Port Elizabeth South Africa
Oct 12th - 20th
Flight was 15.5 hours from Atl to Johannesburg. We left El paso with so much excitement and anxiety on both our parts. I have been dreaming of this for most of my life and never ever believed it would be a possibility but here we are. We get to ATLANTA and are hungry and look up restaurants. There is a bunch of fancy joints to go to and tons of shopping but we settle on a little place called Nature's table bistro. It's a small place but AWESOME. The food was great and they serve a ton. Not to mention the best peach tea in the world.
We soon boarded the massive plane to Johannesburg. I've never seen one like it. I saw them loading all the supplies and it reminded me of a cruise ship before debarking. We upgraded to economy plus, this includes 3 inches more space, upgraded food menu, and unlimited drinks, wine and mixed included. We didnt get to use much of this except the space. Soon we meet our neighbors in rows 30 and 32 and we are off. I thought we were going to run off the runway, it took forever to get off the ground but once we did flight was great. Food was actually good and service on Delta kicked [censored]. American Airlines sucks and I will defend that opinion to the fullest extent. I hate them and Delta reassured me 10xfold that there is better companies out there than american. sorry for the rant, but back the flight. We were able to watch a couple movies before we got tired and soon tried to go to sleep. This was not easy. It took awhile, Vero (The Wife) had a really hard time but soon fell into a deep sleep. We woke up with about 2 hours left in the flight. I was really surprised. We arrived and I was a bit anxious, someone from Afton Guesthouse was supposed to be meeting us to help with luggage and my gun transfer but I haven't actually talked to them on the phone only email. Also, there is all kinds of stories of people stealing things from bags. We were both on high alert but all for nothing. We were met and guided through everything promply with no issues what's ever. Mr. X assisted with the SAPS office to clear my gun and Marius took us to Afton guesthouse for our over night stay. All was smooth as can be. It was neat driving on the wrong side of the road and seeing all the differences in Africa. I did see Vero get quite concerned as a homeless man approached our vehicle. He appeared very sick. And she appeared very scared. I just laughed. But we made it to AFTON safe and sound. Ari met us and made us a fire and a great steak dinner with Greek salad and the best red wine I've ever had. It was Merlot but definitely not the dirt Merlot from the US. This was awesome. We meet a few other folks that were also staying there. A White couple with an Armanian accent from Vietnam, Weird, And another guy from South Carolina who left and has lived in South Africa for 27 years. They were all really nice and much older than us. But, this didn't matter at all as they seemed very intrested in our first trip to Africa. It was funny it didn't take long for the folks at Afton to ask us about Trump and Hillary. They hate Hillary here in South Africa and call Trump a clown, but they would still vote for him. This is the consensus here at least. It was very obvious after talking to the people in South Africa, that what we do in America also affects them tremendously. They said our vote for presidency has big implications on them also. Enough politics, We soon went to bed with excitement for tomorrow.
Africa Day 2
First hunting day
Rifle- Old mouser action 270 with a suppressor. Guides gun
Scope- Leupold VX2 duplex reticle
150 gr Hornady ssts
Up early, boarded the plane to Port Elizabeth, and off we went. Mr.x from Afton helped us with all of our luggage and gun check in. Let me say this, without him we would have been completely helpless. Can't thank him enough. The plane ride was very rocky and I unfortunately had to sit next to 2 of the smelliest people I've ever dealt with. ugggggg
Upon arriving in Port Elizabeth, Jono, owner of Kingsview Safaris met us right away. It was finally nice to meet him in person. Its been almost 9 months since we started this. We get loaded up and off to our first nights bed and breakfast. It was a perfect little place and the family that owned it were beyond nice and most hospitable. They treated us like family and we really enjoyed their company. Jono said if we felt up to it, we could go hunt on the Yellow wood concession this afternoon. Ha it didn't take me long to get ready. This is a beautiful place with tall trees picturesque of Africa, open cut grass pastures , and big mts with thick bush. There is a magnificent river that runs through the property and it goes straight to the ocean, which you can see from the back of the concession. This place is breathtaking! There are a few cattle and an a abundance of African plains game. Imagine the TX hill country with African animals instead of axis and blackbuck. Wayne my PH, and new best friend, took us out and just like that we are hunting in Africa. It didn't set in until we saw our first Giraffe.
