Here is how my 1st trip went (with tips 4U)

JB Florida

New member
Dec 9, 2000
Florida/Gulf ShoresAlabama
Ok here is the story, of our first Safari to South Africa & Botswana in Y2K.
In the spring of 99, our taxidermist, Chad Cooper, invited us to a party at his house in which an outfitter from South Africa was attending. We liked what we heard, and several of us decided to go on a plains game hunt in June of 2000. We were told the camps are nice and very suitable for women, unlike most of the camps in the US.
Fifteen people from Pensacola, Florida, went including my wife, Karen, her sister Kristy & her husband Michael.
Karen & I thought it best to attend the Safari Club International show. I mean, hey, a safari is pretty pricey after all, and we wanted to make sure we were spent our money wisely. We joined SCI and went to their annual show in Reno Navada, Feburary 2000. And let me just say…. that if you have never been, GO!
We attended the show and some parties. We even got to do a little snow skiing. Being from Florida we appreciate any chance we get to snow ski!!
The SCI show is HUGE. I tried to see it all in one day and did pretty well; however, there is so much to see that I strongly suggest to plan for at least 2 days. I had a blast!!! There were about 20 mounted leopards including the new SCI numero ono.
There were also trophies from many different countries. They even had a bunch of Polar Bear Mounts! Foremost, the African animals were there to be seen and admired. In my waunderings around the show floor I met a whole bunch of people that were really interesting. Mike & Joyce Christansion had just planned their 3rd trip with the same company we chose, Out of Africa adventurous Safaris. By the way, they went back after us and Mike got a Loin and darted a rhino BOTH with his bow!
I even shook hands with PRESIDENT GEORGE BUSH who was there with Stormin Norman.
There were constant auctions, tons of outffiting companies and numerous gun manufacturers. I received a whole lot of advice about what to take on the trip to make it more enjoyable.
One paticular gentleman, Terry Blaukamp, gave some of the best advice! He has an email document. [email protected] We read every word and even took the document with us and used it as a map in the airport. IT WAS AWESOME!!!
I quickly realized a larger calliber gun would be required to hunt plains game. I normally use a 25-06 for white-tail in Alabama.
We bought film, pants that have zip-off legs, film, medicine, film, hard candy to use as suck-up gifts for the trackers and skinners, film, a better gun case for my new weapon, film, a Match Grade Arms 300 Winchester Magnum, and MORE FILM!! Oh yeah, A whole bunch of bullets too.

The time finally arrived and we were off. Because we used Delta Frequent Flyer miles, we had to fly out of New York which added several hours to the trip. Karen and I also had to travel ahead of the rest of our group. We left two days before they did. We arrived in , South Africa around lunch time. Unfortunately, no one was there to meet us (not cool at all as this is a very dangerous area) . We waited for a while and still no one showed, so I phoned our outfitter’s wife who happens to live in Kansas to let her know our delimma. Of course, even though I was not very nice on the phone I did make it clear that it was better to speak to me than to Karen.
She was extremely anxious to leave the airport as strange people were staring at her Blonde hair. Communication can be difficult between the states & there, so take all the phone numbers so you are prepared.
As with any overseas travel, things can just go wrong. Be Prepared.
Unfortunately, I had to call a second time, pretty pissed by now, but before long viola, our escorts showed wearing Sidearms. Yes, they were ARMED. This should tell you how dangerous Johannesburg is! The people that our outfitter asked to come pick us up were from the Afton Guest House Bed & Breakfast. They were just great!!
Louis & Annelise set us up while we sorted out our mis-communication with our outfitter. It’s a good idea to plan a down day when you get there
Because of the jet lag that you WILL HAVE. Afton’s e-mail address is: [email protected] I can Highly recommend them!

I was too excited on the plane to sleep much so when we arrived at our room Karen & I both crashed hard. Although, I woke wide awake after just a short time, and I was famished! Karen was still sleepy so she stayed there while I went out to dinner with three guys who were on their way to a bow hunt in Namibia. We feasted on a great Italian dinner & South African Wine. After dinner I hit the sack again only to wake up, and I mean wide awake, at 2:30a.m. This time both Karen and I woke up! Karen was amused by the fact the Oprah television show was on at 2:30 a.m., and it was in english!! We watched TV for a while then fell back asleep.
For future reference, when traveling to the east, try & stay awake until it’s bedtime in that timezone, NO NAPS!

