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Back from Dries Visser Safaris
For two long years I've been saving and scrimping to go on a plains game and cape buffalo hunt. I booked this hunt after meeting up with BigPizzaMan Tim Metcalf at the SCI show in Vegas.
The hunt was 5 days for plains game and then 5 days for the buffalo.
I hunted 3 different places and stayed in 2 different camps.
I had been to Africa once in 1990 and took warthog, impala, wildebeest and vervet monkey with my longbow, so those species were not on my wishlist.
I wish I had BB's photographic skills and resources but I did the best I could with the little point-and-shoot camera I "borrowed" from one of my daughters.
On this trip I met up with fellow Bowsiter Russell (hangs out in the Leatherwall a lot too) and his daughter Elizabeth as well as Jason from Michigan. Poor Jason; the airlines lost all his gear and he's a lefty to boot. But this guy picked up a righty compound and put the smackdown on lots of critters. Russell was death on impala and he's already posted on another thread.
So here's a quick photo trip of my 2013 safaris with my ph Willem Van Dyk (he was one of Pat's ph's in Mozambique on his buffalo hunt). Willem is on the left, I'm the short, fat, white-guy on the right.
The day we arrived, we took a tour of the Citadel (Dries' camp) in the late afternoon and saw a ton of critters including (but not limited to:) gemsbok, kudu, sable, cape buffalo, impala, blesbok, warthog, red hartebeest, zebra and others)
The first hunting day we went to a place called Manzi. I had impala, young kudu and warthogs parading in. Finally towards evening my ph Willem spots this jackal and I execute a fine shot at about 20 yards. Jackal piles up 30 yards later in sight of the hide. I was supper pumped up and felt my plains game safari was a huge success.
But the evening was not over. Just as Willem was calling for the truck, a female gemsbok came in and I made a great 17 yard shot and she only ran 80 yards before piling up. 2 animals the first night and I was grinning from ear to ear. This picture shows the off-side of the gemsbok the next morning.
The inside of a typical blind (hide).
The outside of a typical hide/blind.
Here's some camp pictures of where I stayed.
Here's Russell after a long hard day of hunting.
How do you like your eland steak?
Lots of very colorful birdlife.
Day 2 for me produced lots of animals but no shooting opportunities. Meanwhile Russell and Jason were on a roll. They took kudu, nyala, warthog, impala, zebra and probably other critters I forgot to mention.
My chance came on day 3. Sitting in the hide we had 23 gemsbok (male and female) surrounding us and the kudu came in. 24 yards and I just flat out shot too low. I got too excited and used the wrong pin. No excuses, I just screwed up. In the end we got the kudu but it was a long blood trail and the trackers did a fantastic job.
Day 5 I had an opportunity to shoot a kudu that had been wounded by a previous hunter. The shot looked good, the blood looked good but the track went on and on. Eventually one of the ph's shot it with a rifle. No glory there. No picture either. I shot high but under the shoulder blade. Just weird. I've got some kind of voodoo on kudu going on.
Day 6 we moved camp about 2 hours to get to the buffalo. This was a tough hunt as the property was huge, hilly, rough and rocky. Heading out into the rock. I'm sure these ph's (Dries in front, Willem behind) are part klipspringer. I had my hands full trying to keep up with them.
Day 7. We searched for buffalo all day but no luck. That evening I was asked to shoot a small warthog. I was using my buffalo bow 73 pound Hoyt Katera with 900 grains total arrow weight. The warthog jumped the string a bit and spun but the arrow took out part of the spine, exited through the offside shoulder and out the body.
Day 8 we were again in search of buffalo. Never saw hide nor hair but lots of tracks along the roads we had brushed trying to figure out their pattern. We were seeing a ton of game but just not the buffalo. Zebra were taunting us all day long. Their time would come.
Day 9, and once again we are looking for buffalo. It's amazing how difficult it was trying to find them. We looked high and low to no avail.
