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Thread: South African Safari Report ~ 5th April - 12th April

  1. #1

    South African Safari Report ~ 5th April - 12th April Photos Available

    South African Safari Report

    Hunt Dates: April 5th – 12th 2012
    Areas: Pongola, KZN & Vaalwater, Limpopo.
    PH’s: Paul Luff & Jaco Human
    Hunter: Alex Nielsen
    Trackers: Subbo (Pongola) & Soloman (Vaalwater)
    Video Camera Man: Ryno
    Photographer & Hunter: Nick Barton Jayne
    Rifles: Blaser R93 .270, Blaser Safari .470 NE Double
    Scope: Swarovski Z6i 3 – 18 x 50 BT
    Ammunition: Federal Premium Nosler Partition 150 gr
    Game Seen: Greater Kudu, Blue Wildebeest, Impala, Zebra, Warthog, Nyala, Giraffe, Blesbok, Leopard, Grey Duiker, Monkey, Baboon, Bushbuck, Reedbuck, Waterbuck.
    Game Taken: Blue Wildebeest, Nyala, Impala x (2), Warthog (3), Zebra.

    The Team:

    PH ~ Organiser
    Paul Luff

    PH ~ Organiser
    Jaco Human

    Hunter ~ Agent
    Alex Nielsen

    Video Cameraman

    Photographer ~ Hunter & Good Friend
    Nick Barton Jayne


    The lifetime dream of hunting in Africa all started in December 2011 when I got in touch with Paul Luff after he had expressed that he would be interested in working with someone from the UK as an agent for South Africa. As some of you may well know I run a sporting agency in the UK and therefore felt that this could be a good opportunity for both Paul and I. After several conversations over the phone and email, Paul very kindly offered to arrange a trip for a good friend and myself to South Africa. Then the dates where set and the excitement began to build, the dream was going to happen. Paul was great in the lead up to the trip, his organisation and clarity with regards to what I needed, arranging the import of my firearm etc was first class it took all the nerves about a first trip to Africa out of the equation.
    Heathrow T5 (LONDON):

    Nick and I arrived at 15:00 at Heathrow T5, three hours before the flight to check in my rifle and get some last minute necessities for the trip. The process of checking in the firearm was actually pretty simple and was made easier by the extremely helpful guys at G4S who run the security at Heathrow. After some food in “Gordon Ramsey’s – Plane Food” restaurant we made our way to the gate.

    OR TAMBO, Johannesburg (SOUTH AFRICA):

    We arrived safely at 06:55 in OR Tambo airport, Johannesburg. The flight went well and both Nick and I managed several hours’ sleep that really makes you appreciate the overnight flight. Having collected our luggage we headed to arrivals to meet Paul, Jaco & Ryno. Also there to meet us was Adele Van Jansen, Adele runs a business that specialises in helping with the Import and Export of rifles through customs. Wow was her work worth the £50, I sent all my information to her in advance to arriving in SA, this meant that on arrival all I had to do was show them the serial number wait 10 minutes and then sign a two places and off we went, it is certainly something I would recommend to anyone traveling to SA especially if they are not experienced.

    Day 1:

    So we where off, all packed in two separate vehicles ~ Paul & Jaco do not travel light but there is good reason for this they always have whatever you need. Paul even had antenna equipment to enhance phone and Internet signal in the camps that for some would be extremely important. The drive to Pongola, KZN lasted 5 hours with a couple of stops on the way. There was the option to fly as Paul is a licensed pilot in SA, however we decided that it would be nice to travel with the rest of the team and also get a feel of Africa traveling through the small villages and dirt roads when we got nearer to the hunting area in Pongola.

    We arrived safely at the Goss Estate at 17:00, unpacked and settled in. The camp was perfect, it was very nice and felt like it was meant to be there, you never felt like you weren’t in the bush which made the whole experience feel really African. Sat in camp during the evenings it was possible to hear the impala grunting, hyena calling and occasionally the elephants from the next door concession some several kilometers away, this all added to the atmosphere of the place.

    With and hour or so of good daylight left we decided to go and check the rifles and then go for a quick drive around the hunting area to see what was about. After 5 shots I was confident with my rifle so off we went to have a look around. The first animal we saw was a big Kudu bull; it is simply impossible to emphasize the size of these animals, as is the case with many of the African animals. In the UK I deal with Pere – David deer and some big reds but the Kudu would have dwarfed these, suddenly I thought .270 really… Although Paul assured me that with the correct shot placement there would be no problems.

