|One of Us|
Date: 2-11 Aug, 2022
Flights: Booked by myself
Rifle Permits: African Sky
Outfitter and PH: Chris Troskie
Extra Apprentice PH during buffalo hunt: Philip
Trackers: Sammy (main tracker), Jusias
Hunting party: Myself and my friend W (leaving his name out)
Hunting area: Near Lephalale, Limpopo province South Africa
Weapon: Brno ZKK 602 in .416 Rigby with an old non-illuminated steel tube Leupold scope in 2,5-7 (also brought a Vortex Viper 1-6x24 as backup but the eye relief and eye box is better on the old Leupold so I opted for that one for the entire hunt). Both scopes in Warne QR rings.
Ammunition: My own reloads. Soft points were Swift A-frame 400 gr in 2090 fps and backup was Barnes banded solids 400 gr in 2050 fps.
Observered animals: Aardwak, Blesbuck, Blue Wildebeest, Buffalo, Bushbuck, Common Duiker, Crocodile, Giraffe, Golden Wildebeest, Hippo, Impala (Common + black), Klipspringer, Kudu, Mongoose, Mountain Reedbuck, Nyala, Ostrich, Red hartebeest, Springbuck, Squirrel, Steenbuck, Warthog, Waterbuck
Fish Eagle, Guinea fowl, Kingfisher, Secretary bird, Yellow Billed something-bird
Observerade tracks/scat from: Leopard (all days but one), cheetah, brown hyena
Sought animals: Buffalo and preferrably Sabel. Time permitting any of Bushbuck, female waterbuck or baboon
Background: I´m on a different financial level to most people on this forum. I don´t own any land and rent areas to hunt in two different areas in Sweden. I can´t afford any good area so on average I spend 11-12 hunting days for every animal I shoot.
In 2014 I was fortunate to receive a substantial bonus and I shot a bison in a small enclosure here in Sweden. When I did that I decided two things. These small enclosures are not for me and I doubt I´ll ever hunt in small enclosures again – I was quite unexperienced at the time so it was an experience in itself and don´t regret it but I learnt a lot. The other thing was that I decided that I wanted to go on a proper hunting trip somewhere and hunt something big. I made a plan and decided that when I turn 40, in 10 years time, I´ll go somewhere and hunt something big. I did set up a dedicated savings account and made many and tough sacrifices along the way. I invested some of it and fortunately the stock market was good to me and I was a bit ahead of plan. I had also figured out that a cape buffalo was what I wanted to hunt (it was a tight race with a musk ox and a brown bear though). Anyhow, the buffalo was no 1. A sable was also on the list but considering the prices I had kind of let go of that thought as I´d not be able to afford it unless I added additional years of saving.
Considering the timeframe you can imagine I had read a ton of books, watched every buffalo hunting video out there (I actually had a hard time finding buffalo hunting videos on Youtube that I hadn´t seen) and read an enormous amount of info around buffalo and African hunting on forums so I had quite a good idea of what I wanted. I wanted to be the only hunter in camp, preferably the outfitter should also be the PH. I wanted the outfitter to own the land or at least have exclusive hinting rights with several years left on the lease contract. I wanted short transfers to hunting area, preferably doorstep hunting. On top of this references were of importance to me and of course the price. In other words I was not looking for the cheapest possible trip but rather one where I felt that I had spent my money wisely.
Then around Christmas 2020 I saw an ad on internet for a buffalo package. Link
Chris Troskie had a package for the 2021 season in his ad and he was clear he only had one of these packages. I was not familiar with his name or outfit but the package seemed roughly like what I wanted. On top of this you could add a sable for a phenomenal price. I sent some questions to Chris but before I got a response the package was sold. Bummer! However, I had in my email to Chris mentioned my situation and that I had, at the time, saved for 6+ years and he decided to make one more of these packages available (Thanks Chris!) due to my determination so I took the leap. I sent a deposit to someone I had never talked to, and only had limited reviews etc. on the internet and I knew that if I got fooled, it would take me another decade to repair. But I took a deep breath and hoped for the best. I had contacted a few people who had hunted with him in the past and asked questions to things that someone who has not been with him would not know (like what is the color of the back door to the chalet) and Chris answered them all in a correct way so I felt a bit more comfortable. I also made the analysis that booking during the pandemic for a (hopefully) post-pandemic hunt would be the best. The prices were low since outfitters wanted to get the deposits in to generate cash flow, and when the pandemic was over, a lot of people who had not travelled would want to go creating a large demand and hence higher prices. This was exactly what happened. Anyhow, the countdown of 576 days had begun.
After 8 years of saving, dreaming, planning and fact checking it was eventually time to go! I had some issues to get all paperwork sorted and I had only got confirmation to bring my rifle with Qatar Airways 30 hours prior to the departure so I was quite nervous but eventually I got it all sorted. A side note is that I decided to sort out all of my paperwork myself apart from in South Africa where I used African Sky (great support from them!! I could not have done it without them). Eventually I got it all sorted at Stockholm Arlanda Sweden and I got everything checked in. The price for sending a rifle was unknown as no one on Qatar could provide that and it ended up being ~250 USD one way. Quite expensive I think.
Slept the full flight to Doha where I had a change in the middle of the night. Took of towards Johannesburg at 02:40 local time. Slept well on the next flight as well.
Finally arrived in Johannesburg. It took a while before I got my bags and then I was to meet up with Chris – I was keeping my fingers crossed there would actually be someone there meeting me – and it was! A great relief to see him and to know this was no scam! Also meeting me was my great friend W who lives in Sweden but who grew up in South Africa. He had been visiting his relatives and when the rest of his family flew back to Sweden, he stayed with me and was an observer on my hunt.
Chris gave a good impression and seemed like a responsible person. We picked up the rifle together with Gabriel from African Sky and it was super swift. Then off to Chris car, a Toyota Landcruiser properly kitted for safari! I had not expected that, I thought we would go in a “normal” car to the farm as it was ~3hr of transit but I was pleasantly surprised as this was the vehicle we used during the entire week.
I was a bit surprised about the weather, cloudy and 15°C. I was a bit concerned that I had brought to thin clothes but this was by far the coldest day. The trip took ~3 hrs and we had a good time in the car all three of us.
Outer gate where we left the tarmac. Some 6 km of gravel road to the farm from here.
The gate to Sabrisa ranch. A truly amazing feeling to pass through this gate after so many years of dreaming about it.
Finally arriving at the farm and we were met by Chris wife Sabina who made all the food during our stay and it was truly fantastic! Me and W got our own chalet and the environment was just amazing. Trophies of all kinds all around, the hills surrounding the farm and the entire atmosphere was just - well you know it all to well! I´m actually in Africa, and I´m actually going to go after a buffalo! A bit hard to grasp!
This is where we had lunch
Hang out area
We walked over to a check the rifle just outside the garden. His bench rest was quite different to what I´m used to. I was sitting more on the side of the bench rest instead of behind it as I´m used to. I took a shot, exactly where I wanted, 2 cm high and perfect sideways. I took another one to confirm and I scoped myself! Believe it or not, this is the first time in my life that I´ve scoped myself with any rifle! I´ve shot 100s of bullets from the bench developing loads for this trip with this very rifle and never been even close to scoping myself. I was not a super bad half moon but still a proper cut.
