More on our spring hunts in South Africa


New member
Jun 21, 2001
Rural Wa. State/ Ellisras South Africa
Wake up to another beautiful clear sunny day in sunny South Africa


We find the rain has soaked the bush all night. The roads are so muddy that a 2 wheel drive vehicle must travel at wheel spinning
RPM to maintain forward motion. The spinout potential is so high that I comment to my partner his technique of shinning his head
lights on both sides of the road while trying to maintian a forward direction is good for me to see game. The Toyota Pickup is
fishtailing for about 10 miles of bad road.

We hunt until late in the evening that day and most all of us are soaking wet. I was in the back of the truck with the client I was taking
this day (Jim in Idaho) Holding my rifle unchamberd and barrel up I put an earplug in the end of my barrel to keep it from filling with
water. I looked down to make certain the gun was not banging on the seat in front of me and I notice that the objective end of the
scope is filled with water like a small bowl and spashing out as we hit bumps.

What are the odds of an accurate backup shot with my scope filled with water. I guess more important what are the odds of any shot
today? Oh well I flip the levers on my Warne rings and pop off the 1.5-6 Swarovski and lift the open sights up. Now I have this scope in
my hands? Where to put it? Ahh the cool box with the drinks and the ice! put the scope in the cool box, should be safe, I hope. We
continue to bounce around and search for game with the rain, clouds and even the sun intermittantly showing itself. We spot lots of
wildebeest and Kudu but nothing we can get close to or when we do they are not worthy of shooting. Finally near the end of the day
we come upon a big group of blue Wildebeest.

They are in range and several are big. I glass them all one at a time and Jim says it's to dark to see well enough to shoot. I also own
a 2.5-8 leupold and I know I can see with this much light to shoot but if he cannot see well enough the hunt is over. He re-adjusts to
low power and says I can still shoot OK!

I have now carefully looked at every single Wildebeest and do not see a single bull! I ask Deon if he has seen a bull in the group and
he says no Bulls. Oh well another day with nothing killed for my client.

I think many clients must wonder if their PH knows what the heck he is doing on days like this. Be assured that your PH is more
concerned about the lack of success each day then you are!

I meet with the PH's and we talk about the problems the weather is causing and share ideas. Sometimes this is done while the
clients are there but we will talk in Afrikaans not English. Sometimes we meet early in the morning or in a group away from the
others. My wife gets angry with me for speaking Afrikaans infront of the clients. She says it's rude? It is unconcious much of the time.

Sometimes I want to go to a specific location and so does another PH. If we are arguing this between each other it does the clints no
good to hear this, so sorting it out in Afrikaans is just easier.

Dinner is served late and everyone takes a nice hot shower and puts on warm dry clothes. Most everyone is sitting under the thatch
awning or around the fire drinking coffee,wine or in the case of my wife a martini.

We all wait for the other hunters to get in so we can all eat dinner together and see how things have gone for them. I wish them well
but secretly hope they are having difficulty with the weather as well. My friend Deon is unconcious much of the time when it comes to
hunting. He can be silly and a real comic. Yet he is so lucky when the chips are down I actually wished he was with us all morning to
try and share his lucky streak. I would gladly forgo my good reputation to ride his lucky coat tails for a a day or two. I sure don't want
to be the only PH with a client who is not shooting! This evening Deon showed up and I invited him to hunt with me and My client fo
the day. The weather was so bad Even Deons lucky charm was of no help we could not shoot anything!

By the end of the third day My client is about average in the game total so I'm doing Ok but we have lots to collect and only 7 days
left. Hoping for good weather tommorrow so he will see that I have not been lying to him. The rain and cold make plains game shut
down completlely. A sunny day will bring them all out for us to shoot.
Next day I get up and see to it everyone has coffee and something to eat. The other PH's and Clients slowly rock up and we make our
plan for the morning.

I don't yet own a Truck in SA so my normal hunting with a client usually involves getting dropped off and hunting on foot for the day
either walking back to camp through the bush or walking to a stand and then getting picked up there later in the afternoon for lunch.
My Friend Deon who is also a PH was here so I would have access to his truck and he or my wife Tatia could drive for us. Jim and his
wife Susan decided to use the truck rather then walk the bush today because it was awfully wet.

We went to a large property which was rumored to have lots of game. Jim needed to take several species so I was optimistic we
would shoot today. It was also sunny today for a change or at least for the moment!

Driving for safari hunting is productive because you cover lots of ground, but it misses out on all the natural sounds, birds, and wildlife
interaction. I love hunting on foot and prefer it to all other styles of hunting. On trips like this when we are behind schedule due to the
weather maybe we should drive a bit and try to catch up? One never knows, that is why we call it hunting.

During our drive around the property we see a band of Zebra, lots of them. Only one problem, the land owner will only allow stallions to
be shot. Zebra are probably the toughest of all Plains game to sex from hunting distances. When in doubt we don't allow shooting.
This group does not hang around long enough to sex for certain. We continue driving but have no luck with the Zebra's we do see
wildebeest as well but no bulls, at least none good enough to shoot.

