SOUTH AFRICA: Night Critters & Small Cats With Kemp African Safaris

Discussion in 'Hunting Reports Africa' started by Mort Hill, Aug 23, 2019.

  1. Hank2211

    Hank2211 AH ENABLER GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    There are a few hunt reports on night critters (including one which I did a couple of years ago) and most of them say the same thing: be prepared! If you haven't got the right clothing, you will be miserable on a hunt like this, much more so than on a day hunt where at least you can move around, and the temperature will eventually warm up. I'd add one thing to your list which I would never go without: those chemical hand warmers but more especially, foot warmers. It's surprising how cold your feet can get when you aren't moving.

    Congratulations on the genet! Looking forward to the others . . .
     

  2. enysse

    enysse AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

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    Marco is a very skilled hunter! He loves hunting the night critters.
     

  3. Mort Hill

    Mort Hill GOLD SUPPORTER AH Fanatic

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    So after bait checking and looking at cameras, we decide on night 4 to head back to the leopard blind to hunt for honey badger. In spite of the trail cam pics of a very big tom leopard and his female companion, we also have a male and female honey badger coming to bait. Our hope is the badger comes in before the leopards show up and park their lazy asses on top of the wildebeest rear quarter and eat all my money meat.
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    So we arrive at the blind, the box blind, at 5:00. It is an hour and 20 minutes before dark. Nothing has happened by 7:45, so I finally get out of the chair, and lay down on my mattress. I am just hitting deep REM sleep when at 8:20, the motion detector goes off. I wait for confirmation from Marco and sure enough, the smaller of the two honey badgers is on bait. I slowly and painfully(note that after 3 nights, my old knees have now started to creak from ware and tear, my back is aching, and I feel like I have been dragged behind the truck like guts over a rough road - it’s called old age) rise from the floor to assume my seat. I focus the scope on the badger and ask if he is good enough. Before Marco can answer, enter stage right Mr. Badger to join the Mrs. Now I focus all my attention on the much larger badger. He immediately moves to the bait, and gives a perfect broadside shot. I move the scope onto him, and he changes position facing away. I wait a moment, and then back he moves to a broadside position facing to my left. I move the crosshairs right on his body midline, close to the shoulder, and squeeze the shot. Well, this is where hind sight says I did all the wrong things. First, he is eating well so I should have taken more time. Second, in the moving back and forth of the gun, I now have the sight crosshairs on the badger, but the gun but is not firm against my shoulder. At the shot, the gun bucks and I lose complete sight of the bait and badgers. Marco immediately says”you were too low”. I begin to contradict him but realize that is just wishful thinking. I have no clue where the shot went.

    So Marco assures me we will sort things out, and heads out of the blind to look for blood, badger, or any evidence of a hit. I see him at the bait site for 5-10 minutes. I see him wandering the thick brush with the torch moving back and forth.

    At this point, I am just plain pissed at myself. I should have waited. I should have been more focused. I pound my head with my fist and compliment myself, “stupid, stupid, stupid”. I then makes all kinds of deals with God. “Lord, you know this is not about me(it really is). Help us to find this badger for Marco. He has worked so hard.” I can hear God chuckling right now thinking not again Mort.

    Marco returns to the blind after 20 min or so. The report is two drops of blood about 15 ft down one trail into the brush from where Mr Badger came. So he wants to show me the track and the blood. Little do I know the excitement in store for POM(Poor old Mort).

    We exit the blind, torches in hand, and walk to the two track in front of the blind where the trail to the bait heads slightly up hill. We are chatting and I am trying to find any nugget of positive vibes in Marco’s words. Now this is where it gets interesting. As we turn up the trail to the bait, about another 40 ft, Marco has left his small head lamp on. As Marco tells it, he looks up at the bait, and sees a light on at the bait site. Mentally, it does not compute because he did not leave a light at the bait. So he takes the big torch and shines it on the light at the bait. You guessed. There sitting like a great dane is Mr Spots in all his glory. Just looking at us. I slam on the breaks just in time to say with absolute conviction” do you see that?” The stupid things you say when you are about to wet yourself. So old spots just slinks off behind a big rock, and suddenly I am talking to Marco as if we were at a concert. Something just shy of yelling.

    We continue to flood the area with light, and cautiously move up to the bait. I am bolstered in my bravado by the scoped
    . 22 I carry to dispatch any dangerous game we might encounter. I am on high pucker factor alert. Marco quickly shows me the spots of blood, and then we back out for a plan.

