Welcome to the 2017 newsletter. With all of the changes that have taken place in the last year we should probably call this the “New” Cruiser Safaris.
As I mentioned last year we were working to make the web site mobile phone friendly. We went way beyond that and now the web site can be viewed properly on any device that you use to access it. What this meant was that we had to rewrite the site using 4 different codes. With over 360 pages that was a monumental task.
We are still working to complete rewriting all of the text on the site, adding updated information where needed and replacing most of the pictures with current photographs which gives you a better view of Cruiser Safaris today.
We asked you what changes or additions that you would like to see on the web site and implemented all of the suggestions. We understand some of you preferred our past “sunset” color scheme over the softer greens and perhaps sometime in the future we’ll return to those more “African” colors. Thanks for your input. With new videos (like the one on our home page) and navigation made simpler and up to current internet standards we feel that now you can go to the site and be able to find exactly what you are looking for faster.
During this time, we also fine-tuned our Social Media presence. On our Facebook and Instagram sites we are now making new posts every day. You will now be able to see on our Social Media what is going on right now with Cruiser’s and be able to enjoy our hunters’ trophies while they are still with us in South Africa. We are currently finishing up Cruiser’s YouTube site where you will be able to enjoy additional videos about Cruiser Safaris and we are hoping to add client videos as well. Watch the web site soon for this addition.
I am starting this newsletter earlier in the year so we can show you all of the animals that our recent clients have taken. Although there may not be a lot of the clients’ stories right away, we will add those as we receive them. Until then you will be able to see what trophies that they took and we will put pictures on with each client that we add to the newsletter.
On a sad note Aimee is no longer with Cruiser’s. We will sorely miss her and wish her all the best in her future endeavors. On a happy, happy note Craig has returned to Cruiser’s as a full time PH. Those of you that have hunted with him in the past know that he has excellent PH skills and his smiling face always brought cheers to everyone. Along with Johan and Hans, Frank (the tank) has come on board full time as well. And our chef DelMarie (Tiny) completed an 8-week Master of Cuisine Program at the prestigious Hurst Culinary School in Cape Town, South Africa. In this course, there were hundreds of local, classic and international recipes which will only add to her amazing food preparation. If you liked her cooking before just wait until you try her new additions.
In following my tradition of trying to give the reader of the newsletter the feeling of actually being on their safari with them, all of the stories that are included here are those actually written by our clients. These personal stories are enjoyed by everyone as they give the views of the hunter and non-hunter from their point of view.
Every hunter that comes to Cruiser’s is included in our newsletter. Included are where they are from and all of the animals that they take. Those trophies that qualify for the record book are indicated by a * and in the case of Kudu’s, their size is also listed. All trophy pictures that are sent to me are included as well. Thank you to those that have contributed their safari stories and I hope everyone enjoys this 2017 edition of Cruiser Safaris newsletter.
NOTE: The * behind the animal indicates that it qualified for the record book.
MACK & LINDA MANI – Washington
Animals taken: Blue Wildebeest*, 4- Impala*, Gemsbok*, Kudu* (53 3/8”), 2 – Warthog
MIKE REEDY – Arizona
Animals taken: Blue Wildebeest*, Blesbok*, 2 – Impala*, Kudu* (56 ½”), Warthog*
KYLE HONEA – Arizona
Animals taken: Impala*, Blesbok*, Red Hartebeest*, Waterbuck*, Black Backed Jackal
CHRIS GREENUP – Texas
Animals taken: Blue Wildebeest*, Blesbok*, Impala*, Kudu*, Warthog*, Gemsbok
JAMES GREENUP – Texas
Animals taken: Blesbok*, Impala*, Blue Wildebeest*, Kudu* (55 ¾”), Zebra
COREY PRANGER – Michigan
Animals taken: Blesbok*, Red Hartebeest*, Warthog*, Gemsbok*, Impala* Blue Wildebeest*, Kudu* (53 ½”)
TROY PRANGER – Michigan
Animals taken: Blue Wildebeest*, Kudu* (51 ½”), Blesbok*, Warthog*, Gemsbok*, Impala*
CURTIS PRANGER – Minnesota
Animals taken: Impala*, Zebra, Kudu*, Blue Wildebeest*, Warthog*
(Troy) My PH Frank saw some gemsbok while riding on the land cruiser and we stopped and Frank, my brother and I got off and stalked up to where he seen them but they had spooked and ran off. So, we followed their tracks for quite a while and finally staked up on them and Frank had me set up on the shooting sticks. We saw one go through a clearing but it did not stop for a shot. Then we saw a second one, same thing didn't have a shot or a really good look at it. Then my brother saw the first one further to the left so we repositioned and I got my rifle on the animal and had a shot and took it and it dropped right there.
MATT & ANNA HEATH – Tennessee
Animals taken – Warthog*, Blue Wildebeest*, Kudu, Impala*, Gemsbok* Impala* (Anna)
(Matt) The hunt for my impala was my favorite. I had originally not intended to shoot an impala, my intention being for my daughter to shoot one as part of my 7-day package and for me to shoot "something else". However, as my PH Craig and I stalked along the bank of the Matlabas River my mind quickly changed once a real trophy impala ram was spotted along the far shore. The ram was alone, feeding quietly and completely unaware of our presence. We had quietly stalked along for about a mile and saw him on the other side. As we studied him thru our binoculars I quickly surmised his trophy size. I told Craig, "that's the biggest impala I've seen this entire trip, by a long shot!" He agreed. When the old ram turned to face us and I was able to fully see his width and length my mind was made up - I had to shoot this impala!
Craig quickly set up the shooting sticks and I steadied my .308, lined up the crosshairs on the shoulder of the slightly quartering to ram and made a perfect 125-yard shot. The ram buckled at the hit, ran about 20 yards and piled up in the tall grass along the far river bank. We quickly made our way across the dry river bed and easily found the ram. Craig ran up and grabbed his horns and looked at me and said "do you realize what you've done? He's HUGE". Huge is right - the impala of a lifetime! We dragged him into the shade of a camel thorn acacia tree and I marked the spot in the riverbed with a large log. We then proceed to stalk along another mile or so, spotting some nice but too small to shoot bushbuck along the way. We then went back downriver in the Land Cruiser, crossed into the dry riverbed and drove up more than a mile up the river to the spot where I had left the log to recover my impala ram. Hunt of a lifetime!!!Read More
RUSTY KOEHLER – Nevada
Animals taken – Kudu* (51 1/8”), Blue Wildebeest*, Gemsbok*, 2 – Impala*, 2 – Warthog*, Blesbok*
MARTY KYLER – Idaho
Animals taken – Waterbuck*, Red Hartebeest*, 2 - Warthog*, Eland*, Bushbuck*, Black Wildebeest*, Springbok*, Nyala*
DAROLD FITZMORRIS – Idaho
Animals taken – Black Wildebeest*, White Blesbok*, Kudu* (53 ½”), 2 – Warthogs*, Blesbok*, Gemsbok*, Blue Wildebeest*, Zebra, Red Hartebeest*, Impala*, Giraffe
(Darold) Just the sheer size of a Giraffe and sneaking in close on it gets your heart pounding. It was a group effort finding the Giraffe I wanted. Once we found it there were several stalks made on the Giraffe. Every stalk you’re getting further and further in the bush, to the point I thought we were going to give up. Then it all came together and I was staring at my magnificent bull Giraffe. I get excited all over again just telling you the story.
