First morning found us loading up the bakkie around 6 AM. It was extremely cool with temperatures around 11c. Both my partner and I were ridding on the back ,freezing as we departed camp. Immediately, we started seeing all kinds of game within 100 yards of camp. Mostly Impala, but also quite a few Bushbucks, Nyala and Kudu. My partner's jaw dropped. He had no idea what to expect.
I had decided that I would let him up to bat first. Because of that little detail of missing the whole hunt last year.
We drove maybe 20 minutes and pulled off when the Mias, the PH decided that we had arrived at a gamey location. We wandered around the brush quite some time until we cut a big kudu track. We proceeded to follow it for quite some until the PH informed us to walk really quietly. After tip-toeing for a while we came up on what we were looking for; a nice older kudu bull. Of course, a kudu was high on my partner's list. After a few quick glances and hand signs between him and the PH he got my 7mm Mag - which he was using on this hunt, as he didn't want anything to do with the Marlin – “Yankee Civil war gun” he called it! (He is Russian).
The bull was about 75 yards away. While there was a little bit of brush in front and to the side of him, I could still see some good shooting lanes at him. Still, after what seemed like forever he still hadn't taken the shot (obviously he wasn't used to bushveld and was waiting for perfect presentation)! The bull then scented us, huffed and ran off. I had a talk with him explaining that when the sticks come up, you probably have a five second max window before the animals run off. We're not used to animals this skittish in Europe.
We spent the rest of the morning walking a river bottom either looking to jump something or cut a big track. The shady low land was full of game. Mostly Impalas and Waterbucks (Impala and Waterbuck are the two most prevalent species on this preserve. They're everywhere! Then come Kudu in third place),
After sneaking through the dry river bed for over an hour we cut another large Kudu track.
The track left the river bed and started heading for higher ground. We followed it for quite some distance around several kopjes. The PH then informed us he was heading to another river bed on the other side of the kopje in front of us, and we should climb the kopje to get a possible glimpse of him. After a short climb, all three of us were on the top of the ridge glassing the river bed about 250 yards away searching for the bull. Several minutes passed and the bull hadn't made his appearance. As we were about to leave we heard some rocks sliding at the bottom of the kopje we were one. We looked down and there was our kudu with a water buck, not more than 50 meters from us. The sticks came up and my buddy got the 7 Mag on them. Within a few seconds the rifle roared and the bull dropped like a sack of potatoes – DRH!
Sorry for the face paint on the photo. But partner requested it.
On the second afternoon whilst cruising around in the Landcruiser, I spotted a nice Blue Wildebeest off to the side of the trail. I was pretty proud as the guide, Mias and the tracker have eyes like eagles and most of the time spot extremely difficult to see animals, then spend 5 minutes pointing them out to you. So the fact that I spotted him added extra value.
We continued driving on approximately half a mile down the road before getting out of the truck and attempting a stalk back to the animal. This outfit has a very strict rule on no shooting from or within 500 yards of the trucks. This results in many stalks where you are either no longer able to locate the original animal or simply get busted by your prey. However, this makes hunting much more challenging and rewarding.
This time we were lucky and were able to stalk back to the small herd of about 5 bulls. They sensed us and started to get nervous. The PH said instead of going stright at them, we will circle them. Apparently Wildebeest will tolerate this, but not a straight in approach. So we circled until we were able to get a clear view of the bull to take. The PH put the sticks up, but I had no shot due to blocking branches. I dropped down to a seated position, put the crosshairs of the 1x4 Leupold mounted on the 45/70 and let one fly. The herd exploded in all directions and I lost sight of my bull. The shot was only about 80-100 meters but I didn't feel super confident in the shot. Plus now had blood dripping down my face from a nasty scope bite.
We quckly rushed up to the place where the bull was standing (no waiting 15 minutes after the shot here). The bull was laying on its side stone dead a mere 10-15 yards from where he was hit. Both the PH and trackers were very surprised at this. Apparently, Wildebeest have a reputation for running long distances even after very solid hits from 375 H&H's. The PH asked me to show him one of the 45/70 cartridges again, he fondled it and grinned. You could tell it started to make him think.
Back at the skinning shed I was able to see that the shot was near perfect, low and forward in the chest cavity, like you're supposed to shoot African game.
Both lungs were were turned to mush, the heart, whilst not hit, has a large purple bruise on it
The bullet was recovered on the off side just under the chest. It weighed 343 grains and was expanded to a diameter of 0.87"
I've chased them in the highlands of Scotland, and there, yes, the going is very tough for anybody. However, in continental Europe they live in flat woodland terrain, similar to Michigan whitetail habitat.
Wow! Has it really been four and a half years since I've been to Africa?? How time flies.