We get to the top of an opening in the thick brush. We get out of the truck and start to walk the edges of the cut brush to stay hidden. It was nice to know that we would be stalking and not just shooting from the truck. We are going after Warthog, Bushbuck, or Impala. We immediately see Impala and the chase begins. We walk up on some really big Warthog females along our way. It was unreal how big they were. Not what I was expecting. Veronica now had a fascination for them. Now let me tell you my wife does not hunt and has not yet been on a full hunt with me so this may get interesting. I am beyond thankful that she at least wanted to come and be by my side for my dream. We continue chasing the Impala and keep getting close but not close enough due to a Bontebuck that will not leave us alone. He keeps getting the herd riled up. As we get to the next ridge we see some monster warthogs. We thought they were cattle at first. We never get close enough to see how big they are. We never get close to the Impala either but have seen over 100 by now. On our way back the truck, Wayne immediately freezes, he asks if I want a cat. I got worried and was not sure what to do. Of coarse i wanted to shoot it but had no idea what it would cost. All of sudden the sticks were up and Wayne says shoot the damn thing the rancher hates them being here. Music to my ears. I set the gun up and see this beautiful Caracal. He is looking the other way about 160 yards away. I shoot and miss, trigger was a bit light and scared me. Over him Wayne says. Instead of running though, he lays down. I shoot again and he is done. This cat is beautiful, at least one side of him is. When he layed down all i could see was his head and that's right where i hit him unfortunately. Veronica is in shock and then awe. It all happened so fast she said. She is the reason im here. I love my Wife and could not imagine this without her. We make it up the hill and meet Jono, he congratulates us says there is an big impala that he has seen in the middle of a bunch of Giraffes. We make our way and sure enough there are a bunch of giraffe and a monster impala. Wayne mentions that he thought the Impala had been kicked out of the herd because he way past his breeding age. I get set up, 207 yards, with Wayne and Veronica right next to me. He turns and I shoot him right in the shoulder. His front legs are broken and he is down. As we get closer he is absolutely huge. Beautiful would not do him justice, he is spectacular. To say that I was happy would be an understatement. We set up and take photos with the Indian Ocean as our back drop. We all start to open up and get after each other, as hunters usually do after they get something, and good times are ahead. We make our way out and had diner and a fire. Food was fantastic, grilled Blesbok sausage and steak over the fire, the company was even better. Day 1 is now over and 2 animals are down. Veronica is good, I am excellent, and Africa is all that I thought it would be.
Woke up way to early as the jet lag was still getting us both up at 2 am. Was able to get back to sleep and we are up at 6 ready for the day. Our plan is to have Wayne pick us up and head back to yellow wood for Bushbuck and Warthog. We go to a different part of the ranch this morning.We plan on getting high and glassing the open areas. On the way in we see Eland, Red Lechwe, Red Hardebeast, Zebra, Nyala, Sable, Jackel, and another Caracal. We made it to the top of a hill eventually and glassed for awhile. We see a Duiker, some Zebra, then spotted a Bushbuck. We made a plan and off we went. By the time we got there the Bushbuck had gone up the other side through the heavy trees and we lost him. Elvis, our quiet tracker with a contagious smile, had stayed back to watch us with a radio and let us know we had just missed him. Elvis has been with us the whole time. He is very quiet but will laugh with us at times. Seems like he is laughing at us too. ha. Veronica has become very fond of him as they are both trailing Wayne and I when we stalk. She says he has been her guardian and protects her.