    Back in the blind, we decide we urgently need Stitch the terrier to follow up the trail. In a moment of luck, due to the early evening hour, Marco’s wife Fran agrees to meet him half way with Stitch, saving us a much needed 30-45 minutes of time. I suggest I stay at the blind to monitor the activities of old Tom, and Marco agrees. Off he goes.

    I do not see old Tom over the next 30 minutes or so. All is supremely quiet. But at about the 20 min mark, the leopard coughs, then growls, so close to the front left corner of the blind, I literally say “Holy Shit!” outloud to nobody in particular. The next 10-15 minutes until Marco’s return seems to take 5-1/2 hours.
     
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  4. Beretta391

    Beretta391 AH Veteran

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    I would have to change my underwear !!!
     
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2019

  5. Mort Hill

    Mort Hill GOLD SUPPORTER AH Fanatic

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    Upon Marco’s return with Stitch, we head back to the bait site. Stitch is shown the blood and immediately gets the scent. Stitch is on a homemade leash we quickly fashioned out of a couple of cinch straps. We did this due to the former appearance by old Spots. Stitch takes off through the thorn brush, Marco following with the 7X57, less the silencer. I am following with the battery pack spot light.(Note: Marco is young, in shape, and something well shy of 6’ tall. Yours truly is old, out of shape, 280lbs and 6’2”.) Stitch is on a laser. Marco is on his heals. I am crashing through thorn bush getting shredded like a head of lettuce. Stitch would have no issue following my blood trail.
    After about 100 yds, we wrap around a rock to a small cave opening.
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    We see good blood in the cave. Marco slowly gives Stitch leash, and in the cave he goes. We hear the badger growl and Marco pulls Stitch out. Marco hands me the leash and says he is going around the back of the rocks to see if there is a rear entrance to the cave. I am now holding the torch, the dog, and my breath.

    As Marco rounds the back of the rock, all I hear is a scream that he’s running. Apparently, the badger was laying on the back door step. As Marco’s light hit him, he took off. And so does Marco.

    He hollars to release Stitch, which I do, but with the long homemade leash he quickly gets hung up in the rocks. Marco quickly returns, frees Stitch of the harness, and the chase is really on now. A shot rings out, then all hell breaks lose with barks and growls. At this point I am about 50 yds back hung up in thorn bush like a scarecrow.

    One more shot and a big whoop out of Marco.

    Just an awesome job by Marco and Stitch at tracking and securing the mortally wounded badger.

    Upon further inspection, my initial shot was indeed low. But with his thick lose skin, there was little initial blood. Had we not found, and due to the amount of blood at the cave, this old, old warrior badger would have surely died during the night and become a midnight snack for Mr and Mrs Leopard(yes, trail cam pics confirm two leopards on bait).
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    Joyous, thankful, prayerful, grateful! What a night. What an adventure. Tired, dusty, sweaty, bloody, we pack up and head back to the lodge at 2:00AM for a shower and a few hours rest in a real bed.

    And, true to form, within 15 min of leaving the blind to head back, guess who is back on the scene. Yep, old Mr Spots. Date and time stamped on the game cam 15 min after Marco removed the motion sensor from the bait site.
     

  6. enysse

    enysse AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

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    Congrats! There are a lot of honey badgers in the Limpopo Province. You got a huge one.
     

  7. Tra3

    Tra3 AH Enthusiast

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    This is an awesome hunt unfolding! What an adventure! Thank you for putting the time into telling us about your hunt.
     

  8. MarkB

    MarkB AH Senior Member

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    On pins and needles Mort, great report, keep it coming.

    Thanks

    MB
     

  9. Ridgewalker

    Ridgewalker AH ENABLER LIFETIME BRONZE BENEFACTOR AH Legend

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    I got all excited just reading this! What an awesome time!
    Envy, envy, envy!
     

  10. buck wild

    buck wild SILVER SUPPORTER AH Fanatic

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    good stuff
     

  11. Mort Hill

    Mort Hill GOLD SUPPORTER AH Fanatic

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    So the routine starts again after the wild night with the honey badger. I am still beating myself up to Marco over the rushed shot. Like the true gentleman and PH that he is, Marco brings up a good point. Quite matter of factly he says, “You know Mort, we know those leopards were close at hand, since they showed up so fast on the bait. How long do you think the badgers would have stuck around when that big Tom showed up?” Huh. Hadn’t thought about that. Thanks Marco. I will take off my boxing gloves.

