I would like to take this time to thank Wendell Reich, who posts to this forum for helping me arrange the hunting experience of my life. I have read these forums for several years now.
But not having gone anywhere. I didn't think I had much to contribute. Plus I am not rich by any means, try working for the State of Oklahoma.
But some friends jumped out of a airplane when they turned 50, and that got me to thinking, " What do I want to do for my 50th?" I mentioned to my wife that I wanted to go to Africa, and go on a hunting safari. I was having my 48th in March of this year. She turned to me and suggested I go now. who knows how long we have to live. So I had some serious talks with myself.
I'm one of those folks that makes sure everyone else comes first. so in time after lots of emails to Wendell and patience on his part. On August 11th I started the journey of the greatest adventure of my life. The only hunting I had prior to this was deer and turkey hunting in the fall here in Oklahoma.Again gasoline and groceries and car payments and house payments eat up our meager budget each month. so the idea of spending $7500 for a safari was incredulous. (Forget that I indebted my self to $25,000 for a new van for my wife.) and so it began. I spent the next 10 days on a safari in Africa,( I'm still pinching myself) My PH, Erroll Lambrecht was fantasic. He got me my first trophy at 7:30 the first morning I was in Africa. ( there is something about that phrase that just gets me!)
We were sitting there in the truck. Drinking coffee and eating a springbok meat pie, when two springbok come walking by about 100 yards away. He glasses them and says the first is a female but the second is good enough to take if I wanted to. So I set down my coffee and picked up my 30-06,( My 30-06 I've had for 30 years that I have put thousands of rounds through) chamber a round and try to shoot this thing. Let me see this is a rifle? Ok and I am supposed to sight thru this thing called a scope and look thru there and see a SPRINGBOK! THERE IS A SPRINGBOK IN MY SCOPE!!!!!!!And I am supposed
to slowly pull the trigger. ( good thing there were no blood pressuee cuffs around they don't go that high. Buck fever was nothing like this!!!!!) thank goodness for blood pressure medicine. There he is, slowly Yes Mike take the safety OFF. Now, This thing hasn't run off yet!
There we are slowly, BANG! What was that! I see it hump up and start to run with it's head down. Errol is slapping me on the back saying that it was a good shot right thru the heart. I chamber another round and Errol is telling me there is no need for a second shot. So I pop the second round out and close the bolt on an empty chamber. I set the rifle down and pick up my coffee cup and finish my coffee. My First African Trophy Animal, a Springbok. We stow the breakfast stuff and drive over to it. It is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.the colors and the feeling of the hair. The morning sun shining on it alone. the whole world shrinks to just it and me. the others are taking pictures and congratulating me. I touch the horns, rubbing my fingers over them. He is still warm.and soft. he eyes shining. His back hairs have pulled up. and he is showing the white inside. his hooves are clean and black and shiny.I pat him and try to soak all of this in so I can remember him. I touch the bullet hole where I shot him. his blood is still warm on my fingers, I raise them to my nose and smell his blood and I put it to my lips and taste it. I may take other animals on this trip but he is my First and, and there will only and ever be MY FIRST AFRICAN Trophy. To me it didn't matter if he was 6" or 60" Size was not important. I look at the surrounding hills and the sky, there never was such a blue sky as today. a memorable day, a day that I will carry with me always. That will be there when I need it on a drab, depressing day when nothing goes right. I can go inside and relive this special time. AS the day goes by he will get stiff, and his eyes will dull and his blood will clot and will lose this luster of this time. and his body will get hard. he will change from an animal to a thing. meat and hide and skull and horns. these things and my pictures I will have to show my friends who come to my house to see my trophies. But I can never share that morning, with them. That is the trophy I get to carry and show to myself.
I apologize for where this thread has lead It was to be a comment on my safari. It is. I would like to say that I had the absolute BEST time of my life. But more than the trophies, more that the scenery or the food or the cameraderie. It was a spiritual journey for me. And I got to take it with the most wonderful people I could ask for. I don't think I can write anymore right now, Sometimes I get ovecome with the grandness of it all... And God bless my wife for encourageing me to go. I will try later to fill you in on the rest of my voyage of discovery .
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What a story teller you are! I sat here reading of your experience and you took me back to the Gras on MY first safari just a few weeks ago! I remembered the country, the grass, the wind . . . I could even hear Errol with his accent!
