SOUTH AFRICA: Nine Days At Huntershill Safaris

Discussion in 'Hunting Reports Africa' started by Michael Dean, Oct 21, 2019.

  1. Michael Dean

    Michael Dean AH Enthusiast

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    I just returned from a nine day hunt at @HUNTERSHILL safaris, actually eight, I took one day for a rest day after traveling for two days nonstop without sleep. My first day was spent resting and sighting in my rifles to make certain nothing happened during my flights. My 270 WSM was shooting three inches high, two more than I had set it for so I made the necessary adjustments. My second rifle, a 338 Federal shot an inch and a half to the right so I made the necessary correction. With both rifles sighted in I spent the remainder of the day trying to catch up on lost sleep.

    For the majority of the trip, I was the only one in camp. The downside is the lack of camaraderie typically found in hunting camps. That being said my PH was very attentive and always ate with me. The upside was having the full attention of the staff. The staff at Huntershill is excellent. Collectively they are a quality group of people committed to what they do.

    My PH was Jason. To say he's enthusiastic about his job is a gross understatement. He gave a 110% each and every day. The two other individuals who completed our group and were responsible for tracking and skinning were Henry and Jeff. Both men were an asset to the hunting team. I do have to say though I developed a relationship with Jeff who went overboard in assisting me with just about every aspect of my hunt.

    Day two. Day two started off poorly and only went downhill as the day progressed. About two hours into the hunt I fell face first into a shale hillside and injured my wrist. The collective verdict was that I'd badly sprained my right wrist and we ended up wrapping it with an ace bandage. We subsequently went back out into the bush to see what we could find in the way of animals. Over the course of the next three hours I shot high on three different animals. We decided that a trip back to the range was in order. The rifle was shooting a good half a foot high. I made the necessary corrections and went back out. In spite of our best efforts the score at the end of day one was zero scores, the animals won.

    Day three started off early at 6:00a.m. and ended up being the most productive day afield. After driving around for a couple of hours we spotted a group of animals that consisted of both blue and black Wildebeest. My first shot took a Blue Wildebeest in the chest on the right hand side as he was turning away from me at about 180 yards. The bullet traveled the length of his body and ended up in his left hind quarters. He was dead before he hit the ground. Jeff quickly surveyed the remaining animals and found a suitable Black Wildebeest at the end of the group so I went to one knee and squeezed off a shot. Jeff yelled at me that it was a terrible shot and to shoot again. The animal was spinning around with his face in the ground. With all the commotion I found it impossible to get off a second shot. After almost a minute of flailing around the animal fell to his side but continued to struggle. Jeff yelled at me to put another shot into him so I squeezed off another round and hit him in the neck him which put him down for good. After anchoring the animal I walked over to the animal to see where my first shot went. Surprisingly my first shot did not hit the animal in the face as Jason had suggested; the first shot caught the shoulder low missing the heart by a couple of inches and broke the right shoulder which explained why the animal was flopping around with his right shoulder in the dirt going in circles. Fortunately the second shot anchored him. In the course of five minutes we had two animals down and in the salt.

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    After lunch we rested for a couple of hours and then went back out about 3:00p.m. to see what other animals on my list we could find. After an hour or so Jeff spotted a Spring Buck several hundred yards off He told me that the animal was a gold medal quality and would score high in the books. He told me that this was an animal that shouldn't be passed up. In spite of the fact that I was on a cull hunt, I opted to pursue the animal. After making a lengthy stalk we got within 150 yards of the animal and I squeezed off a shot from the sticks. The shot was terrible but Jason was convinced I'd hit the Spring Buck but far back. Time to put the dogs to work. Watching the dogs work was incredible. Within five minutes they'd tracked the animal and cornered it into a ditch. A second shot closed the deal. The spring Buck was beautiful with thick horns and heavy second growth. With three animals in the salt in one day, we called it a day and made our way back to the lodge for a drink and dinner.

    All in all I've got to say that the food was very good but with a couple caveats. If you're not a venison eater, Huntershill may not be for you. Ninety percent of the dinners were venison and no second option was offered. We ate everything from Buffalo to Gemsbuck, Wildebeest, and other game meat. It was all well prepared with different sauses but by the end of the trip I'd had my fill of venison. One night I did request Lamb which was honored and it was delicious. The chef asked me what I liked for desert to which I answered anything chocolate. I subsequently had an array of chocolate dishes served nightly which were excellent. Housekeeping was also excellent. The room was cleaned daily and left spotless. Laundry was also done on a daily basis and everything was pressed and neatly stacked in the room when you returned at the end of the day


    Day four was a warm one. After several hours of stalking and focusing on Kudu, we ran across a group of Blesbuck. After a minute of surveying the group with his binoculars Jason turned to me and told me that there was a trophy Blesbuck in the group that couldn't be passed. He literally begged me to shoot it. The only problem was he was hidden behind a bush. Looking through the scope I could clearly see the head but the shoulder and midsection was obstructed by the bush and it was a 180 yard downhill shot. After much discussion I agreed to take him and settled down to find an opening in the bush. The shot went high and back a few inches but broke the spine. One more animal in the salt. Jason was more excited than I was. The horns measured 18 3/4 and after researching it on his cell phone informed me that the animal should rank 36-37 in the world. So much for cull hunting.. The rest of the afternoon was spent looking for Impala and Zebra without success.

