SOUTH AFRICA: South Africa Hunt With Limcoma Safaris

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Preparation

I first hunted Africa for 10 days in 2019. After that hunt, I caught the bug and wanted to make a return hunt. My son Jeremy, who had accompanied me on my first trip, would be coming along this time as well. I was wanting to hunt nyala, bushbuck, and warthog as my three primary animals so I started looking at outfitters for a hunt. I narrowed the list down to two, both of which are sponsors on this site. I contacted Dan Leahy, the US rep for @Limcroma Safaris. He was very informative and was always prompt with his responses.

The second outfit was nothing but unreliable. Many failures to follow up on requests and not calling when promising to do so. A big pet peeve of mine is failure to communicate, so even though I had seen many favorable reviews on this forum, I contacted them and told them I was not interested in hunting with them as they did not follow through with what they said. So, I decided on Limcroma. I scheduled a 7 day hunt for the first week of May, 2023. I did a lot of practice shooting and walking in preparation to have a successful hunt.

Day 1 Taking Off

We flew out of St. Louis to Atlanta and then non-stop to Johannesburg. From Atlanta, the plane was about 45 minutes late taking off. There was a lot of turbulence so I did not get much sleep. Upon arrival at Johannesburg we got through customs, picked up our bags and were met by MR. X from the Afton guest House who escorted us to the SAPS office to get my rifle. Most of the hunters appeared to have used a pre-approval agent. I did not, but only waited about 10 minutes longer to get my permit. I understand the fear of something going wrong and using the pre-approval but it worked out for me and I saved $150.

After retrieving my rifle, we loaded up into a van and arrived at the Afton house for dinner and some much-needed sleep.

Day 2 Travel To Camp

Next morning, we got up, ate breakfast, and waited to get picked up for our journey to camp. The driver was about half an hour late but we got loaded up and took off. About 2 ½ hours later we pulled into the town of Thabazimbi where our driver dropped us off and we were met by the professional hunters from Limcroma. The first to be introduced was Ryan who, as it turned out, was our assigned PH and driver to camp. Leaving Thabazimbi, Ryan asked us what we were interested in hunting. I told him in order of preference: nyala, bushbuck, warthog, zebra, and if we had extra time, steenbok. Jeremy wanted a hartebeest and warthog. Ryan said they had a wet summer this year and the grass was high and thick so hunting would be a little tougher than normal. Two hours of travel over bone jarring gravel roads brought us to Camp Ruigtepan or Sable Valley Lodge. We were met by Olga, the camp cook offering us a drink and Maryke, the camp administrator. The camp staff was lined up singing a native African song.

We unloaded our belongings from the tuck and were directed to our room. Getting unpacked, we then headed over to the rifle range to get sighted in. I took a couple shots that were low and after making an adjustment to the scope, my third shot was in the bullseye. Jeremy then took 2 shots, both hitting the bullseye, so we were ready to start hunting.

We loaded up the truck and met O.J. our tracker/driver. Since it was mid-afternoon, we headed to a property just a few miles from camp. We encountered several impalas and saw a few zebras and hartebeest cross the road. Eventually, we turned down a side road and saw a female hartebeest far ahead standing in the road facing away from us. Hoping to find a male tagging along, we hopped off the truck and crept up for a better look. It turned out it was a female with a youngster so we took off. We did not see anything else of note so we called it a day.

Dinner that night grilled by the professional hunters was kudu kabobs and beef and kudu sausage. It was my son’s birthday, so Olga baked a cake for dessert and everyone sang him happy birthday.

Day 3 To The River

Ryan said we would head to a large property about an hour and 15 minutes away from camp, located on the Limpopo River, which separates South Africa from Botswana.

Arrived there, we took off on foot down a path paralleling the river hoping to find a bushbuck. We passed a tree and were startled when a large baboon jumped out of it and ran off. Looking out across the river we saw a pair of crocodiles on the far side and 3 hippos slowly bobbing up and down in the current. We scared up several impalas and a couple of bushbuck, one that Ryan said was very nice but the cover was so thick we could not get a clear shot. We saw a couple of warthogs and they trotted off into the tall grass. We snuck in for a closer look and saw that they were immature pigs. On the Botswana side of the river, we observed several baboons and a really fine bushbuck that had walked down to drink.

