Contributors to this thread:
ndbwhnter is back from Dries Visser!
Well I’m back. Right off the bat let me say this was an AWESOME trip. Met some good people (all the staff as well as “tinpt” and his wife), took some wonderful trophies and made way too many memories to count. These memories will stick with me forever and I would like to share some of them with the rest of you if you don’t mind my ramblings.
My safari started about 9 years ago when I met Neal (badlander here on the Bowsite). We went on some hunts together here in the States, but about 5 years ago we started planning and saving for this trip. Boy was it worth it.
I left for Neal’s house on July 9th, 2010 (which is my birthday incidentally). On the 10th we flew to Washington D.C. and overnighted at the Marriott (thanks for the supper by the way Neal). On the 11th we took off for Jo’burg. We arrived on the 12th after the 18 hour flight. All of our luggage showed up and after “greasing” some palms in the baggage claim area we made it to the arrivals area. A rep from Gracy Travel met us right away and took us over to the rep for the Afton Guest House. We were transferred to the Afton Guest house in a timely fashion, where we met Annelise and checked into our rooms. We met some other hunters from British Columbia and swapped hunting stories over a wonderful steak dinner. If anyone is planning a safari to South Africa, I would highly recommend both Gracy travel and the Afton Guest House.
On July 13th we were picked up by Stian from Dries Visser Safaris for transfer to Citadel. Incidentally, Stian would by my PH for my hunt as well. We talked a lot about what to expect over the next couple days and our excitement continued to build (as if we needed to get more excited anyway). Neal warned Stian that normally he has the good luck and I have the bad luck when we are hunting, so he would have his work cut out for him over the next couple days. We eventually arrived at camp, got settled in our chalets, checked our bows over then had some gemsbuck steaks for lunch. Duane the camp cook did a wonderful job and kept us fed with excellent food over the next several days.
After lunch we headed to the range to make sure everything was shooting OK. After a couple shots at 15 yards, we backed up to the 30 and I noticed my third shot into the target sounded kinda funny? After walking up there we realized why. I had shot a perfect Robin Hood! Maybe my luck was going to be better after all – I sure couldn’t blame my equipment that’s for sure. If you ever go to Dries Visser Safaris you’ll have to look for my Robin Hood on the “Arrow Hall of Fame” at the bar.
After shooting a little more, Dries Jr. and Stian took us for a game drive in the truck around Citadel. We saw all kinds of animals and built upon the excitement a little more. As we were driving around, Dries got a call on the radio from Nico, who was guiding another hunter on a cape buffalo hunt. He asked if we could come and move them to another blind for the evening. Well one thing turned into another, and we ended up right in the middle of a spot and stalk hunt for a cape buffalo! We got some awesome pics and video of Nico and his client Mark about 10 yards away from a huge bull. Unfortunately when Mark drew the buffalo spotted him and blew out of there. My excitement level was so high I’m pretty sure I would’ve died if I had a heart condition and I hadn’t even started hunting yet.
Back at camp that night we met Terry Cockburn (tinpt here on Bowsite) and his wife Lila. I quickly realized that they were “good people” as we say up here in the North Country and knew I was going to get along with them well. Every night we shared stories of the happenings from that day. Looked at trophy photos and videos and there was a lot of hand shaking and congratulations every night. After the hunting stories, the jokes started to flow and pretty soon it sounded like a wild college party with everyone having a great time. I miss it already. After a great supper, I headed off to bed with high expectations – little did I know what lay ahead for the next couple days.
July 14th was my first day of hunting. Stian took me to another property not far from Citadel. Our target animals were kudu, eland, gemsbuck and warthog on this property. Stian had several trail cam pictures of some great animals, but needless to say it was just not in the cards for us this day. We had an old warrior of a warthog come in, but his one tusk was broken off so we passed. He was pretty old and even had a fresh injury on his left rear hind-quarter. We saw a herd of kudu cows and tons of guinea fowl too. Right at sunset we had too small kudu bulls walk in and also a shooter. As Stian was getting the camera in position though, he spotted the movement in the blind and the sun was shining right in the window. So close yet so far away. Unfortunately, when I got back to camp, I called my wife and she gave me some bad news. Turns out we had a tornado go through our town and we had some damage on the house and property. Nothing I couldn’t fix when I got back, but thank goodness my camper was not there or we would surely have lost that. Also, my dog was at the kennel or he may have died as his dog house was damaged and moved about 20 feet during the storm. My neighbors and friends in town got hit much worse than I did. It was a miracle that nobody was injured. Thankfully I had some buddies that came over to the house and checked on my family for me and did a little clean-up prior to me coming home. Thank God for good friends. After a blank day and some bad news from home, I started to worry about that bad luck thing that I mentioned before. Hopefully things would turn around.
