Discussion in 'Hunting Reports Africa' started by Hank2211, Jul 3, 2015.
Congratz Hank! You got a great cat. I've also enjoyed reading your report
What a beautiful cat! Congrats. The harder we work for a trophy and the longer we wait the more they mean to us. You have had a great trip and I'm sure its one you will always remember. Bruce
Thanks all. It really was due to Riksa, who very kindly left the cat there for me. Thanks!
I like your cat a lot Hank! Good job!
Thanks for the great report Hank. Congrats on all the great trophies/memories.
All very kind remarks, but I ain't done yet!
I might not have been so kind if the opportunity had presented itself...
Those hunting gods have to be on your side for sure.
Exactly. Took me two hunts to get a leopard, and in three tries I've struck out on bush pig! I count myself very lucky!
I've got one empty strike for Leopard and one for Cheetah. But there are 2 more reasons to go back
June 10 – Day 24
After finally getting the cheetah, I was concerned that there would be a letdown, both on my part and on the part of the team. I can say that wasn’t the case with the team, and while I had a bit of a “my work here is done” feeling, I knew one sure way to overcome it. Giraffe! Today was the Day of the Giraffe. Skinning a giraffe is a lot of work, and Theo wanted to make sure the local taxidermist could handle the skin immediately. So we coordinated with him to pick a day when his team could come and pick up the skin and care for it properly.
As an aside, and there’s been lots of threads on this, I generally prefer to have my taxidermy done in Canada, but my taxidermist has more than once advised me to have thick, large hides tanned in Africa, where the facilities for, and experience with, that exist. And I wanted a giraffe skin to make into gun bags, some of which would be staying in Africa as gifts, so I had asked Theo for a recommendation for the taxidermy.
We had seen lots of giraffe as we had driven the property over the last 9 days, and had seen a few old, dark bulls which would make decent gun bags. We were looking for one of those.
I have taken quite a few giraffes, not sure why exactly, but I enjoy chasing them around. I have always gone with the heart/lung shot, which means they reliably come down, but often after a hundred yards or so (sometimes more - solids are reliable but seem to take longer to be effective). Dean had shown me a video of a giraffe hunt where the hunter had gone for a high neck shot, and I had to admit, the result was entirely satisfactory. The giraffe dropped as if pole-axed. So I’d decided to try that shot this time, and I had asked Theo to back me up, but only if I wounded the giraffe. It’s like the brain shot on an elephant. If the animal doesn’t drop to the shot, you missed what you were aiming for. In the case of the giraffe, if it doesn’t drop, you likely haven’t hit anything vital in the neck, and unless you can get a follow up shot in immediately, you’ve likely lost your trophy, as well as caused needless suffering to the animal.
Off we went, driving until we saw the kind of male we were looking for. It took a bit longer than usual (it always does when you’re actually looking for something), but we finally found what we were looking for. We drove about 500 yards past where he could see us, and got out, kitted up, and began our slow and quiet walk back. I was using the .416 for this shot, and while I had some solids left, I was using my last triple shock for the first shot.
He and the extended family were still in the vicinity as we got back to where we’d seen him. They were getting a bit nervous, but hadn’t run off yet. As we closed the distance to try for a shot, the male did begin to move, but stopped running after about 20 yards. We had to move the sticks around more than once to get the right angle as he moved, but eventually he stood still enough, looking back at us, to allow me to take a shot, at about 120 yards or so.
I looked at that massive chest and had second thoughts about the neck shot, but I had committed to try it, so try it I would. I aimed about 12 inches below where the head meets the neck, and squeezed off the shot. And wow! What a reaction! He shuddered for a bit – less than a second, and then collapsed as if the sky had fallen in on him. We quickly ran up, and while it wasn’t necessary – only nerves kept him from being completely still - I put a solid through his chest, more for my benefit than for his.
The giraffe over and done with (I actually could have gone after more . . .), we headed out to try and find Peter a black wildebeest. He and Theo had stalked these more than once, but had never been able to connect. I think the time of day is important. If they’re not resting, they never seem to stop moving.
