As in previous years our newsletter is one of the most popular sections of our web site. I have already been asked several times when I will be starting the newsletter for this year and after a delay because of my safari to Africa I am proud to present the 2010 newsletter.
All of our staff from 2009 have returned for this season, which is a good indication as to how dedicated they are to Cruiser Safaris. These outstanding dedicated individuals are the main reason we are one of the finest safari destinations in South Africa. Already this year our PH’s have guided our hunters to some outstanding record book animals and our chef, Delmarie, continues to amaze our guests with her culinary delights.
I have just returned from my annual visit. Over the years I have been there every month of the hunting season except May and this year I wanted to see first hand what this month was like. The rainy season is usually from December through February and then there is little rain until the rainy season begins again. This year we have had some rain in March, April and May which is great for the animals, as a long dry period can adversely effect the well being of the animals and their young. Everything there in May is still green, the river is flowing and the animals are enjoying this season of plenty.
With proven sound game management practices over the years Pieter has obtained a couple of new exclusive concessions which gives us over 200,000 acres of exclusive hunting areas for our guests. We also now have 2 bow hunting only properties. In the past we have had limited bow hunting, however with these new properties we are able to offer a bow hunting package. This package is only available from July through October which is the dry time and allows our bow hunters to be completely successful in their hunts.
Each year every hunter is included in our newsletter. I include where they are from and all of the animals that they take. Those trophies that qualify for the record book are indicated and in the case of Kudu’s, their size is also listed. All trophy pictures that are sent to me are included as well. To give the reader a sense of what everyone’s safari was like from the hunter and non hunter aspect, the stories that are included in the newsletter are those that are written by our clients. These personal stories have proven to be an excellent addition for the reader. There is sometimes a delay in receiving the safari stories so continue to check back as these stories will be added as they come in to me.
A special thank you goes out to those that have contributed their safari story and I hope everyone enjoys the 2010 edition of Cruiser Safaris newsletter.
NOTE: The * behind the animal indicates that it qualified for the record book.
JAMES NEILL – Alberta, Canada
Animals taken – 2 – Impala* & 1 Impala ewe, Blesbok*, Gemsbok, Kudu, Blue Wildebeest* & 5 Warthogs (*half qualified for the record book)
Hunting has been perfect since day one with Pieter aka “Grassie.” This young man is a professional beyond means. Robert Ruark had Harry Selby, well, I had Grassie. His ability in the bush and keen eye served me very well whilst hunting with Cruiser’s. I have many, many stories I could lament you with about this young man and the benefits of Cruiser Safaris, however credit for one of my hunts should be given to Blue, one of the hound dogs at the camp. I had shot an impala with a quartering rear shot, and by rights the Impala should have had the courtesy of expiring quickly but this was not to happen. Sign was good at the debut of the spoor but it slowly started to dwindle, then the worst thing that could happen happened, the Impala mixed with another group of Impala and the spoor was lost. It was the best call that could be made. Grassie called in for a tracking dog. Pieter my gracious host was on the spot immediately with a Blue Tick tracker by the name of Blue and making quick work out of the Impala is an understatement. Blue had the Impala cornered and it was dispatched within less than 5 minutes of putting him on the sign. This dog and all of the staff at Cruiser are a credit to the industry. I am very fortunate to be a guide myself and can assure anyone who would consider hunting to be privileged to hunt with Cruiser Safaris. The quality of game and the abundance of game were perfect. Be prepared for early morning departures and late night arrivals, as these guys are going to work their hardest to make your hunt a success. If you go to Africa with an open mind your hunt will be one of the most enjoyable moments of your life. I have memories to last a lifetime. Once again I cannot thank the staff enough for everything you have done for me. I’m already squirreling away the pennies for the next time.”
LYN MAGNUSON – North Dakota
Animals taken – Red Hartebeest, Blue Wildebeest*, Zebra, Kudu, 2 – Impala*, Warthog*, Waterbuck, Blesbok*
BRIAN KREIE – North Dakota
Animals taken – Zebra, Blesbok*, Blue Wildebeest*, Kudu, Impala*
No Hunt Photos Available
BRUCE GIAMALVA – Mississippi
Along with JOHN GIAMALVA (Bruce’s brother) – Maryland
And ED JENKINS (Bruce’s father-in-law) – Louisiana, as observers
Animals taken – Gemsbok*, Red Hartebeest, Blesbok*, Blue Wildebeest*, 2 – Impala*, Eland*, 2 – Warthog*, Kudu, Duiker
John – Impala*, Blesbok*
No Hunt Photos Available
We had no plan to shoot an eland, but Craig and I had discussed it as a possibility. We were actually looking for warthog when we saw the eland herd, pretty far off, filing through the brush. Craig noted that there was one really nice "blue bull" in the bunch. We quickly drove to the area that Craig felt they were going to cross, and sure enough they did. They were moving too fast and screening the one I wanted. Craig felt we could drive around again and then find them, but it would "take some walking." For about an hour I wondered if he was just wandering around lost. We ran into some zebras and some kudu as we went. Finally Craig said they were going to cross through a 6-8 foot opening about 60 yards away. He warned me that the big bull would be the second across, and he was. I made a good heart-lung shot and he was down almost at once. He was huge. 1500-1600 lbs. And they really are the best eating in Africa.
LANCE & CHARLOTTE CASKEY – Texas
Animals taken – Zebra, 2 – Impala*, Waterbuck, Blesbok*, Red Hartebeest, Kudu* (50 ½”)
3/12 - After over a year of planning, we were finally on our way to DFW airport for the start of our trip. Weather in ATL caused us to miss our flight to JNB, and Delta quickly absolved themselves of any responsibilities and rebooked us on the 3/14 flight from ATL to JNB and put us on standby for the 3/13 flight. This was incredibly disappointing and stressful. I immediately called Cruiser Bob to let him know that we were either going to be late or were not going to make it at all.
3/13 - After spending the night in a hotel in downtown ATL, my wife and I spent a few hours at the ATL Aquarium and Coke museum before heading back to the ATL airport to see if we could make the 3/13 flight. Luckily, we were the last 2 passengers on the standby list to make the flight. The gate agent told us to just find the last 2 empty seats and take them. We did not get to sit together on the 15.5 hour flight over, but I was able to sit next to another hunter who was headed to MOZ to hunt elephant and hippo. We talked for a long time and my anticipation steadily grew.
3/14 - We are finally on the ground at JNB and waiting on our luggage that never showed up in the baggage claim area. Luckily, the last thing we did during packing was throw a set of hunting clothes in our carry-on bags. Johan met us right outside the customs/immigration area and was helpful getting us some Rand and a cell phone rental so that we could call home and check on the kids each night. We filled out all the paperwork with the Delta baggage claim folks and left the keys to the gun case and the forms with them. They would have to get the gun through the SAPS office. Finally, we were driving and arrived at camp around 11 p.m.& After meeting the staff, we were off to bed.
3/15 - Off to the gun range to make sure the rifle we are renting is sighted in. I met Hans who would be my PH for the trip and Frakkie the driver/tracker and we are off to hunt. We stalk gemsbok and zebra all morning with a nice stallion finally giving me a shot opportunity off of Hans shoulder while we are crawling under a tree. I could not hold steady on Hans' shoulder enough before the stallion spots us and is gone. After lunch, we are off again after gemsbok and zebra. We stalk into a group of zebra that we can hear, but not see. Hans says a nice stallion is coming and to get ready. I'm on a knee when the stallion comes around a bush at 20 yards and I have my first African animal on the ground. Pieter and Craig come and pick up the zebra so that Hans and I can keep hunting. We stalk a group of gemsbok for over an hour and end up crawling up to a waterhole behind them. I'm up on the sticks and Hans spots a nice impala coming in and I have my second animal of the afternoon on the ground. While walking up to the impala, a 2 or 3 month old zebra comes out of the bush and walks by us at about 5 - 10 yards heading to the waterhole. I got some nice photos of that. Hans said that it was either separated from the herd or had lost its mother.
3/16 - We are off to another property to hunt waterbuck and kudu. We spot a really nice waterbuck right away and start the stalk. The waterbuck spotted us as I was setting up for the shot and disappeared. Hans has a pretty good idea where he is going to go so we drive around to the river bottom to get the wind right. We are off the truck and creeping up the trail from the river when I spot horns under a tree. I am down on my knee and up with the rifle. Hans is about 5 yards in front on his knees with his fingers in his ears. I guess that means shoot, and I have a very nice old waterbuck on the ground. After lunch, we sit in a blind on a waterhole on the same property and three kudu came in. Two of them were juveniles, but the third was mature according to Hans. He does not give me a shot opportunity and I wanted to pass on him anyway since he looked a little small to me.
3/17 - Back to the same property chasing kudu. Hans really impressed me that morning as we were following a very large kudu track thru the bush for over 2 hours in the rain. We never saw the kudu, but were close on several occasions. The kudu was smart and kept circling us without ever coming out of the bush. We spent the day driving and stalking to no avail.
3/18 - Back to the property we hunted the first day in search of kudu. Hans and I worked hard all day with Frakkie tracking and stalking. We finally catch a break with a large kudu bull coming out on the road at about 350 yards right at dusk. Hans and I pass on the shot and vow to be back tomorrow early to find him.
3/19 - We were back in the same spot as yesterday evening searching for that bull. We cut a track early and Hans is pretty sure it is the same bull. Frakkie is out of the truck to track him while we wait on the other side to see if he pushes out of the bush. Hans finally catches some movement and I am up with the gun. All we can see is his head and horns, so I am waiting on him to make a move. Frakkie calls on the radio to let us know the bull is headed right for us, but the bull hears the radio and is gone. We spent the rest of the morning on his tracks to no avail. After lunch we were hunting kudu again. We spent many hours tracking and stalking until finally I took a shot at a kudu that Frakkie had pushed out of the bush. The bull was running right at us and I took the shot at about 80 or so yards. The dust flew and the kudu disappeared. We searched for blood for quite a while and found none....a clean miss (or so we thought).
3/20 - After the disappointment of the previous evening, we are headed back to see if we can pick up the tracks of the bull I missed the night before. We worked pretty hard that morning trying to find kudu. Had a clear shot on a nice gemsbok, but passed since I was only interested in knocking down a kudu. After lunch we were off to another property. We spotted some wildebeest early in the afternoon and stalked into them. I was up on the stick with a nice bull about 30 yards away for over 20 minutes waiting for him to move out of the bush for a good shot opportunity. He finally moved straight away from us without giving us a shot. We spotted a group of blesbok later on and stalked into about 100 yards and was able to drop a nice one. Later that evening we were chasing wildebeest and hartebeest to no avail.
3/21 - I passed on going on the elephant back safari ride with my wife so that I could keep hunting the elusive kudu. Early on Hans spotted a nice hartebeest about 200 yards away from the top of a tree and we stalked into about 30 yards. Hans whistled, the hartebeest moved from behind the bush and he was down. We hunted hard for the remainder of the day for the elusive kudu until a call came in over the radio that another one of the PH's had spotted a wounded kudu on the property where I had shot and we thought missed the kudu from 2 nights before. We raced over to the property and located the bull, and I was able to finish him off. I finally had my kudu bull. I was happy, but at the same time disappointed that the animal had to suffer for 2 days.
3/22 - On the last day of our hunt, we were after warthog or impala (whichever came first). The mature male warthog proved to be tough to locate throughout the hunt due to the tall grass. By 6:30 a.m. Hans had us on three very nice impala rams. I setup on Hans' shoulder and dropped a very nice ram. We spent the rest of the day reading, sleeping, and otherwise relaxing around camp.
3/22 - Time to go. We took some pictures around camp and finally were off to Highveld Taxidermy for a tour. After the tour, we were on our way to JNB. We had a nice meal with Pieter (Grassi) and his wife Maggie, picked up some gifts for the kids, and then headed to the gate to catch the plane.
We cannot express enough how impressed we were with the camp, staff, PH's, and overall experience. I have never hunted with a better, more experienced person than Hans. His ability to follow tracks, judge trophy quality, and overall decision making was almost unbelievable. I hope to have the opportunity to hunt with him again when we return. The stories and camaraderie around the dinner table kept us in stitches each night. The meals and service were top notch. We will definitely be back.
MARK YANKO – British Columbia, Canada
Animals taken – Red Hartebeest*, Blue Wildebeest*, 2 – Zebras, Steenbok*, Blesbok*, Warthog*, Impala*
After a wonderful stay and good rest at the Afton Guest house I was picked up by Johan and his lovely girlfriend for our 4 hr drive back to Cruiser Safaris. Once we arrived we were welcomed by Delmarie with some snacks and hot drink because we got there in the evening then it was off to bed and try to sleep. My goal for this trip was to relax, enjoy the company of the other hunters and the wonderful staff at Cruiser since this was my seconded time with Cruiser I was not at all concerned about how good the hunting would be I new it would be better then most of us could dream of. The accommodations and meals where excellent as always and we where spoiled by all the friendly and joyful staff .My PH was Pieter or Grassy as he is called by everyone there who always went the extra mile to make sure I was happy. Every hunt and stalk was a story in itself there was always so many animals and allot where exceptional quality. I am already planning a return trip and hope to be back in 2012 for another adventure .I just want to thank everyone at Cruiser Safaris from the time I booked my hunt till the time I arrived home you made my trip a huge success and hassle free.
Every hunt has a great story but if i had to pick just one I guess it would be the Red Hartebeest, he gave me the most challenge. We would see them from a distance but as soon as we tried to close the gap the wind would change or another animal would nail us and spook them away. We even crawled until both my knees were bleeding and they wouldn’t stay still long enough to get a shot. Then when I did finally had a shot I hit a branch in front of the animal and missed. I even had another shot but forgot to put a shell in my rifle and for a guy that hunts about 3.5 months a year that was crazy. Even after the stalk when my knees were bleeding, 4 bulls came trotting out of the bush from the other side of us and kept going coming within 100 yards but I didn’t want to take the shot because, silly me I brought a new rifle that I only had about 20 rounds through so didn’t really know it at all. I finally got my chance when we spotted two bulls fighting at a watering hole and I got a beauty and even then I was looking at the wrong bull when peter told me to take the one on the right.
KYLE HONEA – Arizona
Animals taken – Kudu* (57 ¼”), Gemsbok, Blue Wildebeest*, Blesbok*, Impala*, Warthog*, Zebra, Duiker*
I enjoyed my Kudu hunt the most. He was 57 1/4" We were able to video tape the entire experience. And it was something I'll enjoy for the rest of my life. . “A Hunt of a Lifetime!!” These are the only words that I can use to describe my experience. From the moment you are met and picked up at the airport, you are in good hands. The staff at Cruiser Safaris “Make you one of the family”. Pieter and Lizelle welcome you to the ranch and make sure that your stay there is comfortable and totally enjoyable.
The website was very informative and very well laid out. After a year of looking for an outfitter I made the choice to use Cruiser Safaris. I had always assumed that the cost of a hunt in Africa would be enormous; however Cruiser Safaris really put my mind at ease with their upfront prices and a no hidden cost policy. The entire cost of my trip was less than a trophy Elk hunt in Colorado.
I took 6 SCI record book animals and a beautiful Zebra. The quality of the game is second to none and the friendships that I made during my safari will last a lifetime. My PH, Johan, is very skilled and knowledgeable. He worked very hard to find the animals that I set my sights on. My experience was incredible and I highly recommend Cruiser Safaris. Even before I left Africa I was planning a return trip to the ranch for a bow hunt. I would like to thank everyone at Cruiser Safaris
ROBERT HARMON – California
Animals taken – Blue Wildebeest*, Blesbok*, Impala, Warthog*, White Blesbok*
No Hunt Photos Available
RANDY STREIFEL – North Dakota
Animals taken – Kudu* (50 ½”), Blue Wildebeest*, 2 – Blesbok*, Impala*, Warthog, Zebra
DON STREIFEL – North Dakota
Animals taken – Kudu* (55 ½”), Blue Wildebeest*, Blesbok*, Impala*, Warthog, Gemsbok*
No Hunt Photos Available
BOB SCHRIJVER – Connecticut
Animals taken - Gemsbok*, Blue Wildebeest*, 2 – Steenbok*, Impala*, Blesbok*, Red Hartebeest, White Blesbok*, Klipspringer, Duiker*
DON LEATHERWOOD – Pennsylvania
Animals taken – Kudu* (50 ½”), Gemsbok, Red Hartebeest, Blesbok*, Impala, Warthog, Zebra, Waterbuck*, Bushbuck, Steenbok*, Nyala, Blue Wildebeest*
No Hunt Photos Available
ERIC JONES – Ohio
Animals taken – Kudu* (51 ¾”), Zebra, Impala*, Waterbuck*, Blue Wildebeest*, Blesbok*
NORM CABAN – Ohio
Animals taken – Kudu* (56 ½”), Gemsbok, 2 - Impala*, Blesbok*, Warthog
When I decided to go visit the University of South Africa, I also decided to fulfill a life-long dream of hunting in Africa and visiting Kruger National Park. I told Norm Caban about my ideas and he immediately said that he wanted to go for the hunting too. It was set we were going hunting and just had to find out where and with whom. I recently retired so it was my job to scour the internet and see what could be found. We found Cruiser Safaris. From October until departure on March 31, Norm and I had intermittent bouts of “kuduitis” and the only cure was to get a kudu.
We arrived in Johannesburg on April 1 at about 6:00 PM. Cruiser Bob prepared us well for the firearms importation and the pick up to the Afton Guest House. One of the PHs wives from Cruiser picked us up the next day at 10:00 AM. She drove us for a quick four hours in the rain up to the lodge. Maggie was the first to ask about our expectations (i.e. what size and what kind of animals did we want (dream) of getting). I answered for both of us that Norm wants a Kudu, but we both want nice looking animals. “Mature animals. No problem” was her response. I was, however, in a quiet process of cautious optimism and not wanting to have the trip be a bust.
We got to the lodge and hustled to sight in our rifles. Before leaving we had carefully sighted in our .30-‘06s for 2 inches high at 100 yards. Pieter Lamprecht wanted them dead on at 100 yards so eight rounds later we were each set. It was 3:00 and Pieter asked if we wanted to go out for an afternoon hunt. If we shot something he would charge for an extra day, but if we didn’t he wouldn’t? Ready to part with some of my extra money, I said I was ready to go. Norm and I grabbed our binoculars, rain jackets and more ammo and headed for the truck. We were introduced to Hans who would be my PH for the trip. His tracker Frankie and Pieter Lamprecht joined us. We drove to a property. Before we could check in with the owner, a bachelor herd of impala ran across the road. Pieter asked “How many impala you guys want.” There were several good bucks in that bunch. After checking in we got into the back of the hunting truck with Hans. After a few minutes he asked me “What are your expectations?” I told him that I was booked for impala, kudu and gemsbok. Of course he already knew that and rephrased “What are your expectations? How big do you expect your animals to be?” I said that I wanted animals that looked nice. I said that if I see a huge kudu with horns that drop out to the sides very far I have no space for it. Hans gave me the biggest smile and said, “You are going to have a lot of fun.” Truer words…..
About 15 minutes later Hans spotted a “good waterbuck” and asked “There is a good waterbuck do you want to try for him.” I did a quick calculation based on no rational logic at all except that I liked the looks of waterbuck and said “Yes”. We bailed off the truck and set out on a quiet-as-possible walk. The waterbuck had gone into the bush already, and I figured that we were trying to head him off or catch up with him – whatever. After about 20 minutes Hans stopped and signaled me to pause. He scanned and motioned me to come up carefully. He knelt down and motioned to rest the rifle on his shoulder. “There is a baby and the big one is going to come out”. I had the scope on 5 power and was looking and looking. At first I could not see any animal then I could not miss seeing the beast in the brush at about 70 yards. Only his face and neck were exposed, but Hans softly said “Shoot him” so I tried to find the shoulder. I have killed about 50 deer and never taken a neck shot. I moved down the neck and carefully squeezed. The beast dropped instantly! We got up to him and found a BIG waterbuck not just nice but BIG. Waterbuck have long necks and I was only half way to the chest. I was elated. Hans was excited too. He loves hunting, and I imagine that he and Frankie were also happy not to have to track a wounded animal in failing light.
In the morning of our first official day, we spotted a herd of six or seven zebras running in the bush. I wanted a zebra so we bailed and sent the truck on down the road. Hans hustled back down the road about 30 yards to an intersection and set up the shooting sticks. “I think they are coming back across the road”. In about a minute, three or four mares ran across the road. Then came the stallion. He paused on the side of the sand road about 125 yards away. I got on him quickly and fired. We both heard the bullet hit, but he showed no sign of being hit and took off into the brush. Five or 10 seconds later he ran back across the road and about 20 or 30 seconds later re-crossed. He ran like a healthy zebra. It was not an easy shot, but I felt like an idiot. Hans poked around in the bush and found blood – mixed with vegetation. I was sick. I never gut shot an animal before. We gave him a few minutes to settle down. Hans has about 8 years experience as a PH, and he was a tracker for several years before that. He and Frankie had worked together for about 5 years. I should have been confident. Frankie got on the track and Hans kept me behind him and kept looping ahead. After a bit he said the stallion is having a lot of trouble, but we were not seeing blood – only tracks. At one point we thought that we could hear him go down in the brush. Then a bit later we heard him thrashing. When we got up on him, he was dead. Hans said, “You got him with one shot.” That comment said more about his ability to maintain a sense of humor than about my shooting. I was glad that I followed Bob’s suggestion to get a premium bullet. I used the Black Hills 180 gr. with Barnes XST bullets. On a quartering shot, the bullet plowed through about 2.5 feet of gut and blew out the far lung. I don’t think that the standard bullets would do that. It turns out that after being hit the zebra only went about 500 yards, but it seemed like 5 miles. We loaded him up on the truck. On the way back to lunch and skinning, we picked up Norm’s blesbok. At lunch, I asked Pieter if I could switch the gemsbok to a blue wildebeest. I was becoming interested in them and we saw a particularly animated bull that morning. Pieter said sure, have fun. In the afternoon we went out looking for wildebeest, and they suddenly became harder to find. We spotted a bunch moving away from us and bailed off the truck to stalk them. For some reason, after a few minutes they came running back past us, several good ones. Hans and I followed for a while but they seemed to clear out. After about 20 minutes we suddenly confronted a big bull. He stood head on to us. Hans said shoot under his nose. I did that and he dropped, bounded back up, when down again, and then 30 feet to the side and then expired. Such an ungainly looking animal acted like a large mouth bass. That guy had a solid lung/heart shot. I felt a little bit redeemed after the morning. We hustled back to the skinners and then back out for a kudu.
We saw lots of female impala, but no bucks. We saw a bull kudu that I thought was marvelous and Hans said firmly “He is a young bull and you are not going to shoot him.” I protested a little but I knew that anyone who hunts every day for 8 months a year for more than 10 years knows best will have the better eye. My “beautiful kudu” was about 38” according to Hans. We tried to get on some others but no luck that afternoon.
On the morning of the third day we went out for the impala. Somehow this animal that everyone thinks is a given, disappeared after our arrival. Early on we hopped off the truck to find impala. We dodged hartebeest, zebra, and giraffe. We caught up with some groups of impala bucks, but Hans was not satisfied with them. I would have been, but I followed my rule “don’t debate with the guide.” We pussyfooted around for at least an hour and then got picked up. We rode for a bit and then Hans called for another walk. This time the brush was thicker and spikier. (As for thorns, they are everywhere and every bush intends to stick or hook you so bring a bandana and band aids.) After about 30 minutes we spotted a big buck in his bed at about five yards. He caught my movement as I tried to raise my rifle and got out of there. About five minutes later Hans stepped out from behind a big thorn bush and froze. I was still behind it, but stopped too and watched as he slowly set up the shooting sticks. I crouched down eased up and put my rifle into the V. I heard Hans say “Shoot him” I could see an impala shoulder in the scope, and I shot him. That shoulder was connected to a 23” impala.
In the afternoon we went out to the most overgrown, thorn infested low-hanging-branches-across-the-road property. We saw many female kudu, waterbuck, impala, and ostrich. At 4:30 we cut across a couple of female kudu. Then we came up on a nice bull kudu that was looking at us from under a tree about 40 yards away. Hans saw him and knelt down. He put his fingers in his ears and said “Shoot him”. I was on him too, but slapped the trigger as though I was shooting a shotgun. I am not proud of the shot, but it broke his spine. Everyone was elated. Our tracker, Frankie is a pretty sober fellow, but he was smiling a lot. Hans said the kudu is special. I agree and this one was almost 52”. I also think that just before twilight it is nice not to have to chase a wounded animal through the thorns so I will take the spine shot.
In the first three of my five days I had five record book animals and had completed my contract. On the fourth day Hans went with his family to see his father-in-law in the hospital. I slept the morning away and then went out with Norm and Young Pieter to see if they could get a warthog. There had been so much rain that the animals did not need to go to the water holes so big male warthogs were particularly scarce.
On the morning of the fifth day Hans took me out for blesbok. For the first time I told him that I wanted one that would make the record books – not because I cared about record books but just for symmetry. All of my other beasts qualified. Mid morning we caught up to a group of five and followed them into a grove of small trees. Hans knelt down and set me up on his shoulder. Then he told me to wait. All of them were very nice, but finally the big guy came into view. I had a pretty easy 50 yard shot over high grass. After taking six animals, each of which exceeded my expectations and imagination, I called it a wrap.
I had a fantastic time and great fortune. I planned to hunt with the idea that I would be happy if I got a couple of nice animals and did not experience a disaster. Despite the guides concerns that animals would be hard to find given our 5 day limit and the abundance of rainfall, we were apparently unaffected. The days were warm enough that I could sweat and overcast such that I was not aware that I was getting some sun. The damp ground did not generate any dust. I wear contact lenses, and I hate dust. I brought some goggles, but who wants to look like a dork. Although both Norm and I were fortunate to take several good animals, we had good chases on all of them. We did not have a drive in a park. We saw lots of animals and learned a lot from the guides too. We were well attended to at the lodge. It is something of a luxury to hunt in cleaned and pressed clothes each day. Meals were great. We ate some game each night. Kudu sausage, impala kebabs, wildebeest fillets, blesbok stew and kudu steaks. It was all good.
Chronicle of My 2010 Cruiser Safaris Experience
Sept 19, 2009 How it all began…..Driving to a Chesapeake Bay fishing trip my good friend Professor Eric Jones from Bowling Green asked, “Normando, I have to do some work in South Africa in April, and I'm thinking of going a week earlier to take in some safari hunting action. Do you want to come?” With those words started the process of fulfilling my life time dream to hunt in South Africa. Little did I know when my good friend asked if I wanted to tag along what awaited me.
Let the Adventure Begin
March 31st Wednesday 5:35 PM …. Eric and I boarded our plane in Columbus, Ohio to start our odyssey by catching our connecting Trans–Atlantic flight from Atlanta to Johannesburg for a five day safari.
April 1st Thursday….. After what seemed to be an eternity, flying 16 arduous hours from Atlanta to Johannesburg, we finally rejoiced when we arrived about 6:00 PM. Tired and restless, we retrieved our luggage and finished the bureaucratic formalities with the South African Police (SAP) weapons dept. to obtain our weapons permit. At the SAP we were then met by the representative from the Afton Guest House, where we spent the night.
April 2nd, Friday About 9:30 AM after having an excellent breakfast we were picked up at the Afton Guest House by a very delightful employee of the Cruiser Safaris. She was a very cheerful, pleasant young lady called Maggie. In the few minutes of meeting Maggie, her personality made it seem as if we had known her for years. Maggie informed us that her husband Pieter Fourie was one of the PHs at Cruiser and that he would be assigned to one of us. Maggie certainly made our four hour drive to the Limpopo region very entertaining, as she detailed her own accounts of learning to bow hunt with her husband, who I labeled “ Young PH Pieter” (to distinguish him from Pieter Lamprecht who owns Cruiser Safaris). As things go, it was just one of those days. We had torrential non-stop rain that lasted almost all the way to our destination. Upon arriving at the Cruiser Safari Lodge, we were cheerfully greeted by the staff who took our luggage to our assigned rooms. Shortly after settling in, Pieter Lamprecht met us and recommended that we should make sure our rifles were still sighted in before the rains got any worse. So off we went to the gun range. After firing our rifles and making the recommended scope adjustments, Pieter Lamprecht asked us that if we were up to hunting this evening. WELL with the rain stopping and our rifles sighted in, that’s all we needed to hear……HECK jet lag or not, we were eager to go. At 3:00 PM we boarded a specially equipped Toyota Land Cruiser 4 wheel drive UTE and off we went to begin our long awaited adventure.
