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Subscriber-Written Trip Report On DeKlerk Safaris Hunts

Below is one sample of such a Report which is made available to you FREE of Charge.

DATE AND PLACE OF HUNT
Report ID: 9028 Weapon Used: Rifle How Hunt Was Conducted? Guided
Date of Hunt: August 17, 2012 to August 22, 2012
Place of Hunt: South Africa - Kalahari desert
Hunt Area:


OUTFITTER, GUIDE AND BOOKING AGENT DETAILS
Outfitter (or safari company): Hans DeKlerk; DeKlerk Safaris. PO Box 52; Bray; RSA; 8620; Tel. 011-27-82-828-4899; Email: dksafaris@gmail.com; Web www.dksafaris.com
Personal Guide (if any): Dons
Booking Agent (if any):
Trip Arrangements
(if self-guided):
License Required:


GAME DESCRIPTION
Major Game Animals Taken: Impala - Availability: Abundant - Trophy Size: Excellent
Lion - Availability: Abundant - Trophy Size:
Caracal - Availability: Abundant - Trophy Size:
Game Sought But Not Taken:
Game Condition Comments: Most plains game available and well managed. Animals are not pressured and easily hunted. Excellent operation.


SERVICE RATINGS (excellent, good, fair or poor)
Quality of Outfit: Excellent Guide/PH Ability: Excellent
Condition of Camp: Excellent Condition of Equipment: Excellent
Quality of Food: Excellent Trophy Care: Excellent
Name of Airline: South African Air Airline Service: Good
Airline Comments:


COSTS
Hunting Fees: Amount: $0
Trophy Fees: Amount: $0
Permits/Licenses: Amount: $0
Commercial Airfares: Amount: $0
Charter Airfares: Amount: $0
Other Costs: Amount: $0
Total: $0


SUMMARY REMARKS
Problems of Hunt:
Highlights of Hunt: Taking a fully maned lion on foot from 28 yards. Icing on the cake followed as I took a caracal which had been treed by outfitter's hounds.
Equipment Recommendations: None
Would You Recommend This Hunt to a Friend? yes
Why? Hans goes the extra distance to ensure his clients' success and comfort.


HUNTER INFORMATION
Hunter Name: Jamie Browne
Contact Information: Tel. 352-303-2366 - 6037 Lake Erie Rd., Groveland, FL 34736 E-mail: browneflb@yahoo.com
Hunting Experience: Fairly extensive
Physical Condition: Excellent


IMPORTANT NOTES (actions taken if hunter unhappy with hunt)
Notified Outfitter? Notified Personal Guide? Notified Booking Agent?
Seeking any kind of restitution or other settlement from agent, outfitter or guide?
If Seeking Restitution, What is Sought?


ADDITIONAL HUNTER COMMENTS AND/OR OUTFITTER/BOOKING AGENT REBUTTAL

Subscriber-Written Trip Report On DeKlerk Safaris Hunts

Below is one sample of such a Report which is made available to you FREE of Charge.

DATE AND PLACE OF HUNT
Report ID: 6441 Weapon Used: Rifle How Hunt Was Conducted? Guided
Date of Hunt: August 14, 2006 to August 24, 2006
Place of Hunt: South Africa - Northwest Province
Hunt Area: Kalahari South


OUTFITTER, GUIDE AND BOOKING AGENT DETAILS
Outfitter (or safari company): Hans DeKlerk; DeKlerk Safaris. PO Box 52; Bray; RSA; 8620; Tel. 011-27-82-828-4899; Email: dksafaris@gmail.com; Web www.dksafaris.com
Personal Guide (if any): Hans DeKlerk
Booking Agent (if any):
Trip Arrangements
(if self-guided):
License Required:


GAME DESCRIPTION
Major Game Animals Taken: Lion - Availability: Scarce - Trophy Size: Skull 26 9/16 inches.
Zebra - Availability: Abundant - Trophy Size:
Steenbok - Availability: Average - Trophy Size:
Game Sought But Not Taken:
Game Condition Comments: Superior hunt took "trophy class" African lion in heavy density tall grass at 47 feet. A "huge" adrenalin rush/climatic finale that exceeded my optimum expectations of what a dangerous game my African lion hunt is all about. Serious stuff.


