SOUTH AFRICA: My Hunt With Comre Safaris

LivingTheDream

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I have been a bit of a slacker in writing the report but I got back Sunday from hunting with Comre Safaris. I had an absolutely amazing time! I knew Africa was going to be addicting but I didn't realize it would be this bad. After 2 years of planning and reading and getting ready, I can't believe my trip is over but it was one of the best weeks of my life. Even with SAA given me a small mishap. I am doing a short write up now, but will come back and post pictures.

Outfitter: Comre Safaris
PH: Shaun Abraham
Area Hunted: Kalahari & Eastern Cape
Special Shout out to Tam Safaris and the Afton House
Species Harvested: Lioness, Nyala, and Bushbuck

Species Darted: White Rhino

This trip really came out of the blue when a friend gave me a phone call and asked if I wanted to hunt a Lioness. Of course I said yes, but did not think it would be a reality. I talked with the PH Shaun Abraham and immediately hit it off. 2 years planning and reading and studying and practicing and before I knew it I was flying SAA to Jo-Berg. The trip started off a little rough with a 2 hour delay due to the fuel truck’s fuel gauge being broken. I then got to Jo-berg and though Henry Rifles was waiting and did a great job my rifle unfortunately didn’t make it. To say I was pissed was a bit of an understatement but I was too excited to be in Africa and was too tired to really throw a fit. After a nice night of talking with fellow hunters and getting some much needed sleep at the Afton House we left at 5:30 am to go to the Kalahari. The trip there was long and to describe it would be drive 1 hour down a dirt road, and turn right and go another hour down a dirt road. I was told we were only 10 miles from Botswana, which that in itself to me was pretty cool. We got there at 1 pm, had a nice lunch, changed clothes and sighted in the rental rifle and off we went looking for tracks. After seeing animal after animal and I did the impossible. I passed on a 54 inch ivory tipped Kudu, he will forever haunt me, not from regret of not shooting but because it was one of the most beautiful animals I have ever seen. Truly amazing animals. While driving around, with the sun starting to fall from the sky we jumped a herd of blue wildebeest and they crossed directly in front of us, kicking up that reddish brown Kalahari dust with the sun in the background. To me this was picturesque Africa. Then came probably what turned out to be the low point of the trip. Which at the time was still pretty cool. We were unable to find and lion tracks but we did see some plains game. We stalked a monster and I mean a monster of an impala. I wasn’t going to shoot it but when the PH and tracker took off, I was like a little kid chasing saying wait for me. We did a great stalk and got to 100 to 120 yards, he was with 2 other nice impalas but when I saw how much bigger he was I got a little nervous (seriously a lot nervous). I shot directly over his back and he was gone to never be seen again. My PH said he was 2 7 to 28 inches and was one of the biggest impala he has ever seen. That one will haunt me as well. Overall a great first day, but not my best shooting day.