I was wondering what Chris though when I did it. He probably didn´t believe me when I told him it was the first time I´ve scoped myself. Anyhow, we went on and I tried a shot with sticks. I´m quite used to 3-legged sticks but he only had a 2-legged type. If you´ve read my report from Romania:
I had issues with those sticks as well so it seems like a theme. Anyhow, bullet was where it should be and Chris concluded ”The buffalo is dead – no need to waste more ammo”. It felt good that I took another shot in a good way not to create and mental blockers that I´d scope myself when it was the real deal.
Just before we started the session with checking the rifle, Chris said that there were some sables at 100 m near a feeding area but I though he was joking, but apparently he was not, but regardless I think it would have been "too easy" to shoot one like that.
It was now late afternoon and Chris though we could go to an adjacent concession to have a gamedrive before dinner. We were of course up for it. I was truly overwhelmed by the amount of game! Where I hunt it´s not unusual to hunt several days and not see a single mammal. After a while we saw a sable maybe 70 m from the car and Chris said it was a 40". Super cool to see one and the pictures don´t do them justice - they are just so "royal" in their posture and movement. I got super excited and was really hoping I could take one of these during the hunt, but I´d not hunt anything else until a buffalo was in the salt. The sable was also much bigger than I expected!
A 40” sable.
We were looking at some impalas and suddenly we see a buffalo! My God - a buffalo!! A really old one, the horns are polished smooth and they were grey with a big gap between the bosses. A lone bull who was not the least amused by our presence. Seeing him up close I was almost starting to regret what I had taken on - I had read all about buffalos and how they look at you but when you see that in real life giving you a staredown - WOW! He was so big and looked just so very mean! But what a sighting! If I just flew home at this point I would have felt that it was a good trip. I was over the moon. We later also saw another buffalo but he was a young male.
The the old buff we spotted (in the middle of the picture).
Back at the farm we had an excellent dinner with sable meat. Tasted really nice and it was really a first. Thanks Gordon – the previous client – for supplying sable meat for us! Just as we were going to bed W said "tomorrow you might shoot a buffalo - sleep well". Those words were with me and I fell asleep quickly.
Alarm went of at 05:45. I got the kit sorted. A quick breakfast and we get into the car. The tension and excitement is rising! I AM GOING BUFFALO HUNTING!!!!
Before we rolled out I had a quick chat with Chris. I had brough some pictures of buffaloes in a few angles that I though was a bit hard to judge shot placement, mainly a frontal with a slight quartering. I also said that I preferred not to take a frontal shot. Chris looked at the pictures, looked me in the eyes and said "when you see him you´ll know where to shoot, and by the way - we don´t do frontal shots”. I also said that I preferred that he didn´t shoot back up shots but that if he did, I would not question it as it is a split second decision and he has the responsibility for everyone involved.
We took off and 15 min later we were at the hunting concession, where we met Philip. He was the son of the land owner. He had a PH license but did need some buffalo hunting experience in order to get his Big Five PH license so he would tag along. He was carrying a .450 Rigby (worth remembering for what was coming up) and Chris had a CZ 550 in .458 Lott. Both good matches to my Brno .416 Rigby. W was not carrying anything but a cellphone.
We drove around in the concession that was ~3500 ha looking for tracks. We stopped by several water holes and saw plenty of tracks and scat but nothing fresh. No buffalos but several other animals like Red Hartebeest, Mountain Reedbuck, Waterbuck etc. Both Waterbuck and Red Hartebeest were both significantlly larger than I had expected. Chris knew that I preferred to walk a lot and that I was more into walk and stalk rather than spot and stalk but he told me that we did have to find tracks from the car as we could otherwise walk the concession for weeks without seeing the buffalos so I accepted it. We found nothing so we went back to the farm for lunch. A very nice day so far.
There was a large swampy part in the middle of the concession so great habitat to support the wildlife.
The terrain was really mixed.
Tracks and droppings but not fresh enough.
This photo is taken close to where I eventually shot my buffalo, the terrain is very similar. If you spot the blue WB you got god eyes!
Leopard tracks and a .416 Rigby cartridge.
As the buffalos lay down during lunch and if you actually find them when they are resting generally you bump them before you see them and then they are alerted. We left for the afternoon session around 14:30 and started to drive around. I didn´t really expect to see any buffalo but rather tracks from them.
Suddenly both trackers Sammy (lead) and Jusias become excited and both whisper "Buffalo"! and points. My heart almost stopped. Omg. This was it! My mind just went into overdrive. By a waterhole there are a bunch of buffalos, maybe 15 or so. One of them, closest to us at ~50 m, is a really big bull! I´m pretty sure this is exactly the same buffalo as one on a photo Chris sent me about a year ago as a teaser picture that I´ve had next to my work computer as a motivator ever since. I had been clear to Chris that I was looking for the classical buffalo horn shape with a drop, curl and tips pointing inwards. I was not chasing inches in terms of spread, I´d easily sacrifice an "ugly" horn shape of 43" for a beautiful 37" and Chris was very aware of this.
The bull we are looking at has massive boss and about the right horn shape. He is fairly narrow but absolutely approved in terms of what I´m looking for. My heartrate increased to an unhealthy level and I´m almost jumping off the car but Chris keeps driving and we stop a few hundred meters ahead. I´m super excited and ready to go after them. No no says Chris. What? Why? We are looking for buffalos and there are a bunch over there and at least one is looking great. Chris says that we now know where these guys are and that there are two shootable bulls here (I admit I only saw one as I was so focused on the one bull).
The buffaloes by the water hole.
Chris thinks we should drive past them again and then go on and look for others. If we don´t find anything else we can come back to these guys later. He wants to give me an experience and not to have me shoot the first possible buffalo. But what if we don´t find another one? Chris tells me to take it easy, this is the first day of six so he calms me down. I put my trust in Chris and we drive past them again. We take a few more photos of them and move on. The bull I had in mind was really enormous and it was tough to just drive away - remember - I´m used to hunt where the amount of game is very limited.
We go on and I´m still thinking of that buffalo when Jusias taps the side of the vehicle. He saw a buffalo! We drive on for a few hundred meters to a water hole and get out of the car. I load the rifle. Chris tells me to only load softs for now so I put three 400 gr Swift A-frame cartridges in the rifle with both softs and solids easily available in a cartridge holder on my belt. W is also carrying another 10 cartridges for me. We check the wind - it´s perfect - straight into our faces. We get lined up and start sneaking ahead to have a look at this guy. Jusias had seen one buffalo bedded but there could be more around as well. We are now a party of six (Chris, two trackers, Philip, myself and W) and I get a bit concerned if we are too many and that we will bump the buffalo.
Guns loaded - now it´s game on!
Suddenly we stop. Both trackers and Chris see the buffalo but from where I am I cannot see him. I move forward and Chris whispers to me and points. There are some dense brush in the way but in one place it´s less dense where I can now see the sun being reflected in one side of a curled horn. I´m looking at a buffalo! Heart pounding. The buffalo is laying down and completely unaware of us. The buffalo is some 70-80 m straight infront of us and we have a steady wind going right to left. My heart is racing. I still cannot understand how Jusias could see this buffalo when we were driving past - truly impressive!
