This April my wife Leesa and I made our annual visit to Cruiser’s. We couldn’t help but comment on how beautiful everything was thanks to Pieter & Lizelle’s landscaping and continuing mprovements. They have added a new walkway from the Lappa to the kitchen entrance and have constructed a wall with a small cement pond containing fish in front of the kitchen/PH house that makes the area by the pool feel like a private courtyard. One of the nicest improvements is that most of all the Chalets now have a sliding glass door with a patio. These patios are a great place to just relax and take in the scenery in a private setting. On the patios you will be able to sit and watch the Sable’s in the field behind the camp. Last year when we were there Pieter had completed the fencing for his Sable breeding areas but his Sable had not arrived prior to our departure. This year we were able to enjoy both herds of Sable that he now has and we arrived at the right time as one of the herds were in the process of giving birth. We were able to see newborn Sable’s and even had one of them named after my wife.
On a sad note our PH Hans has left. Hans has been with us for many years and decided this year that the long hunting schedule was taking a toll on him and he wanted to spend more time with his family. We wish him all the best. Our new PH is Johan Ellinckhuyser which is causing a little confusion as we already had a PH with the name Johan. Right now they are referring to the new Johan as Johan the Elder, Johan 2, the older Johan etc. However as always happens he will be awarded a nickname by someone that will stick. Juan (John) took a couple of months off at the beginning of the season but is back with us totally enjoying the success of the hunts. We also have a new young face at the camp, Francois (we nicknamed him Frank). Francois is just starting out in the safari business and we will be sending him to PH school later this year. With his great personality and desire he will be an outstanding addition to our staff.
As we have done previously, to give the reader a sense of what everyone’s safari was like from the hunter and non hunter aspect, the stories that are included in the newsletter are those that are written by our clients. These personal stories have proven to be an excellent addition for the reader and many of this years clients have already found excellent information that will help them with getting an idea as what to expect when they arrive. Every hunter that comes to Cruiser’s is included in our newsletter. I include where they are from and all of the animals that they take. Those trophies that qualify for the record book are indicated by a * and in the case of Kudu’s, their size is also listed. All trophy pictures that are sent to me are included as well. Thank you to those that have contributed their safari stories and I hope everyone enjoys this 2012 edition of Cruiser Safaris newsletter.
NOTE: The * behind the animal indicates that it qualified for the record book.
JERRY UZYN – Colorado
Animals taken – Gemsbok*, Steenbok*, Blue Wildebeest*, Warthog*, Impala*, Kudu, Zebra, Blesbok*
No Hunt Photos Available
BOB & PHYLLIS TUMA – Montana
Animals taken – Impala*, Red Hartebeest*, Blue Wildebeest*, Zebra, Gemsbok, Kudu
MANDY TUMA – Wyoming
Animals taken – Impala, Blue Wildebeest*, Kudu* (54 ¾”), Warthog*, Blesbok*
(Phyllis) Every minute of our stay with Pieter and his staff and his family was filled with excitement and adventure. The PH”s provided exciting days in the bush hunting for the desired game as well as creating a great atmosphere for the picnics we consumed in the bush. The PH”s are dedicated and have a great sense of humor topped only by Pieter, who always keeps everyone on their toes. Meals were delicious (great job Tiny!) as well as entertaining (don't turn your back on Pieter).
(Mandy’s Kudu story) We drove out to the property with the rocks in the hills. We walked all morning, had a great BBQ lunch and sat in a blind for the evening show. We saw so many animals from the time we got in the blind until the perfect Kudu joined us. Impala, warthogs, many kudu cows, three different groups of bulls and a whole bunch of noisy baboons. The baboons decided to be the entertainment and the evening was spend laughing and enjoying the full evening. The Kudu was shot just at dark nd was well worth the wait.
BARRY COULSTON – Australia
Animals taken – Blue Wildebeest*, Zebra, Impala*, Kudu
MATTHEW COULSTON – Australia
Animals taken – Blue Wildebeest*, Impala*, Warthog*, Kudu* (56 ½”), Zebra, Blesbok
CHIPS BOUCHER – Australia (non hunting observer)
No Hunt Photos Available
ERIC BETTS – Arkansas
Animals taken – Kudu, Gemsbok*, Blue Wildebeest*, Impala*, Warthog*, Steenbok*, Black Backed Jackal, monkey
(Eric’s Kudu story) We had been hunting several days for a Kudu. All we kept seeing were cows. The PH saw 2 nice ones in the bush but I never saw them until they ran off. The day before I was to leave we finally saw a bull. It was about 500 yds away. We slowly crept closer to about 400, still to far, we got to about 300 and the PH said “what do you think?” The driver, a great guy, said just hit him, I will find him. I leveled my rifle and it was to late, he slid into the bush. We crept closer anyway in hopes that maybe he did not go to far. We got to the spot where he was and we were looking and looking, 100 yds maybe even 200 yds we could not see him. Then my H and I saw him at about the same time. I laid the rifle across my knee and took an easy 60 yds frontal shot. He only went about 50 yds.
JUAN OSCAR LUIS GIRALDEZ – Argentina
Animals taken – Kudu* (52 ¼”), Impala* (may be the largest one ever taken at Cruiser’s 27 ¼”), Blue Wildebeest
JUAN PEDRO LUIS GIRALDEZ – Argentina
Animals taken – Kudu, Warthog*, Impala*, Gemsbok*
RICARDO SANCHEZ-RIERA & RICARDO SANCHEZ-SAMMAN – Argentina (non hunting observers although they took a Zebra & Warthog)
No Hunt Photos Available
BRIAN & JEAN MASER – Alberta, Canada
Animals taken – Gemsbok*, Red Hartebeest*, 2 – Impala*, Sable*, Kudu* (55 7/8”), Waterbuck*, 2 – Warthogs, Blue Wildebeest*, Steenbok*
No Hunt Photos Available
DENNIS KESTERKE & PATSY KEEN – British Columbia, Canada
Animals taken – Blue Wildebeest, Impala*, Kudu* (52 ¼”)
DENNIS & ADINA MEIER – British Columbia, Canada
Animals taken – Wildebeest, Waterbuck*, Impala*, Warthog*
No Hunt Photos Available
BRYAN BELER – British Columbia, Canada
Animals taken – Impala*, Gemsbok, Kudu
DALE WEBBER – British Columbia, Canada (non hunting observer)
No Hunt Photos Available
DEAN OPATZ – Minnesota
Animals taken – 2 – Blue Wildebeest*, Kudu, Warthog*, Steenbok*, Gemsbok, Eland*, 2 – Impala*, Zebra
JOEL & PAM MOORE – Washington
Animals taken – Warthog*, 2 - Impala*, Gemsbok, Kudu* (55 ½”), Blue Wildebeest*
JESSE MOSCHKE – Michigan
Animals taken – Impala*, Gemsbok*, Warthog, Kudu, Red Hartebeest*
No Hunt Photos Available
AU YEUNG CHEUNG – Hong Kong
Animals taken – Gemsbok*, Zebra, 2 – Impalas*, Warthog*, Kudu* (54 ¼”)
KONG KWAI NANG – Hong Kong
Animals taken – Gemsbok*, Zebra, Kudu* (56 6/8”), Warthog*, Impala*
CHOW YAT HUNG – non hunting observer (although he did some hunting)
BILL MCGUIRE – Maine
Animals taken – Blue Wildebeest*, Zebra, Impala*, Steenbok*, Kudu* (55”), Gemsbok*, Warthog*, Black Backed Jackal
No Hunt Photos Available
This was simply the hunt I have waited all my life for. I was lucky enough to take six SCI record book animals, a huge stallion zebra and a jackal. The weather was perfect and the people wonderful. I have a few observations for new South Africa hunters like I was. First, I took to many clothes. Second, the flight from Dulles to Johannesburg was very long. Stay a night in Johannesburg after you arrive. Third, I came by myself and it was a little weird, but the people from Afton Guest House were a huge help with the gun permit and getting me settled in. Fourth, about the hunting. It was the easiest hunting I have ever done. (I hunt whitetails in the east and elk out west) But every brush in RSA bites except the raisin bush. Last, for every time you spill blood in Africa, Africa will spill some of yours. (Thorns) Good Luck. Maybe I will see you there.
Bill’s Gemsbok hunt: We had to hunt for three and a half days for one. The light left us on two days and the third we could not find them. One evening Craig tracked them for an hour and twenty minutes, we caught sight of them four times but things did not work out. It was a great hunt, the one I enjoyed the most. No shots fired but what a stalk. Finally on the fourth morning we found them. Shooting off Craig's shoulder under some branches I collected my gemsbok. We were elated having worked so hard for the shot.
RYAN GOLD – Texas
Animals taken – 2 – Impala*, Kudu* (50”)
BOBBY HERBOLD – Texas
Animals taken – Zebra, Gemsbok, Kudu* (51”), Impala*
CLINT BEICKER – Texas
Animals taken – Impala*, Kudu* (55”), Gemsbok*
No Hunt Photos Available
JACK & CAROLYN LEGGETT – Nevada
Animals taken – Blue Wildebeest*, 3 – Impala*, Gemsbok*, Kudu, Warthog
We left home worried that my gun wouldn't make it, but because we had flown on the same airline the whole trip it arrived safe and sound. We arrived in Johannesburg April 20th, where we were picked up at the airport by Anna from Afton House, who is a marvel. She helped me thru the SAP process with out any trouble. Johan picked us up at the Afton house on the 22nd. The adventure began. It felt like we kept making left turns out of Johannesburg, but we were on the highway. Next stop was Hartebeestport, where Johan did some shopping, loaded the van and away we go on the next leg of the journey. We stopped again at Lephalale, got to walk around for a few minutes, on the road again, my wife told Johan he was earning his PHD, then had to explain that PHD stood for, (pot hole dodging) and he is very good at it. When we arrived and saw what a beautiful place we had come to. We were greeted by the entire staff, then shown to our rooms.
Then off to the shooting range, I went first since no one was quite ready, took 3 shots, all the PH's were happy with my shooting. So my wife and I walked around the farm taking picture of the animals that roam free, Sable, Impala, Black Impala, Nyala and Christmas the Ostrich. After all the hunters were done with their practice, we were taken on a tour of the skinning shed. Pieter along with Johan took us on a ride to see some of the animals on the property, it was sunset I have to say the sunsets on the farm are beautiful. Dinner time, we all sat around talking about the animals we wanted to hunt and the sizes, of course all of us wanted bigger than the other. Off to bed we go, set the alarm, it wasn't necessary, didn't sleep a lot because of the excitement.
Day 2, up at 4:30, got ready, had breakfast, then off we go, picked up the tracker, Saki. Have to say the sunrise is as beautiful as the sunsets. Seeing all the animals as we drove along just made the excitement greater. The first animal Johan told me would be the Blue Wildebeest. We did some stalking, came upon a herd, took my first shot, it was 60 yards, but just as I was shooting he moved, he took off running, and so did we. Then Saki the tracker, Johan & I got to the spot; there is blood and a tooth, so we knew I had hit him. As Saki took off at a run, I asked Johan if we were giving up, he said no. After 4 hours of stalking, Johan called my wife on the radio and asked her if she would drive the truck gave her the directions to pick us up. Asked Johan if we were done, he told me no, I was shocked watching Saki follow the tracks, and off we went, one more shot, and he was mine, I hit him in the jaw. Picture time, loaded the truck. Lunch time, ate under a shade tree, then and off to the farm we went. Johan told me shot placement is important, and could not shoot the rest of my animals like a Mule Deer. Off to the skinning shed, as I watched the skinners, they are fast and how easy they make it look.
Day 3, we went to a different location, we were in search of Kudu, Gemsbok, or Impala. As we stalked we came upon a nice Impala, 70 yards, took my shot, and got him. Back to the farm, Johan told me to remember my shot placement, then back we went in search of Kudu or Gemsbok, as we stalked we came upon another Impala, and since Pieter told us we couldn't get the Blesbok, due to predators, Pieter told me I could get something else in it's place. So couldn't help myself Johan said take the shot, 55 yards, he didn't move, called Saki on the radio to pick us up, nice one. Back to the farm we went.
Day 4, we went back to the same location as yesterday, this time in search of Kudu or Gemsbok. Off on another stalk, came upon a nice Gemsbok, Johan said take the shot. Took my shot, 200 yards, this time I was sure I had hit him, when we got to the spot, Johan gave me a look, as if to say, you call yourself a hunter. I said I know I hit it, there was blood, walked just a bit further, the bush was covered in blood. We kept going, about 3 or 4 steps further, there it was. What a relief, not quite up to another 4 hour search. Back to the farm we go.
Day 5, we went to another location in search of a Kudu, lots of tracks, animals everywhere. Came upon a nice one, Johan said take the shot, got to the spot, no blood trail, we searched and still no blood trail. Came upon them again, just as they cleared the fence, both Johan and Saki said there is no way you hit him. We then went down to the blind, got set up and waited, not one animal came in, by this time it was dark, back to the farm we went, dinner, shower and off to bed, today was a bust, but tomorrow is another day.
Day 6, Carolyn my wife stayed at the farm, off we went to a different hunting concession, sat up in a blind near a water hole, Saki took the truck down to the other water hole. We waited, you name it all kinds of animals came in. A female Kudu came in, looked around, gave out a loud bellow, Johan said we were spotted. I started to dozed off, Johan touched on the shoulder as a nice Kudu bull came into drink, he said don't take the shot yet, then as he moved Johan told me now, 64 yards, perfect, down he went. Back to the farm we went. Rested the rest of the day.
Day 7, was a lazy day, Johan took all of us to Lephalale, to the fair, and to visit a Lion reserve, where they have White Lions. Then back to the farm we go.
Day 8, off to the same property as day 6 again, sat up at the same blind again. Watched all kinds of animals come in, Wildebeest, Water Buck, Eland, then Warthog. Then the perfect Warthog came in, took the shot, 92 yards, and picked him up. This time we stayed where we were, I decided I wanted another, Impala, this one I wanted for a full body mount. We were having lunch, a beautiful Kudu all alone came in to water, turned to look toward the blind, stood there and watched us, we didn't move, then he went to the left of us, all the time watching us, came within 10 yards still watching us, walked to the front of the blind, still watching us, then moved to the right of the blind, all the time watching us, it was amazing just watching him. This encounter lasted about 15 to 20 minutes, but we didn't get any of this on film, was afraid to turn it on, because of the noise the camera makes, so all of this you have to take my word, its not a tall tale. We waited a little longer, thinking we weren't going to see any Impala, when low and behold a lone Impala came in took his drink, turned just a bit, Johan said now, took the shot, 94 yards, down he went. Loaded him up, back to the farm. I had mentioned a few day's earlier that my wife was looking for Tanzanite, so Pieter made arrangements for a friend to come out on Sunday evening and give all of us a show. My wife found the one she wanted, bought it.
The day has come when we have to pack up to go home.& Had breakfast, visited, packed up, Johan was now ready to take us back to Johannesburg, and the Afton House. Said our goodbys, thanked DelMarie, Amalia, Johan #1, S.W., Craig, Francoise, and Pieter. Took a few more pictures of the farm. Loaded up the van and off we went. We were glad that Johan #2, our PH brought along Francoise, a PH in training, Johan didn't have to drive back alone.
Have decided I need to come back, I should have taken a Zebra, and my wife keep telling me a Red Hartebeest, and since I didn't get the Blesbok, I need to get a Blesbok too.
This was a dream trip, we had a good time couldn't have asked for better company. It took 2 day's until Johan started to laugh with us; my wife had brought 2 boxes of Nature Valley Almond bars, along with 5 bags of hard candy along. Bribery goes a long way.
I have to say the quote, remember if you want Africa to bleed for you, you must first bleed for Africa, it's true.
JIM & RAE BLISS – Texas
Animals taken – Not available at press time. Will add later.
No Hunt Photos Available
BRENT & ANNIE BOYCHUK – Alberta, Canada
Animals taken: Brent – Blue Wildebeest*, Zebra, Impala*, Warthog*, Waterbuck, Kudu, Gemsbok*
Animals taken: Annie – Impala*, Red Hartebeest
No Hunt Photos Available
FRED & GLADYS WINKLER – Manitoba, Canada
Animals taken – Impala*, Blue Wildebeest*, Zebra, Gemsbok, Warthog*, Kudu* (53”)
I was fortunate in that I harvested four animals the first day. An Impala, Zebra, Wildebeest and a Warthog. Pieter said exactly that, that I was very fortunate that day. He was right, as it took five days walking an average of 6 miles per day to harvest the Gemsbok and the Kudu.
The Kudu hunt took place on "The Mountain Property" and the first day was frustrating as we worked pretty hard and only had two fleeting glimpses of shootable bulls by darkness. The second day Johan told me that we would hunt Kudu the way that he would if he was hunting alone. We would walk the Mountain Trails. After 2 hours of climbing up the trails we came upon a flatter area that still had very dense Bush all around it. We were walking down the trail that had a bit of an S curve to it when ohan stopped and looked intently ahead. He quietly put up the sticks and motioned that I should get on them. I did so as he whispered "Kudu...Big Bull...50 yards...”. I of course could not see the Bull.....!!! Then the bull moved and I locked on him. All I had to shoot at was his hindquarters and Johan whispered that I should attempt to slip a bullet past his left hindquarter into his ribs. When I thought I had an opening I fired the .338 Win Mag and the Kudu kicked and lunged into the Bush. We followed the Blood Trail for about 400 yards when Johan stopped and went to get his tracking dog. We tracked the Bull up and down the Mountain and finally jumped him again a kilometer from where we wounded him. Fortunately for me I cut my "Shooting Teeth" on running White Tails in Canada and at 150 yards the 700 lb Bull was an easy target and one more shot from the .338 took care of business. I have to admit that when I laid my hands on my most desired trophy under the Hot African Sun my emotions overcame me. Johan understood and in a while we took the wonderful field photos that you see on the Web Site.