After several hours of scouting and driving and countless "pee breaks" for the girls we come upon a few Wildebeest. My Wife is driving
and we tell her to stop and cut the engine. This group is moving through but very close, under a 100 yards. I see one bull that is fair
and Deon says to me nothing good. Then a couple more bring up the rear and at nearly the same instant we say shoot the second
one from the right. It gives Jim(Jim in Idaho) a moment(at most) to sight and squeeze the trigger. The bullet impact can be clearly
heard and the back legs buck in the air. We drive to the spot and deon and I bail out with our rifles to follow up the trail.

Blue wildebeest are one of the top three most difficult to kill plains species. We also had charges from two wounded Bulls last
season! This one however only a very short distance and was stone dead from a good chest shot.

Finally we are getting the good start we have been expecting for 4 days now! Photo's, video, handshakes and then the work of loading
this big guy in the back of the truck.

After everything is packed up we decide to look for those Zebra and maybe find a Gemsbok as well. The Gemsbok we can take are
Bulls only as well, no Cows. Gemsbok are not nearly as tough as Zebra to sex but we still need to be certain before we allow

I have had a client once really screw up on Gemsbok. I told him to shoot the very last one on the far right. He shot and killed the one
second from the right, a cow! I asked him why he shot that one and he replied "I looked at both of them and the one I shot looked like
it had longer horns"

Well well, my friend Cows almost always have longer horns then bulls and cows carry a 4X penalty for shooting one! There is a reason
you must hunt with a PH, Listen to him!

During our bush drive the hornbills are flying and the lilac breasted rollers are calling. for the first time in several days we are seeing
and hearing birds again. The sunshine is warming everything slowly as the Bushveld wakes up. We see a group of ostrich running on
one of the roads and lots of Steenbok, duiker, and impala. Things seem to be almost normal again.

Out of noplace(as usual) we see about 5-6 zebra. They stop to look at us but are around 150 yards away. I cannot see them, well
enough from my angle to judge them for sex. The two I do see are not stallions and Deon Says he can see the others but in Afrikaans
he says to me the risk is not worth the shot. "no Stallions" we drive on. But only for a short distance. We see another group of zebra
at about 200 yards stopped on a small hill. Again I cannot see them throught the bush clearly and Deon Says in Afrikaans the two in
front are stallions. I can't see them very well and they run off but amazingly curl around and come through an opening about 60-80
yards in front of us. While going by one by one two of them stand for a moment and give us a look. Deon says to me in Afrikaans
They are stallions, then in English tells Jim to shoot one of them.

Jim Whacks one perfect in the "zebra triangle target" it bails off into the bush and out of sight. In the flash of a few seconds I give
Deon a look of disbelief over his choice to shoot and he shrugs his shoulders and says to me "What the heck" We both in the next
second bail out to go find this Zebra, I have my rifle (still with open sights) and when we look through the bush for blood fight our way
through the thorns for a short way. Then I spot the downed Zebra and yell to Deon who is about 30 yards to my right, "he is dead" we
arrive to the Zebra at the same time and look at each other for a split second before we go for the back leg to lift it and check. ....... It
is a stallion, Deon gives a huge sigh of relief and I know his Lucky streak is back on!

Again lots of Photo's and my lovely wife is taking video. Deon and I are both Pumped, probably much more then the Client because
the Zebra was a stallion and We now have two good trophies in one day.

Jim seems a bit relieved as well becuase we are now ahead of the other clients in body count! With the 4 of us in the truck plus the
Zebra and the Wildebeest we decided to continue hunting. What the heck we might find a nice Gemsbok and we had plenty of room
for another 500-600 lb corpse with 35" horns.

Unfortunately we found Gemsbok in an Area another one of the hunters in our group was already hunting on foot. We went back for
lunch and to drop off the two animals at the skinning room. A very satisfying day for sure! The weather was sunny and dry, my boots
were actually drying out at least a little bit, and our spirits were up.

Lunch was good and plenty of it to eat and drink. Deon found My Swarovski scope in the cool box and asked what it was doing in
there? It had been floating and bouncing around in the ice water with cans of soda now for nearly 24 hours.

The Clients all went to take a nap for an hour or so and I took my scope and some ammo with a box to the range. I blew out the
scope rings and re-installed the scope locked down the levers and shot at the box from 100 yards away. No aim point or mark on the
box just held for center. After the shot the scope settled in and I could see my hole 2" to the right but the correct elevation. I chamber
another round and hit one inch to the left of the first hole. The third shot was touching the second one on the left side. So the scope
rezerod fine and I am ready once I clean the glass.

I also checked the zero of Deon's 500 jefferies while I was at it. It too was spot on!

So now We are ready for the evening hunt! jj