Suddenly Sammy starts to point. The buffalo had got up - he had sensed something was up. We quickly move forward as there is no way we can get a shot through the brush so we try to circumvent the brush but we are all aware that there is a high risk for him smelling us considering the direction of the wind but there are no other options due to the thick brush. When move around the brush and suddenly we have a clear view of where he was. Yes. Was. There is no buffalo around anymore and we have not heard him thunder off so he is likely very close. My heartrate went even higher and I get a cold feeling in my spine. Everyone are really tense now and everyone keeps looking. We know there is at least one buffalo very close and he is likely not in a good mood. We slowly move forward, heads spinning, ears strained to pick up the slightest sound. I see Sammy and Jusias trying to smell the buff as well. The whole situation is just super intense.
Suddenly Chris stops and in the same movement puts up the sticks for me. I immediately put the rifle on the sticks even though I havn´t see the buff yet. There he is! Oh My God! He is enormous! He is close! He is moving towards us - straight on! He is not in a charge but he is quickly covering the ground and closing in on us. He is clearly NOT enjoying our presence and he is really intending to do something about it. His nose it held high so I have a clear view of his chest from a 100% frontal view. He stops.
At this point I have not even looked at the horns, everything is just happening so fast. I hear Chris say "Shoot - NOW!". Considering his tone and the distance to the buffalo it was very clear that this was not the time for assessment or discussions - it was time for action - time to take the shot. I force myself not to look at the horns/bosses and to simply trust Chris as I´m acutely aware of the intense situation that might go into a very dangerous situation very soon. I do get the "V" in the chest into the scope and now I really understand what the "V" means that I´ve read so much about but not fully grasped through litterature. The aiming is mainly of reflex as I´ve really done my homework in terms of reading, studying and watching buffalo hunting. It´s now 35 m between myself and the buffalo and it´s kind of a "corridor" between us with heavy brush on one side and a quite steep uphill slope on the other. It´s clear that the buffalo only can go in two directions - straight towards us or to turn around and he doesn´t really seems to be in the mood to turn around. I have no time to consider stance, breathing or trigger pull, it is all done on reflex and I´m happy I´ve done a lot of practice shooting prior to the trip. I squeeze the trigger. BOOM! W was able to film the shot and it´s 6 seconds from when Chris get the sticks up until I take the shot, and when I raised the rifle I had not even seen the buffalo. Likely one of the quickest shots I´ve ever taken.
Anyhow, the buffalo spins around and takes off away from us. I keep hearing Mr. Boddingtons voice in my head - "do your outmost to get a second shot into the buffalo - I´ve never lost a buffalo that has taken two shots in the initial shot sequence". I must get another shot in! I move the bolt up and back quickly and with full force move the bolt forward. I get a pinch halfway forward since I´m pushing the bolt sideways. Fuck! With force I jerk it backwards again and then forward properly and I hear a cartridge chambering. I see the buffalo is quickly vanishing and that I have very limited time until he will reach a bend in the corridor and go out of sight. In some kind of reflex I take a shot towards "the black". There was simply no time for more careful aiming. Immediately after my second shot I hear Chris take a backup shot. I´m trembling, or rather shaking. Breathing hard. The dust around us is slowly setting and it´s absolutely quiet. No hoves running. No crashing brushes. No death bellow! I get a bit of a cold feeling in my stomach. Chris had taken a backup shot - did I mess up? A no death bellow - do we have to follow up a wounded buffalo in this thick stuff? Despite this I have an emotional overload. I´ve shot a buffalo - in the first afternoon. I - HAVE - SHOT - A - BUFFALO! I really cannot take it all in.
We wait for a few min but no death bellow. Chris says he had not really seen where I had hit him and he recognized this buffalo. It was the very same guy that had charged his car a month ago. Hence he really wanted to get another bullet into him in case we would have to follow him up as he was clearly aggressive – both when he charged the car and by his bold behavior now. Chris and W are congratulating me but I don´t dare to assume it´s over.
We start to slowly move forward and we climb up a bit on the slope to have a better view from some elevation but it would also make it harder for the buffalo to reach us if he would come for us. Everyone are utterly aware of all sounds and movements and are 100% switched on. I´m very impressed by my friend W who walked there with us without hesitation, and he was unarmed! We don´t see nor hear anything. When we reach about 100 m from where I took the shot we stop for a while. Nothing. Chris decides that we should get the dogs DT and Reece from the car. It will neither stop nor bay the buffalo but they will bark and let us know where he is and hopefully keep him distracted long enough for us to close in and get another shot in.
When Jusias is back with the dogs a little later he walks in the “corridor” beneath us and when he is standing just below us he points. There it is - just some 25 m from where we are. What a relief! But I´m NOT letting my guard down and I´m still ultra tensed. Me and Chris are approaching him from behind. I aim at it with the safety off while Chris touches his eye with his barrel. Nothing. I put the safety on and get down on my knees. I put my hand on his face and thank him for letting me take him and I ask for a few min alone with him which was duly respected by the rest of the party. So many feelings passing through me. This is what I have made so many sacrifices for during 8 long years and it was a fantastic experience but there is also something empty inside me - now it´s over. I feel happiness but also some melancholy as this is a true old warrior, the king, is now dead. I feel joy and I feel proud. I also realize that this is the first animal I have shot with my own reloads (with prices of 20 USD/cartridge for factory ammo in Sweden I quickly realized that I had to learn to reload, more on this topic later). I believe that is actually quite a feat – a buffalo as your first animal with your own reloads.
The horns have a perfect shape with a proper drop and a big curl. The boss is super hard, with some smooth patches here and there and also big chips and dents in them. Later I got to know that this buffalo was released as a 5 year old into this concession in 2016 so he was 11 years by now.
We did set him up for photos. We also examine the hits. My first hit was spot on center heart shot. My second took one of the front legs straight off just above the knee (at least I did hit him...). Chris had aimed for the spine and missed it by 5 cm (2"). To do that with a red dot on a buff running at full speed away from you at ~100 m is really impressive – at least to me. This is the big flesh wound near the spine on the pics.
Incredible bosses, somewhat smooth, chipped and knurled.
Just the horn shape is just what I wanted!
Chris and me. Here the hit from Chris is clearly visible.
Some creative photo techniques makes him look BIG…
Chris went to pick up the car and then the work to load him commenced which was quite an effort.
As we headed back to camp there was an unbelievably beautiful sunset – the day could not end in a better way.
Or actually it could – just as we were approaching the farm we saw an aardwark at the side of the road. I didn´t really understand how rare this was at the time. Sabina got super excited, she had lived on the farm for 15 years and had one (!!) sighting during those years. Apparently these are highly protected and certainly not possible to shoot as a target of opportunity.
The shot placement was spot on.
Unfortunately we never found my bullet but we did find Chris´ bullet. Everything on the buffalo was just something extra. I had expected the skin to be thick but this was just beyond belief. I normally use an EKA swingblade knife which is a knife that also includes a curved blade for opening the animal when gutting it. The curved blade on that knife was too short to work on the buffalo skin, and that was on the stomach part where the skin is thinner. The guts themselves were just enormous – and remember I´m very used to handling guts from moose. Just compare it to the wheelbarrow.
According to Chris this was a very large buffalo in terms of body weight as it had a massive 800 kg live weight. A lot of impressions and feeling to digest this evening!
