June 18, 2023
Ethan, Boisano, Koisaki, and I left camp at 6:30 AM and hunted the morning on the property north of the shooting range. It was cool and foggy, and we were looking for a kudu. We did a full lap around the property. Then we drove up to the top of the ridge to glass when it started to clear up, and we saw several kudu cows, mountain reedbuck, impala, and a duiker.
We hiked all around the mountain and jumped several animals, including a waterbuck, but no shot opportunities. We hiked down and drove up to a different ridgetop and glassed impala, warthogs, and a group of kudu on the other side, one of which had a younger bull in the group. We then came down and drove around to the field that had a duiker in it, but when we got there, he was gone.
By then, it was 11 AM, and we drove back to the lodge. We saw a group of springbok and made a stalk on them. There was one good male in the group, but he was not super huge, so we passed at 80 yards. We also saw a black impala that had a broken horn that was flopping as it was running.
We hiked back towards the truck and saw more impala and a group of five zebras, one of which was a mature stallion, but I didn’t want to shoot one this early in the hunt. We returned to the truck, drove to the lodge about noon, and then had a nice lunch with french fries and grilled chicken salad sandwiches. Dave shot a nice kudu this morning.
Our afternoon plan was to return to where we saw the kudu last night and see if we could find them again. We left promptly at 2 PM and arrived at the property at 3 PM. Ethan and I went to the first pivot. Boisano went to the second pivot. Koisaki went to the third pivot, where I shot the impala yesterday. We were all set up at 3:30 PM and waited patiently for the animals to come out at dark.
We had some impala come out about 5 PM, just after the sun went below the mountain. Then, at about 5:15 PM, we saw a huge fallow deer buck come out in the right corner of the field. We decided to work our way around the field’s far edge to get closer so I could shoot the fallow if the kudu did not come out. As we were working our way around, we could see the right-hand pivot, and there were warthogs, several kudu, and several nyala in addition to impala in that field.
We got closer to the fallow buck, and then the kudu started walking out in our field with several smaller bulls, cows, and an older mature bull that Ethan said we should harvest. We quickly got set up on the sticks and I got the bull in the crosshairs at a little less than 200 yards. He was facing us, and I had to wait for him to turn and the other kudu bull behind him to clear. He was slightly quartering to, and I put the crosshairs right on the front of his shoulder and shot. His tail went straight up, and he and the entire herd quickly hightailed it out of the field.
Ethan told me he thought I hit the kudu pretty far back, and I told him I had it on the point of his shoulder and felt like I had a good trigger squeeze. We ran over there and found no blood, no sign – nothing. In the remaining daylight, we quickly walked to the edge of the field and found the corner they had been entering and exiting. We figured they had all run out through that area but saw no blood or dead kudu. We called Boisano to get Koisaki and the truck, pick up the gear we left where we were sitting, and meet us in the field, which they did after dark.
Ethan turned Casey, his German hunting terrier dog, out to try to track the kudu, and they went into the bush but couldn’t find the kudu. I kept looking with my headlamp in the field and all the trails and found zero blood. Everybody came back to the field, and the guys were walking down the left side when I decided to, just by chance, look at the right side of the field. I walked about 50 feet and was almost ready to turn around, and I saw a place where the grass was knocked down. I decided to walk a little closer to see what was happening there, and there was my kudu!
I hollered to the guys that the bull was down, and they hollered, and all ran over, and Ethan gave me a huge hug – he was as excited as I was. The kudu was very beautiful and a respectable trophy Eastern Cape kudu. I hit it exactly where I aimed – right at the front of the shoulder, a little over halfway up, so it was a double-lung hit with no exit hole. He didn’t bleed externally very much.
Ethan showed me that if you look down the end of the horn, the hole in the middle of the curl leads right to the eye. That was interesting. We loaded him up and returned to camp at about 7:30 PM. We had a nice dinner of chicken, rice, pumpkin, zucchini, and a nice dessert and went to bed at about 9:30 PM after chatting for a while. Overall, it was a great day. We will hunt from this camp in the morning and then go to a different camp in the afternoon for the next day and a half after sable and gemsbok.