We hadn’t seen very many on our travels, but Theo thought he knew where some could be found, so the truck was stopped, and off they went stalking. An hour and a half later, and we were still waiting. While I was wondering if they’d fallen off the edge of the world, I heard a shot. Finally.
When we got to them, it appeared that they had taken about half an hour to get within range of the wildebeest, but the one they were after spotted them, and they spent an hour staring at each other, Peter on the sticks and trying not to move and the wildebeest thinking if he didn’t move, no one could see him. After an hour of this, he apparently turned and gave them a shot, and Peter took it without further ado. Clown of the veld down.
Later in the day (much later) we decided to try for one of the many jackals we continued to see every day. There is no shortage of jackals at Ozondjahe – we set up with a call, and within 5 minutes could see at least three sets of eyes. Using a .22, I got three in less than 20 minutes in two locations.
I also used the .22 to shoot a porcupine, but that was less than satisfactory. I was some distance from the porcupine when I shot it, hitting it, and slowing it down – somewhat. I put two more rounds into it and it continued to move towards thick brush. At this point some frustration is setting in, which manifests itself by my jamming the rifle. Brilliant. While Theo is trying to unjam the gun, I’m following the porcupine from a distance of about three feet, which may not be my smartest move ever, but he seemed more intent on getting away than on fighting.
Theo catches up to me with a now un-jamed gun, and I shoot the porcupine again, hitting it, but still not killing it. What is it with this thing? That was also the last bullet. So what do you do with a rifle when you have no bullets? You hold it by the barrel and use it like a baseball bat, which we did to finally finish this poor thing off. Probably should have done that in the first place. (On the list I received from the taxidermist, it said “Porcupine: full skin, skull (damaged). I should hope so.)
In SA the tracker, Attie, said that whenever chasing a porcupine you always run beside them, and not behind them, for exactly this reason. Sudden stops from the porcupine can be bad!!!
Now you tell me.
All good things must come to an end! Thanks everyone for your patience and the responses.
June 11 – Day 25
No hunting today. We wake up later than usual, and after a nice breakfast, head in to Otjiwarongo, the nearest town of any size (about 70,000 people). It’s nice enough place, clean and tidy, and we’re here to visit (inspect?) the local taxidermist. And get some cigarettes for Gottfried. I’m not a big fan of smoking, but I can’t watch him smoke whatever it is he smokes wrapped in newsprint for another day.
The taxidermist shop is impressive, with a 72-inch (no kidding) kudu in the office. We meet with the owner, and get a high degree of comfort around their processes, so overall, we’re happy with the visit. Then off to pick up some groceries for camp, and the cigarettes I need for Gottfried. With all of that done, we head back to camp, having spent a pleasant morning.
The afternoon is spent looking for a Hartmann zebra for Peter, but we have no luck. They apparently keep to the mountains, but we’ve seen Burchell’s up there, so I have no doubt that they interbreed. Interesting, at least to me, is that it’s against the law in South Africa to keep the two in the same area, much the same as the rules around blesbok and bontebok. We’ll try it again in the morning when they might come out to get some sun.
June 12 – Day 26
This is the last day of our hunt, and we’ve gotten pretty much everything we wanted in Namibia, so the zebra is really icing on the cake. Nevertheless, we all enjoy icing. So we were off early morning to see if we could finish our hunt on a high note.
We drive over to the base of the mountains. The road tends to run about 200 – 300 yards from the base of the mountains, sometimes going in as close as 100 yards. The area between us the road and the mountains is entirely made up of high thorn bushes which, while not as dense as the area where we found the dik dik, are still dense enough to make you think twice about walking through.
After a good half hour of slow driving, we spot zebra, but we all say at about the same time “Burchall’s”. A small herd of about 6, and they are high on the mountainside. If this is indeed where the Hartmann are, there can be no doubt that interbreeding is occurring.