    That evening we settled down for dinner, discussed some of the methods of hunting and plan for the first day of hunting. I was glad it had been a long day and had been busy in the UK before heading out so was very tired otherwise sleeping that first night would have been difficult with the excitement of my first days hunting in Africa.
    Last edited by nielaj; 28-04-2012 at 19:01.

  2. #2
    Day 2:

    So the morning that I had been waiting for eventually came. I was awoken by my alarm at 06:30 and jumped out of bed like a kid at Christmas. However before hunting came one of the best moments of the whole trip and one that I will never forget. Paul had brought along a guy who works for him in Pretoria, gardening etc. His name was Michael, it was clear to see that Michael had very little and he also had some health problems. However for the whole trip he was extremely helpful and very pleasant and polite he was really nice to have around. Anyway back to the moment ~ I walked out of my chalet and there stood in the morning sun looking so proud of himself was Michael, he normally wears an old springbok rugby tracksuit however Paul had bought him a camouflage all in one overall, you could just tell he was so happy with this and that it meant a huge amount, he never stopped smiling for the rest of the trip, it was a moment we talked about throughout the whole trip and I think set the tone. Paul is incredibly generous he also bought the tracker some binoculars, a hunting suit and a knife its just the type of guy he is always thinking about others.

    We loaded up the Bakki (hunting vehicle) and headed some 5km to one end of the concession. En route we saw lots of game, Impala – Blue Wildesbeest and Zebra come to mind. Jaco, Nick & Michael dropped Paul, Ryno, Subbo & myself off to start hunting. The plan Paul had arranged was to stalk between two dams some 2 km apart and try and intercept some animals moving around the edge of the thick bush in the early morning sun. Immediately there was lots of “spore” (sign of animal) in this case slots from antelope.

    We stalked very much like you would in the UK after deer, moving very slowly and quietly, glassing through the bush and stopping occasionally to see if anything would move towards us.

    After about half an hour of slow stalking and spotting some animals that where not what we were after Paul stopped me, a blue wildebeest had just appeared from the edge of the thick bush some 100m ahead. I took the sticks off Subbo whilst Paul had a good look at what turned out to be the lead bull of the heard of some 15 animals. It didn’t take Paul long to say “yes ~ take him” just as he said this he turned back into the bush, luckily he stopped just one tree in and was stopped slightly quartering towards but enough broadside that I was happy for the shot. I didn’t hesitate and squeezed the shot off and saw the front shoulder / leg drop and the bull take off. There where wildebeest running everywhere, however Paul had managed to keep a rough idea on the direction of the animal.

    Having left the animal for some 10 minutes we went to the area where we had shot, I was confident of the shot but blue wildebeest are tough and although I was confident you I had a few nervous doubts. My nerves where quickly relaxed when we found a good blood trail, after some 50 meters of tracking I caught a glimpse out of the corner of my eye and after looking several times I realised it was the dead wildebeest. The feeling was amazing my first African animal “wow” I was over the moon, in addition to this it was a magnificent bull, bigger than I had seen from previous pictures etc and Paul confirmed it was an incredible bull.

    We radioed through too Jaco and they came with the Bakki, both Jaco and Paul have GPS systems which are extremely useful for finding each other in the middle of the bush, they had heard the shot and I remember Nick saying he couldn’t believe how soon the shot had come.

    Then came the photos and an interview with the video camera followed by the loading of the wildebeest onto the back of the Bakki.

    Having taken our first animal we carried on, it was a good start however I could tell my the thickness of the bush, it was not going to be this easy for the whole trip, Paul got the plan right but at this time of year when the bush is thick and there is lots of cover you do need a certain amount of luck.

