South Africa 2022

Firebird

Beginner
Jun 22, 2013
181
264
Took my wife to the east cape of South Africa for hunting and photography and mostly to get away from everything and unwind. My wife does not hunt but was a very good sport about the whole trip. Some days she came with us and stayed on the truck, others she stalked with us and some days she just stayed at the lodge and sun worshipped while she read.
I took two rifles. One is my very aged Winchester model 70 in .30-06. The other is my sako in .375 wby. I used 165 grain bullets for the first and 235 gr for the later. These were not nosler bullets so won’t mention the brand or style but all worked very well. Travel restrictions due to covid were lifted and we took masks and covid vaccine cards as well as QR codes on phones but never were asked to use them. Travel is long and we upgraded to delta premium over the oceans and over the land we paid for custom plus. I mean I paid, and would do this again. It is expensive but for me-a must. Hunted with Game4Africa this trip as well as my first trip in 2018. I encourage you to check out their website and had no complaints or negativity to report.
A ph hunts for a living and does it more than half the days of the year. He is good at what he does, part of which is managing “you”-the hunter. His eyes are amazing and his knowledge of his area impeccable. He is in excellent physical condition. Two pieces of advice-first be in shape. The more fit you are-the longer and farther you can go. And second, be able to shoot well and from sticks. Wounding an animal is cruel, time and resource consuming and costs money. You draw blood and you pay full price.

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You are going to get to shoot some animals. I compare it to drawing a premium hunting tag here in the USA. You have the whole unit to yourself and it is managed for big, old trophies and high numbers of game. You can also hunt anything else yiu see along the way-within reason.
Africa is this way-you are guided by a professional hunter who excels at his craft. There are lots of animals and lots of different kinds of animals. Some you see and are glad just to have seen them such as porcupine or bat eared for or aardwolf-all of which I saw. But you will also see lots of target able animals. Play the wind, take your time, and be able to close the shot from a reasonable distance off sticks. Africa is easy this way, but some animals are much harder to find and hunt and you have the luxury of passing young or inferior animals. It is nothing like opening day of deer season in my home state of Utah!
 
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DrMike

Ballistician
Nov 8, 2006
35,447
2,208
Will be interesting to see your photos. They are always appreciated.
 

Firebird

Beginner
Jun 22, 2013
181
264
When we arrived in port Elizabeth, we were met by our ph at the small airport without incident. Checked bag and ammo and rifle all made the trip, not difficulties there. I do pay ahead for a company to help with gun permits and escort us through Johannesburg airport as it is big and busy and I don’t travel much so this is daunting to me. Couple hour drive to the lodge where we will stay and our own private chalet. We had three really cold nights but the rest were comfortably cold. Daytime was wonderful. I was often in a t shirt while my ph enjoyed the middle of South African winter with a light jacket. We checked both rifles after a lunch of wildebeest lasagne and found them to be ready for work!
First morning we drive maybe 45 minutes from their rolling hills home range to a steep sloped, heavily brushed mountain area. Our goal was bushbuck but we knew we would see other game and I agreed if we saw something spectacular that we should pursue it. We did se wildebeest and zebra and blesbuck on the grassy tops as well as warthog, duiker, steenbok and mtn reedbuck. We would drive to a glassing point and spend maybe 20 minutes looking for bushbuck to come out and warm themselves in the sun. It had been cold and some rain the previous evening and game was out in profusion catching the morning sun. Cape kudu appeared from the murk and female bushbuck slowly emerged from the shadows. Males here are dark while females were brown or red and easier to spot. We saw one young ram, dark but short horned and not what we wanted, but we saw him and that felt like a victory and an appetizer all at once. We saw many females but no other males. Nearing lunch and we have seen lots of kudu and female buchbuck but nothing of interest. Then my ph Wik (pronounced Vik) spotted a far off group of kudu feeding just off the rolling top of a distant ridge. My wife stayed with the truck and wik led the charge as we stalked around the top of our ridge to the next one. Still a ridge away but much closer and we look him over. Short conversation about the horns and more stalking. I’m not worried about inches and I love his shape, that’s all I need. Got as far as we could and set up the sticks. I sat on a rock and wiggled into a comfortable position. The bull is quartering to us at 325 yards. Wik wants him broadside and I would prefer it since the 165 grain bullet is in the small side for a rag horn elk size animal in very thick spekboom and acacia scrub. But then his head is up, the wind maybe or whispering too much, too loud, “I’m gonna kill him right there”-
“When you are comfortable, take the shot.” The first two shots both connected, one knocked him down but the brush is a monster and I can’t get another past it. Minutes pass, I’m convinced he is down and dead. Wik has me keep the scope trained on the spot he was last seen. And the. I see him sneaking toward us and downward. His off shoulder is bloody but he seems alert. I try a third shot at 300 and nothing. Aim where the neck meets the body and at the shot he just disappears. I stay trained on that spot and Wik radios our tracker Sandalay to go around and look at the spot. I stay primed for another shot but never need it. The tracker calls that the bull is very dead.
The two trackers hack a trail with machete looking tool and my wife joins us to see the bull. He is bigger on the ground than he was in my dreams. Wik is ecstatic-he didn’t want to tell me how big before I shot but now we are looking at mass and depth of curl and length. We take pictures, set him up for more pictures and then find ideas for more pictures. Then they cut him in half. Each half is hoisted on a pole and the trackers pack him to the top. Wik goes for the truck. They cut him behind the diaphragm so the organs stay in-to be packed off and eaten later or sold at the butchery in town. They keep the stomach, empty the contents then keep the stomach. The tracker explains in very broken englsih that stomach is good! EC3CA883-2EBB-46EB-8B49-155B8790A376.jpeg