I woke up before the alarm and was laying in bed, I could hear the lions roaring. I knew today was going to be the day. I just had a feeling. Got up ready to go, breakfast was great, but I was excited, nervous and eager to get out there. We take off, nothing crossing the road, first waterhole, no tracks, drive to the next waterhole, PH says there is a track fresh. I look at it and first and foremost in that Kalahari sand I have no idea how they could tell it was fresh and other then the giant size no idea how to tell if that was a lion. After a quick pep talk, grab the guns and off we go. Every bush, every thick spot, every hill, I just said this is the one, but we kept going and going. I am truly thankful it took a while, because it got me to calm down a little. After over hour and 20 minutes we are still tracking. Everyone is looking at tracks and I look up and 50 yards ahead she is staring us down. I go, “oh sh*t a lion!” Chaos ensued as we were getting the sticks up, she crept down and jogged off as only a lion can. Not a scare run the way an impala or deer would, but a more of I don’t feel like being bothered with you type jog. We track some more and some more. This felt like we walked for forever but looking back it was maybe 20 minutes, ½ mile more or so. The tracker freaks out and the sticks are going up. As I get the gun up, I see her in the bush, looking at us but almost no worried at our presence. 15 yards, but the guns up, good rest, then the shot. There is a roar, I reload, looking for the second shot but she rolled and took off into the long grass. We huddle up and look at the sign. I thought the shot was dead on right behind the shoulder and the tracker thought so as well. The sign looked like it was little back. I can’t describe what was going through my head but I knew the situation just escalated, and that it was time to be fully prepared for anything. We form a circle and start following the tracks, a little blood here and there. My senses were on overload, constantly scanning, and ready for anything, after 50 yards the tracks show she is dragging a leg. We stop, form the line, a PH on each side. They say it is about to happen, she won’t go far and she will be coming. Each step is cautious and intense. This isn’t a matter of if, but a matter of when. 10 to 20 steps later the tracker rolls to the right, PH says left, I throw the gun up and see her in the scope 10 yards, I am asked if I see her, I say yes, they say shoot. This shot hit her square in the chest. She is doing a slight roar but the head is still moving. Shaun is yelling wait wait wait wait, I am on her and ready to shoot, I am praying just let me shoot, finally he says hit her again. On this shot the head dropped there was no movement. I circle around 5 steps to the right and put the insurance shot in. I am still keyed up and everyone is talking in Afrikaan. I am asking “what does that mean, what does that mean?”. Shaun smiles and says done. I had my lion.


This is truly the most surreal and amazing hunting experience of my life. I almost choked up, I can’t believe the size of her. She is beautiful. I spent probably 10 to 15 minutes with her just admiring, praying and thanking god and her for the hunt. Words don’t do the experience justice and to this day, I just stare at the pictures. She will always have a connection with me. Shaun walks over and says not bad for your first African animal, I laugh and just soak in the moment. I know some people say it is life changing to hunt Dangerous game, I am not sure if I would go this far, I can tell you it is truly humbling, and I have since become more appreciative of the little things. I can tell you in heart beat that I would definitely without a doubt do this again.

The rest of my time in the Kalahari was anti climatic, guess who missed another impala (ricochet off of a thorn tree branch). I now hate impala. Great food and great people, 5:30 am we are off to the Eastern Cape, 11 hours on the road but I enjoyed seeing the change of scenery and all of the different game.

Now in the eastern cape, I had 3 days to hunt plains game before Vita-Dart time. I didn’t plan to hunt any plains game due to the booking the Rhino hunt. But I was asked what my top plains game animal would be and I said Nyala. Shaun says that’s perfect because that will take us 3 days to get a good one. I thought no way, we saw a ton of small nyala on the way in and there has to be some big ones around. We start the morning off hitting the usual hangouts, and nothing, of course we see gemsbuck, kudu cows, little Nyala, duiker, sable, steenbok, springbuck, impala, and even a few wildebeest but nothing for me. We stalk and glass and drive around and stalk and glass. Nothing, we decide to drive to the other side of the concession as there is another hot spot there. On the way over, the tracker starts freaking out, big Nyala! Right in the field, little cover but just grazing along taking his time. It’s so big they wonder if one the cape buffalo broke down the breeding pen and if this was the breeding bull! Did he escaped? As we are watching it, Shaun gets on the walkie talkie and gets the breeding manager on the phone. The game manager goes and checks the area while we are watching the Nyala of my dreams slowly make his way to cover. Finally good news on the radio, they have their bull and we are good to go! The stalk is on and we are running to get ahead of it. There is a small opening that we saw him heading towards. We can see ivory tips moving across the brush. We get the sticks up just as he hits the gap and as the saying goes another one for the salt. It dropped on the shot and I had my Nyala, talk about getting lucky. The game manager asked us to swing by so he could see and he said wow that is bigger than my breeding bull.


The next day was mostly screwing around, looking for baboons, I mention maybe possibly I would like to get a bushbuck. We sneak around looking for a bushbuck, no luck but now I was determined to kill a bushbuck. I couldn’t reach out to my better half to get to get the ok but I made the executive decision that we knew there would be overages on the trip and I passed up a Kudu, I deserve a bushbuck for showing that kind of restraint.