Let the Hunting begin
As the Toyota UTE drove through a heavily gated fenced property we immediately were greeted by small herd of impala that darted across the road. Pieter Lamprecht said that there were some shooters but we had to check in first. Inside we saw kudu, warthogs and more impala. The animals seemed to be everywhere … darting in and out of the brush and running all over the darn place. It just seemed that the animals had deliberately come out in droves to taunt the newly arrived anxious hunters. Pieter informed us that those are not all trophy animals, but the excitement of seeing all that game just quickens our appreciation of the natural beauty around us.
After driving about 20 minutes, Eric’s guide Hans spotted a HUGE and I mean HUGE thick long horned waterbuck over 150 yds to our left. He was racing toward the thick brush. Hans asked Eric if he was interested in a water buck. Eric quickly thought about it and said “Yes!” So he was dropped off with Hans, and off they went to stalk the trophy. The end result was that after several unsuccessful attempts to narrow the distance, they eventually stalked within 70 yds down wind of the waterbuck and deliver a well placed neck shot that dropped the quarry in its tracks.…. the ice was broken.
April 3rd Saturday. Young PH Pieter who had been assigned to me, took me to a different 10,000 acre ranch where he hoped to “break me in” on impalas. As things go in hunting we just could not find any large impalas, but soon spotted a small group of Blesboks. This prompted my PH to ask “Norm, do you want to take a blesbok?” I scoped the unique white faced reddish-brown critter and being a person of modest means quickly calculated the extra trophy fee involved and said “YES!” We stalked downwind of the Blesboks until we were roughly about 120 yards. At first opportunity Pieter whispered “the third one on the left” ….. Up went the shooting sticks and with a reassuring BANG my 50 year old Browning 30.06 broke the ice on a very nice 16 ½ inch blesbok. I cannot tell you the sense of accomplishment and personal confidence that ran through me watching the blesbok drop. After making arrangements to take the blesbok to the game cooler, we continued the search for the elusive impala, but instead we encountered 5 gemsboks grazing over 400 yards away in an open area. Recognizing there was no way we could openly stalk them without scaring them, Pieter decided we needed to circle downwind around them, so we back tracked and conducted what I easily estimate was over a mile and half downwind stalk , through thorn bush. It was a slow precise stalk, which also permitted us to encounter numerous wildebeest and zebras that were romping in the thorny thicket. As we approached the area where Pieter estimated the gemsboks would be, we eased our way to the corner of the open area to look…. BUT WHERE ARE THEY? With no gemsboks in sight, we silently walked another 15 minutes until we located them in another clearing about 90 yards away. “GET READY” Pieter whispered, “Take the one on the right” he instructed. In the instant that my rifle settled on the shooting sticks and my scope’s cross hairs met the quarry’s shoulder, the gemsboks caught our movement and started to bolt. (Pay attention here, this can happen to you….in the millisecond I was squeezing the trigger, my PH was trying to tell me not to shoot because the animal was moving. Unfortunately in my zealous mental state I did not hear him and fired anyway). OH BOY, WHAT JUST HAPPEN? ….. Instantly I did not feel good about the shot and Pieter confirmed it, “Norm, I think you gut shot it.” ….. Regrettably, the instant the gemsbok started to run my shot hit the animal almost in its mid section. Instantly the wounded gemsbok separated itself from its brethren running into the thick thorn brush. Our tracker Isaac quickly picked up the trail by finding drops of bright red blood, indicating a possible liver shot. After tracking the gemsbok for more than an hour we finally located it hiding in the thick brush roughly 60 yards away. Somehow I was able to weave another shot through the tangled bushes into the gemsbok’s shoulder, but the darn thing just kept running. After another 20 minutes of tracking, we finally were able to dispatch the tenacious beast. The gemsbok’s horns measured 34 ½”….. As PH Pieter and Isaac went to retrieve the Toyota UTE, I silently marveled at the cream & black masked long horned beauty and thought to myself…..”Hmm…I could have really screwed this one up”. I was still totally embarrassed about the whole ordeal.
April 4th, Easter Sunday …Yes we did go out Easter Sunday, but the Good Lord must have been weighing heavily on my mind, and I actually had mixed feelings about hunting on a holy day. To tell the truth, this was the first time I had been away from my family on Easter, so my thoughts were not on kudus or wart hogs, but on family things. Anyway, with two animals down and with only 3 more days to hunt, Young Pieter decided that I had shown enough confidence and ability to go after kudu. He explained that he was concerned that with my limited days to hunt, it was going to be tough just to see a decent kudu, let alone harvest one. So we departed the Cruiser Lodge on Easter Sunday morning roughly about 6:00 AM to hunt an area they called the “mountains”. I was informed that this particular ranch was more than 20,000 acres and was known to have leopards, cheetahs, and baboons and was especially well known for producing very large kudus. After spotting and stalking almost two hours an extremely large wide horned kudu that kept eluding us, Pieter decided we needed to work our way to a remote section of the property where he expected kudus would eventually appear. As we slowly worked our way into a heavily thick brush area, Pieter excitedly grabbed my shoulder and whispered “KUDU! TO THE RIGHT ABOUT 100 YARDS, QUICK SHOOT OFF MY SHOULDERS!” I instantly scoped an enormous grayish body quartering away. The kudu bull had already galloped several steps when my cross hairs found its mark. A loud CRACK! Is all I can honestly remember, then I distinctly recall seeing long black spiral horns waving from the ground as the large animal was struggling to get up. “HE’S DOWN!” shouted Pieter and instantly he and Isaac took my rifle and sprinted like Olympic hurdlers dashing to the struggling beast. (Note: I think my PH took my rifle so I would not accidentally shoot anyone in the excitement of the moment while running). As the old guy in the bunch, I raced behind them and in seconds Pieter who had already reloaded my rifle instructed where to deliver the final “coup de grace”. In a second, it was all over. I was totally awe struck marveling the downed kudu. I distinctly recall jumping in the air like a little kid saying “THANK YOU LORD” when Young Pieter high fived & bear hugged me in a total jubilation shouting "NORM, YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT YOU HAVE JUST DONE, YOU HAVE JUST TAKEN A KUDU THAT”S THE EQUIVALENT OF A 400 CLASS ELK !” He then quickly measured the horns and excitedly announced “It’s almost 57 INCHES! This could be the fourth largest kudu taken here in the past two years. THIS WILL EASILY MAKE THE SCI RECORD BOOKS!” After this successful morning I was flying high emotionally. I quickly recalled that today is Easter, so as we are returning to the lodge with our well earned trophy, I pronounced a moratorium on hunting for the rest of day and that both Isaac and Pieter need to spend the rest of the day with their loved ones. I guess this was my way of rationalizing some sort of personal penance for hunting on one of our most sacred Christian Holidays.
*side note: While winching the magnificent trophy in the Toyota, it was determined that the loud crack we had heard had been the sound of the 180 gr. Black Hills Barnes triple X bullet severing the spine and shattering the shoulder as the animal was quartering away. (A shot that will vividly live in my memories).
April 5th Monday, 6:30 AM We had not been at our hunting property more than 20 minutes, when we spotted 8 impala roughly about 140 yds out prancing under some trees in the misty morning fog. We parked the Toyota then began our stalk, looking for a clear shooting lane. “Can you shoot kneeing” Pieter asked me….as I nod yes… “Okay, kneel here and you’ll have a clear shot at that big impala”. I aimed, squeezed and instantly dropped a 24 inch impala. After loading the impala in the Toyota, we continued looking for the elusive warthogs which were extremely difficult to find due to the rain and abundance of high green grass.
April 6th, Tuesday …. With four magnificent animals in the cooler, my attitude was, I could hang up my rifle and quit while I was ahead. Following the success of the kudu, I really did not care if I hunted anything else. However, given I still had two more days to hunt; we continued our search for warthogs. We started about 9:00 AM, returning to the nearby property where we had seen a large number of warthog families. We continued driving through the vast open savanna, then after several hours, we were suddenly caught off guard when a very large tusked male wart hog exploded like a cat on fire from the brush. In a flash, the large tusker had covered over a 100 yards and was still running. Watching where it had ventured we decide to try to stalk it. After 20 to 30 minutes of wading through the tall wet grass, Pieter motioned me to stop and whispered…. “Norm over there, want another large impala?” It did not take me long to calculate that it was in the budget ... I nodded “YES!” (I had mentally justified the extra impala, by rationalizing “I need a match set, one for each of my daughters”) I squeezed the trigger and at 120 yards another beautiful impala is down. This one measured about 23 inches. After searching another few hours for warthogs, it was decided that we would continue the hunt in the evening when the hogs would be more active. At 3:00 PM we again boarded the Toyota to continue our wart hog quest. At about 5:00 PM with evening settling in I really had no expectations of spotting another large tusker. However, as we turn a corner …..HOLLY CRAP! ……What is that brown spot in the tall grass about 220 yards in front of us? Using his binoculars Pieter declares…. “Norm, it’s a male hog, but we can do better tomorrow, but it’s your decision”. The old cliché came to my mind “one wart hog in hand is worth a dozen in the bush”. I also considered that tomorrow was my last day and as a taxidermist, I just wanted something to mount. So at 220 yds, I carefully aimed just above where I think the hog’s shoulders would be and squeezed the trigger. At the shot, I saw the hog dash across the road into the tall grass savanna…..My first thoughts were that I had missed. However, as we neared the spot where we saw the warthog go in, Isaac quickly found bloody lung tissue. Following the trail for about 90 yards, we all stop to hear the telltale sound of the pig’s death moan. In seconds we locate a good 180 lb plus 8 inch tusker. This was the cherry a top my African safari sundae... “WOW, WHAT A WAY TO END THE SAFARI” The Hunting Gods had certainly generously smiled upon me AGAIN! JJJ
April 7th, Wednesday…. With six wonderful trophy animals in the cooler and an empty wallet, I decided that I was done hunting, so I went to visit the souvenir shop in town. Upon returning, I packed my suit case, cleaned my rifle and just kicked back relaxing, reminiscing the successful hunts and the camaraderie I had been so fortunate to experience these past few days.
April 8th, Thursday….Time to GO Home…..we left the Cruiser Lodge about 9:00 AM to begin our 4 hour drive to Johannesburg. As we neared the airport, we made the necessary stop to finalize the trophy shipping arrangements with Highveld Taxidermists. I then was dropped off at the airport where I waited 6 hours to board my 16 hour flight back to the States. Back to reality L
In retrospect: I fully recognize that taking six trophy animals, of which four will qualify for the SCI record book just does not happen every time, so I was truly fortunate to have been with Cruiser Safaris. If things work out, I plan to return in a few years, this time with the weapon of my passion – a recurve bow.
Peace to All
NOLAN SHEFSTAD – Oregon
Animals taken – Steenbok*, Kudu, Waterbuck, Red Hartebeest, Gemsbok, Blue Wildebeest*, Impala*, Blesbok*, Nyala*, Warthog*
ADAM McCULLUGH – Washington
Animals taken – Gemsbok*, Blesbok*, Impala*, Blue Wildebeest*, Warthog*, Kudu* (53 ½”)
MARTY CLARK – Oregon
Animals taken – Blesbok*, Blue Wildebeest*, 2 – Warthogs*, Zebra, Kudu*, Impala
FRED NELSON – Oregon
Animals taken – Eland*, Impala*, Impala, 2 - Blue Wildebeest*, Blesbok*, Kudu* (50 ¼”), Waterbuck*, Gemsbok, Warthog*
(Fred’s Kudu story): I told the PH, Pieter that I wanted a 50" Kudu. He just smiled and said that was a tall order. We went out to hunt Kudu and saw one standing in the bush, it did not look very big in my untrained eyes and I asked Pieter "are you sure that it is big enough" both Pieter and Issac (the driver/tracker) were yelling in my ears to SHOOT! SHOOT! SHOOT!, so BANG, one dead 50"+ Kudu. After paying my respects to this magnificent animal I was all smiles and just overwhelmed. Even if I did not get another animal on this trip I was satisfied, I got the animal that I wanted.
JIM PILEGGI – Maryland
Animals taken – Kudu*, Impala, Warthog, Gemsbok*, Blesbok*, Blue Wildebeest*
I came alone to South Africa, but I never felt that way. Maurice from Afton House met me at the airport and right away got me to the SAP for my firearm permit. It didn't take long. I waited for the 4 other hunters from Oregon and we all went to the Afton House. It was very well appointed and we had a great steak dinner. After a good sleep, PH Peter Fourie and his wife drove all of us to Cruiser’s. Tiny met us with fruit juice cordials and then we had lunch with owner Peter Lamprecht. After lunch we were offered to hunt the afternoon and most of us did so. My PH was Hans and we hit it off right away. We stalked two Blesbok for about 40 minutes and finally I had a shot of about 125 yds and the animal went about 20 yds and was down for good. It was a 16 1/2" Blesbok. On the way back to the Lodge, we had a rainstorm that was great to watch from the Land Cruiser. We were up early on Saturday and hunted all day. It was hot! I didn't get a shot but we saw lots of game and stalked wildebeest and Kudu. The lodge and the buildings near it are really nice and my room was especially nice. There was a lot of thought that went into designing the lodge to make it pleasant and relaxing for the hunters. On Sunday Hans located a big Kudu but I could not pick it out with my scope in the brushy background and didn't get off a shot all day. Monday was different. We spotted a Kudu, but my long shot was over the animal at about 200 yds. Later, Hans spotted a big wildebeest with his harem and we moved out of the bush to range him and set up the sticks. He saw us and charged from about 300 yds. At 100 yds, I put a bullet under his chin with my 338/06 and the animal spun about and ran about 50 yds and was finished. It was a 29" bull that weighed over 450 lbs. What excitement! I have never been charged before but stayed cool and put the round where it would put him down. The 215 grain bullet did its job. That evening we had another of Tiny's great dinners with game meat featured. I got to know Fred, Nolan, Marty and Adam and we traded stories at the table with the PH's. Peter likes to play practical jokes and we had a good laugh!
The next day I took a very nice Impala at about 150 yds, after missing one at half that distance earlier in the day. I shot it off Hans shoulder and we took pictures in the twilight at about 630 pm. Another great dinner and we all went to bed. I got up early on Wednesday and we stalked two Gemsbok for about an hour. I was kneeling for about 35 minutes until Hans put up the sticks and I stood awaiting the Gemsbok who were laying down. Hans whistled and they both stood up, one was behind a lot of brush but the one on the right was in the open and I shot through both lungs and it went about 30 yds and was down. About a 75 yd. shot. What a beautiful animal! 36" horns! We went back to the lodge after pictures so we could get the Gemsbok to the skinning shed quickly. After lunch we were again looking for Kudu and I missed on a monster- I shot over it - at about 120 yds. Those Kudu are hard to pick out in the brush! Later, as it was getting dark.
Hans spotted a big Warthog facing away from us. I aimed for the spine and hit it hard, but it was not dead, just paralyzed. I quickly dispatched the big male. After pictures, we headed back for a great meal of Eland tenderloin. The game meat meals will always stand out as the high point of eating for me!
The next day we went to follow Adam's Wildebeest who he had only wounded. We jumped him in the bush and Hans was off with my rifle to finish him off. He hit him on a running shot and I finished him off near the Matlebas River. We marked the spot on the road with white paper and went off to look for Kudu - the last on my list of six animals. It only took about 15 minutes and Hans spotted a big bull bedded down. I put the rifle on Hans shoulder and he whistled and the Kudu stood up and all I could see was his neck and back and I shot him in the spine. He dropped like a stone! When we got up to him, about 125 yds, he was already dead. What a magnificent animal! Pictures do not do this animal justice. He was 50 1/2" and regal looking. He will get the place of honor on my wall! We loaded him up and then Peter called and asked if we could also load Adam's Wildebeest too. We did, with a lot of help from Ismael who is a big strong guy. With both animals in the truck we headed back. It was only 11 am! Wow, what a morning. I spent the next couple of days going out with Fred Nelson as he still had a Gemsbok and Wildebeest to harvest. I took a lot of great pictures, some of the many Giraffe on the savannah. We had a lot of fun at dinners with Peter playing practical jokes on me and me playing the straight man! Great fun. We went varmint hunting one night and had a great time trying to kick up jackals! On Sunday I went to church with the Lamprecht’s and two of the PH's and their wives. It was a beautiful Methodist church not far from the lodge. Craig took us to Ellisras and we did some shopping for our wives and kids on Monday and went to the gun shop there. A really nice store. We had a big game meat bar-b-que on the last night that went on until about 1030 pm. It was our last night together and it was sad to know we would be leaving the next day for Johannesburg. Peter Fourie and his wife drove us to the airport, but first we went to Highveld Taxidermy. After getting a tour of the facility, I was glad that I was getting my trophies mounted there. I was impressed with their professionalism and attention to detail. The other four hunters were staying at the Afton House for a couple of days and seeing the sights. I said my goodbyes to all my new friends and went in and checked my luggage and did some shopping after getting through security. It was a long trip home but it was great to see Pam, my wife, at Dulles Airport.
TONY SCHIMMEL – Alberta, Canada
Animals taken – 2 – Impala*, Blue Wildebeest*, Blesbok, Gemsbok*, Zebra, Waterbuck, Kudu* (53”), Eland*
TROY DICKIE – Alberta, Canada
Animals taken – Blesbok*, Red Hartebeest*, 2 – Gemsbok*, Zebra, 2 – Blue Wildebeest*, Kudu, Waterbuck*, 2 – Impala*
JASON CLARKE – Alberta, Canada
Animals taken – Zebra, Blue Wildebeest*, 2 – Impala*, Waterbuck*, 2 – Kudu, Warthog*, Blesbok*
(Tony’s Kudu story) We were only on the property for about 30 minutes & we were traveling down the road away from one of the smaller foothills in the mountains (I use the term mountains loosely as I live in Alberta & I'm only a45 min drive from the Rockies) Hans says there's a good bull. I looked up at him & he is looking out the back the cruiser. We got out of the truck & started to walk back toward the hill the Kudu bull was walking up we didn't get far & Hans had us go back the truck as the bull was moving quickly up to the top & would be out of sight before we could get close enough for a shot. He had Frankie turn the truck around & drop us of on the other side of the hill. We got out of the truck & told Frankie to keep going. We snuck up under some trees at the base of the hill & watched to see if the Kudu would come our way. We saw a cow & calf kudu but it took us a while to find the bull. I say us but I really mean Hans. After Hans had spotted the bull it took me about 10 minutes to see him with Hans's help. When I finally saw the bull all I could see was an outline of his head & neck but couldn't see his horns. We kept a close eye on him for quite awhile & he started to move along the top of the ridge & Hans couldn't see him for a while but I had not taken my eyes off of him. The bull seemed very nervous & only moved a little at a time & tried to stay hidden. After what I think was about 30minutes or so the bull started to feed on the trees but Hans couldn't see him from where he was. I told Hans the bull was feeding on the trees & starting to work his way towards the top of the ridge. Hans said tell me when you’re going to take the shot. I was watching the bull through the scope & as then bull reached the top of the ridge he turned directly towards me with his chin in the air feeding on the trees. Without even thinking of telling Hans I was about to shoot as it all seemed to happen in a split second as the bull was directly square to me I lined up the cross hairs between his shoulders about a quarter of the way up the bulls chest because I was shooting at a steep uphill angle. I squeezed the trigger & after I recovered from the recoil of the 375 H&H I saw the bull rear up & then start tumbling down the hill towards us while I was saying to myself “don't break a horn “ & cringing every time the bull tumbled end over end. I remember Hans saying you didn't tell me you were going to shoot. When the bull finally quit tumbling he tried to get his feet under him & I had already loaded another round in the rifle & was going to shoot him again & Hans said there is no need Tony he is down. I said are you sure, he said yes you are a very good shot you don’t need to shoot him again. He said unload your rifle & he radioed Frankie & told him the good news. After high fives, hand shakes, measuring the 53" bull & many pictures we got to the task of getting the beast of off the hill. After Gutting the bull we cut him in half & Frankie & the man from the property that was with us. (I can't remember his real name but they called him Madala & Mountain goat)drug the bottom half of the bull down to the truck we got to the task of getting the front half down. Frankie & Madala had cut a hole through the ribs on each side of the bull & put a stick through the rib cage to help us lift the bull. Try as we might the 4 of us couldn't get that bull off of the ground. Hans & Frankie were quite concerned that we would damaged the cape & we kept trying but it was getting a little hairy as Frankie our driver was at the front holding the horns over his shoulders like a backpack at the bottom of a 4' ledge. As we were on top of the ledge trying to get down while carrying the back of the bull if we had slipped Frankie would have been squished. Well we got it down the one ledge then I said forget about the cape we will try to take as good of care of it as possible but if we keep trying to carry it someone is going to get hurt. We drug the bull back to the truck with very little damage & headed back to the property owners residents. They were there to congratulate us & insisted that we come in for coffee. We enjoyed the company of the owner his wife & some friend & then we had to get back to the skinning shed & on to our next hunt.
CARLON ROBERTSON – Texas
Animals taken – 2 – Kudu* (59 ¼”), Gemsbok*, 3 – Impala (all*), Warthog*, Nyala*, Waterbuck*, Blue Wildebeest*, Eland*
GIFFORD GLEGHORN – Arkansas
Animals taken – Eland*, Blue Wildebeest*, 1 – Impala*, Gemsbok*, Warthog, Waterbuck, Kudu* (54 ¼”), Steenbok
After almost 2 years of studying, planning and anticipating, the trip to Africa final arrived on April 18. I live in Beijing, China, so was up at 4:00AM for a 7:30AM flight and after 19 hours of traveling touched down at the Johannesburg airport. After making my way through customs I was greeted by staff from the Afton Guest House and my brother-in-law, Giff Gleghorn. Giff had traveled from El Dorado, Arkansas to Little Rock by car, then with Delta Airlines from Little Rock to Atlanta and onward to Jo’burg, arriving a few hours earlier. We made it to the Afton Guest house around 10:30PM and Giff has a steak waiting for me. After putting my stuff in the room, I had a late dinner before retiring to the room to wind down from a long day of travel.
The following morning we met up with some friends from Beijing and spent the next couple of days with them catching up on their repatriation to South Africa and seeing some of the sights in Johannesburg. We returned to the Afton Guest House on Wednesday evening and met up with little Pieter, one of Cruiser Safari’s professional hunters, and his wife Maggie. We visited with them for a few hours and talked with several hunters who were trying to return to the US via Europe but because of the volcanic eruptions in Iceland were having to look for alternate routes back home.
April 21, Day 0 (safari day of arrival): At breakfast I met a group of hunters from Oregon who had just spent the previous 10 days hunting with Cruisers. Almost to a person each had shot more animals than they had planned and warned me of this tendency. After breakfast we headed out around 9:30 for the drive to the ranch. We stopped along the way to buy vegetables for the next 10 days and exchanged hunting stories, talked politics and enjoyed the scenery. We arrived at the ranch around 1:30 and were greeted by DelMarie, the chef, and Craig and Johan, two of the other PH’s for Cruisers. We checked into our rooms and I have a room with lots of space, a wonderful bed with mosquito netting and a giant kudu on the wall to remind me of one of the many animals I’d be pursuing the next 10 days. DelMarie cooked up a great lunch and we ate with the PH’s as is the plan with every meal. Afterwards we grabbed our rifles and headed over to the range with Craig, the Professional Hunter that would be take care of us for the next 10 days, to check and make sure everything was okay. We took a few shots, made some minor adjustments and called them good to go hunting.
Since this was Day 0 and not our first official day of hunting we told Craig we’d like to go out and take some photos and see some of the concessions we’d be hunting. He said, let’s go, but bring along a rifle just in case we see something big. Giff had bought a bunch of new camera equipment the last year getting ready for the trip, so I told Giff to bring along his gun and I’d man the camera. We went to a property about 10-15 kilometers from the camp. Once we entered the property, Craig, Giff and I took our positions in the back of the Land Cruiser on top of the bench seats where you can get a good view of the property. Johanis, our tracker, took over driving duties. After a short drive we saw our first Africa game, a steenbok and later some small warthogs. After rounding a curve in the road, Craig tells Johanis to pull over and yells for Giff to grab the gun, there is a big eland in the road 4-500 yards away. We pull the truck over and Giff jumps off and quickly follows Craig, while I grab the camera. As we hit the bush I started to take photos of Craig and Giff moving on the eland. We ease out periodically and check the location of the eland in the road. We got within about 100 yards and Craig sets up the sticks. However, before Giff can get a shot the eland turns and starts to walk away. Instead of waiting and watching, Craig falls in behind the eland walking as the eland walks. Finally the eland stops and the shooting sticks go down and Giff gets the rifle up. The eland turns to his left quartering away from us and looks back in our direction and Giff takes the shot. The eland shoulder dips but he doesn’t drop but instead bolts into the bush. Craig and Giff go rushing up to the spot where the eland was standing and there is blood on the ground. Johanis arrives to start tracking and we hit the bush and travel only 60 yards and find the bull down. The shot was a bit far back as the bull was quartering away from us, but entered the chest cavity and quickly put him down. Craig was very excited and after congratulations all around, pulls out the measuring tape. The bull tapes out at 34” (88” SCI score) and is the primer for what we’d experience the next 10 days of hunting.
Apr 22, Day 1: We were up at 4:30 the following morning for a hearty breakfast before our first full day of hunting. The Cruiser Safari website says they serve a light breakfast, but you’ll find pretty much anything you want to eat for breakfast and it is anything but light. The concession we hunt today is just across the river from the camp, a 5-minute drive, but the river had washed out the bridge so we had to make a 45 minute drive to access the property. We arrived on the property and picked up an employee of the concession owner and headed out to look for animals. We saw tons of animals early that morning including giraffe, rhino, steenbok, nyala, bushbuck, warthog and kudu. At around 8:15 we rounded a corner, and a herd of kudu crossed the road in front of the Land Cruiser. There is a bull in the bunch and he stops about 70 yards and looks back. I rest my rifle on Craig’s shoulder and make a neck shot, dropping him like a stone. We race to where he fell and I’ve got my first African animal, a nice kudu. We load him up in the truck and head to the river crossing. Craig radioed camp and we were met by little Pieter and his tracker who pulled the winch line from Pieter’s Land Cruiser across the river and hooked to my kudu. The kudu was then winched across the river into the waiting Land Cruiser and taken to the skinning shed for cleaning so we could return to the hunt.
Later in the morning, we found a large herd of impala and since it was Giff’s turn to shoot, he and Craig head out on the stalk. I follow behind with a cigarette-pack size video camera that Giff has brought along for the hunt. We get within about 150 yards of the animals and Craig crawls out in the road and Giff rests his rifle on Craig’s butt and tries to get a shot at the impala, but there must be 50-75 animals in the herd so he can never get a clear shot. We move up 15-20 more yards and the shooting sticks go down and Giff takes the shot. We look for blood and track the animals, but find no evidence of a hit. We head to a water hole and sit for 2-3 hours during the heat of the day looking for warthog, but only get a visit from a couple of giraffe and a warthog sow and piglets. Later in the afternoon we are riding around and spot a nice wildebeest in the road. Even though wildebeest aren’t on our list of animals to shoot, Giff jumps off the truck and he and Craig head into the bush to close the distance. We get within about 75 yards and Craig eases out of the bush, sets up the sticks and Giff takes the shot. The wildebeest bolts away and everyone converges to the spot where he was standing and we start looking for evidence of a hit, which we find. However, we had to track the animal for 350 yards with almost no blood trail until near the end when we started to find frequent blood. The wildebeest had run until he expired in an old road, so it made it easy to get the Land Cruiser to him for loading. Giff had made a great shot, but had hit the animal a little high and taken out both lungs yet the animal still covered 350 yards before expiring. This was a really nice blue wildebeest measuring out at 28” inches wide with 14+” bases, another SCI record book animal. We returned to the river and repeated the experience from earlier in the day and floated the wildebeest across and returned to the hunt. Late in the afternoon I had a shot at a nice warthog but missed high. Then I passed on what Craig thought was a 27” wide blue wildebeest. He told me I’d regret letting that one get away and I probably will. We finished the hunt and head back to camp where we met Pieter, the owner, for dinner. As would become a nightly ritual, we download and view video and photos from today’s adventure before heading off to bed at 10.
