It's hard to believe its been 14 years since I was last in Africa. That was a bowhunt with 4 buddies. This was a very different hunt. This one was with specialty pistols and with my sweetheart there hunting with me.
Our trip started off a bit rocky. Our flight from San Francisco was delayed 1 hour and 40 minutes which made it a sprint to catch our connecting flight in DC. Nothing like flying 5-1/2 hours, sprinting through the airport just to sit on another plane for 17-1/2 hours!
Arriving in Johannesburg South Africa, our PH (Arrie) was waiting for us on the other side of customs. He took us to the police station at the airport to get our firearms. We used a company named Rifle Permits to make the getting the firearms in and back out of Africa seamless. I highly recommend them to anyone going to the dark continent. We walked past 8-10 other hunters waiting to get their guns. Our rep handed the officer the papers and we walked out after only 5 minutes, tops!
Two and a half hours later we finally made it to camp at 10:30pm. The other hunters already in camp had retired for the evening. The camp manager (Janine) had a wonderful dinner waiting for us with a main course of Nyala stew. Boy, were we looking forward to a good nights sleep.
Prior to arrival, our outfitter asked what animals we were interested in hunting. This is so they can make a plan as to what areas to hunt to give us the best chance of success. I have learned the best plan when hunting Africa is to keep an open mind and be opportunistic. At breakfast Arrie informed us that we would look for a Sable on our first morning. While driving through the rolling hills we saw Impala, Blesbok, Wildebeest and Warthogs. None were overly large or what we were looking for so we kept looking for Sable. After a quick stop for lunch under a cool tree, we were back looking for a trophy Sable. An hour or so had passed when we laid eyes on our first pair of Sable. Neither was what I was looking for but what a beautiful sight. As you all know, things can happen quickly. The PH snapped his fingers and the tracker (Daniel) stopped the truck. Arrie said "nice Sable", I saw nothing! These guys can spot a flick of an ear at 200 yards! As quietly as possible we made a stalk through the trees and dry brush. Closing the distance to 140 yards this amazing animal was standing in a small clearing. Facing away from us, I was able to get prone on a dirt mound. Now if he would just turn. Well turn he did as my PH stepped back on a small stick. "Crack" the bull spun around facing us, I was on him and solid. With the cross hairs low on his chest, I squeezed the crisp 1.6 lb trigger. Thump! Recoil kept me from seeing the hit, but the big bull only made it 40 yards before collapsing. The first and my number one animal on this trip was mine.
40" Sable 7mm Saum 160gr. Accubond 140 yards builder: Mike Able
After pictures and loading the animal in the truck we started down the mountain. I was on cloud nine and discussing the shot with Lisa when the tracker says big Blesbok! Off we went. The PH led Lisa through the brush with me in tow. The small herd was in a meadow below us some 180 yards. She was able to close the gap to 160 yards before running out of cover. One ram stood out as an older, larger animal. Quickly, Arrie set up our tripod with W Gear claw bag on top. Lisa moved into position standing solid as stone. The group had no idea we were there. Only her second ever big game animal, you would never know it as Lisa was patient, calm and waited for the bull to give her a broadside shot. When it presented itself Lisa slowly squeezed the trigger. At the shot the Blesbok lurched forward and crashed to the ground. I could not be prouder of her. What a great first day!!