Day 1
We arose to a tasty breakfast prepared by the B&B staff. Shortly
after a guide from the outfitter we used, Adrian, arrived to drive us to the Northern Province, which is near South African, Botswana & Zimabawae borders. He apologized for the delay and the mis-communication and we hit the road for Alldays.
The Limpoppo river runs though this area.
It was about a 5.5 hour drive. We should have Flown into Petersburg.
When we arrived, we found our cabin and started unpacking. I was anxious to see how my rifle faired on the trip over so I walked out to the firing range. It was off. It was hitting 6” high at 150 yards and 4” left.
It took a while to fix, but we eventually got it sighted.
Karen came out and shot off the sticks because she had never shot a 300 magnum. As I have come to expect with her, she drilled the center of the target even though the recoil is a lot higher on this caliber. Karen was lucky to inherit her father’s shooting gene, It takes most of us a lot of practice to shoot as well as she does right out of the gate. Since we arrived 2 days ahead of our party, there was still another group in the camp.
Now you have to realize, the camps over there are not like what I have seen in the U.S. These were 1 bedroom cabins with a full bathroom in each. Very Nice!!!
Also, there is a dining room, firepit and a bar……oh yes, a swimming pool too.

I went with Adrian to a place nearby where they had seen a Very Big Gemsbok Bull. We saw several, but none large enough to harvest. Man, can those beasts run! They are a pretty large and seem to achieve full speed in one leap. Along with those we saw a lot of impalas and a few warthogs. We hunted a few hours then headed back to the camp. On the way we saw a troop of vervet Monkeys, I would guess there were 30 - 40 of the jumpy little animals. We also saw a lot of warthogs along the way.
That evening, there was quite the party in camp. Three nice elands were taken along with a nice blue wildebeast and a couple of warthogs. One gentleman, David, had been there for 15 days. He had tremendus success. The only animal he still wanted to harvest was a leopard. One thing I noticed which is good for us, the customer, is there is a lot of competition between the professional hunters (guides in the U.S.) This inside competition also carries down to the trackers and as we all know, Bragging rights are for hunting camps. Score = still zero.

Day 3
I awoke early, 3:30a.m. this time. I was almost back on schedule.
On the bright side they make coffee real early, so I sipped java by the fire and watched the sky brighten on the horizon. There is something about the sky over there, and I don’t mean the stars are in the wrong place. The sky just seems bigger. And somehow it appears a lot closer. All I can figure is the air is just cleaner over there. The wood of the fire smells different too. I’m sure I will never forget that scent.
Adrian met me at the fire around 4:30a.m., and we hung out with the group that was leaving the next day. They were all sad about leaving. At the time I did not understand how they felt.
We waited until Karen was ready, and we headed out in the truck.

Here’s how it works:
A tracker drives the truck and the P.H. (Professional Hunter) rides in the bed of the truck wth the hunter or hunters. The P.H. signals the tracker by hand to turn right or left, faster or slower and of course the “Uh Oh! Back-up, I just saw a big one!”
Basically, you ride in the truck until you spot the species you are looking for or until you see the tracks crossing the road and in either case you hop off the truck and follow them to try for a closer shot.
June is mid winter there so the lows are in the 30’s and the highs are in the 60’s.
The bush (that’s the woods to us southerners) was very thick and dense so in most places even with being elevated in the bed of the truck you could see 50 or 75 yards. However, ocasionally you could see 200 or even 300 yards. We spotted some wildebeasts but the area we were riding in was zoned for hunting zebra. They try not to overhunt any of the areas. They take an alloted number of animals from a zone which is determined by helicopter surveys early in the year. The system they are using works. There are many animals of numurous species. We saw a couple of every type. Impalas are very plentiful and so are zebras. The giraffes we saw were amazing! Karen has never killed an animal but she really wanted to harvest a zebra!
Of course, I was psyched about that. We spotted a large group through the trees and put the sneak on them. They are very wary animals and either spotted us or sensed something was wrong so they took off. We tried several times to get close enough to pick out one without much shadow striping. We went back to the truck and rode for another hour or so. We ended up stalking some more zebras, but Karen was never able to get a clear shot.

This Photo is Karen & Adrian putting the Sneak on some zebra.
Bummer! I really had hoped she would get her Zebra early in the trip.
It was nearly dark so we headed toward camp.
We had a great evening with our new friends. We shared hunting experiences, drank Amarula and sat by the firepit! It was a blast!!

Day 4> To Botswana
This morning I woke at 4:00a.m., pretty early after the party last night.
I hung out drinking coffee with our new Professional Hunter CJ.
He had to finish with the other clients before starting with us.
We had met him at the SCI event earlier and got along great.
He is in his late 20’s and from RSA.
The PH’s all wear shorts, but every shrub & tree seems to have thorns.
I wore long pants with zip-off legs. I left them long in the mornings when it was 35 to 45 degrees and wet then zipped them off around 8am because they were soaked. The long pants snag on every bush and are noisy.
With shorts, they just scratch your legs and you go on but Quietly.