TYLER SAUNDERS – Oregon
Animals taken – Gemsbok*, Waterbuck*, Kudu, Impala*, Blue Wildebeest*, Steenbok*, 2 – Warthogs*, Red Hartebeest*
DENNIS GILMAN – Oregon
Animals taken – Impala*, Warthog*, Blue Wildebeest*, Gemsbok*, Kudu, Blesbok*, Zebra*, Steenbok*
No Hunt Photos Available
AARON & LISA VAN CAMP – Colorado
Animals taken: Aaron – Bushbuck*, Impala, Monkey, Eland*, Baboon
Animals taken: Lisa – Waterbuck*, Nyala*, Monkey, Ostrich, Giraffe
TOM & DEBBIE FUNDERBURKE – California
Animals taken – 2 – Warthogs*, Gemsbok, Impala*, Kudu* (50 ½”), Zebra, Red Hartebeest*, Blue Wildebeest*, Blesbok*
No Hunt Photos Available
(Tom’s Zebra hunt) We had seen zebra most days for the first couple days but usually at sunset and never for more then a few seconds. I never would have though that the Zebra was shuck a crafty animal. I ended up taking mine after a 3.5 mile track and belly crawl stalk. The trees were so thick that you really couldn’t see how many animals were in the herd and I did the typical new hunter faux Pas. When we got into position we had a tree between us and the heard splitting them up. Craig told me to be ready for the one coming from the right, somehow in my mind I understood it as "the one on the right" So I shot, even though he was not the one Craig had pick out he is still a wonderful animal as you will see in the pictures. And of course this accounted for vast amounts of ribbing the rest of the hunt. Pieter’s first words to me were "I heard you picked out an amazing trophy".
ALAN WOLF – California
Animals taken – 2 – Warthogs*, Zebra, Blue Wildebeest*, Blesbok*, 2 – Impalas, Steenbok*, Kudu* (57”), Waterbuck*, Blue Wildebeest (F)
DAVE SCHNEIDER & NIKI KELLY – California
Animals taken – Zebra, 2 – Impalas*, Red Hartebeest*, 2 – Warthogs*, Kudu, Blesbok*
(Alan’s kudu hunt) At the start of my stay, I told my PH that I have taken Kudu in the past, but my whole goal of coming to Limpopo was to get one over 55". On day three, we got in a tree stand at the mountain property over a waterhole. Animals of different species arrived and right before dark, the Kudu arrived. I watched a 49", a 52" and a 53-54" arrive and Johan tried hard to get me to shoot the larger one. I had a feeling we could do better, so I declined. We left empty handed and hunted several other properties where I passed up lesser bulls. I got a little frustrated and told Johan I really wanted to return to the mountain property and Pieter Okayed it. We set up in a different blind at the same waterhole as day 3, and Kudu were all around us. I thought we were going to be spotted because many of the cows and young were looking at us. After about five minutes, a troop of Baboons arrived and I was really worried. But after another 10 minutes (5:20 PM) this massive bull arrived and stepped into view. Johan started shaking with excitement and said, "That is definitely a shooter" (Meaning it was over 55").& When the bull turned broadside, I shot him through both shoulders with a good heart/ double lung shot. The bull tried to run 20 yards before plowing through a barbed-wire fence and I shot him through the spine to insure he was anchored. Johan and I cheered for about ten minutes. This was probably the single most exciting/rewarding moment I have ever experienced in 40 years of hunting.
JERRY & KELLEY FAUSTINO – Florida
Animals taken – Gemsbok, Impala*, Steenbok*, Blue Wildebeest*, Kudu, Warthog*, Zebra
A few suggestions for those reading the newsletter looking for advise for their first safari with Cruiser’s:
I. You don’t need three sets of hunting clothes. Your hunting clothes from the day before are lying on your bed by the time you return from your evening hunt, cleaned and pressed. Two set works well.
2. The space you save on the hunting clothes should be used for clothing for those chilly mornings riding in the back of the truck. I would suggest a scarf or neck gaiter, gloves (slightly heavier than shooting gloves) and perhaps some light weight polypropylene underwear if your hunting pants are light weight cotton. Dressing in layers, t-shirt, long sleeved shirt, sweater and jacket, which worked well for the month of May because by noon you will be down to a t-shirt.
3. A one inch thick form rubber cushion would work well for sitting around the water holes, and make it more enjoyable.
4. You don’t need to carry a lot of cash, but call your bank and let them know you will be using your credit cards and ATM. However, do convert some dollars to Rand as some shops do not take cards or dollars, most do, but not all. I would convert about $100 to Rand, and what you don’t use can be converted back to dollars. Although, I saved some of the bills to frame for display with my animal mounts. South African money is beautiful with Cape Buffalo, Rhino, Lion, Leopard and Elephant.
5. Lastly, for the ladies, HAIR DRYERS, our converter would not handle the wattage. However, Pieter did find one to lend my wife, but perhaps a cheap 50hz hair dryer could be purchased at he airport.
Our safari resulted in taking all the animals I had hoped for, even adding a zebra. My kudu and warthog were taken from blinds at the water hole. However, the wildebeest, impala, steenbok, gemsbok and zebra were classic stalks, playing the wind and shooting off sticks. Most shots were a hundred yards or less, with the exception of the zebra, which was over two hundred. If there is any question as to distance ask your PH to range the distance. Pieter has plenty of concessions available to hunt, and I am sure some were never hunted by any of the hunters in camp during my 10 days.
My group included four hunters, my wife and two other ladies. We all became fast friends and enjoyed each others company, exchanging email addresses and phone numbers before leaving. I told my wife, I wish these people were our neighbors back home in place of some we have now. Believe me, it was a very sad time at the airport departing their company and tears were shed, I still miss these people, not only the hunters, but Pieter, his staff and the PH’s, especial my PH Juan and his tracker Izack. They all will hold a special place in my wife’s heart and mine.
You know the hunt was great, and I am very proud of all my trophies, but it is really more than the hunt, it is the total experience. I know it sounds cliché, but until you experience Cruiser Safaris and Africa you will not be able to understand, but 1 hope some day you do.
MIKE MINETTE & his mother DAWN – New York
Animals taken – Zebra, Blue Wildebeest*, Red Hartebeest*, 2 – Steenbok*, 2 – Impala*, 2 – Warthog*, Bushbuck*, Waterbuck*, Black Backed Jackal
May 18 had come. I watched the countdown clock everyday in anticipation of another great trip to Cruiser Safaris. My mother, who was a school teacher for 37 years was accompanying me on this trip as she is an avid National Geographic watcher. My mom kept asking me about the different types of animals she was going to see. She was excited to say the very least. The trip from JFK to Johannesburg was 15 hours straight. At the airport we were greeted by Craig and his big smile. Craig was my PH in 2010 and I was so glad to see him. We got out of the airport pretty quick and off for our 4 hour ride to camp. On the way back I asked Craig if we could go on an evening hunt. Craig agreed. We arrived in camp and were met by Francois, DelMarie and a big glass of fresh orange juice. The best!! My mom and I were shown our room, had a great lunch, checked the zero on the rifles and were off for a hunt at 2 PM. I told Craig I wanted to look for a Blue Wildebeest as the first animal. We left camp and went to a property that I had hunted in 2010. We got on the back of the Land Rover and off for a Wildebeest. Right off the bat, Impala all over the place. At approximately 4 PM we were driving on a dirt road and there was a group of Zebras. Off the truck we went on a short stalk. Craig set up the sticks. Bang- a beautiful Zebra fell. Not a scratch on him. What a perfect rug the Zebra will make. We took some pictures and loaded the Zebra in the Cruiser. We looked a little longer for a Wildebeest but we ran out of light. Back to camp we went, unloaded the Zebra at the skinning shed and went for a great dinner. Off to bed early as we had not slept for approximately 36 hours.
Day 1 – Up early and a quick breakfast. Off we went for a Wildebeest. When we got to the property Craig got up in a tree about 30 feet and glassed the area. Craig saw a group of Wildebeest and off we went. After a short walk Craig set me up on a Wildebeest. I had him in the scope but he moved off quick so I held on the shot. No sense in chasing an animal. We never saw that Wildebeest again. We kept looking and made a few more stalks but nothing worked out. About 10 AM we were driving and Craig had Francois stop the Cruiser. Craig said “grab your gun”. Off we went through the thick scrub bush. All we could see were spots of Wildebeests. We glassed and a bull walked into a very small opening and Craig gave me the green light. I threaded a bullet through. Off the Wildebeest ran. Craig felt confident about the shot. Craig told me he wanted Francois to track as he is an apprentice PH. Off we went to the location of the shot. A little bit of blood is all we were finding. I was a little nervous. Francois was in the lead following the sign. We came around a group of thick bushes within 100 yards and there was the Wildebeest toes up. Literally he was on his back and 4 feet straight up. What a beautiful bull. Hard bosses and old. I loved his hide which was silver with stripes. I could not be happier. We took some pictures and went back for lunch. We had lunch, a nap and back out at 2”30 PM. We were now hunting for Red Hartebeest. Craig’s father Ralph joined us. We made some stalks on different Hartebeest bulls and finally shot an old bull with horns that were cracking. What great character. We loaded the bull and went for a ride to see what else there was. I was looking for a Steenbok. As we were riding in the Cruiser I saw a large Waterbuck. This got me thinking about taking a Waterbuck. I had already shot a Waterbuck in Zimbabwe but I am always looking to improve. The sun started to set. We continued to look for Steenbok. They are small, hide well and don’t stick around long. All of a sudden out of nowhere – a Steenbok male. A quick shot with my .257 Weatherby and down he went. Time for a few pictures and we were done for the day. Back to the camp for another great dinner.
Day 2 – along the river bottom we hunted. I was looking for anything that looked good. We walked a long way. We started off with a lot of clothes as it was cold. By 8 AM it starts to get warm. In the river bottom we were loaded with Impala. Craig saw a nice impala. He knew I was looking for a wide Impala. Craig put the sticks up and told me to shoot at the red spot. It looked like the size of grapefruit. That was all I could see. I rested my right elbow on Craig and sent the round. The Impala was off. The shot was 147 yards through seriously thick stuff. We found some blood and a short trail job and we had the first Impala of the trip. He was thick and his horns tipped out atthe top. The Impala genetics are great at Cruiser’s. We loaded the Impala and went back for lunch. We went back out and hunted the rest of the day. We sat for awhile at a water hole in a blind that we built. The wind wouldn’t cooperate but we had a good nap and snack.
Day 3 – The weather was gloomy and a cold front was coming through. We sat at the water hole but the wind was blowing in every direction. After awhile and not seeing many animals due to the weather Craig and I went for a walk. We heard Impala rams barking. I love Impala’s and asked Craig if we could go look at them. We went and snuck up on an old ram. We were 30 yards from him. We could hear another ram barking very close. We left the old ram and walked towards the other ram. We were now between the 2 rams. I could see the other ram run into where we were, barking and with his head back. It was amazing. We crouch down and the ram stopped about 40 yards out and looked at us. Craig told me to shoot. I asked him if he was big enough as I could only see one side. The ram turned and started to walk away. Craig told me again to shoot. I trusted him and sent the 180 grain Barnes TTSX from my .300 Jarrett. The Impala ran and piled up within 40 yards. I could tell he was a monster. He was 25 ½ inches on both sides and wide. I am glad I trusted Craig! We hunted the rest of the day but the animals were just not moving due to the weather.
Day 4 – We went to a different property looking for Nyala, Bushbuck or Waterbuck. We saw some Nyala but I was being picky and Craig knew what I wanted. We saw a few Bushbuck but they were gone in a flash. We went for a walk and Craig saw a big Warthog. He set up the sticks and down he went. The pig had 13 inch tusks. My biggest pig yet! We went back for lunch and back out in the afternoon still looking for the elusive river bottom animals.
Day 5 – Looking for Bushbuck. We went back to the same area as day 4. We just were not seeing any shooter Bushbucks. We hunted there in the AM and back to the camp for lunch. Pieter always has a trick up his sleeve. In the afternoon we went to a different property. We walked a river bottom where the river was dried up. We kicked out a Bushbuck ram but no shot. This is good, we are in Bushbuck country. Ralph, Craig and I keptwalking. All of a sudden a Bushbuck ram came out of the river bottom in the thick stuff. We scrambled quickly and I sent a bullet through some really thick stuff. Down he went. A 14 ½ inch Bushbuck. Probably my favorite African antelope. We took lots of pictures and loaded him into the Cruiser and headed back to camp. On the way back to camp we saw a large Waterbuck where we were hunting for Waterbuck. We scrambled and tried to get into position but no luck. The plan was to hunt that Waterbuck tomorrow.
Day 6 – Up early looking for the Waterbuck from last night. We check a large field he had been seen in. We drave a large portion of the property and only saw waterbuck cows, no bulls. We checked a water hole and there were many Waterbuck tracks. We walked a long way, probably 3 miles or so. When we got close to the truck we ran into a group of Warthog. We noticed a large pig in the back of all of the others. The other pigs started to get nervous and started to run off. This pig had his head down and was feeding. He didn’t even know we were there.& Craig said “Lay him out”. The Jarrett spoke and out he went. The pig had 12 ½” tusks. We loaded him and went back for lunch. In the afternoon we went back looking for that Waterbuck. We walked the entire river bottom. We must have seen 1000 Impala’s. They were everywhere. We walked forever. I was actually getting tired. As we were walking I was thinking to myself that I really wanted to shoot a Jackal. We were walking on a dirt road when all of a sudden a Jackal appeared, then 4 more for a total of 5 Jackals. The male crossed the road first. I got my Jackal. The .300 Jarrett made a litte mess so no full mount on him. Craig said he was a big male. We left him on the side of the dirt road and went looking for the Waterbuck.; We came out into a field where the Waterbuck had been hangin around. Craig saw a few cows and a small bull. It was about 5:30 PM and light was going down soon. We snuck back in the bush and went to check the water hole where we had seen the tracks earlier. As we approached Craig saw the Waterbuck we were looking for. Light was fading fast. Craig set the sticks and a frontal shot at 136 yards through thick stuff. He went down instantly. We ran like mad men. There was the Waterbuck. He was 27 ½”, thick bases, white polished horns and a huge body. I was exhausted. We loaded the Waterbuck and went back for the Jackal.
Day 7 – Everybody in camp and my mom went to the Predator Park and lunch that day. I wanted to stay and hunt as I was looking for a little bigger Steenbok. Off we went early just after sunrise. As we were driving we noticed a Steenbok down a cut through the road. We looked and it looked like a male. We made a stalk on him and got to about 100 yards. I told Craig I wanted a 4 inch and would he make it? The Steenbok was standing against som bushes which made it hard to judge. I got on the sticks and Craig said he would be 4 inches. Shoot him on the last rib, Craig said. This is to not blow him up. Down he went, a beautiful 4 ½ inch ram. I was delighted. My hunt was done. I harvested 12 great animals and had a better trip than my first time, which I did not think was possible. We continued on the property and saw many more animals.
Everything at Cruiser’s is superb. The PH’s are wonderful, Pieter & Lizelle are great hosts and the food is spectacular. I can not say enough good things about Cruiser’s except to go and experience it for yourself. All of the other guests in camp were the best group I have ever met. They were easy to talk with, as if the were friends for a long time. The trip could not have been more perfect except if my hunting buddy was there. Next time! Can’t wait to be back in Africa.
RANDY & LINDA HUFFMAN – California
Animals taken – Black Backed Jackal, Impala*, 2 – Impala (Linda) Blue Wildebeest* (& a female), Kudu, Warthog*, Gemsbok*(Linda), Zebra, Steenbok*
(Randy’s Blue Wildebeest hunt) The hunt began off the back of the Land Cruiser on the evening of the 2nd day. My Wife had noticed some Kudu's under a tree as we drove past. She informed our PH of her sighting, so he tapped on the truck cab, for the driver to stop. Upon an examination of the animals, Johan had our driver move on down the road getting us out of sight of the animals. Once out of sight we got off the truck and began our stalk into the brush & trees in an effort to get a shot. After a couple hundred yards, Johan said “there he is”. I was expecting a Kudu, instead there was a Blue Wildebeest Bull walking about 175 yards away. Johan positioned the shooting sticks, as the bull started walking toward us. As the bull got to about 150 yards looking straight at us Johan asked me if I could make the straight on shot. My answer was yes. He said to take the shot when I felt comfortable. I did take the shot, to which the bull sort of humped up, just momentarily, then fell straight over on his side. Johan said to reload, and to stay on the bull. I followed his instructions holding on the bull for about a minute, during which the bull trashed its legs around, as if dying. After about a minute, I pulled off the scope turned toward Johan and we smiled, shook hands, and exchanged good shot comments. About that time the bull gathered himself pulling himself to his feet. Johan said to shoot him again as the bull started to run away from us. I could not find the bull in the scope in time to take a shot. Johan looked at me gesturing to give him the rifle and said "we're screwed"! He took off at a slow trot in the direction the bull had ran only going about a 100 yards then started looking for sign, blood or tracks. He did find a small spot of blood, but only a small spot. He searched for a few more minutes before radioing our driver & the caretaker to come join in on the track. Long story short, these 3 guys (primarily Johan) covered about 1.5 miles over the next hour finding a smear of blood or a fresh track in the sand or a bent grass limb, at different intervals. Finally, the bulls’ tracks crossed a dirt road near a corner fence. So Johan decided to try and cut off the bull by going around the block of real estate the bull had entered in hopes he would exit across a different dirt road and present a shot opportunity. One other factor which was coming into play was that it was starting to get dusk. Anyway he went one way and told me to stay with the other 2 guys and we all continued on with the pursuit. A few more 100 yards into the bush, and Carl (our truck driver) froze and hand signaled that he saw the bull. The bull was standing about 85 yards away in a thick tangle of brush & trees. Carl instructed George (the property caretaker) to run back and get Johan who had the rifle and bring him back. Carl & I sat on the spot awaiting the rifles return. After about 8 -10 minutes, Johan & George returned both out of breathe from the sprint back. Once Johan regained his breath, and Carl pointed out the Bull the final stalk was on. Johan crawled about 25 yards in front of us with the rifle in hand then took the only shot opportunity available. This was a shot into the stomach area of the bull. Upon the sound of the shot both the bull & Johan took off at a dead run. A side note here: I had already told Johan a day before that I was good at walking but was not very good at running. But let me tell you Johan can run like the wind. He was right on the bull taking another shot which missed, then within just a few seconds took 3rd shot which hit the bull in the mid section but finally did put him down for good. Needless to say this older guy did get there in time to see the bull take his last breathe. This is a hunt that I will always remember; not because I had done such a great shot nor a great tracking job but because I had been a spectator to the most unbelievable tracking job I had ever witnessed in my life. To my knowledge, there is no North American hunter with the skills of Johan. One of the comments he made to me after the events had culminated was a saying I will always remember. He said "even white men can track" He made a believer out of me that evening. From then on I would follow him no matter what. This is my most memorable trophy.
