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KZN - wild spiral horns!
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South Africa – KwaZulu Natal Hunt Report

Well folks I just got home from my trip to South Africa and I would like to give a short report. It will only be short and not many photos just yet - as I am planning to submit a couple of magazine articles about the trip and hunting.

In short.... it was awesome - I think the best hunting I have ever done! I have never had any intention of hunting RSA in the past, as I just have no interest in high-fence hunting for myself... but after a lot of research and some very good tips, I found the right guys to hunt with - a company that specialises in free-ranging hunting only - NO high fences, at all. I just HAD to go and check it out!

I hunted for seven full days, the hunt was mainly for the three local (Natal), indigenous, spiral-horned species – southern kudu, Cape bushbuck and nyala – plus whatever else I could get a bead-on. Lucky it was a seven day hunt and not five days as I busted my arse around the mountains for the first five days, without getting any of those three. Even Andrew, my guide, was getting noticeably antsy and probably wondering who this Aussie with incredibly bad luck was!! Then on the 6th day I got (REALLY) lucky and managed all three in the one, glorious day. Along the way I also picked up a smallish female warthog for camp meat, a nice impala ram, (nice one for that area) PLUS a really huge blue wildebeest bull. Actually the wildebeest hunt itself was probably the highlight of the trip for me.... true!!

With the three spiral-horned animals – I sure got what I was after - old mature animals. The kudu is a massive, old, broomed-off bull, he may not be the biggest ‘scoring’ kudu for sure but he was an enormous animal (went 250kg fully dressed). The bushbuck was an ancient old buck with a chunk of horn missing and blind in one eye from fighting and possibly on his last year. The nyala was a great old black bull. After nearly a week of disappointment with the spiral-horns, the planets just aligned and all our plans came together.

Everything about the hunt was absolutely first-rate. We hunted with Crusader Safaris, who operate at this private conservancy on the Umkomaas River in Natal, as well as another in the East Cape and other related areas too. My wife and I were looked after so well and we just had a blast!! This Umkomaas hunting conservancy, actually called the Nkoxweni Conservancy, that we were on is a collective of more than a dozen interconnected, white and Zulu-owned properties, separated only by cattle-fence. These properties range in size, 2000-15,000 ac and Crusader themselves now own one of these properties and implement the wildlife management plan... to give you an idea of the continuity of this conservancy and the hunting on offer.

In that area you are looking for animals coming out of thorn-brush slopes and the thick gullies, where the antelope bed, are almost impenetrable - a lot like sambar country! You have the three spiral-horned species mentioned present, plus wild Burchell’s zebra, blue wildebeest, warthog, bushpig, waterbuck, (loads of) impala, common reedbuck, common duiker and giraffe. 1.5-2 hours away you have other low-fence conservancies (more flat country toward the central Drakensberg foothills) - with many of those species above plus Eland, Red Hartebeest, and blesbuck.

To my way of thinking the Umkomaas hunt is EVERYTHING a discerning Aussie deer hunter might be looking for - that is if you like those spiral-horned antelope and challenging country. Great, tough hunting country...plenty of glassing to be done and required - from glassing vantages I probably spotted just as many animals as the other guys, so a good set of bino’s is essential if you want to really participate in the hunt. This area is more of a specialised hunt, their Cape (Baviaans River) conservancy would still be a super hunt, just maybe a little easier and more variety of species.... Umkomaas is a 'hunters hunt'!

The camp is on Crusaders own property and consists of a lodge building, dining tent, two covered safari-style tents and they have just completed two new thatched chalets for clients. It is a very comfortable camp, while having the look and feel of a real wilderness camp. Crusader staff at the camp were great and just couldn’t do enough for us. Invariably property owners involved in the conservancy would drop-by in the evening for a beer and a chat, or we would see them while hunting. That was a very nice interaction and demonstrated just how well the hunting program is working in the conservancy area!

Special thanks from me to all the Crusader staff and to Danny Galea (Outdoor Sporting Agencies) for supplying the test ammo that I took (Hornady GMX) and a Zeiss Duralyte scope - both went REALLY well - and thanks also to AR member Duggaboybuff, for helping me out with a mount base for my Sako rifle, at short notice.

Crusader Safaris is represented in the USA by AR's own Greg Rogriguez from Glogal Adeventure Outfitters, based in Houston - Greg puts a LOT of hunters through Crusaders camps and it was Greg who put me onto them. Aussie hunters can book these hunts through our Aussie agency, Australian Shikar (office@australianshikar.com).

