Hello guys, I just got back a few days ago and would like to share my experiences hunting with Tsala Safaris. I actually tried to keep a journal this time, but I’m sure I’ll miss some of the details. I also apologize if it's too long and tedious for some of you guys. This trip came together last August when Rouan with @Tsala Hunting Safaris posted a special on sable for 2016. I've always wanted to hunt sable but could never afford it in years past. Although I could not make a second trip back to Africa in 2016, I decided to see if we could work something out for early 2017. Well, after a few emails, we agreed on a price and list of other animals that I was interested in and I booked the trip. I had already read a few hunt reports on AH and knew I would have a good time! The original sable offer included 5 days hunting and I asked Rouan to add 2 days for a total of 7 so that we could hopefully get all the animals on my list (sable, red hartebeest, Limpopo bushbuck, waterbuck and honey badger). I had also mentioned this trip to a good friend of mine (who had never been to Africa) and he was interested in coming along as an observer/hunter. He had a few animals that he was interested in which included waterbuck, blesbok and impala. The additional hunting/observer day rates were excellent so he decided to come along as well. Now to book airfare! Like most of us, I usually fly Delta from Atlanta, but after seeing that a few of you guys had used Emirates, I decided to check them out. They were about $500 cheaper than Delta and there was only about 2 hour difference in overall travel time so I/we decided to give them a shot. The only thing left to do is to wait for April 28th to arrive…. In the meantime, I got my updated 4457’s(ARGH!), preapproved rifle permits, booked a room with Afton and all the other miscellaneous things you need to do before a trip like this. I also filled out/submitted the paperwork to carry firearms on Emirates through Dubai (very painless and thanks to @PHOENIX PHIL for all the help/info). Finally, our departure day arrived. As normal, I arrived at the airport about 3 hours before my departure time. As soon as I walked in, there was an Emirates employee that approached me and asked if I was Mr. “Y” and said that if we’d come with him, he’d get us checked in. Wow! I’ve never had that happen with Delta! He took us right to the front of the line (not there was much of one anyway) and started the check in process. After that was done, he walked us to TSA to drop off the rifles and then we were on our way to go through security. Altogether, the check in/rifle drop off process took us less than 10 minutes…. again, much quicker than Delta. After a few Bloody Marys’ at my favorite airport pub, we were on our plane and headed to Dubai. The flight was only about 70% full which allowed us to spread out a little which made the flight a little more tolerable than normal. About 10 scotches and a short 15 hours later, we arrive in Dubai. Unfortunately, we only have a 2-1/2 hour layover, so no time to get out and see the city. We make our way back through security and hit the duty free store and are just in time for boarding our flight to Johannesburg. When they scanned my boarding pass, it flagged them that I was carrying a firearm and they called down to make sure it was loaded on the plane. It took a little while to verify, but I was happy to know it was loaded. This flight was 100% full and pretty cramped. Even though it was a 777 just like we flew from Dallas to Dubai, it was an older plane and not as nice and comfortable. We arrived in Jo’burg at 8:50pm and made a mad dash to passport control to try to get through as quickly as possible. When we arrived, there was no one in line and we got right through….less than 5 minutes. Our luggage came off the carousel as soon as we walked up and we headed to SAPS to grab my rifles. Mr. X from Afton was there to meet us and got us out of SAPS in record time. He walked us out to the Afton van and we were on our way in no time. The driver helped us get our luggage to our room and was nice enough to fetch us a few beers since the bar was closed and we were in bed about 30 minutes later. I woke up at about 4:00am and was never able to really go back to sleep. After tossing and turning for about 2 hours, I got up, grabbed a shower and went to breakfast and my buddy joined me shortly after. After breakfast I visited with Annelise and she told me that she’s selling Afton to someone else. She mentioned that she might lease it to someone first, just to make sure they provided the same level of service that we’ve all come to expect from her. I look forward to visiting with her each time I’m in Johannesburg, so this was sad news for me. Rouan picked us up at about 9:00am and after a quick stop for fuel, we were on our way. Even though this was the first time that I had actually spoken to him (other than email), I knew pretty quickly that I was really going to enjoy hunting with him. The drive to Tsala is about 2-1/2 hours but that flew by as we talked about everything under the sun and there were numerous animal sightings along the way. We also found out that we were the first clients of the year for them…I always like to be first for some reason! When we arrived, he drove us straight to “our house for the week” and helped us get our stuff off loaded. The accommodations were a lot more than I expected. It was basically a two bedroom home with a kitchen, dining room and living room. Both bedrooms had large comfortable beds and full baths. After showing us around, he left us to get unpacked and showed us the footpath to the main house and said that we could come up for lunch when we were squared away. After we did a little unpacking, we walked up for lunch. This is when we were introduced to the rest of the family. Rouan’s wife, youngest daughter, mother, father and stepmother all greeted us when we walked in and we sat down for a proper lunch. When lunch was served, I knew that if this meal was any indication as to how the rest of the meals would be, I should’ve brought my fat boy clothes along…lol. The main house. Sorry I didn't take any pics of the inside but it's very nice. After lunch, we grabbed our rifles and a driver and headed to