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My first trip to Africa! #8581400 04/19/22 09:18 PM
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This hunting report has been 20+ years in the making….

When I was a young teenager, my father booked a hunting trip to South Africa for us as a family. I had dreamed about it for years before that, and could not be more excited to hunt in Africa. Unfortunately, several months before our scheduled safari, my father lost his job (through no fault of his own) and had no choice but to cancel the trip due to financial reasons. I was devastated. A few years later, we made preliminary plans to hunt in Namibia, but unfortunately those plans never materialized either for a variety of reasons.

From that point….I went on to attend college, graduate from college, started a career in real estate, met a girl, got married, travelled quite a bit, purchased my first home, had a child (a beautiful daughter), changed careers….and before I knew it, more than 20 years had passed since that first trip to South Africa was originally planned. As they say…. “life happens”. Fortunately, amidst all the COVID-19 fiasco, the stars aligned for me and everything changed. Here is my long-awaited hunting report of my first trip to the Dark Continent.

Hunt Dates: April 3-13, 2022
Location: North West Province, South Africa
Outfitter: High Veld Safaris
Professional Hunter: Hennie Jansen van Rensburg
Rifle: Cogswell & Harrison .375 H&H (suppressed) with Federal 300 gr. soft points, provided by the outfitter
Animals taken: Red Hartebeest, Common Blesbok, Burchell’s Zebra, Kudu, Common Springbok, Sable, Impala, Gemsbok, Eland, Nyala, White Blesbok, Blue Wildebeest, & Black Wildebeest
Animals hunted but not taken: Warthog, Duiker, & Steenbok (lack of shot opportunities due to exceptionally long grass)

For the past year or so, I had been saving some money to do a guided Whitetail hunt here in Texas with a friend of mine. In August of 2021, I was browsing THF and stumbled across an offer for a hunt in South Africa that sounded almost too good to be true. But I had noticed quite a few good deals being offered by other well-known outfitters as well, due to the hardship created by COVID lockdowns and travel restrictions. The gentleman that posted the offer (Travis Elmore) has a good reputation on THF, and had just returned from his trip. I decided to investigate it a little further, so I gathered details and references. I spoke to the outfitter personally, as well as half a dozen references that only had wonderful things to say about this outfitter and their small family-owned operation. I also was able to watch some videos on YouTube of a hunt with the outfitter, and I just had a gut feeling these were good people. I told my friend that I could hunt Whitetails with him anytime, but this could be my only chance to hunt Africa in the foreseeable future. Since I already had the majority of the funds saved, I was able to make it work. I booked a 10 day hunt for early April, and started counting the days (while also praying that our government wouldn’t screw up the whole plan with COVID nonsense). The time came for my hunt, and I made the trip across the pond. I did this hunt by myself, and I will admit that it took a leap of faith to fly halfway around the world to meet someone I didn’t know and hunt with a lesser-known outfitter….but I am so glad I did. My expectations for every aspect of the trip were exceeded! It was truly a dream come true for me and I will never forget it. I came to them as a customer, and left as family.


Day 1

Getting started on the hunt was a little overwhelming, partly due to my shock of actually being in Africa, and partly due to the sheer number of animals we were seeing. We had quite a bit of rain the night before and on the morning of my first day, but luckily it stopped around lunch and allowed us to get out and hunt. After glassing a group of Red Hartebeest, we found a very nice mature bull, and before long I had my very first African animal in the salt!

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Less than an hour later, on our way back to the lodge, we bumped into a herd of Blesbok with a male that was exceptional. I’ve never been someone who cares about inches or record books, but on a few of the exceptional animals I took, we did measure them…and I found it interesting to know that four of my animals would qualify for Rowland Ward. This Blesbok was the first.

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Day 2

On my second day, we had more light rain in the morning. We spent the first half of the day trying to get an opportunity on several Zebra (and getting wet). Eventually that afternoon (after numerous failed stalks), I got a shot on a nice mature mare. I’ve looked at plenty of Zebra from a distance, but when you get one on the ground, they become even more impressive and beautiful. We also had a crusted Zebra tenderloin appetizer before dinner that was truly delicious.

