Excited

WalkedUp

Well-Known Member
I am heading to South Africa tomorrow with my three boys. Very excited for my first trip for plains game. I am not taking my rifle as we are going on an extended trip with an extensive itinerary and a few internal flights, plus international transfers. I will hopefully get some good pictures and a write up.
 
Landed yesterday, dropped in wife my very elderly grandmother in Johannesburg for a party and then headed on. Caught a bit of tan already whilst swimming with the boys. Woke up to this…
 

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So far lots of exploring (without the rifle). We have found the Big Five and enjoyed improving our African game ID accuracy. Long hot days, 0500 start with a 2100 end but time to freshen up in the pool and a few good drinks.
 

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I am heading to South Africa tomorrow with my three boys. Very excited for my first trip for plains game. I am not taking my rifle as we are going on an extended trip with an extensive itinerary and a few internal flights, plus international transfers. I will hopefully get some good pictures and a write up.
Brilliant, keep us posted. What’s the itinerary?
 
Brilliant, keep us posted. What’s the itinerary?
Unfortunately I broke my phone and so was unable to reply at all. We had the best time, shooting was the absolute highlight. Itinerary was:
Johannesburg to see my grandmother and family
Bakubung Pilansberg for a photographic safari with 21 of my family
Dinokeng for three days a second safari as a family of five, with two days shooting.
Cape Town for a week for my son to see the penguins etc.
 
In write up of the shooting:
We originally hoped for three days but in the end we only had two. I am very regretful of that as the shooting was by far the best part. The outfitter Evert Birkenstock (from SD) was away due to slippage of dates on my part but he had set me and my brother in law up with two of his PHs. They came and collected us from our accommodation and shared a drink as we raced across the orange-red dust roads in the Bakkie. Cala and Christopher were lovely guys, knowledgeable, safe and intelligent. They had plenty of exciting stories and historical knowledge.

We had to pass the 100m (very metric country!) shooting test with Old Trusty, a 60 year old BRNO in .308”WIN. I volunteered to go first as the more experienced shot and pulled the first shot, grappling with the very heavy trigger. It was still within the ‘pass’ of the target but was a few inches high and I wasn’t happy. I requested permission to use the hair trigger and was approved. The next shot was a bull. My brother in law went next and I was nervous on his behalf. A strange rifle, a hectic day in a strange country. Thankfully he put two shots into the ‘pass’ area but he wouldn’t be proud of either.

We had elected to shoot Blesbok and I let my brother in law shoot first, I didn’t mind missing out if we lost the light. When his chance came it was a horrible opportunity, I could barely look. The lone Blesbok buck had been spotted in woodland, downhill on a rocky outcrop, slowly moving through trees, with the low African sun behind it, quartering away. The shot was slipped as my toes curled but it was perfect, taking out the heart the antelope dropped on the spot and was unresponsive and dead before we reached it. He was ecstatic and joked that he doesn’t waste good shots for the paper.

My turn came up as a herd of Blesbok were spotted in the last of the day’s light. I set off behind Cala, who was barefoot and faster than greased lighting across the veld. I’m over 6ft, wearing boots, with a wool flat cap and sweating profusely to keep up and keep quiet. They wanted me to take a long shot as it would be our last chance for the day. I said I would rather close the distance, for sport and ethical reasons. This involved crossing open ground. As we are about to summit the knoll that we had used as cover, then planned for a shooting vantage, the herd spooked into some very thick thorn scrubland a few hundred yards away. I said to stay and wait to let them settle. Cala plotted a route to intercept them on the outside of this copse. We quickly and silently stalk across, keeping cover between us and the copse, halfway there without a sound when suddenly three pied lapwings startle beneath our feet and scream loudly whilst breaking into the orange sky. We clamp down and stay still for a few minutes against the blood coloured dust and yellow grass. The gentle breeze still in our favour no movement is spotted out of the thicket and we can continue. As we then approach the copse you can faintly hear the distant but distinct snorts and whistles of the restless Blesbok. A few females filter out into the veld and I am up on the wooden shooting sticks waiting for a buck to join them at 100 yards. Suddenly a crashing noise as a big buck darts out of the back edge of the copse, in the opposite direction to everything we had expected. We had no cover and were stood out like a sore thumb from that direction. The beast spotted us in horror and turned to a halt, facing us directly at 60 yards. I had no time to wait for a broadside shot, and as agreed with Cala, pirouette to take a front on chest shot with my body twisted around the sticks and legs collapsing. The buck rear up on the shot and disappeared. The sound was solid and Cala congratulated me. I must have looked as anxious as I felt (for turning down the long, relaxed broadside) as he then asked “Do you feel the shot hit right?” I said that although the shot felt good that I may have pulled it high given the reaction of the beast. We walked towards the shot location and as we do, 15 yards away is the Blesbok belly up. The shot couldn’t have been truer if I had drawn it on with a marker pen. I was really relieved and we collected the antelope to retire for a few quick beers.
 

