Scott hunts with Eastcape & Karoo Safaris again 2019
Friday, 10th May 2019
Scott returned to hunt with us again in May 2019. This was Scott's third hunt with us and this time we were heading up to the Karoo to our main concession in the Northern Cape. Main animal on the list being a buffalo !
Our Karoo concession is one of the biggest private hunting properties in the country - 115 000 acres of wide open space and big herds of buffalo as well as all the other plains game.
Scott had spent many hours preparing on the range for this hunt and finally his plane landed in South Africa - we were both excited to get out there and start hunting. I picked Scott up in Kimberly and after a few hours we were unpacking at the lodge and moving up to the shooting range.
Guns were spot on and we headed out for a quick afternoon drive. Spotted a Nyala along a river and stalked from a high cliff but after a brief glimpse he disappeared. Lots of animals out that evening.
Day 1: Out early looking for Nyala along the river. Spotted some females and small bulls and lots of young kudu but no shooters. Headed out to find buffalo and spotted a lone Roan bull standing on a ridge. Stalked him for 30 minutes but he saw or winded us and took off. This was to be repeated many times with Roan bulls. Driving around our tracker spotted fresh buffalo tracks on the road ...... we hopped out and started after them. Followed tracks along the road for a couple hours and bumped a nice Warthog boar. Stalked him and got a shot at 160 yards. Overestimated bullet drop and pig size and went over his shoulder for a clean miss at least. 2 running shots were late behind him and he lived to see another day. Gave up on the pig and went to find a cool place for lunch. Driving through a nice thick brushy area our tracker thumped the roof. Stopped and backed up and there was a buffalo 10 yards into the trees! We had not even seen her. Drove out of the trees and tracked back to what looked like 10-15 buffalo 75 yards ahead of us only to spook some that were immediately to our left. A heard of about 30 ran out. No big bulls so we went off to have lunch. Tracked more Buffalo several times that day but couldn't catch up. Headed back to lodge with no animals but a great day of tracking and stalking.
Day 2: After Nyala again in the morning but nothing around so straight out for Buffalo again. Spent several hours tracking a herd by a river and finally found them on the opposite bank in trees. Got situated in some cover on some rocks and glassed them for another hour. We could make out a couple of mud covered bulls in the thick but couldn't assess them. Suddenly we hear a noise like a freight train and 4 or 5 big buff come running up from our left side on our side of the river. They run 40 ft behind us and then charge about 50 ft to our right down into the river through the reeds on the other side and take the herd with them! Wind was blowing right to left. We had no idea they were there. Glassed the herd as it disappeared over a ridge and saw a few young but large bulls and a few stragglers older but soft bulls. No mud covered boys though. We went downwind and crossed the river at a shallow and started stalking through the trees to find the big boys. 10 minutes or so later we hear a loud crash behind us and 20 or so buff go running up the ridge after the others. We haul a** after them and just catch 2 mud covered bulls as they disappear into thick stuff down on the river. The others headed up into the rocky hills away from them. Lunch, then back after the buff. Went up the hills to where the we thought the buff might be and after a long trek and some exciting rock climbing spotted them in a meadow across a small valley. Glassed for a couple of hours but no shooter bulls with them. Headed back to lodge for the night. Saw lots of Steenbok during the day but no shooters. I suggested to Scott that he use my 223 for a steenbuck so he wouldn't have to shoot one with the .375. So of course 10 minutes later we spot one. I glass him and jump out of the truck. Scott is right behind and with a quick setup and 95 yard shot into a setting sun with the Steenbok standing straight on .... I nail him square through the chest with the .375. The taxidermist will need to be creative but it will make a fine full mount!
Day 3: After buff again first thing. Spot a herd going up a ridge. Drive around to opposite side in hopes of getting into a position to intercept but they beat us to the top and spot us and run off. We head off after them and our amazing tracker Mbulelo gets us to a high plateau only to see them a mile away. We glass them and see 2 big mud covered bulls with them and watch them go over a ridge into a river valley. Decide to drive around and up the river to see if we can get closer. This begins our longest walking and stalking day. We walk up the river, up a steep kopje, down the other side and into an area with numerous small kopjes. We track them to a sheltered area where we set up on anothe kopje for a 3.5 hour wait. The wind has picked up as we tracked and they sat behind some bushes chewing there cud and sleeping. Occasionaly a gust of wind would catch our scent and spook a couple but they would quiet back down quickly. This started abot 11:15 in the am. No water or food with us. 80 degrees, sunny and really windy. At 2:45 the entire herd stands up and the big bull we had been watching moves in to a good shooting position. As Scott gets ready to pull the trigger he turns towards us and stops and his shot hits him in the left front shoulder a little low but he looks hurt. We can't get any immediate follow up shot because of our postion. The main herd runs off and the hit bull runs off with another big bull trailing him. To make the next 3 hour tracking story short: Mbulelo tracks the bull with the help of 2 other trackers we called in (as well as to get some food and water). Across soft sand, rocky, gravelly flat area, hard rock riverbed and up and down koppies.
