An article written by Michael Griffin of his first day hunting.
What can I say I’m 48 years old and have never gone anywhere. Plus I am not rich by any means, try working for the State of Oklahoma. But some friends jumped out of an airplane when they turned 50, and that got me to thinking, " What do I want to do for my 50th?" I mentioned to my wife that I wanted to go to Africa, and go on a hunting safari. I was having my 48th in March of this year. She turned to me and suggested I go now. Who knows how long we have to live. So I had some serious talks with myself. I mean when your wife wants you to go to AFRICA, what do you say???
I'm one of those folks that makes sure everyone else comes first. I am usually not even on the LIST > so in time after lots of emails to my outfitter and patience on his part. On August 11th I started the journey of the greatest adventure of my life. The only hunting I had prior to this was deer and turkey hunting in the fall here in Oklahoma. Again gasoline and groceries and car payments and house payments eat up our meager budget each month. So the idea of spending $7500 for a safari was incredulous. (Forget that I indebted my self to $25,000 for a new van for my wife.) And so it began. I spent the next 10 days on a safari in Africa, (I’m still pinching myself) I get on the airplane in OKC my wife and daughters see me off. I have no idea what I am getting myself into. My track records with vacations have been terrible. I have high hopes for this trip. I fly to Atlanta. Pick up my luggage and catch a ride to the hotel. It is late and I am hungry the bar fixes me a great hamburger and fries and some sweet ice tea. My wake up call is for 6:30. I call home to let them know I made it that far. “ Honey, I stepped on the cat and I think I broke the cat’s tail what should I do???” “ Well, call the vet, or just take it to the vet, I sure cannot do anything 1500 miles away!” Off to sleep. (When I got back home she still hadn’t taken the cat to the vet and YES the tail was broken but healed nicely!)
The wake up call comes and I grab a bite at the restaurant before I leave. Back to the airport and on to the plane. It is huge I am in the tail end. Tight fit for 14 hours. I watch movies, and try to use the bathroom, another tight squeeze. Still after a long time I do catch some sleep. Then it is up and they are passing out immigration papers for SA. It is raining in Cape Town. The attendants have umbrellas. They whisk us into the airport. One little bushman type asks if I have a large silver gun case I say Yes and he shows me where to go and wait for the South African Police. We wait about 20 minutes before he shows up. It is early in the morning here. Like 5:30 or 6:00. After my 14hour flight to Cape Town, I was very tired and excited both. Cape Town is a small airport. Only four gates. All lined up one thru four. They have a small café, upstairs on the second floor. I went up there after one of the black fellas that work the airport got my luggage squared away. Got the South African Police forms all filled out and safely tucked away. I go up to the café and order some milk. Two cartons. Then I order a breakfast of scrambled eggs on a croissant covered with Swiss cheese. Very tasty and inexpensive too. I charge it to get a better exchange rate. (Or so I’m told) I then go down and wait for the flight to Namibia. The great Table Mountain of Cape Town fame is framed by the windows of the airport. It’s summit shrouded in clouds… The plane arrives and everyone gets on board. The flight is longer than I thought. First you can see the South Atlantic, then it fades Then trees and fields of green then slowly you can see nothing but desert for miles and miles. Below us is the Kalahari Desert. Someplace I would not want to crash. (Visions of “Flight of the Phoenix”) I look out the port side and see an extinct volcano. Hope the picture comes out. Soon the pilot comes on as says we will be landing soon. The hills of Windhoek start appearing. We land and disembark. Got a picture of that too. The Eros Airport, palm trees and all. Errol Lambrechts meets me at the airport and helps me get thru customs. The customs people are very nice and friendly. We get my gear out to the truck and get loaded. I get to meet Jani the landowner and his lovely wife, Anri, and their new baby who is asleep. Wayne Nish, another hunter, just picking up his guns. We start driving heading out of town. I don’t realize it right then but I won’t get to do any shopping on this trip right now. It is hard to believe I’m really in AFRICA. Until I see a road crew working on the highway and a troop of baboons is sitting there going thru garbage. Later I get hungry and Errol offers me a meat pie. Springbok fried meat pie. Very tasty. The land looks like New Mexico. Lots of desert terrain. Soon we see ostriches and Kori bustards walking by the side of the road. Three hours later, then we come to a dirt road turn left and keep going. We stop and go thru a wired gate. Another 45 minutes and we top a rise. There in the afternoon sun is the Gras Hunting Ranch house. Gold and green, neatly trimmed grass and bushes.
We drive into the yard and unload. They have a person take my stuff to my room. Errol asks if I want to sight in my guns, I say yes, and it is off to a makeshift range to sight in the guns. Both survived the trip and are still sighted in perfectly. After that we drive around a little before dinner just to get the lay of the land. Then it is dinnertime. The bar is nice. I have a Windhoek beer. Nice smooth stuff. Dinner is game meat, kudu, and springbok; with common vegetables and something called “ green monkey brain sauce” They are just kidding me, of course. Then it is off to my room to square things away. And get ready for bed. The room is nice but cold there is no heat in the rooms. The place is designed for 114-degree heat. Not 60 degree cold. Memories of my grandma’s house. No heat on the second floor and you had to make yourself a warm spot to sleep in. Sleep soon overtakes me and I don’t remember my dream. My PH, Errol Lambrechts was fantastic. He got me my first trophy at 7:30 the first morning I was in Africa. (There is something about that phrase that just gets me!) We were sitting there in the truck. Drinking coffee and eating a springbok meat pie, when two springbok come walking by about 100 yards away. He glasses them and says the first is a female but the second is good enough to take if I wanted to. So I set down my coffee and picked up my 30-06, (My 30-06 I've had for 30 years that I have put thousands of rounds through) chamber a round and try to shoot this thing. Let me see this is a rifle? Ok and I are supposed to sight thru this thing called a scope and look thru there and see a SPRINGBOK! THERE IS A SPRINGBOK IN MY SCOPE!!!!!!!And I am supposed to slowly pull the trigger. (Good thing there were no blood pressure cuffs around they don't go that high. Buck fever was nothing like this!!!!!) Thank goodness for blood pressure medicine. There he is, slowly Yes Mike take the safety OFF. Now, This thing hasn't run off yet! There we are slowly, BANG! What was that! I see it hump up and start to run with its head down. Errol is slapping me on the back saying that it was a good shot right thru the heart. I chamber another round and Errol is telling me there is no need for a second shot. So I pop the second round out and close the bolt on an empty chamber. I set the rifle down and pick up my coffee cup and finish my coffee. My First African Trophy Animal, a Springbok. We stow the breakfast stuff and drive over to it. It is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. The colors and the feeling of the hair. The morning sun shining on it alone. The whole world shrinks to just it and me. The others are taking pictures and congratulating me. I touch the horns, rubbing my fingers over them. He is still warm, and soft. His eyes shining. His back hairs have pulled up. And he is showing the white inside. His hooves are clean and black and shiny. I pat him and try to soak all of this in so I can remember him. I touch the bullet hole where I shot him. His blood is still warm on my fingers, I raise them to my nose and smell his blood and I put it to my lips and taste it. I may take other animals on this trip but he is my First and, and there will only and ever be MY FIRST AFRICAN Trophy. To me it didn't matter if he was 6" or 60" Size was not important. I look at the surrounding hills and the sky; there never was such a blue sky as today. A memorable day, a day that I will carry with me always. That will be there when I need it on a drab, depressing day when nothing goes right. I can go inside and relive this special time. AS the day goes by he will get stiff, and his eyes will dull and his blood will clot and will lose this luster of this time. And his body will get hard. He will change from an animal to a thing. Meat and hide and skull and horns. These things and my pictures I will have to show my friends who come to my house to see my trophies. But I can never share that morning, with them. That is the trophy I get to carry and show to myself. I apologize for where this thread has lead It was to be a comment on my safari. It is. I would like to say that I had the absolute BEST time of my life. But more than the trophies, more that the scenery or the food or the camaraderie. It was a spiritual journey for me. And I got to take it with the most wonderful people I could ask for. I don't think I can write anymore right now, Sometimes I get overcome with the grandness of it all... And God bless my wife for encouraging me to go. I will try later to fill you in on the rest of my voyage of discovery.
