South Africa 2005
It was hot! For a Norwegian arriving from 10 degrees
below zero it was hot as it must be in hell, but probably this was just another
normal summer day in
Phuuu….. The reason for being here in February instead for the normal August hunt will take to long to explain and is probably of no interest, but after four hunts in RSA winters I was quite exited to try a summer hunt. Since me this year had the opportunity to visit the Frontier bullet factory from where the bullets I was going to use this year were produced. We (Gerhard and I) stayed at the Leribisi lodge for the first evening
Very nice place with the name after a owl..
Since Frontier`s factory was located quite the opposite way of our hunting area and I was arriving Johannesburg airport at 2100 hours there was no time doing anything else but to get a nice sleep and get ready for the first day of my 2005 African adventure. Starting the first day at The Leribisi with an English breakfast was nice knowing that the next 14 breakfasts would be the “yoghurt breakfast”
The yoghurt breakfast is actually nice when starting the day with a walkabout. The stomach feels more “at home” not totally filled up with Egg, Bacon and beans..
The last “English” breakfast J
The visit on the Frontier bullet factory was really interesting (but in need a article of its own to be justified) but after watching the hole process and talking to the very enthusiastic Nico Economakis and Hendrik Niemandt
I was in no doubt that regarding quality of the bullets there was no reason to worry. Not that I did, because I had already tested them thru the whole winter season.
Here Nico at the critical process of making the crimp groove.
Some last minute shopping was done in
This year, as the previous years my main armament was my Freedomarms revolver in 454 Casull.
Here with a good book and a small snake, but no Red wine, sorry to say….
This year the open sighted revolver was ready to launch the new Frontier ”Big 5” Bullet. (Left one is he 391gr CSGR. Right one being the 370 Frontier bullet)
Back home the bullet was tested (The test) during the hole winter and I was quite confident that it would work on the largest of antelopes (the test was actually done for a Botswana Elephant hunt that never came around).
The 390gr CSGR (Casper/Sarel game ranger) bullet was constructed for the 454. Casull cartridge and is with its heavy electroplated copper jacket ready for taking even the largest game.
But as one knows, theory mean nothing if it do not
perform in the field. So here I was well into my second day in
This photo is taken when we stalked for Eland. The reader with good eyes can see one female standing left of the little bush in front of us.
This years as two of my earlier years, Oryx Hunting Adventures with Gerhard Bredenkamp as PH was my choice of outfitter.
Here represented by wife Madalize and kids Lenè and Lelani
I must really say that I have learned the hard way the difference in having a outfitter that you can thrust dealing with all the expected and unexpected (read Shit happens) that can and probably will happen during a hunt, where many things have to come together to make things(the good ones) happen.
This year, as the previous two years, I had lived to learn that Mr. Bredenkamp was just the man for the job.
To try to make the temporary import of my handgun into RSA less painful (compared to earlier years) Gerhard did all the forms and also got all the 520 and 525 forms signed and delivered to the Airport police in advance. I just had to show them the revolver on arrival and “vola” I was on my way thru customs and soon breathing fresh air…
This was very important this year because new regulations stated that a hunting firearm (revolver) had to have a scope mounted to be identified as a hunting arm (what a piece of bullshit specially from a continent where from old traditions, The “old-timers” was hunting with open sight black powder muzzle loaders and in later years with double rifles, of course also with open sights).
Trying to get more hunting in to the hunt I had no scope on my revolver, so with the Magnum Giraffe article in hand (from my 2003 hunt) Gerhard went to the police and convinced them that my revolver was going to be used as a hunting weapon and not to disturb the “peace and quiet” in Johannesburg.
These preparations made my arrival this year go like a hot knife thru butter… This should later on when trying to leave the country three weeks later not be the case!.
Five hours into my first day and after more than an hour on my knees and elbows leopard crawling after a small heard of Élan’s I was really starting to wonder if this February hunt had been a good idea.
Her we are going over the details before the hunt starts.
With us in hot pursuit, bleeding from knees and hands the Élan was browsing upwind. The long grass made the stalk easy, but not acclimatized yet I was starting to feel the heat. Most of the time we where well inside 100 meters from them but even if they seemed to browse slow it was hard to keep up. I was really enjoying the hardship, but in the closing moment of the hunt I almost made a fatal decision/error.