17" Blesbok 6.5 Saum 140gr Berger VLDH 160 yards builder: Mike Able
Still on a natural high from day one, we were told we were going to look for Bushbuck today. These are hard to find and very illusive animals. Leaving camp at 4:30am we started our 3-1/2 hour drive. While driving I asked Arrie what other critters were available in this location. He said everything from Leopard to Elephant, but in passing he said Klipsringer. I badly wanted one of these tiny antelope last time I was in Africa, so I told him let's look for them. In return he said "hope you brought your hikin' shoes". When we reached the area we picked up another tracker that knew the country very well (James). We spent all morning looking for Bushbuck seeing a couple of females and one small male. After lunch we turned our attention to Klipspringer. I think Arrie was more excited than I was! We drove as far as we could up the mountain then we went on foot. Lisa decided to sit this one out. So she and our tracker from camp (Daniel) waited at the truck. Reaching the cliffs we were greeted by 20 or so baboons who were not very impressed with us at all. After being scolded by them for five minutes, we started into the cliffs. After hiking three or so miles though the rocks James whispers "Klipspringer". Four of the little guys were jumping around on a grass and rock patch some 300 yards away. We planned a stalk and managed to get to within 150 yards before they saw us and bounded over a rocky hill. James said hurry so we sped up our pace, getting to a spot 50 or so yards when we last saw them. He said get set up. I threw the Claw on a rock in front of me and rested my pistol on top of it. James then started blowing a varmint call. After three series something caught my eye. He called in two females and one male to within 20 yards of his back. He never knew they were there. He turned not knowing and spooked them. Could not have turned out better. The two females ran from were they came and the male ran into the small valley in front of us. Bounding up the the opposite side I followed him in the scope. Near the top of the ridge he jumped up on a boulder. As he paused I found him in my scope and squeezed the trigger. The beautiful little antelope dropped ten feet to the rocks below.
3-1/2" Klipspringer 7mm Saum 110 yards
After getting him off the cliffs and taking pictures. We started back down the mountain. Dropping the tracker to skin the little guy and get the antelope in the cooler we sat over a watering hole about a quarter mile up a ravine hoping to see a Bushbuck. After sitting for a couple hours we decided to pick up the tracker and start the long drive back to base camp. Saying goodbye to James we started back. Remember that part about being opportunistic? Just in case we saw a Bushbuck on the way to the highway, Lisa and I rode in the back high in the jump seats. As we crested a hill, Arrie stopped the truck. About 250 yards away stood a nice Red Hartebeest in a clearing to the left of the road. He knew we were there so a shot would have to be quick. Lisa set up on the trucks top rack using the claw for stability. As the animal turned to leave, Arrie whistled, stopping him. As he looked over his right shoulder I told Lisa the distance and said to put the shot 6-8 inches behind the crease. At the shot, the big red critter ran across the road about 50 yards and collapsed. A perfect quartering shot. I about fell out of the truck jumping up and down. I already knew she had turned into a good shot. Now she's becoming quite the hunter.
20" Red Hartebeest 6.5 Saum 227 yards
Returning late again to base camp, they held dinner for us. The Kudu steaks were delicious!
Black Wildebeest is on the menu. A large savanna exists within 45 minutes of camp. To say I was amazed would be an understatement. We saw large groups of Wildebeest both blue and black, Impala, Springbuk, and a few Zebra. Driving into a heavily treed area, we saw Cape Buffalo, Rhino and Giraffe. Coming out the other side we saw a group of about 30 or so Black Wildebeest. There were some good bulls in there. Not knowing we were watching them gave us time to look them over. I decided to try for a really old bull. He was not the biggest but had tons of character. I wasn't comfortable shooting off the tripod at that distance so I found a place in the grass to go prone. Range finder said 355 yards. I dialed the top turret to my dope chart, took a deep breath and at the end of my exhale slowly sqeezed the trigger. The audible thump reported the hit, but he ran a short distance then started walking. Arrie told me to stay on him as they are tough. As he started cresting a hill, I ranged him again, dialed my scope for 500 yards and put my crosshairs in front of his left shoulder as he slowly walked. At the report of the pistol we heard another "thump", this caused him to run about 20 yards and lay down. Unfortunately, he required a finishing shot from 125 yards. My first shot was about 6 inches further back than I meant for it to be. My second shot that ended up being 520 yards, entered his last rib angling forward taking out his liver. A heart shot put him down for good.
20" Black Wildebeest 7 Saum 355, 520, 125 yards
After pictures and loading the big boy up we headed back over the hill where we started. Below us was a large group of Springbok. We were looking them over and deciding on a plan to get closer when a another group ran past us and stopped, not knowing we were there. Lisa readied her 6.5, again shooting off the tripod and claw. She chose one that stood 130 yards from us. At the shot the Springbok ran everywhere! Her shot was low and required a follow up. Making the second shot from 165 yards, she had her Springbok. Pictures, loading him in with the Wildebeest and we were heading to camp.