We pack up and head to another part of the ranch to find another Bushbuck. Enroute I find out from Wayne that Bushbuck is his least favorite animal to hunt. He said they are very difficult and out of all the animals they are the one that is least predictable. Many guys have come out to Africa just to hunt them and never see one. We have seen 2 this morning but haven't been close yet. We hunt hard all morning but to no avail. On our way to a picnic lunch we see more Nyala, Lechwe, Impala, and Zebra. No Giraffes today yet. Jono sets up a picnic type lunch for Veronica and I and Wayne. It was very cool. We all sat around and told stories and enjoyed the scenery. As we are done and headed out for the afternoon hunt we see something running through the trees. Holy S%^$ it's a bunch of Baboons. Wayne tells me to jump out and whack one. Elvis is very fond of the meat and the land owner hates them as well. I jump out and settle on a big male and whack. I hear the hit. We search and search and don't find him or blood. It's not a good feeling. I cant believe we lost him. We meet up again with Jono and we all get in the vehicle together. This was the missing piece I guess because we had magic on our side in the afternoon. We see a Bushbuck ewe first off, then on the "power line", which is a small open strip in the middle of the bush, a really nice bushbuck shows himself. Wayne and I head that way. We sneak along slowly and the Bushbuck is gone. We get a feeling he has left but soon we see him. He is 150 yards and I'm on the sticks. One shot and he's down. This was a huge deal to me. A Bushbuck on my first trip, my PH can add another one to his list and Jono now has another for his upcoming clients to look at and be impressed by. He is awesome. He is an old ram with a broken horn and a story. Jono thinks he is the ram that fought with Teds, a former client, and cut his bushbucks eye. Pics are taken and off we go to find a Warthog. As soon as we clear the hill we hear Wayne tapping on the roof. We stop the truck and all of us instantly see a huge Warthog 300 yards in front of us. I jump out and Wayne is already setting up the sticks. He says he is huge and to SHOOT. It seemed far, as i didn't have a range on him, but I got as steady as I could and let one go. It hit solid and the big boar was trying to run without his front legs. I chamber another and let it go on the run. It hits him and he instantly falls. We get up to him and Wayne Is beyond excited. I know nothing about Warthogs so I am just excited seeing Wayne and how happy he is. Wayne and Jono both congratulate me and tell me again that this pig is the biggest they have ever seen in the Eastern Cape. They think he may be one of the biggest killed in the Cape. We get pics and head out. We actually had one more day slated to hunt here as they never would believe that we would kill out both animals on the same day and Jono wanted to make sure we had enough time. It has been tremendous so far. I wouldn't change a thing or ask for anything more. We head off to the Zebra Lodge for the evening. This is our new home for a few days and it is spectacular. The views are amazing, the chalets are perfect, and the hospitality is second to none. We have a fantastic dinner, a fire, and off to bed.
Day 4 Zebra Lodge
Rifle- Browning a bolt 300 win mag with Boss
200 gr Hornady ELD X with 72 grains of RL22. 2960 fps.
Nikon Buckmasters 4.5 x 14 scope
We get up later today as it is a "off day" due to our unimaginable luck. Jono suggests we go to his families ranch to try and help him get rid of some Baboons. We have learned, on this trip, that Baboons are more than destructive. They steal things, break things, destroy everything, and make life miserable for many folks that live in the country side. Stories range from them pulling metal roofs off, destroying the interior of vehicles, to chasing woman for bags of groceries. I was excited to help with the depredation. We go to Jonos and see at least 100 baboons in a huge troop as soon as we get to the first open field. They are 400 yards off and as we sneak up the road they are already aware of us. These things are extremely smart, cunning, and fast. I now have my rifle, a 300 win mag, and as I ready to shoot they are all already on alert and moving into the trees. I shoot and miss, reload and fire one more round as they run off. I miss again. These things are quite hard to shoot I find out. But at 400 yards im not to disappointed We drive on and meet Jono and Justine s parents and staff. They do many things on the ranch to include cattle, goats, and growing flowers. Veronica was amazed and curious so we talked a bit about the flowers and they took her in and showed her all the different plants. We soon went out and searched and found 1 more band of baboons moving quickly through the trees. I shoot and miss at a big male running through a fence line opening. It was a small opening at 250 yards. We have a good laugh and load up. It was fun but no baboons today. I feel bad as I know that the meat is something the workers on the ranch look forward to and I didn't come through. But this was the last time I missed the rest of the trip. We decide to go to Jeffries bay for lunch to Jonos favorite place. We go with Wayne, Jono and Justine meet us there. Walskippers is a cool seafood place on the beach. It was great. Wayne takes us shopping for gifts close by then back to the lodge. We will be picked up early for our next concession. Nyala Ridge. This is where we will be after Kudu and if im lucky Nyala. Veronica is excited to see more of Africa and I are more than excited about the chance at a Kudu.
