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S. African hunt 2016
I just returned from a South Africa hunt for pains game along with Gene Wensel and four other traditional bowhunters. It was my first time going on this style of hunt, and I found it to be very exciting and fun. We added a layer of challenge through choice of equipment and selectivity toward mature animals or specific individual animals.
I had some friends who went with Gene a couple years ago, and after a spring of significant rainfall, all the vegetation was still green and there was water still available throughout the habitat. Thus, a low number of animals visited the man-made watering-holes during the day. But for us this year, it was very dry and lots of animals came to water. We hunted out of ground blinds, pit blinds and tree stands. I really liked the tree stands because of great visibility and my familiarity hunting out of them, but they were more challenging than ground blinds in some respect due to shifting winds, noise and movement. Sitting still in a stand for over ten hours per day would make my muscles a little stiff, especially when there were quite often so many eyes looking and watching. It was great fun trying to film many of the animals creeping close for a drink, while at the same time keeping an eye on a mature kudu bull or zebra that seemed to watch at a distance for hours before committing to come in.
At first, my plan was to take whichever game gave me a good shot opportunity. But, I did not follow my own rules once I got there and saw some individually special animals. My old system of whitetail hunting took over me in that, “If you want to shoot a big buck, don’t shoot a younger one.” Ha ha ha. I started passing up some very good shots at other game while waiting for a chance at a nice kudu, eland or gemsbok. I just didn’t want to disturb the set-up after seeing them in the area.
I won’t speak for the other hunters, but we all had a good time at this concession that was set up very well for close range traditional bow shots. I hope you enjoy some photos from the hunt. Mike
On day 7 a saw a good kudu bull come into the water area at 7:30 AM. He hung around for 45 minutes, testing the shifting wind, but never committed to drink. After staying in the pit blind for the rest of the day hoping for his return, I passed up many warthogs, impala and nyala. At 4:30 he came in with a group of female eland. Walking behind the water hole at 22 yards he gave me my chance. We tracked him to bush about 200 yards from the blind just as the sun was setting.
I wanted a nice eland bull, but got scolded by the PH after I showed him video footage of a bull I passed up at 17 yards. He said yes, they get bigger with dark foreheads and broomed horns, but that is a mature bull for our area. Four days later I was hunting another waterhole 2 miles from where I passed up the bull, but when I saw him come into the area of my blind I recognized his distinctive markings, and remembered the words of the PH. Some folks think of them as cattle, but I have great respect for them after watching and hoping to get one during eight days of hunting. I’ve seen them blow out of there after smelling my scent, and even jump over brush six to seven feet in the air.
I heard his death moan and good blood 150 yards to his final resting.
These impala really jump the string, and we had to force ourselves to shoot low, which can be a challenge for trad shooters without sights. Your brain has a hard time accepting that. Ha ha ha. This ram was 25 inches and not the biggest one I saw on this trip.
Love africa. When I went last year my hunting partner was shooting a long bow. PH had never had anybody shoot trad before. It was deadly, but he too had a problem with the Impala. Had one of them duck, do a 180 jump and the arrow hit him on the other side before he took off.
The impala were my favorite of all. Amazing animals.
Great pictures, Mike. Congrats!! Love the pic of the arrow hitting the Eland!!
This hunt is a little different than your solo Alaska moose hunts, eh? :)
Great pics! I for one cannot wait to go back to Africa
Yes, you can't go to S.A. and expect to be independent. Yes you can hunt alone, but you will need help tracking, hauling, skinning and all of the rest. Once I got past handing my bow and pack to someone else, I was OK. Ha ha ha. My friend who had hunted Africa before said to expect this, and that's the way they do it over there. It is also their livelihood and you are their guest.
I found out real quick how hard it is to track droplets of blood that have fallen into the red sand. Everything dries out real quick, but the tracker's skill can only be appreciated by witnessing.
I can attest to the trackers ability. They are nothing short of amazing. There are thousands of tracks all over and those guys are able to pick out the individual tracks of whatever you are chasing if there isn't a blood trail. Truly amazing.
"Once I got past handing my bow and pack to someone else..."
When/why did you have to give your bow and pack to someone else?
Great pics! Congrats on your safari!
I love impalas too. I took 3 of them home last year :) Great kudu and eland as well.
StickFlicker- By that statement I infered that I'm used to being self-reliant and doing all aspects of the hunt myself, but on most African hunts they provide trackers and staff that are so accomindating that there always seems to be someone there to greet the Land Cruiser when you arrive back at camp and grab your bow or pack to help you down off the rack. There was also someone who would walk up from the vehicle to assist you from the blind or tree stand during evening pick up. I found out this was a custom of most safaris and not unique to this consesssion. Just very helpfull and all around pleasant people.
sweet Eland congrats thats a brute
Nice trophies. Where were you hunting?