Well let me see if I can get back to where I was. After all the pictures and the handshakes and backslapping. We loaded the springbok into the "Bakkie" Such a cool name for a pickup. If this were Oklahoma, my gun deer season would be half over. And there are lots of years when all the deer have just disappeared from the woods. And you get real creative with hamburger. But here in Africa, Errol just turns to me. He has the biggest grin on his face, saying something to the effect of "Let's go see what else we can get today." And this is 7:30 in the Morning!. Hey, I could get used to this! So off we go. Bouncing around on the top of this crazy "Bakkie". You hang on for dear life. The "Bakkie" has a seat across the rack in the back with a padded seat on it that helps cushion the ride a little. There is a box on the roof of the Bakkie where you can store you rifles. I brought my 30-06, * you’ve already met! * And a CZ 550 Magnum in .416 Rigby. For all the technical folks I shot Remington factory 150 gr Core-lockt in my 30-06 and 300 gr Barnes X using 105 gr. H4530 with a CCI Mag primer in Norma cases. Figure about 2850 fps. Yeah I know it is a little big for plains game, but hey this was my fantasy trip and who wouldn’t take a good-looking gal on a trip like this. Yes I admit it! I’m a nostalgia nut. Could have bought a .375. But it is kind of like a racecar. Sure you drive the kids to school but the looks you get. So now we are bouncing around like two of those little figurines with the bouncing head. The going is slow especially if you are going across a field. The roads are just a little bit worse.
You don't realize that all the rocks in the world are throwing themselves under your tires. Glad I have something to hang onto. The black bar you hang onto takes on a decided lighter shade of black as you hands take on the appearance of tire factory workers. But these hills. These hills are gorgeous. You can see forever. And what did Errol say this morning after the springbok, If you get bitten by a gecko you either have to see an cloud in the sky or eat your own poop or you’ll die before sundown! Well looks like I will watch out for geckos, as I haven’t seen a cloud all day. Cold too. It is every bit a cold as an Oklahoma winter day. The idea of Africa being Hot I can imagine. They say it gets up to 122 F. here in the summer. But cold Lord have mercy. There were mornings there was ice on water left outside. We are continuing our journey across the African savanna. I could call it a prairie but it is too cool to not use the African words… We see some kudu cows and an immature bull. The cows stand and stare at us they know they don’t have anything to worry about, but junior has remembered an appointment with his buddies, no doubt, as he is showing us his BEST side. Highly similar to what I see of deer during deer season. And you know why they are called whitetails. The cows are a pretty brown, but kind of gangly, huge ears sticking out from the sides of their heads like radar. But big very big. Long legs. I understand why we hunt from vehicles, oh heck! "Bakkie’s. There I go again< sorry, the brush / trees are at least six feet high. And the hunter in this case is only 5-4". So you ride so you can see the game. And what game. We take our leave after watching the kudu cows kind of saunter off over a hill. You see springbok everywhere. Running up that hillside! Running on the horizon. Pronking like they have St.Vitas dance. …. My mind flashes on a scene, Julie Andrew, singing, " the Hills are alive with the sight of Springbok.!" …. Yeah kinda corny, but hey!….. They run and cut across in front of the Bakkie, daring us to catch them. We soon come across a herd of Gemsbok; this too is on my wish list. So Errol has the driver go after them. They run like the wind with an intentional swishing of their horse-like tails, like they are whipping themselves to run faster. The muscles on these beauties you can see thru your binoculars. The y ripples in their bodies as they run. And they run and they run. After a few kidney-damaging miles we realize that they could only be a figment of our collective imagination as they have disappeared into thin air. We are Still in the same " pasture" at least we haven’t crossed a fence yet. When what should appear on the horizon but Giraffes. Wild ones, not raised by zookeepers. Huge beyond belief! They have a rocking gambol about them reminiscent of a ship rising and falling with the waves. The old male is really dark. Errol shows me the track. It is twice as wide as my foot. I take pictures hoping they will turn out. Yes TWO cameras. A little flash one and a Pentax SLR. Keep telling myself, " You brought 40 rolls! Use it!" we take a potty break, much needed by this time. As the giraffes walk over the horizon. And the coffee has been working on my kidneys. It is around 9:45 of my first morning in Africa and I feel like I am on top of the world. We are looking around and Errol spots a lone gemsbok. "He looks good, Let’s go after him." OK, and we are off. Rolling over hills, he tries to fake us out. He goes down in the gullies and runs down to the end. Cuts over the foot and doubles back. Reminds me of a quarterback trying to get into the end zone. This time I have my .416 out. We haul up and he is standing 300 yards away. …. Now, you have to remember I have shot the .416 lots in practice, but never at any game yet, so this was to be her maiden voyage. I had sighted both rifles in at spot on at 100 yards, and had memorized the drop tables for both rifles. Anything over 100 yards, pretty obvious! I would have to hold over for… Well I here I am sighting in on my second African trophy. I line up on his back knowing that they carry their heart and lungs more forward I easy off my first round. Whap! I see the gemsbok go down like he was hit with thunder. The neatest thing though was I heard the bullet hit. Didn’t really notice the recoil or the muzzle blast. Did hear it hit. Something I would hear again. I remember reading about this in some of my hunting books. Too cool. In all my years of hunting in Oklahoma I have never heard the bullet hit. I chamber another round, caught the brass in my hand. Expensive stuff. Errol is really impressed with this rifle. He says this is only the second time he has ever seen a gemsbok go down like that. Boy was I glad I had brought this baby. I had read about how tough the gemsbok is, and from what Errol was telling me it was the truth. I take the second round out and mash it back down in the magazine. WE drive up to this huge. Sorry but please remember I have never shot anything bigger than a deer. This was the size of a horse. Take the horns off and it kind of looks like one. This is a DREAM come true. Reading magazines of other hunter’s safaris, there is no description that can fit that experience of this Is YOUR GEMSBOK! Beautiful, the striking black and white pattern on the face. The black and white on the legs and the almost blue gray color of the body. I see I have hit him somewhere in the area of the spine. Horns, black and long and sharp on the ends. I can see where you could wind up " en brochette" If he was of a condition to provide you with a riposte. But now he is yours. Uh OH! Well let’s make that SHE is yours. I have shot a female. Do I mind NOPE! Not in the least. She is a pretty as He was moment ago. And nothing can change that and no one is going to take her away. So now I am an old pro at the picture taking. Still I rub my hands over her back, as the springbok was soft this lady is hard and solid. She must weigh 300-400 lbs. Big long and solid. The horns as just something else. Those horns will hang in my house. Unbelievable!!!!! It takes