We keep looking and another half hour passes. It’s now starting to warm up a bit. At one point, Peter, who seems to be looking backwards, says he’s spotted two zebra. We stop the truck since none of us can see them, and he points one of them out. “Good eyes,” I say – we range these at about 650 yards, high on a steep mountainside. If you look away for a second, it takes you some time to reacquire them when you look back. They seem to be on a slow amble towards our left, in front of the vehicle. If they’ve seen us, they’re far enough away that they don’t mind our presence.
These are clearly Hartmann, and Theo says we should try for one of them. How is an interesting question. As Theo is pondering this, they come to a stop, one in front of the other, on the mountainside, well in the sun. They are staring straight ahead, and again, are about 650 yards. The truck has not moved in a bit, so we don’t seem to be attracting their attention.
Theo decides to walk back the way we came, and then to go through the thorns (where it’s only about 100 yards), and then climb the mountain to try to get approximately even with them. He thinks they can do that without coming out of the trees, and likely could get as close as 200 yards before they’d have to expose themselves.
So Theo, Peter and Hannes get ready, and with the sticks in tow, they head out.
After a good half hour, we are surprised we can’t see them anywhere on the mountain with the binos. After an hour, we’re wondering where they’ve gone, because we have the whole mountain in front of us, and we still can’t see them. Even Gottfried is a bit surprised. Having said that, I am also surprised that in the entire time, neither zebra has budged from his (or her – bit too far to tell) position. They move their head from time to time, but otherwise are completely still. If I hadn’t located them just below a peculiar rock formation that I can find instantly, I’d have a hard time seeing them without movement, even though I know where they are.
After an hour and half, I’m looking at them through the binos, and saying to Dean, something funny must be going on, and almost at that instant, a shot rings out, and the zebra on the right falls over, and begins to tumble down the mountain. His descent is stopped by a tree he runs into. I keep watching but no movement. This thing is dead. A great shot, though from the sound, it seemed to have come from somewhere in front of us, lower down on the mountain, which seems odd.
Gottfried has picked up his binos, and is looking at the dead zebra. He puts down the binos, shakes his head, and says, “beeg problem.” I assume, correctly, that he means the recovery. And while that isn’t really my issue, getting up there to where the zebra is, is my issue, so off we go, through the thick thorn brush.
I was actually in reasonable shape for this hunt, but climbing this steep, rocky, mountainside in high heat has me puffing pretty quickly. Some parts of the slope are so steep you look for something to hold on to, but everything has thorns, so that’s not a plan.
About half way up the slope, without having seen Peter or Theo yet, we hear another shot ring out. This time, it sounds quite close, and I’m not sure whoever is shooting can see us, so I’m not thrilled. We now make some noise, which they can hopefully hear, but no more shots, so we continue up the mountain.
When we reach the zebra, I catch my breath, and listen to Peter explain the hunt. They had gone to our right, and intended to climb the mountain, but the wind shifted once they got out of the thorn trees, and they decided that wouldn’t work. So they paralleled the base of the mountain, until they essentially came back to where we were, more or less, and then began to try getting some height so that they could see the zebra. Once they spotted the zebra, they worked slowly to cut the distance for the shot, until they go to about 200 yards. At that point, Peter tried various positions, with sticks, and without sticks, to try to get a comfortable rest. He ended up using a tree branch, and taking a shot at a pretty extreme upward angle. Fortunately, Theo had talked him through the angles, since he never taken a shot like this before. He eventually took the shot, which fortunately we had seen.
A bit of an aside here – Peter’s wound from the first “scoping” was just about healed, although he had a bit of a scar there. Well, apparently the upward angle caused him to hold the rifle a bit funny, and guess what – another half moon! His mother is going to kill me . . .
I asked what the second shot was about, and it seems that some baboons had been watching them climb the mountain after the zebra was shot. Theo had seen us, so knew we were beneath them, while the baboons were to our right, so Peter took a shot. Once we were finished with the zebra, Peter had to go find the baboon he’d killed!
The zebra/baboon combo effectively wrapped up Peter’s hunt. I, on the other hand, had been asked to cull two blue wildebeest for meat. Of course, I really have no choice but to help out; these people have been so nice!
