Wow! I just graduated from Port Neches Groves High School as a member of the National Honor Society. You know the old saying, “Time flies when you’re having fun.” Well for the most part that is true. I can honestly say that school is not my first choice of fun but I do have some really cool memories with the highlights being introducing my buddies to bowhunting. Hey, in my opinion bowhunting is part of PE.
I filmed Dill shooting his first deer with the bow when he was fourteen. I was sitting in a lock-on behind his ladder stand. When the arrow hit that deer in the vitals he turned to the camera and his eyes were bigger than basketballs. He was hooked! He even got kicked off the football team for hunting too much his senior year. Now as for Wolfer and Lil John, they are hooked but have not connected yet. I’m hoping this will be their year.
Now, back to graduation night. Right after the principal presented me with my diploma Dad texted me from the bleachers, “Proud of you son! We are going to Africa in July!” Now that’s what I call a Graduation Gift! I help my Dad market safaris for Limcroma Safaris to earn hunting credits. I knew we had a good marketing season but this really took me by surprise.
After a long month and a half we were on a plane headed for Johannesburg South Africa to hunt with Limcroma Safaris. The flight is sixteen hours but every second is worth it. I would have traveled in the cargo bin just to get there. It’s a long flight but every trip is what you make of it. The best advice that I can give to anyone planning of going to Africa is to plan ahead. Each South African Airways seat in the economy section has an entertainment system with games, radio, movies etc. I took magazines and a taxidermy catalog with me to help pass some time. If I was allowed to carry on my Arizona E-Z Fletch, I would have made up a couple dozen arrows along the way. I had it packed in my checked baggage as I always do. I take it on all of my adventures as it is the simplest fletching system on the market. In Africa it is a must have, especially if you shoot varmints and guinea fowl. You will always be replacing fletching from arrows skipping across the red dirt.
We always arrive in South Africa in the evening and then spend one night just outside Johannesburg at the Afton Guest House for a good night sleep. The steak cooked over hot African hardwood coals is very tasty. Smelling the steaks cooking while staring into the hot coals usually makes me day dream about my pin settling on the vitals of the many different African beasts. I have shot everything from jackals to elephants while staring into those coals!
The coolest part about spending a night at the Afton is meeting a new friend. It happens every time. Years ago we met Captain Mike from Florida and we hunt together all the time now. On this trip I met a very nice gentleman named Donald Dvoroznak with Ripcord Arrow Rests. We told one story after another. He introduced me to the Motive Six bow by Bear Archery! I fell in love with that bow! Here’s how small the world really is: Mr. Dvoroznak lives out west and we live in Texas but we are all originally from Pennsylvania! He was a State Policeman in PA and visited my grandfathers little bow shop several times in the small town of Franklin.
Dinner that night was a blast and breakfast the next morning was much the same! A July South African winter morning is beautiful beyond description with the sun rising over the tree tops filled with giant steroid eating doves. The constant calling of the doves speaks Africa! After breakfast Mr. Donald headed to his safari destination. Rainer Visser picked us up at the Afton and we headed 3.5 hours northwest to Limcroma situated in the Limpopo province on the Botswana border. That was a very special surprise because Rainer was my PH on my very first safari plus he likes biltong and ginger ale as much as I do, so it wasn’t long before we made a quick stop to get some.
We arrived at the Limcroma river camp for brunch and settled into our chalet on the Crocodile River. The river was low but the fish were swirling everywhere and every few minutes Egyptian Geese squawked as they flew overhead. In minutes we were unpacked, took a few practice shots with the bow and we were stalking the river bank for warthogs and bushbuck. We decided to stalk the river the first afternoon to kill some time until our PH and best buddy Johan arrived at camp. We were stalking along the steep bank of the river when we heard an Egyptian goose at the rivers edge squawking at the top of its lungs. We peeked over the edge to see what all the excitement was about and we noticed a big croc ten feet from the goose. It sounded like my Mom telling my lil sister to do her homework!