SERVICE RATINGS (excellent, good, fair or poor)
Quality of Outfit: Excellent Guide/PH Ability: Excellent
Condition of Camp: Excellent Condition of Equipment: Excellent
Quality of Food: Excellent Trophy Care: Excellent
Name of Airline: South African Airlines Airline Service: Good
Airline Comments: Business class satisfactory.


COSTS
Hunting Fees: Amount: $0
Trophy Fees: Amount: $0
Permits/Licenses: Amount: $0
Commercial Airfares: Amount: $0
Charter Airfares: Amount: $0
Other Costs: Amount: $0
Total: $0


SUMMARY REMARKS
Problems of Hunt:
Highlights of Hunt: Taking lion at close range under perilous conditions.
Equipment Recommendations: Swarovski Binoculars available for clients use. Bush TLC maintained in good order.
Would You Recommend This Hunt to a Friend? Yes
Why? Outfitter performance consistent with their sales presentation.


HUNTER INFORMATION
Hunter Name: John A Hofert
Contact Information: Tel. 323-934-5362 - 322 N McCadden Place, Los Angeles, CA 90004 E-mail: doloresm1@aol.com
Hunting Experience:
Physical Condition: Fair - for a senior with an artifical knee and breathing disorder.


IMPORTANT NOTES (actions taken if hunter unhappy with hunt)
Notified Outfitter? Notified Personal Guide? Notified Booking Agent?
Seeking any kind of restitution or other settlement from agent, outfitter or guide?
If Seeking Restitution, What is Sought?


ADDITIONAL HUNTER COMMENTS AND/OR OUTFITTER/BOOKING AGENT REBUTTAL

Subscriber-Written Trip Report On DeKlerk Safaris Hunts

Below is one sample of such a Report which is made available to you FREE of Charge.

DATE AND PLACE OF HUNT
Report ID: 4816 Weapon Used: Rifle How Hunt Was Conducted? Guided
Date of Hunt: May 5, 2005 to May 13, 2005
Place of Hunt: South Africa - North Cape
Hunt Area:


OUTFITTER, GUIDE AND BOOKING AGENT DETAILS
Outfitter (or safari company): Hans DeKlerk; DeKlerk Safaris. PO Box 52; Bray; RSA; 8620; Tel. 011-27-82-828-4899; Email: dksafaris@gmail.com; Web www.dksafaris.com
Personal Guide (if any): Hans Deklerk
Booking Agent (if any):
Trip Arrangements
(if self-guided):
License Required:


GAME DESCRIPTION
Major Game Animals Taken: Caracal - Availability: Abundant - Trophy Size: Exceptional.
Springbok - Availability: Average - Trophy Size: White. Average.
Blesbok - Availability: Abundant - Trophy Size: White. Very good.
Wildebeest, Black - Availability: Abundant - Trophy Size: World class.
Wildebeest, Blue - Availability: Abundant - Trophy Size: World class.
Impala - Availability: Abundant - Trophy Size: Exceptional.
Game Sought But Not Taken:
Game Condition Comments: The price of safari was the best I have hunted, but the size and abundance was exceptional. This was almost too good to be true.


SERVICE RATINGS (excellent, good, fair or poor)
Quality of Outfit: Excellent Guide/PH Ability: Excellent
Condition of Camp: Excellent Condition of Equipment: Excellent
Quality of Food: Excellent Trophy Care: Excellent
Name of Airline: British Airways Airline Service: Excellent
Airline Comments: No one should be afraid of flying British. This was third time absolutely no problems and service is beyond excellent.


COSTS
Hunting Fees: Package 7 day safari included 4 animals Amount: $2250
Trophy Fees: Blue Wildebeest outside package Amount: $850
Permits/Licenses: Amount: $75
Commercial Airfares: Frequent flyer miles. Amount: $0
Charter Airfares: Amount: $0
Other Costs: Rental car $250, Amount: $250
Total: $0


SUMMARY REMARKS
Problems of Hunt:
Highlights of Hunt: Caracol 10 1/4, Black Wildebeest 84 1/2. See enclosed article.
Equipment Recommendations: Good binoculars.
Would You Recommend This Hunt to a Friend? Yes
Why?


HUNTER INFORMATION
Hunter Name: Michael Bickler
Contact Information: Tel. 503-648-0851 - 5285 NW 253, Hillsboro, OR 97124 E-mail: magicmireathome@aol.com
Hunting Experience: 45 years, Africa 3 times, Argentina, Alaska big game.
Physical Condition: Average.