WESLEY ANSHELM & his wife ELAINE – British Columbia, Canada
Animals taken – Impala* (and a 1 horned Impala), Blue Wildebeest*, Waterbuck*, Warthog*, Kudu, Bushbuck*, Steenbok*
No Hunt Photos Available
BLAKE WILSON – Texas
Animals taken – Blue Wildebeest*, Zebra, 2 – Gemsbok*, 2 – Impala*, 2 – Warthog*, Kudu
RUSS WILSON – Texas
Animals taken – Impala*, Gemsbok*, Kudu, Blue Wildebeest*, Warthog*
(Blake) I traveled over with my dad for a hunt that began at the first of June.We had a great time and were able to shoot everything we came after and then some! The highlight of the trip for me would be my kudu hunt in the mountains. We hunted for two days on the bow only ranch where we cannot shoot within 500 yards of a waterhole. One day we hunted by the landowners house and the second day was at his other property. We saw several kudu but never the one we were looking for or at the place where we could shoot. We went to the mountains at another property and after hunting all day and seeing 60+ kudu I was able to shoot a bull on top of a mountain. We had to pack him off the top of the mountain; this was possibly the most enjoyable moment of my safari. The owner of the property was a super nice guy, I enjoyed talking with him over the lunch and throughout the hunt. He completely packed out the back of the kudu on his shoulders, it was amazing to be a part of a hunt and pack out like that. Carrying a big kudu down a steep mountain is one of the best feelings in the world! Some other highlights of the animals we shot were 13" warthogs for each of us and both of us were able to take 37+ gemsbok. Something else that was great about the trip would be the cooking by Tiny. It was great to get to try several different African animals while we were over there and they were always cooked perfectly! I definitely plan on coming back!!
TERRY & SHAWNA SCHWERDT – Alberta, Canada
Animals taken – Kudu, Blue Wildebeest*, Impala*, Warthog*, Gemsbok*, Waterbuck*, Nyala, Blesbok*, Bushbuck*
KEN & KAREN SCHWERDT – Alberta, Canada
Animals taken – 2 – Warthog*, Kudu* (50 ½”), Blue Wildebeest*, Zebra, Gemsbok, Waterbuck*, Red Hartebeest (F)
WAYNE & LINDA BJORNSON – Alberta, Canada
Animals taken – 2 – Impala*, Blue Wildebeest*, Zebra, Gemsbok*, Kudu* (51 ½”), Blesbok, Red Hartebeest*, 2 – Warthog*
BRUCE GIAMALVA & his daughter ELIZABETH – Mississippi
Animals taken: Bruce – 2 – Warthog*, Waterbuck*, Impala*, Zebra, Bushbuck*
Animals taken: Elizabeth – Impala*, Gemsbok*, Warthog*, Blue Wildebeest*
JOHN GIAMALVA – Maryland
Animals taken – Kudu, Impala*, Blue Wildebeest*, Zebra, Warthog, Steenbok*
(Bruce) This was my second hunting safari to Africa, and my second time with Cruiser Safaris. The first trip was the culmination of a lifetime of dreams, and Craig, Pieter and company really did surpass my fantasies. I couldn’t wait to come back. Also I wanted to introduce my daughter, Elizabeth, to Africa. My brother John had been along on my first trip and also decided he needed to go back.
Elizabeth had been going to the range with me for years and she loved shooting and was very safety conscious; and a dead shot. She was shooting a 6.5 X 55 mauser and had killed one feral pig with it. I think this rifle is the perfect combination of killing power and tolerable recoil.
When we got into camp we had a wonderful warm greeting and a delicious lunch. It was great to see the crew again, and we got to recall some of the thrills of our first trip. I was glad to see Craig again, and he would again be able to be our PH. We had really gotten along well my first trip, and I knew he would be perfect to help Elizabeth. We sighted in our rifles, and I think everyone was a bit surprised that Elizabeth outshone all of us. One shot, dead center of the bull’s eye at 100 yards. We discussed our wish list for the hunt. The one thing Elizabeth had insisted she wanted to shoot was a “really ugly” warthog. Not any old warthog would do, it must be ugly even by warthog standards. She also surprised me by choosing to shoot a gemsbok rather than a kudu, but that was her first pick, as well as a blue wildebeest, and an impala. I wanted to shoot three things I had not been able to shoot my first trip, a waterbuck, a zebra and a bushbuck. Elizabeth and I had both agreed that we wanted mature and preferably old gnarly animals and we didn’t really care about inches. (Of course Craig just took that as a challenge to find us some monsters.)
I know there is no room here for every detail, but there were several really memorable stalks. The first day we hunted we were looking for a gemsbok, and Craig didn’t let us down. We spotted a small group moving away from us about 120 yards off, and I knew there was a really great one in the bunch. Not that I could tell, but Craig went nuts. He was almost as excited as me, but he went slow and calm with Elizabeth. She had been studying “The Perfect Shot” book and knew right were to hit. Craig pointed out “the third one from the right.” She didn’t hesitate. One shot and the big buck jumped about ten feet and went down. She had made a perfect shot, through the top of the heart. And he was a monster! Craig couldn’t wait to measure him, his horns were not just long, but very thick. Sure enough he was a gold medal gemsbok. She went on to shoot a gold medal blue wildebeest and a silver medal impala. Also of course an impressibly ugly warthog.
My most memorable hunt was for the bushbuck, and it was also the hardest hunting we did. This was our fourth effort at a bushbuck. We had hunted twice in the evening and once in the morning already. Once again we drove out before dawn and got to enjoy the glorious African sunrise. The plan was simple enough; we would ease along following the river. We were walking about 15 yards from the bank which dropped down to the sand , which was about 50-75 yards wide with the river meandering along somewhere in between. The water here was ankle deep and about 10 yards across. Sometimes it was closer to one side and sometimes the other. There were dense thickets of reeds and grass merging into bushes and trees on both sides. We eased along trying to be as quiet as possible. We were on a well-traveled trail and it was smooth and mostly clear of leaves. There was a quit cool breeze from the river to us, which was in our favor. We had been walking only about 10 minutes when Craig spotted a nice bushbuck, very close. He pointed quietly, but was obviously very excited. I followed his finger and was startled at how close he was, only about 10 yards! I raised my rifle, and I couldn’t spot him! By this time Craig was going crazy and didn’t know why I didn’t shoot. At that point I realized that my scope was on maximum power, and what I was looking at was his ear. What a goof! I saw that he was looking right at me, so there was no way to dial down the power before he bolted, I could see he was facing to the right, so I swung down to where I guessed his chest would be and fired. How could I miss at that range? I knew before I pulled the trigger that this was a dumb idea, but in my excitement I did it anyway. I should know better at my age, but you’re never too old for buck fever. Of course I misjudged and missed completely. When he bounded away I knew I had shot about a clear foot under him. Oh well, I’ll never make that mistake again!
We continued on our way, easing along as that bushbuck headed for the Botswana border. We saw about six or seven does, and one underage buck. I knew I had blown my chance. We headed back, still easing along and watching. We were almost back to where I had fired before, and I figured we were just out of luck, though we had enjoyed a beautiful walk. Suddenly Craig stopped and pointed to a group of trees across the river. “That’s the same bushbuck!” I looked where I thought he was pointing and I saw nothing. “Where?” Craig was very calm. “Look under the biggest tree over there. Do you see that light brown area?” I thought I did. “He’s facing to the right, so aim for the chest.” I aimed for where the chest would be on this vague square area and shot. As soon as I fired I saw the buck jump, about 15 yards to the right of the tree trunk I had shot! He took about four jumps, and then paused on the lip of a gully and I shot. Down he went. “Good shot!” Craig yelled. “Oh really, I already missed him completely twice.” He laughed, “No you didn’t. You weren’t even aiming at him before.” He was a real beauty, much larger than I expected. I did let Craig carry him back up the river bank. (his back is much younger than mine.) I was excited as a schoolboy, I had wanted to shoot a bushbuck for years, and this was a beauty.
The most impressive animal I shot was a spectacular waterbuck, which was another great hunt and a great job by Craig. We stalked for over an hour, and all I saw of the “really great” waterbuck which Craig claimed to have spotted were his harem. I should never have doubted. We spotted his head, as he was lying down in thick cover, and wow what a head! We were crouched down behind a bush and Craig could see he was nervous. He had me rest my rifle on his shoulder just in time for this giant waterbuck to stand up and look at us. It was a perfect set-up, and on my shot he dashed about 30 yards and went down. I had never imagined that I would get a waterbuck that was in the same class as the heads on Pieter’s wall, but he was another gold medal beauty. My words could not do justice, but check out our pictures. We had a wonderful trip, and the Cruiser team made it really special. Thanks to Pieter, Craig, John, Johan and Tiny.
(John) About 6 months before my trip, a friend of mine gave me his father's Winchester Model 70 in 300 H&H. So I ended up taking most of my animals with this rifle. I think the impala is one of the most beautiful game animals in Africa, and my hunt for an impala, with Johan was one of the most memorable of my trip. We saw a herd of zebra and followed them into the bush. We lost the zebra but followed a large herd of impala with one good buck. We ran across wildebeest and warthogs, but the impala stayed in front of us. After nearly an hour the impala came to a more open spot, but the buck was behind a tree. We slipped around to the left and I could see him through a gap in the bush, but could not tell the size of the horns. Johan assured me that he was the one and I took the shot. The impala went perhaps 30 yards and was dead before we got there.
ROBBIE ERICKSON & his father BOB – Montana
Animals taken – Blue Wildebeest*, Zebra, Red Hartebeest*, Warthog*, Impala*, Kudu, Gemsbok, Blesbok*, Steenbok*
No Hunt Photos Available
TRAVIS MALONEY – Indiana
Animals taken – Impala*, Red Hartebeest*, Zebra, 2 – Warthog*, Kudu*, Gemsbok*
STEVE DAKE – Indiana
Animals taken – 2 – Impala*, Gemsbok, Red Hartebeest, Blue Wildebeest*, Eland*, Kudu*, Warthog*
ENEDINO RODRIGUEZ – Indiana
Animals taken – Wildebeest*, Gemsbok*, Kudu, Impala*, Warthog*
BRAD LANDWERLEN – Indiana
Animals taken – Blue Wildebeest*, Zebra, 2 – Impala*, Kudu* (53 ¼”), Warthog*, Gemsbok*
LYN MAGNUSON – North Dakota
Animals taken – Gemsbok*, Blue Wildebeest*, Warthog*, Bushbuck*, Eland*
MYRON HANSON – North Dakota
Animals taken – Gemsbok, Blue Wildebeest*, Warthog*, Blesbok*, Impala*, Zebra, Kudu*
No Hunt Photos Available
OSCAR & ESMIRNA LOPES – Florida
Animals taken – Gemsbok*, Impala*, Zebra, Blue Wildebeest*, Blesbok*, Kudu, Warthog*
SERGIO & ANGELA NEGREIRA – Florida
Animals taken – Gemsbok*, Red Hartebeest*, Nyala, Eland*, Blue Wildebeest*, Kudu, Zebra, Impala, Waterbuck*, Warthog, Bushbuck*
MATT WILLIAMSON – North Dakota
Animals taken – Nyala*, Waterbuck*, Blesbok*, Genet
RILEY ZAVADA – Montana
Animals taken – Blue Wildebeest*, Impala* (and F), Gemsbok*, Zebra, Blesbok*, Kudu* (53”), Warthog*
JEFF ZAVADA – North Dakota
Animals taken – Blesbok*, Gemsbok*, Blue Wildebeest*, Kudu* (52 ¾”), Warthog, 2 – Impala* NOTE: the last 4 animals were taken with a bow.
ADAM BRAYKO – North Dakota
Animals taken – Blue Wildebeest*, Impala*, Gemsbok, Blesbok*, Kudu* (51”), Warthog
No Hunt Photos Available
ANDY HARTMAN & SHAWN WARSAW – Michigan
Animals taken: Andy – Gemsbok*, Blue Wildebeest*, 2 – Impala*, 2 – Warthog*, Kudu, Blesbok*2
Animals taken: Shawn – Impala* (Her first animal ever!)
(Andy) Shawn and I had no issues with the airfare or customs at any of the airports. We flew from Detroit to Frankfurt for a long layover and then to J’berg. The layover was nice break in between the flights. Our checked baggage was direct to J’berg, you can store your carryon bags on site in Frankfurt and then hop on a train to go downtown. We pretty much slept down to J’berg to get picked up by Afton at the airport. Afton had a mix up in their schedule so there was no one to pick us up when we got there. We got in the middle of the commons area just looking at all the outfitters trying to pick out the sign for us. At least 10 different outfitters came up to us and asked who we were looking for. They all tried to help, and finally one knew Annelise and called her up. Even with that small issue, with everyone’s help, we went sailing through the airport. We get picked up on Monday, along with Jim and Cecil, to head to the lodge. I loved the scenery along the whole trip. Once we get to the lodge, everyone started filing in to greet us and we are introduced to our PH, Craig. After dinner, I asked Craig what we are going to hunt first. His reply, “We are going to shoot some ***@!” I just smiled and said that sounds great to me. After that, I just followed his lead and when he lined me up, I squeezed…..
Aug 14th - Morning of day one and the mission is Gemsbok. We came up to a group first thing in the morning but the wind was blowing into them so we let them be. Drove around a bit and found another group, but pretty much the same thing - definitely windy this time of year. Saw a ton of animals - Zebra, Warthog, Red Hartebeest, Giraffe and young Cape Buffalo, Eland, Water Buck, Nyala, Ostrich, Impala and Jackal so far. We head in for lunch and then back out at 2:30. As soon as we hit the property we spotted the same group of Gemsbok with a couple of Zebra. Well, the Zebra is even more skittish than the Gemsbok so they all bolted. Craig (my PH) had an idea where they were heading so we took off on the truck to try and get in front of them. We round the corner and they are already there crossing the path. We get off anyway, as Craig failed to tell me that the ones that crossed were the young ones and the older ones are still in the thicket. About 5 minutes into the walk we freeze as the Gemsbok steps out at 30 yards. Craig says get ready, so scope covers off, safety off....he says shoot and I hit the safety (well, I thought it was the afety but it was the firing pin indicator). He said shoot, so I hit the safety again, stupid thing!! I look down, duh, flipped the safety and then square on the chest low, as he was facing us. The Gemsbok jumped and bolted to the right after I fired off a round....a few seconds later we heard a hard crash through some of the thicket and then all is quiet!! Craig and I were confident with the sound of things so he went back to get the tracker. A spot of blood here and there, but they were really tracking the prints. Don't know how they do it with all the tracks around in soft red sand!! Found where he crashed through the thicket, decent blood markings but not a lot. He made a hard left. We went about another 50 yards and it was quiet. So Craig back tracked a bit, but the tracker kept on going. A few seconds later he waved me over, and there SHE was piled up. The girlies grow bigger horns than the boys do on Gemsbok, which I did not know. After we dragged her out, Craig and the tracker got excited, I was excited for a successful hunt and also because it was my first African animal, but they were even more so. Apparently, this one is a monster. Typically, they shoot the trophy class Gemsbok around 34", give or take. Mine was 41 and 42 inches..... For me, that was just icing on the cake, as the hunt itself was the memory I was looking for.
Aug 15th – Shawn and I get up at the usual time, around 5:30, even though I am already up and ready to go by 4:30, I lay in bed waiting for the knock on the door. After having such a great hunt yesterday, I am finally starting to settle into the groove. The breakfast hit the spot, as usual, and the 4 of us (Craig, Hendrick, Shawn and I) were off to a new concession for Blue Wildebeest. The new property was not too far down the road, so we were there in about 15 minutes. It seems Pieter has hunting rights to just about everything close by. It was about 15 minutes into the drive and I spot some hooves in the underbrush of the trees and point them out to Craig. He immediately tapped on the roof and we piled off. The Blues were pretty close, so we started off on all 4s for this episode. They did not spot us as the bakke drove off and were just milling about in the trees. Craig and I kept on angling in on them, but they were moving away from us. Craig finally got a good spot to glass the bulls to see how big they were. He mentioned for sure there is one big one in there. We try to get a little closer….try. At about 140 yards out they finally stop and notice us. The one that Craig had spotted was staring straight at us, but at least profile. The grass was too tall for prone or sitting and the trees were too short to stand on sticks. So, I was going to go on Craig’s shoulder. As soon as I put the rifle up and located the bull in the scope, they were off. This was a fun stalk for sure and a great way to start off the morning. The next couple of hours were slow, just driving around and spotting various animals, but not more Blues. The wind picked up a bit and the animals were just sitting tight. We circled back to see if we can pick up the original bachelor herd of bulls that we had spotted. Craig picks up the tracks and off we go. About 5 minutes into the track, they lead us back out by the road. I notice Hendrick pointing down the road so I get Craig’s attention. Little did I know that the group was down on the road about a mile off. Craig had an idea as to where they were heading, but we had to go in the long way to get the wind in our favor. This time, the three of us (Craig, Shawn and I) pile off and start trekking across the thicket. We kept up a steady pace for about 10 minutes and Craig starting carefully placing his steps. We left Shawn by a tree as we approach a big clearing about 15 yards up. Craig and I crawl up to about 5 yards from the edge to stay in cover as we start to scout out the area. Sure enough, the bulls made there way right in front of us. There were about 15 bulls in total, and Craig immediately starting glassing them out to see which one had the most potential. A few minutes later, he identified the one that I was to try and take – of course, he was in the back! The next 5 minutes was just watching the group and see what the bull was going to do. Craig and I were constantly communicating to make sure that we were tracking the same bull. Finally, like Moses and the Red Sea, ½ the group went left and the other half went right leaving the big bull in the middle. The sticks were already up, so all I had to do is stand. Unfortunately, he is staring straight at us, and if we stand, he will spot us and I will not have a good shot straight on. So we wait a few minutes to see what will happen. A little bit of commotion and he goes sideways, so Craig and I stand. I have the gun up, scope covers open, safety off and ready. He is now an easy quartering away shot at about 120 yards and I get ready….Craig says WAIT, as a bull passes in front, ok shoot…..WAIT, as a bull passes in front, ok shoot……WAIT, c’mon!!! This happened several times; all the while the bull is quartering away, slowly moving off, now about 130 yards out. Finally, I get to squeeze a round off – a solid hit, in the ribs angling to the opposite shoulder. The group had no idea as to where the round came from so they just run in a tight circle and stay put. About the same time, Craig and I identify the wounded bull and wait for a follow up shot. Half of the group moves off and the wounded bull offers another shot. This time a little more severe quartering shot at about 150 yards, but another solid hit. Now he is barely moving, but to not let him suffer, Craig and I agree another shot to put him down. Now all I get is the rump at about 160 yards, but it is enough to do the job. What a tough critter! I was definitely satisfied with the hunt and this trophy. It will provide a solid memory for me. The Blue measured 28 ½ inches across, which Craig tells me is a great bull. Again, for me, the hunt is the trophy, a big measurement is just a bonus.