This may seem mean to some but, at the time my eyes were as big as dinner plates. My PH and I were walking down an open power line looking for Impalas and out of nowhere this Ostrich comes running 60mph and tripped on the power pole guide wire. It looked like a basketball with feathers rolling across the ground. Once the Ostrich stopped rolling I think his eyes were as big as dinner plates as well. The Ostrich shaking the power lines knocked the power out to the nearby farm houses for about four hours. In the end, the Ostrich was fine and we laughed for days about it.
DONALD RACE – New Brunswick, Canada
Animals taken – Impala*, Gemsbok, Kudu, 2 – Warthogs*, Blesbok*
DANNY & LAUREN SANDERS – Colorado
Animals taken – Zebra, Gemsbok* 2 – Impala*, Warthog*, Kudu* (51”), (Lauren) – Impala*, Warthog*
ROBERT WILLIAMS – Arkansas
Animals taken – Blue Wildebeest*, Impala, Gemsbok, Red Hartebeest*, Sable*, Waterbuck*, Kudu*, Blesbok*, Warthog*, Cape Buffalo, Tsessebe*
ROSS PONTHIE – Louisiana
Animals taken – Zebra, 2 – Warthogs*, Kudu*, Impala*, Gemsbok, Red Hartebeest*, Giraffe, Blue Wildebeest*, Sable*
TERRY MIZE – Louisiana
Animals taken – Blue Wildebeest*, Gemsbok, Waterbuck*, Warthog*, Impala*, Kudu* (55”), Nyala*
PAUL DANIEC & his son JAN – Texas
Animals taken – Waterbuck*, Sable, Nyala*, Golden Wildebeest*, Eland, Warthog, Steenbok*
VICTOR DANIEC – Texas
Animals taken – Kudu* (53 ½”), Kudu (F), Blue Wildebeest*, Steenbok*, Gemsbok*, Impala*, Warthog*, Eland*
JOSH MARSALIS – Texas
Animals taken – Impala*, Gemsbok*, Blue Wildebeest*, Kudu* (51 ½”), Zebra, Blesbok*
Observers with this group – JULIA DANIEC, HAILEY HEAD, PRISCILLA NOYA, LAUREN CASON, GABRIELLA DOMINGUEZ
BOB & CONNIE TROTTER – Idaho
Animals taken – Kudu*, Waterbuck*, Red Hartebeest*, Blesbok*, Warthog*, Impala*
ROB & VALERIE STEWARD – Alaska
Animals taken – Zebra, Blue Wildebeest*, Bushbuck*
DON BUSSE – Alaska
Animals taken – Waterbuck*, Nyala*, Bushbuck*
(Rob’s Blue Wildebeest hunt) We hunted two different properties for the Wildebeest, and saw many animals. It was challenging because they are so observant and wary, and don't stick around. We had several stalks that put us within shooting range, but they would disappear before I could get a decent shot. I know it was frustrating for my PH, but I wouldn't take a shot that I wasn't comfortable with. Glad I waited, because I finally had enough time on a great Wildebeest.
(Bob’s Waterbuck hunt) This is the animal that took more than one shot. I should not have taken the shot but was having difficulty getting a good opportunity. Ended up taking a facing shot grazing his right shoulder. He took off in thick brush with very minimal bleeding. A slight flesh wound. Tracked all that day and the following day pick up tracks at a waterhole that my PH said looked like the same animal. After following for a while, my PH found a speck of blood on a branch and then 2 drops on some leaves. That was it. Continued to follow throughout the day and finally spotted its head and horns above the brush at which point he took off, but got a quick shot through the brush and Hans took the rifle and went running after him. After several more hours and quick glimpses, we were able to finish the job before sundown. Hans went above and beyond and I ended up with a beautiful animal.
WILLIAM RINEHART & LIVIAN HODGE – South Carolina
Animals taken – Blesbok*, Impala*, Kudu, Warthog*, Gemsbok*, 2 – Blue Wildebeest*, Waterbuck* Ostrich
A trip of a lifetime, most wonderful experience!!
DALE DELANEY JR. – North Carolina
Animals taken – Kudu *(Bow), Warthog, Zebra, Gemsbok*, Sable*, Nyala*, Impala*, Blue Wildebeest (F)
DALE DELANEY III – North Carolina
Animals taken – Warthog*, Zebra, Blue Wildebeest*, Kudu* (51 ¼”), Blesbok*, Impala*, Eland (F), Gemsbok, Red Hartebeest*, Black Backed Jackal
PAUL LEAVITT – Washington
Animals taken – Impala, Gemsbok, Zebra, Kudu
Paul’s African Safari
Leaving Home Day (-3)
Off to Seattle/Tacoma airport just after lunch. Check-in was a breeze; Emirates Airlines personnel were really on top of it. Spent the rest of the day in route.
Traveling Day (-2)
Still traveling - - - ALL DAY LONG!!!
Arrival in Africa Day (-1)
Arrived in Johannesburg at 05:30. Luggage was on the carousel when I cleared immigration. Went straight to the SAPS office and found my rifle was already there, and no other hunters were in line!! 10 minutes later I was on my way temporary gun permit in hand. This went much easier that I had anticipated! Off to the guest house to rest and reset my internal clock (a 10 hour time difference for me).
Travel to Hunting Site Day (0)
Cruiser Safaris picked us up ~ 09:30 and we’re off to the hunting compound. Quite a long drive (@ 6 hours) as we gathered supplies in route. Liam, the three year old son of Craig (a PH (professional hunter) as well as the hunting camp manager) brightened the trip with his cute scampering around the van in route. Too cute!! Started to see animals as we left the towns and started into the hunting country. Saw baboons, warthogs, impala, a nyala, and at least one eland right along the highway!!
Got a warm welcome at the accommodation, got settled in, met my PH, Frank, then off to the range to check my rifle. Oh the pressure - several hunters and professional hunters standing around to see if my rifle is still sighted in, which really means to see if my rifle is still on after the travel, as well as to see if I can shoot. My first shot was in the black (a 2 cm square dot) at 100 yards, and I was declared “good to go.” I couldn’t bring myself to tell everyone I wasn’t that good, but clearly the rifle was still on, so I am ready to hunt!!
