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Location: Staffordshire, UK.
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Roebuck's 2008 Hunt in RSA

I am pleased to comply with Kevin's request for a report on my 2008 hunt in RSA. I have written up my hunts since 2005 and you will see from the start of the story that it refers to previous hunts. All of my hunts in RSA and in Europe, can be read on the stories page of my website. However, if the Moderators would like me to post them on BGH, I will be happy to do so.

Safari Story 2008

I know I said this last year but it really does not seem like a year since I posted the 2007 Safari Story. However, a year it surely is.

This year saw only Iain and myself making the journey to Komga, Eastern Cape of South Africa for our 2008 hunt. Regrettably, our friend and usual companion Paul, due to pressure of work, was unable to join us. His company was missed and the missing was expressed on many occasions by the staff and friends of Kei River Hunting Safaris, to whom Paul is known. However, in the run up to the hunt, Paul was his usual helpful self and whatever assistance was asked of him, he cheerfully gave.

Prior to the hunt, I had acquired a new ASE moderator for my .300 WSM. This moderator screws straight on to the end of the barrel, unlike the T8 I had used previously which is a wrap round the barrel design. Whilst the T8s are certainly effective, they do act like a heat sink and maintain a high barrel temperature. This is no problem on a hunt but it does make zeroing a bit of a pain, having to remove the moderator every three shots or so to let the barrel cool. Having fitted the ASE, I made my way to the range of my friend and riflesmith, Mike Norris, to zero the rifle. Since my last visit to Africa, I had fitted a Hogue stock and exchanged the Swarovski riflescope with the TDS4 reticle for a Nightforce NXS, fitted with a Kenton Industries replacement elevation turret, graduated in twenty-five yard increments. I had done this on the advice of a friend who is a well known European F Class competitor and later had reason to be thankful that I had.

Having fitted the ASE to my rifle, I settled down at the bench to effect a quick zero. Wrong. After expending some forty-five rounds, I was unable to hold a three shot group tighter than some four and a half inches. Back in Mike’s workshop, breaking off from his current task, he put the moderator in a lathe and squared up the shoulder of the moderator. Back at the range, I could now hold one and a half inch groups but that was far from acceptable. By this time it was getting dark, so I took the rifle back to Mike and asked him if he could fix it for me over the next few days. Mike made up some ammunition and altered the seating depth of the bullet by five thou less but even then groups were no tighter. Mike then replaced the T8 moderator and back came the zero with sub minute of angle groups, just as before. The rifle being now zeroed at one hundred yards, the Kenton Industries turret was fitted. I could now just range the target with my range finder, dial in the distance on the Kenton Industries turret, take point of aim and fire. My rifle just did not like the ASE.

Back home, I loaded up a hundred rounds of .300 WSM with 180gn Hornady SST bullets with a velocity of 2964f/sec and was now ready to go.

The animals I had selected for my 2008 hunt were Burchell’s Zebra (I wanted a skin for my trophy room floor), a Black Wildebeest, A Warthog (I always like to shoot them), a Bush Buck (I always like to shoot them too) and a Nyala. Those of you who read last year’s Safari Story may remember that I had shot a Nyala on the 2007 hunt but we could not find it despite a lot of searching. It has never been found and no wounded Nyala has been seen on the property since.

Iain had selected a Nyala, Blue Wildebeest, Bushbuck, Black Springbok and a Warthog. We had also intended to do some fishing and goose shooting but regrettably, we did not have sufficient time. As usual, we had tried to cram too much into too little time.

Knowing from experience that the airlines are very strict on baggage allowances when leaving South Africa, we had tried to keep the weight down. We also intended to leave our hunting clothes and boots, spare ammunition, Knife, etc., etc., at Kei River, to save taking so much on future trips and avoiding possible excess baggage charges as have had to be paid in previous years.

As usual, I fly KLM and on the morning of departure, Paul drove Iain and I to Manchester Airport for the first flight to Amsterdam. We had been unable to book a flight to Cape Town, as we had last year, so we were picking up a connection at Amsterdam to Johannesburg and taking a flight the next day to Cape Town. There we planned to rent a vehicle and drive to Franschoek and Stellenbosch, to visit a few of the excellent wineries that are in that area.

