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20 years in the making....my first trip to Africa
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This hunting report has been 20+ years in the making….

When I was a young teenager, my father booked a hunting trip to South Africa for us as a family. I had dreamed about it for years before that, and could not be more excited to hunt in Africa. Unfortunately, several months before our scheduled safari, my father lost his job (through no fault of his own) and had no choice but to cancel the trip due to financial reasons. I was devastated. A few years later, we made preliminary plans to hunt in Namibia, but unfortunately those plans never materialized either for a variety of reasons.

From that point….I went on to attend college, graduate from college, started a career in real estate, met a girl, got married, travelled quite a bit, purchased my first home, had a child (a beautiful daughter), changed careers….and before I knew it, more than 20 years had passed since that first trip to South Africa was originally planned. As they say…. “life happens”. Fortunately, amidst all the COVID-19 fiasco, the stars aligned for me and everything changed. Here is my long-awaited hunting report of my first trip to the Dark Continent.

Hunt Dates: April 3-13, 2022
Location: North West Province, South Africa
Outfitter: High Veld Safaris
Professional Hunter: Hennie Jansen van Rensburg
Rifle: Cogswell & Harrison .375 H&H (suppressed) with Federal 300 gr. soft points, provided by the outfitter
Animals taken: Red Hartebeest, Common Blesbok, Burchell’s Zebra, Kudu, Common Springbok, Sable, Impala, Gemsbok, Eland, Nyala, White Blesbok, Blue Wildebeest, & Black Wildebeest
Animals hunted but not taken: Warthog, Duiker, & Steenbok (lack of shot opportunities due to exceptionally long grass)

For the past year or so, I had been saving some money to do a guided Whitetail hunt here in Texas with a friend of mine. In August of 2021, I was browsing another forum that I frequent, and stumbled across an offer for a hunt in South Africa that sounded almost too good to be true. But I had noticed quite a few good deals being offered by other well-known outfitters as well, due to the hardship created by COVID lockdowns and travel restrictions. The gentleman that posted the offer had a good reputation on the forum, and had just returned from his trip. I decided to investigate it a little further, so I gathered details and references. I spoke to the outfitter personally, as well as half a dozen references that only had wonderful things to say about this outfitter and their small family-owned operation. I also was able to watch some videos on YouTube of a hunt with the outfitter, and I just had a gut feeling these were good people. I told my friend that I could hunt Whitetails with him anytime, but this could be my only chance to hunt Africa in the foreseeable future. Since I already had the majority of the funds saved, I was able to make it work. I booked a 10 day hunt for early April, and started counting the days (while also praying that our government wouldn’t screw up the whole plan with COVID nonsense). The time came for my hunt, and I made the trip across the pond. I did this hunt by myself, and I will admit that it took a leap of faith to fly halfway around the world to meet someone I didn’t know and hunt with a lesser-known outfitter….but I am so glad I did. My expectations for every aspect of the trip were exceeded! It was truly a dream come true for me and I will never forget it. I came to them as a customer, and left as family.


Day 1

Getting started on the hunt was a little overwhelming, partly due to my shock of actually being in Africa, and partly due to the sheer number of animals we were seeing. We had quite a bit of rain the night before and on the morning of my first day, but luckily it stopped around lunch and allowed us to get out and hunt. After glassing a group of Red Hartebeest, we found a very nice mature bull, and before long I had my very first African animal in the salt!





Less than an hour later, on our way back to the lodge, we bumped into a herd of Blesbok with a male that was exceptional. I’ve never been someone who cares about inches or record books, but on a few of the exceptional animals I took, we did measure them…and I found it interesting to know that four of my animals would qualify for Rowland Ward. This Blesbok was the first.






Day 2

On my second day, we had more light rain in the morning. We spent the first half of the day trying to get an opportunity on several Zebra (and getting wet). Eventually that afternoon (after numerous failed stalks), I got a shot on a nice mature mare. I’ve looked at plenty of Zebra from a distance, but when you get one on the ground, they become even more impressive and beautiful. We also had a crusted Zebra tenderloin appetizer before dinner that was truly delicious.









