• Jody's African Safari

    I have always wanted to go on an African safari. Like most hunters, this was just a dream. That is, until I had the opportunity to go on the Savage Shooters group safari in September, 2005. Now my dream has come true!

    I had the most enjoyable time of my life while there. We had six days of pure vacation. We hunted, ate, hunted some more, ate again, then rested for a while and hunted some more. All of the official stuff was handled for us. Comfortable quarters and laundry were taken care of. Our meals were provided and very well prepared too! In case you can't tell, I enjoy good food and this was some seriously good food.

    The regular world ceased to exist once we left Atlanta. It was a little stressful and uncomfortable in the airports and all, but once we left the airport in Johannesburg, South Africa, all was well. In fact, I didn't have a care in the world. Everything was nice and slow paced. No hurries, no telephones, no loud radios booming, no bosses, no customers, nothing but the wind blowing. The air was clean and cool. The sky was clear. The landscape was vast and the animals were numerous. It was almost like a modern day Rudyard Kipling or Ernest Hemmingway story, well to me anyway.

    It was just like I had always wanted. A great hunt with good friends in a wonderful place. We had plenty of good animals to hunt and the hunts were quite intensive. Many of our stalks covered several miles as we tried to out maneuver the herds. No canned hunts here and is just what I wanted.

    We also were able to get pretty close to some animals we were not hunting. Hippos and Rhinos were in the area. I have seen them on television but to see one in nature at less than 100 yards away is truely a sight to behold. Both are huge but very graceful and very dangerous and were treat to observe. There were also zebra and ostrich in the distance that I was able to watch through some binoculars.

    Rob Martin and Karel, his partner in South Africa, provided and excellent hunting trip. I am very pleased with their professionalism and great personalities. I was made to feel quite confident from the first minute I met Rob at Atlanta and Karel later at the Johannesburg airport.

    Now for the hunts. The first animal I was able to take was the duiker (pronounced dy-ker), it is a small antelope that looks very much like a deer but is about the size of a dog. That was in a hunt right after we arrived. We were hunting jackals (South Africa's version of a coyote). The duiker was taken with the Project 2005 rifle in 6.5-284 Norma.

    Me (left) with a Duiker for the pot. We had the meat in a stew later in the week.
    Rob (right) with a porcupine taken with an ASP baton after a foot chase.

    The following day was very fun and a wonderful learning experience but resulted in no animal for me. Ed had better luck though. The third day, with Karel's guidance, netted a nice blesbok which I took with the handy dandy Model 110 in .338 Win Mag. This was at an area that used to be a farm around 100 or so years ago. Just shade trees, stones, and a few timbers remain of it. The stalk was a combination of low crawl and duck walk several hundred yards down into a valley with a long wait as the herd grazed it's way nearer to us. With a little patience, these extremely skittish critters grazed to within a hundred yards of us.

    Me (right) and Karel (left), my professional hunter for this stalk, with my blesbok.

    The fourth day, again with Karel, was the most exciting as I finally bagged a blue wildebeest. After seemingly endless stalking up, down and around the rolling hills, we came on a nice little bachelor herd of bulls who kept ducking into a larger herd of cows and young for cover. We finally caught them out in the open and Karel pointed out a good trophy bull. What a tough animal that was, took four shots from the .338 with 250gr Swift A-frames to take him. Even after knocking him down and out, he came back and jumped up and looked right at me. Needless to say I was reloading fast!

    Tough trophy! Me and my hard won Blue Wildebeest. A tough animal worthy of respect.

    The fifth day brought about the springbok hunt. They are majestic little antelopes and very much my favorite of what we hunted. Rob guided me on this one and it was a very long hunt as they are quite skittish and have really good eye sight. The closest we were able to get was about 200 or so yards at a small ravine. We found a nice example and one shot from the Project rifle did the deed. The 6.5-284 proved to be very effective in the high winds that were blowing across the High Veldt.

    Five hour of stalking and a long shot in 30mph crosswinds netted this beautiful antelope.

    On the last day, we sleep in late. We were again treated to a great breakfast. Afterwards we packed up all of our stuff and went back to Johannesburg. On the way in, we stopped at a few tourist destinations and did the usual tourist stuff. We then proceeded to the airport. As we started through the parking garage, I started to feel uneasy. Yep, reality was beginning to creep up on me. Oh well, it was great while it lasted.

    Submitted by Jody Calhoun

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