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South Africa - July / Aug. 2015

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17 August 2015, 04:41
Aaron Neilson
South Africa - July / Aug. 2015
Outfitter: Old Days Safaris (Luis Sr. & Luis Jr.)

Location: Marakapula Reserve

Dates: July 24 - Aug. 4, 2015

PH: Stefan Kruger

Hunters: Aaron Neilson & Sabrina Corgatelli

Weapons: .416 Ruger M77 Hawkeye / 2.5 - 10 x 56mm Trijicon scope / Hornady DG Series Ammo (Aaron)
.270 WSM Tikka / 4.5 - 14 x 40mm Leupold scope / Nosler Accubond Ammo (Sabrina)

I was invited to this 46,000 acre reserve by the outfitter in an attempt to show potential lion hunters another alternative to what is either "Canned" lion hunting - mostly in the Kalahari of SA, or lion hunts much like those in Tanzania, Zimbabwe, etc, - where very high prices and sometimes low success rates are the norm. This place certainly for me, lived up to the billing - where I spent days tracking lion on foot.

Simply stated, this is NOT a canned lion hunt - quite the opposite. This is a private reserve where all game, including the lions roam/live freely at all times. In fact the lion I took had been on the reserve for over two years, and had only been seen twice in the past 10 months. We tracked him on several different occasions, only to continually be foiled by his elusive activity in very thick bush, and very tough tracking conditions.

The reserve has plentiful game species, most of which seem to be on the menu for the lions. These include, giraffe, waterbuck, huge Kudu, Bushbuck, bushpig, very good warthog, Zebra, steenbok, duiker, elephant, eland, Nyala, croc, hippo, impala, klipspringer, blue wildebeest, leopard, etc.

The reserve has some tremendous beauty, with huge koppies, beautiful river basins, and of course thick bush - making tracking tedious and time consuming! Accommodations are very nice, the lodge is equipped with Wi-Fi, food is excellent and its a short 30 minute drive from the Phalaborwa airport.

Finally on day 6 - after 7.5 hrs of tracking we caught up to a great male lion. We did so only because he had run smack dab into another good male who was with a hot female - and a huge, but very short fight ensued. One in which I witnessed part of with my own two eyes, as they tumbled off the river bank's edge - and my lion unfortunately took the brunt of. He obviously was too old to be tussling with the other male who was in his full prime - see the pics below!

We tried to get permits to bait too, but the game department would not allow it - thus all hunting is done via tracking / on foot. Exciting to say the least!

Honestly, this was one of the most exciting lion hunting experiences I have ever been on - and I would do it again in a heartbeat. These lions are NOT CANNED, we had to get out and hunt for them. Success was not guaranteed, nor did I want it to be! I do feel reserves like this will in many ways be the future of Africa's successful conservation efforts. We as sportsmen / conservationists will only be able to save and protect so much habitat. What we can, we must, and we must work to make it suitable for wildlife! This place, and the operators have done just that. A better place to hunt, and bring your family would be hard to find!!!

Pictures below include my lion, the two lions together just seconds after the fight (mine on the left) and the bite marks inflicted upon my lion by the other male, and some lion appetizers.

Secondly I was here for a nice crocodile that Luis Jr. had been telling me about. I really like stalking crocs, but this place was going to be something very unusual. The big croc was living in a lake with huge Koppies (rock formations / mountains) and getting a shot would mean we had to climb to the top and shoot down at him - roughly 25 degree down angle. I honestly wasn't sure I was going to be able to get to the top, as I literally felt like a rock climber.

We did make it however, and once in position we were 94 yards from the big boy. He laid perfectly broadside to us (left side) with his head turned just slightly to the right. It truly was a perfect shot angle, if it weren't for the uncomfortable rocks I was in, and the step downhill angle. Regardless, it was the best we could do - so a few minutes to compose myself and I let one fly. Fortunately it anchored him right on the spot, two follow up shots just to be sure and it was over. He laid partly in the water so we pulled him to flatter ground and waited for good light to get some better pics.

Myself and the entire film / photography crew pictured below. This was the first time I had not only 2 camera guys, but a professional photographer along as well. It made hunting a bit tougher, but he did get some great photos. A lot of which I am still waiting for as he's putting final touches on them for us.

A couple of 11 - 12 footers, they need a few more years.

Not much else was on my list, but I did manage to take a beautiful old bushbuck - and one never passes a chance at a bushpig!

A few pics from the rest of my hunting experience here with Old Days Safaris

The rest of this safari was dedicated to my girlfriend - Sabrina Corgatelli. Frankly, its been a very difficult past 4 weeks for her - and we were really hoping for this to be a moment of healing for her. 48 hours prior to her arrival in SA, Sabrina's family buried her 32 year old brother Cody! It was a tragic loss, and one that's effected her deeply. So we were all hoping to do everything we could to make this first African experience, the best for her that it could possibly be.

By now I'm sure some of you have seen that she became the latest victim of the abhorrent anti-hunting fervor, in which she received thousands of death threats, calls for her dismissal at work where she is a senior account, and the list goes on and on. All for hunting a giraffe, legally / ethically, and one that is privately owned by those who financially support said game.

Anyway, enough of that - lets get onto the good stuff. Despite a lot of emotions throughout the hunt, she really had a fabulous time - and for a first timer took some great trophies and made some really amazing shots. I was so proud of her, and it was obvious to everyone that she really spent some time / effort practicing off the Bog-Pod sticks prior to her arrival. I'm afraid I've created a monster, as she already has her sights set on a return trip to the Dark Continent. faint

Sabrina with her first day - 51" old Kudu bull.