April 23, Day 2: We travel only 5 minutes from the camp and hunt a property directly across the road. As we enter the property we stopped to close the gate and look back and see this spectacular African sunrise. We take the time to capture a few photos of the sunrise before starting our hunt. We drove around for about an hour and spot a nice waterbuck. We make a stalk on him but he has moved. Instead of returning to the truck we head out into the bush to a salt lick. As we ease up to the lick, there are gemsbok and zebra hanging around. Craig puts the sticks down and I sit down and we have a look at the animals. Craig likes a bull that is bedded down facing us, so we wait. Meanwhile there are several more animals moving around in the background and Craig spots an even nicer bull. The bull moves to the left and gets behind some brush. When he finally emerges, I take the shot and hear the bullet hit, but the entire herd hightail it away. We go up to where I took the shot and don’t find much evidence of a hit except for a small amount of blood. We track the animals and find evidence of a gut shot. The herd is together and we spook the group. Craig decides we need his blue tick hound, Blue, to help us out so he calls Pieter to bring him over. Pieter arrives with Blue and Craig takes him to the spot where the gemsbok was standing and makes sure he is on the trail and turns him loose. For the next 1.5+ hours we run behind the dog while Giff and Pieter try to get ahead of the hound and gemsbok herd to see if he is chasing the wounded one. After much adventure, we see a lone gemsbok cross the road in front of Blue. We catch Blue and Johanis takes to the track while the rest of us move to the next road and take up a position in case the gemsbok crosses. Unfortunately after another hour Johanis emerges and says he can find no evidence that blue was chasing the wounded animal. We return to the spot where I shot the animal and search for another hour before giving up and going for lunch. I am not a happy camper after making a very poor shot from the sticks after having plenty of time to prepare.
After lunch we checked the rifle and it is shooting true so it is the shooter that is at fault and not the gun. We also meet the remainder of the group that would be hunting at Cruiser’s for the next 8 days, three guys from Alberta, Canada, who had to modify their travel plans to make the hunt. They had originally intended to travel thru Europe, but like so many other people because of the volcano in Iceland they had to alter their plans and fly directly from the US to South Africa to make the trip.
After resting for an hour we head back to the same property we hunted this morning and return to the area where I had shot the gemsbok and spot a bunch of vultures. We go to them and find the remains of the animal I had shot and not far from where we had been looking this morning. I was sad that we didn’t find him earlier, but glad that I did recover the horns of this 36”+ bull. Later that afternoon Giff took a nice impala at about 50 yards that taped out at 23”. Right before dark we were cruising around and saw a herd of gemsbok crossing the road at 5-600 yards. Giff forgot to take his safety off on his first attempt but he got it right on the second try and nailed a nice 36”+ inch bull. I also got a nice over the shoulder video of Giff’s shot on the gemsbok.
That night we had grilled eland tenderloin, sausage, and lamb chops for dinner. DelMarie also cooked grits and tomato gravy, which is a dish I grew up eating in South Mississippi. It was a great ending to day 2 of our hunting adventure.
April 24, Day 3: We awake to rain, something that doesn’t happen that often in April in the Limpopo area. However, the February rains didn’t fall this year, but they arrived in April while we were there. We head out and hunt a property about 20 km from the camp. The place is loaded with impala and we see herds of them this morning. Later we round a corner and there is a nice blue wildebeest standing in the road. We hop off the truck and the shooting sticks go down. The bull is facing us quartering to the right and Craig tells me to shoot him in the left shoulder. The gun goes off and we hear the bullet hit and the wildebeest bolts. We run up about 15-20 yards and Craig drops the sticks again as there is a big impala standing behind where the wildebeest was. I try to get on him and make the shot, but he too is facing us and I miss the mark and he bolts. We make our way down to where the wildebeest is standing. He has stopped not 50 yards from where I shot him, but unfortunately I don’t get off another round before he bolts again. Since light rain is falling we start tracking immediately with Johanis in front, followed by Craig, me, and Giff. We find evidence of a hit, but not a solid hit. We track the animal for almost a mile, jumping him a couple times. Johanis and Craig are amazing in their ability to track an animal while walking full speed and spotting little bits of blood on grass and ground. After covering quite a bit of ground Craig tells me he thinks the animal is slowing so get ready. We are in some thick bush and the wildebeest bellows and charges. Johanis runs out of the way, followed by Craig and I do the same. Fortunately the wildebeest stops about 5 yards from us behind a bush. Meanwhile, Craig is yelling, shoot the #*&!!, which I do, but only after I stop running. Then and there I decide I won’t be hunting Cape buffalo as I have too much rabbit blood in me and tend to run instead of standing and shooting the charging beast. After some laughs, Johanis heads back for the truck and Craig heads in another direction to try to figure out how to cut a path into the animal so we can get it loaded. Later we spot a big herd of impala and Craig and I stalk to within 50 yards of a nice ram and I make a facing shot. We take photos and head for camp completely drenched from the light to medium rain that has been falling all morning.
After lunch we return to the same ranch arriving around 3:00PM for the afternoon hunt. We spot a really wide impala ram and give chase. However, Craig gets a better look at the ram and tells Giff he is not the one. Instead of heading back to the truck we head deeper into the bush and spot a warthog. We give chase and Giff takes a shot at the hog in the tall grass. The warthog wasn’t standing the way Giff thought so the shot wasn’t a good one. Craig and Giff gave chase for 300 yards with Craig emptying his 9 mm on the pig before he finally expired. We all had a look at Giff’s latest trophy and Craig heads out to find the truck while Giff and I stay behind with the warthog. After about 5 or 10 minutes we hear Craig yelling my name and telling me to bring the gun. I grab Giff’s gun and head towards Craig. On the way out to find the road he has spotted another warthog in a clearing. We head back to where the hog was and sure enough he is still there so I make the shot on my warthog. We get both warthogs out to the road for photos. All the rain that has been falling make the possibility of getting a warthog sitting by a waterhole unlikely so we’re glad to have taken care of this animal in the same afternoon.
April 25, Day 4: For the second day we are greeted to the sound of rain on the thatched roof of the camp. We head back to the property we hunted yesterday to look for waterbuck. We chased impala early and got into a herd and got to hear rams snorting and grunting as the rut is in full swing. We also saw a really nice eland bull but don’t have permission to shoot them on this property. Later in the morning we spot and stalk a herd of nyala down by the river. The animals are feeding along an electric line ROW and we make our way to within about 150 yards of where we last saw them. Craig lies down across a mound and I lay down beside him with the inside of my right leg pressed against an aardvark hole in the mound. Craig is busily looking for the nyala and I’m thinking that any moment a black mamba is going to crawl out of the hole and bite me on the inner thigh. Fortunately for me a few minutes later Craig jumps up from where he is lying and run backwards. He has been lying beside a hole in the ground that has a bee hive in it. The bees start to buzz around his backside and he finally hears them and makes a dash for it. I’m not so worried about the bees, but this gives me a chance to get away from the aardvark hole and the snake that could be lurking within. Needless to say we’d didn’t get a nyala, but did have a good laugh at the situation. Later in the morning we spot the same big impala ram Giff had passed on yesterday. On second thought he does look good, so we give chase and Craig makes a perfect stalk and Giff makes a great shot on the big ram. He tapes out a big over 23” but looks more impressive with the wide horns. We head back to camp and have lunch. After a power nap we return to the property and take a walk where we spot a nice crooked horn waterbuck. I get a chance and take another impala at 125 yards. However, before we had a chance to even have a look at the impala we spot a big waterbuck bull crossing the road. Craig tracked the bull through deep grass for 5-600 yards before we got busted by a herd of zebra and the waterbuck escaped with them. After returning to the truck we took photos and head back to camp as we are again soaked from the rain that has been falling steadily all day.
April 26, Day 5: Again we return to the same property for waterbuck. We go for a long walk early and cover quite a bit of ground seeing lots of impala as usual. Craig spoke with the concession owner early this morning and got permission to hunt waterbuck down by the river. We headed down that way on foot and see a nice waterbuck bull across the river bottom flat at about 350 yards. Craig tracks him for several hundred yards before we give up. We get in the Land Cruiser and drive alone the river bottom and spot a herd of nyala. We drive past them and Craig and I ease off the truck and Johanis keeps driving. We stalk back to where the animals were but they are moving away. However, a nice bull standing only about 30 yards away and I make the shot and he goes down. Johanis and Giff return with truck and camera and capture photos. The bull is a really beautiful animal not on my original list but one I decided I had to have after seeing a few. We hunted a bit more that morning before going for lunch. Again we returned to the same area and hunted that afternoon. However, the rains fell harder and we gave up and called it a day around 4:30PM, but only after we’d spent time tracking a waterbuck bull in the bushes and got totally soaked.
April 27, Day 6: We awake early and after breakfast head out to hunt a different property. When we entered the property we spot a young kudu bull. After driving into the property only about 150 yards we spot a really nice bull and give chase. However, we got busted by the herd and the kudu ran into an area of the property that was extremely thick so we elect not to pursue. We drove around the property for about an hour and spotted a very nice waterbuck bull. Giff made a nice shot off Craig’s shoulder from about 75 yards and the bull went down immediately. We took photos and measured the horns at a bit shy of 26” with nice 9+” bases. We hunted this property the rest of the morning without having much luck so headed back to camp for lunch.
After lunch we headed across the river and hunted a new property for kudu. Giff took a 150 yard shot at a nice kudu bull from an offhand position while standing on the top bench seat of the Land Cruiser. This was not a stable shooting position and as expected the shot didn’t find its mark. However, we did spend 30 minutes tracking the animal to make sure it hadn’t been hit. It rained most of the afternoon so we alternated sitting on the back of the truck and riding on the inside. We finally gave up and headed back to camp before dark.
April 28, Day 7: We returned to the property we hunted the previous afternoon in pursuit of kudu. We tracked kudu in the bush for about 1.5 hours and jumped them a couple times. However we gave up after spooking them a second time and returned to the truck. We hunted this property in the afternoon as well and saw kudu, but never could get a shot at one. The sun finally reappeared today for the first time in 4 days. As we headed back to camp tonight we got to experience a full moon rising over the bushveld.
April 29, Day 8: After hunting other properties for a couple days we returned to the ranch where we’ve had so much luck. We entered the property, parked the truck, and head down to the river bottom as the sun started to rise. Initially we head around the west side of the big open swampy area, but stop and decide to go around the east side after checking the wind. After we made our way over to the east side Craig spots a waterbuck cow near the area where we had just been. A few minutes later we spot a calf with the cow. Just as we about to move on the bull appeared. I saw him first and told Craig there was a bull there but he looked small. Craig took a quick look and said that was the bull we had seen in this area two different times and he is definitely a shooter. He and I ease down a bit and set the shooting sticks up and also use a tree for added support to steady the rifle. I got in position for the shot but the bull is behind the cow, then the calf and then trees. This cat and mouse game plays out over five minutes all the while Giff has the video camera rolling. Craig took out his range finder and ranges the bull at 236 yards. We wait and the cow moves, followed by the calf and then the bull. Craig whistles to stop the bull and I fire. When the rifle recoils I lost sight of the bull. I get back on the scope but Craig said he was down. After watching for movement for 30 -40 seconds we exchange handshakes and head around the marsh to have a look. When we got to the spot where the bull went down we found he has been shot in the spine so Craig finished him off with his 9 mm. We capture photos and tape the bull at 27”, load him up and head out for kudu. After only a few minutes riding around we spot a herd of kudu off the road. We drove up a ways and jump off the truck and stalk back. We make our way into the bush and Craig found a nice bull, but Giff could never see him until he starts to move. The herd spooks and ran off and we decide to drive around a bit more before we try tracking them. We ride for a while longer and the saw another herd. We repeat the same plan, driving past the herd and stalking back to where they were. This time we didn’t see a bull before the herd spooks. Instead of returning to the truck we walk up a dim road in an area that looked great for kudu. After 3-400 yards we round a bend and see zebra standing in the road. While we are watching the zebra Craig hears something breaking bush off to our left. We eased out into the bush and after 75 yards spook a warthog. We think this was what we had heard, but after standing for a few minutes spot movement. First we see a young kudu bull feeding. We freeze in place for maybe 5 minutes and then see several more kudu moving in the thick brush around us. Finally Craig spots a nice bull, but before Giff or I could see him one of the kudu in the herd barks and the herd moves off. We start to move in the direction of the herd and almost get busted when a cow steps out in an opening. We freeze again and she moves on. Then all of the sudden the shooting sticks go down and Giff is on them in a flash and the gun fires. He and Craig high tail it up towards where the shot was taken. I follow them up and they are looking at blood on the ground and in the direction the bull headed. After 30-45 seconds Craig spots him down, not 50 yards away. As we move toward the bull he gets bigger and bigger. Craig breaks out the tape and the bull measures out at 54 5/8” x 10” bases, a perfect monster of a kudu bull. We take more photos and load the kudu up with the waterbuck and head back to camp around 9:45AM. We lounge around camp the rest of the morning and Pieter decides to go out with us on the afternoon hunt. Back to the same property we go with permission to hunt eland. We drive around and find eland tracks. Craig hits the trail of the eland and we follow for 500-600 yards only to cross over the trail we’ve cut this morning to get Giff’s kudu out. At that point we know we are on old tracks so we head out to find Pieter. Craig calls Pieter to come pick us up. When Pieter arrives he is excited and has spotted a monster of an impala and asks if I want to shoot it. I say yes of course and we head over in the direction where he was last seen. As we drive past the area Pieter and I step off the truck and the rest of the group drives on. We stalk out into the bush only a short distance and Pieter points out an impala. I say are you sure that is the one, as the rams head is hidden behind some bush. He says yes so I get on the sticks and make the shot. The ram runs only a few yards and goes down. We go over and find that he indeed was the big one taping out at 25” on one horn and just shy of 25” on the other. An end to a fantastic day of hunting with only one animal left on the list and two days to get him.
April 30, Day 9: Instead of getting up early to go hunting today we get up early and head the 75-80 km to Ellisras (Lepalale) for some souvenirs shopping. Due to the rainy weather the roads were in terrible condition so it was a rough ride to and from town. However, we visited a couple souvenir shops and stopped by a sporting goods store and contributed to the local economy before heading back to camp for lunch. After lunch we headed back to the property to look for an eland. We started out on one side of the property looking for an eland but didn’t see any fresh sign so decided to go over to the other side where we had seen the nice bull back on day 3 or 4. As we were getting close to the general area where we had seen the bull earlier Craig all the sudden tells Johanis to stop, he has seen something. We jump off the truck and start easing up the road. After going a couple hundred yards we stop and glass a bit. Just as we are about to start moving again I spot movement up ahead on my left. The eland bull has spotted something and is on the move. Craig gets the shooting sticks down and is yelling shoot, shoot as the bull bolts into a clearing. Instead of continuing to run, the bull stops and turns facing us at about 75 yards. I get the cross hairs on his chest and fire and he bucks and runs. I bolt another round in and Craig grabs the sticks and goes racing up the road with me in hot pursuit. We get in proximity of where the bull was standing and Giff has made it up behind us and spots the bull off to the right. I drop to one knee and fire at the bull again and he takes off. At this point Giff and I get a stern talking to by Craig for taking the second shot. He reminds us that he says when and when not to shoot and what if there had been a second bull there. After realizing our mistake, we check for tracks and thankfully only find a single set of tracks. We follow the trail for 150 yards and find the bull down. He is a monster of an animal body wise, and Craig estimates his weight at around 1,700 pounds. The next challenge was getting him loaded into the Land Cruiser. It took four pulls from the winch and a lot of straining and grunting to get this beast to fit in the back of the Land Cruiser before we could head back to camp.
May 01, Day 10: We have shot all the animals we intended to shoot plus a few more. Today we tell Craig we want to go out and capture some photos of animals and just enjoy riding around looking at the properties. He suggests we bring along a gun and we agree as we’d both shoot a larger warthog if one happened to cross our paths. We head across the road to the property just opposite the camp. Immediately upon entering the property we see one of Pieter’s Cape buffalo and capture some photos of this bruiser. We spend most of the morning riding around seeing zebra, eland, red hartebeest and gemsbok. Later we spot a steenbok at 200 yards and Giff decides he wants one. Craig tells him to aim a bit high on this little fellow and lob the bullet in. The first shot goes over the steenbok’s head and he moves a bit, but stops again and presents another broadside shot. Giff fires this time and appears to hit the animal, but since he doesn’t fall from a 338 round we suspect he missed again. The third opportunity presented is a going away shot and Giff successfully executes this shot and the steenbok goes down. We capture some photos of the smallest animal we’ve shot and head back to camp. On the way back we see Pieter and some of the ranch hands repairing fence. Apparently there is a rogue free-range kudu in the area that is fighting Pieter’s kudu’s and destroying fences in the process. We head to camp and sit down to enjoy lunch. Craig asks me if I’d like to shoot the rogue kudu. I of course said yes, when we can go hunting. We had lunch and then went up the road and found the kudu near the property. After a short stalk I missed the shot and the kudu bolts away. Craig did some fancy tracking and followed him up. However, before we could find him Johanis calls on the radio and has spotted the kudu. Craig tries to sprint back to the truck, but since he has two 50 plus years old hunters, we run a little, jog a bit and walk even more back to the truck. We jump in the truck and intercept the kudu and I make the shot and the beast goes down. We load him up and drive the short distance back to camp and Craig puts the tape to the first horn and comes up with 59 ¼”. He doesn’t believe the measurement so measures it again and comes up with the same number. He puts the tape of the second horn and it is a bit shorter, measuring 56 ¼” with 11” bases. What an ending to 10 day of hunting to get to a shot at a second kudu and to take one as big as this.
The hunt started with Giff getting a great eland and ended with me getting a great kudu. In between we shot a whole bunch of other great animals and had a wonderful time doing it. The hospitality of the Cruiser Safari staff is second to none, the PH’s are great, the food exceptional, and the hunting properties loaded with quality animals. What more could you ask for in a trip to the Dark Continent.
BRUCE MILKINS – Michigan
Animals taken – Zebra, Impala*, Ostrich, Porcupine, Blue Wildebeest
TIM STOCKERT – Michigan
Animals taken – Red Hartebeest*, 2 - Impala*, Blue Wildebeest, Blesbok*
GEORGE FULMER – Michigan
Animals taken – Blue Wildebeest*, Blesbok*, 2 – Warthogs*, Zebra, Impala*, Gemsbok*
ROBERT HAWKINS – Michigan
Animals taken – 2 – Impala*, Blue Wildebeest*, Kudu*, Zebra, Blesbok*, Warthog*
JOHN DUMASIUS – Michigan
Animals taken – Blesbok*, Zebra, 2 – Impala, Blue Wildebeest*, Kudu* (51 ½”) Warthog*
GENE & LEE HOLMAN – Alberta, Canada
Animals taken – Gemsbok, Impala*, Kudu* (55 ¾”), Waterbuck*, Blue Wildebeest*, Warthog
HAROLD & WENDY NIKOLAJ – Alberta, Canada
Animals taken – Warthog*, Kudu* (51 ¼”), Impala, Gemsbok, Blesbok*, Waterbuck, Red Hartebeest*
(Gene): For us this hunting safari had its beginnings back in March 2008. Both Harold and I were interested in arranging a northern caribou hunt at that time but over the next few months couldn’t find anything that fit our requirements. However, during November 2008, I came across Robert Clark’s website Cruiser Safaris. While hunting in Africa was not on the radar at that time, we were interested enough in African hunting to take a quick look. Doesn't cost anything to look, does it?
Robert Clark's pitch was pretty good, good enough for us to research Africa thoroughly and eventually sign up for his Cruiser Safaris 7-day Limpopo hunt that included three animals; kudu, gemsbok and impala. And it wasn’t hard to convince our spouses to accompany us. The hook was if they joined us as observers during the safari, prior to the hunt we’d do a two week tour of South Africa with a stop at Victoria Falls thrown in.
The four of us left Edmonton on Wednesday April 28th and traveled to Johannesburg via Calgary and Frankfurt. We finally arrived in Jo’burg at 7:30 am Friday May 1st, picked up our luggage and located our rifle case. We also found our VIP permit guy we had hired to expedite our paperwork on the South Africa side. The SAP office was bustling, but Ari grabbed a policeman, pointed out our case and gave him the paperwork. The officer checked serial numbers, signed the papers and we were done in about 10 minutes tops.
After we gained possession of our rifles, we were joined by our Afton Guest House driver Maurice and his wife. They loaded the luggage and away we went for the fifteen minute ride to our home for the night. On arrival we made arrangements with the owner Annelise to leave some luggage and store our rifles in their walk-in vault for the next two weeks while we were touring. That chore done we enjoyed their barbeque, had a great sleep and departed for Zambia the next morning.
Friday May 14th was our travel day back to Jo'Burg as Cruisers was to pick us up to start our hunting safari on Saturday. We flew in from Cape Town and walked out into the arrivals lobby in Jo’burg to see Maurice, our Afton House driver, and his wife's smiling faces waiting for us.
We opted for the barbecue again and before dinner we all went out to the patio to have a drink. While we were talking to some fellow guests, another gentleman came up to us and introduced himself. He was Pieter Fourie, one of the professional hunters from Cruisers. Pieter and his wife Magda (Maggie) had driven up to Jo'burg earlier in the day and stopped by to introduce themselves.
Their plan was to be back in the morning after an airport stop to pick up two other Canadians that were joining us for the week. Meeting Pieter reassured us our hunt was real and on. When you're making arrangements over the net, you're never quite sure how legitimate an offer is but so far, so good. Pieter indicated they would be back around 9 a.m.
Arrival Day Saturday, May 15th – Pieter kept his word and arrived at 8:55 in Cruiser Safaris van to pick us up. Pieter and Maggie were at the airport at 7:25 to pick up a couple of other hunters fresh in from Frankfurt that will be hunting at the same time as us. Introductions all around, Quentin and Arlene Chmelyk from Fort Nelson, British Columbia and Rob Chmelyk from Grande Prairie, Alberta. Yes, it is a small world and Rob & Quentin are cousins.
It looks like this is going to be a Canadian hunting camp except for our booking agent Bob Clark, his wife Leesa and Bob's son Brian. We were very pleased when we learned Cruiser Bob et al were going to join us because this was the gentleman who made all of our hunting safari arrangements and to whom we've put our faith in to provide us the hunt of a lifetime.
Along the way we stopped at the town of Brits to pick up groceries and stretch our legs. We also stopped at Thabazimbi for a bathroom break. Finally at two in the afternoon we arrived at the lodge to be met with a cold welcome fruit juice from DelMarie our cook, who introduced herself as Tiny.
Ushered inside the lodge we were introduced to the professional hunters who would be guiding, mentoring, entertaining and babysitting us for the week. There was Johan who would be Rod's PH, Craig would be hunting with Quentin and Pieter would be Harold's PH. My professional hunter Hans, would be stopping by later to introduce himself. The owner’s wife Lizelle also stopped by to introduce herself.
Now we were given a tour of the lodge and grounds and assigned our rooms. A short while later Tiny banged the drum which was our call to lunch. Lunch was quite good and if this is indicative as to how we are going to be fed for the next week, I'd say nobody was going to leave the table hungry.
After lunch we all dug out our rifles and ammo and walked over to the rifle range to check our rifles. The rifle I opted to use on this trip was a Browning A-Bolt Mountain Ti in .300WSM topped with a Leupold VX-3 3.5-10 scope. For ammunition, I had 60 rounds of 180 gr. Winchester Supreme Elite XP3’s. Sighting in ended up fine, especially after a very patient Pieter helped me deal with a flinching issue due to my scope being mounted too far back.
One feature of the lodge is that the walls are covered with head mounts of trophy animals taken over the years. Some of these animals are exceptional trophies and gave us a standard of sorts that we could aspire to over the next week.
At around five, Cruiser Bob and his family showed up with our host Pieter who is also the owner of Cruiser Safaris. Our first dilemma of the safari. There are two Pieter's in camp, Pieter the owner and Pieter the professional hunter. My solution, for the purposes of this narrative, is to refer to Pieter the owner as Bwana Pieter and Pieter the professional hunter as PH Pieter. Problem solved. Anyway, introductions all around, a couple more drinks then the dinner drum again.
After finishing up our second excellent meal of the day and while we were enjoying an after dinner drink, my PH Hans made a brief appearance. After introducing himself, he informed me we'd be pulling out at 6:30 in the morning.
Day 1 Sunday, May 16th - 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. Just outside the compound we picked up our driver and tracker Freckie. He jumped into the back seat and away we went to one of Pieter’s properties.
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. On arrival 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.
We had successfully stalked the animals to 60 yards 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 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 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 even though she had started to move by then. We rushed over and discovered my second shot had hit as 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 didn’t seem to have any effect and away she went again.
We finally caught up to my gemsbok lying under a tree at 9:45. After I finished her off with a neck shot, there were pictures and congratulations all around. My first African game animal and it was a nice gemsbok with 34 inch horns.
The guys were able to pull the truck in, 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. Those of us that were in camp had a hot lunch courtesy of Tiny. Hans and I started out again at 3:45.
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.
Every evening Bwana Pieter decides where everybody goes the next day. Directing traffic ensures the concessions aren't over-hunted and you're not running into any other hunters 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. For dinner we had barbequed braised kudu steaks, wildebeest back strap and venison sausage. Another excellent meal.
Day 2 Monday, May 17th – As my wife Lee wanted to come with me today, we were up at 5:15 a.m. for a 6:10 start. Hans, Lee and I left at 6:10 sharp as we had to meet the land owner at the entrance to the property at 6:30. We again picked up Freckie on the way. This was the first year Cruisers has been able to gain exclusive rights to hunting this very promising property and we started hunting at 6:45. Hans spotted what he said was a good impala thru the brush and a heavy fog about 60 yards off the trail.
We left the truck and walked back down the trail to where Hans got the shooting tripod set up for my shot. When I got my rifle on the top of the sticks and looked thru the scope, all I could see was an outline of the front of the animal's chest thru the fog. While I was hoping this was the right buck, I centered on what I could see of the chest and touched off my shot.
The buck did an instant back flip and ran off about 30 yards where he lay down in the trees. Hans had us wait 15 minutes before we walked up to him so he wouldn't bolt if he wasn't fatally shot. When we finally got to him, there lay a very nice 26" impala.
Up till now I hadn't seen Hans get very excited but he was quite wound up about the length and spread of these horns. Lee & Freckie joined us and we did the photo shoot and had the impala loaded by 7:45. The fog had lifted by now so Hans and I went for a walk ten minutes after getting the truck back on the trail.
We walked for about 45 minutes and got into a bunch of waterbuck but no big males. Hans called back to the truck and had Freckie and Lee catch up to us. Jumping aboard, we continued on and saw two honey badgers, a few female nyala and a fair sized kudu bull. We also got a good look a mature nyala bull.
Just before 10 a.m. Lee and Han's spotted a ginormus male warthog with huge tusks so off Hans and I went into the bush to stalk this wondrous trophy. After 45 minutes of creeping through the bush, taking agonizingly slow and studied footsteps, Hans finally declared that the warthog must have winded us (me). I never did see this warthog.
At 11 we decided to head back to camp to drop off the impala. After a short while Bwana Pieter came in from the skinning shed and congratulated me on my impala. He asked me if I knew the quality of my trophy. I had to say no, so he filled me in. Evidently they had done a rough Safari Club International measurement on the impala's horns. They measured 62 7/8" which will make it a gold medal winner. Now I knew why Hans had gotten a little bit excited. We had lunch at around 12:30. The afternoon hunt was scheduled to start again at 2:30 so a bit of downtime after lunch.
For the afternoon hunt Bwana Pieter sent us off to a concession with very thick and tangled bush as we were going to spend the rest of the day looking for kudu and waterbuck. Lee decided to join us again. We were driving down a trail at about 3:30 when Hans spotted a snake coming out of a hole in a termite mound alongside the trail. Turns out he doesn't like snakes and wanted me to shoot it. I didn't really want to shoot the thing so I handed him my rifle. He didn't even hesitate, boom and there was no head left.
Within 5 minutes of the snake episode we came upon a small herd of kudu standing back in the brush. There were two bulls and one had quite a wide spread but Hans said it wasn't a fully mature bull so we continued on.
For the rest of the afternoon we alternated walking and driving. We spotted more kudu and several waterbucks but nothing shoot able. We hunted until 6 and lost the light so we deadheaded it back home. On the way we heard on the radio that Harold had shot a 51" kudu earlier in the afternoon so we knew we'd have an excited lad on our hands when we arrived home. And there was lots of excitement when we pulled in. Harold had brought in his kudu and it was a beauty.
Tiny started banging the dinner drum at 7:00 so we all sat down to another fabulous meal. This time the meat dish was cooked gemsbok in a pastry shell. To finish off our dinner we all had champagne and birthday cake to celebrate Wendy's birthday which was today.