13" Spingbok 6.5 Saum 130, 165 yards
A little earlier back to camp for a delicious meal featuring Sable strips.
Unfortunately Lisa twisted her knee a bit while walking to the Springbok and it swelled over night so she decided to take a day to hang out at camp. After breakfast she wished me luck and Arrie and I headed out in search of Nyala. These beautiful spiral horned animals like to hide in heavy cover making them hard to find. Hard to judge and hard to get a shot at! Our plan was to drive to high ground and glass the valleys and brush areas trying to see one at long range and plan a stalk. Well that plan sort of worked. We saw them then when we tried a stalk they gave us the slip. This happened on three occasions before lunch. One was a nice bull we judged at right around 25-26 inches and I would have loved the opportunity at him. We hunted hard for about five hours before taking a lunch break. Moving to a new area, we found cooler and thicker cover. So we went on foot to to move quieter. We jumped everything from Blesbok to Duiker. Then Arrie says "big Nyala". Through the heavy brush we quickly judged the bull in that 26" class. The problem was that he was over 100 yards in very heavy cover. Unaware of our presence, we tried closing the distance and creating a shot. This went on for over three hours. We moved, he moved. I was sure this wasn't going to happen until we caught a break. The big bull broke right giving us an a small opening. Arrie quickly set up the tripod and loaded the claw on top. I rested the HS pistol on top and found the Nyala in the scope. I could not see the bulls vitals. Not wanting to lose this animal, I weighed my options. The only one and I'm not all that thrilled with was a neck shot. I will say I studied the anatomy of every animal I intended to hunt to afford me every possible opportunity. I decided to try the shot. Picking a spot, I leaned on the trigger. He never knew what hit him. As we approached we were blown away. He was way bigger than we thought. I feel very lucky to have him.
28-1/2" Nyala 7mm Saum 95 yards
Dinner: Impala back strap and Wildebeest cabobs
Lisa is back in the fold! Her knee feeling better and I'm excited to have her back with me for the day. We have been here four full hunting days now and have yet to see a Zebra under 1000 yards that wasn't running full tilt heading to parts unknown. I hunting 14 days on my last trip and never had the opportunity to harvest one. Today I wanted to spend the day trying to get one of these majestic aniamls. It took 3-4 hours to see our first Zebra of the day and what we saw was a small herd's rear ends over a half mile away! This was going to be fun! I realized that we had to go on foot using what cover we could. We spotted a small group over 1500 yards away and started our stalk. Using trees at first, they were completely unaware of our aproach. After a couple hundred yards we ran into a dry river bed. Perfect! We used this to close the gap to 300 yards. I felt comfortable at this distance, but if we made it undetected through the small group of trees in front of us the shot would be easier. A half hour later we were 230 yards from the herd. This is close enough. As we set up the tripod and Claw bag on top one of the mares caught our movment. Crazy! We were being careful. These critters are extremely aware of their suroundings. As they contemplated their escape, I found a large mare in the back of the group. Quartering towards me, I put the crosshairs inside the left shoulder and sqeezed the trigger. A loud "smack" confirmed the hit. The huge cload of dust 30 yards from the impact point, confirmed it was on the mark. What an amazing animal. The shot hit where I put the crosshairs. The bullet traveled the length of the body and was recoved in the right hip.
Zebra 7mm Saum 227 yards
Our celebration was short lived as we saw a large group of Impala about a quarter mile away moving into a perfect ambush spot. We finished pictures, loaded my Zebra and headed out to see if Lisa could get her Impala ram. Closing the distance in half riding in the truck, we took off after them on foot. That didn't work too well as they spotted us and raced off. We returned to the truck and after a short drive, we rounded a bend and ran into a small group of Impala consisting of 20 or so females and 1 ram. They were surprised by our appearance. As the truck came to a stop, I threw the Claw bag on top of the trucks cab. Lisa didn't blink. She got the 6.5 Saum on the bag and located the ram in the crowd. The male took off running to our left but stopped abruptly as the females didn't follow. That was a fatal mistake. Lisa put a well placed Berger in the center of the rams chest as he faced us trying to figure out what to do. He made it only 10 yards before dropping. That was an amazing shot on a panicked animal at 170 yards.