Today we are trying for sable. W asked me this morning what I wanted from the day and I replied ”walk a lot, see a lot, shoot nothing”. We took of from the farm on foot (perfect! Just what I wanted). It was me, W and Sammy to keep the party smaller. We hike up a high hill and on the way up we saw klipspringer, golden wildebeest, mountain reedbuck and later also eland (much bigger than I expected), kudu and on the summit also a giraffe.
We reached the summit and move on to another ridge with a deep valley between us and the previous ridge.
We continue and suddenly Sammy stops and points at a sable on the other side of the valley fairly low down. We range it at 200 m. We try to get closer and get to 170 m, a distance that is getting acceptable despite the heavy caliber. Unfortunately, the sable is constantly moving and we see him on and off through the brush. He is constantly gaining elevation and heading roughly towards camp.
The two ridges are diverging and that as well as the fact that the sable is constantly moving uphill continues to increase the distance between us. Just as he is approaching the top of the ridge he stops. Broadside. And he is staring at us. We clearly got his attention. We range him at 254 m. We take some photos and we can all confirm that he is big! This is the one we want and Sammy confirms this is the biggest one on the property. I don´t really know what the drop of my bullet would be on that distance and since I got (fairly slow) handloads I thought i might be quite a bit. Considering I had 6 days of hunting booked and I got my buffalo on day one and the sables were by the camp the first night and we see this guy after just a few hours I figured we shouldn´t take any dicey shot so we just watched him stand there, perfectly broadside, for 7 min. In retrospect, I think this shot would have been doable as I could have taken a shot from a sitting position and possibly also from a prone position.
The sable at 254 m.
I also want to make a comment on my handloads. As mentioned this was a hunt I prepared for, for a long time. I got my rifle back in 2019 (after searching for 2+ years). Prior to that I never thought that the money you save was worth the efforts in terms of hand loading. Then I bought a backage of 20 factory rounds for .416 Rigby. The price was ~420 USD. Over 20 USD/cartridge. I quickly realized that this was not sustainable in any way so I got some reloading equipment and learned how to load them. I spent a lot of time finding a good load for Swift A-frames and also one for the Barnes banded solids. It required multiple trips to the range and some sore shoulder but I found two nice loads with small groups. Then I realized the point of impact between these two loads were very different so being new to reloading, I was trying to find 2 different loads that produced small groups that were (ideally) overlapping and still had a high velocity. I went to the range, took 30~ish shots from the bench. Went home and made new loads and when my shoulder was OK again I went back and took some 30ish shots again. Eventually I ended up with sub inch groups of both loads and the groups were less than 2" apart. However I had to sacrifice velocity so they were only going 2090 fps (A-frame) and 2050 fps (solids) but Chris had assured me that it was plenty enough and I also found a reference in Craig Boddingtons book Buffalo (or if it was in Buffalo !!) where he stated that a .416 bullet travelling at 2000 fps provided "incredlible" results so this is what I went with. I don´t know how common it is that your first animal taken with your own handloads was a buffalo but at least to me that was quite special. I also want to share that during my development I went through a full kg of VV 160 powder and a significant amount of Norma MRP. Wy wife was starting to think I had got a permanent blue shoulder…
Well, back to hunting. The sable crossed the ridge so we went after it. Down the valley and up the other side. That really got our heartrate up. We edged closer to the ridge but don´t see anything. We did sneak around there for a while but never saw him again so we went back for lunch.
After lunch we got out again. We glassed a lot and covered quite some ground but no sign of any sables. Me and W got positioned by a water hole while Sammy took a walk and to try to find it. We did see some mountain reedbucks that came in. Very nice animals and one of them did look pretty big to me. Horns significantly higher than the ears. Sammy came back after ~1,5 hrs but he had not seen any sable. He thinks they are heading for the feeding area near the camp where they were the first evening. We move down the mountain and see tracks from a leopard on the way down.
We are nearly in camp and we pass the only other waterhole, some 200 m from the feeding place and I´m kind of letting go of my focus as there were no sables by the water hole and we are almost back at camp. At that very moment one sable after another comes crashing by right infront of us crossing our path going left to right. Sammy got the sticks up. I get a bit confused, first of all I have no idea of which one to shoot and considering the short timeframe each sable is within view - being inexperienced with sables - there is no way I´ll be able to judge any of them in time to take a shot. Secondly this is like driven hunting - which I do quite a bit in Sweden - but then I can´t use sticks as you need to swing the rifle. They are also some 70-80 m away which is really at the limit considering the narrow opening and the speed they are going. Last in the line is "my" sable which Sammy confirms but too late. Me and Sammy are quickly moving over to the feeding area while W is heading back to camp. Me and Sammy sit there for ~half an hour but saw nothing and then it became too dark.
Waiting by the feeding area.
In the evening we decided to not hunt this area tomorrow as the sable has apparently seen us twice today and we want to keep them in the area and not move away to the other end of the property. Tomorrow we´ll head out for bushbuck and/or a waterbuck female as both were on my "time-permitting"-list.
The PH Philip that was joining me on the buff hunt had shot a warthog today and he was using a .450 Rigby. His father owns several of the concessions Chris is hunting on and apparently Philip had mentioned that I was carrying a .416 Rigby so the land owner offered me to take a warthog for free for the pure scientific purpose to compare the damage and exit holes to a warthog between these two calibers. I was very grateful, but I was also clear that I wasn´t going after any warthog until after a sable was in the salt.
Exit hole with a.450 Rigby.
We drove to a new place with a small river (50-100 m wide) that joins the Limpopo river. On the way we also picked up another PH, Clive. Me, Sammy and Chris took off and after 50 m we had tracks from hippo! That was an unexpected and cool experience as I had not expected that.
We started walking along the shoreline and soon enough saw a REALLY big warthog. He didn´t notice us and crossed the path just infront of us and Chris said he was just about trying to talk me into going after it but he didn´t want to disturb the bushbucks. Both me and Chris estimated the live weight to 80-100 kg and he also said it would have been a great pig to test the efficiency of the .416 Rigby on.
We pushed on and saw two female bushbucks on the other side of the river in the morning sun, very beautiful and totally undisturbed.
We moved on and saw several more female bushbucks and also heard them at a few occasions. Suddenly we heard some strange noises from the other side of some dense brush. Sammy whispered "hippo". It was not possible to determine if they were in the water or on land so we circled away from them and as we moved on Sammy got convinced they were on land. Eventually we met up with the car and then we drove along the river for a bit and actually saw a hippo! That was really cool and a true bonus! First time I saw a hippo in real life.
We crossed the river and saw a few more female bushbucks but no male. We then headed to another area but before we left the current one we saw a crocodile basking on the shore. It was maybe 1,5-2m s no monster but still the first croc I´ve seen in Africa. Very nice.
We arrived at this other place where me, Sammy and Clive did put on a stalk. This was a quite small area. We saw a warthog with really big tusks but he went inside a large area with reeds in a swampy area so he was gone. We saw a few more bushbuck female and one male that Sammy said was very small. Bottom line, plenty of females but the males are apparently hard to come by. Then back to camp for lunch. By now I´ve tried both buffalo and sable meat – all thanks to the previous client Gordon – thank you!
In the afternoon we went to another area owned by the same land owner as where we hunted the buffalo. He was also running a breeding operation so we passed some breeding areas and we did see the breeding buffalo bull – he was HUGE! I believe Chris said he was a 47” bull… The buffalo I shot was bred here and was released in the concession where I shot him when he was 5 years old.