I had moved down the river valley to a hillside to try to stop the bull from reaching the thick river area. The 2 bulls crossed in front of me and I was able to get 2 shots into him and stop the bull. A third shot into the bull scared off his buddy and we came up on him a minute later and Scott put a final shot into his chest. Scott is now hooked on buffalo hunting !!
Day 4: Out after breakfast for Nyala along the rivers again. None to be seen so we head to another area but again no shooters. Spot a roan on a ridge that looks promising and decide to come back later into the wind. We go up a hill and I spot some springbuck on a plain below us. We have a nice long stalk to within 255 yards and run out of cover. I ask Scott if he is comfortable to have a crack .... The wind is about 10-15 mph crosswind and Scott still gets off a good shot that drops this nice Black Springbuck in it's tracks.
After the pics we get back to driving and stalking but not much moving in the heat and wind. As we head back we find the Roan again and stalk to about 200 yards and he is smaller than I thought, so we leave him to grow bigger and head back to the river to look for Nyala. Spot a good one and set up a stalk only to be bumped by a large Kudu bull. Instead of running away from us he runs straight to the Nyala and stops 75 yards away from him. We wait and wait and finally the Kudu moves but so does the Nyala. We head to the riverbed to track him and bump a Buffalo and a tiny buffalo calf about 50 yards from us. This is why the Kudu stopped! We make a brave retreat from the calf and move back up the river and spot the Nyala on the opposite side only to discover he is not that big. Back to the lodge for drinks and dinner.
Day 5: We pack up and head to the north side lodge of the 115,000 acre property. We are the only one's hunting it. As we head out we start the day as always looking for Nyala. Somehow I spot one 400 yards away in thick brush and I get out of the truck to glass him. As I pick up my binos and say to Scott lets go ! We stalk him for the next 2 hours and finally Scott gets a shot on him but he steps and he hits him a little low back and he diasppears into the reeds. I could see the nyala just standing and not moving. There is a female with him and we move to better position until she finally moves off. We can just see his shoulder through some Acacia trees and reeds and Scott makes a good shot at 200 yards and he drops. Scott calls full mount on this beautiful bull!!
We start heading back to the north lodge. Spot some Warthogs in the mountains and while glassing them a herd of 8 Hartmann's Zebras run behind us. I grab the sticks and set them up shouting to Scott at the same time !!! They are all stallions and I call the last one which is big. Scott make a hasty uphill 200 yard shot as the stallion makes a move and he hits him low quartering away. They disappear over a hill and we see 7 moving off to the east. I go down the hill while Scott and Mbulelo track on top. I spot Zebra under a tree looking very ill and put him down. Scott's shot had been a good hit but always better to put the animal down asap. He is a gorgeous old stallion with lots of scars and bite marks.
Here Scott stands at a spot on the property we call "On top of the world" for good reason !!!
On to the lodge for the night with 2 in the salt for the day.
Day 6: Right out we are looking for Roan and Waterbuck. Hot with high winds all day. We have one long stalk up a fly ridden riverbed on a big Roan. He makes us after 2 hours and is gone. From on top of a ridge I spot what looks like a huge waterbuck under a tree 1000 yards away. We stalk to within 150 yards and set up for the shot. All we can see is the top of the animals horns. Finally the buck starts to get up and turns out be a Lesser Red Waterbuck! Otherwise known as a Lechwe. At least we had a good stalk to get into that position..... LOL! We spend the rest of the day driving and walking but nothing is moving in the wind. As the golden hour hits I spot a waterbuck several hundred yards away. There is a good one in the group and we stalk to 230 yards. There are animals all over - kudu, warthogs, springbuck - so a lot of eyes to look out for. With a great setup and some luck the bull moves into position and Scott shoots, with a good hit and he wobbles away into a gulley and looks like he drops. He gets up and Scott shoots another safety shot. The first shot was a perfect shot in the vital triangle.
