Posts Tagged ‘Elephant’

Johnny Posey, Eason Maykus, Todd Allen, Darren Vohs and Bruce Heikkinen joined us on safari during late June, right at the peak of the rut. It was great having Johnny back. He has become such a good friend and big supporter over the years, that hosting him with his friends at Woodlands during our opening season was a must for all of us at John X Safaris.

Our hunt would incorporate both our coastal region, hunting in and around Woodlands Safari Estate, as well as a trip to the Great Karoo, before joining the ladies down in Cape Town. Heather, Simone and Elise Allen, together with Sydney Posey, spent a few days with us on safari before heading down the Garden Route to Cape Town.

For first timer Darren Vohs, it would literally be a life-changing experience.

Darren teamed up with Professional Hunter, Lourens Lombard, and tracker Spinach, making for a formidable team. For a first timer Darren had set his sights on a number of “not so first timer” species, but we weren’t complaining. The rut was on and who doesn’t love a challenge when it comes to hunting?

A Kudu is always a top priority for any hunter to Africa, but apart from the elusive grey ghost the guys hunted hard for Gemsbuck, Impala, Nyala, Springbuck, Black Wildebeest, Mountain Reedbuck, Bushpig and Cape Bushbuck.

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The broad smiles and images pays tribute to what turned out to be an amazing first trip for Darren, very similar to that of Bruce Heikkinen.

Bruce was a late joiner to our hunt after overhearing Johnny tell a fellow hunting buddy about his upcoming safari to Africa. It kind of summed up Bruce in the way he did things. He goes big or goes home…. When he says he’s here for a good time and not a long time, you better know he means it!

Bruce joined PH, Ross “Stix” Hoole, and tracker, Thando Xolo, for the first half of his hunt before teaming up with Ed Wilson for his last leg of his safari up in the Great Karoo.

A Cape Buffalo, Sable, Eland, Lechwe, Nyala, Waterbuck, Blue and Black Wildebeest, Zebra, Gemsbuck, Kudu, Impala and Bushpig made for a massive hunt. Not knowing much about Bruce up until meeting him on the first day of the safari we all soon learned the man could shoot.

Bruce proved to be not only a great shot, but a lucky hunter too. He however was not the luckiest hunter of all. That tag belonged to none other than Johnny Posey.

If you’ve done your time in Africa, it is said that the rub of the green starts leaning your way more often than not, but on this particular hunt it was more evident than ever before.

If our Sable and Lechwe were the starts PH, Carl van Zyl, and tracker Oluwhethu, were hoping for, then hold your breath for our Tiny 10 quest.

We headed out early one morning from Woodlands, striking a bearing south-east towards the ocean and the coastal forests Blue Duiker inhabit in large numbers along our rugged coastline.

We typically hunt Blue Duiker over Jack Russel Terriers, or make use of blinds over waterholes in the forest. On this particular occasion we opted for the blind option as conditions were dry and the Duiker were drinking regularly.

At times blind hunting can be something of a boring affair, but one thing you can be assured of when it comes to forest blind hunts, is that the bird life is jaw-dropping. The Turacos are particularly striking in both sound and colour.

While peering out of our blind, day dreaming about the various hunts we had shared over the course of the first few days, we noticed through the only hole in the forest, a red coloured animal feeding on the opposite ridge. At first we brushed it aside as a young Bushbuck female, but then our boredom got the better of us and we turned the spotting scope in its direction. And to our amazement we saw it was a Cape Grysbuck feeding in the morning sun. A rare sighting to say the least.

It was too far to tell if it were a male or female, but the opportunity required a closer look. We gathered our gear and made a dash for it. Knowing the Grysbuck would not be feeding out for too much longer we pushed hard, making up the distance between it and us as fast as our legs would carry us. Reaching the pre-determined ridge, we had plotted out previously as a good place to get a shot from, we crested too fast, spooking the Grysbuck in the process. Carl was mad for his silly error, but he had luckily seen it was a fantastic ram before the sly old guy disappeared into the undergrowth. Feeling despondent and ready to give up, knowing our chances were no more than 1/100, Johnny urged us to go on and circle back around.

And 1/100 is the only 1 we needed. This one belonged to Johnny. Through sheer determination we harvested the first ever Cape Grysbuck in daylight. An unheard of feat in the hunting world where Grysbuck are usually totally nocturnal.

With our Grysbuck in the salt and our attitudes in a festive mood we headed back to our Blue Duiker blind. The day was still young and we weren’t about to give up on our original mission.

We had barely sat down for twenty minutes when in wondered this monster from the undergrowth. The hunting gods were smiling on us as much as one could have ever hoped for.

By noon we were heading back to camp to celebrate two of the most difficult critters of the Tiny 10. It turned out to be one of the greatest days we’ve ever experienced in guiding the Tiny 10, and not to mention doing it with Johnny, a more deserving friend than him would be hard to find.

