Fred and I had been talking some months about a possible nyala or bushbuck hunt and the time finally arrived. Fred left his temporary base in Swaziland to meet up with Willy, Peter and I in the Northern Natal town of Pongola in KZN (Kwa-Zulu-Natal).
We met up in town and spent some time on the shooting range introducing Fred to the Mauser 30-06 and the Marlin 243. The 243 was there if we happened to come across a jackal.
Our accommodations were up to standard and Frans had his wife, Stephanie, cook for us. At sunset we had the obligatory sundowner before hitting the sack rather early.
Pongola is renowned for three things: Lake Jozini for fishing tiger fish, sugar cane and hunting. Not too far from Pongola, slightly North of the historical town of Dundee, are the historical battlefields sites of Rorkes Drift and Isandlawana. At these two sites the British suffered their biggest loss against non-firearm bearing opponents to date on 18 and 19 January 1879.
Close to these battlefields is the historical site of Blood River where the Boers fought the Zulu kingdom of Dingane on 16 December 1838.
Pongola (uPhongolo) means trough referring to the banks of the uPhongolo river flowing past the town. One of only three, true remaining monarchis on the African continent, Swaziland, is but a short drive from the town center. Past Lake Jozini lies the East Coast with minor and major cities like Kosi Bay, Richards Bay and Durban.
We were all up nice and early and ready to hunt. The property we were about to hunt consisted of 2 500 acres of pristine nyala territory. One slight issue is the drought experienced in the whole of the country that seemingly hit this area very severely.
We had minor inclines, some savannah area, a number of dry gullies and then very dense woodlands. The nyala just loved the dense areas that made it extremely difficult to find space for an adequate and safe shot.
As early as entering the property we saw a few nyala bulls, nyala ewes, impala and warthog. Our main quarry was going to be nyala or bushbuck, whichever happened first. In the sense section of the property we saw numbers of nyala but none that we were really interested in. The number of juvenile animals indicated lots of hunting for future seasons.
By the end of the hunting day we were rather tired when we headed back home. We saw two really good bulls but neither presented a shot. We decided to change tactics for the following day and went to bed after talking to some amber liquid.
The Kingfisher below amused us during the lunch hour. On the specific property we hunted we saw numerous giraffe and had to take a picture.
At the dinner table the previous evening we decided to change hunting tactics. We still had a full day and a half and were confident we were going to make a nyala happen. So we set off early morning with a breeze in the face and a bushy tail held high.
Upon arrival we saw a number of nyala, but none that took our interest longer than 10 seconds. On the previous day we saw a resident herd of Cape buffalo of which two were going to become fantastic hunting trophies.
However, we were looking to hunt nyala on this particular hunt so we concentrated on the task at hand. After dismounting a number of times we either did not have a shot, or the animal walked out of range or it was just not what we wanted.
Finally we saw him. A bull of the size we wanted to hunt. He was in a batchelor herd about 30 yards in to the dense woodlands where we simply just could not take a shot we were certain would find the correct spot. So we moved away from our initial spot and let him make his move.
From a ranged 110 yards we put Fred on the sticks and started the waiting game. With the binocular glued to my eyes we could call the nyala wanting to cross the road. The first five or six were either juvenile, sub-adult or female. This is when we realized it was going to take some doing to get the one we wanted.
Another five or so nyala crossed when finally the one we wanted came along. A short shrill whistle and he stood perfectly still. Broadside. Just what the docter ordered so when the 150 gr Barnes TTSX was launched it was a mere formality. The shot could not dull the impact and the old timer took off.
We gave him 15 minutes before we approached and applied the finishing shot. What a way to start your day!
Mostly animals have a tendency not to fall where it would be easy to haul them out. Well, this was the case again. Frans, Willy, Peter and I picked up the 250 lb animal and loaded him on to the truck to take him to a place where we could take great trophy pictures.
The rest can be seen below. After lunch we headed out to the Pongola Game Reserve to look at some animals and to pass time. We heard about some impala in an orchard that had to be culled due to crop damage and the price was at the stage where we could not refuse. Below are pictures of some of the animals we saw. Note the warthog. What a pleasure seeing a big boy like that while my trigger finger itched.
Last night we went out to cull impala. Initially the evening started very slow and we spent an hour or so before we finally located the small herd of individuals.
A couple crack shots and a couple impala later Frans decided he needed meat. We drove to within six feet from a very ill and deaf impala….Not really, Frans took a great shot at about 80 yards to give a tally of three impala for the night. At the skinning shed we found a lesser spotted genet getting ready to feast on the nyal bull entrails that was unfit for human consumption. It took almost 30 shots with the Canon before five shots were salvaged of which two can be published. I’m sure the genet could feed her family very well last night.
After a belated breakfast we all headed in our separate directions.
Thank you Fred for making this happen, we appreciate it. Till next time.
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