One is allowed twenty kilos of checked luggage and when I put my bag on the scales it weighed twenty-six kilos. My rifle in its case weighs thirteen kilos so I found myself nineteen kilos over and was advised that I would have to pay another four hundred and twenty pounds ($827). I asked the check in clerk was there not an allowance for sporting equipment and she called her manager to ask. The manager enquired as to what kind of sporting equipment and when he was advised that it was a sporting rifle, said no allowance for weapons was made. It was then I wished I was a golfer, scuba diver or skier!!! Well not really. The upshot was that I had to pay another three hundred and thirty three pounds ($656). Iain had to pay slightly less. In more than thirty years of travel, I had never been charged excess baggage leaving U.K. I imagine that it is the airline’s way of trying to claw back some of the increase in fuel price. Not a good start to the trip.

Landing at Johannesburg we made our way to the Police Office to get our temporary gun permits. This is painless as long as you have the correct paperwork and I have now got that down to a fine art (I make up police packs for all my clients hunting with Kei River, to make their trip through the airport of arrival as stress free as is possible).

I enjoy visiting a U.S. Website and Forum called Shome Outdoors and had chatted to a fellow hunter from South Africa using that medium. Izak is a custom knife maker and had posted some photographs of his work on that Forum. I rather liked the look of Izak’s knives and ordered three, for myself, Iain and Paul. Izak, who lives about forty-five kilometres fro Johannesburg Airport, had offered to meet me at the airport and deliver the knives personally. This he did and it was a real pleasure to meet Izak and his charming girlfriend, as I took possession of three superb knives. Regrettably, the driver of the hotel courtesy coach was revving the engine and the other passengers were getting impatient as I changed enough money at the bank to pay Izak for his work, so I did not get as much time as I would have wished to chat to Izak. We arranged to meet up on our way back through and have dinner together. However, in the event, Izak had flu and that was not possible. In his absence though, I did drink Izak’s share of the wine.

These are the knives Izak made for me.

The following morning, after a night at the Airport game Lodge, a very reasonably priced hotel some ten kilometres from the airport, we took a flight to Cape Town (we were hit again for excess baggage by South African Airways, sixty pounds {$118} ), rented a vehicle and drove to Franschoek, a lovely little town in the heart of South Africa’s wine district.

The Rental car.

Franschoek

Chamonix Winery

We spent two very pleasant days there, visiting wineries, tasting wine, buying wine and eating at superb restaurants at very reasonable prices.

We then drove across the mountains to Oudeshoorn, Unionvale and down the Prince Alfred Pass, to Plettenberg Bay. The Prince Alfred Pass was built by South Africa’s most famous road-builder,Thomas Bain, a Scot, from 1864-1867. The dirt road meanders into the hilly terrain South, the low rainfall area of the little Karoo, forest and ultimately through farm land, ending up in Plettenberg Bay. En route there is some extraordinary scenery from some precarious heights and a few deep valleys too.

Our reasons for spending a couple of days in Plett was that Iain is considering buying an apartment there, as a vacation home and Plett is just a very nice place, served well with good restaurants.

River Mouth at Plett

View from one of the apartments Iain looked at.

Bed and Breakfast in Plett

With orange tree

At breakfast


Flat hunting over, we drove the two hundred and eighty one miles to East London, dumped the rental vehicle and met up with Andrew Renton, the owner of Kei River Hunting Safaris. Andrew loaded up the Landcruiser and we were off to Rentons’ Lodge, at Komga. Over the years, Andrew and his family have become good friends and walking through the door of the Lodge, really did feel as if we were coming home.

Entrance road

Aloe plant

Gateway

Lodge door

Andrew and son Cameron in bar

Andrew’s wife Sharyn

And mum Jill

Andrew and Iain

Room

Having unpacked and settled in, we then went to the range to check our rifles. Despite having endured three flights, they still held their zero and we were then ready for a good dinner and chat before the hunt started the following morning.

Usually, we hunt one on one, that is, one hunter accompanied by a professional hunter (PH). Since Iain and I are close friends and because we were not hunting a great number of animals, we had asked Andrew if he would take us out two on one, so we would take it in turn to make each stalk.

