SOUTH AFRICA: Plains Game Hunting With LIMPOPO BIG GAME SAFARIS

Chago

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So, I sit here at the Africa Sky Guest House in Johannesburg getting some well needed rest before the long-haul home tomorrow. Figured this would be a good time to sit, relax, have a couple black labels and write this review.



The journey began in Toronto where I checked into my flight with Ethiopian Airlines. With all the COVID BS the flight schedules and routes were all screwed up forcing me to go with Ethiopian. I am frequent flyer with work and both Air Canada and Ethiopian share the same flag of Star Alliance. So I took advantage of this to upgrade to business. Now I know I said I was “forced” to go with Ethiopian, although I will gladly report. It was by far one of the best business class services I have ever had. And that’s coming from a guy who fly’s 80-100 flights a year. The meal was not a microwaved plate that has one potato, one piece of meat and one little salad with 3 leaves in it. This was a full 5 course meal served in courses and I would guarantee only few folks could finish. Good selection of drinks, wine etc. The only catch with Ethiopian… is Addis Ababa. The airport is not the best, but if you have airline status or flying business the lounge is accessible and it was really nice. Fortunately, the connector was only 2 hours and by the time you go through customs etc it only left me an hour of free time.



Upon completing the second flight into Joberg, I was picked up by the staff from Africa Sky. I would strongly recommend these folks. They handled all of my rifle paperwork, luggage and rifle collection and shuttle to their resort. The resort is a well needed break from travel, beautiful rooms, pool, dining area etc. All you can drink beer… that’s always a positive. As mentioned, my outfit on this trip was Limpopo Big Game Safaris. I don’t think Bossie needs any introduction on this forum. Bossie and his eldest son Christie met me at Africa Sky. We had a few drinks and Bossie made sure I didn’t get any sleep by showing me pictures of what he was seeing in the field. In the morning we were off to camp in the Limpopo province.



The drive was not all that bad at all. Little less than 4 hours, but it was all nice wide-open highways. Christie made sure to stop along the way at all the famous RSA fast food chains. What can I say, I like to eat ok. And after lots of laughs and conversations, we arrived at camp. Camp was beautiful, comfortable and all I needed on a safari. Main lodge has wifi which for me is important for communication with home etc. Camp had great views and amazing people. We spent most of our time though either at the bar or at the firepit.

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The hunting area is awesome. We did have a little bit of windshield time every day. But to be honest I had no problem with it. I enjoy the change of scenery, seeing different terrain, vegetation, animals etc. Being in the Soutpansberg mountain range, it was wild to be on one side of the mountain, drive 30 mins to a property on the other side. And see completely different plant life, weather, and overall hunting atmosphere. I hunted on 3 different farms, all of which are true bushveld. I came with my long range set up, as most of you know it’s kind of my thing. Ya that was a mistake. This region is all thick bush, up close and personal style of hunting. Quick shooting and lots of stalking. You got to earn your trophies here. And to be honest, I prefer it that way. I like to feel the hunt. If I am not exhausted and complaining by the end of the day. Then I didn’t properly hunt. Just my opinion everyone has their own flavor. But this area didn’t satisfy my long-range appetite, but that being said it took me out of my comfort zone and forced me to rely on other skills and adapt. That’s what a traveling hunting trip should be all about. But all in all, I would 100% recommend Limpopo Big Game Safaris. All of the staff is extremely passionate about their jobs and together make a great outfit. Christie was my PH and I already told Bossie I won’t come back if Christie is not my PH lol. We got a long from Day one. And I think it is always important to have a PH you get along with, feel safe and confident with etc. We hunted hard every day, had tons of laughs, and took some amazing trophies.



So, lets get into the juicy stuff. The hunting.



Day 1

We went to a property near the Zimbabwe border. The area was hit by a very long drought so the grass was as yellow as can be, but man oh man did it scratch the Africa itch. With the yellow grassy meadows and all of the African Umbrella Thorn Trees. It was literally straight out of a National Geographic magazine. The plan for this property was to keep the look out for bushbuck and kudu. We saw plenty of both, attempted many, many stalks. And it turns out bushbuck don’t want to die and are very good at avoiding it. These little buggers kept slipping us, once we were about 10 yards away and had no idea he was there. I couldn’t believe how good they were at just slipping away. We hunted from dark to dark and saw a ton but just didn’t pull the trigger on anything just yet. We came back to camp where other hunters were successful so we all raised our glasses, hung around the fire. Even played some music.