The croc spooked and we stalked on. We didn’t have to go far before a big boar warthog was within bow range. I wanted Dad to take a shot with his recurve but from his angle brush was in the way so he gave me the big eyes and head nod to take the shot. I did not hesitate a second to squeeze the trigger on my Equalizer Release sending a 150 grain BuzzCut through the shoulders of Bacon Bits with a loud smack! The boar struggled to go thirty yards! I turned to give Dad the thumbs up but he was drawing his recurve and quickly released an arrow. He looked over his shoulder and gave me the thumbs up. I was a bit confused at first until he ran 20 yards and picked up a Francolin Grouse. Sweet, pork and fowl down the first afternoon! If you have a short draw or just looking for better arrow performance you really need to look at the Equalizer Release.
Johan joined us around the camp fire and we decided to sit in a blind the next morning overlooking a waterhole. We love taking Impala and some old mature rams were spotted in the area. We jumped into the blind early after a hot cup of coffee and home made rusk. This is a great combination to jump start a chilly morning. The wind was swirling a bit so we kept the Dead Down Wind e3 Scent Prevent Field Spray handy. It works a million times better than burning dung!
Nyala charged the waterhole along with some sable cows and young bulls. I could see a black-faced monster sable in the brush but he refused to walk to the water. We had thirty or more critters at the water but the big sable would not commit. In minutes the waterhole was vacant and all was quiet except for the hornbill looking in the blind window at me. I spotted a flicker of an ear off to my right and soon made out a heavy impala horn. An old ram was carefully analyzing his approach to the waterhole. As soon as he started to drink I sent the arrow on its way. I could tell the shot was true by the ram’s reaction. He couldn’t even pick up his head. Johan and Dad slapped me around a bit while celebrating.
We waited a few minutes and replayed the footage confirming the shot was right on target. The blood trail was short and at the end was a nice mature ram. We took some nice photos and headed back to the lodge for lunch. Marcel our chef is amazing. She performs magic in the kitchen! After we finished eating Johan looked at my Dad and said, “Savuka, we need to see what that recurve can do this afternoon.” Dad immediately jumped up and headed out back to take a few warm-up shots.
We settled into a very large elevated blind overlooking a pond. Johan mentioned that this was a great blind for kudu. We weren’t there ten minutes when Johan raised his binoculars and pointed to the thick thorn brush. He whispered, “Monster kudu bull but he has a broken horn!” Dad immediately responded with, “That just adds character!” I knew dad wanted that kudu bad!
Three nice kudu bulls came in but the old unicorn bull stayed put. Dad could have easily shot any one of the other kudu but he wanted the big bodied unicorn bull. The big bull didn’t budge for thirty plus minutes but finally he made his approach. As he approached the other kudu moved out of his way. When the bull was at 25 yards quartering away Dad sent his BuzzCut into its vitals. The bull jumped and bolted out to 75 yards, stopped, swayed and fell. Dad was shaking and kept mumbling, “Stay down, stay down.” Dad wouldn’t even celebrate until he was absolutely positive the unicorn beast was down for good.
We finally convinced Dad that the kudu was down for good when a Vulture landed on the bull. I’m not kidding! Reality finally hit Dad and the celebration was on. Even with one horn the kudu looked like Goliath. What an awesome trophy especially since it was his first recurve four legged critter. I was so happy for him. Dad always passes the shot and lets me shoot but now I understand why. The feeling, emotions and jump-out-of-your-skin excitement that you experience while watching someone live their dream is priceless.
How would we ever top this day? Well Johan came up with a plan while we were sitting around the fire staring at hot coals. He pointed to the hot coals and said, “Ty do you know what I see?” I gave him the go ahead and tell me look and smile. He said, “I see us back at the Impala blind in the morning and you are at full draw on that monster sable bull. That is our plan for the morning.” Now that is a plan that anybody would certainly go for. No sleep for me tonight. Johan was sure to tell me to “Bring the magic Dead Down Wind juice to the blind for the swirling wind.”
It was a very long night for me but in the morning the rusk and hot coffee hit the spot. We were dropped off at the blind at day break. We quickly sprayed down with Dead Down Wind and were getting the video camera ready when Johan grabbed me and turned my head to the right. I couldn’t believe my eyes as an old sable bull appeared from the brush. Is this real or am I day dreaming while staring into the hot coals of an African fire? This can’t happen this fast, can it? The sable walked right to water but never stopped. He walked right through and back into the brush. Johan grabbed the DDW field spray and doused us one more time. He is apparently addicted to the “Magic juice!”