Aug 15th / Afternoon Hunt – Craig decides that today we will chase the Impala in the land across the road. There was nothing terribly noticeable about the hunt other than a good trophy for me. It seemed like we drove around on the bakke for hours before we even started seeing Impala. We made a turn where the power lines run through the land and I look behind us to see a large herd of Impala. Craig looks them all over and decides to move on as they were either too small or all does. Not two minutes later we crest a hill to have a herd just move into the tree line on our right. Without even slowing down so that they do not notice us, Craig and I jump off the truck while it keeps it’s running pace. I follow Craig’s lead, hunched down and scurrying towards some cover. Immediately, Craig puts the sticks up and points out the ram he was watching. He was standing about 40 yards out, staring at us sideways – an easy shot. As soon as I have the shot I want I squeeze the trigger, and the Impala falls over immediately. I was very thankful to be able to harvest such a beautiful animal. The tale of the tape put the ram at 22”. The only downside to this one is that the bullet must have hit a rib and tumbled instead of a straight through penetration. The bullet came out the base of the neck leaving a big hole and removed a lot of the hide. A shoulder mount for this one will not turn out so well. So, he will be a European mount with a rug. Still, good enough for me!
Aug 16th - Let's back track to a few months ago where Shawn was, let's say, reluctant to watch a hunting 'episode’ and she would admit that the idea of being out in the field hunting every day did not seem that appealing to her. After day 1, she was very excited to see me get a trophy and how much it had meant to me. Still, she will not shoot anything on her own but thought that the hunting part was exciting and would want to come everyday. Day 2, a fun hunt with a bit of drama involved, and her mood changed to; well maybe someday she could hunt something. Later in day 2 when I was out Impala hunting, we spotted a Steenbok, which was on my list, but at the very bottom. Craig asked if I wanted to fill the tag, and I said no because I was going to trade that one in for an Impala for Shawn to shoot and then stared at her because now she is on the spot......she said ok!! So, from never gone hunting or shooting a gun, she is going to take her very first animal in Africa!! Craig hooks her up with a sweet gig...a .243 with a suppressor on it. She target practices a bit this morning to get the hang of the rifle - not bad with 3 shots in a 2" pattern at 100 yards. Off we go to sit at the water hole. Wind is perfect in our face and we sit and watch birds and monkeys for the next 2 hours. We get out of the blind and see that the wind switched to behind us - nothing was going to come in with that. Off we go to the truck to find a different water hole. Not even 2 minutes down the road we spot some rams, and off they go. They were pretty close so I stayed behind but could see what was going on. The Impala were just moving out without slowing down. They hopped back on the truck, and again 2 minutes down the road they spot some more. About 120 yards out Craig has the ram spotted and asked Shawn if she can spot him in the scope. Literally, no hesitation what so ever..."Yup....bang." I could see the Impala trot off, he was hit very well. We get a little closer and Craig grabs the rifle to put it down - he was well hit with the first shot, just did not want it to run far, so Shawn's shot would have done it. Of course, her ram was an inch bigger on either side than mine, so she was happy. I was happy that she got to experience what hunting is all about. With African tradition, the first animal that you ever kill, you wear the blood on your forehead and eat the liver raw....well, she did get the blood on the forehead part....
Aug 16th – Afternoon Hunt - So, with me trading a tag in for Shawn, I am down to Kudu and Warthog. We head back to the same area that Shawn took the Impala for me to chase the Warties around. We see plenty of sows and young ones, small boars, some Bush Bucks, Kudu, Water Bucks, a nice herd of Zebra, lots of Impala, some Blesbok, and Steenboks. Seems like the hogs start running when they hear the truck coming. So, Craig decides to park the bakke and go for a walk. We probably walked 2 miles looking at different hogs - either sows or small boars. Finally, he spots a good one but could only see 1 tusk. Mind you, I turned down a monster driving in because it only had 1 tusk..... He was about 120 yards out facing away. I asked him if I just shoot him in the rump for the Texas heart shot, and he said no, wait for him to turn. So I wait, and wait, and wait...now he is about 150 yards out and he has a slight quartering angle and Craig gave me the go-ahead to take the shot. In the past when I was practicing shooting off sticks, I could never get a consistent pattern, maybe a 4" grouping at 100 yards at best (but, my sticks were not as solid as Craig’s). I was thinking in my head that this shot was going to be a bit of a challenge for me. The warthog standing about 18" off the ground and the dead grass about 12" off the ground.....so, I shot. Craig said I shot high, shoot again. As I rack the bolt out, it would not slide shut...I tried a couple of times and finally got it closed. Now he is running at 150 yards, still on the sticks.....not even sure if I hit him. Craig said shoot again...same thing, as I rack the bolt, it would not close...ARGH!!! WTH? I look down and my spring loaded scope cover rotated and interfered with the bolt action, but I got it closed. Now the hog stopped about 175 yards out to try and figure what is going on. I level the scope and squeeze again. Craig smiled and said good shot! To recap, my first shot was a good one, it was a severe quartering away and I shot him just in front of the hind quarters - it would have been a lethal blow. My next shot when he was running, not so well - shot him in the throat. Obviously the last shot that dropped him was a solid hit, right behind the shoulder. Fantastic hunt! I don't think he will make the record books, but that doesn't matter - the hunt was fantastic. 10 1/2" tusks on both sides. Tomorrow we have to get up at 4:30 to drive to the mountain property for Kudu - my prize that I most desperately want. There are plenty of Kudu down here, but I have the feeling that the bigger ones roam up there. With Jim and Cecil using bow/muzzle loader, they are limited on their shot distance. With the .300 win mag....I am not!!
Aug 17th – The three of us are up at 4:30 and excited about the new adventure coming up. The property is about 45 minutes drive from base camp, so by the time we are finished with breakfast and pick up Hendrick, we should be there just after the sun rises. We pull in and talk to the land owner for a quick second and then we are off. Craig just realized that he forgot his sticks in the other truck – not a big deal, we will figure something out. As we get close to the first watering hole, Craig and I jump off to walk up there to see what is roaming around. On the way, he spots a leopard track, nothing huge though. We get to the bend in the road and slowly walk up to the open area to find tracks galore, but no Kudu. Craig radios for the bakke to come and pick us up. We jump on the back and head to the rest of the property where we will be hunting. It is definitely a bit cooler today, and being in the high land is making it that much cooler. Hendrick pulls to the corner of the road and shuts off the truck. Craig tells us to take a few layers off as we will be heading up from here. It didn’t seem like it was too far of hike up. When we got to the top of the first ridge, I am glad I got rid of those extra clothes! What a view from up here…. Craig and I head to one edge of the flat top and glass around for a bit….nothing. We head to the other side…..nothing. We head to the last portion (which Craig later told me was his favorite – by the old Hyena den) and start to look around. I see a couple of Klipspringers bounding off of the rocks below. Craig calls me over to have a look at what he sees. Not the first ridge over, but the second ridge over is a group of Kudu; 3 bulls and about 6~8 cows. He looks at me with his usual smile and said that’s the one. So, the three of us bound off the side of the mountain and start making our trek of about 1200 yards across one ridge and up the 3rd. After a few minutes we are on top of the second ridge glassing the area for the bulls. Craig gets a little disappointed when he thinks they have moved off that side of the mountain to the other and then who knows to where. He can see one bull left and it looks like he is on his way over. Craig spends a few more minutes to be sure there are no stragglers left before we head over, otherwise they may blow the stalk. When we get a couple hundred yards out from where we have spotted them left, Craig starts watching his foot steps. I take his lead and follow right behind him. Shawn, who I was very surprised that she kept up with us stride for stride stayed behind to sit on a big rock and catch her breath. Craig and I round a brushy area on this side of the ridge, where, oddly enough is extremely flat. Craig comes to a halt, looks through his binos and motions for me to come right behind him. He points through some brush and I can see the Kudu staring straight at us. Craig asked if I can get a clean shot off his shoulder that I should take the shot. The plan seems easy enough. The Kudu is standing about 60 yards down and I can spot him in the scope pretty easy – not too much brush in the way. I whisper to Craig that I have a shot and then a second later I squeeze the trigger. As I was wracking the bolt out I looked up to see 4 hooves roll up in the air. I immediately smiled and Craig offered his congratulations. I didn’t even care how big he was, this was a solid hunt! Craig and I find the bull right where he was standing. I think Craig may be a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to hunting, as he was getting upset at the size of the bull. The tape comes out and he measures 45”, pretty much on both sides. For me, a great trophy….Craig, not so much. I think he finally started to understand that I was there for the experience, the hunt/stalk, and the memories; not necessarily the size of the animal. He assured me that it was a good bull, just not a monster that he was expecting. I told him, next time. This was the last animal in my package and I was starting to think that this hunt was going to be over (it wasn’t of course!!). You ever get to a place where you just know that one day you will be back? I already knew I was coming back, and Shawn too – we just didn’t know when yet. Now, getting the Kudu off the mountain was a challenge in itself. Shawn thought Craig was joking when he said he was going to cut the Kudu in ½!!
Aug 18th – Last night we all agreed that today would be a good day to sleep in. The mountain hunting and getting the Kudu off of that ridge down to the bakke was more than what we bargained for. Shawn and I went for a few walks around the property. Craig took us with him when he went out to feed the Sable. Right now, they have two breeding herds for their Sable program. These are definitely an elegant creature. I believe they have two or three hunting bulls released on their property, so this program is still young, but on their way.
Aug 19th – Craig has something special for Shawn and me today. There is a huge tract of land that they have hunting rights to, but they do not hunt over the water holes. So, we are going to sit on a ground blind, next to a water hole, with a picnic lunch, and take photos and videos. This was fantastic! We were seeing animals all day long. One particular note is that all of the animals (Kudu, Water Buck, Impala, Blue Wildebeest, Warthogs, and Ostrich) had no idea we were there. The lone Gemsbok that came in was stalking us. He came in to our right about 140 yards out and immediately started staring at us. He moved in another 10 yards and continued to stare. He did this all afternoon!! He would move from our field of view from 3 o’clock to 9 o’clock back and forth, not drinking, just staring at us. For 3 ½ hours!! When we get back to camp, I take a look at my finances to see what is possible. I don’t want to be spending the rest of my time at camp and not hunting, after all, I have 4 days left! I figured I can manage another Warthog and Impala in my budget. Hopefully that will last two more days.
Aug 20th – Back to the usual routine in the morning, and off to a new concession for Impala today. We drove around on the bakke for a bit before Craig says that we are going to get off and go for a walk. He has one of his favorite spots just around the corner. Shawn isn’t feeling so well, so she decides to stay behind with Hendrick and take a nap. Along the path Craig points out a few tracks that he is seeing – Baboon, Impala, Warthog and Hyena. Off into the thicket we go making our way to a clearing. There is a herd of Impala just on the other side, but nothing huge. The goal is to be at least bigger than my last Impala (hopefully that will make the hunts more challenging and last a bit longer). On a little bit further to see what is in the open field. Craig just chuckles as he starts counting….17, 18, 19, 20, 21 Warthogs that he can see. He just smiled and said, “Change of plan, today is Warthog day as there has got to be a good one in there.” He spends a few minutes looking at each one and finally comes up with the biggest of the bunch. Easy for me to identify as he is all the way to the right. We get a solid rest with the sticks and line up the shot, as he is poking out there a bit. Another small boar circles in front and I just have to wait for him to clear. Craig gives me the all clear and I squeeze the trigger. The boar rolls over onto his side and I rack the bolt just to be sure. Then you can see the mass confusion as all the hogs pick their head up, tails straight up and move out. There must have been close to 30 hogs in that field – what a site! Craig and I make our way over to the Warthog and he calls the truck in. Craig said that was a perfect shot – always nice to hear that your PH is pleased with your shot placements. As the truck rolls close, Shawn says “That does not look like an Impala!” Craig grabs the range finder and says that the tree we were under is at 170 yards. I guess all that practice came in handy! The hog is definitely a nice trophy and is a little bigger than my last, around 11” each side. 8:20 in the morning and today should be over with and push the Impala to tomorrow. But, you never know what is going to come out on your way out. So, I load the rifle back up and hop on the back as Hendrick makes his way out of the property. About 10 minutes into the drive, yup, a small group of Impala cross the road in front. Doe after doe after doe…..then, according to Craig, Grandpa! The truck doesn’t even slow as Craig and I bail off, trying not to spook the ram. They are going through the thick stuff, but I do have about a 5 yard opening around 40 yards out. Scope covers off, settle into the sticks, and watching him come through the woods. Craig and I are on the same page, the opening just in front I am going to throw a round down field. ;He steps into view, crosshairs on target, and squeeze…..the ram doesn’t even break stride and continues to march through the woods. It was at that point that I confirmed the safety on my rifle works. I laughed, and I am sure Craig was cussing in Afrikaans! For me, part of the adventure…..crap happens! If he was to guess, he said that ram would go between 26” to 28”, yup, a big boy. Craig mentions that he thinks he knows where the ram is off to, so we make a long u turn drive down to a different section. Sure enough, Impala straight ahead. All three of us pile off and slowly walk up into the brush. Craig gets down low to look at the horns and then puts the sticks up. He asks if I can see the Impala standing in the brush and to take a shot in the chest as he is facing us. Standing, you can’t see the head, so I asked Craig if that was him, he said yes and shoot. This time the safety goes off and I squeeze the trigger. An easy shot I suppose, about 40 yards out straight on. Craig leads the way into the brush to get on the trail of the ram. It didn’t take long as he was piled up about 30 yards away. I take one look at him and feel satisfied. Not necessarily a difficult hunt, but it was a good one for me. Craig starts apologizing since it is not the same ram. I think it took a bit of coercion for Craig to finally believe that I am not horn hunting – anything large is just a bonus for me. It turns out that he is about the same size as my first. I actually smile at him and tell him that is perfect! I always wanted two Impala European mounts that were the same size! It took a bit of time, but Craig started smiling again. I can understand where he is coming from, from a PH’s point of view that we clients have to rely on them heavily to pick out the trophies. Nobody is perfect and that is why they call it hunting and not shooting. So much for hunting tomorrow….both trophies loaded by 9:30 – back to the lodge. Craig and I sit around and just talk for about an hour on everything that has happened the past week and how much fun we all had. The topic of the VAT came up and I wasn’t completely clear on what I would need to pay for. Turns out, I brought too much money for the VAT and now I could use that for something else – tough choice!! I figure either Steenbok or Blesbok as I do not have either of those trophies yet.
Aug 21st – The weather seems to be holding pretty consistent – a slight breeze in the morning and no clouds. After a light breakfast, we have a short drive across the road back to the first property that we hunted. Excited and disappointed about today being the last day to hunt, we all hop up on the back of the bakke as Hendrick starts meandering down the trails. Craig giving him directions at all the crossroads, we end up on the far side of the property by the power lines. As we round the corner, Craig gets a little excited as he spots a Gray Duiker. Apparently, being that they are mostly nocturnal, he thought it was a surprise to see him as we were off to a later start today. He casually mentions that he is a decent buck if I wanted to take him. Part of me wanted to and another part just wanted to stretch out the hunt as long as possible. The Duiker made my mind up as I hesitated just long enough for him to bounce out of view. I would say that we were driving for about ½ hour before Craig pipes up and says the Blesbok are not over here, and we are just going for a drive to check out the watering holes. Another hunter clipped an Eland a couple of nights ago (I know, Eland as big as a barn….but there is more to this story!!) and we ere just seeing if we bumped into him. All holes had Water Bucks, Red Hartebeest, Impala, or cow Elands – no bulls; so off we went in search of the Blesbok. Once we get pretty close to the open land, critters starting scattering all over. The three of us hop off and Hendrick drove off trying to throw off the herds. We spot Impala, Red Hartebeest, and the Blesbok a couple hundred yards off. The first stalk was a short one as a neighboring Impala blew our cover and everything scattered. As the Blesbok took off, so did Craig trying to parallel them. Fortunately for us, they did not run very far and slow up and allow us to stalk them again. The wind is right in our face and we can see the Impala coming with the Blesbok right behind them. Both of the groups settle down a bit and the Impala move off. Craig begins looking at all the bucks to see if there is a good one in the group and hey get a little jittery like they are going to run off again. Craig and I just sit on the ground and wait for them to calm down. Craig told me to get my bi-pods extended while I was sitting there as a nice Blesbok is starting to make his way through. I was fortunate that he cleared the tree and then just stood there broadside. Craig ranged him at 150 yards and asked if I can get through the brush. I put the scope on him and it looked clear, but who knows, right? I took a deep breath and squeezed the trigger, and as I was re-loading, I can see the herd move off. There was one that was trailing the group with his tail flat out, which I assumed was him. I told Craig I thought it was a good shot, but with all the brush in the way we would have to wait and see. Shawn started to get worried; now that she knows the game if you draw blood on an animal you have to pay for it regardless if you find it. Off we go to where he was standing to see how everything panned out. We would walk a few yards and Craig would watch the herd. I think we get to the spot and Craig starts looking for any traces of a hit. I happen to find a spot of blood on the ground, not much, but at least a start. A few feet away, more blood. This time the blood was bright, bubbly red – a lung shot which made me feel a whole lot better. From here, Shawn was getting into it as she did not want to lose an animal either. She would be right by me and point out the blood trail. It was an easy trail to follow at this point, but I let her take the lead and I enjoyed watching her getting into the hunt. We followed the trail for about a 100 yards and he was piled up under a tree. These are the hunts that I will remember; identifying the game, stalking them, and playing cat and mouse waiting for the right opportunity to pounce. Craig and Hendrick smile as they get the tape out, 16 ½ inches on both sides, which will put him into the books. As we all climbed back on the bakke, Shawn and I mentioned to Craig that we would be back and the three of us started planning the hunt packages already. It will take a few years (four I am predicting), but we will be here.