Day 2

We went to another property on Day 2. On this property we were going to hunt Kudu, Eland and a big ole Giraffe Christie said they had spotted on this property. This property was basically the South African Yellowstone. It was tens of thousands of acres. I believe someone said 40,000 hectares which is 80,000 acres, but I may be screwing that up. Regardless it was massive, beautiful and packed with game. The land owner had his house like 5km back on top of a mountain, he flew around in his chopper like John Dutton. It was a awesome property. I am sure all the vets on here already know this, but if you think hunting Eland is going to be like shooting a cow in the field….. you’ve lost your mind. This beast of a animal, was incredibly difficult to stalk on. We spent the whole day finding them, chasing them, and watching them run away. About 2 hours before last light. One of the other PH on the property was on top of the mountain and said he spotted some Eland in a clearing somewhat near where we were hunting. So Bossie joined us for this part and drove us down past the Eland so we could stalk in from the downwind side. As we were making our way in to where we were told the Eland were. We saw some eyes above the tree tops staring at us. It was a group of giraffes, one of which was the old dark bull the guys have seen. Well, we are now all of a sudden giraffe hutting. I was set up on the sticks about 170 yards away but only had his head and about 1/3 of his neck sticking out above the trees. All the PH in camp told me the head shot is ideal with giraffe as they are tough as nails and can absorb some lead in the body. I took my shot with my 300 win mag, 212 grain ELD X bullets. The shot was a little bit low and when I say little bit I mean literally 1” – 2” below the brain. So it didn’t knock him in the dirt instantly. But he only ran about 70-80 yards and stopped. We caught up to him and I could see his mouth and nose were bleeding like crazy. So I assumed I hit some arteries or something to cause so much blood. But like any ethical hunter, if the animal is still up, keep shooting. I sent 2 quick rounds into the shoulder as now it was visible. He took off again, but only about another 100 yards where he found him dead. And for giraffe 100 yards is not very far at all considering their length of stride. He laid literally in a wide-open area right next to the road, the guides couldn’t have been happier lol. This was my first giraffe and it was a awesome experience. It was great to take this old bull out of the herd. You could see he was a mean bugger. Had scars all over, his horn was heavily worn down on one side. Clearly his favorite punching hand. Way to start the hunt, by shooting the largest, toughest animal first.

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Day 3

We returned to the same property as yesterday. Still wanted to chase those elands. It was Day 2 all over again. Find them, stalk them, watch them run away. It was becoming very frustrating how much better they were at this game then me lol. The African Yellowstone ranch, also had cattle, obviously. So we went down to the cattle side of the property as the local tracker was giving us some inside information on some nice kudu bulls and impala that like to hang out around the cattle feeders and waterers. As we were searching this area, we spotted a nice warthog. This time around I wasn’t going to Africa with a specific list. I wanted a kudu and a Eland, but everything else was all about what Africa throws at me. If we see old mature specimen of any species, I was in. Hence the giraffe on day two. So we spotted this hog, took a shot from 200 and smacked her right on the shoulder. I could literally see her running on 3 legs as that front shoulder was completely broken. Yet like everything Africa, it some how doesn’t die and continues to run. We take the track, tons of blood, we knew the shot was solid. Roughly 75 yards away we see she was already bedded; we probably should have waited but we bumped her. She took off running and I smacked one right in the neck which dropped her on the spot. When we approached her we noticed we got buck fever when we saw the one tusk, we didn’t notice the other was missing. This old sow must have broken it off as it was broken inside her mouth. But none the less a awesome trophy and a old specimen. Just what I was looking for in all my trophy’s. We spent the rest of the day being taken advantage of incredibly smart Eland.