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Re: My first trip to Africa! [Re: Eland Slayer] #8581401 04/19/22 09:19 PM
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Day 3


We went to another property about 30 minutes away to hunt Kudu and Sable. We had been hunting Kudu each day, but so far had only caught a glimpse of what looked like a shooter bull. The rain seemed to really make the Kudu hesitant to move around. This was our first day of clear skies, and the new property had an obviously strong Kudu population. We looked over five or six bulls before lunch, and then found a gorgeous bull with what I consider to be the “classic” Kudu shape. He was in a thicket with just part of his shoulder and neck exposed. At the shot, he ran off as if nothing had happened. We went to the place where he was standing and could not find a single drop of blood. We only found a small pea-sized chunk of meat. This made my stomach turn, as I worried I may have just wounded the first Kudu I’ve ever had a chance to hunt in my life. Due to the recent rains, we were able to follow tracks in the soft ground, and to my relief he was lying stone dead within 70 yards….shot right on the crease of the shoulder, and we recovered the bullet under the skin on the opposite side.

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After a few heartfelt handshakes and some photos, we headed to another area on the same property to look for Sable. On our way, we stumbled across an absolute monster of a Springbok, which I promptly shot without hesitation. This was my second Rowland Ward animal of the trip.

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After loading the Springbok, we continued our search for Sable. It wasn’t long before we spotted a small group of bulls in an open area, with one that was substantially bigger than the rest. I don’t have much experience judging Sable, but I knew without a doubt that he was a mature trophy. At around 175 yards, he dropped to a single high-shoulder shot from the 375. Upon closer inspection, he was even bigger than I thought. We measured him at 44 inches….my third Rowland Ward trophy. Once again, I’m not interested in record books, but it’s always nice to know when you’ve taken a truly exceptional animal. I was over the moon to have the chance at such an incredible animal.

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Re: My first trip to Africa! [Re: Eland Slayer] #8581402 04/19/22 09:19 PM
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By mid-afternoon, I had already taken three great animals, and could have easily taken the rest of the day off to relax. We didn’t take the day off, but we did spend the rest of the evening just taking it easy while casually searching for Warthog, Duiker, and Steenbok. The unusually heavy rains this year had made the grass very tall, and therefore hunting for the small animals was damn near impossible. Occasionally we would catch a glimpse of a Duiker as it bounded away. Just before dusk, we spotted a lone Impala in a previously burned area. He was an ancient old male, and so far the only Impala rams that I had seen were in large groups which were very difficult to approach. This old ram gave us the perfect opportunity for a stalk, and we got within range! The sunsets in Africa seemed to be just a little more special than ours in the states.

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Day 4

The fourth day began with us searching for a group of Gemsbok we saw on the second day. There was a very large cow that dwarfed everything else in the herd. We managed to find them, and after a couple of failed attempts, got within 150 yards. The big old cow stepped out from behind an acacia tree and I gave her a quartering away shot to the opposite shoulder. She ran about 50 yards and piled up. She was a gorgeous animal. A few days later, we measured her at the skinning shed to be 40.5 inches….my fourth Rowland Ward quality animal.

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Staying true to my username (Eland Slayer)…..I could not pass up the opportunity to hunt Eland! We had seen a hell of a bull on day two in some thick bush, and never caught up to him. There was also a known bachelor group of three bulls on this property, but we had not seen them until today. Two of the three bulls were “no questions asked” shooters….BIG mature bulls. But one of these bulls was special. He was very old with a giant dewlap and “ruff” on his forehead, and a very light colored neck that made him stand out from a distance. We could see the bachelor group headed up a large rocky hill, and decided to try and head them off. I honestly did not think it was going to work, as I know how quickly Eland can cover ground. However, luck was on our side and we ambushed the bulls before they crested the hill. They came across at approximately 80 yards, at a slow walk. I only had a few seconds to make a decision and shoot. The big bull was at the rear of the group and I put a 300 gr. soft point into the crease of the shoulder. He lunged with a fountain of blood pouring from the entry wound. I knew he was dead on his feet, but as he turned to run downhill, I put another round into him quartering away. He made it no more than 50 yards and was down for good. I was absolutely elated! Eland have always been my favorite game animal. I was fortunate to hunt Eland here in Texas many years ago, but thankfully now I can say I’ve successfully hunted them in Africa too! This bull was absolutely massive! I hope to hunt another like him in the future. I was told this bull was likely over 10 years old.