IMPORTANT NOTES (actions taken if hunter unhappy with hunt)
Notified Outfitter? Notified Personal Guide? Notified Booking Agent?
Seeking any kind of restitution or other settlement from agent, outfitter or guide?
If Seeking Restitution, What is Sought?


ADDITIONAL HUNTER COMMENTS AND/OR OUTFITTER/BOOKING AGENT REBUTTAL
In May my wife Marilyn and I made our third trip to the Dark Continent for a safari. The first trip had taken us on a hunt with Doug and Sandy Cox near Kimberly. The second hunt found us on the East Cape with Burchel Safaris. Both of those trips were exceptional. The hosts were great, the accommodations were very nice and the quality of the animals would have been hard to surpass. But surpass them we did with our latest trip.

We first met our host Hans deKlerk at a sports show and for some reason started chatting with him about South Africa. We weren't really looking for another package hunt to RSA our trophy room was filling up and there were only a few animals that we were really interested in. Hans did have a seven day safari package that included four animals and what we were able to work out was a deal where we could take the value of the four animals and shoot only those that we were interested in. And, since he had most of the animals on his property (yes-HIS property, this was not going to be a blacktop safari) we decided to give it a go.

After spending a week in the Cape Town area, we then drove up the garden route to George. One of the highlights of our trip was an overnight stay in Mossel Baii (Mussel Bay) where we stayed in an old train that had been converted into a Bed and Breakfast. The B&B was right along side the ocean and it was a great experience to watch the sun rising out of the Indian Ocean while lounging in our cabin which was the caboose.

From George we headed north through some spectacular mountains and then onto the great Karoo on our way to Kimberly. I always imagined the Karoo as one endless high desert, but the drive taught me there were subtle differences in topography and plant life throughout the Karoo and the drive was well worth it. We stayed overnight in Kimberly and after saying hello to the Coxes and buying a couple of diamonds (that is a whole other story) we then climbed back into our Volkswagen Polo and headed for the deKlerk's ranch. The ranch sits right up against the Botswana boarder about a four hour drive northeast of Kimberly.

The deKlerks seemed to be a little surprised when we showed up on time. They admitted that they normally pick their clients up in Joburg or Kimberly and we were the first clients that had ever driven out on their own. I explained to them that I am a retired army officer and since I actually made it past second lieutenant I could read a map. The drive really wasn't that bad. Even the last 100 miles of so of dirt roads really shouldn't be a deterrent to anyone wanting to give it a try. Just remember to get gas in Kuraman on the way out. From that point on about all you will find is diesel.

Since a lynx was my number one priority on this trip, our first day we spent looking for spoor near several watering holes on the south side of the 15,000 acre ranch. We had gotten a late start the first day and none of the track we crossed was fresh enough to pursue. The second morning dawned with new hope. During the night a few (with the emphasis on few) raindrops had dropped and any track we encountered would be only hours old. We headed to the north side of the ranch. In fact most of the north edge of the ranch is the Botswana border. We picked up a new tracker whose name Jakalsspoor I (Africans for Jackal track) was a direct reference to his ability to track Jackal and Lynx. Within minutes the trackers had spotted the spoor of a large cat that had crossed the Botswana boarder and crossed over onto the deKlerk ranch. Hans explained to me that a large cat like this one might have a range of up to 15 miles and most of that range was probably in Botswana. We tracked the cat for at least four miles and he never strayed more that a quarter of a mile from the border. Our biggest worry was that he would cross back over and the hunt would be over. Several times we crossed hard pans where the track would virtually disappear, but Jacob and Jakalsspoor would soon be on the animal again.

Finally things began to change. The trackers showed me a place where the cat had sat on his haunches and had looked back in our direction. He now knew someone was trailing him. The length of his stride increased ever so slightly. He was now trotting. Again the worry of the cat crossing back over the border came to everyone's mind. I mentioned to Hans that my experience (I am a retired fish and wildlife biologist) was that animals that are spooked tend to stay to high ground. Hans said he had never noticed that before, but this land was pretty flat anyway. As many of you know, the Border of South Africa and Botswana is the bottom of an ancient riverbed. And while Hans was right, there were no hills in this area the cat stayed on what would be a small ridgeline that was the bank of the old river. Several times that ridge came within just few yards of the border, but he continued to follow the ridgeline. Suddenly the dogs opened up and the chase was on. Unfortunately the dogs had stumbled onto a family of warthogs and they were having great fun scattering them in every direction. That was the only time I became a little unsure of the hunt. We knew we were really close to the cat before the warthog frenzy, but would the cat have cut and run at all the commotion. The trackers got back on the spoor and began trailing the cat again. I saw Jakalsspoor stop and retrace his steps. We had lost the trail again. Suddenly the dogs and a very large lynx exploded from under a bush just at our tracker's feet. The cat had crawled under a bush and let us pass by, probably thinking to backtrack once we had moved by.

