SOUTH AFRICA: My Successful 7 Day Hunt With Pawprint Safaris In The Northwest & Limpopo Provinces


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Oct 14, 2013
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Dallas Safari Club, Safari Club Int.
USA, RSA, Northwest and Limpopo Provinces
I started planning this hunt in October, first confirming the hunt, cost and dates with Pieter Erasmus. Second I had many PMs, phone texts and phone calls with a group of AH members I have met during the past five years, all whom have hunted Africa many times and in many cases have taken cape buffalo many times over. And since my son and I hunted with Pawprints last year, I was already familiar with the camp and many of the PHs, trackers and other staff from that period. My primary animals were buffalo cow and warthog, which I never had a chance at last year. I departed my home town of Pensacola on Sunday, 1 July. I had a three hour layover in Atlanta before the long 16 hour flight to Johannesburg. I incurred absolutely no problems with the checking in of the rifle nor the Delta Comfort seat I paid for back in January.

I arrived in Joburg at about 5:30 pm (1730 hours) on Monday 2 July. I was met by my PH Jonathan Morris and Rifle Permits at the SAP office to check and receive my rifle and temporary gun license. The check in at the SAP office was actually much faster than the time it took me to retrieve my checked bag off of the carousel! Then we were on the way to Pawprints in the Northwest Province, about a 2 hour ride from the airport. Upon our arrival we had a great meal prepared by Claudius and his wife Ruth, met with old friends from last year and new ones from Canada, planned a late breakfast, then found my room and went to bed.......Oh, did I mention it was cold!
29 degrees cold!!!! And I wasn't prepared for these kind of night temps. I found my one sweat shirt that I had packed and wore it constantly for the next 2 1/2 days except in the shower. It finally warmed up a little!

Tuesday, 3 July

After a late breakfast, I checked zero on my rifle and I fired a couple of extra rounds from stix. (Never too much practice when your flying 8000 miles from home to hunt. The PH, Jonathan also fired off a couple of rounds at a much closer distance from his CZ .458 Lott he would be carrying on the buffalo hunt the next day.

After lunch, we headed to a new concession of Pieter's only around 15 minutes from camp. Since our buffalo hunt in Limpopo was scheduled for the next day, Wednesday. We were primarily looking for a warthog on this afternoon. Little did I know at the time that my PH and I would spend approximately 30 hours of a 7 day hunt looking for a damn pig to shoot!!!

We immediately saw around 15 blesboks just grazing just off of the main road. They paid virtually no attention to us or the truck. Nearly all of them would have been easy shots....but that's not what I was looking for. Then saw a large herd of Red Hartebeest, maybe 40-50 of them running full out across an open field. I saw two individuals on my last trip and both took off in a full run when they saw us. Also saw five zebras including a big stallion which I would run into again four days later. In addition we saw two young giraffes close to the road. We parked the truck on an old trail shortly and began stalk/walk/sit for the next 90 minutes or so covering two watering holes where barrels containing water had been placed and ended up at a natural or man made pond where we sat for around 45 minutes or an hour. We had jumped three pigs while walking through the brush, but all we could see were there backs and tails. No shot. Saw blue wildebeest and red hartebeest in a large field behind the "pond", but nothing came to the water...and no pig. We called it a day and headed back to camp. Seeing the different species on this day, some up close, still made me feel we had a successful day!

Next entry will cover the buffalo cow hunt.

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You caught the back end of the weather we experienced starting a couple of days into the hunt. A similar thing happened in Namibia several years ago at the same time of year, so I had both a micro-fleece sweater and a field jacket in the bag. Came home with cracked lips and wind burnt face from the cold wind! Heck, even my PH stayed in long pants and field jacket all but a couple of days. :E Cold:
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Brrrr!!! 29! Brrrr!!!
Warthogs are either everywhere or no where to be found. Took me three trips to finally get a good one.
Looking forward to the buffalo cow hunt. I’d like to add one next to my bull.
29 sure is cold. I have been there when it was in the low 30s. Looks like my group will experience the 40s at night and high 60s low 70s during the days.
David I am looking forward to your account of the buff hunt.
Wednesday 4 July

Up at 4 am (0400) for coffee and a muffin. The PH already had our box lunch and drinks in the truck. We departed camp at 0500 for The Spring Bok Ranch in the Limpopo Province. The ranch is just over a two hour drive from camp. The Spring Bok was a cattle farm until 1979. They even tried their hand at raising/protecting rhinos a few years back, but poachers still manage to get into a "secure" area and kill the rhinos for their horns. The Spring Bok ended their attempted business of protected rhinos. The facility is still there. Looks like a barnyard made of steel!