everyone to get her in the Bakkie. Now the springbok has company. It is 10:30 of my first day in Africa. Errol tries to get Janni on the radio. No luck so we head back in. only about 20 miles from the house. Driving back I see these huge nests in these trees. Weaver Birds, Errol says, they start off a single nest then another builds next to it and then another and another. Soon you have this multistory apartment complex of all these little brown birds. . Oh Birds I forgot to tell you about the Kori Bustard, they are all over the place here a protected species, they are in a word, ready for this HUGE! Stand about 4 half five feet tall, about 50 pounds. Stork like, or heron like beautiful and then you have the black Koran a bird that the Good Lord let the male have the last word the females are mute. We head back to the house with our Bakkie full of game. And it isn’t lunchtime yet. Back to the Ranch house, Artoo drives us. We get there and no one is around, save for a few of the blacks that work there.. From them we find that we are to have a cookout in the field. We back up to the old sheep shearing shed, where they do the butchering and skinning and unload my prizes. I still am not quite believing all this, but just keep on enjoying it. Even now, cold and stiff they are things of beauty. Errol runs to the house and we all make for a potty break. We all meet back at the "Bakkie" and he tells us about the cookout. Up on our transport we climb and off we go. Down thru a gate and over several long hillsides we arrive at a windmill and water tank. They call them " dams”. Christos, the ranch manager has brought the food and has arranged wood for a fire. We stand around and shoot the breeze telling him about my springbok and gemsbok. Shortly after we arrive the other ‘Bakkie’ comes into view and pulls up beside ours. Out pile Wayne Nish, the other hunter and his crew. They have shot several springbok and have them in the ‘Bakkie’ still. The fire is quickly lit and the fire crackling merrily in the breeze. The wood smoke is heady fare. Makes you want to stand down wind. Soon the fire has died to embers and the grate is filled with "wurst" *sorry no umlaut* and fresh springbok liver. Now I am not normally a liver person but even to me the smoking hot, flame-seared liver of a springbok that only hours ago had only matrimony on his mind is too good to pass up. Very tender and not even a bloody taste to it. Very tasty. It tasted different from any liver I have eaten, it didn’t have that "livery " taste to it. The "wurst" was absolutely wonderful, juicy, hot, smoky, with that tang of coriander, and a coarse ground texture. Springbok, of course. Finger-width it came in long coils, kind of pinkish till you let them get comfortable over the fire and the grease starts to drip and they get all brown. Then you haul them off the fire and you burn your fingers trying to break it apart to get you a chunk to eat. It is juicy, but not greasy. In addition we had fresh. Yeasty, homemade bread, in this huge loaf, fresh tomatoes, fresh butter and jelly, hard-boiled eggs, and sodas. Never did an orange pop taste so good as when chewing down on some springbok "wurst". After we all sitting around scratching ourselves and groaning from too much wonderful food. Someone said they had seen some zebras earlier and thought some on us * namely me* just might be interested in finding them. With much picking of teeth and wiping of hands on pants, we remounted our mighty steed and sallied forth. Gemsbok we found, standing there, they must have know that I had already taken one of their kind ‘ cause they sure didn’t look worried. Off they trotted with that swishing of their tails. You sit there and just shake your head. After about an hour and a half. Having shooed the springbok out of the way, and a few more bone jarring miles of rock-infested savanna, we see a cloud of dust. There through the dust you see their black and white striped forms. From a distance indistinct and flowing together, you realize that thought black and white are in contrast to the grays, browns and tans of the savanna, their black and white coloration is a very good defensive pattern. You see the stallions rearing back and kicking and biting at each other. They are milling about and one is limping. I ask Errol if I should shoot the limping one. He said yes, so I shoot. Just then we see the other ‘bakkie‘ pop over the ridge just opposite our position. They had seen the zebras first and had shot, but being on the other side of the ridge we had heard no shooting. Knowing that they were on the scene and the limping zebra was theirs we took off mad-cap after the rest of the herd. Soon we see them milling about in a draw. We edge up to them in the bakkie an Errol says to take one. "Which one?" Errol says, " Any one just pick one!" I tell him I see one standing under a tree. And that is the one I am going to shoot. The .416 speaks and again I feel no recoil and no noise other than the "Whap" of the bullet. The zebra rears back on its hind legs and then drops back down on all fours. It drops its head and the other zebras start to move off. Slowly, my zebra starts to move off with the herd. I tell Errol I am shooting again, and fire once more. Errol fires a round from his 7mm magnum. We sit and watch the zebra through our glasses. I am worried and ask Errol if I should shoot again. He says "No, he’s dead he just doesn’t know it yet." No sooner spoken that the zebra drops to the ground. We drive over to it. The rest of the herd has departed for parts unknown. But that doesn’t matter. There lies a magnificent animal.
Breathtaking is the only word to describe your first zebra. It’s striking black and white. Errol is pounding me on the back saying "good job, and Well done." He really likes that .416. No problem with tracking. NO need to. They don’t go far enough. I get down off the bakkie and walk up to it. It is just too big. It is literally a horse. I tell Errol, It must weigh 800 pounds. It is more impressive the closer you get. I sit down next to it and rub my hands over it. Errol is admiring it’s mane and saying it‘s hide is in beautiful shape and that it is big for mare. I look back between the legs and say "Errol, I don’t think it’s a Mare with that plumbing." He really got excited then, knowing it was a stallion. Errol explains that normally the stallions are all cut up and the mane is chewed up from fighting, that is why he thought it was a female. This one is perfect not cuts, scars and the mane is perfect. He tells me it will make a beautiful rug. He suggests I hang it on the wall so as not to damage it from being walked on. A suggestion I intend to follow. I kneel down and examine its hooves, a horse’s hoof for sure but even the hooves are striped. I comment about the pink tint to the hide. Errol explains that they have special places where they like to roll and that is where they get their pink tinge. But that when I get it from the taxidermist it will be snow white. We stand around Errol and I. The boys have gone back to help load Wayne’s zebra. Has there ever been a more glorious day. Not in my life. You can’t count the days you children were born, that are different!!! Nope, the sky was never this blue nor the sun so brilliant. We take pictures. And talk, I ask Errol how he came to be a PH and what else he does for a living. He tells me about his family in Cape Town and what his two sons do for a living. All too soon we hear the sound of approaching vehicles. The other bakkie has come along so everyone can help load the zebra. It takes everyone’s help to load it in the back. NO I think now it weighs about 1000 pounds. With a heave and a push we finally get it loaded.
