Havago Africa

Jim with his Impala and hunting companion Miss Jessie

Like many hunters the ultimate dream is to hunt in Africa.. and after 35 years in the hunting business as an outfitter Jim and I had the opportunity to realize ours. From marketing trips in the usa we had formed a strong friendship with Stef S and Johann Combrink.co owners of Numzaan safaris in South Africa and had an open invitation “to come to Africa.” As the African hunting season is the same as Australia we were always time poor.. and it took us some years to organize ourselves ..until September 2015 was decided upon. What an awesome experience awaited us !

Literally stepping off the plane, Numzaan had a special envoy waiting to meet us and take us personally through emigration and customs and by 20 minutes  we were embracing Johann at Arrivals. This service is well appreciated after an 11 hour flight from Perth. Accompanied by good friend and fellow hunter Ross Webb we loaded our luggage in the buckee[ute] and we took to the road for a 2 hour drive north of Johannesberg to the Limpopo province. Numzann has several camps but ours was situated up in the mountains a short drive from Thabazimbi. Johan’s camp is everything you expect in an African camp and more .. beautiful stone cabins  each with a thatched roof and bathroom. There’s a spacious entertainment and dining areas with a fire pit and swimming pool all with your comfort in mind. The camp sits in the bush, within a compound of a few hundred acres and overlooks a watering point so you can observe several species of animals as they come to water.

After being met by our camp host and chef, Hein, we showered and settled into our camp and soon were ready to go explore. Our first task was to try Johann’s rifle out on the range. We had decided to not to bring our own on this trip, as Jim who has always reloaded had had several conversations with Johann re this and had full confidence in their weapons. It is an easy matter to take your own,. Numzaan have people to assist you in the procedure before you depart Australia.  Weapon of choice for the trip was a Parker Hale 308 that was loaded with 180 grain bullets.

Loaded into the safari vehicle we took a drive over one of the several hunting areas Numzaan has access to, totaling over hundreds of thousands of acres. We were excited to see our first African animals …herds of Impala darting through the bush, Warthogs ,Nyalla  and  turning around a corner of brush  to see a family of giraffes. As the sun set in our first African day we saw herds of animals and then warthogs coming to water as the sun set.

Morning comes early to the hunter and Africa is no exception. At breakfast we met our personal ph Naude who would look after Jim and Ross for the 10 days they were hunting.. you can have your own ph if you don’t elect as Jim and Ross did, to hunt together and share their experiences. Over a delicious breakfast, much discussion on  what game we wanted to hunt and who would shoot first. Poor Naude didn’t know what he was in for guiding two Aussies but happy to say the South African and the Aussie sense of humor is the same.

Our hunting entourage consisted of Jim, Ross, Naude, Edson our driver and myself . Apprentice female guide from the usa Kasey, hunted with us for the first few days,  in time to see theboys  bag their Impalas and  Jim his Gemsbok.

 

I had gone touring with Johann for the morning and so this is Ross’ story of his Impala hunt

“After driving around for a few hours , stopping and stalking single or small groups of impala that warranted further investigation ..2 Impala rams slowly crossed the track in front of us, Naude  tapped me on the shoulder ..”This is a very good ram ross …. a shooter lets go.”.  we still had continued driving  up the track aways as not to scare animals and so we stopped and crept back, finding  their  track through the bush, which was lined with torn bushes. C arefully  picked our way through in the general direction of where the rams were headed . Closing in , suddenly a flash of movement was spotted about 70 yards away.  ..  we still had the wind in our favor and were slightly ahead of them.

More movement and a small narrow shooting lane opened up to the side of us ….we waited and hoped they would cross this lane way giving me a shot…set up on the shooting sticks it seemed a long wait .. the first ram moved ..”wait for the second one “ whispered Naude ..I still couldn’t get a good look at the second one .. after the second ram walked out into the shooting gap a thin branch only blocked my view  .. but I had a clear view of his shoulder and squeezed the trigger on the 308. The ram crashed back into the bushes we waited 10 minutes and then went to where I had shot him  he had only run 30 yards through a clearway of thorns before crashing down.. he was fine southern Impala ram measuring 231/2 “ [ 58 pts sci]  … a call on the radio brought Jim up with the skinner Edson to retrieve the ram and take photos .. I was a happy man it was my first African trophy.”