At dinner I was telling the story of how when Hans and I were sneaking thru the brush earlier in the day, he told me I was making too much noise. It's hard not to make noise sneaking along in the old size 14's with a bum knee. However, Bwana Pieter came up with a great solution to my problem. He suggested the next time Hans complained about the noise I was making, I should hand him a pair of earplugs. No more problems.
Day 3 Tuesday May 18th - Up at five, a quick breakfast and on the road by six. Lee came along again this morning and we headed back to the same property as yesterday afternoon. It was quiet when we arrived so Hans and I jumped off the truck shortly after 7 and did a sneak through the brush for 45 minutes. Nothing happening so we jumped back on the truck and started cruising again. However, we did manage to spot a young kudu bull and two immature nyala bulls in the next little while.
The vegetation on this property is very thick and due to all the unseasonable rain last month everything is still lush and green. Normally, the leaves would have already dropped. Not so this year.
At about 9:30 Han's and I attempted another sneak, this time on a waterbuck Hans had spotted while we were driving. The wind kept shifting so the buck was taking us in circles, but we did manage to get close enough to him at one point to see that he was decent. We finally had to give up though because he was just keeping far enough ahead of us so we couldn't get another good look at him.
Back on the truck again we hadn't gone 20 yards when we spotted him standing in the trees at 150 yards. We had time to set me up, but when I shot I missed because I believe I just didn't have a good enough sight line on him. Even so, we did spend the better part of 45 minutes looking for signs of a hit. There were none so we started back towards the entrance of the property and out.
Thinking about the missed shot on the ride back to camp, a little something came to mind that Harold's professional hunter Pieter told him on their first day of hunting together. PH Pieter told Harold that when you miss, it's usually "the dick behind the stick" and it's seldom the rifle. I don't think I missed because of the rifle.
We arrived back at camp at noon, had lunch and at 2:30 in the afternoon Hans, Freckie and I went to the same concession as the morning looking for kudu or waterbuck. At 3:15 we did find a waterbuck but he was on the small side so we passed him up.
Shortly after 3:30, Rod and Johan pulled up behind us and informed us we were in the wrong concession. The only problem was that no one had bothered to inform Hans of any changes before we left for the afternoon hunt. No problem, we just headed over to the concession where I shot my impala yesterday.
First we came across a monster nyala lying under some low trees but he was across the fence in the next concession. Then we herded a very nice waterbuck down the trail 20 yards ahead of us for a few hundred yards. We let him go though because one of his horn tips was broken off.
As we continued down the trails we rustled up three ostriches, another big nyala buck riding herd on several does, a lone nyala buck, a very good sized eland bull and a nice blue wildebeest. I didn't attempt to take anything but had a great afternoon with all the sightings.
Supper was again excellent with roast eland and roast pumpkin fritters. Have to leave at 5:45 in the morning as we were going to be traveling a fair distance for kudu so I called it an early night.
Day 4 Wednesday, May 19th - Today is Lee and my 37th wedding anniversary and what a great place to be celebrating it. It was up at 5 for a 5:45 start as Hans and I were heading for the hills and kudu. Lee got up with me, had a coffee then back to bed. The Clark's, Lee, Wendy and Bwana Pieter were planning on a field trip for some sightseeing and shopping a little later in the morning.
Leaving camp, we drove for 45 minutes to Lephalale. A few miles more and we turned off into the property we were going to hunt for the day. We stopped at the farmhouse and announced our presence before proceeding to hunt. We spotted a kudu bull right off after entering the property, but he disappeared before we could properly react. We traveled on a little further and came across another bull, this one was with a few cows. We did a thirty minute stalk up into the hills on this bull but because Hans forgot his ear plugs, the bull heard me and gave us the slip. We alled in the truck, jumped aboard and continued on.
Just before 10:00, two cow kudu and a bull crossed the trail in front of us. As we drove forward they crossed back at a run. Hans told me he had a plan. He had Freckie drive us a few hundred yards up the trail and around the top of the bush they ran into. Freckie then dropped us in a twenty acre clearing between that bush and a far one. Then Hans sent the truck back to where we had first seen them to keep the kudu from doubling back.
On foot, Hans and I started to move into the clearing. We hadn't gone 20 yards when the two cows broke into the opening 100 yards ahead of us on the dead run for the other side. The bull busted out right behind them. Hans just had time to set up the shooting tripod before the cows disappeared into cover on the far side. I got my rifle settled on the rest and led the bull with the crosshairs just past his nose. I quickly asked Hans if he thought the bull might stop but when I didn't get an immediate answer, I touched off my shot. Still on the run the bull disappeared into the bush. No time for a second shot.
Hans asked me if I thought I hit him. I said I didn't think so because the bull didn't react at all when I shot. Hans never saw a reaction either. Regardless, we walked up to where they had disappeared into the bush and Hans immediately found their tracks, and a spot of blood. His eyes lit up with that discovery and he got a big grin on his face when he found a big spray of blood just inside the trees. We started through the bush and hadn't gone ten yards when I looked to my right and there was the bull piled up 20 yards away.
Now there were two very, very happy guys. Hans was sure I had missed or at best wounded him because of my miss on the waterbuck the day before. I was thinking the same. How's that for confidence? Hans just shook his head during the 20 minutes of high-fives and pictures. I had hit the bull 2 inches behind the shoulder halfway up the body, a perfect shot on a running kudu at 100 yards. Best part was that the horns measured out at 56" with heavy bases, another record book trophy!
Freckie drove the truck right in. As he was getting out to join us, Hans said he was going to ask him how long he thought the horns were. Freckie walked up, took a cursory look and without hesitation said,"56 inches". I've gotta say, these guys are good … every one of them.
After we got the kudu loaded into the back, we started back and arrived at camp at about 11:30. Quentin pulled up 15 minutes later with another 56" kudu bull he had dropped in a mountain concession which was fairly close to where I was. We were just Had lunch and some quiet time before going out again at 2:30. For the afternoon we went back to the railroad track concession to have another go at waterbuck. At 3:00 we spotted a bachelor herd of four with one big one. We chased them around on foot through the tangles for 45 minutes before they finally heard us (me) and bolted for parts unknown. We jumped back on the truck but after 15 minutes driving down the trail, Hans decided we should go after the bachelor herd again. After an hour of no sightings Hans called in Freckie and we decided to call it a day.
Just after 7, Rod and Johan arrived with a 50" kudu. The reason they were so late was Rod waited till 5:30 to pop him. No matter, three for three today for the kudu hunters. Better yet, all four kudu hunters in camp had scored a minimum 50" kudu. Awesome to say the least.
Supper was fabulous again, pork spare ribs, fries and onion rings. Lot's of anniversary good wishes from everyone and even champagne and a fruit platter in our room when we retired for the night. What a great bunch of people!
Day 5 Thursday, May 20th - By 6:30 a.m. we were back at the property where I scored on my impala. We drove in and didn't see much for the first hour or so. Then, at 7:30 Hans spotted a waterbuck 200 yards away across an open swamp. Hans had a plan. The buck was moving from left to right along the far edge just inside the brush so we skirted our side parallel to him on foot. We finally cleared the swamp and found an opening. Hans set up the shooting tripod and we waited. Thirty seconds later the buck stepped out broadside at 80 yards.
I was immediately on the rest and was somewhat taking my time getting everything lined up when Hans whispered to me, "You can shoot now". Right about then I got a great sight picture on the waterbuck's shoulder and touched off the shot. He reared straight up and bolted into the bush.
When we walked up, Hans found the spot where he had been when I shot but there was no blood to be found. It wasn't really a problem though as we all knew the hit was solid. My guys started casting back and forth in the bush looking for sign and after about a minute Freckie found the waterbuck piled up 30 yards away in heavy brush. A perfect shoulder shot, but we never did find blood. Hans was very happy and so was I. Another record book animal; three out of four so far. After winching him out of the brush, we did the photo shoot then loaded him into the box of the truck.
We spent the next two hours looking for a warthog. However, all we found was the monster blue wildebeest we had spotted last night. We tried to get into a position for a shot but the wind was swirling and he finally caught our scent. Back to the truck at 9:40 a.m. and back to camp just after 10 o'clock. Cruiser Bob, Leesa and Brian had left with Bwana Pieter at 10 for the airport at Jo'burg. All in all, I believe they had a good time with us Canucks. I know that we certainly enjoyed their company.
Lunch was a gemsbok shepherd's pie. After we finished it was quiet time until 2:30 at which time I went out again to try and find that monster wildebeest. Lee joined us again. We went back to the same concession but decided we'd rather chase warthogs, so that's what we did. No luck but we did see lots of game. Shut it down at 5:30 again and back to camp.
Dinner was at 7:00 and Tiny started us off with a really good thick beef vegetable soup. There was curried chicken for the main course and bread pudding for dessert.
Day 6 Friday, May 21st - I was up at 4:45 for a 6:10 start because I couldn't sleep. Had breakfast and away we went to the same property I have been hunting for the last couple of days. We cruised around till 7:30 looking for blue wildebeest, the animal I was hunting today. We came across a lone bull along a fence line but I was told by Hans that it wasn't good enough.
Freckie drove us a bit further down the trail when a herd of a dozen wildebeest stampeded in front of us. Now it was time to ditch the truck and chase them on foot. After a long stalk Hans finally got us within 50 yards of two good bulls. When I asked Hans whether I should take one he said," No, not a monster", so we continued on.
We eventually hit another trail and Hans asked me if I wanted to continue on foot or call in the truck. We'd been walking well over an hour and a half at this point but I said I was game to continue on. We hadn't walked another two hundred yards when Hans put up his hand. He indicated wildebeest ahead and whispered to me that he had a plan. As you've probably figured out by now, Hans always has a plan.
We continued a slow stalk for another thirty yards when suddenly he set up the tripod. He told me to settle my rifle on the rest as the bull we wanted was going to step out any second into an opening 60 yards ahead. I was setting up when the bull walked out and stopped broadside. I had just gotten his shoulder centered in the crosshairs when Hans whispered in my ear, “Would you like to shoot now?" I pulled the trigger. It was 9:15 a.m.
We heard the hit, the wildebeest bucked forward and then was gone. We walked over to where he was when I shot and immediately found blood. Hans assured me it was a very good hit. We followed the blood trail for about 10 yards when we saw him piled up 50 yards away. Another one shot animal. And, another trophy book animal. We got him positioned for the photo shoot, took the pictures then loaded my 5th trophy into the truck.
Now it was time to seriously look for a warthog, the final trophy I had decided on. We slowly worked our way back to the gate with no luck then headed back to camp at around 10:45. It was just Lee & I, Harold & Wendy, Bwana Pieter and PH Pieter for lunch. The other fellows were out for the day. At 2:30 Lee and I went back to where we were in the morning to look for my warthog. We drove around a bit and saw a pile of hogs but none of them met my professional hunter's high standard.
However, at 4:45 we stopped on a trail, Hans and I piled out and he had the tripod set up on a nice hog within minutes. I settled on the sticks, squeezed the trigger and watched as my warthog bolted for the bush. Walking up to where he had been when I shot, all evidence pointed towards a low and far back shot which meant we were in for a chase.
We spent the next hour tracking him and finally gave up because we ran out of daylight. The plan at that point was to come back in the morning and take up the chase again. We arrived back at camp just after six. Supper was a kudu schnitzel and all the accompanying side dishes. Excellent, again.
Day 7 Saturday, May 22nd - Harold and I were up for breakfast to go look for my warthog. Jumping into the truck with Hans and Freckie at 6:15, we did the 20 minute drive to the property to again meet the owner. By 6:45 we had dropped Hans where we'd given up the chase last night and then we positioned us and the truck on a parallel trail in case the hog was pushed thru. After an hour we still hadn't heard from Hans but then Bwana Pieter pulled up. He had decided to come out and lend Hans a hand, so he took Freckie and they drove over to the drop off point in his truck.
We waited at our truck for another half hour when all of a sudden Bwana Pieter was on the radio. He asked that we drive the truck over to where his was parked and to join them there. When we could finally see Bwana Pieter's truck, we could see all three of them standing about. A bit puzzled we drove on and when we got a little closer we got the big thumbs up. They had just found my warthog a couple of minutes after they had called us to join them. The reason they had called us before they found him was that Bwana Pieter had spotted a blood trail coming back across the trail so he knew the pig wouldn't be coming our way if he was still alive.
As it turned out the warthog dropped just inside the brush within 20 yards of where we'd had to stop the search the night before. If we would have had another 15 minutes of light last night we might have found him. And sure enough, I had shot him quite far back. So after pictures and high fives all around, we loaded my trophy into the truck and were back at camp by 8:30. My hunting was now done and after seven days of hunting I can’t say enough about Hans and Freckie. They gave me an African hunting experience that was way beyond what I would have ever expected, and did it with class and style. Thanks guys!
We spent the rest of the morning and all afternoon wandering around the property, reading, packing, and just generally being lazy. This was the first time in twenty-five days we really had most of the day with nothing to do. Bwana Pieter presented us with our final bill for the meals, accommodation, hospitality, trophy fees and the hunting and it was exactly what we had been led to expect, and not one rand more.
We spent our last evening at Cruisers just visiting with our fellow hunters, the professional hunters and Bwana Pieter. And I just want to mention here that Bwana Pieter is very playful and likes to play lots of tricks, like rum in your wineglass and plastic beetles on your plate at supper. We said our fond goodbyes to Quentin, Arlene and Rod as they would probably be gone hunting by the time we roll out in the morning. They were great camp companions and we really enjoyed their company.
Homeward Bound Sunday, May 23rd - We hit the road at 9:30 with PH Pieter and his wife Maggie. As it was Sunday morning it only took us 3 ½ hours to drive to our stop before the airport, Highveld Taxidermists. We spent an hour and a half touring the facility with one of the owners and taxidermists, Thomas. There were literally thousands of different mounts, poses and attitudes to look at and every conceivable species represented. The good thing is that we don't have to make up our minds for a while yet as our trophies won't be arriving here for a month or so.
To summarize the hunt, I was able to successfully take the three trophies that were part of my package; a gemsbok, an impala and a kudu. As well, I took a waterbuck, a blue wildebeest and a warthog. And, there could have been other animals of opportunity but we'll save those till next time. And that just about sums up the availability of game opportunity at Cruisers. If you want to take an animal or more a day, it is entirely doable.
In closing, I’d like to make a comment on Cruisers operation. Pieter and Lizelle, the professional hunters and their significant others, the drivers and trackers and all the other staff were absolutely fabulous, very professional and extremely accommodating. No request was too much trouble and no detail was overlooked. The facilities and equipment are second to none as well. Everyone made this a first class, world class and unforgettable experience for all of us. And, Cruiser Bob is a true gentleman and the real deal, although I’m pretty sure it’s Leesa that keeps him on top of his game. A final word to Pieter. Look after Tiny, she’s a keeper. Thanks.
NOTE: Gene made a web site which covers their complete African experience. If you are interested in reading their story and seeing additional pictures you can visit the web site at: http://www.africa.deerhill.ca/index.html
QUENTON & ARLENE CHMELYK – British Columbia, Canada
Animals taken – Impala*, Blue Wildebeest*, Zebra, Nyala*, Waterbuck*, 2 – Blesbok*, 4 – Warthogs (3-*), Kudu* (56”), 2 – Steenbok, Gemsbok*, Red Hartebeest*
ROD CHMELYK – Alberta, Canada
Animals taken – Red Hartebeest*, Eland*, Zebra, Blue Wildebeest*, 2 – Impala*, Waterbuck*, Gemsbok, Blesbok*, Warthog*, Kudu* (50 ½”)
DAY 1 May 15, 2010 With great anticipation and excitement, our airplane touched down for landing in Johannesburg. My cousin Quenton and his wife Arlene and I, had started on this epic journey a year and a half ago. I could not believe we were finally here. We had been planning this trip since December 2008. We had decided to go to Cruiser Safaris, after hearing great things about it from friends who had been there before.
Upon entering the airport, and finally getting orientated, we met up with Pieter (Grassy) and his wife Maggie. They took us to the SAPs department and believe it or not it did not take us long to get our firearms permits and be on our way. We were headed to Afton House to pick up 2 more hunters and their wives. We arrived at the Afton House and picked up Harold and Wendy Nikolaj and Gene and Lee Holman. After some introductions, we departed on our 3 1/2 hour trip to Cruiser Safaris.
When we arrived at the Lodge, Delmarie (Tiny) was waiting for us with freshly squeezed fruit drinks. After a quick look around, and being shown to our rooms, we had a great lunch. During lunch we met 2 of the other PH's, Johan and Craig. After lunch we headed to the range to site in our rifles. It didn't take too long and we had our guns sited in. It was still pretty early in the day, about 3-4pm. We were assigned our PH's. Quenton and Arlene were assigned to Craig and I got Johan. Craig then piped up to Quenton "Hey, there's still enough day light - Do you want to go for a hunt?" I looked over at Johan and he said "Hey do you want to go”? I said you don't have to ask me twice! This was a bonus as this was our arrival day and we were not scheduled to hunt. Quenton and I grabbed our guns. We got up on top of the Land Cruiser with Johan. Arlene jumped in with Craig who was our driver. We headed across the road to one of Pieter's properties that he owned. We weren't really after anything in particular, just out for an evening hunt. On the way over, my gun fell out of the rack and on to the winch. I was a little concerned about it being out, but I had Talley scope rings on my gun, which made me feel better. Just after my gun fell, we came across a herd of Eland. In the herd was a good bull. After informing Johan that Eland was the number 1 animal on my list, he told Craig who then radioed Pieter to ask permission if we could take this bull. Pieter said yes and the hunt was on. Johan, Quenton and I began stalking the herd. Quenton had my video camera and was taping as we went along. After crawling through and getting stuck in the thorns (which are EVERY WHERE) we came upon the herd with the bull. Johan got the sticks out and I ranged him at 168 yards. I steadied my .340 Weatherby on his front shoulder and squeezed off. Smack!! I hit him hard and he almost went down but he ran away with the rest of the herd. I was positive that I had made a good shot. Quenton captured the whole thing on video and asked me what I thought about the shot I made. I told him that I thought it was good. Johan radioed Craig to see if the herd had crossed the road and if the bull was with them. Craig said the herd crossed but could not tell if the bull was with them. We found blood but it was getting to dark so we abandoned the tracking until morning. We got back to the lodge at dark and found that Cruiser Bob and his wife Leesa and Bob's son Brian had arrived. It was a real treat to get to meet these folks and meet Bob in person after all the effort he put into booking our hunt. Bob and his family are some of the best people you could ever meet. After a great supper, a bunch of us watched the video of the Eland hunt trying to determine what went wrong. The shot looked perfect and to this day, I would not have changed anything about it. I went to bed with a wounded Eland on my mind.
Day 2 - May 16th Morning arrived fairly quickly. Johan and I and our driver Monsu, headed back to where I had wounded the Eland. Johan brought one of his blood hound dogs to help with the tracking. After a long day of looking for the wounded bull, it didn't look very good that we were going to find him. We found the herd and another bull by himself but neither turned out to be the wounded bull we were searching for. Johan decided that it was time to get the monkey off our backs and shoot something as the day was coming to an end. We had seen numerous animals including Zebra, Gemsbok and Red Hartebeest. It was getting dark and Johan spotted a good Red Hartebeest bull in a clearing. We left the Land Cruiser and made a stalk. Again, we got on him and I ranged it to be about 165 yards. Johan got the sticks out and I steadied the cross hairs on the animal's front shoulder. It seemed like Deja vu from last night with the Eland; and I was nervous. The Eland was the first animal I had ever wounded in my life and didn't recover. Thoughts of possibly wounding a second animal raced though my mind as I squeezed the trigger. I sent the 225Gr Accubond bullet on its way. Whup! It nailed the Hartebeest. He ran for about 40 yards and went down. Johan grabbed me and gave me a hug and said that's what’s supposed to happen. I was relieved and I think Johan was too as we got the monkey off our backs. After some pictures we loaded him and went back to the lodge. Our first official hunting day was a success except we didn't find the Eland. I told Johan earlier that day, that I wanted an Eland no matter what. He promised me that I would get one and I was not worried at all.
Day 3 - May 17th On this day, Johan took me to a placed called Ben's Lodge to look for a few different animals including Eland. That morning we saw Wildebeest, Zebra and Impala but could not get on any of them. I told Johan that it was a beautiful property as we headed back for lunch. Johan told me that Ben's Lodge would be better after lunch as it's known to be better for afternoon hunts. After we got back to the property, we got on a really good Waterbuck. After many failed attempts at stalking it, we decided to go after Zebra. The wind was up a bit this day making stalking difficult. I found out how hard it can be to hunt Zebra. Johan spotted a lone Zebra in fairly thick cover. We decided to try a stalk. With the wind in our favor, we stalked towards the Zebra meandering through the bush for about 45 minutes. Johan should have won a gold metal for this stalk, as he put us on the Zebra at 43 yards. Johan knelt down and told me to put the gun on his shoulder. The Zebra was quartering towards us a little bit as I put then cross hairs on its front shoulder and touched off. I hit it hard and we heard thundering hoofs as it ran off. Johan asked how I thought the shot was, and I told him it was good. We walked up and found it had only run 40 yards. It was a big old mare. Johan said it was a good one to take out of the herd. It wasn't much scarred up so I decided to get it skinned for a pedestal mount. On the way back we came across a REALLY good Blue Wildebeest bull. I shot him though both front shoulder at about 150 yards. Johan and I shook hands and gave each other a slap on the back for the great day we had together.
Day 4 - May 18th Today we went back to Ben's Lodge to look for the Waterbuck we had seen the previous day. After hunting the earlier part of the morning with no luck, Johan decided to take me to a totally different property. When we got to the property, I noticed that it was very gnarly and dense. We saw Waterbuck almost right way but had to hunt for a while until we came upon a good bull. The bull was laying down when we saw him and he subsequently saw us. He got up right away and didn't run but started meandering thru the gnarly thorny bush. Johan wanted to stay on the Land Cruiser and double back to see if we could cut him off. After numerous turnarounds, we finally got on him again. He was standing in some very heavy brush and I think the Waterbuck didn't think we could see him. We jumped off the truck and we walked with the truck as Monsu drove back and forth until we found a sliver of bush to shoot through. Johan put the sticks up by the front tire of the truck and told me to get down on one corner of the leg of the stick. He then instructed Monsu to back the truck away. As Monsu pulled away, Johan pointed to one small opening where I could see the Waterbuck's front shoulder. There was some brush in front of him as I squeezed the shot off. The Waterbuck went down as if he was struck by lightening. The next thing I knew, Johan had drawn his 9mm and was running towards the Waterbuck as fast as he could go!! I didn't know what was wrong as I thought I made a good shot. As I caught up to Johan and the Waterbuck where it had fallen, I could see why Johan had run up as quick as he did. My bullet had deflected and had hit the Waterbuck in the spine, and he was trying to get up. He wasn't going anywhere but Johan put a bullet from his 9mm behind its ear. It was a tremendous trophy; over 28 inches long with 10 inch bases. It easily made the record book. After taking some photos, we loaded up and headed back to the lodge. That afternoon we went out looking for Kudu at a different property. We saw a couple of bulls but didn't have any luck getting on them. We did however get amongst a herd of rutting, roaring Impalas right at dark. It was awesome but too dark to shoot. That evening Pieter told Johan and I that we would be heading 2 hours to the mountains for serious Kudu hunting the next day. I went to bed with a great day under my belt and great anticipation of what the next day held.
Day 5 - May 19th Got up at 4:45am as we had a 2 hour drive to the mountains to where we were going to hunt Kudu this morning. I didn't know what to expect but as we got closer, I could see the terrain was much different than what we had been hunting. We would be hunting on a concession primarily unfenced and approximately 20 thousand acres. We got to the land owners house and met him. He looked to be quite a character and I knew it was going to be quite a day. We took off from his farm house towards the mountains. We were driving along the base of not so much high mountains, but more very rocky foothills. Kudu were everywhere it seemed, as the owner and Johan were pointing to Kudu every time I looked at them. Let me tell you what, they blend into their surroundings. After a morning of possible shots that I could have taken, but it never seemed to be right, we headed back for lunch. We had seen some fresh Leopard tracks and a lot of Kudu, but just couldn't seem to finish. During lunch the owner politely asked me to explain the natural gas industry in about a one hour nut shell. He was really interested in what I did for a living and how much things were so different from where I lived to where he lived. We both had a good laugh. After lunch we headed back to where we had been hunting in the morning. We were hunting in his 1975 Toyota Land Cruiser, which he had nicked named "Topless". It seemed to be the same as the morning hunt as we saw a lot of Kudu but just could not get a good shot on any of them. Finally just before dark, we came upon a herd of Kudu with 4 bulls and numerous cows. They were in thick cover and were milling about which made it a tremendously hard shot. It was hard trying to figure out which was the bull Johan wanted me to take. With the last light available, a bull presented himself broadside with some brush in front of him. The shot was less than 100 yards, so I decided to take it. My .340 barked as I touched off. The owner said "HOLY, did you ever nail him!" He ran about 20 yards and piled up. He was an awesome trophy, approximately 51 inches long and 37 inches wide. 12 hours of hunting that day, but it was worth every second. I would personally like to thank the owner for allowing me to hunt on his land. It was a real pleasure to get the chance to meet him. We were the last ones back to the lodge and everyone was waiting, Jean and Quenton had both shot tremendous Kudu that day also. It was only the second time in Cruiser's history that all 4 hunters that week got Kudu over 50 inches. What a day!!
Day 6 - May 20th This morning we went back to Ben's Lodge to look for Eland. I was skeptical that we would find Eland, but Johan seemed confident. It was very early in the morning as we entered the property. Within approximately 5-10 minutes, we came across a herd of Eland. They didn't stick around long and they took off. Johan had a good idea of where they were going to go, so we jumped off the Land Cruiser and started a stalk. After about 40 minutes, in some very thick brush, Johan told me to stop and to listen. We could hear a clicking sound which I later found out, is the sound that the bull Eland makes sometimes when he walks. We hadn't seen the herd but Johan said the bull was coming back out on the road. We made a charge for where he thought the bull would come out. It could not have been more perfect as out came 2 cows and the bull behind. He was a fantastic bull, everything I was looking for in horns, body size and long black face hair. Johan knelt down and told me to put the gun on his shoulder. It was about 90 yards and I could not believe I was getting my chance again on such a majestic animal. I put the cross hairs on his front shoulder and asked Johan again for about the 4th time… should I take him. He said, once again in his usual very calm voice… "Yes". I pull the trigger and pasted him in the front shoulder. He turned and presented the other front shoulder and started heading back into the heavy brush where he came from. I said, (some explicit words - "You are not getting away this time!") and I drove him in the other shoulder. He turned back and started going across the road. I put another one through the shoulder again and he went down. It laid there for about 2 minutes and I kept asking Johan ("should I put another one in him?"). Johan said they have a very big lung capacity and it takes a while for them to expire. So I put another one in his lungs. Johan said "wait now". Again, the bull would not die. After 5 minutes, Johan said "put another one in him". Finally, he died. The number one animal that I had come to Africa for was finally mine. Johan said he could not believe how hard the Eland were this week to kill!! What a trophy at 32 inches long and 10 inch bases. He easily made the record book. Johan estimated him at 1700 pounds on the hoof. What a great hunt!! Later that afternoon, I took a fine Impala which went 22.5 inches. Johan had brought his dog "Dipstick" (in English) and we let him see if he could find blood. He found his first blood trail and passed with flying colors. What a great day of hunting. As I nodded off to deep that night, I had to pinch myself. Was I really here in such a great land?
Day 7 - May 21st The next morning we headed out in search of Gemsbok. We were headed to a place that Pieter owned and had been in his family a very long time. On this day we hunted very hard and did a lot of walking. The animals on this particular day seemed very wary and Johan and I couldn't understand why. We did manage to see some Blesbok but Johan said that we were not in a hurry to shot one and we would pursue them another day. Looking back on that day now I remember it to be very cloudy and think that a bit of the weather change had something to do with the animal’s behavior. It was getting pretty close to being dark, the last possible 1/2 hour of shooting light. We started heading back very slowly. We came across a power line and spotted a lone Gemsbok. When I heard Johan say that he was a bull, I wanted him immediately. We made a stalk on him and got within 200 yards or less. Johan got the sticks out and I got on him just as he was starting to walk. I was out of breath when I took the shot. It was not the greatest shot as I hit him a little too far back. With the help of Johan we ended up getting a great trophy. I was extremely happy as we took photos and headed back to the lodge. I was very tired as we hunted hard that day. I felt more tired this night than I had at any other time previously. I didn't realize that I was coming down with something that turned out to not be the flu.