June 19, 2023
Up at 5:30 AM, had breakfast at 6 AM, and headed out to hunt around 7 AM. Ethan, Boisano, Koisaki, and I all drove out of the ranch to the tar road, and we hunted a property on the other side of the road where Dave got his kudu yesterday. They had seen a couple of good mature waterbuck there yesterday. It was mostly clear skies and chilly, but quite nice.
Almost immediately, we saw a big duiker about 70 yards away. We quickly got out of the truck and set up the sticks. I aimed for the bottom third of the body and got a good squeeze of the trigger, but the shot was high as they are such a small target. It was a clean miss. We loaded back up, drove to the edge of a big bowl, got out, and started walking. We saw some impala, female waterbuck and then two good male waterbuck. We looped around and got the wind right to start a stalk.
We first spotted them at 8:15 AM, had a 45-minute stalk, got up on the same ridge they were on, and eventually saw them about 80 yards. They knew something wasn’t quite right and bolted. We walked quickly down the side of the ridge we were on to hopefully catch them coming up the other side, which we did. I hurriedly got set up on the sticks and was ready to shoot him broadside at 375 yards when they started walking again. When the bull stopped at 400+ yards, I shot. You could hear the whack of the bullet, and then shortly after that, Boisano started hooting and hollering that he was down. What an exciting stalk!
Boisano and Koisaki went back to get the truck, and Ethan and I wandered over to the waterbuck, which had such a huge body. He had long, thick horns, and Ethan told me he was probably eight or nine years old – just a giant animal – bigger in the body than the kudu and beautiful with the white ring they have around their hind quarters. Their coarse gray-brown hair has oil on it and a musky odor. The bulls’ simple beauty struck me, and I’m thrilled with him. We propped him up as best we could as he was very heavy and got some pictures.
Ethan walked out to the dirt road to meet the guys bringing the truck in so they could get it driven over some pretty bad ruts and close to the kill site because he was too heavy to drag. The guys came by shortly and got the truck right to the waterbuck, and we moved it into the clearing to get better pictures. We had to fiddle with the winch as it wasn’t working in one direction, so we rewound the rope in the other direction so we could use it to pull the waterbuck into the truck.
We drove back to camp, arriving at about 11:30 AM, got our gear ready to leave, had a nice lunch, and finished packing. We took care of tips for the cook, camp helpers, skinners, and barkeeper and said our goodbyes to everybody, including Raymond, the owner.
We hit the road at about 1:30 PM to head to a new property 40 km out of Queenstown. We stopped in Queenstown to get a few supplies. We arrived at the ranch at about 3 PM. We met the owners, Justin and his wife Nikki, who welcomed us to their place and got our gear in our rooms. Then we went out for a quick afternoon hunt. The wind had picked up and was howling, like 30 to 40 miles sustained or more. We drove across the dirt road to an open area of the ranch. We saw some ostriches, a mongoose, and a couple of groups of springbok. We tried to drive as close as possible to the springbok, but they were very spooky.
Ethan and I exited the truck and walked over to a rock koppe. We set up in two or three different spots, and then finally, three springboks broke off and came our way. I got set up with the rifle on a rock with my pack under the rifle. The wind was howling, and it was challenging to steady the crosshairs on the animal. One of the big springbok stopped when they went up the mountain about 170 yards away with a 40-mile-an-hour crosswind, so I aimed about 6 inches left almost at his hindquarters and shot. He went down, but I hit him a bit behind. I had to put a follow-up shot in him at 170 yards.
We walked up, and he was gorgeous. We got some great pictures and rode back to the ranch house. I learned from Justin about the different types of sheep and goats on the ranch, which was interesting. We met back at the lodge, had a toast, snacks, and several drinks, and hung out until about 7 PM when we went into the main house to have dinner with Justin and Nikki.
We had gemsbok and lamb with mint jelly, rice and potatoes, squash and beans with tomatoes, cauliflower, and broccoli with cheese. We had a good time chatting and then retired at about 8:30 PM. Overall, it was a great day, and we are looking forward to trying for sable and a gemsbok tomorrow.