The shot was not an easy one. One of the dogs was only inches behind the cat and both were going flat out. Not enough lead and I would have a Ridgeback mounted in my trophy room rather than the lynx. I paused for a half second and let the cat clear the dog and then took a shot with the 12 gauge loaded with SSG shot (the equivalent of our 00 buck). Two of the pellets hit the cat with one breaking his back hip. He tried to climb a dead camel thorn tree, but the injury was too much. When he fell to the ground the dogs were on him. Once we got to them it was one giant fur ball. The cat was giving as much as he was taking. We pulled the dogs off and you could tell the trackers were giving this cat a wide berth. He was a big one and still had a lot of fight left. I finally finished him off with a lung shot from a 22.

I not only had the animal that was my number one priority on this trip, it was a large one - It scored 10 1/4. I was probably the most exciting hunt I had ever been on. It was hours of hard work tracking an animal that knew you were there, all the while being just a few yards from a border that would end your hunt with a wrong turn of the animal. And, then the few seconds of shear adrenaline as the cat exploded from under the bush. It was a great hunt.

The next day we traveled to another of Han' s ranches. This one was a high fence operation (the first one was all free range) that encloses some 20,000 acres. Marilyn shot a very nice White Blesbuck early on our first day at the new ranch and I was able to spot an extremely large black wildebeest as well. We spotted the herd of wildebeest mixed in with some springbok and decided to make a stalk on them. The animals were taking a mid-day rest in a little depression and we felt we could get within 100 yards of them without being seen. We set out and the stalk went like clockwork.

We approached within about 150 yards when our tracker and PH froze. I thought one of the springbok might have stood up and was watching us until I noticed that Hans and Jacob were not looking in the direction of the animals. Instead of looking towards the little depression where the wildebeest were, they were looking at the ground off to the right. There in the sun next to a thornbush were two Black Mambas in the process of mating. You could see by the body language and the look in the eyes of our PH and tracker they were nervous. After about a minute the smaller of the two snakes (about six feet) slowly slid into a hole in the ground. Everyone was holding their breath while we were waiting to see what the larger of the two snakes would do. As Hans explained later, Black Mambas are usually fairly timid. If they feel your footsteps they will generally move in another direction, except when they are mating and then all bets are off. It's at that time they can become very aggressive and if they decide they want to come after you, you can not outrun them. They are faster than any human is.

Finally after what seemed to be an eternity the larger of the snakes followed the other into the hole. The rest of the day I spent a lot more time looking at the ground than at animals. I finally relaxed a bit when Hans explained to me that those two mambas were the first that he ever saw on the ranch and that he would have his tracker go back out after the safari was over and kill them with a shotgun. And, to top it all off. While all that was going on one of the springboks did spot us and spook the entire herd.

The next day was bright and sunny as were all of our days in the Kalahari and it didn't take us long to find the herd of black wildebeest again. They were only a short distance from where we had spotted them the day before, but this stalk was not going to be as easy. They were in an open area with great lines of sight in all directions. By staying behind large thorn bush we were able to get within about 400 yards of the animals. A quick scan of the herd with our binocs confirmed the old timer was still there. From that vantage point on the stalk was not going to be any fun. I suggested a plan of attack and Hans agreed. We could crawl on hands and knees for about the first 100 yards. The tall grass would conceal us to that point, but then it was going to be on our bellies the rest of the way to a tree that would put us about 200 yards from the herd. Since I'm starting to get on in years and miles, I felt that by taking the lead I could go at my own pace and I wouldn't fall behind Hans. The first 100 yards went well and we got to our resting-place in good time. Now the hard part. I gave my rifle to Hans and took the shooting sticks and began the low crawl towards the tree that I hoped to use as cover while setting up a shot. While slithering through the grass two thoughts came to mind. I was reminded of my days as an infantry officer. I didn't exactly like low crawling then and I decided I didn't like it any better now. The other thought was I kept wondering if there were any more mambas out there. Let me tell you, I kept those shooting sticks in front of me and kept swishing them back and forth through the grass as I crawled forward.

