SOUTH AFRICA: My first African Hunt With Hartzview Hunting Safaris

Tracey Colson

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I am starting to get over the jet lag so will attempt a hunt report. We (my wife and I) scheduled this trip at the 2020 DSC show for late April early May of 2021. When all the COVID-19 stuff started going on and airline ticket prices dropped we took a leap of faith and had Patrick with TWG book our tickets on Delta from Billings/Salt Lake/Atlanta/Joberg/Kimberly. I don't think I need to tell anybody that this is not how we ended up traveling to get there which is the reason I would tell anybody doing this type of trip to use a travel agent that is familiar with traveling with firearms. The trip ended up being mostly on Qatar air and while check in was a little slow between the COVID restrictions and traveling with firearms it was really painless, just had to have some patience. Flights were nice, meals were above expectations for airplane food, and service was good.

We arrived in Joberg almost 24hrs before we needed to be back on the plane for Kimberly so we had arranged for a stay at the African Sky and they assisted with firearm import as well. It was a really smooth process with Gilbert from Africa Sky helping get it all done, 15 minutes and we were on our way out of the airport. The stay at Africa Sky was wonderful. Courtyard was a great place to sit and relax, drinks and snacks were available until mealtime, and the room was super nice. In the evening my wife and I both chose the filet and it was some of the best steak we had ever had, and that says something with her growing up on a ranch and both of us coming from beef country.

The next morning Gilbert took us to the airport and assisted us with the check in process for our bags and firearms before we departed for Kimberly. Again I feel it was a big help having somebody that new the system to aid in this process.

After a short flight to Kimberly we were met by our outfitter Ruan at the airport, a quick check of the firearms and we were on our way to camp. Before we even got the lodge we had seen impala, red hartebeest, and some nyala. The lodge facilities were very nice and after a quick tour of the camp and a little settling in it was decided that we had time to put an afternoon hunt together and see what we could come up with.

A quick check of my rifles at the range confirmed that they had made the nearly 14,000 air miles just fine and we were off. We saw a lot of game from the bakki, but being it was the first afternoon we were being a bit picky. We arrived at a spot and Ruan says lets go for a walk, there is a clearing ahead where lots of things like to hang out. We walked a few hundred yards before we were pinned down behind what he called a fall bush by a herd of blue wildebeest. After trying unsuccessfully to figure out how to either move a little for a shot or set up where we were we were busted by the ugliest blue wildebeest bull I saw on the whole trip. He lifted his head and stared right at us and I knew the gig was up. The herd ran out into the open and when they stopped the sticks went up and Ruan said "do you see the bull looking at us?" I responded with "The one kind of quarting towards us?" It was confirmed we were talking about the same on and he said right on the point of the shoulder. The shot from my 7mm mag was true and the 175gr Barnes TSX worked flawlessly. I had officially taken my first animal in Africa.

I will continue later, but right now it is off to work so I can start saving for the next trip.

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rinehart0050

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Congrats! Looking forward to reading more about your trip!
 

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Your Blue Wildebeest is stunning, great start for a trip @Tracey Colson !
 

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Congrats. Africa Sky and Gilbert are both first rate. My wife would revolt if I suggested a Safari that didn’t begin and end there!
 

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Great start to your hunt report. That BW looks like a very good one. I see pics of a lot that are average mature animals. Yours looks like a great one. Congrats
Bruce
 

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Great gnu, Tracey............................love the pics..............................FWB
 

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Love to see a fellow lefty getting it done. Great start to the safari with your blue wildebeest down.
 

Tracey Colson

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Love to see a fellow lefty getting it done. Great start to the safari with your blue wildebeest down.

Ok, so a couple of notes that I left out of the above start. They had just built this rifle range and I was the first lefty to use it, so they had to cut down some bushes so I could see the target from the left hand side of the shooting bench.

Congrats. Africa Sky and Gilbert are both first rate. My wife would revolt if I suggested a Safari that didn’t begin and end there!


Speaking of Gilbert and Africa Sky, I think you will know what I mean when I say that his parking skills on a level above most. lol
 

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Congratulations on your first African animal. Looking forward to more.

Ruan is a good guy.
 

Tracey Colson

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Day two started off with a great breakfast, yogurt, fruit, cereal, sausage bacon and eggs made to order.