By this time, it was getting close to noon so we decided to go sit at a waterhole in search of a warthog. Ryan looked at his pedometer and stated we had walked a little over 8 miles. A pretty good morning’s walk.

At the waterhole, we found a bush facing the water that Ryan and O.J. fashioned into a makeshift blind. We settle in and before long several impalas came in to drink. One was exceptional and Ryan asked if I was interested. I whispered yes and tried to get in position for a shot. The problem was the impala came in on the left side of the bush and we were set up on the right. I eventually maneuvered around to get in position but just as I was ready to squeeze the trigger, the impala bolted. We waited more and had a few small warthogs come in. A couple of vervet monkeys also came to drink. Finally, a warthog approached that Ryan said was a shooter but he spooked before getting to the water and I never got a chance to shoot. It was getting close to 3 and we were almost ready to leave when what I thought was an immature impala came in to drink. I had forgotten my binoculars back at camp and with my old eyes I was surprised when Ryan whispered, “Bushbuck! Take him!” The ram bent down to drink so I waited until he raised up. He turned around with his rear facing us and Ryan whistled to get his attention. He turned slightly and I squeezed the trigger, dropping him where he stood. We walked down to the water and Ryan said he was a really good ram. The joke was on me and for the rest of the trip, any animal we saw was an ”immature impala.” Ryan called O.J. to come pick us up and after pictures, we loaded the bushbuck and headed to the property owner’s house to field dress the bushbuck and put him in the cooler.
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We then decided to walk back along the river to see what else we might run into. Other than a few impalas, a good number of small warthogs, an ostrich, and an immature nyala, we struck out. O.J. came to pick us up and as we drove along, at the far edge of the bush along the river Ryan glassed a herd of impala and motioned O. J. to stop the truck. He said one of the impalas was an absolute toad. The problem was the impala had spotted us and were on the move. Ahead of us was an open field. We hopped off the truck and running through the tall grass we attempted to get ahead of them. We were successful but they spotted us, did a 180, and really took off.

By now it was getting dark so we called it a day. On the drive out, a cane rat crossed the road followed by several babies. It is a rodent that is a little larger than a muskrat. Ryan said that was the first time he had ever seen one with babies. I felt pretty good. We had not intended to find a bushbuck at the waterhole but it just worked out that way. Dinner that night was wildebeest goulash.

Day 4 Success Everywhere

The morning started with us heading back to the property we hunted the first night for Jeremy to try for a hartebeest. We saw a couple of females and the usual impalas that are so common. Turning a corner, way off in the distance Ryan spotted something and snapped his fingers for O.J. to stop. Peering through the binoculars he said it was a bull hartebeest looking straight at us. Figuring it would spook if we approached any closer, Ryan told O.J to slowly back the truck up and we would drive in a U around the hartebeest to try and sneak in closer from the opposite direction.

We took off down the side lane and suddenly 3 zebras crossed in front of us. Ryan asked me if I wanted to go for it and I said yes. We hopped off the truck and set off into the thick brush. We could not see where the zebra had gone, so we moved back out to the road and Ryan looked down to see if he could spot them. Way off in the distance a few young eland appeared. We were almost ready to move back into the brush when another zebra walked out into the open. Ryan motioned for me and quickly set up the sticks. I aimed at the triangle shaped striping on the zebra’s shoulder and fired, hearing the distinct thud of the bullet hitting home. The zebra dashed off and Ryan said he appeared to have been hit hard. We walked up to where he had disappeared and saw him lying about 30 yards away in an opening in the bush. He was a fine stallion with a beautiful coat. We took some pictures and loaded him into the back of the truck. Ryan said it was probably a waste of time, but let’s go see if the hartebeest was still there.
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We drove back and O.J. stopped the truck. Ryan jumped down and crept up to the intersecting lane around the corner for a look. Turning around he nodded his head and motioned for us to follow him. We took off through the bush and as we got closer Ryan motion us to get down, crawling on all fours for several yards and eventually on our bellies to the edge of the lane. Ryan snaked out and saw the hartebeest laying down facing away from us. Motioning for Jeremy to crawl out, he had him set up by Jeremy sitting behind him and resting the forend of the rifle on his shoulder. As Jeremy was telling Ryan he was unsteady, the bull suddenly stood up. They both scrambled to their feet and Ryan set up the sticks. The bull was still facing away, so Ryan whistled and he turned. Jeremy shot and I heard the bullet hit home. The hartebeest turned tail and ran off to the left through an opening. We followed up and as we approached the opening, saw him down about 50 yards away. He was a very old hartebeest with his horns worn down and polished smooth. Looking at his teeth, they were worn down even with his gums. We took some pictures, loaded him up, and headed back to the main camp to drop off both animals at the skinning shed.