After the drive we entered the ranch and drove straight to the office area. During the short drive, we observed springboks in every direction it seems, along with blond/tan color wildebeest. Once arriving in the office area, we were met by Edward Nel. He is a PH and manager for the ranch but would be serving as our tracker for my hunt. Edward told us there were 80 total buffalo on the property. He was ready to hunt and so were we. We piled into his truck with all of our gear and off we went. We only drove maybe 10 minutes when we off loaded and began a stalk to try and locate the herd. This is the first time I had hunted dangerous game, so was the first time I hunted with the PH armed and in this case tracker Edward also. My PH was carrying his CZ .458 Lott. The tracker was carrying a .375 HH with a plastic stock, (not going to see many of these in Africa carried by locals in my experience) I could not make out the make. Since was following up the rear, I had complete view of what was going on in front of me. I never saw a single instance of one weapon pointing at another person! More confidence for me!

The tracker had told us before starting out that we would be looking for fresh sign to try to determine where a herd was to zero in on. We walked for I would guess 45 minutes to 1 hour before we finally located a herd at about 300 meters. I initially did not see them through a forest area and in a field. We slowed our movement and continued. At what I would guess was 150-200 meters, I could see them. And they saw us too! The group of 30-40 individuals ran off to our left, but only for maybe a 100 meters or so until stopping once again. For the next 45 minutes or so we played hide and seek with the herd. After some time of us moving, then they would move, I could see some type of structure through the trees and brush parallel to the buffalo and in the general direction we were moving. It was that old rhino facility I mentioned earlier. Once we arrived there, we were effectively hidden from the herd. It allowed us to move much closer to them and be hidden, at least I thought so. Once we arrived at the corner of the facility that was closest to the herd, Tracker Edward told the PH and myself to hold our position while he checked out the herd with his binos. He was at this point looking for a cow in a position that was safe for me to shoot, but I didn't know it. After 2 or 3 minutes he signaled for my PH and myself to come forward. After I rounded the corner, I realized that the entire herd was looking at us! And closer than I thought we would have been at this point. Very intimidating. Edward put out the stix and whispered to me which animal to shoot. The cow along with all of the others were presenting full frontal shots. The target animal was on the right of the herd, nothing behind her. Directly next to her though was a big bull, maybe 2-3 feet away. The tracker told me to shoot when ready. I was ready. Center of chest. I fired! While chambering another round, I could see she went down on the front end. In all of the dust I watched, still on the stix, her get up, do a 180 with the rest of the herd and run directly away from us. She only ran about 30 meters and fell over on her right side. We waited a few minutes before approaching her. Her legs kicked one time. As we approached her the PH had me aim at her chest ready to fire a follow up shot. The tracker polked her around the eye a couple of times, then pronounced her dead. One shot, center of chest, 90 meters, she ran 30 meters, and I had my first buffalo!


Author and his first buff!

Author and Tracker Edward Nel

Author and PH Jonathan Morris
Barnes TXS on Buffalo.jpg

My 400 grain Barnes TSX bullet used in my .404 Jeffery to take this buffalo. For you members of hand loaders anonymous....72 gr IMR 4064, Primer CCI 250, COL 3.50, Hornady brass, 2150 FPS. Loaded up by my son. The ranch retains the animals taken there. They were preparing for the butchering of the animal as we departed back to camp. The bullet was recovered from the stomach of the buff full of freshly eaten grass. After cleaning up the bullet Edward shot it with his IPhone and sent it to Jonathan, then to me.

Even after the taking of the animal, the rest of the herd would only run off so far, then they would slowly make their way back to us and their fallen sister. During the last time, while we were waiting for the loader to pick up the buff, they were getting more brave as they approached, Edward pull his pistol, (I believe a 1911) and fired into the air once to turn them back. Just after the loader arrived, we loaded up and departed back to the office area to completed paper work, before having our box lunch and heading back home.

Happy 4th of July to Me!!!
Next up later will be 2 days of pig hunting and the zebra.
Nicely done! Congrats on the buff!!! Jonathan's a cool dude and a likable PH!

The .404 and ammo sure did the trick!
Nicely done! Congrats on the buff!!! Jonathan's a cool dude and a likable PH!

The .404 and ammo sure did the trick!
Agree completely, Jonathan is a great PH and funny too!
Congratulations David!
Nice shot my friend. Congrats on joining the big five club. Looks like the Barnes performed as advertised. Weight retention must be what? 95 percent?
Welcome back David, now get on with the report
Sent replies to your texts from SA, but all came back undeliverable! Sent you three pics yesterday and they were delivered!
Nice Buff, glad to hear you had a great time at Pawprint. I'm leaving on the 18th for their AH group hunt, can't wait.
Excellent buff hunt ! It’s interesting how they all seem to return trying to protect their comrade in trouble. Seems pretty common.
When I was at Paw Prints a few years ago in July it froze several nights so I not sure that temperature is real rare that time of year!
When I was at Paw Prints a few years ago in July it froze several nights so I not sure that temperature is real rare that time of year!
I only have last year to compare with. Nights were mid 40s, days in mid to upper 60s. Near perfect hunting weather. If I make it back next year, I will be taking something warm just in case!
Congrats, well done.
Looks like your 404 did its job. Congratz on your Buff!!!
Outstanding David. And very nice shooting.

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