Three animals in one day. I am a little concerned, I bought 10 days of hunting and had a list of seven animals I came for. And this is just the first day. Oh, to be so concerned. Right now I am higher than a kite. It is around 4o’clock in the afternoon, and with my zebra we head to the house.
An article written by Michael Griffin of his second day hunting.
The insistent ringing of the alarm clock slowly drags me to consciousness. Through a thick fuzzy head I realize I am really in Africa. The warm spot I have built for myself is comfortable. Reminiscent of my growing up in West Virginia at my grandmother’s house. The furnace to the two-story house was, of course, in the basement. And the bedrooms were, of course, on the second floor. The jump into bed last night brought back icicle memories of sliding between cold sheets and the accompanying tingle that went with it. Ahh the warm spot you make in those icy sheets and lo! Help you if you strayed across the bed. Cold. I risk my arm to the cold and reach over and shut off the horrible beast. I lie there and think of the whirlwind of yesterday. Yes, I really shot all those animals and saw hundreds more. I want to savor the day today. So Up I get. Clothes quickly on and double-check all my gear. I take my medicines and perform my toilet. The house is quiet at 5:30. Though I have only been here a little over 24 hours it feels comfortable I walk to the dining room. The coffee is ready and I grab a cup. Coffee and Rusks. Must be the national breakfast of Namibia. The dinner last night was wonderful. Kudu steaks and springbok some strange looking vegetables and homemade bread. . I had a Windhoek beer made right here in Namibia. Very tasty puts American beer to shame. There was not much to do after dinner, as it was very late around 9 PM when we were all finished. They mainly speak Afrikaans to each other and English to me. I mainly sit and listen. After a while I realize how tired I Am So I retire to my room and read. I brought a book along to read on the airplane but of course I never opened it on the airplane. Then is off to the icy sheets. The coffee is hot and the rusks are very tasty. So I have s couple of cups of coffee and a handful of rusks. I suspect breakfast will again be in the field. But at least I am learning the ropes. I greet Errol as he come in and we make small talk. Getting ready to go out. The down vest I have feels good in the outside morning air. The sun is beginning to make its ascent across the heavens. The last of the stars are winking out. The sky last night was fantastic. I saw the Southern Cross for the first time. A very humbling experience. Stars down to the horizon. Stars I have never seen before and do not know the names of. The blacks come walking up from their houses across the draw. They are smiling and waving at me. I climb up into the bakkie and take my seat. Errol climbs up next to me and one of the blacks climbs in the back with us. Errol says he is our spotter. We will go after Hartebeest this morning. To see if we can find a good trophy. We drive for hours. Around 8 we stopped for breakfast and brother, did that coffee taste good. The breakfast was sandwiches again. And homemade bread with jelly on it. Oh, boy, reminds me of when I used to bake bread. The little girl who does all their bread sure knows how to cook. Well after chasing springbok out of our way for about 4 hours we finally find a herd of Hartebeest. Only they are three hillsides away. So naturally we go after them. They fly over the rocky ground as we waddle over it like a large tortoise. An hour later we see them for the last time as they fly in formation over a hilltop like a group of bombers in the sky. With fighter squadrons of springbok flying cover for them on either side. Running and leaping just for the joy if it. We are a long way from home so we are starting to wind out way back. The things we saw today. Hmm… let see springbok and more springbok. We stopped and checked some live traps for jackals and wild cats. They have feral cats over here. Just like house cats only very wild. Birds lots of birds. We saw the little Weaver birds fly in and out of their apartment complexes. Kori bustards, Hornbills. Doves and sand grouse. Vultures we found where they and cleaned up a springbok. How it died anyone’s guess. As big as this place is probably old age. Errol explained what jackal proof fence was and how they were made. We saw some baboons in the distance but didn’t go after them.
Along about 4 we stopped to take some pictures of some Kori Bustards taking off. Nice sequence shots. When the spotter yelled “ KUDU” we all swing around and by the time we do the spotter says the kudu has gone over the hillside. Soon we are hot pursuit. Really we drove across the foot of the draw and up the other side. Once up there we looked back across the draw. Errol points out the kudu. Standing behind a bunch of brush out of which are curling two nice big horns. Errol looks at him and tells me that he is not the biggest kudu but a nice one. Asking me if I want to take it. I decide to shoot, as I really wanted a Kudu. And again not knowing if I would even see another! (In retrospect, I saw other kudu bulls but none as nice as the one I shot. One had one horn and the other one was a young bull with one turn.) . The kudu is standing behind this brush. Errol says that should he urn and walk out to shoot him a the point of the shoulder. Well after a few minutes he turns left and walks out behind the brush. He stops and I fire. Again I don’t feel the recoil nor hear the shot. I do hear the bullet hit. Whap! The bull rears back on his back legs and then drops back down. He tries to walk but drop his head. I chamber another round but Errol tells me to hold off. He saw where the bullet hit and knows he will go down. Down he drops. And we drive over to him. I see that he’s mortally wounded, but I tell Errol I don’t believe in letting animals suffer so I shoot him in the neck right behind the head. And he is mine. Excitement floods over me. I am so excited I have done something that I have wanted to do all my life. Every since I read Ruark writing about hunting the HOLY GRAIL of African hunting here in Namibia I have shot MY KUDU!!!!!! I had taken a couple of photos of him before I finished him off. I hope they come out. He looked so grand. We get down and make sure he is mine. Yes. He is. I walk up to this creature of mythical proportions. Larger than Life. He is magnificent. Lord of all he surveyed. He is Old! I pat him and comment about the bald patches on his hide. He wore them off fighting other bulls, Errol says. His face is all scarred and torn He has a bullet hole thru his right ear. His ears are huge like mules. But his horns are beautiful he has his two turns and his ivory tips. The spotter looks at his teeth and just shakes his head. Errol looks to and tells me his teeth are all worn down. “Over twelve years old.” He says. “ He probably would not have survived the winter” Now he will not have to. He is huge about 400 -500 pounds and beautiful. Errol measures his horns. Around 42 inches. I look at him he is just right for my little trophy room. He will match my gemsbok.
Links to hunting reports posted by hunters on www.accuratereloading.com
Posted by Scott Tobermann on May 24, 2007
Posted by Greg Rodgers on February 22, 2007
Posted by Wayne Nish on August 18, 2002
Posted by Marshall Peacock on June 6, 2003
Posted by Mike Griffin on September 16, 2002
Posted by Travis Verch on August 9, 2007
Posted by Guillermo Amestoy on May 15, 2007
Posted by Jeremy Peterson on May 15, 2007
Taken from “The Hunting Report”.
Bill Woodward of Buffalo Wyoming sent it in. He and his wife Paula hunted with us in August 2003.
