View Full Version : Multi-part Namibia hunting report (long one)

08-29-2008, 5:21 PM
I'm posting this in multiple parts.

Outfitter- Ndumo Hunting Safaris in Namibia
Dates: 16 August – 26 August 2008
PH – Francois Marais
Animals Hunted – Kudu, Gemsbok, Zebra, Steenbok, Springbok, Warthog

I’ll try not to describe every stalk that we did where the animals we’re turned down or we couldn’t get in range unless something significant occurred.

Day one,

I was met at the airport by Francois Marais my PH for the hunt and on the drive out to Augeigas Ranch. We talk about what my priorities were and I told Francois that a nice Kudu, Gemsbok and Zebra were my main priorities and everything else was secondary. I told him that I was just interested in mature animals and we’d worry about how they measure up after the hunt.

On the way from the airport we saw baboons, warthogs and cow kudu. I’m in Africa!

We got to the lodge and they had mounted heads and some skins on the wall and Francois gives me a lesson in what to look for in Gemsbok, Kudu, etc. I’m a little disappointed in that the Hartman’s Zebras on the wall are all brown striped and I really wanted and the standard black and white zebra skin for a rug.

After getting settled and a bite for lunch, we went out to check my sights (the all important judging of the hunter’s shooting ability). I met the three trackers that would accompany us for the rest of the hunt, Jackovy (called See Yen), Ensley (called Elvis) and Willem. I also meet “Cremmel” the 9 month old Fox Terrier mix, who is the tracking dog in training.

Francois drew a 2” square on the bottom of a box lid and had Willem set it out at about 80 yards. I break out the Model 70 (375 H&H) and my first shot was 2” left and 1” above the top of the square. Francois doesn’t say anything but continues to stare through his binoculars. My second shot cuts a perfect figure 8 with the first hole and Francois looks visibly relieved and says “Good, move three clicks right” We get it dialed in and I shoot my Savage 300WSM and it is also 1” left and 1’ higher than I wanted and takes two bullets to dial in.

We get in the truck we’re going to be looking for kudu as that is the most difficult to find late in the season and spot numerous younger kudu bulls, eland, gemsbok, etc. but no shooters. One notable time we stopped to look at a big group of gemsbok across a small valley and on one of the heads sticking out of the brush had a big set of horns. Close to 40“, with really good mass and Francois was really impressed with it. As the animals turned to go we saw they were on a very pregnant cow. Francois said it was the best set of horns that he had ever seen on a cow and I have no problem with a big cow trophy but we were both in agreement, no pregnant cows and no cows in milk.

We drive down a riverbed and get a flat tire running over a gemsbok spine that was half buried in the sand and the guys get the tire changed while I look the old bait tree and blind area from a previous leopard hunt.

We wind up not shooting anything the first day although we do see about a dozen younger kudu bulls, half a dozen gemsbok bulls and tons of kudu, gemsbok, eland cows as well as some hartebeest herds and groups of smaller warthogs.

Back at the lodge we talk about going to another farm about 40 miles away to look for mature kudu bulls. While we are talking I hear a cry that sounds like a cross between a crow and a coyote and Francois says “Jackal”. He says that one of his favorite things to do is call up predators on his FoxPro caller and shoot them. I jump in with a “Me too!” and for the next 40 minutes we talk about Coyotes, Jackals, varmint shooting, callers guns, etc. He’s a fellow gun nut and we have a really enjoyable time getting to know one another and sharing varmint and predator hunting stories.

08-29-2008, 5:47 PM
Day two,

The next morning we get on the road to drive to “Uncle Steven’s” farm. We get there and Francois introduces me to the old gentleman. Steven is 70 years old and has lived on the 6,000 Hectare (call it 14,000+ acres) farm for 40 years and has personally killed 65 leopards on the property. His farm and all the farms around it are all low fenced so the animals have hundreds of thousands of acres to wander over. He sends his ranch hand to act as a guide and we start out to look for Kudu.

One of the first things that we spot is a good steenbok buck with ear high horns and Francois says it will probably make “gold” but we will look for something bigger. We spot numerous bands of kudu cows and calves but no bulls until about 11:00 Am when we hear the tap on the roof and See Yen spots three bigger bulls laying in the shade of the tree about 700 yards away. We get out and Francois says “Let’s take a look.” I load the magazine of my 375 and Francois takes a gun that looks like it has a ¾” pipe with sights on it for a barrel. I ask him what he’s shooting and he says it’s a 500 A-Square” On a plains game hunt? Francois explains that he had just bought it a couple of month’s ago and he wants to shoot it and carry it to get used to it in the field.

We start out walking uphill toward the three bulls and Francois gets a look at them in the binoculars and says that the third bull is very good, long tops with the points pointing out. Francois asks “How far can you shoot that 375?” I tell him 250 yards and he says, “OK, we are too far, 460 yards so we will try to get closer.” We shoulder the rifles “African style” and as we start toward them the three bulls get up and trot to toward the top and then continue walking over the top of the hill. We walk uphill about ¾’s of a mile and then sneak over the top hill but the bulls have disappeared. The trackers split up but no one spots anything and I get a preview of how hunting will go here, spot, stalk and curse.

