SOUTH AFRICA: South Africa Safari With Richard Homes...Buffalo, Sable, Kudu & More!!!

Discussion in 'Hunting Reports Africa' started by ltsheets, Jul 28, 2017.

  1. ltsheets

    ltsheets AH Veteran

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    Well, I just got back from my first Safari with Richard Holmes Safari’s near Cradock, South Africa. It was 2 days of travel and 8 full days of hunting. I couldn’t be happier with the staff at camp. The Richard and his wife Marion were great hosts, our PH’s Lalase, Bolt, and John couldn’t have been better or more fun to spend time with and the rest of the staff was a delight as well! The rooms we stayed in were more than adequate and the food at night was outstanding! If anyone has any more detailed questions about Richard’s outfit, please don’t hesitate to ask. I will also say that the Afton Guest House did a great job of clearing our guns into the country and had a class establishment! Now for the hunt details…

    Day 1 – We arrived at the Port Elisabeth airport around lunchtime and were met by one of the young PH’s, Bolt. We got our rifles and luggage without drama and drove the 3 hrs to the ranch. We saw plenty of game on the way there and were met by Lechwe and Nyala just outside camp on their concession. We got settled in, met mine and Davis’ PH Lalase (first black PH in South Africa and Bolt’s dad), discussed hunt plans over dinner, and then went to bed to rest up for the first day of hunting!

    Day 2 – First Day! - After a quick breakfast, we headed to the range to check mine and Davis’ rifles and for Travis and Elane (the other couple joining us from Idaho) to get familiar with the rental rifle. About 6 shots later, we were ready to hunt! Travis and Elane headed out with Bolt for blesbuck and springbuck while Davis, Lalase and I headed out for wildebeest. About 10 mins into the drive, we spotted some blues about a mile away and planned a stalk through a dry creek bed. We got to about 75 yds from 3 bulls but Davis rushed a shot through some limbs that were right in front of him and one of the limbs caused a miss. It was a quick lesson learned and we were back after them again soon afterwards. We found a big bachelor group about ½ a mile away. We used the truck for cover to drop us off in the middle of some big bushes and the skinner drove the truck off with us laying down in the grass. We waited for the heard to settle down and we slowly sat up, getting Davis set up on shooting sticks in a sitting position. Lalase picked out the oldest animal and Davis took a shot at 320 yds with my 28 Nosler. He didn’t take a step on impact and was DRT!! This really impressed Lalase with their reputation of being tough to kill. We celebrated the first animal and took some pictures before heading back to camp to drop off the animal. On the way, we attempted a stalk on a red hartebeest and a steenbuck but both gave us the slip.

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    After lunch we drove to a different part of the concession which was named Sterling (the area we hunted during the morning was called Clifton) to try and get both myself and Davis a black wildebeest. I wanted to get an animal under my belt before hunting Kudu the next day. We found them quickly, standing in a group out in the middle of a giant meadow. Using the truck again for cover, I slipped out and onto a dirt mount prone before the truck drove away. Standing in front, and separated by about 100 yds, was an old bull by himself. Lalase told me he was a very mature animal and I could take him if I wanted. I took a shot with my 28 Nos at 285 yds. It was a good hit in the vitals and he only went about 40-50 yds before crashing. I had my first African plains game down!! I was blown away by how unique this wildebeest was when we approached him. We quickly gutted him and took pics before trying to find another group for Davis that we had seen leave when I shot.

    [​IMG]IMG_0226 by Logan Sheets, on Flickr

    With my black wildebeest in the truck, we moved to a high point to try and relocate a group of 3 old bulls we had seen before I shot mine. We found them pretty quick and made a plan for Davis. We made a stalk and set up in some bushes, slightly above the animals, giving Davis a clear shot from a prone position. They definitely knew something was up and were uneasy. We eventually got the biggest one to stop. Davis took his shot at 380 yds with the 28 Nosler and he dropped on the spot! I can still here Lalase saying “WOW! WOW! You did that to a black wildebeest?? WOW!” Needless to say he was very impressed with the performance of the 28 Nosler on wildebeest. We laughed and walked down to the animals. By now it was getting late in the day so we gutted him, put him in the truck, and decided to hunt our way back to camp.

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    On the way, we came across a herd of red hartebeest which Davis thought was cool as hell. We got the drop on them and started a stalk. At around 200 yds, Davis got on the shooting sticks and waited for the oldest one to pass through a small opening. He took a quick shot and the animal took off. We knew we had heard a good hit but were unsure of where he had hit him. We eased up and found him without much trouble. It was a perfect heart shot and he’d only gone about 50 yds! That was the 4th animal of the opening day and a “beest slam” for Davis.

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    At dinner that night I remember telling Richard how each of the wildebeest hunts went and he said for 3 to be hunted like that with a total distance after the shot being 50 yds and 2 dropping on the spot was an “anomaly.”

    That night was also the night Davis found out his Mom wanted to help on the safari using money from his dad passing away a couple months prior. Now no animal on Richards list was safe, including Kudu the next day!

