Hunting in the Eastern Cape with Game 4 Africa Safaris

A wish I had developed and nurtured over the last few years turned into reality in the past week here in South Africa. I have always enjoyed the writings of the old big game hunters, J. A. Hunter, Ian Nyschens, Ron Thomson. I’ve done several management/ cull hunts in Namibia and enjoyed them immensely. Oryx, warthog, blue wildebeest, red hartebeest, springbok were the main quarry species although I was lucky enough to hunt an injured eland on one trip.
The more I read about Buffalo hunting the more I wanted to do it. Becoming a OAP and realising that there were more years behind me than in front was an additional incentive. I read the advertisements in various online forums, here, Accurate Reloading and African Hunting. I’m sure outfits get bombarded with enquiries that fizzle out. Most of mine did for one reason or another.
However I contacted an outfit called Game 4 Africa Safaris in the Eastern Cape, South Africa. Wik Coetzee the owner was easy to deal with and comprehensive in his replies to my questions.
Dates were agreed and a deposit sent off to secure the booking. Flights turned out to be a problem. Prices have risen dramatically this year and searching the internet wasn’t turning up any good deals. For some reason and I had been searching hard Lufthansa suddenly had a decent price, maybe the load factor was down 🤷‍♂️.
The only bugger was when I rang the service center to book a rifle they wanted €250 each way for carriage ! Previously the rifle had travelled free in my “suitcase “. (Peli3220). The PH advised using a facilitator in Jo,burg to clear Customs. So I used one of his,a Sako 85 in 375 with a Swarovski 1-6x24 on top. A nice piece of kit I might add.
A couple of shots of the lodge, more later if I’m not boring you.IMG_3206.jpegBDA9B1B7-926F-4AF3-A421-C7ABE3EF451E.jpeg341E9220-457D-4ABD-9599-9C98BAEB0840.jpegBDA9B1B7-926F-4AF3-A421-C7ABE3EF451E.jpeg
 
More to follow?

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Sure 👍
Early to bed the first night, both pretty tired. Craig traveling from Toronto was whacked from 4 flights and relatively long layovers in between. Super breakfast of bacon, sausages etc, fresh coffee or tea was served at 0630 then it was down to the range to shoot the rifles.
The first rifle was a Sako 85 in 7mm Remington magnum with 154gr Hornady. The second an 85 in 375 with 300gr Barnes TSX. I managed to satisfy Wik by putting both bullets where intended. The 7mm 1” high and the 375 spot on, both at 100 yds.
We set off to his property 45 minutes drive away with either a kudu or buffalo 🐃 on the menu. This countryside was rolling hills of grassland interspersed with deep valleys full of thick vegetation. far more luxurious than what I’ve been used to in Namibia. It would make Namibian farmers cry the grass is so rich. We would pull up on a vantage point and glass for some time. Wik and his crew were immediately spotting kudu. It took a couple of days for my eyes to become accustomed to what I was looking for. Females, too small, too young, numerous were rejected. Still on day one I was not perturbed. Shortly after midday we pulled up. The invisible baboons started barking at us. I thought this would scare of any prospective kudu. Suddenly Wik mentioned a nice looking kudu that was a shooter 1200 yards away! How can you judge a kudu at that range ? 🤔
Gentlemen, do you fancy a walk? We set off down a rough track in single file using the bush to mask our progress until we reached dead ground. Our progress speeded up a little until rounding a corner we met a group of kudu cows. We stopped until they noticed us and quietly disappeared.
The next obstacle was a kudu bull which came out of the bush some 200 yards away. Without even using his binoculars Wik declared it not as good as the intended target. 🤷‍♂️🤷‍♂️🤷‍♂️.
Progress was made until Wik stopped and told me to chamber a round and make the rifle safe. I did as instructed and he checked the safety. He takes no chances this man. We crept through the bush avoiding loose stones underfoot. Wik was leading with me behind. He reached a spot and looked forward over a bush and indicated me to come up beside him. The sticks were up and he whispered to me to take the bull when it was broadside. There I was looking through the scope at this rather impressive kudu. When it obliged I fired and it made a short dash and piled up.
Job done swiftly and no errors. We took some (a lot) of photos and admired the magnificent animal. There is always a tinge of regret. The bull was loaded and back to the lodge to get it into the cold room after gralloching it.
Day 1 done and dusted, everything went smoothly. A few beers to mark the occasion and an early night after dinner.IMG_3216.jpegIMG_9976.jpegIMG_9995.jpegIMG_0007.jpeg
 
Nice even bull. Is he a bit on the lean side?

I wonder why on earth the outfit don`t have a 3 speed boat winch mounted on the truck bar (or electric).
Loading a Kudu then becomes a one man job if necessary especially when they are loading daily.
 