Day one saw us on land at the mouth of the Great Kei River, looking for a Nyala for Iain. Though we spent the whole day searching for a good bull Nyala, and we did see one, we were unable to stalk into a suitable trophy. We did manage to get an excellent lunch of calamari and pizza though.

Kei River Mouth

Day two saw us move to land near Grahamstown, called Huntshoek. It is land we have hunted on many times. Though throughout the morning we had come across several bull Nyala, Andrew deemed none of them a suitable trophy but eventually, after some considerable time, Andrew located the animal he wanted Iain to shoot. I did not take part in the stalk and so cannot describe it here. Suffice it to say that it was a successful stalk. Iain had shot a real beauty, see for yourself.

It measured twenty-eight inches, which is excellent for an Eastern Cape Nyala.

We then set out to find another for me but none were located and darkness overtook us..
Day three saw us out to get me a Black Wildebeest and for this we were hunting near to James River. The land was flat with a fairly steep and high hill and Andrew led me up that hill about one third of the way and we stalked round its contours. We came on to a small herd of about thirty Black Wildebeest which contained two shootable bulls, which Andrew made sure I had identified. Either one was a good trophy but the lead bull had a big body with smaller horns and the second bull, with larger horns and a slightly smaller body, made a better trophy. That was the one that Andrew wanted me to take. The wildebeest were grazing towards us, so we got hunkered down in a comfortable shooting position and waited. Suddenly, the lead bull decided that he would chase the second bull off and as he did so, the herd ran from our right as we sat on the hill face, well out to our left, some six hundred and forty yards. The bull I intended to shoot, accompanied by two smaller bulls, trailed after the herd. Having just crossed in front of us, travelling left, the bull stopped at two hundred and fifty six yards. I dialled up two hundred and fifty yards on my elevation turret and when the bull turned broadside on, I fired. We heard the good solid thump of the bullet and the wildebeest staggered and walked slowly off, stopping at a distance of three hundred and forty yards. We watched him stand swaying for about thirty seconds before Andrew told me to shoot again. I dialled in three hundred and forty yards and fired. The wildebeest dropped to the shot. Here he is.

Whilst the wildebeest was being caped by Andrew’s tracker Sutu, we chatted to the farmer and his wife, who were about to leave for a visit to Derbyshire, very near to where I live, and were getting quite excited at the prospect.

Caping finished, we ate our lunch and headed a few miles down the road to get Iain his Blue Wildebeest. Again, I did not take part in the stalk but Iain and Andrew disappeared into the bush and two hours later I heard a shot. Iain had got his Blue Wildebeest. Here it is.

Day four we were hunting on an estate called Glengarry, near to Queenstown. The topography was nothing like the original Glengarry, in Scotland.


Iain had a nap

This was a Sunday and the Saturday night before, Iain had announced it as a party night. After an excellent dinner on the Saturday night, with several bottles of good South African wine, Iain and I knocked the crap out of a litre bottle of Macallan Elegance Malt Whisky. I was therefore feeling a little jaded and was glad that we were after Iain’s Black Springbok and not one of my animals. Iain and Andrew walked for most of that day and though they saw Black Springbok, they did not get a shot. I stayed in the truck, drinking bottle after bottle of water. Iain walked off his hangover quickly but I had to endure through mine. Andrew’s six year old son Cameron, who had come with us, asked me why I was drinking so much water. I told him that I was very thirsty. He then asked, “Is it because of all the wine you drank”? I had to admit that it was so. Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings………

On our way out we bumped into these guys. Iain and Andrew were glad we were in the truck and that they had not encountered them when all they had was Iain’s .30-06!!

Day five found us back at the mouth of the Great Kei River, this time to hunt my Nyala and a Zebra. Having spent the morning looking for a Nyala, with no success, we were about to commence a stalk towards a herd of Burchell’s Zebra. Suddenly, four Nyala bulls came over the crest of a hill, some seven hundred yards distant. We immediately commenced our stalk and at a distance of one hundred and eighty yards, I took a lovely Nyala bull that measured twenty-seven inches and dropped to the shot where he stood.