the property across the road to see how badly the baggage handlers had treated our guns. I shot first and was a little low. After a few adjustments, I was happy. My buddy ran 3 rounds through his gun and all was good and we went hunting. The first thing that I noticed is how green and thick the bush was. We had discussed this on the way to camp but it was a lot thicker than I had thought and I knew would make the hunting/stalking pretty tough. Less than 5 minutes into the drive, we spotted a waterbuck bull with two cows. Since we both had waterbuck on our wish list, Rouan asked who would be up first and since this was my buddy’s first trip, I decided to take a back seat on this one. They got off the truck and took off to take a look. A few minutes later they radioed for us to pick them up as the bull was just a little too young. After a short drive, we stopped the truck again because Rouan wanted to walk through an area that was too muddy for the truck to get through. He gave instructions to the driver as to where we’d meet him and we were off. We didn’t walk five minutes when he spotted a nice impala standing in a clearing. The sticks went up and my buddy put a good shot on him and he went down in about 40 yards. I promise he was happier than he looks in the picture. We set him up for some nice pics and then off to the skinning shed. After that, we drove to a dam where Rouan wanted to set up a bait site for honey badger. When we arrived, we discovered that a young zebra had died (broken leg) just 40 yards from the blind. It looks like it had only been there a day or two and nothing had touched it. We did see some civet tracks but no sign of badger. We get back on the truck and drive around the property and we spot a nice waterbuck. We drive past him and my buddy and Rouan ease off the truck and head back to see if they can get a shot. They get to within shooting distance but never get a clean shot and he spooks when an unseen kudu barked. It’s now getting close to dark so we decided to call it a day and head in. We get dropped off at our house to wash up and grabbed a beer out of the fridge and headed up to eat dinner. I sat next to Rouan’s dad tonight (and every other night they were there) and he became my wine drinking buddy and made sure my glass was never empty. After a great meal and more wine than I needed, we headed to bed. Somewhere in the 150 yards or so between the two houses, we decided that it would be a good idea to open the bottle of scotch we bought in Dubai….not my best decision. The next thing I know, my buddy is waking me up telling me that we had overslept and it was now 6:30am and we were supposed to meet for breakfast at 6:15. Damn it. I grab a quick shower to try to clear the cobwebs from my head and then run up to the house for a few pieces of toast and a cup of coffee. After our late breakfast, we jumped on the truck and headed down to the river to look for bushbuck. We walked the bank for about an hour but no luck and headed back to the truck. Damn the bush is thick! About an hour into our drive, the driver spots a waterbuck bull bedded down just off the road about 50 yards in front of us. We back the truck up to get out of sight and we all get off the truck to start the stalk. We get to where we can see him but he’s still bedded and there’s no shot. We continue to ease towards him and he finally stands up and gives us a shot. My buddy gets on the sticks and is using my .300wm. I plug my ears and wait for the shot….after a few seconds he turns and looks at me; I pull my fingers out of my ears and ask what’s going on??? He said that my gun had misfired…WTH?? He pulled the round out and handed it to me and puts another one in. The waterbuck is still standing there looking at us. He pulls the trigger on the second round and the gun goes bang, the animal runs about 40 yards and crashes and he got himself a nice 27” trophy. Again, I promise he's more excited than he looks! After the excitement wears off, I pull the misfired round out of my pocket to see if I can see anything wrong with it. There is a very light strike on the primer and when you compare it to a fired round, you can see the difference. Anyone ever had this happen? Any ideas on what could cause this? It never did this again the entire trip but still concerns me. We take the bull to the skinning shed and since it’s getting close to lunch, we head in to grab a bite to eat. After another great meal, we get back on the truck about 2:00pm to continue our search. Sometime around 4:00, we spot a sable, park the truck and start our stalk. The animal is about 150 yards out and moving from left to right at a steady pace. We start easing our way to where we think he’s going. We wait for him to go behind a bush and then we move up a few yards to the next bush and wait. We repeat this several times and then for some reason, he does a complete 180 and starts heading the other direction, so we quickly change directions to follow. After what seemed like an eternity, we see him step out into a clearing at about 70 yards and he stopped. Rouan set up the sticks and I got set up and was told to take the shot when I was ready. I’ll admit, I was pretty calm and collected until I saw the bullet hit through the scope, then the adrenaline hit me….wow I'm shaking like a leaf! It looked like a good shot and the animal ran about 50 yards and fell. High fives, handshakes out of the way, we wait a few minutes and head over to take a look. I’ll also admit that from the time we first spotted the animal until I fired the shot, I NEVER paid any attention to the horns. So, walking up, I had no idea what I was going to see. When I got close enough to see, I couldn’t believe my eyes and had no words! The closer I got, the bigger he got!! Unbelievably beautiful animal!!! Even though it’s not important to me, for those of you that like keeping score, he had 10-1/2” bases and 42-1/2” horns. The pictures really, really don’t do him justice and to say that I’m stoked is an understatement! After a long picture session, we dropped him off at the skinning shed and headed to the house for a celebratory beer and dinner. Another great meal, good wine and great company and off to bed early to catch up on some sleep. To be continued…..