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Day 4

We returned to the Dutton ranch again. Surely, we would find an Eland who rode the short bus to school today. No…. they kept winning again all morning. After lunch I was like, lets go back to the cattle side and see if we can spot any Kudu or impala. At this point I was starting to believe I wasn’t Eland hunter material. As we went to the other side of the property, we were sitting along some low cattle fence glassing some really nice impala rams. One we thought was going to be well over the coveted 24”. But the impala were too busy playing tag and fighting one another. They didn’t sit still for a second. We were watching this for about 30 mins just back and forth, bolting around like children playing tag, but with rocket speed. All of a sudden, my PH looks to the left of us literally about 100 yards away through some brush. A beautiful Kudu bull eating from the cattle mineral feeder. Fortunately, these brahman cattle were no where near to defend there mineral as I am sure we would not have ever seen this kudu come in. Sure enough he was facing right at us putting his head down enjoying the mineral. I took a shot at his spine and made great contact. He collapsed right there on the spot. When I approached, he was still alive which is shocking as when we grabbed him his neck was completely broken from the shot. We put one more in him for good measure and all was well. This bull was a dream bull for me. 52” which for me was an amazing trophy. It felt so much like hunting at home for whitetail. Seeing deer come to cattle feeders, waterers, cornfields etc. It was so surreal and at that moment you realize. This is their whitetail deer. Sitting in a cow pasture with kudu making there way down the mountain to steal from the cattle. And having one come in was awesome. Of course, after we had the kudu loaded up we went after those damn Eland again…… At this point I was like….. well I don’t even want that daman spiral slam anymore lol.

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Day 5

Unfortunately, we had some miserable weather roll in. Rain all day, 50kmh gusts of wind. Very cold (Africa Cold) temps. We knew animals would hunker down in this and would be miserable for the hunters. So we decided to just have a day off. Enjoy some Netflix in camp. Multiple naps to make up for all the late nights and early mornings. For a father of young daughters. To spend an entire day napping and watching actual adult action films all day was well worth the price of admission. I didn’t have Frozen or Moana on for the 6000th time, and having my hair braided while I try laying on the couch lol.



Day 6
getting beat up by the Eland, I didn’t want to lose to the bushbuck as well. And after our first day there we saw a ton of really nice bushbuck. So we were driving to the area where we saw them last time and were going to get on foot when we got there. Well on our way I saw a huge reaction behind me from the trackers. “Mamba, Mamba”. This was one of the largest snakes I have ever seen in my life. On top of that from what I have read about the black mambas, one of the most aggressive of them all. I am Canadian boy, we have garter snakes…. That’s it lol. So I was terrified, but we did get it and of course we had to pose with it. I still haven’t washed my hands enough times to get the feeling of rigor mortis snake in my hand…… yuck!!!

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After I finally got rid of the chills and got my head back in the game we got to the area where we expected to see the bushbuck. And go figure literally as we pulled up we saw 2 real nice males on the road. Of course once we stopped they scurried into the bush, but they were more of a gait and not a sprint. So we figured they didn’t spook too far. Wind was in our favor, we creeped in to about 100 yards and we saw one sprint off. So we assumed, oh we blew it. But then we realized the larger of the two we saw on the road wasn’t darting away, as a matter of fact he was just moving along eating. I think the angle at which we were at he was hidden from us and we were hidden from him. So he didn’t dart off like his compadre did. I sat patiently and waited for him to feed his way past this bush he was behind. When he finally stepped out, we were just inside 100 yards. I smacked him on the shoulder and he fell where he stood. The remainder of the day we hunted kudu, I figured this Eland may not happen. So the hell with it another kudu wouldn’t hurt. We did see some nice studs but they just didn’t give us a opportunity.

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Day 7

This was it, the final day. Again, I didn’t come to Africa with a list. I was really just after a Kudu and a Eland and would let the rest just roll. My PH and I had some talks the night before about these damn Eland and he said Bossie had organized another property way up near the Botswana border. Apparently, the land owner there had some nice Eland and one large bull in particular. Let’s do this!!!



We arrive at the property, the land owner himself came along with us to help guide the ship. Being this was another enormous property we needed some of the local knowledge. The entire morning, we spotted Eland, some who gave us a shot, FINALLY!!! We didn’t take though as my PH was very good at not letting me shoot something that was not a mature specimen. So yes, we finally got them in the scope, but decided to let them walk. Then we saw “the bull”. I immediately noticed this one was substantially larger then the others we saw…… But he slipped us…..