    We walked a further 3 km seeing Giraffe, Impala, Zebra and Warthog however they where either not what we where after or the shot would just not present itself. The perfect morning to start my African adventure. We where just sitting discussing the morning by a dam with Ryno doing some filming, when I spotted a Nyala cow coming through the bush, behind the bank I then spotted the movement of some horns. Paul had mentioned that there where some good Nyala on the Goss estate however it was not one of our main targets prior to the trip, however that quickly changed for me, what an incredible looking animal, the colour and appearance of the bull and ewe was amazing. Paul said take him if you want I didn’t need a second invitation. I shuffled slightly down the bank and took the shot quickly… too quickly…? I felt the shot was good but everything happened so fast I wasn’t 100% the bull went crashing off and didn’t show much shot reaction. We followed up in the bull and found some blood so the signs looked good. However then after another 40 meters of following the blood had stopped and there was little sign of spore. That sinking sick feeling started in my stomach and I could tell Paul started to worry. We tracked the animal for another hour with one sighting however I couldn’t get a shot something was wrong. Paul said he wanted the tracker to keep following up and putting pressure on the animal and that we should go back to camp have a quick breakfast re focus then head back. I must say I was reluctant to leave the tracker but Paul said it is best he works on his own which is fair enough. I didn’t eat much if anything I actually can’t remember it was all a blur I just felt sick. Anyway on the way back down Paul came to me and said he wanted me to go with the tracker and follow up, he knew what I did in the UK and said it would be a good experience for me. Now I have followed up deer wounded by clients however this was slightly different, mainly because of the thickness of the bush in addition to that antelope that are injured can sometimes turn for you rather than run. 2 hours of tracking later and just one more sighting with no chance of a shot and fast losing hope, the Nyala crashed from the bush in front, four shots later and three hits the Nyala bull was down. It was a weird feeling, this undoubtedly had been the most amazing experience of my life, one I would have never hoped for however after the first shot there was nothing I could do about that the fact with the help of an amazing tracker I managed to follow up the animal myself and dispatch him meant a huge amount to me. It was only the week before Africa I had a client injure two fallow (the rifle went off before he wanted) and we found both and dispatched them within 15 minutes. I explained to him then, that I believe that, mistakes do happen and that it is not those mistakes that make a bad hunter, I believe that what makes a bad hunter is someone who would not do everything in their power to make what went wrong better and I am happy I did that.

    It turned out that he was an incredibly old Nyala bull, some 10 – 12 years old, he was full of ticks, very thick at the base of his horns and also had excessive tooth wear so he was a good animal to take and the perfect trophy for me, however I will never forget that experience one I never wish to encounter again but if I do will always do my best to make it right.

    It was now late afternoon and we decided to end the first day stalking along a river into the sunset, this was paradise for me. We decided to set up for the last half an hour by the edge of the river. It was not long after that a lone Impala Ram came to the river, he was a good representative ram and Paul said take him as it will be a good end to an impressive first day.

    I took a little more time on this one and really concentrated, again the shot felt good but this time there was no doubt, the shot reaction was good and the Impala went scrabbling off much like a Roe Buck. I then lost sight of the ram only to hear a huge splash. When we got to the river all that was visible was the tip of one horn, this is what they mean by dead on their feet out here, the impala had run straight into the river and collapsed.

    With some impressive cowboy work from Paul & Jaco we retrieved the third animal for the day. What a day it had been, I remember saying on the video I think I am going to fall in love with this place and become addicted; there are no doubts about that.

    Having made it back to camp just before dark and instructed the skinners what I would like with my trophies we resided back to the lodge for an early dinner. I was shattered both physically and emotionally. It was 30 degrees most of the day and up at 80% humidity not quite like the UK but close J.

  3. #3
    Day 3:

    I started day three feeling pretty lethargic, the humidity and heat of the previous day with the follow up I think had taken its toll. There was lots of game around again that morning however there was also a swirling wind which made it hard work, we where targeting Zebra and Warthog mainly and although we saw a huge warthog boar we couldn’t get the shot we wanted. After two hours of hunting we decided to call it a morning it started to get warm and I was in need of some breakfast and we where in no rush after we had such a good first day.

    However Nick got the chance to take some fantastic photos:

    After relaxing for a couple of hours we decided to go and look for some warthog, surprisingly warthog are actually diurnal and not nocturnal so there is always a good chance of one during the day. We came across two young warthogs but old enough to be fully weaned and decided to wait to see what else came along. Soon after a really old sow came in, her tusks where not long but very think and rounded, she was perfect, I like shooting old animals and she was a seriously old warrior.

    Paul had warned me that it is pretty common for Warthog to drop on the spot because of their highly sensitive nervous system; this couldn’t have been truer for this warthog. She dropped immediately to the shot. Another great trophy and one that I was really happy with.

    That was that for the delay, we went for a long stalk in the evening after Kudu but just kept running into what we didn’t want however there where no complaints. Two days and four species and all great trophies, at this point just spending time in the bush were a real pleasure.

    Day 4:

    This was our last day hunting in Pongola before we traveled back to Pretoria before heading to Vaalwater.

    The main target for the day was a Zebra. When we where heading to the place where we wished to start hunting in the morning we spotted some Zebra but they where off before we had the chance to even plan a possible stalk. A long morning with a couple of close chances came to an end with no joy. On two occasions I was about to squeeze and the lead mare took the heard away. Zebra are not what you expect them to be, they are incredibly clever and even more so tricky to spot, which is surprising but true.