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    Day Five. Day five started out cool and overcast. The morning was spent looking for Kudu without success and the afternoon we focused on Impala. Late in the afternoon Henry spotted a nice ram 200 yards off in the brush. I'd given up on focusing for culls and agreed to go for him. After 20 minutes of crawling through brush we finally got to a point that offered a shot. The only problem was that I couldn't pick him up in the scope. In spite of pointing out trees rocks and bushes I could use for a reference point I just couldn't pick him out with my scope. After what seemed like days I finally had the Impala come into focus. The shot took him just behind the ribs punched through one lung and exited. The dogs found him a hundred yards further down the ravine curled up into a ball dead. After lunch we spent the remainder of the day hunting for Kudu without success.

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    Day Six. Day six started out cool and overcast again. Another issue we were fighting was the wind. To make matters worse my 270 WSM began to act up it started shooting high and the shots went higher with each
    consecutive shot. We finally decided to put the 270WSM away and pulled out the 338 federal. An hour later we spotted another Eland walking through a rock outcropping. I spent the next 20 minutes negotiating through rocks and boulders to finally get into position. The Eland finally walked out from behind the rocks 150 yards out. I laid down on a pile of rocks and used an oversized one as a rifle rest. I raised the rifle one third up the shoulder and squeezed off a shot. The Eland took three steps and fell to the ground dead. The shot broke both shoulders and took out the heart. After so many issues with the 270, it was nice to finally get a shot right on the money.

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    Day Seven. The morning of day seven was spent looking looking for Kudu again, we kept finding the cows but the bulls were nowhere to be found. The afternoon we spent looking for Zebra. After one failed stock I unloaded the rifle to put it into the truck. The brass came out but the bullet remained lodged in the lands. Now I've got a 270WSM that's not shooting and a 338 with a bullet jammed in the barrel. To add insult to injury a group of Zebra were 300 yards away. We opted for plan C. I grabbed the PH's 22-250 and we worked our way to the Zebra. At 100 yards the brush ended and I had to shoot from there. With a 22-250 the shot would have to be perfect. I placed the cross hairs where the heart should be and squeezed off a shot. The Zebra stumbled back 4-5 steps and fell. I somehow managed to put it through his heart. Back to the lodge to repair the 338 and prepare for the following day.

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    Day eight we spent chasing Kudu. We managed to stumble across several cows but in spite of crawling through rocks and canyons we simply couldn't find out where the bulls were hiding. We must have walked miles and I felt like hell. At the age of 65, walking up and down canyons is not something that comes easy. I went to bed early and exhausted preparing myself for my final day.

    Day nine started a 6:00a.m. A quick breakfast and we were off. At about 9:00a.m somewhere three canyons back we were sitting on a cliff side and Jason spotted a dozen bulls in the distance. We made our way back to the truck and rounded the canyon to get into a better place. After a 20 minute stalk the bulls caught wind of us and took off down the canyon. Two hours later we managed to find four of them. After a half hour of climbing we were just in distance and they broke again. Jason said he knew where they were going and we took off like a bat out of hell driving like fools trying to get ahead of them and set up an ambush. The bulls appeared just as he hoped and they winded us again. They were next to a high fence and the four of them bunched up together. Jason was yelling directions to me while the two trackers were also giving advise, it was a circus. I could see the four of them together in the scope and had no idea which one to shoot. As they broke over the high fence one at a time Jason was yelling shoot and I was yelling back asking which one. In the end, all four cleared the fence without a shot being taken. The bulls were gone. We made our way over to another mountain range and started all over. While driving to the next mountain we ran into a Red HarteBeest The animal was standing by himself broadside at 200 yards. I got onto the sticks and squeezed the trigger. The bullet hit him high in the shoulder. He spun around and made his way about fifteen yards before falling and curling up into a ball. A second shot into the neck and it was lights out.

    After loading the Hartebeest it was back to Kudu. After driving to the top of the mountain Jason began glassing again. Just as Jason spotted two bulls they started trotting down the side of the mountain. We ran back to the truck and took off like crazy trying to make our way back down the side of the mountain to set up another ambush site. After driving like crazy for ten minutes we jumped out of the truck and took off running. After getting to the right area we began crisscrossing through heavy brush and trees trying to stay quiet as possible in an attempt to locate one of the bulls. After 20 minutes of searching Jeff grabbed Jason and pointed to an area in the heavy brush; a bull stood facing us at 75 yards away. The three of us sat there crouched behind bushes trying to set up the sticks and get myself five feet to the left where the clearing was. the only one who was able to see the bull was Jason. The plan was for me to crawl behind Jason, have Jeff hand the rifle to Jason who would hand it to me, get on the sticks and shoot. I crawled behind Jason sat behind the sticks and waited for the rifle to be handed to me. Just as Jason handed me the rifled the bulled turned and disappeared into the thicket. My hopes for a trophy Kudu disappeared with him.