I can't believe how fast time is going by. I didn't sleep well last night and was up at 5. I layed in bed and thought about everything. Work, Kudu, the flight home, how much fun im having, just about anything but sleep. Veronica finally woke up about 730 and we went to breakfast. We were going to be picked up by 9 so we got our stuff ready and we're waiting on Wayne as he arrived. The last few days we have gotten to know him. He is very knowledgeable and eager to teach me anything I want to know. Veronica and I have really gotten to pick his brain about anything and everything in Africa and he has been extremely helpful. We hope he is enjoying our company as much as we are his. He arrives on time and off to Nyala Ridge we go. It's about an hour away and in the drive it is very evident that we will be hunting different terrain. The last property we hunted on was called Yellowood. It was surrounded by high green hills with lush pastures. It had open area that looked like Jurassic Park and the Indian Ocean was the back of the property. Nyala Ridge is much different and looks and feels like home. El Paso mixed with Big Bend. Its hilly but full of cactus, thorn bushes, and rocks. We arrive at our camp house and it was on the top of a hill overlooking the whole property. It is a log cabin with rustic features and was beautiful. I immediately start glassing the thorny hillsides and can see a horse, some distant animals I cant distinguish, and soon a huge Eland. There are 6 Eland that come to water not 125 yards from where we are. This is my first hard decision in Africa. There is one Eland that is massive. He has a big grey body with black face and is everything you can ask for in a trophy Eland. His horns are thick and long and the scruff on his head looks like a dirty mop. This, I'm told by Jono, is way bigger than most. Both Wayne and Jono were very keen on me shooting this bull. Veronica was now also in the mix. It seems Africa has gotten her too. She didn't know what an Eland was until she saw this one and she was really starting to lean on me about shooting him over a possibility at a Nyala. I somehow kept to my guns and held off. He stayed there and we got pics for the next 30 min. We ate a small lunch and we're off. It didn't take long to see animals as we were met by 5 huge giraffes on the main road. As we drove past them we see something dart off into the bush. We quickly jump off and start up the hill to get a better view. Veronica is with us, and has been on every hunt so far, she spots the animal and its a big Nyala. Wayne quickly judges him and says that's the big one we have been chasing all year. I'm on the sticks and he steps out. My heart is racing as this is the quickest shot I have had so far. I see him walking through some acacia trees and see an opening he is quickly approaching at 170 yards. He comes to the opening and I look at Wayne , he says in the shoulder, and boom. Shot looks good and the Nyala jumps off runs 30 yards and stops. He stands for 10 seconds and falls. The feeling I had was complete shock. I never thought I would get a Nyala. We go over to him, pay our respects, and admire how beautiful he is. We get pics and take him to the cleaning shed where Elvis will take care of him. The meat again will stay with the rancher and be given out to the workers as gifts. We still have a few hours and head out in search of Kudu. The hills here have brush just high enough to hide them so I am told that we are looking for big ears or horns shinning in the sunlight. Unfortunately the clouds are out and the sky is grey. We see kudu cows and the Eland have moved and we can see them coming our way. Suddenly 2 kudu bulls appear at about 600 yards next to the Eland. We look them over and Veronica films them. 1 looks like a shooter but Jono wants to wait until the morning to go after him as he thinks it may be too late to get him. We look him over and find he is very old and has lost alot of his color and his mane is almost gone. His horn length has also broomed off some, but he certainly is a trophy for sure. We decide to go back to the cabin for the evening. Justine, Jonos wife, has a fire ready upon arrival and we all sit on the deck with the warm fire behind us. Tonight we have lamb shanks and marinated impala steak. Wonderful day. I cant believe I shot a Nyala. He is magnificent.
