Craig (PH) hunted primarily with Jay and Steve on their 6 day hunt and I hunted with Buddy and Don on their 12 day hunt. Buddy shot with my CZ 7x64 loaded with 170gr Pro Am rounds, Don with my .375 Ruger (200 gr GS Custom rounds) and Steve and Jay used my Sako .270 (130 gr Pro Am) and Craig's 7x61 (150 gr Pro Am).
The guys were exhausted from their flight via Doha but there was a jovial atmosphere in camp and we enjoyed a good dinner of slow roasted lamb shanks and malva pudding before having an early night.
Buddy and I were onto a herd of 9 black wildebeest early the next morning and a well placed shot from Buddy's rifle stopped a great black wildebeest in his tracks. We were far from the vehicle and had to drag the bull on the tarpaulin for a few hundred yards before loading him. Craig and his crew also had a good start to the hunt and Steve and Jay soon had 2 blesbok rams in the bag. That afternoon Jay took an old black wildebeest.
Early the following morning Buddy and I had spotted a blue wildebeest herd and after a short stalk Buddy made another great shot to down a blue wildebeest bull. It was 9am and we were determined to do a lot of hunting that day. We loaded the bull and were on our way to the skinning shed when Mitchell spotted a small herd of Burchells Zebra. We manouvered downwind of the herd and Buddy soon had his sights on an old Zebra mare. This time we needed help loading and we returned to the skinning shed to drop of the blue wildebeest and get some more manpower to help load the zebra. With the animals all off-loaded we drove around the area. With 18 animals on Buddy's wish list we knew it was a matter before we would be stalking again. Shortly before lunch we saw a lone blesbok ram lying down in an open plain. Buddy made another one shot kill to down a world class blesbok ram. We later found out that the blesbok was missing his right eye which would explain how we were able to sneak to up on his right side so easily. We met up with Don and DJ who had difficulty locating sable in the thick Addo bush. They had more luck in the afternoon and Don acted swiflty to take a good sable bull.
Steve was able to take a black wildebeest bull and Jay shot a springbok and impala.
Around midday the next day Buddy and I used the strong wind to our advantage and sneaked up to within 80 yards of a group of blue wildebeest. We waited patiently behind a "spekboom" for the right bull to emerge and Buddy's shot found its mark again. The bull exploded into the thick bush but we were able to follow the blood trail to where we found him expired 100 yards away. Our luck continued that afternoon as we spotted 3 kudu bulls from a high vantage point. We stalked down towards them using a "spekboom'' thicket as cover. The big bull we were after disappeared from view but we bided our time patiently waiting for him to move into the open again. Buddy's first shot hit low and the bull dashed for cover. Down on level ground now, it was difficult to follow him but Jerome who had remained on the high ground was able to guide us to his exact position with the two way radio. Buddy's next shots were at close range and the bull made a last dash for safety before crumbling before us. Buddy had taken an old bull with a magnificent horn shape!
Steve took a kudu bull that morning that required several hours to retrieve and later that afternoon he shot an old gemsbok cow.
I hunted with Steve, Buddy and Don the next day and Jay and Craig hunted another concession for kudu. Steve, Don and I had some difficulty finding blue wildebeest. Shortly before lunch we came across a bachelor herd of 7 bulls. Unfortunately Steve's shot flew high and the bulls retreated once again into the thick bush. Buddy and Mitchell who had stayed near a waterhole to hunt warthog were gifted a nice bushbuck who emerged from the thick bush to drink. Buddy's marksmanship was again on song. While the others were resting after lunch I took a short walk to an open plain, a spot I know to be popular with warthogs. I saw a big boar foraging with some sows and I raced back to call Buddy. We returned to the plain. The boar had moved out to 220 yards and with some kudu cows in the vicinity and likely to spook the warthogs we had to set up carefully. Buddy's shot hit a little back and the boar dragged himself into thick bush where we were able to put him down. That afternoon we searched for nyala. We didn't find the big nyala bull we were looking for and passed up on a number of younger nyala bulls.
Craig and Jay had a couple of blown stalks on some kudu and were able to take a nice kudu bull later that morning.
Today was the last day of Steve and Jay's hunt and despite the cold and rainy weather we were determined to make the most of it. Steve and I followed an eland herd for a couple of hours before we could get into a good position to shoot. Steve's 220 yard shot hit perfectly on the shoulder and the bull buckled and ran a few yards before expiring. We called in for help to load the heavy eland bull. Buddy's incredible hunting luck continued well into that morning. In search of red hartebeest in the mountains, Buddy and Craig spooked a herd of kudu and the main bull paused long enough for Buddy to take his second kudu of his hunt. The bull wasn't retrievable at that point and during their descent of the mountain they came across a wide horned impala ram which Buddy also took. Myself, Craig and 4 others spent the next few hours retrieving Buddy's kudu bull. Late that afternoon we were looking for a springbok for Steve when we came across a steenbok ram which Jay shot.
We said goodbye to Steve and Jay the next morning. We enjoyed their company and hope to welcome them back to the Karoo again in the near future. Lindsay and Craig showed the guys around Port Elizabeth's gift shops before getting them to the airport in time for their flight.