After that it was back into the bush to see what we could find stirring around. My PH said that the kudu really liked the "mountains". I live near the Bighorn mountains in Wyoming and their definition of mountains and mine are a little different but it was some steeper hilly country. We parked the truck and headed up what looked to be a little swale in-between a couple of hills. My wife had decided to walk with us since we were going to pretty much just glass the hills and valley below and make a plan. The terrain quickly changed into some of the hardest walking I had ever done. Very rocky with grass growing up around the rocks so you had no idea what you were really putting your foot on. It is amazing to me that nobody broke and ankle walking through this stuff. My wife does not have the best ankles but she toughed it out.

After glassing for a while we did manage to find some impala and what appeared to be a nice kudu, but he was too far away to tell for sure. A plan was made to go back the bakki, drive back around the hill and walk down the next ridge to get on a point closer to his location. We put the plan into action and after walking back through the rock minefield to the truck and through a maybe worse minefield to get to the point we wanted to be on we could only find the impala. We searched for quite a while before I finally spotted the kudu bull. We began to judge the kudu and he looked really good until he turned his head and we could see that one horn was broke about 1/3 of the way up.

A new plan was made to see what if we could get closer to the impala and see what they were. After more rock minefields we got within about 100yds of a big impala ram, but once again we were pinned down behind a fall bush and just couldn't get out from behind if to take the shot. In the mean time a red hartebeest spotted us trying to get the shot and the gig was up in a hurry. The rest of the morning was spent looking for our next animal to stalk, but it quickly turned into a broken horn fest. I think we saw either two or three impala all with one broken horn. I was hoping this was not an omen for the rest of the hunt.

After a great lunch it was back out looking again. Later in the afternoon the PH said we were going to walk from here and we got off the truck. He told the driver to take my wife back to where we had seen some giraffe and she could take pictures while we hunted on foot. After stalking through the bush for a while we found a springbok ram that presented a good shot opportunity. The sticks went up and at about 100yds this time with my 375 Ruger mag the shot was true and after running a short distance the springbok was down. A gorgeous sunset ensued while we took pictures and celebrated.

After pictures it was back to the lodge for some time around the fire pit and they cooked the wildebeest loins from yesterday afternoon for evening meal. I have to say that it is my opinion that if North American game tasted like ANY of the game meat we had in Africa there would be a lot less of it roaming the countryside. We did not have anything that was not delicious.
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My wife and I had a fantastic hunt with Hartzview in 2019. We really enjoyed the company of Annamarie and Ruan. It was a fantastic dynamic and felt like we were home hunting with friends.

Shame on me—our lives became busier following that hunt, and I never got around to writing a report. I’ll write up our report soon, but until then I look forward to living vicariously through your writing and photos.
 

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great report! It sounds like you were treated to some good hunting.
 

Tracey Colson

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Day three began with a little different strategy, the other PH in camp (Okert?) said he had seen what appeared to be a good kudu bull in a little different part of the ranch than what we had been hunting so we went that way. After a bit of driving and some glassing from the truck we found the herd of kudu and determined that the bull was worthy of a stalk. About halfway to where the kudu were we bumped a herd of sable that ran pretty much right at the kudu, but amazingly the kudu pretty much hung tight. We lost track of the kudu for a little bit but continued to close the distance to where we thought they were and while coming up the hill found out we were right. A cow spotted us from about 50yds. We found the bull and Ruan got the sticks set up, but the second I came out from behind the bush to get on the sticks they were off. They stopped at about 250yds and the bull offered a shot, I was already on the sticks and while the shot wasn't perfect the 270gr Barnes TSX out of my 375 Ruger Mag connected, evidenced by the "whap" of the bullet hitting. The PHs thought the shot may have been back and bit so we followed their rule of "a coke and a cigarette" although we had no coke with us before we went to see what sign we could find.

After looking for just a few minutes the bull was found dead, shot was a little far back but the bullet did its job and waiting for a bit played out well.



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While waiting for the truck to show up to pick us up we got to meet a herd of cape buffalo as well, they never got really close, but close enough to consider what could happen if they decided to get any closer.

Since it was still pretty early in the morning after congrats, pictures, and getting the kudu loaded in the truck for its ride to the skinning shed we headed back to the other part of the ranch to continue hunting.

There was a big open field that generally held some blesbok and since that was included in the package I purchased we went to see if we could find them. When we arrived at the edge of the field they were there, but smack dab in the middle of a really big open with not much option for a stalk. It was decided that we would stay on one side of the field and send the truck to the other side and see what the blesbok would do. I told the PHs that it would never work and as a general rule they agreed but what did we have to lose.