We are up early and ready to find a Kudu. We notice it is a bit cloudy and Wayne tells me it will be a bit more difficult to find them without the sun shining off their horns. We have a small bite to eat. Most mornings are cereal, yogurt, tea or coffee, breakfast bars, and fruit. Oh and Rusks but Jono ate them all. Ha. But they will make us anything we want. Soon Jono, Wayne, Vero and I climb in the truck/bakkie and head out. We drop Jono off on a ridge so he can glass the valley from a peak. We drive to a different spot on the bottom of the ranch to check another area. We immediately see Kudu cows but no bulls, Impala, and that giant Eland again. He is haunting me now. We stop to glass and Jono says over the radio that he has found the bull from the night before. We head that way and I can feel Veronica pulling on my arm. I look at her and she asks if I want to shoot that Kudu. We watched the video from the day before and agreed that I wanted to see a few more before i decided on this Kudu. I wanted to try and get a big one but I am a bit nervous to tell Wayne that we may want to pass on this bull because I don't know if it will upset him or Jono, but she is right. We traveled this far to hunt a great Kudu not just the first one we saw. The one we saw the day before was a trophy but in my heart it wasn't the one for me. I do believe a trophy is in the eyes of the beholder and I agree with her on this, I ask Wayne, is he a really good one? Im hoping he is sensing that I am not convinced. He does and replies that we will get a good look at him and go from there. I was happy with that as we only got 500 to 600 yards from him the day before so a closer look would be good. As we make our way Jono radios us and says that this is not the Kudu from yesterday but that this is a much bigger bull. We all perk up and get a little bit more serious about our goal. We head up a ridge, full of cactus, rocks, and some sort of creosote trees, to get to the top and glass a ridge over. As we crest the top Wayne studies him and immediately gets the sticks up and says there he is shoot him in the shoulder. I look up and see nothing. This is where I start to panic for a sec. I don't want to be that guy that comes all the way to Africa and misses a huge Kudu because I couldn't find him on a hillside when everyone can see him. Suddenly I see him thank God, and I am on him in the scope. He is quartering to us. I look at Wayne and make sure he wants me to shoot him in that stance and he says in the crease let him have it. I shoot and hear the whack. I instantly reload and find the Kudu again. He runs about 75 yards and stops. I'm ready to shoot but Wayne says to wait. Just then the Kudu falls over. My heart is now pounding and poor Veronica looks at me and says, what happened? Is he a good one? Was it the one from the day before? Are you happy with him? My awesome wife haaa. She was so excited and I hated that she didn't see any of it as she she stayed a little lower on the mountain so she didn't scare the Kudu. She has been on every hunt so far and has not had to be coached or told what to do at all. She has been just as excited as me and has enjoyed every minute of it making it that more special to me. I range where the Kudu was when I shot and it was 287 yards. I was starting to get a little impressed with myself as I am on a roll without a miss or wounding anything except a Caracal at 270 yards and Baboons farther than that. We make our way over and Jono meets us there. It was absolutely amazing. He was a monster cape Kudu, a corker, as Jono and Wayne would say. He had deep curls, ivory tips, and was wide as can be. Everything I could of asked for and it always make you feel even better when the Outfitter and PH are just as excited as you. What I learned about them was it was obvious they wanted me to get the animals I wanted just as bad as I did. They wanted me to get trophy quality animals not just representatives of the species. Now we all agreed before the hunt that this was not a inches thing for me. They adamantly agreed it shouldn't be. I tell them about how I felt about the other Kudu and Jono said he would rather have me not get an animal than to shoot something just so I can say I shot it. He and Wayne both told me that hunting with them was not about numbers or inches ,but about the hunt itself and the trophy I wanted. I respected them deeply for this because this means it is not about money to them, it's about me and it's about taking only the right animals, the ones that will make the herds stronger and healthier. We take a bunch of pictures and call for help to get the Kudu off the mt. Pier, the ranch owner, soon arrives with 4 of his workers to help. Now I must say this, it's Sun morning at 730 am, Pier and his workers are all there to help as soon as we call them. I thought how cool is this. It's not his job or responsibility to do this but he enjoyed it and we were very thankful. We had to cut some bush to get the Kudu to truck and we definitely needed the extra help. This thing weighed alot more than I thought. We got it loaded and all headed to Pier s cleaning shed to cape and clean him. Elvis and the others went to work and we all stood around and enjoyed the comraudary. Pier was a gynecologist that had retired here and was well known and a very nice man. It was cool to see the close knit group that Jono