards. Most of the time you can only see 50 or 60 yards because of the trees. I now have a 200 yard shot. The longest shot I ever took on an animal (white-tailed deer) was 175 yards. We will be using Nikon scopes with a "built in" bullet drop compensator so I'm not too concerned from that angle. My boys and I will all be using a 35 Whelen. Some of us will be shooting a 250 gr. Nosler Partition while I will be using a 225 gr. TSX or Nosler Accubond. Each of us is bringing a second (or backup) rifle, so I'll have my pick of a 300 Win. Mag., a 30-06 or a 6.5 x 55 Swedish Mauser. We have been doing some shooting off sticks and a little off-hand as well. We are planning on several more trips to a range before leaving on our hunt.
 

archer36

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Thanks for the reply. I live in Michigan. Before purchasing my own property and planting food plots I never shot a deer at over 100 yards. Most of the time you can only see 50 or 60 yards because of the trees. I now have a 200 yard shot. The longest shot I ever took on an animal (white-tailed deer) was 175 yards. We will be using Nikon scopes with a "built in" bullet drop compensator so I'm not too concerned from that angle. My boys and I will all be using a 35 Whelen. Some of us will be shooting a 250 gr. Nosler Partition while I will be using a 225 gr. TSX or Nosler Accubond. Each of us is bringing a second (or backup) rifle, so I'll have my pick of a 300 Win. Mag., a 30-06 or a 6.5 x 55 Swedish Mauser. We have been doing some shooting off sticks and a little off-hand as well. We are planning on several more trips to a range before leaving on our hunt.
I used a .308 with a 180 gr bullet. All one shot kills. The 35 Whelan would not be my first choice. Especially if you were to attempt anything further than 150 yds. It drops like a rock beyond that.
 

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I used a .308 with a 180 gr bullet. All one shot kills. The 35 Whelan would not be my first choice. Especially if you were to attempt anything further than 150 yds. It drops like a rock beyond that.

That's an odd statement to make when your 308 load and the 225 grain whelen have identical bullet drops out to 350 yards. I will admit that the 308 is a proven cartridge but it really can't compare to the 35 Whelen as a hunting round
 

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Great write and congrats on some very nice trophies.
 

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Thanks for sharing your story and photos.

Congratulations on a successful hunt.
 

archer36

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That's an odd statement to make when your 308 load and the 225 grain whelen have identical bullet drops out to 350 yards. I will admit that the 308 is a proven cartridge but it really can't compare to the 35 Whelen as a hunting round
HaHa, my mistake. After I wrote this reply, I questioned whether I read your post right. I thought you said 35 Marlin which in hindsight would have been very unusual. No doubt the 35 Whelan is a great caliber.
 

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The following is a report from my first trip to Africa this month. I tend to run on too long with details in my writing style, so please bear with me. I definitely plan on expanding my Africa travels and hunting experiences in the future, but this was the perfect introductory trip for me to learn the ropes of traveling to and hunting in this unique place.

Here is a video of my trip:

I recommend that you read the reports first and watch the video last so you can put it all in context.

enjoy............


My First Africa trip.


How it happened:


I have hunted in three countries and many different states, but for some unknown reason never hunted Africa. Sure, I bullshitted by the campfire with my buddies about going to Africa on countless occasions, but chalked this up to the usual guy talk that transpires when the mason jar gets passed around the camp chairs. Alcohol has a tendency to bring out embellishment in men, and nothing of this world holds more false promise than the plans that inebriated men make.


It wasn’t until February of 2015 that a good friend of mine seemed serious about taking a trip to the dark continent. We researched outfitters, lodges, locations, and prices. Our wives are both hunters as well, so we decided that we should make this trip a double date!


