SOUTH AFRICA: Pawprint Kalahari Lion & Lioness Hunt

Ridgewalker

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Day 3, Thursday, 8/1. Got out at 7:00. Driving and dragging brush along the fence line, suddenly we see the lion hiding in heavy bushes not 10 feet from us as we turn the corner! Driving another 50 yards, we stop and all climb out readying for the hunt! Cautiously we moved toward the corner with Seun dragging me along in the front. Suddenly there he was and before I could finish getting my rifle up, he was gone! We watched his rear as he disappeared into the brush! We walked his tracks zigzagging and circling back occasionally until near noon spotting him on and off, but no chance for a shot! We had walked crossing several blocks. Loaded up and back to the lodge for lunch and a much needed nap!

Up and back out at 3:00. Drug some roads smoothing them out to watch for sign. Stopped near a heavily treed and shaded area. Began our walk. Just entered the treed area when Seun stops the entourage and signals me to quickly come forward. There he is! His massive figure with bushes between us! Seun says to shoot just to the left of the heaviest limb. Not much room to clear at maybe 20 yards away! I try to squeeze the slot between the limbs and left of the biggest...BOOM! The lion let’s out a fearsome roar and takes off to our left! Now the real excitement begins!

Oh so cautiously we slowly move ahead following Seun, William and Johan. Tense moments pass! Twenty yards we move. Then thirty yards. And forty yards...all with minimal blood sign! Suddenly Seun tensely backs up and signals me to step up to him! He points to the “King of the jungle” crouching in the bushes watching the opposite direction from us. Seun quietly says shoot him in the shoulder...BOOM! Again the lion comes to life! I slam another cartridge into the chamber of the 375 H&H as he comes up facing us...BOOM! Into the center of his chest I fire again! He goes limp with a minimal growl. We wait. Seconds seem like hours when we see a final deep exhale. The huge handsome male lion is done. I am exhausted!

Many photos are taken. The skinners are radioed where to meet us. After they take the lion we are off for the start of the lioness hunt for both Toby and myself. Again dragging the roads where they believe another lion and 3 lionesses might have moved. We found fresh sign, but the light again was fading, so we headed back to the lodge. We unloaded and went to the skinning area with a celebratory drink to watch the skinning of an amazingly huge muscular animal! I retrieved two of the bullets. Seun indicated we would have lion for dinner in two to three days after marinating in coke it to help tenderize it.

I size comparison. Estimated at over 400lbs!
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These could do some serious damage!
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Hauling him into a sunny spot for pictures.
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One handsome blond beast IMO!
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Two of the three 235 grain .375 Barnes TSX were recovered. They mushroomed to perfection. I believe the first shot was deflected by the bush causing it to hit too far back. But the lion was too hurt to go far. I am now thinking that since every opportunity I had would have been shooting through brush that a 300 or even 350 grain soft point bullet would have been a better choice. My main reason is because they shouldn’t deflect as much as the stubby 235 grain. Although they probably wouldn’t have dumped as much energy inside due to complete pass through.
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The final end to a very exciting and successful day was a glass of red wine, dinner, a much needed shower, a little writing time and a very comfortable bed.
 
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Ridgewalker

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Day 4, Friday, 8/2. I’m up early, 4:45, excited about the lioness hunt. First to hunt today will be Toby. Here’s hoping it will be as successful as yesterday. Seun said there was a chance at least two of the three lionesses would be together, so I need to be prepared as well.
As usual, Johan is the first to show up and we chat and have a Nescafé. Mine with hot chocolate and milk added (the coffee wasn’t ready!)

Toby had an excellent morning with a beautiful lioness and one simply outstanding blue wildebeest! He finished the day with an awesome eland! What a day he had!

After Toby’s success, we headed in for lunch. Back out by 2:00.

At 2:30 we see a lioness in the brush, so we stop, climb out of the bakkie and start our stalk. She runs off. We began tracking. Checking every bush thick enough for her to hide in wait! On and on slowly we move, not letting a single thick bush go without thorough examination. Suddenly Seun stops us all and motions for me to move up to the shooting sticks! I see the lioness maybe 30-35 yards ahead in the shadow of some low trees. With the crosshairs stable just behind the shoulder and 1/3-1/2 way up, I squeeze the trigger...BOOM! The lioness roars and disappears before I can finish reloading! We slowly move up. Seun signals me to walk next to him on his left side and slightly ahead (bait I guess!). Tension is extreme as we move forward one step at a time watching and listening to every sound and movement in the brisk morning wind. Around one bush, then the next and on and on we slowly move! Everyone tense! William quickly stops and points at a bush 20 yards away! Seun makes certain I am looking in the right place and that I am getting ready to shoot. Lining up the sights again...BOOM! Seun quietly says “reload and shoot again”. I reply with another BOOM! And the lioness stops her growling and writhing!