has. What's even cooler is that Justine is just about 9 months pregnant and there is doc 5 min away. Speaking of Justine, how lucky are we to have met her. She is just about due but has been every bit apart of this hunt as anyone and has had a smile on her face the entire time. She is always happy and ready to help in any way, even though we begged her to stop. Vero and I were so lucky that we got to meet her and got to spend time getting to know her and Jono. Jono said he had a talk with her a few days before we arrived and said she was not allowed to give birth until after, so thankfully she waited for us. Ha. I did joke with her one night as she sneezed really hard, I told her to stop and that she was scaring me she may push to hard. We all had a good laugh. After the Kudu was skinned we headed back to cabin for lunch. Justine made roasted chicken and veggies. Now we have a decision, I've shot everything so fast we have a day to waste. So we decide to go to the Cheetah breeding facility close by. Wayne, Vero, and I got to see Cervils, Caracals, Lions, and Hyenas. We also get to pet Kahki, a male cheetah born in the facility. He was super cool. We get back a bit early and Jono suggests we go look for Baboons to hunt. The workers really enjoy the meat and Pier hates them here as well. We take a good walk but dont see any. We do notice quite a few cat kills though and let Pier know. We head back and are welcomed to an amazing dinner. It was Ostrich meat pie with mashed potatoes. Grilled Nyala and Kudu tenderloins and a mushroom sauce. My favorite meal of the trip. Vero and I agreed that the meat from the animals here are much better in taste than the ones at home. No game taste at all and wonderful to eat. Especially the Nyala. Wayne has a special marinade that he uses and it works fantastic. Another great day.
Day 7 Our anniversary
At this point I have harvested everything I have asked for and all of them have been great trophies exceeding my expectations . All I need now is a common, black, and white springbok. This would be a bit difficult for Jono to arrange because each one is on different properties but he worked hard and got it all worked out for us. He has constantly asked how we were and let us know of there is anything we wanted or needed to let him know. He worked hard setting everything up and making sure it all went off without a hitch. Thanks again for the work I know it wasn't easy. Our plan this morning was to go to a ranch close by and try and get a common first, then if time permits, a black on another concession in the afternoon. We go to the new ranch and as we pull in we see some springbok right off the bat. We are off the truck quickly and Wayne, Vero, and I head out. We get busted by some Zebra and they run straight towards the springbok. Holy sh#@ these things are skittish. Without a blink they are gone and over the next ridge. This may not be as easy task as I thought. These things never stop moving and walking is not something they do either. They will either run or run faster. No in between. We get to the back of the property and see them again almost a mile from where they were. We instantly also notice that the drought has been very hard here. The animals look good but the natural vegetation is almost non existent. We get off the truck and the springbok see us. Gone in no time. Wayne and I leave and go for a walk and find a high ridge with no vegetation at all. It's far but if they come through we have plenty of time to get a shot. We see some impala and then we see some springbok. 2 males and 1 is big. We set up and wait for them to come out. I range them at 278 yards. Holy cow that's a small target at that distance but Wayne says he has confidence in me as I have been money so far, I set up and the big ram comes out. I get steady and shoot. Instantly the ram is down. I can't believe I pulled that shot off. Wayne is smiling and Jono radios us, hell of a shot. We get in the truck and head over. He is gorgeous. Perfect old mature ram with a heart shaped bell. He is our anniversary ram. We take pics and head back to Nyala ridge. Jono has set us up to hunt the black springbok this afternoon so we eat lunch and head back out. We meet his buddy Shane and he takes us to our black springbok concession. I have to say thanks to Shane as he helped us get the black and white concessions set up. Thank buddy. We get to the place to hunt and it is heartbreaking. This ranch has been devastated by the drought. It looks like a fire had ripped through the terrain. No food for the animals anywhere. These ranchers are trying to help but are losing animals daily as they are fighting for food and starving. We see lots of springbok here and they are just as skittish as the other ranch. They won't let us get 500 yards from them. Amazing how fast they are. We sneak around for a couple hours trying to get close and finally see an old mature ram bedded on a hillside. We sneak over and tree by tree we continue to sneak. Veronica is with us and decides to stay back and let us attempt to get closer. We actually get to the last tree that will hide us and we are 217 away. I set up and wait. He is laying down looking right at us. After 10 min. or so he puts his head down and Wayne tells me to shoot. I am not sure I can make the shot as it is a frontal shot with him laying down. I steady my aim and shoot. He