The report goes like this
Namibia has long had a reputation as a top destination for trophy hunters. Vast landscapes, high animal populations and a European tradition of fine food and lodging make Namibia one of Africa’s best hunting venues. Now, a US hunting consultant and a leading Namibian PH has teamed up to offer a superior African hunting experience. The package combines Old World hospitality and superb plains game hunting at remarkably affordable prices. A hunt with this organization begins with Wendell Reich of Hunters Quest International preparing a detailed profile on each client. That profile addresses everything – trophy objectives, client physical fitness, and food preferences and favoured hunting styles. Wendell sends the profile to PH Jannie Spangenberg, who owns and operates Gras Hunting Ranch in the Hardap Region of central Namibia, between the Kalahari and Namib deserts.
The Gras Ranch lodge itself is an immense Bavarian manor house built in 1906. Spangenberg has meticulously restored the building to its former glory as Namibia’s finest example of rural German colonial architecture. Gras Hunting Ranch is home to more than 6,000 springbok. Herds of gemsbok, hartebeest and blue wildebeest abounded the 100,000-acre ranch, too.
From this base, Spangenberg and his partner, Errol Lambrechts, hunt 250,000 additional acres across eastern Namibia, including concessions offering specific trophy opportunities. One evening at a waterhole on one ranch close by the Botswana border my wife and I saw no fewer than 12 kudu bulls measuring between 48 and 55 inches. My wife took two immense warthogs (12 and 11 Inches), and I placed a 16-inch springbok in the record book.
March 8 to 20, 2004
South Lyon, Michigan USA
Monday, March 8, 2004
Departed from Detroit, Michigan to Windhoek, Namibia, Africa. After a very long flight, I arrived in Windhoek to find my gun was still in Johannesburg, South Africa. My professional hunters, Errol and Jannie, from Gras Hunting Ranch, met me and helped get things straightened out with my rifle. I had to fill out paper work and leave keys for my gun case at the airport; then we left for the Gras ranch.
After a four-hour drive, we arrived at the ranch and saw game right away: 2 Gemsbok bulls, 2 Kudu bulls, and 2 Steenbok. Around 8 p.m., Errol called the airport to ask about my rifle. They had located it, and wanted to know what we wanted to do about getting it to me. Errol told them my hunt started at 6 a.m. the next morning, and they should bring the gun out to the ranch. I woke up at 2 a.m. when the driver arrived from the airport with my rifle…Hallelujah
Wednesday, March 10
This is a count of the animals we encountered on the first day of my hunt:
400+ Springbok, 75+ Gemsbok, 75+ Blesbok, 20 Zebra, 6 warthog and 6 giraffes
I shot the first Blesbok at 275 yards; score 114.9
Thursday, March 11
I shot a 41 1/2” Gemsbok at 240 yards; score 252.9. Once again, we saw numerous animals: 100+ Gemsbok, 30 Kudu, 10 Giraffes, 5 Warthogs, 2 troops of Baboons, 2 Steenbok, 300+ Springbok, 60+ Blue Wildebeest, 50+ Blesbok, and around 30+ Red Hartebeest.
Friday, March 12
I shot the 2nd Blesbok at 350 yards, score 107.5, and a Black Wildebeest at 400 yards, score 184.7. I’m not going to list all the game that we saw every day because there were just too many to keep track of and try to concentrate on hunting. Most of the time, my P.H. is Errol, but Jannie comes along when he’s not tending to business matters.
Saturday, March 13
I missed a long shot at a Springbok. However, my second shot was good at 300 yards on a Springbok that scored 112.3. Then I missed a 2nd Springbok, but the fool let me get a second shot at 275 yards; that was his last mistake. He scored 103.5. We saw lots and lots of animals again; too numerous to list. On the afternoon of the 13th, I shot a Red Hartebeest at 350 yards; score 174.5.
Sunday, March 14
Rode along with 4 Germans who just photographing, and helped spot game for them on 94,000 acre Gras. The sunsets are spectacular!
Monday, March 15
We were going to take a ride in the ultralight, but it was too windy. While hiking around, I spotted a cave with what looked like a Baboon skull at the entrance. The tracker and I climbed up and discovered many bones from different animals. The tracker said it was probably an old leopard den. I shot my 3rd Springbok at 200 yards.
Tuesday, March 16
At 4 a.m., Errol, Jannie, the tracker and I drove to the mountains…about a 3-hour drive…to hunt Hartmann Zebra. We hadn’t been there for a half hour when we spotted 2 zebras. They disappeared in a small canyon, so Jannie and I made a stalk to within 300 yards. I made a 290 yd. Shot. Long 3 hour drive back to the lodge.
Wednesday, March 17
We’ve seen baboon every day, but just can’t seem to get close enough for a shot. Jannie and I flew the ultralight for a little sight seeing. This was spectacular! What a treat to see the animals from above. Jannie’s Dad had been having trouble with warthogs. Errol and I tried to help out with the problem but never spotted any. It was the middle of the day and ungodly hot. We went fishing instead. Errol and I fished for about 2 hours just before sundown. He caught 5 and I caught 8. My biggest was a 16 1/2 lbs, 45” long Catfish. We gave them to the natives; they sure appreciate them after having meat from the game all the time.
Thursday, March 18
More people came to Gras to photograph the animals. This also gave me time to just take pictures and enjoy the scenery. I spotted a troop of baboons about 1 mile from the lodge. I asked everyone if I could make the stalk by myself. I hiked down to the river, and through the trees along the edge. I made a 167-yard shot on a 60 lb. male with perfect teeth. Errol heard me shoot and drove down to the river to see if I needed any help. I tracked the baboon for about 50 yards up in the rocks where he died. I was dragging him out when Errol arrived in time to take pictures.
Friday, March 19
I’ve collected all the animals that I’d hope to take; so today, Errol, the tracker, and I just rode around enjoying the scenery and seeing all the animals. We were invited to dinner at the ranch next to the Gras Hunting Ranch; which happens to be 15 miles away. Gretchen and Reinhold, with friends Nicole & Fritz, along with Errol and Jannie enjoyed drinks and a wonderful steak dinner. They sure have a beautiful place.
Saturday, March 20
It’s time to say goodbye. Word cannot express how much I enjoyed my time at Gras Hunting Ranch. The staff bent over backwards to meet all my needs. Jannie and his wife, and young son, along with Errol were fantastic hosts. They were also GREAT professional hunters who could spot great trophies. The lodge was beautiful and the meals were fantastic. Again, I can’t thank everyone at Gras enough!
Now, it’s back to the good, old, USA. We’re leaving the ranch at 6:30 a.m. so we can stop and get Errol’s camera that he left where I shot my zebra. Then we are going to stop at the taxidermist before going to the airport. My flight leaves at 1:45 p.m.
Thank you again for a GREAT HUNT!
South Lyon, Michigan USA
From: Cal McCallum in May 2001
The service at the ranch was second to none. My taxidermist used to work at Jonas brothers, and he said my capes were some of best taken care of trophies he has seen. All shot with a Winchester model 70 featherweight .308 with federal high-energy 180-grain nosler partitions.
Day 1 we spotted one lone Blesbok. After about 30 minutes took broad shot at 310yds turned out to be almost 18". One of the best Blesbok to come out of Namibia.