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They carry him over the lip of the canyon then across to a place we can get to with the truck. I contemplate lunch and hope it won’t be stomach. B4D7BC23-5A89-420F-8697-31FED18BCBE4.jpeg
 
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Firebird

Beginner
Jun 22, 2013
181
264
It is fine to look for giants and monsters but don’t miss the chance to appreciate the tiny flowers and insects and rock hyrax along the way. It is all africa and should be imported into your memory forever-sights, sounds and smells. 7420CFDD-EE08-4CD4-BADD-95EB9407FB49.jpeg 0665A227-AF34-4FA6-8429-D7B7E90BB811.jpeg 5E446F2B-01AD-44C8-9A9B-211E0989A955.jpeg B4EAC1C0-5599-435E-9852-F44D3C0EC7EA.jpeg
My heavy, metal butt plated -06. It is probably the rifle I shoot the worst. But it belonged to my grandpa and bringing this rifle brings part of him with me.
It has a leupold vx-3L 3.5-14 on it. It’s a very accurate combo and I got to watch the bull through full magnification before I shot him. It was a powerful moment I hope to always remember.
 
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Firebird

Beginner
Jun 22, 2013
181
264
Yes I am a lefty, but learned to shoot right handed actions so that’s what feels comfortable to me. Ambidextrous so it doesn’t slow me down any.
Cape kudu tend to run shorter in horns than greater kudu found farther north. We knew this was a monster and Wik kindly asked if he could measure it. I have a rule about inches but this one was special. 52 inches-a 52 inch cape kudu bull is enormous. We saw one later that might be bigger. . . With the kudu in the truck, Wik opted for the long road home. This drops into the canyon then winds back up and out. Wik is still hunting bushbuck. I’m in a daydream. My wife is holding on for dear life, she has makes a fair point as the road is barely a two track and four wheel drive is needed more than once. In the bottom the trackers beat on the roof. Wik is excited, “get out and get the rifle loaded!”
“Just one bullet, you’ll only get one chance!” There is a mad scramble for bullets and sticks and hell if I can see anything. It’s a solid hillside of thick green bushes the size of trees. Wik is pointing and the trackers say they can see his horn tips. It’s a small animal and all they can see his horn tips!!! Then Suddenly I see them also. Wik is telling me to get a bullet in him somewhere-anywhere. It’s a dark animal in a dark shadow late in the day in the bottom of a canyon. He turns to sneak off and I think I know at least what direction he is facing. We hear the bullet sounding like a watermelon being dropped onto concrete but none of us can say if it was a hit or not. The .30-06 has spoken and I should trust it more than I do. I hit him base of skull and exited his offside eye. There is some shrapnel the taxidermist will need to repair. There was no stalking but I wasn’t going to pass on him just because we got lucky-I’ll take an easy bushbuck any day. My last time here it was the animal we sought but never found. The shot was roughly 100 yards resize bushbuck.JPG
 
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Firebird

Beginner
Jun 22, 2013
181
264
Next morning we stayed and hunted the families property. We were searching for eland. The plan here is spot and stalk as you drive to vantage points and look for game. They have kudu all over the place plans we saw duiker, nyala, zebra, waterbuck, impala, warthog and giraffe. And then icing on the cake Wik spotted a good cape buffalo bull peering at us through the dense spekboom trees. When we stopped to try for a picture at 100 yards he made a hasty but nearly invisible retreat to thicker lairs. I’m going to need one of those black bulls one of these trips! Saw two eland bulls afar off and feeding into the noticeable breeze. We jumped off the truck and went fast to get off the hill and across the flat to them. The wind made it easy and the flat is open with scattered trees and scrub. The two had fed into a ravine and the first came up without noticing us. Then the second, appreciably older/bigger bull came up feeding broadside. I didn’t came so much about horns, just that he had them but his forehead brush was awesome and his dewlap swung and enticed like cleavage peeking out of a push up bra. He threw his head up but much too late. Something near 100 yards and the 235 gr from the .375 wby went all the way through. He didn’t go far and dropped without much fuss. Eland are amazing, not just the size which is impressive but all the details, feet, knees that click when they walk and small pointy ears. His eyes were strikingly large and that brush as deep as my middle finger. He did have ticks all over his underparts. His tenderloin would be amazing later-fire kissed over hardwood coals. It was a short but sweet hunt, a perfect stalk and a magnificent animal. 45DFC88A-AC05-40AC-8587-41B128096FF0.jpeg 8ED0A4AB-C9B1-47A3-90CA-F2FBA948BA04.jpeg 878E9DB1-07C2-4BBB-8659-4A370863BCE7.jpeg 87ACE9BF-575E-4DBE-95B4-2BC58B3B6A9A.jpeg
 