(Shawn) Before arriving to Africa, my thought of hunting was very different than what I experienced. I didn't really understand the difference between hunting and shooting. That was until I went on the first hunt with Andrew and Craig. As soon as we arrived on the property we were hunting, there was a Gemsbok standing in the road. I was thinking...shoot it! But then Andrew said how that would not be hunting. Andrew and Craig did jump off the Bakke and try to track the Gemsbok, which has since ran away, but had no luck. It wasn't until day two when we were hunting Blue Wildebeest that I really understood the meaning of hunting. All three of us walked through brush, I got stuck in the thorn trees, and we crawled on the ground...all just to approach a wildebeest without the herd smelling and/or seeing us. That was a hunt!
Andrew mentioned he wanted me to shoot something...there was no way I was shooting an animal! I was asked again and my thoughts were...maybe. Then I was put on the spot, on day two, when we passed a steenbok and Craig asked Andrew if he wanted to shoot it. Andrew said he didn't think so because he was going to substitute that one for me to shoot a Warthog or Impala. I had to make a decision right then, otherwise he would miss the opportunity as we didn't see many of the Steenbok. So I got the guts and said, "I guess so". That was all it took. The next morning Craig had his rifle out at the shooting hut, I looked in the scope where he said to, and pulled the trigger...bull’s-eye! I shot three times, all right by each other, and then off we went. We sat at a watering hole hoping for Impala to come in but the wind was not on our side. After two hours and no animals, we got down and headed down the road. Not five minutes later, we spotted a small herd of Impala. Craig and I stepped down off the bakke and headed towards them. They spotted us and took of running. Back on the truck...around the corner of some brush, we spotted some more. We walked a few yards and Craig set up his sticks. I rested the rifle on the sticks, Craig asked if I could see the one he pointed out, I said yes and cablammo!! I hit it. We headed off in the direction the Impala ran. Craig spotted him laying about 50 yards away but he was still trying to get up. Craig grabbed the rifle from me and put another shot in him so he wouldn't run. We approached him. As we got closer, I saw he was still alive but couldn't move. The poor guy turned his head and I saw his face. I wanted to cry because now I felt bad, but the adrenaline was going and I was too excited to cry. After Craig put him out of his misery, I walked up to the Impala and told him I was so sorry. I know, not a "hunter" thing to do but it was a "chick hunter" thing to do. I was then informed by Craig that African tradition was the hunter gets marked by the animal's blood of the first ever kill...and the hunter eats part of the raw liver of the animal. I don't think so. I didn't even want the blood but I okayed the marking...on my forehead. I washed it off in the shower once we returned to the lodge. Now it was time for Craig to measure the horns. My Impala measured 22.5" and 23", bigger than Andrew's. Beginner's luck, what can I say? Andrew shot another Impala but mine was still bigger. I can't wait to come back and shoot some more. What has Africa done to me?
CECIL ZIMMERMAN – Texas
Animals taken – 2 – Impala*, Blue Wildebeest*, Gemsbok*, Blesbok*, Kudu* (52 ¾”), Warthog*, Eland*
Arrival Date: Flew in day before and stayed at the Afton House. Everything went smooth though airports, customs and getting gun permit. Bob, the booking agent does a great job preparing you for anything and everything to get you there and back. One of Cruiser’s Ph’s picked me and others hunters up for the trip to camp. Upon arrival we were greeted and had a great fruit drink. Our bags, guns, and bow case were brought in to lodge. We were assigned rooms and settled in. Out to range to check guns. The only problem I had was I shoot muzzleloaders and they had brought pistol powder. Pieter made some calls and found some at another concession.
Day 1) My Ph, Juan and I drove hour and a half one way to get the black powder. She said she didn’t have the new type, just the old. Brought and returned to camp. Sighted the rifles at 100 yds. Best I could get was a 6” group. Couldn’t get the ballistics of the powder to work with my Leupold Ultimate Slam scopes. Had lunch, and then off for 1st hunt. Shortly after entering the concession we saw a herd of Impala. Off the truck and stalking though the brush. We saw three Eland, switched to stalk them. After about 10 minutes the Eland disappeared. Back to stalking the Impala Ph spotted a narrow cleaning they might cross. Set up on sticks. As they filtered though the opening a nice ram stepped out in opening. I shot at him at 30 yds. And he dropped like a rock. I had shot though a limb, deflecting the bullet and hit him in middle of backbone. Worked for me. Juan went for truck. Took photos, went back to camp. Had a great dinner and fellowship with the other hunters.
Day 2) Went to same concession as yesterday. Located a herd of Blue Wildebeest along a brush line. Off the truck and stalk is on. Followed the herd through the brush not getting a shot. They then moved out into a big clearing stopping at a 100 yds. Waited at the brush line until a nice bull separated from the group, took the shot. He ran about 30 yds. Took photos and back to camp. Return back to same property; sit at a water hole to wait for Warthogs. Saw 125-150 Impala and 90-100 hogs, none large enough to shot.
Day 3) Went to same concession drove and stalked until noon. Return to camp for lunch and nap. Went to another concession to wait for Kudu to feed. Saw 15 cows and young bulls, no old bulls.
Day 4) Went to another concession to hunt for Blesbok. Spotted a herd, Ph had the driver to keep going until out of sight. Off the truck and stalk back on them. Got with in 90 yds in the semi clear country. Off sticks made a frontal shot and he dropped in his track. Photos and headed for camp. Spotted an Eland bull, went on by him got off the truck. Ph and I walked a ways and waited for him. About 5 minutes he crossed the opening 40 yds. away. Shot him off Ph’s shoulder, he ran only 35 yds. Photos and back to camp. Return to same concession sit at a water hole looking for Eland, none came. Went back to concession to hunt for Kudu. Saw 12 cows and young bulls, then two older bulls came in. Took a shot at one bull. Found no sign of blood, getting dark, returned to camp.
Day 5) Returned to look for Kudu finding no blood the tracker went back to where I had shot at him and saw I had hit low on the tough the bull had been standing by. We figured I had hit a wire on an old cattle fence deflecting my bullet. Went back to sit for Eland bull. None came, back to lodge for lunch and a nap. Back to concession to hunt for Kudu. They all started coming in followed by same two older males the same one I had shot at day before. I ask the Ph if he though he would go over 50”, he didn’t think he would. Nice bull so I decided to shot at him any way. He would never turn so I took a frontal shot at 100 plus yards, dropped in his tracks. A great shot in anybodies book. As we got closer to him the bigger he got. Great bull measuring over 51” both sides with massive bases.
Day 6) Went back to sit for Eland, hour and a half later 4 bulls came in. After looking them over I took shot at one at 84 yds. He ran and never stops. Hour later Ph found 6 drop of skin blood ½ mile away. Another joined us for the search. After 45 minutes the two Ph’s found the 4 bulls but couldn’t tell which one was hit. .At this point I had to pay for him so I decided to sit the same water hole hoping he would return.
Day 7) Sit at water hole from 7:30 AM -5 PM Saw all species of game, but no Eland
Day 8) Took morning off Eland search, went to another property to hunt for Warthogs and another Impala. This was hilly and had a dry creek running though it. Ph and I got off truck and stalk upon a meadow with tall grass in it. There were hogs rooting in tall grass. After Juan found a nice boar at 90-100 yds. Made a good shot off sticks. Off to look for an Impala, saw several herds then a group of three males moving up a hill. Ph told me to shot the 2nd one when he crossed a small clearing. At the shot he ran. We went up the hill and found him 10 yards away. What a surprise, he was a giant, wide and 26” on each side. Took animals back to camp. After lunch back to set for Eland, no luck.
Day 9) Set at water hole for Eland. Saw a lot of game, thought about shooting a Red Hartebeest but didn’t want to spook Eland.
Day 10) Last day, back to water hole for Eland. Twenty minutes before dark the 4 bulls came in and milled around water hole. One bull was a non shooter, one was brown, and one the Ph said was too small and wouldn’t have told me to shoot that one. The other we couldn’t see a wound or dried blood. Juan told me it was up to me, if I shot him and no hole it was going to cost. I felt he was the one so took the shot. Ran about 80 yds. and went down. As you can guess 1st thing we did was look for a hole. After a few minutes we found I had shot him though the skin at top of shoulders. Not the way I planned the trip but it all worked out in the end.
Enjoyable trip, Thanks Cruiser Safaris.
JIM KELLY – Montana
Animals taken (bow) – Impala*, Kudu, Blue Wildebeest*, Warthog*
NATHANIEL GREENWOOD & his daughter HEIDI – Idaho
Animals taken – Kudu, Gemsbok*, Impala*, Warthog
No Hunt Photos Available
DARRELL STERLING – New York
Animals taken – Gemsbok*, 2 – Blesbok*, Red Hartebeest*, Impala*, Kudu, Blue Wildebeest*, 2 – Warthog*, Porcupine
The owners of Cruiser Safaris truly offer an unforgettable hunting experience. I have dreamed most of my adult life of hunting in Africa. I have read books, studied and searched the Internet in search of the perfect outfitter who could make my dreams come true. I came to South Africa with high expectations but the hunting, service, cuisine, accommodations and PH’s far surpassed anything I could have envisioned. I had decided to book the ten day safari package so I could give myself plenty of time to attempt to harvest the 6 animals that I was after. The game is so plentiful and the PH’s are so skillful that I was able to easily collect the trophies that I was after. I wound up taking 10 animals, the majority of which will make the SCI record books. I asked Pieter if he owned a tranquilizing gun because I was pretty sure that they were going to need to use it on me to get me out of the bush. I had that much fun. The food was fantastic and I ate like a king. I am a picky eater but had no problems wolfing down 2nd helpings of everything that was served. The other hunters I met were wonderful people and it was a joy spending time with them. I enjoyed every aspect of my Safari and I look forward to hunting again someday with Cruiser Safaris. The outfitter who is truly capable of making dreams come true.
STAN & ROSALIE BERNARD – Ohio
Animals taken – Blue Wildebeest*, Eland*, Gemsbok*, 3 – Warthog*, Kudu* (53 ¾”), 2 – Impala*, Red Hartebeest*, Blesbok*, Waterbuck*
No Hunt Photos Available
(Rosalie) The flight is long but will be rewarded with a wonderful experience at Cruiser Safari Camp. My husband, Stan, got some amazing, record book animals. I've never seen him happier than he was at camp. The camp staff is very warm and inviting. If you are an observer, join the hunt in the morning and then you can return in the afternoon for leisure reading, visiting with others, hiking around the camp, etc. You will love the experience.
TOM & SUSAN TEAGUE – Texas
Animals taken – Blue Wildebeest*, 2 – Impala*, Warthog, Blesbok*, Zebra, Kudu* (52 ½”), Eland*
(Susan) Let me preface this story :1) so no one will think that Tom is lazy or that the hunt isn't hard or real. 2) Tom has stage 3 inoperable lung cancer and a bad heart. He has been given a limited time to enjoy the rest of his life, and Cruisers Safari did more than provide him with this opportunity. When we left Amarillo Tom couldn't walk around the block without being winded. He had just finished 30 radiation treatments and 9 big chemo treatments. He has still not got his strength back. He is a very proud man and wouldn't admit that he wasn't fit as a fiddle. Tom had gotten his want list filled and had decided that he wanted to hunt for Eland. The story begins on Wednesday, August 29th, 2012. 08:30 heard the first gun shot. No chatter on the radio yet. He (Tom) either missed or they are tracking which is never good news. Hoping it was a goo clean shot. 08:33 Call for radio for Carl to come. Tom got a Zebra. It is a beauty. 12:00 Lunch and nap. 2:30 p.m. out to hunt Eland. 4:45 The guys have gone walkabout and left me to manage the truck- YIKES- 4:48 Think? I may have heard 2 shots. No chatter on the radio. Hope I don't make a fool of myself trying to drive this truck. Continue to play solitaire as the guys have said they will call on the truck if and when they need me. 5:00 No didn't hear gun shots- looked up and here come Carl running down the road and I am playing solitaire. Carl is sweating and making the sign to hurry and stick it in 2nd gear and come. Well they were supposed to call.lol What a fiasco. Now we have stopped again. Guess I had better pay better attention. 6:30 sundown. No luck today so we are going back to the lodge for the night. It was a long day for everyone. Thursday, August 30, 2012. 0700 Left to hunt 09:45 After sitting in the blind for a while Tom and Johan talked and Tom decided to take the Impala with the broken horn. It will make a beautiful skin and the unbroken horn is huge. After pictures we go back to the lodge for lunch. 12:30 Tom and Johan decide to hunt again for the Eland. 3:30 Sitting in the truck with Andries and Carl. Tom and Johan have gone walk about stalking the game. It's strange sitting here in the silence listening to Carl and Andres visit in their native language. Makes me very sleepy. It must be in the mid 80's and Andres has on a heavy long sleeved polo shirt, heavy camo jacket, long pants and boots and socks. He isn't even breaking a sweat. 4:30 Nothing yet. 5:30 Carl and Johan build a blind. That was amazing to watch. Tom and Johan are left behind to watch for Eland. The "boys" and I go off to just sit and be quiet. 5:30 no animals are seen. We leave for the house for supper and rest. Friday, August 31,2012 06:30 Tom and Johan are off to sit in the blind and hunt for Eland today. I have stayed at the camp to rest. Took long hot bath and visited with Amayla, then went for relaxing walk with Lizelle and Aimee. Then just sat and read and rested. 7:30 p.m. Tom and Johan back. No Eland today. BBQ tonight. Teaser: Eland stuffed with feta and spinach. Oh my is it delicious. Saturday 06:30 Tom and Johan have gone to hunt Eland again. Tom is very determined. It is now 11:30, Tom and Johan arrive for lunch. No Eland yet. Tom has a nap and they are back out at 2:45 Tom, Johan and Henrique have gone to hunt as Carl is off today. 3; 15 Saw Eland as they came to clearing. Johan is still driving at this time. Tom and Johan bail out of truck and hid behind some brush. Tom and Johan crawled up on a nearby water tower to scout and see if they can see where the Eland have gone to. No sightings, darn. 3:30 Tom and Henrique have gone out into the brush to see if they can track them. Tom is to wait until Johan returns. Tracker is left to continue to track and Tom and Johan circle around to head off the Eland. They see the Eland up ahead. The big bull enters the clearing. Tom squeezes the trigger and Johan whistles. The Eland is hit in the left front shoulder. The leg was not broken. The Eland jumped up in the front and he lunged to the front. They waited and went to get the tracker. They marked where the Eland went in by putting a mark in the sand. 4:00 Tracker was picked up, and they started to track him. They saw where he had laid down and had gotten back up. 4:20 They called for more trackers and a dog. Dogs were sent out, Johan and tracker are following the dog. Tom and Craig are following in the truck. Johan calls and says that dogs have found the Eland. Tom and Craig head out in the bush. They are running and Tom has to stop. Tom then walks, then he is crawling as he has run out of breath and can not walk any more. Craig actually picks him up and piggy backs him. Tom catches his breath and then has to be carried again before they finally reach the Eland. Tom shoots again and hits him in the hip. The Eland takes off. The Eland and Tom are both finished. The end shot to the neck ends it for both of them. 6:10 Back at the lodge. The majestic eland has gone for processing. 34 1/2 inch horn. Biggest Eland of the hunt. The Eland is blue instead of grey which shows he was a very mature bull. Tom is very happy. Everyone is exhausted. The amazing compassion of the Cruisers Safari group made Tom's dream come true. What an amazing group of men and women they are.
CHRIS MOTTS – Minnesota
Animals taken – Zebra, Warthog*, 2 – Impala*, Eland*, Blue Wildebeest*, Gemsbok, Nyala*, Bushbuck*, Waterbuck*, Kudu* (59 7/8”), Blesbok*
After Returning from South Africa here are the cliff notes from my hunt.
I started out arriving in Africa and was greeted at the airport by the representatives from the Afton Guest House. A good steak and meal and I was fast off to sleep. The next day I was greeted to a great breakfast and than a 4 hour drive to camp in Limpopo. A nice greeting from DelMarie with fresh orange juice. Then off to the range for a quick shoot. I met my guide Johan (the younger) and an offer to start hunting early. Of course! We went out looking to see what we could see. I saw a group of zebra. Low and behold, a good stallion was amongst the group. 2 shots later, we were posing for pictures.
Next day, we went looking for eland. Much, much looking and a lot of stalking but to no avail. A nice warthog though made it to the list and we were once again posing for pictures. After a great meal the next day I was out looking for eland. We walked the dried up river and found ourselves in front of numerous impala and a few kudu. A very good impala counted for the next picture which was an excellent representation.
