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· Equine connoisseur
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
First off, I'd like to thank Clay Swetman, who is president of the San Antone Chapter of the SCA. Clay managed to get Clinton Barrass of Africa Active Safaris to donate a hunting trip for the SCA membership raffle. For those of you who don't know the story, I entered my college buddy Bryan McConathy about 10 minutes before they had the drawing and he was the lucky bastage. His wife didn't want to go over to a "disease-ridden third world country" as she put it, so yours truly was invited. Thanks Bryan.

Travel Day and Day 1

I left out of Pleasanton on the 4th and drove to Weatherford to meet Bryan. We stayed up all nite and left out of DFW at 5:35 am the 5th. Changed planes in Atlanta for the 16 hour flight to Johannesburg, SA. Let me just say that the flight is not for the long-legged or the diet-challenged. We stayed awake as long as possible and then took some Ambien to help us sleep the last few hours, so we weren't too worn out when we arrived.

As mentioned earlier, our rifles and Bryan's bag went to JFK instead of JHB. Hard to figure when you have three bags with neon green laminated signs telling where we were going attached to them and only one makes it. So, after Clinton met us outside customs, we went to a fine adult beverage establishment to kill time until the New York flight made it in. Amber and Natasha, if you are reading this, you ladies are unbelievable. LOL

We picked up the rifles, did the keystone cop mountain of paperwork and amscrayed out of there. Their security was a joke. Clinton went down to the baggage claim with us to verify about gun paperwork and he walked right through the maintenance section metal detector with his handgun on his belt! And you wonder how terrorists operate. We had a 3 hour drive north thru Pretoria to Thabazimbi (the h is silent) which is not too far from the northern border with Zimbabwe (I think). My sense of direction was shot while I was there! I was losted the whole time. LOL

The ranch that we stayed at is owned by Ivan Keyser and his son John Henry. Great people with unmatched hospitality. John's wife Tricia set a mean table. I don't think I lost any weight. All the game ranches are hi-fenced with high tensile wire, not net wire. In addition some of them have two electric strands along the bottom and one along the top so the male giraffes don't fight over the fence. For anyone that says that a hi-fenced hunt is a canned one, I say bullhockey! The Keyser's ranch was around 9,000 acres and very brushy. Yeah, you could drive around and shoot any animal, but to really get a nice one or a trophy you had to walk and stalk, get thorns in your knees and blisters on your feet. I'm glad I started jogging a little before I went. It's pretty tough to make a shot after you've been crawling through the grass, keeping your rifle off the ground, holding your breath and keeping quiet and then rising up and trying to keep your breathing and heart rate under control. I missed a really nice gemsbok due to this. The only blinds that were there were bowhunting blinds built around water holes. No rifle hunting was allowed out of blinds.

We got settled in that night in great accomodations, 'cept for one thing. Did I mention it was cold? It was down to the low 30's every nite, but got up to the 60's during the day. There were no heating, so we scrounged up every blanket we could find. I felt like the Mummy. lol Note to self: pack a space heater next time.

We rolled out the next morning and had breakfast around 8am. They are 7 hours ahead of us, so our internal clocks were a little bit off for a few days. After breakfast, we went to the rifle range to re-sight our rifles in after they had been abused on the flight. Bryan's cannon was a .375 H&H magnum with 300 grain soft points. Clinton told me that over 70% of all the guides or PH's used this caliber. I took my .300 Weatherby magnum with 180 grain Nosler partitions. They are very impressed with the Noslers and highly recommend them. Shot placement is very, very important over there and you really need to shoot A LOT before you go, for your marksmanship and your confidence with your gun.

That afternoon, we drove about 45 minutes to another ranch that was really rugged. It had some big, steep hills and again, very brushy. We split up, with Bryan going with John Henry and I went with Clinton and his Zulu tracker Simon. Have you heard the saying, "He can track a snake across a flat rock"? Well, these guys can. It was unbelievable what they could read into a track. I've always felt that I was pretty stealthy in the field. Ha, I sounded like a bull elephant following them. We saw quite a few animals including impala and waterbuck. I also found a warthog tusk which I brought home. When we met up again, Bryan had blood on his face and hands. When I looked at him, he said, "You see that mountain over there? Well, we climbed that mountain!" And it wasn't a little one. John had spotted a really nice Kudu bull and they followed it up and over, but they didn't get a shot. These animals are really impressive. Probably 6 foot tall with 4-5 foot spiral horns and can move like a cat. Unfortunately, we never managed to harvest one. They don't call them Grey Ghosts for nothing.

After a few conversations with Mr Daniels of Kentucky and his good friend Coca-cola, we called it a night. So ended our first day's hunt.

Kenny, I couldn't make myself shoot a zebra, not being the horse lover that I am. I caught lots of flak. LOL

Conway, we ate some of the impala as a roast, which was excellent. The impala jerky was not. Also, they fixed some gemsbok as chicken-fried steak. It was a little tough, more so than venison. Not bad, though. They had a meat buyer come and purchase some of it and gave some to the help.

First pic-Interior of the lodge, 2nd-Bryan at the entrance.

More to come....



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