SOUTH AFRICA: Spiral Horn Safari With Rick Wolvaardt Of RW Safaris International

kudukid

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I am one month back from an incredible safari with RW Safaris Inernational. It was only work that has prevented me from compiling my FIRST hunt report sooner. I will do it in stages as time permits.

We had booked a Spiral Horn package with Rick Wolvaardt including 10 hunting days and a bonus trip to Kruger which was just a 1.5 hour drive to the east. Pete and I swapped our kudu for waterbuck as we had both previously taken kudu. Rick sweetened the package with a couple of extra smaller animals.

Along with my two hunting mates, Pete and Scrub-we endured the flight to Joburg with the help of a few beers and G&T's. After obtaining our SAP's permits we were greeted at the airport by Greg who was a pleasure to travel with on the 5 hour journey to Northern Limpopo. RW Safaris operate from a beautiful farm on the Sand River near Musina, just 30 kms from the Zimbabwe border.


We arrived at midnight and met the crew and were shown to our rooms. What a nice surprise awaited us - we all had personalised shirts, caps and coffee cups awaiting on the bed. We were thoroughly impressed with their professionalism and the hunt hadn't even started! We went to the bar and were introduced to our PH's. I was with Rick, Pete was with Ruan and Scrub was with Courtney. There is only one real way to become acquainted with your PH and that is to have a drink together. After a couple of G&T's , Scrub asked what time it was?? 1.00 o'clock in the morning was the response. A bit unsure of the time zones, Scrub asked if it was the 16th August and the boys replied yes. "Well it's my birthday" came Scrubs response. The celebrations went on until 4.00 am.

We also had the privilege of hunting with Martin Muller of African Sun Productions. Martin is a professional camera man who specialises in filming safaris. Before we engaged Martin I took a look on You tube at some of his work and I was blown away. Take a look at his videos and you will see what I mean. In addition to being a great filmmaker- Martin is a great guy with a brilliant sense of humour.

Day 1
After a quick brekky and taking in the spectacular views from the lodge, we headed for the shooting range. My Tikka .338 win mag was spot on as was Pete's .308. Wayne needed a few adjustments on his .308 to get it spot on. I might add that my .338 has the bolt on the other side and I know I have a few friends on AH that were born with the same gift as me.

We split up and all went our different ways. Rick and I went straight to a high point above the Sand River. Straight away we spotted 3 young kudu bulls and then a large kudu bull joined them. Rick estimated this bull to be around 55 inches. Three or four big impala rams caught our eye. They were a long way off but it was clear even from that distance they were big. Soon after we spotted a few nyala cows and a young bull. Lunch was calling so we headed back to the lodge. We met our chef ,Wendy. Let me state this here and now - this is my 4th African safari and the food was unbelievable- it surpassed anything we have ever experience before. Wendy would even take requests for lunch or dinner the following day. We nearly always requested game meat that we hunted. Lunch on that first day was the best chicken pie I have ever tasted.

We headed out again for the afternoon hunt and spotted a big old waterbuck bull. Unfortunately he had the top few inches broken off his left horn. From that sighting I thought the waterbuck was going to be an easy trophy to take - how wrong that thought proved to be. Despite seeing a lot of animals - nothing really caught my eye. We saw several nice nyala bulls but none quite big enough. This place really is kudu, nyala, duiker and impala central. We saw ridiculous numbers of these animals every day. We headed back to camp in the dark and arrived at the lodge to a nice surprise. Scrub had taken a beautiful bushbuck. He and Courtney were perched high above the Sand River at the back of the property and they saw a bushbuck a long way off. They kept an eye on it and over the course of 2 hours the bushbuck came within 200 metres. Scrub did the rest with his .308.
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Scrub with his bushbuck

Day 2

Rick and I decided to go for an early morning stalk along a dry creek. Straight away we came onto a group of warthog with a big boar on the right. They were feeding away totally oblivious to our presence. I was on the sticks waiting for the boar to lift his head to get a look at his tusks. Alas - the wind changed direction and they disappeared. Further on we came across a huge blue wildebeest bull with a few young bulls. Rick said he was a monster - but I already have a monster on my wall. Not far along we come across a big kudu bull feeding on the edge of the creek. We waited for him to move on so we didn't spook him.