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Once there, we met Hannes Els, the owner of Limcroma and had a very pleasant chat with him. We stopped by the kitchen at camp to pick up lunch and headed to another watering hole to look for warthog.

The waterhole was on a property that also had cows. We set up behind a fence that had a brush pile on it to hide us from detection. It was not long before a good number of impalas came in to drink. We also had a few warthogs stop by, but they were females with youngsters. Quite a few vervet monkeys scurried in to drink. As we sat, Ryan raised his binoculars and silently studied something that was out of Jeremy’s and mine’s sight. He slowly rose up and waved me over. He pointed to an impala drinking at the waterhole and whispered, “That is a really big impala if you are interested.” I said yes, so we set up the sticks. The impala was in no hurry and as he was on the nearside of the water, faced directly away from us. I waited until he raised his head. He was still giving us a poor shot, so Ryan made a guttural sound much like the tone made by a male impala that is familiar to anyone who has hunted in Africa. The ram turned and I fired. He ran off and Ryan looked at me with a long face and said I shot over him, missing completely. I was shocked as I thought I was right on him. I was shaking my head when my son started laughing. I looked back to Ryan and he also was laughing. He was obviously pulling my leg. We walked down to the water and found a heavy blood trail. Just a minute or two of very easy tracking through the underbush brought us to the impala. Ryan asked if he could measure it to see how big it was, and I said sure. It taped out at 25 and 24 ¾ inches. A very fine impala.

We called for O.J to bring the truck to load the impala and sat back down in the blind for the remainder of the day. A few more impala and small warthogs appeared, and a mongoose also ran across in front of us. Just as the sun was setting, a dark form appeared on the far bank. Ryan whispered, “Warthog. Wait!.... No, it’s a brown hyena!” The hyena disappeared around the left side of the waterhole. I whispered to Ryan that maybe he will come around to our side of the waterhole. Sure enough, a couple of minutes later he walked right in front of us. Really a neat sight. By then it was almost dark, so we packed up, ending a very successful day.
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On the trip back to camp I noticed a flash of light. Odd, I thought, but a moment later another flash that was unmistakable. Lightning. A storm was moving in. By the time we got back to camp it was raining heavily. Ryan commented that it was very rare to rain like that at this time of the season. Little did we know what was in store for us. Olga prepared blesbok fajitas for supper.

Day 5 The Jungle

The next day it was decided to go to a new property Ryan had never hunted on and was unfamiliar with. The idea was to look for warthog and steenbok. It quickly became apparent that this was going to be very difficult. It would be hard to describe just how thick this property was. After driving around a bit, he stated the only way we would get a shot was if something was standing in the road. We saw a few warthogs and steenbok, but had no chance as they quickly disappeared into the thick underbrush. At noon we decided to stake out a waterhole where the owner had built an elevated blind in one of the few open areas of the property. The blind had excellent visibility for any approach to the waterhole, but other than two waterbuck and a few impalas, the only warthogs we saw were two very small ones that came in as we were leaving the blind.