Suddenly, the ground began to shake and it was a little like the buffalo scene from "Dances with Wolves". Something had spooked the entire herd of wildebeest and they were headed for us. They were going to pass to our right by no more than 40 yards. Hans handed me my rifle and I quickly got up into a kneeling position. The herd came to a screeching halt to try and figure out what these strange looking creatures were in the grass next to them and assess the danger. It only took a fraction of a second to figure out which one of the bulls was the one I wanted. It took only another second to acquire the animal and have a NosIer Partition from my 7 mag on its way. The old bull was quartering towards me and I hit him just in front of the shoulder blade and the bullet took out both lungs. It ran for about 50 yards before it went down. As we approached the animal it was easy to tell it was a dandy by the way the tracker and Hans were acting. This was a very old bull and scored 84 5/8.

Let's go back to the ammunition. First of all I am a believer in shooting only premium ammo. It never made any sense to spend thousands of dollars on a hunt and try and save 50 cents per round on your ammunition. I usually shoot either the 160 grain or the 175 grain Federal Trophy Bonded loads with my 7mag. In fact just about all of my guns I shoot trophy bondeds unless the load is not available. On this trip I was not able to get the loads I wanted and so used NosIer Partitions. I want to say I was not happy with them. When we dug the bullets out of the carcasses all that remained was the copper jacket and the lead core in the back half of the bullet. The key here was the phrase "when we dug the bullets out of the carcasses". Not one of the Nosier Partitions made it out of the animals we shot. There just wasn't enough weight and energy left once the forward lead core separated from the copper jacket. Hans indicated that he has seen that numerous times with partitions.

During the remainder of the hunt we took a very nice impala and Marilyn shot a very, very nice white springbok to complete her collection of the three springboks. What we did see and not shoot were several exceptional Kudu, the largest common blesbuck I have ever seen and several gold medal white blesbuck. In one evening sitting on a waterhole we saw a dozen bull gemsbok over 40 inches, two gold medal waterbucks, several gold medal impala and a family of five giraffe. On another farm I saw exceptional sable, Red Lechwe, some of the largest blue wildebeest I have seen anywhere. The first wildebeest we saw was a group of 15 bulls. Of the 15 bulls at least four were gold medal and two were so big I was really tempted to shoot one, but I wanted to save something for my next trip. In all we saw maybe 100 bulls with some close to world record size. Some of the bulls had at least four inches of space between their ears and the horns. These were exceptional animals.

I have been hunting since I was twelve. I have hunted Africa, South America, Mexico, 21 different states including Alaska numerous times and Canada. And I have never hunted the same place more than once. This will be my first exception. I plan on returning to hunt with the deKlerks again next year. They were gracious hosts, the accommodations were the best I have ever had anywhere on a hunt in the world and the quality of their animals was exceptional. And besides one of those blue wildebeests has my name on it.

Subscriber-Written Trip Report On DeKlerk Safaris Hunts

Below is one sample of such a Report which is made available to you FREE of Charge.

DATE AND PLACE OF HUNT
Report ID: 4760 Weapon Used: Rifle How Hunt Was Conducted? Guided
Date of Hunt: May 5, 2004 to May 13, 2004
Place of Hunt: South Africa - North Cape
Hunt Area:


OUTFITTER, GUIDE AND BOOKING AGENT DETAILS
Outfitter (or safari company): Hans DeKlerk; DeKlerk Safaris. PO Box 52; Bray; RSA; 8620; Tel. 011-27-82-828-4899; Email: dksafaris@gmail.com; Web www.dksafaris.com
Personal Guide (if any):
Booking Agent (if any):
Trip Arrangements
(if self-guided):
License Required:


GAME DESCRIPTION
Major Game Animals Taken: Caracal - Availability: Abundant - Trophy Size: Exceptional.
Springbok - Availability: Average - Trophy Size: White. Average.
Blesbok - Availability: Abundant - Trophy Size: White. Very good.
Wildebeest, Black - Availability: Abundant - Trophy Size: World class.
Wildebeest, Blue - Availability: Abundant - Trophy Size: World class.
Impala - Availability: Abundant - Trophy Size: Exceptional.
Game Sought But Not Taken:
Game Condition Comments: The price of safari was the best. I have hunted but the size and abundance was exceptional. This was almost too good to be true.