With Johnny smashing records left, right, and centre, Todd was turning his very first African safari into a huge success with PH, Martin Neuper, and tracker Oluwhethu.

Starting off his hunt with a 31’’ Waterbuck set the benchmark high for what was to come.

Todd’s Kudu was the pick of the bulls on the safari, a beautiful animal, hunted for over the course of four days. His Nyala, Cape Eland and Cape Bushbuck wrapped up a spiral slam reeking of quality, while his Sable gave you the feeling of an old warrior.

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Todd’s pigs were however the pick for all of us guides. While we all know PH, Martin Neuper, is one of the best guides around, he sure has a knack of pulling the rabbit out of the hat from time to time.

Finding a Bushpig in broad daylight takes luck, actually hunting it successfully takes skill. Then top that off with a boss Warthog in trying drought stricken circumstances, and you’ve got yourself a hunt like few have experienced.

Todd came out tops when it came to pigs on this particular safari!

For Eason Maykus, a fellow first timer from Dallas, Africa provided an experience like he could not have imagined.

The mountains of the north in particular captured his imagination and set the spirit of Africa alive with in him…

Sharing his hunt with Johnny and PH, Carl van Zyl, he thrived in the tough conditions. Loving every step of the way to the top of the mountains. We harvested Waterbuck, Hartebeest, Black Wildebeest and Springbuck. Coming away with bag to be proud of.

Eason’s Gemsbuck took more than your average Gemsbuck, giving us the run around up in the high country. We had spotted the group early on during the course of the morning and we decided to concentrate on two or three individuals that had stood out in the spotting scope at 1500 yards +.

We climbed higher and higher as the day grew on, hoping to surprise the feeding group by coming over at them from above.At one point we had found a second group we had not spotted originally, making for a tricky situation on an already bare mountain. We decided to back off and allow the lay of the land and the feeding Gemsbuck to give us the opportunity we were after.

With patience our opportunity came, and with that an opportunity at a Gemsbuck to remember. Hunted for the hard way, up where the air is thin and the eagles soar, where memories and friendships were made for life. It was an epic hunt.

From the Karoo we headed back south for one last evening of fun at Woodlands, before saying goodbye to Bruce and Darren, while the rest of us, including Trish, joined the girls down in the wine country of the Cape.

We started off our visit to the Cape in Franschoek, a beautiful little town right in the heart of the wine country.

The setting was spectacular…

We spent the next few days exploring some of the well-known wineries, but mostly concentrating on the boutique style smaller vineyards. Both Johnny and Todd enjoy their wine tremendously, which allowed us all to learn a great deal about the various wines with their aging and flavouring processes.

Before we knew it, two days were up and it was time to make the short journey over the Helderberg Mountains to Cape Town. We most certainly weren’t ready to leave the wine country, but the mother city was waiting in all her glory.

By the time our ten days were up we had hunted in some of the most breath-taking areas the East Cape has to offer, the girls had seen the Big 5 and travelled down the picturesque Garden Route, before we all wrapped up a memorable safari in the Cape of Good Hope. It was one of our many highlights from 2017, shared with friends old and new in beautiful sunny South Africa.

For more information and current updates about John X Safaris; follow us on Twitter, connect with us on Facebook, subscribe to our YouTube Channel and visit our Website


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As I started my final forward from Lalibela during late September, I found myself gazing out over the game rich plains deep in thought… the moment had finally come for us to say goodbye and close a chapter on twenty memorable years. I would be lying if I were to try to convince you that at that moment I was not feeling overly sentimental or emotional. Twenty years of dreaming, sacrifice, hard work, and achievement. It had been a journey like few.

If we were to rewind the clock by twenty years, to be more precise, October 1996, and I were to tell you about that first sunny afternoon on Hillside Farm, Sidbury, East Cape, South Africa, you would have been excused for being a pessimist like the many others. Rick and Sue van Zyl had just acquired the first property in what would become today’s world-renowned Lalibela Game Reserve, and the home of John X Safaris.

At first it was a meager colonial homestead turned into a “rustic camp” for the few loyal hunters, who unbeknownst to them were playing a major role in getting the dream of a wildlife reserve off to a slow, but gradual start. Soon the first lodge, Lentaba, was completed, giving our hunters a taste of what was to come. With the acquisition of more land and the re-introduction of 22 game species and the first White Rhino, things started coming together nicely.

With 20 000 acres, a lodge, one of the Big 5, over 3000 head of game, and an eager team we set off to launch Lalibela to tourists in the summer of 2002. The concept was a brilliant one; our hunters would occupy and utilize the winter hunting months, while the tourists would take up the summer months, when hunters preferred to stay home for their traditional northern hemisphere hunting season.

