June 20, 2023
We got up at 6:15 AM, had breakfast at 6:45 AM, were on the road at about 7:15 AM, and drove about 35 minutes to a mountainous ranch with lots of brush and cover. It was cold this morning, about 35°F, but the wind stopped for the most part. Corne met us at the gate. He was from Port Elizabeth and just came to help when hunters were on the property. So Corne, Ethan, myself, and Koisaki went one way while Stuart, Dan, and Dave went the other.
We immediately saw four sable on the side of a mountain near a saddle, drove a little closer, and got out for the stalk. While we walked up the mountain, we had a mature mountain reedbuck at about 110 yards. Ethan asked if I wanted to shoot him as it was a very good one, but I passed because I didn’t want to mess up the stalk on the sable.
We hiked within 400 yards and looked at all four sable in the binoculars, and the one on the far right was the best of the bunch. We snuck around the sidehill until we reached 230 yards, and I set up on the sticks. Once the sable turned slightly quartering, I put the crosshairs on the shoulder, pulled the trigger, and it immediately dropped. We celebrated and then started walking over there.
It was a magnificent specimen. We didn’t measure the sable but estimated it to be well over 40 inches, probably 42 to 43. We loaded him in the truck, drove up to the top of the hill, got him back out of the truck, and propped up for some pictures. After taking photographs, Koisaki field dressed him. We glassed some eland and common blesbok from our vantage point. We drove back to the ranch headquarters so he could skin him and take care of the meat.
We walked around one of the roads around a big koppe. We saw several mountain reedbuck and two gemsbok and hiked up the mountain and around the backside. We proceeded to stalk the two gemsbok, but they saw us and ran up towards another mountain. We hiked off the mountain and back to camp and heard that Dave had gotten a sable. We all celebrated and had a nice lunch around the campfire as it was still cold and felt like a New York October day.
We headed back out after lunch at about 1:30 PM and did a big drive around the property. We saw some mountain reedbuck. After a while, we came around the corner and glassed the valley where Dan, Dave, and Stuart were hunting. We saw nine gemsbok, a herd of black wildebeest, blesbok, springbok, and impala. We then heard Dan shoot one of the gemsbok, spoke with Stuart on the radio, and watched the gemsbok for about 30 minutes as we were high up the mountain, but we never could see blood on any of the nine, although they were sure Dan hit it.
We drove around another mountain and came across six gemsbok at about 260 yards. They slowly started walking away from us, and I ranged the one Ethan told me I should shoot at about 330 yards. It walked a little further, turned broadside, and I shot and got a good trigger pull, but just as I shot, it took a step forward, and I hit it a little far back. I got on it again and shot again. Ethan said I hit it a bit low towards the front shoulder. At the shot, it reacted like a bucking bronco, spun around, and slowly walked toward the ravine. At this point, it was probably 375 yards away, and I had a going-away rear-end shot on it and ended up shooting high and missing it on the third shot.
All six gemsbok went into the ravine, and four popped out on the other side. None of which looked wounded. Then we saw another one pop out several hundred yards to the left, and it also did not look wounded, so we figured that mine would be dead in the ravine.
We walked down to the ravine and could not find any blood. We walked down it several hundred yards and up the stream a few hundred yards but never could find an animal or any blood. We didn’t see one sneak back towards the mountain where we initially stood for the shot or circle back inside the creek, so we were unsure where it went.
Koisaki thought he saw some spore going back around the same mountain, so we’ll have to go back tomorrow and see if we can follow it. I feel like the animal will die where I hit it, and hopefully, we can find it tomorrow. Dan also did not find his gemsbok, so we will make a team effort to try to recover both of the animals tomorrow. We drove back to camp, arriving at about 6:30 PM, and had a wonderful dinner of gemsbok steak, chicken lasagna, potatoes, vegetables, and dessert. We went to bed at about 9:30 PM and hopefully will recover a couple of animals tomorrow.
June 21, 2023
We were up at the same time as yesterday, and we all drove to the same place to try to find our gemsbok. We dropped the two trackers off at the last place we saw the gemsbok, and I climbed the hill to get a vantage point. When we walked around the mountain, I saw a small kudu bull.
They picked up the spore of my gemsbok, tracked it around the mountain, and eventually found a few drops of blood, but after a couple of kilometers, they lost the trail. The four trackers fanned out and walked through the vast valley towards us. We saw them push out impala and some kudu cows, but no gemsbok.
By now, it was probably 10 AM, and we regrouped. We took the truck and drove up and around the mountain to glass down in the valley and could see six gemsbok in the valley. Stuart and his group went where they last saw Dan’s gemsbok and pushed a herd of 20 black wildebeest by us below in the valley. It was neat to see them running. We drove up in the mountains and saw 11 gemsbok and 20 eland.
None of the gemsbok looked wounded, but the two trackers hiked up the mountain to push them down to get a better look. Seven of them split off and came close to us about 170 yards, but they were walking, and I could not get a shot at any of them. We also saw some mountain reedbuck. When we drove back off the mountain, we saw some waterbuck and a decent kudu bull about the same size as the one I shot.
We all met up for lunch. And then Stuart and his crew went to the valley, and then we went to where I shot the sable to try to hunt a mountain reedbuck. After spotting three female mountain reedbuck, we walked up the mountain, thinking there might be a male. We did a good hike wrapping around the mountain, and when we got towards the front side, we saw the herd of gemsbok that Stuart, Dan, and Dave were after. We heard Dan shoot and could see the gemsbok was down! I was pleased about that.
Ten of the herd of 13 went up the mountain, and two came down in our direction. We quickly made a long hike off the mountain and down the valley across all the washed-out dry riverbeds in the clay, which they call dongas.