instantly flips over and is dead. Jono again radios , hell of a shot as he watched it through the binos the whole time. We go over to him and he is a very old mature perfect black springbok. I am so grateful and thankful for being here. Especially getting to do it with Vero. We take pics, load up, and head back to Nyala ridge. When we arrive we are met with a beautiful setup that Justine has done for our 1st anniversary. She spread out eucalyptus over a small chest and set up 2 chairs on the deck overlooking the ranch. There was a spectacular flower arrangement for Veronica and a bottle of champagne. They bought us a book of South Africa and a hunting magazine for me. This is the point that we knew we had made the best decision we could have made coming to Kingview. Justine, Jono, and Wayne did way more than just hunt with us. They thought about us constantly and thoughtfully planned a special moment for Vero and I for our 1 year anniversary. Veronica and I had met Justine's parents a few days prior and Vero told them about how much she liked eucalyptus and the flowers they had there on the ranch. Justine and her mother carefully picked out the things Vero liked and surprised her with this very thoughtful bouquet. It couldn't have made it any better. Thank you all for your thoughtfulness and for making our day so special. And saving my butt. National springbok day is what I called it haaa. But back home its our Anniversary. Happy anniversary my angel. To many more. We all have a glass of champagne, except Just. she had sparkling grape juice, don't want anyone to think anything. haa. Dinner tonight was a steak cooked to perfection by Jono, green beans, some maize stuff with a tomato sauce, and a mushroom gravy. Mmmmmmm good. We also had a great cobbler for desert. Tomorrow is white springbok and Addo if we are successful. Another Great day. What a perfect day! Wish I had more time. And more money that Eland would be dinner tomorrow.
Got up a bit early and now I feel a little pressure. I've done extremely well so far and am excited but also worried because this is my last animal, and the last one I need to complete my trio of springbok. I feel as though I have had luck on my side as well and I don't want it to run dry quite yet. Wayne says to make sure the horseshoes in my [censored] don't fall out just yet either. Haa. We go to the Cheetah breeding facility to meet up with someone who will take us out to the concession. After a short time we figure out what we're doing and meet up with the owner. The concession is actually across the street. This is important to know because as we drove by it earlier I noticed some white springbok feeding along the road at a dry tank. I also noticed and thought to myself, if these are the ones we are hunting this is going to be easy. They were right up against a dry tank dam giving us a perfect spot to stalk up close and get on them without them seeing us. As luck and my horse shoes would have it, this is where we went. Glad I was paying attention. I tell Wayne what I had noticed and sure enough we get to the dam and there they were, 7 white springbok 100 yards away, and for the 1st time, they weren't running away from us. We set up on a great ram but have to wait for him to turn. Good thing because another ram we didn't see now appears 75 yards away. He is much bigger. A few seconds later I'm on him and it's done. He's down and my trio and hunting is complete. A sad but great moment. Wayne and I give a hug and I thank him for all he's done. He says I made it easy on him, but it took all of us. Everyone has played a very important role in our epic African adventure. Veronica found our Nyala and has been an awesome sport, Wayne has been patient and a great coach, Jono has worked hard setting things up and helping every way he can. Justine has made sure we were fed and made sure we were always happy, Even Elvis, he beat the hell out of my cat for me. Ha. Really he has been the busiest of all of us, as he has taken care of all my capes and skulls. A very important detail. And me, I shot lights out and am pretty proud of myself and surprised i did as well as i did. We take pics and load up. Wayne and Elvis make short work of the Springbok and we are off to meet Jono and Just. They are waiting to take Elvis and the animal capes back to their ranch then to the taxi. We will now head to Addo for the afternoon. Vero is really excited as am i. I still feel this sadness though as I know my hunt in Africa is now done. We spend a few hours in Addo and see Buffalo, lots of Warthogs, Tortoises, Impala, Kudu, Hardebeast, and a herd of elephants. Vero is super excited as she has begged me for months to see a baby elephant when we are in Africa and there is a little one in this group. Great ending to our day. Wayne takes us to buy some curios and back to Zebra Lodge. I enjoyed the long ride back. I picked Waynes brain the whole way asking all kinds of stupid questions that I'm sure he was tired of answering but he had to anyway. I didnt care either I asked away ha. Thanks Wayne for putting up with us. He is such a cool dude. After a great dinner and a couple hours catching up with family phone calls off to bed we go. We are in a super cool tent with thatched roofs and an outside shower. It's like a 5 star tent, literally. This is a different room from our stay a few days ago. Another great day.