The area was quite wet and mixed with some very thick brush. Me and Sammy went about looking for bushbuck and apparently there were short distances so I had to stay focused all the time. We saw (again) several bushbuck females and a few warthogs. We also saw a very big kudu that we bumped and it ran past the car where Chris and W were waiting and Chris judged it at “very high 50 or low 60”. It was really really massive both in body size and in horn size. Unfortunately kudu males were out of my budget. By now I was starting to ask myself if there really were any bushbuck males but both Sammy and Chris told me they are here but are much harder to come by than the females.
The terrain and a massive termite mound
No luck so we went back to the farm to still hunt for sable in the late afternoon by the feeding area. As we were waiting 7 nyala females came in. One of them certainly had a feeling something was up and wanted to check us out. We were sitting behind a dirt pile and she slowly walked closer and closer to us. She jumped a low fence and eventually she stopped at 20 m staring at us. After a little while she had enough and took of at a run and brought the other nyalas with her. A little later a total of 21 impalas came in whereof one black female but no sables.
Apparently the sables did come in after it had become dark. The plan for tomorrow is that only me and Sammy will head up in the mountains for the sable in the morning. If we are unsuccessful I´ll try Chris 6,5 creedmore at lunchtime and use that one after that in order to be able to take longer shots.
|One of Us|
Today was a very heavy day. Only me and Sammy headed out today to reduce the disturbance as the terrain was really tough to move around in quietly as there was a lot of dry leaves and loose rocks. W had a good sleep in. Me and Sammy left camp on foot by 06:30 and I hade great hopes for the day. We took the left ridge up the mountain from where we spotted the sable the first time. I think we moved around very cautiously and constantly surveying the surrounding but saw absolutely nothing.
I was really surprised as I´m used to that most movement happens early morning and early evening but now we didn´t see any animal whatsoever. We reached the summit and the water hole around 8. Upon our arrival there were two klipspringer females there, nice to add another type of animals to my list of animlas I´ve never seen before.
Sammy suggested that we would sit there for an hour and I thought it was a good idea. There was an old large water barrel there that could be used as a blind but at this time we were sitting outside of it on the left side. This made our view to the right somewhat obscured and suddenly a few mountain reedbuck were making their way to the water hole but they were less than 100 m away when we spotted them as they came in from the right.
The stayed for a while and when they were finished drinking the went away towards our right. We gave them a few min and then Sammy though we should move on.
We got up and of course we make some slight noises and movements. As Sammy is putting on his backpack, he leans forward and look to the right. That´s our bull heading straight towards us! Just over 100 m away. But at this very moment the mountain reedbuck, that had stopped just out of sight from us, got spooked and took off at full speed straight towards the sable. The sable most likely had not noticed us but got scared by the 5-6 reedbuck bolting towards it. He spins around and follows them out of sight. GAAAH!!!! If we would have waited 5 more min he would have walked straight in on us! The wind was perfect and we were in the shadow and in a high position looking down at the water hole. Just so frustrating!! But I´m not blaming Sammy, he could not have known. Me and Sammy agree that he never saw us and only got scared by the mountain reedbucks. Apparently he was thirsty as he was clearly heading for the water and Sammy is 100 % sure he won´t go down the mountain to get water. Sammy thinks he will stay in the area and come back later. We decide to sit there until 12. Sabina had told me to bring some energy bars along as you never know when you are coming back with Sammy. Sammy did have an apple each and a few bottles of water in his bag. I took a seat inside the water barrel and Sammy outside. Then we sat there. It was properly hot inside the barrel and the top part had been cut out so the sun was beaming down on me most of the day and it was quite hot. The minutes ticked by. A few other reedbucks came and went. We ended up waiting there until 16:40. We were saving water and food so I was properly hungry and thirsty but in a way I liked it – I like to hunt wild and hunt hard.
My view for most of the day. Amazing that you pay for sitting in a hot water barrel for a full day without food
By 16:40 we had not seen any sign of any sable and we were both surprised since they should be very undisturbed around here as this area is rarely hunted according to Chris as it takes some fitness to move around here. It had been hot today and the bull was obviously thirsty this morning but the big ones don´t get big by being stupid. We pack up and take the other ridge towards camp. By now I´m hungry, thirsty, tired, hot and not in the best mood. I was also starting to get a raw throat and a bit of a blocked nose, I might have picked up something on the flights? After walking for a bit there was a plateau on our right but we had to climb a steep part that was maybe 15 m high. Sammy wants us to climb that but I see that the sun is setting and there is a hike of a few km back to camp so I must admit I was a little reluctant but Sammy said the sable sometimes hang out on this plateau so I followed him. We got up and just as we started looking around Sammy whisper that if we see any, they will be close – CRASH! 30-40 m in front of us the full sable herd takes off to our right. F***K!!! I saw plenty of sable horns and we are quickly in pursuit. We both see the big bull but no time for a shot. It was a herd of around 10 animals, the same herd as we saw two days ago near the camp. The herd is running back up the mountain towards the waterhole but they run along a ridge on the left side slightly below the top of the ridge. We moved on as fast and as quietly as we possibly could on the right side of the ridge to try to keep up with them. A lot of up and down and we chew up quite some elevation gain. I´m now getting a bit out of breath. My throat is soar, but I push on. We see the herd on two occasions not far away but no opportunity for a shot. Then suddenly our bull and another big bull separate and leave the herd and takes off to the right and we continue to follow them. Suddenly they stop at about 100 m. Sammy puts the sticks up but as I place the rifle on the sticks and asks which one - as they both look big to me - Sammy says “left one - shoot” and at that moment they take off again. F*******CK!! Light is now fading but we keep following them but it is very clear that they are covering ground quicker than we are. Now they both stop on a hillside, not far from the crest of that hill. It is fairly flat between us and the hillside where they are standing. Now I see that the one to the left is REALLY big and he is almost at a broadside position, just a slight quarter towards us. The one to the right is in a picture perfect broadside position – big but still smaller. The sun is setting and is now just above the crest right behind them so the sun is like a spotlight directed straight into our eyes so it´s very hard to see.
I judge the distance – 150 m. Sammy is on my left side and the sticks only got 2 legs. I´m used to three legs and this one is of course less stable. The technique me and Sammy developed later would have been great at in this position, then he takes a stand to my right and I rest my right elbow on his left shoulder. It actually provides a lot of stability. I could also probably have taken a sitting shot but it never occurred to me at the time.
I try to take aim with my 7x scope. My gut feeling is that it is far but doable and within my confidence level but just so. I raise my head from the scope – am I trying to fool myself that this shot is easier than it is just because I´ve had all those missed opportunities today? I try to make another estimate – still 150 m. Doable. I get the sable into my scope. The sun makes it really hard and my heartrate is still high. A final mental check – am I OK to take this shot? Yes. I squeeze the trigger – Bang! A very deep sigh from Sammy – “You missed”. What? My heart just dropped completely. Did I really? Well both sables took a few leaps and were gone behind the crest. I´m really really upset with myself! Sammy said he could see the hit below the sable. I check with a GPS as we walk up and it is 220 m, in other words significantly longer than I estimated. I probably got fooled by the open terrain but also that the animals were larger than I expected them to be.