Corne stayed at the truck and helped guide us towards the two gemsbok. The wind was squirrelly. There was a group of impala between us and the gemsbok, and we waited for them to slowly walk off. I figured we’d get busted, and we sort of did. The gemsbok got a whiff of us, but they weren’t super alarmed. They bumped up the hill to our left but were angling towards us. We glimpsed them at about 170 yards and quickly set up the sticks. Ethan said they were both about the same size and to take the first one I could get a shot at. When one stepped into the clearing facing my left, I shot. You could see the dust shake off the animal with the bullet hitting it, and it looked like a good hit, but I had the opportunity to take another shot, which I did, and it put it down for good!
We were glad to get one down on the ground. We walked over, and it was a large, mature female. We got lots of pictures, and then Koisaki field dressed it. I called Stuart on the radio, and he brought the truck and some help and could drive within 100 yards of the gemsbok. We had seven guys to help lift it on the tarp with handles, and they carried it to Stuart’s truck and made short work of everything, and we were back to the camp around 4:30 PM. The skinners went to work on both gemsbok. Dan’s was a proper mature male, a very great trophy. We saw some crows flying overhead, so we went to check it out to see if I could find my original gemsbok, but we didn’t find anything. Corne said he would look over the next few weeks for my and Dan’s wounded gemsbok that we didn’t find. Unfortunately, we all know it can happen if you hunt long enough. Both Dan and I felt awful that we left two animals wounded in the field.
We were loaded up at about 5:20 PM, drove back to camp, and had a nice dinner of pork and sable inner loin with all the fixings. It was a delicious meal, and we hung out for a bit. We were pretty tired and went to bed at about 9 PM. It was an emotional day. Tomorrow is the last hunting day, and I think I will let one of the guys go with Ethan so they can shoot a few more animals. I am thrilled with the animals I have taken on this trip so far.
June 22, 2023
It’s the last day of the hunt. I woke up at 6:15 AM, had breakfast at 6:45 AM, loaded up, and headed out a little after 7 AM. We had a hard frost but sunny skies and no wind this morning, so it was an excellent weather day.
We then drove to a new property we were hunting, with several wind turbines and a vast, rugged canyon. We picked up two trackers, and Dave and I went with Ethan and a tracker named Norman. Dan and Stuart went together.
We saw many good kudu bulls, kudu cows, tremendous waterbuck males, and many waterbuck females. As we hunted throughout the morning, we saw baboons, aoudad sheep, several bat-eared foxes, zebras, six giraffes, warthogs, several impala groups, springbok, blesbok, roan, and mountain reedbuck. Dave had no good shooting opportunities except a copper springbok and a giant waterbuck that he passed on. About noon, we heard Dan shoot a waterbuck down in the canyon, so we talked to Stuart on the radio and drove around the canyon on some very, very steep roads to meet the group to go help bring it down the canyon to the bottom where we could get the vehicle to.
With Stuart, Ethan, Dave, Dan, Zed, and the two trackers we picked at the ranch, they went up the mountain and down with the waterbuck in about 45 minutes. With my bad knee, I stayed at the truck, ate lunch, and hung out by the creek.
They had lunch when they came down, and we drove out of there. We planned to return to Justin’s ranch and try for a mountain reedbuck, springbok, or warthog for the evening. We looked at a lechwe while driving out, but Stuart said he wasn’t big enough to shoot.
It was a good drive back to Justin’s, mostly on dirt roads. We drove by several properties Stuart hunts and saw many trophy lechwe and other critters. I stayed with Ethan, Dan, and Dave. Dave almost got a shot at a mountain reedbuck, but it ran over the ridge at the last minute. We walked along the ridge where I shot my springbok earlier in the week and stalked both mountain reedbuck and springbok, but they all bumped. But it was exciting. Eventually, we ran out of daylight, and our hunt was done. We hiked down, Stuart picked us up, and we rode back to Ethan’s truck. We saw several ostriches and a secretary bird. We loaded up, then drove back to camp.
Dinner was a grand affair with my sable and springbok on the menu, lamb, and other fixings. We returned to the fireplace/bar area and enjoyed hanging out, many toasts and boasts, and lots of laughing until about 10 PM, when we retired to bed to prepare to fly home tomorrow.
June 23, 2023
Up at 6 AM and left camp at 7 AM with Stuart for the 4-hour drive to Port Elizabeth. It was an excellent drive, and Stuart entertained us with stories of the local flora and fauna, local traditions and politics, and several great past hunts. We saw monkeys, baboons, and many other critters. After arriving at the airport, we checked in and flew to Johannesburg at 12:30 PM, found some souvenirs, ate dinner, and then said our goodbyes until next time. I flew to Frankfurt, Germany, at about 6:45 PM, arriving at about 6:30 AM the next morning.
June 24, 2023
I had about a 5-hour layover in Frankfurt, then headed to Newark, arriving around lunch. I got my bags and was on my way home, arriving about dinner time. The travel was very straightforward.
Overall, the terrain we hunted was very mountainous and rugged. We hunted six different properties, and all were different. I averaged 108 floors of climb and 6.7 miles of hiking per day. Quite a bit for my knee, as I hadn’t walked more than a mile a day before the hunt. It was a great South African experience. My clients (now friends) and I took some great trophies, had fun camp camaraderie, and saw some new things.
Our safari took place in the Eastern Cape of South Africa, but our PH also hunts extensively in the Free State and Limpopo. Many different plains game animals are available, and we can also offer dangerous game hunts. Safari season here typically runs from April through September. We have access to many free-range and larger high-fence properties – your hunt will be a hunt, and you will earn your animals. We also can add some great wing shooting and touring activities to your safari. Call us, and we can help send you to the Dark Continent for a great safari.