A large Élan bull was standing with his broadside to me at 60 meters.
Sitting in the grass resting the Revolver on my knees I was ready to fulfill a long time dream of bagging a large Élan bull. It was only seconds away but at that moment I noticed that something was wrong. My eyes did not work as they should! And there after four years and five hours hunting Eland I recognized the first symptoms of a migraine arriving!!!
Normally I would get a feeling of sickness in my stomach as first symptom and then my side view would disappear, but being “in” the hunt I had not recognized the symptoms before the final moment. Recognizing this I should of course have “Throw in the towel” but I was so close and still my center focus was ok.
I lined up the sights and got a decent steady aim before gently squeezed the trigger.
Instantly the bull showed the sign of a hit but it was clear that the shot was not perfect, being located to far in front of the chest.
Following up with a running shot at 100 meters holding in front of the bull got him on the hip and slowed him down. Turning to me broadsided at 100 meters presenting a perfect opportunity to end it right there was more than I deserved, but at this point my head was pounding and my sight was at best blurry. Two more shot did not even touch him and I then knew I was in it far over my head.
With two more shot in the cylinder I advanced as rapid as I could. At 40 meters the Élan was just standing there doing nothing at this stage quite sick but still standing.
Lifting my gun just pointing at him over the barrel touching of the trigger floored him like being hit by a hammer! More relived than happy, I could walk over and watch my long wanted Eland lying there with its magnificent horns.
The last Frontier bullet had broken his neck. Even if this turned out with a happy ending after just some few minutes’ action it was still the result of a bad judgment from the start. Even thou I had spent four years with spotless performance hunting about 30 African animals I had a really bad feeling starting my fifth hunt this way. Spending the rest of the day empting my stomach eating painkillers I still woke up the next day perfectly fit and ready to go.
Zebra was the game and I felt like a million dollars wanting to get into the good feeling with a walk and stalk ending it with a perfect kill. This was, as the day went along was not going to happen!
Quickly to adapt I am and in the following day’s heat, walking miles after miles did not bother me at all. After finding four Zebras browsing in a open area and locating a nice stallion amongst them the perfect leopard crawl (if there is something as a perfect one in 30 degrees with the grass full of Pepper, Blue and red tick’s) was performed.
With a lot of skill and patience the PH brought me in between the herd and only 30 meters from the stallion. He was starting to suspect something in the grass but while he was wondering about it I took him with a 391gr Frontier CSGR bullet, low and behind the shoulder. Running away with all the sign of a good lung shot we stood up and congratulated each other just waited for the stallion to fall. After 100 meters he stopped behind a tree shaking his head, with blood running from his nose. Five hours later we still would love to see that Zebra fall!!
With new strength the Zebra suddenly tried to enter his small Zebra herd, but smelling blood they would not accept him. Then running alone we tried to follow him without stressing him to allowing him to lay down and stiffen up. This chase went for the whole day in the pounding heat until we lost the spoor of him when he again connected to his own herd witch some time later joined up with five more. Totally confused, tired and lost in all the desperate feelings you get, the day was closing in on us and the sun was threatening us to go under the horizon. The scenario of sitting around the campfire with a wounded Zebra out there pushed us to go on. But then, just half an hour before the shooting light was gone, a single Zebra rushed out from under a bush. Lining him up in my sights running away from us I desperately wanted a “go” from the PH watching in his binoculars to confirm if this was the right one. The word “take him” was like music, and the Frontier bullet took him with a raking shoot dropping him instantly.
Yes we are smiling as the sun is going down. Smiling because the hunt ended without an animal being lost, even if it took some time to close the hunt..
The bullet took the Zebra low and a little to far back. The shot is angling forward and took the lung on the opposite side. Stomach was not hit on this side but neither was the lung..
What did really happen? The first bullet was actually not that badly placed. In the lower part of the animal right behind the left front leg.