Common Duiker



Sabrina, myself and her PH - Stefan Kruger with her beautiful stallion

Great warthog

Sabrina getting all the attention

The Reserve in Pictures


On a side note - if any of you are looking for professional videography and/or photography services while anywhere in Africa, please contact Richard Leonard at the following contact info / Cell: 0741023385 / Skype: richard.leonard.snoek
He and his crew have top notch equipment, they all live in SA, and they are true pros in the field. Here is Richard's website too -

Aaron Neilson
Global Hunting Resources
303-619-2872: Cell

17 August 2015, 05:00
Heym 450/400
Wow... Another great hunt. Congratulations!!!
17 August 2015, 05:21
Use Enough Gun
Simply outstanding Aaron and Sabrina! Congrats! tu2
17 August 2015, 07:05
Don't know what to say. Congrats to you and Sabrina on a truly outstanding safari and wonderful photos. I took my oldest son on a similar lion safari - not "truly wild", but not "canned" either. It was, like yours, days of tracking self-sufficient lions. Like yourself, I would do it again in a heartbeat, as would my son.

JEB Katy, TX

Already I was beginning to fall into the African way of thinking: That if
you properly respect what you are after, and shoot it cleanly and on
the animal's terrain, if you imprison in your mind all the wonder of the
day from sky to smell to breeze to flowers—then you have not merely
killed an animal. You have lent immortality to a beast you have killed
because you loved him and wanted him forever so that you could always
recapture the day - Robert Ruark

DSC Life Member
NRA Life Member
17 August 2015, 08:57
Great pics as always...thanks for sharing brother.
17 August 2015, 09:01
Absolutely fantastic!

Nothing like reading of a very successful and enjoyable hunt.
Instagram : ganyana2000
17 August 2015, 10:13
Brilliant. Well done on your Lion and Sabrina's trophies. So sorry for her loss.

Email -
Tel/Whatsapp (00260) 975315144
Instagram - kafueroyal
17 August 2015, 10:17
Ahmed Sultan
Great Safari and even better pics. Well done Aaron and Sabrina, looks like a very nice place to hunt.

Ahmed Sultan
17 August 2015, 16:57
Looks like good times... congratulations to you both!

National Rifle Association - Life Member
National Wild Turkey Federation - Diamond Life Sponsor
Pope & Young Club - Associate Member
17 August 2015, 21:21
matt u
Well done Guys....Congratulations to you both!!!
17 August 2015, 22:37
Outstanding, thank you for sharing your hunt!
18 August 2015, 04:24
Aaron Neilson
Again, thank you all. We had a wonderful time with Old Days, and I certainly hope to return soon.


Aaron Neilson
Global Hunting Resources
303-619-2872: Cell

18 August 2015, 07:45
Terribly sorry for her loss.

Some great pictures and looks to be a great hunt.

And, oh yeah, "you've created a monster"! I bet that really hurts your feelings!!! Big Grin
I wish I could get my wife to go with me............
18 August 2015, 08:33
Seems like a great time, and I really like the character on your lion, my sincere congratulations to you and Sabrina, thanks for sharing!

Manuel Maldonado
MM Sonoran Desert Hunters
18 August 2015, 16:48
Nicely done Aaron & Sabrina.

Those are some great photos!
18 August 2015, 22:26
Bud Meadows
Awesome report and pictures. And the girlfriend ain't too shabby either!

Jesus saves, but Moses invests
18 August 2015, 23:47
Great stuff there!

I got my wife started hunting, I can almost afford her trophy fees........

19 August 2015, 07:07
great report and pictures.

Aaron any issues with your 416?
saw some duct tape at the bottom of your hawkeye?

19 August 2015, 16:04
Originally posted by JTEX:
Great stuff there!

I got my wife started hunting, I can almost afford her trophy fees........


Me too. But I tell her "I" am her biggest trophy! And I was expensive and worth it....
22 August 2015, 08:18
Well done Aaron. I have had several friends do quality lion hunts in South Africa and all have soundly endorsed them. Look forward to watching on SA.

On the plains of hesitation lie the bleached bones of ten thousand, who on the dawn of victory lay down their weary heads resting, and there resting, died.

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings - nor lose the common touch...
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!
- Rudyard Kipling

Life grows grim without senseless indulgence.
25 August 2015, 00:00
congratulations great pictures exciting safari
25 August 2015, 06:41
Well done, another good adventure .
May your future hunts together be as successful as this hunt was.
Thanks for sharing
02 September 2015, 23:57
Congrats to both of you Aaron, very nice pictures.

PH 47/2015 EC
HC 16/2015 EC
Ferdi Venter

Nature at your doorstep
04 September 2015, 02:41
Great report, awesome photos.

I'm impressed with the XA25/GoPro rig - genius! Allows the cameraman to get the close up of the animal while getting a wide angle of the hunter simultaneously. I'll be borrowing that idea. . . .

Congrats on your lion and Sabrina's trophies and condolences to Sabrina on her loss.
04 September 2015, 03:40
D. Nelson
Well done Aaron and Sabrina! Great hunt and great photos!!!

Best regards, D. Nelson

Zambia 2017
Zambia 2016
Zimbabwe 2014
Mozambique 2010
RSA 2009
Zimbabwe and Botswana 2007
Tanzania 2006
Mozambique 2005
Botswana 2004
Australia 2003
New Zealand 2003

11 September 2015, 22:34
Congratulations to everyone!

Some really great trophies and pictures.

Thank you for sharing.

Sorry to hear about the loss of Sabrina's brother.