Hunting Day 1
Frank locates some impalas right off the bat at ~ 07:30. We try a stalk, but cannot get a shot. Oh well there is apparently lots of game around, and I’m pumped!! Located more Impalas and started another stalk, but again they elude us. Fast buggers these impalas. Now we’re on to a group of zebra, but they just won’t stop and after an hour or so we give up and move on. At around 10:00 we find a big old buck impala that was a little more curious about us than he should have been. He had one broken horn, which made him more dangerous to other buck impalas in dominance “fights” and less desirable as a trophy, but since I was shooting an impala only because it was a part of my package and didn’t plan on having it mounted as a trophy I decided to take him out. My first attempt at an African animal - small target - first shot off tall shooting sticks standing up - the moment of truth after 69 years of dreaming - 70 yards out and facing me quartering somewhat. BOOM! My shot takes him right on the point of the shoulder exactly where I wanted it, breaks the shoulder, passes through the lungs, and exits the far side. He goes about 15 yards before piling up, and is dead when we get to him. The first animal with my .338 - - it certainly did the job! I guess all the snap cap trigger pulling drills paid off as I didn’t jerk it too bad. Back to camp to take care of my Impala, a quick lunch and we are off again. We shortly find a group of gemsbok with at least one good bull in it, and we’re on the stalk. Unfortunately the tracks we are following cross the route of a blue wildebeest. The wildebeest busts our stalk, but offers a shot. I pass, wildebeest isn’t in my package, and I want to fill my package first, thinking this was like hunting I am familiar with and thinking filling my package might be a challenge. We relocate the gemsbok tracks and continue the stalk only to be busted again by a big herd of impalas. Again we relocate the tracks of the gemsbok, and follow them until dark without getting a shot. What a stalk!! Quite a first day!!
Hunting Day 2
We’re off early and on a small group of gemsbok by 08:00. When we get a good look at them Frank sees that one of them is in bad physical shape. It is a mature, possibly old, female, and her condition, while bad for her health and longevity prospects, doesn’t affect her horns or cape (in gemsbok both males and females have horns and are considered comparable trophies, with the female’s horns sometimes being longer than the males, though not as thick). After a brief discussion with Frank we agree that the right thing to do is to shoot the affected animal, so we plan the stalk on that basis. After a short stalk I am presented with a 35 yard shot as she walks across a small opening, and take her with a perfect spine shot. She goes down like a sack of potatoes. Two shots, two down. I am becoming friends with my .338!! Pictures taken, we load her up, and on we go. About 09:00 we see some zebra, and we’re off on another stalk. We follow them for an hour or so before we can get in position for a shot. 100 yards, quartering towards me and standing still in heavy cover, though most likely not for long! Boom! He disappears! Frank finds blood, but very little, and my heart is in my throat. Frank, a master tracker, slowly follows the trail for maybe 200 yards until he is sure he is on the right track, then unleashes Spot, his blood trail tracking dog. In less than a minute we hear Spot loudly announcing that she has found my zebra, and my spirits immediately rebound. We run to catch up and find the zebra down. One finishing shot and it is settled. I will never know what happened on that shot. It looked good when I pulled the trigger, but the bullet was way off. Either I made a really, really bad shot, or the bullet hit something in route. Whatever the reason, the shot shattered her right back leg just below the hip. It was just fortunate that it did enough damage to anchor the zebra until we could follow up. So, more pictures and back to the compound with my gemsbok and zebra, and a waiting lunch. After lunch we head back out, this time looking for a really nice kudu bull. We spot one in early afternoon, but as we follow the track it leads us right into a couple of cape buffalo. Frank spots them at maybe 50 yards, and we immediately stop. They appear curious and start towards us, at which point we beat a hasty retreat. When my PH starts walking fast and looking over his shoulder I try to keep up. When Buffalo bust a stalk it stays busted, we just cleared out. Later in the afternoon we find another really nice bull and try a stalk, but cannot get a shot. We can see his horns shining in the sun, but the brush is so thick and so high that we can’t see his head let alone his body. He finally senses us and off he goes. By now it is late, so we hunt some on the way out and plan to come back and try for the same bull tomorrow. Still, a great day with a gemsbok and a zebra “in the salt” and a look at some cape buffalo. I’m beginning to think I will finish early!!
Hunting Day 3
At sun up we’re back after the kudu bull we had seen the previous afternoon. Amazingly, we see him as he momentarily steps out of the brush onto a farm road a half mile or more away. We slowly ease along the road, hoping to see him again, and in a place where a stalk will be possible. Frank warns me to be ready, as if we do come upon him I might be able to get off a shot before he disappears. And suddenly, there he is, in the open at about 50 yards. Frank says “shoot him,” and I quickly pivot for an offhand shot (no time for shooting sticks or finding a rest). Before I can even find him in the scope he is off at a run, but fortunately he runs directly away from us in an alley that I can see down. For half a millisecond I consider the back of his neck, but immediately think better of it and aim for the “center of mass.” Boom!! As I recover from the recoil and jack in another cartridge I see his legs in the air as he hits the ground, down on the spot. I don’t remember actually seeing him in the crosshairs in the scope; I don’t recall pulling the trigger; it was all a practiced repetition of my many years of bird hunting - - just point and shoot - - and do it quick. But after 69 years of dreaming, when THE MOMENT came my training took over, and the shot opportunity of a lifetime came off better than I could have hoped. I hit him dead center one inch above where his tail attached to his back, my 225 gr Nosler shattering his spine and pretty much tearing him up all the way to his lungs. Once I got my hands on him I started shaking. What a beautiful, beautiful animal!! It was a good thing that was my last animal - anything after that would have been anticlimactic!! So, I took the rest of the week off from hunting. I was complete.
Hunting Day 4
Took a side trip to nearby Marakele National Park to see some of the animals not present on the hunting areas. Saw some great country and a boatload of animals. The highlights were elephant sightings. We had one big bull come directly down the road we were on towards up. We backed up, turned around, and yielded the road. Got some great pics. We also had to stop and wait 10 or 15 minutes as two young bull elephants bull played “push me if you can” with each other right on the main road leaving the park. I guess teenage bulls can be trouble, so we stayed well clear of the two ruffians.
Hunting Day 5
Took a leisurely drive around the hunting area getting some pictures and generally imprinting the area on my memory. Got some really great pictures of giraffes, bat eared foxes, birds, and some of the more unusual animals we skip over when hunting. Later we went to watch the darting and doctoring of a young sable bull on an adjacent property. Saw some fancy helicopter flying and some vets at work. Interesting. As the trophy fee on a mature sable bull is $7,500 the ranchers look after these little jewels. Followed that with the darting and examination of a gemsbok in another area. They had had some die off and were trying to find out why. Had a surprise riverside BBQ that evening. What a great spot and a great evening.
Hunting Day 6
As Frank and I were no longer hunting we were enlisted to help recover a couple of animals that another hunter had hit but failed to recover the day before. One was a sable and the other a gemsbok. Fortunately for said hunter we (read that “the two PHs”) were able to recover both. My job was holding on to Spot and keeping her back out of the way and quiet during the proceedings. That was a chore as she is way strong, and knew all along where we needed to go. The PHs paid attention to her, but didn’t want her running ahead as we closed in on the wounded gemsbok. Gemsboks have been known to hold their own against lions with those sharp, spear like horns, and in fact another dog in the same camp was killed by a wounded gemsbok a couple of years earlier. We (Spot and I) stayed well back “in reserve” should her services be needed.
Hunting Day 7
I catch the flu, and try to shake it off by resting most of the day. Bummer; I am not looking forward to traveling home with the flu!!
We leave camp about 8:00, run some errands, stop at Highveld Taxidermists, and reach the airport about 14:00. Check-in for Emirates Airlines was as smooth as it had been in Seattle, so I am left to cool my jets until my 19:30 flight. 30 hours after we take off from Tambo I arrive at my home in Mount Vernon WA, USA; exhausted but happy.
