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M@tt

Hunting Gemsbok in the Kalahari - South Africa

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Continuing with some South African hunting stories - here is one from the Kalahari, this time from a Erin Game Ranch. Erin was a 6,000 hectare farm awarded to the Komani San community in 1999 and is managed purely as a hunting farm employing the local San community members. It is a stunningly beautiful example of rolling sand dunes typical of the Kalahari. This is an amazing place to visit with friends and is my group of hunter’s favorite destination for kalahari hunting. 

The Kalahari is a desert, and winter hunting whilst generally beautifully mild during the day is staggeringly cold at night. It is not uncommon for bottles of water, or the kettle to completely freeze overnight. There is accommodation at Erin in the form of permanent tents erected over a wooden base - but do not think that these are a warm haven at night - a cold temperature rated sleeping bag and thermals are a necessity. Evenings round the fire will see you well bundled up and huddled perhaps closer than you should be to the fire. 

Track and walk hunting here is somewhat different to the bushveld of Limpopo and generally involves sneaking quietly up a sand dune until you can see what's in the “street” between you and the next dune. Once you have a decent vantage point - time is spent glassing all areas of the street before crossing to the next dune and repeating the process. It's amazing just how much you can miss - and how the more beady eye’d and wary game has spotted you from a good few dunes away. Red hartebeest generally have a look out on a dune and may be 1 or two dunes away at first - after crossing a street they can be quite a lot more than that despite your stealthy approach. Shots in the Kalahari are, in my experience, generally a bit longer than in the bushveld (between 200 and 300 yards - and occasionally more). 

I had travelled to the Kalahari the previous year and not managed to successfully get a gemsbok, so I was rather determined this time. I was on my own with a tracker and we crossed many a street without luck. Eventually we found a lone bull, which makes judging size incredibly difficult. He was bedded near to a blue wildebeest at first - who spotted us while we were still far away and galloped off. The gemsbok noticed this and made his way over the next dune. We crossed the street and stealthily made our way to the top where we found him again bedded. After making sure he was a decent old bull we set up a prone shot over my backpack and took a shot which thankfully counted. Approaching a “downed” gemsbok can be a bit nerve wracking as a swipe of those horns will make you reconsider your life choices rather swiftly. Thankfully he was down for the count - and my first gemsbok bull was in the salt, and he was a perfect choice, nice and old with worn down teeth.

I wasn't actually planning on taking another gemsbok, but with space in the freezer at home, I set out to try again. This time we came upon a large herd beautifully bedded in the middle of a street. We were able to leisurely glass the entire herd and identify a beautiful old cow with wide spread sweeping horns as our target. Unfortunately, on moving to a shooting position, a springbok we hadn't seen, bedded only some 50 paces away, saw us, whistled and sprinted away which got the gemsbok herd to their feet. They however only walked away and when the cow we had identified offered a clear shot - I took it. She showed no reaction to the shot other than sprinting off with the rest of the herd, but thankfully tumbled in a cloud of red dust only a few paces away. 

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For those of you who appreciate trophy size, the simplest method of measuring Gemsbok horns is the measurement of the longest horn from the base along the front of the horn to the tip only. Quoting from Africahunting.com, from a post titled Judging Gemsbok / Oryx: “Anything over 40 inches (101.6 cm - one meter) for a Gemsbok / Oryx bull is exceptional. In terms of trophy size, when it comes to mature Gemsbok / Oryx bulls, I would say that horns above 35.5 inches (90cm) make for an amazing trophy, horns above 31.5 inches (80cm) make for a great trophy, horns above 27.6 inches (70cm) make for a good trophy and horns below 27.6 inches (70cm) make for a beautiful trophy and great memories! Females Gemsbok / Oryx will usually have thinner horns all the way from the base to the top. Female horns have a tendency to get a bit wavy towards the top. They are hunted very seldom and usually only if their horns are exceptionally long.” 

One of my hunting colleagues managed to obtain a magnificent Gemsbok bull measuring 43 inches. My bull is not in that league, he measures 32.5 and my female measures 37.5. Here are the completed mounts alongside some springboks:

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Just now, trophyseeker said:

Nice. Where do you live, Matt?

 

 

A recent transplant (2020) to northern Scottsdale, Phoenix, AZ 🙂

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Thought that might be the case, given ..."I wasn't actually planning on taking another gemsbok, but with space in the freezer at home, I set out to try again." 

So as a SA native, do these 'properties' just let you hunt for free, or do you perhaps have some connection to them? 

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55 minutes ago, trophyseeker said:

Thought that might be the case, given ..."I wasn't actually planning on taking another gemsbok, but with space in the freezer at home, I set out to try again." 

So as a SF native, do these 'properties' just let you hunt for free, or do you perhaps have some connection to them? 

