SOUTH AFRICA: The Curse Is Lifted: 2018 Group Hunt

Discussion in 'Hunting Reports Africa' started by CAustin, Aug 4, 2018.

  1. CAustin

    CAustin AH ENABLER BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Ambassador

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    Nine months of planning, multiple trips to the firing range, packing and unpacking at least three times, checking and rechecking firearms permit paperwork over and over again.....and finally the day had arrived. July the 18th was like any other Wednesday morning for me. I was up and after the day by 0530 hrs. Everything except my rifles had already been placed in my wife’s X5. A little breakfast and she and I were ready to head to KCI airport. It’s a 40 minutes drive to KCI so there was plenty of time for Cathy and I to catch up on last items to do...not the least of which was to file some forms with the IRS once our CPA had finished his documentation. Sad when the IRS can’t get their own rules straight but that is what I pay the CPA for. My son Bryson would need to cut the grass at least twice while I was gone and Cathy said if he couldn’t she would. What a mess the grass was in when I got back. I am particular about my lawn but what the heck I was headed to Africa for the 6th time and my fourth Safari with PawPrint Safaris.

    We arrived early for my 8:30 flight to Atlanta and wouldn’t you know it I got a new untrained Delta counter agent that had little or know experience with firearms shipment. After asking me to open the case and fill out and sign the orange card stating that the rifles were not loaded she demanded to see my South African import license. I told her she didn’t need to see any such thing and that had nothing to do with Delta. The twit assured me that I had to have that license or Delta could not ship my rifles. I looked down the counter at the supervisor I am familiar with and motioned for her to come over. The Twit again stated her demand and I informed both ladies that I would not get that license until such time as I arrived in Johannesburg and was issued the same by the South African Police. The supervisor showed her Twit agent what to do and my case was closed and locked. The supervisor asked me to wait while the custom rifle case containing my Ruger #1 in 375 H&H and Merkel 140-2 in 470 NE went downstairs for X-ray and approval by TSA. The heavy pelican case went on the conveyor next and disappeared into the abyss of Delta baggage holding. About five minutes passed and the supervisor called my name and announced that TSA was satisfied with both cases. My Delta phone app already indicated that both cases were in the holding area. Ok now to head to the gate. I kissed my wonderful and supportive wife of 23 years good bye and she encouraged me to have a great hunt and get that damned HIPPO this time. You see last year I went hippo hunting and took two shots on a bull but missed both times. The memory of those poorly executed shots were burned into my memory and the agony of waiting several hours for a hippo to float was still very much with me. I vowed not this time.
    TSA Pre makes the screening process easy and I was quickly at the gate. I fired off a quick email to Pieter reminding him that myself @Shootist43 @TOBY458 and @Art Lambart II would arrive at OR Tambo the following day at 17:35 hrs. Art was leaving KCI on the 1000 hrs flight and would meet up with me in Atlanta. His dad would arrive later in the day from Detroit and Toby who lives outside Atlanta would get there in the late afternoon. I settled into seat 4A. the same seat I would have for good luck on all four legs of the trip. As the aircraft doors closed the Delta App noted that my rifles and bag were on the plane. So far so good.

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  2. 375 Ruger Fan

    375 Ruger Fan AH ENABLER GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    Looking forward to this report!
     

  3. Rock375

    Rock375 AH Senior Member

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    Sounds like your back in good health Charlie
     

  4. CAustin

    CAustin AH ENABLER BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Ambassador

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    Arriving in Atlanta I had a couple of business calls to Make so I headed to the Delta Club on Concourse B. I had a couple of hours to kill before Art would Arrive. Having completed two conference calls and firing off several emails I shut the IPad down and put it in the day pack. I was in hunting mode now. I was truly ready to leave the business world behind for the next ten days.
    Art arrived as scheduled so he and I went to find some lunch over at Concourse F! It was then time to go and collect Art Sr from his gate and bring him back to the Club Atlanta where I had made arrangements for our group to await our 2000 hrs flight departure.
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    @TOBY458 would actually arrive at the airport through the doors at the bottom of the picture.
    Once we were all together everybody spent some time getting to know Toby who has a good deal in common with the two Arts.
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  5. Ridgewalker

    Ridgewalker AH ENABLER LIFETIME BRONZE BENEFACTOR AH Legend

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    So far so good:D Beer Bottle::D Beer Draft:!

    I’ve had the same SAPs paperwork issue every trip. I wish Delta would train their people!
     