We get back to the truck and I spot a black and white snake in the road in front of us. It picks its head up and I see the spread of the hood. I point it out to Francois and he says “Cape Cobra, they are a spitting cobra”. It took off before I could get my camera out and I decided not to chase it down and try to get it to pose for me.

We continue on and a few hills later I hear the tap on the roof and See Yen says “Zebra”. About ½ of a mile away there is a herd of 20-25 mares and half grown young at the top of a long sloping valley. We stop and load up and start working our way back up the hill quartering into the wind. About halfway up the valley I see tails flashing off to our right, I hiss and everyone stops in their tracks. I point them out and we see that the herd has drifted downwind about 400 yards and we are about to pass them. See Yen taps me on the shoulder and says “Very good”. I feel ten feet tall!

We work our way down the thorn bush covered slope while the herd grazes slowly up the far hill side. At the last thorn bush on our side Francois point and says “There, about 100 yards to the right of the mares, lower down in the brush is the stallion”. He ranges the stallion and says “How far can you shoot?” and I tell him 300 yards. He says “Good, if we can make it to the two trees up ahead we will have a shot.” We single file down hill while the whole herd watches us but they stand and we make it behind a tall tree. Francois sets up the shooting sticks and says “302 yards”. I’m thinking that I should have told him 250 but it’s too late now. I get on the sticks but I’ve got a branch from a dead tree about 100 yards in front of us in the way. I tell Francois and he moves the sticks to the left side of the tree. I get on the sticks and can feel the wind pushing me hard from the left.

Francois says “Travel up the front leg, on the shoulder there is a white triangle outlined in black, put the bullet in the top of the white. Hold ten inches into the wind.” I don’t feel comfortable and tell Francois. Then I picked up the sticks and moved them 2 feet to the right and a foot forward and that puts my right elbow (I’m left handed) against the tree trunk and makes me a lot more solid.

I see the grass on the far slope laying over pretty good in the wind so I hold two full black strips back and halfway between the top of the triangle and the stallion’s top line. I don’t even feel the shot go off. I just lose the zebra in the scope on the recoil, I find myself back on the sticks and my left hand is driving the bolt forward, chambering another round. The stallion has spun 180 degrees and what I see makes me feel sick. There is a big splotch of red back in the middle of the ribcage. I have hit him too far back! The ranch hand says something in Afrikaans and I can tell that he’s not happy. The zebra circles up hill but he can’t make it and turns again down hill. His right foreleg is not working correctly and he can’t pull himself up the hill. I’m aiming to put another bullet in him and Francois says “Nya, Nya, is good. He’s dead, don’t shoot him again!” The stallion again tries to circle uphill but he can’t make it and crashes over on his side.

Everyone shakes my hand and I’m limp with relief. I tell Francois that that is way too far for a first shot and he says “No, you are a varmint hunter. I knew you would make it.”

We walk up to the zebra while See Yen goes back for the truck and for the first time I notice that he is a Burchell’s stallion. Francois says “I saw that in the binoculars but I didn’t say anything because I know that you want one.” He’s laying left side up and the exit hole is a foot or so back from my point of aim on the other side. The guys roll him over and I see that the entrance hole is 1” back of the top of the white triangle and the stallion must have been turned slightly toward us when I shot. I hit within 1” inch of a perfect shot, with 10” of drop and at least 8” of wind to compensate for. It gave my confidence quite a boost.
The guy get it set up for pictures and used a small stick to plug the entrance wound. After the pictures are done Elvis gets the entrails out and the four guys get it loaded into the back of the truck with a lot of sweat and muscle and vigorous moral support from me. As we get in the truck, Francois says “That was very smart moving the shooting sticks next to the tree, you will do good here.” I’m flattered.
We take a slow cruise around the back of the ranch and Francois points out hundreds of the big rock filled canyons that he says are perfect homes for leopards and that’s why Steven has killed so many of them. We look at a few more kudu bulls and springbok but there’s nothing worth chasing. When we pass by one of the numerous stock ponds we see a bunch of Dassie (Rock Hyrax). I told Francois that I should have brought the 375 and a 22.250 for varmints and he agreed. He had just got a 10/22 and would love to shoot a bunch of them.

Stopping at the ranch headquarters I thanked “Uncle Steven” for letting me hunt on his farm and told him that his ranch hand was an excellent guide and was of great help. He seemed really pleased that we had a good time and said something in Afrikaans to his hand that had his guy smiling and saying “Danke, Danke.” Steven is amazed that we found a Burchell’s zebra as he said that he had seen that herd many times but never thought that they were Burchell’s because he had never seen any on his farm in 40 years.

As we said good bye I was struck by the formality as he said “May you fare well on the rest of your hunt”.

08-29-2008, 6:23 PM
WOW! That's sounds like an awesome experience. Looks like you had alot of fun. Thanks for posting.

08-29-2008, 7:40 PM
Mun, that was loooooooooooonnnnngggg but well worth the time to read such an excellent hunting report. Glad that you got the black and white zebra. How many other people went with you?
What did you guys/gals eat?
How was the food? Did you eat any of the animals that you killed? How hot was it?

08-29-2008, 8:23 PM
More to come?

Sounds like a 358 Norma Mag could have helped you out when you needed some extra range.;)

08-29-2008, 8:28 PM
There are few things in life as exciting as ones first African safari. Congratulations!!! And welcome to the club. The saying goes that once you get the dust of Africa on your boots, you always return. I've gone back 14 times, so it was certainly true in my case.