Day 8 - May 22nd I woke the next morning not feeling the best. We decided to sleep in that morning and go out a little later with Pieter and Johan after a second Impala. We saw a lot of Impala on the property that we hunted. We got on a really good one about an hour into the hunt. Unfortunately, our stalk didn't work and he eluded us. We kept on hunting until we came upon 2 lone Impalas, one being about 23.5 inches. Pieter said to take him so I took my shot. All I can say next is that we eventually got him with some stories about the pursuit that I am not going to get into. It was not the greatest shooting performance but Pieter, Johan and I had a good laugh about it. It was a good Impala and I was happy with it. We loaded up and headed back to the lodge for lunch. After lunch, Pieter, Johan and Pieter's 7 year old son Christian and I, went out to the same property for Warthog. I was starting to feel worse and really wasn't into hunting that night. We saw a good Warthog towards dark but didn't get a shot on him. We headed back to the lodge. I had a very rough sleep that night.
Day 9 - May 23rd Woke up the morning of May 23rd and had a pretty good fever. I didn’t hunt that morning, I stayed back and rested. In the afternoon, we went out and set up a natural blind at a water hole and waited for a possible Warthog. We saw some sows and small piglets, but no boars to shoot. We headed back to the lodge as I was really not feeling good now and I had shakes and another fever.
Day 10 - May 24th Woke up the morning of May 24th and was not feeling good at all. I had come down with what is called "Tick Bite Fever". I had gotten bit up pretty bad the first day and a half when I wore shorts in the long grass. The ticks that got we were "Pepper Ticks". Johan said that it was rare to get tick bite fever, but with my history with insects, I was not too surprised. Johan said we had to go to a town, about 80 Kms away called Ellisras. We would go to the pharmacy and get some antibiotics and ointment. We headed into town; and got some medicine at the pharmacy. They were really good people to deal with. Johan had some business to do in town, and then we went for something to eat so that I could take my first pills. On the way back I had a bit of a nap and felt a bit better. Johan said that we would sleep in a bit the next morning and give the antibiotics a chance to work. We would then go out later to see if we could get a Blesbok and / or a Warthog.
Day 11 - May 25th Today we headed out at 7:30 again to Pieter’s property to look for Blesbok and Warthog. We made a stalk into a clearing to look for Blesbok. There were 2 males standing there by themselves; about 210 yards away. We were in fairly thick cover. Johan got the sticks out. I had to get down really low on one corner of the leg of the sticks to get a shot. Johan said to take the one on the right. Johan was videotaping the whole hunt. The Blesbok started to turn as I squeezed the trigger. The Blesbok went down instantly, with hoofs pointing straight up in the air!! Johan starting laughing and gave me a slap on the back and said "Great shot" We walked up to the Blesbok. He was a great trophy and measured 16 inches on the longest horn. Johan said he would be way up on the book. We loaded him up in the Cruiser. Since my cousin Quenton was hunting with Craig in the same area, Johan radioed Craig and we met them and gave them my Blesbok to take back to the lodge. Johan and I wanted to stay and hunt the afternoon for Warthog. After we left Craig, Quenton and Arlene, we headed back and set up a blind near a water hole. We had a little lunch and then I proceeded to nod off more than once. It seemed every time I woke up, there were pigs at the water hole. We saw a lot of females and young ones and one pretty good boar. He was about 9 inches and Johan said we could do better. I nodded off again and woke up and again there was another lone boar at the watering hole. I tapped Johan who was behind me and said "look"!! Johan said it was the same pig that had been there before as he was covered in mud. Just as I was putting my gun down, Johan said, "Wait"! "That's a different pig. He's a shooter!" I touched off from the blind in the freehand position. The Warthog dropped in its tracks. The final animal in my safari had been taken and my hunt of a dream was complete. He was a good Warthog and measured about 10.5 to 11 inches. We took some photos and headed back to the lodge. I was extremely happy but yet a little sad as I knew my safari was coming to an end. I had taken 11 animals.
Day 12 - May 26th This was my last official last day of hunting and since I had gotten all the animals I wanted to get, I decided to stay back and visit with "Tiny" and Amalia (Johan's girlfriend). That afternoon, Quenton, Arlene, Craig and I went back into Ellisras to do a little shopping. Later that evening, after dinner, we started saying our final goodbyes. I took a lot of photos with the staff and felt sad as we were heading out the next morning. I had just had the best time of my life!
Day 13 - May 27th The next morning we loaded up the van and gave out final hugs to everybody and started the trek back to Johannesburg. Johan was taking us back on this day so I ad some extra time with him before I got on the plane. On our way back we stopped at Highveld Taxidermy and got a tour and spoke to the people there. The place was huge, and they said it was the biggest taxidermy outfit in Africa. The people there were excellent to deal with. We continued on our way to Afton House where Johan dropped us off. Johan was picking up other hunters on that day. We said our good byes and gave each other a great big hug. We were both a little emotional as I said "I just made a friend for life!!!" I thanked him for everything and watched him drive away with the other hunters. We stayed at Afton House that night and the next day until we flew out the evening of May 28th. I would just like to say that Annalese and the staff of Afton House were excellent. I would recommend staying there anytime.
In closing, I would like to thank Pieter and Lizelle for the privilege of being able to hunt at Cruisers Safaris. I would like to thank Johan for being my PH, a true friend and a superb hunter and one of the best people I have ever met. I would also like to thank Amalia for everything she did; including taking care of me and for being one of the sweetest and nicest people I have ever met. I would also like to thank Delmarie "Tiny" for her excellent meals and also being a pleasure to visit with and be around. I would like to thank Craig, Pieter (Grassy) and Hans. It was great being able to hang out with them. They are all tremendous Professional Hunters, and Cruiser's is lucky to have them on their staff. I would like to thank all the skinners, maids and all the staff for all their efforts. They made my stay as great as it possibly could have been! Last but not least, I would like to thank Cruiser Bob for booking our hunt and being a true professional in what he does and all the details he looks after! Getting a chance to meet Bob, his wife Leesa and Bob's son Brian was a real pleasure! I will be back to Cruisers one day soon!
BRIAN CLARK – Nebraska
Animals taken – Impala*, Red Hartebeest*, Warthog*
DUANE & JUDI MOULD – British Columbia, Canada
Animals taken – Kudu, Blesbok*, Gemsbok, Zebra, Impala*, Blue Wildebeest*
KEN & DONNA SLANOVICH – Colorado
Animals taken – Gemsbok*, Kudu, Warthog*, Impala*, Waterbuck*, Nyala*, Bushbuck*
No Hunt Photos Available
TED INMAN – Montana
Animals taken – Kudu, Gemsbok, Blesbok*, Impala*, Warthog*
No Hunt Photos Available
RON & MIKE MINETTE – New York
Animals taken – Warthog*, 2 – Impala*, Kudu* (54 ½”), Zebra, Gemsbok*, Bushbuck*, Nyala
(Mike) After a long flight from JFK we arrived in Jo-Burg and were swept away to camp after a short nap at the Afton House. I was pleased to be greeted by the wonderful chef DelMarie with a fresh squeezed orange juice. We were shown to our rooms, which are first class. After unpacking we had a wonderful dinner and then retired to our rooms for the night.
Day 1- My father and I woke to fresh squeezed orange juice. This would become my morning staple at breakfast.I went to the range where I shot my .257 Weatherby and .300 Jarrett. Both guns were dead on so we went hunting. After a short drive my PH Craig, my father and I went for a walk. We could hear the Impala rams grunting. We put a stalk on two Impala rams that were sparring. Both rams were rutting so hard they were running all over the place. We could never catch up with them. Craig said were going back to the truck when went walked into an opening and saw a male warthog looking at us. Craig threw up the sticks and said shoot him. I shot the warthog in the chest with the .257 Weatherby with a 100 grain Barnes TTSX. The warthog fell over and was stone dead. Was I impressed with what I now call Thors Hammer. The warthog had 11.5" tusks and made the record book. After taking pictures and loading the pig, we hunted the rest of the day for Impala and Kudu. We saw a mature Kudu, but never got a shot. In the afternoon, we sat in a blind on a water hole. The darn cows kept screwing thing up so no Kudu.
Day 2- Back to the same property. Pieter wanted us to hunt it hard, as there some trophy Kudu there. As we were driving back to where we saw the Kudu on day 1, Craig spotted some Kudu cows, but no bulls. Then Craig spotted some large Impala rams. Off we went. The rams were moving fast, chasing female Impala's. While stalking a ram, I saw a huge Jackal. I wanted to shoot it, but Craig told me not to. I figured we would get another Impala and I like predators. We closed in on a ram. The ram ran into an opening and Craig whistled. The ram stopped and I shot it with Thors Hammer. The ram bucked and ran. We went to where I had shot and found no blood. Craig looked and found the ram 75 yards away, expired on a small roadway. Craig said it was a monster. The ram scored 62 inches and only needed 51 inches to make the book. It was a gold medal ram. Wow! Now it was off for the Kudu. We hunted hard. Pieter said there was a lot of Kudu there, but we did not see many. Late in the day the weather changed, and it rained, turned cold and the wind blew hard. I put on my skull cap and neck gaiter. I wanted to get in the truck, but I stuck it out with Craig. As we approached a water hole Craig said "get your rifle". Craig said "shoot". I shot as the Kudu was getting ready to hop over short cattle fence. Down went the Kudu. Craig was ecstatic. The bull measured 54.5 inches and made the record book. Was I happy to finally have the grey ghost of Africa. Back to camp we went.
Day 3- Finally we were going Zebra hunting. I have wanted a Zebra for so long, and after a trip to Zimbabwe last year and not having success. Craig "cut" the tracks of a herd of Zebras. Off we went into the bush. We tracked the Zebras, but the wind changed and off went the Zebras with Blue Wildebeests mixed in. We then went around and came at them with the wind in our favor. We got up on them, but a small group of Red Hartebeests busted us, and off went the Zebras. We left the Zebras and went for lunch. We returned after lunch and found the herd. We got on them and bumped them again. This is just like Cape Buffalo hunting. You keep bumping and eventually you get a break. We chased the herd across a dirt road, but Craig heard some other Zebras. We walked back towards the noise, and we caught a small herd on the dirt road. Craig and I were pinned down and the herd stallion was walking towards us. I leaned on Craig’s shoulder and fired. The stallion was mine after a short run of 110 yards. This is the trophy I wanted the most. We loaded the Zebra in the land Cruiser and went looking for Gemsbok. As the day was drawing to an end, a Gemsbok stepped out on the road. I shot the Gemsbok and it ran into the thick bush. We gave chase where I recovered the Gemsbok and decided to take another that was looking at us. Two Gemsbok down. We loaded the Land Cruiser, which was now packed with a Zebra and two Gemsbok. There was no more room!
Day 4- Off to hunt Bushbuck and Nyala. We walked the riverbank and I shot a 13.75 inch old warrior Bushbuck with lots of scars on his face. I love it. Craig took some great pictures on the riverbank. I was very lucky and thankful to harvest a Bushbuck. There are very elusive. The rest of the day was spent looking for the final animal-the Nyala.
Day 5- Off to a different property for Nyala. Right off the bat we saw two groups of Nyala cows, but no bull. We looked for hours. We finally went for a walk. We walked up on an Impala ram at 30 yards. Craig looked at him and told me if I was looking for another Impala I should take this one. After the shot I had a 55 inch ram, also making the book. We loaded the ram and went to lunch. We returned and hunted hard for the Nyala. An little after 5pm, and hunting very hard covering a lot of ground Craig said he had run out of ideas. We then turned the corner and there stood a Nyala bull. I could not say anything, but I had no problem grabbing my rifle. Craig just said "shoot" and I did. I had my Nyala bull with ivory tips. My hunt was now done. I had harvested 9 animals in 5 days. Nothing was a "gimmie". We worked very hard and persistence pays off. This is what happens when you have great area to hunt and a phenomenal PH on your side. This was my 22nd hunting trip and 2nd to Africa. By far the best trip times 2. I would not hesitate sending anyone to Cruiser Safari. Thanks for great time and memories with my father.
MARTY & WYATT DUNHAM – Kentucky
Animals taken – (Marty) – Red Hartebeest*, Bushbuck*, Warthog*, Waterbuck*
(Wyatt) – Zebra, Warthog*, Steenbok
HENRIK KJOLBY – Denmark
Animals taken – Gemsbok, 2 – Steenbok*, Warthog*, Waterbuck*, Kudu* (53 ¾”), Blesbok*, Blue Wildebeest*, 2 – Impala*
Hi There, I am Henrik, coming from Denmark in the northern part of Europe. Just a "short" story about my first safari.
I arrived in Johannesburg Thursday the 3 of June at 9 pm, picked up in the airport by Pieter and his wife and then off to Afton House to pick up Marty and his son and off to Cruiser safaris. It was just before the world cup so there was a lot going on the roads and we arrived at the camp at 4 pm after having emptied a supermarket in the back of the bus on the way to the camp, I was a bit worried because there was a lot of vegetables and me being a meat lover but I was thinking we will of cause shoot the meat and as the Indians say, vegetarian is just a word for a poor hunter.
In the camp we quickly zeroed our riffles and then it was dinner time. I am a bit picky regarding food but when I find something I like I eat a lot and I did that morning, noon and evening, Thanks Tiny for the great meal you always served all week.
First evening, talking to our PH about what animals we wanted to shoot, meeting people from other parts of the world and of course looking on all the trophies thinking, can I be that lucky when hunting the next 7 days.
We started at 6.15 driving to the area, a bit cold but I am used to the cold but Johan and the tracker was not really happy about it being around freezing point.
Kudu was the animal that I wanted and I was picky as well because I wanted one with horn going straight up and 55” all other animals had “just” to make the CIC, I wanted to shoot strong old animals.
After driving around we started to walk, I liked that a lot and we saw some animals but not the right ones but in the afternoon I shoot a nice male Gemsbok. Very nice first day and I already knew that this would not be my last safari. We saw a nice Kudu just like I wanted but only saw a glint of it but it was there and that was fine for me. I could wait.
Back in camp, great dinner and Pieter was joking around as he was doing every evening, you had to look more after him that when you were hunting otherwise you would end up with strange things in your pocket, lucky for me he was going for Marty all the time.
A bit tired after all the impression so early to bed.
We stalked around saw some impalas, warthog and a very fine Duiker but it was clever as Johan and I but a great hunt and we ending shooting a nice Warthog.
We were then driving a bit and we saw a big “little” Steenbok and we got that that, Johan said that it was a very big one 4,5” so we were happy.
We saw a nice waterbuck and started to stalk it and after 2 hours we came to a open area where it was standing on the other side about 200m so we got down and crawl to a bush I could use as rest for my riffle, I shoot and after 20 m it went down, a great stalk over 2 hours and a very nice waterbuck.
Of to the mountains, Kudu land, we looked everywhere but just some small ones, but again we saw a big “Little” Steenbok about 120m away and it is not big on this distance but we got it and this time it was nearly 5” so that was great. We made a fire and had dinner in the open, I liked that a lot and even being out there the food form Tiny was great. After dinner a small nap, not bad under open sky.
Johan talked about that he knew a place where we should try to sit in a high seat and wait and we agreed on that even I am not good just sitting and waiting. We went to the high seat and I was looking up in a tree about 6-7 meters of the ground with some old metal frame with some even older wooden floor and the way to get up there was some old 10mm iron spikes that was hammered in the tree. They started to get the things up there and I did not really know what to think. I am used to a big wooden house with a bed and sometimes heaters with a very solid ladder in Poland and now I have to climb as a monkey and a very big one about 110Kg up the tree, but I wanted my Kudu so up the tree I went and all the spikes was bend after I been standing on them. Before we got up there I asked Johan about mosquitoes, if I should bring my lotion but no there is none, but after 2 minutes they started attacking us and my lotion was long gone in the truck.
We had been sitting there 2 hours when 2 Kudu where coming, young ones but we were ready because they were looking in the direction they came from, and suddenly they jumped away because we were suddenly in the middle of the landowner driving under us with a speed of 120 Km I think.
I wanted to shoot his tire but then again he could of course not know that somebody would be stupid to climb the high seat.
1,5 hours later some Kudu females came out and again we were ready, and there was the bull, I never forget the sight when he came out and what an animal. I got the riffle up but it was standing with its tail just my way and this animal deserved better so we waited and after 8-10 minutes it start moving around the 6-8 females and at this time my arm was going up and down because of my heart was pumping like crazy and my arm was turning blue after holding my riffle so long. After 5 more minutes I could take a safe shot and I did, the bull ran away, had I missed? I thought that it was okay but was not sure after my arm nearly was fallen off and my heart was pumping. I am used to the game I shoot with my 8x68S just lies there but not in Africa. We looked at the video we had taken but there was not much to see, so down the tree and take the track and after 30 M it was laying there. I was a very happy man, a 54” narrow Kudu.
Now it is just dessert, I got my Kudu.
We stalked a very nice Impala and it was so kind and walk just up to us so that was an easy one but a very nice impala about 25”.
We had a nice day did not see so much but we were also talking a lot about the Kudu hunt so we could have passed animals without seeing them.
We would try to get a good blesbok and we stalked some but I missed the shot so we talked about what to do and they had stopped about 200 m from us close to the bush. We tried to get closer but no luck so we waited 10 minutes and then began the stalk. After about 1 hour of stalking we made contact again about 400 m away on the other side of an open area. We crawled about 200 m until there was no more cover and there we were, sitting waiting for them to get up, and I was thinking about the bad shot.
On the second day, my riffle fired after pressing the trigger forward to activate the very light trigger it dropped the trigger and the shot went off. I was just getting ready to shoot a Wildebeest with the riffle on my binoculars lying down and after that I checked the light trigger and it fired 5 times out of 10 so I was finished using the light trigger, but that gave me some problems after always using the light trigger now suddenly I should use the normal trigger.
The Blesbok got up, there were 8 animals and they were moving around close so we were trying to keep an eye on the one to shoot, and suddenly it was free and I shot, off it went again but went down 30 meters away.
Going for a Wildebeest and we were stalking a herd for 2-3 hours until Johan had seen enough and said that the bull was not big enough. We stalked on and found a nice Impala that we got.
In the afternoon we went to another area and started to stalk around, saw a lot of tracks from wildebeest but no animals. Suddenly we saw 2 in thick bush and Johan said that it was a big bull so we crawled in position and shot and this time it was lying where I shot it, and that I like. I am not happy when they run away go down 30m away
What a safari, I will be back in 2012 just need to get some points in my hunting book from my wife.
CRAIG & SHELBY SINK and their son TYLER and daughter ABIGAIL – WA
Animals taken – Waterbuck*, Steenbok*, Warthog*, Kudu* (55 ¾”), Zebra, Impala, Blue Wildebeest*, Eland*, Ostrich, Blesbok*, Red Hartebeest*, Giraffe, Gemsbok, Black Backed Jackal
Animals taken (Tyler) – Warthog*, Impala*
There are so many stories to tell, where do I even begin? There are very few times in my life I've kept a journal, but I have 17 pages about my 12 days of safari. That is, of course, more than most would care to read, so I will try to sum up a few of the best memories. First to those considering Cruiser Safaris, I can wholeheartedly recommend them for a hunt of a lifetime. I was impressed by the website and almost a bit skeptical about how great it sounded. After being there, it totally exceeded my expectations. Great people, accommodating families, and staff that made sure you were happy all the time. I worried about my wife and two kids (ages 11 and 6) being bored while I hunted. They were completely entertained and didn't want to leave. Craig's wife and daughter entertained and played with my daughter, made her a birthday cake, bought her a birthday present, baked cookies together, and kept her happy the whole time. It was sad to leave.
The hunting was unbelievable. Arrival day we decided to sight in and go hunt. Within an hour and a half I had bagged a record book Waterbuck and seen a ton of other game.
began with a bang too. An hour into our day Craig told me to take a steenbok that was a "monster". Steenbok was not on my list, so I was skeptical. I took the time to ask my wife if she "minded" while my son, Tyler was shaking his head "yes" frantically. I only got a non-committal shrug, and decided to take it since it was nice enough to stand there staring at us that long. With a warthog 40 yds behind it I fired the 160 yard shot and missed. But the steenbok stood still, so I fired again and got it. After a search we found it. It turned out to be nearly 5 inches and the biggest ever taken at Cruiser. I was sold on Craig's ability at that point. We mounted the truck again. 60 yards down the road there was a warthog limping off the road. Thinking that I had hit it was my miss or a ricochet I took it too. It was about 11.5 inches, another record book, though the limp was due to a bad fight wound and not a ricochet, but I'll take luck when I can get it. I later missed an opportunity to shoot a great Kudu and got to hear about it for the rest of the morning from Craig. I was getting irritated with the comments how I'd never see another Kudu like that. I got it, I screwed up. After lunch, just after entering the hunting grounds, while mounting the truck, Johannes, our driver spotted a Kudu while relieving himself. I jumped off the truck and threw my gun on the sticks that were waiting for me. I couldn't see anything and Craig had to describe for me where to look. Finding it standing behind a tree, it had the angled tree trunk in front of its vitals and I didn't think I had a shot. I said I didn't have a shot a couple times while Craig kept telling me to shoot. I told him I could get the neck, and he said take it. I squeezed the round as close to that tree as I could. Turned out I just clipped the shoulder and with it quartering toward it was a great vitals shot. We chased it and it didn't go far. The kudu was over 55 inches, a gold medal record book. Amazing. The lesson here is to make sure you keep your eyes open and head on a swivel when you relieve yourself. You are hunting every moment.
produced a nice Zebra and a record book Impala before lunch. We stalked eland the rest of the day, but missed a low-light opportunity at the end of the day.
After going after impala for my son Tyler, we hear some wildebeest in a nearby field. We head there by ear and find 8 of them and a very nice bull in the mix. We remain well concealed in the brush but have a hard time getting on the big one with all the moving in and out of the others he is doing. Eventually he heads of to the side as if they are going to head for the brush. I take a 170 yd moving shot and he makes it 20 yds before dropping. He is over 30inches and should be a double gold medal wildebeest. Awesome. Later after tracking some Eland and watching a herd of eland cows from the brush a warthog appeared and Tyler, my 11 year old son was able to take his first animal. He was a very happy kid!
Morning was full of Impala stalking and missing for Tyler, and more in the afternoon. We did a lot of walking. In the afternoon, we nearly missed the bachelor herd of Eland cross in front of us. We stalked them into the woods and bumped them a couple times, then headed back to the truck to approach from a different direction. We bumped them again and eventually found them on the road about 150 yards ahead. I got a split second moving shot and gut shot him. It was enough to slow him down. We finally tracked him down in the woods and I got another shot in his rear as he walked away. Another half mile of stalking and I got a shot at 300 yards. Shooting from my knees I fired a long shot and probably missed. Out of rounds, I was reloading while running. After 2 were in I shot from 300 yards twice more and he moved off into the brush again. We sprinted 400yds and found him in the brush. 2 rounds left. I let on fly into his butt again, then circled around broadside and took his shoulder with the last shot. He went down, but not out. I took the 9mm pistol and got to about 5 feet from him. The 4th round hit the spine and it was finally over. What a rush! A beautiful blue bull that again will make the record book.
The morning we went after a ostrich for Shelby. She took it heading away at 120 yds. Mama is gonna get a new handbag and some boots outta that one. The afternoon gave me a shot at a blesbok from 240 yards. This would be my longest shot of the trip. I pulled it a touch back, but got him. I missed a 300+ follow up. We tracked him for 15 minutes and found good blood, but no blesbok. Then suddenly Craig is blasting rapidly with his 9mm and I'm sprinting toward the gunfire. The blesbok was hiding in a bush and had leaped out near Craig. He tried to spine him with the pistol. He only made it 20 yards from there. Another one for the record books. Tyler also went out with Peter in the evening and got a silver medal Impala, so we all got sometime that day. How awesome.
Elephant back ride/safari in the morning. Good experience. There was opportunity to see big 5 animals, but we didn't see anything other than some lion tracks. The afternoon hunt gave me a 200 yard shot at a great red hartebeest. Follow up at 250 took out its leg and I had another record book animal. Based nearly touched on this big bull. Great stalk into the bushes, waited in the trees from the right shot and a challenging shot with a great ending made for another great hunting day. That evening Shelby encouraged me to consider the dark black giraffe I'd seen, and I began discussing it with Pieter. I hadn't intended on taking a giraffe, but with Shelby's support and a good deal with Pieter, I might consider it for the most unique giraffe I'd ever seen. I began working the deal that night, but was still undecided. Not sure if it is in the budget either.
Only thing left on my list is a Gemsbok. Amazing that in 6 days I've taken 11 animals myself and 3 more by my family. I had no idea there would be this much opportunity to shoot awesome animals. It is not like we were settling either since every horned animal of mine so far was in the record books. That is simply amazing. I spotted a Gemsbok at 50 yds at 9am and took the shot. It didn't go far. When we approached it I could see the disappointment in Craig. The Gemsbok was not going to make the record book. It was about an inch or two short. It was still nice despite this and I was happy, but I could tell Craig wasn't. When we got back to the skinning shed, Peter was there waiting. He told me I needed to shoot another. I laughed not realizing his meaning. He persisted that the Gemsbok was not up to his expected standard and that I would be allowed to shoot another without cost. He insisted in fact saying that it was good business and he wanted me to be happy. How amazing is that. I have never heard of being allowed to take a second animal for free. Again, amazing! I took the afternoon off to head to town, and bought my PH a new camo hunting jacket as thanks for all the great animal he'd put me on. Then I reviewed my bank account and discussed the giraffe plan more with Shelby and Pieter. Pieter had talked to the land owner and arranged it so I could take the black bull I wanted. He had also agreed to change my package around a bit from my contract to save me some money and we agreed on the giraffe. Tomorrow I'd hunt it. The whole camp was excited and everyone wanted to participate. Due to the large skinning job it had to be a morning hunt. Everyone was busy for the rest of the evening sharpening knives, loading trucks and prepping gear. Tomorrow was going to be fun.
Everyone was up early and excited. After breakfast everyone, the entire hunting staff and all the other hunters got on 5 different trucks and a tractor and headed to the property to find the black giraffe I wanted. After an hour of searching Pieter found it. I headed that way and tracked it into the brush. At 150 yds I took a shot from the sticks at the neck as my PH had said and it dropped in place. It was just amazing. Rather than a light yellow with yellow-brown spots, this giraffe was a dark yellow-orange with black spots. It was beautiful and huge. It was quite the ordeal to get it posed and pictures taken. It was great to have everyone there for the excitement as well. What I huge and awesome animal and a great way to finish my hunting.
I hunted for 2 more days for another Gemsbok and despite killing every single animal I shot at the entire week, I somehow cleanly missed shots at a Gemsbok each of the last two days. I can't explain it other than maybe I was only meant to have the one I killed first. I decided to keep that one and pay for it. The size of the horn is not the important part anyway, even if making a record book is nice bragging point. 9 out of 10 of my horned animals made the record book (SCI) with 3 being gold medals and I'm sure a few with make the other books as well. Tyler also got a silver medal Impala on top of that. It was simply the most spectacular hunting I could have ever imagined. It will take me a heck of a long time pay for all the taxidermy, but once I do I'll be planning my return trip. I imagine that others may read this and think it is too good to be true, well I encourage you to call or email me and I'll set you straight. Come tour my man's rooms in a year or two when my taxidermy is done, or I'll send you the pictures to prove it. This was the most amazing trip. Cruiser Safaris is a top notch outfit and you will not be disappointed. There isn't a day since I have left there that I haven't smiled while reminiscing in my mind over one of my hunt, the food, the people or a great sunset. I can't wait to go back.