Congrats on a successful hunt Mike! Great pics too!
Agreed on the tracker's incredible abilities. Like Badlands stated, they seemed to just be out on a Sunday stroll, and pretty soon they would show you 1 tiny little drop of blood to confirm we were still on the trail.
Some great trophies there and super story. Congrats
Thinking about getting use to "valet service" from lodge to hide and return reminds and getting use to that- how many times did you try to get in on the "wrong side" of the vehicle, before you learned ?
Buff- that whole thing was an experience for me. Ha Ha
KSMike- We hunted on the bowhunting area of Matsuri Safari, who just expanded his range on five joining properties. He is not a sponsor here, so PM with any further questions about outfitter. Thanks, Mike
No electricity at camp other than a generator to charge camera batteries. They had gas lamps in the rooms though.
Congratulations Mike. I was wondering how your hunt went. That kudu is outstanding!! Africa sure is a different and eye opening experience for us that think seeing 10 deer in a day is a fantastic hunt. The culture experience is worth the trip by it's self. I can't wait to hear more stories.
Yes it was eye opening. I have heard many stories about Africa from Gene and Barry Wensel and many others for decades. I really did enjoy myself and learned a lot. There was a lot of time each night to talk around the campfire, and something we all looked forward to each evening and morning. I have written and talk at seminars about keeping the hunt in hunting. I worried about that during the first few days after seeing hundreds of animals, but after going five days before killing my first animal I realized there are ways to keep the hunt challenging and rewarding. Hunting whitetails, I quite often feel pressure and rushed to make a shot as a buck quickly passes through a shooting lane or opening through the bush. I felt that same pressure as the kudu walked passed the window of a bit blind that measure 5 3/4 inches. Knowing that if the kudu got passed me and there would be no other shot opportunities, the swing of the bow and rapid completion of shot sequence was critical. The quality and flavor of all of the wild game meat we ate was excellent.
I passed this old guy up on the first day, but took him on day five after realizing he was getting chased away from the water and a group of sows by another boar that looked heathier, but had shorter tusks. He was past his prime. When the old boar finally got a chance to come in alone just before dark, I waited until he was 12 yards away before shooting.
It is amazing how much patience those animals have. They can stand motionless watching the water for hours. But, they know that is where the bad things happen. The speed that the impala and wart hogs have put whitetails to shame.
What is with the razor wire on the tree by camp? For the monkeys?
Yes monkeys. We saw lots of jackel, but only leapard tracks.
Fantastic hunt and pictures Mike. Can't wait until next June arrives for my first time to Africa. And thanks for all the info you sent me. Hope our hunt will be as great as yours.
Well done Mike! Some really nice animals.
Hey Mike, did you hump that Eland back to the Rover?! LOL
Gun, he would have, but it would have put 6 people out of a job.
What an adventure:) Thank you for sharing! Spectacular Pictures! Good Luck this fall!
Great hunt and trophies. Congratulation. What was your set up regarding bow and arrow weight and broadhead?
No I didn't have do to much grunt work on this trip other than help drag the warthog out to a trail after dark. Got a few scratches on that one. Ha
I used a 67# Tall Tines recurve, 64" take down. Arrows were 32 inch 2219 XX75 autumn orange, fletched with four 5 inch, high profile swift cur feathers. I used a Tuffhead on the eland, total arrow ~800 gr. I used Abowyer Brown bear for kudu and warthog, total arrow weight ~750 gr. But after hearing stories of the impala jumping the sting, I switch from two blade to the 250 gr woodsman elite 3 blade head. So basicly I tried to match the size, width, and shape of the broadhead with the type and mass of the animal. I shot my last moose with a Tuffhead, and planned to shoot the eland with that should I get a chance, but the other decisions were made on the fly during the hunt. The longest shot was 22 yards.
Very nice specimens. Outstanding in fact.
Unless I missed it, I didn't see the name of the outfitter or ranch. Can we know where you were?
"KSMike- We hunted on the bowhunting area of Matsuri Safari, who just expanded his range on five joining properties. He is not a sponsor here, so PM with any further questions about outfitter. Thanks, Mike "
Good story Herd ! And fabulous pictures ! Wonderful old warthog too.
drycreek- We drug the warthog about 150 yards before we could load him. In the dark, I did not realize his face was plastered with sand. Ha ha . Yes everyone said he was very old
Ha....I was just going to comment that I had never seen a red warthog before!!!
Congratulations on a great safari!
Bishop Archery's Link
Ditto, congrats on a what looks like a wonderful Safari for you.
Congrats on an awesome trip! What was your bow/arrow setup?
Very cool! Seriously considering this myself.