By 2003 a second lodge, Mark’s Camp, was completed, the very year both Elephant and Cape Buffalo, joined the White Rhino as members of the Big 5, once again roaming free where they had not set foot for over a hundred years. A masterstroke in developments it turned out to be, with the reserve taking an even bigger step with the introduction of free roaming Lion, Leopard, and Cheetah in the early part of 2004. With the addition of a further 10 000 acres and completion of our flagship lodge, Treetops Luxurious Tented Camp, a first of its kind, during September that same year, Lalibela had established itself and was now a successful brand in both the hunting and tourist industries respectively.

Throughout the years and the numerous developments we have been privileged to have grown as a family, calling a place such as Lalibela, home. It is something that we have not taken lightly in our responsibility to the land, wildlife, our people, hospitality, and business. Your support and safari contributions have allowed us to build and live an extraordinary life – one we could not have been a part of without each and every one of you – after all, Lalibela only became a reality because of you and your commitment to conservation through hunting. It has been a journey we are immensely proud of and an achievement of a goal reached through untold sacrifice and hard work.

With that said we had reached for the stars and fallen amongst them, but something was lacking, it was time to move on… time to let go of the familiarity. It was time to go back to the beginning, to our people, to John X Safaris and the most enjoyable years of our lives.

New Beginnings – Woodlands Game Reserve

“And suddenly you just know… it’s time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings…”

Woodlands Game Reserve – 30 000 Acres, big 5, plains game, over 2500 head of game, 20 + species, rifle, archery, wing shooting, and a brand new colonial safari lodge opening in March 2017 + the very same trusted team – Dedicated to hunters and hunting only. 

We will still be offering our multi-area option safaris in both the coastal and northern Karoo regions, like we’ve been doing for the past 33 years, with Woodlands becoming our coastal base. Those hunters who have booked safaris can rest assured that Woodlands will be everything and more of what Lalibela could have ever offered as a destination.

We have found our new home. It’s a hidden gem like no other, and you’re invited to join us on your next safari as we turn the industry on its head and launch the greatest hunting destination the East Cape has ever seen.

Until your next safari – We thank you for being a part of the Safari World of John X Safaris during the past year and the many before. It has been a privilege hosting and having you on safari. Your support and friendship means the world to us. A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Carl & Family

For more information and current updates about John X Safaris; follow us on Twitter, connect with us on Facebook, subscribe to our YouTube Channel and visit our Website!

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When you’ve acquired a taste for dust,
the scent of our first rain,
You’re hooked for life on Africa,
and you’ll not be right again.
Till you can watch the setting moon,
and hear the jackals bark,
And know that they around you,
waiting in the dark.
When you long to see the elephants,
or hear the coucal’s song.
When the moon rise sets your blood on fire, 
You’ve been away to long.
It’s time to cut the traces loose,
and let your heart go free,
Beyond that far horizon,
where your spirit yearns to be.
Africa is waiting, come!
Since you’ve touched the open sky
And learnt to love the rustling grass,
the wild fish eagle’s cry.
You’ll always hunger for the bush,
for the lion’s rasping roar,
To camp out beneath the stars
and be at peace once more.
 Author unknown

As we look back at our 32nd year in the safari industry, John X Safaris, was once again able to fulfill its conservation, humanitarian, and youth initiatives through your continued support. Without you the reality of this past season would merely have been a dream.

Gunwerks2015_ 4

While our trophy quality is a given, the passion of our professional hunters the standard, and our friendly crew our trademark, it is the experiences created at John X Safaris that we pride ourselves on. We hope that experience has been one that alters the course of your life, because after hunting Africa, nothing will ever be the same.

We started our season in March, after the summer rains had fallen, and finished off our last hunts in mid-October. We once again enjoyed hunting our renowned East Cape concessions in South Africa, as well as southern Zimbabwe, and Namibia’s Damaraland.

We welcomed back numerous old friends to the Safari World of John X Safaris this past year, eager to see and experience Africa with John X Safaris once again. A number of new faces embarked on their very first trip to the dark continent, placing their trust in our team. By all accounts the smiles around camp and fantastic mails received upon their return home, told us that their experiences with John X Safaris may have been their first, but most certainly not their last.

Glancing back over this years monthly reports you’d agree special mention needs to be made of our teams in the field, they, together with our loyal agents, trusty lodge crews, and long-standing team members, have once again proven why they’re one of the most recommended teams in the industry. And it seems it’s not only you recommending John X Safaris, but Craig Boddington too. Craig’s endorsement of John X Safaris during 2015 is a testament of the operation and our trophy quality, as I’m sure you would agree, when looking over some of the best from 2015. That together with luxurious lodging and world-class cuisine, combined with our Big 5 Game Reserve base – makes John X Safaris one of the best southern African destinations.