Picture of "old and busted".
On July 15th, Stian said we should go back to the same blind as yesterday. He looked like he was worried that I wouldn’t like that, but I told him that he was the PH and he knew best. I would do whatever he wanted to do. Unfortunately by 1 PM we had seen nothing but the same warthog as yesterday and a jackal that offered no shot. Stian was getting very frustrated and said “Let’s move.” We packed up and moved to another blind. After about an hour there we had seen only an ostrich (got some cool pics) and been winded by several warthogs. Again Stian moved us to another blind. As we got settled into the third blind of the day Stian said with a smile, “Maybe you are bad luck.” I could tell he was frustrated, but I wasn’t too worried as we still had a lot of time left in the hunt. At the third blind of the day, we had some warthogs come in. Nothing too large and honestly warthogs were not really on my wish list. In fact my wife had told me NOT to shoot one. A nice one walked in and presented us with a good shot and Stian said, “We have to break the ice, kill him!” I always said I would never question my PH (even if it was against my wife’s direct orders, sorry honey) so I put one right through the bread basket and I had my first African trophy. After tracking, hand shakes, high fives and trophy photos, Stian suggested we go back to the same blind we started in that morning and sat in all day yesterday. Again, I didn’t question his judgment and boy was I glad we went back.
After being in the original blind for about 30 minutes, a herd of kudu started to filter in one at a time. They were coming from some really thick cover so we couldn’t see them until they were within 10 yards of us. We counted 27 cows and calves over about 40 minutes and finally a good bull came in. We must have looked like the keystone cops in that little blind. The bull crossed in front of us and Stian and I had to switch positions. I’m 6 feet 6 inches tall and moving around in a blind doesn’t come easy. I got my bow drawn and leaned over in an awkward position and made a perfect quartering away shot on a beautiful trophy. He was just less than 50 inches, not large by any means, but he’s the first and largest I’ve ever taken and that makes him perfect.
July 16th we were up early to hunt for red hartebeest. As we approached the area where the pop-up blind was supposed to be, we got a surprise. Turns out some buffalo did not like where Stian had set it up and decided to move it for us! After a fire drill fix job on the damaged blind and a quick brush in we were back in business. It turns out this animal would be my nemesis for the entire trip and despite hunting every morning and evening for the next 7 days for one, it was not meant to be. Mid-morning we moved to another blind. We had a herd of eland come in and there was an exceptional bull in the group. Stian even seemed to get a little nervous as we were waiting for a shot. After about an hour, he offered a perfect quartering away shot at just over 20 yards and I put the smack down on him. The herd bolted out of there like someone had just lit their tails on fire! It’s amazing to see 1900 lb animal move like a middleweight boxer when something scares them. After the track job, we approached what would probably be my best trophy of the trip. He was an old mature bull with a big ruff and 36.5 inch horns. He was absolutely enourmous! What a great trophy.
We moved to another blind for the evening for a red hartebeest, but we ended up seeing a ton of kudu including one that would go over 60 inches, some waterbuck and a lot of warthogs. With about 45 minutes of light left an impala came into the waterhole. He was pretty skittish, but finally gave me a good shot. He knelt down at the water so I knew he couldn’t really jump the string, but his body angle as he was kneeling screwed me up and I made a poor shot. I had the right height, but it was just to far back. The arrow went right where I was aiming so it was my own fault, no excuses. After bumping him once on the track job, Stian called in Dries Jr. with his dogs. We actually lost one of Dries’s dogs for about an hour after he took off on the trail and I was pretty sure we were not going to find the impala. We decided to check to see if the dog had gone back to camp and then call off the search. As we pulled up to camp, we found the dog and after Dries picked him up and set him down again, he took off running. Dries said “Grab your bow!” as we took off running after the dog. As it turns out the dog had tracked the impala for over a mile and a half and he had died not 20 yards from the main camp. My luck had definitely turned to the good side. Those dogs are absolutely amazing!
