SOUTH AFRICA: Third Time Lucky With Umzingeli Safaris & 3S Safaris

Discussion in 'Hunting Reports Africa' started by Jeffro, Jun 12, 2018.

  1. Jeffro

    Jeffro AH Member

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    "So, have you ever thought of hunting in Africa?" This query, posed by my dog training partner and friend, Randy, has lead to an addiction only other Africa veterans will understand...oh, labradors, of course. At first, I rejected the idea, because I had thought about it when I was much younger, but I'd dismissed the notion due to generous doses of ignorance, and a lack of funds. That was then.

    A few months back, Kent Shaw of 3S Safaris posted an offer on AH that I just couldn't turn down, especially considering that I was going to be in Africa, anyway, visiting friends and touring Botswana and the Caprivi Strip. The deal was $2,500 for a full seven day hunt with Hennie van Jarlsfeld and Tahlita Olivier with Umzingeli Safaris which houses its clients in the wonderful Grey's Gift Lodge in the EC. Impala, blesbuck, springbok, and kudu were included in the package, but I substituted the blesbuck for a bushbuck, and all was set.

    Oh, I must explain the title. I had attempted to harvest a bushbuck on previous occasions, but the sly little beasts had always eluded me. On my first trip, which I foolishly thought would be my only one, I failed to find one in the Limpopo, and lost a chance in Zambia; I had had my sights on a nice Chobe ram, when my PH said something to me before I pulled the trigger. I cannot recall what he said or asked, but when I put my eye back to the scope, the ram had vanished. Then, the weather beat me on my next trip. Unseasonable cold and drizzle stopped most animals from moving, and my PH was unable to locate a ram despite our logging a lot of miles both on foot and in the vehicle.

    And so I arrived at the Port Elizabeth airport at the end of May, and met Hennie and Tahlita, my PHs, guides, and friends for the next days. We got to know each other on the ride out to Grey's Gift, and it was clear to me that I had made a great choice. Several conversations with Kent had given me confidence that I'd be in good hands with Hennie and Tahlita, and this proved to be true in so many ways.

    We arrived at the lodge with plenty of time to enjoy the magnificent view over the valley from the commanding heights of Grey's Gift. To be honest, I was shocked at the place; a poor, little prairie boy such as I is much more used to tents than chalets, but I decided I could tough it out. Several beer and a magnificent dinner later, I resolved to lap up every moment; after all, once I'd returned to my hovel, I'd have to eat my own cooking. After a final drink or two, I went to bed early, eager for the adventure to begin.

    Day One dawned to a very strong but warm wind and heavily overcast, leaden sky, so we were all anxious to see how the conditions would affect the animals. While on the drive, I became well acquainted with Longone, Umzingeli's tracker/skinner/comic. His indefatiguable good humour, and uncanny ability to sight game were highlights of the trip. We arrived just after dawn, and were greeted by the landowner, Mark, who had just seen a good kudu, but the bull was having none of it. He knew this game well, and had no intention of being the main contestant in our game. We continued our hunt, relying on Mark's knowledge of his farm, but by noon we hadn't gotten onto a kudu. I did turn down a shot on a fantastic waterbuck, though. Hennie spotted him in a little opening between acacia thickets, over three hundred meters away, but the bull had seen us, too, and didn't take his eyes off us. I had the rifle on the sticks a couple times, but given the distance and strength of the cross wind, I decided against it, a choice I don't really regret. We stopped for lunch then continued our search for a bull without Mark, who was called away to chase poachers operating in broad daylight! In any event, the day ended without a kudu, but I had no concerns, because I was hunting in Africa!! What more could one want?