My buddy and I are just as comfortable in a freezing cold tent as we are at a 5-star resort, but we had the ladies to consider in the planning for this trip. Our perfect place needed a history of quality game animals, large concessions that were fair chase hunts, non-hunting activities in close proximity (particularly for photo safaris), an attractive and comfortable lodge with all the amenities, great reviews and references from people who have taken their spouses, wifi, and competitive prices. The place also had to be very safe. That is a LOT to ask for when planning a hunting trip, so this required a great deal of research. I joined this forum, read an infinite number of reviews, attended the hunting conventions, private messaged other hunters, and watched almost every Youtube video on Africa hunts. The more research I performed, the more excited I became about really doing this.


I narrowed my choices down to 5 outfitters; Two in the East cape region, 3 in Limpopo, and one in Namibia. I contacted several outfitters to frustrate them with stupid questions, which all of them happily answered. Rebecca was especially sold on the videos and website for Cruiser Safaris in Limpopo. I contacted a half dozen hunters who had taken their wives to Cruiser and got overwhelmingly positive reviews. The hunters I spoke with were just as impressed with the property and staff as they were with the actual hunts. I contacted the USA booking agent for Cruiser Safaris, “Cruiser Bob”. He was in constant contact with me for the entire 8 months leading up to my hunt, giving me updates on lodge activity, hunting, and constantly motivating me to get everything prepared well in advance. Anytime I contacted Bob with a question, I received an immediate response. Their website and Facebook page is also well maintained and up to date with hunting reports and current conditions, which seemed to help keep me motivated about the trip throughout the year.


As plans among friends often unfold, my buddy lost interest in the trip just before we were ready to fully commit to doing it. But this trip wasn’t a typical alcohol-induced pipe-dream to me, I seriously wanted to do this, and after the research wondered why it took me so long. I guess I always considered an Africa trip would be too expensive, but was astonished to find that hunting Africa (including airfare) is much cheaper than a quality hunt here in the States. I have spent more money to kill one Elk than this Africa trip was going to cost! Deposit sent, and hunting days locked in. We were definitely going to Africa.



Pre-trip preparation:


I was lucky enough to buy our plane tickets when fuel prices were plummeting. Airfare to Africa was much cheaper than I had imagined. Ten weeks before departure, Cruiser Bob contacted me to let me know that I had the option to pay my entire balance in full before departing to Africa. This was offered as an option because many clients stated that they do not like carrying that much cash when traveling. So, with two months remaining before departure, my lodge fees, hunting fees, trophy fees, and airfare were paid in full. This gave me an overall sense of relief.


Rebecca and I are both in good physical condition, but we ramped up our cardio in the months leading up to the trip. We wanted a good fair chase hunt and had no desire to disappoint a hard-working PH on a long stalk by resting constantly due to sub-par fitness. In the process of doing this, she lost over 10 pounds and I lost 5. We were lean, mean hunting machines!


I ordered new cotton clothing, South Africa plug adaptors and converters, a new gun case, and dozens of other little odds and ends in preparation for this trip. After reading several clothing related threads on this forum, I came to the realization that all of my hunting cloths were made from high-tech synthetic materials that should never experience a hot iron. I washed my new cotton hunting cloths a few times to wear them in, then treated them with Permethrin before departure with hopes of keeping the April mosquitos in Limpopo at bay.


With two months to go before my trip, it was time to make the final decision on what rifles I would take. Honestly, this isn’t as easy as it sounds. I own a LOT of rifles that would be perfect for this hunt. I have several very nostalgic 50s-vintage model 70s handed down to me by my grandfather that would be perfect and meaningful for this hunt (including a 300 H&H that I am just in love with). I own many lightweight custom-made beauties that are just as impressive to look at as to hunt with. I have a custom Mauser that just screams “take me to Africa”. I hammered out my final decision on what rifles I was taking probably 10 different times over the period of 8 months preceding this hunt, but inevitably changed my mind because of some crazy over-analysis of my situation. I didn’t want to risk taking a rifle that was too expensive, or one that shoots scarce ammunition, or one that didn’t cover a wide range of uses. With two months to go, it was time to make a decision, stop over analyzing my selection, and get my form 4457 done for the rifles I was taking. Men are notorious for our lack of commitment, and nowhere is there a better example of this than with our “favorite” firearm. A woman will sooner find a “perfect” pair of shoes long before a man finds that “perfect” rifle.


