2017 African Hunt
Let me start by saying thank you to the Portland, Oregon SCI chapter. Especially Daniel Barnard and Todd Burk. The people with the Portland chapter put on a great banquet. Because of the youth hunt that they sponsor, my son was able to get a hunt in Oregon to hunt an exotic sheep at the Four Aces Ranch in Madras, Oregon. He was able to harvest a cool ram and has proudly displayed the ram on his wall in his room. Thanks to Tim Brown of Natural Instincts Taxidermy, the ram is a great addition to our house.
Now because of that hunt we were able to attend the banquet in Portland. And at that banquet I won an auction hunt with Two Waters Safaris in South Africa, that Brian Seady had generously donated to the SCI club. I contacted Brian Seady , owner and operator of Two Waters, and scheduled our hunt. I was also able to bring my son(14), daughter(12) and step son(18) along on this hunt. Upon arrival in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, Brian welcomed us and made everyone feel welcome. He took us to his lodge and made us feel right at home. Brian had also left that week open to just my kids and I so that we all would have a great time with the full attention of all of the staff there. The PH that he got for us, Bertus, was a great and friendly guide. He knew the animals well and was very good with my kids. The whole trip was one of the best experiences that my kids and myself have ever had. The food was outstanding. The accommodations were spectacular. The rooms were very clean and comfortable. They do an amazing job making you feel welcome. And they cater to your style of hunting. I like to walk. And we walked all over Africa. It was great. My kids and myself were able to kill some amazing animals and every animal that we shot were one shot one kills. We have some great trophies and great memories that we will always have, thanks to SCI, Brian Seady and Two Waters Safaris.
Murders Creek Bulls
In late November, I was contacted by SCIF Humanitarian Services Coordinator Eva Wilson about helping out on a SafariWish for a young disabled hunter. Rylee Muonio of Vancouver Washington has an inoperable brain tumor and his wish was to harvest a big game animal. Other chapters were involved and our part at the Portland Oregon Chapter was to outfit and prepare Rylee for his Texas Whitetail hunt. I called Brett Larson, the manager of the Vancouver Washington Sportsman's Warehouse and he was more than willing to help out. We met Rylee and his dad Dean at the store and the Portland Chapter purchased a .270 Tika rifle and Bushnell Scope plus ammunition, sling and case and the Sportsman's Warehouse donated $500 worth of gear including boots, full Camo gear and shirts and hats.
Rylee and his dad left on November 30th and upon returning informed me that he harvested a forked horn whitetail and a beautiful Corsican ram. The Portland Chapter has made arrangements with donor Mike's Frontier Taxidermy to do a shoulder mount for Rylee to complete his wish. Dean Muonio has asked me to express his thanks to everyone involved for making Rylee's wish come true.
Dale L. Matthews President,
By: Mike Carrick
In February I hunted on the Island of Ni'ihau (Hawaii) for feral pigs and sheep. The main point of the exercise was to try out my wheellock rifle which is made in the style of the mid-1600s.
It is loaded from the front just like any muzzleloader (cal. .575 round ball). Then some powder is put in a shallow pan over the "wheel", and then you slide a cover over the pan to keep this priming powder from falling out. Then you pull a rear trigger to set the mechanism. Then you take a spanner and wind the spring-loaded wheel (the serrated wheel is analogous to the wheel on a cigarette lighter). Then when you want to shoot, you open the pan cover and move the hammer, whose jaws have a piece of iron pyrites, down to rest on top of the wheel. Then you take a sight and touch the "hair trigger,” and with luck, everything moves, and the gun goes off a noticeable bit after you touch the trigger.
The first time I fired it, I dropped a ram at about 50 yards.
The second shot was this little piggy walking right down a trail toward me at about 40 yards. The round ball entered the body right behind the skull (he was looking down at the trail) and exited near his rear end.By the way, this is the guy that ended up on the shish-kabob skewers, and was just about the most tender and tastiest pork I have ever eaten.
So, I was feeling pretty cocky with my new rifle. The next shot was at about 125–140 yards at a large Ram. He dropped as if hit by a sledge hammer. Usually you immediately reload a muzzleloader "just in case." But I was a little proud of the long shot and started to carefully pace it off. About a third of the way to the cadaver, it miraculously leaped to its feet (not realizing it was dead), and trotted at a 90 degree angle to my path down the edge of an estuary. I got reloaded, settled on the cross sticks, and squeezed. . . . and squeezed. . . .and —dang! Forgot to wind up the wheel! He was gone.
Next reduction in my pride was sighting on a huge boar, squeezing (wait—I know I wound up the wheel), whizzzz, yes—but no "boom." Oh! forgot to lower the iron pyrites onto the wheel—pig long gone by this time.
