Pete and Peg, from Oregon on their first South African hunt
Wednesday, 8th August 2018
Pete and Peg joined us from Oregon, USA for a 10 day hunt in the Eastern Cape, South Africa. This was Pete's first African hunt and their first trip to Africa. Cape Buffalo was the substance of Pete's hunting dreams and fittingly at the top of his list. Being a first time African hunter, all other plains game was in our sights. Pete brought along his Kimber 7mm Rem Magnum for plains game and a Ruger 416 for the buffalo hunting.
It was a long flight from the western USA and they were tired upon arrival. We had a quick range session, Pete only needing two bullets to ensure his rifles were zeroed. After an early dinner, we turned in.
The sequence of the next mornings hunt was scarcily believable. Having recently taken a first morning kudu the previous week with a client, I was fully prepared for kudu payback. Pete and Peg had set their local time incorrectly and slept an hour later. I let them sleep late out of sympathy. It was beyong kudu time when we set out after breakfast. We were driving through a tight valley when Mitchell tapped on the roof and told me he'd spotted a kudu bull two hundred yards to our left. I drove on a few hundred yards and switched off the vehicle. We waited a few moments to let the kudu setttle before we planned our approach to the spot. We used some low bushes to get beneath his position and keeping low we moved forward until we spotted him on the edge of some thick bushes, just his horns showing. He was clearly an old bull. He was well camoflaged and I was impressed when Pete spotted him straight away. It was an awkward set up but we did the best we could to get Pete comforable. When the bull showed part of his shoulder, the 7mm roared and the bull disappeared into the bush. Deaf from the effect of the muzzlebreak on the end of Pete's rifle, I wasn't able to hear the impact. We searched for a few minutes before finding the bull expired 30 yards away. He was a terrific bull at the end of his life with a beautiful shape to his horns. Well done Pete, welcome to Africa!
Our hunting adventures took us north for a few days. Pete and I were high in the mountains early the next morning when we spotted a waterbuck bull in a valley. Without much cover to work with, we stalked up as best we could but the waterbuck spotted us and began moving diagonally away from us. At 280 yards, he paused long enough for Pete to set up. The 7mm bullet hit him centre shoulder. It was an incredible shot. We hiked up to where the bull lay and waited for a team to help us retrieve him. On the way down to the lodge for lunch, we spotted a small herd of zebra in a small plain below us. We manouvered ourselves downwind from them before using a thin line of acacia tress to slowly stalk closer. With the wind blowing strongly in our face, we got to within 200 yards. It was a textbook stalk and Pete made another great shot to put down a beautiful zebra. We joined the ladies for lunch and decided to hunt the plains around the lodge that afternoon. We bumped a herd of black wildebeest and they disappeared over a long rise. We walked roughly in the direction we thought they would run and popped up directly above their position. The bull we had identified was jostling with the herd bull and in their fighting he actually came closer towards us. Pete's shot again found it's mark and the bull collapsed right there in the open plain. We decided then that more than 3 animals in a day would be considered greedy and decided to take the rest of the afternoon off. It wasn't to be. We bumped into an exceptional blesbuck ram on the way back to the lodge and after a short stalk, we had a fourth trophy for the day.
We were soon onto a herd of eland very early the next morning. We spotted them sunning themselves against an east facing slope and we backed up and hiked to a position behind and above them. Although we couldn't see the eland, we knew they were below us in the tangle of bushes. We waited patiently and Pete was ready when they moved across to the slope directly opposite us. It was a 200 yard shot and the big bull took the hit, ran a few yards before veering off from the herd and tumbled into a clump of bush. He was old eland with a dark mop on his brow.
After directing the recovery team to the eland position, we drove out the mountain in search of red hartebeest. Although we didn't connect with one it was a beautifulo drive and we spent the rest of the morning marvelling at the vistas from the top of crater valley. We saw several herds of blue wildebeest, waterbuck, mountain reedbuck and vaal rhebuck. In the distance, we spotted elephant roaming on the far side of the crater.