    After lunch, we again are down to minimal bait. So off we go on a drive to see what we can find. Kudu, wildebeest, and ahh, there we go, zebra. They run out of sight as the truck goes by, but Marco has a good idea of where they are heading. We park the truck, and proceed on a long stalk through the sandy brush. We emerge from the tree line and there they, oops, aren’t. Not a sniff of zebra.

    So we head back to the truck. At the same moment Marco and I freeze in our tracks. There within 100 yds of the truck are the zebra. We slowly, methodically put on the stalk. We close to within about 40 yds. I set up on the sticks, find a tight window through the brush on the mare we are looking for, and take the shot. The zebra turns and runs with the herd. We follow and come across the mare standing in a thicket. I quickly get on the sticks and shoot again. The zebra runs again. Since we are now back close to the truck, Marco gets Stitch and off they go. I stay on the road, which has a little elevation over the high grass and bush, to watch and see if the zebra breaks cover again. As I see Stitch’s head bounce through the tall grass, I hear a bark and see the zebra break cover. I hear Marco hollering to shoot. As the zebra hits the road I am standing on, I instinctively throw up the gun off hand and take the running shot at about 70 yds. I am rewarded with the “whump” sound of the bullet hitting home. The zebra falters, spins, and falls just as Stitch arrives to nip at the downed zebra. I am really pleased with the shot and the outcome. A great stalk, hunt, shot, and now plenty of bait.
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    I posted this pic before, but if this were golf, you would say I played the cart path. This is exactly where the zebra fell to my shot on the road. An easy load up to say the least.

    The pics from the blind cameras show we will be sitting on the shooting range for hyena and a big civet.

    The night starts off with a genet(of course since I got one already) bouncing in and out of the bait. Nothing to look at here, move along. At 11:00, Marco gives me the arm grip and I am immediately awake. Foggy, but awake. In a whisper he tells me a big brown hyena is on the bait. I move into position as practiced, turn on the IR, and see what looks like some smudged Picasso painting. I forgot my reading glasses which help me see the detail of the little screen(aside, I have to use billboard font on my phone, even with my reading glasses. Yes, that is what it is called. About three words a line. That big!). I nervously ask Marco to find my glasses somewhere in the blind. The frustration is thick in the air, and for good reason. For as soon as he hands me the glasses, I put them on just in time to see the hyena, at the bait, look straight up at the blind, and then move off into the shadows. That friggin 6th sense saved him again. I sit in the darkness behind the fun for another 30 min to an hour. Nothing. He gone. The rest of the night only gives us, what else, a honey badger, since they are now off the hit list. No civet. Nothing else.

    The next day is Friday, and I am taking a mid-hunt break Friday night and Saturday. Hunting will resume on Sunday, but the welcome break means rest, great food off the braai, many cigars, and a chance to rest the old bones. Much needed I might add.
     
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  12. Mort Hill

    Mort Hill GOLD SUPPORTER AH Fanatic

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    Saturday was restful. Still wake up relatively early, enjoy morning coffee, cigars, and relaxing at the lodge.
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    Saturday, the braai is fired up and I have the pleasure of spending the evening with Marco, Fran, Marco’s brother, Mel Jr, and his wife, who is Dawie’s sister. Who strap on the stir fry feed bag and I proceed to enter into a food coma. Even a couple of hours of spot-lighting can not get me out of my stupor. I am painfully, happily full and tired.
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  13. slam8031

    slam8031 AH Enthusiast

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    Fantastic tale and fantastic hunt! Congratulations!!
     

  14. Mort Hill

    Mort Hill GOLD SUPPORTER AH Fanatic

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    Well, so let me back up. Friday we drive to a new property where we will try to find some bushpig. This is 12K acres that backs up to a property that Marco is already hunting. We meet the property and game managers, Pierce and Deetlif, and follow them down the two track to a swag in the road. This appears to be a large drainage, and Pierce confirms that he believes there is a good travel corridor for bush pig here. Marco studies the area with a skillful eye, selects a good bait site, then sets about securing the meat, guts, and other foul things I could only imagine what they used to be. We also hang a corn feeder. Set up the camera. At this point, we are simply going on some hearsay and gut feel that pigs will find the bait.

    Fast forward to Sunday and we head out to check the new pig bait. Low and behold, we got ham. Both Friday and Saturday nights we have pigs, and a really nice boar on camera. So a plan is hastily made we will hunt here tonight, but we must be there early, as the pigs are showing up right after dark as they move down the drainage.

    Our blind is really no blind at all but a nice little piece of earth, under a large tree, above where the road cuts through the drainage. Our shot will be prone, and about 50 yds to the bait.