Maybe I'm too old to shoot a gun that requires several consecutive steps that must be performed in the right order.
I guess everyone is lucky I wasn't piloting the Augusta Twin-Jet Helicopter that took us over to Ni'ihau. I sat next to the pilot and didn't even want to ask if he knew what the 100 or so gauges were all about. One kept flashing "low fuel." He saw me looking, and said not to worry about it—he was sure it was gassed up this morning—very Hawaiian thing to say! This was a private helicopter belonging to the owner of the sugar plantations on Kauai and also the private owner of the island of Ni'ihau (which has been in his family since his Scottish ancestors purchased it from King Kamehameha V in 1864 for $10,000 in gold).
Lest you think I am a complete doofus, I do have three animals in the SCI South American record book, all taken with traditional flintlock rifle with iron sights shooting round ball: number 2 Red Deer; number
By: Brett Nelson
I finally made it home from Zimbabwe last Monday night… I apologize for the delay in getting my pictures out, but things have been extremely hectic and I have never had such a difficult time adjusting back to our time zone… even the magical Ambien voodoo didn’t help.
Anyways, to the meat and potatoes!!! This is going to be heavily expanded on for my blog, but I wanted to get out the main gist of the hunt and some pictures…
First and foremost, I could not have imagined this hunt/trip being any better. The people, the country, the friends, the landscape, the animals, the memories… all of them equal the most amazing hunting trip imaginable.
My main focus for the hunt was leopard and sable with some plains game if time allowed. Leopard hunting requires a lot of baits to be hung and checked every day, so the free time for plains game hunting isn’t always available. The first few days consisted of hanging baits and shooting a warthog and a baboon. The warthog was about a 30 yard shot after stalking them a few hundred yards. The baboon was about a 150 yard shot uphill on a large rock cliff. Both one shot kills… We didn’t have any “good” hits on our baits that we had hung, so we continued to hang more and continue to check them every day. We did have females hitting, and small toms, but nothing worthy of sitting in a blind for. We finally got a hit and sat in the blind the 5th night and only had a honey badger come in (the excitement level was HIGH when you hear a honey badger through the listening device though)... We sat in a blind again around the 8th night and didn’t have anything come in (there was a female feeding on this bait but there was also a big tom that was with her, just not feeding himself).
While hanging more baits over the next few days and checking them all… over and over… I managed to also take a nice blue wildebeest and a really nice stallion zebra. Both of those were also one shot kills.
Three of the five hunters left the morning of the 11th day so we saw them off and continued the pursuit of the spotted African feline… We FINALLY got a hit on a bait by a mature male leopard that had been passing up our baits for 4 days now. He would walk the road at night that we drove down as the sun was falling… he had something else on his mind apparently… but his hunger finally got the best of him on my 10th night, so we set the blind up in preparation of a long cold 11th night. At 4pm we headed to the blind and proceeded to put all of our warm clothes on and sweat for the first couple of hours until the sun goes down, and then it gets cold. I have never heard silence like the African bush after the sun goes down and the baboons silence for the night, the birds stop chirping, the crickets stop singing, and the impala slow their excited barking. Literally your ears start to ring it is SO quiet. As a lot of you know, I cannot sit still for long so I will fully admit I did the shut-eye dance a few times but George was there to help keep me awake with gentle love kicks to the shins… At 7:20pm on May 29th George (my PH) excitedly whispered (in his accent), “BRETT, SHOOT!!!” Now, we had decided earlier in the night that the moon was bright enough to make the shot without the use of a spotlight or flashlight. Okay, I admit, I said “we”… George decided this and I said, “uhh-okay…” So when he indicated that it was time for me to shoot, I leaned forward in my chair to my tied-up and supported rifle that was pointed at the approximate location of where the cat should be and I saw him… mind you, this is the first leopard I have seen in my life and he is staring right at me… everyone else in camp at this point had seen one or two along side of the road. Yep, I am that guy… so there he was, sitting there silhouetted under my bait like a dog sitting on his butt staring at me. I was on the trigger with the safety off and he turned and ran straight away from me and disappeared. My heart sank, my throat swelled up, and my knees continued the painful cramping feeling from not being moved in hours… And we cannot talk about it, just sit there and hope he returns. The things that race through your brain at this point are priceless: “Was I not fast enough? What will George think? Does he hate me? At least I don’t need to pee any more! Should I slap myself for George?” But most importantly, “Where is that cat at now? I’ve never seen a leopard before, but that looked big to me… oh great, I just missed the chance at a BIG leopard… Yep, George hates me… I am THAT client…”