Day 3


We went to another property about 30 minutes away to hunt Kudu and Sable. We had been hunting Kudu each day, but so far had only caught a glimpse of what looked like a shooter bull. The rain seemed to really make the Kudu hesitant to move around. This was our first day of clear skies, and the new property had an obviously strong Kudu population. We looked over five or six bulls before lunch, and then found a gorgeous bull with what I consider to be the “classic” Kudu shape. He was in a thicket with just part of his shoulder and neck exposed. At the shot, he ran off as if nothing had happened. We went to the place where he was standing and could not find a single drop of blood. We only found a small pea-sized chunk of meat. This made my stomach turn, as I worried I may have just wounded the first Kudu I’ve ever had a chance to hunt in my life. Due to the recent rains, we were able to follow tracks in the soft ground, and to my relief he was lying stone dead within 70 yards….shot right on the crease of the shoulder, and we recovered the bullet under the skin on the opposite side.











After a few heartfelt handshakes and some photos, we headed to another area on the same property to look for Sable. On our way, we stumbled across an absolute monster of a Springbok, which I promptly shot without hesitation. This was my second Rowland Ward animal of the trip.





After loading the Springbok, we continued our search for Sable. It wasn’t long before we spotted a small group of bulls in an open area, with one that was substantially bigger than the rest. I don’t have much experience judging Sable, but I knew without a doubt that he was a mature trophy. At around 175 yards, he dropped to a single high-shoulder shot from the 375. Upon closer inspection, he was even bigger than I thought. We measured him at 44 inches….my third Rowland Ward trophy. Once again, I’m not interested in record books, but it’s always nice to know when you’ve taken a truly exceptional animal. I was over the moon to have the chance at such an incredible animal.







By mid-afternoon, I had already taken three great animals, and could have easily taken the rest of the day off to relax. We didn’t take the day off, but we did spend the rest of the evening just taking it easy while casually searching for Warthog, Duiker, and Steenbok. The unusually heavy rains this year had made the grass very tall, and therefore hunting for the small animals was damn near impossible. Occasionally we would catch a glimpse of a Duiker as it bounded away. Just before dusk, we spotted a lone Impala in a previously burned area. He was an ancient old male, and so far the only Impala rams that I had seen were in large groups which were very difficult to approach. This old ram gave us the perfect opportunity for a stalk, and we got within range! The sunsets in Africa seemed to be just a little more special than ours in the states.






Day 4

The fourth day began with us searching for a group of Gemsbok we saw on the second day. There was a very large cow that dwarfed everything else in the herd. We managed to find them, and after a couple of failed attempts, got within 150 yards. The big old cow stepped out from behind an acacia tree and I gave her a quartering away shot to the opposite shoulder. She ran about 50 yards and piled up. She was a gorgeous animal. A few days later, we measured her at the skinning shed to be 40.5 inches….my fourth Rowland Ward quality animal.







Staying true to my username (Eland Slayer)…..I could not pass up the opportunity to hunt Eland! We had seen a hell of a bull on day two in some thick bush, and never caught up to him. There was also a known bachelor group of three bulls on this property, but we had not seen them until today. Two of the three bulls were “no questions asked” shooters….BIG mature bulls. But one of these bulls was special. He was very old with a giant dewlap and “ruff” on his forehead, and a very light colored neck that made him stand out from a distance. We could see the bachelor group headed up a large rocky hill, and decided to try and head them off. I honestly did not think it was going to work, as I know how quickly Eland can cover ground. However, luck was on our side and we ambushed the bulls before they crested the hill. They came across at approximately 80 yards, at a slow walk. I only had a few seconds to make a decision and shoot. The big bull was at the rear of the group and I put a 300 gr. soft point into the crease of the shoulder. He lunged with a fountain of blood pouring from the entry wound. I knew he was dead on his feet, but as he turned to run downhill, I put another round into him quartering away. He made it no more than 50 yards and was down for good. I was absolutely elated! Eland have always been my favorite game animal. I was fortunate to hunt Eland here in Texas many years ago, but thankfully now I can say I’ve successfully hunted them in Africa too! This bull was absolutely massive! I hope to hunt another like him in the future. I was told this bull was likely over 10 years old.