As I sit writing this I can see my Hartman's Mountain Zebra (Namibia) skin over the bannister, my Lion (Zambia) skull beside my Caracal (RSA) skull and a set of one of my Hippo (Tanzania) teeth, all in the bookcase.

Do remember that whenever things go completely wrong on safari, that it's OIA (only in Africa) and there is likely nothing to be done about it.

08-29-2008, 8:42 PM
I look forward to reading the report on the other 8 days.

08-30-2008, 1:04 AM
Sounds like a great hunt, and that is one good looking Zebra! :D

08-30-2008, 2:14 AM
Nice read, amazing animal. Next time you should bring a camcorder.:)

08-30-2008, 6:40 AM
Day three,

The jet lag finally caught up with me and I spent a miserable night unable to sleep. I finally fell asleep after midnight and woke up every hour all night. Francois has to pound on my door to get me up in the morning. After breakfast we head out again to look for kudu. We spend the morning looking at young bulls and cows and actually stalk a couple of bulls but nothing comes of it as Francois says nothing measures up. Late in the morning we pass a small grove of trees and I hear the tap on the roof and “Big Bull!” Francois asks where and Willem points to the trees behind us. Not 30 feet from the road is a big bodied kudu bull standing with his horns in the branches. I get out of the truck and chamber a round, at 2.5X he fills the scope at maybe 40 yards. He dips his head and I see really wide horns with long 2” ivory points on top. All I’m waiting for is Francois to say “shoot” with my thumb on the safety. After an hour and a half (at least) Francois says “No”, I put my thumb down and the bull disappears. I’m looking at Francois and he says “Very wide, beautiful white tips but flat curls and the tips are only 4 inches above the top curl. He looks good but he will measure really short.”

I decide that I will kill Francois in his sleep that night. After my blood pressure comes down I look back and I can see that the bull’s white tips were half the height of the top points and the bottom curls were well inside of his ears. Reluctantly I decide to let Francois live.

We then break for lunch and a siesta and after that we decide to go all the way to the west side of the ranch to look there. We pass through a narrow valley where the oryx have dug three feet deep pits looking for minerals in the soil when we turn off the main road because Francois says that the road is washed out and too dangerous. We head up onto a high plateau and ahead of us I see giraffes grazing on the tree tops. I ask to stop so that I can take some pictures and while I’m doing so See Yen says “Kudu Bull” and points up behind us on the mountain.

Francois is trying to judge the kudus when a gemsbok bull comes out of the valley behind us at about 150 yards and walks over the saddle into the brush on the other side. Francois says that they are a couple of good bulls in the group so I chamber a round and look through the scope. I see the second bull disappear in the brush and Francois says there is a good one second to the last. I laugh and ask “How many are there?” He says “7”.
I have 5 or 6 seconds from when a bull clears the mouth of the valley before he steps into the brush on the other side. Number 4 comes out and he is just average, number 5 steps out and he has shorter horns but big bases, number 6 is just average. My bull is next! I see the top of the horns and Francois says “Good, shoot him!” He’s taken a different line though and passes behind another bush. I flick the safety forward as he steps out. I put the crosshairs on his shoulder, squeeze the trigger and nothing happens! WTF? I look down and my safety is in the middle position! I flick the safety the rest of the way forward, get back on the scope and see my bull’s horns disappear in the brush. Francois looks at me and I say “Three position safety, I only used two of them”. I feel like a complete idiot but Francois says “Don’t worry. I know where they will go”

We jump back in the truck and go back down to the road that Francois didn’t want to take earlier. We straddle the three feet deep wash out from last year’s rain and climb the rock ledges to get to the mouth of a valley where the bulls are climbing out the top 175 yards away. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6,………where’s number 7? Six of the bulls had come around the mountain just like Francois thought that they would but the tallest bull had disappeared.

Francois says the bull with the good mass will score well so I chamber a round and flick the safety all the way forward. I drop to a knee and use the brush guard of the truck for a rest. As he walks forward I wait for his body to clear the other bulls, put the crosshairs on his shoulder and squeeze the trigger. I come down from the recoil and I see the bull somersaulting down the hill. I chamber another while standing up and Francois says “Good shot!” but then the bull scrambles to his feet and starts running. WTF? I swing on him and squeeze the trigger, Bang!...Thwock! A hit but he’s still running! I chamber another round and at 225 yards I put the crosshairs in front of his neck and touch the trigger again. Bang!.....Thwock! Another hit but this time the bull piles up nose first into the rocks. He tries to gather his feet under him as I thumb more rounds into the magazine. Francois says “He is dead”. See Yen and Cremmel take off for the bull across the valley and we hop back in the truck and work our way back to the next ridge to get the truck near him.

We get to the bull and I see all three bullet holes. The first hole is in the front of his shoulder 6” in front of where I aimed. 6”?…..What happened? Francois says “Your first bullet hit the dead thorn bush before it hit the bull” I ask him, “What thorn bush?” and he says “There was a thorn bush 10’ this side of the bull that you clipped when you pulled the trigger.” I never saw it, I guess that my tunnel vision had kicked in. Inspecting the hole we could see that it was oblong and it looked like the bullet had been deflected by the branch that it hit and then struck the bull at an angle.

