SOUTH AFRICA: Wonderful Hunt With LJ Hunting Safaris

HuntingGold

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As I was planning for my 2017 hunt to RSA, I spent a lot of time on the computer looking for flight deals to Port Elizabeth. As I played with the flight planners, it soon came apparent that some dates were cheaper to fly than others and by adjusting my schedule; I could actually stay a few extra days and possibly save some money! As mentioned in past posts, I like to see new country and meet new people when possible. With that in mind, I made a post on AH regarding having a few extra days and would consider offers, but would be especially interested if someone had an oribi permit. I never expected this to occur as I understand obtaining a permit can be difficult. I soon had several really good offers from several outfitters here on AH. Juan Stander from LJ Hunting Safaris emailed and told me he had an oribi permit. We exchanged a few private messages about the details and I grew more excited. About this time, one of my daughters had some unexpected health issues and I had to put all thoughts of hunting on hold for some time. As time would have it, she got better and I was finally able to commit to an oribi hunt with LJ Hunting Safaris.

Fast forward to May of 2017. I made my way to South Africa and hunted for a week with Rhinoster Hoek Safaris. When done, Warren and Belinda drove me to meet with Lauren and Juan of LJ Hunting Safaris. The meeting was bittersweet as I had a really good hunt with the Rudman’s and had grown quite close to them. I was sad to leave them, but equally excited to meet Juan and Lauren. After my goodbyes, I climbed into the bakkie with Lauren and Juan and took a trip to their coastal lodge near Grahamstown.

There, I off loaded my gear and had a nice little lunch. I then shot Juan’s .243 Sako to make sure it was shooting properly and got a feel for this rifle. The rifle shot well.

We drove to a farm near Port Alfred to look over some oribi and to get a lay of the land. We had barely rolled into the farm when Juan spotted a ram on the horizon. We set up the spotting scope and the ram looked like a shooter. After looking at him for a few minutes, we placed that one in the back of our mind and continued our scouting mission. The farm was a grassy pasture with rolling hills and dotted with some intermittent brush. We used our binoculars and spotting scope to look over several oribi then decided to take a walk to look from different vantage points. During our walk, we kicked up a ram out of some longer grass. We only had time to look at him as he was running off and out of sight. From what we saw, this appeared to be an exceptional ram with mass.

After our scouting trip, we returned to the lodge for dinner, beer and bed. Sleep issues have plagued me with every trip to Africa and this was no exception. I woke wide awake and thought I saw light coming through the large windows. I jumped up and started to prepare for my day. At some point I noticed there wasn't any light on the horizon and it dawned on me to look at the clock. It was only 4 a.m. I attempted to go back to sleep but never was able to do so.

When it was finally time to leave, I was ready. The hunting party consisted of me, Juan, Lauren, and Zulu (the tracker). I have since learned Zulu loves to hunt, actually absolutely loves to hunt. Just before getting into the bakkie, he spoke in Xhosa to Juan and Juan laughed. Juan looked at me and told me that Zulu’s knives are angry and need blood. I will do what I can do…

We made the forty-five minute drive to the Port Alfred farm only to find that it was enveloped in fog. Fog had been a problem during the previous night’s scouting trip and was a concern. We could occasionally see the outline of the sun and believed it would burn off. Zulu opened the gate to the farm and we rolled in. As I was looking out the window, a little apparition was forming a few yards out and I was trying to figure it out about the same time Zulu tapped on the top of the cab. The apparition turned out to be an oribi ram that honestly looked quite nice to me. Both Lauren and Juan said we could do better which was a relief as I wanted to tell a bit more of a story than… “Saw oribi, shot same.”

We parked there and started using our binoculars to try to pick through the fog. Occasionally one of us would find an oribi and then the next minute it disappeared in the fog. We decided to use the fog as cover and drive up a few hundred meters to a new vantage point, one that would offer us a view of the hillside where a large ram was seen the day before.

This offered a new look and as the morning wore on, the fog began to burn off. Juan located two oribi and we set up the spotting scope. After looking at the pair, we decided the ram was worth a closer look. As luck would have it, we had a slight breeze in our face and the rising sun at our back. We also had a single clump or brush that with minimal effort could be used as cover to conceal our approach. In additional, we still had fog that would whisp in and out from time to time. With all of this, it didn’t take long to make it to the clump of brush.