Over the next few days we spotted and stalked numerous animals. New properties and waterholes were viewed but neither waterbuck nor eland succumbed. We went to the mountains then for Kudu and Klipspringer. We saw much of both, passed on a mature 50 inch bull kudu. We also saw a very good bull but I was neither quick nor stealthy enough to get the job done. We sat in a stand way up a tree. When I first saw this, I had visions of climbing down in the dark and missing one of the spike pegs in the tree and sliding down straddling it. I imagined trying to explain to my wife how we would not be able to have children. Alas, my fear was not warranted. By now I was convinced my guide was extremely gifted but would later find out just how accomplished he really was.
We than tried the next day another area for eland. I haven’t had to run like this since I was younger. What a flab I am. After much thirst and thorn and chasing eland with the ever present encounter with wildebeest and zebra, the moment came. In less than a second or two, I threw the gun to the sticks found the mark and let it fly. Visibly hit and in a cloud of dust the chase was on. And on. And on, and on some more. This is where the skills above mentioned came into play. There is something to say about someone who can track. Even to see blood and minute detail. But someone that can follow dry spore on a group, differentiate the individual, and follow through a myriad of tracks on the run is beyond words. After over an hour the bull was separate but not expended. A few quick shots and I had a great prize. Later on that day we found a great blue wildebeest. Unfortunately another stalk was before us. Upset with myself, I was thankful my PH was more competent than I. For his skills found the 31 inch bull and all we could say was Wow when we got to him.
The next few days entailed a few stalks and the acquisition of a Bull Oryx, a Nyala, and after a quick shot a beautiful bushbuck ram. How elated and fortunate I viewed myself. We went back to looking for waterbuck. Looking here, stalking there and finding immature bulls (even though they looked dang fine to me).
The next morning we connected. (PH)Shoot. (ME)Where? (PH)There Shoot! (ME)Jesus, where! (PH)Luk der in da reeds. See da harns? (ME)I think? Then the shadow came to resemble a waterbuck. I flipped to the sticks and let her rip where I thought. I should have just turned around and ripped something else his way because it would have been more effective. Back to the track and another shot later and we procured a couple of hounds. They quickly got on the spore and we had a cornered bull who later donated his tongue to the lead dog blue. Later that day we went for Blesbok. Much the same as antelope hunts out in Wyoming, these guys are pretty cool. We chased and stalked and failed and wished we had knee pads. But just at dark a nice shot off the bipod was all that was needed to pose for that picture.
The second to the last day, I was thinking of what I should do with the money I saved from not getting a Kudu. We found ourselves back on the mountain property dodging and weaving thorns. I was contemplating going for Musk ox next year. All of a sudden I got a solid slap on the shoulder and a “(PH) Git da gon hurree” What happened next just seems like a blur. A blur of big honken Kudu. Run Run Run. Run some more. “(PH) Tak da second one. Now as he comes to da clearing”. BOOM. We ran to the spot and found no blood… I SUCK. Quickly Johan found dry spoor. Off we went. Alone the bull was after a great track. One more shot and a quick run to the bull. OH MY GOD. Is all I heard. The field measurement said 60 1/8. Later we measured after capping to 59 7/8. I could care less either way. He was absolutely super. Just awesome. I really didn’t expect to get something like this. We got cleaned up and off to retrieve the sticks we left on another property and to look for another impala. After talking about the day we ran into my final animal, a good ram. Taking the pictures of the ram, I felt very thankful that I had chosen Cruiser Safaris. As we were driving back to camp I reminisced about the skills my PH had on the hunt with tracking, animal spotting in thick bush, and careful observation to sign and all situations. I felt very humbled to say the least. OOPs. We forgot the sticks again back on the property. A great experience!!
DELLAS WEIDMAN – Alberta, Canada
Animals taken – Kudu* (52 ¼”), Gemsbok, Blue Wildebeest*, Impala*, Warthog*, Red Hartebeest*, Blesbok*
VIC HILDERBRANDT – Alberta, Canada
Animals taken – Zebra, Blesbok*, Impala*, Blue Wildebeest*, Kudu, Steenbok*, Warthog
(Dellas) On a snowy day in October, my friend Victor Hildebrant and I were hunting south of our town in Alberta. It was cold, the snow was getting thicker and we were wondering as to whether or not to head back to town, which was approximately 120 km north of us. Vic turned to me and said, "we should go" and I responded, "its not so bad, we can hunker down and wait until dark" as I had spotted some Elk on the cut we were on and was hoping to get down to where I thought they were bedded down. He said "No, I mean we should book a trip to hunt in South Africa maybe next year". I said I would give it some thought and spent the next couple of months searching out areas to go and Safaris services to book with. Vic did the same. We compared notes, sent some inquiries out to previous customers of different Safaris groups, and spoke with a few different friends that had gone before. Vic had found Cruiser Safaris and everything we had read and found out from previous customers, plus the pricing for a package hunt, led us down that path and we contacted Bob Clark for the booking. Some items we had to deal with in Canada is the export permit for our rifles, but once we found the correct department in Ottawa it didn’t take long to get a permit. Bob gave us the remainder of the info we needed and so it was a matter of waiting for the time for the trip. It came fast, and soon we were on our way. From Calgary - 4 hours wait and then on to Frankfurt (Best way to travel from Canada, as you can check your gun straight through to South Africa - In Amsterdam and London, you would need to collect your firearm and recheck it through to your final destination). We arrived in Frankfurt early in the morning the next day and with a 7 hour wait until the flight out, we decided to get a day room at the SAS hotel in the airport. The rest did us good and we were in good form when we arrived the following morning in Johannesburg. We collected our luggage and firearms and were sent to the South African police to get our temporary permit - Bob had sent us the forms and how to fill out before we left Canada. Johan, from Cruiser Safaris was there to meet us and took us to the location for our permit and after, picked us up for the trip to the lodge. We picked up 2 more hunters from the US, Chris from Minnesota, Jason and Jason’s wife Anna, from Louisiana. These were good people and fun to be with. Chris had hunted in Africa before and was an avid hunter. Jason was an avid hunter as well and provided us with lots of stories from his area as the Swamp People was filmed not far from where he lived. We arrived at the lodge around 3:00 PM and lunch was ready for us. We spent some time in the afternoon checking our rifles and re sighting them in. Chris could not wait to get out in the field and so he and another Johan went afield looking for a Zebra. We finished sighting in our rifles and Chris showed up with a nice Zebra, we were all excited and had to go look. First kill of the hunt. All the hunters were introduced to their PH with the exception of me; I was to meet Hans in the morning when I was picked up for the day.
We met at 6:30 AM, had some breakfast (Which was prepared and left out on hot plate for us by DelMarie)and we headed for the first concession looking for Gemsbok. We hunted throughout the morning, walking through dense underbrush, we spotted a nice bull but I had made too quick of a move and had scared him off. We tracked on him for the better part of an hour but no luck. We walked through the area the remainder of the morning with no luck. Lunch was prepared by DelMarie and send out with us - we ate and drove around the property looking for a suitable area for the afternoon. Hans had spotted some tracks that led into the bush and we set off in search of the animal. After approximately an hour he spotted some animals (I could not see them) and we started the stalk. Hans got me within 80 yards and we waited, these were in heavy cover and we could not risk going in there for fear we would scare them off. It seemed like forever before we got some movement, and just when I thought we would never see them, one stepped out in a little clearing. Hans gave me the word and I shot her (It was a female, she started to run and I shot her again, she went down and for a moment I thought Hans was happier than I was. We had to get some photos right away and he spent a great deal of time propping up her head and putting her legs under her, etc... It was a fitting end to day one, or so I thought. We dropped off our animal at the skinning area and Hans explained that there was still time to hunt and wanted to know if I was up for it. I was. Pieter sent us to a concession close to the lodge and as luck would have it we put up a large Red Hartebeest bull, and I quickly shot him. Hans was very happy with my shooting and with our animal. We had to prep him for the necessary photo op and then dispatched him to the skinning area. I was bloody, tired, and very satisfied on day one.
Day two: We head back to the 1st concession we had hunted for Gemsbok, looking for a blue wildebeest. We didn’t have long before we saw a number of small herds. We spent the morning tracking in on a large bull, only to find out that he was big but had broken a horn off on one side. It was good the Hans was on his game as I had not seen the broken horn and was amazed at his size. We spent the remainder of the day trying to sneak in on some decent bulls only to be found out and have them leave in a hurry. Towards the end of the day we spotted 2 bulls that were not in with a group and tracked within 100 yards - we got a clean shot and anchored our animal. The photo op took some time and that’s how the day ended - success.
Day three: Impala hunting in a nearby concession, we quickly put up a nice Impala buck early in the morning and with some skillful stalking by Hans, had put us in a good shooting position where he believed the animal would cross. He did cross with a number of others but he stopped to look in our direction while the other animals passed him and we got our shot. Again HANS was a s happy as a school girl with a ice cream cone in the middle of a hot afternoon. We were both happy. Of course we had to prop his head up and get the right angle for the photo shoot and then off to the skinners. We still had the afternoon, so after lunch we went to another concession looking for Blesbok. There were an abundance of nice animals and it wasn't long before we had a nice animal down. This time however, I had shot before Hans had given me the word and I think I hurt his eardrums, I had to apologize as I know how that goes. He was a trooper though and did not chastise me for an early shot and again he was as happy as I was with the animal.
Day 4 and 5: We head out for Kudu in the North area. This was a large concession that still had cattle on it which led to a lot of gates and an area the was hard to hunt due to its area and fences. We hunted on this property for 2 days without success, we did see some animals but they were usually running while we were stumbling to get a look. We abandoned this area as Hans could see I was getting a little discouraged (It was also 30 degrees C for the 2 days we were there).
Day 6: We head out for Kudu once again to another property that has promise. We set up in a blind where Kudu are coming in to feed and water and in the evening we encounter 3 nice bulls, some cows, and a few smaller bulls. By now I am excited to shoot a Kudu as there are such a majestic animal but Hans says nope, too small. We leave after dark without the elusive Kudu.
Day 7: Off to a new Kudu area that holds promise. This is a mountain area with a valley, lots of area to roam about. We climbed small mountain outcroppings after outcropping until my legs and knees had almost given out but no complaining from this cat. We spotted a pair of nice animals early in the morning on the way in and Hans said there was a shootable animal in the group and we would be getting him sooner or later. Well we didn't get him on this day so we would have to see what tomorrow would bring. No Kudu today for us. On the way home, I had a sinking feeling on the Kudu hunting and with 3 days left, was a little unsure of the outcome. Pieter must have either heard from Hans on the outcome over the last few days on the lack of Kudu or seen my sagging shoulders as I came in, but whatever it was he gave me a reassuring nod and later told me that Kudu were elusive but we would get an good animal. If Hans says we’re going to get a nice animal then we are going to get a nice animal.
Day 8: Back to the mountains again with determination that we will anchor this animal. Hans picks up on some tracks and within 2 hours Hans has me on a clump of bush that has a Kudu in it, so he says. I cannot see anything but after hunting with Hans for 7 days, I know there is an animal there. He points to a tree and tells me to look just to the right of it, "see that gray patch" he says. I say, "that’s a piece of bark from another tree beside it". He assures me it is not and to hold on that patch and soon it will move. He tells me "As soon as it moves, shoot it". It moves, I shoot, he spins around and comes toward us. Evidence that I shot low, high, behind, or in front of him. But my luck holds and he is in the open running towards us, I shoot him in the chest and he drops to the ground, dead before he hit. Big happy day for both of us. More photo shooting and then the long process of getting the truck in to where we were and getting the animal back to the skinning area. We arrive late in the afternoon, smiles by all. I spend the remainder of the afternoon with Christian and his monitor lizard that had touched the electric fence and was barely conscious, and his 2 pet mongoose.
Day 9: Warthog hunt day. We spent the day on a very large concession with a mixture of Giraffe, Zebra, Wildebeest, Eland, Ostrich, Waterbuck, Impala, and Warthog. We saw a number of Warthogs, but nothing big enough to satisfy Hans, so we continued on for the remainder of the day, walk, crawl, spot, and not big enough to shoot or the pig scrambled away before we got a shot. No pig today.
Day 10: Warthog do or die day. No pigs all day, too much wind. Late in the day we spot a nice pig that we had seen early on the day before and didn't get a shot. I took a long shot across the open area, but missed him. Hans and I scrambled across the opening and Hans quickly picked up on his tracks. We walked fast on the tracks as the sun was going down and managed to get in an area where Has thought he would be. We snuck in to the area, thick with thorns and grass that seemed to crunch under our boots like dried leaves. We are on the evening of the last day of hunting, its go time for us. We stand still and just when I thought this would be it, no warthog, he pokes his nose out of a small bush not 20 yards from where we were standing. Hans points and I place a shot through the bushes where his shoulder should be and he lets out a squeal and takes off. He goes about 20 yards and drops to the ground, I put another shot into him between the shoulder blades and its over. The fitting end to a great hunt. More photo op in the late setting sun and we are off to the skinning area and home for supper. Pieter meets us for supper as he does every evening, I get a pat on the back and a firm hand shake and we set down to eat. The general grace, thankful for all good things, amen and we eat the final supper with our new family. We spend the evening talking about the hunting trip and the things we have seen. We pick a few things to buy from a small curio cabinet of jewelry and souvenirs for family. Tips are handed out for the trackers and skinners, earlier in the day I had passed an envelope to Hans for his persistence in the hunting and for keeping my spirits up throughout it all. Tip for DelMarie (Tiny) who had kept us fed and seemed always to be available for anything we needed. I finished my business with Pieter on the outstanding money owed for VAT (Value added tax) and made arrangements to send Bob the extra money for the Red Hartebeest that was taken as an extra animal on the hunt.
Day 11: Back to Johannesburg. Up early in the morning, breakfast of Eggs, Toast, Sausages, bacon and potatoes. After breakfast Pieter has offered to take me on a tour of the animals he is currently raising on the main concession, and I eagerly accept. We visit his Sable, which are beautiful. His Cape buffalo that he is raising, and hopes to have some suitable shooters in 7 to 8 years, and a number of others. He has done a wonderful job of turning a cattle business to a hunting business in 17 years. And Bob Clark who is doing an amazing job getting information out to us, the hunters, with an affordable hunting experience. Johan took Chris Motts, Vic Hildebrant and myself back to Johannesburg. On the way he stopped at a store so we could get some carvings and trinkets and then again at Highveld Taxidermy so we could make arrangements for our trophies and were we impressed. We dropped Chris off at the airport and then we got dropped off at the guest house. Johan took us out for supper and we had a casual night of eating, drinking, and conversation.
Vic and I spent the next 3 days in Johannesburg visiting some acquaintances I had met in Europe 3 years before. We stayed at the Afton Guest house during our time in Johannesburg and could not have been happier with the accommodations, food, and the service. We spent the next 2 days travelling through a Rhino and Leopard reserve and an Elephant reserve.
On the 21st of September, we were escorted to the airport by Marcel (Hopefully that’s his name), who was fantastic as I had left my jacket in the van and he came all the way back to bring it to me. We caught our flight out to Canada. The trip back was uneventful, 2 days travel back as it was getting there. We arrived in Calgary Alberta at 3:00 PM on the 23rd and back home at 7:00 PM. Family was there to pick us up - all was good. Again, thanks to all for the support in getting there, the time there, and the time in Johannesburg.
JASON & ANNA MATHERNE – Louisiana
Animals taken – Gemsbok*, Warthog*, Kudu* (55 ½”), Impala*, Blue Wildebeest*, Zebra
ANTICIPATION: Years become months, months become weeks, weeks become days, days become hours and before you know it, you are arriving at camp with some of the greatest staff you ever met to greet you. Cruisers did not disappoint, we arrived as guests and left as friends. I was quite fortunate to be paired with PH Johan (turkey) and it was like hunting with a good friend, mostly keeping the mood light and never focusing on records but rather on taking good mature animals. As a bonus we got some great animals with the Gemsbok, Kudu, and Impala in the books. Our driver/tracker Munsu was patient in answering all my wife’s questions during the course of our hunts and those times my PH and I were off on a stalk. When his tracking skills were needed, it was baffling how he could tell the difference between all the tracks, size, animals, how recently, etc.
It took me a while to get acclimated to the rapid pace of the hunting. My PH was patient, because I know I missed a lot of shot opportunities fiddling with target acquisition, adjusting, thinking, etc. When we would miss getting an animal we were trying for, Johan would simply reply “don’t worry, that animal is not the right one for you, there is a reason”. Usually a short while later we would successfully take an even greater animal. Our Kudu hunt was the most exciting, but our zebra proved to be the most challenging, they are smart, and spooky, and fast!!! That first hunt we took a beautiful Gemsbok after a few unsuccessful stalks, Johan and Munsu worked hard to put me right where we needed to be to intercept these animals. One afternoon we decided to quit stalking zebras that were being very reclusive, and try for a wildebeest. Johan was spot-on again, after an 800yd stalk, he spotted bulls and we began ducking and hiding, looking for a really big one. They finally cooperated and the biggest began walking out into the open, Johan lay flat on the ground, thorns and all, and I was able to make a successful shot off his backside! How’s that for going the extra mile! Huge Impala, great old battling warthog, and finally on the last day we got our striped donkey! Other things worth mentioning would be the Jackals we saw and (I) missed, the baboons, monkeys, giraffes, and all the other wonderful animals that we did not hunt this trip. All killed with my Tikka 7mag, (that rifle now has a nickname). Gemsbok taken with Federal Premium 160gr Trophy Bonded Bear Claw, all other animals taken with 160gr Barnes-X Vortx. Awesome performance!!