We walked into a deep ravine with very steep sides. We came around a corner and Rick set up the sticks and told me to shoot. I didn't know what I was supposed to shoot. I quickly looked up on the mountain and there was a beautiful nyala bull. I quickly put the .338 on the sticks and all I could see was his neck and his head as he faced front on. Under recoil I thought I saw the bull go to the left but the smile on Ricks face and the ensuing handshake told me otherwise. It took us 20 minutes to get up to the bull and what a beauty he was. He had the shape I had always dreamed of. Bell shaped with the horns going out at the top.

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Kudukid with his nyala bull
 

enysse

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Beautiful nyala, very lovely bell shape!
 

cpr0312

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Fantastic nyala! Congrats
 

Ridgewalker

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What in the world was that bushbuck doing in such an open space in your picture? I only thought they stayed in the thickest cover!;)
 

Art Lambart II

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Nice report, keep it comming
 

RWolvaardt

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What in the world was that bushbuck doing in such an open space in your picture? I only thought they stayed in the thickest cover!;)

Hi Ridgewalker, Kudukid mentioned that they saw the Bushbuck from a hill in the Sandriver that is also where they shot this beautiful trophy. they did take photos in the river but also some up at camp when Martin the camera guy was there
 

gillettehunter

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That Nyala looks like a real beauty. Congrats on a fine animal. Bruce
 

cagkt3

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I want a nyala more and more every time I see one....very nice
 

kudukid

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Hey Guys,
Thankyou for your nice comments-especially on the nyala. I wasn't going to do my next instalment today out of respect for all the victims, families and friends of the terrible events from Las Vegas. Then I thought that sometimes we can use a little light, especially in dark times - so I decided to continue on.

Ridgewalker - you are spot on, bushbuck do only seem to live in the thickest bush along the fringes of creeks and rivers.
This photo was taken back near camp. I believe the only photo taken where the
bushbuck was harvested was the one Rick posted above which was a low resolution shot taken with the PH's phone.

Day 2 continued

After a lengthy photo session with my nyala- we managed to bush-bash the Toyota within 100 metres to help in recovery. We dropped the nyala back to the skinning shed and decided to go back to the lodge for an early lunch. I had a daily ritual of taking off my boots at lunch time and dipping my feet in the plunge pool.
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Plunge pool at the lodge.

I must admit I was feeling pretty pleased with myself after talking such a special trophy nyala. I was eagerly awaiting the arrival of the other 2 boys. Scrub and Courtney turned up soon after and blow me down - I think Scrub had a bigger grin than me. He showed me his camera and he also got a beautiful big nyala, almost the identical shape as mine. We only had a brief wait until Ruan and Pete returned for lunch. Oh no - Pete was also grinning like a Cheshire cat! He gets out his camera and he has also taken a beautiful nyala. Can you believe all 3 of us scored magnificent nyala on the same morning!
The nyala on this property are incredible in number and in size. As the trip wore on , it was common to see 5 - 10 shooter nyala bulls per day. If anyone has a burning desire to hunt a huge nyala - I can't recommend this place highly enough.
I will state for the record that in the 2 photos below - that Pete and Scrub's nyala bulls were moved to the river bed for photos as they were shot in dense reeds along the river.
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Scrub and the trackers with his magnificent nyala bull.

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Pete with his lovely nyala bull

You can imagine the talk over lunch - mine is bigger than yours etc. All good fun.
I thought tom myself that this day just couldn't get any better- well it did!