After the amazing success of John X Safaris’ first Safari World publication back in 2010, we’ve continued on with the popular tradition. This year’s book looks to be our finest to date – a must for any past, current or future John X hunter. Feel free to purchase The Safaris world of John X Safaris 2015 and add to the growing collection.

JXS CTB Cover 2015

Looking towards the future and 2016, one finds oneself pressed not to ignore the winds of change that have started blowing. Never before have hunters seen such an attack on their actions, heritage, and passion.

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The world of social media has changed everything. From Cecil the lion to the ban of trophy exports on certain airlines, it seems the momentum has shifted, and if left will see the anti-hunting fraternity gain further ground as they aim to ban hunting around the world. While the threat is real, it is not too late to act, and the battle has most certainly not been lost.

It is now more important than ever that each and every hunter stands up and takes responsibility for their actions. The world is out to judge us – let’s not be found wanting. In saying this we cannot, and must not apologize for being hunters. We must continue to hunt, but more importantly do so in a manner of which we can be proud of.

As you start planning your next safari we’d like to hear more from you. Bookings for 2016/17/18 are coming in at a steady pace and we look forward to seeing as many of you as possible during our upcoming travels.

Below is a quick reminder of  our 2016 show and travel schedule. If you or any of your friends may be interested in meeting with us, please drop us a line, we’d be glad to fit you or them into our schedule.


USA – January/February 2016

  • Dallas Safari Club Show – Dallas, Texas: 7 – 10 January 2016 – Both Carl and Stix will be at the show.
  • Houston, Texas, Cocktail Party/Visit: 11 – 14 January 2016 – Any interested hunters can join us for an evening BBQ Reception at the Travis residence in Cypress, TX, Wednesday, 13 January.
  • Omaha / Kearney, Nebraska Cocktail Party/Visit: 14 – 18 January 2016 – Cocktail evening with the Hertner’s in Kearney, Friday evening, 15 January. Carl & Stix will also be visiting with our good friends the Petersen’s, as well as Steve & Jill Evers. Any folks interested in visiting or meeting up with us while in the Omaha area can plan to do so on Sunday, 17 January.
  • The week of 18-22 January 2016 will see Carl enjoy a bird shoot in Vance, MS, while Stix will be visiting with our good friend Sam Cunningham in Amarillo, TX. Any folks interested in meeting up with Stix can schedule a preferred time during the week.
  • Jackson, Mississippi: 22 – 24 January 2015 – Carl & Stix will be visiting with our good friend Mike Jarvis.
  • Salt Lake City / Eagle Mountain, Utah: 24-27 January 2016 –Fun evening with all our friends from Eagle Mountain, Wednesday evening 27 January – Both Carl & Stix will be in Eagle Mountain.
  • Pleasant View, Utah: 28 – 31 January 2016 – Fun Evening with the Nelsen brothers, Friday 29 January – Both Carl & Stix will be in Pleasant View.
  • Safari Club International – Las Vegas, Nevada: 3 – 6 February 2016 – The entire crew consisting of Carl, Stix, Dave Harwood, Brett Nelson, and Jose, will be at the show.

Lastly, it is with great pride that we can share one of John X Safaris greatest achievements to date. Each year PHASA (The Professional Hunters Association of SA) recognizes the best trophies hunted in South Africa during that particular season via the Uncle Stevie award.

This year saw numerous entries for the award, with world-class trophies from right around South Africa making for stiff competition. As usual John X Safaris had a number of trophies in the running, but it finally came down to Steve Robinson’s Vaal Rhebuck guided by Professional Hunter, Carl van Zyl, during 2015 who took top honors.

What a privilege to have guided a trophy of this class, and one that is most certainly a greater challenge than most. It was the opportunity of a lifetime for Steve, and a dream come true for me.

In closing both Trish and I have some fantastic news to share with you. Trish will be expecting our third child during June 2016, something we’re extremely excited about!

On behalf of the entire team we salute and thank you for choosing one of our southern African destinations as your choice safari during 2015.

Until your next safari – A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.


Carl, Trish, Brett & Abigail Van Zyl

Lalibela, December 2015

Please note – John X Safaris will be shutting down from 3 December 2015 until 2 January 2016. We will be checking mail on a weekly basis during the festive season. For any urgent bookings or safari related inquiries, contact Carl on hunting@johnxsafaris.co.za

For more information and current updates about John X Safaris; follow us on Twitter, connect with us on Facebook, subscribe to our YouTube Channel and visit our Website!


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DSC_0571As we celebrate the arrival of the new year, refreshed and ready for what will be another memorable season, it doesn’t take much looking around to realize the world is looking more beautiful than ever. The condition of the game, including the hundreds, if not thousands of young, are in prime condition.