SERVICE RATINGS (excellent, good, fair or poor)
Quality of Outfit: Excellent Guide/PH Ability: Excellent
Condition of Camp: Excellent Condition of Equipment: Excellent
Quality of Food: Excellent Trophy Care: Excellent
Name of Airline: British Airways Airline Service: Excellent
Airline Comments: No one should be afraid of flying British. This was third time absolutely no problems and service is beyond excellent.


COSTS
Hunting Fees: Package 7 day safari included 4 animals Amount: $2250
Trophy Fees: Blue wildebeest (outside package) Amount: $850
Permits/Licenses: Amount: $75
Commercial Airfares: Frequent flyer miles Amount: $0
Charter Airfares: Amount: $0
Other Costs: Rental car Amount: $250
Total: $0


SUMMARY REMARKS
Problems of Hunt:
Highlights of Hunt: Caracal 10 1/4, Black wilderbeest 84 1/2 (see enclosed article).
Equipment Recommendations: Good binoculars.
Would You Recommend This Hunt to a Friend? Yes
Why?


HUNTER INFORMATION
Hunter Name: Michael Bickler
Contact Information: Tel. 503-648-0851 - 5285 NW 253 Ave., Hillsboro, OR 97124
Hunting Experience: 45 years Africa three times Argentina, Alaska big game.
Physical Condition: Average.


IMPORTANT NOTES (actions taken if hunter unhappy with hunt)
Notified Outfitter? Notified Personal Guide? Notified Booking Agent?
Seeking any kind of restitution or other settlement from agent, outfitter or guide?
If Seeking Restitution, What is Sought?


ADDITIONAL HUNTER COMMENTS AND/OR OUTFITTER/BOOKING AGENT REBUTTAL
In May my wife Marilyn and I made our third trip to the Dark Continent for a safari. The first trip had taken us on a hunt with Doug and Sandy Cox near Kimberly. The second hunt found us on the East Cape with Burchel Safaris. Both of those trips were exceptional. The hosts were great, the accommodations were very nice and the quality of the animals would have been hard to surpass. But surpass them we did with our latest trip.

We first met our host Hans deKlerk at a sports show and for some reason started chatting with him about South Africa. We weren't really looking for another package hunt to RSA. Our trophy room was filling up and there were only a few animals that we were really interested in. Hans did have a seven day safari package that included four animals and what we were able to work out was a deal where we could take the value of the four animals and shoot only those that we were interested in. And, since he had most of the animals on his property (yes - HIS property, this was not going to be a blacktop safari) we decided to give it a go.

After spending a week in the Cape Town area, we then drove up the garden route to George. One of the highlights of our trip was an overnight stay in Mossel Baii (Mussel Bay) where we stayed in an old train that had been converted into a Bed and Breakfast. The B&B was right along side the ocean and it was a great experience to watch the sun rising out of the Indian Ocean while lounging in our cabin which was the caboose.

From George we headed north through some spectacular mountains and then onto the great Karoo on our way to Kimberly. I always imagined the Karoo as one endless high desert, but the drive taught me there were subtle differences in topography and plant life throughout the Karoo and the drive was well worth it. We stayed overnight in Kimberly and after saying hello to the Coxes and buying a couple of diamonds (that is a whole other story) we then climbed back into our Volkswagen Polo and headed for the deKlerk's ranch. The ranch sits right up against the Botswana border about a four hour drive northeast of Kimberly.

The deKlerks seemed to be a little surprised when we showed up on time. They admitted that they normally pick their clients up in Joburg or Kimberly and we were the first clients that had ever driven out on their own. I explained to them that I am a retired army, officer and since I actually made it past second lieutenant I could read a map. The drive really wasn't that bad. Even the last 100 miles of so of dirt roads really shouldn't be a deterrent to anyone wanting to give it a try. Just remember to get gas in Kuraman on the way out. From that point on about all you will find is diesel. Since a lynx was my number one priority on this trip, our first day was spent looking for spoor near several watering holes on the south side of the 15,000 acre ranch. We had gotten a late start the first day and none of the track we crossed was fresh enough to pursue. The second morning dawned with new hope. During the night a few (with the emphasis on few) raindrops had dropped and any track we encountered would be only hours old. We headed to the north side of the ranch. In fact most of the north edge of the ranch is the Botswana border. We picked up a new tracker whose name Jakalsspoor (Africans for Jackal track) was a direct reference to his ability to track Jackal and Lynx. Within minutes the trackers had spotted the spoor of a large cat that had crossed the Botswana boarder and crossed over onto the deKlerk ranch. Hans explained to me that a large cat like this one might have a range of up to 15 miles and most of that range was probably in Botswana. We tracked the cat for at least four miles and he never strayed more that a quarter of a mile from the boarder. Our biggest worry was that he would cross back over and the hunt would be over. Several times we crossed hard pans where the track would virtually disappear, but Jacob and Jakalsspoor would soon be on the animal again.