We then turned our attention to a zebra. We had already identified the animal I was to shoot, so it was just a matter of locating the correct herd. As luck would have it, we found him very quickly and stalked into the group to one hundred and twelve yards. I took the shot off the branch of a small thorn tree. The shot struck the zebra hard but zebras are tough animals. The shot zebra trotted off over the crest of a hill with the rest of his group with us in hot pursuit. We tracked what we thought was the shot animal for about another hour or so, amazed that he was able to keep so far ahead of us. At that point, we had to go back to the vehicle, to drive round and get above where we thought the zebra was. As we went back to the vehicle, we suddenly came across one very sick zebra. When he had moved off over the hill, he had put himself in a thorn thicket and we had been chasing one of two other zebras from the rest of the herd. We crept to one hundred and twenty four yards and I gave him his coup de grace.

Day six was our Bushbuck day. Since Iain had not managed to get a Black Springbok, he elected to take another Bushbuck instead. Arriving at the stalking ground, Iain and Andrew took off into some thick thorn bush and after a period of no more than twenty minutes, I heard Iain’s rifle fire. The result was this Cape Bushbuck.

Just after lunch, Andrew and I went off to find a Bushbuck for me. We were glassing across a valley and on the opposite side to us were several bushbuck ewes. On the premise that “Where there are girls there’ll be boys”, we kept glassing and finally picked up two Bushbuck rams. Andrew selected the larger of the two and we commenced our stalk. The ground cover on our side of the valley did not allow us to get closer that two hundred yards, so at that distance I adjusted my scope turret accordingly and dropped the bushbuck. He was a fine specimen with fifteen inch horns.

We were losing light by the time we had completed the photo session and we still had to get Iain another bushbuck. St. Hubertus was looking kindly on us and just as light was failing, Iain and Andrew located a fine ram, which will soon join the others on Iain’s wall.

Day seven saw us out for Warthog. Despite searching from early morning, it was 1400hrs before we spied a good Warthog boar, feeding some six hundred and fifty yards away. Andrew led me in to seventy yards from that boar and when I fired, he dropped where he stood. It is the best warthog I have shot and though by no means exceptional, his right tusk (broken at the end) measured ten and a half inches, whilst his left tusk was eleven and three quarters.

Day eight was Iain’s turn for a Warthog but though we spent the day searching, and saw several warthogs, the trophy eluded us and Iain is a warthog in credit for next year’s hunt.

Before returning to the Lodge, Andrew parked the Landcruiser on a hill, looking down to the Great Kei River. He pointed out a group of six Egyptian Geese (a real pest species), five standing on a rock and one in the water. He ranged them at five hundred and seventy four yards. He then said, “Let’s see what that fancy sight of yours can do. Shoot the one in the water.” I lay on the ground and using a short bipod, shot the goose. It was the longest shot I have ever taken on a live quarry. Mr. Kenton sure makes a great accessory for a fine scope. That’s one purchase I certainly do not regret making.

Our hunt being over, Iain and I spent two more days, relaxing, eating and drinking in East London,

View from hotel balcony

before flying back to Johannesburg, staying one night before flying home. No excess baggage charges this time. We took time to have a steak at the Butcher Shop and Grill, Sandton Mall, Johannesburg. The best steak restaurant I have ever been in. We missed Izak’s company.

The Butcher Shop and Grill

Nelson Mandela Square, Sandton Mall

The wine (I forgot to photograph the steak)

That’s it for this year, roll on next year. I think that Cape Buffalo may well be on the list, or is it Waterbuck, or maybe Sable, or could be Sittatunga, or maybe Puku………..

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Location: texas
Joined: 04/23/2006
Posts: 483
Roebuck's 2008 Hunt in RSA

i would love to go for a nyala. maybe next time. thanks for you r report and great pictures.

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Location: Tennessee
Joined: 01/19/2009
Posts: 16
Roebuck's 2008 Hunt in RSA

Very nice pics and report Roebuck. All of the spiral horns are my favorite but the Nyala is a special antelope. I return to Natal this June to attempt getting a 30+ incher. My best from the east cape is 26 inches.
Good hunting,
GG

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Joined: 01/23/2009
Posts: 8
Thanks you for the wonderful report

I am thrilled to have the chance to read your story and see your trophies. I have already forwarded a link to several of my friends who will enjoy your account. Thank you for the effort of putting it on this site.
If I am blessed, perhaps I can return the favor after completion of my first hunt later this year.

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