Day 5

We made a plan to go back to the property where I hunted Sable, and see if we could find a good mature Nyala bull. We had seen one on day 3 but he outsmarted us. The property owner told me he had quite a few Nyala, but they were really challenging to hunt. Little did I know, this would be my favorite hunt of the entire trip. We got to the property shortly after sunrise, and began driving and glassing. We spotted a couple middle-aged bulls and cows, and also bumped into a mature bull that immediately gave us the slip. After one failed stalk, and several more miles of walking, we decided to walk down to a small river bottom that seemed like good Nyala habitat….and good Nyala habitat it was! Within an hour of entering this area, we saw 7 more Nyala bulls. Visibility was limited and I ended up getting a very close shot on a great mature bull at only 40-50 yards. The hunt was very exciting, and I found that hunting Nyala was very similar to hunting Whitetail. My bull was with a group of cows and dwarfed them all. Hennie told me this was the biggest bodied Nyala he had ever seen.





Day 6

At this point, I was on Cloud 9. The hunt had already exceeded my expectations. We did a little sight-seeing in the morning, and I also had the chance to do a little photography. Up until now, I had really only been focused on hunting. In the afternoon, we came across a very big White Blesbok with an unusual silver coloration. I decided to make a stalk and got a good shot on him. Another beautiful animal.





Day 7

By this point, my “wish list” was shrinking, along with my budget. We had not seen many Blue Wildebeest bulls that got me excited until today. The weather was getting cooler, and as soon as I saw this bull through my binoculars, I said “that’s the one I want”. He was a tall bull with a slightly reddish coat and dark face. His horns were not the biggest, but I just liked the way he looked. He rarely stood still, but I managed to place a shot right in the center of his shoulder as well as a follow-up shot just behind the shoulder. I was amazed that he could soak up two shots like that in the vitals and continue to run. He didn’t make it far though, and expired in less than a minute.





Day 8

Until now, I haven’t mentioned the fact that I had been chasing Black Wildebeest (unsuccessfully) nearly every day of my hunt. They proved to be the most challenging animal of the entire trip. After NINE failed stalks over a week’s time, today was the day I finally broke the curse! We found a truly outstanding old hard-bossed bull in a herd, and miraculously closed the distance and made a successful shot. Ironically, I believe I may have also killed him adjacent to the only grove of pine trees in Africa (I know that’s probably not true, but the pine trees did make me think of home)





Days 9 & 10

The last two days of my trip were spent taking pictures, looking for Warthog/Duiker/Steenbok, having lots of laughs, and just generally solidifying the relationship with my newfound African family.

Never have I met such genuinely good salt-of-the-earth people, who went out of their way to make me feel welcome, and truly like part of their family. I cannot wait to return to the dark continent and hunt with these folks again someday. They will forever hold a special place in my heart.

Here are a few “behind the scenes” photos, as well as wildlife photos I was able to take during my trip. I hope you all enjoy them.
































If you are interested in a genuinely personalized hunting experience, with people who will treat you with respect and kindness, at an affordable price…..please consider hunting with High Veld Safaris. This may have been my first trip to Africa, but I have studied African hunting for most of my life, and I believe these folks offer some of the best value for your hunting dollar in southern Africa. You can visit their website here for more information: https://highveldsafari.online/

You can also reach Hennie Jansen van Rensburg by phone: +27 82 812 5988 or email: varkenslaagte@gmail.com
 
Posts: 3036 | Location: Hockley, TX | Registered: 01 October 2005Reply With Quote
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Posts: 3036 | Location: Hockley, TX | Registered: 01 October 2005Reply With Quote
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Congratulations on finally getting your trip in. Happy for you.

Great trophy to celebrate your moniker.
 
Posts: 749 | Location: Oklahoma | Registered: 05 March 2013Reply With Quote
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Wade,

I am exceptionally happy to wish you the appropriate Waidmannsheil for a hell of an African safari.

Wife, house, changing jobs, kids all are huge lifestyle killers for a guy. We got married in 2010 (I hunted Namibia in 2005) and the past 12 years has been a 180% in what I am able to do in life.