Great trip; great folks at Cruiser Safaris; the trip of a lifetime. I can’t wait for my kudu to arrive and take his place in my great room!!
DUANE SWEENEY – Virginia
Animals taken – Waterbuck*, Nyala*, Zebra, Duiker*, Red Hartebeest*, Black Backed Jackal, Impala*
JEFF SATTERFIELD – Nevada
Animals taken – Zebra, Kudu* (52 ¼”), 2-Impala*, Gemsbok*, Blue Wildebeest*, Blesbok, Eland (F)
CLINT HOVEY & ROBIN SCHEURMAN – Utah
Animals taken – Gemsbok*, Blue Wildebeest*, Eland (F), Impala*, Ostrich
(Duane) Background: This was my second hunt in South Africa, the first being two years prior in 2015. I was probably a bit too long winded when trying to write about that trip, so I will be a bit shorter with this one….but please feel free to ask any questions you might have.
The following is a sequence of events by day.
Sunday 23 July 2017 – I was to depart via South African Airlines from Dulles airport at 5:30 PM, but the flight was delayed due to a weather front passing through the area. We finally took off about an hour late. Stopped for refueling in Dakar Africa and arrived in South Africa on the following day. South Africa time is six hours ahead of Eastern time in the US.
Monday, 24 July 2017 – Arrived in Johannesburg after an 18-hour flight at about 6PM. It took me a bit longer at the airport since my suitcase arrived, but my gun did not… so lots of coordinating with South African Airlines to arrange for clearance and delivery to our hunting area…. Then picked up by a representative from the Afton House, where we were to stay the night. There were a bunch of hunters at the Afton house when I arrived… talked with a big family group from Nebraska and another father and son from Pennsylvania… anyway hooked up with a friend, Jeff Satterfield that had come in from Afghanistan and Clint and Robin from Salt Lake City…. We were expecting Glenn and Connie from Salt Lake as well, but they had to cancel the trip a few days earlier due to a medical issue.
Bottom-line, we enjoyed a great steak dinner that evening, had plenty to talk about and hit the rack about 10 PM… up at 3 AM again and found others at the coffee pot as well… Jet lag will get you every time.
Tuesday, 25 July 2017 – Picked up by a van from Cruiser Safari about 8:30 AM, Driven by one of the PH’s named Craig. We hit the road quickly and the first hour was on interstate like roads, then on to secondary blacktop roads…. A bit rough, but we made good time. Stopped about two hours into the trip and bought a large quantity of food…. Then another hour on blacktop and an hour on gravel and we arrived at the Cruiser Safari lodge after lunch. We were met by Del Marie the cook and showed to our rooms. We had a late lunch and then went to the shooting ranges to ensure the guns were shooting straight.
I was assigned Hans as my PH. Jeff Satterfield was assigned Craig as a PH. Clint and Robin were assigned a PH named Frank. All three were great. Since my gun had not yet arrived, I was shooting a 30:06 owned by my PH. Jeff had traveled from Afghanistan, so he didn’t bring a rifle and he used a 375 H&H provided by his PH. Clint was hunting with a bow and Robin used a European rifle owned by the lodge owner when she hunted.
Most of our meals consisted of wild game, on this evening we had Kudu for dinner along with all the fixings and desert…. Our cook, DelMarie continued her outstanding tradition from 2015 and fed us well throughout the hunt.
We spent the evening discussing with our guides what we hoped to take on this hunt. I would like to point out that when signing up for a 10-day hunt like this, there is some substitutions on which six animals will be included in the package, but once you arrive in country they are extremely flexible on how this works. My PH had a list of what I had taken in 2015 and the sizes of the animals….his point was that it might be difficult to take larger trophies than I had taken in 2015 and maybe I should focus on different animals……. After thinking this through I agreed and we established our initial goal of a waterbuck, nyala and zebra. This changed a bit along the way, but was a good starting point.
Wednesday, 26 July 2017 (Hunt Day 1) - I was up at 2AM… jet lag still playing a role. I was the first one up and finally figured out how to turn on the lights and run the elaborate coffee maker, which ground the beans into a scoop, then you packed the grounds, then moved it to another slot and selected single or double cups… of course their coffee cups held three cups from the machine, but I got it figured out before the others also rolled out of bed early. We had a hot breakfast and headed out shortly after sun up. I was hunting relatively close to the lodge (probably less than five miles away). Hans and I picked up the tracker and headed to the hunting area. Upon arrival in the area the tracker began to drive slowing around the area and Hans and I sat in the back to watch for game. At sun up the temperature was about 40 degrees’, but it warmed up quickly. We were focused on the waterbuck, but saw Impala, warthogs, sable and gemsbok. About an hour into the hunt Hands spotted a waterbuck in some fairly thick cover. We dismounted from the truck and began the stalk. After about 45 minutes we had moved to within about 120 yards of the waterbuck…. He was feeding with his head in thick cover, but the distinctive white circle on the rear of the animal was visible. There was also an impala nearby which we were concerned about. We then sat on ground and Hans adjusted his shooting sticks to allow them to be used from the sitting position. The waterbuck finally began to move and presented a broadside shot for a few seconds before beginning to quarter away from us. Hands said to shoot when I felt comfortable. I took the quartering away shot and hit him with a shot that angled forward to the off-side shoulder. He ran about 100 years before falling dead. The horns measured 28 inches. We took pictures and loaded the animal for transport to the skinners, getting back to the lodge in time for a hot lunch. I took an afternoon nap and found out later that Jeff had taken a Zebra and Robin had hit a Wildebeest late in the day that they were unable to recover due to darkness. We made plans that evening for Hans and I to help with the recovery of the Wildebeest in the morning.
Thursday, 27 July 2017 (Hunt Day 2) – After breakfast Clint and Robin and their PH Frank and Hans and myself met up where tracking had left off the night before. Within in about 20 minutes they found blood so they were confident they were on the right track. The two PH’s then decided that Hans and Clint and Robin would stay on the track and Frank and I would take a vehicle and try to move to a likely location to intercept the Wildebeest, if it was still alive. Shortly after relocating to the new position the Wildebeest broke into the open about 150 yards from us. I had no weapon since Hans was carrying our rifle. Frank shot with his 375 H&H and knocked the bull down, but within a few seconds it was up and running again, he fired again and Hans that had heard the animal run ahead of him ran several hundred yards and then made two 300-yard shots as it was running away. The animal was hit again, but continued to move into the brush. I told Frank that I would get the vehicle, which had a dog in it and catch back up with them. I arrived back on the scene as Hans, Frank, Clint and Robin were about to enter the heavy cover. I suggested that it might be a good training opportunity for this young dog… Frank agreed, got the dog and turned him loose on the trail. Within a couple of minutes, the dog had bayed the Wildebeest in heavy cover and Frank and Robin moved in and Robin placed two more shots into the Wildebeest to finish it off. After pictures, Hans and I transported the Wildebeest back to the skinning shed. We had lunch and spent the afternoon hunting for a Nyala without success.