    Day Two arrived a little sooner than I'd have liked. I had walked my sixty-year old butt a lot further than I thought and the extra glasses of wine and Cohiba Robusto in the outdoor bathtub before bed hadn't aided my rest. In addition, my plantar's fascitis had flared up, so I knew that I was going to be moving gingerly for a bit. The sky was bright and the air crisp and cool, both of which Hennie and Longone knew were good omens. As the sun rose, they assured me, the animals would be very active compared with the day before. We returned to Mark's farm and followed Longone's hunch, and were immediately rewarded. A kudu and his small harem took off across the bottom of a dry dam, stopping only briefly to afford me a long attempt, which I missed...low, both Hennie and Longone advised. We took off in pursuit and Longone soon spotted the group deep in the bushes. Unfortunately for this bull, he was a little too preoccupied with the girls, and we managed to get into a good position for a shot. I squeezed, but the rifle's report was not followed by the tell-tale thwack of a bullet striking its flesh-and-bone target. I assured them that I did not miss, but none of us were sure of a hit. Longone scampered off to see, and soon we heard his call that the bull was down. Hennie and I drove over and I petted the old boy and thanked him for his sacrifice. We set him up for photos, then loaded him for his journey to the skinning shed where Longone promptly prepared him for a shoulder mount. Once he had completed his task, we had lunch and decided to find a warthog (you never just shoot the animals on your package, do you?!). By the way, the bullet had passed between ribs on both sides, which explains the lack of an impact sound. I assured them that I had intended that, but their BS detectors were on full alert. Before long we found a nice hog, dispatched him with a single shot, and returned to the lodge, early enough to celebrate the day's success with another PH and his client, and dug into another sumptious meal, a photo of which is attached below.

    More to follow.

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  2. Jeffro

    Jeffro AH Member

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    Third Time Lucky Part Two

    Day Three. Before turning in the evening before, Hennie recommended that we begin our search for a bushbuck, a suggestion I readily accepted. After the usual coffee and rusk breakfast, we loaded up and began our search on the main property. We navigated a series of gorgeous valleys coloured by a magnificent array of trees and bushes with the beautiful orange candles of aloe vera lending their touch to the vista. Anticipation levels soon soared as Longone located a ewe, but she was without male escort. Not too long afterward he tapped on the bakkie's roof and said he saw a ram, so we slowly bounced over the rocky trail until we found a suitable location to search for the elusive ram. Longone immediately saw several ewes so we all directed our binoculars to the ewes and scoured the slope for the ram. As time wore on, the ewes moved off to be replaced by a large number of nyala ewes with bulls in tow, many impala, some mountain reedbuck, and the occasional duiker, but the bushbuck ram was AWOL. Eventually Longone decided to climb higher to see if a different vantage point would make a difference, and Hennie and I continued our vigil. Before long we saw two nice nyala bulls walking away from us at the bottom of the slope we had been surveilling, and I commented that it was a good thing they were going in the direction they were, or I'd be sorely tempted. As fate would have it, one of them turned around, and half an hour later was grazing straight away on a level just slightly lower than ours. After a whispered exchange, the sticks went up, and the nyala went down.

    We dropped Longone off at the skinning shed with the nyala, and returned to the lodge for lunch and a power snooze, and Hennie and Tahlita told me of their plan for the afternoon. We collected Longone and made tracks for a location quite a ways away. The spot was on a riverbank overlooking an irrigated alfalfa field...perfect. Hennie told me to relax, because he didn't think the bushbuck would appear until sunset, and he nailed it. In the mean time, we watched red lechwe on the adjoining property, saw some monster warthogs, and observed an awesome array of birdlife: an eagle, blue falcon, various ducks and geese, swallows...the list goes on. Right on cue, as the sun sank below the horizon, the bushbuck ewes began to appear, and eventually two young rams. There would be no bushbuck that day, but what a great day it was, and Hennie's brai brought it all to a wonderful conclusion.