Cheers all
Matt

Ancient Bushbuck




Imapala Ram




Blue Wildebeest with Crusader owner and PH Andrew Pringle




Nyala Bull




Wartog Sow - Hmmmm delicious!!




Kudu Bull




Hunting Country




Hunting Country Umkomaas Valley




Lodge



Safari Tent



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Posts: 4456 | Location: Australia | Registered: 23 January 2003Reply With Quote
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Way to got, Matt!
Congrats on the 1st African safari!
 
Posts: 2123 | Location: AZ and TX | Registered: 13 February 2006Reply With Quote
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I talked to these folks at Reno SCI last year. I was very impressed with what they offer and look forward to doing the 'spiral horn' type hunt with them someday. Thanks for the report.
 
Posts: 78 | Location: Fountain Hills, AZ | Registered: 21 October 2008Reply With Quote
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Great report, fantastic trophies and superb photographs. The PH need to be congratulated.

Looks like one of Africa's hidden gems and would very much like to see it.


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Posts: 8632 | Location: Zambia | Registered: 10 April 2009Reply With Quote
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Thanks for sharing your story and pictures.

I love the old bushbuck.
 
Posts: 535 | Location: Greensburg, PA | Registered: 18 February 2008Reply With Quote
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Thanks heaps guys...

Andrew - Do you know Rad Robertson, who works for Doug Reynolds at times in Zam?? These are the guys who Rad works for when in RSA.I spent a bit of time with Rad while I was there and I am sure he said he knows you.

Cheers
Matt


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Posts: 4456 | Location: Australia | Registered: 23 January 2003Reply With Quote
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quote:
Originally posted by Matt Graham:
Thanks heaps guys...

Andrew - Do you know Rad Robertson, who works for Doug Reynolds at times in Zam?? These are the guys who Rad works for when in RSA.I spent a bit of time with Rad while I was there and I am sure he said he knows you.

Cheers
Matt


Yes I know Rad and he has been working with Doug as an apprentice. Probably due to get his full license this year? Nice young man.

Hope he had some good things to say about Zambia?

Cheers

Andrew


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Posts: 8632 | Location: Zambia | Registered: 10 April 2009Reply With Quote
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Originally posted by fairgame:

Yes I know Rad and he has been working with Doug as an apprentice. Probably due to get his full license this year? Nice young man.

Hope he had some good things to say about Zambia?

Cheers

Andrew
Yes, I think he has just got his full licence now. He's a bloody funny bugger... and yes he had plenty nice things to say about Zambia but I dont need any convincing to come visit you guys (one day) anyhow.... Just gotta find the time and enough airmiles to buy another ticket!!!!!

Rad's family live just down the road from the main hunt area there (in Natal) ... wonderful people!!


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Posts: 4456 | Location: Australia | Registered: 23 January 2003Reply With Quote
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Congratulations on the great animals Matt. My wife and I hunted with Chris/Andrew in 2009 at their Bavianns River Camp and had a phenomenal hunt. We're head back this year in May to hunt at their Natal (Umkomass) Camp. As soon as I educate myself on posting photos I will post a report for our 2009 adventure. By the way, Michelle and I (we met you at the 2010 Weatherby Banquet) are still looking forward to hunting with you in Australia.
 
Posts: 11 | Location: Portland, OR | Registered: 06 March 2011Reply With Quote
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beautiful report and greats animals... congratulation!
 
Posts: 23 | Location: Italy | Registered: 15 February 2011Reply With Quote
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Originally posted by African Dreamer:
Congratulations on the great animals Matt. My wife and I hunted with Chris/Andrew in 2009 at their Bavianns River Camp and had a phenomenal hunt. We're head back this year in May to hunt at their Natal (Umkomass) Camp. As soon as I educate myself on posting photos I will post a report for our 2009 adventure. By the way, Michelle and I (we met you at the 2010 Weatherby Banquet) are still looking forward to hunting with you in Australia.
Hi Todd - I didnt know you were on AR!! Hey - you are something of a Crusader Safaris legend mate!! Big Grin


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Posts: 4456 | Location: Australia | Registered: 23 January 2003Reply With Quote
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Originally posted by horn:
beautiful report and greats animals... congratulation!
Thanks Carmine!


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Posts: 4456 | Location: Australia | Registered: 23 January 2003Reply With Quote
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Very nice animals, real senior citizens!


Frank



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Posts: 11901 | Location: Bakersfield CA. USA | Registered: 30 December 2002Reply With Quote
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I was just recently informed about this site from an avid AR member. Wow, I can not believe I did not know about this site. I don't know about "legend", but certainly "lucky SOB" fits the bill. Stay in touch!