Friday, 28 July 2017 (Hunt Day 3) – The morning weather had begun to warm up with early morning temperatures at 46 degrees. We headed to a new area to look for Nyala. We spotted giraffe, impala, waterbuck, small Kudu bucks and even saw a heard of maybe 20 cape buffalo….but initially only a few small Nyala bulls. At about 9:30 we spotted about six Nyala bulls that were spread out over an area of maybe 100 yards. Hans and I approached the area and the two largest bulls were identified, but one was laying down with a small bull near it. Another was standing facing us, but none of them had seemed to have spotted us. Hans finally decided I should take the bull that was facing us. After some additional movement to get into a better shot position, I fired from the sticks, with a shot into the front of the chest and dropped the bull in its tracks. The bull had horns that averaged over 26 inches. We were back at the skinning shed before lunch. I did some reading and maybe had a short nap in the afternoon. We enjoyed a BQ that evening with Kudu steaks prepared on the outdoor grill.
Saturday, 29 July 2017 (Hunt Day 4) - We started with the intent of focusing on a zebra. However as typically happens, we spotted something else, a Duiker. Hans told me that usually only a few are harvested each year and that if I was interested it would be a good animal to take. When we spotted it, it was just about 15 yards off the trail, as we worked our way back to it, it started to run and my initial thoughts were that this hunt was over, but it stopped again at about 40 yards and I managed to harvest the animal. I would estimate that the animal weighed about 30 lbs. The horns measured 3 ¼ inches on each side. We transported the Duiker back to the skinning shed and spent the rest of the day chasing zebra. We made several stalks, but were not able to catch up with any zebra until just before sundown, when we spotted a herd of about 15 animals. We spent close to an hour trying to maneuver into position; however, they were suspicious and continued to move on us. They also generally bunched up with one animal standing in front of another, and we could not take a chance that a bullet might penetrate all the way through one animal and hit a second animal standing behind it. Finally, just before sunset the largest zebra in the herd moved into a position where I could shoot. The zebra was about 200 yards away, we initially tried to make a shot while sitting on the ground, but the grass was too long, and we had to stand prior to the shot. I estimate that the zebra moved less than 30 yards after the shot before it fell dead. After pictures we transported the zebra to the skinning shed and had a delicious meal of Eland that evening. I am now four days into a 10-day hunt and have harvested the three animals that I initially set as my goal… so where do we go from here…
Sunday, 30 July 2017 (Hunt Day 5) - I decided that I would take the day off from hunting, I spent the morning with Clint and his PH while they set up a new blind near a waterhole for Clint to hunt from. I took pictures around the lodge, to include a few sunset pictures that really didn’t turn out very well. We learned that evening that Jeff had taken a shot at a Wildebeest just before dark and they thought they had a hit, but found no blood before it was too dark to see. We made plans to assist looking for the Wildebeest. We had my Duiker for dinner.
Monday, 31 July 2017 (Hunt Day 6) - Jeff and his guide Craig and Hans and I spent several hours that morning looking, but found no blood or Wildebeest…. So the PH’s made the decision that it must have been a miss and they continued to hunt for Wildebeest. I decided it was time to get back into the hunt and made the decision to go for a Red Hartebeest. Hans and I had spotted several later that morning and early afternoon, but were unable to get in close for a shot. Late in the afternoon, we spotted two bulls running the perimeter fence. We tried to catch them, but they were moving faster than we could move, so we got back on the vehicle and tried to get ahead of them. Once we moved back into position on foot, they had changed direction again and were moving away from us. We then decided to try and take an angle through the bush to see if we could again get ahead of the two animals. As we moved through the bush on foot, we ran into another herd of probably 8-10 Red Hartebeest, but they saw us before we saw them and they split up and ran in two directions. We moved slowly in the direction that we had seen the largest bull head, but was unable to catch up to them. Hans was studying tracks and figured out that they had doubled back on us, most likely to join up with the rest of the herd that had run in the other direction. After 30-40 minutes of moving slowly through the brush, Hans caught a glimpse of the herd. We moved another 50 yards and stayed still for probably 10 minutes and they slowly moved back in our direction. Hans spotted the bull coming but thought that moving to set up the shooting sticks might scare them so he had me place the rifle on his shoulder and when the bull stepped into the open we had a close 40/50-yard shot. We managed get the animal back to the skinning shed by 5:30 PM and had Gemsbok for dinner. The weather had turned cloudy this day and pretty much stayed that way for the rest of the hunt. The cloud cover meant warmer nights and cooler days. I had brought a mouth blown predator call with me and worked to convince the PH that I would like to try calling in a jackal. My PH didn’t seem real excited about this, but finally agreed.
Tuesday, 1 August 2017 (Hunt Day 7) – We got up early and left camp before sunup. We traveled to a hunting area that was open, with scattered tree’s and not much grass. We walked about 3-4 hundred yards from the vehicle and got set up under a tree. I was looking in one direction and Hans focused in another direction. We had to wait about 20 minutes for enough light to shoot by. I made my first calling set and waited about 3 minutes and did a second call. Within a few minutes I spotted a Jackal running in our direction. Although we had set up the shooting sticks for a sitting shot, the animal came from an angle where I could not use the sticks. I pulled off and took an off- hand shot when he stopped, but I missed. It ran about 30 yards and stopped and I took a second shot and missed again. It then ran another 30 yards and stopped again. My third shot was good. We then walked to couple of more locations and called again, but had no more success. We were back in camp early and I took the rest of the day off.
Wednesday, 2 August 2017 (Hunt Day 8) - Robin had decided the night before that she wanted to take an Ostrich, so the next day I tagged along with Clint/Robin and their guide and observed the hunt. I then told Hans that we should try and find a big warthog…. We failed to find a big pig, but we did stumble over a fairly decent Impala that afternoon.
Thursday, 3 August 2017 (Hunt Day 9) – I went hunting with Jeff in the morning and his goal was to shoot an eland cow. He was successful and I take some credit since he used my rifle.
Thursday evening, we had the big BQ on the dry river about a mile from our camp. My camera battery died during the evening but a got a couple of shots I will share one here of our dining table. We had Kudu Sausage and Fillet from the Eland, an excellent meal.
Friday, 4 August 2017 (Hunt Day 10) – Jeff wanted to go out and try for a big warthog, but we were again unsuccessful, but he did come across a very nice Impala. My camera battery was now dead, so I missed getting a picture. In the afternoon we got packed up and then the PH’s loaded up our horns and took them to the dry river bed for a few pictures.
I’ll try and summarize the group success… hopefully I can get it correct:
Jeff – Kudu, Gemsbok, Zebra, Wildebeest, Eland cow and two Impala. Note that Jeff’s Gemsbok made the top 100 in the SCI record book.
Clint – note that Clint was hunting with a bow: Gemsbok, Eland Cow.
Robin – Wildebeest, Ostrich, Impala.
Duane – Waterbuck, Zebra, Nyala, Red Hartebeest, Duiker, Jackal, Impala
Saturday, 5 August 2017 – We departed the lodge at about 8:30 am, traveled to Highveld Taxidermy, placed our orders and were then dropped off at the Airport. I arrived in Dulles Airport about 6:30 AM on Sunday the 6th.