Impala 6.5 Saum 170 yards
Dinner: Chicken and Impala sausage
The only animal left on my original "wish list" was the illusive Bushbuck. It was explained to me that our only good chance was just before dark. So I told Arrie that I would like to look for a bigger, better scoring Black Wildebeest. I really like my first one. He was old and had ton's of character, but I would like to get a longer horned one. We had the day time to kill, so off we went looking for another one. Over half the day passed before we found a herd in a big open pasture. No option here as I was not going to shoot over 750 yards! We decided to make a wide loop to see if we could get closer. It worked and we found ourselves 350 yards from the front group. With several good bulls in the group we decided to give it a go. Some of them acted like they saw us while others didn't seem to know we were in the country. I chose the one I wanted to try for. Not presenting a shot for more than ten minutes, he finally turned to his left broadside. Ranging him, I dialded my scope for the 341 yard shot. Finding the "triangle" on the side of the bull where our American animals shoulder would be I felt solid as the report broke the quiet. I was surprised that I didn't hear that "thump" like I did on most of the other animals we had taken. The big bull showed zero signs that he had been hit, other than he ran at the shot. After a short 30 yards he got stiff legs, wobbled and fell over. Again the well placed 160 Accubond did its job.
26" Black Wildebeest 341 yards
Back at the lodge we relaxed for a bit before heading out for an evening sit for Bushbuck. Sitting in a makeshift blind and as light faded, we saw a couple of females enter the field. Soon we had 8 in the field; 4 males and 4 females. One male was worth taking, but I couldn't see my crosshairs so our night was done.
Dinner: Springbok Brochette
With only Bushbuck on my mind and the only hunt for them being in the evening we took the day to relaix and enjoy down time together. Soaking up the African sun, exploring camp, snapping photos and basically taking it easy. A Giraffe and Cape Buffalo were brought in by other hunters while we were in camp and while I would not shoot a Giraffe myself, what a massive and beautiful animal. Steve Scott of the TV show "Safari Hunters Journal" shot the Buff with an air gun. Let's just say it didn't go well as he shot it two days prior. The big bull was killed by a PH when it charged him from 50 yards away. At 3 pm my PH Arrie says lets go find you a Bushbuck. Loading my gear in his rig, I was surprised to have another PH (TJ) jumping in to go with us. He said "Bushbuck is my favorite animal in Africa and I feel you are going to score tonight. I want to watch" Driving an hour and half to get to our hunting spot we arrived with about 2 hours of light left. We decided to try a different strategy. Arrie suggested we close the distance to a maximum 250 yard shot and build a leopard blind. I said lets do it!. Using machete's we cut branches off the trees and built a blind four or so feet high by ten feet long. We cleared a small opening for a shooting window. Behind the opening sat my tripod with trusty Claw bag on top and a chair to shoot from. We also had three small viewing ports for glassing. I felt invisible in the blind. Right up until we hit the ground. All three of us laying flat on our stomachs. Bushbuck? Nope! Over 100 Guinea fowl flew from the trees and landed less than 50 yards from us. If they detect us, our night is over. Sucking dirt for 20-30 minutes the birds finally moved on. As darkness approached, we heard 7 gun shots judging the distance somewhere around 300 yards, I thought this would ruin our night. It's now 6:10 and we are quickly losing light. I admit I was mentally packing up for the night. When TJ reaches his arm towards me motioning me to get ready to shoot. Slipping into my chair and looking through the scope, I see a mature Bushbuck bull. I have enough light to make the shot but cannot see horn size. All the guys said was "He is mature and you should shoot" Trust your PH! I found the bull in my scope. Quickly ranged him at 185, found that magical triangle where the shoulder should be and applied pressure to the crisp 1.6 lb trigger. The recoil and flash from the break kept me from seeing the result. Before I could get back on him, Arrie said "done". The buck never took a step. Grabbing my pistol we walked across the field towards my trophy. I asked as we walked how big is he? Both guilds looked at each other and said. I don't know! 15 or so yards from the beautiful animal TJ started jumping up and down. The Arrie. Then they started hugging each other and then me. Do you know what youv'e done said Arrie? He is huge. Laying on the ground in front of me is was a trophy better than I could ever have hoped for. A 16" plus Bushbuck. Our celebration lasted well after we returned to camp. The last animal on my wish list was amazing.