    Day Four. What a perfect day. The weather was great all day long. We had decided to pursue the bushbuck in the morning, then find an impala in the pm, and go after the bushbuck in the evening, if necessary. We were off in the dark, driving to a productive spot where Hennie and a couple other PHs had found bushbuck for their clients in previous weeks. The location inspired great confidence in me: secluded with a large meadow intersected by a meandering river bottom that held water in numerous pools; steep slopes on two sides afforded the hunter an unobstructed view of every part of the meadow. The only problem was that the bushbuck had not read the script and missed their cues.

    We departed after a couple hours and arrived at a breath-taking property on which Hennie felt we'd find a good impala. After a brief conversation with the land owner we began our search and there were animals of some description everywhere. The natural beauty of the place beggars description, and its array of wildlife likewise. First, we camped out on a hillside, hoping to locate a bushbuck wandering along the river bottom. No such luck. After a time, we began our search for impala and eventually Longone spotted a large group of rams in an open field in the valley below us. He and Hennie led me on a truly satisfying stalk, picking their way through the heavy brush along various cattle and game trails. We emerged a short hundred yards from the rams, who had no idea of our presence. One shot later, the ram Hennie had selected was on the ground. We took the ram to the skinning shed, and in no time Longone was finished, so we returned to our original spot to await the elusive bushbuck. But we got distracted by two white blesbuck fighting of the trail. Hennie observed that he was sure the bigger ram was a gold medal animal. As I apparently have no impulse control, I agreed to the stalk, and the white ram joined the impala in the salt. We returned to the original spot hoping for a bushbuck to round out the day, but no cigar.

    To be continued...

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  3. reedy0312

    reedy0312 AH Ambassador

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    Congrats and thanks for sharing!
     

  4. oldhoward

    oldhoward AH Member

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    Nice write up. I also hunted with 3S Safaris and had a wonderful time. My wife also raves about our trip and tells everyone about it. We were car shopping this past weekend and my wife had all the sales folks looking at the pictures on her phone and telling stories about our trip!
     
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  5. Nyati

    Nyati AH Ambassador

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    Congrats for a great hunt, and thanks for sharing !
     

  6. cls

    cls AH Fanatic

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    Well done, thanks for the report and pictures.
     

  7. Jeffro

    Jeffro AH Member

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    Day Five. &%$@)? Bushbuck

    Day five was to be a sure thing--no distractions, just the bushbuck ram. Although we hadn't seen a ram, the presence of ewes and the barking we had heard the day before made us to decide to return to yesterday's previous location. Tahlita and I were to wait at the largest of the clearings, while Longone scouted the various other potential spots on location. I have no idea how far that man walked, but walk he did. As the hours drifted away, we changed locations a few times, but only saw the usual suspects: impala, mountain reedbuck, and a few bushbuck ewes. I'd lost again. Of course, I have long ago that hunting is not just bagging an animal, so my disappointment was minimal. I had experienced another fantastic day in Africa, and a delicious meal and much conversation awaited at Grey's Gift.

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  8. Jeffro

    Jeffro AH Member

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    Day Six. The monkey gets off my back.

    At supper, we got a tip from another PH who had been hunting kudu near Bedford. The landowner had told him that he had been seeing several rams, and the PH, Marius, generously offered us the intelligence. We arrived at the farm at daybreak, greeted the farmer, and immediately began our pursuit based on his advice. It seems that this should be bushbuck heaven: deeply cut stream bottoms, lush, small, secluded meadows, plenty of bush cover, and a tree-clad mountain-side for escape. We soon saw the first ewes, then a few rams. Longone came across the first, then Tahlita. In each case, the ram was off like a little missile, darting through the bush and fleeing up the mountain-side, offering absolutely no chance for a shot. It was super exciting, even though the rifle didn't make it onto the sticks. We decided to change locations to try another farm nearby, but planned to return if the new spot didn't pan out. Again, this was a great spot, but only impala and fallow deer showed themselves. I have included a photo of the farmer's creative landscaping.