You are the last person I thought I would be reading a hunting in Africa story about. I almost came to tears when I read it as I know how bad you wanted it.

If we as an AR community are allowed to be proud of you, please accept those feelings of admiration.

You were in high school or maybe college when I first started seeing your post years ago, I was half way through a career in the military.

Wade's new name; Bwana Eland, the African hunter Extroidanaire!
 
Posts: 7594 | Registered: 10 October 2012Reply With Quote
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Congrats on finally making your dream come true!

Lovely photos and excellent animals.

You did well.
 
Posts: 8227 | Location: Minnesota USA | Registered: 15 June 2007Reply With Quote
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Wade,
Congrats, been watching you post for years, glad you finally got to do it. Now you get to work for the next 20yrs to pay for the taxidermy. Exceptional Sable and impala!
 
Posts: 4987 | Registered: 30 July 2007Reply With Quote
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Congrats on a memorable trip!
 
Posts: 96 | Location: Texas, USA | Registered: 02 January 2020Reply With Quote
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Originally posted by Big Wonderful Wyoming:
Wade,

I am exceptionally happy to wish you the appropriate Waidmannsheil for a hell of an African safari.

Wife, house, changing jobs, kids all are huge lifestyle killers for a guy. We got married in 2010 (I hunted Namibia in 2005) and the past 12 years has been a 180% in what I am able to do in life.

You are the last person I thought I would be reading a hunting in Africa story about. I almost came to tears when I read it as I know how bad you wanted it.

If we as an AR community are allowed to be proud of you, please accept those feelings of admiration.

You were in high school or maybe college when I first started seeing your post years ago, I was half way through a career in the military.

Wade's new name; Bwana Eland, the African hunter Extroidanaire!


BWW,

Thank you so much for the kind words. I feel very fortunate that all the chips fell into exactly the right places to make this trip possible. And you are right, I wanted it BAD….perhaps to an unhealthy level even. Haha.

There’s no doubt the AR community has been a major influence on my African hunting education….and for that I will always be indebted to all of you. It actually feels a bit strange to want something for so long, and then have it be over already. I can see why some folks say there’s nothing like your first trip to Africa. I’m already trying to figure out how to go back.
 
Posts: 3036 | Location: Hockley, TX | Registered: 01 October 2005Reply With Quote
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Originally posted by 505 gibbs:
Wade,
Congrats, been watching you post for years, glad you finally got to do it. Now you get to work for the next 20yrs to pay for the taxidermy. Exceptional Sable and impala!


Thank you. I will actually be doing skull mounts on everything (except for a Zebra rug). Honestly I don’t have the money or the space to have everything shoulder mounted. It will be hard enough for me to find space for the skull mounts. Rather than spending the money on taxidermy, I’d rather go back for another hunt.
 
Posts: 3036 | Location: Hockley, TX | Registered: 01 October 2005Reply With Quote
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quote:
Originally posted by Eland Slayer:
quote:
Originally posted by 505 gibbs:
Wade,
Congrats, been watching you post for years, glad you finally got to do it. Now you get to work for the next 20yrs to pay for the taxidermy. Exceptional Sable and impala!


Thank you. I will actually be doing skull mounts on everything (except for a Zebra rug). Honestly I don’t have the money or the space to have everything shoulder mounted. It will be hard enough for me to find space for the skull mounts. Rather than spending the money on taxidermy, I’d rather go back for another hunt.


Smart man, I am pretty much done with taxidermy other than rugs.
 
Posts: 7594 | Registered: 10 October 2012Reply With Quote
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Good Lord man, did you leave any animals for the rest of us?!

Seriously, congrats on a wonderful and successful safari loaded with great trophies and tons of memories.

Well done!
 
Posts: 2340 | Location: Colorado | Registered: 26 May 2010Reply With Quote
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A great story and an incredible hunt. Congratulations!
 
Posts: 9045 | Location: Houston, Texas | Registered: 26 December 2005Reply With Quote
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Well done. I remember your first posts a long time ago about going and wondered what happened. Glad you made it. You are now officially hooked....
 
