SOUTH AFRICA: Hunting South Africa With Authentic African Adventures July 2-12, 2016

Background
I bought this hunt last year at a Pheasant Forever Banquet. It was a 4-person, 10-day hunt. Only 2 went on this trip due to a couple canceling a month prior. I had posted as ad on this website, but no takers due to such short notice.

Travel, Rifle
I flew from Denver, through Atlanta, to Joburg on Delta. I used Gracy Travel for help with flights & gun permits. I took my Savage Bear Hunter in 300 WM & used Federal Premium Trophy Bonded Tip in 180g. My scope is a Nikon Monarch 4x12 BDC reticle. I used 6-8 power most of the time & only dialed up to 12 a couple of times. This gun with this ammo will shoot a MOA. Too bad I can’t shoot that off of sticks on quick shots after rapid stalking!

Joburg
We arrived a day early. We hired a driver (named Freedom) that was recommended by the Gracy agent (Bruce) who helped with the gun retrieval. He took us to a pretty good store to buy souvenirs, where we splurged on some Tanzanite for the girls back home & picked up other knickknacks. We went to the Lion Park, to an outdoors store to get some gear, & Soweto for “authentic food”. It was interesting & never felt insecure. We actually had fun haggling with the street vendors for more knickknacks.

Pickup Day
My PH Kyne Edwards picked us up at the City Lodge where we stayed 2 nights. It was quite a long drive up to Baltimore, more than 3 hrs. We paid a bit more to be picked up in Joburg as I didn’t want to take the flight from there to Polokwane. I think our pickup & delivery was cheaper than if we bought those plane tickets & didn’t risk a bag or gun getting misplaced. Kyne stopped at his favorite meat processor in Mokopane to get some biltong.

We arrived, met some the people there, & settled in the room quickly. It was still a little daylight, so we jumped into Kyne’s SA Nomad to do a tour of the hunting property. We didn’t get into the gate to the hunting property when we saw a nice Nyala hugging the fence & drooling over the females on the other side. We started off with pictures & then remembered we were there to hunt. After a quick discussion with Kyne, who said it was a “Honker”, he & I jumped out to go after it. Nyala was top of my list. The stalk wasn’t too long. We came up on him, he bristled like he might charge us, & a shot off Kyne’s shoulder ended his romantic pursuit. We got a few pics in before it got dark. His preliminary score was 68 7/8, so should be easy silver.

Days 1-6
We started the first full day of hunting with a Nyala already hanging. I didn’t keep a log, which I should have & recommend to others, so used photo date/time stamps to get my memory in order. The first 6 days were a frenzy. We had only planned 5-8 animals each for the entire trip. Needless to say, we surpassed that early in the 10-day hunt. Why? I guess a combination of being in hunting heaven, having a new credit card with zero balance, the quality of animals we were seeing, & maybe more so was the trust quickly gained with the PH to pick out true trophies. I had a goal before this to one day get the African 15 Continental award from SCI. So, I told Kyne on the drive out that I want at least minimum bronze scores on each animal I take so they would “count” (not sure but I heard each has to meet min bronze to count). He did the job well!

Me & my buddy/coworker William split up with different PH’s & trackers. My tracker was Steven, who was incredible & I did need his skills a couple of times. My first morning out, we stalked a very nice Blesbok. I was not used to the quick shooting needed in Africa. So, proceeded to shoot a tree limb on a ~150yd shot & the Blesbok bolted away. William came back that first morning with 2 animals, & the race was on. It was afternoon that we came up on a nice Kudu & bagged him. His prelim score was 129 6/8 (silver) with ~54” length.

The next morning we went off on a stalk & got a triple. Kyne first spotted a Steenbok. Luckily it hadn’t detected us due to Kyne’s skill in keeping us in the right direction in regards to the wind. Kyne spied through the binos for a bit & whispered “it’s a Honker”. I had learned real quick that if he said it was a Honker, I better shoot it. After a couple of setups, I popped it. Steenbok wasn’t on my list, but I trusted Kyne that it was a worthy trophy. It was, with 4 5/8 length & 12 2/8 (silver) prelim score. We hung the little Steenbok in a tree & carried on.

We then tracked down some Impala, which had a Honker in the group. I made a quick shot off the sticks at ~100yds & heard the distinctive sound of a belly shot. It jumped & stumbled, so we thought it wouldn’t be too far. We radioed Steven & he caught up as we were circling around looking for a blood trail. We found just a little spot. This is when Steven showed his skill. Without a blood trail, he tracked that group of Impalas for a good hour by just tracks. We had spread out a little looking to find it bedded down. I was with Kyne at the time & we walked up on a sickly Black Springbok. It was obviously sick, as we got within 20ft before it meekly trotted off a hundred yards & laid down again. We quickly made a decision to put it out of its misery. I shot it & got my first experience of a Springbok Pronk. That was amazing as the fur stood up & it smelled like sugar cane. We took a few pics & then Steven radioed to hurry to him. That he had found the Impala, grabbed it by the horns, & it was beating the hell out of him. We ran over & found him in the two-track with the Impala, where a knife in the heart ended it. I was very happy to get the Impala & not have it die a slow death. The Impala prelim score was 56 3/8 (silver).