    Day 3 – Day of the Kudu - Today we woke early and drove to a concession about 1.5 hrs away to hunt Kudu and maybe get a warthog for if all went well. We got there and picked up the local tracker for help. We drove and covered ground at the base of a large mountain seeing plenty of warthogs and young kudu bulls (probably a doz or so). Then it was time to head up the mountain to drive along a road about 2/3 of the way to the top so we could glass down into the drainages coming off the mountain. We spotted several more young bulls before Lalase told me “we killed a bull on that hill last year,” and then he looked down to see the first mature bull of the day in the bottom of that very drainage, staring up at us! I jumped out of the truck and got down prone on the road trying to get set up for a potential shot. Lalase was trying to judge him as I set up and eventually told me he was mature and a shooter. It took me several minutes of messing with the rifle and rear bag before I was set and then I had trouble finding him in my scope! Finally I found him and was steady. I asked for a range and he told me 415. I had asked Lalase if his rangefinder accounted for angle and he told me yes. I was really hoping he was right at this moment because the Kudu was probably 40-45 deg down from where I was. I dialed my scope for 415, steadied my breathing, and began my trigger pull. The gun went off and I heard Lalase and Davis shouting “good shot!!” I reloaded and got back on him in time to see him crash. I couldn’t believe how it had happened and was on cloud 9! Kudu was my priority animal and I had gotten it done in spectacular fashion. In the picture of my rifle and the canyon, you can see a red dot that’s where the bull was when I shot and a yellow dot 50 yds away which is where he crashed. We all then loaded back into the truck and started the hour drive down to a point where we could hike up to the bull from below him. Me and Davis walked in to find him while Lalase picked his way in to get as close as he could but had to stop about 200 yds from where we found the bull. I took lots of pictures and allowed myself to take it all in. What a beautiful animal! After pics, we gutted him and loaded him onto a heavy duty tarp to drag him to the truck. Once we got him loaded it was time to find one for Davis.

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    We started slowly hunting our way back towards main camp as it was getting close to lunch time. We spotted one mature bull pretty far off in the flats but when we drove to get closer, he was gone. We continued on and not much later, spotted a herd of several cows and 2 bulls. They were close, inside 150 yds when we spotted them and in the confusion, the herd split with the older bull going left and the rest going right. Lalase did not see the older bull leave and was telling us the bull was too young. I started telling him “no, no, a bigger bull that looked like it had 2 full curls went the other way!” He shifted his binos and picked him up and agreed he was a shooter. Davis jumped out with the backup rifle, my 300wsm, and got on the shooting sticks just in time as the bull turned back towards the herd and walked through an opening at less than 100 yds. Lalase confirmed once more he was mature and Davis shot him walking. He ran about 75 yds before going down. We had doubled on Kudu bulls by 1PM!! It was an awesome moment walking up to our second bull of the day and were all smiles. After getting him taken care of we went to camp for lunch and made a plan to come back for warthog after lunch.

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    Back on the concession with full bellies, we started to try and find a good warthog boar for Davis. We didn’t see near the numbers in the afternoon as we had seen in the morning but eventually spotted 2 boars on their own about 500 yds off. The stalk was on! When we got about halfway to the boars, we spotted another group of 4 pigs to our right, heading our way. One had good size tusks and a big main. They passed about 50 yds from us and Davis was ready to shoot but Lalase told us they were all females and too young. Still a very cool experience as they had no clue we were there. We continued on to where we last saw the boars, hoping to pick them up again. When we did, they were very close! They were bedded in some thick cover not 50 yds from us and didn’t know we were there. I stayed put while Lalase and Davis got a little closer and set up on sticks. They eventually moved around just enough for Davis to shoot the bigger one through a softball sized hole in the sticks and he was down! The other busted out of there right in front of us and I grabbed the shooting sticks and rifle. I was ready to shoot but was told he was too young so we let him go. Still very exciting! Davis had got his warthog which he had wanted badly. We took pics, packed up, and headed back to camp.

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    When we got back to camp, Travis and Elane were back as well. They had hunted a different property for Kudu and Travis killed a giant for the area! We had a great dinner and celebratory drinks before heading to bed for the night.

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    There will be more to follow as I complete the write up...stay tuned!!
     

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  2. cpr0312

    cpr0312 AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

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    Look forward to more! Congrats so far
     

  3. Graham Hunter

    Graham Hunter AH Fanatic

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    What bullets were you using in the 28.
     

  4. ltsheets

    ltsheets AH Veteran

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    Factory Nosler ammo with 160AB. VERY impressive results.

     

  5. Graham Hunter

    Graham Hunter AH Fanatic

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    What Rifle
     

  6. Nyati

    Nyati AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

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    Great hunting so far...
     

  7. ltsheets

    ltsheets AH Veteran

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    Montana Rifle Co. Extreme X2 w/ muzzle break topped with a Vortex Razor HD LH 3-15x42
     

  8. Graham Hunter

    Graham Hunter AH Fanatic

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  9. ltsheets

    ltsheets AH Veteran

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    One thing I forgot to mention…it was at night, the day we got our Kudu that Davis found out that his mom also wanted him to hunt Sable and Buffalo if he was able to make the most of his safari. We discussed it with Richard and he said he’d make phone calls the next day to see what he could arrange for both animals!