We stand there watching until what we believe is her last breath. Cautiously moving to her, Seun touches her eye...no movement. She has expired.

We all catch our breath while I stroke the very fat old lioness. She must have just killed and eaten not long before our chase. Absolutely lovely lioness!

This is about what you see and have to shoot.
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First shot quartering from her left side you can see the larger exit wound. The second shot entrance is just behind her right shoulder.
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These could certainly grip an animal while the massive jaws did the shreading!
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Man I wish my teeth were in this good of shape!
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What a beautiful health beast!
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After Toby’s eland, we head in to a fire pit, drinks, dinner including marinated lion tender loin...mmmm...oh so delicious!
 
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Ridgewalker

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Day 5, Saturday, 8/3. Somewhat uneventful day after lion, lioness hunting. The wind was blowing keeping the game on edge. We were looking for an impala for Toby and a springbuck and/or red hartebeest for me.

Finally near 10:00 a lone springbuck appeared 100+ yards away. Knowing they don’t stand long, I took an awkward rest across a seat top from the bakkie...BOOM...thwak...zing went a ricochet! Everyone else saw the bullet hit and cause dust 20 feet right and behind where I shot! What is going on with my shooting? I tested the rifle the day before at 100 yards just to see if things were working and it was perfect! We all unloaded the bakkie including Ruger and headed for where I thought I shot the fine springbuck. A chunk of meat was found and Ruger was put on the blood trail. Not 50 yards and the dead springbuck was found! I’m exhausted wondering what I’m doing wrong...nothing! Thank goodness! The bullet hand hit a shoulder bone destroying the insides and then been deflected on through where it ricocheted.
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Beautiful springbuck! Unbelievably soft hair! Maybe even softer than impala! Now I am confident we just didn’t search long enough for my gemsbok! Oh well, Seun was concerned about letting his terrier loose with so many lions around, now reduced from 5 to only 2. I cannot blame him. A good blood tracking dog is hard to train.


After lunch, we had planned to head back to Pieter’s, but Pieter called Johan and told him to try for Toby’s buffalo at Rietzdale. Seun had found a heard with at least 2 really mature huge hard bossed bulls! So we took off to try for one. Tough hunt, so I’ll leave it to Toby. Here’s a teaser photo.
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That evening we have drinks while sitting around the fire pit until dinner. The best one yet! Toby’s eland tenderloin grilled over an open fire! Absolutely awesome! My favorite of all the Africa antelope!

A final glass of red wine, shower, fill out paperwork, work on my report, and off to bed!
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Ridgewalker

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Day 6, Sunday, 8/4. Started out focusing on Toby a Cape buffalo. I stayed in the bakkie to reduce the number of Toby’s entourage. After several walk and stalks, we heard a shot. Jeffrey drove us to the spot where we met up with everyone. The buffalo had taken off and they were about to start tracking it. Jeffrey and I stayed with the truck. It was noon, then about 1:00 Seun called on the radio and said for Jeffrey to take me to the lodge for lunch. After lunch I sat in the shade and read a bit. Suddenly I heard shooting. A few minutes later I was asked if I would like to ride with the crew to load the buffalo! Toby was successful! Yeah! I’ll let him tell you the long story of his wild ordeal!

After everyone returned to the lodge, had lunch and a few minutes admiring Toby’s handsome buffalo, we took off to see what Mother Africa would offer up. She was pretty greedy this afternoon with windy conditions again, but who cares...we are in Africa!

At almost dark, we were returning to the lodge when a fine very old warthog showed himself! My turn! Boom! Thank you Mother Africa for the ugly ancient warthog!
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The 235 grain Barnes TSX traveling at 3,038 FPS can do some serious damage when close to the game and hitting a big bone!
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A little red wine by the fire pit, dinner and a bit of joking commentary and it’s lights out.
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Shootist43

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Ridgewalker, congrats on the trophies. Except for the trepidation over possible misses this hunt turned out to be everything you were hoping for. Your experiences with the lions leaves me wondering. While the 375 H&H is the minimum DG caliber is it really enough? Walking into the bush looking for a wounded lion (male or female) isn't for the faint of heart!
 

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Ridgewalker congratulations on a fine hunt!
 