Firebird

Beginner
Jun 22, 2013
181
264
We had my main wish list already hanging in the cooler. I wanted to stay and hunt the family property that evening and I had a plan. My brother once commented that the African animal that best suits me is the waterbuck. Wik agreed we could search for a big bull or maybe a second kudu bull if we saw a giant or even a big nasty warthog boar, which I have never put in my scope yet. So we set out with lots of options at our fingertips. We spent a couple hours working a stalk on two bulls. One was a real monster, the other not a shooter yet. But the brush got too thick and we couldn’t keep elevation to shoot from and he gave us the slip. We spent the last twenty minutes of daylight looking and did not turn him up, but did find another good bull. Short discussion which ends with me on the sticks and the .375 with its leupold 3.5-14 with 30 mm tube in vx-3L scope cranked to full and resting on the point of his near shoulder. Wik gives me the green light and since we are losing light I send one spinning. Solid thump and he tried to go uphill, can’t make it and lays down behind a bush. 200 ish yards, bullet exited in front of his rear off side leg. Wik says he is fading fast but I can sneak one through the bush and put it right through his shoulders. His heads drops we have our bull. Wik gets on the radio and calls for a crew from the skinning shed. They use a tarp to slide him along down the hill. The cape and meat never touch dirt and I get to help since he is big and heavy. 4C3FFD44-233A-47B6-A0FC-D08B6AF5D0F9.jpeg B52176DB-A80E-4406-B053-CA50D415D2AE.jpeg E98193B6-6AAA-4015-85CC-5393C8DCB317.jpeg BA0B0C8D-2357-44CB-811B-A5FED02EFE4D.jpeg 179CA034-97E1-4704-9EC7-06D4B9F7E13B.jpeg
 

DrMike

Ballistician
Nov 8, 2006
35,447
2,208
You definitely had a great series of hunts with some grand trophies. Congratulations, and thanks for sharing your photography skills with us. Excellent all the way round.
 

xphunter

Handloader
Sep 15, 2005
540
865
Great stories and great pictures. I have been to Africa one-time, and it was a wonderful experience.
 

Firebird

Beginner
Jun 22, 2013
181
264
When I planned the trip I figured for five animals I really wanted. Then I added five that I assumed would be for fun-not really a challenge, just see a lot of game and do some snappy shooting. So the remaining five I added the four color variants of springbok and a black wildebeest. Then I suggested that IF we saw warthog, duiker or steenbok, I would take them along the way but did not want to seek them out specifically. With the hardest trophies salted, both the skins and on my plate, we determined it was time to hunt springbok. I figured this would be like Wyoming antelope. Long drive, long shots and if you miss, no worries there will be more. This is mostly accurate. But when you see a herd with a monster in it-well now you are dodging umpteen sets of eyes and trying for only that one big guy and you don’t want to miss him!
We drove to springbok country and of course at the sight of a truck every animal on the mtn goes over the horizon. Every animal except the two boar warthogs. We adjusted to get the wind and started walking. They had heads down feeding, too busy to notice us and we had the wind and no other animals to spook them. At 200 we discussed which I liked better, the ph agreed and I was on the sticks. For awhile actually. We needed him to turn and give us broadside. When he did the shot broke clean and the .375 put 235 grains through his heart. He didnt go anywhere and we had one of my alternate animals. He was exactly what we thought he was on size-and later we would stalk his grandpa-but I love him—er sort of, I’ll do a skull mount, he is much too ugly to put on the wall! 8D57C9C6-13E6-4D0B-BEF3-D16C4857D059.jpeg DE906481-3E32-4C43-B37A-6B629C7CB501.jpeg
 