    Day 4 – Day of the Eland – This morning, we headed out for blesbuck and springbuck, the only two animals we had both already paid for as part of the package. It didn’t take us too long down on the Sterling property before we found the big herd of blesbuck. I learned quickly that they are very very spooky and like to stay bunched up in a big group, making picking a single older ram out very difficult. We watched them for a while trying to figure out where they wanted to be. They eventually settled on a little area behind the corner of a plateau. We got out of the truck and snuck up to that corner to get some elevation on the herd and hoped to find a good place to potentially shoot from. I got set up on a nice rock and waited to see if they would come into range. We looked them over and I decided I wanted a white one after seeing Elane’s a couple days prior. The herd closed to around 400 yds and we found the biggest white ram in the group. It was easy to pick him from the others due to a unique dark patch on each side of his body. When he cleared, I took at shot at 430yds with the 28 Nos and he dropped on the spot. It was in our celebration that Lalase decided to nickname the 28 Nos “the black mamba,” or “the mamba” for short. At the time, I thought this was the longest shot I’d ever taken on an animal (hadn’t done the math on the angle on the kudu shot yet) and I was elated! Before walking down to the animal, Lalase and Davis wanted to peak up on top of the hill to make sure there wasn’t an opportunity animal up there. As luck would have it, there was a nice springbuck ram at 100 yds when they got to the top but it had the drop on them. It then proceeded to run down the hill towards my blesbuck, then back up when it saw the truck, then back down before finally getting away from us. Davis had him in the scope 4 different times but never had a good shot opportunity. Oh well. We walked to the blesbuck, took care of him, and then set off to find Davis a springbuck.

    [​IMG]IMG_0237 by Logan Sheets, on Flickr

    Lalase had a plan and we drove to the bottom of a specific hill. We got out and began to walk to the stop and then to the far side. He was expecting there to be some on the far side as they liked to hang out there. Sure enough, as soon as we got to where we could see past the hill, we spot 3 springbucks and one is a very nice ram. We get low and cover another 200 yds or so until we are on the edge of the hill and Davis drops to prone to try and get a shot. The 3 walk by and get no closer than 360. When he won’t stop, Davis decides to take a shot while walking after Lalase gave him the green light and he dropped in his tracks. We immediately ran down to it because we wanted to see the back gland opened up as we’d heard it smelled sweet. It was true, the gland smelled like caramel! We took some pics, loaded him up and were planning on hunting our way back to camp for lunch.

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    Having already had 3 animals down in 3 days, I told Lalase once back in the truck that I wanted to be very patient with springbuck so I could get a very good ram but that I wouldn’t pass the opportunity at one just for the sake of waiting if we found a good one. Wouldn’t you know not 5 mins later, we spot a very cool ram from the truck and he tells me that’s not one you pass so off we went. We had trouble getting close trying a couple different stalks, but each time, I couldn’t get set up as I would like and we would try again. Finally, We stalked up to the bank of a water tank to give me a good rest as they walked across from our left to right, far out in front of us. They were at 350 yds and getting further. Lalase kept telling me the range but they kept walking, to the point I was about to say it was too far again for a shot at such a small animal. At that moment, he stopped and Lalase told me 387. I took the shot and he dropped in his tracks. We all just started laughing and said “so much for taking our time with my springbuck!” We got our pictures and once again headed back to camp for lunch.

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    As was the trend, we didn’t make it back to camp for lunch before seeing something else Davis wanted to hunt…Eland. This one was particularly important to him as it was one of his late father’s favorite hunts. We spotted the small heard and quickly realized there was a very good bull in there. After a short stalk, Davis took a shot at 300 yds and then a quick follow up for insurance and his eland was down! That animal blew both of us away. We could not believe how huge they were and took several minutes for us both to take it all in. It was a very special moment and I’ll never forget it. One of the funniest moments of the trip was the truck full of skinners loading that eland by hand. We took a video and everyone back at camp, including the skinners in the video, kept laughing at it! Now it was time for lunch and we went straight back to camp…no more hunting until after we eat!

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    After lunch, we had decided to head to the top of the hill on Clifton, right behind camp, where we’d been seeing a very big Red Lechwe hanging out. We found him when we got there but he knew something wasn’t right and he gave us the slip after we made a long stalk. Moments later, Lalase and Davis spotted a very nice, solo, ram Impala. I hurried to get on the sticks as he ducked into thick cover on the other side of the small drainage only 130 yds away. The waiting game began. We stood there for at least 15-20 mins waiting on the ram to show himself before Lalase radio’d our skinner to walk over and try to spook him from his spot so we could get a shot. The only way he could go and potentially give us the slip was back towards the skinner…and that’s what he did. He bolted from cover and only stopped once, at 250yds, with me now prone and ready, but he was behind some thin limbs so I couldn’t shoot. That was the first time this ram eluded me and thus our relationship began.
    We continued on our walk now and not but a few minutes later, we spotted a large group of gemsbok on the flats about 3-400 yds away. We hurried up and got Davis prone on this great rock so we could look them over and see if there was a good cow in there. I immediately noticed one cow in particular who I estimated at 40” (still haven’t put a tape to her). Lalase agreed she was a definite shooter. We ranged her at 300 yds and with one shot from “The Mamba,” she was down. She only went about 80 yds after a perfect vital triangle shot. Davis was thrilled! He’d wanted one bad since seeing the one on my wall at home. We took some pics and got her all loaded up to take her back to camp but Lalase had other plans…waterbuck.