July 17th found us looking for red hartebeest again with no luck. At the second blind, we had a herd of blue wildebeest come in. After over an hour of milling around, I finally got a 22 yard shot at a very nice bull. I put the arrow right on the money and got a clean pass through! Even with a good shot, this animal went well over 100 yards, but it was an easy track job.
After pictures and loading, we headed back to the same blind. Stian said we may get a chance at a zebra or gemsbuck in the afternoon. After about an hour back in the blind, we saw 4 zebra off in the distance. I can attest to what several others have said on this site. These animals are VERY wary and wired like a crack-head looking for his next fix. They would blow out for no apparent reason then slowly start to make their way back in. The wind was not perfect and Stian had zebra dung burning out every window of the blind and he even had it burning in the blind. It looked like a four-alarm fire there was so much smoke! He kept asking me if I was OK, and I said “No problem, whatever it takes.” As the stallion kept coming in, we kept talking about shot placement, and Stian described it perfectly to me based on this stallion’s markings. He told me right where to put the shot. When he finally gave me a shot, my broadhead hit less than an inch away from where he told me to put it. PERFECT! As we walked up to him, I realized this is way more than “just a horse” and knew he would be one of my favorite trophies from Africa. At the end of the day, I realized that I had taken 6 of my 9 animals on my wish list and I still had four days left to hunt. The “bad luck” start had sure faded away.
July 18th found us on another property near Citadel. Again we were looking for red hartebeest in the early morning and evening and gemsbuck through the middle of the day. It was a pretty long day today with no shooter animals but I still got a ton of good pictures regardless. Below is a pic of a impala that seemed to be sticking here tongue out at us. I just had to laugh after I snapped the picture. When we got back to camp we checked the trail cam that Stian had place at the pop-up blind. Turns out the red hartebeest we had been hunting here came in to water in the afternoon and not the morning. Argggghhhhh!
July 19th we were after red hartebeest again, but also gemsbuck. The gemsbuck was the number 1 animal on my list and I had yet to have a shot at a shooter over the entire trip. Stian didn’t seem worried about it and I’m glad I didn’t question him. By the end of the day, I would shoot a monster! We moved to a blind I had not been in during the entire trip. We had two smaller gemsbuck bulls come in that I would have been proud to take, but Stian made me wait and then he showed up. At first he hung out 70-80 yards from the blind and just wouldn’t commit. After about an hour he finally stopped moving long enough to give me a 25 yard shot. I put a perfect shot on him too. In typical gemsbuck fashion he blew out of there like he was riding a lightning bolt. He ran over 100 yards and piled up in mid stride right into a pile of brush. Stian said he was a great, old bull and we measured him right in the field. I’ve never been much on scores or measurements but Stian insisted and said he was 36.5 inches which is apparently pretty nice for a gemsbuck bull. I didn’t care, he was beautiful and would make a very impressive mount.
July 20th we were after red hartebeest and blesbuck. We decided to sit the whole day in a blind that had been good in the past for both. We saw tons of other animals included some really nice kudu and waterbuck. About mid-day was saw a herd of red hartebeest working their way in. I thought finally we were going to get a shot. As they came in we could see two bulls in the group, but unfortunately they were young and Stian suggested that we pass. I got some really nice pictures again though. Another couple hours later and I could see a herd of blesbuck coming in. There were more than 30 in the group, with one very good ram. Once they made it to the water hole, it was total chaos! Animals were everywhere and it was nearly impossible to keep track of him, make sure I had a clear shot and get it all on video. Finally he gave me a shot. I put it right on his shoulder, but he was quartering away harder than I thought. As it turned out I only got the front of one lung and then exited in front of the offside shoulder. He ran out 40 yards and then stopped. He looked like he was getting wobbly but then he just walked off into the brush. We gave him tons of time and then drove around to an open area where Stian thought he might go. Our plan was to try and find the herd and see if he was still with them. Well we found the herd, but he wasn’t with them. As we kept driving, Jan our tracker saw him standing back in the brush. After a while he finally came out and after some re-positioning I was able to finish him off with a 250 yard running shot through a break in the brush from Stian’s .30-06. Not normally a shot I would take with a rifle, but he was wounded and I’ve made shots like that before back home. I am not necessarily proud of the whole string of events, but I got my trophy and he was a fine one at that.