I'm glad you described them as "wonderful people". I was afraid you might have thought I was overdoing it a bit when we talked.
Congratulations on your safari!
But we gotta have more . . . and PICTURES!!
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with stories like that I'll never become a wealthy man, I will spent every dollar hunting in places like that !!
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To me that is exactly what hunting is about!
Seeing the sights, Seeing the Animals, The Trophy that YOU get the opportunity to take and then the moment that as you so elegantly stated you can't share with anyone who wasn't there!
Thanks and please post some pictures and tell us some more of your stories!
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Congrats, Mike! What a great story. Thanks for letting us live it with you. I will look forward to hearing more and seeing your photo's!
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Glad to hear you're back. It was great, wasn't it?
If you see this ... do you have an e mail address for Dan?
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I checked the forums this evening hoping to find another episode of your hunt!
Now I'm sitting here all charged up and no place to go!
Congrats Mike, excellent story. I hope you have a few more to tell. Hopefully I'll have stories like this in the Spring. I'm headed to Gras in April.
Gentlemen I would like to apologize for not providing the evenings entertainment last night . prior obligation precluded me from being here with that :
Well let me see if I can get back to where I was. After all the pictures
and the handshakes and backslapping. We loaded the springbok into the "
Bakkie" Such a cool name for a pickup. If this were Oklahoma, my gun deer
season would be half over. And there are lots of years when all the deer
have just disappeared from the woods. And you get real creative with hamburger. But here in Africa, Errol just turns to me . He has the biggest grin on his face, saying something to the effect of "Let's go see what else we can get today." And this is 7:30 in the Morning!. Hey, I could get used to this! So off we go. Bouncing
around on the top of this crazy "Bakkie". You hang on for dear life.
The "Bakkie" has a seat across the rack in the back with a padded seat on it that helps cushion the ride a little. There is a box on the roof of the bakkie where you can store you rifles. I brought my 30-06, * you’ve already met! * and a CZ 550 Magnum in .416 Rigby. For all the technical folks I shot Remington factory 150 gr Core-lockt in my 30-06 and 300 gr Barnes X using 105 grs H4530 with a CCI Mag primer in Norma cases. Figure about 2850 fps. Yeah I know it is a little big for plains game ,but hey this was my fantasy trip and who wouldn’t take a good looking gal on a trip like this. Yes I admit it! I’m a nostalgia nut. could have bought a .375. But it is kind of like a race car. Sure you drive the kids to school but the looks you get.
So now we are bouncing around like two of those little figurines with the bouncing head. The going is slow especially if you are going across a field. The roads are just a little bit worse.
You don't realize that all the rocks in the world are throwing themselves
under your tires. Glad I have something to hang onto. The black bar you
hang onto takes on a decided lighter shade of black as you hands take on the
appearance of a tire factory workers. But these hills . These hills are
gorgeous. You can see forever. And what did Errol say this morning after the springbok, If you get bitten by a gecko you either have to see an cloud in the sky or eat your own poop or you’ll die before sundown! Well looks like I will watch out for gecko’s as I haven’t seen a cloud all day. .
Cold too. It is every bit a cold as an Oklahoma winter day. The idea of Africa being Hot I can imagine. They say it gets up to 122 F. here in the summer. But cold Lord have mercy. There were mornings there was ice on water left outside.
We are continuing our journey across the African savanna ….. I could call it a prairie but it is too cool to not use the African words….. We see some kudu cows and an immature bull. The cows stand and stare at us they know they don’t have anything to worry about, but junior has remembered an appointment with his buddies , no doubt , as he is showing us his BEST side. Highly similar to what I see of deer during deer season., and you know why they are called whitetails. The cows are a pretty brown , but kind of gangly , huge ears sticking out from the sides of their heads like radar. But big very big. Long legs.
I understand why we hunt from vehicles, oh heck! "Bakkie’s ….. there I go again< sorry ,…. The brush / trees are at least six feet high. And the hunter in this case is only 5-4". So you ride so you can see the game. And what game . We take our leave after watching the kudu cows kind of saunter off over a hill.
You see springbok everywhere . running up that hillside !Running on the horizon. Pronking like they have St.Vitas dance. …. My mind flashes on a scene , Julie Andrew, singing, " the Hills are alive with the sight of Springbok.!" …. yeah kinda corny , but hey!….. they run and cut across in front of the bakkie , daring us to catch them.