We hunted close to the camp hoping to get a good wildebeast. We saw an amazing number of animals including a very large Hartebeast Bull. However, I really wanted some other animals instead. We spent a couple of hours stalking a herd of Gemsbok, but unfortunately, there just wasn’t a good bull in the bunch. We found Blue Wildebeasts tracks and followed them until we spotted the animals bedded down in a really thick area. The wind changed and spooked them before we could find the biggest bull.
It sounds like thunder when they all run!
At noon, we packed up and headed to Botswana. It was about a three hour ride. Plus it took almost an hour on each border crossing. The bridge had washed out in the spring of 2000, and they sort of rebuilt the crossing. I think the photo says it all. Chicken wire holds the rocks in place, but they move around when you drive across. Pretty Exciting!

After having to slow almost to a stop at numerous places where Elephants had crossed the road (they leave BIG footprints in the dirt road and push trees up at the edges of the road) we finally made it to the new camp.
It was a very lush tropical looking area on the Limpoppo river.
The camp is very nice, the tents are set on concrete pads right on the riverbank, which need to closely watch out for Crocidiles and hippopotumuses!
The only electricity is an elaborate 12 volt set-up with a large bank of solar cells to keep the batteries charged. Cloudy days can cause problems. My wife wasn’t too keen on the NO ELECTRICTY part, but she slowly adapted. I guess that proves she’ll go through anything for me. We threw our stuff in a tent and jumped into the truck to go hunting!
Karen’s sister, Kristy, decided to ride with us since their PH had not yet arrived in camp. We rode the permiter of the property we were hunting,
which was roughly 64 square miles. We saw a puff adder. It’s similar to a rattlesnake in the states. Also, this paticular ranch is known for its Impala’s.
We saw so many Impalas that I just could not believe it. I got more field judging experience two hours on impalas than I probably had in ten years of white-tail hunting.
We saw many good rams and several excellent rams. We were headed to a part of the ranch which, from the appearance of the road, was rarely ventured. It was about ½ hour before dark when CJ looked through his binoculars then turned back to me with a Big Ass smile and says, “He is a Good one! But I still think we can find better.” I asked, “ Can I shoot more than one?” CJ replied, “You bet!” The next thing you know, CJ and I are jumping out of a moving vechicle and getting low to the ground to lay low while the truck continues to drive away. By now the Rams were fighting and moving away into the brush. It was the rut for them, so they were roaring a lot and fighting with their horns. Just when we were able to see the heard (about 7 of them) they would fight and run further into the bush. 100 yards was the farthest you could see, and those places were few. I spotted one ram about 60 yards, then CJ slowly putt up the shooting sticks which meant I needed to get ready to pull the trigger.
I could see three more rams by now, and it was hard to judge the horns.
Then we spotted another three beyond those at almost 100 yards which were barely visible. They were in a thicket of trees, similar to the small oaks that grow in Texas. The tree trunks were 6” to 10” diameter. Of course the largest ram was just visible between two trunks only inches apart. We decide to wait for him to move. It seemed like we waited for 15 minutes. And we were loosing the light rapidly when the closest Impalas began to move away.
The big ram held still, but turned his head toward us. I could see his neck at the base when he turned. I wispered to CJ, “I have a shot.” He says “It’s tight. Can you make it? It’s getting dark fast, so it’s your call.” I said, “Yes, get ready, muzzlebrake”. I shoot and the Impala’s go everywhere. The one I was aiming for disappears, and 20 or so of them bust out of the cover running away. It turns out there were more in the thick bush with them.
CJ runs FAST to where the Ram was standing, it’s farther than I thought.
I’m trying to keep up while I reload. He turns with that Big smile that tells me the ram didn’t take a step! YES!!!! My first African Animal!!!!
It’s a Fine Impala!!!!
The tracker Pete, comes running from the truck and lays down on his back with his head on the Ram. He grabs the front and back legs.

CJ & I help Pete stand up, and he walks fast toward the truck for photos. Pete probably weighs around 120# and so does the Impala.