So there we sat… motionless, speechless, and my head is racing… At 9:20pm I began to feel the chill of the night and I reached to slowly pull my blanket up my legs when George reached out and grabbed my arm and indicated with his loving death squeezes that I was suppose to do something, and I knew what that something was. Round two… GAME ON!!! I rose to my rifle again and there the cat was at 60-70 yards standing on his back legs getting a mouth full of impala. As soon as I got on him in the moon light he dropped to the ground on all fours and looked in our direction. I thought he was slightly quartering away from us so I held behind the shoulder and squeezed the trigger… the muzzle flash blows all visual chances you have of seeing the cat, especially without any artificial light. But the sudden crashing and DEEP groans you would expect from a lion will make you stay alert! George had his listening device headphones on so he didn’t get to hear that it sounded like it was getting closer to the blind. Nor did he hear me say, “WHERE IS YOUR RIFLE?” My rifle was still tied up and immobile… The deep groans and crashing suddenly stopped after he let out one last groan. Now, you want to talk about your head racing with thoughts? Listen to those sounds and have them stop in the dark of the African bush knowing you have to go in after that cat. And your PH’s friend, which happens to be PH’ing for our hunt, was mauled last year by a leopard they were tracking…
George instantly lit his cigarette and asked me how I felt about the shot and said, “…that was a big cat!”… After telling him I thought it was rude he didn’t offer me a cigarette, I replied and said, “I have never felt so confident about a shot in my life!” “You heard the bullet hit… right?” Remember all those thoughts I said were going through my head, I swear I heard that bullet it… “Did you see him get hit George?” He replied, “Brett, you shot before I even had my binoculars up!” I then replied, “You said shoot quickly!!!” Then I was thinking, “Oh great, I rushed the shot! George hates me. He doesn’t feel good about my shot. Wait, he didn’t say that… Why couldn’t the cat fall right there? I need to pee…”
George asked that I shoot again about 5 minutes later so the trackers would wake up and drive the truck down to us (they also had the majority of the flashlights/spotlights). I did so and they came. We proceeded to look without following the blood and did not find the cat… Now, walking around with a flashlight under the stock of your rifle as you look for one of the most camouflaged animals in Africa that we now know is hit is seriously something that will bring your focus to the current moment. But when the flashlights and spotlights start to die as you follow the actual blood trail of the cat, there is a supernatural night vision power you get all of a sudden… okay, I am lying, you just get really nervous and tell George that you think it is a good idea to head back to camp and get more lights. Pride made him say, “I don’t want to go back without this cat!” But then he agreed… It had nothing to do with me whimpering like a little girl, because I wasn’t! When we returned to camp we grabbed spotlights, flashlights, 14 car batteries, lighters, matches, tiki torches, prism’s, mirrors… if it could make light, we brought it. Little exaggeration… we didn’t bring any mirrors or prisms. Anyway, we went back and followed the blood again and finally found the cat at about midnight. When we left to head back to camp to get light, we were within 10 foot of the dead cat. We had walked within 10 foot of the cat 3 times. He was dead on the last groan we heard, as he was beginning to stiffen up when we found him.
Like I had mentioned earlier, I had NEVER seen a spot on a leopard until we walked up to my cat. What a magnificent animal… I sat there in awe for a while as I took it all in… This was my first “Big 5” animal laying there in front of me. As you can see from my pictures, the excitement knob was quickly turned up and I was the happiest man in the world! We later measured my cat at the skinning shed and he was 8 foot from the tip of the tail to the tip of the nose after sitting in the salt for a day. His skull was 16”, and they guessed him at 160 pounds. Like I said, he hadn’t been eating (our baits anyway) for 4 days, and he was covering some serious ground, so he was thin in the belly.
After properly celebrating my leopard into the afternoon of the next day, I hunted for the next 2.5 days for sable and didn’t manage to find a big enough bull. But, I can do that next time…
ALSO, if you would like to watch an amazing slideshow on our hunt, go to: www.kellyhighbyphotography.com à enter the site à click on the “clients” tab à type in the password of “zim2007”
So, there it is… another close to an amazing hunt that I couldn’t imagine being any better… The friends, the country, the campfire, the hunting, the animals, the PH’s, the camp staff, the stars, the sunrises, the sunsets, the smiles you get as you remember where you are at this very moment and that you will wish you were right back in this very moment soon enough…
The worst part of Africa is leaving it…
Take care and thanks for reading this,
Kalahari Desert Safari – May 2007
By: Doug Stromberg
May 12th – Departed Portland on a late night flight arriving at Johannesburg, S.A. on the morning of the 15th. After going through gun control central I collected my things and flew to Kimberley, SA where I was met by Hans de Klerk. Later that night Hans and Marie took me out to dinner. After staying in Kimberley for the night we headed out for their facility in the Kalahari, which is located on the Botswana border.