Buddy's incredible hunting fortune continued the next morning when we came across a world class old nyala bull. After a stalk precarious stalk across an open plain, Buddy's first shot went astray but he quickly followed it up with a neck shot that put the bull down. We were now well on target with Buddy's wish list.
We were up at 5am the next morning and headed to the coast where we hoped to get Buddy a caracal using a pack of dogs. The dogs were on the spoor of a cat when we arrived shortly after sunrise and we hiked down a steep embankment to the spot where Buddy took a female cat using a 12 guage shotgun.We returned to the lodge that afternoon.
The next day we hunted gemsbok in our family concession near Aberdeen. A cold relentless gale was blowing and hunting was difficult. The gemsbok holed up in a dry riverbed and with a storm fast approaching Buddy took an old long horned cow when she emerged briefly from the shelter of the acacia thicket. After loading we were able to get Buddy onto a springbok ram which ran for a hundred yards before also succumbing to Buddy's marksmanship. After lunch we visited Karoo Taxidermy in Graaff Reinet and later that afternoon drove a the short distance to our concession at Crater Valley where we hunted the next day.
We set out early the next morning in search of eland for Don, red hartebeest and baboon for Buddy. Don and I stalked and weaved our way through a herd of 12 eland bulls before deciding to let them be. Around 10am we put in a stalk on a small herd of 9 eland and identified 3 nice bulls. We waited for an hour for the chosen bull to move clear of some brush and the .375 round put the eland bull down where he stood. He was a good all-round bull, dark with a big dewlap, good long horns and a mop of dark hair on his forehead. We took photos, radioed in the recovery team and hiked to the area where we'd seen red hartebeest grazing earlier on our stalk. The hartebeest herd were lying down now and they stood up as we crested a rise in the plain. Buddy's 7x64 roared again and the lead bull stumbled and fell. Around mid afternoon Buddy's ridiculous hunting luck continued when the chicken egg thief of "Nooitgedacht" made the fatal mistake of crossing the road in front of us. The old marauding baboon paused at the top of the ridge and Buddy wasted little time in making the shot. We still had hunting time left in the afternoon and decided to call for jackal using the FoxPro at a large lake on the reserve. We parked the vehicle and were approaching the lake when we noticed a large tree swaying to and fro in the otherwise windless day. Curiosity took us to within 60 yards and we backtracked quickly when we saw it was an elephant bull shaking the tree. After a successful day's hunting we returned to Haaspoort Lodge at 6pm.
Buddy got a steenbok ram that morning and that evening we went in search of an animal high on Buddy's wish list, the elusive and rare aardwolf. The aardwolf is the smallest member of the hyena family. His larger cousins are the brown and more common spotted hyena. We had barely turned the light on when a large aardwolf male came walking in our direction across an open field. He paused briefly and turned to dash to his left. Buddy took his opportunity and the shot from the 65 gr impala solid found it's mark. It's always a tricky decision to use solid bullets, their appeal is that they cause less damage to the hide, the big downside is that an animal will survive a poorly placed shot. We were pleased with the result and the night's hunting.
The next day morning was spent relaxing around camp and that afternoon we had a Sunday afternoon barbecue with the extended Watson family. The next day brought to an end a great adventure with new and old friends. We all enjoyed the time Buddy and Don hunted with us and hope to welcome them back to South Africa in the near future. Hope to visit Buddy's mounts displayed in Rustic Oaks Taxidermy studio!
Guest Comments -
All my life I have dreamed of going on an South African Plains Game Hunt, and never considered looking into into going, because I assumed the cost would be phenomenally expensive and therefore only for the rich. I was so wrong, it is affordable mor mostly anyone to enjoy a Plains Game Safari, and we chose Karoo Wild Safaris with Victor and Lindsey Watson. They are fantastic people and make you feel part of their family. I had the time of my life with them an it was an experience I will never forget. I'm so very grateful for this opportunity.
Victor is an exceptional professional hunter guide and Mitchell, his tracker/skinner is great as well, in my opinion they are the best in the business. Victor and Lindsey's staff are top-rate! We had some of the best meals I have ever tasted, and we were taken care of as well.
The areas where we hunted was absolutely beautiful, huge rocky mountain terrain, lots of trees, brush, thickets and animals everywhere you look. It reminded me a lot like the hill country in Texas, with a mix of Rocky Mountains of Colorado.
I was honored to be able to take so many different species of true trophy animals. The quality of the hair, hides and horns are very important to me, as a taxidermist you strive for perfection, but you can't achieve that without quality hides, hair and horns. All of the animals I've taken on this trip will be showroom displays in my taxidermy shop. Victor's oustanding guiding skills were paramount in enabling me to not only take some magnificent animals, but he guided me through a 100% trophy animal harvest rate from a list I had made before my trip.
I will never use anyone other than Victor and Lindsey Watson at Karoo Wild Safaris, for any future South African hunts and will highly recommend them to everyone I know back in Texas.
Thanks again Victor and Lindsey.