So we leave a group of workers to try to get the zebra off the mountain, we find the baboon, and we're off. Before long we come across a small herd of wildebeest. It was interesting to me that looking for old animals with lousy horns is just as difficult as finding animals with great horns. Most are in the middle between trophy and non-trophy, but we want clear non-trophy. I have a few solids left and the .416 is on the truck, so we use that to reduce damage to the meat.
We eventually find what we’re looking for, and a quick shot from the vehicle and the animal is down. One more to go. We load the first up and we’re off again. Within about 15 minutes we find a new group of wildebeest, and Theo picks one out. I shoot quickly – too quickly for Hannes apparently, but it’s a cull, so no harm done. Another dead on the spot. I admit to a bit of surprise that a .416 solid would have that effect, but it clearly does, or maybe it’s just my brilliant shooting. On second thought . . .
We load this one up too, so now it’s getting a bit crowded in the back of the truck, but this is they kind of crowd I’m happy to hang around with.
And so ends our hunt, at about 1 pm on the last day in Namibia. We have the rest of the day to get ready to go, and then we’re off to Windhoek at about 5.30 am the next day, to catch our 10.30 flight to Jo’burg.
To sum up, in the past 26 days, we’ve hunted:
Northern Cape (RSA): Wintershoek Safaris
A great operation, and great people. I think John Tinley is one of the best PHs I’ve had, and that I’ve seen. Plus we seem to get along, which is a bit weird, but there you are. Main camp is very comfortable – luxurious, many would say, and the food is first rate. Plenty of game, and a big area. High fenced. As an aside, over 30 rhino on the property.
Kwa-Zulu Natal (RSA) Mkuze National Park
A tented camp in a wild area, with the big five and both black and white rhinos. Camp is very comfortable, but could use mosquito nets on the beds. Food is good, but Wintershoek may have spoiled us. Lots of game, but what you can shoot is limited. Having said that, if nyala and red duiker are on your list, this is the place.
Natal Midlands (RSA) Beverley (Dargle Valley)
A very comfortable camp (really a bed & breakfast) in the middle of a beautiful cattle ranching area. Maybe the most beautiful part of South Africa that I’ve seen. Hunting is on ranches in the area, and some private game reserves, so takes some driving to get to hunting areas, but fairly reasonable distances by and large.
Namibia Ozondjahe Safaris
Ozondjahe is a huge property in mid- to northern Namibia. Accommodations are in modern bungalows, with meals in a lovely lapa or in the main house if it’s too cold. Meals are almost entirely game, and very well prepared and presented. Staff are generally first rate, with Johanna, our waitress, one of the most able and pleasant people I have come across. The property is game rich, and hunting can really be what you want to make of it – easy or hard. Our PH, Theo, worked his butt off to get us the animals we wanted, and when (minor) issues arose, he quickly went to bat. He doesn’t give up. I’d highly recommend him if you were going here, and I highly recommend Ozondjahe.
And after 27 days of hunting, one last question remained: What am I going to do with all of these single socks?
Full moon over Ozondjahe.
What a fantastic read, really enjoyed every moment of it! Even though I knew how it ended up I still had anticipation… I'm so glad that you and your son had a great hunt and that you got your Cheetah, always a lot of hard work and some luck involved. Thank you for taking the time to write this wonderful hunt report.
Great report Hank, thanks for the sharing of your wonderful memories. Glad you had the oportunity to experience with your son, I'm sure he'll never forget the adventure.
Thanks again all, and thanks Jerome. You run a great operation!
Thank you very much for taking the time to share your adventures in such a wonderful and entertaining fashion. What a wonderful privilege you and your son had in spending time in extraordinary places here on our neck of the woods. These experiences are truly food for the soul for the years to come! I truly hope that the hunting bug has rubbed off on your son.
thanks hank, great read ,mate...............
Thank you for the brilliant hunt report and pictures, I enjoyed it a lot!!!!
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