South Africa 2022

Firebird

Beginner
Jun 22, 2013
181
264
With the springboks covered in a tarp in back of the land cruiser, we went in search of my other glory trophy. Lechwe. . . Lechwe live on these open plains then tuck away into the brushy bottoms with the pigs and the kudu and sables.
Wik kicked some dust in the road. The wind was in our face and blowing softly down the valley we were in. So we parked the rig and started walking into that lovely evening breeze. We jumped a female steenbok and Wik commented that a ram should be nearby. Within a hundred yards we bumped the ram and watched him race off through the yellow grass. He made it to the horizon of the rolling hill that formed our valley, then abruptly he laid down.
We walked in his direction and at about 100 yards Wik could see his black horns in the grass. Though my scope I could see the horns, and his ears sticking out conspicuously. We advanced to 70 yards. The sticks went up-wik had seen his ears change and knew he was thinking of escaping for real. We couldn’t see his body in the grass but figured where his neck must be and where it’s base would be. I aimed for the unseen spot four inches under his chin and sent a bullet spinning. The 165 flipped him over backwards-dead and done.
The exit wound where it caught his shoulder was a mess. Good thing I can be creative and know a good taxidermist! F81F930C-66FA-48FB-A4D3-8A04649B30C1.jpeg C9941554-E9FD-4E05-8BF8-5D0E7861D50D.jpeg
This is another of the alternative animals I wanted. Wouldn’t go looking for one, but when one gave us a chance, we made the most of it. They aren’t big but very fascinating!
 

JD338

Range Officer
Staff member
Nov 4, 2004
22,109
1,769
Congratulations on your successful safari. Beautiful animals!

JD338
 

Firebird

Beginner
Jun 22, 2013
181
264
While trying to pose that tiny antelope, trying to hide my huge frame and working around my inability to smile on camera, Wik saw our intended target-a lechwe bull. From a thousand yards away I could see it was a bull and he was watching us. I was sure the distraction of the steenbuck had cost me the opportunity at a lechwe.
We all loaded into the truck and drove away, me with my heart in my throat. After a mile or so and out of sight me and Wik slid out, gathered gear and started walking into the evening breeze. We reasoned the bull was never spooked, just up feeding for the night. And that beeeze was positively in our favor. I loaded the -06 and we started bustling through the trees. When we reached the area where the bull had been we could see he was gone. Wik spotted him up on a grassy hill, feeding as he is asked purposefully toward some cows and yearlings watering at a dam. There was a smaller but still a shooter bull bedded and watching us. We stayed in the shadows and the trees but could get no closer than 200 yards. “Our bull” was still feeding, away from us then toward us-randomly, unaware of our prescence. I got in the sticks, Wik told me to wait for the bull to turn broadside and we waited. It is a luxury to stand on the sticks and watch an animal for minutes at a time in your scope. I loved it, watching his ears twitch and his jaw work and the muscles in his shoulder. I had this opportunity on many animals I Eakins claim as my own and it made them more important to me. This bull was finally facing left and completely broadside. I had come to question this rifle after the springboks,but here we were. The shot broke, Wik called it a hit and the bull turned away from us and ran, head low, curbing the soil with all four feet. Fifty yards perhaps and the. He went down in stride, the bullet having killed him cleanly. Time for pictures.
He looked so much like a smaller, more colorful waterbuck to me-massive horns, thick hair, short, proud face, subtle black white and rusty all over-he might be my favorite and certainly the best shot I made with grandpas old -06. A good note to end on. A71D70A7-E529-4CB5-9FB2-2F3946ECB550.jpeg EA70D169-1A0E-48D5-9371-57273C3A0486.png 9A54E075-CA6D-4590-9A36-8018874949BD.jpeg 2FA149DA-6D8E-4D97-A779-9BCA9F1C693B.jpeg
Or was it?
 

Firebird

Beginner
Jun 22, 2013
181
264
By this point I had taken all but a black wildebeest on my list and two of the alternates. We sat and talked about what to do next. I had booked an overnight stay at a local ish game reserve for my wife and myself. And I wanted to visit the butchery Wik and his family own in the nearest town. But we still had a day and a half. Wik offered to bait up one of their bow blinds and let me sit in there with my camera. This was a great idea and I was committed. The remaining half day-a morning would be dedicated to the wildebeest. In retrospect I could have held off the waterbuck and we could have gone shopping for a bigger one. But I do like to pull the trigger and my bull is wonderful and the experience was good, so there was no reason other than an inch or two to walk away from that bull.
Wik dumped oranges-a dump truck full and some Lucerne or alfalfa hay in front of three blinds. I picked my favorite blind and spent most of the next day there. My favorite experience was the eland troop that came for almost an hour. Monkeys, warthogs, guinee fowl and a Miriad of birds came to play-and just at dark the kudu started coming in. If we had more days more game would have come, but I had good pictures and enjoyed my hours in the dark. I bow hunt at home so the experience was very satisfying.
Dinner every night is like Sunday at my own home. We ate game meat and something domestic plus a Brad and several vegetables-and always dessert. Eland filet is the best meat I’ve ever eaten. But wildebeest lasagne is amazing! CC07CC8E-F7C2-4748-84F9-FD2CEF42EBA5.jpeg FFD94B1E-5AD7-4CBF-B01A-F14D53B36686.jpeg D4DC1CA6-4C65-4D66-B731-152A84A532EB.jpeg
 