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  6. CAustin

    CAustin AH ENABLER BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Ambassador

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    Before Boarding Flight 200 we four paid a visit to the duty free shop to get some good bourbon for the trip and some smokes for the PH team at Pawprint.
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    As time came to board we made our way to the E concourse and waited just a few minutes until we were allowed to board. Once again I settled into seat 4A and checked the Delta App to see where the bags were. The pelican heavy case was on the plane but the rifles were still in secured holding.
    The Purser came by to introduce herself and handed out the dinner menue explaining that I would only need to choose which meat I would prefer and could she get me a drink. Well yes she could get me a bourbon. GUNs still not on plane according to Delta App. The Captain of The first group of pilots to take us over came back to introduce himself and show us the route we would be taking that night. Not the normal route straight out and arching over the Atlantic but rather we would be hugging the coastline of South America most of the night. He mentioned that we would probably arrive an hour early. So I fired up the iPad and sent Pieter that early arrival information. Then we waited for everyone to board which takes awhile with a plane of 297 passengers.
    The cabin doors closed but the cockpit door was open and I could hear the Captain speaking with the ground crew about luggage. We waited another thirty minutes before the cargo doors could be heard closing and the captain anno7nced that the baggage had been sorted out. (Yea right....they were taking baggage off is my guess) we may have had too much weight given the route we were taking that night. Anyway the delta app stated my guns were still in secure holding. GREAT!
    And down the runway we went in that big beautiful Boeing 777. No guns and off on a dangerous game hunt!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 4, 2018

  7. Von Gruff

    Von Gruff GOLD SUPPORTER AH Elite

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    Hunting with old (and new) friends really adds to the experience. Anticipation will be building about now.
     

  8. Ridgewalker

    Ridgewalker AH ENABLER LIFETIME BRONZE BENEFACTOR AH Legend

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    I think Delta has a lock on Joberg flights. They could care less about customer satisfaction. Sad.
     
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  9. CAustin

    CAustin AH ENABLER BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Ambassador

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    The purser handed out those menus before takeoff .......
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    Not a bad way to begin a flight to Africa. I quickly ordered up a couple of Woodford Reserves but took them back to one of my traveling companions. The inflight gift/care package was appreciated and consumed.
    So I had a nice meal and watched two movies and a TV show before fixing the bed for the night and catching some sleep. By this time we were about five and a half hours into the scheduled 15.5 hour flight.
    I guess I am blessed with the ability to sleep almost anywhere and so I got about six hours of sleep. When I woke up one of the flight attendants was quick to offer coffee and a snack before breakfast. Not really hungry I just accepted the coffee. So we were about 4.5 hours for JNB and we were moving well away from the South America coast by this time!
    We landed in Johannesburg about 25 minutes ahead of schedule and began to deplane. Art SR had used @riflepermits.com VIP service so we four were greeted at the end of the jet way and taken to passport control and the front of the line. Nice treatment by Henry and his folks. No fuss and no hassle!
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    We collect our checked bags and head to the SAPs office only to find that the only one of the group of four to get his rifles was the last guy to get to the Atlanta Airport....@Toby458
    So we file the lost bag paperwork and head to camp under the Protection of two Pawprint Safaris PH staff Carlos and Johan.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 4, 2018
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  10. machinistbutler

    machinistbutler AH Senior Member

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    Looking forward to more!
     

  11. Hank2211

    Hank2211 AH ENABLER GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    Looking forward to this report - off to a great start already!

    One thing about Delta. I'm not sure it's entirely fair to blame them for this permit issue. I ran into this once with Air Canada, and the helpful agent pulled out the IATA manual on travelling with firearms. It specifically says that a permit is required to bring firearms into /south Africa (which is true) and that the permit must be in hand in order for the firearms to be allowed on. IATA is right on half of this, but wrong on the part which causes the trouble.

    One solution which I have used effectively is to have a letter from my outfitter or the permit-service company which simply states that a permit for my firearms has been issued and will be delivered immediately upon arrival in South Africa. Even though such a letter is essentially meaningless, it has satisfied those who have tried to comply with the IATA requirements.
     