We check out the area but could not find any blood. I tried to aim a touch high but not as high as I would have needed to. This was really a cold shower to me. Now there are only two days left and I start to regret not taking the shot across the valley on the second day and I´m starting to have my doubts about getting a sable. It was dark when we got back to camp so I could not try Chris 6,5 Creedmore either as we had planned for.
We had a discussion in the boma and Chris said that I could spend another day running around in the mountains here but if I wasn´t successful there was another property nearby where there were also sables. However these sables were more expensive as the ones I had been after since Chris owns these ones but the other concession belonged to another landlord. Chris said that the odds of taking a sable on that concession were significantly higher, but it would still be a bit dicey to only have one day to go for a sable there if I spent tomorrow in his mountains and still being unsuccessful. I was debating with myself as going to that property tomorrow would really increase my odds for a sable but on the other hand I was reluctant to let go of “my” bull here. Going for the more expensive one would also eat up most of my budget for after-buff-and-sable-animals and I would have to sacrifice the bushbuck. I decided that next time I´ll be able to go sable hunting will probably be in another decade so I rather spend the cash to increase my odds.
DT in the boma
We took of (Chris, Sammy, me and W) and we stopped at a range for me to try Chris 6,5 CM just in case at 100 and 220m. I also tried my .416 Rigby at 220 m (I had never shot it beyond 100 m before). I got a good indication that there was a drop of 35 cm. This means I must have aimed a touch low on the sable in order to shoot under it, which was starting to eat at my shooting confidence. I use to believe in myself but that missed shot was really annoying me but I tried to put this at the back of my head as the hit was perfect sidways on the range.
We drove another 3 min and into the same area as where we had the gamedrive the first evening. We saw a really nice impala and a few warthogs. Suddenly Sammy points at a sable far away. It´s high grass and we can only see the back half of it but it is pitch black so the stalk is on. He is 350-400 m away. It´s hind legs are on a gravel road and the front part obscured. We move closer single file. It moves a bit and we all loose it. We walk, look, walk, look. Suddenly W sees the horns. He is way closer than I anticipated. He has his full focus on us. We just stand there. W measures and he is at 95 m. By now I realize it was stupid that I wasn´t carrying W´s range finding binos yesterday, then there would have been no question around the range of the sables where I missed. Anyhow. Chris whispers that he is big enough.
The sticks go up and I put my right elbow on Chris shoulder and now have a very stable platform which is reassuring after yesterdays mishap. We keep staring at each other. I see the eyes, ears and horns. Every second is like an hour. He takes a step to the left, closer to the gravel road that we are standing on. Good! The road is a great clearing. Another step. Yes! Keep it coming! Our eyes are totally locked at all times. He makes a snort and takes 2-3 quick steps towards the road. His entire head and most of the neck is now fully visible and I can kind of depict his shoulder in the grass. In one way I just want to take the shot to make sure he doesn’t evade us, but after yesterdays shooting and the higher trophy fee I´m reluctant and I´m debating with myself. Should I take the shot? Chris is a professional and probably sense I´m having this debate and whispers to me to wait. Actually it was really nice to have him take that decision – the right one. We keep watching each other and I´m almost starting to question Chris´ advice to wait when suddenly he takes a step forward. His full left shoulder is clearly visible. Chris whispers “shoot”. I´m super steady, the bull is now at a slight quarter to but I find the right spot with my crosshair and boom! He goes up on his hind legs and spins 180° and takes off to our right. I just see his horns so no possibility for a follow up shot and then I loose sight of him.
Chris, Sammy and W all says it was a good hit but I don´t dare to believe it. I shot him with a 400 gr A-frame and he took off like an express train. I´m shaking, I think even more than after the buffalo. We move forward and it turns out he was standing at a road crossing and has taken off along the road to the right. And the he is! What a relief! He is properly dead and made it about 40 m. However we didn´t see a single drop of blood – strange. I kneel and thank him for letting me take him and a wave of emotions runs through me.
Very impressive horns!
Just below 39”. It would have been nice breaking 40 but I won´t stay sleepless over that.
He is really a magnificent animal and I can now clearly understand why people call sable a royal animal! He is significantly bigger than I expected. I had only planned for a skull mount of the sable to stay on a budget but also I only have 2,45 m ceiling at home and my wife and I are not really on the same page when it comes to decorating the house with “dead things”... I was not planning to keep the skin either, partly because I do have some skins that I only keep stowed away and also because I had misread the taxidermist pricelist. So Chris said he wanted the sable caped for a shoulder mount anyway as he could use the cape as a spare in case there was any issue with any other clients cape. I was fine with this and I´m really happy Chris did this did. When I got back home and I showed my wife a pic of a skull mount of a sable she said no way – that looks “maqabre” – that´s not going on a wall in my house. I said the only other option was a small shoulder/large neck mount and she said “rather that” so I was VERY quick so send that change of order to the taxidermist ;-)
Chris had sent the cape along with the rest of my trophies so a big thanks to Chris for making this possible!
When the sable was taken care of the bullet was found on the off side just under the skin. I was very surprised as I had expected a lot of penetration. It was a double lung and it had made contact with bone on both sides, but still. The bullet had mushroomed but not as heavily as the A-frames can do due to the lower velocity as explained earlier. The bullet had retained 372 gr so a 93% retention. However it was missing a part of the “mushroom head” so I believe this was sheared off at the bone contact.
The bullet from the sable
|One of Us|
We then had some spare time before lunch so we took a trip to Something Taxidermy, the taxidermist that Chris uses. Really cool to see and my impression was that this was a 100% professional operation. Everything was in proper order and it was neat and tidy, everything was labeled properly and we were give a tour by the owner Debbie and she was really helpful and professional. It was really nice to see the horns from a lot of species up close that I had never seen before. Several species were significantly larger than I had expected. We also saw a 48" buffalo skull but he had really soft bosses so a lot had been boiled away, so he was clearly too young when he was taken.
They also had a showroom with nice trophies, but this was not what I expected to be a shoowroom. It was a room where all finished mounts were hanging waiting for shipment, it was not a room with their best work/trophies, it was the real work going to clients. I really appreciated that transparency (and now a few months on I can attest that they are really professional to work with, as I get pics along the way and have a constant dialogue with them).
After lunch and some rest we went to the same area near the breeding area where we were looking for bushbuck the other day in pursuit of the warthog that I had been offered to shoot for a scientific purpose. Chris dropped of me, Sammy and W. W is really into hunting pigs and if he could only hunt one kind of animals for the rest of the life - it would certainly be pigs. So no way he was going to miss out on a pig hunt. We were walking a while on the outside of the fence and could already see a few pigs. We got inside and just as we got inside the fence, we could see a large pig along with some smaller ones maybe 200 m out. There was an open area between the fence and the thick swampy area where we were sneaking around the other day and apparently the pigs like to come out in the open in the late afternoon.
We follow the fence to some bushes and start glassing them. The pig is 160 m out but we also have three smaller ones at only 70 m.
Pigs, the big one to the right is the one with a broken tusk.
We wait for a while. Sammy wants me to shoot a big one, I just want to shot a pig. It doesn´t have to be a big one. The big one we could see had a broken tusk so I figured it was a good choice but Sammy refused to be seen on a picture with such a pig. We saw probably around 20 pigs from our hideout during maybe 15-20 min. Sammy was duly impressed by the ability from W to spot pigs - but he was less impressed by his trophy judgement. W went "there´s a pig - shoot it". Sammy went "NO! It´s to really small - but great spotting by the way". This happened over and over again and I had a hard time not laughing out loud.