May 16th – My main objective was to get a full manned Lion. Pass that I didn’t really have an agenda. Hans asked me what I was looking for and I told him whatever shows up first. As it turned out the Cape Eland was the first animal to show up. I was hunting with a .375 using 300 grain solids and soft point. With the first shot the Eland was off running with the herd. As he slowed down I could see he was hit pretty well. Elands are large animals and take follow up shots, which was the case here. They started to run again and I hit the old boy with a 300-grain solid, that was it he was down for good. A little later on in the day I took a nice Impala.
May 17th – First thing in the morning we headed out to a blind. After waiting about a half hour a nice Black Wildebeest showed up and I promptly dispatched him from the herd. The rest of the day and night we took a nice duiker and rounded up a springhare.
May 18th – This day consisted of taking a trophy blue Wildebeest and Impala #2.
May 19th – Saw a lot of game but could not get in position to harvest anything. The animals we got close to were not of trophy size. We did manage to see some old Lion sign.
May 20th – It was windy on this Sunday and the animals were not staying put. They were moving at the first sign of anything. I did manage to get a nice Blesbuck.
May 21st – The 21st ended up being a special day. We had seen more Lion tracks about two days old. The first animal of the day was a Red Hartebeest. The stalk went well he didn’t even know we were there. There were three animals in the dense thorn bush. The second animal to walk out was the best and with one shot from the .375 the Red Hartebeest was on the ground. We had chased Gemsbok throughout the last few days with no results. Finally we decided to go to a pan where we had seen them a few times. Nothing happened for 30 minutes or so. Then all of a sudden about two-dozen Gemsbok showed up. Our brush blind was too good they were literally on top of us. We waited and waited; after forty five minutes they started to get up and move around. Then, as it many times happens everything was in high gear. Animals moving in front of animals and trying keep track of the right one. The one we wanted was a large male with long horns. As the group started to move it was now or never. As the animal opened up I took the shot. The herd kept moving and we lost track of our Gemsbok. Finally the dust cleared and there he was. He was huge, 41” to be exact. Needless to say we were pleased. Little did I know the day wasn’t over yet. A tracker came and found us at the skinning shed and gave us good news. He had located fresh Lion tracks and we were to come right away. After arriving at the location of the tracks we left the truck a proceeded on foot. Earlier in the day we had been within 30 yards of a Leopard in the brush. Before getting to the Lion tracks we came across three Cheetah tracks. It seemed like every large predator in the area had decided to show up in this particular region of the Kalahari.
Anyway back to the Lion Tracks. The head tracker lead the way and after making our way through thorn bush and tall grass he suddenly stopped and pointed to a bush. I stepped up to his side and realized that a large male Lion was behind the bush. I knew there wasn’t a lot of time he was no more than twenty-five yards away. In one motion I raised the .375 up and fired a 300-grain soft point. The bullet found its mark in the shoulder area. The Lion turned and was heading for the thorn bush. The second shot was a 300-grain solid through the back of the neck and out the throat area. That’s all it took. He was down for the count and I had a MGM Grand full mane Lion. We had a special dinner that night and I looked up at the sky to say thanks to the old mighty for allowing me such good fortune to take three great trophies in the same day.
May 22nd – This day started by receiving a call from Andre. He said he was out running the dogs and he had seen a Caracal. He said if I wanted it to hurry and he would keep the dogs on the trail. We arrived in short fashion with the dogs in hot pursuit. I quickly put in a solid and shot the animal. The rest of the day was filled with checking out animals. We made a few stocks but nothing worked out. I did manage to get some nice photos of seven giraffes together.
May 23rd – Had another great day of hunting. We took a 27”+ Nyala, 30”+ Waterbuck, and a nice Kudu. I shot the Kudu twice in the shoulder but ended up trailing him over two miles. What a tough animal. The rest of the day was consumed by tracking and trying to out smart a brown hyena. We lost even with five people tracking him. However I must say it was fun trying to outsmart the old boy.
May 24th – This day consisted of taking four different types of animals that are somewhat unusual. We took and Ostrich, Aardvark, Genet, and an African Wild Cat. I had a fun day of hunting.
May 25th – I rounded out the Safari by taking a White Blesbuck right at dark. This completed my Kalahari Desert Safari with De Klerk Safaris. Hands and Marie de Klerk run a first rate company that is very customer service oriented. They operated in a very professional matter and are very business like. They hunt on ranches and free range however the ranch hunting isn’t like a typical ranch. The sand is soft and many of the predators and game animals simply go underneath the fences. You are pretty much right on the Botswana border in the Kalahari Desert. I highly recommend the hunt. Great animals, food, and lodging.