CHRIS, TRACY, GUNNER & MCCARTHY HUGGINS – South Carolina
Animals taken (Chris) – Eland*, Blue Wildebeest*, Zebra, Black Backed Jackal, 3 – Warthogs (2*)
Animals taken (Tracy) – Zebra, Blesbok
Animals taken (Gunner) – Kudu, Blue Wildebeest*, Impala, Warthog*, Bushbuck*
Animals taken (McCarthy) – Gemsbok*, Impala*, Blesbok*
BRAD FRYE – South Carolina
Animals taken – 2 – Warthogs*, Gemsbok*, Steenbok*, Impala*, Blesbok*, Red Hartebeest, Waterbuck*, Blue Wildebeest*, Kudu* (55”)
TIM ROBERTS – British Columbia, Canada
Animals taken – Kudu, Warthog*, Impala, Gemsbok
Animals taken with bow – Warthog*, Impala*
DOUG FIELD – British Columbia, Canada
Animals taken – Warthog*, Gemsbok*
Animals taken with bow – Warthog*, Impala, Gemsbok, Waterbuck*
MARTIN VISSER – Alberta, Canada
Animals taken – Gemsbok, Impala*, Warthog, Kudu* (56”), Nyala*
WAYNE CHMELYK – British Columbia, Canada
Animals taken – Warthog*, Impala, Zebra, Black Backed Jackal, Gemsbok
KEN GUAY – British Columbia, Canada
Ken came as a non hunting observer but did take an Impala*
Tim’s Warthog makes #5 in the record book for taken with a bow.
TIM & LAUREL DRAPER and their son ETHAN – Connecticut
Animals taken (Tim & Ethan) – 2 – Impala (1*), Red Hartebeest*, Bushbuck*, Warthog
No Hunt Photos Available
MAX THURLEY – Australia
Animals taken – Gemsbok, Impala, Kudu* (54 ½”), Blesbok*, Warthog*
No Hunt Photos Available
KIRK KAUFMANN and his son NICHOLAS – Wyoming
Animals taken (Kirk) – Gemsbok, Kudu* (55 ¼”). Impala*, Warthog*, Blue Wildebeest*, Blesbok*
Animals taken (Nicholas) – Zebra, Impala*
JOHN & JAN STOKES – Wyoming
Animals taken – Impala*, female Impala, Gemsbok, Blesbok*, Blue Wildebeest*, Kudu* (53 ¾”), Eland*
JAMES & DIANE WILSON – Texas
Animals taken – Kudu, Impala*, Blesbok*, 2 – Blue Wildebeest*, Warthog
No Hunt Photos Available
GREG GEIGER – Connecticut
Animals taken – Gemsbok, Impala, Kudu*, Warthog*, Waterbuck, Steenbok*, Blue Wildebeest*, Blesbok*
I hunted from 6 August 2010 to 15 August 2010. First, I can’t say enough good things about Cruiser Bob. He is marvelous to work with – a real professional. He is very communicative and accessible.
Arrive in J-Burg airport and met by Afton House rep. You have to do this bit if you arrive after 5pm. I had a great time there. Afton House is very cozy, with friendly staff, and good food and drink. I met other friendly hunters from MN, TX, OR and AZ. Not all were headed to Cruiser – some were headed for Zimbabwe, etc. I got picked up by the Cruiser PHs the next day along with 7 other hunters and non hunters. Just the 8 of us were in camp for the 10-day safari. Nice.
After 3.5 hours we arrive in camp around dusk so we have to rush to sight in for the next day.
I meet my PH, Hans. I had asked for Hans specifically as he is known to be able to get very close to game. He did not disappoint. I saw lots of game and beautiful scenery. We hunted hard all day, finally harvesting a Gemsbok cow at dusk.
Hans and I put the stalk on an old Impala bull, harvesting him at about 100 yards mid-morning. I go back out in the afternoon with Pieter as Hans had become ill. First we spot a nice old warthog about 150 yards out feeding in a vast open field. I shoot and miss, so we move on. Then I spot a Kudu and Pieter tells me to shoot! I shoot and see the reaction to the shot but it was quartering away so the shot was far from an anchoring blow. We put a Herculean stalk onto the wounded Kudu for several hours. Pieter and the trackers do a superb job but eventually we needed the dog, Blue. After 2 bays and several shots from Pieter’s pistol the wounded bull is finally down late in the afternoon - a magnificent 50” specimen. I’m exhausted – my clothes are ripped and I’m bleeding from getting caught in the thorn bushes from the chase. But the Kudu is in the truck! On the way out of the concession, nearly at full dark, Pieter spots the same warthog I missed on the way in. I jump out of the truck and drop him off-hand at 25 yards in the thick bush. What a day! Three animals down!! We have Gemsbok steaks from my kill on Day 1 for dinner. How cool is this?!
Hans and I stalk Blue Wildebeest all day – getting close enough to hear them grunt but I can’t get a shot off cleanly. Then we put the stalk on a huge Waterbuck in the late afternoon. This is when I notice the set screw on my scope is missing. I need this screw to adjust the power on my scope! I have to improvise, using a screw driver to turn the turret. Not fun. Africa is hard on equipment. We put on a good stalk – I’m very tired and sweating heavily. I finally get a shaky shot at the Waterbuck and I take it. We go to the point of impact and only spot a bit of blood. After a fruitless search we break off and go back to camp despondent.
We go back in search of the wounded Waterbuck. Amazingly Hans flushes the exact same animal twice but I can’t get a shot off. All day Hans busts his butt for me trying to corner the Waterbuck a third time. No luck - No Waterbuck.
Again we look for the Waterbuck. He’s not bleeding as much now so the spoor is getting hard to find and follow. We hunt all morning with no luck. We break into a small heard of Blue Wildebeest and after them with some great stalks. Hans gets me close enough for a shot on a good bull. Everyone sees the bull react to the shot but when we run up to the point of impact there is no blood trail! We look for blood until dark then once again take the long drive back to camp in the dark – disappointed. Africa is kicking my butt.
Thinking I had missed the Blue Wildebeest the day before, Hans puts the stalk on a nice group. We are thwarted by thick brush on the first stalk and bloody giraffes giving away our position on the second stalk. Then the unthinkable happens. While stalking in the afternoon, Hans discovers the Blue Wildebeest I had shot the previous day. He was a full 2km from where he was shot. I had shot him in the neck. Elation! We race him back to camp to the skinners. We go back out after lunch and within 20 minutes I harvest a nice Steenbok. Things are looking up – except for the Waterbuck running around with my scar.
Once again we hunt the wounded Waterbuck. He has stopped bleeding and the odds of finding him are slim. We sit by a nearby waterhole all day hoping he’ll come in. The odds against it are tremendous, but there was no other choice. We see lots of game coming in. I witness incredible sights – warthogs, impala, zebra, and kudu. Then, with 15 minutes of light left, the bush became deathly quiet and out of the gloom from behind the blind came a huge Waterbuck. Hans is in slow motion, bringing his binos up. He mouths the words “Shoot it!” I mouth back, “Is it my Waterbuck?!” He nods. Holy Crap! I watch the Waterbuck drink for what seemed like an eternity, a bloody tree blocking his vitals. At last he raises his majestic head and turns to the left showing me his heart. The .338 WinMag barks and a 250g Nosler Partition slams into his chest – the second one of my bullets he now wears. He jumps in the air then collapses, scurrying around the other direction struggling to regain his feet. I step from behind the blind and shoot him again. I vow he shall not escape again. I approach and put a finisher in his spine. The beast is down. We quickly check him over and find my bullet hole from several days before, confirming he was the same bull. We have done the impossible! What a safari!!
Day 8 – I have harvested 7 animals, so with 3 days left I add Blesbok to the list. They are staying in the thick, running with the Impala as there are cheetahs lurking in the concession. After the third stalk, Hans gets me close enough to an old bull. Bang Flop – the old bull is dropped in his tracks. My Safari is over.
Hans is a master tracker. He was amazing to work with. I was humbled by his skills. I spent 20% of my Safari looking down at the ground trying to walk in his footprints. If you request Hans, you better be in great physical condition, as he can walk you into the ground. He doesn’t like to sit at waterholes or shoot from the truck – he is a spot and stalk expert, so be in shape. He is a great man and I highly recommend him. He gave me the Africa experience I had dreamed about.
Days 9 and 10
- relaxation by the pool, refining my journal, drinking Castle beer.
There is much more I could share about Pieter’s dinner-time pranks, Tiny the chef and her magnificent meals, the great company of the other hunters, the “Sea Cucumber”, the ‘lost’ key to my safe, the hot water bottles in your bed at night, the dogs and the jackals and the fireside camaraderie, but I think you need to discover these for yourself when you go! I will definitely find my way back to Cruiser Safaris.
HANS BUCK – New York
Animals taken – Blesbok*, Blue Wildebeest*, Zebra, Kudu
ROGER BUCK (Hans’ son) – New York
Animals taken – Gemsbok, Warthog*, Impala*, Red Hartebeest, Kudu, Waterbuck*, Blesbok*
No Hunt Photos Available
(Hans) This was a trip of my lifelong dream and I was so happy to share it with my son Roger. The memories will last for the rest of my life. I hope, some day my son will take his son or daughter or both to experience the wonders of a safari organized by Cruiser Safaris. Everything was so well organized and taken care of. A true pleasure. Thank you so much.
JERRY & SUSAN MASSINI – Oregon
Animals taken – 2 – Warthogs*, Gemsbok, Red Hartebeest, Blue Wildebeest*, Blesbok*, Kudu, Impala*
No Hunt Photos Available
GLYNNE KEMP – England
Animals taken – Blue Wildebeest*, Kudu, Impala*, Warthog*, Blesbok*
TIM TODD – California
Animals taken – Blue Wildebeest*, Kudu* (59”), 3 – Warthogs (all*), Impala*, Waterbuck, Blesbok*, Zebra, Gemsbok
No Hunt Photos Available
STEVE & BARBARA LASSITER – Florida
Animals taken – Zebra, Impala*, Blue Wildebeest*, Warthog*, Kudu* (51”), Steenbok*, Gemsbok
TIP & TERRE WARE – Arkansas
Animals taken – Steenbok*, Impala*, Zebra, Gemsbok, Kudu*, 2 – Warthogs, Blue Wildebeest*
(Tip) This was our trip of a lifetime. I have wanted to hunt Africa since I was 14 years old after devouring everything I could read written by Ruark, Hemmingway, O’connor and others. We made plans a year and a half ago with our good friend from Florida, Steve and Barbara Lassiter. We finally got our safari company choices narrowed down to three choices in November 2009 for an August 2010 hunt. The deciding factor turned out to be the availability of side trips for our wives Barbara and Terre while Steve and I hunted. We knew that Barb and Terre would go out with us for a few days but might not want to go out every day. We finally committed to Cruiser Safaris in late November and sent in our deposit. It is amazing how the time flies by and you know that you have to accomplish so many things prior to your trip. I felt like I was moving in slow motion while the rest of the world was moving in warp speed. The UPS man came to my house so many times, he'd just shake his head at my wife whenever he delivered something else I’d bought. We planned to stay at Afton house after our arrival in Johannesburg so we used their meet and assist service to help us get our temporary gun permits. This is the best $100 that I’ve ever spent. Jacques met us at the airport and had us out of the SAPS office with our rifles in less than 30 minutes. At afton house Ari grilled us each a steak that was one of the best I’ve ever eaten. It's amazing what a 16 hour plane ride will do to your appreciation of small things. We left afton house the next morning with our guide for the next 4 days to tour Kruger national park. We spent our four day based at Skukuza in a little one bedroom round thatched roof bungalow called a Rondavaal, nice simple comfortable accommodations. Clive, our driver and Jonathan our chef, stay in a tent about a half mile away. Over the four days we see just about every animal except for a cheetah. We do see the big five and celebrate by buying a big five cap. After our 4 days we were driven back to Afton house where we left our rifles in their safe, eat another fine grilled meal of lamb chops and ribs, go to bed in anticipation of leaving for the Cruiser Safari lodge in the morning. At about 9am Craig, one of the professional hunters at cruiser arrives to pick us up. Another guest hunter, Tim Todd from California, joins us for the 3 hour ride to Limpopo and the Cruiser lodge. When we arrive at the lodge we are met by the chef, DelMarie holding a platter of glasses full of fresh orange juice. The other professional hunters quickly unload our luggage into our rooms and we sit down for lunch. DelMarie always puts on incredible lunches and dinners; don't expect to go hungry or loose weight while at cruiser.
My assigned ph is Johan. Steve’s ph is Craig and Tim’s ph is Hans. After lunch we hang around the lodge till about 3pm then Terre, Barb, Tim, Steve and I get the PH’s to show us around the hunting areas. The guys get onto the bench seat in the bed of the land cruiser and the girls get into back seat inside. We’ve got one rifle just in case we see something we can't pass up. We see lots of animals including Cape buffalo. Tomorrow the real hunt begins. I’m up at 5am the next morning and DelMarie surprises us with a hearty breakfast of eggs, ham, kudu sausage, coffee toast and orange juice. It’s a surprise because we were told that the typical breakfast would be coffee and rusks. When we filled out our preferences sheet for cruiser, I mentioned that I generally had eggs and some type of meat for breakfast. Cruiser’s accommodated us! Terre is not hunting with me today so Johan and I depart the lodge at 0615 and pick up Munshu our driver for the next 10 days. We're hunting a property about 20 minutes from the lodge. We get to the property gate, Munshu opens it, Johan turns the wheel over to Munshu, Johan and I climb up onto the elevated bench seat in the bed of the land cruiser, I put a round into the rifle chamber. I’m finally hunting Africa! I’ve brought my 47 year old Winchester model 70 30-06 that I bought new when I was 14 years old for $154. I put it on layaway in early summer and paid on it every week till it was paid off in early fall of 1964. The animals here are nothing like the animals in Kruger where you could watch them till you got bored. These guys run for cover as soon as they see us approach. At this property, I’m allowed to shoot any of my 10 day package of animals except kudu and impala. Their quota for this property has already been reached. We see lots of red hartebeest and blesbok but I’m not interested in these today. Johan tells me that he's seeing fresh wildebeest sign and that we're going to bail off the truck while it is still moving so that the truck serves as a decoy. We bail off and quickly get into the bush following little meandering game trails between and around thorn bushes (every bush here has thorns). I’m thinking this is some kind of little test of Johan’s to see what kind of client he's going to have to deal with for the next 10 days. I don't talk, complain, fall behind or step on any dry branches for 30 minutes so I think I passed the test. Pretty soon we start seeing fresh wildebeest sign and not long after, we hear the grunting and snorting of the herd. Johan goes into cat mode climbing into the top of a 30 foot tree to get sight of the animals, then climbing down to let me know that there's a good bull in the group and we're going to stalk him. We can see them in the brush about 250 yards away and we have to get closer. We start crab walking. Pretty soon, Johan gets down on his hands and knees and starts crawling through the grass. I’m doing the same except I’m crawling on two knees one paw and a rifle. After about 100 yards of this I’m totally exhausted, but we're within range. He’s telling me which one to shoot but before he can set up the sticks the wind swirls, they smell us and bolt. No shot at these guys! We hunt our way back to the little dirt road and Johan call Munshu on the radio and pretty soon he meets us and we climb back into the jump seat and begin to patrol again. Just as we turn a corner we scare a couple of steenbok into the bush and pass them by only to realize that they had stopped in the bush to look at us. We get out and Johan points out the buck. I get on him with my scope and fire. I hit him good but he still skitters around in a 30 foot circle before he goes down for good. Johan confirms the kill, then shakes my hand to congratulate me on a "monster" steenbok. This little antelope weighs about 40 pounds soaking wet and look like anything but a monster. It turns out his horns measure 4 7/8 inches and scores 13 on the SCI scale. It looks like he will rank #56 in the all time SCI record book. the PH's all get on the radio & we learn that Tim has killed a wildebeest and Steve has a zebra. We’ve all had a great first day. After a wonderful lunch of breaded and fried pork chops, mashed potatoes and salad back at the lodge, we hang out at the lodge until about 3:30pm when Terre, Johan and I go out to hunt at a property of one of Pieter’s friends. We’re not allowed to shoot kudu but we can shoot impala and before we even get to the property gate we see a nice group of impala. As soon as we get through the gate Johan and I are off the truck and stalking. Just as we get about 200 yards away the wind changes and the impala smell us and leave.& We return to the truck and ride around for about an hour seeing lots of warthogs, waterbuck, impala and eland. We finally spot a bachelor herd of impala under a highline but the wind is wrong for a stalk. What we do instead is to exit the power line and make a big circle around them so we can approach them from the opposite direction with the wind in our favor. Terre joins us for the stalk this time, a first for her. We get to about 175 yards from where we last saw the herd and encounter a large outcrop of rock between us and them. This is perfect cover for us but it's going to be hard not to make noise. We leave Terre at this point and proceed to crab walk over the rocks to about 125 yards from the impala. When we peek over the rocks, there they are and have not heard or seen us. Johan glasses them and we agree on which one to shoot. Johan sets up the sticks. I’m still breathing hard, but I draw in a deep breath and squeeze the trigger. My ram is knocked off his feet and stays down. Another ph handshake and we start taking the hero photos. We ended the afternoon by climbing to the top of a 100 yard high hill and sitting on flat rock overlooking the plain below. We were hoping to ambush a warthog, but it was not to be. The African sunset was beautiful and it was the perfect ending to my perfect first day of hunting in Africa. When we got back to the lodge, the boma was lit up with a fire on the fire pit and DelMarie had cut wildebeest tenderloin filets from Tim’s wildebeest for Craig (ph) to cook on the grill. What a great day.
Every day was good, even the days when we got skunked. All of us had days when we took no animals, but in the end, we all collected the animals we intended. For me it was: steenbok, impala, zebra, wildebeest, kudu, 2 warthogs, gemsbok. For Steve it was zebra, impala, warthog, kudu, steenbok, gemsbok, wildebeest. For Tim it was wildebeest, kudu (59"), waterbuck, 3 warthogs, impala, zebra, blesbok, gemsbok. Every animal was special and every animal had an exciting story. We weren’t just client for ten days, lasting new friendships were made and old friendships were strengthened.
Tip and Terre Ware August 2010.
Late August - Early September
ED TAYLOR – New Mexico
Animals taken (bow hunting) – Blue Wildebeest*, Duiker, Waterbuck*, Nyala*, Red Hartebeest, Warthog*
Hunting with Cruiser Safaris can be explained with one word, FANTASTIC. The first animal I harvested was a trophy blue wildebeest at 24 yards. I have seen wildebeests on television and in person but I had no idea how big they really are. The duiker I shot was the second animal I harvested and he came in at about 24 yards as well. He was very spooky but made the mistake of taking a drink of water and I was able to release an arrow through the vitals. We struggled to get a waterbuck bull into the water hole and finally my trophy bull came in at 28 yards to get a drink of water only to be met with a four blade Muzzy he measured 29 inches and some change. I was able to do a spot and chase and stalk on three nyala bulls. We were barked at and the whole nine yards by these bulls. After stalking up to where the bulls had begun to feed I was able to take a bull at 24 yards. He ran thirty yards before crashing to the ground. My arm was twisted by my PH Pieter to take a pig. I had no desire to harvest a pig but after a very slow morning I told Pieter if a good pig came in I would take one. Two pigs came to the water hole and again at 24 yards I was able to take my second pig ever. Four of the six animals were record class.
JEFF & MAUREEN BENKA – Connecticut
Animals taken – Blue Wildebeest*, Gemsbok*, Bushbuck*, Impala*, Warthog*, Zebra
This was my first international trip and I was not at all looking forward to the travel based upon my negative experience with air travel in the US. I was very pleasantly surprised! There were no delays or issues with customs, security or my firearm transport. The non-stop fight was long but as comfortable as it could be and I would not hesitate to make the trip again. Upon arrival in Johannesburg we were met by an employee from Afton Guest House who escorted us to the police office for my temporary firearms import permit. I had the permit in less than 30 minutes and was on my way to Afton House. After a short rest we had made arrangements for a tour to Rhino & Lion Reserve. We were able to get some great photos there and also had the opportunity to spend some hands on time with a group of Serval cats. The next day we headed out to the camp to start our safari.
After sighting in my rifle I went out hunting with PH Pieter. I don’t think we started hunting much before 3:00pm, but 2 hours later I had shot a 38 ½ inch Gemsbok and a really nice Blue Wildebeest. That was 2 hours of hunting I will never forget!
Here are some of the many highlights:
I met my PH for the week, Johan and went out in search of Zebra. We chased the Zebras around for most of the day without success but I was able to finish up with a nice old warthog.
The hunt for Zebra continued and by 11:00am I had a beautiful Zebra down and was very happy to have such a great trophy. I latter found out this would be Bushbuck afternoon. Pieter L. told me that we would be hunting at a farm where he had shot the current world record Bushbuck last year. I was really looking forward to this hunt and was not disappointed. We saw Bushbucks right away but Johan told me not to shoot because we could do better and he was right. He spotted a big one and I shot it on the run at about 60 yards. I could not believe the size of the 17 inch monster Bushbuck! I think it took me a day or two to realize that this may be the best African trophy I will ever have and most likely the highest scoring SCI animal I will ever have. Thanks Pieter & Johan!
Today we looked for Impala at a new property where we saw large herds of them. Taking position on a rock ledge about 50 feet above the plain where a group of Impala were feeding, we waited for the ram to walk out into the open. After about 10 minutes he gave me a clear shot and we were on our way back to camp with a nice Impala.
We went on a tour to Marakele National Park hoping to see Giraffe and Elephant. It was no surprise that Johan was able to find both as well as many other game animals we had not seen before including several Klipspringers. He also brought along a picnic lunch including champagne and it was the perfect way to end our safari.
I also want to add that it was my birthday during the safari and DelMarie baked a very nice cake with Happy Birthday written in Afrikaans. Everyone in the camp signed my birthday card which will be framed and hung in my trophy room. Thanks everyone for best Birthday I ever had!
JOHN & MICHELLE KONICKI – Massachusetts
Animals taken - Zebra, Blue Wildebeest*, Impala, Gemsbok, Kudu, Red Hartebeest*, Blesbok*
On our second to last day, having already taken very good quality trophies of all my initial intended trophies, Hans (my PH) and I decided we would target a trophy Red Hartebeest but only a first class animal nothing mediocre. After a short time of spotting we eyed an excellent Hartebeest and drove to a position with the wind in our favor from which we could begin a stalk. About 10 minutes into the stalk we were approaching my effective range of only 100 Yards as I was using an iron sighted 1895 Winchester in .405 and wanted to be sure of my shot. Suddenly the wind swirled and we lost our chance as the Hartebeest bolted. The bull was very good, I was disappointed, and never one to give up, Hans with his positive demeanor insisted we should find a better one. We continued to spot from the truck and found another group of Hartebeest which contained a good bull. Again the wind was bad so we repositioned and started to stalk... About 70 yards from the group but with no open shot on the bull Almost magically sensing the wind beginning to shift far before I even knew it was about happen Hans got us into a quick and silent retreat. We repositioned about a half mile with the wind in our favor and began to stalk from an advantageous position. As we approached the herd of about 8 animals we could not see the bull. Had he left or moved off while we retreated? Cautiously approaching to within 50 yards of the group, very slow, the sound of your heart being drowned out by the slightest noise of a branch or leaf brushing your pants. Suddenly Hans spots a tip, just a tip as small as your thumb, there lying in the brush, 30 yards he rises and stands, he's big, very big... We are clear to his view... I begin to panic, Hans is calm and gently moves us in ultra slow motion a low squat 10 steps back two step to the right, we get a little side and back cover from a bush. Hans sets the sticks and I place the rifle. He's looking at us now, I can't move, my feet are crossed not good balance, should I risk reposition my feet or take the shot... I don't feel the recoil, or hear the blast of the .405 but the bull drops. “Reload” I hear from Hans, I cycle the freight car like action the empty shell flying over our heads, but no need the bull is down. Only now does Hans show his true excitement... "John he's a monster wait here I need to get my Camera" The bull measured 23 1/2” length with a total of Score of 69 1/2. Not bad for a bonus.
J. T. & MELISSA CAUDILL – Kentucky
Animals taken - (total list and sizes not available at press time but J. T. did take) – Gemsbok, 2 – Blue Wildebeest, 2 – Impala, 2 – Warthogs, 2 – Blesbok, Kudu
4:30 A.M., the alarm goes off; it’s time to begin our long journey. We fly from Northern Kentucky to Washington/Dulles Airport where we have a six hour layover. We depart at 5:40 P.M. on South African Airways; stop at Dakar, North Africa to refuel, new flight crew, drop off and get some new passengers, (but we have to stay on the plane), then on to Johannesburg.
We clear customs and get our gun permit, then off to the Afton Guest House.
Travel to the lodge provide by Cruiser’s. After we arrive, have a great lunch, unpack and then check the zero on my rifle. We are introduced to our Professional Hunter, Craig for a short afternoon hunt.
Had a great first day, took a real nice Gemsbok in the morning, back to camp for lunch, and a Blue Wildebeest in the afternoon.
As we are riding around Craig spots a Kudu bull at long range, we off-load the Land Cruiser and began our stalk, the wind is good. At 200 yards we slip from behind cover, sticks up, BANG! We hear the bullet hit – and the Kudu heads into thick cover. We track him and 60 yards later lays my very nice 53” Kudu bull!!! Lots of photos and we load him up. A short time later we slip into range of a group of Impala, sticks up and we take a nice one. Back to the skinning shed by 9:30. Pieter our host asked if he may shoot my rifle (Savage 110 FCP .300 Win-Mag). He puts 5 bullets in the same hole at 100 yards!!! Great shooting….wish I could shoot as well. Time for lunch and a short nap. Afternoon hunt I took a Warthog with 11” tusks.
Took two Blesbok today – shot well, no tracking.
Got a good early start this morning after a great breakfast. Group of Impala, they wind us – gone. More walking, another group, thick brush, no shots. Hour or so later we slip into range of some more, sticks up, he steps into the open, BANG! Craig says he did not hear the bullet hit and that I might have missed. As we slip in to look for blood he spots another one, I choose to shoot in case I missed the other one! BANK! He’s down! And a big one, Craig does a quick measure of the horns, not only does he make the Safari Club International Record Book – he is a Gold Medal Class!!! Now we look for the other Impala, find blood, thirty yards, there he is!! Two shots and two big Impalas.
At about 8:30 A.M. we locate a group of 8 Blue Wildebeest and we get on their tracks. Eight hours and three blown stalks later we finally get an opportunity at the big one we are after, BANG!!! He’s down and he is huge! 28 1/2” wide (2” past his ears) and 14” bases! A really great trophy. Load him up. It’s been a long hot day…I’m wore out. Ready for a shave, shower, dinner and bed!
No hurry this morning. We are going to try to get another Warthog today. The concession we are going to hunt is close and we plan to hunt a natural water hole. When we arrive the wind is swirling badly. Finally Craig picks a spot based on the dominant wind direction for this location. He constructs a really great ground blind using both camo and natural vegetation. We use a couple of chairs with backs as it may be a long wait. The first animal in is an Impala, then 5 Kudu cows and Warthogs, ots of sows with piglets and a small boar. Finally early afternoon a big old boar shows up. I get the gun up, crosshairs on his shoulder, safety off, BANG! Perfect, he’s down – a dandy with 12” tusks. Photos, load the gear and the Warthog. Back to camp, lunch, rest a while. Afternoon hunt – lots of photos but no shots taken. Back in camp, time for shave, shower and a big dinner. Kudu Cordon Bleu, sweet potatoes, rice and broccoli salad. Really a great meal!!
Melissa went with us back to the water hole we hunted yesterday. We saw a couple of Impala and 10 Warthog sows and piglets. The wind was swirling and the game was getting our scent. We stayed about 4 hours and decided to call it a day. Have paper work to finish and time to start packing. We leave in the morning. (I miss my Grandson, Cameron).
Good Morning – Kentucky here we come!! Cup of coffee and time to finish packing. We say our good-byes to Pieter and the staff and have plans to stop at the taxidermist on the way to the airport. Highveld Taxidermy – UNREAL- thousands of animals in the process of being mounted. From a tiny bird to a full body mount Elephant. These folks will be used to dip and ship my hides and horns to the states. If you ever have the chance to take a tour – it’s well worth the time. On to the airport, clear customs and ready for long flight home.
We are home!! Thank you Lord for the traveling mercies you have bestowed on us!!!
