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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm getting a bit bored in the off season and remembering where I was a year ago. I do not think I ever posted this report here -- if I did you will have to forgive me. This is what I did on my summer vacation last year. I posted this one another board so it was targeted at those members. I did update/adjust a couple of the pictures. All but one of the pictures are linked to larger versions -- just click them if you want a bigger picture.

(I had to break this into three parts as I got error messages of too many images - this is part 1).

I hunted June 1-14 in Namibia with Classic Safaris. I booked though Wendell Reich (Hunters' Quest International). Kathi Klimes of Wild Travel arranged my flights.

The Concession

I hunted on Classic Safaris' Ehi-rovipuka Conservancy (Kaokaland), which is 80 kilometers north of Kamanjab in Namibia. The concession is 6 plus hours from Windhoek, the capital of Namibia, depending on your method of travel and whether you are going from the airport which is south of the capital or from Windhoek itself. The concession is between 400,000 and 500,000 acres in size and is bounded by the veterinary quarantine fence, a photographic concession, and Etosha Park, among other properties. Part of the concession borders another Classic Safaris concession and a portion of the adjoining properties are not in a conservancy. The climate is dry and the temperature during my hunt varied from cool nights (estimated 40s) to warm days (estimated 70s-80s). The terrain in the concession is quite varied, with open savannah, savannah with Mopane brush, dry riverbeds, and riverine areas with thicker Mopane cover. There are also rolling hills, narrow canyons, and steeper hills.

Hills/Plains:



Riverbed:



The Camp

The camp is a traditional tented camp located under some large shade trees on the banks of the dry riverbed. The level camp area is adjacent to one of the many hills in the concession. The tents are roomy and are equipped with real beds, storage for your clothes, and a small table next to the bed. In back of the tent is a partitioned area on a cement slab with shower, sink and commode. Hot water is available for showers. There is a dining tent with mosquito netting and a separate kitchen tent with propane cooler for keeping drinks and perishables cold. There is also a seating area around the fire for gathering at night (or any time).

My Tent:



Inside the Tent:




Fire:



The Staff

When I was in camp there was a staff of five (two trackers, a cook, and two women who did the laundry and cleaning). Matthew and Elias, the trackers, were good at spotting and tracking game, the cook did a good job, and the laundry service was good as well. My professional hunter was Gert van der Walt, who is new with Classic Safaris this year. Gert has been hunting in Namibia for years, concentrating on Leopards for about the last five if I remember correctly. Gert is hard working and was very accommodating.

Gert, Elias and Matthew:



The Hunt

Leopard

I booked Classic Safaris 14-day Leopard package. The package allows you to take plainsgame at the specified trophy fees and provides a refund if you do not take a leopard. I elected the optional pre-baiting and there were several cats on bait before I arrived. Unfortunately, by the time I made it to camp the cats had stopped hitting the baits. We did sit in a blind the first two nights near a Zebra that had apparently died from the bullet of a local hunter who did not find it. Tracks indicated some smaller leopards were feeding there, and a larger one was moving through the area. However, jackals and vultures were the only ones interested in it when we were there.

Can you see the blind?



Leopard Track:



For the first six days of my hunt the leopards were quiet. We spent the time looking for fresh tracks, checking out likely areas, and setting fresh baits. The sixth night I dreamed that a leopard had taken the bait. The next day we had signs of activity at three baits in one area. One large male had fed heavily, a smaller cat had eaten a little at a second bait, and a third cat, another large male, had sat in the river looking at the third bait in the area. The first cat had actually walked right down the center of the drag we made through the sand up to the bait before feeding. We took down the bait that the smaller leopard hit to reduce confusion since the baits were fairly close together. He went back to the tree several times to see if the bait was back. If I had been looking for just any cat we probably could have taken him, as he did not seem experienced.

We sat in blinds waiting for one or the other of the two larger cats for several nights. However, neither showed during daylight, although the cats continued to hit the baits. We also sat one night at the carcass of a gemsbok cow that was being fed on by a leopard, and stalked in the next morning to see if he was still around. However, he had left the area.