Cheers,

Todd
 
Posts: 11 | Location: Portland, OR | Registered: 06 March 2011Reply With Quote
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Nice combo of a beautiful place and free range spiral horns. Thanks for taking the time to share your experience with us.
 
Posts: 411 | Registered: 05 February 2009Reply With Quote
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Great report - thanks Matt. Nice to see really old warrior trophies being taken. I'm no doctor but I diagnose you have now been bitten by the "Hunt Africa" bug - no known cure but relief from some symptoms only comes from further hunting trips. What's next on your wish list ?
 
Posts: 451 | Location: New Zealand, Australia, Zambia | Registered: 25 May 2009Reply With Quote
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Matt - Congrats on a great hunt and enjoyed your account of a great adventure. Some really nice trophies and lots of everlasting memories I am sure.

Larry Sellers
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Posts: 3447 | Location: Jemez Mountains, New Mexico | Registered: 09 February 2006Reply With Quote
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Originally posted by Ridgeman:
Great report - thanks Matt. Nice to see really old warrior trophies being taken. I'm no doctor but I diagnose you have now been bitten by the "Hunt Africa" bug - no known cure but relief from some symptoms only comes from further hunting trips. What's next on your wish list ?
Africa Bug?? - is that what gave me the Tick Bite Fever real bad last week... man I was sick when I got home!!

Wishlist?? For Africa?? Definitely want to go back and do another hunt with these guys and see about getting a big cape eland bull at either or the areas, want to get a good warthog as a side-dish as well. Other hunts... definitely want to do a buff hunt in the next 2 years - either Zambia and Moz most likely. My dream PG hunt is a LD Eland - but I cant see that happening any time soon.

Thanks Larry and others, appreciate your comments. Hopefully if I can get the first story published pretty quickly I will post that into here too, after the magazine is released - a while after anyhow...


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Posts: 4456 | Location: Australia | Registered: 23 January 2003Reply With Quote
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VERY NICE !! Great safari and wonderful memories. Cannot wait to hear details on my Aussie hunt in August. Great that you had such a great time.


Dave Fulson
 
Posts: 1440 | Registered: 20 December 2007Reply With Quote
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Congrats! looks like a real nice place to hunt. Will have to keep this place in mind.


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Posts: 1378 | Location: Virginia, USA | Registered: 05 March 2005Reply With Quote
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My dream PG hunt is a LD Eland - but I cant see that happening any time soon.


Because you will be too busy trying to secure your Sitatunga and Bongo?


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Posts: 8632 | Location: Zambia | Registered: 10 April 2009Reply With Quote
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Well done, Matt! Glad you finally got 'there'. Sure looks like a beautiful place to hunt.


~Ann



 
Posts: 15733 | Location: The LOST Nation | Registered: 27 March 2001Reply With Quote
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Very nice! Congratulations on some fine trophies from some beautiful country! tu2
 
Posts: 15930 | Registered: 04 April 2005Reply With Quote
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Matt, Excellent hunt report and pictures, this sure got me fired up (as if I wasn't already!) I'm leaving this Friday for KZN, first around Winterton and then Pongola. I hope I get to hunt mountainous country like you did, I've been training my 51 year old body for 9 months,I've lost right around 30 pounds and wasn't having much trouble before so I'm ready! I'll post hunt results when I get back. Thanks again for the report, now I won't get any sleep tonight!!!LOL Joe
 
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Good on ya Matt! Awesome country for real stalking rather than just drive around & shoot.


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Posts: 10757 | Location: New Zealand | Registered: 02 July 2008Reply With Quote
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Originally posted by fairgame:
quote:
My dream PG hunt is a LD Eland - but I cant see that happening any time soon.


Because you will be too busy trying to secure your Sitatunga and Bongo?
Sitatunga (Zambezi) maybe!!! wink, wink...

No chance of a bongo this side of my divorce proceedings .... Not that I am getting divorced but I would be if I went bongo hunting!!


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Posts: 4456 | Location: Australia | Registered: 23 January 2003Reply With Quote
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Originally posted by goosejoe:
Matt, Excellent hunt report and pictures, this sure got me fired up (as if I wasn't already!) I'm leaving this Friday for KZN, first around Winterton and then Pongola. I hope I get to hunt mountainous country like you did, I've been training my 51 year old body for 9 months,I've lost right around 30 pounds and wasn't having much trouble before so I'm ready! I'll post hunt results when I get back. Thanks again for the report, now I won't get any sleep tonight!!!LOL Joe
Awesome Joe - Good luck, I'm sure you will have a great time!! Watch-out for the ticks - I was savaged by them!!