We decided to get moving and entered the thick stuff. We saw several pigs - all to small according to Sammy. We move on - more pigs - too small. Over and over. Even I was starting to get confident that we would be able to shoot a pig before sundown, there were really plenty around so I relax a bit. I rather shoot a small one than gambling on a nice one and shoot none but now I realize to "just" shoot a pig would certainly be doable. During this session I probably saw more game than I do in total during three years of hunting back home.
Suddenly Sammy stops and immediately put the sticks up. There are 6 pigs at about 50 m. The visibility is limited since there are a lot of branches and stuff in the way mixed with high grass. Sammy points but I´m not sure of which one. The one to the left? The one moving? The one with the head down? AHH - THAT´S the one! When I saw some (in my eyes) enormous teeth it was very clear which one Sammy meant. At this very moment they got spooked, and all but "my" pig ran off to the right. The big one is still feeding as if nothing happened. The opening I had was very small. I only saw the snout and the front part of his head. We wait. The gap I had to shoot through was a triangular opening about 30 cm at the base and 30 cm high roughly halfway between us and the pig. I now had my right elbow on Sammy´s left shoulder (we did practice this beforehand and I really recommend this setup!). I still only see the front part of his head. He takes a small step forward and I loose sight of the teeth but can see the back part of the head and some of the neck. Another step forward and all I can see is the shoulder so I take the shot without thinking. He just tipped over, a true DRT - dead right there. We walk up to him. What a pig! I had not intended to keep anything from the pig but now I have to (I did a full skull bleach).
Chris sent pics of the damage from the .416 Rigby. The shot placement was perfect with a proper pass through creating a significant damage to both shoulders.
.416 Rigby delivers again.
The last hunting day. With a buff with a perfect horn shape, a magnificent sable and a really nice pig as a bonus, this trip had really been a success so far. If I could add a female waterbuck or female blue wildebeest it would really be the icing on the cake so that wass the plan for today. My budget would not allow any more trophy animals. We start with BW as they are harder. Wo went to the area where I shot the buffalo and had a nice walk but saw nothing of interest. We took a ride with the car and suddenly we saw 5 BW from the car. Chris stopped and me and Sammy got off and Chris drove on. We try to circle them to get the wind right and then move in. This was a super cool stalk as we knew they would be close. Suddenly we spotted them at 50 m. We could only see two of them clearly, both males, but Sammy couldn´t really decide the sex on the other three. There were some brush between us but the sticks were up and we kept watching them for several minutes and it´s really great to be able to study them closely. Eventually Sammy confirms they are all males and we returned to the car.
We drove around and saw several female waterbucks - which is the number 1 target of today but they are hard to get to. We had several attempts and we had one really good opportunity but Sammy was very clear that they were to small so we kept on. We got nothing and headed back for lunch.
After lunch we improved the odds as I really wanted to shoot something that day. We added kudu female, impala female and trophy duiker to the list. Female waterbuck was highest on the list but rather any of these than nothing. I told Chris I could even shoot a guinea fowl from the car and he confirmed that it was on the list as well and that it would certainly be the first time he would have seen a guinea fowl taken with a .416 Rigby if I was to connect.
The meat was picked up and the buyer said that Chris always has big carcasses. One example was my sable. The carcass weight was 123 kg and the guy said that he rarely find sables over 100 kg so that is a good testimony to how well Chris runs his operation in order to provide high quality animals.
We went out and saw multiple red hartebeest but none of the animals on the list.
We drove around and in a bushy area see a few waterbuck females right by the car. We spooked them but me and Sammy got off and tried to follow them. It´s really dense and we never make up to them. We saw a small warthog but no water bucks. I´m starting to get a bit stressed out as it´s now 4pm and it gets dark by 6 pm. We got to an area I think is rarely used as it was very dense and quite a bit from the nearest road. My hope rises - maybe they use to hide here? It´s becoming a bit more open with possibilities to see 50-70 m here and there and suddenly Sammy stops and in the same movement puts the sticks up as he whispers "You see? - You shoot!". A very relieving feeling to hear those words! I immediately see the body of a large waterbuck standing in the middle of an open “portal” of bushes. I can se the full broadside but not the head but I decide to trust Sammy. I got the front leg in the crosshair, raise the crosshair a bit and BANG. It was all very quick and not much time to think and it mainly went on reflex. She literally took two steps and then tipped over. I´m over the moon! We walk up to her and she is so big! Much bigger than I expected, I´d say as a medium sized male red deer male in Sweden. I thank her for letting me take her and Sammy takes off to direct the car as close as possible. Again a wave of emotions. I wanted to hunt a buffalo, and preferably a sable. Time permitting also a waterbuck female and I´ve now done it all – plus a magnificent warthog. I´m still astonished by this very unusual creature, she is wooly and doesn´t really resemble any other African animal I´ve come across. She looks like something from the moon. The skin is more “wooly” and way softer than I expected
A very special looking animal.
The white ring that I think is very beautiful and distinctive on these animals
|One of Us|
When she was loaded Chris asked me what I wanted to do. It was now 16:15 and still sunlight so I said I´d like to make use of every bit of sunlight and hunt as much as possible – Chris happily abided. We made a plan to go for blue WB and trophy duiker until 17:00 and thereafter add kudu female. We drove around and saw a few animals, a nice kudu female among them but I declined to go for her at that time. Just before 17 Sammy points at a baboon at the top of a tree on a hillside and asks if I want to shoot it. I think the baboons are super cool with the massive teeth and I´m also very much aware what kind of havoc they are creating so I was properly tempted but it did look a bit far. W measured and it was exactly 200 m. We discuss a bit back and forth and just as I was getting set up it climbs down. Shit. At that moment Sammy point at the tree next to it and there is another one, smaller than the first but still. W measures, 208 m this time. It´s siting dead still facing right at the very top of the tree. Chris says first baboon was for free if taken as target of opportunity (Thanks Chris!), so I happily obliged! I have great support by the car and I´m very steady, aiming 15 cm above the head of the baboon and Bang. I did have time to think “shit - did I miss?” before the baboon fell to the ground like a sack of potatoes. No flapping arms during the fall, just plain dead. Chris said this was for sure the first time he had seen a baboon taken with a .416 Rigby, and especially at such a range.
Considering the time I now had to choose between getting the baboon or keep hunting for blue WB/kudu(duiker) so I decided to keep hunting, even though it would have been really nice to see how the damage had looked and also where I had hit it. It would also have been nice too keep the baboon skull but I favored to keep hunting.