So the next day we drove to another concession about 2 ½ hours away, this is where I learned to despise stop and gos, I mean seriously, I came here to hunt not wait for traffic at 5 am. We get to the area and it is one of the most beautiful areas I have ever seen. It was beautiful mountains and valleys, I felt honored to be able to hunt such a place. Warthogs were everywhere, so were impala, a few kudu, and even a couple wildebeest. We get out and start glassing, and we glass and we glass and we glass, out a nowhere a good bushbuck comes running on the other side of the mountain, sticks go up but I was just a bit slow. At this point, it finally hit me, African animals are not like whitetail or even bears where you can wait for the shot to present itself. You have to take the shot that is presented. Use enough gun and trust the tracking dog. So we drive to another glassing spot, we are there 5 minutes and Shaun tells me there is a big bushbuck high up in the cliffs. So began the ¾ to a mile uphill speed hike, that we covered in great time, we had a strong cross wind which helped hide our noise and scent. Get to one of the little ridges and we pin the sticks in so they are sturdy. The gun goes up and all I have a Texas Heart Shot at 180 yards, at the shot of the gun, the animal drops, the tracker screams yes and I had my bushbuck in the salt. I got lucky as he almost slide off one of the cliffs (missed it by about a yard) and he was old, his horns wore down and his teeth pretty much gums. We think he was between 9 to 11 years old. What a magnificent animal and I feel like I did the old boy a favor.


Got back to the lodge, a good cigar, some dinner and then time for bed. Tomorrow it will be Rhino time. Tomorrow came and so did bad weather, so it was not Rhino time, I mostly hung out around the lodge, read a book and drank coffee, kind of felt like a normal vacation.


Another day and the weather was better, we were off to Tam Safaris to do a Rhino Dart hunt. I know some members don’t understand why someone would do it, and the animal rights people have ended it where you can shoot it with the tranquilizer dart but I was super pumped to be going after a Rhino. All I could think about was Hitari and how that one Rhino was rammed John Wayne’s jeep. We get there, cup of coffee, practice with the dart gun, nothing to it, except one of my darts hit on an angle and bounced off, I was hoping this was not a sign of things to come. I knew Rhinos were huge, however, I have to say they are amazing at hiding. I would have sworn there was no way a Rhino could hide in this cover, and I was totally wrong. We drove around for over an hour and ½ trying to locate one. We found one!! She was about ½ mile to 1000 yards away, wind blowing directly towards her and she was already nervous. Great sneaking up on an already nervous Rhino. So we circle around on foot to get downwind. In the process we spot two more Rhino coming over a hill and disappearing into the cover. This was such a cool experience and I wasn’t even to my Rhino. As we get closer our movements slow down, we do more scanning, and we see fresh tracks, I see some movement up ahead, this is where the heart gets pounding. As we get closer, I can hear her stomach growling, I can see the massive head swinging and it sounds like with each steps that she is crushing rocks. The heart went from pounding to going oh god what am I doing. We get to 20 yards, there is a gray bus in front of me. And only a few thorn bushes between us. I am almost crawling to the next tree which will give us the necessary opening, as I am halfway, I look over and all I can see is a giant eye looking at me. OH God! It looks angry! I feel like this is the same reaction if you were tight rope walking got halfway across and then looked down, the moment where you go, what am I doing. Slowly slowly slowly, made it to the bush. The PH sets the pressure, he says move out slowly and be ready, I peek out and she is facing us 12 yards away, I say “she is facing us, be ready for what”. He tells me, “move slowly and she will get nervous and turn, as I slowly move out and shoulder the dart gun, sure enough she turns and a perfect shot right on the shoulder. I would have sworn she was 10 feet tall and 30 feet long. She looked massive!! She takes off and I mean really takes off. As we are celebrating some lions are roaring in the background, how cool is this!! We get to the bakkie’s and get on the radio and get the helicopter to hit her with the tranquilizer, we are following fast with in the bakkie but it is almost 2 miles away, holy moly do these things move fast, as we get there she is slowing down and starting to do her drunk dance. We get to get her, help her go down, and get start getting pictures, every breath she takes is like a freight train. I have never felt anything as cool as Rhino skin, she is a glorious animal and I can’t believe I am face to face with one. Blood work taken for health reasons and to see if she is pregnant, measurements taken, and hit her with the anti-dote and now it is time to haul ass back to the truck. I did get to pat her on that white rhino back hump and said thank you. Just as I am getting back she is on her feet and on the move. It was super cool!!! What a surreal experience, it went by so fast and but one of the coolest moments of my life. Really the experience defies logic, get as close as you can to a 2 ton Rhino, sneak around till it gets nervous and pissed it off my hitting it with a needle.


