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