AARON & LISA VAN CAMP – Colorado
Animals taken (Aaron) – Steenbok*, 2 – Warthogs*, Impala*, Kudu* (51”), Zebra, Blue Wildebeest*
Animals take (Lisa) – Kudu* (58 ¼”), Gemsbok*, Warthog*, Red Hartebeest*, Impala*, Blesbok*
Picked up by Hans and Frankie early in the morning and headed to one of the concessions. Met Hans the day before and he was to be our assigned PH-- we were thrilled. Aaron and Hans had made some stalks on Impala earlier in the day but didn’t get anything. Hans spotted a Gemsbok so it was my turn. We stalked toward the Gemsbok but he took off and was gone. Then Hans saw a nice Kudu bull and said “Never mind, we go for Kudu now!” There was a Kudu bull looking at us and Hans said it was too small. The Kudu saw us and ran off. There were more Kudu down this road so we kept going. All of a sudden Hans crouches down on his knees so I do too. He looked and said “Oh Sh#$!” I did not know at that time that if Hans says that, it is something BIG! He told me to stay down, and he got the shooting sticks ready. I got on the sticks and Hans said “Big Kudu! Shoot him! See him? He’s across the road.” I look across the road and see him, get him in my crosshairs, the gun goes off, I reload, Hans says “Shoot again, shoot again!” The Kudu took off into the bush before I can shoot and he is gone. More Kudu run into the bush. We go to where he was and Hans said he didn’t see any blood. My heart sank. Did I miss? I’m praying that I didn’t miss. Hans kept searching in the brush and saw the Kudu down but about to get back up. I couldn’t see him and Hans asked “I don’t want to lose him, is it ok if I shoot?” I told him yes, he took my gun as the Kudu jumped up and ran off and Hans shot at him and the Kudu kept unning and we went after him. Hans stopped and saw him laying down- I couldn’t see him at first, then finally saw him move his horns. Hans put the shooting sticks up, the Kudu jumped up and Hans said “Shoot!” It was running away, I took a shot and missed. We took off again and saw the Kudu standing behind a tree. I rest my gun on Hans shoulder and shoot, hit the Kudu far back, that’s all I could see, the tree was blocking his shoulder. The Kudu took off- AGAIN. And so do we--AGAIN. He stopped behind more brush. Hans said “Let’s finish him off.” I rest my gun on Hans shoulder, followed the horns down to his body and aimed where I think the shoulder is--I can’t see it through all the brush, and squeeze--boom, gun goes off, the Kudu stepped away and then went down. Hans said “You’re done, he’s down!” Hans called on the radio to Frankie and we walked over to my Kudu. And he is big!! Hans stuck his hand out, is smiling big and said “Congratulations! He is a big one!” He then told me “You will probably never shoot a Kudu again in your life like this one!” All I could think was “Wow, my first African animal! And it’s a monster Kudu!” Aaron got to us and saw the Kudu and asked “I thought you were going after Gemsbok?” I told him the plans changed. Aaron asked Hans “That’s a big one, isn’t it?” Hans smiled, nodded, and said “Yes, very big.” Hans measured him and he was 58 ¼”. He said that is a huge Kudu. I was elated! My first African animal!! We spent the rest of the day in a blind looking at a lot of animals. Didn’t take anything else that day, but I didn’t care. I had my Kudu!!
Went to the mountain property in the morning, saw a Cheetah first thing which was awesome! Aaron and Hans went after a nice Kudu bull but never got a shot on him. Made many stalks on Gemsbok that day but they outsmarted us! Saw lots of animals--Baboons, Steenbok, Red Hartebeest. Got very familiar with Hans two favorite words- “Let’s walk”. Aaron got a very nice Steenbok towards the end of the day. Went on a few more stalks on Gemsbok but they always seemed to be one step ahead of us.
This day was our 10 year anniversary. We headed back to the same property that I got my Kudu on. We were walking along and saw some warthogs. Saw a nice one, so I got on the shooting sticks and shot- warthog took off. Hans and I walked to where he was when I shot, saw some blood. Ended up tracking him for a bit and shot him again. Later on saw some Gemsbok- this became my favorite stalk of the entire hunt! We began sneaking our way through the grass and the brush, trying to be quiet and get close. At one point we were on our hands and knees crawling in the red African dirt! I turned my hat backwards and tried to keep my head down as much as possible. There was a Steenbok close by so we were trying to sneak past it. We ended up getting busted by the Gemsbok, there were 2 to the right of us that we didn’t see, however they saw us and they all took off. Hans said once Gemsbok see you, they will constantly be moving and looking behind them. We were back in the truck when Hans spotted another Gemsbok. The truck stopped and we both jumped off and began crawling down the road. Got up to a barbed wire fence, and as we sat, Hans was trying to explain to me where this Gemsbok was--I could not see it in all the thick brush. I finally saw the Gemsbok, Hans got the shooting sticks up and I shot. All I could see was horns go crashing down. Hans jumped up and he leaped over that barbed wire fence like a gazelle! I was right behind him, although I crawled underneath the fence. We got to the Gemsbok and it was down. Two animals in one morning. Aaron then shot a really nice warthog that afternoon as well as made an awesome stalk on an Impala, and shot from about 30 yards. I went on a few more walks with Hans for Impala but never got close enough so we called it a day. We took 4 animals on our ten year anniversary. Our group in camp ended up taking 13 animals total for the day. And Cruiser Safaris really made our anniversary special, in our room, they had flowers laid on the bed, with candles lit and a huge tray of sliced fruits and chocolate with chocolate dipping sauce, not to mention the bottle of champagne.
Went on a few walks in the morning, going after Zebra for Aaron. We could hear the Zebras but the wind was bad and never saw them. Also went after Red Hartebeest, was close a few times but the brush was so thick we couldn’t get a shot. Late in the day we were by a waterhole and spotted 2 Red Hartebeest. The bigger one was peeing behind a tree so I was able to get into position and get on the shooting sticks. As soon as he walked out from behind the tree I shot. He ran maybe 30 yards and went down. I was so excited; I think that Red Hartebeest is one of the most unique animals.
Back to the mountain property to look for a Kudu for Aaron. Hans spotted some bulls so they took off. It was very windy that morning and I was worried about how well they would do with the wind. Aaron ended up getting a very nice Kudu, 51”, and his horns were very thick and dark. It was a beautiful bull. Aaron said the wind helped them because they were able to get very close as they were walking through the brush; it helped to muffle their movement. Went to a different property that afternoon. Aaron and I had taken turns on stalking animals. Me for Blesbok or Impala. Aaron for Zebra or Wildebeest. Aaron ended up taking his Zebra that afternoon, he said he and Hans got really close, again.
I had heard that Blesbok are one of the easiest African animals to hunt, that they are the dumbest of the African animals. Well, I think the ones that I was hunting must have been very educated. I walked and walked and walked that day! There were several times it was very close and I was on the shooting sticks, but they would all bunch up together and not give me a shot, or they would take off running and not look back. Aaron said he kept track of how many times Hans and I made stalks on the Blesbok and he said it was 18! Aaron had made a few attempts on Wildebeest that morning but neither of us got an animal that day.
Today was my Impala day. Got on two Impalas that were in the thick brush. Of course I could have shot the small one easily. The bigger one kept sneaking away. I remember telling Hans “I can shoot the small one! He is broadside, can’t I just shoot him?” Hans just told me “No, he’s not big enough!” Well, Hans knows best! I ended up getting a shot on the bigger Impala, and I had to shoot fast. So I used Han’s shoulder as a rest and shot, not realizing I didn’t have my gun up to my shoulder correctly. Gun goes off, impala goes down, and I got hit right between my eyes with my scope! I could feel the knot on my forehead swell as we were running to my Impala to make sure he was down. Thank goodness he was down because my head hurt. It was worth the pain though, Hans measured him and he was 25 ½”. Another amazing animal!
Finally got my Blesbok! Went on more walks in the morning, got to a certain spot and Hans said this was a good spot for Blesbok. We went down the side of the road a bit and up ahead looked like the brush cleared out. As we were going along, Hans stopped and looked ahead. I still don’t know how he can see the animals like he does. He squated down so I did too. He said there was a nice Blesbok underneath the tree up ahead. I can see the tree but not the Blesbok. We had to get farther out from the brush without being seen so we started crawling. We got out far enough and Hans put the shooting sticks up. I was unable to stand up to shoot from the sticks or else the Blesbok would have seen us. So I got on the sticks from a kneeling position and shot. Gun goes off (don’t hit myself with the scope this time) and the Blesbok dropped in his tracks.
Aaron got his Wildebeest first thing in the morning. What an impressive animal, they are very massive. We decided to spend the rest of the day on a water hole, Aaron wanted to get another warthog. We had lunch in the bush and had a nice, relaxing time watching warthogs coming into the waterhole. Aaron ended up taking a really nice one towards the end of the day.
What an amazing adventure we had at Cruiser Safaris. A big thanks to Hans, he is definitely one of a kind, a great person, and a great hunter, we got some magnificent trophies! Thanks to DelMarie for all her wonderful cooking and good company. And to all the staff at Cruiser Safaris that made our trip special, thank you. We hope to be back again!
DEAN PRICE & his fiancé HOLLY – Ontario, Canada
Animals taken: Dean – Gemsbok, Impala*, Kudu, Zebra, Waterbuck, Bushbuck*
Animals taken: Holly – Gemsbok*
Holly had her story published in the Summer 2012 edition of “African Hunting Gazette”. Here is her story.
How Mine Was Bigger Than His
By Holly Losignore
My African hunting experience actually started five years ago when I met my future husband and avid hunter, Dean. Hunting was, and still is, Dean's passion. All of a sudden I was immersed in a world of deer, geese, bears and turkeys. I learned things about hunting and animals that I'd never previously had any inclination to know, and I quickly found that Dean, like all hunters, had only one main dream: to go on an African hunting safari.
As Dean researched his trip, my life became engrossed with viewing photos of African species I'd never heard of, planning trophy lists, budgeting, researching outfitters, and attending African Hunting Gazettes African Hunting Show in Toronto to meet outfitters face-to-face. Five years of research, saving, and planning went into our trip before we flew from Canada to South Africa in September 2010. As a non-hunter but avid outdoor enthusiast, I looked forward to spending the safari watching Dean stalk game and attempt to kill his personal Top Six: kudu, gemsbok, waterbuck, bushbuck, zebra and impala.
We'd decided on Cruiser Safaris, based in the Limpopo Province. After overnighting at the Afton Guest House, along with three other hunting parties - two married couples and one hunter on his own, Cruiser Safaris picked us up to travel to their hunting lodge. We quickly became friends and we still are to this day.
Our hunting adventure began bright and early the next morning... and every morning after that. Within six days the entire group had harvested a good number of animals and Dean had bagged his Top Six. As the only non-hunter in the group, I was beginning to get the hunting itch. I felt left out of the exciting stories the hunters shared each night over dinner. I'd personally witnessed Dean kill four of his animals; I was with him during the long treks, the stalking of his prey, and the patience it took to get the perfect shot. I saw the anticipation, the build-up of excitement, and die rush of the adrenalin as he made each shot, taking down yet another dream trophy animal.
Dean, who's always tried to encourage me to take up hunting, saw this as the perfect opportunity and, with a little persuasion, convinced me to try hunting for the first time in my life. He suggested the Blesbok as my first prey for one very important reason: If I killed a Blesbok, there'd be no competition between us since he hadn't taken one. I agreed.
However, as it was my very first hunt, I had numerous demands for our PH, Craig. I insisted on a solitary blesbok that was stationary, with an open shot, and one that was standing broadside. It was a pretty high order, but Craig was up to the challenge and was just as excited for me to make my first kill.
We left relatively late in the morning and drove around for several hours. Theweather, like every morning, was warm and dry, and the sun shone brightly on the bare African bush. We saw plenty of Steenbok, a couple of Waterbuck, and even a Duiker. However, the Blesbok remained elusive. We decided to leave the jeep and continue on foot.
We walked for hours until Craig spotted a blesbok. I didn't even see it before it gave us the slip and was gone. There's a reason you always trust your PH: He sees things that can easily be missed by the untrained eye. We continued walking, and then — all alone in an open field — there stood a Blesbok approximately 150 yards away, staring directly at us! I positioned the rifle on the shooting sticks and took aim. This Blesbok met all of my previous requirements, except that it was facing straight towards me, so I didn't have my broadside shot. Craig said to wait until I felt comfortable to take the shot and just be patient. However, this blesbok was never meant to end up on our walls. It turned 180 degrees in a flash and took off into the bush. Our stalk continued.
We stopped by a watering hole and waited. After a few hours of seeing nothing, Craig called our driver on the radio and instructed him to bring the jeep around. However, when the jeep didn't show up Craig correctly assumed that the battery had died. We had no choice but to head back to the vehicle on foot.
As we walked along the road, we could see the jeep in the distance a few kilometers away. Just then, a solitary Gemsbok stepped out on the road and stopped broadside, staring at us. Craig begged me to shoot it, exclaiming that it was a really nice one! Even without any previous hunting experience I could tell that it was a large Gemsbok. I looked to Dean for his input. I asked him how much the trophy fee was. "More than a Blesbok." But he told me that if I wanted it, to go for it. This entire discussion and decision, as quick as it was, went on while the Gemsbok just continued to stand broadside, completely out in the open, just waiting, giving me a perfectly clear shot. All of my personal requirements were met. It was the perfect opportunity and I couldn't pass it up.
I steadied the .308 Remington Model 700 on the shooting sticks once again and took aim as the gemsbok quartered towards me. I shot, planting the bullet right in the gut. The Gemsbok took off into the brush, with a second Gemsbok following closely behind. I turned and asked Dean and Craig if I'd hit it. Both Dean and Craig said they'd heard the thwack when the bullet made contact. All I heard was a ringing in my ears from the shot.
I waited by the blood trail while Dean and Craig returned to get the jeep started. Dean told me afterwards that while they were walking back to the jeep, a solitary Blesbok had stepped out in front of them and stood in the road waiting. He was, of course, standing broadside!
Finally the car started and we began the pursuit, following the blood trail. I passed the rifle to Dean to finish off the gemsbok, if necessary. I wasn't so confident of my shooting abilities to go chasing through the African bush, running with a rifle, trying to shoot a wounded animal. We let our hunting dog go and we started running after him. We found the Gemsbok a short distance away and Dean took three more shots to finish it off, one in the behind and two through the lungs. Our trusty dog was running circles around it barking the whole time. We set up for pictures and, as part of a "first blood" tradition, Craig smeared blood on my forehead as I posed.
Not only was my Gemsbok larger than Dean's Gemsbok, it was the largest one taken at the camp! The horns measured 37" and 37.5," with bases of 6.25" each, for a total score of 87" - enough to make it into the SCI Trophy Record book.
I can now tease Dean for the rest of our lives that I took down the bigger Gemsbok, which I was kind enough to point out to him at the very first opportunity. He reassured me that, although I had the larger set of horns now, it was only a matter of time until we return to Africa on safari and that he would once again add Gemsbok to his wish list.
I'm not too worried though. The next time we go on safari, if Dean takes a larger trophy, I'll have to come out of my hunting retirement to show him up once again. After all, every healthy marriage has a little healthy competition.
KEITH PIGOTT – Washington
Animals taken – Kudu, Blue Wildebeest*, Steenbok*, Gemsbok, 2 – Impala*, Warthog*
No Hunt Photos Available
KEN & JULIE MELDER – Wyoming
Animals taken (Ken) – 2 – Zebra, Blesbok*, 3 – Impala (2*), 2 – Warthogs*, Klipspringer*, Bushbuck*, female Blue Wildebeest
Animals taken (Julie) – Waterbuck, Impala*, Kudu* (51”), White Blesbok*
During our safari of 2009 I hunted mainly the larger animals. On this trip I concentrated on mainly the smaller animals. I went over my list of desired animals with Johan, our PH for this safari. Hunting with Johan was entertaining, as he had quite an array of stories about personal adventures and previous clients. The first animal we hunted was a Blesbok, which I got early the first morning. While hunting a Wildebeest cow we came across a big Waterbuck bull. Without too much prompting we talked Julie into shooting him. I had hunted Waterbuck on this same property for several days the previous year with no success. After Julie shot the Waterbuck, Johan and I went in hot pursuit of a herd of Wildebeest. I shot a cow within a ¼ mile so we loaded it up and took it back to where Julie had shot the Waterbuck and had a group photo session.
I had on my list a better Impala than what I had shot the previous year and an Impala ewe for the hide. I shot a nice ram on one property and then went in pursuit of an ewe on the property across the road from the lodge. While pursuing a herd of ewes we ran across a bunch of rams. One ram in the herd had only one horn, so Johan said “shoot him, he’s half price just like a female”, so I got my impala hide. While looking for Zebras on another property I got a good Warthog and shortly afterwards Julie shot a nice Impala ram.
Johan and I were stalking some Zebras one afternoon. There was a small one in the open. Johan spotted another one in the bushes, set up the shooting sticks and said to shoot it. I shot and Johan said “You missed”. I told him I thought the shot was good but he said “He didn’t jump or flinch, he just walked off”. We started walking towards where the Zebras had been when two came out into the open about 400 yards away. I told Johan I wasn’t comfortable with the shot as I hadn’t shot my .375 Ruger that far before. Suddenly another Zebra ran out into the open about 50 yards away. Johan said “Shoot”, so I shot and dropped him. As we approached him I looked where the first one had been and told Johan “There’s the first one laying there in the bushes about 50 yards away. Johan said “You’re kidding”. I said “No, look right there”. “Oh no” he said. The plan had been for Julie to shoot one also. Johan apologized but Julie told him it was OK.
We hunted for a Kudu for Julie one day and pursued a group of 3 bulls but she couldn’t get a shot. We found a lone bull that was a monster but he was standing 25 yards away in thick brush and all we could see was the sun reflecting off his horns. He disappeared into the thick brush. Later that day we returned and right at dark found the big bull. He ran a little way and stopped in front of some bushes. Johan and I were saying “Shoot, shoot!” but Julie couldn’t see him, even through the scope as he blended in very well with the bushes in the dim light. Johan looked back at Julie grabbed the rifle barrel and swung it to the right. “Now do you see him?” “Yes” she said and shot him. The bull had 51” horns with exceptional mass.
We alternated hunting for a Bushbuck for me and a White Blesbok for Julie. After 2 ½ days of pursuing a White Blesbok ram we finally found the herd with the two rams and they finally stood still long enough for Julie to shoot one.
One morning we had hunted Bushbuck with no luck and went back to the lodge. Julie and I were sitting on the deck outside our room when Johan charging through the door and said “Ken get your gun and come on, I found a Bushbuck down by the river”. We went down to the river about 400 yards from the skinning shed. The Bushbuck was hiding in some brush on the other side of the river and I shot him in his bed. Johan said he had been hunting that Bushbuck for a long time. Johan went back and got a 4 wheeler. It was a short trip to the skinning shed.
I shot another Warthog and a Klipspringer. With two days left to go I told Johan I wanted a 25” Impala. On day 9 we went looking for a big Impala. As we were walking around three rams ran in front of us and stopped. Johan whispered “Shoot!” I asked “Which one?” because I was aiming at the middle one. “The one on the right” but when I swung the rifle on him they took off. We looked the rest of the day but couldn’t find him again. Julie got some nice pictures of him when he walked in front of the truck. The next (and last) morning we went out again and spotted some rams standing in some trees. We were looking them over when the big one we had seen the previous day came out from behind a tree. Johan said “Shoot the one that just came out” so I shot. He took off but dropped about a 100 yards away. When we got to him Johan said “Do you know what you’ve done? That’s the biggest Impala I’ve ever guided for. Two other guys missed him earlier this year. Someday I hope I can get one this big.” He measured 26 ½” on one side and 25 ½” on the other side. After pictures we loaded him up and headed for the lodge in a hurry so I could go to Lephalale with the rest of the group.
The only animal I didn’t get that was on my list was a duiker, but the trip was very enjoyable and successful. Julie & I collected 15 animals, each one a trophy in its own right, with several of the animals being exceptional. On this trip in memory of my Dad, I took his old model 70 .270 Winchester that had been his pet hunting rifle for almost 50 years. Julie shot all 4 of her animals with it and I shot 4 of mine. Dad would have been proud.
JACK & JACK J. PARR – Pennsylvania
Animals taken (Jack) – Kudu, Gemsbok, 2 – Impala*, Blesbok*
Animals taken (Jack J) – Blue Wildebeest*, Kudu, Impala*, Warthog, Gemsbok
No Hunt Photos Available
JOE MORROW – Michigan
Animals taken – Warthog*, Kudu* (52 ¾”), Gemsbok*, Blesbok*, Blue Wildebeest*, Impala*
RAY CARSWELL – Michigan
Animals taken – Kudu* (51 ¼”), 4 – Impala (2*), Warthog*, Gemsbok*, Waterbuck*, Blesbok*
A short story of our hunt began with a cancelled flight from Washington to S. Africa which left us trying to contact both Pieter and the Afton Guest House to let them know we would be a day late in our arrival. When we did land we were met at the airport by a very helpful porter, who assisted us in getting out bags and guns. On the way to the SAP the PH Pieter and his wife found us and assisted us in getting thru that process. Actually it went very fast and we were in and out in less than a half hour with our permits. We got into the van and drove to the Afton House where we picked up the other two hunters and continued on to camp. We started to sight in our guns, but it got dark and we had to stop. Frank Sr. had requested Johan for his PH and Pieter for his son. Ray was assigned to Craig and I got Hans, the best of all. After having a great meal we talked for a short time and then went to bed as we had to get up early and sight in our weapons prior to hunting.
The first day of hunting Hans had me walking, crawling, and sitting in all sorts of terrain but we were never able to get a shot at anything. We did enjoy a fabulous lunch packed by DelMarie. On the second day we went to a different property and again hunted most of the morning and afternoon without getting off a shot. In the late afternoon Hans received a radio call from Pieter to go to another property a short distance a way as the owner had been seeing several large Kudu Bulls at a watering hole just before dark. When we arrived at the property we stopped and talked with the owner for a few minutes and then drove back towards the watering hole. On the way a large Wart hog ran across in front of us and Hans instructed me to “shoot”. I shot and after a short tracking job by Hans and Frankie we found and finished off the Wart Hog. We never found the Kudu.
The third day we hunted for a short time in the morning and after stalking after an Impala and not getting a shot off we got back into the truck to move to another area. After a very short distance Hans started pointing to the left and said Big Kudu Bull, shoot, shoot. I looked but could not see the animal and then only about 20 yards away I spotted the Bull hiding is some dead brush. One shot and I had a very large Kudu. After cutting brush for a while Hans and Frankie were able to back the truck up to the area and pull the Kudu out for pictures. That afternoon Pieter came with us and he took us to a property that was not hunted very often and he wanted to show Hans around the property. We saw lots of animals, putting a stalk on some Impala, but got no shots.
On the fourth day late in the afternoon we spotted a nice Gemsbok and after a short stalk I was able to get off a shot from about 180 yards. The Gemsbok turned and ran into the brush. When we arrived in the area where it had been when I shot it we observed it lying in the brush about 50 yards away. As I was attempting to get off a second shot it got up and ran further into the brush. After tracking it for a short time Hans told me that we had to leave the property by 6:00p and it was now about 5:40p. We left the property and would return the following morning to go after the Gemsbok. The next morning we got up early again and went to the spot we last observed the Gemsbok and after approximately a half hour of tracking found it dead about 200 yards from where we last seen it. Later that day I was able to take a nice Blesbok. We also observed a Cheetah’s kill and put out bait for a leopard trap.
On my fifth day of hunting we spotted a nice blue wildebeest and after a short stalk I was able to get two shots into it and after trailing it for a short distance I had another fine trophy. That afternoon I was able to take a very large Impala. Since I had booked a 10 day hunt and had taken all six of the animals I wanted in five days I spent the next few days traveling around the area sightseeing and having a great time.
I considered this experience to be the best hunt I have ever been on and I found the owners and staff of Cruisers to be extremely friendly and knowledgably in everything they do. I was made to feel welcome from the time I arrive to the time I left. Each of the PH’s would assist you in everything and anything. The food was fantastic and the lodgings were second to none. Lastly, I would like to thank Hans, my PH. He has a great personality, he can spot game with his naked eye fast and further away than I can with binoculars and he knows everything possible about the animals he hunts and the areas he hunts in. THANK YOU HANS, I had a great time.
All of my animals made the SCI record book. Two of them (Impala & Warthog) are Gold medal animals. Let me tell you about my first day of hunting. Craig (PH) and I started out at about 6:00 am - within about an hour we spotted three Kudu's, 2 bulls and a cow. We stalked them for about 200 hundred yards, then the cow barked at us and off they went. Boy can they run!! I then excused myself for a moment (too many liquids) when I turned around Craig was gone. For a moment I thought where did he go? Then I see him climbing a tree about 30 yards away. He was spotting the Kudu's. He said that they were about 300 yards away so we resumed the stalk. We got about 60 yards away and Craig set up the shooting stick and said SHOOT. I thought to my self wow I can only see the head, horns and part of his neck but none of his body - because the Kudu was behind a big green bush. So I tried to remember from the pictures I saw in the book "The Perfect Shot" where the kill shot should be. I shot and he dropped. We loaded him up in the truck and continued hunting. An hour and a half later we saw an Impala one shot later he was in the truck. On our way back to the lodge for lunch we saw a huge Impala within a herd. But they were in the no shooting zone. After lunch we saw the same Impala in the shooting zone it was very comical - Craig set up the stick for me 6 different times to get a shot but every time the smart animal would move out of sight. Finally the 6th time he came into the open for about a half of second - I have never had to shoot so fast at a 130 yards but I knew if I didn't he would be gone. According to Craig he is a Cruiser Safari record. So far a pretty good first day 3 animals but we were not done yet. A few hours later we spotted some Warthogs about 150 yards away. We were glassing them when a huge warthog crossed the road about 100 yards behind the rest of them. Craig and I immediately got out of the truck and started walking. We got up to the spot where he crossed the road and Craig said shoot, I could not see the warthog at all. Even with Craig pointing out where he was - because of the tall grass. Finally the Warthog flicked his tail then I got a beat on him. I shot and he was down. WOW another huge animal. His tusks measured 14 7/8". Craig said that he has only seen two larger warthogs taken in his lifetime. Well that was an amazing first day that I will never forget!!!! 4 record book animals: Kudu 51 1/4", Impala 22", Impala 26 1/2", Warthog 14 7/8"
Not all my animals came as quickly or as easily as the above animals. It took me two full days of hunting to get a shot at a Gemsbok 38" horns. 4 full days of hunting to get a shot at a Waterbuck 26 1/2". Blesbok 26" only took about an hour. I also took 2 1/2 price Impalas for rugs in my game room.
This was by far the best hunting trip I have ever been on. Both in terms of the animals and the people. The people from the owner Pieter who allowed me to trade in a trophy fee of my Blue Wildebeest to go toward my Waterbuck, to all of the PH's (Little Pieter, Johan, Hans & Craig), DelMarie the chef and the rest of the staff made my stay feel like I was at a 5 star hotel - which was something I didn't expect from a hunting lodge.
MATT MYERS – California
Animals taken – Blue Wildebeest*, Blesbok*, Kudu*, Impala*, Warthog*, Zebra
Wow, what can I say? My first African safari was a blast, literally! A truly incredible experience. I was flying out of Los Angeles so I knew I was in for a long trip. My flight from L.A. to New York went off without a hitch. My flight from New York to Jo’burg was quite different. I had an 11 hour ayover at JFK, apparently during inspection, there was some loose sheet metal that needed repairs and there were no other planes available. After spending the day at JFK, we departed 11 hours late on our way to Jo’burg. My plane was scheduled to land in Jo’burg at 8:25 AM so I had intended on visiting different parts of the city. Well, I didn’t land in Jo’burg until 7:05 PM, and arrived the Afton House at 8:30 PM. Since I did not fly first class, let’s just say I was over 35 hours without sleep. Once I got to the Afton House things got a lot better. Even though I arrived late, they were able to bar b q me up one of those great steaks I had heard so much about, and the steak was great. With my biological clock messed up by a 9 hour time difference, a long lay over in New York, and having breakfast on the airplane at 5pm, 11PM rolled around and I thought it best to head to bed for a good nights sleep. Well, I had forgotten to bring a watch or an alarm. I had fallen asleep, I had a dream so I figured I had a good nights sleep thus I got up. As my room was in the kitchen area, I peaked outside my room and all was quiet so I decided to stay in my room and write in my journal. After about 2 hours went by, I heard some noise in the kitchen and coffee brewing. I walked into the kitchen area obviously startling the kitchen staff. I just figured it must be 6-7am. As I was offered a cup of coffee, I took note of a clock that read 3:30 am. As you could probably guess, I actually woke up at 1:30am, thus I only slept for 2 ½ hours. It was apparent this was my first African safari, I was so excited, and sleep was obviously not a top priority. I spent the next couple of hours sitting outside in the dark sipping coffee and listening to the birds chirping awaiting breakfast. After a great breakfast, I met Steve and Lynn a really nice couple from Ohio. In speaking to them I learned they also were going to be hunting with Cruiser Safaris so I spent time talking to them as we waited to be picked by Cruisers. The safari van arrived with a smiling Pieter there to greet us. I immediately recognized him from the web photos, I said to Pieter, you are “little Pieter” right? He was quick to inform me that he was the younger Pieter, Whoops! After I was done putting my foot in my mouth, Steve, Lynn, Pieter and I were off to Cruiser safaris base camp. As we arrived DelMarie was there to greet us with a big smile and fruit drinks. After a great lunch, Steve and I were off to the gun range to sight in the rifles with Johan “my ph”, and Pieter, Steve’s ph. Since I didn’t bring my own rifle, I used Johan’s custom Auckey 30-06, a very nice and accurate rifle indeed. Even with just 2 ½ hours sleep over the last couple days I was still able to put my second shot strait through the black bulls’ eye. Johan kindly commented, I now have no excuses not to make a good shot in the field. As it was pushing evening we just hung out at the lodge getting to know the other hunters and staff. DelMarie prepared a great dinner utilizing some of the local game. You have probably herd you may possibly gain weight while at Cruisers, it’s no joke, even though I got more exercise that I had gotten in a long time, I still managed to gain 4lbs. After a great dinner and a little more conversation, it was time to actually get a good nights sleep, Yeah right!! I was informed DelMarie would be waking me up at 5am. As you could probably guess she was not needed. I was so pumped to get hunting; I woke up around 3am once again writing in my journal. 5am rolled around and I had a great breakfast, it was now time for the first days hunt.