The second shot (on the run) had hit the bull too far back and the third shot (also on the run) went right through the armpit and forward through heart, killing him. (The next morning See Yen gave me the first bullet and it shows one petal left and is smooth where the other petals had broken off. It looks like the bullet started to expand when it hit the branch and then lost it petals in the bull’s shoulder.)
We got him posed for pictures and then cleaned and loaded in the truck. We made a couple of passes around the near area still looking for a big kudu but didn’t see anything and my mind was replaying all my screw ups to concentrate on it.
One thing that I did learn was that baboons will try to take a crap on top of a rock if possible and that if you take it home and burn it in the fire it will give you good luck. Elvis explained this to me as he pocketed a big turd for tonight’s fire to help me tomorrow. I appreciated it.

08-30-2008, 6:51 AM
Day Four

Up before dawn and Francois comes over at 6 AM for breakfast. We discuss the kudu situation and Francois is worried that the earlier rabies outbreak has killed all the big bulls. He’s been checking with other PHs and the taxidermist in town and no one is seeing any big bulls coming through. I tell him not to worry, any mature bull I fine with me. We start out and I’m looking in all the valleys that we pass. I’m leaning so far out the Francois asks “Do you see something?” and I tell him “No, but the only chance I have of seeing a bull first is if it’s behind us.” Francois just laughs.

A little while later comes the tap on the roof and “kudu bull”. A hand comes over my window and points me up to a ridge 600 yards away. I’m looking but I can’t see anything and ask where it is. See Yen says that to follow the ridge where it crosses the ridge in front of it. In front? I then figure out that he’s looking at another ridge 600 yards past the one that I’m looking at and I still can’t see anything. Francois on the binoculars says that he’s under the bright green tree at the base of the cliff. Cliff? The only cliff is on a third ridge close to a mile away! Willem had spotted a bull laying in the shade at almost a mile. I asked Francois “How far is it, 1500 yards?” and he says “Maybe more.” I am in awe!
Francois says that we should go take a look. We circle probably 5 miles to get around the mountain to the top of the second ridge and leave the truck on top. I follow Francois down the ridge sliding down the rock and wishing that I had brought a sling so that I could leave two sets of fingernail marks as we scramble down. After about a quarter mile we get close enough to peak over the ridge and we see two bulls staring at our heads as we look them over, one bull is too young and the other has no top. Just then See Yen hisses behind me and almost scares me over the ridge as I didn’t know that he was behind us. He says that there is a third bull lower down and off to the right and I get my scope on him as Francois looks him over with the binoculars. He looks good and I ask “How far?” Francois says “220 yards, chip shot”. The bull stands up and we can see that his left horn is short 4 inches and it bent back at an odd angle.

Francois stands and says “No good” and starts to walk back up hill. I now hate Francois as much as anyone that I have ever known. I follow along and drag myself back up the mountain swearing at Francois with the little breath that I have left and hating the ten pound rifle that is dragging on me. I watch Francois use the shooting sticks as a climbing staff and then realize that he doesn’t have his rifle with him. In fact, in the last two days, ever since he complimented me on the shot on the zebra Francois’ rifle has stayed in its case in the front of the truck. Oddly this makes me feel better I make the last 100 miles to the truck a lot easier.

The ride through the next valley is discouraging as the wind has picked up considerably and is blowing at 20 mph with gusts stronger than that. Every head of game that we spook takes off at a dead run and continues for at least a mile. After a couple of miles we hear the tap on the roof and an antenna from a walkie-talkie points us to a ridge 400 yards away. Four bulls and two of them are good ones, one tall but with tight curls and the other shorter but with real good mass and more depth to the curl. They see us and walk around the side of the mountain. Francois says that we can get close and get at them from above. Francois takes the truck about 3/4s of the way to the top and leaves it there as we get out and cut around the top of the mountain. He points to where the bulls have stopped on the next ridge and we work our way down using all the cover until we get to our closest point of approach. Francois sets up the sticks and says “300 yards’ I get on the sticks but I cannot hold the bull’s vitals with the wind rocking me. I tell him “This won’t work” as the bulls slowly work their way around the side of the mountain. We hurry back to the truck and Francois takes it around the mountain to the next ridge. Francois then makes his third, (or is it his fourth?) attempt to kill me today going around the mountain to cut the bulls off. We must have spooked them as by the time we get around the side they are through the next valley and are going up the next ridge. Francois says “Let’s go” and heads straight up the mountain. I make it to the truck with my last dying breath and collapse into the seat.

Francois pounds the Land Cruiser down the backside of the mountain, up through the valley and up the next Himalayan peak of the other mountain where the bulls have disappeared. Just short of the top we stop and I chamber a round as we start off again on foot around the mountain. We go about ¼ of a mile through the thorn bushes and suddenly see three bulls about 100 yards ahead of us. The taller one has disappeared but the other mature bull is still there. Francois is behind me with the shooting sticks and moves to the left to look for the taller bull when all three bulls suddenly explode in different directions. The big bull breaks at a diagonal coming toward me intent on a deep ravine to my left.