We soon come across a herd of Gemsbok, This too is on my wish list. So Errol has the driver go after them. They run like the wind with a intentional swishing of their horse-like tails , like they are whipping themselves to run faster. The muscles on these beauties you can see thru your binoculars. The y ripple in their bodies as they run. And they run and they run. After a few kidney damaging miles we realize that they could only be a figment of our collective imagination as they have disappeared into thin air.
We are Still in the same " pasture" at least we haven’t crossed a fence yet. When what should appear on the horizon but Giraffes . Wild ones, not raised by zoo keepers. Huge beyond belief! They have a rocking gambol about them reminiscent of a ship rising and falling with the waves. The old male is really dark. Errol shows me the track . It is twice as wide as my foot. I take pictures hoping the will turn out. Yes TWO cameras. A little flash one and a Pentax SLR. Keep telling myself, " You brought 40 rolls! Use it!" we take a potty break, much needed by this time., as the giraffes walk over the horizon.
It is Around 9:45 of my first morning in Africa and I feel like I am on top of the world. We are looking around and Errol spots a lone gemsbok. "He looks good, Let’s go after him." OK, and we are off. Rolling over hills, he tries to fake us out. He goes down in the gullies and runs down to the end. Cuts over the foot and doubles back . Reminds me of a quarterback trying to get into the end zone. This time I have my .416 out. We haul up and he is standing 300 yards away. …. Now, you have to remember I have shot the .416 lots in practice , but never at any game yet, so this was to be her maiden voyage. I had sighted both rifles in at spot on at 100 yards, and had memorized the drop tables for both rifles. Anything over 100 yards, pretty obvious! I would have to hold over for…… Well I here I am sighting in on my second African trophy. I line up on his back knowing that they carry their heart and lungs more forward I easy off my first round. Whap! I see the gemsbok go down like he was hit with thunder. The neatest thing though was I heard the bullet hit. Didn’t really notice the recoil or the muzzle blast. Did hear it hit. Something I would hear again . I remember reading about this in some of my hunting books. Too cool. I chamber another round, caught the brass in my hand. Expensive stuff. Errol is really impressed with this rifle. He says this is only the second time he has ever seen a gemsbok go down like that. Boy was I glad I had brought this baby . I had read in this forum about how tough gemsbok are, an from what Errol was telling me it was the truth. I take the second round out and mash it back down in the magazine. WE drive up to this huge. Sorry but please remember I have never shot anything bigger than a deer. This was the size of a horse. Take the horns off and it kinda looks like one. This is a DREAM come true. Reading magazines of other hunters safaris, there is no description that can fit that experience of this Is YOUR GEMSBOK ! Beautiful , the striking black and white pattern on the face. The black and white on the legs and the almost blue gray color of the body. I see I have hit him somewhere in the area of the spine. Horns , black and long and sharp on the ends. I can see where you could wind up " en brochette" If he was of a condition to provide you with a riposte. But now he is yours. Uh OH! Well lets make that SHE is yours. I have shot a female. Do I mind NOPE! Not in the least. She is a pretty as He was moment ago. And nothing can change that and no one is going to take her away. So now I am an old pro at the picture taking. Still I rub my hands over her back, as the springbok was soft this lady is hard and solid. She must weigh 300-400 lbs. Big long and solid. The horns as just something else. Those horns will hang in my house . unbelievable!!!!! It takes everyone to get her in the bakkie. Now the springbok has company. It is 10:30 of my first day in Africa.
Errol tries to get Janni on the radio. No luck so we head back in. only about 20 miles from the house. Driving back I see these huge nests in these trees. Weaver Birds, Errol says, they start off a single nest then another builds next to it and then another and another. Soon you have this multistory apartment complex of all these little brown birds. . Oh Birds I forgot to tell you about the Kori Bustard, they are all over the place here a protected species, they are in a word, ready for this HUGE! Stand about 4 half five feet tall. Stork like, or heron like beautiful and then you have the black Koran a bird that the Good Lord let the male have the last word the females are mute. We head back to the house with our bakkie full of game. And it isn’t lunch time yet. More tomorrow
Glad to share this story with you guys. helps me relive it. Wayne, Yes, it was a trip of a lifetime. and Man Nobody cooks like you do!!!!! that dinner you fixed was out of this world. I may have to track me down a guinea here in Ok ,to shoot, just to fix for dinner. Wayne after you left I tried to shoot a guinea, but it was one of those high speed, armor-plated guinea's left over from the Angola conflict. I swear it looked like it had a weapons pod under each wing. I never knew they came with that afterburner configuration. Fast!!!!!!