Posts: 9471 | Location: Texas... time to secede!! | Registered: 12 February 2004Reply With Quote
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I almost forgot to post this photo. I felt I had to take an old-school, end of safari picture.

 
Posts: 3036 | Location: Hockley, TX | Registered: 01 October 2005Reply With Quote
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Congratulations on what appears to have been a great hunt! Some very nice trophies.


Guns and hunting
 
Posts: 975 | Registered: 07 February 2017Reply With Quote
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Brilliant and well-done High Veld Safaris. Some great animals there and really well photographed. Thanks for sharing.


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Posts: 9136 | Location: Zambia | Registered: 10 April 2009Reply With Quote
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Awesome Report and photos, Wade. My first Safari was 10 years ago at the age of 65. I’ll be heading out for Safari #6 this July with Sebra Safaris at the age of 75. I’m done with taxidermy, having run out of wall space, so I take tons of pictures and email them to Costco. For roughly $40.00 they professionally enlarge them to 14” X 11” and encase them in acrylic. They also include a clever mounting bracket. Rather than wait a year or more and spending thousands of $, you’ll get professional quality prints in 7-10 days.


Jesus saves, but Moses invests
 
Posts: 1301 | Location: Lake Bluff, IL | Registered: 02 May 2008Reply With Quote
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Outstanding report Wade, and your pictures are top shelf.

Looking forward to many more from you. Congratulations!


___________________________________________________________________________________

Give me the simple life; an AK-47, a good guard dog and a nymphomaniac who owns a liquor store.
 
Posts: 791 | Location: Black Hills of South Dakota/Florida's Gulf Coast | Registered: 23 March 2011Reply With Quote
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A heart warming story and a successful hunt. Your photographs are exceptional.

JCHB
 
Posts: 372 | Location: KZN province South Africa | Registered: 24 July 2009Reply With Quote
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Thank you for the kind words gentlemen....taking good photos has always been a priority for me. Also, believe it or not, all of the photos (besides the live animal photos with watermarks) were taken with my iPhone 12 Pro Max.
 
Posts: 3036 | Location: Hockley, TX | Registered: 01 October 2005Reply With Quote
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Congrats! There's nothing quite like your first African safari.
 
Posts: 1593 | Location: Sinton, Texas | Registered: 08 November 2006Reply With Quote
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Congratulations on achieving your bucket list hunt Wade.

As others on these forums have shared before, nothing bites in Africa quite as hard as the hunting bug... it may be your first first safari but I bet it's not your last!


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.
 
Posts: 7233 | Location: Victoria, Texas | Registered: 30 March 2003Reply With Quote
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Congratulations on a wonderful adventure! Thank you for sharing your story with us.
 
Posts: 887 | Location: Wichita Falls Texas or Colombia | Registered: 25 February 2011Reply With Quote
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Congratulations!

Savor your memories of this safari.

They will help you plan your next one!


Mike

Edited on advice of counsel.
 
Posts: 12241 | Location: New England | Registered: 06 June 2003Reply With Quote
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Congratulations, Wade!
 
Posts: 1310 | Location: Shelton, CT | Registered: 22 February 2010Reply With Quote
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There’s nothing like a first safari. Congratulations!
 
Posts: 3473 | Location: California | Registered: 01 January 2009Reply With Quote
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Awesome story!! Very encouraging for those of us who haven't made it happen yet. Love that last picture.

Thank you
 
Posts: 1018 | Location: Bozeman, MT | Registered: 21 October 2002Reply With Quote
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Well done Congratulations. You do know that you have unleashed a monster now Smiler.



Arjun Reddy
Hunters Networks LLC
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Brewster, NY 10509
Tel: +1 845 259 3628
 
Posts: 2336 | Location: New York, USA | Registered: 13 March 2005Reply With Quote
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Very well done First Safari and Report. Congrats

Out of interest which Photo Camera you where using ? The Photos are Exceptional !!!


Nec Timor Nec Temeritas
 
Posts: 2200 | Registered: 29 May 2005Reply With Quote
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quote:
Originally posted by mboga biga bwana:
Very well done First Safari and Report. Congrats

Out of interest which Photo Camera you where using ? The Photos are Exceptional !!!