We drove on and saw several other animals as the sun was dropping. I had a fantastic feeling in my body. We saw several animals and also a bunch of giraffes – one day I hope to hunt one. We also spotted a nice kudu bull that Chris judged at 55”. As we move on suddenly Sammy spots a few kudu females on the right side of the ruck. We quickly got off but they are slowly moving away, still unaware of us. Sammy got the sticks up and I ask which one and he replies “the one on the right”. I quickly got her in my scope and she has an almost perfect broadside. The distance is 50-60 m. I found the shoulder – adjust a bit forward and squeeze the trigger. Everything happened very fast and again the shot was mainly taken on reflex as a lot of the hunting I do back home is on driven game. I didn´t really see the reaction from her but I did see her take of a record speed. After the reaction of the waterbuck I got a bit concerned but Sammy kept ensuring me that it was a good shot. We moved up to the place where I shot her and at that moment a kudu female jumps out of some bushes ahead of us and runs of. I got that cold feeling along my spine but Sammy tells me that was another one. I don´t really dare to trust him but then I see my kudu cow on the ground. Oh my God! I thank her and then try to grasp that I took three animals in less than an hour! What a way to conclude a truly fantastic week! The shot was where it should, in the middle of the shoulder and a double lung.
I had previously said I wasn´t keeping any skins but her skin was so beautiful that I decided to keep it anyway as it was in pristine condition.
When she was loaded we headed back for the last dinner in the boma with Chris and Sabina. What a week! Well worth the 8 years of waiting. 6 animals over 6 days whereof one was a buffalo and one a sable. I also really enjoyed hunting only with Sammy as the two of us really got along well.
Packup and time to say good by to Sabrisa Ranch, a place that has imprinted many memories in me that I´ll keep with me for the rest of my life. At this point I´d like to end the story with a sentence like “then an pleasant flight back home” but not really. Upon check in I had 3 bags, one normal bag with clothes, one ammo case (that could fit inside my general bag) and one rifle case. Of course the bolt was in the ammo bag as that has always been a requirement every time I´ve flown in the past. I asked the girl at check in how she wanted me to do, check in the ammo bag as a 3rd piece or put it in my general bag. She advised me to put it in the general bag and I had to pay a small fee for overweight. However I forgot to mention that the bolt was in the ammo bag as that was 100% common sense to me and something that´s been required every time I´ve flown with a rifle (maybe 30 times).
Me and W had different flights so we said good bye and was to meet up in Sweden again. I also said good bye to Chris and went for the security check. On the inside I was strolling around checking stores when the girl from the checkin approaches me. She tells me I have to follow her to the “reconciliation room” as there are some issues with my rifle transportation. She escorts me there and there is a mix of guards, police and other airport staff there and the issue was that I was “trying to ship unauthorized gun parts” as they found the bolt when they X-rayed my general bag. Apparently that is not allowed. They went and fetched my rifle case as well and we open my general bag and then the security personnel see how I packed this. The girl at check in then got some bashing from the security personnel. My interpretation was that it should have been shipped as a 3rd piece and tagged as a firearm bag and it would have been case closed. Apparently that was now impossible to correct as I had been confirmed with 2 bags in the system. There were now 2 options, either ship the bolt in the locked ammo bag in the locked general bag which was clearly not OK by their rules, or to ship the bolt together with the rifle in the locked rifle case. Apparently the latter case was OK by them and they asked me to put the bolt back into the rifle. I plainly refused to ship a fully assembled and working firearm halfway around the world under my name. We discuss back and forth and it should be mentioned that none of these guys had any sense of humor at all. Eventually we ended up with me placing the bolt hidden inside the foam inside the rifle case so it was somewhat hidden. Then I left my stuff in the room with the security personnel and I was not 100% sure I´d ever see any of my bags again. Lession learned – don´t assume stuff on transporting firearms around the world – even if they are logical.
Finally arrived in Sweden and I went straight to the special luggage to pick up both the general bag (including ammo) and the rifle case. I quickly learnt that there were no special luggage from that flight. Minds spinning – is my rifle now adrift somewhere? At this moment I turn around and see my rifle case on the general luggage band – including the bolt. Fortunately I quickly moved over and picked up that one and my general bag. Apparently those firearm-tags were never applied in Johannesburg… Then through customs and the last bit home.
Would I go with Chris Troskie again? Yes!! A really honest person that really does a lot to please the customer and who is very transparent with how his entire business operates. I did create a thread previously and I really want to emphasize that the issue at the time was only created by incorrect assumptions on my end based on some incomplete info from Chris. When he supplied that we were all fair and square. He was super transparent and was a true “man of honor” in straighting this up beforehand for which I do give him a lot of credit!
Would I go buffalo hunting again? Yes – if I could afford it. I know Chris is currently running a similar deal as the one I got, see his Instagram or his forum ad here , and I´m super keen to go again, but I´d need to save up for another decade or so first.
Would I go hunting in South Africa again? Yes. I never felt unsafe but the safety precautions especially in the airport and when driving through the more densely populated areas were very visible. From what I hear Namibia is “safer” but on the other hand I did feel super safe while at the farm and when hunting with Chris.
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I now think I managed to fix most formatting errors...
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Great report and pictures. Great buff! Some very good trophies. Having resized your pics now makes it more enjoyable. I also love your 'Walter' buffalo pic!
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Thanks! Yes, I now think most formatting issues has been resolved. It was really a fantastic trip and I really think I got what I wanted after dreaming for 8 years.
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Great hunt report! Some very nice trophies as well. Congratulations.
Guns and hunting
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Congratulations on your first buffalo!
It is an addiction... hopefully you can scratch it again in a few years.
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Thank you for sharing your experience with us.
I'm glad you had such a successful time.
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Great stuff and you cannot go wrong with Chris
ROYAL KAFUE LTD
Email - email@example.com
Tel/Whatsapp (00260) 975315144
Instagram - kafueroyal
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What an awesome hunt report!!
Congratulations on a great hunt and great trophies!!
BTW - we never remove the bolts from our rifle cases when leaving the US.. Some remove them from the rifle but not the rifle case...
"At least once every human being should have to run for his life - to teach him that milk does not come from the supermarket, that safety does not come from policemen, and that news is not something that happens to other people." - Robert Heinlein
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Thanks for the kind words.
Are you serious that you ship the bolt in the same bag as the rifle in the US? I've flown a lot within Sweden, also in Europe and I checked the conditions for multiple airlines before I booked this trip and everyone required a separation of bolt and rifle. The reason is that if someone snatches the gun bag they should not get access to a functional firearm.
In Sweden you are actually not even allowed to transport a rifle in a car with the in the rifle.
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Yeah - completely serious... I've taken rifles all over the world and never remove the bolt from the rifle case.. I do remove it from the rifle in mot cases.. Never had a problem in Europe, Africa or Asia..
Sounds like it may be a Swedish requirement?? Kinda tough with a single shot or double rifle :-)
"At least once every human being should have to run for his life - to teach him that milk does not come from the supermarket, that safety does not come from policemen, and that news is not something that happens to other people." - Robert Heinlein
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Great to read a "first time" Africa hunt report and then a buff as well ! Congratulations and thanks for sharing / posting.
Ps Have been in and out of JHB probably more than 60 times and always had the bolt in the rifles that we took in and out. Different strokes ....
Look forward to your next report!
"Up the ladders and down the snakes!"
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Thanks for the effort.
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I have always removed the bolts from my bolt action rifles in 16 Safaris to Africa, going to Mexico, etc. I store each bolt individually in an old sock and then mark and identify the bolts on the outside of a zippered bag attached to the inside of my Tuff Pak. It may or may not be required, but it makes the rifle inoperable and safe, and is not a problem to do so. I do not, and never have been asked, to place the bolts in a separate checked bag.
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Well done and thanks for posting!
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Looks like you had a great hunt!
I could feel the excitement through your excellent writing.
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