Glad to be home, but still thinking about Africa.
BRIAN BRISTOW – Louisiana
Animals taken – Cape Buffalo*, 2 - Warthog*, Impala*, Sable*, Honey Badger
Highlights: Wart Hogs can cause heart attacks
After 7 years I decided it was time to head back to Africa for another hunt. I knew it would be with Cruiser Safaris as the last two trips were so spectacular how could I hunt anywhere else.
I contacted Bob and we spoke about my interest in Cape Buffalo and Sable. In no time at all he had a package for both set up at a price I could not say no to and I was on my way.
The first day in camp was spent chasing Cape Buffalo, I say chase because they knew we were tracking them and all we ever saw was flashes of black as they ran away. This went on all day and finally we decided we were jinxed and we backed out to return another day. You would think that after 10 encounters you would at least see a whole buffalo, but no. These guys did not want us around and would leave the country at the sound of the noisy American getting too close.
The next day we gave the buffalo a break and spent the day looking for Sable. We saw several trophy class Sable, but I was being picky so we passed on several. I think Craig (my guide) was getting a little tired of looking at animals and not shooting them. I on the other hand was in heaven. Just to see all the different animals was a blast for me even if I never shot.
On day 3 it was back to Buffalo. After cutting some tracks crossing the road we took off on foot and it wasn’t long before we got another flash of black as they ran away. After four or five repeats of the day before Craig said I think they are headed to cross another road about a mile or so ahead of us. We stopped the stalk and ran up ahead to set up on the road we hoped they would cross. Sure, enough after only 30 min or so some zebra crossed and Craig said I bet they will be right behind them. Less than a minute later the big boy we were after stepped out. I put a 400 grain Barnes just behind the shoulder and another 400-grain solid in his rump as he ran away.
After a short while we decided to start looking, we had a hard time finding any blood but the tracks were easy to follow. The buffalo went into a thicket and we decide to walk around to see if they had come out the other side. They had. After about another 400 yds. they entered another thicket and it was so large we had to go in looking. We could only see about 10 yards around us and of course we are trailing a wounded buffalo so we were on high alert. About 100’ into the thicket the bush right next to us exploded with noise, there was no way to run, Craig and I both dropped to our knees and threw the guns up and out runs a warthog. (Looking back now I should have shot the warthog for giving me a heart attack) After catching our breath from the warthog scare we went back to trailing buffalo.
With two 416 rounds him, he showed no signs of slowing down. We trailed him for about another ½ mile or so and we decided to leave him and come back in hopes he would lay down. As we reached the truck and was beginning to drive off we spotted him running away. Craig was able to get two more shots in him and I put a third round in him. The final round was all he could take and he went down.
As we approached my Buffalo you could tell he was something special. After years of waiting and talking about Cape Buffalo with friends I finally had mine and it was obvious he was beyond the 40” mark every hunter dreams of. After some talk and pictures, it was time for the tape measure. This Buffalo was truly a dream come true, the tape showed 44 and 1/8 inches.
The rest of my hunt was spectacular and I was blessed to take a 43” sable. (42 7/8 but I call him 43) a great impala, a couple of warthogs and a badger.
Unfortunately, now the waiting begins again. I will be returning as soon as my grandson is old enough to join me, but until then I am stuck waiting and dreaming once again.
CHUCK & TINA DENUNZIO – Ohio
Animals taken – Red Hartebeest*, Blesbok*, Blue Wildebeest*, Waterbuck, Steenbok*, Zebra, Eland (F), Impala (1 horn), Impala*, Warthog*
CLAY HOLLAND – Texas
Animals taken – Blesbok*, 2 – Impala*, Kudu* (59 3/8”), Gemsbok*, Blue Wildebeest (F)
I have hunted all over the States and in Mexico. This was my first overseas hunt and I cannot stress how comfortable Cruiser made the whole experience. I made this trip solo and I was at ease the entire trip. From booking the trip to returning home it was 1st class all the way. So, to start a huge thank you to Pieter Lamprecht and his entire staff. You are truly amazing. To the hunt....
I will skip all the boring travel details, all went well except for the fact I hate flying and there is not enough scotch and vodka for a 17hr direct flight.
Hunt: 7-day plains game Package
Target Animals: Kudu, Gemsbok, Impala, Blesbok, Wildebeest
Rifle: Remington Model 700LR 30-06
Ammunition: Nosler Custom 180 grain Nosler Partition
Weather: South Texas Winter
After arriving in Joberg we stayed the night at Afton. Had a great steak a few beers and actually met one of the fellows I would be sharing a camp with in Limpopo. The next morning, we awoke to a stellar breakfast and after a short wait our drivers from Cruiser showed up. After a 4hr jaunt up to camp we were there. Finally, I was in camp. In Africa, a dream come true.
I wasted little time after getting my things unpacked I grab the boom stick and off the range I went to see if my zero held true after the delicate care they received from the baggage handlers. 3 shots and 1 click and I was as ready as I was going to be for the adventure of a lifetime. After gun check my PH Hans who I had just met asked "if I was ready to hunt this evening or would I like to rest and hunt the following morning?" This of course was a silly question! I'm in Africa! Partner I'm going hunting! With limited time we stayed on the home ranch and were after Blesbok or Impala. In the bakkie I climb and we are hunting! After riding and glassing Hans taps the hood and off we go. I stay behind him and quickly notice how silent he footsteps are. I had heard how stealthy these fellas are but man was I impressed. Being from South Texas the Umbrella thorn and every other prickly thing was easy walking for me. Actually, I found it easier walking than most of my hunting areas in S. Texas. After about a 30-min stalk he motioned behind his back for me to get down. The crawl was on! We approach a power line right of way and there about 180 yards out is a herd of blesbok. I scoot on my hind end up behind him and he explains which one is the shooter. I put the Remington on his shoulder and squeeze... Boom...Thud. A hit! I exhale all the anxiety of my first shot on the dark continent out. We get to where I took the shot and no blood. We followed the tracks for 10 yards and there lay my Blesbok. 16" per horn and great first trophy was a Bronze medal animal. After pictures and a trip to the skinning shed it was a wonderful dinner of Wildebeest pie and a desert that'd make you slap your momma.
Day 2/Day 3.
After a nice breakfast of sausage, eggs, toast, and coffee (what I ate every morning), we were off to a new concession. 40 minutes and we arrived at the gate. To shorten this and in the essence of your time and mine it was 2 days of hunting our butts off! The gemsbok were extremely clever and we had uncooperative wind. We would cut track for 3-4 hrs. only to find they had circled and busted us. Many sightings and a wonderful experience but they won these two rounds. We ate lunch in the field both days and really hunted hard which is what I came to Africa to do. We did however have some luck end of day 2 and ran across a old Impala ram past his prime and a cull to shoot. After a short stalk we closed the distance and, boom! Thud! My second African Animal was in the salt! The impala was 20 1/3" and 20 on the dot. It actually ended up making bronze medal by 2/3"!