Thank you!

The live animal photos were taken with my Nikon D500 and Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 lens. Here are a few more shots from the trip...

















 
Posts: 3036 | Location: Hockley, TX | Registered: 01 October 2005Reply With Quote
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Fantastic story and thanks for sharing!
 
Posts: 75 | Location: Stephenville, TX & Hamilton, MT | Registered: 15 January 2010Reply With Quote
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.

Heck of a first Africa hunt! Great quality pictures. Well done and thanks for posting.
Your taxidermist is going to love you Wink

.


"Up the ladders and down the snakes!"
 
Posts: 1932 | Location: South Africa & Europe | Registered: 10 February 2014Reply With Quote
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Originally posted by Charlie64:
.

Heck of a first Africa hunt! Great quality pictures. Well done and thanks for posting.
Your taxidermist is going to love you Wink

.


Haha....actually my taxidermist (who's also a good friend of mine) is pissed because I'm not getting anything mounted. I am having all the animals done as skull mounts plus a rug for my Zebra. The taxidermy alone would pay for another safari, easily.
 
Posts: 3036 | Location: Hockley, TX | Registered: 01 October 2005Reply With Quote
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Wade, we have to know - what are your plans for Safari #2? I hunted the eastern cape in ‘08 and Namibia Erongo mountains in ‘18. Hoping for another trip now that mask mandate is over. Great report & pics.
 
Posts: 81 | Location: Fountain Hills, AZ | Registered: 21 October 2008Reply With Quote
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Originally posted by leftcoast:
Wade, we have to know - what are your plans for Safari #2? I hunted the eastern cape in ‘08 and Namibia Erongo mountains in ‘18. Hoping for another trip now that mask mandate is over. Great report & pics.


I would like to go back with the same outfitter and focus on a few different species like Roan, Waterbuck, Tsessebe, Mountain Reedbuck, Giraffe, and possibly Buffalo. I would also really like to get a few of the little guys (Duiker & Steenbok primarily) and a Warthog, which I missed out on.
 
Posts: 3036 | Location: Hockley, TX | Registered: 01 October 2005Reply With Quote
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Well done! Thanks for sharing!


Tom Kessel
Hiland Outfitters, LLC (BG-082)
Hiland, Wyoming
www.hilandoutfitters.com
 
Posts: 388 | Location: Central Wyoming | Registered: 14 March 2010Reply With Quote
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Congratulations and thank you for sharing an amazing trip. You are definitely correct on the taxidermy. I started out having shoulder mounts done, switched to skull, and now I think it will be just skins. I am hoping the reduction in hunting the last couple years due to covid will mean there are some culling opportunities.

I was surprised at how much I love Zebra meat. I will be in the Northwest area for the first time in September and Zebra is definitely on the menu.


DSC Life Member
NRA Life Member
 
Posts: 580 | Location: North Texas | Registered: 26 May 2009Reply With Quote
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Awesome. Congratulations.
 
Posts: 735 | Location: Australia  | Registered: 31 October 2012Reply With Quote
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quote:
Originally posted by CharlesL:
Congratulations and thank you for sharing an amazing trip. You are definitely correct on the taxidermy. I started out having shoulder mounts done, switched to skull, and now I think it will be just skins. I am hoping the reduction in hunting the last couple years due to covid will mean there are some culling opportunities.

I was surprised at how much I love Zebra meat. I will be in the Northwest area for the first time in September and Zebra is definitely on the menu.


I was extremely impressed by the Zebra meat as well. I had talked to several folks that raved about it....and they were right!
 
Posts: 3036 | Location: Hockley, TX | Registered: 01 October 2005Reply With Quote
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Wade:

WOW what a dream come true, Congrats!

Don't delay on the second trip now.

As you've already seen, LIFE gets in the way

many times. Enjoyed your pictures for years.

Thanks for sharing them with us.

George


"Gun Control is NOT about Guns'
"It's about Control!!"
Join the NRA today!"

LM: NRA, DAV, RMEF

George L. Dwight
 
Posts: 5627 | Location: Pueblo, CO | Registered: 31 January 2006Reply With Quote
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