The latter stages of 2014 provided much-needed rainfall, but since then it has not stopped – neither does it look to be dissipating anytime soon. This in turn means our areas have enjoyed wonderful summer conditions, leaving the country side greener and lusher than before.


Hunters joining us this season can look forward to world-class hunting, with many of the older animals, the trophies we’re after, looking better and better by the day.


Those whom have not made up your minds about your next African hunt, feel free to drop us a line or meet with us at one of our stops across North-America during Jan/Feb. Here’s a quick reminder of where we’ll be and which shows we’ll be attending.

USA – January/February 2015

Dallas Safari Club Show – Dallas, Texas: 15-18 January 2015

Salt Lake City / Eagle Mountain, Utah, 19-21 January 2015 – FUN EVENING with all our friends from Eagle Mountain, 20 January – Carl & Ross

Pleasant View, Utah, 21 – 23 January 2015 – FUN EVENING with the Nelsen brothers, 22 January – Carl & Ross

Bismarck, North Dakota, 23– 25 January 2015 – Carl

Amarillo, Texas, 23– 25 January 2015 – Ross

Burlington, Wyoming, 26 – 28 January 2015 – We will be visiting with our good friends from Gunwerks.

Omaha / Kearney, Nebraska, 28 – 31 January 2015 – COCKTAIL EVENING with De Freece’s in Kearney, 30 January – Carl

Jackson, Mississippi, 28 – 31 January 2015 – Ross

Safari Club International – Las Vegas, Nevada: 4-7 February 2015



Furthermore we’d like to remind all of our “#Getting the Youth Hunting at John X Safaris”. As with previous years, we’d like to once again challenge parents/guardians of youths under the age of 18 to get them off the couch and into the field. John X Safaris will once again be sponsoring the day fees of any minor joining his/her parent/guardian on any of our 10 day safaris. Come on folks – let them work for their airfare and you spoil them with a couple of trophies/visa versa. In today’s world you need to get away to reconnect – no better place than a hunting trip to Africa.

May it be a trip to the East Cape of South Africa to enjoy our renowned camps and areas, or a return safari to either Namibia, Mozambique, Cameroon, or Botswana – we have the areas, expertise, abundance of game, and world-class field crews to turn your dream safari into a reality.

Enjoy the booking season – it’s the first step in your journey of going on safari. Don’t be afraid to ask the questions you have in mind and remember Africa is a continent and not a county – the possibilities are endless…

I look forward to seeing you in the US and talking more about your next hunt with John X Safaris.

I look forward to seeing you in the US and talking more about your next hunt with John X Safaris.

Yours in hunting,

Carl Van Zyl

For more information and current updates about John X Safaris; follow us on Twitter, connect with us on Facebook and visit our Website!


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HUNTER & OBSERVER: Paul & Sandra Dellva 

Professional Hunter: Carl Van Zyl

Tracker & Skinner: Zwayi

Area/s Hunted: East Cape, South Africa

Safari Duration: 5 Days

RIFLE: 300 Win Mag

SPECIES: Zebra, Blesbuck, Black Wildebeest, Cape Hartebeest, Impala

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Guest Book Feedback: We had a great hunt – great time! Carl & staff are very accommodating. The patience and diligence in selecting trophy animals speaks loudly for the quality hunt that John X Safaris is noted for. We look forward to our return with the rest of the family!
Paul & Sandra

For more information and current updates about John X Safaris; follow us on Twitter, connect with us on Facebook and visit our Website!


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A story of where it all began, the day a seed was planted and a dream of a safari was born. You may meet them at the start of their story, at times halfway through, and then on a fortunate occasion near the end. It is not that one story is greater than the other, but more so, it is where they are that makes it interesting.

I count myself fortunate to have met and guided Arthur and Shirley Pipp during the winter of ‘08. Art as we came to know him was a man with a story nearing its pinnacle. Together they had spent the greater part of fifty years traveling and hunting the world. A fair measure of this man and certainly one that would impress many, was his double grand slam on the sheep of the world – no small feat to say the very least. (more…)


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What happens when a PH suddenly finds himself in the shoes of his client? When what he had preached about for years was more exciting than even he could imagine….. When the tables were turned and the hunted quarry was staring at him through his crosshairs and not a set of Swarovski 10/42’s …

Rewind the clock – March 2011. WAIT – Rewind some more… January 2011. A few friends all involved in the safari industry had flown into San Jose, Costa Rica. We then found ourselves on a short “puddle jumper” charter flight over the islands’ main volcano, which was supposedly the easy and quicker option to reach our fishing resort. Right, we’re driving next time! During one of our glorious fishing days, that only the Costa Rica Rooster’s could provide, the topic was raised as to what my fiancée, Trish, and I wanted as a wedding gift? After a few seconds of consideration, with a confident look in my eye, I said:” A Cape Buffalo hunt.” (They were asking? Why not shoot for the moon and if I missed, I’d still land amongst the stars?! In any case, up until this point I was told that all gifts at a wedding are actually meant for the bride, why not let my one count?!)