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  12. CAustin

    CAustin AH ENABLER BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Ambassador

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    I check my Delta app and it says my gun case is being expedited on flight 200 July the 19th which means it will arrive the following day the 20th if all goes well. So I will loose a day of hunting but plan to tag along with someone the next day.
    We arrive at Balulue lodge where we are greeted by Bill Capwell and his son Dakota. Nice kid Dakota and the spitting image of his dad...no denying him....no way.....even sounds like his dad.
    Bags were unloaded from the trucks into our rooms where we found new Safari hats and custom Pawprint Shirts recognizing the group hunt 2018.
    We have a decent meal prepared by claudious, nothing fancy, and a few drinks in the bar before retiring for the evening.
    It is cold in the mountains near Rustenburg RSA. In fact I have never experienced it this cold in South Africa before. It is well below freezing and the wind is blowing. The heater in my room, if one could call it such, is utterly worthless.....and doesn’t even knock down the chill. Thank the lord there were plenty of blankets on the bed. We were told breakfast the following day would be at 8 and we could sleep in. Now not being fully time adjusted yet I awoke at about 0530 and decided to get a hot shower. Now praise the Lord the tiny little wall mounted hot water on demand heater worked perfectly. The water was scalding hot and I quickly availed myself of a perfect shower as I steamed up the bathroom. It is amazing what a shave and hit shower will do for a person. By the way did I tell you that when I woke up I was in AFRICA! Surely it will be a good day.
    Breakfast was served right in time as Art and I checked and rechecked our Delta Apps to confirm that our guns would be on that evenings flight. My app clearly showed my guns were on the plane but not Arts. It would be another three days before his came.
    Some time was spent in the range sighting in Toby’s rifle and the rifles we would be borrowing from the PHs. Toby was off to hunt buff...Art and Art went out and I accompanied Pieter to the new farm he had purchased just the day before. It should make a grand place for hunting and a new lodge.
    At 3 pm it was back to JNB to get rifles which turned out to be a long process. Art SR and I got ours but as mentioned Art Jrs were not there! After more paperwork and waiting inept South African Swiss Port employees to do little of nothing we headed back the two hours to camp. Being hungry we stopped at about 10pm at one of those 24 hour KFC joints and got a decent meal.
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  13. Hank2211

    Hank2211 AH ENABLER GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    Steer Burger. Every time. Great fries too. Now, if only they had ketchup.
     
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  14. CAustin

    CAustin AH ENABLER BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Ambassador

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    Saturday the 21st I pull the Ruger #1 out of the case and head out to the firing range. I will be hunting with Skobbie this morning! Art and Art are also sighting in Art Sr’s two rifles so that both would have a familiar rifle to hunt with this day! I wait until last and take my place on the sandbag. I had this rifle dialed in perfect before putting it in the case but you never trust that. I load a Federal Premium Cape Shock Troohy Bonded Bear Claw into the chamber. This Ruger likes this round and the Leupold Scope has a Custom Dial applied specifically for it. Skobbie tells me which mark to aim for on the target. It’s a big print of a warthog with many pieces of white tape covering previous holes. I relax and squeeze the trigger.....bulls eye is the word from Skobbie. I reaquire the target in The scope and confirm that it’s a bulls eye. Is that good enough for you I ask and he says yes. So we load up the trucks as all of us are headed to a new property Pieter has for us to hunt today.
    I am intent upon lifting part of my 2016 and 2017 curse. Some of you may remember that in 2016 I took nine trophies with Pawprint but on one sorry pitiful day I fired 25 rounds at spring buck and white blesbock without so much as scratching one. It was the worst day of shooting in my life. If I had been inside of a barn and fired at a wall I am absolutely sure that I would have missed. The place we were headed to had White Blesbock.

    Did I mention that I was in AFRICA?
     
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  15. cpr0312

    cpr0312 AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

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    Looking forward to the full report and going through the hunt with you!
     

  16. CAustin

    CAustin AH ENABLER BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Ambassador

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    The drive to the new place is less than thirty minutes and our trucks are met by the owner. On the way into the property I can see blesbock in the distance in a grassy field. I’m thinking I hope sorting all this out as to which hunters were going where wouldn’t take very long so that the quarry I was after didn’t slip into some of the thick stuff on the side of the mountain.
    Decisions are made and I tell Skobbie where I had seen the whites. He says that he saw them too and that maybe we should circle back and see if there are any good ones in the group.
    I can see several that are lying down and pay no attention to them as I will not shoot a beast that is lying down. Through the scope I spot one that looks good to me. I have a 17 inch common blesbock and hope to get something close to that bu5 at over 150 yards through a scope I’m not positive. Skobbie tells me that there is a really good one in the group that is lying down. So we wait and watch for a moment and the wind shifts just a bit and that group stands up. Oh yes there is a big boy in there and he wasted no time in moving off from his group headed away from me. Skobbie and I make sure I’m looking at the right one and he says take him when you are ready. I line up the cross hairs without making any adjustment to the CDS and squeeze the trigger. Bang.....flop.....thrash! We walk up to the trophy and Skobbie says he bets he is better than 17 inches. Turns out he is 18.
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    First part of the curse is lifted.
     