Since it was pretty dark by now, we loaded up the truck and headed back to camp to watch bushmens TV (Campfire). It turns out another person in our party, Richard, had some success. He got a fine Zebra! Pretty good for a 2 hour hunt.
We all shared stories around the fire until dinner, then more amarula and crown afterwards rounded off my day.
If it’s a good represenitive of the species, and a good hunt, then it’s a good one in my world anyway. I’m saying this because a lot of American hunters only care about the score.
As in all of life, Bigger is Better!!
The ranch manager Christopher gave me a copy of the SCI record book while we were talking at the bar and told me to look up Impala. I found out mine will score top 75 .....COOL looks like a bonus!

The PH’s don’t like to talk about scoring trophies in front of clients.
It causes a lot of tension between the guests, but CJ gave me a lot of tips on judging the different animals. CJ likes Leopard hunting, and this area has a lot of Leopards. There were photos all over the bar of large ones taken here. Leopards love Impalas to feed on so this is a good place for them.

Day 5
We wake up to rain on the tent at 5:am. They let us sleep in since it was raining pretty hard. Karen decided to hang out at camp while we hunted in the rain. Besides, she had 25# of magazines to read!! I think she brought every issue of Vogue, Cosmopolitian etc. So after my daily coffee injection, we took off at daylight. About 8 miles from camp we had already seen hundreds of impalas, kudus (cows) and a couple of waterbucks.
Now a Waterbuck was on my wish list of animals to hunt on this trip.
But, it happens to be protected in Botswana. It’s kind of like their “state animal”. They have not been hunted since the mid 1960's.
There is rumor that they will allow them to be hunted on a limited bases in the next few years though.......this would be the place to get an huge one!
I saw one that morning that was a monster. He just stood there, 40 yards from the truck ....CJ just shook his head....Bummed we couldn’t take that one back to camp with us. As we drove away there was a warthog standing in an opening really close by.
CJ slowed down and told me that was a big one, and if didn’t care to sit 2 or 3 evenings at a waterhole to get a hog, that now was the time to pound one! So of course the hog runs off. I grab my gun and we go after him. CJ is laughing because this seems too easy. The hog was still within sight when we came back to the spot we first saw him.
He would eat, then he he would run a few steps, eat then run. It was bizzare. He spotted us and ran 75 yards away stopping broadside behind some grass.
No problem, at the shot - He hit the ground! YES!!! Two shots, 2 animals! CJ was also happy with a client who could shoot. He was all smiles.

Well, A fine morning it is and I FEEL LUCKY!

Well, it rained hard the rest of the day. In Alabama, deer would be moving,
but here they just hold still. We hunted hard, walked 8 miles or so.
We sat on some large Kopies which are rock outcroppings that are 40 to 150’ tall and offer a view down into the openings in the bush.
We saw very few animals other than the Protected Waterbucks! That's Hunting.
Back at camp that evening, soaked to the bone and cold (45deg), we found Richard had killed 2 impalas, the first one 18” (he said something that made me think he shot the wrong one out of the bunch) then he got another around 23” with a lot of mass, a very nice one!
So, Impala steaks with gravy for dinner it is! Turns out Karen was the smart one of us, she slept in and relaxed while we wandered the bush in the rain and winched the truck out of holes all day. So,,,, more Crown & Amarula.

And of course, Bushmens tv.
The talk around the fire at night is a kick. They told us hunting tales of course and explained the culture in Africa. They told us about the Local culture and The whole Black/White thing??