Day 3 found a herd of wildebeest, about a 220yds broad shot, it went down immediately and never got back up. It’s horns stuck straight up in the air instead of curving in, not the biggest but a very unique trophy. I picked that one instead of a bigger one. Found a small herd of gemsbok. Took first shot at 350yds. It looked like I hit it but could not find any blood. We tracked them for about an hour and once we got a second look it was hit high in the neck. Took 2 more shots to finish him at about 50 yards. Saw a herd of gemsboks took it at about 230yrds in high wind. A high neck shot. Turned out to have booth sex organs and his or her horns are very unusual looking. They a split extremely wide and bend.
Day 4 one lone springbok was spotted. About a 210-yard shot and it went straight down. It was over 14". Found a herd of Hartman’s zebra and chased them for hours. This is after we chased them four about 3 hours the previous day. They were getting away again when Errol said the last one to come out of the brush was stallion. The last one hesitated just a second and at 330 yards it went down with a high shoulder shot.
Day 5 we tracked 4 cows and two Kudu bulls and at 210 yards the two males we standing and Errol said "to shoot the one on the right in the open, I said "I like the cork screw of the other one." Errol then said "shoot the one you want on your wall they are booth good but do it fast." So I shot through the bushes because all I could see was the horns. Only five of them ran back up the hill so we know that one was down. 52” with a thick beard and good ivory tips.
Day 6 and 7 the winds picked up and we hunter for hartebeest, but never got close enough. It was a great experience, and I would not have changed a thing.
From: Dan Arnold in August 2002
Friday, August 2nd, 2002
Arrived at Gras in the late afternoon. Squared away my gear and relaxed while enjoying the view. Jannie, Errol, and a group of hunters arrived just before dark. The group is finishing their hunt and should be departing in another day. After supper, Jannie and I sat down over a beer and discussed what kind of hunt I wanted: did I want to hold out for the biggest trophies, shoot the first thing we saw, or do something in between. Jannie assured me that if I did my part, and with ten days to work with, I could get several “good” trophies; not record book quality, but very nice. That’s good enough. More importantly, he wanted to know how I want to hunt: spot and stalk, or shoot from the truck, which is common for the Europeans. Jannie seemed pleased with my decision to spot and stalk. I guess he likes to crawl around after animals too. I think we’re going to get along well. We have a lot in common: close to the same age, young families, etc.
Saturday, August 3rd, 2002
Sighted in the 6.5mm and the .375 just after sunrise. Temperature is chilly, about 40 to 45 degrees. Jannie said we needed to shoot three springbok for meals around the ranch, so we cruised around looking for any that had damaged or misshapen horns. I thought Jannie was kidding when he said he wanted headshots. Turns out he was serious, and I managed to oblige on two. The third was a little farther out than I thought, so the round went in center-chest. We spotted a herd of gemsbok and spent the better part of two hours trying to get close enough without success. Toward evening, we glassed the river for kudu, spotting a nice bull. Unfortunately, the kudu slipped away to the neighbor’s property, but we spotted a nice warthog down in the riverbed. After chasing him down on foot, I spined him just as the sun disappeared. Carrying him back in the dark took a long time. Springbok liver cooked on the grill is really fantastic!
Sunday, August 4th, 2002
Gemsbok is the goal for the day. Jannie is disappointed that we hadn’t been able to get any closer yesterday. Stalked two different herds today. The first eventually caught wind of us and departed at high speed. Either that, or they just got spooky when a group of four giraffes cut in between us. The second herd was feeding along a dry wash, moving in and out of the thorns and brush. After a lot of hands and knees crawling over the rocks, we got into the brush and circled around in front of them. Luckily, they crossed an open area single-file about 175 yards from us. There was too mush brush to shoot kneeling, so Jannie offered up his shoulder as support while I shot standing. The gemsbok stopped totally still when the bullet hit him, bit he didn’t go down. After Jannie and I untangled ourselves from our unorthodox shooting position, he told me to hit him again. This time I took the shot offhand, hitting within three or four inches of the first shot and the gemsbok was down for the count. One bullet had exited completely; the other was just peeking through the hide on the off side. After lunch, we dropped off the gemsbok at the ranch and loafed a bit until evening when we went to the river to look for kudu. Didn’t see any bulls, but a nice springbok was waiting on a ridge top, picture perfect. The .375 was a little big, but I took the shot anyway. It’s surprising how many different kinds of animals are here. There’s always something to see. Today I saw 4 giraffes, 4 blesbok, 5 hartebeest, and 15 kudu in addition to the gemsbok and springbok.
Monday, August 5th, 2002
Went out after blesbok with Jannie and Errol. Stalked a trio and took a nice one with the 6.5mm, using Jannie’s rifle as a sort of monopod to firm up my kneeling position. Later in the afternoon,
we spotted two springbok sparing on the side of a hill. While they fought, Jannie and I slipped in close enough to shoot the winner, a nice, old male with lots of character and good horns. On the way
back to the ranch we saw a jackal and gave chase in the truck. He outdistanced us because the ground was too rough to go very fast. The jackal made the mistake of stopping to look back when he got
about 200 yards ahead. Jannie and I both fired at the same time. One of us hit the jackal in the foot and the other hit him squarely in the head. Jannie paid me a nice complement today. He said that
it was a pleasure hunting with me because I could shoot well and didn’t expect a record book animal to be just over the next ridge. That, and I took everything in stride, good or bad. Tomorrow, we
Tuesday, August 6th, 2002
Sunrise over the Kalahari is incredible! The sun really looks like a flattened ellipse as it rises, just like the National Geographic pictures. We hunted a neighboring ranch that is really a collection of 30-foot tall red sand dunes that stretch on forever. Each dune was about 200 yards apart. In the trough formed by the dunes was a thin covering of grass that supported the sheep and impala. Tough hunting. Charge to the top of a dune and look down into the trough for impala and, if none were in sight, cross the grass and charge to the top of the next dune. Visibility was limited to what was between each dune, so I think I saw the ranch in a series of 200 yard strips. Took a shot at a male that ran by with his herd and hit him too far back. When he finally slowed down, I got a good rest and held over his back by about twelve inches to put him down. I think I like the open country hunting at Gras better than the dunes. A group of Austrians had arrived at Gras when we returned. Jannie says I can go out with them tomorrow on their springbok hunt as a back up. I guess Jannie trusts my shooting even with the miffed shot on the impala. The Austrians were amazed that we had been hunting on foot. After talking to them, I get the feeling that they hunt out of stands exclusively.
Wednesday, August 7th, 2002
Went out with Errol as a back up shooter for a pickup load of Austrians. Each of them shot from the truck and anchored their animals with single shots, so my rifle went unfired today. Jannie’s group had some trouble, losing one animal that was definitely wounded. After packing the Austrians off after lunch, I went sightseeing with Joe, an American who is staying at the ranch for an undetermined length of time. We saw zebras, giraffes, springbok, and a group of four jackals.