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Thanks, Buddy, for coming through for me!!! Now I know how dopers feel waiting for their next fix!
. . ."If you get bitten by a gecko you either have to see an cloud in the sky or eat your own poop or youï¿½ll die before sundown!" . . .
I had forgotten about that!! I sure was glad i didn't see any gecko's over there! I occasionally see one around my house and will now always remember this!
. . ."You see springbok everywhere. Running up that hillside! Running on the horizon" . . .
Oh yea! It was unbelievable how many were there.
. . . "I ease off my first round. Whap! I see the gemsbok go down like he was hit with thunder. The neatest thing though was I heard the bullet hit . . . Errol is really impressed with this rifle. He says this is only the second time he has ever seen a gemsbok go down like that" . . .
It was also my first experience at hearing the bullet hit. I also noticed that you could often hear the "Hsssssss" of the bullet travelling downrange. Congrats on the 1 shot kill on the gemsbok! I think mine was the first one he saw! It was awesome!
The weaver nests, the Kori Bustards . . . Man, I want to go back!!!!!
Keep the stories coming . . . I need my fix!
Let's see some photos!
jds, Yeah When I'm writing this stuff I can see it in my mind I know exactly what you mean about going back. I 'm gonna plan to go back in five years. Give me some time to get this one paid off. and save for the next. will work on another session today. try to put it on tonite. It is amazing. I kept a journal and it has helped so much in "Jogging the Old Memory" . I know what you mean ,there is just no way to describe those feelings you get, being there. gonna go to Kinko's and scan some pictures to post. p.s. this is my work email address. Mike Griffin
Mike with your obvious gift for writing, you should write hunting literature for African Outfitters, that would book the season in a hurry!
Thanks Paul, I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy writing it. helps bring everything back. .......
Back to the Ranch house ,Artoo drives us.. We get there and no one is around ,save for a few of the blacks that work there.. From them we find that we are to have a cookout in the field. We back up to the old sheep shearing shed, where they do the butchering and skinning and unload my prizes. I still am not quite believing all this, but just keep on enjoying it. Even now, cold and stiff they are things of beauty.
Errol runs to the house and we all make for a potty break. We all meet back at the "bakkie" and he tells us about the cookout. Up on our transport we climb and off we go. Down thru a gate and over several long hillsides we arrive at a windmill and water tank. They call them " dams" . Christos , the ranch manager has brought the food and has arranged wood for a fire. We stand around an shoot the breeze telling him about my springbok and gemsbok . Shortly after we arrive the other ‘bakkie’ comes into view and pulls up beside ours. Out pile Wayne Nish, the other hunter and his crew. They have shot several springbok and have them in the ‘bakkie’ still. The fire is quickly lit and the fire crackling merrily in the breeze. The wood smoke is heady fare. Makes you want to stand down wind. Soon the fire has died to embers and the grate is filled with "wurst" *sorry no umlaut* and fresh springbok liver. Now I am not normally a liver person but even to me the smoking hot, flame-seared liver of a springbok that only hours ago had only matrimony on his mind is too good to pass up. Very tender and not even a bloody taste to it. Very tasty . It tasted different from any liver I have eaten, It didn’t have that "livery " taste to it.
The "wurst" was absolutely wonderful, juicy, hot, smoky, with that tang of coriander, and a coarse ground texture. Springbok , of course. Finger-width it came in long coils, kind of pinkish till you let them get comfortable over the fire and the grease starts to drip and they get all brown. Then you haul them off the fire and you burn your fingers trying to break it apart to get you a chunk to eat. It is juicy ,but not greasy.
In addition we had fresh., yeasty, home-made bread, in this huge loaf, fresh tomatoes, fresh butter and jelly, hard boiled eggs, and sodas. Never did an orange pop taste so good as when chowing down on some springbok "wurst".
After we all sitting around scratching ourselves and groaning from too much wonderful food. Someone said they had seen some zebras earlier and thought some on us * namely me* just might be interested in finding them. With much picking of teeth and wiping of hands on pants, we remounted our mighty steed and sallied forth.