We hunted the rest of the day from the truck but had no luck. As we approached camp, we noticed there were no lights on. We figured it was another blackout but that was not the case. The power cable supplying electricity to the camp had not been properly buried. Consequently, porcupines had chewed through the insulation. When it rained the night before, water got into the cable, causing a short and setting the grass on fire. The camp staff was able to put out the fire and an electrician was called to repair the cable. Something went wrong with the repair and when the breaker was turned back on, the power box exploded, causing another fire. We enjoyed sable roast for dinner.

Day 6 Moving Camp

The next morning, we were prepared to hunt nyala, but Ryan came by and explained to first pack up all our gear and we would relocate later that day to the main camp as no one knew when power to the camp would be restored. We did so and then headed to a property Ryan said had some nice nyala. We climbed onto the back of the truck and O.J took off. The grass was high but any nyala we saw would have at least its head and horns visible. We spotted a couple different nyala and Ryan snapped his fingers to stop. Both times after studying them through the binoculars he stated they were OK but we could do better, so we moved on.

Eventually, we spotted one in the tall grass standing underneath a small tree. He was partially obscured by the tree and Ryan was not sure how good he was. Ryan told O.J to back up to not spook it. We hopped off the truck and crouch down slowly approaching it to get a better look. The bull turned slightly, and Ryan got a better look at his horns. “That’s the one you want,“ he said. We inched closer and started to set up the sticks, but the bull started walking off at a slight angle away from us. We hurriedly gathered up the sticks and slipped off to the right to get in a position to shoot. We played this game 3 or 4 times. Unable to get in a good position and then moving to try and get ahead of him for a clear shot. We finally found an opening in the grass and got the sticks up ahead of the nyala. As he came into view, Ryan whistled and he stopped to look our way. I instantly fired and Ryan said it was a good shot as he saw the bull flinch from the impact. He took off and we lost sight of him, but were soon on his trail. About 75 yards later we rounded a bush and there he lay. An absolutely gorgeous animal. I told Ryan I think a nyala is one of the prettiest antelopes and he agreed. We looked at his teeth and like the hartebeest, they were completely worn down. Ryan showed us his back haunches were starting to appear bony, a sign he was on his way to eventual starvation. We took pictures, loaded him up, and headed to the skinning shed.
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On the way there, we discussed our future plans. We still wanted a warthog each for Jeremy and I and since we now had the time, we could see about finding a steenbok. For the rest of our time, we decided to hunt the morning and afternoon for steenbok and sit at a waterhole for warthog in middle of the day.

After dropping off the nyala, we headed to a farm that one of the fellow PH’s owned that Ryan said had some steenbok and was a little more open for better visibility. We got there and drove around, scaring up several. One was decent but disappeared into the bush. We got down from the truck and looked around but found no trace of him. By this time, it was almost noon and since we had not prepared to hunt warthog this day, headed back to camp for lunch. We lazed around camp for a couple hours which let us get unpacked and settled in after our move.

At 3 we were back at the same property we had hunted before lunch. We saw only a couple additional small steenbok so Ryan decided to take us to a friend of his property that had quite a bit of open area. We hunted until sundown, spotting several but all were small. On the way home, the headlights of the truck revealed an animal waddling down the middle of the road. As we approached, we saw it was a big porcupine. We swerved to avoid hitting it and continued on our way. James, the cook at main camp, prepared a meal of roast chicken for us.

Day 7 Trying Hard

In the morning, we traveled back to the PH’s farm to look for a steenbok. We saw a decent male that Ryan was pretty sure it was the one we had spotted the previous day. I got in position to shoot but he bolted away into the high grass. We looked around some more but not finding anything else, left for another property that Ryan said had steenbok. It was a large farm where the farmer raised hundreds of goats and grew crops. We drove around and spotted several steenbok and warthogs but nothing worth shooting.

We drove by a large cage that had a 55 gallon barrel attached to its roof. Ryan explained that it was a baboon trap. The idea was to bait the inside of the cage with corn and when a baboon entered through the roof of the cage via the drum, it could not climb back out. Ryan said the baboons were very destructive, raiding and destroying crops and killing goats. Most farmers consider them vermin and do not want them near a farm. He stated the farmer told him he had caught as many as 23 at one time!