Our Costa Rica trip turned out to be one of our best to date. At the time I had no idea what the Haldane’s were up to, MY trip of a lifetime had quietly begun ...

March 2011 was upon us and I was blessed to marry the most fantastic woman in the world and share our day with family and friends. Mark, Paula, Glen and Carmen had made the journey south from KwaZulu Natal to join us. Midway through the evening I was approached by the two Haldane brothers, an envelope was stuffed into my pocket and a cold beer into my hand.

In the envelope was this exact contract, by now a crumpled paper. It has traveled from KwaZulu Natal to the East Cape, then from the East Cape to Mozambique, and back again.

… and that’s how it all began. My Cape Buffalo Hunt.

With great excitement and last-minute instructions for all at home, Juan and I boarded the 06.00 flight from Port Elizabeth to Johannesburg. In Johannesburg we settled into our first beer of the morning before catching our connection onto Beira, Mozambique. In Beira we were met by Pete and Shaun, the resident Zambezi Delta pilots. We collected our luggage without a hitch and set off for camp.

We were officially on safari.

Our first afternoon was spent around camp, checking rifles and giving Juan the tour of the operation. This was to be my 5th trip to Coutada 11, for Juan it would be his first.

Day 1 – The excitement of being on safari …

As eager as a child on Christmas morning and more excited than an angler witnessing a well hooked Marlin clearing the water, we rose at 03.30am. A quick cup of coffee and we were on the hunt for Buffalo tracks. At this time of the year the Buffalo are forced to concentrate around the last remaining waterholes before the rainy season starts in December, bringing relief to the thirsty land and its many creatures.

The Buffalo we were after was classed as a community Buffalo, only to be hunted in the forest region of the concession, with all the meat being donated to the local community. Coutada 11 is very different to many other Big 5 concessions throughout Southern Africa. It boasts such a wide variety of species and habitat that the hunter is spoilt by choice of hunting the sand forests, savannah, forest pans, flood plains, and ultimately, the swamps.

Spoilt for choice - Coutada 11.

Our morning was a busy one, tracking down three different herds and looking over more than 80 Buffalo. At one stage we considered a good-looking bull in a herd that boasted 7 bulls. In the end we decided that the bull in question was too good to be removed from the gene pool, his mark was yet to be left on the herd.

During the course of the morning we had covered +- 15 km’s by foot, lunch back at camp sounded like paradise with the heat of the day fast approaching the 100 degrees Fahrenheit mark.

That afternoon we headed into the sand forests. The forests play home to some of the most sought after “Tiny 10”, including Red Duiker, Blue Duiker and the rarest, Livingstone Suni. Suni are considered by many as one of the most difficult to find of the “Tiny 10”. They occur in extremely specialized areas, with Mozambique boasting one of the highest populations throughout Africa.


Juan and I share extremely competitive natures. His path of luck continued as per usual – yet another winner. This time in the Suni department!

Heading back to camp we spotted a number of Chobe Bushbuck. These fleet-footed forest dwellers perch themselves on top of massive termite mounds, surveying their surroundings with obvious vantage, always keeping a beady eye on any lurking danger.

Chobe Bushbuck

A great ram presented Juan with yet another Bushbuck to add to his already impressive collection.

That evening we hit the sack early, the next morning would be another 03.30 am wake up call.

Day 2 – Big foot – Little foot………

When it comes to hunting we all share the same fascination with the one that got away. Somehow we believe that no matter how limited the time or opportunity, we can and will crack it. We find ourselves day dreaming about “that” monster that has eluded everyone before and that we will be the one to outwit him at his own game. So we think… or we wish to believe.

Big foot – Little foot, is a well-known Buffalo around Coutada 11. Ask any of the resident PH’s about this sly devil and your question is usually greeted by a smirk. They’ve been trying to hunt him for more than 10 years now. He has outsmarted everybody who dared follow his strange tracks. One massive right hoof and a small left. How and why the size difference, nobody knows? Either way he’s a legend of a Dugga Boy, the kind I was after.

He had frequented a certain pan every second night, always entering at the same spot and leaving at another. His habit proved simple to predict, his tracks an illusion to follow.

That morning saw no fresh Big foot – Little foot tracks, we decided to continue on. In the afternoon we found ourselves in a familiar pan, the same pan where Steve Robinson and I had hunted that monster Nyala 3 years ago. As if déjà vu, a group of 6 Cape Buffalo were resting under the exact same tree, with one massive bull in the center. Unfortunately we spotted them too late and they were off, crashing into the forest. For the remainder of the afternoon we played a game of cat and mouse. The Buffalo kept winding us, never giving us the required shot. We finally called it quits at sundown.