That evening hunt was special. Kyne said since I got a Nyala & Kudu already, that I now needed a Bushbuck. A Limpopo Bushbuck was on my list. So we packed up some Gemsbok meat, cooking utensils, & drove ~ 1.5 hr to a concession they have on the Limpopo River. The farmer that owns the place has an awesome setup on the river, with small pavilion, couple cabins, & a fire pit. It was inspiring to look across the river at Botswana, spy some crocodiles, & listen to hippos. We had a “braai” of Gemsbok (the most delectable meat in the world!) & then did some night hunting. The landowner & his sons joined in. We piled into the back of his truck & drove next to his cropfield, shining the spot light. That was such a cool sight, seeing pairs of glowing eyes in the field that slowly lowered until hide. It was like a Halloween scene with spooks in the night. Kyne picked out a honker & I got the first Bushbuck. Within about 15minutes, they picked out another honker & William popped him. It was extremely cool to each get a nice Bushbuck & share the excitement with our PH’s & the landowner’s boys. They were as excited as we were. My Bushbuck prelim score was 40 5/8 (silver) & Williams’ was almost exactly the same. This hunt was one of the highlights of the trip.

We slept in a bit the next morning & didn’t hunt too hard. After 3.1 days, I already had 6 animals & William had 7! Just before lunch, we spied a nice Common Springbok & jumped out of the truck to close the gap. The Springbok was partially hidden, with the shoulder just behind some brush, looking at us. This was another potentially quick shot off sticks, but I remembered the Impala & took that extra second. Clean shot & down he went about 100yds. Another pronk was experienced & was just as cool as the first. The Common Springbok scored 34 (bronze).

I think it was the afternoon of the 4th day we went to another concession to look for a big Warthog. We found one & I goofed that up by forgetting to lower the bolt when he gave me a second for a good shot (“click”). We tried the same place again the next morning & spied a honker about 200yds out. I shot low & missed. My gun was zeroed at 100yd & at 200yd I should have compensated to the first offset needed at 12x setting.

That afternoon we tried a different concession. The landowner there told us when we arrived that a big Waterbuck was tearing up his fences. We then went out & remedied that situation. After just a brief drive into the farm, we spied the Waterbuck about 80yd. This guy was a Honker. His prelim score was 79 (gold) with just under 30” length. I was proud of this guy.

 

That evening, we went back to the prior concession to try Warthog again. It was a cool & windy morning, not seeing anything stirring on our walk. Then, after crossing a couple clearings, we saw a solo honker of a Warthog. I guess he was out for some solace & a peaceful walk, but that didn’t work out too well for him. Third try at Warthog was the charm for me. His estimated score was 34 3/8 (gold), with estimated 12” tusks.

That afternoon, Kyne convinced me I needed a Copper Springbuck to match my Black & Common. We stalked a nice one & I took a shot at him facing me. I was a couple inches off center & shot through the shoulder. He must have jumped 6ft in the air, then ran off. We had a good blood trail & saw where he laid down once. Steven & Kyne showed their tracking skills again by finding him back with the herd, after losing the blood trail. A kneeling shot off a downed tree ended that pursuit. The prelim score was 32 2/8 & bronze since no min score for the Copper Springbok.

The next day was my birthday. 40 yrs old again! No, really 53 yrs young. We took the day off & had a party at the compound. It was one of the better b-days I’ve ever had. We put the Springbok I shot previously on the braai & had drinks/music until late. The kids gave me a ball cap for a present & had cake later. I can’t say enough good things about all the folks there at AAA. I felt like I was around old friends & thoroughly enjoyed hanging out with them.

The next morning was slack & already was feeling content with the hunt. We drove around in the Nomad, taking pictures & video. We saw a honker Cape Buffalo that Kyne tried hard to get me to take, & I thought that mean sucker might charge the Nomad. Next trip! We came back to the compound for lunch & Wien told us he had spied a nice Blesbok. William had already taken a gold Blesbok & Wien was sure we could find him again. So we all jumped into the Nomad & took off again. He was right where Wien had said, & I took #11. His prelim score was 45 7/8 & just an 1/8 under gold.

 After that, the pace stayed slow. I didn’t take anything on the next day except more pictures & video. We still had 2 days left & began to feel I needed one more. We chased Gemsbok & Wildebeest, getting a few chances but wasn’t in the mood for any rush shots. That afternoon we went to another concession that was said to be full of Gemsbok. I had settled on a Gemsbok over Wildebeest because we wanted more Gemsbok meat! We circled a few times in the truck & made a couple of stalks. I finally had a shot but missed. Fortunately, we watched where he ran & got back on the truck to go after him. He gave me another chance & a good shot put him down.

We didn’t get a prelim measurement on the Gemsbok, but he should make silver. Being a male, the bases were fairly big & had good length.

The last picture tells the tale. 24 animals between us & all but 2 should make the book (1 the sickly Black Springbok). Kyne exceeded in the task of getting me book animals & providing an outstanding hunt, plus awesome friendship.

Authentic African Adventures
For my first trip to Africa, this hunt was incredible & I’ve definitely drank the cool-aid to want to go back. As mentioned previously, all the staff of AAA was great. Very down to earth, polite, & cordial. The food & accommodations were excellent. The quality of animals was excellent. If a honker wasn’t found on their properties, they had the connections & concessions to find it. Go to your local PF, NRA, MDF, RMEF, or other banquet & bid on this hunt! Or go find them at the shows & see what specials they may be offering. Just leave that mean-ass Cape Buffalo & honker of a Sable until I can get back there to get them!