Visit the Gallery for more images from the trip.
Safari Care Blue Bag for the Ebenezer Christian School
In May 2007, I left on another African Hunting Trip. Dale Matthews, Portland SCI President, asked me to take a safari care blue bag on my African Trip. I told him I would be glad to take it and present it to a worthy school. Since I was hunting with De Klerk Safaris in the Northern Cape I decided to ask Hansand Marie de Klerk who might get the most benefit from such a care package. Marie phoned around and made the perfect choice. The Ebenezerch Christian Facility is a small private African school. Robbie Cameron and his wife operate the school with little or no funding. The school is located near Bray in the Northern Cape region.
The School and the Headmaster were expecting us. We visited in the morning. They had prepared coffee, tea, and cookies for our visit. After making the presentation to the class, Robbie asked us to stay a few minutes because the teachers and students had prepared some entertainment. The kids did some native dancing and put on a nice show. Robbie and I talked about funding at the school. He explained to me that these were rural kids and funding was also tight. I was so moved by what he told me that I made a personal donation to the school so the kids could have heaters in their classrooms.
We have so much in America that sometimes it is easy to forget that people have to do a lot with almost nothing. The class and its teachers thanked SCI and myself for delivering such fine donations. I encourage any SCI Member to take few minutes out of your hunt to make a “blue bag donation.” It’s well worth it.
Two deer hunters were standing on a ridge near a highway in rural Minnesota on the opening day of deer season. They both saw a trophy-class buck meandering towards them. As the one hunter raised his gun to shoot, a funeral procession came slowly by.
Birthday at the Big K
As someone once said, "Time marches on", but as you get older it seems to be more of a stampede. I have hunted wild turkeys since my college days at Virginia Tech in the mid sixties. Returning to Tech after several years in the Army as a military policeman and game warden stationed at Fort Lewis, Washington, to work on my masters degree in Wildlife Management, I and another graduate student, Dave Guynn, got serious about it, hunting turkeys in Virginia, Alabama and Mississippi. We even made our own diaphragm mouth calls.
After earning my Masters, I decided working in the field of wildlife management was not the career for me, so my wife, Frances, and I loaded up our twin sons and Vizsla pup and headed west to Portland, Oregon in June of 1974. No job and at the height of the recession. Remember the gas lines and even/odd days for gas? I made one phone call and got a job doing remodeling and home construction. I did this for four years while I built up my taxidermy business, going full time in September of 1978.
I started doing taxidermy work for Chapter member Dr. Gerald Warnock in 1975 and we started doing a little hunting together. We hunted Fort Lewis in Washington for black-tail deer that fall and Jerry shot a forked horn buck. This was the first black-tail he ever took. In 1976 we drew mountain goat tags for the Mount Daniels area in Washington but after hiking in seventeen miles in the rain, spending seven days in the rain and only getting to hunt one half day, we walked out seventeen miles in the rain. On the way out we ran into a couple of hunters on horseback, who were heading in. Dr. Warnock gave them his phone number and they called later to report that they hunted for ten days in the rain and never could get into the goat area because of heavy snow and low cloud cover. Back in the mid 1970s Washington issued almost one thousand goat tags, now they issue less than seventy five. What has happened?
Back then you had to put in for a drawing for turkeys and the only area to hunt was the White River unit on the east side of Mount Hood. I would draw a tag every second or third year and usually be successful in harvesting a gobbler.
Over the past several years I have had clients hunt turkeys with great success on the Big K Guest Ranch in Elkton, Oregon. The Big K in located on the Umpqua River and specializes in fishing. I booked a three day hunt for April 18 thru 20 to break the spell. My wife Frances would accompany me on the trip. We left the afternoon of the 17th for a three hour drive in the pouring rain, not a good sign. Turkeys do not like the rain. We met our guide Larry Magee upon arrival. Larry works in a lumber mill in Roseburg and is married to one of the daughters of the owner, Alvin Kesterson. The Big K is a 2500 acre working cattle ranch with ten miles of frontage on the main u of the Umpqua River. The guest lodge and 20 surrounding cabins, sufficient to accommodate 250 people, was built 12 years ago. After an excellent dinner in the spacious dining room, where we were the only guests, Frances and I walked back to our cabin with the sun setting in the west and a black bear feeding on the hillside across the river from our cabin. That bear had to have found something good to eat for we watched it every now and then for almost an hour and it did not move ten feet.