It's now about 5PM with an hour of daylight left. Our property has an excellent recovery crew that comes out and get the animals for us immediately so that we don't have to field dress and take them in ourselves. A very nice service that allows us to keep hunting! This is important because we head to another area to look for Roan with the fading light. We spot a nice bull against a ridgeline. We stop the truck and stalk to about 190 yards of the Roan. At last light the animals always seem to relax a lot more and with this the bull stays around and watches us and gives Scott a great shot with about 10 minutes of shooting light left. Scott hits him well and the bull staggers about 40 yards and falls dead. Hasty photos are taken in the fading light. What an amazing trophy !!
Day 7: We pack up and head back to the south lodge looking for warthog and other stuff on route. Don't see much until a lone Copper Springbuck ram runs in front of us and goesdown into a valley. Not one Scott had planned but I point out that this is a very big ram !! As with the Zebra Scott has adopted the "Take what Africa gives you" philosophy. We stop the truck and decide to peak into the valley where the springbuck dissapeared into ....as luck would have it he is in a perfect position and we make a successful stalk to about 150 yards on this nice Copper.
Continuing south we spot some Hogs and while glassing them a nice Commom Springbuck walks into the plain in front of us. Scott says to me .... "That one has nice horns !" I have a quick look and agree immediately. I look at him and say "It's in your zone ..... It's only 255 yards away" and "It's not an expensive trophy". Challenge accepted and we set the sticks up an Scott knocks him down. No regrets on this nice Common Springbuck!
Very successful first week of hunting.
Day 8: After warthog today. Have been told of seeing a large boar near where we got the buffalo. Spot some when we get there but get winded and lose them in the brush. Decide to go looking for White Springbuck (one of my original extra trophies). After quite a long time of tracking and sitting Scott gets another long 260 yard chance and drop this nice White.
Later we finally get a chance on a warthog. Better lucky than good. Scott get a last minute shot on this moving hog ....Not the biggest we saw but Scott is very happy with this gnarly old broken tooth boar!
Scott's wish list is filled and he has 2 days left. An Eland was also one of his "if I have time and we find a nice one" animals as well as a Blue Wildebeest. I had told Scott earlier in the hunt about a Wildebeest I had seen on my previous safari and that it might be the biggest one I had seen in 10 years. We headed to the area where he was most seen and stalked some nice pigs but luckily missed them. An hour before last light as we are driving along we spot a blue running behind some trees. We stop and before I Sott can ask, I say "That's him, let's go!" We hop out and stalk him through the trees until he runs into a flat open area. He spots us and runs off but stops several hundred yards away. As he runs away I can see the width of his magnificent horns !! We creep up to the last cover we have, a small acacia tree with a small opening in the middle.I get the sticks up and give Sott the yardage. 230 yards... Scott sets up and the wildebeest is looking for us. I tell Scott to wait until he stops and he gets a nice broadside shot on him. It's a good hit and he drops. A couple of seconds later he is up and about to run, but wobbles around and falls over. We walk up to find this enormous Blue! A trophy of a lifetime.
A great 8th day finished. That's 12 in the salt on an original wish list of 6!
Day 9: After 8 days of sunny hot weather a system rolls through with wind and rain and cooler temps. Finally head out late in the afternoon but get caught in heavy rain and hail and thunderstorms. Only the main road is passable and some of them are even in bad shape. I'm sure there was a 60 inch Kudu and a 40 inch Eland out here somwhere but no hunting due to wet roads! Next time.
Day 10: We decided to head to the coast for the last day and Scott would fly out of there instead of Kimberly. 5.5 hour drive down. Late afternoon we get to the lodge 45 minutes from Grahamstown. Scott really wanted a bushpig on this hunt but they aren't on the menu in the Northern Cape. I set up a night hunt with a friend of mine for our last night.
We take a relaxing drive around the afternoon - don't see any kudu bulls or bushbuck rams. I decide to head to the bushpig blind early .........The bait is under a motion sensor light. The pigs are accustomed to it and usually are not frightened by it. The night was cooler than expected and after about an hour and a half of standing and starting to shiver not to mention that it's day 10, last night of the hunt and Scott whispers to me "I'm just about done". I ignored Scott and pretended I didn't hear him ..... Not a minute later the light turns on. We are 650 yard away up a steep hilltop on a cattle farm. In the dark .... we begin a slow stalk down the hill to about 100-140 yards from the light. I glass and range the bushpig and set Scott up on the sticks. "The big one is on the left. Make it a good shot". Scott lines up the one that is twice the size of the others and drills him in the heart. The others squeal and run off. The big one drops dead! Maybe my best shot of the trip. Another monster trophy !
The end of a great safari with some incredible trophies ..... I look forward to our next safari together !!