As were still spraying down a big waterbuck came to the waterhole and started drinking. That’s all it took to convince the monster sable to come to water, after he circled the blind first. Oh no, the old circle the blind and scent check trick. My knees were shaking and I was expecting the loud roar and the sound of stampeding hooves but instead the old bull literally walked beside the blind at ten yards and stepped into the water at twenty yards quartering away.
As soon as he put his left front leg forward my Carbon Express PileDriver zipped through his pump station and skipped across the water. With my head pounding and my vision blurred, the black and white faced beast ran in slow motion out to fifty yards, stopped and fell. I don’t recall what happened next as I was on adrenaline overload! I slowly began to regain my normalcy and joined Dad and Johan in the celebration. We calmed down and waited the scripted thirty minutes just to be sure while glassing the downed beast every ten seconds. I will never forget the feeling of amazement, gratitude, humbleness, accomplishment and blessedness as I placed my hand on this magnificent animal. I stared at his scarred face and battered horns and I could see my reflection in his eye. I’ve never seen that before. Today was meant to be. We took a ton of photos and headed back to camp. I spoke with skinner Hamilton (Matswani) on how much cape to save because I have a special pose in my mind for this trophy. I can’t wait to get my hands on him in my taxidermy shop.
Marcel prepared some incredible kudu meat pies for lunch and fresh orange mango juice. It was the prettiest, tastiest juice that I ever had. Johan, Dad, and I discussed another plan. We came up with the idea of building a few tree stands along the river for warthogs and bushbuck. We gathered up wooden logs / poles and wire because there wasn’t a nail within 300 miles. We found a beautiful hook thorn tree right at the river bank overlooking a tall reed flat. With a little ingenuity and sweat we had a couple really cool stands built surrounded by warthog trails. I reloaded my quiver with 150 grain BuzzCuts because it hammers game like a 458 magnum with total pass through. It’s perfect medicine for pigs through the shoulders. So up the tree I go for what I hope is a Bacon Bit parade.
As I’m admiring the ocean blue skies and the peaceful flow of the Limpopo River a thrashing of reeds draws my attention. A brown hyena runs out of the reeds and up the river bank past my stand. Cool! Within minutes of that encounter here comes a big tusker on the same trail. No time to waste as the 150 slices through pig hide, meat, bone, lungs and blood is just spraying everywhere like its coming out of a Wagner. That big tusk pig was a female and I know Ms. Beautiful isn’t going far. So I do what every smart hunter does; give the critter at least 30 minutes with hopes that another beast comes in. And sure enough, at minute 29.5 a big nasty boar arrives.
The big boar immediately smells the lava flow of blood and does a Nadia Comaneci move to the right but I am already at full draw. Old Bacon Bits is quartering away and I send another 150 grainer through his shoulder that exits the opposite side of the neck. Red is the color of the moment and the big boar runs 20 yards and turns into Jeff Gordon doing laps at Dover! He does a few tight laps and is down in sight. I leave my bow hanging and walk over to boar first. I’m pumped that he is a big pig with nice Ivory. I now start tracking Ms. Beautiful. If blood was white it would have been like following lines on a highway. At 60 yards I spot her and I’m just about ready to talk to myself in celebration when I spot a Civet Cat looking intently at my downed pig. Ol’ Civet was so focused on Ms. Beautiful that he had no idea that I was just 20 yards behind him. I go into super quiet yet speedy stealth mode back to my tree stand for my bow. Never leave your bow behind. To my surprise Ol’ Civet is still whispering sweet nothings to Ms. Beautiful when I return so I send a 150 through his vitals ruining his moment with Ms. Beautiful.
What a tremendous start to my African Safari. I shot 4 warthogs from this stand during this trip. Marcel will have tons of bacon bits for her salads and plenty of salt pork for breakfast! Ol’ Civet is a once in a lifetime trophy!
There is no place quite like Africa so stay tuned for part two of this action packed safari. The bushbuck, klipspringer, spur winged goose and monster catfish action is unreal. We even break out the recurve on warthogs.
Get your GRUBS on,
“Every kid is waiting to be invited outdoors. Ask them!”
For more please go to: Ty Weaver