Spring turkey hunting is an early morning affair. Wakeup at 4 am. Breakfast at 4:30. Put on full camo, including gloves and facemask. We did not have to go far for Larry had a pop up blind in the field just below the lodge. The rain had stopped but the walking was pretty muddy and soggy. The plan was to try and intercept the birds as they came off the roost and fed across the field. It was fairly quiet as daylight approached, no gobbling due to ground fog and high humidity conditions.
Daylight finally arrived and with 10X binos we could make out several ghostly shapes moving our way. From less than one hundred yards we could not tell if the birds were hens or gobblers. Every once in a while you a hen clucked, but no gobbling. Several hens were now within ten yards of the blind and walking past it, then I noticed the long beards on several approaching gobblers, one dragged the ground and had to be an inch and a half wide. As they started to walk behind the blind, I attempted to turn 180 degrees to my left. The smaller gobbler was in front so I figured I had plenty of time to get in position, but when I looked out of the slit in the blind I realized the big gobbler was now in front. Attempting a hurried and off balance shot at the big boy, I fired the 12ga. 3 inch Browning BPS shotgun with the stock snugly nestled half way between my shoulder and elbow! These short, lightweight turkey guns are equivalent to shooting a 458 Win Mag. I thought my shoulder was broken. It still bothers me now. Even more painful, I missed the turkey. We watched him fight several other gobblers and chase a lone hen all over the field, but he never came into shotgun range again that morning. Larry and I headed back to the lodge at about 10 am.
The sun had come out and the ground fog was gone, so we decided to drive to the lower end of the ranch and check out that area. Frances was now with us. I switched shotguns back at the cabin, now carrying my German made Browning Auto 5 12ga. 3 inch mag with a 32 inch full choke barrel. I have taken over thirty birds with this gun. I should have taken it this morning for it does not miss.
There must have been fifty birds in that lower field with a dozen or more gobblers. All three of us slipped over the bank and walked along the river until we thought we should be in about the middle of the turkeys. As we crawled up to the edge of the field, most of the birds were a hundred yards or more from where we were, but luck was on our side in that there was a young hen not fifteen feet from us. Larry started calling very softly and this little hen started clucking also. This caught the attention of six gobblers who stopped feeding and started strutting and gobbling towards our position. Larry could watch the whole show and I could see a little of it through the berry vines, but Frances was still below the bank and could see nothing but definitely could hear the ruckus that six mature gobblers were putting on. The first bird was now only about fifteen yards away in full strut going to my right. When he came past the tree that I was lying behind I rose to one knee, the gobbler saw my movement and stretched its neck out. Perfect, one down one to go. My first birthday turkey in twenty five years! The bird was a three year old weighing 21 pounds with a nine inch beard almost one inch thick. All pellets hit it in the head, definitely one for a life-size mount.
After lunch Frances and I sat on the back deck of the cabin enjoying a bottle of white wine, soaking up the sunshine while watching now two black bears feeding on the hillside across the river.
At dinner that evening Frances said she was not feeling well. Wakeup call was even earlier the next morning for Larry wanted to hunt another ranch about an hour south of Elkton. Frances decided to stay in bed. The ranch that we were heading for had a smart old bird that Larry had been attempting to get for one of his hunters for several years. Last year the big gobblers walked less then ten feet behind the hunter, who never saw it.
We arrived at the ranch just as daylight was breaking. Larry put on rubber knee boots for we had to cross a stream before we could get into the area that we wanted to hunt. This area was much different than the Big K, lots of rolling hills with scrub oak and madrone. We could hear several gobblers on top of the ridge, so we headed to Larry's favorite position on the property and we each picked a tree to sit in front of, with Larry about ten yards behind me. Larry called several times and got immediate responses. I could see movement on the ridge and could see three gobblers making their way toward our position. Larry called again, but quite softly and three birds gobbled at the same time. As they got closer I realized that all three were "jakes" or first year gobblers, not what we were looking for. They circled all around looking for that hen coming within six feet of both of us at different times. They finally moved off and Larry decided to try another area of the ranch. We were heading down a long ridge when we looked in the field below and realized that we had spooked a flock of turkeys with a big gobbler following about a half dozen hens. What now? We decided to work our way down to another field that was full of junk cars and trucks. The rancher told Larry that the birds liked to feed amongst the junk vehicles. Larry started calling and got an immediate gobble, but quite a ways off. After about fifteen minutes Larry motioned me to come up to his position higher up on the ridge. From there I could see the three jakes attempting to fight the big gobbler through a cattle fence. Sure wished I had a video camera. The jakes gave up and headed up the next ridge with the big gobbler right behind them. We made a half circle to get in front of them and set up only to have those same three jakes come to our calls again but the big gobbler was not with them. We named those three jakes "The Three Stooges" as we headed back to the truck.