When the truck came into the other side of the open the blesbok herd pretty much ran right at it, then ran away from us. Ruan radioed Pieter and told him to come back to get us then the herd made a big circle and came back around the entire field and ended up presenting a shot. Ruan was trying to pick out a good ram and was in my ear with "the 4th one, now he is the fifth one", until finally he said the back one is a good ram as well. That one I could find and once again shot placement wasn't perfect but it worked. I will admit that I missed two follow up shots before the blesbok went down and we decided to get closer and try to finish him. (and I had not put any extra shells in my pocket for my 7 mag, oops). After the truck got to us we drove a bit before finding the blesbok dead.

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I have to admit that the blesbok was on the bottom of my list of the animals in the package I purchased, however after seeing one up close my opinion changed greatly on them. They are truly a very unique animal.

We returned to camp with the blesbok in tow for a great lunch and a little break until mid afternoon. The afternoon was spent in seach of a gemsbok, and we did have a successful stalk on a bull but Ruan said we could do better and since we had lots of time left to hunt after settling the crosshairs on him and saying "bang, your dead" we walked away and headed back to the truck for the ride back to the lodge. A great African sunset played out on our ride back.
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The evening was spent around the fire with great appetizers and Kudu steak, beef steak and all the trimmings for dinner.
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Tracey Colson

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Day 4 started with gemsbok and impala left on the list, back in the truck for a drive to a likely spot and then out on foot for a stalk through more ankle twisting rocks. I am really surprised I came home with both ankles in good shape after this hunt, but it will always leave me something to remember. After stalking for a bit we found some gemsbok in the thick brush and after some maneuvering to get into position for a shot, the sticks went up and although it took me a bit to find the gemsbok in my scope, the shot from the 375 Ruger Mag connected but it was back and maybe high. We could hear the gemsbok running through the rocks so we made our way that was as quickly as we could. When we arrived where we thought the gemsbok was when we shot we once again heard him going through the rocks. We got into position for a finishing shot. What they say about African game being tough is correct, it took two good shots to finish the job, but the gemsbok was mine. I couldn't wait to send the pictures to my oldest son as gemsbok has always been a dream for him.
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The afternoon was spent in search of an impala with no luck.

The morning of day 5

Ruan and I had visited earlier in the hunt about trying to get my wife in on some of the action and he had brought his 300 Short mag along this morning. We had stopped at the range and had my wife (Trish) shoot with the rife to make sure she was comfortable with it and it had went well. She had decided that a black wildebeest would be her target.

While I still had an impala on my list and the early part of the morning was spent looking for a ram with no luck later in the morning we made a plan to see if we could find her a wildebeest. The big open field where we found the blesbok generally held some black wildebeest so it off to there and see if they could get a stalk put on one. After a short stalk Ruan and Okert had my wife on the sticks, but the wildebeest did not cooperate and offer a good shot so the went a little further and were back on the sticks again. I was watching through my binoculars from the bakki and seen the wildebeest go down. Unfortunately it also got back up and before a second shot could be taken was into the brush.

They thought the shot was a little high and after looking for a while without finding any sign a decision was made to go back to the lodge for lunch and see if he would return to the herd and move back out into the open later in the day.

After lunch we headed back out in search of the wildebeest and I still had impala on my mind as well. We looked for the wildebeest but had no luck there but later in the afternoon we did see a herd of impala with a good ram in it. after some time trying to get into position for a shot on the ram we saw some impala moving through a small opening and got into position for a shot. As soon as I saw a ram step into the opening I took the shot. The 7 mag did its job and I then turned to Ruan and Okert and said "I hope it was the right one" the responded they did as well. After getting to the ram they confirmed that I had made the right decision.

There was no way to take decent pictures where we were with light fading so we loaded up the ram and headed for a spot to take them.

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This picture is the whole crew Ruan, Okert, Pieter(Driver) and Witness(tracker)

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The trip back to the lodge was with mixed emotions as we were unable to find the wildebeest, but we also had days left to hunt so hopes were still alive.
 
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Tracey Colson

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Day 6

While I was done hunting, day 6 started with one thing on the agenda and that was finding my wife's wildebeest. We returned to the open field and there were some black wildebeest there, but not the one we were looking for. We checked several other likely spots with no luck until we came upon a water hole with a herd of springbok and a lone black wildebeest at it. He took off into the bush, but not before Ruan and Okert had spotted the blood on his side and confirmed that this was the same one she hit the day before.

He made the bush before a shot could be taken, and a decision was made to have Ruan and Okert go through the spot while Trish and I stayed in the truck and went around to watch a two track trail in case he crossed it. The whole idea was to get him on the ground.