Thursday, August 8th, 2002
Went with Errol and Joe to Jannie’s father’s farm to track down some warthogs that were tearing his fences up. Didn’t find the warthogs, but ran into some acquaintances of Jannie’s father’s who were out meat hunting. They were after 12 springbok and had only shot six so far. They asked us to shoot a few for them if we ran into any. Joe and I couldn’t believe our good fortune. We dropped off two nice springbok at Jannie’s father’s house when we left. Later that evening we shot guinea fowl and checked the river for kudu, seeing one immature bull. In all, I saw 9 blesbok, 10 or 11 zebras, 30 or more wildebeests, scads of springbok, 15 kudu cows, and the one bull today. At this point, I’ve collected everything except the kudu and still having a great time. Another American is due in who wants to have a try at kudu as well. Jannie says that when he gets in, we’ll all go upcountry to hunt kudu.
Friday, August 9th, 2002
Loafed around Gras today. Set out jackal traps with Errol, then went bird hunting. Saw a troop of baboons that immediately took off when they saw the truck. All of them disappeared except for one that sat down and watched us from a long way out. Errol told me to take a shot at him. I guessed the range at about 400 yards and held a full body length above and to the right to account for the wind. The bullet kicked up dirt almost at the baboon’s feet. Then, Errol pulled out his rangefinder – 440 yards. Not bad for the 6.5 Swede! Wayne, the other American we’ve been expecting showed up this evening with only the clothes on his back and his camera equipment. The airline lost everything else. He’s upset, but even though I can sympathize, I couldn’t be happier. Tomorrow we leave to go kudu hunting!
Saturday, August 10th, 2002. Drove upcountry to the Gobabis area, relatively close to Botswana. Jannie’s in-laws have a dairy here. They’re great people, friendly, very much like farm families back at home. We arrived late in the evening, having only enough time to shoot 28 guineas before supper.
Sunday, August 11th, 2002
Hunted a cattle ranch that is close to Jannie’s in-laws. The owner shoots kudu cows for the meat, but leaves the bulls. We drove around, stopping frequently to glass. There was a lot of brush that was shoulder high or better, so we were looking for the sunlight reflecting off the kudu’s horns. That is literally all that was showing above the brush. Jannie spotted two sets of reflections about 200 yards away and we were off, winding our way through the brush and thorns. We got to within 75 yards before we could even see their bodies. One bull had good horns and the other had really great horns. When the biggest moved out of the brush, I put him down with a single .375 round. Jannie thought the bull could easily have been 12 years old. He said that they can live to be 18 years old in areas where predation is low. Wayne connected on a kudu later in the afternoon, something Jannie said had never happened before – two kudu bulls on the same day!
Monday, August 12th, 2002
Anri, Jannie’s wife is here at the dairy with the baby. Jannie’s sisters and brothers in-laws live close by, as well as Anri’s grandfather, so the house is full, especially at mealtimes. Like most farm families, adding one or two additional mouths doesn’t seem to be a strain. Grandpa taught Wayne and I how to play the Boer version of “horseshoes,” using ox-pins instead of shoes. Wayne, Jannie, Errol, and I spent most of the day hunting doves and guineas. I think we burned up two or three cases of 12 gauge shells. Tomorrow, we leave the dairy. Jannie will drop my trophies off at the taxidermist and then take me by the airport for the long trip home.
Eagle River, Alaska
Gras Hunting Ranch Namibia 2006
This was my first trip to Africa but will not be my last trip to Namibia and Gras Hunting Ranch, I hope. If ever there was a place that could capture your imagination and sprit, the sprit of the hunter, this is the place. I fell in love with Gras and the “Gras experience” from the very first day. It will live in my memories like few experiences in my life time.
My companions and I spent 7 days at Gras and hunted plans game for 6 days. We arrived on July 27th and hunted through August 2ed. The hunt was superb. The accommodations are fantastic. Jannie, Anri, P.H. Errol Lambrechts and the staff at Gras are the embodiment of the African hunting experience.
I have hunted all my life, much of it in the remote back country of Alaska. I have appreciated the uniqueness and mystique of Alaska for over 25 years. Moose, caribou, bear, and sheep hunting are all on the menu in Alaska. But a safari at Gras is an extraordinary event. The comfortable accommodation and the daily rituals of the hunt are what dreams are made of.
The historic lodge is splendid. You will never have a want at Gras. It is one of the most relaxed and accommodating lodges I have ever stayed in. The attention to detail is outstanding. The remote setting, in the brush lands of the Namibian desert, gives you a real sense of vastness. Grans hunting ranch is huge. We did not see all of it in the days we were hunting.
Game was every where. From one high lookout by the Fish river we saw a mixed herd of planes game to numerous to count. Springbok, kudu, wildebeest, zebra, hartebeest and baboon all were feeding together along the river. It was like a scene out of Jurassic Park the movie. Even Jannie the guide and host of the ranch remarked “Wow, that’s a lot of animals”. Everyone on the truck sat and watched in awe as the morning scene unfolded before us.
Our hunt was all that one could ask for. Every animal on the hunt list was bagged. Kudu, gemsbok, two springbok, zebra, wildebeest, and warthog all accounted for. Three were very remarkable specimens. My springbok was exceptional as well as the gemsbok and zebra. The quality and quantity of the game was amazing. In 5 days we took seven trophies all of witch any hunter would be proud.
If you ever get the chance to visit Africa I would recommend a hunt at Gras. Jannie, Errol, and the staff will make your stay comfortable and your hunt exciting and memorable. They are without a doubt “world class”.
From: Alberto for Hedilo Torletti in March 2001
I, Alberto Guillermo Foerster was lucky enough to assist Mr. Hedilo Torletti as his interpreter from Argentina our homeland, to a plains game safari in Namibia at Spangenberg's family Farm; the Gras Hunting Ranch.
How could I describe the place? Some questions & answers will be the best.
What quality of game did we hunt?
The following trophies, in this order: 1 Blesbok, 1 Black Wildebeest, 1 Red Hartebeest, 1 Zebra (Hartman's), 1 Blue Wildebeest, 3 Springbok,
1 Gemsbok (Oryx), 1 Kudu, 1 Impala, all the trophies qualify for medals of SCI, two bronze, 1silver and the others gold. We could also hunt free, some Wild Cat, Rabbits and even a fish! Ask Hans (the black driver what was is it like to hunt a fish with the .22!)
How did we hunt each day? How many animals did we see?
We hunted every day by vehicle, once we arrived to the hunting area and sight the prey we could shoot it from the truck or stalk it. It was common to see herds of the same type of animal, and easy to choose more than one good trophy.
What about the professional hunter?
The PH, Errol Lambrechts is qualified as so. I can say that he is an excellent professional as well as a nice fellow, as an example: he spot the trophy, chose the best one and assured the measure and medal qualification, seldom times he missed. He really takes pains to find quality trophies
How did we find the quality of the lodging, food, staff, and hosts?
Regarding these topics, I can assure the best quality in every sense, the hosts, Jannie Spangenberg, his wife Anri, Errol Lambrechts (excellent friend) and Jannie's parents are very fine people, we felt homelike, a special mention for Jannie's cousin and the tracker Simon. For adding something else, and not less important, we enjoyed excellent meals accompanied with a fine selection of the best South African wines. During the night we enjoyed the wonderful Namibian sky spotted with stars, sharing the tales of the day and good drinks next to the campfire. We had other pleasant surprises as well; actually I can't advance them, let them be so: surprises!!
