Dangerous Game & Plains Game Hunt - South Africa
I was joined by Jim Gent from the USA for a 7 Day Buffalo Bull & Plains Game Hunt in the South African Lowveld.
Hunting Area: Lowveld, South Africa
Rifle Used: Talmage Custom Build on FN Action in .375 H&H Magnum
Jim arrived in Johannesburg on Sunday, August 1 and spent the night at the Afton Safari Lodge. The next morning, he flew from Johannesburg to Eastgate Airport near Hoedspruit where I picked him up and after a short 15-minute drive where w arrived at my Lowveld Camp. After lunch, we went out to make sure that his rifle was still sighted and we found that all was well. Jim brought with a beautiful Talmage Custom Rifle on a FN Action in .375 H&H Magnum using Barnes TSX 300 gr bullets. For this hunt we hunted on a property in the Lowveld Area of South Africa, adjacent to the Klaserie Private Game Reserve.
On the first day right of the bat within 30 minutes of leaving camp, we spotted a Buffalo while looking for spoor. He trotted of and after tracking it for a bit, we came across him at about 60 yards. I set Jim up on the sticks while I had a look at him. I was not completely satisfied with the bull, especially on the first morning of the first day, and he did not have a clear shot either; shortly after that, we were winded and that was the end of that. The rest of the day, and the following 3 days, was more or less the same in terms of Buffalo. Picked up spoor, tracked them and got winded or busted. Jim got a nice Bushbuck one morning though, a spur of the moment decision!
On Day 4 we started the morning off as usual, looking for spoor crossing the road. As we were driving along, we suddenly heard a loud clashing noise. We saw a cloud of red dust above the bush perhaps 75 yards from the road and my first thought was a herd of Buffalo running of. My driver stopped, turned the Cruiser of and listened only to discover it was not Buffalo running, but two bulls fighting! We quickly bailed out of the truck and worked our way towards the noise. We saw two bulls in a dried up water hole engaged in what looked to be a death match. It was quite a violent affair, with the bulls pushing and shoving each other, rotating in circles, and bouncing and jostling around. I set Jim up on the sticks and told him to wait for my go ahead, but they wouldn’t stand still! As the bulls jostled further away, we were able to move to a more favorable position as we had some brush in the way. However, they were still bouncing and jostling around so it was still difficult for Jim to get a shot of. I indicated to him which bull to take and told him to shoot when he was comfortable and had an opportunity. The next moment the bulls stopped and within a split second a loud bang went of and ended that nasty affair. Both bulls took of and we gave them about 20 minutes before taking up the spoor. We found blood right away, but no dead Buffalo and no death bellow... Instead, we bumped him around 75 yards from where the shot was and he ran into a piece of thorny thick bush! My tracker, Jim and myself proceeded with caution into the thickets. The bull was hit hard, but not hard enough, we spotted him a couple of yards into the thick stuff and Jim put in another couple of shots and the bull was down! It ended up that the initial shot was a little lower than what should have been, but still enough to not let him go to far. With the Buffalo down, we decided to take the rest of the day off and do a game drive in the Klaserie with some sundowners.
With a Buffalo & Bushbuck in the salt, Jim only had a Roan Antelope and Waterbuck left on his list. Early the next morning we packed my Cruiser and went to a different area where I had permit issued to hunt a Roan. We scouted the area, checking water holes and looking for tracks when we spotted a bunch of Roan standing of the road in the brush. We drove past a couple of hundred yards, stopped, got the wind in our favour and started to stalk back. I spotted a bull of to the side and got Jim on the sticks and told him to wait for the bull to turn broadside then take the shot. Another loud bang and the bull dropped right in his tracks! A beautiful Roan bull!
Jim's only request for a Waterbuck is that he would like to take a bull of at least 30 inches, as he already had a Waterbuck from one of his previous Safari's. I told him we'll give it our best, as the South African Lowveld has some great Waterbuck genetics! We spend the morning looking for Waterbuck and headed the afternoon to the town of Phalaborwa for Jim's Covid Test. Fortunately that came back negative the following day.
Our last hunting day we spend searching for a Waterbuck meeting Jim's requirements. We spotted a couple of bulls throughout the day but they got the best of us. Late the afternoon with about an hour and a half of daylight left we spotted a bull that gave us an opportunity, Jim got on the sticks and made a perfect shot! He ended his Safari with a spectacular trophy measuring right at 31 inches!
Jim made the trip during a time when there was still a lot of uncertainty due to Covid-19 and restrictions on traveling, but all went well and ended well with him arriving in South Africa and back in the US with no problems! Thank you Jim for making the trip in a difficult time for everyone!