Finally things began to change. The trackers showed me a place where the cat had sat on his haunches and had looked back in our direction. He now knew someone was trailing him. The length of his stride increased ever so slightly. He was now trotting. Again the worry of the cat crossing back over the border came to everyone's mind. I mentioned to Hans that my experience (I am a retired fish and wildlife biologist) was that animals that are spooked tend to stay to high ground. Hans said he had never noticed that before, but this land was pretty flat anyway. As many of you know, the Border of South Africa and Botswana is the bottom of an ancient riverbed. And while Hans was right, there were no hills in this area, the cat stayed on what would be a small ridgeline that was the bank of the old river. Several times that ridge came within just a few yards of the border, but he continued to follow the ridgeline.

Suddenly the dogs opened up and the chase was on. Unfortunately the dogs had stumbled onto a family of warthogs and they were having great fun scattering them in every direction. That was the only time I became a little unsure of the hunt. We knew we were really close to the cat before the warthog frenzy, but would the cat have cut and run at all the commotion. The trackers got back on the spoor and began trailing the cat again. I saw Jakalsspoor stop and retrace his steps. We had lost the trail again. Suddenly, the dogs and a very large lynx exploded from under a bush just at our tracker's feet. The cat had crawled under a bush and let us pass by, probably thinking to backtrack once we had moved by.

The shot was not an easy one. One of the dogs was only inches behind the cat and both were going flat out. Not enough lead and I would have a Ridgeback mounted in my trophy room rather than the lynx. I paused for a half a second and let the cat clear the dog and then took a shot with the 12 gauge loaded with SSG shot (the equivalent of our 00 buck). Two of the pellets hit the cat with one breaking his back hip. He tried to climb a dead camel thorn tree, but the injury was too much. When he fell to the ground the dogs were on him. Once we go to them it was one giant fur ball. The cat was giving as much as he was taking. We pulled the dogs off and you could tell the trackers were giving this cat a wide berth. He was a big one and still had a lot of fight left. I finally finished him off with a lung shot from a .22.

I not only had the animal that was my number one priority on this trip, it was a large one - It scored 10 1/4. I was probably the most exciting hunt I had ever been on. It was hours of hard work tracking an animal that knew you were there, all the while being just a few yards from a border that would end your hunt with a wrong turn of the animal. And, then the few seconds of shear adrenaline as the cat exploded from under the bush. It was a great hunt. The next day we traveled to another of Han's ranches. This one was a high fence operation (the first one was all free range) that encloses some 20,000 acres. Marilyn shot a very nice White Blesbuck early on our first day at the new ranch and I was able to spot an extremely large black wildebeest as well. We spotted the herd of wildebeest mixed in with some springbok and decided to make a stalk on them. The animals were taking a mid-day rest in a little depression and we felt we could get within 100 yards of them without being seen. We set out and the stalk went like clockwork.

We approached within about 150 yards when our tracker and PH froze. I thought one of the springbok might have stood up and was watching us until I noticed that Hans and Jacob were not looking in the direction of the animals. Instead of looking towards the little depression where the wildebeest were, they were looking at the ground off to the right. There in the sun next to a thorn bush were two Black Mambas in the process of mating. You could see by the body language and the look in the eyes of our PH and tracker they were nervous. After about a minute the smaller of the two snakes (about six feet) slowly slid into a hole in the ground. Everyone was holding their breath while we were waiting to see what the larger of the two snakes would do. As Hans explained later, Black Mambas are usually fairly timid. If they feel your footsteps they will generally move in another direction, except when they are mating and then all bets are off. It's at that time they can become very aggressive and if they decide they want to come after you, you can not outrun them. They are faster than any human is.

