African Safari 2010  Header

Gene & Lee's African Safari
South Africa - April 28 to May 24, 2010


Introduction to our African adventure!

April 28 - Edmonton to Calgary

April 29 - Calgary to Frankfurt

April 30 - Frankfurt to Jo'burg

May 01 - Jo'burg

May 02 - Jo'burg to Livingstone

May 03 - Victoria Falls, Zambia

May 04 - Livingstone to Jo'burg

May 05 - Jo'burg to Hazyview

May 06 - Kruger National Park

May 07 - Kruger National Park

May 08 - Kruger to Pongola

May 09 - Pongola to Durban

May 10 - Durban to Cape Town

May 11 - Cape Town to Gordon's Bay

May 12 - Gordon's Bay / Gansbaai

May 13 - Gordon's Bay / Stellenbosch

May 14 - Cape Town to Jo'burg

May 15 - Jo'burg to Lephalale

May 16 - First day of hunting safari

May 17 - Second day of hunting safari

May 18 - Third day of hunting safari

May 19 - Fourth day of hunting safari

May 20 - Fifth day of hunting safari

May 21 - Sixth day of hunting safari

May 22 - Seventh day of hunting safari

May 23 - Jo'burg to Frankfurt

May 24 - Frankfurt to Calgary


Sunday, May 16th - First day of hunting safari

Gene's Day - A knock on the door and I was up at 5:30 for a bacon & eggs breakfast at 6 a.m., then into the vehicle with Hans for the days hunt shortly thereafter. Just outside the compound we picked up our driver and tracker Freckie on the turnoff to a small settlement where the black farm and hunting lodge staff have their places to live. He jumped into the back seat and away we went to the Rose Valley concession.

It took us about 45 minutes to drive out to concession we were hunting in today. Each hunter was assigned a different concession for the day and each one is six to twenty thousand acres. We passed Savannah Safaris lodge on the way. I recognized their logo, Harold and I talked to those guys at the Sportsman Show in Edmonton back in March.

We hit the gate into the concession at 6:45. Hans and I climbed up into the truck box and Freckie took the wheel. Within the first ten minutes Hans had a very large blue wildebeest spotted ahead of the truck. He asked if I wanted it and I turned him down. At this time, wildebeest wasn't really an animal I wanted so we passed him up. I might regret that decision by the end of the week.

By 8 a.m. though, we had looked over a not quite good enough waterbuck, some more wildebeest, lots of impala and a couple of red hartebeest. Then Hans spotted two female gemsbok bedded down 150 yards away though the brush and trees. With gemsbok, the females generally have the longer horns and are often more sought after for trophies than males. And this was the case here.

As a side note and interestingly, Hans would communicate in English with me, Tswana with Freckie and the other blacks and Afrikaans with the landowners and other whites. From what I could tell he was equally fluent in all.

We had successfully stalked the animals up to 60 yards away when Hans set up the shooting sticks for me. However, I was still having a lot of difficulty making out larger of the two animals, mainly because they were both still lying down in heavy brush. The smaller one finally stood to stretch. All of this was happening over a ten minute period with the adrenalin pumping the whole time and me holding my rifle as steady as I could across the rest on the shooting tripod.

The one I was told I wanted stood a couple of minutes later. As she was rising I squeezed off the first shot and, missed! Had time for a second shot which I took even though she had started to move by then. We rushed over and immediately discovered my second shot had hit. There was a good amount of blood sprayed about.

Now the tracking started. We followed blood trail for 40 minutes or so through the brush and thorn bushes. Thorn bushes with prickles outnumber blades of grass in Limpopo province and they're nasty. They not only stick you and puncture your skin, they grab at your clothes and snare you. We finally came upon her again standing at 80 yards and the smaller one was still with her. I snapped off a quick shot which I'm sure missed and away she went again.

While Freckie the driver and I waited for Hans to pick up her trail again, a herd of 6 or 8 eland came grazing out of the bush behind us.

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We finally caught up to my gemsbok again lying under a tree at 9:45. After I finished her off with a close up neck shot, there were pictures and congratulations all around. My first African game animal and it was a nice gemsbok that Hans estimated had 34 inch horns.

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The guys were able to pull the truck within 30 yards of my trophy, hook the winch line on and winch her to and into the bed of the truck. Then we closed the tailgate, threw all our stuff back into the truck and drove back to the compound by 11:00 a.m. We drove right over to the skinning shed. Quentin was already there having shot a very nice impala and a decent blue wildebeest earlier in the morning.

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Rod and Johan came in shortly thereafter from a morning of unsuccessfully trying to locate the eland Rod had wounded the night before. No sign of Harold yet. However, those of us that were in camp had a hot lunch courtesy of Tiny.

All the Professional Hunter's in camp took off at around 2 p.m. to try to help locate an eland Brian Clark had shot and wounded earlier in the day. They even took a tracking dog. Hans came back at 3:30 and reported they were not successful. Meanwhile, I had kicked back for an hour or two. Hans and I started out again at 3:45.

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This time Hans took me over to Ben's Lodge concession. We had to ford the Matablas River to access it. Being on this property was like having your own little Kruger Park. There was a ton of game including giraffe, zebra, ostrich, gemsbok, kudu, waterbuck, wildebeest, impala, warthog, red hartebeest and more. However, the only real opportunity we had for game was a stalk we did on a very good impala at 5:00. But fifteen minutes into the stalk he heard us (meaning me) and bolted. By now we were losing our light so we headed for home.

We arrived back at the camp at 6:15 or so. Rod and Johan had pulled in just before us with a very nice red hartebeest Rod had shot during the afternoon hunt. Quentin and Arlene were back as well and hadn't scored. There was still no sign of Harold at 6:45. Concerned, I asked Bwana Pieter if he had any news and he said he'd call the truck. They answered and said they were 5 minutes out. A dejected Harold arrived with his dejected PH a few minutes later.

As it turned out, Harold and PH Pieter had unsuccessfully hunted hard on foot all morning, ate lunch in the field after which they started hunting again. They came upon a herd of gemsbok at around 3 p.m. that they successfully stalked. Harold took the shot and the chase was on. Harold, PH Pieter and their driver Issac spent the next three hours following blood trail which they finally lost. Therefore, a dejected Harold.

Harold's Day - Harold wasn't able to bring an animal in today, but by all accounts he had a great day for the most part.

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Back At The Ranch - Every evening Bwana Pieter decides where everybody goes the next day. Directing traffic ensures the different concessions aren't over-hunted and you're not running into any other hunter's while you're in there. He also tries to put you on the property that has the greatest likelihood of producing a good trophy of the species you're hunting that day.

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For dinner we had barbequed braised kudu steaks, wildebeest backstrap and venison sausage. Another excellent meal. Hit the room at nine to catch up on my notes and off to bed at a quarter after ten.

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