SOUTH AFRICA: My Hunt In The Limpopo

Nyati

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I left Madrid on August 8th, for my fifth African hunt, we were a group of seven, of which two were observers, Five Spaniards and two Russians. As Iberia canceled its JHB route, we chose to fly with Swiss, via Zurich, as Switzerland is hassle free when flying with guns. All you have to do is give advance warning to the airline.
We had a smooth but long flight, arrived JHB on the 9th, two of our PH s, Eksteen Prinsloo and Friki were waiting for us, we collected our guns from the SAPS office without any problems, and were on our way to Elandsbosch Safaris in the Limpopo Province, near Steenbokpan for 8 days of hunting.
I had told Gerhardo Steenekamp, our outfitter, that on this trip I wanted to collect an Eland and a Bushbuck and they had to be mature animals, I had all the time to look for them. Then, if the opportunity presented, I would also like to shoot a hyena, baboon, jackal, and any large warthog I could set my sights on.
The editor of Armas Internacional magazine, a longtime friend and hunting partner was in the party, and he brought a Merkel Helix in 9,3x62 for testing, which I used to take my animals. Scopes were an Aimpoint Hunter 30mm, and Leupold RX 2-7x33, with illuminated reticle, also 30mm tube. Ammunition used, RWS EVO 296gr which performed flawlessly.

Day One

We set out to hunt Vergulde Helm property, which was supposed to have very nice Eland. It is a large property, and unusual in the area, because its center is made of rocky low hills, with boulders of all sizes, where the eland just love to be. It has all the animals you expect to see in the area.

The day was cold, when we set out, -3 C, around 15C at noon, and very windy. I was hunting with Eksteen. We cruised the area on the bakkie until we saw tracks of a group with a large male, heading for the hills, and we followed on foot, it was hard going, but we managed to get quite close, as their dropping were still wet. After 2.5 hours we got a glimpse of them just before they disappeared at the top of a hill, and there was a very nice male. We completely lost the track on stony ground, so back to the bakkie for another search.

During the stalk we saw some interesting animals, a klipspringer, an African Wild Cat, and a mamba, which would not pose for a picture. It still puzzles me, what was the mamba doing in this cold weather?
We found tracks of a lone bull, and went after, only to lose them after about 1.5 hours.

Lunch in the field, and back to work in the afternoon, following the same procedure. We were unsuccessful, until sundown, when we jumped a group of Eland, but they were too fast and lost themselves in heavy brush.




Day Two

Today we are hunting Moos Pan property, again lousy hunting weather, cold and windy

It is a typical bushveld farm, same tactics as yesterday, driving around, and then stalking in the heavy brush where the eland are hiding, as we can see tracks and droppings, but they elude us. We found a poacher s noose, which we took, and not far away a pair of pliers on the ground, maybe we had just scared him?

It was only at sunset when we saw a group of eland, and later a large lone male. It is hard to understand how such large animals can be so fast and completely disappear in the bush in seconds. Who is it that said elands are just big fat cows?

All that time, I had been hunting alone with my PH, without any tracker or observer, so as to make the less possible noise.

According to my PH, we had been walking about 10 Km a day. Just a stroll!
Day Three
It is now warmer, with less wind but it changes direction constantly.
For a change we went for Bushbuck, at Serengeti farm. A well-known property, where high ranking politicians used to take their holidays. It is not so well kept nowadays.

I will elaborate further about bushbuck hunting later on, as it is an interesting topic.

That morning we did see many females, and a few bucks, but not what we were looking for.

After lunch we went back for eland, and saw 11 males, unfortunately, all young fellows.

Day Four

We are back on eland, hunting Aurora, a large property, more than 5.000ha, with the usual animals of the area plus buffalo, rhino, sable, tsessebe, a lion breeding project, and enclosure with young specimens of cats, leopard, both spotted and black, caracal, African cat, and tiger!