    We started the afternoon session early looking for Zebra. I wasn’t long before we found the three from the morning and started the stalk. Eventually I got into a position where I could take a shot. The shot was good and stuck low on the shoulder and into the heart and lung region. Believe it or not with a broken shoulder and the top of the heart completely destroyed he managed to run some 200m.

    This was an amazing experience and a really challenging animal to hunt, something different but another memorable hunt.

    Day 5:

    This was our travel day back to Pretoria. We decided that we would stay over in Pretoria rather than go straight to Vaalwater. We stayed in Jaco’s house, which was very pleasant, and was a good experience, there where some fantastic hunting trophies as well as some serious security measures which made Nick and I feel safe. We then had dinner; I can almost still taste the flavour of the steak from that night. It was fantastic would welcome a meal like that any day.

  4. #4
    Day 6:

    There was an early start to this morning as we traveled some three hours north of Pretoria to Vaalwater. Having stopped on the way for a few more supplies and some breakfast we arrived at 12:00.

    The plan was to settle in and then go hunting after we had some lunch. There was also an idea that we would put a leopard bait up to try and get some shots on a trail cam as there had been a leopard in the area taking livestock and with the possibility of a problem animal permit sometime in the future Paul & Jaco decided they would like to know a little more about the cats habits should they get a permit.

    Leopard Tracks:

    We started off hunting along a marshy riverbed, there was two main targets for the next few days and that was a Kudu & Waterbuck bull however we where not going to hold our breath. There were many factors against us, a bright moon meant that the nights where light, the bush was incredibly thick so spotting Kudu and Waterbuck was going to be tricky and in addition to this we had to get the shot on camera so we where going to have to have some luck.

    It was no surprise that the first animal we came across was an Impala ewe. This was perfect for Leopard bait so I took her free hand from about 50 meters. On the shot another 10 or so Impala followed, it was clear to see there where a lot of Impala here.

    For the rest of the evening we set up the Leopard bait, Paul ran Nick and I though the process as he was a dangerous game PH so had previously baited Leopard.

    That evening we settled down for an evening BBQ that was very pleasant.

    Day 7:

    This was another quite day on the Kudu & Waterbuck front, we tried everything but there was just too much cover, we managed to see cow’s of both species as well as some young bulls but as they say the big ones don’t get big for no reason and they wouldn’t show themselves.

    Towards the end of the day we headed down the riverbed again which we believed was the best place to find what we where after. As we came to a clearing in the bush there was some Impala feeding however it didn’t take them long to spot us and start grunting. I then noticed some Warthog, immediately I noticed one of the Warthogs had a huge left tusk but the right was broken, I like abnormal trophies and this was interesting enough for me, with hardly a second thought I got on the sticks and dropped the Warthog and 90 meters with a good chest shot.

    When I got to the animal I certainly wasn’t disappointed she was a cracking sow and just a shame she had broken one tusk but I guess that just added to her appeal.

    After loading her into the truck we headed back for camp. En route I spotted a Jackal and didn’t want to pass up on him, so let the .270 bark again and dropped him on the spot, he was a nice male Jackal with a perfect skin which was nice.

    That evening we also went after some Jackals with a lamp, but the thick cover made it hard although I did manage to get one running towards me, which provided some great footage.

    Day 8:

    This was Nick’s day. He had a great stalk on a Warthog sow and then followed it with a fantastic shot through some thick bush and long grass to bag his first African animal. Nick has been a good friend for many years and we have done a lot of shooting together so to see him take his first African animal was another great moment for me.

    Day 9:

    This was our last day hunting in South Africa. I was still determined to get a Waterbuck, Paul and I had discussed a future trip to the Eastern Cape so a Kudu became less important, the Waterbuck was now the aim. There was a place on the riverbed where we had sat a couple of times seeing very little. However this morning seemed different, two impala ewes came by as well as some rams so it seemed like the animals where moving this morning. I was sat quietly waiting watching ahead, when I sensed Paul liven up, he whispered get the bipod off “quickly” so I did… Then stand up and shoot that waterbuck stood 30 meters to our right. He was huge stood in the river to our right and below us, he had sensed us though the wind wasn’t good, as I stood to get a clear shot he winded us and was off like a train. The cow and calf that where with him crossed the river and stood but no sign of him, I was praying and then the cow and calf took off. He crossed the river after them but was never going to stop, I couldn’t believe it, so close but yet so far he was an incredible animal and one I really wanted to take, however that’s hunting and just another great excuse to go back not that I need one.