With no luck on this attempt it was back in the truck and around to the next spot. We spotted the springbok herd and the wildebeest was still with them. A quick follow up shot done the job before he got into the dense brush, and my wife had officially become an African hunter.

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We returned to the lodge in much better spirits than the night before, and had a great lunch. We were done hunting, but still had some adventures left. The afternoon was spent riding in the bakki looking at some of the other animals on the property including the breeding herds of sable and cape buffalo. It is always interesting to me to see some of the behind the scenes work that goes into stuff like this.

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Uncle Sauce

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Beautiful trophies and great photos!
 

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Congrats to all, thanks for posting
 

Tracey Colson

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Day 7

While we were done hunting we still had some adventures left on our list. We had told Ruan that we would love to see some lions. The day began with a trip to a nearby farm that raised lions. While these lions were captive, they were far from and tame and one even charged us right up to the fence. I know there was a fence between us, but if it didn't make the hair on your neck stand up I really don't think you were alive. I was incredible to see the amount of work and expense that was put into raising these lions.
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The next stop of the day was at a diamond tender house for a quick tour. It was an impressive facility and was great to see the amount of passion that the owner had for diamonds, it went way beyond business. The picture is of my wife holding a 30ct and a 40ct raw diamond. No she did not get a new diamond out of the trip. lol
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One of my true loves is trapshooting, I spend most of my summers chasing clay targets around parts of Wyoming, Montana, South Dakota and sometimes Nebraska. Ruan arranged with another property for us to use their clay target range for the afternoon. Fun was had by all, even Anna-Marie got in on the shotgun action. (she might have outshot all of us).

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I had some trouble hitting some of the targets. I blame it on being in the southern hemisphere and the targets spinning backwards but nobody believes me. lol

Day 8

Today ended up being a fly by the seat of our pants day. It started out with a trip to Vryburg to get our COVID tests for the trip home, but when we got to the testing station we found out that it was a national holiday (freedom day) and that they were not doing COVID testing today. Don't get me started on why you would shut down testing for the deadliest thing on earth (JK), but that was the case.

Plan B was developed and while my number one summer love is trapshooting, my wife and I also spend a lot of our summers running a part time BBQ business, (Hence my profile picture) and Ruan asked if they found some ribs would I like to use the camps drum smoker and BBQ them. It sounded like a fun afternoon to this BBQ junkie so it was off to the meat market for ribs. I was a little out of my realm without my normal spices and equipment, but made do and the ribs came out pretty good. I also made some pork belly, but was not used to the smoker and it got a little charred. Okert made some pork cracklins with the skin and they were very good as well.
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The evening meal consisted of the BBQ, springbok tenderloins, springbok stew and all the fixings. I continue to be impressed by the taste of the game meat from Africa as all of it was very good.

Day 9

Day 9 consisted of a trip back to Vryburg for our COVID tests and some shopping for stuff to bring home for the adult kids and grandbaby. I was amazed at the amount of bullets on the shelf at the gun shop we stopped at and told them they probably had more bullets there than the entire state of Wyoming right now.

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The day concluded with pictures of all the skulls and a ride out to the big open field to spend the last evening of our time in Africa watching yet again another beautiful sunset with a beer (wine for my wife) and all the animals just doing what they do.

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The day ended well with another great meal of lamb ribs, steak and fixings. It got even better when we received the emails that we had negative COVID tests. While we had the time of our lives being here it was time to get headed home.

Day 10

This was the day that seemingly never ended. We left the ranch at 7am and after a little hiccup at the airport with my firearms we were on the airplane leaving Kimberly at 10:20. Our flight was quick and we arrived in Joberg a little early. Gilbert from Africa Sky was to meet us and help with the firearm process on our way home, but the early arrival caused some issues and somebody forgot to tell security at OR Tambo that there were firearms on the plane. It was a rat race trying to get my guns squared away and while waiting for Gilbert I was called back to the firearms desk to retrieve my gun and ammo cases, It all got accomplished and Gilbert got us on our return flights home with out much trouble.

We had a quick (42 minute) connection in Doha and then on to Seattle. The combination of a 9hr flight and a 14hr flight with no time in between was brutal but we survived.

Upon arrival at SeaTac, I discovered my gun case setting with the rest of the oversize baggage. Customs/Border Patrol did not like that and while they were very polite with me I think there was a baggage handler that had an educational moment. In case you ever wondered what kind of attention you get when this happens, here is one last picture for this report.
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A smooth flight on to Billings and we were home. Not sure how to end this except to say that if a trip like this is something you are considering, just do it, you will never regret it.
 

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