Jim’s Gemsbok was bagged nearly in the heat of the day ,  after a few hours into the morning hunting a herd that were well concealed up in the hills bedded up under some thorn bush and  shade of the trees. A good shootable buck was indentified in the herd  after much glassing as they were so well camouflaged.  It  was  to be a 270 yard shot…Because of the thick thorn bush no clear shot was available so there was a tense  2 hour wait before a small clear opening  appeared and the shot was calmly taken by Jim. The gemsbok hit….charged downwards through the thick brush. Jim and Naude moved quickly in the direction it was coming, ambushing it as it crashed towards us and the killing shot was deadly. It died 10 yards from the road. Whilst everyone was happy the guides were also overjoyed that it had died so close to the road as retrieving it it up from the mountains through all the thorny bush would not have been pleasant.

Mornings are chilly but soon warm up even in September and  soon we were shedding layer as we bounced along tracks in the buckee.. this morning we were looking for either a kudu for Ross or an impala for Jim .We sighted and had glassed several herds of Impala usually flat out through the bush but winding around the base of some stoney hills we spied some Impala in the brush. Jim and Naude started out on a stalk on them..wiley animals they are they moved up the hills until they were well hidden up in the brush in the side of the hill. As it gets hotter in the day the animals retreated up the hills where it was cooler.  Naude could see a ram that he thought “ was a very shootable ram”. Up in the thick brush about 120metres away up in the hill he stood still with  too much brush to get a clean shot.. Everything in the African bush has thorns and makes noise when you get caught in it so the shot had to be taken where we were .The Ram was still not clearly discernible but with patience Jim waited until he moved eventually to give Jim a  clear patch of shoulder to aim on .. and very shortly the Ram was down in one clean shot. Edson had to cut a  way through the thorny brush up the hill  with a machete so the ram could be retrieved …a slow prickly job but what a beautiful trophy ram he is .

A Kudo was on Ross’s dream list and having looked in the local area we decided upon hunting at another area where some good bulls were reported having been seen. Starting out early the next morning with we spent several hours hunting. Herds of Wilderbest, Zebras and Impala   and a number of Kudu were spotted but these were mainly females and young bucks. After lunch and as it got cooler  we went out again looking for kudu and hoping to spot again a Waterbuck we’d  seen earlier in the day but he’d darted off in the brush too quickly for Jim to take a clean shot. So we thought we may find either animal, but as the day drew to a close and the sun started to set we had turned for home across the vast plains and what should run out into view but a Wharthog.  A trophy  high on the want list  for most hunters going to African and Ross was no exception… a quick decision and a shot downed him .. on a close inspection it was seen he had a broken tusk but still a big boar.. Ross was estatic but Naude was not, telling Ross he must take another if we saw one . As Ross’s luck would have it as we tracked home another much bigger boar trotted out along the track and   Ross quickly bagged him.  2 big warthogs in one afternoon ..it was good hunting and called for drinks back in camp that night.

Jims warthog was a afternoon hunt sitting in a blind and waiting for the hogs to come to water, which is what they did daily. It takes patience to sit in a blind but it is interesting to see what comes along to water over a few hours, monkeys, baboons, guinea fowls, zebra and several varieties of birds. We watched and waited as young warthogs with their mothers watered.. but not the big Warthog we’d seen earlier in the day. Just on dark we saw a movement at the trough and a much larger warthog had joined a group of younger warthogs standing up on their hind legs to reach the trough jostling for position..Bearly visable in the afternoon light Jim decided to take a shot and thought he had a hit. Sadly no, the large boar had  escaped unharmed but the bullet had ricocheted and hit  and killed  2 younger boar so while we didn’t get a trophy it was the subject of much “camp  talk “. We waited again at the water for the large boar to come back but he never made that same mistake  and for us well that’s hunting.

And whilst we were looking for warthogs this is Ross’s was kudu hunting in another area, as we had spent several days looking for a suitable Kudu  bull..this is Ross’s story

“Our search for kudu continues ..tomorrow Naude and I will go to different concessions where Numzaan has hunting rights .. the land owner saying he has seen a big kudu coming to water on several occasions…arriving in the area we quickly got underway the landowner Johann, Naude and myself in the back of the buckee and Edson driving…after scouting around in the area of where the Kudo had been hanging around it was decided to sit in a blind overlooking a water point.