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The next morning I was out for a Blue Wildebeest and my eldest son, 9, wanted to try for an Impala. I thought it would be unlikely that he would really shoot but even being out in the bush is exciting. Christopher has a huge collection of taxidermy and trophies so my two younger sons wanted to accompany us for the drop off then get on with their day. Annoyingly the brakes failed on the Toyota that I was driving so my wife was unable to take it back to base and so we were all stuck on Christopher’s ranch. The PHs advised that Impala are very skittish and generally in the open so my son would need to be able to hit it with a 22 centrefire heart-lung shot at over 100 yards from sticks. They said that Blesbok were a safer bet as given time we could get within 50 yards of a young one in the woods and drop it. The only issue is that it would need to be with .308” WIN. I was unsure my son could shoot such a large cartridge but they had a plan and confidence, so I agreed. The shooting test was set up at 50 yards and a .22LR bolt action used. It was his first time ever firing a rifle (stupid UK Section 1 laws), no more than an air rifle and his .420” but as we had 50 rounds of rimfire ammunition there was time to get him acquainted. From the off he just kept getting bulls and so half a dozen shots we quit, full of confidence. An hour later and soon into the shoot a young Blesbok buck was sighted in the shadows, 50 yards away. Before this we had switched the rifles, the rimfire being secretly traded for the fullbore. A dry fire cycle was undertaken asking him to “check the trigger” … which actually give him knowledge of the let off pressure of this rifle. He has the buck firmly in his sight broadside but took his head off the stock to turn to me and check the aim mark. “Front edge of leg, a third of the way up?” he questioned for reaffirmation, knowing that was right, I nodded and as he turned back the buck had heard us converse and skipped away silently. Two hours later the heat was baring down and my son was rueing why he stopped to ask a question, the pause letting the beast escape. We have all been there. A few Blesbok had been sighted but none stayed around to get into range. An Eland was within 60 yards and after he ID’d it my son asked if he could shoot one instead… “Noooo way!” Was my reply. Our patience was eventually rewarded as the lone old buck was spotted in an opening the far side of a thicket. A hole in the thicket presented a small chance at 100 yards, the animal turned partly away and only momentarily paused my son let loose the rifle. He didn’t even notice that it had been a .308” WIN as opposed to .22LR. The shot split its aorta off the heart and it gently folded its front legs into a kneel then sat down, laid down dead where it stood. It was a phenomenal shot for a 9 year old, and the PHs’ plan had worked fantastically. You don’t feel recoil when shooting at game in Africa. My son couldn’t speak and almost looked on the verge of excited tears after a long, hard, hot day. The drama and pressure of the shot had been immense, but he kept his nerve. We all shuck his hand and my chest filled with pride. “Your dad will be annoyed as it is a better buck than he shot” was Carla’s cutting remark, my son topped it with “Yes and he had to use the hair-trigger”. Moments later we walked to collect the fallen beast, as I rushed forward in excitement Christopher pulled me back: “It is his animal, let him find it”. We watched as they winded it through the long grass and its beauty was admired with six sets of tiny loving hands caressing the silky hide. The midday heat was immense so we took the beast back rather than shoot on. At camp we had a braai of Blesbok tenderloins and Blesbok sausages. The meat was delicious and eagerly devoured over cold beers and exchanges of shooting stories. There was a small issue with a lost key to the gate and then messing about with the car to diagnose and top up the brake fluid. Everyone was tired and so I left the Wildebeest for the next trip and decided to drive my family back before the daylight started to fade rather than risk a late finish. I have unfinished business in Africa but some of the best memories a father can enjoy. Can fully recommend Evert for shooting. Now that I know the lay of the land next time I go I am just going to do a full 8 day package with him, accommodation, food and transportation included… but up in Limpopo rather than Dinokeng.
 

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A happy boy
 

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My son asked that I didn’t blur his face… as was my intention. He is very proud. Wild meat, ethically harvested and eaten by those who took its life. The species is surging because it has value to shoot after almost being poached out. Yes the skull and pelt have been kept as memories… but rather than just binned?! There are so many against trophy hunting but I can’t see why.
 
His cartridge has been engraved.
 

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