Finally after what seemed to be an eternity the larger of the snakes followed the other into the hole. The rest of the day I spent a lot more time looking at the ground than at animals. I finally relaxed a bit when Hans explained to me that those two mambas were the first that he ever saw on the ranch and that he would have his tracker go back out after the safari was over and kill them with a shotgun. And, to top it all off. While all that was going on one of the springboks did spot us and spook the entire herd.

The next day was bright and sunny as were all of our days in the Kalahari and it didn't take us long to find the herd of black wildebeest again. They were only a short distance from where we had spotted them the day before, but this stalk was not going to be as easy. They were in an open area with great lines of sight in all directions. By staying behind large thorn bush we were able to get within about 400 yards of the animals. A quick scan of the herd with our binocs confirmed the old timer was still there. From the advantage point on the stalk was not going to be any fun. I suggested a plan of attack and Hans agreed. We could crawl on hands and knees for about the first 100 yards. The tall grass would conceal us to that point, but then it was going to be on our belly's the rest of the way to a tree that would put us about 200 yards from the herd. Since I'm starting to get on in years and miles, I felt that by taking the lead I could go at my own pace and I wouldn't fall behind Hans. The first 100 yards went well and we got to our resting-place in good time. Now the hard part. I gave my rifle to Hans and took the shooting sticks and began the low crawl towards the tree that I hoped to use as cover while setting up a shot. While slithering through the grass two thoughts came to mind. I was reminded of my days as an infantry officer. I didn't exactly like low crawling then and I decided I didn't like it any better now. The other thought was I kept wondering if there were any more mambas out there. Let me tell you, I kept those shooting sticks in front of me and kept swishing them back and forth through the grass as I crawled forward.

Suddenly, the ground began to shake and it was a little like the buffalo scene from "Dances with Wolves". Something had spooked the entire herd of wildebeest and they were headed for us. They were going to pass to our right by no more than 40 yards. Hans handed me my rifle and I quickly got up into a kneeling position. The herd came to a screeching halt to try and figure out what these strange looking creatures were in the grass next to them and assess the danger. It only took a fraction of a second to figure out which one of the bulls was the one I wanted. It took only another second to acquire the animal and have a Nosler Partition from my 7 mag on its way. The old bull was quartering towards me and I hit him just in front of the shoulder blade and the bullet took out both lungs. It ran for about 50 yards before it went down. As we approached the animal it was easy to tell it was a dandy by the way the tracker and Hans were acting. This was a very old bull and scored 84 5/8.

Let's go back to the ammunition. First of all I am a believer in shooting only premium ammo. It never made any sense to spend thousands of dollars on a hunt and try and save 50 cents per round on your ammunition. I usually shoot either the 160 grain or the 175 grain Federal Trophy Bonded loads with my 7mag. In fact just about all of my guns I shoot trophy bondeds unless the load is not available. On this trip I was not able to get the loads I wanted and so used Nosler Partitions. I want to say I was not happy with them. When we dug the bullets out of the carcasses all that remained was the copper jacket and the lead core in the back half of the bullet. The key here was the phrase "when we dug the bullets out of the carcasses". Not one of the Nosler Partitions made it out of the animals we shot. There just wasn't enough weight and energy left once the forward lead core separated from the copper jacket. Hans indicated that he has seen that numerous times with partitions.

During the remainder of the hunt we took a very nice impala and Marilyn shot a very, very nice white springbok to complete her collection of the three springboks. What we did see and not shoot were several exceptional Kudu, the largest common blesbuck I have ever seen and several gold medal white blesbuck. In one evening sitting on a waterhole we saw a dozen bull gemsbok over 40 inches, two gold medal waterbucks, several gold medal impala and a family of five giraffe. On another farm I saw exceptional sable, Red Lechwe, some of the largest blue wildebeest I have seen anywhere. The first wildebeest we saw was a group of 15 bulls. Of the 15 bulls at least four were gold medal and two were so big I was really tempted to shoot one, but I wanted to save something for my next trip. In all we saw maybe 100 bulls with some close to world record size. Some of the bulls had at least four inches of space between their ears and the horns. These were exceptional animals.

I have been hunting since I was twelve. I have hunted Africa, South America, Mexico, 21 different states including Alaska numerous times and Canada. And I have never hunted the same place more than once. This will be my first exception. I plan on returning to hunt with the deKlerks again next year. They were gracious hosts, the accommodations were the best I have ever had anywhere on a hunt in the world and the quality of their animals was exceptional. And besides one of those blue wildebeests has my name on it.



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