While the day was a tough one without any luck, it did take me back to that great afternoon 3 years ago. Steve and I still enjoy reminiscing about his bull.

Day 3 – Could it be D-Day for Big foot – Little foot?

At exactly 04.09 we found his tracks. We felt confident. Three young PH’s hunting together with two highly skilled trackers and enough stamina to walk the soles off any decent boots. Things started easy, the tracks were clear to follow, the Dugga boy had fed close to the pan for most of the evening. The tracks led us into the forest. For the first hour under forest canopy the going was good. Then we found blood, fresh tracks with old dung, then new dung with what we believed were old tracks. Suddenly at the base of a termite mound everything disappeared. We back tracked, checked, double checked, and rechecked again. The trackers were using every inch of experience ever instilled within them, to no avail.

After a lengthy discussion and the acceptance of a lost track we made the call to head back to the pan. If these tracks were not proving any worth, then surely the Dugga Boy was still in the pan, hiding in the Papyrus beds. We knew for a fact that he had entered the pan, as we’d swept the entry path with branches the previous afternoon.

With rifles loaded and ready to rock, together with our trackers and firmly gripped machetes, we entered the Papyrus. Within minutes our shooting lanes had all but vanished and we were gripped in a maze of reed. This was clearly not the smartest move to date. Friend and local PH, Poen van Zyl, turned to me at one stage; “Whatever you do NEVER tell my dad we did this, he’ll kill me if this Dugga Boy doesn’t”, he whispered. He had a good point. We were playing with our lives. Shorty, one of our trackers and the oldest of our hunting party was clearly not happy either. As he put it, he had done this before and had come bursting out of the Papyrus on numerous occasions, and that bursting was often on the boss of a Cape Buffalo.

With that in mind we called it a morning and headed back for lunch.

The afternoon proved to be a slow one. Gotchi, our head tracker, had other ideas and kept us entertained with interesting history of the people, the area and their “palm wine factories”.

Day 4 – We got skunked!

Most safaris should at times experience a skunk day. One of those days where things just don’t go your way. When everything you attempt seems to bare no results. On day four we didn’t find a single fresh track. It was a much-needed day, sent by the hunting gods to remind us why we love this sport so much.

Day 5 – The safari jitters may be starting to set in …

As Professional Hunters we all share a similar problem from time to time. There are occasions when our friends/clients/hunters start questioning the area, the game and ultimately you as the PH. Fortunately for me and I can speak for most, the PH always seems to pull through somehow or another. When the spirit of success returns, and the clients questioning concerns seem a thing of the past and a mere distant thought, we are quick to forget that period of distress.

As the client on this particular occasion it was rewarding to see the effort put in by a team under pressure. Remember this was the second last day of the hunting season. Poen and his team dug deep – keeping the safari jitters at bay.

My Cape Buffalo – To be honest, I didn’t visualize the shot like many of my clients tell me they do. I didn’t watch hundreds of DVD’s or read a book about how to drop a Buffalo in one perfectly placed shot. I’m a practical guy, if a Steenbuck drops in his tracks with a shot on the shoulder, and a Kudu drops a few yards further with a shot on the shoulder, then surely a Cape Buffalo shot with a 416 should drop sooner rather than later with a perfectly placed shot on the shoulder.

Another possibility I never thought about, which shocks me today, I never imagined that my first shot at a Cape Buffalo would be of a bull running away at full speed 190 yards out. Now that I think of it I was pleasantly surprised, but extremely comfortable with the shot. 99% of my shots, which maybe happens twice a year, are of running game after they’ve been wounded. 80% of my annual hunting a year is on Plains Game, I don’t believe or see the need of backing a client; after all it is his safari. A back up only comes into play when my client cannot reach the required area fast enough and the animal is wounded, it is only then my job and responsibility to terminate that animals suffering. The times where my backup has been required on Big 5, it has always been at uncomfortably close quarters. A Buffalo breaking from the Papyrus 190 yards out and making a beeline to the forest on my second last day was not my ultimate idea of a Cape Buffalo hunt.

With all this information at hand and things happening in a fraction of a second, I led the bull and let him have it with my 416. At the crack of the shot the Dugga Boy stumbled and came to a rocking halt, a scene I’ve seen on many previous occasions, a perfectly placed heart shot. Right?

Poen gave me the assurance nod, a nod shared amongst PH’s, as if to say, great shooting. I was feeling good. Fantastic! (To be totally honest.) And then – And that’s why it’s called Cape Buffalo hunting, he stumbled – gathered momentum and took off crashing into the forest.

We gathered our gear, packed a backpack and set off to the spot where the bull had disappeared into the forest. From the outset we found blood, interesting blood. There was a lot of it. We felt confident we’d find him dying or just about. Then the forest erupted and he broke cover for the first of many times during that day.