At midday, we headed back to the property where I had shot the impala two days previously. Before settling down in the blind, Ryan found some cow dung and lit it on fire, allowing it to smolder. He explained that it would mask our scent. It seemed to work as several impala walked by very close, and as long as we remained still, ignored us. Several warthogs came in to drink and Ryan said all were too small. One finally trotted in and looking through the binoculars, it appeared to me to have a good set of teeth. I looked at Ryan and he shook his head no. We sat there until about 3 but had no luck. Getting up to leave I questioned Ryan about the warthog with decent ivory. He said it was a female that had a youngster with it. He said she did indeed have very good tusks, especially for a female, but because of the young one, did not want me to shoot.

We drove back to the farm with the goats and hunted until dusk, seeing more steenbok and warthogs but nothing worth shooting. As we were exiting the property, we saw a long, slender, brown form laying in the road. Ryan told O.J. to stop and we jumped out. It was a puff adder. We took a few pictures of it before Ryan dispatched it with an ax. Dinner that night was blesbok shank.

Day 8 A Bad Ending

We decided for our last full day of hunting to go back to the farm with the goats in the morning and then try a different property for warthog the remainder of the day. We got to the farm and saw a good number of steenbok but all were too small or took off as they were very skittish. We eventually spotted one in some tall grass that Ryan said was decent. Setting up very quickly before it ran off, I put the scope on him and fired. Because of the recoil and tall grass, I lost sight of him. Ryan said he initially dropped but got up and walked away.

We took off after him and found some blood with a piece of meat. I told Ryan I think I hurried the shot and might have pulled it. We continued tracking and O.J. found two different areas where the steenbok had stopped to lay down with blood being present. Ryan and O.J. fanned out trying to find sign, but things were not looking good. O.J. eventually waved us over and Ryan walked up saying he had jumped the steenbok. He said it was shot far back toward the right rear leg and it was running hard as it fled. We kept looking but eventually the blood trail dried up. As we were walking, Ryan suddenly jumped to one side violently, yelling “Watch out!” He had almost stepped on a large snake. It was on olive brown color and I immediately thought mamba but after Ryan followed it a bit, he said he thought it was a big mole snake.

We got back on the truck and drove around, check any road crossing for a sign of a track. Nothing. As I stated, the grass was very high and we lost the trail. After a couple more hours we had to face the truth. Ryan said he would eventually die but we had lost it. I agreed. It made me sick. I was not really upset that I did not get a steenbok as I had only considered one an add-on if I had shot everything else I wanted. What was bad was the poor shot and wounding of the steenbok. No one wants to do that. It happens to everyone who spends any time hunting I suppose, but it is as a rotten feeling.

We left the property and headed for the new area to finish the day trying for warthog. Arriving at the blind, I saw that it was located about 50 yards from a water tank. The setup was less than ideal. The blind was arranged facing a fence with railing, posts, and wire. Any available shot would have to factor in the avoidance of hitting one of these obstructions that were in the line of fire. Additionally, as we were to discover, all animals that approached the tank were watering on the far side, meaning a moving animal approaching the water tank the only probable shot. We saw several warthogs come in but none worth shooting. At around 3 the sky got dark and a storm moved in. It started raining and I shook my head bitterly, knowing each raindrop meant the chance of a warthog coming to water grew slimmer and slimmer. We sat through the rain until it was too dark to see and finally packed it in. Ryan said our chances were not good, but we could hunt until about 11 in the morning before we had to leave for the airport if we wanted. I said we had nothing to lose so we would. Dinner that night was gemsbok roast.

Day 9 Final Day

Waking up next morning, I stepped out the door and saw that it was cold and raining. I knew then that our hunt was over. At breakfast, Ryan came to me and said we could go out if we wanted but it would be a waste of time. I agreed so we stayed in camp packing up for our departure. We had a final meal of chicken fried eland and said our good-byes to the staff. On the way back to the airport it rained almost the entire way.

Sitting in the truck, I had to concede the warthog had won. Over two hunts totaling 17 days and of that in excess of 40 hours sitting in a blind, we saw well over a hundred warthogs. Of that, one would have been considered a shooter (mentioned previously hunting the river property). It was very frustrating, but that is hunting. You never know what will transpire. Arriving at the airport, Ryan helped us get to the correct place to check in and we shook hands goodbye.