From: Reginald Denton Henry in July 2001.
My son and I hunted on the Gras Ranch in July, 2001. Our wives
accompanied us on all the hunts and enjoyed it as much as my son and I
did. The service, food and accommodations were excellent. The animals
were plentiful with many outstanding trophies. We took twelve animals and
all were excellent trophies. The weather was super nice the entire
time. We had planned to stay seven days on the ranch, and then tour part
of Namibia. But we enjoyed the Ranch so much we spent our entire time in
Namibia on the Ranch. We became good friends with all the people at the
ranch. They treated us as if we were long-time friends. All four of us
agreed this was our greatest vacation ever. We hope to return some day.
From: Rennell Barney in July 2003. They hunted with us in July 2003.
ERROL, I WANT YOU AND JANNIE TO KNOW THAT WE WILL HIGHLY RECOMMEND THE
RANCH TO ALL OUR FRIENDS AND HOPE THAT IT BRINGS YOU MANY HUNTERS!!
BUT MOST OF ALL I WANT YOU TO KNOW THAT I ALSO FELT THE GREAT FRIENDSHIP!!
I FELT AS THOUGH WE WERE TAKEN INTO THE FAMILY AND IT MEANT A LOT TO US.
KERRY AND I HAVE TALKED IN LENGTH ABOUT THE FUN WE HAD AND HE ALSO FELT
THAT WE WERE SPOILED. DON'T KNOW IF THE TRIP CAN EVER BE TOPPED BY ANOTHER OUTFITTER SO I GUESS WE WILL JUST HAVE TO COME BACK AND HUNT WITH YOU GUYS AGAIN!!!
ONCE AGAIN THANKS FOR ALL YOU HAVE DONE FOR US AND GOOD HUNTING !!!!
From: Sharon Rearwin in June 2005.
Hunting at Gras Ranch has to be the most thrilling experience of my life. Just driving up to the ranch at twilight one June evening in 2005 with Errol Lambrechts, our PH for the hunt, was magical. First just a speck across miles of wavy golden grass but as we drew closer the outlines and details of the ranch house were revealed against the setting sun. The architecture can only be described as “southern African” and the incongruity of this fantastical building and the surrounding featureless and empty landscape was startling.
We unloaded our gear and Errol showed us around the common areas and then to our room. How such comfort and charm can be created 150 miles from anywhere is surely a tribute to Jannie and Anri who have indeed created an oasis for hunters. Our room even had a whirpool tub which I confess I did not use.
My husband Tom and I were anxious about this trip and with good reason. We are novice hunters, having only hunted once before in 1998 in Zimbabwe. Living in the highly urbanized area of San Diego our only opportunity to practice shooting is at a 100 yard indoor rifle range. Errol began to put us at ease as we talked about our goals over a few cold ones in the bar. I began to think I might actually be able to shoot successfully. Yet I was still worried about the long distance shooting since all our previous shooting in Zimbabwe was under 150 yards.
Next morning just as dawn was breaking in a cloudless sky Tom and I climbed up on the back of truck, Errol and the tracker sitting behind us. We sped down a dirt road between rolling hills covered with high golden grass and studded with thorn trees. On our first day we were looking for anything that had horns and moved! As we turned off the dirt track heading for a distant ridge I immediately discovered that all that beautiful grass was merely camouflage for huge red rock boulders lying underneath! Just hanging on as the truck jolted over and around these obstacles was a skill I had better master quickly. To scan for game while being tossed every which way seemed to be asking too much of my poor coordination skills! The sun climbed higher in the sky and I could finally focus beyond my hands gripped on the roll bar. In the distance we saw herds of springbok, small groups of red hartebeests, blue wildebeests and other species I couldn’t identify. The land was teeming with game but I could not imagine how I was going to hit anything at these distances. The animals could obviously see us from miles away just as well as we could see them.
My first opportunity came at mid morning when we were able to close in on a small herd of blue wildebeests who did not immediately turn tail and run the minute we got within 250 yards of them. The truck rolled to a halt, Errol glassed the group and pointed out an impressive male hanging at the back of the herd. A perfect shot! And I missed! But unfortunately not completely as the wildebeest obviously took a hit in the leg which made him tear off across the ridge and out of sight. A few hours searching turned up nothing so we gave up and turned our attention to more profitable pursuits. But during the rest of our 10 day hunt we looked for that wildebeest in every herd we saw. At the end I was satisfied I had probably only nicked him and he was out there laughing at me every time we drove by. It was a good lesson and an expensive mistake for me.
Our luck began to change. Tom and I adjusted mentally to the distances we would have to shoot. Errol and the truck crew performed amazing feats to get us in range of a variety of game and it wasn’t long before I had taken a very nice gemsbok at close to 300 yards. My self-confidence went up a notch! I couldn’t have done it without the Leupold Vari-XIII 3x by 8x scope cranked up to full power and the flat shooting characteristics of my Sako .270.
In the days that followed Errol, his tracker and his driver worked together tirelessly to bring us within shooting range of the excellent trophy animals inhabiting Gras Ranch. Both Tom and I were going through our wish lists in good order. One animal not on our list was a giraffe. Our delight upon seeing the heads of this small herd pop up in unexpected places during our daily game drives brought the thrill of being in Africa to us just as much as chasing after antelope.
Probably the highlight of the hunt for me was the chase and eventual shooting of a beautiful red hartebeest. I’ll never forget that hair raising, butt busting drive over boulders, through washes, over ridges in pursuit of this creature who led us a merry chase for several hours. Clutching my rifle and at the same time trying to hang on to the back of the truck while keeping him in sight made me determined to succeed. But it wasn’t easy and once when Errol set me up with a good shot and I missed him completely, I almost gave up in frustration. But we regrouped, I calmed down and though it took a lot of fancy driving and stalking and a little bit of fancy shooting (all I could manage), I was able to hold that beautiful trophy head up for the obligatory photo!
Tom and I will never forget our time spent at Gras Ranch – the wonderful people, delicious food and above all the excitement of the hunt.
From: William C Brown M.D. in August 2002.
Ryan, my son, Jim Lessig & I hunted at Gras and some of the surrounding areas in Namibia in August of 2002. The service that was provided was spectacular. The pre safari planning was uncomplicated and being picked up and transported was a breeze. We did an eight day hunt and collected some truly spectacular animals including a 561/2 inch Kudu, an enormous blue wildebeest, and a nice gemsbok & zebra. We also did grouse, dove and guinea fowl hunting on our days when we decided to take it easy. The PHs, Errol and Jannie were true gentlemen and great fun to deal with. I appreciated you being picky and selecting mature excellent trophies for us to harvest. The ranch and staff were spectacular. It was very easy to get spoiled.
Every detail was taken care of and everything was upfront. My son & I remember the hunts with great fondness. We will be back and will bring our friends.