Dear Friends, Fellow Hunters & Adventurers
During May, we had the privilege to hunt once again with Tim and his precious family. Great hunting opportunities presented itself and we are delighted to share this report with you from Tim's own pen...
It has been a year since I hunted with Piet in Ladismith, West Cape Province. Upon leaving last year, we put in motion a plan to hunt Cape Buffalo in Vostershoop, North West Province. This dream recently came true.
Seven days in the Cape Karoo for a Cape Buffalo and Deer Hunt
My wife, two daughters, and I stayed with Piet for 7 days hunting... In preparation for the hunt, I spend hours on the gerbil wheel (stair climber) thinking I would be hiking up and down mountains as we did in Ladismith last year. The problem is there are no mountains in Northern South Africa. This will become a factor on the first day.
CAPE BUFFALO DAY...
My youngest daughter and I arrived late at night and immediately went to bed. Upon waking up to a frigid North SA morning (there was frost on the seat of the truck), we went to the lodge for what would become the tradition of a fabulous meal prepared by Daleen (pronounced De leon’). She would spend hours ensuring the clients in the camp were not only happy but well fed. After breakfast, we took a quick trip to the range to site in the guns. As expected, everything was right on target. I was given the privilege of hunting with Gawie’s (pronounced Gar’ vee) 416 bolt action.
WE STARTED OUT on the trail with Piet, Patrick (our most excellent tracker), Gawie (manager of the hunting property), Chris (the owner of the concession), my daughter and I.
All of the previous “hill” training didn’t prepare me for the walking we were about to encounter. The land is pretty flat but it was like walking on firm sand (some places firmer than others).
We drove around with Patrick sitting on the front of the truck when finally we picked up a herd of buffalo tracks near a watering hole and then started out on our adventure. After meeting up with the herd twice – and then spooking them off due to whirling winds, we decided to head back to camp for some lunch.
On our way back, my daughter, very tired and very hungry, said exactly what I was thinking –
“I don’t know if I can do this for seven days dad” and quietly in my mind I agreed. You see, the mornings are about 32 degrees and by the time we ended for lunch, it was about 80+ degrees. We were definitely overdressed and overheated.
After a delicious lunch, we took a quick nap and started out in the afternoon. Both of us dressed more appropriately (continuing in this dress code we had no problems hiking the remaining days) and immediately came upon some Buffalo. The wind seemed to die down a little and we decided to get upwind of the herd and have them come to us. Upon getting in position, something magical happened. It seems there was also a herd of plains game in front of the buffalo. As we anxiously awaited, we had Springbok, Blesbok, Zebra, and Eland within 40 feet of us. Very beautiful but also nerve racking as we were afraid we would spook them – and in turn the buffalo. Our patience (and being dead still) rewarded us as the buffalo herd soon arrived grazing. After I put my heart back in my chest, we stood watching the buffalo for the better part of 25 minutes. Piet continued to search the herd until he found a shooter for me. Hunting hours closed at 18:00 and the time now were 17:45. It was getting dark and we knew we would have to move quickly if we were to be successful before it was too dark. I took aim at the buffalo and Piet whispered to me “there is YOUR buffalo”. Now it was time to put up or shut up. Ensuring the proper placement for the shot was clearly the only thing running through my head. It was getting dark and I have seen how dangerous hunting can be with a wounded animal. Eventually, I took the shot and the herd ran off.
It was a clean kill and we celebrated as we walked up to this amazing beast. I can’t describe the feeling I had at that time, but let’s just say it watered my eyes.
THAT EVENING... After about 15 minutes, I was peering into the brush when I saw another buffalo about 40 yards from us... click to open pane
We quickly took pictures and waited for the vehicles to extricate the entire crew. I then noticed, Chris started a fire as the temperature started to cool. Little did I know, this fire was more for keeping the lions and other buffalo away as we stood in the pitch dark than for keeping us warm. After about 15 minutes, I was peering into the brush when I saw another buffalo about 40 yards from us. All you could make out was the outline through the darkness, but through bino’s it was clearly for his buffalo buddy. After about 30 tenuous minutes, the entire crew arrived with the extraction vehicle to gather the entire team and the trophy. My dream had been fulfilled but I truly didn’t comprehend the situation we were in until 3 days later. Sadly, Piet found out he lost a hunting companion as he was returning to extract his clients buffalo – the remaining herd trampled him. That is the mystique of big game hunting I guess.
The rest of the trip was fantastic!
DAY TWO: THREE IN ONE DAY!
As we started out the second day, Piet turned to me and said, “get ready to shoot first, the Black Wildebeests are just ahead.” My daughter had video duty that day, so she checked out mentally and fell to the back of line with the hunting party.
