Back From Africa – Journey of a Lifetime

I just got back from South Africa and thought it might be nice if my followers got to see some highlights before I get into the weeds with longer articles on smaller subjects.

Africa is weird. You find the strangest places there. And the strangest things. And the strangest things in the strangest places. And the strangest people in the strangest places doing the strangest things to the strangest other things.
Take this for example. Not the movie I would have named a coffee shop after but to each their own. Still, it’s a really neat coffee shop inside. We elected to look at the sign but not stay or visit directly as parking long enough to properly patronize the business would have meant leaving the buckeys (what they call pickups) unattended for whole minutes with our stuff inside, which is not a recommended behavior.
My first springbok. Very nicely curving horns. 240m in 20mph winds with gusts quite a bit higher. I waited for the wind to peak and held on the nose. It ran 20 feet and piled up. Right through the lower bit of the heart with a 150gn Game King from a suppressed .308. Bullet performed nicely with minimal meat damage, decent penetration and good expansion. I took another springbok about an hour later with even a nicer rack yet and the dark stripe was much closer to black. That one was at just over 100m in the same wind. The SGK opened up much more vigorously at the closer range but didn’t ruin any meat to speak of. Another heart hit on the second one but smack in the middle of it instead of at the base leaving very little heart to eat from that one. We ate the livers & heart that night and ate some neck that was braised into pulled springbuck rolls that looked like meat filled cannoli (and which were amazing).
I got a ewe and a ram impala as well. The ram I’m told is a trophy grade example despite the fact we were meat hunting. Great spread, great length and big bases. This guy took a .300wsm stoked with TMK’s to the lower back. The bullet came apart in the chest and liquefied the pumping and gas transfer stations within. It hit the ground where it stood, wobbled side to side and pretended to be alive but was clearly very much done in one. We put a cut on the neck to be sure and no blood came out. The ewe impala was my first African game harvest. This ram was my 2nd. Both taken from the back of a buckey in driving wind and very surprisingly cold weather. Africa gets cold too. Whodathunkit.
The smaller game hunts were really exciting but from the back of a buckey, as an American where such things are generally verbotten, it was a little weird feeling. Almost like shopping while doing a drive by shooting. Still very exciting but so different to what I’m used to I almost didn’t know how to feel about it. That was not to be the case for my big hunt.
For the big hunt, we were looking for kudu, eland, blue wildebeest or whatever walked onto the scene and we found examples of them all around the countryside. Oryx and blesbok and nyala were also around and I want to do at least one of those next year. After scouting some areas rich with oryx and blesbok, kudu, eland and wildebeest we decided on a hunting area and route to do a good ol’ walk-n-stalk. Hunting the hard way. About 3 hours into the walking (Where my friend who owns the place got his new nickname of Klipspringer Van Kudu. Man that guy can run up a mountainside!), we ran into a large herd of cow & immature bull kudu 200yrds+ away on the next hill with their satellite dish sized ears scanning their perimeter and managed to not have them bust us. A red hartebeest was not so easy to fool and it bounced well before coming into shooting range. We were able to get within rock throwing distance of a klipspringer which was super cool.
Then we got word from the other side of the property where there were oodles of zebra standing vigil that 3 eland bulls may just be heading our way so we posted up and waited while watching a variety of other species mill around. What do you know… a very little while later 1 super big trophy bull and 2 smaller but still impressive eatin’ size bulls wander in a half mile away. We wanted to save the big guy for now as he was the boss breeder and had another good year in him being dominant and with good genetics before it would be right to cull it out. I picked one of the lesser guys to fill some freezer space and we got within 50 yards stalking in before nature spoiled the shot and I came off the trigger rather than maybe wound one at a distance where a charging animal would be hard to stop.
I waited another few minutes and it moved to 100yrds away and gave a nice shot presentation. I put one in the monster’s chest from a .338WM with 225gn SST’s and boy, it noticed. Then it and its 2 friends calmly walked about 2km down to a wadi where the friends mosey’d off eventually leaving the hit one behind. I watched it like a hawk till we thought it would certainly go no further and we hiked down to it. As soon as we got the blood trail at the edge of the wadi it bolted out the other side and Klipspringer Van Kudu put another shot on it which while it only opened up the back leg a bit, it did put the big eland’s e-brake firmly into the on position. It made it another 150 yards down to another wadi and holed up under a tree. We stalked close enough to guarantee a downing shot and I put the .338 over my buddies shoulder and put the final hit on the bull eland. It pulled a spun-n-run which didn’t go far at all, just a few steps really, and piled up doornail dead.
Once we ran over to it we took a knife to the neck to start the blood draining and then I was sure that I’d hit the vitals hard as not a drop of blood came out of the neck’s blood vessels. When we got it back to the farm and took the feathers off we noticed the thing had no blood really outside its chest cavity at all as the first shot clipped the top of the heart and punched both lungs. So, when the 2nd 225gn SST hit the chest it hydraulic’d the blood filled space hard and the thing took 3 steps in surprise and gave it up. Minus head/guts/feet it scale weighed 276kg (which if I’m doing my math right is ~700lbs) meaning a live weight of ~900-1000lbs. When we opened it up for processing it poured literally gallons of blood from the chest cavity. We ate the liver braii’d nicely as liver patties with onion and herbs (a tradition in my family and my guide’s family) along with some of the heart and then finished up with a tenderlion grilled whole and to perfection and sliced at the table. The meat was fork tender with zero elaborate prep. Open flame, salt & pepper and bango, epic chow.
Some perspective and soda about the size of this beastie.
Heads are being done European mounts. Skin from the best springbuck is being made to hide and the skin of the eland tanned to leather.
While in country I managed to pick up the most singularly amazing knife I’ve ever owned made by knifemaker and gunsmith Danie Joubert as well as a new kind of sizing die which I promise will 100% change the game of precision rifle reloading forever.
Lots more pics and juicy details in the video. Enjoy!