Hunting Plains Game in South Africa with Captain Dave & his brother Joe and their R93’s
After reading about the great African hunters while growing up and having been to Africa several times during my long flying career, I finally made my first hunting trip to South Africa in May of 2004. She has haunted me ever since. This year, I spent twenty days on the Dark Continent, hunting plains game and visiting two different countries. I had the pleasure of escorting my older brother Joe on what would be his first African hunt. Between us, we had three R93 rifles, my 308 Winchester Tracker, a 338 WinMag LX and Joe’s Offroad in 308 Winchester.
We hunted with Schalk and Terina vanHeerden of Bush Africa Safaris. Schalk has several thousand acres, a world class main lodge facility and outstanding trophy concessions all over Southern Africa. (http://www.bushafricasafaris.co.za/)
In 2004, I walked out one morning in search of a Blue Wildebeest with my PH, Jaco Kruger. Less than two miles of tracking later, we had a Gold Medal animal “in the salt”. This year was no different, other than the number and quality of animals continues to improve on this intensively managed property.
On my first full day in RSA, my brother and I were in the Free State, in search of a White Blesbuck and Black Wildebeest. I took my Black Wildebeest at just over 240 yards with My R93 Tracker in 308 Winchester; shooting Federal Premium 165gr Game King loads. Later I took a White Blesbuck, possibly being a new top twentyfive SCI record book animal. We will know for sure when an official measurement is done here in the US later next spring. Joe took his first African animal and made his first Blaser kill when he shot a common Blesbuck later that morning.
We arrived at the main camp near the Limpopo River later that evening, and Joe and I settled in for eight glorious days in the African bush. We would hunt together at times and then split off in search of various species we each wanted.
On my first morning at the main camp, one of the PH’s and I went out early in search of a Waterbuck and perhaps the monster Nyala we saw on the way in to the main camp the night before. I would connect with the first of two Waterbucks that morning, but little did I know what that monster Nyala had in mind for my brother and me over the next week. The first Waterbuck was taken at just under 160 yards, straight on, again with my R93 Tracker, this time using the 165gr Trophy Bonded Bear Claw bullets. He reared up on his hind legs, did a pirouette and bounded thirty yards into the bush before dropping dead. We recovered the bullet and it was a perfect heart shot.
Joe took a very nice Impala that afternoon and I added another common Blesbuck to the salt along with him. We were out early the next day and found Joe a trophy Blue Wildebeest, at the shot, the animal jerked and the chase was on, Joe having hit it just a bit high through the shoulder and lower jaw. We would track him for three days, during which time I saw that monster Nyala three more times, holding my fire while we pursued Joe’s wounded animal, not wanting to alert the Blue Wildebeest to our presence. Finally thinking all hope was lost, we gave up on the Blue Wildebeast, only to have him wander into a watering hole three days later and be felled by another hunter’s arrow. Joe owes A.J. Downs from Houston, Texas a debt of gratitude none of us can ever repay, the recovery of his once lost game animal. Incidentally, A.J. took a full mane lion with a bow just a few days before in the Kalahari Desert, while Schalk guided him. It fell over dead seven seconds after the hit, in one of the most phenomenal video sequences I have ever seen.
Not having fired a shot in the previous three days, I set out looking for that monster Nyala with Schalk. Within an hour, I had a Gold Medal Steenbok and a 27.5” Nyala in the salt, Gold Medal class but it was not the monster I had been seeing for almost five days at this point. That evening, we searched for a Limpopo Bushbuck, those aggressive spiral horn antelope in an orange grove right along the Limpopo River on the Botswana border. There we encountered a free range Waterbuck, the concession owner had told us about, a full ten inches longer than my first one, and he had a herd of almost thirty cows along with him. One shot from my .308 Winchester R93 Blaser Tracker dropped him at just over 100 yards. Although a successful one shot kill, the GameKing bullet shed it jacket and we never recovered the lead portion. Fortunately, it was a broad side heart shot, and we quickly recovered the animal. Less than thirty minutes later we spotted one the biggest Limpopo Bushbuck’s Schalk has ever seen, (he should know a big one, having guided a friend of mine to the current SCI number one Limpopo Bushbuck a few years before) about 160 yards off. I fired twice at him, hitting the hoof & mouth fence and breaking a wire both times, he didn’t stay around long enough for me to try a third shot. A little later that evening, I did take a record book Bushbuck. I made a low first shot and wounded him. I made a stopping shot on that animal after a short tracking job and a close in charge at one of the trackers. This proved to me how aggressive those small antelope can truly be. Four trophies in one day, I clearly made up for my silent Tracker the past few days.
We finished up the week with my brother taking a nice Gemsbok, great Kudu, Warthog and a few other animals. I took another Ostrich. Chasing that flightless bird is always a hoot! Then my brother Joe had the audacity to shoot my Nyala, which measured over 29.5” and will clearly place very high in the record book, but that’s another story.