We went back to the landowner’s beautiful home and had some lunch on his backyard pond. His giant Boerbel, South African for a dog the size of a lion. And his pet nyala/bushbuck cow. Yes that’s real see pics below. Were hanging out with us while I contemplated why I spent so many days, passing opportunities at other species all because I wanted this eland. I only have a half day left, now what. The landowner named Pieter was very optimistic and said I know exactly where he will be this afternoon. I was pessimistic as he said that all morning too lol. We worked the property trying to spot the herd again as we finally found them around 3pm. Yup we were cutting it close. Sure enough we spotted them and started making our way in. Similar to the first kudu where we were focusing our attention one way and something popped up in another. Is exactly what happened here. We were staring at the herd we could see through te brush about 80 yards ahead of us. When we look to our right and the big bull was I suppose following the herd to allow them to be his decoys. But unfortunately for him he literally stepped out right in front of us and did the whole deer in the headlights look. My PH quickly gave me the” Its him” and I sent a shot. We all agreed it was a great shot, right on the shoulder. Being that close and him taking the shot then turning gave everyone plenty of time to see the wound, damage etc. Again like all of these apparent indestructible animals in Africa, the eland ran like hell with a bullet threw the shoulder and into the boiler room. Those who say ELD X can’t penetrate… I will show you pics of how both lungs were mash potatoes but this damn tough animal still had some gas in him. We went after him thinking he is 100% down and dead. Not even 60 yards we see him get up and run. All I could see is rear so I sent one anyways hoping to break a back leg or something. This shot made him turn slightly but still run full speed which was mind blowing to me. I sent a third that literally hit him right behind the head. Watching a bull eland run full speed to then face plant was a wild scene. And finally had my eland down!!!

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Well we did our photos, got the eland to the skinning shed. Its about 445pm. I figured the days over, the hunts over. Pieter the land owner says you wanna go if we can spot any kudu. We had saw a super old bull earlier in the day. I figured the way this bush has been to hunt all week. My odds are low but the hell with it lets go take a peak. For the first time in Africa, something came easy. We literally drove to very area we spotted him earlier and he was standing in the middle of the road. And posing. Smacked him on the shoulder and he dropped on the spot. I love this bull, I have not had it scored yet. Christie promised me he would do it this weekend. But we are all betting even though he looks smaller then my other bull. He will score much higher as the curls are very deep. And if you look closely, the spiral lip that all kudu have. Is literally 1” if not 1.5” sticking off the actual antler. It is the largest ridge both the landowner and my PH have ever seen. So it will add a huge bonus on the scorecard. But regardless of all of that, I had said I am after mature specimen. This old guys teeth were all worn down, you could already see the thinning that was happening to his body. The horns themselves had all sorts of broken pieces and scars all over his face. He was a old boy and was another amazing trophy. Great end to the day and a great way to end the hunt.

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Hope you enjoyed the read.
 
Great stuff!!
 
sounds great
 
Congratulations on an excellent hunt! Very well done!
 
Congratulations on a successful safari and some very fine animals. Thanks for the report.
 
Thanks for the report. Your first kudu bull has to be one of the most striking bulls I’ve ever seen flaring out with the long ivory tips.
 
Nice animals and report. Bossie is a hard worker and great guy to hunt with.
 
Thank you guys. Just got back to Canada. Anyone have any ideas on how to either bring Africa closer or make planes faster!!! Jeez that felt sooooo much longer coming home.
 
Congrats on some fine animals. The trip home always seems to take twice as long as going over. Always a pain.Thanks for sharing your hunt with us.
Bruce
 
Congrats, you took very nice animals !
 
Nice report and congratulations on some fine animals!
 
Chago, I enjoyed that report, some fine animals, will have to swap photos of the snake, some really fine memories made there!!!
 
Great hunt. I would love to see Bossie, DJ, and some big Kudu.
I will be seeing him again for sure soon. I want to do my buffalo hunt at his place. I saw some nice ones man oh man. But with all the farm improvements I am doing at home, they just were not on this years budget. Next time for sure.
 
Simply outstanding! What a fine Africa adventure with exceptional trophies! Quite honestly I would have taken that old sow warthog in a heartbeat even missing the tusk! The one left is huge!
Excellent report! Thanks!
 

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