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Re: My first trip to Africa! [Re: Eland Slayer] #8581403 04/19/22 09:20 PM
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Day 5

We made a plan to go back to the property where I hunted Sable, and see if we could find a good mature Nyala bull. We had seen one on day 3 but he outsmarted us. The property owner told me he had quite a few Nyala, but they were really challenging to hunt. Little did I know, this would be my favorite hunt of the entire trip. We got to the property shortly after sunrise, and began driving and glassing. We spotted a couple middle-aged bulls and cows, and also bumped into a mature bull that immediately gave us the slip. After one failed stalk, and several more miles of walking, we decided to walk down to a small river bottom that seemed like good Nyala habitat….and good Nyala habitat it was! Within an hour of entering this area, we saw 7 more Nyala bulls. Visibility was limited and I ended up getting a very close shot on a great mature bull at only 40-50 yards. The hunt was very exciting, and I found that hunting Nyala was very similar to hunting Whitetail. My bull was with a group of cows and dwarfed them all. Hennie told me this was the biggest bodied Nyala he had ever seen.

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Day 6

At this point, I was on Cloud 9. The hunt had already exceeded my expectations. We did a little sight-seeing in the morning, and I also had the chance to do a little photography. Up until now, I had really only been focused on hunting. In the afternoon, we came across a very big White Blesbok with an unusual silver coloration. I decided to make a stalk and got a good shot on him. Another beautiful animal.

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Day 7

By this point, my “wish list” was shrinking, along with my budget. We had not seen many Blue Wildebeest bulls that got me excited until today. The weather was getting cooler, and as soon as I saw this bull through my binoculars, I said “that’s the one I want”. He was a tall bull with a slightly reddish coat and dark face. His horns were not the biggest, but I just liked the way he looked. He rarely stood still, but I managed to place a shot right in the center of his shoulder as well as a follow-up shot just behind the shoulder. I was amazed that he could soak up two shots like that in the vitals and continue to run. He didn’t make it far though, and expired in less than a minute.

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Day 8

Until now, I haven’t mentioned the fact that I had been chasing Black Wildebeest (unsuccessfully) nearly every day of my hunt. They proved to be the most challenging animal of the entire trip. After NINE failed stalks over a week’s time, today was the day I finally broke the curse! We found a truly outstanding old hard-bossed bull in a herd, and miraculously closed the distance and made a successful shot. Ironically, I believe I may have also killed him adjacent to the only grove of pine trees in Africa (I know that’s probably not true, but the pine trees did make me think of home)

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Re: My first trip to Africa! [Re: Eland Slayer] #8581404 04/19/22 09:20 PM
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Days 9 & 10

The last two days of my trip were spent taking pictures, looking for Warthog/Duiker/Steenbok, having lots of laughs, and just generally solidifying the relationship with my newfound African family.

Never have I met such genuinely good salt-of-the-earth people, who went out of their way to make me feel welcome, and truly like part of their family. I cannot wait to return to the dark continent and hunt with these folks again someday. They will forever hold a special place in my heart.

Here are a few “behind the scenes” photos, as well as wildlife photos I was able to take during my trip. I hope you all enjoy them.

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Re: My first trip to Africa! [Re: Eland Slayer] #8581405 04/19/22 09:21 PM
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[Linked Image]

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If you are interested in a genuinely personalized hunting experience, with people who will treat you with respect and kindness, at an affordable price…..please consider hunting with High Veld Safaris. This may have been my first trip to Africa, but I have studied African hunting for most of my life, and I believe these folks offer some of the best value for your hunting dollar in southern Africa. You can visit their website here for more information: https://highveldsafari.online/

You can also reach Hennie Jansen van Rensburg by phone: +27 82 812 5988 or email: varkenslaagte@gmail.com

Re: My first trip to Africa! [Re: Eland Slayer] #8581412 04/19/22 09:27 PM
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Hennie's wife, Natanya, also filmed a lot of my hunt and put together this wonderful video.