Very interesting question. I don't think there are many properties that would let you hunt for free in South Africa - at least that is my experience. There is generally a daily fee for a hunter, and an accommodation fee as well, the majority of my hunts and hunting friends prefer to do our own cooking, but there is sometimes a catering fee or all inclusive fee if you would prefer to be fed as well. There is also a fee for the animals you harvest - which for some species is trophy quality dependent (in other words, longer horns - so using this thread as an example - >40", 35-40" etc). Hunting South Africa can be extremely cost effective for an international visitor - and multiple species can be taken for a reasonable price. 

It also boils down to what you as a hunter prefer - my preference is for as wild an experience as possible and for that reason we return to the types of places we do. These places generally offer some sort of accommodation or facilities for camping, a large area of hunting land that enables us to walk for miles without bumping into each other and animals that are not habituated. When you find properties that offer these you make sure to make friends with the owner 😄 We have hunted Erin I think for about 4 years now, and some of the people in our group have hunted Beskow (from my kudu post) for nearly 20 - I plan on visiting South Africa in 2021 just in time for the annual Beskow hunt 🤣.

Send me a pm if this interests you - I'll take you through some of the specifics if you'd like. 

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30 minutes ago, M@tt said:

Very interesting question. I don't think there are many properties that would let you hunt for free in South Africa - at least that is my experience. There is generally a daily fee for a hunter, and an accommodation fee as well, the majority of my hunts and hunting friends prefer to do our own cooking, but there is sometimes a catering fee or all inclusive fee if you would prefer to be fed as well. There is also a fee for the animals you harvest - which for some species is trophy quality dependent (in other words, longer horns - so using this thread as an example - >40", 35-40" etc). Hunting South Africa can be extremely cost effective for an international visitor - and multiple species can be taken for a reasonable price. 

It also boils down to what you as a hunter prefer - my preference is for as wild an experience as possible and for that reason we return to the types of places we do. These places generally offer some sort of accommodation or facilities for camping, a large area of hunting land that enables us to walk for miles without bumping into each other and animals that are not habituated. When you find properties that offer these you make sure to make friends with the owner 😄 We have hunted Erin I think for about 4 years now, and some of the people in our group have hunted Beskow (from my kudu post) for nearly 20 - I plan on visiting South Africa in 2021 just in time for the annual Beskow hunt 🤣.

Send me a pm if this interests you - I'll take you through some of the specifics if you'd like. 

 Perhaps others reading along might be interested in the "specifics," too.  Just post them publically for all to read. 

A few questions...

How much are you charging for the hunt? What's included? How many days?  

 

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2 minutes ago, trophyseeker said:

 Perhaps others reading along might be interested in the "specifics," too.  Just post them publically for all to read. 

A few questions...

How much are you charging for the hunt? What's included? How many days?  

 

I'm no outfitter or land owner I'm afraid and not currently offering any hunts at either of these properties 🤣 I do have contacts in South Africa who would be far better suited to provide advice.

That said, I would wholehearted endorse both Erin and Maswiri as a destination of choice for hunters aspiring to hunt in South Africa. Maswiri actually has a decent social media presence that you can have a look at, even some videos on Youtube. 

If I were to put forward suggestions for you - they would have to be based on what it is you would like to achieve? Bushveld, desert, big 5 etc.

As an example, Maswiri offers a 7 day package that includes transfers to and from the airport, 4 trophy animals (1x wildebeest, 2x impala and 1x zebra), accommodation, meals and drinks, trackers, skinners and permits for $3000. They have other packages that include the spiral horn slam (kudu, bushbuck, eland and nyala), also for 7 days for $9500 amongst others. 

Erin doesn't offer "international package" hunts provided in dollars that I can find - but should this or another desert type of hunt be on your agenda, I would suggest about 5 days at this location with a days travel on either end for targeting springbok and gemsbok and also eland, wildebeest and hartebeest.

These would obvious be plains game hunts - a big 5 type hunt (buffalo, elephant etc) require a lot more leg work on the ground and time to prepare for your arrival as there are potentially quotas and tags that need to be bid for and organized - I would provide slightly different advice if this is something you would want to pursue... 

Footnote though - these are my opinions and based off of my experiences and thoughts of what would be most fun and memorable. I mentioned in my first post that a hunt in South Africa can be quite cost effective for international visitors - should you book the hunt mentioned above and a different species crosses in front of you, it would be a quick discussion with your PH to tack it onto your bill. For any of these hunts - I would suggest thinking about your preferences, reaching out to trustworthy outfitters that you can find recommendations on and especially in these times checking on international travel requirements. I would be more than happy to chat and even find some recommendations through contacts in South Africa. I hope this is helpful! 

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25 minutes ago, M@tt said:

I'm no outfitter or land owner I'm afraid and not currently offering any hunts at either of these properties 🤣 I do have contacts in South Africa who would be far better suited to provide advice.

That said, I would wholehearted endorse both Erin and Maswiri as a destination of choice for hunters aspiring to hunt in South Africa. Maswiri actually has a decent social media presence that you can have a look at, even some videos on Youtube. 

If I were to put forward suggestions for you - they would have to be based on what it is you would like to achieve? Bushveld, desert, big 5 etc.

 

Thanks. Appreciate the info. 

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