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    Lalase knew of an area a particularly old waterbuck bull liked to hang out and it wasn’t far from where Davis just got his Gemsbok, so we set off on foot. We got to a good glassing point and waited for some of them to feed out where we could see them. We spotted several waterbuck cows, but not the bull we were looking for. We got back in the truck and went to drop off the gemsbok before checking one more area at last light. When we got to where he wanted to walk from, we dropped the truck and started up this hill where they liked to feed on top. Before making it to the stop, we spotted the waterbuck bull as he was spooking out of the valley below us. Davis got on the sticks and we ranged him at about 250 yds. He stopped for just a moment and Davis shot. We heard a solid hit and the waterbuck took off to our left behind cover. When he popped out he slowed to a walk at about 300 yds. He was going away from us and Lalase wanted him to shoot again if able. It wasn’t ideal but Davis took another shot with it going away. We heard another solid hit as he disappeared over the top of the mountain. We hurried up to where we last saw him and got the blood dogs. We didn’t find the animal but the dogs caught the trail and took off. Lalase and Davis took off on the trial while me and the skinner jumped in the truck to circle around and wait in front of them to try and spot him if he crossed the road or went down the creek bed. While trailing the blood, Lalase and Davis spotted 2 old Lechwe bulls hiding out in the river bed where Lalase hadn’t been in a long time. Davis quickly got ready and took a shot at 150 yds off sticks. The bull made it about 50 yards and crashed! It was then, about 200 yds behind the Lechwe that the waterbuck stood up and slowly walked away, down the riverbed. It was too dark to be sure it was the same bull and they had to watch him disappear into the night. Once he was gone, they walked down to try and find his trail and they did just that, along with blood so they know it was him. We recovered the Lechwe after a long drag in the dark up to the truck through some NASTY brush, and then made plans on how to find the waterbuck in the morning.

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  10. MarkD

    MarkD AH Senior Member

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    Great report so far
     

  11. LivingTheDream

    LivingTheDream AH Legend

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    Awesome! Its great to get the story behind the pics! Great animals really like that Lechwe!
     

  12. rpgoldsby

    rpgoldsby AH Senior Member

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    Thanks for sharing.
     

  13. ltsheets

    ltsheets AH Veteran

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    Day 5 – Sable Day! – The night before, over dinner, Richard had informed us that we would be hunting Sable today on a neighbor concession and that Buffalo had also been booked for the last 2 hunt days! First things first though, we had to try and locate the wounded waterbuck. We took everyone out that morning. Every PH, skinner, tracker, and Travis were out in different areas trying to get eyes on the animal while Lalase and Davis picked up the blood trail and started tracking him. John, the 3rd PH, was high on a mountain next to riverbed to try and see if he could glass anything up on the mountains next to us. He spotted some gemsbok, and next to them, he saw a waterbuck bull right before he bedded down and disappeared. He came down, got me, and we found the others to try and make a play on this bull, thinking it was the same one. When we stalked up to the bedded animal, it was clear something wasn’t right. He just looked at us, at about 100 yds, and didn’t stand up. Lalase wanted to be sure though he tried to get him stand. Davis was on sticks, ready to finish him off once we ID’d him as the wounded animal. He finally stood and we saw the blood. Davis took 2 quick shots and the bull was down. Turns out Davis’ shots from the day prior were into the guts and right hind quarter. The hind quarter shot ended up being the only reason we were able to trail him at all. We walked up to him and said a few words of apology for putting him through all that and then took a group photo with this magnificent animal! We drug him to the truck and it was time to head out for Sable!!

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    After about a 30 min drive, we were at Peter Fleck’s old property (I apologize if I spelled that wrong) to hunt sable. We found our local who was joining us and headed out! We first drove to the top of some of the mountains near camp and quickly spotted 2 young sable bulls but no shooter. We continued on and at the very top was another bull and this one was much better. His horns were narrow but pretty long, curving down towards his back. We took note of where he was and kept going, wanting to see as many as possible before targeting one of the bulls. In the flats, between the mountains, we spotted a lone bull, and he was a good one. He didn’t curve down like the last one but seemed longer, wider, and heavier. We were very excited after seeing this bull but had another area of the property to check. About an hour later, we hadn’t seen another bull and decided to go back after the solo bull in the flats. We spotted him probably 1000 yds away as he stood out in the grass meadow. We got a little closer before setting off on foot. When we got as close as we thought we could get away with in that open country, Davis found a dirt mound and set up prone, with The Mamba. The wind was blowing for the first time in the trip and I talked Davis through some wind hold as the bull was ranged at almost 400 yds. He held for wind and took the shot. The sable dropped on impact and disappeared in the tall grass! Walking up on my first sable was an unreal experience. I was blown away by how impressive and beautiful he was! We took lots of pictures, and loaded him up. After he was skinned and caped at this concession, we headed back to Richard’s for the rest of the day. We tried to get a Zebra or blesbuck that night, but they kept giving us the slip.