Along the way, we got an opportunity (several actually) to stalk up on some zebra. At one point, I had a 38 yard shot broadside, but hit the lower limb of my bow on something and the sound spooked the zebra. We managed to get within range one more time and I took a shot. The arrow was low but upon inspection did cut the heart. My daughter might just get that zebra rug she wanted, or at least the back hide.
The evening of day 9, we returned to a spot we thought the buffalo would come by, and they did. There were just no shooter bulls in the herd. So after the herd moved through we went to give bushpig a try. The situation was perfect but I was not. My shot was a little high and back and we did not recover the pig. My ph did see a leopard while he was searching for the pig. His tracker had borrowed my flashlight (torch) and I was left with just the light on my cap. Nice.
Awesome trip...keep 'em coming. Glad you had a great time.
Day 10 and we are looking high and low for buffalo. Willem finds signs of where they had been the day before but they were not there that morning. We played cat and mouse with a group of bulls one of the trackers said he saw, but we never did see them ourselves.
I had resigned myself to the fact that I might not get a crack at a buffalo. This was going to be my only chance as I'm a school teacher and saving for this trip took some time and sacrifice.
We rounded a bend in the road and spotted 6 bulls bedded. They stood for a minute and then bolted. We followed in the truck until we rounded another bend in the road and there stood 50 or so buffaloes watching us. Most of the herd was composed of cows and calves. 2 good bulls were also in the group. Honestly at this point, I was so excited to see buffaloes I didn't count or look at any other bulls. I kept my eyes on the closest buffs and hoped they wouldn't charge or bolt. We eased up to the herd and Willem pointed out a bull on our left that was nearly broadside. One step later I had a 24 yard shot and the arrow was away. The bull dropped 30 yards away and after a short time we moved a truck up to scatter the herd. I put a finishing shot in the boiler room. The bull would have expired where it laid but I felt no reason not to add the second shot.
My only real complaint is about the Johannesburg airport. Everybody over there wants a bribe or a handout. Cops, baggage handlers, security, you name it, they look at you as one big payday. I really despised that part of the trip. I know, I know, just get over it, but it really pisses me off. My darn work ethic just keeps getting in the way. Whew, glad I got that off my chest!
I had a really great time and even though you hear folks say once Africa gets in your blood, you will return. I don't know if I will have that opportunity. Hell it took me 23 years to make the second trip, I'll be almost 80 if that pace keeps up.
Congratulations Mike! Looks like you had a great trip.
AWESOME MIKE! Took my Buff on day 9 of an 8 day hunt, so I know what you felt like! Great pics, Great animals, and most important Great Memories!!! Congrats Man!!!
It was a pleasure to share hunting camp with you Mike. What a great hunt you had.
Reading about your adventure, I’m rethinking about a return trip; possibly to Mozambique for Buffalo. Love the idea of stalking the game.
Regarding Jo-Burg airport: I had zero problems. No one asked to help with bags, nor tips. Guess I scared them too much with a killer-stare/look?!
Thanks for brings us all along on your hunt via this thread.
Best wishes, Russell
Can't even go to Africa without shooting at the hogs...what a deal. Glad you had a great adventure and thanks for sharing the pictures. Can't wait till my next visit to the room of death to see some new trophies.
A great, exiting adventure. Congrats on some great trophies. Thanks for sharing.
Great pics and stories! Congrats, INbowdude!
Awesome Mike! Congrats on some fabulous animals.
I have read where others had issues in Joberg too but I didn't have any at all. I did however stop at a bizarre/flea market looking place with my PH to get some trinkets for my kids. I felt smothered in there by all of the people wanting something. I told him I was ready to leave and would pay twice the price for something at the duty free in Joberg.
Congrats Mike! What an awesome trip, Can't wait to talk to you about your trip!
Congrats on a great hunt Mike!!! Thanks for the pics.
congrats on an Old dagga bow...Dries is a good place t0 go . Did you see many bushbuck ? ( or not in that habitat)
Thanks all. Russell and Bowfreak, both you guys are way bigger and scarier than this short, fat, white-guy!