Nice even bull. Is he a bit on the lean side?

I wonder why on earth the outfit don`t have a 3 speed boat winch mounted on the truck bar (or electric).
Loading a Kudu then becomes a one man job if necessary especially when they are loading daily.
Was he a bit on the lean side ? My experience of kudu is limited, first one but Wik has a strict policy of only selecting old animals past prime. I can say with some authority that the back straps tasted great on the braii later in the week. Now my buffalo fillets were like old shoe leather. We were warned !
I just took a longer look at the photo. Indeed it was manhandled into the back. There is a Warne winch there, dunno why it wasn’t used.
 
Was he a bit on the lean side ? My experience of kudu is limited, first one but Wik has a strict policy of only selecting old animals past prime. I can say with some authority that the back straps tasted great on the braii later in the week. Now my buffalo fillets were like old shoe leather. We were warned !
I just took a longer look at the photo. Indeed it was manhandled into the back. There is a Warne winch there, dunno why it wasn’t used.
Will you be doing the full mount? I bet there will be regret if you dont in later years.
 
Lovely Kudu. Would be on my list to get. Just need to find someone to go to Africa with me. Look forward to reading about the rest of the trip
 
5 hours to kill in Oliver Tambo. Here goes another chapter……
Day 2, breakfast at 0630 again. Bacon,eggs, toast, coffee, tea, rusks, juice. There’s a serious risk of putting on weight if you come here. Wik admits that they done eat like this in the absence of guests in the offseason. The back straps of some game animal were braiied every night. However I doubt you want to know how much weight we put on.

7am and we were loaded up in the Landcruiser and off into the boondies. This time we were hunting closer to the lodge. We started climbing up to the top of the hills and drove across one hill, down, up another, stopping occasionally when Wik or Norma,X, or Simon, the trackers spotted something of interest. Again a kudu heaven, lots of them. X was left on the top of a hill with a radio to spot, we drove on and stopped on another hill to spot. Quickly we clocked some buffalo cows and calves below us. No bulls but Wik said we should keep an eye on them as the bush is thick and you never know. Just seeing the cows was exciting enough !

The radio crackled and a brief exchange in Xhosa took place, it’s Wik’s second language. X had seen a group of 4 bulls.
We tooled up, 375 for me, 416 Rigby for Wik, a pair of sticks , quad sticks thank god, I hate the 3 sticks. The walking started in the direction of the bulls. How long it took I have no idea. My mind was racing over the different scenarios. My main concern was would I F##k up !

Wik turned and told me to load the rifle and make it safe. Again he checked the safety was on. No fool this man. The pace slowed down considerably with a lot of peering around and over bushes. Wik put up the sticks and indicated for me to come forward and setup. I did and got settled, again checking the diopter, magnification, my stance, etc. after a couple, few, 🤷‍♂️ minutes holy mother of divine ! I got religious as this old bull slowly showed from behind a bush 40 yards away. As he came out chewing a mouthful I could see the big dewlap under his chin indicating an old lad. He paused, I sweated, he moved and stopped, I sweated some more. He looked towards us but the low morning sun on our backs prevented him clocking us. Then he moved forward and Wik told me to shoot, again saying “ on the shoulder”. I obliged by doing so. The bull buckled onto his knees at the bullet strike. He recovered and stumbled some short distance, swayed and fell over. The remaining bulls, younger, had by now run out and were a bit perplexed until they saw us. There was a bit of a” you owe me money” moment and Wik advised a retreat.

The bulls hung around for some time rolling and goring the dead dugga boy, establishing their dominance now apparently. We stayed back but they showed an unhealthy interest in us once or twice, no photos we kept moving ! Job done and the 3 left and we went up to admire a pretty good old bull at 421/2” IMG_0121.jpegIMG_0010.jpegIMG_0032.jpegIMG_0152.jpega very good full boss also. Hearing the death bellow live for the first time was pretty awesome. We got to hear it again later in the week. Don’t go away. 😎

@John Gryphon , this time we did use the winch, the roller and a length of timber to bounce him up onto the back. Some job ! Back at the butchering area I was keen to see the bullet performance and what had happened inside, he had balled up pretty quickly, Wik suggested a heart shot. He as usual wasn’t wrong, perfect heart shot. My copy of “The Perfect Shot has been well thumbed the last few weeks. Some amazing patterns on the ticks in his groin area.

If I said we didn’t celebrate that night I would be an absolute liar. A bottle of Jameson took a terrible battering.
 