Re: My first trip to Africa! [Re: Eland Slayer] #8581430 04/19/22 09:48 PM
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Looks like your wait was worth it. Glad you got to follow your dream.

Now it's time to start planning your next trip.


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Re: My first trip to Africa! [Re: Eland Slayer] #8581431 04/19/22 09:48 PM
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Nice. I especially like that sable. Great trophy.

Re: My first trip to Africa! [Re: Eland Slayer] #8581505 04/19/22 11:26 PM
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Awesome trip thanks for sharing cheers


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Re: My first trip to Africa! [Re: Eland Slayer] #8581528 04/20/22 12:12 AM
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Looks like quite a trip. Congrats on the success.



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Re: My first trip to Africa! [Re: Eland Slayer] #8581533 04/20/22 12:18 AM
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That’s a lifetime worth of trophies all in one hunt , congrats sir. That’s very cool

Re: My first trip to Africa! [Re: Eland Slayer] #8581549 04/20/22 12:24 AM
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Sounds like a great trip and some great animals. The Zebra, Blue Wildebeest are really nice but that Kudu, Gemsbok, and Sable are amazing. Also the body’s on some of those are huge.

Re: My first trip to Africa! [Re: Eland Slayer] #8581563 04/20/22 12:33 AM
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Great post! Thanks for sharing and good luck with the taxidermy bill!


[Linked Image]

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Re: My first trip to Africa! [Re: Eland Slayer] #8581578 04/20/22 12:48 AM
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Congrats!

Re: My first trip to Africa! [Re: leswad] #8581597 04/20/22 01:19 AM
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Originally Posted by leswad
Great post! Thanks for sharing and good luck with the taxidermy bill!


Thanks. I will actually be doing skull mounts on everything (except for a Zebra rug). Honestly I don’t have the money or the space to have everything shoulder mounted. It will be hard enough for me to find space for the skull mounts. Rather than spending the money on taxidermy, I’d rather go back for another hunt.

Re: My first trip to Africa! [Re: Eland Slayer] #8581625 04/20/22 02:11 AM
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Wow that was an amazing trip congrats to you. up

Re: My first trip to Africa! [Re: Eland Slayer] #8581633 04/20/22 02:25 AM
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Man I'm speeches your trip was a trip of a lifetime.
It took 20 years but you made up for it.
Congratulations and we'll deserved.

Re: My first trip to Africa! [Re: Eland Slayer] #8581638 04/20/22 02:47 AM
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What’s the name of the warthog on the couch?

Re: My first trip to Africa! [Re: RHutch] #8581640 04/20/22 02:49 AM
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Originally Posted by RHutch
What’s the name of the warthog on the couch?


His name is Frikkie haha

Re: My first trip to Africa! [Re: Eland Slayer] #8581722 04/20/22 11:33 AM
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Congratulations. You did it right. I went about 5 years ago. I hunted with a couple of grandsons and the emphasis was on them for graduating from high school. They each shot 6 animals and I shot 4. They are on the wall with a bunch of whitetails, mulies and elk. You got better animals than we did.


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Re: My first trip to Africa! [Re: Eland Slayer] #8581728 04/20/22 11:46 AM
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Looks like an amazing trip. Congrats!

Re: My first trip to Africa! [Re: Eland Slayer] #8581731 04/20/22 11:51 AM
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Awesome ! up

Re: My first trip to Africa! [Re: Stub] #8581794 04/20/22 12:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Stub
Awesome trip thanks for sharing cheers

Re: My first trip to Africa! [Re: Eland Slayer] #8581973 04/20/22 05:05 PM
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That is awesome we leave 30 days from today for S.A.
Lobe it go every year now it seems nothing like hunting in Africa
You will be back
Congrats

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