Despite spending nine nights in a blind we did not get a shot opportunity on a leopard. There was not much competition for the bigger males so they did not have to move in the daylight. Perhaps if the lions had been more active things would have been different. We did see lots of tracks and had as many as four leopards on bait at one time. I did see one leopard, the one feeding on the Gemsbok cow. We had seen the carcass earlier but the grass was too thick to see tracks, so we could not tell what was feeding there. We went back to check and a leopard ran out from under a bush where he had been guarding the meat. We did not get a shot opportunity and he did not return. I have no doubt that there are good cats in the concession. I was just not lucky enough to connect with one.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Part 2

(Part 2)

Plainsgame

In addition to the leopard, I was interested in Kudu, Gemsbok, and Mountain Zebra. We saw a good Kudu bull on the first full day in the concession, but he made it over the top of a steep hill with his cows and disappeared before I could come anywhere close to him. The next day we went looking for a Zebra for bait and lucked onto another Kudu seeking shelter in the shade at midday. He was not as big as the first one but became my first African animal. Later that day, at almost sunset, I took a Gemsbok cow for bait.

Kudu Bull:



During the course of the hunt I was able to take an old Zebra stallion who was fighting with another stallion over a mare. The distraction they created enabled us to stalk close enough despite a large number of Zebra in the area. I also took a Gemsbok bull on a stalk in the plains.

Mountain Zebra:



Gemsbok Bull:



We saw very large numbers of Springbok, and it drove Gert crazy that I did not really want one. We saw many Gemsbok as well. We saw fewer Kudu but did not spend much time in the mountains. There are quite a few Mountain Zebra in the concession. In addition, we saw Giraffe, Eland, Dik-Dik, Klipspringers, Ostrich, Jackals, an African Wild Cat, an Anteater, a few snakes, Baboons, Black-Faced Impala, Bat-Eared Fox. Guinea Fowl, and Francolin. I am probably leaving some out.

Springbok:



Gemsbok:

 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Part 3

(Part 3)

Equipment


I took two rifles, a 9.3x62 on a Model 54 Winchester action with a Burris Signature Electro-Dot scope and a Weatherby Accumark in .270 Weatherby with a Zeiss scope. The rifles traveled in soft cases inside a Tuffpak. I used Leica 8x20 BCA binoculars. I took two digital cameras, a Nikon D-70 (with 4 gig microdrive) and an older Olympus D-400 Zoom. My Surefire Aviator A2 came in very handy.

For the 9.3 I used 250-grain Northfork softs loaded by Superior Ammo. They went all the way through my Kudu bull and Gemsbok cow. The only ones I recovered were from the river bank while checking zero. Unfortunately what I thought was bad shooting caused by being nervous or a scope problem turned out to be a loose scope mount on this rifle. We could have resighted the gun at that point but I elected to use the second rifle which was still zeroed. I used the Weatherby from then on, with factory loads with 140-grain Barnes X-bullets. These penetrated completely through my Mountain Zebra but did not do as well on the Gemsbok bull. I hit him in the chest but the quartering angle was sharper than I thought and I only hit one lung. He required some good work by the trackers but they were able to follow up and we got in position for another shot. The second shot put him down. I did put a third shot in when we walked up to him. Had he been quartering less or had I shot him more in the center of the chest he would have gone down faster but I do not think the X-bullets would have exited. I only recovered one from him although the trackers looked for the other two (they did not exit). I believe that the one I recovered was my second shot, which went through the upper chest, broke the spine, and lodged under the off-side skin.

Recovered Bullets:



The Leica binoculars were a lot easier to carry than the Swarovski 10x42s I usually use. Most of the time we were stalking you could see the game without binoculars so I did not miss the larger optics. The digital cameras worked pretty well. I especially liked being able to take as many pictures as I wanted without worrying about memory capacity on the Nikon. I would have done better if I had read the manual more thoroughly, but it is a fairly new camera to me and I am still learning.

We took the scope off the 9.3, picked up some Tsamma melons which grow wild there and held an open-sight shooting contest in the riverbed next to camp. I had not even checked the sights on the 9.3 with this ammunition but they were on and I managed to win day one of the shoot out. (For those keeping score I also won the beard growing contest.) Matthew and Elias were locked in a contest of marksmanship so we continued the contest with the 9.3, Gert's .357 (why anyone thought they could hit the melons at 50 yards with that is beyond me) and my scoped .270. Matthew finally won the contest with the .270.

Targets (one showing the effects of a solid hit):



Shooting:





The contest made for a nice break and gave us all a chance to shoot in a relaxed atmosphere. It also helped my confidence after a rough start with the 9.3 and the loose scope mount.