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    Day 6 – This morning we decided to pick up where we left off and chase zebra and blesbuck for Davis. We headed down to the Sterling property and were going to go after whichever we saw first…that ended up being a nice heard of zebra. I learned that day just how smart and tricky zebra can be. We tried a couple short stalks but it became apparent that wasn’t going to work. Then we decided to try and get ahead of them for an ambush. Luckily they were moving near a dry creek bed. Using the creekbed as cover, we got ahead of them and settled in near a bush for cover, hoping they would continue in that direction. It worked! As they came into view, Lalase had us lie down on our backs while they closed the distance. When they got closer we very slowly sat up and started looking them over. When they went behind a small hill, Lalase got us to run about 50 yds closer and sit back down in the grass. Davis was sitting behind the shooting sticks as they got closer. Eventually Lalase picked out a stallion and Davis shot him with the Mamba at 270 yds. He ran about 100 yds before going down. What a beautiful animal! I will say though, those guts were some of the weirdest I’ve ever seen haha! We had a zebra in the truck and it was barely 0900!

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    Next we drove to try and relocate the blesbuck from the day before. Once again, it didn’t take long as they were in a herd of at least 40-50 animals and easy to spot from a distance out in the open. Once again, we used a dry creek bed and stalked up the creek about 5-600 yds before we got to the closest point to the herd. We crawled up and out of the creek to the edge, just enough for Davis to get prone and set. After some confirmatory talk between Davis and Lalase, we were sure we had the biggest common ram picked out. Davis took a shot with the Mamba at 418 yds and a short run later, he had his blesbuck! We high fived at the great shot and walked out to check it out. When we found it, that ram was a ewe!! Somehow Davis had gotten confused and picked out the wrong animal. We all laughed about it, took pics, and loaded her up and were off to find mountain reedbuck and Impala for me.

    It didn’t take long to glass up a small group. I got set up and found the ram in my scope but I never had a clear shot before they spooked. We stayed on foot and once again I got him in my scope but he eluded us again. This time that group spooked too far to continue after. We loaded up in the truck and moved to a different area. We found our 3rd group in the new area and I was able to get set up for a shot. It was a little windy that day so I held for a small amount of wind at 270 yds and squeezed off a shot…miss! I couldn’t believe it but when we walked down to where he was to be sure, the wind was blowing much much harder there so that couldn’t have helped. I was pretty pissed but we decided to stay on foot in that area as it seemed like lots of reedbuck were out and feeding. While continuing to search, we found a herd of Gemsbok and I was on the fence about taking an old bull, as it would make a nice compliment to the cow from NM I have at home. We carefully stalked within range and looked them over but it was all cows and young animals. They slowly spooked up and over the ridge and then we noticed a group of bedded reedbuck only a couple hundred yds away from the gemsbok on the same hill. I took my time, got steady on the rifle and had to struggle with whether to shoot or not. The reedbuck ram had some grass over its but it looked like the grass was very close to the body. I decided to take the shot at 245 yds and the ram never got out of his bed! That was a huge relief! Those reedbuck turned out to be as tricky of an animal to try and take as everyone had told me. We took some fantastic pictures, loaded him up, and headed back for lunch.

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    We took a long lunch and then headed back out for Impala for me and reedbuck for Davis. We eventually found the same Impala ram that eluded me a couple days earlier in almost the same spot. We made a short stalk on the ridge across from him but once again he was hiding in a thick bush. He was definitely not stupid. We eventually made it far enough to see him but when I got sitting behind the sticks, all I could see was his neck and head and he was staring right at us! There was also a single small stick going right up the middle of his neck which made me think about whether to shoot or not. He was 150 yds away and I finally decided the stick was close enough to the neck that it wouldn’t make a difference, I got settled behind my 300wsm, put my finger on the trigger, and he bolted!! He never stopped running until he was out of sight. Once again he had eluded me. Lalase said not to feel bad as he’d been doing just that to many hunters over the past couple years. We looked the rest of the day for more reedbuck but never found a ram for Davis. It was dinner time and bedtime because the next day was Nyala day!
     

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  14. enysse

    enysse AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

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    Lot of smiles and great memories! I love that eland!
     

  15. ltsheets

    ltsheets AH Veteran

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    Day 7 – Nyala Day! – Back when I first won this hunt at an RMEF auction, I knew my priority animal was going to be Kudu but I was unsure of what would be next. After a lot of research and talking to people about hunts, I chose Nyala as my second animal to focus on. The more I read about them and saw pictures, the more I wanted one. Now fast forward to the hunt day…we got up very early to get on the road as it was going to take about 2 hours or so to drive to the concession we’d be hunting. When we got to the first ranch house, we were told that the area we were supposed to be hunting (were told by the owner of the property we’d be hunting that area) already had a PH and hunter on it going after white springbuck. This was very irritating to us. To make matters worse, as we drove by the entrance of that property, 2 beautiful Nyala bulls were standing in the field near the road. We stopped and glassed them up, cussing that we weren’t able to make a stalk on them. On we went to the other area. We picked up our local guy, who we referred to as “Mr. Red Coat” on the account of his loud, red coat and red bucket hat. Before heading out, we touched base with the owner’s son, who happened to be in town and explained the mix up on where we were hunting. He told us he’d look into it and then we headed down the road to where we’d be hunting. We spent the first couple hours on one portion of the property where we saw plenty of Nyala, but only one bull that looked mature but he had messed up horns and never gave us a chance to make a stalk anyway. We left that area and crossed the road into another. It was some of the thickest stuff I’d seen all trip and spotting Nyala even 10 yds off the road was difficult. We didn’t see a single mature animal on that part of the property so we went back to the other side. It didn’t take long back on the first property to spot a mature, nice looking bull, near the road. We got out for a stalk and dropped into the creek bed he had ran into. We didn’t spot him until we were probably 125 yds from him and by the time I got on the sticks for a shot, he was gone. Frustrating! We decided to take a walk through that area and see if we could get back on him or another bull feeding in the sun. We probably spotted another 4-5 bulls on that loop but none were mature so back to the truck we went. By now it was early afternoon, we were all frustrated and hungry, so we went back to the ranch house in hopes of finding the owners son so we could hunt the area we should have been on in the first place.