In the end, choosing the right rifles was easy. I planned on shooting bigger plains game and Rebecca planned on shooting smaller plains game. I have some fantastic loads for my 375 H&H and am perfectly comfortable shooting it. Rebecca hunts with a 30-06 and kills animals easily with no flinch. We are both perfectly capable of handling both guns. I was taking my special edition M70 stainless/laminate Alaskan in 375 H&H AND grandpa’s old pre-64 M70 30-06 was going to get one more big hunt in his honor. I went to the local Customs office, did my 4457 paperwork for both rifles, decision set in stone, commitment finally achieved. I can’t change my mind now!


For the 30-06, I didn’t really trust or want to damage that 60-year old stock on a trip of this magnitude. So I bedded it into a beautiful, rugged, and comfortable McMillan pre-64 McWoody stock; classic looks with modern improvements. Took it to the range with my favorite 168 gr TTSX load and fell in love with this gun all over again. To get the Rebecca used to the new stock, we practiced for several days shooting off the sticks and from several other positions. We went to the Central Coast and she shot a nice boar. Perfect shot placement off the shooting sticks from 120 yards. That hog went straight up in the air and came down on its back with legs sticking straight up in the air. It didn’t even take a step or let out a sound. She was ready for Africa.

View attachment 149507

My 375 H&H was ready to go without any modifications. What did concern me was the fact that I was not crimping my hand loads for this round (or any of my bolt-gun loads). I have never had an issue, but wanted that extra piece of mind for this trip with the 375. I witnessed a guy on a bear hunt (who was an expert loader for 35 years) get bullet set-back on several rounds from the recoil in his 338. He believed that he either left too much lube inside the necks of some of the new brass or the new batch of bullets he was loading had slightly different dimensions; a mistake anyone could make. Similar to the feeling one gets on vacation when you don’t remember if you locked the house when you left, that bullet set-back episode is always in the back of my head when I shoot this gun. My mind needed to be set at ease. Hunting is just as much about the confidence you have in your equipment as it is about the equipment itself. I ordered a Lee factory crimp die for this caliber and went back to the drawing board with my loads. If I lost a little accuracy with the crimp, so be it, I wanted to have full confidence in my ammo.


Surprisingly, my existing load recipe for the 250 gr TTSX really liked a light crimp. Accuracy was the same, but I gained a little bit of velocity as a result of the crimp. This load is a real thumper! Very flat trajectory, bucks wind like a champ, and hits with about 3550 ft-pounds at 100 yards and almost 1800 ft-pounds of energy at 500 yards! It pretty much hits like a 300 grain lead bullet, but with a flat trajectory and lower recoil. I find it relatively easy to shoot 1” five-shot groups with this load. No need to develop any further, and another rifle is ready for my African adventure.





I go over my itinerary, my gear, airline procedures, gun import/export procedures, my paperwork, taxidermy plans, and domestic arrangements seemingly on a daily basis in the last week leading up to my trip. I even make a checklist to go through before I leave my home for the airport, and continually add to it as the departure date gets near. I made copies of copies of everything for checked bags, carry-ons, and the rifle case. I call British Airways 5 days before departure to give my firearms and ammo notification. Not fully trusting the broken English from the BA call center in India, I call back 4 days before the trip to verify that the information was correctly entered. I constantly annoy family members to make sure my dogs, cats, and chickens will be well cared for in my absence.


I am ready, I think.

Chris-
Amazing hunt and very thorough report-
My wife and I are in the processes of choosing an outfitter for a March 2017 first time Safari hunt in Limpopo, South Africa. As I have read reviews and got feedback, I was initially concerned about the ability to acquire 5 animals (Blue Wildebeest, Waterbuck, Warthog, Eland, and Kudu) for an 8 day hunt. Main concern was due to the thick brush and suboptimal season. Based on your comments and video (with a little luck) it appears very doable. You video was great and gave me a good sense of shooting conditions. Any other advice that you would not mind providing me outside of your post is appreciated!

RJ
 

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