My dream animal has always been the Kudu. Much like an Elk in the States, the Kudu reigned supreme over my dreams and the hunt which I will describe is exactly that. A dream. At dinner the night before Pieter told Hans and myself that we were going to their mountain property after Kudu. I had requested this hunt after seeing pictures online and thinking it would be spectacular. It was... We arrived at the concession and spoke with the owner. A wonderful man who told us he had seen some good Kudu this year. We were the first to hunt the property so I liked the pressure was low. After inquiring I learned the property was 35,000 acres! We begin our ascent in the Bakkie and the view is spectacular. Once we reached the base of the hills the terrain changed drastically. No thorns mostly scrub oak looking trees and rocks. Kudu sign everywhere! And Leopard tracks..... We climb up to a ridge and begin glassing. We see a few cows and young bulls and decide to move on. We did this for about 2 hours and had not seen a mature animal. We decided come down the hillside to creek below, and we found some tracks that Hans said were a big mature Kudu and scat that was still steaming. He suggested we hightail it up the hillside again and continue to glass for him. Up we went. Once we were ridge high we took position and glassed. Nothing. Then Hans did something that I will use in other hunting situations. He hurled a rock down into the ravine! I was shocked, I chuckled and said, "well I guess its lunch time." No sooner had the words left my lips I saw Hans throw up his binos. I too saw the movement and there he was! A monster! Hans ranged him at 287 ridge to ridge. I set up on a large boulder and boom...... I watched as the bullet struck a rock just below his belly..... I reloaded as my heart sank but the old bull took 4 steps and stopped trying to figure out where the sound had come from. I shot again. Boom! Thud! The old bull dropped. My elation in that moment may never be coupled. Aside from marrying my wife and my children's milestones, birth, smiling, walking, talking, etc. This took the cake. Hans held position and directed me from across the ravine. What I encountered when I got there was something neither of us had expected. A 60" monster gold medal Kudu. After some reflection we figured we did not take into account elevation, both shots dropped about 8" from my hold over and I only took into account about 4" of drop on the first shot. Lucky for me the lesson was not taught with severe consequences. We took pictures and began the grueling task of getting him down the mountain. That evening after a midday celebration, we decided it was time to go get our Gemsbok. We stayed a little closer and once again saw fresh sign and hopped out to cut some track! After 20 min or so I saw Hans pace slow. We began slowly creeping through the bushveld making little to no noise. He stops me with his signature behind the back-hand signal. After what seems like an hour (5 min), he signals for me to get on the sticks. Up I go and immediately I see her. Two nice males and large female who was without calf. Hans says the female is most mature and largest so I make the decision to take her. Boom! Thud! Quick spin, 10 yards, and no kicking she has expired! Finally, my Gemsbok was down. What a feeling after working so hard for it. As we approach we do notice that she has an ear missing. Hans says most likely a leopard when she was young. We take our pictures and to the salt she goes. As the sun sets I realize that these moments are fleeting and I appreciate how fortunate we are to be able to enjoy this land and its animals. What a day! The Animal measured 39" and was a silver medal trophy!
So on my list left I had a female wildebeest cull and a trophy impala. We decided to make it a wildebeest day and set out after em! After hunting hard in the morning with many opportunities just not the right animal, we came back to the lodge for lunch and a quick nap. After it was back in the bakkie and to the bush again. We had two or three stalks that evening until just before dark we came across a small heard of beest, and there she was, old barren cow. She was noticeably larger than the other females and was without calf. We got to within 190 yards and Hans said it was time without saying a word the sticks went up. Boom! Thud! She flinched and took off with the herd. I knew I was slightly back due to the brush obstructing the shooting lane but felt good about the shot. Hans and our tracker John went to work. There was one tiny speck of bright red lung blood and that’s it! These guys are unbelievable at their craft. After 650 yards of a few tiny specks of blood they found her. Double lunged! These animals are tough, the only African game I had run more than 10 yards.
After breakfast we are off for my trophy impala. After a morning of countless shot opportunities just not the class of animal we are after we decide to head back into camp for lunch.
Our last day on the hunt:
Up and at em. Feeling good and ready to punch my final ticket. An odd sense of relief/sadness overtakes me as I eat my breakfast. Relief because I do sorely miss my wife and kids, and a sadness that my time in this magical place is coming to an end. It truly is a dream to hunt in Africa and the red dirt will course through me forever, the sights, smells, sounds and people of this land I will hold dear forever. Now, back to the hunt! We hit a new concession that Hans says has monster impala. We get down in the river bottom and begin to walk. No less than 45 minutes of slowly creeping, and there he is. A true brute and I love his shape. I tell Hans that’s the one and put a stalk on him. We get to 90 yards and the sticks go up. Boom! Thud! The impala runs 10 yards and piles up. I am done. My journey had come to a close with none other than a 23 1/2 impala which scored Gold. Beautiful animals they surely are!
BRIAN & CARRIE JACOBSEN – Minnesota
Animals taken – Gemsbok, Zebra, Impala*, Kudu* (55 5/8”), Blesbok*
TOM THOMPSON – Michigan
Animals taken – Nyala*, Bushbuck*, Blue Wildebeest (F), Impala*
My second time at Cruiser's, I hunted with them in 2015 and just had to come back. My PH Quinton and I had a great time, we shot 4 beautiful animals. I just need an eland to complete my spiral ground slam so I guess I will have to come back, Maybe in 2019. I would just like to thank Pieter and the entire staff for making this hunt, a hunt of a lifetime, they work extremely hard to make sure your safari is everything you expected. Thanks Pieter!!
PAUL VAVRA – Texas
Animals taken – Blue Wildebeest*, Gemsbok, Blesbok*, Impala*, Kudu, Eland, Waterbuck, 2 – Warthogs*
DAVE & SHERI THOMPSON – Texas
Animals taken – Sable*, Blesbok*, Blue Wildebeest*, Nyala*, Kudu* (51”), Impala*, Waterbuck*, Warthog*, Eland*
ANDY TAYLOR – Great Britain
Animals taken – Blesbok*, Zebra, Waterbuck*, Blue Wildebeest*, Impala*
JOHN GRENZ & LUCY ATWOOD – South Dakota
Animals taken – Gemsbok*, Kudu, Impala*, Blue Wildebeest*, Impala*, Black Backed Jackal, Warthog, Black Wildebeest*, Springbok*, Duiker*, Fallow Deer*
Second hunt with Cruiser. It's nice to have the secure feeling of knowing what's coming. No worries about your choice of hunting destinations. You've been there and know you'll have a good time, see lots of wildlife and be well taken care of. Hunted 7 days in Limpopo at Cruiser’s and then moved to Free State for 3 days of hunting for some animals not available at Cruiser’s.
Craig our PH knew the animals, the properties, and how to get two old people a good chance to for a shot. I rented Craig's .375 Ouch & Ouch instead of taking my guns this trip. It knew where to hit these tough animals and I'm glad I left mine at home.
Lucy came along as an observer but decided she would like to shoot a warthog as they are ugly and she would feel bad about shooting something with a cute face. So, Pieter was nice enough to let her shoot his .243 and her first shot dumped a cute old impala in his tracks and an ugly old warthog the following day. Two in the salt and both hit exactly where you wanted and neither took a step.