We’d track him carefully, myself on the left, Gotchi in the middle, Poen on the right and Shorty behind, double checking the bull never veered off the obvious track. Juan followed in close pursuit, camera in hand. At times the bull would break a mere 10 yards ahead of us, Gotchi would instinctively drop to the ground while Poen and I would brace ourselves for the charge. It never came.

By midday the trackers started looking a bit despondent. Nobody could fathom that an animal could lose so much blood but still continue on, and on, and on. At 14.00 we sent Juan and Shorty back to the truck to collect more water and a few Cokes for the trackers, their eyes were getting tired and the point of danger had been reached. We’ve all seen it before, during the heat of the day after long hours on the track, a hunting party starts losing concentration and accidents happen. We called a break to “recharge” the troops.

After the short break we set off again. The bull led us from Miombo into Sand forest; Poen called me over and made it clear that the bull would soon draw the line. We’d better be ready. All this time on the hunt we’d enjoyed the company of Poen’s 18 month old Irish Fox Terrier, Rusty. He’s a great character and a survivor; ask Poen what it takes to pull him through sleeping sickness with all those Stesse Flies around. It’s quite the job. When the bull broke for the 5th time that day a 16.00 Rusty disappeared. Within minutes he had the Dugga Boy bayed. We ran as fast as our weary legs could take us, both firing off two rounds at the outraged Buffalo. He took off again, this time with Rusty more determined than ever. Rusty bayed him again. We moved in slowly sensing our battle was peaking to a climax. The bull took two more rounds from our 416’s then stumbled in our general direction before spotting us. He regained his balance and set off across us, this time I picked my gap and dropped him in his tracks – 16 yards out.

He was a great old Dugga Boy. More helmet than spread, and certainly more attitude and character than a younger cocky bull.

Not only did he boast a solid cracked up boss, but an old snare imbedded into his front left leg. He was a loner, a Dugga Boy, the bull I’d dreamt about all those years ago. I may not have opened the ball game in the most fashionable manner, but we stuck at it and finished the job 11 hours later. It was beyond anything I had imagined.

That evening we squashed a few screw tops and dented a fine bottle of Chivas. The following day would be our last. We had planned on sleeping in and cruising the concession, showing Juan a few more sites of interest.

Day 6 – Right place … Right time …

On our final morning we were kicked out of bed by Mark. He needed a team for culling and everybody else was busy packing up camp to close things down for the season. The community’s meat quota of Common Reedbuck had not been completed yet, and it was the last day of the season. We headed out towards the flood plain in search of 5 Common Reedbuck. On the way out Juan spotted a Sable bull a mere thirty yards from the road. We all snapped away with our cameras, he was a magnificent bull, and seemed more relaxed than usual. What a great opportunity. As we were about to pull off the bull turned to walk away. To our horror we noticed the bulls back left leg had been cut clean off about 5 inches above the hoof. A victim of local gin trap poaching.

We raced back to camp to receive the clearance from Mark, and then headed back out immediately to put the bull out of its misery. Arriving back at the area where we’d last spotted the bull, we put Rusty down immediately to start the tracking process. Within minutes Rusty bayed the bull; we crept up and finished the job.

Sable Bull

A sad end to a proud animal. Coutada 11’s anti-poaching team is one of the busiest and most active in Mozambique, it is however impossible to win every battle.

Sable Bull

While the circumstances were not the best, at least the animal was not suffering any further or wasted by dying out in the field. He will be proudly mounted in camp back in South Africa and the meat was distributed amongst the local community.

Coutada 11 is the first Mozambican concession to develop an entire schooling complex – fully equipped with teachers, equipment and stationary. We can only hope that the efforts from Mark and his team will see a reduced percentage in poaching in the years to come. Education will play a major role in their vision.

The last morning of our safari saw us rise at 05.00. The planes had left camp a few days earlier as the rainy season was upon us, making the use of the landing strip a hazardous exercise. Mark asked us to grab our cameras and follow him. Down at the runway we jumped into his helicopter – “Hold on Jnr’s you aint seen nothing like this!” beamed the headset over the noise of the rotor.

We banked away from camp in the direction of the flood plain …


Sable …

Common Reedbuck

Common Reedbuck ...


Elephant ...


Zebra ...


Waterbuck ...

Cape Buffalo

And the reason we came – to see the herds. Cape Buffalo.

My Mozambican Buffalo hunt was a BIG bucket list tick in my life. It lived up to every expectation I ever dreamt about.

To Mark, Glen and your families – I have no doubt that we have many more fun-filled years ahead of us. Words cannot describe my gratitude for the gift of a lifetime. Thank you.

For more information on our Mozambican hunts and current updates about John X Safaris; follow us on Twitter, connect with us on Facebook and visit our website!


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