Hey friends. Sorry for the delay in posting an update. United came through for us. They delivered us and our cases and bags at JNB….only 90 minutes late…..per usual. We boarded our return to EWR right on time. Fingers crossed!
More on the hunt itself tomorrow or this weekend. I’m brain dead after 11 days of hard hunting from before first light until late at night. We baited for bush pigs and predators. Loooooong days! But fun!
I’m feeling great today, finally. Now we return to our regularly scheduled programming!
We flew United airlines business class, due to the price difference between them, Emirates, Qatar and Delta. The United round-trip was $3000 less than the next lowest option. As it turned out, we made a good call. With the exception of our outbound flight from Newark, all the flights were on time. (The EWR to JNB flight is late 90% of the time and averages 90 mins behind schedule.) Our luggage arrived when we did. The business class product on United is nowhere near as nice as Qatar and Emirates. But it was perfectly adequate, with a lay flat bed, decent food, and drinks.
We arrived in JNB an hour late. Bruce from Gracy led us though immigration and gun clearance, and we met our driver in the arrivals hall. Arrival was smooth and without drama.
The trip from JNB to camp took almost 4 hours, due to a wreck between JNB and Pretoria. We arrived in camp around midnight. The team at the camp was ready for us. They fed us and got us to our cabins so we could get some sleep.
We decided on a late start so breakfast was served at 8am. This gave us our first glimpse of camp in the daylight. The camp had been completed only 90 days before we arrived. They had it all sorted out by the time we checked in, and I must say it is really one of the nicest places I’ve ever stayed! Way better than any “camp” that I’ve ever stayed in on safari. There’s a main lodge, several duplex style cabins, and a spa that’s still under construction. The deck overlooks the Mokolo River. If your non-hunting family members want to see Africa, this is the place to take them!
Some camp pictures:
Our plan for the first day was to set baits for night critter hunting, and poke around for the Sable I wanted. Kwalata’s Waterberg Reserve is one big, beautiful place! Wildlife is there in abundance! All of the Big Five are there. We saw Rhino, Buffalo, and Elephant almost every time we went afield. We saw Leopard and Lion tracks, and heard an old male Lion grunting and roaring each night. The list of plains game we saw is long. There are more big Kudu in the mountains than I’ve seen anywhere. Check out the old scrum cap bull Wildebeest! Paradise.
Now, a shout out to the 3 people who made our safari such a joy.
AJ Fourie was our PH and he busted his hump keeping us in the game! He’s a great guy and funny too. He knows everyone In the Waterberg area, especially the landowners, and leveraged his relationships to get us access. A true professional,
Day 2 was dedicated to Sable. There was a large bull spotted on the Reserve that we needed to get after. We tracked him most of the morning, and finally bumped him in some extremely thick brush about 11am. We pulled out and took a break for lunch at the lodge. We went back to the track in the afternoon and saw from his tracks that he had vacated the area. We decided to leave him and see if he would return later on.
That evening we learned we’d be hunting another property that had good numbers of Blesbuck, Nyala and big Sable. It was about an hour’s drive from the Reserve. Jeff and I had a great morning!
Jack was our tracker and skinner. He’s a kind, soft spoken professional who worked almost around the clock tracking, retrieving and processing our trophies. I thoroughly enjoyed our time together.
Louise, the camp manager and chef, over fed us daily. She’s a great cook and we enjoyed ourselves in camp. She planned 2 excellent brais served in the Boma, including a feast on our Eland! Eland filets are the best meat on earth!
Picking up on the day-3 hunt. Our group was composed of AJ, Toupah (the property manager), Jeff and myself. We had only been on the property for about 30 minutes when we spotted a herd of about a dozen Blesbuck. AJ put up the sticks and asked me to shoot the one on the right. That bull stood every way but broadside for the better part of 10 minutes, or at least it seemed that long. I was up on the sticks, watching him through the scope. Finally he turned broadside and moved clear of the other animals, and I took a shot. He ran off on three legs. I was sure I’d hit him in the body, but maybe a bit too low.
We gave him 10 minutes or so and started walking toward the last spot we had seen him. AJ and I left Toupah and Jeff and closed in on the bull. We caught up with him and could see that he was hit low in the shoulder but was down and not going anywhere. I caught a glimpse of Toupah walking quickly toward us. He asked AJ if he’d seen the bull Nyala we walked right past! We were so focused on the Blesbuck we overlooked a trophy Nyala! Quickly, we reversed course. The Nyala, probably wondering what kind of morons he was dealing with, hadn’t moved. I dropped him with one shot. Then we collected the Blesbuck, and just like that, I had my first two trophies of the trip in a space of about 5 minutes!
Then things got even better! After cruising around the beautiful property for less than an hour, we came upon another group of Blesbuck. We parked a fair distance away. I stayed back at the truck and Jeff, AJ and Toupah went off after them. About 15 minutes later I heard a single shot. AJ came trudging back alone and said we had some tracking to do. I went along, planning to help with a lengthy recovery. Then I saw Jeff and Toupah standing over a very deceased Blesbuck. Jeff had connected on a really nice one with a single perfectly placed shot! AJ grinning like the proverbial cat.