Boothill, you know I'm a weak man when it comes to pigs.
Extrem Predator, I did see a few bushbuck but not many. I suppose if we were really hunting for them we might have seen more. When we were driving they just held still in the brush.
INbowdude, Congrats on some great trophies! Thanks for sharing your hunt... Your report is another testimony to what an awesome bowhunting destination Africa truly is...
About the Jo'burg airport... In many visits in and out of there, I have never witnessed or personally experienced any issues with beggars, shakedowns, ect...We had one instance where we were approached by some unofficial "porters" wanting to help us with our bags. A polite but firm "no thanks" sent them on their way without incident...Sorry to hear that you were harrassed, but I don't think your experience is typical.
awesome hunt and trophys.thanks for sharing. Forrest
Thanks for sharing your experience with us. Congrats on your trophies as well!..t-roy
you make us all want to go! thanks for posting!
Mike-What was your set up for the buff?
Hoyt Katera set at 73 pounds. 900 grain total arrow weight. I sleeved a Easton Jazz 1914 inside a Easton Gamegetter II 2219. I topped that off with a VPA 250 grain single blade COC broadhead. As far as penetration, I got 20 inches on my first shot. I'm not sure what I hit as I wasn't in the skinning shed when they dressed the animal. I took a second shot when the bull was lying on the ground and that arrow penetrated completely up to the fletch (25 inches of penetration) and exited the animal.
When I ran the kinetic energy tabulations, I was on the bottom end of what was recommended. I completely agree and wouldn't go any lower. I should have worked up to closer to 80 to be on the safe side, but it did do the job. I'm sure everybody has their own thoughts on this but that was my experience.
Congratulations on some awesome trophies Mike! That looks like the hunt of a lifetime for sure! We're looking forward to sitting around a campfire and hearing you recount the details of the hunt for us.
-Matt and Cheryl
Will be a 5 month wait to hear the stories in person. That is unless he makes an unscheduled trip this fall. But yes I can't wait till the campfire story version as well.
Way to go Mike! I am glad you got your cape buffalo!
Now next year you can go with me to Hungary for a roe buck and a wild boar! I am leaving for my roe buck bowhunt on 2nd August.
Thanks for sharing Mike. Great trophies and memories
I would be very interested in hearing if your skins come back with slippage and other damage once they have been tanned. I would like to hear straight from your Taxidermist on what he thinks. The northern Transvaal; water base dips all skins before they are shipped back to the states. This means that after the skins have been salted and dried and the hunter has returned home, the skins are re-hydrated (water-base dip) for 72 hours and then re-salted. This causes slippage in a very large portion of the skins that come from the Northern Transvaal. We as hunters need to stop this wasteful action taken by the South African Hunting industry. The east Cape and all the other countries do not Water Base Dip skins. The Northern Transvaal is the only area left to soak skins.
Thanks again all. I had an enjoyable safari.
Check out the safari Russell had on his thread. We were in camp together the first 5 days of my hunt. He has a ton more pictures that I do and greater variety. (Saving mine for the next book).
Kurare, I have not forgotten about Hungary. Good luck on your roe buck hunt.
Russell posted a summary of tips that was pretty good. I didn't take a book because I wanted to see everything I could. Didn't need the cushion but it wouldn't hurt either.
I will say that going with another person or a group would have made the trip much more enjoyable. Also you can borrow gear and clothes if necessary.
I just like this picture.
Way to go Mike! Great story and pics!
Congratulations on the hunt! I know you had a great time, Dries Visser is an awesome place to bowhunt!!!!!
Trophies are back on US soil. Sitting in a warehouse in Chicago waiting on F&W clearance before making the trip to the taxidermist. 4 short hours away.
All look very familiar--Dries is a good guy that only wants the best for his bow hunters--your animals look great--congrats--thanks for sharing-- brought back great memories
Mike-not sure how I missed this but incredible adventure! Not many guys take a cape buff!
Put me on the list for a book my friend:)
Dito what Clutch said...counting the days!