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  17. CAustin

    CAustin AH ENABLER BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Ambassador

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    There isn’t anything else on this farm that I want except gray diker but the owner says we are not allowed to hunt them there. So Skobbie and I head back to the lodge for lunch.
    It is decided that Skobbie and I will head out early for the hippo hunting area which is to be in the Zulu lands of Natal. It’s a seven and a half hour drive. The plan is to stop at a guest house for the night about six and a half hours away where we will spend the night before proceeding too the hunting area. We are departing at about two pm and arrive at our destination around 9 pm. You know we had to stop for fuel as well as smoke breaks for Skobbie. Seemed like the truck we were in, Pieter’s automatic bakkie, was burning a lot of fuel along the way. We arrive in this town and have a little difficulty finding the guest house. Once at the gate we have to call to get someone to open up. There is one other vehicle in the compound and it seems there are eight rooms. The lady has us sign the registers and out in what date we are departing. I say the next day and Skobbie says now we are here for two nights at least. Strange because that place looks nothing like the lodge Pieter had shown me on the web that we would be staying at. The lady says that she has a meal in the frig for us in the rooms. The room I get is nice and clean and even has a TV that gets channels from the western world on it. With bags inside I find the meal and heat it up in the microwave. I sit down in front of the tv and begun to eat the rice sautéed veggies and a beef item that looks sort of like stew beef. Rice and veggies are fine but I bite into the meat and it has a strange flavor. Being in the food business I at once realize that it’s freezer burned an not fit to eat. So veggies rice and a slice of pie hold some over till the morning. Skobbie says we are to meet our guide at a service station I. Town at seven in the morning. I’m up at 0530 again showed and having coffee when Skobbie says we should probably go. We leave our luggage but I take my guns and ammo and binoculars!
    Skobbie drives to the fueling station and we see no bakkie that looks like it might be a guide, so he calls the number Pieter had given him. The guide says we are to meet him in Hluhluwe which is 100klm away. Talk about hauling ass....off we go.
    We meet up with the guides sure enough at a gas station. Hemish asks if I need to sight in my rifle and I say that given the travel it wouldn’t be a bad idea. So off and down some dirt roads we travel for 15-20 miles we go and arrive at what looks like a borrow pit for road fill. One of the trackers goes to the far side of the hole and places a white piece of paper with a black circle drawn on it onto a bush. He gets out of the way and fro the back of the truck I shoot and the round hits the upper left corner of the target bulls eye.
    Let’s go hunt hippo!
     
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  18. TOBY458

    TOBY458 AH Enthusiast

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    Great re-cap so far Charlie!
     

  19. CAustin

    CAustin AH ENABLER BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Ambassador

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    We are in the Zulu lands and one can see traditional huts mingled in with more western looking small homes. Fires are burning off the morning mist. We are as the crow flies about twenty miles from the Indian Ocean so I’m told. We come into a reserve that I’m told is 25,000 acres and that we have the right to hunt a waterway that is over 8 Klm long. We crest over a hill and I can see the stretch of water laid out before me. There is a large earthen dam with a very well engineered concretely spillway. A water pumping station is in front of us. We turn right and drive upstream for what seems like a mile or so and get out to glass. I can see that 5his impoundment of water is about 400 yards across give or take. The more I look upstream I can see thick vegetation growing In The water and then I see crocs Sunning on the far bank about half a mile up stream. Ok I’m in AFRICA. The guides say we will go upstream later but first to go back down stream and check below the dam. As we get close to the pumping station the property manager motions that we will stop a glass the waters here as he says hippos sometime sun on an island just below the station.
    Sure enough ther is a big pod of them, twelve to fifteen, in the shallows near a sand bar really. We sit next to the pump station walll and glass the group and observe their movements. Two bulls for sure in this group with one of 5hem sort of keeping his distance from the group. Heads are up and then they glide under water only to surface a few yards away. The blows of water and snorts are unmistakable. Even if you couldn’t see them you would know that hippo were near by.
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    The set up this year is a lot better than last year and I am starting to feel like I am going to get a hippo this time.
     
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  20. CAustin

    CAustin AH ENABLER BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Ambassador

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    After watching this pod for nearly an hour we go check below the dam. Now this body of water is more like what we would think of as a creek here in the US. It’s maybe forty yards across below the dam. There are signs of a haul out where the hippo get out of the river and go feed in the fields adjacent to the waterway. In fact I can see half a dozen places that I recognize as where the hippo get in and out of the water.
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    Like this one!
     
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