16" Bushbuck 185 yards
Dinner: A baked casserole of Impala and beef
Day 8 Our last..........
Today was about relaxing, enjoying each others company and that of our hosts. Picture taking and reliving our stay. Africa is a wonderful country. One with extremely friendly people, amazing sights and sun sets that post cards are made of. We made several new friends. Convinced quite a few people that pistols are capable of doing what any rifle can do and maybe even surprised ourselves a bit. The best part? I was able to share it with my sweetheart Lisa. Now for that 24 hour flight home!! UHG.......
Thank you for reading. Long winded as it is, I hope I could take you along on safari with us.
**Special thanks goes out to Mike Able of Rouge Precision Gunworks for building our guns to perfection. Super accurate and dependable.
And Cody Weiser for his quality shooting bags. The Claw bag was used on nearly everyone of our shots. We are never without it.
Cheers! Derek >>>-------------->
EDIT: pic fix This message has been edited. Last edited by: Magnum Mike,
Congrats Derek -- to both you and your wife! Looks like a good time was had by all. Well done!
It looks like several of the pictures didn't auto load and have to be clicked on.
Congrats to you both, awesome animals and great shooting!
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What a cool hunting trip.
Congrats on a great hunt and even better memories, thank you so much for sharing!
Sounds like an amazing trip Congrats!!!!
Veteran and NRA Life Member
Outstanding hunt for both of you!
Great story and pictures.
So happy for both of you.
Ernie (xphunter) "The Un-Tactical"
SEB Coaxial Front Rest - Dealer
SP's by Mac's Gunworks, H-S Precision, Holland's, Aaron Alexander, Chris Rhodes, & Nine Run Gun
What an adventure! Looks like your taxidermist is going to be busy. Thanks for letting us come along.
Loved the story, felt like I was there with you. Thats my dream hunt, with bow or handgun. What is the claw bag you keep referring to.
Thanks for sharing.
Outstanding hunt Derek , congratulations to both you and Lisa! Great write up and fantastic photos , thanks for sharing!
Great story and great hunt! Thanks for sharing!
Well done guys. Very well written. Thanks for taking me along.
Seems over the last couple years you two have became quite the pistol
shooters. The best part is you got to do this with your better half.
Enjoyed the story and pics....thanks for taking the time to share.
THE Handgun Hunting Authority!
If there's anything better than hunting Africa I haven't found it. It's hunting paradise on earth. Great story and great animals.
Thanks all is was an amazing time spent with my better half.
@4570 Hunter The Claw bag is made by Cody Weiser ( WGear ) it can be seen in the Springbok photo. Lisa's 6.5 is sitting on top of it. Cody's bags and accessories are top notch and built to last. Prop it on a fence post, tail gate, tripod like we did or just about anywhere you can think of. It is solid.
Having not been much of a firearms hunter in my life. I always felt that if you shot an animal with a gun and it went down. The bullet did its job. I have learned from many of you, what a bullet does after the hit is also important. We were only able to recover 3 of our bullets. The skinners didn't really want to look for them. And many passed through.
The first picture is a 140gr. Berger VLDH recovered from Lisa's Blesbok.
Retained weight 109.6 gr.