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Posts: 4456 | Location: Australia | Registered: 23 January 2003Reply With Quote
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Congratulations! I love the old bushbuck!

Brett


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Posts: 4542 | Location: Alaska | Registered: 21 February 2008Reply With Quote
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Congratulations on a great hunt!

I'm booked with Crusader for next year so this has me fired up!
 
Posts: 483 | Location: Mostly USA | Registered: 25 March 2011Reply With Quote
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Originally posted by Ongwe:
Congratulations on a great hunt!

I'm booked with Crusader for next year so this has me fired up!
Cool!! Are you hunting both main conservancies do you know??

quote:
Originally posted by Brett Adam Barringer:
Congratulations! I love the old bushbuck!

Brett
Thanks Brett -

btw that shiny stuff on the skin of the hunter, in that bushbuck photo, is sweat and LOTS of it!! Thats what you get when you shoot a bushbuck in a creek at 9.30am in March!! Damn I thought I sprung a leak!!


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Posts: 4456 | Location: Australia | Registered: 23 January 2003Reply With Quote
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Sitatunga, Bongo, Mountain Nyala and LD Eland then you are done mate.


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Posts: 8632 | Location: Zambia | Registered: 10 April 2009Reply With Quote
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Cool!! Are you hunting both main conservancies do you know??


Umkomaas for nyala and bushbuck...then the Stormbergs to look for a vaal rhebok if time permits. But if everything clicked, we might end up at Baviaansriver too.

This far out...who knows!
 
Posts: 483 | Location: Mostly USA | Registered: 25 March 2011Reply With Quote
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Originally posted by fairgame:
Sitatunga, Bongo, Mountain Nyala and LD Eland then you are done mate.
Nah, you forgot lesser kudu mate!! Smiler


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Posts: 4456 | Location: Australia | Registered: 23 January 2003Reply With Quote
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Originally posted by Ongwe:
quote:
Cool!! Are you hunting both main conservancies do you know??


Umkomaas for nyala and bushbuck...then the Stormbergs to look for a vaal rhebok if time permits. But if everything clicked, we might end up at Baviaansriver too.

This far out...who knows!
Sounds great!!!


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Posts: 4456 | Location: Australia | Registered: 23 January 2003Reply With Quote
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Originally posted by Matt Graham:
quote:
Originally posted by fairgame:
Sitatunga, Bongo, Mountain Nyala and LD Eland then you are done mate.
Nah, you forgot lesser kudu mate!! Smiler


You already have a kudu. Why something lesser?

For me it would be the LD that must be Africa's prize spiral horn.


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Posts: 8632 | Location: Zambia | Registered: 10 April 2009Reply With Quote
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Originally posted by fairgame:
quote:
Originally posted by Matt Graham:
quote:
Originally posted by fairgame:
Sitatunga, Bongo, Mountain Nyala and LD Eland then you are done mate.
Nah, you forgot lesser kudu mate!! Smiler


You already have a kudu. Why something lesser?

For me it would be the LD that must be Africa's prize spiral horn.
funny bugger.... Yeah LDE is the pick of em!! I reckon those lesser kudu are awesome though, maybe they should change their name to bantam kudu or something? There's nothing 'lesser' about the price that's for sure!!


A fellow I know shot this one in 2009, No1 SCI. That animal gives me a woody!!



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Posts: 4456 | Location: Australia | Registered: 23 January 2003Reply With Quote
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proper.


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Posts: 8632 | Location: Zambia | Registered: 10 April 2009Reply With Quote
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Looks like you had a great time! tu2

Nils-Ole
 
Posts: 103 | Location: Norway | Registered: 07 June 2010Reply With Quote
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Congratulations Matt, I am extremely happy to hear you had a great time. After spending so much time with You and Andrew in the Booths in Dallas and Houston this year I was looking forward to this report. As you know I purchased 2 of Crusaders auction hunts for 2012 and will be taking my 2 brothers to Africa for their first trip. See you in Aussie soon, all the best
MVA
 
Posts: 6 | Location: mvambrose@ambroseconsulting.net | Registered: 11 April 2011Reply With Quote
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Thanks Mike - How cool to take your brothers hunting with you - I'll bet you are looking forward to that!! Time spent hunting/fishing with your family is The Best!!


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