    I did feel sorry for Paul at this point as he had to listen to my disappointment for the next hour or so on the way back to the camp about how close it was, however it is these moments where you fail that entice you to hunt more and go back again so without them I wouldn’t have such an affiliation with hunting.

    It was our intention to take a large male baboon if we saw one but the only one who presented itself for the shot was sadly not being shot by a rifle but a camera.

    After lunch we headed out looking for something to end the trip on a high. The first thing we came across was a couple of Jackal. Paul said shoot them… I managed to take the first one trotting away from me in the bush. The second then crossed the track in front trotting some 50 meters away. I took the shot and with that the Jackal jumped like I have never seen an animal do before. Followed by the response from Paul “that was seriously close”. The photos below I think tell the full story…

    After this we came across some Impala rams of which two where fighting. One was noticeable big both in the horn and body. Paul was unsure how big it was but had a good feeling so said take him if you like. It is often very hard to get a really good look at some of these animals in the thick bush but Paul got it right all trip and he certainly hit the jackpot with this one.

    Just as I was about to shoot the ram started to move further into the cover and I knew this was my chance, I took the ram as he edged forward and was very confident of the shot, although Paul was concerned about the amount of branches in the way.

    Paul stayed where we took the shot from and I followed up as I was confident of where the animal was stood when the shot was taken. I found the first bit of blood and called Paul. After a short track of some 20 meters we found a cracking Impala Ram. He was massive in the body as well as the horn. Thick, wide and long a magnificent trophy and what I thought was going to be a great end to a cracking trip.

    However it was not the end, we found some more Warthogs, in the middle of the clearing. We had already taken two warthogs so they where not a necessity, however I set myself a challenge to try and stalk into them as they where about 150 meters away. I choose a tree at about 60 meters and wanted to get there for the shot. When I got close I could see there was a nice warthog with even tusks, with an abnormal and a really old warrior of a warthog in the bag I thought a nice middle aged one to finish would be ideal. I squeezed the shot off and again the Warthog dropped to the shot.

    This was to be the final animal taken on this trip. What a trip, you always want more but I really couldn’t have wished for anything else this trip. I will be back soon.

    Day 10 / 11:

    We spent the morning packing and preparing for our trip back to Pretoria.

    Just before we left we had a few shots with the .470 NE double rifle.

    That afternoon we relaxed at Jaco’s house and had another nice dinner before settling down for the night. The following day we went for brunch in Pretoria as well as visited a couple of gun shops and the taxidermist. The taxidermist was exceptional; I was really impressed with his work.

    That evening we went through the same process in the airport and began our return trip back to the UK. Sad to see the back of SA but not for the last time.

    Once again I would like to thank everyone for making this trip possible. Paul, Jaco, Ryno, Nick, Subbo, Soloman & Michael, the trip would not have been a success without you.

  5. #5


    As suggested I am running a competition in conjunction with Paul Luff in South Africa.

    The prize is this:

    3 Full Days Hunting in Pongola, KZN.
    1 x Warthog
    1 x Impala
    1 x Zebra or Blue Wildebeest

    All accommodation / travel and meals.

    All you need to do is get to Johannesburg Airport and arrange your trophies.

    To win just guess the size in Inches to the nearest 1/2 Inch.

    The correct answer is between 20 - 40 Inches. The measurement is the Rowland Ward Method and I am after the total Width of the trophy.

    Please only enter this competition if you are NOT a PH, Outfitter or SA Citizen.

    PM me all answers only one guess per person.

    If there is more than one correct answer I will choose the winner out of a hat.

    The competition closes on the 1st August 2012 at 12:00.

    Good luck the prize will be memorable.

    Last edited by nielaj; 28-04-2012 at 19:03.

  6. #6
    What a cracking write up Alex, there is certainly something special about Africa.
    Brilliant photos too.
    Have you got a video of it, that would be very interesting.



  7. #7
    Nick, There will be a full video available in about 2 months. Its just been sent for editing.

    Glad you enjoyed the write up.


  8. #8
    Hi Alex

    Congratulations bud on fulfilling your African dream.

    That looks to be one hell of a time you all had and hats off for doing the trip and all concerned justice with such a nicely well written account..

    I have just returned last weekend myself having gone out with Charly (Shavesgreen) and really enjoyed your comments about the Zebra.

    Hopefully catch up again pal

    Blessed be the sheeple for they shall inherit bugger all...

  9. #9

    Absolutely great write up and pictures , there should be some memories there to last a few years day perhaps one day I will get the chance.

  10. #10
    Thank you Griff.

    Have a go at the competition you never know.


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