AS SOON AS WE TOOK THREE STEPS INTO THE BUSH, A BLESBOK APPEARED... All of us at the same time, turned to my youngest daughter and said,
“Get up here – you’re on!!!” She went from a dead calm to sheer excitement and she steadied the gun on the tripod. One shot and it fell.
Her first African animal. She was visibly shaking when walking up to the old blesbok – great trophy.
After Piet carried the trophy on his shoulders to the truck, we started out again. Quickly we were on the trail of our goal for that day. We eventually found a Black Wildebeest at about 140 yards among Gemsbok, Springbok, and Warthogs. As we were sitting behind a bush, Piet told me to put the gun on his shoulder and shoot.
Really – shoot from my knees? Luckily all of my practice before paid off. One heart shot, one animal down – even though we had to track it for about 300 yards- they are tough.
Two days, three animals. How awesome was this – but it gets better.
After returning for lunch, we started out again for a springbok for my daughter. Within one hour of walking, we came across a champion of an Impala and we decided to shoot. My daughter now had the opportunity to shoot from her knees at about the same distance (130 yards).
One shot and the animal went down. What a great two days of hunting – three animals in one day!!! Simply amazing. My daughter wrote me this note which I found the next morning before we started out. “Dad, thank you so much for an amazing day yesterday. Everything was incredible and I couldn’t imagine sharing that experience with anyone else…” That is what hunting is all about.
After A NIGHT OF CIGARS AND DRINKS around the fire, we headed out for my older daughter to shoot an impala.
DAY THREE: TWO IMPRESSIVE DEER TROPHIES
After a night of cigars and drinks around the fire, we headed out for my older daughter to shoot an impala. After being in the Peace Corps, she treasured this animal and wanted to cherish one to keep the memory of her time in Africa alive.
Within 10 minutes of walking through the woods, she was successful with a 75 yard shot. We then loaded up the trophy and started back.
As we were on our way back, a herd of THREE SPRINGBOKS ran in front of us. We decided to pursue them and after a 45-minute stalk, she was able to take a world class 16 ¼” Springbok. WHAT A TROPHY! That evening we attempted to pursue a Blue Wildebeest, but the animals got a vote and didn’t want to present us with a shot. After walking through the brush for about 3 miles, a cold beer tasted fantastic with our South African host around the fire.
DAY FOUR: THE CHALLENGE GOT US MORE DETERMINED
The next day we were back at it in the morning with the entire crew. We quickly came across a herd of Blue Wildebeest. My daughter took a shot at a beautiful bull – hit it, but it ran… and ran….. and ran… We took the rest of the day looking for it until we couldn’t walk anymore. My wife was a “lifesaver” in more than one way as she had a bag of Life Savers which was our energy (lunch) for the entire afternoon. Unfortunately, we never found the animal but were determined to find it in the morning. The family and team were clearly dejected that night but were determined to be successful the next morning.
DAY FIVE: REDEMPTION DRAW NEAR...
The new day brought new optimism. We started out and found a herd of Blue Wildebeests near where we lost the one the night before. We decided to pursue them and after about a 2 hour stalk, it was time for my daughter to redeem herself.
She took a 100 yard shot and the beast never got up again. Beautiful animal – great to get her confidence back. Great trophy.
That afternoon was to be our last night stand hunting as I really wanted a warthog. We decided to go to a watering hole and wait for one. We all knew it was probably too late for seeing a shooter, but it was good to get the five of us in a blind (it was only 10x10) waiting for what we could see. Lets just say the experience was unbelievable! We saw regular and albino Blesbok, multiple Kudus (one well over 50” but not on my shooting list), and a herd of Eland bulls. In the middle of our site, a troop of Vervet Monkeys came through. There must have been 50 to 75 of them. They were very curious about us in the shack and the troop set out to explore more. With 5-10 monkey 'guards' in front of us (about 25 yards), one of the males decided to go to the back of the shack and then jumped on top. We could hear him on the roof and just waited for him to jump through the opening. That would have freaked everyone out – no doubt! But that didn’t happen and we were able to make our presence known to them to have them move on as to not alert other animals. The night was capped off by 50 to 100 Cape Buffalo coming into the waterhole. What a special event to watch those incredible animals so close and undetected.
Sadly the trip came to an end. What an amazing experience, great family time, incredible hosts and superior hunting. Thank you Piet for setting everything into motion to make this a trip of a lifetime. It was a great opportunity to celebrate my youngest’s graduation from College and my oldest successful completion of her 2 year Peace Corps duty in Tanzania.
We are already starting to plan our next trip… the list is growing – Warthog, Sable, Golden Wildebeest and Albino Blesbok. Can’t wait to join our friends again!
Tim & Family