We looked over the oribi again and Juan said he was a shooter. I asked Lauren her thoughts and she agreed. I looked over the oribi and believed he did appear heavier than any we had previously seen. We made a plan to leopard crawl forward perhaps twenty meters to clear a patch of longer grass and to take the oribi from the prone position. Juan and I began our leopard crawl forward in the dewy wet grass. As we very slowly moved forward, both oribi bedded where they stood; unfortunately, facing our direction. I then would wait for the ram, who was most visible, to look away for a moment to slide another foot forward and would wait again.

The fog had lifted and visibility was now very good. Juan was feet behind me and reminded me to take my time. I didn’t need the advice but was appreciate of it just the same. Finally I was able to clear the barrel of the rifle of the taller grass and put it up on my “short sticks” which actually was the tripod to my spotting scope. All had been very good to this point and it now appeared to be a waiting game when suddenly both oribi blew up out of their beds and made a mad dash away. The ram paused for a moment and I thought about a shot but waited. They stood nervously for a few moments then ran to a ridge top about three hundred meters away and turned to face us. Unexpectedly both suddenly just lay down again.

At this point, I was ready to stand up and back out to find another ram. Juan noticed a smaller ram moving into the area and suggested we stay put to see what happens. The smaller began “bird dogging” with his head to the ground moving back and forth, apparently trying to track down where the female had been bedded. This went on for several minutes and got the attention of the larger ram as he suddenly jumped to his feet and sprinted down to the smaller ram. This then turned into a full blown chase all over the hillside directly in front of us. When this stopped, Juan pointed out the larger ram. I pulled up my binoculars and it just didn’t look right. Juan then thought the larger was the other, which was much closer. I came off the rifle as I didn’t want to shoot the incorrect ram. I watched through the binoculars, comparing both rams and was coming to agreement that the closer ram was likely the larger. About this time, the ewe moved in with this closer ram which also led me to believe he was the larger ram. I put the gun back on the sticks and settled in on the closer oribi. Juan was still on the binoculars looking at this ram when he said this was the bigger ram. I fired and the oribi dropped where he stood.

As we walked to the oribi, I noted I wasn’t elated as I should have been. There was no buyer’s remorse; I was disappointed this hunt was over. All my tiny antelope hunts have been so much fun; I just was disappointed this hunt was over as I had anticipated it for so long. This ram was indeed a good one and a little larger than Juan had estimated, but most of all was simply beautiful. We took some photos at the kill site and at my request, loaded the ram to transport to a location where we could see the ocean in the background. This was a special request as my youngest daughter dearly loves the ocean and I knew this would make her envious.

After all the photos, we went back to the lodge for lunch and a quick nap. After lunch, we loaded up to hunt a nearby farm for a cull warthog. Along the way, Juan told me that warthog are a pest on this farm, creating holes underneath the fences, and we may actually take a few more if the opportunity is present.

It didn’t take long to find a lone, large female. We made a short little stalk and Juan put up the long sticks. I settled in and fired and the warthog dropped in its tracks. We took a few photos, moved the warthog to a shady spot and moved on. In another field we found a lot of warthogs under the watchful eye of a single springbok. We moved in as close as we could and I went back onto the long sticks. A large boar appeared and I got on him. I could not get settled on him and did not fire. The big male saw others to chase and made a dash for them. A few moments later another big sow moved into view followed by her yearlings. I found the sow and fired. THWAP. Chaos ensued and one of the yearlings paused for a moment, THWAP. I moved to another yearling and was about to fire when Juan asked me to stop. For a moment I thought I had done something wrong, as it turned out they had lost track of the two hit warthogs as they ran in opposite directions. We moved forward and quickly found the two, both stone dead.
My oribi.jpg
Cull Pig.jpg
Hartebeest.jpg
Potje.jpg

We moved the two dead warthogs to the shade and moved on again. As we were moving through the brush, we saw a bruiser of a boar with tremendous tusks. He was on the move and quickly disappeared into the brush.