Day 6
More rain and it’s cold. It looks as though it will clear mid day though.
Karen has finally got the hang of hiking up hill to the bathroom now, but the lack of electricity seems to be getting to her a little.
BUT,,,Amarula helps!
No luck in the morning so we come back for lunch early.
It starts to clearing so Karen goes with us for the afternoon hunt.
A high pressure moving in must mean good hunting everywhere on earth...gotta remember that!! We drove to the farthest section of the ranch it took 45 minutes at top speed! On the way we passed 6 Kudu Bulls, all young with small necks and short horns and of course they stand 50 yards from the road so we get a good look at them. They try to shoot 50” and above measured around the curl like a spring. We got to a large rock pile, or kopie, that was 100’ tall and climbed up the rocks to the top. Pete our tracker went to another kopie about ¾ of a mile away so he could watch a different area.
After 2 hours of this stand hunting, we started to see movement.
Impalas of course and some baboons. You really have to hear a baboon shout. It sounds like a man yelling “HEY!” It feels funny because you’re sure its a human. Another hour and Pete spots some Kudu Bulls on the far side of his kopie from us.
He thinks one is at least 56”, which is an AWSOME KUDU!
They are ½ mile away and quartering to him. CJ talks to him on the radio every few minutes and they devise a plan.......only about 45 minutes of daylight left. CJ says we will have to run. It takes almost 10 minutes to climb down off the Kopie. We run for 15 or 20 minutes.
Karen is actually getting a kick out of it and she thinks this is fun. I, on the otherhand, am not so sure. You can tell Karen is a runner.
She even turned to me as we’re running and says, “Hey Babe, would you like for me to carry your gun?” OK, I’m not that big of a WHOOSIE, although, I did give her offer a thought!
The ground is covered with rocks and my Binos are pounding my chest.
CJ is not jogging, he is running. We get to the east side of the big kopies and realize the rocks will cause the area where the Bulls are to be shadowed earlier. Looks like a long shot is all we will have. And that’s if we get one at all. We are getting close, so we slow down and watch the other hill side across a drainage through the bottom of the valley roughly 500yards across.
Now, all three of us are sneaking behind these baby 8’ trees and we go another hunderd yards or so like this trying to stay behind the cover.
We have les than 5 minutes of shooting light left when we spot the animals across the bottom and 2/3 up the far hillside.
CJ slams the sticks into the dirt (that’s the universal sign to use it for a rest).
I see them! I’m out of breath and more than just a little, I’m STILL not the runner in the family.
They will be in the open except for brush in the direction they are traveling. I stick the foregrip of my stock on the tripod and see BRUSH.
I move the sticks over to the left and see Kudu. Still breathing to hard to shoot. I whisper to CJ where is the big one, I see 3 bulls.
He tells me to watch to the left of the others, and he appears coming through the bush into the opening. I’m having trouble holding the crosshairs still.
I back up, ask CJ what the range is and take a couple of deep breaths to calm my breathing down and put the rifle back on the sticks.
CJ says about 400 yards, maybe. I find him in the scope, and turn it up to rest them on his back it’s and elk size animal. When he clears the next bush,
I’m ready, CJ makes a noise and he stops to look. I shoot. He runs quartering away left where we can’t see. We leave Karen here and go to the spot he was standing, then call her over….it’s pretty much dark.
CJ calls Pete on the radio and he heads our way. I have 2 flashlights. Good idea!
Karen stands where the kudu was and we found his tracks as he turned left and ran. No Blood. I’m worried. The shot was long, it might have been over 400. CJ says don’t worry Pete can find him and most bullets do not exit on these animals. It takes Pete 10 Minutes to run from his closer hill and he says he saw the Kudu and he ran pretty hard. Pete gets on the trail and we follow it for 45 minutes with no blood. We decide to come back in the AM. I’m pretty bummed. Pete goes for the truck.
We walk the other direction to the nearest road and sit down and look at the stars and talk about Leopard hunting.
Let me tell you, it gets a little hair raising to sit in the dark all alone and talk about how the lepords come out at night to stalk and eat their prey. Every little noise we heard made Karen and I uneasy. It took Pete 45 minutes to go get the truck to pick us up. We head back to camp for our nightly rituals!!

I’ll get to the rest after the Holidays.

[This message has been edited by JB Florida (edited 12-19-2000).]


Grand poopa
Dec 9, 2000
Boise, Idaho
Nice talking w/ ya on AOL IM !!! I am printing out this as we speak!! I am going to read it to my wife in bed tonight to set the mood..... Well, for me at least!!!!

We'll talk soon and think about '02. You, me and DKO......I think Africa would suffer some "CASUALTIES"!!!!!!!

<LI> AKA Moose Hunter
<LI> <A HREF="
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Dec 11, 2000
dude ya did it again left us hangin! you should be a hollywood director first karens about to shoot a zebra then were waiting to see if pete found the kudu!!!! its pure torture i tell ya!! keep'em commin!

moose, buddy you bet theres gonna be some casulties and quite a few i would imagine!

"in the Spring we Strut and in the Fall we Rut"



New member
Dec 23, 2000
South Africa
JB, thanks for sharing your story with us, i know a director who would offer his left
$%#^ (arm) for the movie rights.

I certainly cannot wait for Moosie's story, but hopefully we only have to wait about a year or so, unless reading this as a bed time story to Mrs. Moosie, managed to expedite things.


Grand poopa
Dec 9, 2000
Boise, Idaho
ABS, I didn't want to Say anything, But My wife fell asleep as I read the Story. Nothing against the Story because I was UP FRIGGIN ALL night!!!! Dreaming and Reliving the story...Even though I wasn't there....

My wife just doesn't get as fired up as I would like her too... Then hearing that no-one met JB at the airport and my wife haveing Blond hair as well... ABS, Unfortunately it is still looking like 2002 which is only 1 1/2 years away, but AFRICA will see me Every year after that til I die I think!!!! Just have to make the First trip right?!?!

<LI> AKA Moose Hunter



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