Firebird

Beginner
Jun 22, 2013
181
264
Back in the truck and a short drive and Wik spots a single black springbok on a distant hill. I suspect he was in the brushier bottoms when all the others fled and he remained unawares. So we parked out of sight and gained the wind then started a quick walk. He was going back and forth on his hill-looking for his ladies I figured. Wik says probably an old male guarding his territory. We kept sneaking on him-duck walking and keeping him just over the horizon from us. At 250 he saw us and turned broadside while he stared. I got on the sticks and Wik wished
Me good luck. The .375 went boom and the buck ram away—-then he ran in a couple circles and fell over. A bit high for the heart but right behind the shoulder and certainly both lungs. Got there in time for the hair on his back to raise up and the. Slowly sink down again. He was very old, beautiful and a fun stalk. Wik was pleased I could shoot that far with a big gun. I practice a lot and on sticks shooting milk jugs full of water. So I knew The gun and myself could do it- B03E83FC-E847-45DB-869F-BFFC2A578C31.jpeg 8DCEAA65-1E93-4A36-AB60-83DACEF836C1.jpeg D20EBA40-579F-498A-8411-51045D1CB3D3.jpeg
 

wvbuckbuster

Handloader
Nov 5, 2015
1,495
603
Congratulations on your hunt. Thank you for sharing with us as I was following along thru the pictures and each encounter. Dan.
 

Firebird

Beginner
Jun 22, 2013
181
264
Common turned out to be the hard one. There were hundreds and they were spooky and could run forever. We blew some stalks, gave up on others and finally sat under the only tree within miles to eat our sandwiches and eat the best July orange ever. Wik is always looking and pointing out these bonteboks or those hartebeest and finally he says he can see a big warthog. I can see the tusks through my meopta binos but through Wiks leicas, I can see them well-there is a significant difference at this distance. Significant.
We begin a stalk on the pork and get within maybe 500 yards when the springboks come between us and the pig. They are chasing each other and there are three bucks-all good on the edge of the herd. I’m on the sticks and Wik tried to range them. Tall yellow grass obscures the effort and finally we says the try it for 400. The shot goes high and the herd and the pig leave in a rush and a trail of dust.
Another herd, just dots on our left intent to follow the others run from another distant hillside to stand in front of us. At around 250 a good buck stops broadly. Just as I go to finish the trigger a doe enters the view through the scope. I pull the shot, catch the scope above my eye and still hit the buck. It’s back a bit (I hate that term) bit he goes down hard. It’ s a big bullet and a small animal and the bullet ranges forward to exit behind his shoulder. We didn’t know that at the time and when he stood up I was already to bust him again. But he lasted only a couple seconds and dropped on his own. The scope didn’t draw enough blood to show in the pictures and my two springbok were done in two shots. That miss was the only true miss of the hunt. The shot I thought I missed on the kudu hit his ear and entered his body somewhere. There were entries and exits on that bull I still can’t explain! BF235AA2-CB66-43AE-AC10-36D2569D815D.jpeg DD384257-2AC4-4D39-A50D-368AC9F49054.jpeg
 

Firebird

Beginner
Jun 22, 2013
181
264
The previous day we had begun the springbok hunting on a different piece of property. When we arrived we found a small group of mixed color animals that were moving away from the vehicle as soon as they saw it. So we got out, hid in some scrub and sent the tracker around the hills to push them back. It took a long time but eventually they came back and at I think 250 I shot the big copper phase buck through the front of his brisket. Not a great shot and as he slow trotted away I put another in him from the .30-06. This one had to be a sharp angle but it broke his back leg then angled up through his liver-he went down and we were able to recover him after the second shot. My wife was with us and had never seen the back hair raise. When it did I tried to get her to stick her nose in a smell it. She has lived through the “smell this” before and gave me the no chance response. But Wik showed her what to do and she came up with a big smile-smells just like cotton candy! It was a tender mercy to her and to me-a gorgeous buck on the ground. C87C71DF-3CA1-4454-BB4A-FE9E347AB437.jpeg 0EEC2E7E-BB88-421F-8C9E-4849C5DE36DE.jpeg
 

Firebird

Beginner
Jun 22, 2013
181
264
Stalked a steenbok on the drive deeper into the area. I needed him to hold still for two more seconds but he had other engagements to attend to. Found a cool tortoise and got pix of a very cool secretary bird. Far far off we could see a trio of white springboks with a herd of commons. The white stood out forever. We started a long walk and they busted us before we got near them. So we drove always and started our walk again. In what what become our best stalk on springboks we got within a couple hundred yards. One buck fed away from the others and became vulnerable. When his head dropped to feed, we duckwalked. When his head came up, we froze or sank down. There were termite mounds every ten yards or so providing some misdirection for us. Then we bumped an aardwolf literally under our feet. Of course he determined to run straight at the buck we were stalking. We threw up the sticks and I took a hurried shot. The 165 hit low and broke a front leg. At 350 he stopped running long enough for a second attempt. Angling away so I aimed for the far leg. This shot was perfect, ruining the heart as it passed through. 10416F30-BF60-496D-B9A0-054C0E0BCE2E.jpeg

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