After eating our lunch at the truck, Larry decided to head to another farm about twenty minutes away. It was fairly small, about 200 acres with a beautiful old farmhouse that was vacant. As soon as we stepped out of the truck we heard a turkey gobble. It was 1 pm and he was gobbling his fool head off. I sat by the pump house while Larry sat on the back porch and called ever so softly. He continued gobbling but we could also hear a hen calling. After an hour of sitting and waiting, no luck. That gobbler was not about to leave that hen. We decided to take a nap and try calling again at about four o'clock. Four o'clock came and Larry started softly clucking. It sounded like a jet heading my way and as I looked up a hen turkey glided over my head and landed in the front yard and walked around the back. Larry heard it calling and thought it was another hunter and got up to investigate, saw the hen and sat back down right away. That big boss gobbler was quite upset. He was gobbling and double gobbling and heading our way. It sounded like he headed down the ridge along the edge of the cattle pasture and would come right through the front gate into the yard. I was ready but not for what was about to happen. The next gobble was right behind me not ten feet away. Larry had called that turkey through a blackberry patch and it strutted past him at a mere five feet. The gobbler saw me as I turned he putted and was off a-running. My first shot at about ten yards missed his head as he leapt into the air and was now trying to gain altitude over the blackberry patch. My second shot found the mark and big gobble lay upon the blackberries. This bird was twenty two pounds with a ten inch beard
Arrived at Blaauwkrantz Safaris at their ranch. Got unpacked and met my P.H. for this trip. Françoise Rudman is the youngest son of Arthur and Trinette Rudman. He grew up on the ranch and understands the animals quite well. He judges animals quickly and knows where they are likely to be.
After a quick lunch we headed out to see what was about. We spotted a Waterbuck Bull and some Eland. None of them were of trophy quality so we moved on. As we approached the river we spotted three Nyala females. Francois wanted to wait feeling that a bull might be in the area. A few more minutes passed and a dark colored male appeared. The animal was a mature male with nice horns for the area so with a shot from my .375 H & H the first trophy of the safari was on the ground.
Francois and I met for breakfast to discuss plans for the day, since I like Kudu that would be our first step of the day. Within the first hour, we started to see game, a couple of Kudu’s showed up but there were fairly small. A little while longer and a nice Kudu bull appeared. I raised the .375 and shot with positive results. The first Cape Kudu was ours and later on I could not resist taking a nice Impala.
This day’s discussion started with talking about Lechwe. A few hours later we managed to locate a herd of small rams and females. After about 30 minutes we located a nice Ram bedded down in the brush. We started the stalk but about ¾ the way through the ram jumped up and took off. Right before entering the bush he took one look back, which allowed enough time for a quick shot. The bullet hit the shoulder and he was down.
The morning of the 13 th saw us heading to the town of Bedford. Arthur’s daughter and son-in-law, Phillip, live up there on a farm. They also are part of the hunting Rudman organization. The Bedford area has a lot of hunting ranches around it. The object for going up there was the mountain animals and the Bontebok. The Bontebok is very similar to a common Blesbok except it has a lot more white markings and a shinier cape. We completed the Bontebok hunt in grand fashion with the longest horn being over 16”. The landowner knew exactly where to look. Next up was a black Springbok, which took a couple of hours to locate and hunt.
This day required us to go to Tam Farms property in Cradock. We were going to dart a Rhino and hunt a Pierre David Deer. The Rhino dart I wasn’t really sure of, however, after looking for a Rhino for 3 hours it was obviously a real hunt. We finally got onto a Bull. The stock took about 1-½ hours. The dart had to be placed well in order for the hunt to success. Peter Tam was my P.H. and despite his young age he knew exactly what he was doing. Peter was excellent at stalking Rhino’s. We got within 20 yards and darted the animal in the right rear quarter section. After pictures the vet gave him a shot and he was up and about in a few minutes. We hunted the Pierre David Deer for a few hours. Peter stated a large male was in the area, although we had not seen him yet. It was getting dark and felt we would probably have to come back in the morning. We came out of the last bit of brush and there he was. A hundred and fifty yard shot and the deer was ours.
June 15th & 16th
The morning of the 15 th found Francois and myself heading for his sister’s house up in the mountains. Phillip was to be the main P.H. on these hunts. The animals to be hunted were Vaal Rhebuck and Mountain Reedbuck. We got a nice Vaal Rhebuck on the 15 th and connected on two Mountain Reedbucks on the 16 th. Both the Mtn. Reedbuck males were bedded down which is somewhat unusual.