Francois yells “Take him!” I swing my rifle like a shotgun and pick up the bull as he crosses behind a big tree. As he clears it, I push the crosshairs in front of his brisket and slap the trigger. I see him slam against another tree trunk and disappear into the ravine as I chamber another round.

Francois runs left to watch the outlet of the ravine and See Yen and Cremmel run toward the ravine where the bull disappeared. Francois says “This way!” and I run to him. We look at the opening of the ravine in the valley below and Francois says “He didn’t come out.” Just then we hear a whistle from See Yen and Francois says “He is dead, great shot!” I am staggering with relief as we work our way down the ravine to where my bull lies dead.

He’s laying left side down in the bottom of the ravine and I can see that his right shoulder is broken and the guys get him rolled over and show me a perfect heart shot, entering just behind the armpit, going through the heart and breaking the offside shoulder on the way out. Francois is ecstatic, “Great shot! Eighty yards on the run!”

Another look at the bull shows that the cape is ruined, a large part of the hide on the side of the neck is scraped bare from the tumble down the ravine. I told Francois not to worry about it and I would just get a Euro mount so the guys don’t have to cape it and cut it up to get it out of the ravine. The trackers get to work cleaning the area and setting the bull up for pictures and Francois is oddly standing off to the side not getting near the bull. Usually he is very hands on and insists on getting everything set up perfect for the pictures.
I ask him what’s wrong and he looks embarrassed and says “I cannot touch him. If I touch him I will be scratching and sneezing all night.”

This cracks me up! Only I could get a PH who is allergic to kudu!

We get all the pictures and the guys get the kudu field dressed while we get the truck to the top of the ravine. Francois lets down the 50’ of winch cable and ties a 30' length of rope on the end so the guys only have to drag the bull up about 20 feet to hook it up and we slowly winch the bull up out of the ravine.

08-30-2008, 8:56 AM
Wow, just wow! Great trip, excellent recap and some scary long shot distances, fantasitc animals, and beautiful pics.
What an opportunity, and hunt. Your PH, and outfit sounds like the it was worth the trip. Its funny how much of the landscape looks very simmular to what we have in the CONUS. Thanks for taking the time to tell us about it.

08-30-2008, 10:05 AM
At 5 PM Francois and I head out with his FoxPro caller and go out to try to call a Jackal that we have been listening to every evening. We set up about 100 yards downwind from the caller and Francois starts it going. He sets up looking left up a ravine and I’m set up looking right down the valley. Francois tries 15 minutes of Lucky Bird and Pup in Distress with no response but then tries a Coyote Challenge Call as the light begins to fade. He immediately gets an answer from a Jackal up the ravine and 5 minutes later I hear his rifle shot. I pick up my pack and walk to the ravine and see Francois walking on the other side. I ask him if he got it and he says that he thinks so but he can’t find it. I cross over to help look and almost step on the jackal.

After we get back to the lodge we decide to try a night hunt with a red light. So we gather everything up and take the truck up on top of a hill. We set the FoxPro in a tree and set up the camo-covered truck 100 yards downwind. Francois starts the caller and mans the red light while I man the gun. We start the same sequence of calls and the thought comes to me that the kitchen staff is not allowed to walk the 200 yards from the lodge to their quarters at night because of all the leopards seen in the vicinity. It’s also not lost on me that I am sitting in the back of an open truck at night making wounded animal noises and I’m the only one with a gun.

After 10 minutes of calling Francois locks the light over a ravine and nudges me. I switch the gun over to shoot right handed but I don’t see anything out there. After 10 seconds, Francois says “He’s gone” and I tell him that I never saw it. He says that it was sitting right next to the bush and I ask “What bush?” Francois shines his light on a bush 30 feet away and I laugh because I was looking over it to the far bank of the ravine 50 yards away. We pack it in for the night.

Day Five,

I spent a terrible night with a raging sinus headache a weather front has blown in cold and windy. Maybe 1/10th of the normal amount of game is out and the wind is blowing hard from the south and west. We spot some Hartebeest and then a sow warthog with her piglets. It’s strange traveling through the same areas that we saw 100’s of animals every day but now we are only seeing a few. We decide to go to higher ground in the far north of the ranch and see a group of klipspringers watching us from the rocks. A troop of baboons is running out of the valley 500 yards away with two big males as rear guard. On the next hill we see a lone male warthog but he is younger with small tusks so we let him go. We check a few more areas but my heart isn’t in it with my sinuses hurting so we get back to the lodge and pack everything up to go down south to the Kalahari.

We stop by Trophaendienste (Trophy Specialties) outside of Windhoek and drop off my animals.

On the trip down south the scenery is remarkably like the American southwest with high mesas and desert scrubland. We drive about 400 kilometers on paved road and then another 80 K on gravel roads to get to the town of Gohas, on the north-western edge of the Kalahari Desert.
Day Six,

We start out at about 8 AM and Francois’ 17 year old son (Jr.) who is home from school for a break joins us on the truck. We drive out to a local farm and get permission to hunt. Francois lets some air out of the tires and off we go. The area is beautiful with tall Camel thorn, evergreen Shepherd’s and twisted White bark trees growing next to the termite mounds in the grassy “Strata” between the brush-covered, red sand dunes.