After three days hunting the concession, Lindsay and Peg returned to the lodge and a day shopping in Port Elizabeth. Pete and myself headed a little further north to another concession for the buffalo. After lunch, we went in search of buffalo but were unable to connect with any. We set out at 5am the next day and we searched for buffalo all morning. They seemed to be bedding down early in the morning and feeding again after sunset and we knew we were probably in for a tough hunt. From his vantage point on the side of a mountain, one of the trackers spotted a small herd of bulls in a narrow valley. We moved closer but were disappointed when they all turned out to be soft bossed bulls. Later that morning we connected with a nyala bull near an inlet on the river and Pete and I stalked closer with Pete making another fantastic one shot kill. That afternoon we decided to commit to one spot where we had seen buffalo sign. We sat on a small rock outcrop until well after dark when we suddenly saw a lone buffalo bull walking towards us on the edge of a dry riverbed. He was five hundred yards away and walking quickly. We needed to get down to the riverbed ahead of him and wait in ambush. It was dark now and it was to be a race against the light as much as a buffalo hunt. In the end he went in to the thickly wooded riverbed and never came out. We were 20 yards away with bush obscuring his whole body making a certain shot impossible. We elected to err on the side of caution and wait for a better shot. It was almost pitch dark now and the buffalo must have sensed our presence for he let out a sharp grunt and broke cover. We decided it way was to dark to be hunting dangerous game and we backed away. Although unsuccessful, it was a moment of pure adrenaline. On the drive back to the lodge we had seen the shapes of several small buffalo herds coming out of the thick bush and we felt confident we were now in the right area to be successful. I checked my GPS, I'd personally hiked 12 kilometers that day in search of buffalo. We were all tired and retired after a few drinks and dinner.
We were in the same area before sunrise the next morning and we almost immediately saw two buffalo bulls on a slope four hundred yards ahead of us. They were grazing over the top of the slope and we waited for them to disappear before hiking after them in pursuit. When we got to the top they had disappeared in the landscape like ghosts. We were a little dejected as we made our way back to the vehicle and we knew our window period for finding a buffalo was rapidly closing as the sun rose over the mountains. A little later we spotted a lone buffalo bull disappear into a clump of bush. We got downwind of him and slowly made our way to a rocky outcrop 150 yards above him. We could see his horns glint in the sunlight as he grazed in the safety of the thick bush. We had a sense that this was our buffalo and we considered some different options. We could change the angle and perhaps get a shot while he was in the thick bush or we could wait it out and hope he would graze out the bush into a clearing in front of him. Both options had risks but we wisely decided that we had a buffalo bull below us that had no idea we were watching him and we needed to be patient and have faith he'd come out. These buffalo were skittish and surprise was a big advantage. When he did eventually graze out the bush, he did so rapidly and Pete quickly stood up and got his rifle on the sticks. His horns showed first, then his neck and eventually the front part of his shoulder. I was five yards to Pete's right and I wasn't entirely sure if he had a full view of the shoulder. The bull suddenly looked up and you could see on his face that he registered our presence. Pete fired, the 400 grain bullet hitting him squarely on the shoulder. He turned and ran, stumbling and falling down in the thick of the bush. Rifles ready we walked closer but he was stone dead, Pete's bullet hit exactly where it was supposed too. He was a beaut! The emotions of a difficult hunt came to the front and it was a moment of sheer happiness, relief and joy. I can honestly say I doubt I've ever seen a happier hunter with his buffalo bull. Congratulations Pete, you're a true gentleman and richly deserve this one.
Pete, Peg and myself visited the Addo Elephant National Park the next morning and were treated to a rare siting of spotted hyena crossing the road ahead of us. We saw several elephants, buffalo, jackal and plains game and exited the park just east of Port Elizabeth. We had a lunch at Port Elizabeth beachfront and returned to the lodge later that afternoon.
Pete's hunting success continued on the last day of his hunt. After almost getting a shot at a beautiful bushbuck ram early that morning we soon connected with another one. Pete's shot hitting him on the shoulder as he came out a thick section of bush. We'd hardly loaded him and taken photos when we spotted a herd of impala. Unfortunately Pete's shot missed. It was to be the only missed shot of his entire hunt. The miss was soon forgotten when we connected a short while later with anbother herd, Pete's shot this time finding it's usual spot.
The sun had set on a remarkable ten days. I feel priviledged to have shared our part of Africa with Pete and Peg and hope someday our new friends will return to make new hunting memories in the Karoo.
Guest Comments -
My lifelong dream was to someday hunt Africa, finally it came to be. The best experience of my hunting life. I have relived the hunts a thousand times. Eleven animals in ten days including a cape buffalo, mind boggling. To anyone thinking of hunting So Africa. get in touch with Victor at Karoo Wild for the experience of a lifetime. Thanks again Victor, Pete.