    As luck would have it, we found him and after a couple phone calls, we at least had permission to hunt the river bottom where we saw the 2 bulls first thing in the morning. The catch was we couldn’t go beyond a green water tank in order to keep us separated from the other hunters. We quickly ate and headed back out. As we drove by where we saw them in the morning, we spotted what looked like a mature bull in the area. As we got out of the truck and were getting ready to make a stalk, I told Lalase that I wanted to be careful and not screw this up with the way the day had gone. I thought I was clear in meaning that if I need to take a longer shot to get it done then let’s do it and not spook them, knowing we had a small area to hunt and if they left it we couldn’t follow. This must not have registered as we got closer and closer following the lead of Mr. Red Coat. We got to 150 yds, I got on the sticks and had him in my scope while we were discussing if it was the big one from this morning or not. The whole time the bull was staring us down. By the time I decided screw it, I’m gonna take him even if he isn’t the bigger one, the bull spooked into the thicket. Now Mr. Red Coat decided he wanted to do a push. Lalase, me and Davis took a seat on the edge of the field with our back to the river bottom and facing the road (seemed like a bad position to me and only added to my irritation and doubt if I was going to get an Nyala). Mr. RC did a push on the thick area and busted out one young bull who ran along the road and then another shooter that surprised us by running behind us. I couldn’t get turned in time to get on him and was visibly pissed at this point but was trying to keep myself calm.

    Mr. RC walked up to us after the push and told us he wanted to reposition and move down to the end of the river bed, where our green tank boundary was, to push back towards us again. I was so skeptical at this point that I was starting to hope Davis would be able to get his cape buffalo in a day so I could hunt waterbuck or lechwe back at Richards on our last day of hunting to make up for not getting an Nyala. John, the other PH who was our skinner for this trip, picked up Mr. RC and drove him down to the green tank to drop him off for his push. When he came driving back, he jumped out and ran down to us to tell us he had seen 3-4 bulls feeding about 500 yds from the green tank. They were in a flat area with a decent amount of cover but not so much you couldn’t see them from a distance. We all jumped in the truck and drove down to the tank and to find Mr. RC. Well, he was nowhere to be found and must have ignored the bulls right there to try to start the push again. Lalase and I were sitting in the back of the truck on the bench, glassing the bulls, as John tried to find him. It was pretty clear that 2 of the bulls we were looking at, were the ones we saw this morning and the big one was solo about 30-40 yds from a group of 3 other bulls. We were trying to get Mr. RC to give us the go ahead to make a stalk as the bulls were beyond the tank, where we weren’t supposed to hunt. I couldn’t hold back any longer. I told Lalase flat out that I was ****ing pissed at this situation and how things were going. I told him the big Nyala was pretty much the type of animal I was hoping for and it was frustrating sitting here watching him and not being able to stalk him. I could tell Lalase was getting equally irritated. He was normally very happy go lucky and shrugged off any failed stalks, etc., but not this one. As he got more and more irritated with not being able to find Mr. RC, he finally just said f*** it, let’s go kill one. I was like “hell yeah, let’s do this!” Me, Davis, and Lalase quickly got down and dropped into the river bed for cover. We were going to walk close below bank level and try to pop up in range for a shot. I was carrying my 300wsm because I wanted to take an animal with it too while Davis carried the mamba for backup. Not long into the stalk, a bunch of kudu and fallow deer spooked from our right and took off. You could tell by Lalase’s body language that he thought they were going to spook the Nyala too. Once they were gone, we took a peak over the bank and they were still there!! We dropped back down to go a little farther so we could get a better look at all of them.

    As we snuck back up the bank, we could see 2 groups…3 on the left and 1 on the right. The one by himself was the definitely the biggest. We got in front of a bush for cover and I sat down behind the shooting sticks. We were about 250 yds away and the bull was feeding right to left. Once I sat down, I didn’t have a great shot due to very tall grass between me and the bull. As he fed behind a big bush, Lalase motioned for us to make a fast move and we sprinted forward about 40 yds and sat back down. I got comfortable and the bull fed out again but only into an opening about 1.5 body lengths wide. I knew I wasn’t going to have long before he was in cover again but I could only see the upper half of his body. I decided, though it’s not my favorite shot, that I was going to take him with a high shoulder shot, called “ears” letting them know I was going to shoot, and fired. He dropped on the spot! The other group of bulls was surprised and confused. I passed the rifle over to Davis and he sat down behind it. After quickly judging the other group, he got on the biggest one but had to wait on a bull to clear for a safe shot. As soon as he did, Lalase gave him the greenlight for a frontal shot and Davis dropped him on the spot as well. All of the irritation and frustration blossomed into complete joy! We could not believe that after the way the day had gone, we were able to beat the odds and double up in that fashion with less than 30 mins of shooting light left in the day. Lalase was in disbelief. He said in 25 yrs of being a PH, he’d never seen or heard of 2 Nyala bulls being taken that close together like that. They dropped about 20 yards apart and it was the 2 biggest bulls we’d seen that day out of about 20 that we’d seen. We walked up to them to take it all in, took some great pictures, and then headed back to camp to have them skinned and caped.