This picture is of the two bullets recovered from my first Black Wildebeest. I really found this one interesting. The top bullet was shot from 355 yards and the second at 520. 160gr. Nosler Accubonds
Retained weight 127.0 and 136.7
I feel both of these bullets preformed extremely well on our trip.
View from our make shift Leopard/Bushbuck blind.
The buck appeared from the brush by the river pictured across the field. Some 200 yards away.
Outstanding write up, great photo's & a lifetime of memories shared with a loved one, how could you top that! Both of you made some great shots so I know you did your home work, well done!
Great job, main thing you both returned safe.
Both of you sound as if you enjoyed the hunts and had a great time.
Very good pics too.
Congrats on a great safari and some fantastic trophies! What outfit did you hunt with?
I think it better to do right, even if we suffer in so doing, than to incur the reproach of our consciences and posterity.
General Robert E. Lee
Pretty cool. congratulations!
Aint happenin here in this lifetime
~Kentucky....there is no place i'd rather be~
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Congrats. Sounds like you guys had a heck of a good time!!
Way to go bud!!
NRA life member
NAHC life member
Derek thanks for taking us all on your safari. Excellent job of describing it and your pictures are first class. Congrats to you and Lisa on the beautiful species you took. I imagine they will be part of your trophy room, again hats off to you both.
Amazing story and pictures! We are so happy for the two of you!!!
Thanks for sharing this experience of a lifetime
Awesome hunt! Thanks for sharing. Someday........ maybe someday
PBRC match director
IHMSA Washington State Director
Thanks for sharing! Great pictures and fantastic write up. Very interesting to hear how you used your equipment successfully. I did have a few questions. What do you use for ear protection while hunting? Also how to you transport your guns while hunting? I try to use ear plugs but sometimes I get excited and forget and I remember as soon as I shoot! Looks like your cartridge carriers hold two or do they hold three and DO you load as soon as you prepare for a shot? I am super paranoid about an accidental discharge with my xp's because I had one (ONCE).
Contender 22LR, 17MachII, 17HMR, 22K–Hornet (SSK), .223(SSK), 6mm Gator, 6TCU, 6mmJDJ(Van Horn), 25x47(Coyote), 6.5 JDJ(SSK), 308 Bellm, .357Max, 358 Bellm, 375Win, 375 JDJ(SSK), 45/70(SSK), 45/70 (VanHorn), 50-70(SSK)
Encore .223, 6mmBR(MGM), .243, 7mm–08, 300WM(15-1/4"), 50-90(MGM, 14"), 50–110 (MGM), .50ML(16")
XP-100 .223, .223AI, 6mm204Imp, .243AI, 6BR, 270AI, 510 Whisper
Thanks all for the nice words. We did do our homework and practiced nearly every weekend leading up to the hunt.While I do not get pleasure from others misfortune. Of the 6 other hunters in camp 5 of them lost animals shot with rifles. It was nice to show what the pistols could do and maybe earn a bit of respect for them.
What do you use for ear protection while hunting?
***We used custom molded ear plugs with baffles in them. Specifically made for firearms. They were comfortable enough to leave in all day and you can hear others talking with no problem***
Also how to you transport your guns while hunting?
***I brought along a double soft case made for AR15's. It fit the two SP's perfectly***
I try to use ear plugs but sometimes I get excited and forget and I remember as soon as I shoot!
Looks like your cartridge carriers hold two or do they hold three and DO you load as soon as you prepare for a shot?
***These are actually for use on your arm. They carry two cartridges and have a window for a dope chart on the other side. We also carried two in out pocket just in case. They are made by Cody Wieser of WGEAR. The PH wanted our guns loaded and on safe while there was a high chance a shot could happen quickly. Other than that. They were unloaded at all times.
Make it happen Brett,
It something you will never forget. Especially the way your rear end feels after 24 hours of flying one way!
We used Africa Maximum Safari's. They are great people. Could not have asked for better hosts.
Great stories and an excellent trip.
Congrats to both you and Lisa.
Hope to see you again next year in WY.
We are planning on it this year and hoping to get several members to come with that have never attended.
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