Departed base camp in the Toyota land cruiser with my ph Johan and tracker Monsoo. After a 25 minute drive we arrived at the first area we were to hunt. Johan and I exited the vehicle and set out on foot. It was a very cloudy, cool and windy day. We walked through heavy brush and thorn bushes for about an hour not seeing any game. Johan informed me this is very rare, the weather is keeping the animals holding up in cover. After walking about another hour Johan said, get down! Johan had caught a glimpse of a Blue wildebeest in the distance. We started a stalk, keeping the gusting winds in mind. After approximately 15 minutes we found ourselves in a small opening, we had no visual but could hear the pounding of hooves in the distance. Up ahead at about 120 yards we saw a huge bodied wildebeest charging straight at us. To be honest, my first thought was, I didn’t think there were any cape buffalo in the area! The wildebeest stopped dead in his tracks about 80 yards away shaking his head, snorting, releasing air from his lungs so loud it sounded like he was just 10 feet away from us. This wildebeest was obviously beyond irritated that we were there and decided to take a very unnatural approach by confronting us. As the wildebeest stood his ground staring directly at us, he only provided me with a frontal shot. I steadied my rifle atop of the shooting sticks as I tried to keep steady in the gusty winds. Before making the shot the wildebeest turned and walked away still snorting and shaking his head. We caught up with the wildebeest only a minute later as the wildebeest still wanted no part in running away, he once again turned towards us mostly frontal but now provided a slight shoulder for a little better shot. I set up on the sticks about 80 yards away. The wind was very gusty and not consistent, I felt myself rock slightly back and forth as the gusts would let up. I steadied myself and took the shot, it felt pretty good, but with the wind I questioned myself a little bit. It was apparent I had hit the animal as you could hear the impact and the animal leaped in the air as he kicked his feet. As we approached the where the wildebeest was standing we immediately found blood making me relieved I made a good shot in the poor conditions. As we tracked the animal, time started flying by with no animal on the ground. My heart started to sink as this was my first African animal and he is not yet found and the last thing I wanted is to wound an animal, especially a big wildebeest with a bad temper. While continuing to track the animal, Johan informed me that it appeared that I may have hit the animal towards the opposite shoulder as he could tell by the tracks the wildebeest was dragging his right leg. Johan also informed me that it appeared the wildebeest appeared to have met up with another bull wildebeest along the way. You hear all the stories about the tracking abilities of the PH’s and trackers in South Africa but I’m sorry, in my mind I was doubting some of what Johan was saying. It’s not only like Johan was tracking blood drops but tracks of this animal with hundreds of other animal tracks amongst it all. At this time tracker Monsoo joined the tracking. After another 20 minutes went by, Monsoo pointed, Johan grabbed the rifle from my hand and ran. There was a bull wildebeest standing in some bushes. Johan took a visual through the rifle scope and noticed it was a different animal and that the wildebeest I had shot was lying under a bush just feet away from the other animal. The wildebeest I had shot slowly got up from under the bushes and Johan put several quick shots into him, ending the battle. There lay a huge battle scarred old wildebeest bull approximately 12 years old. As we investigated the shot I had made, it would have been a lethal shot, it was perfect vertically but a couple of inches left of my target. I felt it was an ethical shot but took very difficult in the gusty winds. This was truly a team effort. F.Y.I., even if you doubt your PH’s tracking abilities, even if you don’t verbalize it out loud, DON’T! As the rush of the hunt died down I started thinking. Everything Johan said while tracking the animal was correct, the right shoulder of the wildebeest was broken and the wildebeest did meet up with another bull. He tracked this animal over a mile with hundreds of other tracks in the mix and through grass where I didn’t see any tracks. Are you kidding me??
Departed camp a little earlier as we were going to the mountain property a 45 minute drive. The weather on this day was drastically different from the previous day; the wind had died and was very hot. We were there specifically for the kudu, my most prized animal for my safari. Let me say, this was by far the best day of hunting I have ever had in my life. It was difficult, a roller coaster of emotions with all of the up’s and downs, etc. When we arrived at the property we immediately exited the vehicle and started walking through the lower lands. This area is also a working cattle area thus you will find yourself traversing and climbing through and over many barbed wire fences. As we walked several miles through the lower lands we saw some water buck, impala and warthogs. We arrived at an old abandoned ranch not seeing any kudu along the way. This is when Johan radioed Monsoo to pick us up in the land rover so he could drive us the rest of the way to the more mountainous area. We arrived at the mountain area, as I live in the western U.S. where the mountains are huge; this appeared more like large hills, with incredible large rock outcroppings on top where it actually leveled out on top, beautiful. Johan and I acted like mountain goats and made our way up the large rock boulders to the top where we could get a vantage point to spot the mountainside and valleys for kudu. We glassed the area seeing nothing. We continued climbing and hopping through the boulders. Johan glassed for a while, he then ducked and said there is a loan kudu bull down below. We were able to get a position atop the rock formation, where we were able to glass below. Johan informed me the kudu was only 60-70 yards away standing behind some large bushes. Johan informed me that the kudu was staring in our direction. The kudu may have caught the glare of the binoculars or something, he was wary but did not know we were there. We backed out and made our way to a different rock outcropping, where we were completely sheltered, trying to get a better view and set up for a possible shot. Johan said the kudu was standing completely still and was still looking at the area we had just left. I looked through binoculars but could not see the kudu which is still only 60 yards away. I looked through the rifle scope for 15 minutes trying to see the kudu, to no avail. Johan described where to look and gave me the binos, I still couldn’t see anything, I was baffled as to what he was looking at. Johan set up the rifle scope and put it on the kudu. I spent 10 minutes, then I noticed what appeared to be just another branch on the bush, but it had a glare from the sunlight. I could only make out about 12 inches of one of the kudu’s horns. If it weren’t for Johan, I would still be there looking at nothing. How a 700lbs animal with 50 inch horns on his head can completely conceal itself at only 60 yards away is incredible. After some time had passed the kudu had turned his head where I was able to see both sets of his horns. This is when my heart started pumping, I could tell this was a magnificent specimen well worth any effort necessary to get a shot. It was evidently not the best case scenario, even if the kudu does come out would be a poor shot with small to no shooting lane available. It has been almost 2 hours since we spotted the kudu, we are pinned down with no way to get around for any possible shot. It was time to do something, my trophy of a lifetime is just 60 yards away. I focused on a small area between some branches to take the only possible shot. I had Johan throw a rock down the hill, the kudu didn’t flinch. We did this several times then the kudu moved quickly through my firing lane without getting a shot, I was in shock. Devastated, all of the time invested, miles walked, etc, all for not. We made the decision to make our way down boulder mountain and pursue this kudu. We started tracking where we last saw the kudu. Johan tracked the kudu through leaves, grass, dirt, etc for almost a mile and then we lost all signs of tracks. The dry leaves were like walking on corn flakes, I felt like we were just pushing the kudu further and further away. It was hot, we were miserable but decided to continue on. We kept walking for another half mile or more. We made the decision to finally call it quits, I was bummed. We then herd large branches snapping in the woods across from our position. We hit the ground and Johan glassed deep into the thicket and said, that’s him. Once again I was scratching my head, I could see nothing. As we needed to stay low, I positioned my rifle on the lower leg of the shooting sticks using my hand to support the rifle. We could continue to hear branches snapping but could not see the kudu. We were just hoping the kudu would exit in our direction for a shot, unsure if it would happen. About 15 minutes went by and then you could see him start to exit the woods. For some reason the kudu did a quick spin as if he were going to reenter the woods. I took a quick shot from 70 yards away through some large branches that were near him. I was able to make a good shot and put him down, as all of the African animals are very tuff this kudu did require a follow up shot. Johan and I looked at each other shaking our heads, then I herd Johan belt out, “what a hunt”! We gave each other a big high five as we approached the kudu. The next thing you hear Johan say, now how are we going to get him out of here? In our stalk we found ourselves far from any roads where we could get a vehicle even close. We were out of radio range as to where we could even get Monsoo to try and get closer with the truck. Johan and I were able to drag the kudu to a nearby tree where we could shade him from the searing heat. I stayed with the kudu as Johan made his way back to the truck which was a couple miles away. Johan radioed back to base camp to get extra help on it’s way, as it was apparent the kudu was going to have to be carried out a long way. An hour later, Johan arrived with Monsoo. Monsoo proceeded to field dress the kudu. Johan again departed in hopes of getting in radio range to guide the 4 others from base camp to our location. Once Monsoo finished his task, he immediately walked the trophy’s head all of the way back to the vehicle in which he drove from there to the nearest water hole in which to place the head to preserve it until we could get the rest of the animal out. Johan returned and waited with me until Monsoo was able to return with the others. Monsoo was able to guide the other helpers from camp to a location only ¾ mile from where the kudu lay. The only problem was the terrain of the closer location was too obstructed with rock boulders and hills, the kudu would have to be carried the full distance out the bottom of the mountain. With the extra 4 helpers, they took the kudu out in halves utilizing a metal rod slid through the carcass. Getting the vehicles out was also a task, from getting the truck stuck in deep sand to having to cut vegetation to clear a path for the vehicles. What a day, we walked several miles in the morning, then first spotting the kudu at 9am, a 3 hour stalk and finally getting the animal out of the woods at 4:30pm, at this time we were finally able to eat our great lunch that DelMarie packed for us. My kudu may not score really high, “123 SCI” he is magnificent with very symmetrical horns that full curl and point out at the tips, with great ivory. I was blessed to have had a day like this and been able to share it with so many great people. Johan told me it was a first for him also as he has never taken a kudu so far from the truck and had to work so hard getting one out. When Johan told me it is a hunt he will never forget, it gave me chills. This hunt was cool in so many ways. I can’t thank Johan, Monsoo and all of the others for all of their efforts in making this happen, from heartbreak to bliss, Awesome!!!
Departed camp 5:45am en route to our hunting area that is not far from camp. The weather on this day was warm but a little breezy. Johan and I exited the vehicle and proceeded on foot. Today we were looking for Gemsbok, impala and warthog. The morning hunt on this day was very productive in seeing lots of animals but nothing I wanted to take. This safari for me wasn’t in the taking of lots of animals but being more selective on species and maturity. We were able to make a successful stalk on a bull gemsbok but once in my crosshairs it was determined he was just a little too young. We headed in for lunch and take a few hours break from the heat and will return around 3pm. As we returned, we were driving for awhile, We spotted a herd of gemsbok. We continued on without stopping the vehicle letting the herd watch us until we got out of view and got the wind in our favor. We exited the vehicle a few hundred yards away. We preceded our stock to where the gemsbok were last seen. They were nowhere to be found. I found the gemsbok during my safari to be one of the most elusive animals, very aware of their surroundings. As we came to a road, Johan and I were discussing strategy, I noticed behind Johan several gemsbok crossing the road about 70 yards from us. We preceded a stock with the wind in our favor. We were in thick cover, we spotted a couple of the gemsbok, they busted us somehow and darted away. We continued on for another half mile. Pushing towards evening Johan spotted a couple of gemsbok bedded down under a tree. With a stiff wind concealing any noise and heavy cover we were able to stalk within 30 yards of them. Johan was able to tell that one of them was a really nice bull. We were pinned down and all we could do is wait for them to make a move. As we sat for a while the wind started to swirl, the gemsbok winded us and bolted without getting a shot. As the sun was going down we decided it was time to head out. On our way back to camp, Johan spotted some warthog 400 yards in front of us. As the warthog was busy feeding, we proceed a stalk in which we got a little to close. We were able to back up to about 40 yards undetected. I took a shot from the sticks and the pig was down. Darkness was upon us so we took a little video and pictures and headed back to camp.
Departed camp en route to same hunting area as day 3. The weather on this day, beautiful cool morning, almost no wind and hot during the day. I had 2 animals left on my list, an impala and a gemsbok. Even though a zebra was not heavily on my radar, I couldn’t help thinking my wife wanted a zebra skin, so I informed Johan, I will take a gemsbok or a zebra if it has a quality skin. We proceeded out on foot viewing lots of animals along the way, however we were down to just a couple on my list. We came upon a very nice gemsbok bull and for the first time did not bolt away. We were able to get within 40 yards and the animal was broadside just looking at us. This was going to be by far my easiest shot so far. I had time to set up on the sticks, squeeze the trigger and down he went, right? No, he just ran away, giving no indication of being hit, no impact sound, not leap, nothing!! We walked the short distance to were the gemsbok was standing, no blood, nothing. I was in shock and in total disbelief, I looked at Johan and said, there is no way I missed. Did I miss? I have a huge gemsbok standing right in front of me trying to commit suicide, and I missed? We placed the shooting sticks were the animal was standing then went back to where I shot from so we could trace the bullets flight path. There were several large branches close to me and smaller ones closer to the animal in which are hard to detect through a rifle scope. It is most likely I hit a branch, but possible I just made the worst shot of my life, I will never know for sure. I do know that the gemsbok had the luckiest day of his life. That’s hunting. We continued on walking seeing plenty of animals but nothing on my list. As we headed back to camp I informed Johan, maybe the gemsbok is not meant to be and I set my focus on the impala and a zebra for my wife’s skin. We returned later to the same area. We drove for a while not seeing any animals on my list. We were in the only area that had power lines. Johan waived to Monsoo to stop the vehicle. Johan got out of the vehicle and climbed 40 feet up the power pole spotting for animals; this guy was working very hard for me. Johan saw lots of animals but nothing we were after. We got out of the vehicle and walked. After about an hour we observed a herd of impala. We were in an area with very thick bushes. Johan spotted a nice ram in the herd. We were able to get about 60 yards away, as the animals were walking single file down a pathway. There was a very small opening through a thick bush to shoot through approximately 6 inch in circumference, and the bush was only 5 yards from animals so I knew any shot would be very difficult. With the angle we had, I would not be able to shoot from the top sticks, I would have to shoot from a sitting position, using the sticks leg and my left hand for support. As the impalas walked down the pathway one by one they were quartering away from us and I could only observe each animal for less than a second. As I was staring down the scope, Johan was telling me as each animal arrived the small opening, that’s not it, that’s not it. That’s it. By the time Johan said the word it I had already fired. Johan looked over at me and said. I was hoping he was going to stop for you to shoot, good shot!! I knew the impala was hit hard as you could hear the impact of the bullet. We approached where I hit the impala expecting him to being lying there right? No. We tracked him for 30 yards where he was lying under a tree. The impala severely injured slowly got up and started walking away where a follow up shot was required. Even though the impala is one of the smaller of the African game, it is incredibly tough. With the impala quartering away, my first shot went through mid rib, up through his body and perfectly through his far shoulder and still was able to walk away. All of the animals in Africa have my full respect. We took a little video and photos then continued on. As darkness began to fall, we were walking through an area with open meadows, I was already thinking of tomorrows hunt. Johan put his arm out and whispered “stop”. With darkness falling and Johan’s keen eye, he was able to see a small herd of zebras and judge one with a good skin. Johan set up the sticks as the zebra were becoming aware of our presence. Before the zebras could bolt and failing light, I was able to get a shot off. As sound travels much further when dark or approaching dark, I will never forget the sound of the impact when the bullet hit the thick hide of the zebra. Even at 80 yards, you could hear a distinctive loud smack as if hitting a side of meat with a bat. We could see the zebra scatter and the animal I hit kicked up his legs and head down shaking it. As darkness was upon us we immediately went to the zebra’s location, he was not immediately observed. We took out our flashlights and could not immediately find the location of where the zebra was shot. Johan and Monsoo were able to find tracks but no blood. After looking around for an hour with flashlights, we headed back to camp for dinner. We all had great concern in finding the animal as the trophy in a zebra was it’s skin. After dinner Big Pieter said, I am getting Blue the tracking dog and we will look for him. We tried finding the zebra, to no avail. We will have to try first thing in the morning. It was a restless night sleep knowing that the zebra being dead to long or the jackals looking for an easy meal throughout the night could ruin the skin.
As I already have all of the animals on my list, this morning is all about finding my zebra before it gets hot and the Jackals get an easy meal. We departed camp to where we last shot the zebra. With daylight it was easy to see where I had shot the animal, blood was easy to find. Johan, Monsoo and I tracked the animal for about 20 minutes and the blood trail stopped. Johan pointed out to me a thick sandy area that looked disturbed. Johan informed me the zebra rolled his body in the sand to stop the bleeding. Even with no blood to follow Johan and Monsoo were able to track the prints as fast as I was able to walk, amazing. All of the sudden you see the pair stop in their tracks, turn around retracing their steps and point in an entirely different direction as if they were immediately able to determine that the injured zebra peeled off from the rest. After a total of an hour Monsoo pointed out in an open field where the zebra was lying. The animal was untouched and skin perfect. Without too much detail, with the condition of the animal when found it was apparent the zebra died not long after it was shot.
Day off; with all of the animals taken from my list, I slept in a little. After breakfast I went with Johan to Ellisras a town about an hours drive from camp. I did a little souvenir shopping then ran some errands with Johan for camp supplies. Later, before dark Johan took me out for a photo safari where I took video of some cape buffalo, a kudu and other animals. As I had 1 more day of hunting available, I knew sitting in camp another day was not an option, I had to get out. I determined at dinner that I would like to hunt for a blesbok the following day.
At 5:45 we departed camp to an area close to where I hunted the first day. Today’s weather conditions consisted of clear skies but windy. Johan and I exited the truck and went out on foot, we observed lots of animals but not a qualified blesbok. After about an hour and a half of walking, we came upon a dirt embankment in which I could not see over. Johan climbed to the top and looked over. He put his hand out and told me to stay down. Johan told me there was a big open field that had a few female gemsbok and several blesbok in the distance. Johan was sure the gemsbok briefly spotted him even though they were 200 yards away. We sat for a bit below the embankment hoping the gemsbok would leave. Even though I had not expressed my thoughts to Johan that I had the night before, I felt it may be the perfect time. Even though I had been able to take difficult shots, I have yet to take a long shot on my safari, mostly due to tight conditions and few open ranges. I now expressed to Johan, I feel confident and would like to take a long distance shot if it possesses itself, even though it was very windy, it wasn’t gusty, mostly sustained winds. Johan crawled slowly up the hill and placed his jacket on the top of the burm. Johan waved me up. I slowly crept up to the top of hill. Johan pointed out the blesbok and said there were 2 that were really nice. I opted to take the older one. I took aim and fired, I was unable to see the animal after the shot, unsure where he was or if I had missed. Johan was looking through his binos, looked over at me and said, “great shot”. Johan said he immediately collapsed without taking a step. Johan said, it’s really cool when you can see the animal through the binos hit the ground before you hear the impact of the shot. We did not have a range finder with us but all of the football I have played, I was sure it was a 300 yard shot. We paced it, I paced 307 and Johan paced 298, anyway you look at it, it was 300 yards. It could have been 50 yards, it’s all good. That’s the end of my hunt. Even though it was not my intention, I was fortunate that all of my antlered or horned animals made the SCI record books, my wishes were to take nice mature animals. I would like to thank everyone at Cruiser safaris for a very special overall experience, you’re the best, I especially want to thank Johan for putting out the effort to give me what I wanted, how I wanted to hunt and not just shoot animals. I got all I expected and more.
In closing, if I were to give advise to anyone who may go on their first hunting safari in the future; Keep your core lock or any other lower quality bullets at home, these animals are very tough and thick skinned. You will need a quality BarnesX or equivalent or you’re wasting your and your PH’s time. I brought flexible boots but had soft soles, Johan spent far too much time pulling thorns out of my boots that actually penetrated all of the way into my foot on several occasions. You need hard soles. Make sure you practice all types of shooting positions as I only took 3 shots from the top of the shooting sticks. There are lots of large thorns on the bushes, I didn’t mind the battle scars but if you do, wear long sleeves. Take a video camera with you and keep it in the vehicle, use the video camera after you take an animal to document each day. I fell way behind in writing my journal and it helped me recall the entire hunt and I now also have very cool video. If you live in North America and tend to get buck fever because you rarely get to pull the trigger than this is the place for you to cure yourself. It is a target rich environment and you should be prepared to pull the trigger the minute you arrive. I will spare you anymore of this, I’m out!! Take care, Matt
STEVE & LYNNE PATTON – Ohio
Animals taken – Gemsbok, Kudu, 2 – Impala*, Blesbok*, Blue Wildebeest*, 2 – Warthogs*, Red Hartebeest*
MIKE SEYMOUR – North Carolina
Animals taken – 2 – Warthogs*, 3 – Impalas (1*), Zebra, Kudu* (52”), Blesbok*, Red Hartebeest*, Gemsbok, Blue Wildebeest*
This was only my second out of state hunting trip and my first out of the country hunt. My first trip was not what I had expected and had left me a little apprehensive about another hunt. I learned about Cruiser from a friend of mine that hunted with them last year, Ryan Snipes. Ryan highly recommended Cruiser to me. He gave me a lot of good info about the hunt, told what a good time he had had and he was not wrong in recommending Cruiser’s. I went to the web site numerous times and finally contacted Bob. After several contacts, the adventure was on go. And yes, I do consider it to be an adventure, not just a hunting trip.
I am a hand loader, somewhat of a gun nut and I love to hunt, especially with ammo that I have loaded. For my adventure I took a Remington Model 700 in 30-06 and a Kimber model 8400 in 300 WSM. I loaded a 168 grains Barnes TSX at 2800 fps for the 30-06 and a 180 grains Barnes TSX at 2975 fps for the 300. Both rifles and both bullets performed just like I had expected. I encourage everyone that is going with Cruiser to use a tough bullet such as a Barnes, a Swift A-Frame, an E-Tip, etc. and to follow Bob’s advice to shoot, shoot and shoot some more before you leave home.
Craig, my PH, and his family picked me and fellow hunter Roger Heintzman up at the Afton House for the drive to Cruiser. I remember him asking me two questions. The first was what kind of bullets I was shooting. When I told him Barnes Triple Shocks, he looked at me, grinned and said that he loved Barnes bullets. The second question was what were my expectations for the animals that I was going to hunt. I told Craig that if it was possible, I wanted to kill a 50 inch Kudu with wide horns. He told me that while he could not promise me anything, he would do all he could to get me a shot at the Kudu I wanted. Craig then asked me about the other animals I was after. I told him that I just wanted to have a good time, enjoy the experience and as long as we killed mature animals, I would be satisfied.
Well, I will not go into all the details of the hunts, but I can assure you that I was more than satisfied. I had an adventure that I will never, ever forget. We did get the 50 inch Kudu I wanted. And while I was very fortunate to take some record book animals, all of the animals I took will always be trophies to me. I enjoyed all the hunts and my adventure was even more rewarding than I had expected.
I want to thank Bob Clark for all the info and help he provided to make getting ready for my adventure so much easier. I also want to thank Pieter Lamprecht and the entire staff at Cruiser for all they do to make this one of the best experiences that anyone can have. Pieter, DelMarie, Johan, Hans, Little Pieter and Craig are all super friendly, helpful and they all go out of their way to make you feel like you are part of the Cruiser family. I personally could not have asked for or expected a better adventure and I am truly grateful for the experience.
Be ready to walk, know your rifle, use a good bullet and you will have the time of your life. I did
ROGER HEINTZMAN – South Dakota
Animals taken – Klipspringer*, Steenbok*, Kudu*, Bushbuck*, Eland*, Warthog*
This being my third safari in as many provinces my hunt package was build your own safari. Most of my priority animals to finish my collection are the tough ones to hunt. Kudu, Klipspringer, Bushbuck. Having minimums in mind I knew we would have to really hunt. Some of my expectations were met, some not and some exceeded. But that is hunting. You do not have to spend the big bucks to get a quality safari in Africa. Here at Cruiser Safaris is just the case. Their daily rate is as low as you will find, trophy fees very, very reasonable and if you build your own package and meet or exceed a certain dollar amount you will get an additional 10% or 20% discount off your trophy fees, saving even more.
LANCE & DEB BENTZ – North Dakota
Animals taken – 2 – Warthogs*, Blesbok*, Blue Wildebeest*, Zebra, Red Hartebeest, 2 – Impala*, Kudu* (52”), Gemsbok, Waterbuck*
No Hunt Photos Available
I had the time of my life Johan my ph was a great guy and he made my trip. I didn’t know what to expect going to cruisers but it turned out to be better than I could have imagined.
ROBERT & CYNTHIA SWANN – Kansas
Animals taken – Impala*, Zebra, Blesbok*, Red Hartebeest*, Steenbok*, 2 – Warthogs, Kudu, Blue Wildebeest*
(Note: Robert & Cynthia arrived in Africa a few days before their safari began and while staying at the Afton Guest House, they were married!)
I must say that I never anticipated such a wonderful hunting experience. Both Cynthia and I had the greatest vacation and experience of our lives. The people at the lodge were wonderful. My PH Pieter (Little Pieter) was absolutely fabulous. I have hunted with guides in the USA before (elk & mule deer) but none could compare with the quality and expertise of Pieter. Pieter was an excellent PH, but as time passed as we hunted many hours together he also became my very good friend. Monsoo, our tracker, had the best eyes that I have ever seen. He could see game without binoculars, which I had a hard time seeing with binoculars. He and Cynthia became friends as she would be in the Land Cruiser reading a book, but would give Monsoo candy which he loved, especially life savers. Pieter took almost all of the pictures of the animals that I shot. He is really good with setting up the animals and photographing them. DelMarie was so wonderful to Cynthia, she pampered her and the food was wonderful. The night of our first week’s anniversary of our marriage, Pieter (Big Pieter) had the staff prepare chocolate, strawberries, rose peddles on the bed, a bouquet of fresh flowers and pour a hot bath for us. It was a wonderful gesture which we will remember forever. Cynthia enjoyed this trip as well as the South African people and the country so much that she said that she would like to live there (in the bushveld). Pieter and I walked many miles per day but the results were well worth it as I shot 9 animals. 5 of them qualified for the SCI record book. Cynthia walked with us every morning and some in the afternoons except for one day which we went to the mountains to hunt Kudu and Gemsbok. I shot my Kudu and also my first Warthog on that trip.
KARL – Iceland
Animals taken – Warthog*, Zebra, Red Hartebeest, Blue Wildebeest*, Eland*, Impala*, Kudu*, Blesbok*, Gemsbok
KARL KARLSSON – Norway
Animals taken – Kudu* (53”), Warthog*, Gemsbok*, 2 – Zebra, Impala, Blesbok*, Blue Wildebeest*, Giraffe
TORIR MAGNUSSON – Iceland
Animals taken – Zebra, Impala*, Gemsbok, Blesbok*, Kudu* (53”), Warthog, Blue Wildebeest*
ROBERT MAGNUSSON – Iceland
Animals taken – Red Hartebeest, Impala*, Gemsbok, Zebra, Blesbok*, Warthog*, Kudu* (53 ¼”)
JOHN & KELLY HARRINGTON – Alaska
Animals taken – White Blesbok*, Blesbok*, 2 – Blue Wildebeest*, Impala*, Gemsbok*, Zebra, Warthog*, Kudu*
No Hunt Photos Available
MARK & GLEE WALTERS – Arizona
Animals taken – Zebra, 2 Impala (1*) Kudu, Gemsbok, Warthog*, Blesbok*, Blue Wildebeest*
No Hunt Photos Available