October 2009, Eastern Cape
Dennis McMillan and Max Nichols, long time friends, joined us for a 10 Day Safari in the Eastern Cape. They were guided by Professional Hunters, Carl van Zijl and Gary Phillips. Dennis was after a host of plains game species, and Max was interested in being part of our ongoing conservation program on White Rhino and Elephant. Every year, John X Safaris offers a limited number of Elephant and White Rhino Dart Hunts. These hunts take place at scheduled intervals during the year when animals are Micro Chipped, medical examinations are conducted and pregnancy tests are performed.
Hunting started from our Coastal area with Dennis bagging a 50” East Cape Kudu on the very first day of his Safari, every hunters dream! If that was not a good enough start from the hunting gods, then bagging an Impala and Blesbuck later that afternoon really made for a memorable first day in Africa. Max, after missing his connecting flight in the USA came in a day later.
Max and Professional Hunter, Carl van Zijl, were lucky to locate a Rhino Bull early on the first day of Green Hunting, after collecting the local Wildlife Vet, the hunt was on. A number of approaches on various Rhino’s with swirling winds gave the hunting party away, but Max finally darted a great Rhino bull after a textbook shot execution late that afternoon. Dennis and Professional Hunter, Gary Phillips, joined us again the following day to lend a hand and act as an extra set of eyes on the Elephant dart.
Most of the morning was spent trying to locate Elephant tracks and any fresh signs of activity, by midday things were still quiet and none of our trackers had come back with anything either. As the day was hot, the hunting party decided to check as many waterholes as possible to find signs of bulls. We got lucky and located a bull early in the afternoon. The bull we had located was in Must, a stage of sexual frustration Elephant bulls go into from time to time as females come into estrous in the herds. Hunting an Elephant bull is hard work on any day, getting to within 40 yards of a bull in Must to dart, was going to be as tricky as they come. Max, Carl and Wildlife Vet, Thys Potgieter, made their approach on the bull enjoying a midday mud bath, at about 50 yards out and only needing to gain another 10 yards the wind swirled and sent the Elephant bull on an immediate charge, the hunting party stood their ground and the bull’s charge turned into a mock charge, stopping at 20 yards out. Max having handled the pressure brilliantly, considering you have a 12, 000 pound animal looming over you at 20 yards, as the bull started to turn Max pulled off a brilliant snap shot sending the Elephant racing away in the opposite direction. After the drugs had taken their effect and the bull had gone down, there was time for photos, medical examinations and a few back slaps and plenty of nervous laughs.
After so much excitement, the hunting party headed to our Northern Area, where Max hunted a magnificent Gemsbuck and Dennis collected the rare White and Copper Springbuck. The guys enjoyed our rustic camp in the North, with its generator, gas and open fire pit for cooking, water from the spring higher up the valley and evenings spent gazing at the brightest stars that can only be seen from the Karoo.
The hunt ended from where it had started from our Coastal Base camp, but not before Dennis bagged a Cape Bushbuck, and we had all enjoyed a day of Offshore Fishing on the Indian Ocean.