Part 2 Randy’s Story – The great lechwe and unexpected adventures
This is the second in the series by The Three Amigos. As organizer of the great buffalo adventure, I started by recruiting Randy. I met Randy by virtue of his marriage to Cherie, who is my wife’s niece. Randy uses the term that we are “Family” – Great friends who happen to be family. Over the past decade we have grown to be best of friends and hunting buddies.
After years of John X stories, we finally convinced Randy and Cherie to join us on their first safari in 2011. They were hooked after that, with memories of epic hunts for kudu and gemsbok. Their first experiences called them back to Africa a few years later for more hunting, incredible photographic experiences, and the very special camaraderie found at sundowners and around the safari campfires.
When I finally decided to fulfill my decade long dream of hunting a buffalo with Carl at John X Safaris, Randy was all in, especially for a “guy’s adventure”. He immediately went to work on selling Mike to be the third member of Three Amigos on Safari. Here’s Randy’s story of his adventures and of why John X Safaris keeps pulling you back to Africa.
Randy’s Story – A monster lechwe, and unforeseen opportunities
Going on safari with John X Safaris is always special, but what made my 3rd safari even more memorable was that I got to experience it with my two best friends, Mike and Chris. When Chris started talking about a buffalo hunt in our safari room sessions, I was definitely all in on what would become a safari of a lifetime.
Chris, the main instigator of the Three Amigos, created a WhatsApp group prior to our departure from the US, so that we could share the entire experience with friends and family back in Nebraska. It completely changed our safari experience. It was as if everyone back home were right there with us, including the celebrations after the sun set on some amazing hunts.
Everyone back home was amazed at the quality of the trophies that the Three Amigos “put in the salt “. We shared pictures of our hunts – beginning with Chris’s cape buffalo, and ending with the most beautiful sundowner that you could possibly imagine. In between, Mike was able to take a brute of a warthog, a fantastic kudu, an unbelievable bushbuck, and finished with a magnificent gemsbok taken with an impressive 450 yard shot. Needless to say, I have a few adventures of my own to share.
Everyone back home was anxious to see pictures of Woodlands, Carl’s new camp. Having been with John X Safaris twice before I didn’t know what to expect with Carl’s new place, but I can honestly tell you that it didn’t disappoint. In fact, I liked it even better than before. The intimacy of the camp, the quality of the accommodations and the food made us feel like we were at a five-star resort. Lee and her staff did an incredible job to make everyone feel welcome. (Just be careful when you have a drink in the bar as you may start singing and dancing into the wee hours of the morning!)
Dream mountain hunts – a huge red lechwe & fallow deer stag in the rut
Everyone goes to Africa with a wish list of what they want to hunt most. I managed to check one off the list and harvest a nice warthog along the Great Fish River. However, at the top of my list was a red lechwe. We had spent some days at Woodlands hunting in and around the region while Chris hunted for buffalo, before we headed north to a new area Carl recently signed up. My PH for this leg of our trip would be Louwrence, who personally guided me on his magnificent property in the mountains. Even more special were the hours spent stalking with him while learning about the proud history of the land and the vision Louwrence and Carl had for this area in the future.
Having enjoyed every moment of my lechwe hunt I soon turned my attention to my second priority, a fallow deer. What made this hunt uniquely different from every other experience in Africa, was being able to hunt in the rut and hearing the stags literally “roar” around you as the valleys echoed in chorus. In fact, if it had not been for the sounds of the stags in the rut, we probably would not have been able to find my stag. It’s was an amazing experience being able hunt all alone with Louwrence who not only guides, but explains everything happening along the way.
Always be open to unforeseen opportunities!
By my third safari with John X I have learned two key principles. First, always trust your PH! They are literally out there every day and know what makes a great trophy and a great hunt. Second, be open to unforeseen opportunities that are not expected. When Carl spotted a mountain reedbuck that he deemed a real trophy, it was time to take advantage of the unexpected and hunt a unique mountain species not originally on my priority list.
I was fortunate to have hunted with Carl as my PH for my first African trophy, a magnificent kudu. In subsequent hunts, I’ve been with the other great PHs from John X Safaris. All of them are the consummate professionals, and it was great to experience their knowledge and skills on the various hunts that were all very different.
What was really unexpected on this safari was the opportunity one morning to go on a hunt with Carl for a nyala. While I had considered a nyala, I didn’t think I would have an opportunity to hunt with Carl for one in his “own backyard” at Woodlands. So I jumped at the chance.
A chess match with a magnificent nyala….
My nyala hunt with Carl began a little later than normal, which was a welcome change for this weary hunter. Most days started with a 5:30 wake-up, breakfast at 6:00 and out the door by 6:30am. However, on this day I was able to sleep in as Carl indicated the day before that he wanted full sunlight before we would begin glassing for Nyala.
Having spotted a group of Nyala from a distant ridge we made our way in the general direction of where we felt the Nyala may be heading. There were a series of waterholes along a river creek that were dammed up after the rain and with every yard closer our vantage and view grew smaller as the brush started towering out above us. Carl selected one of the taller trees in our vicinity and climbed it to get the best possible vantage to re-locate the group of Nyala that were spotted earlier. After what seemed like an eternity Carl spotted what he described as a magnificent Nyala, and so the chess match was on!
We slowly stalked in the direction that the Nyala was moving towards only to realize after several minutes that he had circled back and gone the other way. I didn’t know it then, but I would soon realize how lucky I was to get some extra rest that morning.
The next four hours was like a chess match. We would move one way and he would counter our move and go in the opposite direction. To say that the hunt was a challenge would be an understatement. Back and forth through the brush to get set-up only to find that this Nyala was playing a different game than us.
As the stalk continued Carl looked at me and said I have a gut feeling and we need to move……right now! Back again through the brush we went. As we slowly approached the embankment to a small pond, Carl peeked over the edge to see if his gut feeling was telling the truth.
Like I said before, always trust your PH, and this was no exception. Carl slowly got the sticks in place and motioned for me to get next to him. The next few moments were a blur……Nyala spotted…..gun on sticks…..deep breath…..checkmate……the Nyala of a lifetime. What an awesome experience and one that I will never forget!
Unforeseen and even more fortunate was that Ozzy from Got the Shot Productions was able to go along and capture this amazing hunt on video. I have not yet seen any of the video footage, but hopefully he captured some of the incredible action I’ve described. I am literally waiting for my story to get published so that I can see the video and relive the thrill of the chase!
Special thanks to Carl for my fantastic hunt, and coordinating everything for the Three Amigos. Lee and staff deserve special recognition for providing five star meals and accommodations. To Louwrence we can’t thank you enough for our incredible mountain adventures! A special thanks to Clayton, our Woodlands PH that spent hours with Mike and me on various hunts that were both memorable and exhausting at the same time.
And last but not least, a special shout out to the “Wizard of Ahs”, videographer Ozzy, who captured my nyala hunt on video. No one knows how a guy carrying all that gear through the bush manages to be just in the right place every time, without ever disrupting the hunt.
John X, we will never forget everyone who made our safari so special. You made the Adventures of The Three Amigos on Safari the best ever! I’m already ordering a stock pile of the finest port for our safari rooms … there will many toasts to the unforgettable experiences at John X!
Forever a safari addict, Randy