It is extremely well kept and has a non-hunting area separated by a fence.
We spend there the whole day and follow the usual routine, on the bakkie looking for tracks, then on foot through the bush.

They are extremely elusive during the day but we manage to see a very nice bull as the sun was setting.

Eksteen was getting worried that we still had not gotten my eland, but I reassured him there was no hurry, it just had to be the right one.

Day Five

Back to Aurora, we were definitely going after the big bull we had seen yesterday.

We talked with Carl, the head PH on the property, whom I know since 2008, and he told us that he had seen this old bull feed in a certain area where he would take us.

On the way we passed the buffalo herd, and a cow was giving birth, we stopped, and the bulls made a line staring and snorting at us, we got the bakkie going, and the leader and two other males actually chased us for a while. An interesting experience.

We reached the feeding area and decided to wait for the eland, we stood around 100m from the clearing, but did not build a blind, we just stood inside some bushed with trees behind us to break our outline, put up the sticks, and waited.

Our camouflage was good, as two gemsbok passed within 10m of us and didn t bolt. Next a small herd of blue wildebeest came, and started grazing, and finally, Eksteen whispered eland, he heard them coming, later explaining to me they make a distinctive noise with their hooves.

And there I was with my rifle on the sticks, watching as one, two, three eland passed in front of my scope, then, that s the one, whispered E, no doubt, even an amateur like myself could see it was a really old bull, then came more eland , three kudu bulls were playing their pranks, a few more gemsbok also came around, and I was trying to center my crosshairs on the bull amid all the confusion. When I thought I had a clear shot, someone would move into the line of fire. I don t know how long I waited, but it seemed like an eternity, until I finally had an opening and pressed the trigger.

Extreme confusion, as all the animals run in different directions, but E was smiling, calling å µood shot? We could see blood, light red and frothy, a lung shot. E tried to track it but it was nearly impossible with all the tracks made by the other animals, so we called Carl, and his Jack Russell Terrier. That wonderful dog made it easy and found the eland about 80m away, deep in the bush.

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Next Bushbuck
 
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enysse

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What a beautiful eland! Congrats!
 

Stretch

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Awesome eland. Nice write-up. Good job.
 

sestoppelman

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That is a whopper of an eland, congrats! Just I will be looking for next summer.
 

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nice one nyati, did you find the evo bullet? i use mostly the 293 grn uniclassic in my 9.3x62/74r and was wondering how they compare if you have ever used them that is? :) maybe pm me so it doesnt interrupt the thread.:)
 

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Great bull and great story. Looking forward to the rest.
 

Nevada Wapati

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Congratulations on your GREAT eland. Looking forward to your bushbuck.
 

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congratulations nyati he is a great looking eland thanks for showing us mate
nice write up
cant wait to hear of your bush buck hunting
 

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Congratulations Nyati! Awesome Eland and great pics can't wait for the rest of the story.
 

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Congratulations

Who ever said Eland are big cows mistook them for Buffalo. :)

Glad you waited and got some good strolls in beforehand.

Very nice Bull.
 

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Waiting has its virtues and rewards. That looks like a great Eland. Congrats! I enjoyed the story and can hardly wait for the rest. Bruce
 

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Part II

We are still on Day Five.

After taking the eland back to camp, we went back to Serengeti in our quest for the elusive Bushbuck. For those of you who have not yet hunted Bushbuck along the Limpopo, here are a few pics of the area.

View attachment 21787

View attachment 21788

View attachment 21789

View attachment 21790

As you can see, this is totally different from the bushveld we are used to in northern SA, the Limpopo river is the border between RSA and Botswana, it is not carrying much water actually, it fact it doesn t flow at all and is a series of ponds. The locals say they haven t seen it so low for the last 8 years. There is a double barbed wire fence which marks the border, and you hunt between these fences.

Trees are high and vegetation is dense, there is not much light, and animals are difficult to see, unless they move, there are a lot of velvet monkeys, some baboons, warthogs, and impalas to add to the confusion. We saw two crocodiles in the largest pond, one around 2m, the 4m.
According to the PH, there are at least two old bushbuck males in this property.