Lmcquin

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Ridgewalker, congrats on the trophies. Except for the trepidation over possible misses this hunt turned out to be everything you were hoping for. Your experiences with the lions leaves me wondering. While the 375 H&H is the minimum DG caliber is it really enough? Walking into the bush looking for a wounded lion (male or female) isn't for the faint of heart!
Awesome write ups!!!! Felt almost like I was there. Very jealous of getting to hunt lions as that’s a bucket list for sure on my end.

Beautiful animals and congratulations on a wonderful trip and lifelong memories.
 

cpr0312

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Awesome!! Y'all had a great time and you took some fine animals!!! Enjoying the report!
 

Art Lambart II

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Congrats on a great hunt, I wish I could have gone with you.
 

cagkt3

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Well done!! Congrats on the lions sir!
 

Mort Hill

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Great job and great report! Lived it through you. Congrats!
 

cls

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Congrats on a couple great cats, enjoyed the report.
 

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Day 7, Monday, 8/4 Toby’s last day to hunt. It was overcast in the morning with occasional mist. The animals seemed to be moving quite a lot with no wind. We started out by seeing several oryx just outside the gate. Driving a bit further, Seun showed up and said for me to try for another gemsbok since we couldn’t search more for mine and his lions had probably already fed on it! I really appreciated the gesture!

Both vehicles head in different directions when over the radio Seun had seen a heard of red hartebeests! We quickly turned around and headed for the spot. No shot, but they moved away calmly, so off the bakkie I go following Johan and tracker Jeffrey. We keep spotting the group, but the big male constantly keeps bushes, females, or the young ones between us. Finally spooked enough they take off for parts unknown. Still maybe 45 minutes to an hour of walk and stalk fun! Very enjoyable!

Back on the bakkie we go and slowly drive around. Toby, Johan and Jeffrey put a stalk on Toby’s last package animal, impala, but couldn’t close on it. While they were out stalking I was off the truck observing the fauna when a lion roars in the distance. I calmly (right!) move back to the truck and climb back in.

After another unsuccessful stalk, we are cruising around when Johan spots a lioness not far hiding in the bushes!

A few minutes later, a goofy horned loan gemsbok is spotted a couple hundred yards away! Johan explains the curved horns to me and says we can find one with straight horns, but this looks unique to me and I decide to take it. I take a good rest...BOOM!...thwak! And the gemsbok drops straight to the ground! Johan laughs and says “The old Phil is back! That’s the way you have always shot!” Pictures taken. We load it into the bakkie and off for the lodge, skinning bay, lunch and a rest.
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After lunch and couple of hours loafing and we are back on the bakkie looking for me a red hartebeest and Toby his impala. Getting a bit breezy again. Few animals are seen. We drive to the pond where we see Loni has a table with drinks, snacks and a fire going for our second farewell! We have shots of Amarula liqueur, beer and wine along with snacks and photos. Off we go again with only an hour of daylight left to hunt.
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A couple of attempts at stalking impala in the wind have failed earlier. Finally a fairly large group run across the road far ahead of us. Johan, Toby and Jeffrey take off in hot pursuit. 15, 30, 45 minutes pass while William and I slowly drive around. I am so tempted to shoot another lone fine looking springbuck! Animals are starting to move during the “bewitching hour”! Zebras, blue wildebeests, springbuck, impala, kudu, etc. all out moving before dark.

We hear more shots. Then a call comes over the radio that Toby has his impala! He has finally in the last hour of his last day to hunt gotten his impala and completed his package deal! We help take photos, load the impala and head for the lodge in the dark. Drinks around the fire pit showing each other our pictures. Dinner. Again we sit around relaxing and reviewing the day. Finally off to bed.

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Ridgewalker

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You can say what you want to about CBL hunting, but now I have done it and know it is easily as dangerous as any other lion hunting! Free range lion hunting over bait (as most of it is) is not my cup of tea. Sitting in a blind day after day waiting on a lion to show up just doesn’t excite me.
If I could do a leopard hunt behind dogs as Philip Glass did, that would be my choice for leopard. But I believe that has been stopped now (I believe I’m not too old yet to do it). That said, I still have leopard from a blind on my bucket list, but if I ever hunt lion again (which I most definitely would like to do!) it will be the same way, walking tracks until the lion is spotted.

Off to PawPrint Safaris in Northwest, to be continued.
 

BeeMaa

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Congratulations on some very fine animals.
The Lion & Lioness hunt is especially interesting.

How complicated are the importation of the Lion & Lioness trophies?
 

meigsbucks

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Sounds like you are having a heck of a hunt. Your description of the lion hunts got the hairs on the back of my neck up. I can’t imagine what you felt.
 

Edge

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Congratulations and thank you for taking us along, looking forward to the rest of the story!
 

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Great job Phil!
 

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