The PH nodded his head and told me that this was a classic mistake on Zebra and Wildebeest. These animals do not have almost any part of their lunges exposed behind the hart low down in the animal. Two inches to the left and the bullet had hit the hart or two inches higher and it had hit both lungs. On opening the animal we saw that only one of the lungs was hit and just an outer part of it explaining the blood from the nose. When finishing of the animal at the end of the day the bleeding from the nose and the wound had stopped.
After dinner was consummated there were not many minutes before Gerhard and I could hear the bed was crying out for our tired body’s, ending the day in success rather than in failure. The margins are small………!
One of the hunting areas was a beautiful place called Kurkboskamp and was named after the plant that is on the lower right hand photo,
It was a beautiful place with a river running thru. (That you really enjoyed at one o clock ….)
The riverbed was crawling with animals of all kind. Birds of many colors were hunting bugs in the reed and in the still water a couple of small crocks were submerged in the hope of a small pray to catch.
Every 50 meter a Laguna of some size and color was “base jumping” as we passed, and spoor from Pythons crawling from one abandon Warthog cave to another was also a common sight.
Her one that have undressed..
Much talk about being a PH is hard work but look!! While the client have to sit guard against crock’s and hippo’s!! J
Here are some of the spiders that we came across during stalking, many of them beautifully colored and some quite large ones. Some with web that was so strong that when getting it in the face you had to backtrack to get out of it…
When the heat got to us we could find a place in the river where the river had running water (crocks apparently don’t like running water) and take a bath during the warmest hour of the day. A rest from the heat we could also find under the branches hanging over the river like the photo below, but…!
This photo is taken still unaware that we have taken a rest in the worst “Pepper tick” area ever!!
And this is the result Jall the small red “dots” are tick bites and the rest of the body looked the same..
After tree days of crawling in the grass both Gerhard and myself was eaten alive by Pepper, Blue and red ticks. I guess over 200 bites on each of us before we could get hold of some bug spray to help us with the nasty buggers. By that time it was already too late for me. A couple of days later after having a wonderful time hunting Red Hartebeest from the horseback, my neck was stiffening and a headache was on its way.
As you probably know by now, the tick fever was on the warpath. But first thing first, to make up for the poor performance of the earlier days a nice Blesbuck ram was giving me the opportunity when in the late hour of the day Gerhard and myself was on our way to the river to catch the last sun going down, with the sounds of the birds singing and the Bass fish jumping to get insects in the river. A lone Blesbuck ram suddenly jumped out from a bush at 40 meters first running away but then turning to us blowing his nose in disgust. This was not the right thing to do when already lined up in the sights and with a 390gr Frontier csgr under the hammer. Seconds later the sundowner trip was over and meat for the pot was secured and a nice head of Blesbuck was secured for my already stuffed trophy wall (not that many trophies just that the wall is smallJ). Lucky that we had the camera with us, this is the hunt from start to the trophy photo..
The horseback hunt:
I know that horses are popular in RSA but I have only been in contact with a horse three times in my life. First I was bitten by one when I was ten years old. Next I was riding one in RSA the year 2003 when British Airways reckoned that my handgun was a terrorist weapon retaining it at Heathrow when I arrived at Johannesburg giving us a day to do other things than hunting.
Gerhard being a polo player thought it would be a good idea to go horseback riding instead of sitting feeling sorry for ourselves, and fun it was so when I suggested hunting from a horse this year he immediately arranged it.
The plan was to ride and find a lone Red Hartebeest ram and stalk him with the horses, with me slipping of the horse, hiding myself in the high grass Gerhard should continue for some distance, distracting the Hartebeest so I could stalk up close for a shot. The day of the horseback hunt arrived and if the weather up to this day had been totally different to the Norwegian weather with the sunny 35 degrees, this day was like a Norwegian November day with a gray sky and drizzling rain from morning to evening.
If the weather bother you in Norway do something else than hunting! The spring hunt for Beaver (world’s largest rodent 12-30kg for an adult) usually has at least three seasons involved, everything from dry 20 degrees to snow and -15 degrees, and in between a lot of rain.
The Weather is just something you have to cope with and even if my wardrobe was not suited for continues rain it was not a problem since the rain was quite warm. After some hours riding we tested our strategy on Blue Wildebeest, Zebra and Impala and they all reacted with the same way, cautious but not panic-stricken, when the horse closed in on them.