We spot numerous groups of springbok before lunch but pass on all of them. We break for lunch in the shade of a huge weaver bird nest and take an afternoon siesta.
After that we head into a huge thorn thicket that the farmer recommended and the guys on top spot a “magnificent” buck that we proceed to stalk four times over the next two hours but he gives us the slip there in his home territory. We stalk a couple of other bucks but come up empty handed. The weather was beautiful with a chill in the morning, windy at mid day and very nice in the late afternoon with temperatures almost to 80 degrees.

We see numerous oryx, an eland, a fallow deer and three Hartman’s zebra that have all escaped from a nearby high fenced farm and I also spot a white tailed mongoose, a Kori bustard, some small warthogs and more hyrax living wild there.
We see a beautiful sunset and quit for the day tired and empty handed but with a full load of memories.


08-30-2008, 10:06 AM
Day Seven,

Off again back to the farm for another attempt at springbok. Francois is worried that we are not seeing a lot of big bucks and I tell him not to worry, any mature buck with backwards facing points is fine with me
We spot a couple of big bands of springbok but all of them have juvenile males with forward or inward facing points so we pass on them until late in the morning when we come over a dune and the guys tap on the roof saying there is a nice buck in the middle of the strata. Francois looks him over and says that he’s not as big as some of the bucks that we have already passed on but his points are facing back and he’s a good buck so we decide to try for him. I get off the truck and we try to get close but he doesn’t like it and trots over the dune.
Francois says that he will continue over the dune to the middle of the strata and then go upwind so we jump in the truck and proceed north into the wind and try to cut him off. We run ¼ mile parallel to the dune stop the truck and run up our side of the dune and see the buck trotting northward on the other side. I get on the sticks and Francois ranges him at 310 yards. Willem whistles and See Yen grunts to stop the buck and he stares at us. I get the crosshairs on him but the wind is making for a difficult hold. I tell Francois that it isn’t going to work and he says no problem, we will try again. We scramble down the dune and get in the truck heading north again.

Another slam to a stop and mad scramble up the dune and Francois says “There he is, behind the tree. The tree ranges at 250 yards so he will be at 260-270 yards when he comes out”. Mentally, I say 3.5” of drop and wait for the buck to step out. Francois says to give him 6” of wind and I’m thinking more like 4”. The buck steps out and See Yen whistles him to a stop. I hold ¾ of the way up the body and on the forward point of the shoulder. I touch the trigger and the recoil from the 180 grain Partition causes me to lose him in the scope. As I chamber another round I see the buck kicking up his hind legs as he runs forward. He turns halfway away from us and Francois says “The exit hole is a little far back but he was turned toward us slightly at the shot so he is dead.” After about 100 yards the buck drops and See Yen and Cremmel start out after him. I tell Francois that I’ll walk down with them and he goes to get the truck. The grass here is 18” tall and so we can’t see exactly where the buck is down so See Yen puts Cremmel on the blood trail and the dog leads us right to the dead buck.

I check him out and the bullet has hit about 2” in back of where I wanted but it’s a good double lung shot. (Lesson 29 learned in Africa; trust your PH’s call in the wind) We get the buck set up on the dune for pictures. He is a middle aged buck that measures just under 14” and we probably turned down half a dozen longer bucks but none of them had the tips turned back and this guy has a broken tip on one side and the fronts and bases of his horns show the scars of many battles so I’m pleased with him.

We head back out and we run across the farmer working on a windmill and I thank him for letting us hunt on his land and he asks if I’m happy with my buck and I tell him that it’s not the biggest one out there but it’s perfect for me. He seems really pleased with this and again I am struck by the formality of these people as we say good bye and he says, “May you have good fortune on the rest of your journey.”

We get back to the Farmer’s house and the guys skin, clean and butcher the buck, giving all the meat to the Farmer’s cook.http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v214/Fjold/Africa/DSC00586.jpg

08-30-2008, 10:07 AM
Day Eight,

We head back north and the only tracker with us is Gottfried, a northern tribesman. Francois paid the other three guys last night and today they are all to “sick” to travel back up north.

We drive all the way back up above Windhoek taking gravel roads the whole way. We pick up some supplies in town. We travel about 50 miles east of Windhoek to Okatjeru Game Farm and get set up in their tent camp over a stock dam. We have dinner that evening up at their main lodge 3-4 miles away with a couple of Hungarian leopard hunters (Jimmie and Andreas), the local PH Roy and his apprentice Jacque.
They’ve been there for over week waiting for a big male leopard that Roy had seen all last week to hit their baits. They’ve taken some plains game and were going after a brown hyena that was raiding their baits but basically killing time waiting for the big tom to show up.

Day Nine

We went out this morning and started looking for a good warthog. We see eland, waterbuck, hartebeest, ostrich, gemsbok and many, many groups of smaller pigs. Francois says that he knows of a valley with a lot of pig holes so we decide to check it out. On the way something flashes by on the left and I ask Gottfried what it was. He tells me that it was a duiker and I ask him how big and he says “Good”. Francois says something in Afrikaans and Gottfried says “OK” and then Francois explains it to me saying that he forgot to tell Gottfried that I still had a duiker or steenbok on my list also. I had forgotten also and laughed because all I had with me was my 375 H&H loaded with 300 grain TSX. I ask Gottfried if he has seen any steenbok and he says “Many” so I laugh and say find me a big one.