    Once they were skinned and caped, we loaded them into the truck and set off for cape buffalo camp! We had a long 2 hr drive ahead of us with half of that being on a small farm road. We got there at about 7PM and our PH Daniel Long was there waiting for us. He got us drinks and began cooking us a delicious dinner that included Nyala…oh the irony haha. We were all smiles and had some great conversations that night before hitting the hay in prep for buffalo the next morning. I went to bed completely satisfied with the safari and didn’t care if I shot another animal as I’d gotten what I had come for with the exception of trading Impala for a Mountain Reedbuck. If it took 2 days to get Davis his buffalo, at this point, that was fine with me.

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  16. cagkt3

    cagkt3 AH ENABLER PLATINUM SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    Wow that's awesome! 2 very nice nyala's there. Congrats
     

  17. ltsheets

    ltsheets AH Veteran

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    Day 8 – Cape Buffalo at African Field Sports– We woke bright and early in order to get some breakfast and let Davis shoot the 375HH to make sure he was comfortable before heading out to find some buffalo. A few shots later, he was fine with the rifle and we were ready to roll. We were only about 10 mins out of camp when we spotted a lone bull feeding high on a mountain side. Daniel got out to peak down into the canyon below to make sure there weren’t any other bulls down there. When he got back to the truck, he let us know there were another 5-6 down low and one bull looked like a good one. We all got out of the truck and split up. Me, John, and Dan’s skinner stayed on the truck side of the canyon but snuck down to hide under a big Acacia tree where we could see the stalk unfold. Dan, Davis, and Lalase started along the road and down into the canyon to stalk down to the buffalo while keeping the wind in their favor. Now, since I didn’t get a first-hand view of the hunt, I’m going to type up Davis’ journal entry to tell the tale.

    “The .375 felt good at 50 yards and I thought the box was a big target. Daniel said the heart was about 2/3 the size of the box. The heart ended up being slightly smaller than a rugby ball. Once our stalk began, the youngest bull kept getting too close so we moved 4 times across the canyon that Mr. Dugga would eventually fall into. It felt like sheep country, based on Logan’s description. We eventually settled into a rock formation on the north side of the east-west ravine. I only thought there were 4 bulls, but there were 6. 3 bulls kept looking at us as they grazed towards our position. The sun peaked over the mountain behind our right shoulder, highlighting their muscle definition. This helped find the vitals that Logan had me study prior and during our trip to South Africa. I raised my borrowed 375 onto the shooting sticks and then I heard the adrenaline in Daniel’s voice and Lalase’s. Daniel puts 15-18 Duggas down a year and save a PH the week prior at 5 yds from a charging Dugga by the time the charge was over. I then thought, this is a bad idea and realized I had no exit strategy. So I did my best to make the shot count. My Dugga finally came to the front and turned broadside. I heard ‘shoot’ and put one through both lungs and heart. Then it was on! The 2 PH’s ran after them and I followed! Roughly 20 kudu and the other 5 bulls ran over the next mountain. I ran up Dugga after 70 yds and he was down. Daniel said shoot again so I spined him on purpose and another through the vitals. He passed away and rolled into the canyon because he was on a cliff. He hit four plateaus on the way down. I think it was the safest hunt one could hope for on a Cape Buffalo hunt and I still thought it was a bad idea, haha!”

    We spent the next 2 hours cutting up the buffalo and watching the extra skinners who showed up, hike the meat out hanging from polls. It literally was like buffalo hunting in desert sheep country and the pack out was no different other than having help. Even without being the one taking the shot, it was an unreal experience and probably the pinnacle of the safari. Once it was all back to the truck, we made the short drive back to camp to pack up and eat a delicious brunch. Then it was time to head back to Richards for relaxing evening to rest up for the last day, or as we started calling it, the bonus day!

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  18. ltsheets

    ltsheets AH Veteran

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    Day 9 – Bonus Day – Well it was the last day on the farm for hunting. Both Davis and I were both very satisfied with how things had gone and what animals we had so we considered today a bonus day. I had been considering trying to get an old, heavy, Gemsbok bull to go along with my 36” cow I had gotten in NM a couple years prior. Finally peer pressure from Lalase and Davis got to me so that’s what we headed out to target primarily that morning. If we saw any Impala, reedbuck, steenbuck, or duiker, they would also be on the list for Davis. We headed down to Sterling and it didn’t take us long to find a small herd of gemsbok. It was all cows and young animals though so we continued on. After covering the left side of the road, we started moving to the other side but we spotted a nice steenbuck first. We got out and tried to make a stalk on him. We saw him another 3 times or so but each time he darted away before Davis could get a shot. They are tricky! We got back in the truck and quickly spotted another herd of gemsbok in the thicker area around the creed bed. We looked them over real hard and found a potential shooter bull but lalase wanted to be patient and see what else we could find, keeping that one as a backup plan if needed.