Sorry to dig up this old thread. But I'm starting to get the itch again to go back to the Limpopo.
I went three years in a row and then took a break, but I think 21 will be the year. I didnt do a report, but my friend and I had a great hunt in 2016. That time we took our girl friends. Mine even bagged a nice impala ram and ewe? Im not sure what the females are called. I will see if I can dig up a few photos for you guys, if you're interested
Its been four and half years, so memory is kinda hazy and the details of the three trips are starting to melt into one big one.
The hunt took place in the second week of July - the coldest period of the year in South Africa. I purpously select this time for two reasons, first for me hunting has always been a cold weather endeavor and second, all the creepy crawlies are hibernating undergroud. Man, I HATE snakes!!!
This trip started out somewhat like the first one, with visa problems. My girlfriend was denied boarding at the airport because her flight from Kiev, Ukraine to South Africa had a stop over in Switzerland (where we would link up and fly direct together to Johanesburg) and she didnt have a euro visa. We were told one would not be needed for transiting, WRONG! By luck there was a flight leaving in a couple hours from Kiev to Johanesburg (via Istanbul) with ONE last seat available. Although that was an extra grand and change out of pocket. Second screw up was in Johanesburg airport. Due to her later arrival time(we were now on different flights), she only had about 30 minutes to deplane, collect luggage, clear customs and catch the small regional flight to Polokwane.I figured this was absolutely impossible and decided that I would not board the second flight and wait for her, as I didnt want to leave her alone in that scary city.
As luck would have it, she somehow (probably by cutting in line at customs) was able to make the mad dash to the regional flight in time. She, however, didnt wait for me and was soon on her way alone to Polokwane leaving me in Joburg with my finger up my nose, like an idiot. Good thing the Guide was waiting there to greet her. I caught the next flight a few hours later and we were all reunited. All's well that ends well, right?
After about a two and half hour drive north from Polokwane we arrived at the lodge near the town of Musina. We stopped off at the range to quickly check the zero of the rifles.
Of course, I again brought my 45-70 guide gun and for my girl a compact Sig Sauer 970 in 6.5x55 Mauser. This is also a great rifle, it has a shorter 20 inch barrel and a slightly shorter stock. Its a perfect light kicking moutain rifle that I took the previous year to highlands of Scotland where I logged many miles hauling it up and down mountains - even got a nice stag. Anyways, a great rifle for a woman.
I worked up some super accurate but middle of the road handloads for it with the 140gr Speer Hotcor bullet.
The previous year the guide gun was firing the awesome 350gr Hornady flat nose. However, Due to not being able to find any more at the time, I loaded up some stiff loads with the 350gr Speer flat nose. As we know this bullet is a bit long for the 45-70 so I had to seat it very deep and above the cannelure (far from ideal). But I was eager to see its performance on large African plains game and eager to recover a few spent bullets (didnt happen).
After both rifles showed that the scopes were not knocked off zero from the long plane ride, we went to camp, quickly changed and went out for an evening scouting session. After arriving at one promising spot, we left the trucks and hiked up the rim of a canyon. As the guide peaked over he immediately told us to all get down (there was about 5-6 of us in our party). The guide using hand gestures motioned me up to the rim and indicated a huge Oryx to me. I quickly got into a prone position and lined the animal up in my crosshairs - one third of the way up and tight behind the shoulder. But due to shooting down from a canyon i was finding it very hard to judge the distance, and I forgot my range finder at the truck. So, again using hand gestures I ask him the range. He seems to indicate 150 yards. Which is the exact distance that my rifle is zeroed for. So with everybody looking on I crank the 1-4x leopold up to 4x, get as steady as I can, calmly inhale and half way exhale, gently squeeze.....and miss!
I know this because I never heard the customary thud of an impact that I have grown to love with the 45-70, and because the animal took off over the horizon like a bat out of hell.
The trackers went down and followed the track for a good while and confirmed a clean miss as no blood was found (at least that was a relief).
Upon return the guide asked me what happened, as in three safaris I had yet to miss an animal. I asked him if he was sure that was only 150 yards, as I was now starting to have my doubts. He said "150?? I said 250!!!" Well mystery solved. I had misread his hand signals as he was a ways away from me at the time. Obviouly the bullet sailed low between the animal's legs. I of course hate missing, but if i have to miss, this is the best way, IMO. So my bruised confidence (of course the first time I miss here, I have an audience) was restored a bit. Now back to the camp for a great dinner which I dont remember, but since all meals are delcious here, I'm sure it was great
(pictured: view from firing position)
Greetings all! I've been a hunter for 50 years, but only now planning a trip to Africa. I was fortunate and successfully bid on a couple hunts for plains game in SA later this year and next. Also a rare Native Texas (5th generation) and USMC Vet. Hunt safe y'all!