We headed out after lunch and decided to walk a dry creek. It looked like a perfect habitat for any game animal. There was pockets of water, plenty of cover and lots of feed along the edge of the creek. Only 5 minutes into the walk, Rick stopped and put the binos up. I did likewise and straight away spotted a bushbuck feeding in the bush fringing the far side of the creek. I ranged him through the Leica 10 x 42's at 98 metres. Straight away I could see he was no monster. He appeared to have thick, fairly short, even horns. Rick said he was a mature bushbuck but not a huge one. I was pondering whether to take the shot or not and I remember from a previous safari that bushbuck are very elusive. With that - a huge warthog trotted past the bushbuck and spooked him. Decision made easy!. The warthog was trotting straight for our position so we crouched down low. Rick said he is a big old boy but his tusks are broken off. He said to take him if a shot presented and he would do me a cheap deal. The hog trotted up and out of the creek 30 metres in front of us and the boom of the .338 signalled my decision. He did a few twirls and lay still. Rick took a few steps forward and looked back to his right, stopped suddenly and quickly set up the sticks. I put my rifle on the sticks - not sure what Rick had seen. The bushbuck had not gone far form where he was startled by the warthog and now stood stock still trying to work out what direction the shot had come from. I felt comfortable on the sticks and consciously had to aim a fraction to the right because of an intervening tree branch. The shot felt good but the bushbuck took off seemingly unaffected. We crossed the creek and Rick found the bushbuck only around 30 metres form where he was standing - a perfect heart/lung shot. A warthog and a bushbuck taken 30 seconds apart- I told you this day got even better!

We photographed each of my trophies where they fell and then put them on the truck and we decided to get a photo of them together in a more open patch beside the creek. Photo session over , we took my trophies to the skinning shed. We got straight back into the field and saw plenty of animals but no more trigger time.

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Kudukid with his broken -tusked warthog

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Kudukid and his bushbuck

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Warthog and bushbuck shot 30 seconds apart.

You can imagine after a day like this that there was some serious celebrating. Wendy cooked up a roast bushbuck leg (courtesy of Scrub from day 1) along with some other stuff I called bonky. It was an excellent 3 course meal and then we hit the bar.

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Wendy and Evelyn work their magic in the kitchen.

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The lodge with the bar on the LHS.
 

enysse

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Great stories, that is one old warthog!!!
 

Shootist43

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Who won the Nyala "mine is bigger than yours?" From the photos it looks like yours, then Scrub's, followed by Pete's. Regardless they are all nice trophies.
 

RogerHeintzman

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You guys sure did a bang up job. Congrats!!
Look forward to more.
 

kudukid

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Who won the Nyala "mine is bigger than yours?" From the photos it looks like yours, then Scrub's, followed by Pete's. Regardless they are all nice trophies.

Shootist43 I can't break the bro-code by disclosing who's was the biggest but needless to say they were all big!
 

CAustin

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Congrats on your hunt sir. You no doubt had a blast.

That is what I want mine to look like.

They have them not far from the lodge Art.
 

kudukid

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Day 3

Usual routine- up early, coffee and rusks and on the track as soon as it was light. This morning we spent a few hours looking in all the likely places for fresh eland tracks. Martin set up his drone to see if we could spot some eland from the air. No luck but some spectacular footage captured on film.

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Rick on the left and Martin on the right - setting up the drone.


We gave up after a couple of hours and decided to walk another dry creek. The wind was perfect and we soon came upon a group of warthog feeding in the creek. There was a large boar to the side but he was in some reeds that covered most of his body. I was on the sticks waiting for Ricks call. In the end Rick gave a few claps and on cue the boar lifted his head- Rick said shoot and so I did. I could only see the top of his back so I knew I was a bit high. he went straight down and was kicking around. As I approached he jumped to his feet and took. My snapshot clean missed (or so I thought) and fortunately he took off the other way and my third shot dumped him with a running shot. Upon inspection - it turns out my second shot was a hit. Straight through the wart without touching anything else. I thought the .338 would be enough gun for warthog. Our guru camera man, Martin captured the whole lot on film.

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