A pop up blind was quickly erected   about 70 yds from the watering point and covered with thorn bush branches .  Naude and I with Jesse his faithful hunting dog.[Jack Russel of course is the dog of choice in south Africa everybody seems to have one]. Edson, driving the buckee away to await hopefully successful news. The African mornings heat up quickly and this one was no exception .. I casually checked my watch it was 10.05 and Naude organizing  magazines, as he said “Wait a while “..  ..There was a lot of activity all in the space of the first few minutes  2  Impala, a vervet  monkey , guinea fowl and then a wilderbeast  and then silently not 1 but 2 beautiful Kudu strolled into view.  How quietly can you whisper excitedly “KUDU” I’m not sure but it got Naude’s attention and then we were both intent  on watching them through a scope and binos …. I was awestuck at their size and magnificence..but soon brought back to reality by Naude whisper “When you get a clear broadside shot of the bull with the sore leg ..Fire”. The other Kudu walked in front of the one we wanted… WAIT WAIT WAIT …,and then Fire!  A good hard  hit….but the kudu bucked up and started to run..  he disappeared  behind some thorn bushes and went down.. a quick reload and the wait …Naude was confident that he wasn’t going anywhere..  as we quietly waited for the minutes to tick by a wildebeest came to water causing the kudu to shift further back in the bushes, out of our sight… A short wait , then we slowly covered a parallel course to where the kudu was first shot .. ahead another rustle  of the bushes and  just ahead behind a small thicket there he was ..I quickly fired another round and this time it was down for good.

They are large animals and it took 5 of us to load it into the buckee   and take it to a clearer area to take photos.. a true magnificent animal and while I had hoped for a representative trophy I was lucky to score a trophy a smidge off a gold medal sci    56 ½ inches long and 130 2/8 sci.”

Having had a full morning of hunting I decided not to accompany the men on the afternoon hunt, which was just supposed to be to go for a look..and I’d just settled into a book for a quiet read when Johann, said “best come Debbie .. I’ve just heard on the radio Jim has just shot a Waterbuck .. so off we sped    along in the buckee .. and soon found the vehicle and men off in the  bush  looking for the “fallen” waterbuck. It was on flatter land this time as it was the time in the afternoon that animals started to  make their way down from the hills for water.  Jim said the buck has been … up in the bush with another buck when they came across them and it was a very quick spontaneous shot ..but a good accurate one the buck dropped dead on his feet.  Waterbuck are a big animal and so man power was “called in “ on the 2 way from the local farm workers who helped position it for photos and then lift it onto the vehicle to go to the skinning shed. I will say out of all the game meat we ate, waterbuck was our favourite. I’m told we were fortunate to have a good skinner as the skin has oil glands  in it and if it touches the meat then it taints the meat, which I believe happens a lot.  You can smell waterbuck in the bush its quite distinctive.

Whilst hunting was the main reason for being Africa, we did take a few days off hunting to see more of the countryside, Numzann will organize lots of day trips for you . We spent a family day fishing and a enjoying braai on the side of a river.  I’m pleased to say the Aussies won the “South African/ Australian fish off” . We also went another day to the nearby Plennsberg national park , giving us an opportunity  to see Elephants, Rhino and Lions ,animals not in the areas  where we were hunting. We had a wonderful day exploring the park seeing  them all as well as herds of plains game ..  …truly magnificent !

Jim really wanted a Baboon skull as a trophy as they have very long teeth..and they were left as the last animal as we saw them every day when we were out and about. We mistakenly thought they we going to be an easier trophy {where have I heard that before!} . They did prove to be elusive and weren’t lured by the oranges which were supposed to be a fail safe bait. Long hours of blind sitting didn’t give us a trophy but it gives us a very good excuse to return and return we will. !    Hunting a buffalo and fishing for tiger fish is in Jim’s sights for 2016.

For further information check out www.Numzaan.com. I am now their Australian representative as wellas answering any questions you have I have several special package deals for those hunters who want to go experience Africa ..

So email me and I’ll send you details .ddieckmann1@bigpond.com