Day 10 The Flight Home

We boarded our flight in Johannesburg and took off with no issues. Landing in Atlanta, our layover was short, so we hurried through customs and grabbed our bags. We had no issues reclaiming our rifle and getting our boots sprayed. The personnel manning these areas were efficient, helpful, and pleasant. We easily made our connecting flight to St. Louis.

Final Thoughts

I would like to give a shout out to Dan Leahy, the US rep for Limcroma. As I stated previously, Dan always responded with any request promptly. He is a straight shooter without any salesman type of promises. I would also like to thank Hannes Els, the owner of Limcroma Safaris. Hannes strives to ensure every hunter has a memorable experience. His staff is first class and excellent in every way. I would definitely recommend Limcroma to anyone considering a hunt in South Africa. Last, I want to thank our professional hunter, Ryan. Ryan was just that: a professional. He worked hard to ensure we took not representative trophies but high quality, mature animals. He was a pleasure to hunt with and my son and I thoroughly enjoyed his company with many laughs and great experiences.

My son and I had a great time. It was a disappointment not getting a warthog, but that is hunting. Besides, the greatest pleasure was not in the animals I shot but it was spending time with a man that I am very proud of: my son. The animals we shot are going to look great on the wall at home, but they pale in comparison to the wonderful memories that were made being with him.
 
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Sounds like you had a great hunt. When you do finally get a large warthog you'll appreciate it all the more for the time and hours that you put in to get him. Congrats
Bruce
 
Well done, congratulations.
 
Congrats for a great hunt, and thanks for sharing !

I also hunted my Bushbuck close to tha Limpopo river.
 
Congrats on a nice Safari! Limcroma has a well deserved reputation as being a top notch hunting destination. Classy organization lead by a true gentleman Hannes Els.

HH
 
Congrats on a fine hunt. Limcroma Safaris is the way to go. Anyone who asks I tell then just how awesome it is there. I can't wait to get back over there next May.

Ryan is also a great PH. He's funny and puts his clients on the animals. Glad you had a successful trip buddy.
 
Great report and congrats on your hunt! Your report brings back some great memories from our safari with Limcroma a few years back. Limcroma, Hannes Els, and the staff are truly great folks. Thanks for sharing your experiences.
 
Great hunt for you and your son. Really enjoyed reading your hunt recap.
Bushbuck was one animal I wanted on our last trip but did not get. We hunted along the Limpopo River as well but with Eland Safaris.
We are going back in a little over 2 weeks to hunt primarily Cape Buffalo and Crocodile but Bushbuck is still on my list if the opportunity presents itself.
 
Congrats on such a great trip. Being able to take your son is awesome. Lifetime memories for you both. Now, the big question- when are you guys going back? Surely this will expand into more. Thanks for sharing your adventures with us.
 
Congrats on such a great trip. Being able to take your son is awesome. Lifetime memories for you both. Now, the big question- when are you guys going back? Surely this will expand into more. Thanks for sharing your adventures with us.
In 2 or 3 years maybe. Hopefully the 3rd time will be the charm for a warthog. I think my son and I want to hunt springbok so we we be looking at a different location.
 
In 2 or 3 years maybe. Hopefully the 3rd time will be the charm for a warthog. I think my son and I want to hunt springbok so we we be looking at a different location.
Limcroma has properties in the free state as well. I am going over in 2026 to hunt springbok there.
 
Congrats and thanks for sharing!
 
That company takes hundreds of hunters per year. And I’ve never heard a bad report on them.

I too struggled with the warthog. He turned into my nemesis

Then, on the 3rd trip I killed a proper pig. Very good ivories.

Now the luck turned and the dam broke. Now we kill large pigs on every trip.
 
Congratulations! Thank you for sharing in detail. My wife and I are headed to Limcroma this August for Buffalo and assorted other PG. Your write up helps me have even more peace with the Limcroma choice. Our first trip to Africa... We can't wait.
 

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