Conclusions/Suggestions

This is a good concession for a traditional hunt. I wanted to stay in a tented camp far from civilization, and that is what I got. This is not an operation where you can take as many species as are available on game ranches or in less-arid areas (they can arrange trips to ranches for other species). However, I wanted to hunt native species in a natural environment and was not interested in taking a particularly large number of animals, so it worked well for me.

Tuffpak Picture for Mims:



I would allow plenty of travel time before and after the hunt. I was delayed getting to the concession because my rifle case did not get on my flight from Johannesburg. In fact, no rifle cases were loaded on the flight despite probably half a dozen hunters on the plane. I had engaged Optima to help with the Johannesburg transfers but still had to wait two hours for a later flight to arrive to get my guns. That delay, plus the logistics of getting to the concession caused me to lose hunting time and spend an unplanned night in Windhoek. If you book with Classic Safaris you should double check that you have enough travel time to get to camp and perhaps plan a day on each end in Windhoek as insurance.

Wendell sent me the firearms license application in advance, which made the paperwork easy. The police were helpful and Gert made getting checked in to leave a simple process. The passport control paperwork to get in and out is challenging because the print is very small - I had a hard time reading it after my long flight.

If you book a Leopard hunt I would plan to take a bait Gemsbok (for a reduced trophy fee) as you only get one bait from each of your trophy animals. You should also expect to spend a lot of time in the blind to get your cat. There are big cats here but they seem to be masters in their environment and move on their schedule, not ours.

I spent way too much time working (or perhaps watching television) in the year before my hunt and not enough time at the gym. The terrain can be challenging and most of the slopes are steep (the few rolling hills are an exception). If you want a large Kudu be prepared to climb.

I took too many pictures and you can see more of them (and larger versions of these) here.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Redfishr said:
Thanks Charles...............Now you have me all ralled up......to hunt.
I'm feeling that way a bit myself -- probably why I posted. Of course after reading all the reports on the Bluewater Board from this past weekend I feel the urge to go down to the coast too...
 

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Man, this was one hunt of several life times.
All I can do is read about this kind of hunting.
But looks like the hot weather would get to me.
Man Great HUNT'''
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
roger1shot said:
But looks like the hot weather would get to me.
It was cool in the mornings and a night, and usually comfortable in the shade. It did get up in the 70s or 80s in the day time, and by 8:00 am you could roll up your sleeves and wear shorts. That is why you go over there in their winter and not in their summer. I know someone who hunted in late October in the Caprivi Strip of Namibia and it was over 120 in the daytime. Now that is too hot!
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
FlakMan said:
Thanks for that report. I've hunted S. America, Russia and North America but dought I'll ever hunt Africa. That stated - I've been hunted in Africa - but that's another story!
It is always better to be the hunter than the hunted - although with hunting dangerous game the lines can blur a bit.
 

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Great story

Great reading and it brought back memories of where I was about a year ago! I was in South Africa (Tarkastad & Phalaborwa) last April. What a trip of a lifetime that was. It was a ladies hunt and I was fortunate enough to be able to take my daughter. I hope to go back someday. Here's a few of our pictures.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 · (Edited)
HuntLikeAGirl said:
Great reading and it brought back memories of where I was about a year ago! I was in South Africa (Tarkastad & Phalaborwa) last April. What a trip of a lifetime that was. It was a ladies hunt and I was fortunate enough to be able to take my daughter. I hope to go back someday. Here's a few of our pictures.
Great pictures and it looks like you had an excellent time!

That Gemsbok looks super long -- very nice.
 

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The Gemsbok doesn't have the mass that yours does but he was real long. After crawling around on a ledge of rocks for hours with my trackers and my legs wrapped around my neck, I told them I couldn't take it any longer. My legs were asleep and numb so I just went for the first one I could get a shot at. It was well worth the hunt.

Oh I forgot to include my daughter's Kudu!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 · (Edited)
Nice Kudu! I think there are more Jack Russells and look-alikes per capita in S. Africa and Namibia that just about anywhere else. However, one PH I met uses dachshunds because they are too short for the Gemsbok to stick with their horns.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Johnboat said:
Great photos and stories. Ive posted these before but I'll toss them into this thread. Cape Buffalo taken in Tanzania 2004. I'm going on another buffalo plus hunt this summer in Mozambique. Can't wait.
We are counting on a full report with pictures when you return!

I have said it before, but nice buff!
 
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