Lindsay and I were humbled that they chose Karoo Wild Safaris as their outfitter to hunt with in South Africa.
From the outset it was obvious that this hunt was going to be a lot of fun. We had just enough light on their day of arrival to spend some time on the range for them to get accustomed to my rifles. That evening we enjoyed a Karoo speciality, venison shanks and malva pudding. Nibbs, our second PH, was hunting with Rob, a veteran hunter with Karoo Wild, and they joined us for dinner.
Blake, Mike, Mitchell and myself headed out early the next morning in search of animals. Lindsay, Pati and Bev decided to go on a walk of their own to spot animals. Top of Blake and Mike's wish lists were kud and gemsbuck. Late that morning we put in a stalk on a bachelor herd of five gemsbuck bulls in an open plain. The herd kept grazing away from us and we had to out flank them. Using some sparse ''wild plum'' trees as cover we got ahead of them and Blake waited patiently for his chosen bull to move into his field of vision before making an excellent shot. Blake had taken a gemsbuck bull that he could be proud of and we spent some time enjoying the moment before returning to camp for lunch.
That afternoon Lindsay and the ladies visited Daniel Wildcat World where they saw serval, lion, caracal and leopard. They also petted and played with cheetah. We went in search of impala and passed on a number of rams.
Early the next morning we put in a long stalk on a lone impala ram. Using a hill as cover we approached to within 200 yards of him and had to double back to get into a better shooting position. The ram was quartered towards us and Mike's first shot was a testing one and hit a little far back. The ran bolted up a long valley and we set off in pursuit. He disappeared in the valley floor and we picked up his blood trail in order to find him. He jumped out 150 yards ahead of us and Mike made a great snap shot to put the ram down. Hunting africa can be tough at times and Mike showed great resilience and composure to scrap through to the end and follow up on the kill.
We searched for gemsbuck later that afternoon and we soon identified a beautiful gemsbuck bull. He was heading from the lower plains to the highre ground ringed by rocks and a cliff face. He paused long enough to give Mike a shot through a window in the bush below the cliff face. The first shot hit hard and Mike was able to follow up with a second shot to drop the bull. With the sun down already we hurried to take photos of the bull.
We packed a picnic for the day and hunted a nearby concession. Blake, Pati and I stalked an impala ram grazing on the edge of a clearing. Mitchell had spotted him from the back of the hunting vehicle and was now standing on the roof, guiding us to the rams location with a two way radio. Surrounded by dense bush with only Mitchell's word to guide us we inched forward knowing this was going to be a close affair. Three waterbuck bulls exploded out of the bush 20 yards ahead of us and we were convinced our stalk was blown. We pushed on and 10 paces later we came face to face with the impala ram. His trophy class was obvious and I whispered out of the corner of my mouth for Blake to shoot. He did so promptly and shot himself a beautiful impala ram. We enjoyed lunch on the edge of a small lake.
After lunch we split up. Blake and Pati hunted with me and Mike and Bev hunted with Nibbs, who was able to help out for the afternoon.
Mitchell's keen eye soon spotted a bull walking over a dam wall 500 yards below us, We stalked down to the spot and soon found ourselves surrounded by two dozen kudu cows, calves and bulls. We waited patiently for the right moment to weave through the herd and with kudu 10 yards to our left and 10 yards to our right we deftly moved closer to the bull with the horns "pointing out". At 180 yards out I knew we'd rode our luck far enough and Blake set up to make a brilliant shot. Brilliant not because it was a particularly difficult shot was brilliant because we had invested so much time and the last ounce of our luck into the stalk that he must have felt the weight of expectation to make the shot. He'd taken a kudu with a narrow but classic set of curls. What a way to hunt a kudu!
Nibbs and Mike had unfortunately wounded a big kudu bull. With the light fading fast they were forced to abandon the blood trail.
The next morning, Lindsay, Blake, Pati and Bev travelled to Graadd Reinet where they visited several museums, Karoo Taxidermy, The Valley of Desolation and Camdeboo National Park. They had close sightings of eland, kudu and black wildebeest and capped off a fine day with coffee at the historical Drostdy Hotel.
Mike and I took up the blood trail of the kudu but after several hours of following the blood dried up and it was clear that he'd joined up with another herd of kudu making conventional tracking difficult. That afternoon we sat in wait for kudu. We saw several kudu cows and bulls move across our position before Mike spotted the kudu he wanted. He was moving from tree to tree stretching his neck as he browsed the upper branches and we waited for the perfect shot. The sun was setting and shooting light was limited. We were astounded when he suddenly turned and bolted back towards the safety of the bush. He paused right at the bush line, 180 yards out and Mike took his chance to bag his kudu. A great shot at last light. In the same day Mike had gone through a range of emotions, the disappointment of losing a kudu that morning to the joy of taking another one that same afternoon. Such is hunting in Africa, it's a spectrum of emotions and experiences.
The next morning, we headed over the mountain to Boschfontein in search of a trophy springbuck for Mike. We spotted eland, black wildebeest and red hartebeest and were able to stalk uphill towards a small herd of springbuck. Our cover ran out at 220 yards and Mike made a great shot to take a good springbuck ram.
Pati had decided she wanted to join in on the hunting fun and was set on hunting a zebra. We headed out at 4pm and although we spotted a large herd of zebra we were unable to get close enough for a shot.
Our luck changed the next morning and we hiked through a small herd of giraffe to set up a shot on a zebra stallion. Pati made a 150 yard shot and a few back-up shots later she'd made her first African kill. Well done Pati for your perseverance.
The next day our visitors rented a car in Port Elizabeth and spent a few days visiting the scenic coastal area between Port Elizabeth and Cape Town. Blake jumped off Bloukrantz Bridge to conquer the highest bungee jump in the world.
This was a great week to be in Africa and thank you to Blake, Pati, Mike and Bev for being such excellent company. We had a grand time and thank you for spending time with us in the Karoo.
Guest comments -
What a great first Safari!
The diversity, quantity and quality of animals and vast, wild areas was beyond our expectations. We never imagined being being able to spot and stalk so many animals. Victor and his tracker, Mitchell, worked hard to keep us always spotting and stalking trophies. We love our trophies!
The only thing that equaled the hunting was the camp. The spacious chalets, chef prepared meals, scenery and everything was beyond our expectations. Lindsay's tours and walks kept the wives entertained (and she is an expert game spotter too!).
It is clear that the work you put into the hunt, attention to detail and pride you and Lindsay put into making sure everyone is having a great time and successful hunt is something you only get when dealing with the owners of an operation.
We have put off this trip for years and glad we finally did it. We continue to talk about what a great experience we had and we hope to be able to come visit and hunt with yáll again.