For Bruce, this year's hunt was primarily for a cape buffalo and sable with some other smaller plains game species. Michael was keen on hunting a giraffe, waterbuck and more plains game species. We enjoyed our hunt in 2015 and everyone at Karoo Wild was excited to see them again.
Bruce hunted plains game with his 26 Nosler and used my 375 Ruger for the buffalo. Michael brought over two rifles, a 300 Winchester Magnum and a 223 Winchester. I hunted primarily with Bruce, Nibbs guided Michael on his hunt. Paul, our videographer for the trip divided his time between the two groups.
Copper springbuck were the target on the first day. Both Michael and Bruce needed a copper springbuck to complete their springbuck slam. Bruce and I got our buck relatively easy. We had a little cover to work with which is rare on a Karoo springbuck hunt. The 26 Nosler was brutal and at 3500 ft per second, the 140 grain round put the springbuck ram abruptly down. He was an exceptionally old ram, living the last year of his life and his tips were well worn down. Nibbs and Michael had a more difficult time getting a productive stalk in but their perseverance paid off with Michael taking a good copper springbuck ram.
We were keen to get started on the meat off the hunt; for Michael this represented a giraffe, for Bruce it was a buffalo and sable. The four of us, Paul and Tamela travelled 4 hours north to a concession where we hunted for 3 days. Mynaard joined us there as a 2nd PH on the dangerous game hunt. Karoo Wild policy when hunting buffalo and other animals that can pose a threat to our people and clients. It was nearing full moon and I'd asked the staff there to keep an eye out for buffalo spoor. On arrival they indicated that they had seen a herd of buffalo crossing an open plain that morning near the bush lodge on the far side of the concession. After a quick lunch we headed in that direction and we stopped on the top of the track that wound down towards the aforementioned plain. We sat there for several minutes and glassed the large area for sign of buffalo. It was a warm afternoon and they were most likely bedded down. Koos whistled softly that he'd seen some buffalo. We had a look and I ranged them at 1300 yards. They were lying in the shade at the base of a thicket. The wind was blowing perfectly directly towards us. Halfway downfield was a rhino and her calf. It was a perfect scenario to stalk but we'd have to find a way around the rhino somehow. We got into a dry riverbed which sloped gently down towards where the buffalo were bedded down. We slowly worked our way to within 150 yards of the buffalo. They were still bedded down, some of them leaning and lying on each other and it was difficult to judge them. However it looked like three bulls among a few cows and calves. The bulls were lighter and patchy in colour. Like most hard bossed dugga boys, they had an obvious skin condition. We had to wait for them to stand up and begin grazing before we moved closer. Paul took a brief power nap and I almost succeeded in tossing a kudu dropping down his throat when his snoring decibels neared buffalo hearing range. Suddenly they were up and moving. It always amazes me how quickly buffalo change from lazing to moving gear. No standing up and stretching for them. We'd planned on going barefoot for the last leg of the stalk but there was no time to shed shoes as we moved rapidly to our left to keep up with them. They moved in a long line, fifteen of them now visible. We set up aiming at a spot we knew they would move through a hundred yards or so away. The third buff to pass was a bull but he managed to move directly behind a cow as they crosses our field of view. His good luck. Buffalo number nine...yes I was counting them...was another dugga boy and he was trailing a cow and a sub adult heifer. He paused briefly and Bruce lined him up. At the last second he looked up and turned sharply away from us. The shot rang out. There was no telling if he turned before the shot, both events happened simultaneously. The other buffalo stampeded through our field of view and joined up with the others ahead. They came around the left side of us, semi trotting as they faced us, the lead bull and two cows were blowing. We turned to face them. Rapidly I counted them...fourteen. One missing...it was difficult dealing with what was in front of us while still concerned for the threat of a wounded buffalo behind us. Tow PH's definitely proved useful in this situation. We started shouting and waving our hands and they stopped in their tracks. One or two cows peeled off, the rest followed, the lead bull paused and gave one last grunt before reluctantly joining the herd. We focused our attention back on the buffalo we shot and began searching at the spot where the shot hit. I moved deeper into the bush in the direction he turned and saw a dark shape heaving in a thick stand of bush. It was him. Bruce gave him another, we went closer and he gave him a third shot for good measure. It all happened in the blink of an eye. We enjoyed the next few moments congratulating Bruce and examining the bull. We didn't expect a first day buffalo but having had several tough hunts here before, we'll happily accept the good fortune.
Nibbs and Michael had some good hunting fortune of their own. They snuck up on an old waterbuck bull. Michael's first shot was a little off the mark but they followed the bull and were able to put him down with a second shot.
We returned to the lodge to celebrate Bruce's buffalo with some drinks and a meal of kudu sirloins, veg and potatoes. Malva pudding followed.