Hard to see, but up in front are some Blue Wildebeest.
Not being able to find a good ram, we had to try again after lunch and to get inn to the soaking wet clothes again was a far from pleasant. There is always something to compare with that makes the present situation feel like a walk in the park and this time I just remembered last years seven days fishing trip in the mountains, far North in Norway. Seven days in a tent with six of them soaking wet from top to toe. The rain poured down from day one and continued the whole week, temperature between 0-8 Celsius. But what did that matter when the trout was fat and willing….
After lunch we where on to a couple of small herds but no mature ram was among them. Then when glancing thru the binoculars checking out a small herd, Gerhard suddenly saw an animal some 600 meters away, standing partially covered in the bush was a nice ram.
First attempt failed even if it was performed to perfection. Only problem was that the Hartebeest was gone when, after I slipped of the horse stalked up to the point where I first saw him. Jumping on again we only covered some 100 meters of ground when I again got a glimpse of him standing behind a thick hock and stitch bush watching us.
Sliding of the horse on the opposite side, I fell flat on my stomach in the high grass. Leopard crawling for 20 meters got me 40 meters from him and when sitting up in the grass he was too late in recognizing the new danger having been occupied with the horses. The 378grhard cast lead bullet dropped him where he was standing.
When closing in on him I shot him one more time in the neck. Since we had quite a long way back and it would take some time to get him to the cooler I pulled my hunting knife in best Norwegian tradition, grabbing his horn and cutting his artery in the chest. Seconds later I was thrown as a rag doll over the Hartebeest’s head. Holding on to his horn the sudden jerk was way more powerful that I could imagine and my 70kg was no match for him.
The next days I got tick feverL. Recognizing it very early I got the medication quick and instead of two weeks of sickness I only was in the bed for a couple of days. I was actually not in bed for more than one day because instead of lying in the warm room of the camp we made a shady blind at a salt lick, with some blankets inside.
That way I could wait out the fever and at the same time watch Kudu’s and Gems. Warthogs and Impalas coming in for a lick...
Fever or not fever had to have the gun there….
This year I brought with me a brand new Garmin 60C Gps and a bag full of batteries. Many Norwegian hunters not have been hunting in RSA believe that the hunting is more a shootout than a hunt, being told stories of shooting a lot of animals with not much effort. This can be thru in some way since the PH will go a long way to secure that the hunter gets all the animals he has on his “shopping list” and that is where the problem starts. “The shopping list” is getting in the way of the actual hunt. The hunter starts worrying about not making the whole list and starting to make shortcuts in the hunt using a “lot of car” instead of hunt down the animals on foot. To prove to my fellow hunters and countrymenthat we did etical hunting, I started the GPS every day at the start off the hunt and shut it down in the end of the night feeding all the data inn to the PC..
And here are the statistics:
This approximately seven days hunting at one of Gerhard’s hunting areas.
The last six days of my hunt I hunted Oryx. (This was bonus days because of my quick tick fever recovery..:) ) The Oryx was very spooky and it was pure pleasure to time and time again miss out on them knowing that “Next time!!” I would get one. This was not going to happen because there was no next time that appeared in the last six days that got me in to shooting distance of a mature bull.
One day I got within 80 meters of a small heard of 5 animals one being a bull. The animals were browsing towards me but the bush being fairly open I could do nothing but wait. At 80 meters they stopped and lay down fore a rest. For the first half hour I was watching them thru the binoculars and sorting them out. So for the next hour I was killing ticks watching a couple of small warthogs browsing in-between the Oryx. Then I fell asleep under the three and woke up from my own snoring one hour later dazed and confused but still with the company of five Oryx`
Half an hour later they suddenly stood up and instead of going my way they turned and walked back the same way as they arrived! The iron sight was steady on the bull at 80 meters while he was walking away and I could only think “next time” when he entered the bush.
Hunting in the dense area around the river was really exiting. One of the last days hunting I was still out for Oryx. (And Warthog as always) Walking along the river I saw a lot of python skin and spoor and occasionally a Laguna would dive as a base jumper from a tree into the river. This morning I was following fresh spoor of an Oryx bull, crossing the river.