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Firebird

Beginner
Jun 22, 2013
181
264
We took the long way in the early morning toward the mountain top where we had seen wildebeests more than once. I think we both knew it would be an easier hunt and wanted to make it last a long time. We drove on a public road through a private game reserve. We saw rhino and elephant and Cape buffalo. There were other animals there as well but those seem more important somehow. But at the exit gate we saw a bat eared fox that stopped running just long enough for me to gain a photo with the long lens. He too was very important somehow. Size isn’t all that matters in Africa, all things can carry trophy status. Maybe not so much a bat eared fox but to get one in daylight was rather cool.
We spent awhile driving the canyon roads, stopped in the bottom to look at tracks by a solar powered windmill. Spotted a bushbuck ram as he disappeared into the murk. As we left, near the top Wik spotted a giant kudu peeking over the top of the brush at us from 400 yards off, betrayed by the sunshine on those holy grail curls. Just as we went over the rim, Wik saw the sun glinting off another animals back-“Duiker!”
We slid out of the truck and the tracker handed me the gun. Wik already had the sticks set up on the side of the road. 100 yards and just the front half of his body showing, the sun still glimmering on what back was visible. Boom went the .375 and in the ensuing cloud of dust I saw a duiker go squirting away. Wik shrugged, the tracker shrugged, I called it too high, but maybe still a hit. Wik said he thought it hit but this close and on a small animal maybe just couldn’t hear the impact. He was very kind and said the way I have been shooting he was sure it was a hit. I had been very steady but that guy sure looked healthy bounding away.
The tracker brought the young Jack Russell and we all went to the spot. The tracker laughed and Wik claimed it was dead-somewhere. Even my wife could follow the blood trail. But his nervous system carried him a full fifty yards. The dog found him after an easy training exercise with an exit hole the size of my fist on his off shoulder. “Perfect heart shot!-european mount?”
“Yes, Wik, I already have a mounted duiker at home so just the skull on this one.”
The bullet caught a big bone on its exit and really exited. How that animal went so far with so much damage was crazy. FFF08F20-6B33-43FB-A802-EE5D9666F156.jpeg B0B54D3C-505F-4820-87FF-68AF89C6326C.jpeg 481DE557-772E-4BDC-806F-E86F93AB9470.jpeg 75114585-DB15-4946-9C46-4936E52A6116.jpeg
 

TackDriver284

Handloader
Feb 13, 2016
1,859
586
Wow, what an awesome experience. Documented very well. Beautiful animals and it sure will be a memory of a lifetime. Now its time to haul all the meat and capes home. (y)
 

Firebird

Beginner
Jun 22, 2013
181
264
We took time to eat lunch on the edge of a cliff overlooking a broad valley choked by short thick spekboom trees, and heavily throned acacia scrub. Wik, being a ph and a kudu nut and a consummate professional, entertained me by spotting bushbucks ewes or kudu cows. Last nights leftover nyala backstrap on grain bread units own little plastic sandwich container. Boiled eggs and local oranges that are better since they are from africa and it is august now and fresh oranges in august are amazing. There are chips if you want them. I do, so I can tell my kids I ate chakalaka flavored simba chips. (Later I would buy them their own bags in the airport.)
Wik get a pic of my wife and myself on the cliffs edge for her Instagram page and then it is time to go find our black wildebeest. We are already on top of the canyons which is grassy with missed shrubs and trees. We see zebra and warthogs and blesbok and at the same time I see wildebeest out my window and Wik sees a single out his. Mine is a mixed age group, downwind and already giving us the stink eye. Wiks is a single, so far away we can’t judge it well. It is on the skyline or we may have not seen it at all. We drive a bit closer until we bump more zebra and a big line golden wildebeest. I think they are ugly, Wik thinks they are cool. Wik explains the older bulls are the loners. This golden for example all by himslelf ready to bolt downhill into cover.
We get out and my wife comes too. We have all day and we have the wind and if we are careful this should be a fun and successful stalk. We tiptoe around a pile of half grown warthogs and their mother-she’s eyes is suspiciously from 40 yards but they are warm and comfy and she doesn’t act like all the other warthogs and leave. My wife’s stride isn’t like ours so it’s kind of a dawdling stalk and it gives me time to take pix of flowers are rocks and bugs. Not many bugs this time of year except there are ticks. Not much for snakes either but we do find the fresh tracks of a monitor lizard in a trail at one point. The beest has its butt to us and me and Wik can see it a male and his tips flare wide and as he turns his head this way and that Wik likes his horns. I guess him to be quite old as I can see his bony hips. The sticks are up-108 yards is a chip shot, we just need the angle. So I’m on the sticks eyeballing his wiry stained but mostly white tail and suddenly he spins for a look at us. And then he is moving. He’s too close and I’m too comfortable and the bullet catches him in the crease of his shoulder. He runs maybe 50 yards, Spins two tight circles and drops. I can pos the pic of his heart if you wish or you can take my word for the fact that it was blown very nearly it o two pieces. He and the duiker both heart shot and both made it that far. They are tough, the great or the small. At this point we realize my wife had walked over into the sun to take a picture of us. Effectively getting busted by the beest which otherwise had not seen us. We didn’t tell her, and the pic she took was pretty fun to have. AC3DBB55-50AF-4764-9BF8-27BE5527D392.jpeg EC933FD2-047C-41F9-A9C5-43E38E1CC663.jpeg 13622A67-00F3-46F7-A8A5-9BFF34F1E3DE.jpeg
 