Pieter, Johan, Munsu, Del Marie, Amalia, and all of the other PH’s and staff made sure the non-hunting times were just as enjoyable. These are my type of people always pranking one another; it was like being at a camp on the bayous here in Louisiana. My wife became friends with the women at camp and enjoyed interacting with Pieter’s kids. Pieter took her to feed Sables, and she got to meet Pieter’s son Christian and his mongoose (I’m still laughing about her reaction to that mongoose!). Everyone was so patient and knowledgeable; it’s very difficult to pick favorite experiences on this trip. I truly enjoyed all the hunting, and my wife really enjoyed Marakele and plying with lion cubs. For me I think what I cherished most is when my PH and I went out for a final evening vowing only to take a giant hog if we saw one. It was relaxing just to enjoy South Africa’s beauty and the animals without an agenda, watching the sun sink in the sky and revel in the fact that my success was more than I could have ever dreamed. At the end of our stay my wife an I felt compelled, not obligated, to show our gratitude to some of the most wonderful people we ever met during our travels.
RON & CARY SHERMAN – Missouri
Animals taken – Gemsbok*, Kudu, Impala*, Warthog*
ROGER SANFORD – Nebraska
Animals taken – Kudu* (52”), Gemsbok, Impala*, Warthog*
No Hunt Photos Available
CHUCK & SUSAN STRONG – Alberta, Canada
Animals taken – Gemsbok*, Nyala, 2 – Warthogs*, 2 – Impalas*, Eland*, Bushbuck*, Kudu* (50 ½”), Blesbok* (Sue)
After waiting for 18 months we finally arrive in Johannesburg on Sept 17/12. We are met at the airport by Morris and Anna from Afton House. They guided us through the paper work at the SAPS office and everything went smoothly. We have a steak dinner at Afton House and meet up with some of the people who will also be hunting at Cruiser. Pickup by Cruiser is scheduled for 8:00am.
Johan a PH from Cruiser picks us up for the 4-5hr drive to Cruiser. After a few roadside stops we arrive at Cruiser and are greeted by DelMarie and shown to our rooms, then off to lunch where we meet our host Pieter and our PH’s, Craig, Johan, Johan, and Hans.
After an excellent lunch we are off to sight in our rifles. Once that is done we are offered the chance to go out on an evening hunt and if we are fortunate enough to get an animal we will only be charged a half day. Sounds like a plan, at least we will get a feel for the country we will be hunting.
We head out with our PH Craig and his driver/tracker Hendrick to a property. We spot a Gemsbok, so off we go into the nastiest bush I have ever been in. Every bush grabs you as you walk by. So after a merry chase with me trying to see what Craig is pointing at, Craig puts up the sticks again and I wait for the bull to step into the opening. I take the shot and he goes down but is back up in a second. But he doesn’t seem to know where the shot came from so I get a second shot into him and he is mine. My first African animal! A note here; I had a conversation with Craig and the other PH’s regarding my bullet selection for this hunt. I was using Nossler Accubond in both 7mm and 375 H&H and they felt this was a poor choice for African game. After seeing the bullet retrieved from the Gemsbok I have to totally agree with them. I was lucky enough to have packed 2 boxes of Nossler partitions for my 375 which performed great and I used for the rest of the hunt.
Day 1 Off to Pieter’s concession across the road from the main farm. I am on a build your own hunt so my wish list is Gemsbok, Eland, Kudu, Nyala, Impala and warthog. We spot some Impala and we’re off to do a sneak on them but we get busted, then I drop my rifle and bang the scope so it’s back to the range. That’s done and we are back across the road. We spot a herd of Nyala with one good ram. One shot at 50 yards and I have my second African animal and according to Craig the first animal of my spiral horn quest. We are back after lunch on the same concession and Craig spots a good Warthog. I take the shot with the 7mm but I hit him a little far back and he is off on the run. Craig tracks him and we jump him but he is up and running before I can shoot. So it is time to bring Blue over to do the tracking. After an hour long chase, Blue has the warthog holed up. Thanks to Blue and Craig I collect the warthog.
Day 2 Head out early to the property from our arrival day to hunt from a blind. Craig and Hendrick build a great blind on a waterhole and in no time we have Wildebeest, Eland Hartebeest and Impala milling around. No shooters yet. After a short period an Impala ram moves in. He’s a shooter. One shot at 130yds and the Impala is down. We work hard to get on the Eland that evening but we run out of daylight. We put three bulls to bed and hope they are in the area in the morning.
Day 3 We are back to the same property as yesterday but can’t seem to get on the track of the Eland so Craig decides we should set up on the waterhole in the blind we built yesterday. So with a little sprucing up we are set. After an hour’s wait we spot the three bulls we tracked yesterday. They move into the waterhole but they must sense there is something wrong as only the young bull comes in to water while the other two bigger bulls remain in the trees. Then they decide to move off straight away from us and Craig grabs the sticks and in a crouch we follow up. Craig then drops to the ground and instructs me to shot off his butt if they turn broadside to us. He tells me which one is the biggest. We will get them to turn and sure enough they turn. I am not quick enough the first time but the second time is the charm. One shot from the 375 at 242 yards and I have an impressive 1700lb bull Eland. A great trophy and according to Craig number two of my spiral horn quest.
Day 4 Spent the day at a different property looking for Kudu, in the morning we spot a decent bull but he busts us on the stalk. In the afternoon we are treated to the sight of a Golden Wildebeest, now that is an impressive looking animal. We spot some Kudu but they are all cows, then out of nowhere a bull shows himself. I can’t seem to pick up the bull in my scope and by the time I do he slips into the bush, the Grey Ghost. We try to follow up but cannot get a shot. Oh well, this is only day four and I already have five of the six animals I have on my wish list.
Day 5 Take the morning off to recharge, we will be hunting in the afternoon on a new property. The owner meets us at the gate and he shows us a video he took a couple nights previous of two good bulls coming into a waterhole that he has a blind on. We will be set up there for the evening. The only problem with this is that Craig decides that we need to burn some African Incense (Zebra Dung) to cover our scent as we are so close to the waterhole. I am not sure how I ended up being the one who was sitting in the middle of this foul smelling smoke. (I hope that Canadian deer don’t mind this smell because I don’t think I will ever be able to get that stink out of my hunting clothes). However it seemed to work as the Wildebeest and Kudu cows moved into the waterhole. They milled around nervously for a couple of hours and sure enough as Craig had predicted the bulls come in at last light. I see the one bull but Craig says it is not the shooter. I try to get my gun up but I am shaking so bad that I hit the edge of the blind and all the animals scatter. I manage to get the gun up and on a bull and I look at Craig and he shakes his head. Are you sure? He tells me to just wait and take a deep breath. I haven’t shaken this bad in a long time, I take a deep breath and the big bull walks in but I need to wait and make sure the shooting lane is clear behind him. I’m given the nod to shoot. The bull is down what a feeling! My wish list is complete and as Craig and Pieter tell me again, number three of the spiral horn quest. Well I guess I have 5 more days left on my hunt.
Day 6 Craig and Pieter talk me into going for the spiral horn quest so today we will start the hunt for a Bushbuck. We head out to hunt along the river in the thick stuff where these guys like to hang out. No luck this morning but we did chase a nice Impala ram around for an hour or so.
That afternoon we are back at the same property as day 4, Craig picks up a ram but it takes me a minute to get him in the scope. He is standing in the thickest part of the bush. I take the shot but the bullet hits a branch and is deflected into the ground below the ram. We still follow up and find the branch I hit and no sign of the Bushbuck. As we are walking along the river bank we spot a Warthog and Craig tells me to “shoot em”! Up come the sticks and one dead warthog. We drag him out and Sue says that it sure doesn’t look like a Bushbuck to her. Hendrick then spots some Impala with a couple good rams, so we are off into the bush again. I am not sure how Craig manages to keep it straight as to which Impala is which and with the wind swirling in the trees and impala moving in every direction we still manage to get in on the two rams. The first one moves into the opening but Craig is sure the other one is bigger. The second one follows into the opening. I take the shot, another Impala is down. A matched set for the den.
Day 7 Elephant safari in the morning, then it’s out for Bushbuck in the afternoon. We will be hunting the thick stuff on the river banks but on a new property this afternoon. We spot a couple but they are young rams. We did get on the sticks once but Craig felt we could do better.
Day 8 Back to a neighbors of Pieter’s to hunt the Bushbuck along the river banks. We hope to catch them sunning themselves before they move into the bush for the heat of the day. We hadn’t walked 50 yards when we heard this loud guttural bark and Craig tells us it sounds like an old ram Bushbuck barking a warning. We move ahead slowly trying to stay in the shadows of the early morning sun. Craig picks him up on the far side and he hasn’t seen us yet. I’m on the sticks and with the shot he goes down. What a way to end my hunt in Africa! I have taken the fourth animal of the spiral horn quest on just one trip to Africa. So what am I going to do for the last two days of the hunt? Craig has an answer for that. While we are back at camp having a couple wobbly pops to celebrate our success Craig thinks it’s a good idea if Sue could shoot something. Well for one thing she has never shot a high powered rifle in her life at paper let alone an animal. Craig assures me he can teach Sue how to shoot. I tell him he is on his own on that.
Day 9 After breakfast we are at the shooting range so Craig can teach Sue how to shoot my 7mm. I am not sure we have enough ammunition for this. Well after 10 shots Craig feels she is ready to go. We are off for Blesbok in the afternoon. We find a small heard out in the open and Craig points out the bull but they are nervous so we won’t be able to get closer, Craig sets Sue up and tells here to take the shot when she is comfortable. One shot 253yds with my 7mm and Sue has taken her Blesbok, her first animal ever and what a perfect place to do it! I think Craig may have created a monster.
Day 10 A day off for all of us, we get time to sit by the pool and enjoy the hot weather and Craig gets time off to celebrate his daughter JeanneLize’s 5th birthday.
Sept. 29th Cruiser has surpassed all of our expectations and now we have to leave our new found friends at Cruiser and head back to Johannesburg. We stop at Highveld to have a shop tour, Thomas greets us and we go over the details of what we would like done. Johan drops us off at Afton House.
Sue and I are staying another week to tour through Kruger National Park. But that’s another story for another day.
BRUCE & PHYLISS BAUER – British Columbia, Canada
Animals taken – Zebra, Red Hartebeest*, Blue Wildebeest*, 2 – Impala*, Blesbok*, Gemsbok*, Kudu
TRAVIS BAUER – Alberta, Canada
Animals taken – Impala*, 2 – Warthogs*, Kudu* (54 5/8”), Red Hartebeest*, Zebra, Blesbok*, Blue Wildebeest*, Gemsbok*
No Hunt Photos Available
BOB & CAROL FACTEAU – South Carolina
Animals taken – Kudu, Impala*, Gemsbok*, Red Hartebeest*, Blesbok*, Zebra, Blue Wildebeest*, Warthog*
No Hunt Photos Available
FORREST HUGHES – Indiana
Animals taken – Zebra, Gemsbok, Blesbok*, Blue Wildebeest*, Warthog*, Kudu* (52 ¼”), Impala*
TIM SMITH & his wife Gloria – Virginia
Animals taken – Blue Wildebeest*, 2 – Warthogs*, 2 – Impala*, Kudu, Blesbok*, Gemsbok*
(Forrest) I, my buddy Tim and his wife Gloria departed Dulles International Airport in DC on late evening of September 29th. After an 18 hour flight that included a stopover in Senegal for refueling we arrived in Johannesburg. We were met at the airport by “old” Johan. With his help we negotiated SAP and retrieved our firearms with very little trouble. We then loaded up the van and began the drive out to camp. Before leaving town we decided to stop at a McDonalds for some eats and drinks. We wanted to save our small supply of Rands so we tried to pay with our credit cards. Neither mine nor Tim’ or Gloria’s would work in the credit card machine. Johan tried his credit card and it wouldn’t work either. Johan just shrugged and said “That’s Africa for you”. We managed to scrape up enough money to pay our bill and were on our way. It was after sunset when we started out so after leaving the lights of town we couldn’t see much of the scenery. While we all chatted with Johan about what our hunt would be like an animal dashed across the road in front of the van. Johan identified it as a caracal, and that was the first South African game we saw.
Outside of town the road weren’t paved, and were quite rough and dusty. Gloria remarked that Johan seemed to drive faster on the unpaved roads then he did on the paved. When we arrived at camp we were met by DelMarie with glasses of fruit juice and we drank a toast to our hoped for success. After almost 24 hours total of travel we were exhausted and grateful to head for bed.
We awoke early the next morning to the sound of the breakfast drum. After a quick meal we headed to the range to check the zeros on our rifles. Tim and I were both shooting 270 Winchesters with 150 grain Nosler partitions. Our PHs were a bit skeptical about our “little pop guns” but they performed well when we did our part. After making sure ours rifles had survived the flight with no damage, we hopped into our hunting vehicles and started our hunt. Tim and Gloria headed out with Johan the younger and I went with Hans. We were there on the 10 day plains game package and in addition to the animals in that package I also wanted a zebra so that is what Hans and I went looking for first. Late in the afternoon of that first hunting day we played a game of bush tag with a herd of zebra as we tried to circle in front in front of them. We finally got in position and were ready when the herd stallion stepped in the clear. We were in a sitting position and Hans had me rest my rifle over his left shoulder. He told me to take him when I was ready. At the shot the zebra bolted into the bush. Hans asked how the shot felt and I told him it was a good shot. We picked up the tracks and followed them for a few hundred yards. While on the track we heard the zebra let out a long drawn out bray. Hans said they only do that when they are going down and he was proven right as we soon came up on him. Score one for the 270. Hans called up our driver Carl and directed him where to bring the hunting vehicle. Hans went back to meet the vehicle and I stayed to admire my first head of African game. The zebra was beautiful and I planned to have the hide tanned and made into a wall hanging. While trying to maneuver the vehicle close to the zebra a tire was punctured by a sharp stick. We changed the tire, loaded our zebra and headed back to camp for a late lunch and a new spare.
The rest of our ten day hunt was amazing. Tim and I both took all of the animals in our ten day package and Tim also took a second impala and warthog. Tim said the hunt for his kudu was the hunt of a life time. His kudu was a very old bull that he shot early in the morning deep down in a river valley. There was no way to get a vehicle close to the downed bull, so they had to quarter him up and pack him out. It took them most of the rest of the morning but they got it done. That experience made the hunt for him as far as Tim was concerned. Tim also took an elderly warthog. He was tough on those geriatric animals. According to Tim and Johan that warthog was so old that when they started tracking him he could only go about fifty yards at a time before stopping to rest. He was a great warthog though with long tusks and will look great or Tim’s wall.
As I mentioned earlier our PHs were at first skeptical that our 270’s were up to the task but we had no problems that could be attributed to our choice of calibers. I did have two mishaps during the hunt. On my gemsbok my shot hit a branch and was tumbling when it got to the animal. We found later that it struck him sideways and high on the shoulder and did not penetrate more than a few inches. I might have lost that gemsbok but for the amazing tracking skills of my PH Hans along with an assist from my buddy Tim. Hans picked out that individual gemsbok’s tracks from the multitude of tracks crisscrossing the area and followed them until we came up with him and finished it. My other problem was with the kudu and that was just bad shooting on my part probably due to kudu fever. After my first shot which was too far back we did a short follow up and put him down. All of the animals we took were mature males and great trophies. Our PHs would not let us take a small or immature animal that we might later have been unhappy with. My shots ranged from 15 feet on a warthog to a long of 205 yards on a blesbok.
All in all it was an incredible experience. All of the folks at Cruiser went out of their way to make sure we had a hunt that would make memories to last a life time. All of the PHs were knowledgeable, skilled, friendly and very patient with us African newbie’s. DelMarie’s cooking was top notch and this was the only hunt I’ve been on where I think I gained weight. Pieter was a great host. He was always ready with a joke or a prank and kept everyone loose and laughing. Anyone contemplating a hunt for plains game could not do better than booking with Cruiser. I know my plans include a return trip.
DAREN & SHANNON KENNETT – Alberta, Canada
Animals taken – Blue Wildebeest*, Blue Wildebeest cow, Impala*, 2 – 1 horned Impala, Red Hartebeest*, Blesbok*, Gemsbok*, Kudu, Kudu cow, 3 – Warthogs*, Black Backed Jackal
On September 28, 2012, Shannon and I, celebrating our 25th Wedding Anniversary, flew from Calgary, Alberta Canada to London, England, and then on to Johannesburg, South Africa. When we arranged the trip, we had heard all sorts of bad stories about how hard it was to transport a firearm through Heathrow in London. Shannon took extra precautions to inform both Air Canada and British Airways we were traveling with a firearm, completed the necessary paperwork (Government of Canada export documents), and we arrived in South Africa with ease. We did have one small issue in London as I had packed my ammunition in a small hard cover pistol case and then packed it in my luggage. In London, they had me take the ammunition case out of my suitcase and check it separately.
On September 29th, we arrived in O R Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg and were promptly met by Annalise from the Afton Guest House. She helped us go through the process of getting my firearm from the South African Police Service. After we finished the 60 minute process we drove a short distance to the Afton Guest House. During our evening at the Guest House we met Chuck and Sue from Canada that were on their way home from Cruiser Safaris. We heard all of their stories and began to get really excited about what we were about to experience.
On September 30, we were picked up by Johann from Cruiser Safaris and then made the 4 hour trip to the ranch. On the trip over to South Africa, I listened to an audio book about South Africa which came in handy as I visited with Johan about his impressive country.
Once we arrived at the ranch, we were met by a warm smile from the Chef - DelMarie (aka Tiny) and Craig - our PH. After a short visit and a quick lunch we headed to the range to sight in my rifle which made the trip just fine in my Bear Tracks gun case - they are well worth the price tag. We adjusted my scope slightly and then headed out to find a trophy Blue Wildebeest - the animal I really wanted to shoot. After a 45 minute drive in a Toyota Land Cruiser down a number of dirt roads, we arrived at a large concession. We quickly found a herd of Blue Wildebeests and before we knew it I had a 30 inch bull in my cross hairs. One well-placed 180 grain Nosler Partition from my 300 WSM resulted in us taking pictures with my first trophy. Shannon, who was not hunting with a gun but rather with a camera, snapped a few thousand pictures and got our hunt officially on started!