Gemsbok we found, standing there , they must have know that I had already taken one of their kind ‘ cause they sure didn’t look worried. Off they trotted with that swishing of their tails. You sit there and just shake your head.
After about an hour and a half. Having shooed the springbok out of the way, and a few more bone jarring miles of rock-infested savanna, we see a cloud of dust. There through the dust you see their black and white striped forms. From a distance indistinct and flowing together, you realize that thought black and white are in contrast to the grays, browns and tans of the savanna, their black and white coloration is a very good defensive pattern. You see the stalllions rearing back and kicking and biting at each other . They are milling about and one is limping. I ask Errol if I should shoot the limping one. He said yes, so I shoot. Just then we see the other ‘bakkie‘ pop over the ridge just opposite our position. They had seen the zebras first and had shot, but being on the other side of the ridge we had heard no shooting. Knowing that they were on the scene and the limping zebra was theirs we took off mad-cap after the rest of the herd. Soon we see them milling about in a draw. We edge up to them in the bakkie an Errol says to take one. "Which one?" Errol says, " Any one just pick one!" I tell him I see one standing under a tree. And that is the one I am going to shoot. The .416 speaks and again I feel no recoil and no noise other than the "Whap" of the bullet. The zebra rears back on it’s hind legs and then drops back down on all fours. It drops its head and the other zebras start to move off. Slowly, my zebra starts to move off with the herd. I tell Errol I am shooting again, and fire once more. Errol fires a round from his 7mm magnum. We sit and watch the zebra through our glasses. I am worried and ask Errol if I should shoot again. He says "No, he’s dead he just doesn’t know it yet." No sooner spoken that the zebra drops to the ground. We drive over to it. The rest of the herd has departed for parts unknown. But that doesn’t matter. There lies a magnificent animal. Breathtaking is the only word to describe your first zebra. It’s striking black and white. Errol is pounding me on the back saying "good job, and Well done." He really likes that .416. No problem with tracking. NO need to . They don’t go far enough. .I get down off the bakkie and walk up to it. It is just too big. It is literally a horse. I tell Errol ,It must weigh 800 pounds. It is more impressive the closer you get. I sit down next to it and rub my hands over it. Errol is admiring it’s mane and saying it‘s hide is in beautiful shape and that it is big for mare. I look back between the legs and say "Errol, I don’t think it’s a Mare with that plumbing." He really got excited then, knowing it was a stallion. Errol explains that normally the stallions are all cut up and the mane is chewed up from fighting, that is why he thought it was a female. This one is perfect not cuts, scars and the mane is perfect. He tells me it will make a beautiful rug. He suggests I hang it on the wall so as not to damage it from being walked on. A suggestion I intend to follow. I kneel down and examine it’s hooves, a horse’s hoof for sure but even the hooves are striped. I comment about the pink tint to the hide . Errol explains that they have special places where they like to roll and that is where they get their pink tinge. , but that when I get it from the taxidermist it will be snow white. We stand around Errol and I. The boys have gone back to help load Wayne’s zebra. Has there ever been a more glorious day. Not in my life. You can’t count the days you children were born, that is different!!! . Nope, the sky was never this blue nor the sun so brilliant. We take pictures. And talk, I ask Errol how he came to be a PH and what else he does for a living. He tells me about his family in Capetown and what his two sons do for a living. All too soon we hear the sound of approaching vehicles. The other bakkie has come along so everyone can help load the zebra. It takes everyone’s help to load it in the back. NO I think now it weighs about 900 pounds.!!!! With a heave and a push we finally get it loaded.
Three animals in one day. I am a little concerned, I bought 10 days of hunting and had a list of seven animals I came for. And this is just the first day. Oh, to be so concerned. Right now I am higher than a kite. It is around 4o’clock in the afternoon, and with my zebra we head to the house.
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I can only underline what Paul said: with that talent for telling a story you should sell your writing to a few magazins and will easily be able to return to Africa for the next safari!
Wonderfull story! Awesome writing!
With all your pictures of the 40 rolls film you couldn't come close to the impression and the pictures your writing created in my mind!
Well done Sir!
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Mike, this is great! I'm trying to figure out how to afford a trip of my own now! Thanks for sharing. Guy
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