Hunting is done by walking slowly and silently and trying to locate your quarry before he senses you. No mean feat, it takes a PH with very sharp eyes to see these animals, and then judge whether it is the one you want.

That is what we did until sundown; we saw quite a few bushbucks, and one of the old males which didn t give me time to point my rifle. They move very fast!

Day six

We spent that morning at Serengeti, looking for the elusive bushbuck, saw a good male, but again he slipped away before I could take aim.

To break the jinx, in the afternoon we tried another property, Stockpoort, which is next to the border crossing into Botswana, my PH told me there are also two old males here, we managed to see one, but he saw us before, and bolted.

View attachment 21791

After two full days going after an animal which I thought would be easier, I was, to put it mildly, discouraged. Also quite tired of walking up and down that riverbank, just to see them disappear. I really wanted to do something else the next day.

Day Seven

I slept a bit more, and by noon we set up a blind next to a waterhole with camo nets, in the same property where the camp is. Three warthogs came to visit and were duly dispatched. A whole family of waterbucks came in, but were acting very skittishly which we failed to understand as the wind was right for us.

Then something totally unexpected, a hyena in broad daylight, probably attracted by the warthogs, unfortunately, it went back into the bushes immediately and gave me no chance of a shot. A jackal also came to nose around but would not keep quiet, possibly being aware of the hyena. This game went on until sundown, we waited to have a chance at the hyena, but it didn t show up again, and we had to leave when it was too dark to see anything.

View attachment 21792

That night we went out with an electronic jackal call, without results, and did some spotlighting from the bakkie, we saw all kinds of animals, including the rare aardwolf, and my friend shot a nice warthog.

I had given up on the bushbuck, but Gerhardo, my outfitter, told me I wasn t going back without it. Tomorrow he would go hunting with me, and I would shoot an old Bushbuck.

Day Eight

Gerhardo and I left early for Stockpoort. We started our walk and stalk in the cool air which kept changing, and made us extremely cautious. After one and a half hours, he signaled me to crouch and stay put, then we slowly went back to find the cover of tree, and carefully put up the sticks pointing where the bushbuck was, around 80 m away. He was lying in the shade, difficult to see, as the old males have a darker color. I aimed at his heart/shoulder area, he saw me and started to move, I fired.

Good shot, congratulations, a slap in the back?finally!

View attachment 21793

View attachment 21794

The shot went in behind the shoulder and exited on the opposite hip, destroying the pelvis and leaving a huge gaping hole. The bushbuck jinx was broken.

On the way back to camp, Gerhardo spotted this very old guy and asked me to put him out of his misery. Headshot.

View attachment 21795


Day Nine

We are going back home, after a visit to the taxidermist.

I am very satisfied with my trip; it has been by far the most demanding both physically and mentally, more than hunting buffalo or lion. The trophies are just what I wanted.

Too bad for the hyena, baboon, and jackal, they will have to wait for the next time.

It was nice to be back in Africa, among old friends, dining with game meat every day prepared on the braai by the boys, and accompanied by other marvelous dishes and fantastic desserts lovingly made by Anneke, drinking Castles and that great red wine

Now I ll just have to start saving for my next hunt, I was thinking about aquatics? hippo and crocodile!
 

Buff-Buster

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Beautiful trophies Nyati! Well done!
 

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Yeah thats going on on several threads the first ones opened for me but the later ones don't, something J way want to check in to might be a server issue.

The pix dont open for me!! What gives??!!
 

Nyati

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Thank you for posting your hunt report Nyati! Let me know if you need help with the pictures.

Yes please, Jerome, the pictures opened when I posted them, but they don t anymore :confusion:
 

Nyati

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Hey Jim, I read that you’re from Dequincey and just returned from Africa. I’m from Lake Charles and went there in April. What outfitter did you use and would you share your experience and pics? I won our trip to Kuche through DU.
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