On 6 August 2016 my Norwegian client Terje Lastein landed at O.R Tambo International Airport, as we met for the first time in the arrival hall I could see that this man was so exited to finally be in Africa and could not wait to start hunting. We quickly went to the Rifle Import office and waited patiently for the policemen to do their work behind the counters, after about 45 minutes we were out of there with the clients rifle and off we went towards our hunting destination.
Our hunting destination was situated 30 minutes outside of Hoedspruit, Limpopo, South-Africa that is a 5 hours drive from the airport. The road quickly passed as we got to know each other, we were sharing stories and experiences from birth to current affairs. The scenery on the way is quite spectacular with many small towns to stop and stretch your legs. We finally arrived in Hoedspruit and stopped to fill the cooler boxes with Ice for our first part of the hunt and headed off to our first destination. We arrived at 17H00 were we were greeted by the Lodge host with welcoming drinks and cold face cloths to freshen up.
The first night was spent around the camp fire where we introduced the client to the local staff and had our filling on some braai meat. The proceedings of the next morning was discussed and we headed off to bed to get a fresh start the next morning.
The morning could not arrive quickly enough as myself and the client could not wait to start hunting. Our first stop was the shooting range were we just ensured that the clients .375 H&H Blaser R8 fitted with a Swarovski telescope was hitting the mark. After taking 3 shots out of the bench and 3 shots from shooting sticks I knew we were in for a great hunt as all of the rounds were neatly grouped inside of the bull.
We set off into the bush and planned on shooting some Impala Rams first just to settle the nerves. It wasn’t long before we found a nice heard of Impala with a good size ram, so the stalk began. We were not successful on our first 3 attempts to try and get within shooting range but we stuck to it and finally a Impala Ram gave us the opportunity and Terje shot a perfect shot, dropping the Impala in its tracks.
The rest of the day was spent looking for fresh signs of buffalo and scouting the farm for some good warthog. Just before dark we found another good looking Impala ram and Terje quickly got in position to produce yet another lethal shot.
We headed back to camp after the animals were loaded and enjoyed a night around the fire.
The second day we had one thing in mind and that was Buffalo! After a warm breakfast we headed off into the bush to locate one of the numerous herds on the concession. We spent lots of time glancing through binoculars to find the perfect animal but we did not have the best of luck in the morning.
We headed to to camp for lunch and a quick nap as the sun was very hot during the day.
When the temperature was a bit more bearable we headed off to track a group of buffalo we spotted earlier that day. They did not move to far from where we spotted them and we had to get our way into the herd without being noticed. There was a dry river bed to the side of the herd and the wind was perfect for that ambush. We walked to enter the river bed about 400m away from the buffalo herd, on the way there we noticed numerous Black and White Rhino hanging around on a plain just behind us and we were very aware of them at this stage. Slowly but surely we got ourselves into position where we could see most of the herd without them seeing us, at this stage the closest buffalo was standing 30 meters away from us. Our position was perfect as the trees around the river bed were casting dark shadows that hid us well and the wind was directly in our faces. We scouted the herd for what felt like a lifetime when we suddenly heard a big grunt and the tell tale sound of a Black Rhino charging our way. There was a Black Rhino with a calf that moved in behind us as we were scouting the buffalo and as soon as they got our wind the mother decided to protect the young….. Within second we had Terje in the nearest tree and i was scrambling to find the next tree big enough to get us out of sight of the Rhino. The adrenaline was pumping in our veins not knowing the Rhino’s next move but she quickly lost interest and ran away with the calf behind her.
Surely after all this commotion the Buffalo’s must have moved off? well as we got ourselves towards ourselves again we realised that the buffalo were still in the area and that they did not move to far away. We got back into a good shooting position and was glancing the herd for a good old cow to take from the herd. There she was, standing broadside and Terje quickly placed the bullet just behind her shoulder, she went 30 meters before dropping to the ground and giving her death bellow.
At this stage the sun was almost gone and i was grateful that the shot was perfectly placed.
We had quite the challenge to get the rest of the herd away to load this buffalo, but it was worth every second. That night we celebrated around the fire with a good meal and some great whiskey Terje got on his way to South Africa.
Now that the Buffalo was down that we had to hunt on that concession we decided to use our time to find a nice warthog, but the owner also informed us that he had a problem Giraffe Bull that kept on breaking the fences to fight with the Giraffe next door. We were on the lookout for this Giraffe from the first day but could not find the one with the nick in its ear as the farm owner described to us around the fire.
We headed to a open plane where the farm workers earlier spotted the Giraffe and on the way there we stumbled upon a good looking Warthog, the Warthog disappeared over a embankment but i was sure it was not going to go far. Terje quickly got his rifle ready and we walked towards the spot where i last spotted it, sure enough it didnt go far and was standing between some bushes feeding on roots. The shot went off and the Warthog dropped in its tracks, yet another perfect shot.