    About 15 mins later, as we were getting into a different part of the thicker dry creek bed, I spotted a lone animal hiding in the trees looking at us. We stopped and started judging him. I was pretty sure it was a good, old bull but waited until Lalase agreed. Once he did, we got down and the stalk began. You could tell really quick that this was a smart, old bull. I had him in my crosshairs several times but each time he would move again before I could get a shot off. It started to become very apparent that I was either going to have to make a very fast shot in the trees or see if he would ever venture out into the open and give me time to make a longer shot from a better rest. We played the cat and mouse game for close to an hour following him through the trees. He always kept us 200-400 yds yds behind him it seemed and each time we’d spot him looking back at us, he would move before I could get set on sticks. We finally slowed down a little more and tried to sneak in. We spotted him again down an alley in the trees and he was broadside looking right at us. Lalase threw the sticks down and called out 230yds. The moment I was mostly steady on the sticks I flipped the safety off and shot. It was not my best shot but I was trying to get a decent one off as quickly as I could. He dropped at the shot but I had spined him. I stayed on him a moment to make sure he wasn’t going to jump up and run off. Once I was sure he wasn’t, I hurried up and put another shot in him to finish him off. I hate making poor shots on animals and rushing shots but it was clear he wasn’t going to give us time to set up nicely. Lalase told me this bull had been eluding guys for a while in this area. I was more than pleased with how that stalk had worked out and I’d taken a great old gemsbok bull!
    We took our pictures and packed up to go ahead and drop him off at camp before continuing to hunt. It was middle morning so we thought we might have a little time to try and find an impala or reedbuck before they found shade during the middle of the day.

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    While we were waiting on Lalase to fill out the paperwork on the gemsbok, I remembered that Travis had seen a very old and broken Impala ram by himself on a hillside not far from camp. I recommended to Davis that we walk and get a vantage of that hill and glass to see if we could find him. It didn’t take 5 mins for Davis to spot an Impala. I tried to get an idea of whether it was the heard or the lone ram while Davis ran back to get Lalase. By the time they got back, I could see about 6 animals but still couldn’t tell if one was the old ram or not at that distance (probably 800yds or more). We decided to go on foot and stalked through the trees in the flats to get closer. At about 500 yds away we spotted the old ram by himself about 100 yds from the main herd. We got to about 350 yds and found a nice spot for Davis to go prone with a clear shooting lane. By now, the ram had seen us and was watching so we knew we didn’t have forever to get a shot off before he might take off. Lalase confirmed it was the old, broken ram and made sure Davis was ok with him being broken. Davis loved the character and age and said he was. Lalase ranged one last time at 355 and Davis dropped him with a single shot from the mamba. We were all smiles at how fun that stalk had been and walked up to the beautiful impala ram! We called up our skinner on the radio and he brought the truck to recover the animal. After pics, we went back down to camp and enjoyed a long, 3 hr lunch before our last evening hunt for Davis’ reedbuck.

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    After a nice nap over lunch, we all regrouped and planned to go out relatively close to camp in an area that usually held a lot of reedbuck to give it one more shot at getting one for Davis. After a short drive, we got out to start walking to see what we could sneak up on. We only had about an hr of daylight left but it had become obvious that this was the best time to find them up and feeding. We walked a long ridgeline without seeing one and ended up on the same hill where I had my first encounter with the big impala ram as well as the ridge Davis shot his gemsbok from. We sat down with a good view and Lalase called up our tracker as he wanted him to drive a certain route to see what he could bump for us to see. Just a few minutes after getting set up, Davis spotted the big impala ram that had given me the slip a couple times already, in the field below us and to our right. I laughed and told Davis and Lalase that I was done so it didn’t matter that he was there…that’s when the shit began. They started taking turns giving me hell and trying to convince me to shoot him. Lalase kept saying that he was giving me the middle finger! Finally I asked for a range, thinking he was too far for a shot in the 10-15mph direct crosswind. Lalase’s response was “350 yds and getting closer.” DAMNIT!! I belive my next words were “damnit, give me the rifle.” I got settled in behind the mamba on a nice rock outcrop, got another range of 300, held about 1.5 MOA of wind, and dropped the ram in his tracks DRT. I then turned to them and said “I hate you guys” as they laughed loudly. We walked down to him and I was blown away by him. It was the right decision as he was one of the prettiest animals of the trip. It was a very fitting end to a wonderful safari!
    That night we had probably the most expensive steaks I’ll ever have…Sable and cape buffalo!

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    Looking back on this trip, it was more than either me or Davis could have ever hoped for. It truly was a memorial hunt in Davis’ dad’s honor and it’s one I’ll never forget and have difficulty topping. It will not be my last time to Africa, that much is certain as I still want to go back for a greater kudu and a dugga boy to call my own.

    I hope all of you who took the time to read this long story have enjoyed it!

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  19. cpr0312

    cpr0312 AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

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    Very nice, congrats on all the trophies and a great safari!
     

  20. gillettehunter

    gillettehunter AH ENABLER AH Legend

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    I will have to say that you guys were really whacking and stacking animals! Congrats on some generally great shooting and nice animals! Looks like you had a great time. Bruce
     

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