Part II: Opportunities

With a beautiful Sable down (read Part I for the full story) and with it our priority species taken care of we begin to enjoy our hunt together even more. Taking what Africa gives you is once again the order of the day and on this jewel of a concession in the Great Limpopo valley the potential for something extraordinary is around every corner.

The next morning we begin hunting a more hilly part of the concession which gives us an opportunity to clamber up some boulders to scout the surrounds. One look at these boulders and all the game ranger and professional hunting stories I so enjoyed in my youth of leopards frequenting just such locations flashback to me. Rocky boulders are renowned hiding and denning places for these cats and taking some extra care just in case, I climb up. Not long after our hunt, a staff member from the concession took a fantastic photograph of a leopard on the very boulder we scouted from! Glassing commences and soon I locate a mature kudu bull in a position where a stalk might work. Leaving our tracker on the boulder to guide us from his view point, the stalk begins

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From left to right: the view from our scouting boulder as we enter the bush after the Kudu we spotted, a month later a leopard is photographed enjoying the afternoon sunlight on the same boulder!

Regarding Kudu, our selective approach is even more pronounced having hunted the typically smaller horned Eastern Cape kudu with these same guests a few seasons ago, we would have to select a proper bull today. From our viewpoint above it was clear that we would be hunting around numerous sets of curious eyes from other game to reach our kudu and it’s not long before the first impala put up a speed bump in our stalk. This ram is not alone and soon a whole herd is grazing past us, avoiding so many eyes is near impossible despite our silence and inevitably one snorts a warning and we are busted. Our tracker on the hill confirms it – the bull has taken off and we return.

We continue through a narrow port to the back side of the boulders we scouted from and a brand new valley full of potential greets us. As if from nowhere a lone Gemsbuck bull runs across the road in front of us and we disembark the vehicle in a rush in pursuit. With fresh tracks to follow we hunt catching odd glimpses of the bull before returning to tracking. He hasn’t slowed down since we last spotted him - as our tacker shows us the indications of running in the spoor. Next to it lies a brand new challenge: a large and very fresh elephant track. It is a well-known phenomenon that along with a rise in sensory ability brought about by adrenaline when seeing tracks like this, that the surrounding mopani trees suddenly appear more dense and taller than they were.  This sensation dwindles and is replaced by one of gratitude - reminding us once again that being a solo hunting party on such a large concession of true wilderness so evident from the elephant tracks criss-crossing in front of us that we are extremely fortunate to hunt in such a place in modern Southern Africa.

We give up on the Gemsbuck, while returning to the vehicle we spot another kudu bull up on the hill sunning himself. Selectivity prevails and we pass him up. Returning via the same port to camp for lunch – or so we thought. With moods still chipper regardless of two failed stalks this morning and stories of yesterday’s Sable still being retold our hunting party nearly drives straight passed another kudu bull – a quick glance reveals a definite shooter. We disembark a few hundred yards further and stalk back with a favourable wind hoping to find the bull where we spotted him. Fortune smile upon us and there he is. Quickly I raise the shooting sticks for my guest and with the first broadside opportunity the shot rings out, connecting with the shoulder. We have our Kudu. Closer inspection of the horn shape and size suggests this could even be the same bull who gave us the slip earlier. Old and symmetrical with ivory tips pointing beautifully on the final turn, it is all we could have asked for in a Kudu. One happy guest indeed. Lunch can now well and truly be enjoyed in camp

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Our Kudu bull with invaluable tracker - Ronnie

There are many moments of bliss on safari. Undeniably the siesta following the camp lunch post successful Kudu hunt is hard to match and I have few fonder memories as a professional hunter than that afternoon. The evening hunt sees several unsuccessful stalks or selectivity prevailing – and like us in camp – our Kudu bull enjoys solo occupancy of the skinning shed today.

On a subsequent day we traverse the concession. The size of this area is unbelievable and it takes us nearly two hours of driving to reach one of the far corners. For privately owned huntable land it is even more impressive and we spend the entire day in isolation from camp, resting from the midday heat in the shade, scouting, hunting and thoroughly enjoying ourselves. It is not until the late afternoon that we are successful on a warrior of a warthog boar with a broken off tusk. A good half mile from the vehicle in inaccessible terrain our tracker scavenges a wheel barrow from the unoccupied bush camp nearby for recovery of the pig. When in Africa – make a plan! The day is saluted as is tradition and we return to camp after spending a full day in what can only be described as utter bliss surrounded by a reality many a hunter has only read and dreamt of.

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From left to right: Our old warthog boar with broken off tusks, Ronnie makes a plan to recover our warthog