October 1st, we set out about 6:30am in search of Impala, Red Hartebeest, and Blesbok. After a few failed stalks, we finally found a couple of lost Impala walking down a dirt trail toward Craig and I. We paused, waited for about 10 minutes and then harvested a nice 21 inch Impala. We took the Impala back to camp and then head out in search of more game. After a 1.5 hour stalk on Red Hartebeest, I made a good 250 yard shot on an excellent bull facing us. Once again, we took the animal back to camp, ate lunch and then headed out at 3:30 in search of Blesbok. It was just before dark when we spotted a nice Blesbok at a water hole. After a short stalk and a 160 yard shot, we were again taking pictures. Within the first day and half, I had harvested 4 animals which would all qualify for the SCI record book! Not a bad way to start my first African Safari.
On October 2nd and 3rd, we hunted hard for Gemsbok. These wary animals wanted no part of us and managed to give us the slip many times as we stalked them over wooded terrain. Finally, late in the afternoon on Oct 3rd, we spotted one in some dense scrub bush and Craig began yelling "shoot him that is a great one!” Unfortunately, I didn't make a good shot and the tracking game began. While I would never intend to wound an animal or recommend that anyone wound one, watching Craig apply his tracking skills was simply amazing! He followed the Gemsbok tracks and a blood trail that consisted of a small spot of blood every 30 or 40 yards, with intense precision. Craig's tracking skills were unbelievable. However, the elusive Gemsbok managed to give us the slip so Craig called in his Blue Tick Bloodhound appropriately named "Blue" to help him out. Craig put Blue on the blood trail and then turned to me and said "get ready". Blue took off "baying and howling" and Craig and I took off on a dead run through the bushveld! What an experience - it was unbelievable. We eventually harvested a 38 inch Gemsbok - an amazing animal.
On October 4th, we set out for Kudu - an animal I knew very little about. We got skunked in the morning but in the late afternoon, we spotted a respectable bull in some dense cover. The sun was behind the animal and when I looked into the scope, all I could see was sun spots coming through my Leopold scope. After adjusting, and readjusting my shooting position, with the whole time Craig telling me to "Shoot him, it is a nice one", I pulled the trigger. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately), my bullet passed through the bull and into a cow standing some distance behind it. After a couple hours of tracking, some added help from "Blue", and a little luck, we managed to harvest both the bull and the cow. I believe the two of them will make an incredible pedestal mount once back at home - not to mention a good conversation piece!
On October 5 and 6th, we hunted hard for Warthogs. We saw many animals but nothing that we wanted to shoot. We waited by waterholes, drove many ranch trails, and walk a number of miles but still couldn't find the Warthog we were looking for. Finally, I told Craig I wanted to get a "starter Warthog" which meant it needed to be just 10 inches. After getting a starter Warthog, I teased him that we would keep shooting hogs but we had to do it in 2 inch increments - 10 inches, then 12 inches, then 14 inches and so on. Craig chuckled and told me "good luck with that idea". Just before dark on the 6th, I shot a "starter Warthog" which measured 10 inches.
On October 7th, we went to a nearby Elephant Preserve to ride the elephants - something I had promised Shannon that I would do! It was a fun day as we rode elephants, learned more about South Africa, and saw some great scenery.
On October 8th and 9th, I shot a Jackal and a couple of "one horned Impala" which I planned to turn into rugs.
On October 10th, we went to a nearby Wild Animal park where we saw Lions, Tigers, Brown Hyenas, Spotted Hyenas, and many more animals. Once again, it was a great experience and the scenery was spectacular. Both Shannon and I were very impressed with the natural beauty of South Africa.
On October 11th, the last day of our 25th Wedding Anniversary Safari, I decided to harvest another Blue Wildebeest for a rug. Craig sorted through a number of animals in the herd and after a long stalk, he told me to harvest a beautiful "gold colored" Blue Wildebeest. This dry female not only had a unique color but also demonstrated a few scars and scraps from her lifelong battles with other animals and the landscape.
On the last evening, I wasn't even going to take my rifle with us but Craig said "better take it, you never know what we might find" to which I commented, "Craig, I came here to shoot 6 animals and so far I have shot 14 animals - I really don't think I need another one". Once again, he replied, "you never know what we might see but it is up to you". Against my better judgment, I loaded up my rifle and we headed to a new concession to take pictures of Giraffe, Cape Buffalo, Wildebeest, and whatever other animals showed up. While Shannon and Craig were busy discussing the best way to take a picture of a family of Giraffe, I yelled "look at that one!” Immediately Craig told the river to get moving out of the "no shooting zone" we were in and I made a very quick shot at the butt of a Warthog running into the tall grass. I followed up with one other shot and then Craig, Hendrick (our driver), and I took off on a mad dash to catch up to "Hogzilla!” After a fury of activity and 10 shots later (6 from his 9mm and 4 from my 300 WSM), in front of us laid a massive 15.5 inch Warthog! Craig was so excited that after taking a few pictures and texting them to his friends and family, he walked around in circles for 10 minutes muttering "big @&^#* hog, big hog, big hog,..." over and over again. After we took pictures and loaded him, he told me that my Warthog was probably the 2nd largest hog he had taken in his 10+ years as a professional hunter. I calmly replied to Craig with "we were just executing our game plan - 10 inches, 12 inches, and 14 inches!"
Overall, our trip to South Africa with Cruiser Safaris was nothing short of amazing. The entire Cruiser Safari team went out of their way to make us feel at home and experience our trip of a lifetime. Craig is an amazing young man and an incredible PH. Shannon and I really appreciated all that Craig did for us during our stay - thanks Craig
GERARD & KATHRYN MOLITOR – Michigan
Animals taken – Blue Wildebeest*, Blue Wildebeest cow, 2 – Impala*, Gemsbok*, Red Hartebeest*, 2 – Warthogs*, Kudu, Waterbuck*, Blesbok*
PETER & CAROLE HARLEY – Ontario, Canada
Animals taken – 2 – Warthogs, Kudu, Impala*, Blue Wildebeest*, Blesbok*, Gemsbok*
No Hunt Photos Available
RON RACINOWSKI – Texas
Animals taken – Blesbok*, Warthog*, Gemsbok*, Impala*, Blue Wildebeest*, Kudu
RYAN RACINOWSKI – Texas
Animals taken – 2 – Impala*, Kudu, Zebra, Warthog*
(Ron) Our trip began on October 10th when we traveled from Texas through Washington Dulles to Johannesburg, South Africa. Although it was a long travel day, South Africa Airlines, from Dulles, with a stop in Dakar, was a great airline, with free movies, good food and free drinks. We arrived in Johannesburg the evening of October the 11th. Cruiser Bob told us if we filled out the weapons permit forms before we arrived, getting the permits would not be a problem. He was right, and after having a SA Airlines bring our gun case to the police office back door, he guided us through the airport to the person who issued the permits. It took all of 15 minutes and we were on our way. I chose to purchase a cell phone from a local company and for $61 total I purchased a no frills Samsung cell that worked in their system with 2 hours of talk time. It took another 15 minutes to complete the transaction! The phone worked great from the camp but not well from some of the concessions. We called Texas every day we were there. We were met by a rep from the Afton House while getting the weapons permit and when done with the airport, we were off to a local restaurant before arriving at the Afton House. Jose's Restaurant was great with terrific seafood, German and OK Mexican selections. The Afton House was great! Clean rooms and hot showers followed by a breakfast in the morning that would satisfy the biggest eaters. We also met our PH Johan "the younger" who was staying at the Afton as well so we could leave early the next day after picking another hunter from the airport. We also met two other couples that would join us for the week of hunting. At 10 am we all linked up, loaded the van and set off for Limpopo and the camp. It was pouring rain, worked through a traffic jam caused by an accident, and after 5 1/2 hours we arrived at the Camp. We were greeted by Pieter and his staff and settled into our rooms. After confirming our zeros on the range, we had dinner and off to bed after a few drinks to meet everyone.
Day 1 Hunting- We were off to a concession with some great Kudu bulls. I could not get over how similar South Texas and this portion of South Africa looked alike. What I wasn't ready for was how we hunted. After driving down numerous dirt roads, Johan our PH looked for fresh Kudu tracks and when he found what he was looking for, we would get off the Toyota Land Cruiser with our rifles and off we'd go into the bush following that particular animal. The first track was over 1 1/2 hours through the thickest brush I've seen lately. As we followed them across another road, we had the truck pick us up to try and close the gap. While repositioning we came across a herd of Impala that we made a running 800 yard stalk through the brush so Johan could see if there was a good ram. There was and after crawling on our hands and knees followed by our stomachs, Ryan was set up for a prone shot at 150 yards at a nice ram. Call it excitement, adrenaline our being out of breath, Ryan had a clean miss at the ram. The remainder of the day, and 2 more tracking attempts, had us see more Impala, Warthog, several young Kudu bulls and near last light, 3 large Kudu bulls. We just couldn't close the deal. Back to the camp.
Day 2 Hunting- We went to another concession where right off the bat, we spotted a great Gemsbok bull and off we went. In short order, I had a shot, but I wasn't ready and back into the bush he went. As we repositioned in the truck to get right on his fresh track, we made a turn off the road and came face to face with a small herd of Cape Buffalo with one excellent Bull protecting his cows. After some great photos, we were back on the Gemsbok track. 2 hours and bumping him 3 times without a shot, Johan decided to let him settle down and look for some other animals. We set out on a stalk to a waterhole where Johan had seen a number of different animals. After seeing a herd of Blesbok at the waterhole, the last 50 yards was on our hands and knees. Johan said there was a good Blesbok bull in the herd, set up the shooting sticks while staying on the ground and after making sure I knew which animal to shoot, he gave me the OK and up I went, and after a 165yd shot, I had our first trophy. A 15" Blesbok bull that dropped in his tracks. After loading him up, we were off again when we came upon a herd of Impala with some Hartebeest bulls mixed in. About 45 minutes of tracking that brought us close to Zebra, Gemsbok and Eland, when a big Warthog jumped up alongside of us. He ran about 20 yards and turned around stared at us. Ryan was ready and placing his 7mm bullet between the Warthog's eyes, Ryan had his first trophy with 10" tusks. After bringing the animals back to the skinning shed, we had some lunch and then back to the bush. As we drove slowly down the road, we had another Warthog jump up and run a short distance. After placing a bullet in his shoulder, I also had a 10" tusked Warthog. We ran into another small herd of Cape Buffalo at 20 yards, with this bull being young, having large horns but soft bosses. It was exciting getting so close to animals with an attitude. As we were heading back to camp at the end of the day, Johan spotted a large herd of mpala crossing an open area. After checking out all the rams, Johan picked out the biggest. Ryan made a terrific 100yd shot through the shoulder. When we got to him, we were all surprised that he was a great ram that measured 24 1/2", a record book ram! Our second day brought us 4 great trophies!
Day 3 Hunting- Off to a new concession. How can it get any better than the previous day? We hadn't started hunting 15 minutes when we came across a large herd of 40-50 Impala crossing an open area. Johan looked at numerous rams as I got ready to shoot. As each ram entered the open area, Johan said not him, there's a bigger ram coming. That conversation happened 5 more time until all the Impala were more than half way across the open area. Johan then said, here he comes. The last Impala was a large bodied ram with heavy, dark horns. Johan whistled and the ram stopped broadside. I placed the bullet behind the shoulder and after a 100yd tracking job, Johan said I'd just shot a monster! He measured 26 1/2 " with wide and heavy horns. He was green scored and fell in the top 40 of the record book. Johan had picked a great one for me, the second largest he has found for one of his hunters. Back to the skinning shed then back to the same place. After cutting the tracks of a herd of Zebra, Johan had us tracking them for almost 4 hours and 3+ miles when they finally moved out of the brush and giving Ryan a shot. They were moving across a road, when Johan pointed out a good one. Ryan's lead was not large enough and when he made the 180yd shot, he had a solid hit in the rear leg. According to Johan, Zebra do not run well on three legs. After a short tracking job, Ryan finished the job where the Zebra bedded. Our second trophy of the day and a very happy hunter that took another of his dream animals with the Zebra. Back to the skinning shed, a short lunch, the right back. Johan spotted a herd of Gemsbok at about a half mile away so we grabbed our guns and off we go through the bush. This time, Johan has us on our hands and knees for the last 50 yards before he asks me if a wanted to shoot from a prone position or from the sticks. I choose the sticks and after 5 minutes discussing which bull to shoot, the herd started to move. I was on my feet and on the sticks, when the herd moved through a small brush patch. As they came out, the first Gemsbok into the opening was the biggest bull. Johan told me he's the one and take him if I could. With a quartering away shot, I placed the bullet in the back of the ribs in line with the opposite shoulder. The bull ran 50 yards where we watched him collapse at the base of a small tree. I had another record book animal with a 37" bull! After another trip to the kinning shed, I thought our hunting day was over. How wrong we were! With slightly more than an hour and a half of daylight left, we went to a place known to hold Kudu bull. Once again Johan spotted 2 Kudu bulls at about a half mile racking their horns on brush. We moved into position and as the largest bull began crossing a large open area, Johan whistled to stop him. Ryan had a hard time finding him and getting the scope on him until he started to move into the brush. At our urging, he took a shot through the brush. We heard the bullet hit and watched him move deeper into the brush before he bedded down. Then things got exciting. As Ryan and Johan moved to where he was bedded, off the bull goes! Johan is literally running through the brush with Ryan in tow. After 10-15 minutes, they bumped him again but this time Ryan got a shot hitting him again! A few yards later, the bull gave them another shot, this time the shot was true hitting him in the shoulder. Down he went. After watching him for a short time, Johan and Ryan were anxious to get the truck there before it became too dark. Johan was walking toward the truck and Ryan 10 feet behind the Kudu bull with both rifles when the bull shook and turned his head toward Ryan. The bull stood and turned toward Ryan and lowered his head. Ryan turned and ran through some thick, thorn filled brush to get something between them. The bull was too weak to follow him, and turned broadside. That allowed two more quick shots to the neck to finally finish the Kudu bull that would not die! At last Ryan had a great 48"+ Kudu bull! It took hours for Ryan's adrenaline to subside. 4 more trophy animals in one day, again!
Day 4 Hunting- We saw lots of different animals, but nothing we wanted to take. Plenty of photo opportunities and memories, but nothing for the skinning shed.
Day 5 Hunting- After closely looking over more Gemsbok, Wildebeest, Zebra and Giraffe, and 2 more hours tracking, we passed on everything until we came across another small herd of Impala. Ryan wanted an Impala for a rug and skull mount so when we saw a good ram, Johan used the shadows for a short, quick stalk that had Ryan taking a 22 1/2" Impala ram through the shoulder. After lunch we went back to an area that we were sure the big Kudu bulls were hanging out. Later in the afternoon, we rounded a corner when we came face to face with a large Blue Wildebeest bull at 75 yards. Johan said he was a great bull and said he would make the record book. After another shoulder shot, we waited 15 minutes before we started tracking. Ryan actually found him piled up in a large, old aardvark hole. With a spread of 27", Johan said he'd make the book.
Day 6 Hunting- Two days left to hunt with just a Kudu bull on my wish list to get. We went back to the concession we hunted the previous day with only one goal. We pressed the entire day, finding fresh tracks, following them for hours and miles, not finding the right bull. With only about an hour and a half of daylight left, our driver and tracker John told us he saw a big Kudu bull cross the road about a half mile away. Johan did a great job checking numerous Kudu tracks that made the same crossing. After 20 minutes, he finally picked up the right track and off we went, gun in hand. About 20 minutes into to track, we came upon a Gemsbok bull than caught our movement and spooked. When he ran he spooked the Kudu bull that was only 35-40 yards ahead but behind some thick brush. We were on the track again and after 30 minutes in fading light, we caught up with him as he walked down an old road. At about 150 yards with a severe quartering away shot, Johan put up the sticks and asked if I could make a spine shot. Said no, but I thought I could squeeze one in just in front of the right leg and behind the ribs. We heard the bullet hit solid and after a short distance, picked up a blood trail. After 300-350 yards, he crossed a road after coughing up the largest amount of blood we found so far. Johan thought it best to go back to the camp, have some dinner, let the Kudu settle down and bring the dogs back to help in the recovery. That's what we did. Two hours later, with the dogs doing their stuff, Johan continued his tracking made harder because the blood sign seemed to end. After 30-35 minutes, the dogs picked up the Kudu and after a short but fast run through the brush and aardvark holes, the two dogs where circling the much alive Kudu until two shots to the neck put him down for good. Johan was amazing, running through the brush to get to the bull and I'm sure without his efforts I would not have a 49"+ Kudu bull trophy!
Both Ryan and I had such a great time living a dream! Pieter is a wonderful host and we both count him as a close friend. He's fun and knowledgeable and a superb hunter. His staff is first class, the meals wonderful and facilities superb. Cruiser Bob started everything off answering all our questions completely and professionally. He was great!
There were very few times in my life that I received what I expected or hoped for, but the entire experience with Cruiser Safaris exceeded my expectations! I highly recommend Cruiser for your safari or any safari!
Finally, we were so impressed with Johan our PH. As a young man, he demonstrated skills, attitude, professionalism and experience you would hope to see from older and more experienced PHs. Johan worked hard in just 6 hunting days to take two hunters on every stalk and get 11 high quality, mature trophies when other PHs worked with one hunter for 10 days for the same or fewer trophies. I would hunt again with Johan any time, any place for any animal!
BEN BARKER & his wife Olivia – Australia
Animals taken – Kudu, Gemsbok*, Warthog, Impala*
No Hunt Photos Available
PAUL DANOV – Bulgaria
Animals taken – 2 – Zebras, Cape Buffalo*, 2 – Impala (1*), Blesbok*
KAMEN ANGELOV – Bulgaria
Animals taken – Nyala*, Zebra, Kudu, Eland*, Sable*, Steenbok*
HRISTO KOVACHEV – Bulgaria
Animals taken – 2 - Zebra, Nyala, 2 – Warthog*, 2 – Blue Wildebeest*, Waterbuck*
ALEKSANDAR PETROV – Bulgaria
Animals taken – Impala*, Blue Wildebeest*, Zebra, Gemsbok*, Red Hartebeest*, Blesbok*, Steenbok*, Warthog*, Waterbuck, Kudu
No Hunt Photos Available