The morning hunt brought nothing but the afternoon session brought very good success. I was lucky enough to connect on a fallow deer, common reedbuck and the white springbok.
This day will go down as one of the most interesting days I have ever had hunting. The following is the short version of what took place back on Blaauwkrantz Ranch. We met our crew and dogs in the morning. It was time to go Bush Pig hunting. To say that Jerry and his crew were a piece of work would be an understatement. The dogs were chasing two pigs early on. They ran every which way in the thorn bush. The pigs seemed to keep moving non-stop.
The idea seems to be to bay the pigs up and then back the dogs off so the hunter can get a shot. That’s about the way the first pig hunt went. The second hunt went unfolded totally different. First off the large sow ran all over the place and about three times as far as the first pig.
She bayed up but struck out at one of the lead dogs hurting it badly on the leg. She had to be taken to the truck and later to the vet. The Bush Pig ran onto the neighbor’s property and then across the railway tracks. The dogs picked up the scent again and came back across the tracks. Jerry yelled stop and Francois slammed on the brakes, which caused Jerry and two of the black helpers to hit the top of the vehicle and go head over heals over the front hood hitting the ground. Jerry got up and obviously had the wind knocked out of him. One of the helpers hit the mirror and broke the antenna. The pig came back across in front of the truck. Jerry took a snap shot and missed. The pig meanwhile went back underneath the fence followed by the pack of dogs. Back and forth the chase went. We ran through the thorn bush trying to keep up with the dogs while Jerry shouted orders. All the while cutting up legs, arms, and clothes.
Finally the pig backed into some bush and the dog handler backed the dogs off long enough for me to get two shots into the pig. Now the dog handler was a big guy. He threw the pig on his shoulders and plowed through the brush. He carried it to the crossroad. His legs were all cut up. I offered a tissue but he didn’t want it. Instead he rubbed dirt in his wounds to stop the bleeding. Tough isn’t the right word; if this guy was not a rugby player I would be surprised. At the end of this hunt, we had two Bush pigs down. What an experience. Luckily nobody was badly hurt.
Later on that evening I managed to stock up and take a nice male Cape Bushback. There were three Rams in the clearing at the same time.
We managed to get a Waterbuck and another Cape Kudu. The .375 was performing well so far.
The 20th brought the beginning of the Duiker saga. We managed to get two Duikers. It is my opinion that this Duiker should be called an Eastern Cape Bush Duiker. It doesn’t look anything like the common Bush Duiker that is further north. These animals are darker in color with black in the face. They also seem to have larger horns. The 20 th also brought the taking of the third Kudu Bull.
We traveled about 1-½ hours up into the mountains to take the Caracals. The hound’s men had a pack of bloodhounds plus to wirehaired Terriers. After about half an hour with no success we moved to the next canyon. They had seen tracks the day before so we knew a large cat was working the area. We were not in the canyon fives minutes when the dogs picked up the scent. The cat treed after a few minutes but he didn’t stay up there long. He jumped out of the back of the tree. Most of the dogs didn’t see him. But the minute he hit the ground one of the Wired Hared Terriers was in hot pursuit. The cat ran behind a fallen aloe brush. I fired the shotgun and hit him. The then came up the hill straight for us. I let him pass because one of the small dogs was right on his tail. He started to further go up hill and I shot a second time. That brought the caracal down for good.
Later in the afternoon I connected on a white Blesbok.
This day started out very well by taking a Cape Eland. As the day and night went on it only got better. In addition to the Eland we got (2) Bush Duikers, Cape Grysbok, Porcupine and (4) Rock Rabbits.
This was the day of the blue Duiker. We traveled about 1-½ hours away to an area closer to the coast. We met our dog handlers and off we went. The handlers and dogs would enter the bush and try to direct the Duiker to us. There seemed to be two Duikers in each area. The first six or so drives had the Duikers running every which way. I guess they did not read the script.
Finally we got a drive where there was a big enough shooting lane to operate. The Duiker came running down the ridge moving at rapid pace. As he entered the shooting lane I started to swing the shotgun and with one shot of double-ot buck I had my blue Duikers. It was a male with good horns. These are one of the smallest Duikers in all of Africa.
By now, I had fulfilled most of the animals on my list and we just went out to see what was about. Once again, a nice Kudu showed up which I promptly took. Went night hunting and collected a Genet, Mongoose, and a Cape Fox.
Went sight seeing and to a local festival.
Well, that pretty much takes care of the hunting for this trip. Blaauwkrantz Safari’s has excellent facilities, food, and I enjoyed their company a lot. Anybody considering the Eastern Cape Region should consider them. It’s worth the trip.