    We meet Deetlif at 4:30PM, as he has never night hunted for bush pig and wanted to come along. We get to our open air ambush blind, and get set up for the evening.
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    This is looking back down the drainage over our impromptu blind site.
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    This is my gun set up, shooting back up the drainage from a prone position.
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    And this is sort of the view back up the drainage, toward the bait, and where we hope the pigs are coming down the drainage, and not up the drainage from behind us.

    It is an awesome evening. Wind is good. Night jars sing. I am laying on the mattress on my belly next to the rifle so all I have to so is slide into place. As I open and close my eyes, the light grows dimmer and dimmer until it fades to dark. At about 6:25PM, Marco grabs my arm. I am awake and just signal with a thumbs up, but do not move. We will wait for the pigs to get all up in the bait before I slide behind the gun. It seems like 30 minutes, but was probably only 3-4, but the pigs move to the bait, nervously move out of the drainage, and when the return to the bait, now big daddy boar is in the lead. He settles in to eat.

    Marco whispers to move behind the gun, which I do. I locate the big boar by his wide, flat nose(where as the sows have long skinny snouts). He is quartering away, head down eating. Something spooks him and he moves forward and broadside and that is when I deliver the payload. At the smack of the bullet, the boar rockets straight up the side of the drainage, crashes into a tree, flops through the dry grass, and land smack dab in the middle of the road. Could not have designed a better landing spot. We all three are excited. We exchange handshakes, talk about how incredible God’s creation is, and what a rich blessing the night had been.
    Just to think that a little over 48 hours prior, this was just another spit of unmolested drainage. But from there, a bait, a blind, and now a trophy boar in the salt. I am thinking divine intervention.
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    Old boar with battle scars, a half torn off ear, beautiful mane, and ugly ass warts in front of his beady little eyes. So ugly he’s gorgeous.

    So we pack up, head back to the lodge, and enjoy a nice shower and a soft bed!
    Perfect, perfect day!
     
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  15. Sand Rat

    Sand Rat AH Fanatic

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    How did you like using the Nite Site setup? I’ve looked at them on line and at my LGS but never talked to someone that actually used one. What was the model and the effective range?

    Thanks
    Robert
     

  16. Mort Hill

    Mort Hill GOLD SUPPORTER AH Fanatic

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    It was truly a unique and different experience. Took a little getting use to. You are shouldering the rifle like usual, but your cheek is not against the stock, as your head is up looking at the miniature screen. However, the clarity was amazing, and the crosshairs are just as if focusing through the eyepiece of the scope. The rheostat on the unit allowed you to adjust the brightness of the picture based on range. I would say the range of the unit we used was probably a max of 60-70 yds. If the gun is sighted in right before hand(which we did at the range with me shooting, then tweaking the scope), wherever the crosshairs align on the screen, that is where the bullet will go.
    And with the silencer, the whole set up is smooth, minimal recoil, and down right deadly. I believe the IR setup was made by an English company called Site Lite. No idea of model. The only draw back is with the IR stuff in place, it was hard to rack the next load in. But with night hunting, as I was told, you only get one shot. So this was not really a factor. It was so much fun, when I got home I immediately made plans to register for my silencer permit, and started looking at similar IR setups. I figure this would be a blast on coyotes, bobcats, and other predators back here in the states. As I have said, Marco and Dawie are passionate about their night hunting, and so I benefited from their years of perfecting equipment and techniques.
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2019
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  17. Sand Rat

    Sand Rat AH Fanatic

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    They have models good for 200+ yards that one must have been the shorter range model. Look for them in the US under “nitesite”.
     

  18. Mort Hill

    Mort Hill GOLD SUPPORTER AH Fanatic

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    OK, so let me clarify on range. Since everything I was hunting was based on a bait site between 40-60 yds, I really don’t know for sure the effective range.
     

  19. Ross Reamy

    Ross Reamy AH Senior Member

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    Mort, take a look at thermal scopes as well. Here in Texas we night hunt a lot, and thermal has been an absolute game changer for us. It eliminates the need for an IR source and animals really pop, so much more so than with night visions. Especially units with 640 resolution.

    Pulsar is an incredible bang for the buck, onboard recording, rechargeable batteries, etc..

    N-Vision and Trijicon have a slightly better image, but they’re quite a bit more expensive, don’t record directly from the unit and use CR123a batteries..

    Really enjoying your report by the way!
     

  20. Mort Hill

    Mort Hill GOLD SUPPORTER AH Fanatic

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    Thank you @Ross Reamy. Yes, I am covering the full scope, no pun intended, of available technology. Appreciate you input and kind words on the report.
     

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