xphunter

Handloader
Sep 15, 2005
540
865
Firebird,
You should consider writing articles. You have a knack for it.
Very happy for all of your experiences in this hunt.
 

Firebird

Beginner
Jun 22, 2013
181
264
One of the evenings is as my birthday-can’t remember which one now. But they surprised me with a face cake. Wasn’t even expecting a cake nonetheless a personalized one. Wiks wife Brittany keeps the world spinning-there are trackers and skinners and meat cutters and ladies in the kitchen and a cleaning lady and all of it under one tiny ladies command. Wik keeps us hunting, Brittany keeps us happy at the lodge. All meat is cooked over an open fire as well as the best grilled cheese sandwich I ever had. Laundry is done daily and the room cleaned and the bed made. In the evening you just find your clothes folded on your bed and the bed is turned down for you and since the nights are cold this trip, they turn on a heating pad under your sheets.
The diesel powered toyota trucks are awesome. They get cleaned up after every trip. We never had a flat tire or engine trouble but I suppose it could happen. You would be surprised how much they can haul and all the places they can go- Eland and tracking team-no problem!
Breakfast every morning was usually eggs and thick meaty bacon and some form of bread and fruit juice or coffee. Lunch was often in the field but some days we had a hot lunch in the lodge.
In the evening when you roll into the lodge, there is a little bonfire lit and the cooking fire is started. I usually showered and then put on nicer clothes for dinner. There were snacks and drinks ( mostly wine and beers there was lots of stuff but I don’t drink so not the best resource) and everyone is visiting about the day or plotting tomorrow. Soda is not a big deal in South Africa. Come, come light, Fanta orange, sprite and some nasty crème soda-drink one of those or no soda for you! This was my wife’s favorite time of day. Me-I like breakfast and the anticipation of the coming day. E8CFCD24-4638-47BF-BFFB-07506639E8C0.jpeg 846B53F8-079D-4A4F-839F-7EFCC6585DE7.jpeg 3D1FA11D-C7A7-463C-B18F-6289C1104658.jpeg 3E635A2A-DED3-4E1F-B7B3-F672A7DD092D.jpeg 98C9B78F-9BDA-44F3-8D00-EA53E83D6214.jpeg CB8CD2BD-7CDE-4042-898A-0CAAA4BCBB75.jpeg
 

DrMike

Ballistician
Nov 8, 2006
35,447
2,208
If the candles are to be trusted, you turned the big 50. No mean accomplishment. Congratulations.
 

Firebird

Beginner
Jun 22, 2013
181
264
Yes, fifty years old. That was one of the goals of the trip was to celebrate that milestone in South African soil.
I am planning to got back in three years. I want to hunt buffalo still and there are some species specific to the east cape I would like to hunt-successfully or otherwise. So back to work and the kids back to school-my wife says she wants to go back with me if I go. That says ALOT about the success of our trip.
Thank you all for the kind words and “likes” I hoped to make it interesting. I always enjoy reading other peoples adventures and am grateful to those who inspired me to go -
 

Guy Miner

Master Loader
Apr 6, 2006
16,762
1,755
OUTSTANDING! Great photos and a story well told.

Thanks for sharing this with us. :)

Regards, Guy
 

flyingagg

Beginner
Dec 16, 2019
244
175
It looks like you guys had an amazing esperience and bugged some great annimals. I'd like to go back someday for the Little ones. I found those very challenging.
 
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