The Rest of Our Safari Afrika Gang

A couple weeks back, I told you about the pretty straightforward – if detailed – process that Kevin Clements and I followed to take our rifles and shotguns with us for our July South Africa adventure with friends Richard and Ruth Lemmer and Safari Afrika. Last week, Kevin passed along his excellent description of our time there. While Kevin and I spent most of our time teamed up chasing the birds and critters we had on our evolving lists, there actually were several others in our group.

Shortly after I won the bidding on the hunt at the Kittitas County Field and Stream Club’s 2015 Chukar Run, Kevin agreed to join me. We began our planning, and as that unfolded into fall, long-time buddy Roy Enter (with whom I first went to South Africa and Safari Afrika in 2011) wondered if there was an opportunity for him to come along and hunt a Cape buffalo – one of Africa’s “Big Five.” Richard allowed as how that would be a bit north of where Kevin and I would be hunting (up closer to Kruger National Park), but should work out fine.

A few weeks later, Roy mentioned that one of his Denver buddies Tim Buchanan had an interest in hunting Cape buffalo, as well. Richard said, “Of course.” By early this year, one of Roy’s Texas business buddies – Mark Russell – suggested that he’d been thinking for some time about a hunt in Africa: “Was there room for another buffalo hunter?” Richard said, “It can be arranged.”

Not long after that, Mark asked about bringing his 13-year-old son Vaughn to also hunt – and they would like to do their hunting with bows. Richard could arrange the father-son bow hunt, and would be glad to do it – just understand that Richard or another professional hunter (PH) would be backing them up with a rifle.

By February, Tim had arranged to bring his partner, Ronni Sperling, for photography, wildlife viewing and an African adventure. Gerry Addington, an old buddy of Roy’s (and one of the folks who had planned to join Elaine Glenn and Diane and I on our 2013 Trans-Siberian Rail journey, but got derailed over visa arrangements) would come along to record our adventures with photos and video. By April of this year, our little Safari Afrika group – six hunters and two observers – was complete.

By July 6th we were all in-country and on our hunts. As Kevin mentioned last week, we spent our 10 or 11 days after plains game first, then birds and then a combo of one sort or another. Roy, Tim, Mark and their teams passed through our HQ at Mokopane and then headed east and north to the Cape buffalo range near Kruger National Park.

So, how did it all go?

Richard sent daily – and sometimes hourly – reports to Ruth and to Flippie, the PH with whom Kevin and I were playing. Roy and Tim, using one of Richard’s .416 Rigby rifles, were the first to get their buffalo – with just enough charging and skittish behavior on behalf of the 1,300 pound bulls to have them reliving adrenalin rushes several days later. They then returned to Mokopane to join us in our fun – Roy to do a bit of bird hunting and find a big waterbuck, Gerry to carry on his video journal, and Tim to join Ronni in wildlife viewing.

Mark and Vaughn continued their bow and arrow quest on the buffalo range – Mark’s bow drawing 85# and Vaughn’s drawing 44#. Within the next couple days, Mark had managed a stalk within a few yards of a couple very large bulls, experiencing one serious charge and a couple nerve-wracking stare-downs. Somewhere around the third or fourth day, he made a very good stalk and a perfect shot on an exceptional bull. He and Vaughn joined the rest of us and continued their hunt from HQ. Vaughn had taken a nice impala with his bow and would join his dad on several stalks and blind hunts. By the last couple days of our joint adventure, the boy had made a perfect shot on a nyala bull and was fervently pursuing a blue wildebeste. His dad had connected on a couple other critters and an exceptional waterbuck.

Food was always excellent, of course. Breakfasts were always ample quantities of fruit, eggs, meat, toast and coffee. Most lunches were packed afield. Dinner was always fresh local vegetables with one or more entrees of impala, bushbuck, reedbuck, buffalo, waterbuck, or nyala – depending on what was hanging in the cooler. Appetizers were sausages, cheeses, crackers, fruit or some of Kevin’s special partridge “popper” appetizers. Laughter, conversation and camaraderie flowed across the table each time we gathered.

Tim and Ronni headed off to Victoria Falls and a “bucket list” trip a couple days before the rest of us wrapped up our Safari Afrika adventures and headed for Johannesburg and our flights home.

Most memorable? Everything, probably. I will, however, never forget watching seven men (including Kevin) literally carry Roy’s very nice, 500-pound, waterbuck bull one hundred yards off a mountain and through the bush to the truck waiting below. Dragging is not allowed at Safari Afrika.

Written by Jim Huckabay. Posted in Uncategorized