In less than a mile he taps on the roof and says “Big buck”. Francois gets out the glasses and says “Get your gun, there is a great buck in the bottom of the creek”. I get out my rifle and get out of the truck, chambering a round and I ask “Where?” Francois says down to the left beside the bright green bush at 80 yards. I can’t see that area because of the brush so I slide out to my left about 20 feet and see the little buck standing there looking at the truck. Francois says “Aim a little back because that 375 will ruin the cape.” Holding offhand I get the buck in my scope and I can see that the horns are well above the ears. I hold on his ribcage and it just feels wrong to me so I shift a little higher to break his spine and touch the trigger. I feel the gun go off and the buck spins completely around and takes off running. Francois says “Right over his back! Keep an eye on him as he will stop soon.”

I see the little buck flash through gaps in the brush and run into a deep shadow under a bush. I tell Francois that I have him marked and he brings the sticks up. We move forward about 50 yards and Francois freezes and sets up the sticks and points to the buck laying down under the bush that I marked about 100 yards away. I get on the sticks and there is a big thorn branch in the way so we move the sticks 6 feet to the left. I crank the scope up to 8X and I can see the buck’s head, neck and top line of his back. I hold about 8” back from his neck and estimate where his belly will meet the ground and touch the trigger. At the shot the buck disappears and Francois says, “He has disappeared so he must be dead”. Cremmel runs ahead of us but I am worried that I have missed again and breathe a sigh of relief when I see him worrying something on the ground. We get up to the buck and Francois is ecstatic, “Beautiful buck, a big one! He is over 5” you won’t find a bigger one around here again.” Looking at the buck, one horn is tipped slightly forward and the other is tipped back so he looks unusual. We get it set up for pictures and Gottfried goes to load it into the truck and I ask him if he needs help lifting the huge buck into the back of the truck. He just looks at me and laughs.
We continue on and see a couple of big bodied warthogs cross the track heading for the valley that we’re aimed for. As we get to the valley and start down Francois stops the truck and points out a lone baboon that is sitting at the base of the tree. The rule on this Farm is that if you see baboons anywhere you kill them so Francois asks me if I want the shot. I say OK and wish that I had brought my 300WSM along instead of the 375 for long range shooting. I get out of the truck, use the front brush guard for a rest and ask, “How far?” Francois says 250 yards or so. I can’t get a clear shot at the baboon because of the brush and all of a sudden the baboon walks away. I say “Too bad, if he had gone right instead of left I would have gotten a shot.” Suddenly Francois says “There he is walking away across the veldt (field)”. I get him in my scope and hold high on the hump on his back and squeeze off the shot. I lose him in the scope and Francois says “Low, I think. It ran off in between the two trees on the other side.”

We get in the truck and drive over to where the baboon was and I said this is a lot longer than 250 yards and Francois says “Ja, more like 320 or 330 yards as he was walking away” We get to where the baboon disappeared and Francois puts Cremmel on the lease as baboons are dangerous when wounded. I tell Francois that he’d better bring his gun along and he says “Ja, but I don’t think that it will be much good, all I brought is my 10/22.” I’m amazed and say “You only brought a 22 along?” and he says “Ja, I have confidence in your shooting.”

We search the area for half a mile and don’t find any sign that I hit him so it must have been a clean miss. Two misses in one day, I’m on a roll.
We go back to the main lodge to meet Roy and the Hungarians for lunch and Roy asks me how we did. I tell him that we got a big steenbok, 5 centimeters. He fixes the polite PH smile on his face and says “Good, glad to hear it.” Francois laughs and says “5 inches, not centimeters!” and Roy breathes a sigh of relief and says “Great one. It’s bloody hard to act polite over a 5 cm buck”.

After the afternoon siesta we headed back out for warthog. I switch guns to my 300WSM just in case I have more long shots. We head out for the valley that we started out for this morning and on the way there. Gottfried taps on the roof and points to a big bodied pig off to our right. I follow him and at one point the pig pops out between two bushes at 75 yards and I got a glimpse of decent sized tusks but it disappears before I can get on the sticks. Francois looks at me and says “You should have shot it off hand” and I tell him that I already missed an offhand shot at that distance today and he says “Nya, that would have been a chip shot.”

We followed that pig for a ¼ mile before he got us mixed up with two smaller pigs and lost us. Gottfried brought the truck down and we continued down and after crossing to another area Gottfried spotted two medium sized pigs mixed in with a herd of hartebeest. We got out of the truck and started off toward them and the pigs started walking off to our right drifting down the valley.

We got within 150 yards of them as they started up the other side of the valley. Francois said that the lead pig has the largest tusk and to take him when he gets clear. As he stepped clear of the brush, quartering away from me, I sighted in about three inches behind the near shoulder and squeezed off the shot. The pig drops instantly and doesn’t move again. When we get up to the pig I see that I have hit is high (I forgot to compensate for the mid range trajectory) and broke its spine.
We got it set up for pictures and then stop by the main lodge for dinner. We gave the carcass to the Hungarians for leopard bait and spent an enjoyable evening in a four language conversation (Afrikaans, English, German and Hungarian).

Day Ten,

We take the day off and I get everything ready to go home. I continue writing in my journal and we have lunch and dinner with the guys up at the main lodge.