The fallow deer at sundown of our last day on a beautiful Free State property will always be remembered. Noon of the 10th day and Craig says we got on a property that hasn't been hunted this year and he has some good fallow deer. We see the one I wanted in a creek bottom in heavy bush. No shot. We had the guys push the bush but they always gave us the slip. Finally, after a few hours and getting close to sundown he stepped out and I could see the front half of his body and made the shot. Craig and Reon (our Free State connection) really went on about how exceptional he was. All I know is that it was the biggest one I'll ever take. The property reminded me a lot of some of our South Dakota river bottom ranches. Thank you, Craig, for your patience with both of us.Read More
GEORGE & SANDI WALKER – British Columbia, Canada
Animals taken – Black Wildebeest*, Common Springbok*, Copper Springbok*, White Springbok*, Blue Wildebeest*, Kudu, Sable*, Steenbok*
This hunting trip, our 5th trip with Cruiser Safaris, came quick. We didn’t enquire until May 2017 and it turned out that there was space available at the perfect time for us. We didn’t have to wait for over a year as we did in the past….waiting is the hardest part!!
We were excited that there was the opportunity to hunt in the Free State for Black Wildebeest and Springbok. We were headed there first. Craig met us at the airport and since I only brought my bow, we were out and on the road in record time. We arrived at our B & B in time for lunch. Temperatures were in the mid+30’sC, so we got settled in our room and headed out later in the afternoon for our first hunt. I was hoping to get a nice Black Wildebeest and Common Springbok. We met our concession PH, Rhian. Very nice fellow and knew his animals. Just before dark, I shot a really nice Black Wildebeest. This was a great start to our time in the Free State!
In the morning we went to another property to hunt for Springbok. I took an excellent Common Springbok. A very interesting phenomenon called pronking happens just after a dominant male is shot. Nerves cause the hair on its back to rise. It only lasts a couple of minutes, but is quite beautiful to see. We were fortunate to get some excellent pictures of this. Later that day, I took a very nice Copper Springbok. This is what I call a successful day!
The next day turned out to be a really special day for Sandi. It was her birthday and it was full of special moments. Rhian caught a baby ostrich and let her hold it. She said it felt like flexible quills. Later in the day, she got to hold a 2-day old Springbok lamb and then a Leopard Shell Tortoise. To top it off, I was finally able to shoot a White Springbok. Another outstanding animal. That evening, we went in search of a Black Springbok. This was not to be…any we spotted, were gone in an instant! Still a very successful hunt here. At dinner that night, the owners and other guest sang Happy Birthday and presented her with a small gift and a great desert! She just kept saying “Best Birthday Ever”!!
After a lovely breakfast, we picked up the hides and meat and Rhian presented Sandi with a cleaned Ostrich egg. This was a really nice gesture and she was quite touched. We headed out on our trip to Cruisers. It took about 7 hours…with road construction and a lunch stop. We were actually happy to be in an air-conditioned vehicle…it was +39.5C that day!!
It was great to return to Cruisers. Del Marie was there with our cold drink, our room was great with a bouquet of fresh flowers and a lovely box of sweets for Sandi and Pieter came in just before dinner. Just like old friends. It was so good to see everyone! The rooster was still there….and still didn’t know the difference between day and night, so we were awake early. Wake up call was at 6am…had our breakfast, then we headed to one of Pieter’s properties to sit in a blind. There was a lot of activity at this blind. When a small herd of Blue Wildebeest came to the waterhole, so did a Cape Buffalo. I had to wait to shoot until the Buffalo went by. I made a good shot on the Wildebeest and he didn’t go far. The other Wildebeest and the Buffalo scattered. My arrow broke off in the waterhole and Craig waded into the muck to retrieve it! Now that’s a GREAT PH!! Later that afternoon, we set up a pop up blind at another property for another day. Del Marie made a great birthday cake for Sandi…..and the Best Birthday Ever continued!
The next day, we were looking for Kudu. We went to a blind on the property across the river from the lodge. At one point, there were 8 mature Kudu there. I just had to pick one. I told Craig that I felt that I had already taken a monster Kudu with my bow on a previous trip and also had one of the nicest looking, so I wanted to focus on the one that was old and on his way out. I wanted to leave a real trophy Bull for another hunter. I didn’t get a chance to get a shot at this one, so we went back after lunch to try again. Very hot again and we were in a pop up blind. Sandi said she didn’t know she could sweat that much!! Just when we thought he wasn’t going to show, in he came to the water. He presented a broadside shot and my arrow found its mark. He bolted, but didn’t go far. I felt really good about taking this Kudu. He was in pretty tough shape. His hide was actually unusable, both horns had broken tips and his ear was split. Craig didn’t figure he would have made it much longer.
Our next morning was a sleep-in day. Breakfast was at 9am and we had a lazy morning. Later in the afternoon, we went to sit in the pop up blind we had put up a couple of days ago.
The next day while Craig and I sat in a ground blind, Sandi had a very interesting morning with Pieter. She accompanied him on a game capture and transfer. They darted 3 female Sable, the Vet was there and gave them a check-up, did an ultrasound on them to determine if they were pregnant, and then gave them their shots. They were loaded into a transport trailer and were headed south to the Cape. They then darted a breeding Sable bull and transported him to another concession. There were 2 younger bulls that were then moved over to Pieter’s property across the river. If that wasn’t enough excitement, they then darted 3 pregnant Nyala cows and loaded them for transport to another property. Meanwhile, Craig and I were watching a very nice Sable come in to the waterhole…..I hadn’t thought about a Sable before, but now, I thought this would be a great accomplishment to take one with my bow. At dinner that night, Lizelle presented Sandi with a gift of electric salt and pepper grinders. Craig asked her to get this next time she had gone in town. Sandi had been using them every night at dinner and said now she would think of them all every time she used them at home! Best Birthday EVER!!!
Next day, we went to the ground blind at Bees Pan. After birds, Impala and a few Eland came in, Craig said “SABLE!! Get ready!!” I had been imagining this shot for a few days now, and put the arrow where it needed to be and released…Perfect shot! He ran 80 paces from the blind. I have to thank Craig for his confidence in my ability…he kept me calm and insisted I use my bow. I would have regretted using a rifle. This was a very emotional moment and I had no words to describe this beautiful animal. We took our time….looking at this amazing animal, taking photographs and just taking in the moment. I think this is the pinnacle of our trip. The horns were very heavy and measured 43” and a bit. We will always remember this morning.
On our last hunting morning, we went back to the property where I took the Blue Wildebeest to look for a Steenbok. It wasn’t too long before I was able to get a shot at a nice male. 189 yard shot…Craig didn’t ask me if I thought I could make that shot…he knew I could. Our hunting was over. The time goes by so quickly.
The night for supper, we went to the river to the beautiful BBQ and dining area Pieter was building last time we were there. It was a beautiful evening with all of Pieter and Craig’s family there to share our last evening. We felt like part of their family. Such a wonderful way to finish our time with Cruisers.
We learned after the 1st trip to never say never again, so who knows, maybe one day we will return. In the meantime, we have many wonderful memories of our time in South Africa.
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