The vehicle was fetched and all three warthogs loaded. Earlier I had learned they were culling blesbok and hartebeest from this farm. We then drove off to look possibly for a hartebeest. I also did this knowing it would make my youngest daughter, and normal hunting partner, wish she was here. It did not take long to find a small group of blesbok. A broken horn male was present and I thought about it for a moment, but we moved on. We were able to see a large group of hartebeest in the distance and started moving that direction.

SO A HARTEBEEST WALKS INTO A BAR AND ORDERS A DRINK. BARTENDERS LOOKS AT HIM AND SAYS, “WHY THE LONG FACE?”

Along the way two dandy hartebeest stood at the brush line facing our direction. They were beautiful with the setting sun reflecting off their red flanks. Juan said they were both to be culled as they had improper horn configurations. Hell, they looked good to my uneducated eye, I’m in! With the light quickly fading we made a “vehicle stalk” to knock another 100 meters off. I rolled out of my side of the bakkie, moved to the rear and went prone in the grass. Both hartebeest looked good and were quite acceptable to me. Juan picked one and told me to put it on the shoulder. I was solidly on him but the crosshairs drifted just right and onto the ribs as I fired. The report was solid and almost immediately Juan said he is going down. I stood up to see the hartebeest take his last step and fall.

Funny how the day went: I had anticipated the oribi hunt for months, years if you included the time since I had taken my first duiker. The oribi hunt went fairly quickly, was fun, but was somewhat anticlimactic and that can be the trouble with wanting something so much. The warthog melee was an absolute blast. Capping this day off with a beautiful red hartebeest was absolutely the cherry on top of it all. There it was, five shots and five memories made in just a short South African day.
 

HuntingGold

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The team: Lauren and Juan of LJ Hunting Safaris

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Royal27

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You're making me want to get back after the little guys again Randy!
 
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HuntingGold

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LJ Safaris is a young outfit, having been in business for about a year. Both Lauren and Juan have a passion to hunt and I enjoyed my time with both of them.

We hunted a final day and a half for free-range cape bushbuck. It was here that I truly appreciated Juan's skills. Juan was committed to finding a fine cape bush buck for me which was an add on to fill the remaining time. There, we slowly moved through the brush, and glassed the opposite hillsides. I truly love this style of hunting as it is how I hunt at home. Move slow, stop, glass and move slow again ever watchful for the twitch of an ear or anything that will give away the presence of the quarry. Juan was so intent. On the last morning, he was so intent up to the last minute that I had to tell him it was time to go! I think he would have stayed all day but we simply had to go. We found ewes and more ewes but no big rams. It just wasnt in the cards and that was ok as our main animals had already been taken.

Food and Accommodation:
I stayed at their coastal concession and enjoyed it. It was comfortable and offered a nice view.

The food was excellent. I had made a request for a potje and they made it happen. This potje was of lamb and absolutely wonderful.

Earlier in my trip, my camera died. All I had was a cheap cell phone that takes marginal photographs. Lauren made every attempt to capture photos for me and has since promptly sent them along.

In conclusion, they did a wonderful job.
 

HuntingGold

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You're making me want to get back after the little guys aging Randy!

Royal, I showed him a photo of your oribi and told him we had to beat it...:). I think we tied. I don't mind being tied with you my friend and thanks for all the PM's prior to this hunt.
 

Pheroze

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Great report! Thanks
 

cpr0312

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Congrats and thanks for sharing!
 

cagkt3

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Great stuff yet again, fantastic reporting!
 

gillettehunter

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What a wonderful "fill in" hunt you had. That Oribi is very nice. Congrats on getting him. Sounds like a great day of shooting. Bruce
 

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Congratulations!
 

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Nice oribi congrats!
 

huntermn15

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Great hunt and report. Thank you for posting.
 

BRICKBURN

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Congrats on a fine trophy and a fun hunt.
 

rinehart0050

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Great report- congrats on your hunt! All these great reports sure are making me miss Africa...
 

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Excellent report and a really nice selection of trophies...congrats! I like what I'm seeing with LJ Safaris!
 

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