The last day was paperwork and rest, did shoot a few rabbits which was fun, but overall my first African experience was over. 2 of the big 5, and 2 of the top of wishlist for plains game. I wouldn’t have changed a thing. My wishlist for plains game has since changed, I can’t wait to go back and I am super excited to do it again. I learned so much, and had completed my dream come true.


In conclusion, I can tell you this, Hunting is very much necessary in Africa and anyone who disagrees 1) hasn’t been there and seen the economic situation of some of the harder to reach places or 2) hasn’t been there and seen the difference between a hunting concession and a farmer and the difference of wildlife and animals. The country is absolutely breathtaking, but the poverty outside of the major areas is astounding. I am truly more appreciative of everything I have. Hunting is truly making a difference for the better in Africa both from conservation and more importantly from a quality of life perspective and I am willing to argue this to the death, I have seen it!


As far as the outfitter, I could not have been any happier with Comre and with Shaun as my PH. He truly understands game and Comre has plenty of it. They will also work to get you the animal even if it means bouncing around to different concession hours apart. The food was fantastic, the lodge was great, and the people were wonderful. I could not ask for more.

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AZDAVE

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Welcome to the club, hunting Africa is addicting. I was planning my second safari before I got on the plane to come home from the 1st.
 

LivingTheDream

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I am definitely going back, probably 3 years away unfortunately, but I am starting the planning process. It has totally ruined my deer season as it is pretty hard to go sit in a tree and wait for does to walk by.
 

Wheels

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Glad you had a great hunt.

Thanks for the report.
 

Royal27

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Good stuff, and addicting it is. :)
 

Redruff

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Welcome back congrats on your adventure.

R.
 

Warbird782

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I am definitely going back, probably 3 years away unfortunately, but I am starting the planning process. It has totally ruined my deer season as it is pretty hard to go sit in a tree and wait for does to walk by.

Welcome to the club! IMHO Hunting in Africa cannot be equaled here in the US.
 

LivingTheDream

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Welcome to the club! IMHO Hunting in Africa cannot be equaled here in the US.

You aren't kidding, it is a job to check my trail cam pics, doe only season came in on Saturday and I haven't even gone yet! This is a first. Just the variety of animals you see. After my bushbuck, we had 8 zebra run by us at 30 yards, there is no chance of that happening to me in the states. You just never know what is going to happen next.
 

Warbird782

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I have passed up many great hunts here in the US to save to go back to Africa. If it were not for my 10 year old daughter hunting this year I would not be all that excited about this years hunts. I actually cancelled some hunts that I usually do each year to go back to the EC again next year.
 

Nyati

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Congrats, a great hunt !
 

BRICKBURN

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I think that Bushbuck is the one who lost his horns in my Bushbucks face.

Neat ram.

That Rhino does look stoned. Pupils dilated..... :)

Just seeing the Mega fauna is always a thrill for me, never mind setting your hands on one.

Congrats and thanks for sharing the pictures.
 

Redruff

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Those are some memories of a great adventure from the sounds of it. That Rhino photo is my favourite next to that nice Nyala!

Congrats again.

R.
 

bluey

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cool animals , congratulations.
bueatiful lioness......
definitely an adventure ......
thanks for showing us
 

rinehart0050

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Great photos. Thanks for sharing and congrats.
 

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