July 21st found us after red hartebeest AGAIN. This was my last animal on my last day, and I was hoping to pull out the ultimate last day miracle. The plan was to sit all day and just put in our time in one blind. We had tons of animals come in and got a chance to reflect upon a really great safari, but there were no red hartebeest.
As I said at the start of the post, I met some great people and had a great time. I really hope to meet up with Terry and Lila again in the future and that red hartebeest gives me the perfect excuse to come back!
I would HIGHLY recommend Dries Visser Safaris to anyone thinking about an African Safari – you will not go wrong!
This is probably one of my favorite misc. photos from the trip.
Sorry about the long posts, but as I said before, I have made a lot of memories.
Thanks to Dries Visser Jr., Stian my PH and the rest of the staff at Dries Visser Safaris. This was truly the experience of a lifetime.
To Terry (tinpt) and Lila, as I said before, I hope to meet you again and if you ever find yourself in ND, be sure to look me up. I'm sure I'll need another phonics lesson on how to say ten point, I mean "tin point" when we meet up. :)
Also thanks to Neal (badlander) for coming along on the trip. True friends are hard to come by. Thanks.
Very nice!! Congrats on a wonderful safari!
Way to go buddy! Glad the trip was a succuss for you and Neal!
FANTASTIC HUNT Thanks for sharing it.
Great post...good stories and congrats on some beautiful trophies!
Congrats on a great hunt!
Nice trophies, great trip! Congratulations!
ND, Great job I really am enjoying reading about your hunt even though I was there !! I love that backlit Kudu picture.
Great job! Thanks for all the detail and pics.
Awesome! Really like the trophy pose with the kudu.
happy hunting, dv
looks like a BLAST,great job,what kind of blood trailing dogs do they have? Forrest
Congratulations on some great looking animals. It sounds like it was an awesome trip.
Very nice pictures as well!!!!!
Almost all of the dogs the PH's used were Jack Russel Terriers. These dogs love what they do over there and they are good at it. It was amazing.
Everyone else, thanks for the kind words, it really was the trip of a lifetime.
Congrats man! That looks like a great hunt filled with memories that will last a lifetime!
No Nyala??? :-)
What a great hunt you had, congrats on those fine trophies!!
Great hunt and superb shooting!!!
"but he’s the first and largest I’ve ever taken and that makes him perfect."
Really like that quote...well said!
Great hunt is his Dad Still Living?
As far as I know he still is. I never got to meet him though. Dries Jr. was pretty much running the show as far as I could tell.
I saw Sr last year. From my understanding Jr has been running the operations for the last couple years and Sr is concentrating on the animal portion (buying/breeding)
I ask Dries Jr about his Dad and he said he was doing well.I think Jailer is correct that JR is running the hunting portion and Sr running the buying/breeding
congrats on a Great Hunt. Great everything
You got to hunt with Stian? Lucky sucker! My wife and I were there with Jailer the year before. We got to hunt with Stian the whole time. Since he was about our age, we got along with him great. He's pretty good at drinking beer too...but not as good as an average american. HA!
Don't short change yourself Jon. There is nothing average about your beer consumption. I would rate it some where in the superior range! Do yah ever answer e-mails? All those PH's with Dries are good. I'd be happy to hunt with any of them.
Hunting with Stian was awesome! He was very knowledgable and graciously answered all of the questions I had. He's also pretty funny too. I am glad I upgraded to 1X1 so he was with me all of the time. If I ever go back, I will request that Stian be my PH again.
Like many people say, your PH will be one of your best friends by the end of the trip, with Stian it didn't even take a day to get that same feeling.
Hey John...I have not gotten any emails from you that I know of bud! Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Love to hear from you and Barb!