The next morning we say our farewells and stop by Trophy Specialties to drop off the steenbok and warthog snout. The lead taxidermist there (Manfred Gorn) is really impressed with the steenbok and questions me on how I want it facing and what attitude it should have and we decide that I want it’s head turned to the left slightly so that you can see the curve of the horns and I tell him that everything else is up to him as he knows how to make it look the best. This seems to please him and he tells me that he will mount it personally to make sure that I am happy with it.

We say our good byes and Francois takes me to the airport for my flight and the real torture began.

08-30-2008, 10:28 AM
Questions, what game did you eat?
What did you like?
What would you pass on if you had a choice?

08-30-2008, 10:53 AM
Thanks guys,

I went by myself, just me, the PH and trackers out in the field.

The food was really good. Oryx (Gemsbok) fillets are outstanding. They didn't offer and I didn't try the Zebra. The Kudu is very similar to Oryx in texture and color but milder in flavor. The Springbok was given to the farmer so I didn't get to try it and the Warthog was donated for Leopard bait to the Hungarians.

I was willing to try anything they offered, nothing that I had was bad except the olives but I hate olives anyway.

A lot of fresh roasted vegetables, including squash, pumpkin, peppers, onions, etc. Rice, potatoes, sweet potatoes, etc.

All the evening and lunch meals were done grilled over hardwood coals, you can't beat that!

Eggs and bacon (more European style than American), cereal, toast, etc in the mornings.

This was winter in the southern hemisphere so the weather was cool in the mornings (sometimes down to 45 F), windy in the early afternoon sometimes getting up to 80 degrees and very pleasent evenings. No mosquitos or nasty bugs at all.

Measurements for people who think such things are important:
Zebra about 600 Lbs - No trophy standard

Gemsbok - 36" long, 8" bases. It takes 208 centimeters to make SCI "Gold" status and mine measured 217.8 cm

Kudu - 46 inches - SCI "Silver" - There was a rabies outbreak this year right after the Kudu rut that killed off a lot of the big bulls in Namibia.

Springbok - 14" - It takes 102 centimeters to make SCI "Gold" status and mine measured 101.1 cm, The broken tip hurt it there.

Warthog - 6" I don't know what the trophy standard is for this.

Steenbok - It takes 4" to make SCI "Gold" and the Namibian record is 6". Mine went 5 1/8" on one horn and 5" on the other

08-30-2008, 11:17 AM
Fjold, this is a great story and you're a great story teller. I can't thank you enough for letting me share you adventure.

08-30-2008, 11:43 AM
WOW! What an adventure, nice write up.

08-30-2008, 3:32 PM
Great story about a good first safari.

I think you have some erroneous information regarding your trophy scores, however. I am an Official Measurer for both SCI and Rowland Ward. Why are you using centimeters? The SCI record book is in inches. If you post your length and base measurements for each horn (Left&Right), I will tell you how they score - unofficially of course. Namibia also keeps there own records, and none of the three use the same procedure, which leads to some confusion. SCI has become the world standard and is the best way to score your animals. Based upon what you quote for your Kalahari Gemsbok and my examination of your picture, you have an SCI Bronze Medal animal. Congratulations, that is excellent.

BTW, warthog tusks are measured after they are removed from the animal, so that the complete outside length of each upper and their widest circumference can be totaled. Bottom tusks are not included.

08-30-2008, 3:36 PM
Great story about a good first safari.

I think you have some erroneous information regarding your trophy scores, however. I am an Official Measurer for both SCI and Rowland Ward. Why are you using centimeters? The SCI record book is in inches. If you post your length and base measurements for each horn (Left&Right), I will tell you how they score - unofficially of course. Namibia also keeps there own records, and none of the three use the same procedure, which leads to some confusion. SCI has become the world standard and is the best way to score your animals. Based upon what you quote for your Kalahari Gemsbok and my examination of your picture, you have an SCI Bronze Medal animal. Congratulations, that is excellent.

I just used the numbers that my PH and the Taxidermist gave me there. They use metric and probably just translated them. I don't really care what they measure. I don't know if it makes any differennce but my Oryx was shot north of Windhoek not in the Kalahari.

08-30-2008, 7:25 PM
Fjold, this hunting report is one of the greatest I have ever read. It was described so freaking well that at moments I felt like I was there:eek: Outstanding Pictures and very motivational thread. Great Job.

08-30-2008, 8:23 PM
Hi Frank,

No difference. Yours is a Kalahari Gemsbok, not a Fringe Eared Oryx, which occur in east Africa. A few years ago some of us tried to get the north of Windhoek gemsbok re-classified as Angolan Gemsbok. Didn't happen because the Namibian outfitters couldn't agree. There are geographical as well as physical differences between African sub-species.

One of the most important reasons to field measure your trophies is to ensure that what you get when you open the box from your taxidermist a year after you return home is the trophy you took. Mistakes happen, sometimes by accident and sometimes for profit.

If you are not a member of Safari Club International, you should consider joining. We are the largest hunting organization in the world. I would be glad to sponsor you or any interested Calgunner.

NRA Life
SCI Life
Sables Life

09-02-2008, 2:16 PM
One of the best series of posts ever. Great writing and great photos

Now I have to figure out how to afford a Safari trip...