    With about two hours of daylight remaining, we returned to the original farm, and picked our way carefully into position. Longone and I went a ways up the mountain, while Tahlita followed the contours of the stream bed, hoping to drive any lurking ram our way. Longone must be part mountain goat, because he effortlessly left me behind, stopping repeatedly to see if I was OK. Then it happened. With one hour of daylight remaining on the last day available, Longone materialised from around a pile of rocks with a look of genuine excitement on his face. Bushbuck! Come quickly! Only a few seconds later, I eased up to him and followed his gaze. Not a hundred yards distant stood my longtime nemesis, browsing contentedly, and unaware of the danger that stalked him. Longone set up the sticks, and the ram was down. I have no idea which of the three of us was most happy, but I know I was grinning from ear to ear. The elation escalated as we approached the ram, and recognised that he was not just good, he was very good. Unfortunately, I had not brought my camera, so by the time Longone retrieved it, there was little light left for photos. As much as I like the respectful, posed photos, I personally prefer shots of the animal where he fell, as such photos seem to conjure the actual event more powerfully; for me, at least.

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  9. Jeffro

    Jeffro AH Member

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    Day Seven. I guess the wine and cigar in the tub made me a bit forgetful, as I forgot to set my alarm, and awoke just minutes before Longone came to see why I hadn't appeared for breakfast. We set off for Hennie's and Tahlita's farm in search of the last animal I had booked, a common springbok. The common soon turned into a copper and white, as Hennie offered me a deal I couldn't decline. We arrived at the farm, greeted the dogs, pet meerkats, Tahlita's sister, then set off. It didn't take long before we saw animals, everywhere. The first opportunity was a nice copper ram, and I blew the shot, striking a front leg. I felt awful at having injured the ram, but Hennie's expertise and Longone's amazing eyes kept us on him until Trigger, Hennie's marvellous little terrier, finally grabbed the animal and dragged him down so that Hennie could dispatch him with a deft stab behind his head. I still feel bad about wounding the critter, but the upside was watching the two men and that dog finish the job. I didn't do a lot better when a white ram offered a shot, but at least the strike was enough to keep him from bounding over fences. Longone steered him down a fence he couldn't jump right to where Hennie and I waited in ambush. I was able to finish the job and that finished my springbok slam, albeit not in one go. After Longone had finished preparing the springbok, we returned to Grey's Gift and another amazing meal.

    I cannot recommend Umzingeli/3S enough. The hunting was fabulous and Hennie, Tahlita, and Longone are truly fine people. The accommodation and food are of the first order; in short, I cannot think of anything that could have been better. I certainly will return, sooner than later. I'm sure that bushbuck rams will be standing around all over the place.

    Thanks to those of you who have commented on the post. Call Kent today!

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  10. kevin masters

    kevin masters BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Veteran

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    very nice bushbuck and I love the nayala! Nayala are on my list for next time! congradulations!!
     

  11. reedy0312

    reedy0312 AH Ambassador

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    Heck of a bushbuck! Congrats
     

  12. gillettehunter

    gillettehunter AH Legend

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    Nice animals. Congrats on a great hunt.
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  13. Brent C

    Brent C New Member

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    Congratulations Jeff, my daughter and I enjoyed the time we spent with you talking about the events of the day, and enjoying the wonderful food that was prepared at the lodge
     

  14. Jeffro

    Jeffro AH Member

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    Good to hear from you, Brent! I hope you got your bushbuck, too!
     

  15. Jeffro

    Jeffro AH Member

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    Hi uk.dpt. The package I bought was for a kudu, impala, springbok, and blesbok, nine nights' accommodation, and seven days' hunting for $2500. I exchanged the blesbok for the bushbuck (plus $300) before I arrived. As the hunt progressed, Hennie offered me the copper and white springboks for a very good price, so I dropped the common, and took them, instead. One could have a great hunt for $3000, but I didn't know how to say 'no'. The white blesbok, nyala, and copper and white springbok were extra.
     

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