Nibbs, Michale and Paul went in search of giraffe early the next morning. By mid morning they were still searching for a good bull. They connected around midday. Michael made a head shot to put the giraffe bull down in a spot that would be easy for the crew to load him. Tamela was keen to hunt a sable that morning. We struggled to connect with one, passing on several younger bulls. Around midday we bumped into an unusual colour variant; a golden wildebeest. Tamela loved the look of him. Not the most difficult hunt but it was Tamela's first African antelope and as good an animal as any to begin with. We met up with Michael, Nibbs and Paul who decided to hunt with us that afternoon. We stalked up on a sable but decided to pass on him. He was still young and growing. On the return to the lodge, Mitchell spotted a big sable bull grazing diagonally across a slope. We drove on and hid the pick up several hundred yards away unseen. Slowly we inched closer, moving only once he grazed in behind a tree. The sun was setting rapidly and our hunting time was limited. We were 220 yards out but I wanted to get even closer for Tamela. The sable grazed again into a clump of trees and we chanced our arm was last time getting 50 yards closer in the process. We set Tamela up nicely with an extra arm of the tripod supporting the stock of the rifle. I noticed that her breathing was a lot quicker than on the golden wildebeest! Would she be able to get it under control? When the sable emerged, it was only for a brief moment before Tamela fired. The sable stumbled forward and then found it's feet hurtling forward another 100 yards before crashing down. This girl can shoot! It was a fantastic bull and a just reward for a lady that has followed her husband around the world watching him live his hunting dreams. Tamela's hunting experiences grew substantially the next day when we stalked several herds of Hartman's Mountain Zebra unsuccessfully. We were well and truly knackered by the time we got close enough to a herd to get a shot. We were set up but they had spotted us and were moving away rapidly. A stallion paused albeit ever so briefly. Tamela reacted instantly, identifying the stallion I was referring to and simultaneously squeezing a round off to send the zebra tumbling down the mountain slope. I know few men that can react that quickly. We'd created a huntress of note!
Nibbs, Michael and Paul returned to the Graaff Reinet area that morning where they hunted a white blesbok. We joined them that afternoon to lamp for night predators that evening but the wind was blowing a gale so we decided to retire to Graaff Reinet where we went out for dinner. Lindsay and Tamela were collaborating on a spa day and it looked like we were about to lose our newly created huntress to girly pleasures. The next day was a vaal rhebuck hunt day and Nibbs, Bruce and Paul successfully hunted a vaal rhebuck in the Compassberg Mountains. Michael and I were given the run around by several mountain reedbuck herds. The wind was blowing at 90 km/h and they were on high alert. Late that afternoon we connected and Michael was able to get the mountain reedbuck that has eluded him in the past. Nibbs and Bruce returned that afternoon and had enough time to put in a successful stalk and hunt on another white blesbuck ram.
We returned to Karoo Wild Lodge that morning. Nibbs and Michael went directly to a blind on the northern most section of our property where they shot a large male baboon over bait. He had worn down teeth and being a loner was almost certainly the lamb killer that's been terrorizing my neighbour's sheep flock. Bruce, Tamela and I chilled at the lodge for the remainder of the day. That evening soon after sunset, Michael and Nibbs shot a giant bushpig boar over bait at Haaspoort hide. Bruce and Michael had previously told me that they'd be keen on shooting a bushpig if the opportunity presented itself. I set up two bait sights last year and have kept them going year round by using corn and animal remains as bait. In greener times they've not come in for a few weeks at a time but a quick trail camera survey indicated that both sites were being visited by pigs.
Nibbs and Michale hunted for klipspringer the next day. A nice ram avoided them and they saw several younger rams which they passed on. They did however come into contact with a herd of zebra and Michael got a rug for his living room to go along with his zebra shoulder mount from another trip. That evening, it was our turn to hunt bushpig and we decided to try at Pinelands blind. We arrived soon after sunset and almost immediately we could identify the shape of what appeared to a be a bushpig moving on the perimeter of the light. Shortly after the bushpig sow emerged from the shadows and fed on the corn directly under the feeder. Another shape emerged and he too was cautious, circling the light several times before settling in next to the sow to feed. under the direct light we could see he was a monster. Bruce slid the safety off, waited for the broadside shot and fired. The sow squeeled in surprise and fled the scene, her little legs pumping furiously. The boar collapsed in a heap, not a sound emerged from him. We took photos and radioed Mitchell to come pick us up in the hunting vehicle.
The 2019 edition of our hunt had come to an end too soon. What an adventure!
Guest Comments -
Wow, what another great experience Bruce and I have had the last two weeks.Bruce got to kill an animal that was a dream come true. I got too experience that with him and he was right there when I killed my large animals too. We had so much fun, saw beautiful scenery, animals running wild, awesome hospitality from Karoo Wild Safaris, and delicious meals. One recommendation that I have, go while you are young, don't wait till retirement. See the world now, live life, tackle that budget list and love with all you have - Tamela