If you’ve been following us for anytime here over the last few months, I’ve been going through blogging about my trip in Africa with John X Safaris. I left off my last post where I had just taken a kudu up in the Karoo. Now that our Karoo time was over, based on the list of animals that I was really wanting to take while in Africa, we came back to camp after the kudu to spend the night and enjoy the time with friends. At that point Stix, my PH, decided we would leave camp early, while the other guys were still finishing up in the Karoo, and head down to the coastal range.
As you head south in South Africa, and you approach the coast, the scenery drastically changes. It changes from very mountainous New Mexico-type country to very coastal, lush – a very very green, almost Oregon-looking environment.
We drove south through some rainstorms. We were in a hurry to try and make the evening hunt as we knew the animals would be moving if the rain stopped. It was a 3 hour drive from the Karoo before arrived at the new basecamp which was a place called Lalibela. Lalibela is a photo reserve park where they have lions, giraffes, and other animals that you can see there right next to the lodge, and one of the most beautiful lodges I’ve ever seen – amazing great rooms, really nice kitchen and bar area, a traditional African thatch roof – just a really, really pretty place to go.
We unpacked as fast as we could to try and get one hunt in for the day. We quickly got the guns in the trunk, grabbed all the gear, and the cameraman and we rushed off down these back roads to a new piece of property. This had to be at least a half-million acre piece of property that was right on the Indian ocean. It was kind of funny because as we got up to the top of the hill, I didn't realize we were that close to the ocean. Stix pointed out what I thought just looked like clouds was actually the Indian ocean. We were only a few hundred yards from massive sand dunes right on the ocean.
The rainstorms were just starting to clear so the animals were starting to come out and sun themselves. We saw some great waterbuck and started to see a lot of different nyalas. We went to the top of a look out, got out of the rig to set up our spotting scope and started to look at some trophy nyala from a couple of miles away. Right on the edge of this bluff, we could see 4 nyala bulls all grazing out in the grass outside of the thick brush. We saw one bull that looked like “the one” – he had really nice ivory tips, really good shape, just a good looking bull.
We quickly packed up, went through a big valley, and got into some thick cover where we stashed the truck. We got out and snuck down, what we could call in the west, an old logging road. As we were sneaking up on this nyala, I looked over to my right and coming up over the horizon I see this big periscope looking head. It was a huge giraffe that had spotted us coming down the road. It was kind of a funny sight to see considering it’s not something you see every day here in North America.
We went down the road a little ways and got set up where we could see where this nyala was. We ranged it and we were about 300 yards away. At this point in the trip, I’d switched to my 6.5 Creedmoor. This would be the first animal I was hunting here in Africa with my 6.5.
We were set up and were glassing trying to find this nyala but it was obvious that they had gone back into the brush. We didn’t think we’d spooked them, but the wind was moving toward one of the younger bulls pretty strong. We were hoping that the older bull we were after had not yet caught our scent.
I set up on the bog pod up and got the gun all ready. The giraffe we’d seen earlier ended up working to our advantage. In the distance we saw him going into the brush where the nyala were. Well, it spooked the nyala so as they were coming out of the brush, I spotted the one I was after. He gave me a good broadside shot. I waited for him to turn back and look at the giraffe to give me a good shoulder shot.
I squeezed the trigger of my 6.5 Creedmoor, sent the Hornady ELD bullet flying, and hit him low in the shoulder. The nyala only ran about 30 yards and he was down.
For me, the nyala was the main animal I wanted to take in Africa. They’re just neat animals – big spiral horns, ivory tips, they’ve got funny colored legs, a big wooly body. They look like God took ideas from 3 or 4 different animals and mixed them all up.
The nyala I took ended up being 27.5”, which was a huge trophy. I could not have been any more happy. As the sun began to set while we were taking photos, I could see the Indian ocean and sand dunes. The whole experience was more than I could have hoped for. It was one of the coolest hunts I’ve ever been on.
We left the meat from the nyala with the landowner, who ran a mission-based boys camp there on the ranch, and headed back to Lalibela. That night we had a low key evening in camp while we waited for the rest of the hunters to finish up in the Karoo and join us for the rest of our time in Africa.
Interested in joining us in Africa in July 2017? Sign up to join our Africa Hunt List to receive more information including Derrick's tips & tricks, an invitation to our Africa Info night, and more.