We get to sleep in late today and it's our last full day. Vero wants to go in town for a massage so Justine picks us up and takes us in. We will meet Jono and Wayne later for dinner. We wanted to treat them all out for dinner at their fav. pizza place. After the message we meet Jono and Just for lunch at cobblestone and then we go to Mandela Bay to walk around. It was neat seeing the bay and all the street vendors. They are very artistic and have some extraordinary talent. We see lots of carvings and paintings. We bought a few things earlier in the week and now we wished we would have waited till now. We walk out on the pier and take a few photos. Vero finds out Just. hasn't taken any baby pics so now it's a priority. Vero starts taking pics of her doing anything. As we looked through them later they turned out great and we hope they like them. We have dinner at the pizza place close by. It was a nice place, the food was awesome, and the company even better. It will be the last time we see Wayne so we say our goodbyes. We thanked him for everything and let him know how much fun we had and how big of part he played. We appreciated everything and we will keep in touch with him for sure. Cheers my friend. Jono and Just take us back to the Lodge and our last day is over. Tomorrow we head back to the US and my Safari is over. I feel like it is not goodbye but see ya later. Hopefully Jono and I keep in touch, I'd really like to take him on an Elk hunt. It would be a cool way to repay him. Maybe we can work it out soon.
Last morning and We get to say our goodbyes. Jono shows up early and we take care of all left over payment stuff. Justine shows up with Elvis so we can say good bye to them. Elvis is dressed to a T and looks ready to party. Haa. It was nice to see him as Vero and i have a big soft spot for him. She was really looking forward to giving him a new backpack we picked out. It was a nice gesture and he was very appreciative. We say goodbye to Florbela and Didier, owners of Zebra Lodge, and Jono takes us to the airport. He helps us get all our stuff checked in and makes sure we are all set to go. We have a few laughs and say our see ya laters as well. Veronica and I feel like we have not only had a great safari but we also made new friendships that will last forever. We will never forget this trip. Our 1st anniversary was perfect. Now for the 32 hours of flying and waiting ahead of us.
We have 3 uneventful flights and make it home safe and sound. A bit tired and stinky but alive and well. Jono, Justine, Wayne we cant say thank you enough for all the parts you played in our adventure. It went off without a hitch and was better than I could have ever thought. I never believed the day would come where I would be in Africa on my own Safari. Well now it's behind me and I can't stop thinking about it. Replaying each and every moment. My wife has made me a happy man, if it wasn't for her it wouldn't have happened. Till next time, it's not goodbye its see you later. Cheers to our new friends. See you soon.
On a side note anyone intrested in how the ELD S worked, I was a bit torn. I got them to group at 200 great. When I shot the first animal with them which was the Nyala It was a pass through right behind the shoulder, but I noticed it pulled out lung tissue from the other side. When caping him there was a massive amount of shock on that side as well. I was happy with them at this point. The Kudu was 287 yards away slightly quartering to me and I hit him right in the crease of the shoulder and chest. The bullet went to the backside shoulder and was under the skin. Once again when caping him there was shock seen everywhere on the opposite side. I mean from the shoulder down to his midsection. The bullet was found and the metal and lead had become disassembled. I couldn't find any lead only and only about 40% of the Copper core had been retained. I got a pass through on 1 springbok at 290 yards and it threw lung everywhere on the opposite side of the shot. The Black springbok was quartering to me and I shot it just like the Kudu except the bullet never exited. It hit the opp. shoulder and turned it into 1000 pieces of bone. The white springbok was 80 yards and the bullet practically caped him. It tore a straight line in his cape on the opposite side and left a massive 6 in hole on the opposite side. It seemed like they work like a ballistic tip, which I don't like on African game. There was tons of shock, which is good, but I don't know how good they would have done if I hit bone on the front side. Especially the big animals. I'm not sure if they are supposed to work this way either. I just assumed they would hold together much better. Just my 2 cents as I know alot of guys are starting to use them.