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Will you be doing the full mount? I bet there will be regret if you dont in later years.
What did Sir Guy Wallace say about the state of his roof ? “ “There’s the price of two buffalo hunts in that roof”. Nope, SWMBO refuses to have one (or2) in the house and frankly the rooms with the exception of one are too small. Totting it all up, shoulder mount, x2, impala etc etc, shipping clearing, importing, duty, vat, yada yada, $5k or more. I’d get a couple of buffalo cows for that. Now they are exciting because you have to get into the herd. No single grazers there.
 
Still a few hours in O.T. :rolleyes:.
Having regained a modicum of sobriety the next day we had a leisurely breakfast. Wik had retired along with his wife at an early hour. Whiskey and good cigars beside the lappa just go together so well. Anyhoo…
Off we went with the 7mm Remington Magnum in search of a good impala. Wik warned that this could be a long shot.
s##t ! So far two animals and two rounds. Same procedure, drive to the high ground and spot. He must have been in the military. A number of impala were seen and we had several unsuccessful stalks. I wasn’t worried, we still had several days and stalking is always exciting or we wouldn’t do it.
The last stalk was good , we spotted a single ram and set out after him. He appeared quite unaware of his imminent demise and fed from bush to bush. Coming into some dead ground Wik advised me to load up and safety IMG_0654.jpeg65E8B911-8B72-4C65-B147-CAB8E94D9726.jpegIMG_0203.jpegIMG_0229.jpegIMG_0226.jpegon (again), no harm. Wik led with the sticks with me following. Cresting the ridge Wik put the sticks up and indicated. 230 yards face on I put a bullet in its chest. 3 rounds, 3 animals, happy bunny.
 
Getting to the end of our trip. My buddy from Canada had decided to take a buffalo cow. I introduced him to Africa two years ago with some management hunting in Namibia. He is PRS shooter back home so I offered to lend him my rifle out there. When I produced my Rigby 275 he looked at it with a slightly different look. Then his rifles look rather odd to me. However he took a baboon at 520 yards last year and had me hitting a target with it at 500. 5 on the waterline. It impressed me. Just a comparison to what we are both used to. Ok, on to the gritty stuff.IMG_2497.jpega1a99dd4-27f6-4429-a8d0-fa76b80898ff.jpeg
 
Last day hunting Wik drove through some miserable morning mist to somewhere. We arrived and discussed the meaning of life for a while while the mist burnt off. Descending lower the sun was out, the birds twittering and this area of rolling countryside was abounding in game, impala, black impala, blesbuck, warthog, a monster roan, scimitar oryx, oryx, lechwe, but no buffalo :eek:. Wik assured us that these would be in the thick bush in the valley bottoms.

Tooling up today I was the cameraman. Wik gave us a slight talk about herds of buffalo cows. I adjusted my incontinence pants (no gun, only a camera). We stalked several valley floors, no fresh sign, I was becoming an expert on buffalo poop 💩 as they had come up onto the lawn in front of my chalet one evening.IMG_0281.jpegIMG_0282.jpegIMG_0982.jpeg
 
The morning wore on and it was getting hot. Wik was a bit worried that the Buffalo would be bedded down and we might get too close to them causing them to run possibly a mile before settling down. Refreshed with a drink from the cool box in the Cruiser we tried another valley. This was much thicker and Wik asked Craig to load up and safety on, he checked, he always did.

We were maybe 150 yards into this and on a game trail when Wik put both hands out pointing backwards to indicate to halt. He peered, we looked, he got down on his knees, I’m too old. We retreated. He had spotted movement in the bush ! We backed out and hooked around a couple of hundred yards and crept into the thickets again. This gets your pulse going. X, the tracker, had been told to make some slight noise to move the herd. Wik set Craig up on a rise to cover an open patch of ground. Nothing, nothing, then holy mother a buffalo slowly pushed out of the bush. And another, another, another…… “ Wait, wait, wait, don’t shoot”, came quietly from Wik. He’s a calm guy and imparts great confidence. Buff moved forwards and backwards in front of us. Bulls crossed behind cows, calf’s were in the way. The bush obscured a shot. We were there for 45 minutes from start to finish. We moved twice to better positions.

Then a cow presented broadside and Wik gave the instruction to shoot. Then all hell broke loose ! There was a stampede of buffalo across our front . Nothing dangerous as we were up a slight slope but prior to the shot in between being the cameraman I was looking into the thick bush to our right seeing tails twitching, the odd horn, grunt and they were imho rather close. The cow staggered off and looked at us balefully from the bottom of the slope. It was getting mean, Wik had unslung his rifle but Craig put another in its chest and it keeled over shortly. The cow was quickly gralloched because of the midday heat and we had a quick sandwich and made for the cold room.IMG_3301.jpegIMG_0411.jpegIMG_0374.jpegIMG_0342.jpegIMG_0416.jpeg
 
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