We loaded the animal and we proceeded to the area where the Giraffe was spotted earlier. As we got to the area the Giraffe was not there but we proceeded to scout the area. Then to our surprise the first Giraffe bull we see is the one the owner described, the one we have been looking for! Terje loaded his .375 H&H and got into shooting position, the Giraffe was looking directly at us and i was trying to explain where he should aim on the body. The Giraffe turned broadside and this time Terje knew exactly where the bullet needed to be place. The shot went off and i could see the bullet hit the perfect spot. The beast came down within 10 meters and both myself and Terje were mesmerised with the size of this animal.
It is no easy task to take photos of a fully grown Giraffe Bull and even a bigger task skinning the animal and cutting it up. Due to the size of the Giraffe we had to get a team of men out into the field to skin and cut the Giraffe up right where it fell, this took a couple of hours and on that note our day was done.
We headed to a nearby plain for a sundowner in the bush and to talk about our experiences on the first concession.
The next morning we were off to the next hunting concession where we would hunt the other two buffalo left on the quota. On arrival the local staff quickly unloaded all our equipment and food and we were off to recheck the rifle zero and to scout out the roads for fresh buffalo movement.
After breakfast the next day we headed out to a area where we spotted some fresh tracks the previous day and it wasn’t long before we located the herd. The buffalo were standing in some thick bush and we waited for them to move out into the open so that we could select the correct cow to shoot, but after about 2 hours they didn’t move allot at all. We decided to move position and to try the same tactics and sure as daylight the some old buffalo cows moved into a shootable position and once I selected the cow the Sheriffs gun went off and once again hit the mark. The cow went about 20 meters and it stood there swaying around and then she went down.
With a happy client and 3 more hunting days we decided to spend the rest of the day looking for some plains game and found a nice Warthog at a watering hole. This Warthog took a .375 H&H straight through the brain.
After the Warthog we drove around the concession a bit to look for the Lions as we were walking over their fresh tracks the entire day so we knew they were in the area. We spotted one male lion later that afternoon but we could not get a clear picture of it as it kept low in the long grass and sticked to thick cover but we managed to take a pic of its spoor.
The Bullet with the Lion paw print is a .450 N.E
As the day drew to a close we headed back to camp and enjoyed the night talking about the days happenings around the camp fire.
The next morning we were on the spoor for Buffalo again as we had to take one more Buffalo Cow to complete our quota. While driving to check for spoor we spotted the buffalo herd out in the open crossing a dry dam on their way to the watering point. Myself and Terje got into shooting position and waited for the rest of the herd to move into shooting position, they crossed in single file and we glanced through allot of them before we spotted the correct cow, she was slowly walking broadside and came to a halt when the Blaser barked. She disappeared out of our site into the bush but we did not see her come out the other side as the rest of the heard was milling around.
We decided to walk up and look for blood spoor where we took the shot on her, at this position we found good blood that we followed for less than 50 meter and there she was down.
What a time we had with these Buffalo! but now we still had hunting time left and Terje badly wanted to shoot a big Baboon so we quickly decided on our game plan and started building ourself a blind within shooting range from a watering hole where we put our some oranges for them to smell the scent from far away. The Troop of baboons came in after what seemed like a lifetime but they were very wary and the big male just kept himself out of shooting range.They eventually moved off and i thought our chance with the Baboons were over, but sure enough they came back as they could just not resist getting one of those oranges! The male passed a very small shooting gap and Terje took the shot. at this point i could not see the Baboon as i had a tree in my direct path to where he shot the baboon so i was just hoping he made a good shot on him. We quickly found the spoor and started tracking the baboon and found him about 80 meters from where the shot wads taken. Terje could not believe our luck and had a smile that almost wrapped around his head.
We decided to stay in the hide for the rest of the afternoon as we still had some daylight left and managed to get another cracker of a warthog.
That night around the camp fire all we could talk about was the luck with the Baboon and how our odds were really low to see them there that day yet alone get them to come by past twice.
The last day started with a coffee and some eggs and bacon, Terje asked me if we could try and better his impala trophy so that was the game plan for the last day. We headed out and stalked many hearts of Impala that day but we could just not get a shot at the big ones as the wind was all over the place and stalking was almost impossible.
After a long day we finally closed into a old Impala Ram that was perfect. We stalked them using a termite mound as our cover and when we got to the mound three Impala rams of similar size was standing looking straight at us. One turned broadside and the .375 went off again. The Ram ran off and we noticed that he was hit a bit to far behind so the tracking started and there was only about 30 min of light left so we had to find it quickly before it became hyena food. We found it again about 400 meter from where we started following it and Terje shot him again through some thick brush hence the big entry wound. Despite everything we were happy and ended the hunt off at a high note.
What a Hunt! Next time the Sheriff is in town the animals will know to hide from that deadly trigger finger and marksman accuracy.