I found me a tree that had fallen across the river and tried to use that as a bridge. Coming half the way over just managing to hold on I suddenly was aware of a Black/bluish 40cm Laguna that was sitting on the tree right in front of me. Instead of rushing of he just watched me curiously and being out of balance I had to grab the tree right behind his tail and with the other hand, grab right in front of his nose. This fellow being fearless just watched me close up at 20cm before I could get around him and jump to the ground on the other side. Then starting to walk again Laguna’s was jumping like hell 50 meters in front of me, but the brave one was just sitting there being cool..
This being my fifth time hunting in RSA feeling at home with the hunting and the animals has given me many nice stalks this year. In earlier year I have taken the shot when I felt that I was on the inside of the “performance limit” but this year I was stalking a lot more than shooting, giving me a lot of new opportunities to se how close it is possible to get to an animal in the high grass.
Got in to 20 meters on this Warthog before a little sniff of wind gave me avay..
After shooting my Zebra we stalked other Zebra’s to 30 meters (not needing a 300 Weatherby Rifle) and also loosing a couple of nice Warthogs but then again shooting two at under 10 meters on walk and stalk, or actually creeping to 15 meter and the one Warthog came snorting the last 5 meters to investigate what was in the grass. One hog got a perfect double lung shot and ran for 246m!! The other ran zero meters from a frontal chest shot. Both taken with the 378gr hard cast Caly bullet.
About being cool.. calm... and collected.. One day after hunting hard from morning to lunch us where on our way back to the camp for something to eat. The sun was on top and no animals were to be seen. Then Gerhard spotted a lone Oryx standing in the shadow on the other side of the river. Gerhard using the expensive Swarowski binoculars that I had borrowed from a friend of mine, said in a whispering voice that this would be our best chance ever.... The animal being a lone bull and at the same time sleeping with the wind from the right direction wow!! Could it be better? We only had to cross the river on the downwind side first. Worshipping my Binoculars Gerhard would seldom give them back once getting hold of them. Then when crossing the river with the binoculars in one hand and with my camera in the backpack he suddenly slipped on a stone and somersaulted. With almost 100 kg going down in the river he managed to turn midair (as a cat) but with the binoculars in one hand he saved the binoculars by landing on the ribcage with a sound of a 1000kg crocodile in a narrow escape. Saving the binoculars and my camera but scaring the life of a peacefully sleeping Oryx bull 100 meters up the river. From that moment we never crossed a river without me pointing a camera at Gerhard hoping him to duplicate the “circus act”
I being longer in RSA because of the tick fever gave me the opportunity to hunt with a couple of friends that came down the last week.
Kai was hunting with a Ruger Super Redhawk in .454 with my 378gr Caly bullet and I am proud to say that that bullet took the largest Warthog I ever have seen, tusk’s measuring 17” !! The Warthog of my dreams..
Kai`s first day out passing a small Warthog
Kristian was hunting with a double Antonio Zolli cal 9,3X74 R and before going home we had a memorable Warthog hunt. Not because of the size of the Warthog shot, but because we were hunting in the heaviest thunderstorm I have seen in my life.
This is a small pig but a large Thunderstorm!!
All good things must come to an end and so also with my 2005 hunt. I had already been here for a week longer than I was supposed to but still I was thinking that it should have been one more week.
Expecting no trouble at the airport, me having all the papers and all, I just said goodbye to Gerhard and walked in to the Airport police with my head high delivering the papers for my Freedomarms revolver. A three hour delay did not do my spirit any good but when the police/custom officer started to mess about my gun not being scoped, my hart sank down in my stomach. Showing him the papers, explaining to him that all was approved and that it could not bee a problem anyway since I was leaving RSA did not impress him much. After 15 min of arguing he suddenly came to the conclusion that it was a big problem but it could be solved with...... yes with money!!. I jumped over the counter grabbed his tie and pulled him back over the counter, grabbing his ID tag. Shouting to him to get the papers sign and gun on the plane before I would call Mr. Conroy (chief of the airport police, number given me by Gerhard in case of trouble) He was suddenly much more willing to do the job but not with a very happy face on. End of the story was of course that he did not send the gun with my flight. The gun case arrived Norway some days later to my relive..