Gary's Plains Game Hunt in South Africa
I had the good fortune to hunt plains game with Angus Brown
Safaris in South Africa
Safaris Website the first two weeks in September, accompanied by my wife. It
was the first time to Africa for us both. We'd watched an Outdoor Channel
depiction of a gentleman collecting a monster Kudu with Angus and I waxed
eloquent about the blessing the man had received, and about how I'd never even
believed a Kudu could GET that large. Well, she asked me if I had ever thought
about going and I had to admit it had been a silently held life-long but I felt,
impossible dream. She was surprised since I have almost no hunting experience
but her only remark was, "Its time to stop dreaming and start planning". The
rest is shown below (if I can get the photo links to work).
We hunted SW of Johannesburg for a few days, and then moved up to the Limpopo river to finish the 14 days. Nick Kilbride was our PH and is married to Angus' daughter Sarah, a fine PH in her own right. They did an absolutely wonderful job for us. Food, accommodations, trophy care, etc. was beyond our best hopes. Our own preparations were adequate to the need and for that I want to thank all of you experienced Africa hands who post your experiences and advice on this site. You are largely responsible for the success of our trip. Indeed, without you we might not have actually taken it! Thank you.
I was able to collect 16 animals of 13 species. Each of them either a fine representative specimen or a book eligible trophy. First was the Zebra, as a sort of ritual test I think. I wasn't too enthused about killing one, but this guy's shadow stripes were very dark and that attracted me and changed my mind. A perfect shot on the front knuckle, destroying it and into the lungs and he ran only 40 yards. The ice was broken!
Next was my Gemsbok. Broken ice or not, I flinched big time and missed behind before planting the next shot on his shoulder and he went down quickly. Not a book eligible trophy but there was a lot of drama involved in the stalk and the experience could not have been better.
We found a superb Eland that evening but it was just too dark to
risk a shot and maybe losing him so passed him by.
We had had a mystery "bust" on our first stalk on some fine Black Wildebeest bulls that day, but looking for them the next day produced this fine bull AND a darn fine Springbok within 3 minutes of each other!
We had been sighted by the ram, but avoided and then lost track
of him on the stalk, then after taking the bull and while walking up to it, we
saw the ram facing away probably trying to figure out where the shot had come
from since there were a lot of boulders around for the sound to echo off of. At
170 yards and sharply quartering away he dropped as he took the first step of
his escape dash.
That evening we experienced a very dramatic, protracted stalk on
some Red Hartebeest bulls. The story is long in the telling but in short I took
a long shot at the very last possible moment before this bull would have
disappeared forever into the bush. I was proud of the stalk, of the shot and of
my own respect for this fine beast. It took me awhile to quit shaking. The 180
grain Nosler Accubond broke his shoulder, some ribs and can be seen under the
On our way to the skinning shed we sighted a Jackal that I
missed high and as he took off and as we laughed at his antics we continued on.
At near dark a few minutes later we sighted what was probably that big Eland
from the day prior. He was in a better spot and after a short but strenuous
sprinting stalk up hill, I had a good view through the scope. Nick couldn't see
him clearly to judge the horns effectively and said so. By then I had seen a lot
of Eland and I liked this one and said yes when Nick asked if I would be happy
with him. "If you're happy, I'm happy, he said and at the shot the bull ran 30
yards up hill and caved in. He took 10 of us to load in a truck!
Thank goodness I'd missed the Jackal! This fellow made it four
magnificent trophies in one day!
The next day we toured some local sights for a break but Nick and I ended up spending the afternoon after a particularly nice Springbok ram we had seen several times but never could get to. One prior stalk on him resulted in getting busted by a Reedbuck we rousted from his bed in the grass. We were nose to nose with him at no more than 5 yards before he finally decided to get out of Dodge and took the Springbok ram with him. This ram was very good at picking protected spots from which to hide out and look for danger. Another long circling and tense stalk, largely on our knees and bellies, and this time "blind" for we didn't know for sure if he was still where we had spotted him, I took him at 70 yards but hit too far back. He ran about 200 before folding.
In the Limpopo province we had access to quite varied country.
From Riverine jungle right on the river, to more inland very dry and thick thorn
bush. Again, the stories are long and for me, very thrilling. All fair chase
hunting on our feet, and we saw game in huge numbers and variety. Impala turned
out to be a nemesis of mine but I took 3 nice rams. That is a story in itself,
part of it very unflattering to my mental preparation for a long shot. Anyway,
this is the best of them.
The Blesbuck took two shots to put down. That stalk was over
completely open ground for over 300 yards to where I could feel confident in the
shot, to a SLEEPING group of rams guarded by very alert Kudu cows. Another great
Even better was the three hour stalk following a herd of Blue Wildebeest bulls. Repeated set-ups to no good end when finally at near dark we were literally in the middle of the herd looking for the best one. The closest was within 25 yards and for fully 30 minutes none of the 3 of us moved a muscle. It was like he was on sentry duty, watching off in the direction we had been coming from before moving to the flanks. Finally this bull wandered into view and dropped instantly at the shot from 70 yards. PANDEMONIUM erupted and we were lucky to not get run over as animals were running from EVERYWHERE!
The next day I shot this little Steenbok. I had no desire to pursue the miniatures but changed my mind over the course of the hunt. Realizing how hard they were to see and approach I changed my mind when we spotted this little guy. Another long and frustrating stalk, complete with serious thorn wounds in sensitive places ended with him dropping instantly from a 175 yard shot. He never knew we were there, but just kept moving and finally we just couldn't get any closer.
Next came this old Warthog after we stumbled into one another at
the crest of a very steep jungle hill on the river's edge. In the Army we would
have called it a "Meeting Engagement". Shot at 10 yards he only ran a couple
more. He sure is ugly! (The one with the tusks I mean). Almost all the hogs we
saw were already running.
I had wanted a Waterbuck too and we hunted them every day and saw them nearly every day. We just could never get close enough to the one I wanted. We passed up several fine bulls in the process until the last day when we hunted them exclusively and I was resigned to not taking one. I had no complaints. It was a fabulous experience in all respects. As we were leaving the river bottom to return to our lodge, Sharon spotted this bull with a whole punch of cows and young ones. Nick and I had missed them completely! In the thickest cover and after yet another dramatic stalk against alert cows, and with us busted by a Grouse which fed right to our immobile forms before flushing in a furious beating of wings and cackles, with gathering darkness we finally got to within 60 yards of him. Nick said, "He's coming to that opening, get ready". I got ready. Then he wandered into the clearing and Nick was telling me to shoot and I was saying no he's too small! Nick is going nuts! SHOOT! That's when I realized I was looking at the wrong bull! After recovering and after the shot he ran only 40 yards to finish my safari with a fine Waterbuck bull in the last 30 minutes of light on the last day of a 14 day hunt. Drama anyone?
For those who "lurk" here and dream but who have not yet gone I say, if you can do it, you must. If you cannot do it, you must find a way.