    It was a bitter ending to a great nine day hunt. Jason could not have worked harder to get me a bull but it was just not to be. It was the trip of a lifetime with unfinished business.

    Huntershill is a terrific Hunting lodge. The amenities are very comfortable. It' snot a five star Hotel, it wasn't meant to be. It's a very comfortable Hunting lodge with all the amenities. The people are warm and gracious. They give 110% to make certain your stay is a wonderful experience. I was fortunate, my PH and the tracker and skinner were the best of the best. They are true professionals.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 28, 2019

  2. cpr0312

    cpr0312 AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

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    Congrats on your hunt and thanks for sharing!
     

  3. Nyati

    Nyati AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

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    Congrats, seems like you had a great time.

    You just have to go back for your kudu :D
     

  4. cls

    cls AH Elite

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    Congrats and thanks for sharing
     

  5. gillettehunter

    gillettehunter AH ENABLER AH Legend

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    Congrats and thanks for sharing. So did you then end up paying trophy fees instead of cull prices? were you OK with that? Just wondered if too much pressure was on you to spend more $$.
    Bruce
     

  6. Michael Dean

    Michael Dean AH Enthusiast

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    The three animals that were trophies I paid trophy fees for. The only one I felt a little pressure on was the Blesbuck. The trophy fee was only $200.00 so I wasn't concerned. My PH wanted me to shoot it because he'd never seen one that large. I'm glad he convinced me to shoot it, it's a monster. The average Blesbuck is 11-13 inches; mine was 18 3/4. 67634674-561d-41fc-99eb-74a9b6a26b1b(2).JPG
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 23, 2019

  7. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN AH ENABLER SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR LIFETIME TITANIUM BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    Glad you survived your fall.
    Congrats on your success.
     

  8. Aaron Nietfeld

    Aaron Nietfeld AH Fanatic

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    Glad you enjoyed your trip!

    What kind of scope was giving you so much grief?!
     

  9. cagkt3

    cagkt3 AH ENABLER PLATINUM SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    Congrats
     

  10. CoElkHunter

    CoElkHunter AH Fanatic

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    Congrats on your hunt! Maybe I’ll make it there one day. Looks like a great hunting adventure! Thanks for sharing!
     

  11. gesch

    gesch AH Enthusiast

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    Thanks for a great report. I’m glad your hand was not broken. Did you figure out why the rifle lost it’s accuracy after being sited in? Thanks again.
     

  12. Michael Dean

    Michael Dean AH Enthusiast

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    The scope was a Schmidt and Bender. Needless to say it's being sent back to the factory for a though inspection.
     

  13. Shootist43

    Shootist43 AH ENABLER GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    Michael, it sounds like you had fun in spite of a few set backs. It is hunts like yours that reinforces my preference for taking more than one gun to Africa. I hope the gun is ok and that the S&B can be repaired.
     

  14. curtism1234

    curtism1234 AH Enthusiast

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    Nice hunt, thank you for sharing.

    You being the only one in camp for most of the time - is that how they normally conduct business or is this because of the October hunt?
     

  15. Rum Runner

    Rum Runner AH Senior Member

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    Congratulations and thanks for sharing!
     

  16. flatwater bill

    flatwater bill AH Elite

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    MD...........nice report.................I appreciate a man with the courage to tell the good and bad that happens to us all. You got a heck of a heavy eland with the little but potent 338 Fed, and a toad-heavy springbok as well. Sorry to hear about your scope. Schmidt and Bender scopes are awesome....unless something goes wrong..............their service dept. has proven worthless to me. Best of luck, thanks for the report............FWB
     

  17. One Day...

    One Day... AH Fanatic

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    Hello curtism1234. This is indeed because of the October time frame. There will typically be 2 or 3 safaris simultaneously at Huntershil during the height of the season (May to July). Some of these safaris may include just one hunter, some may include a few friends together. I would say that half a dozen hunters sharing dinner and camaraderie at the lodge is fairly typical.

    But Huntershill is a big place, they hunt 188 contiguous private square miles (120,000 acres) at Huntershill itself, so there is plenty of space for everyone...

    In addition, Huntershill own a few other properties (Rocklands, Comre, Huntershaven) within a 2 hour drive, each property with its own lodge, so there is no daily driving back & forth, and each property offering its privately owned hunting area in a different habitat. Rocklands for example is lower in altitude and offers much denser bush and a different type of hunting. Comre, in a valley of the Winterberg Mountains offers yet a different type of habitat in its 22,000 acres, etc.

    In addition, Huntershill has numerous agreement to hunt free range properties, as accipiter did (see his report just posted at https://www.africahunting.com/threads/south-africa-huntershill-safaris.53734/), for specific species that thrive in the Eastern Cape free range mountains (Kudu, Mountain Reedbuck, Vaal Rhebuck, Baboon, etc.) or in the free range riparian areas (Bushbuck, Bushpig, Warthog, etc.)

    Thx
    P
     
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2019
    curtism1234 likes this.

  18. accipiter

    accipiter AH Enthusiast

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    Great report! Your Eland is impressive.
     

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