It was a late pick-up at the Johannesburg International Airport. Particularly so because a number of passengers learned their luggage was in China somewhere whilst they were in Johannesburg.
This was not a huge success with regards to the start of the bird hunt, trout fish and camera shooting safari. The 2 hour drive to our bird hunting destination went well considering the flight from Dubai was a few minutes late. The process via customs put us back by quite a margin and flattened my coffee intake for the day.
Upon arrival at our guest house a scrumptuous meal awaited us. After a glass of Nederburg Pinotage we were feeling way better and when additional cloting was loaned to our guest we were again in high spirits.
The first morning we were out and about before sunrise setting out decoys for a scheduled dove hunt. Well, we stood back and watched how the staff set up the revolving dove decoy. Fully armed with 12ga shotguns and numerous shells our dove hunt commenced. I managed a lucky shot on a Cape turtle dove who was in all likeliness still half asleep. Then war broke out on my side: I fired numerous warning shots at a number of fly-by rock pigeons, Cape turtle doves, mourning doves and anything else within range.
Peter meanwhile was whacking and stacking them. The flight paths of the doves systematically became slower and slower untill we decided to go for a walk hopefully flushing a francolin or two. Our two trackers managed the gun dogs rather well and soon Peter sent a Swainson’s francolin to the pot. Another few francolin followed suit and soon we were ready for the lunch break.
The afternoon session was spent in fields and wheat fields a short drive from the guest house. I managed to warn numerous francolin not to be in the fields that time of day and may even have come close to hitting one. Peter meanwhile showed them they were unwelcome in the fields and sent more francolin to the pot.
During the day I received a number of phone calls from the luggage delivery company asking where we were. Well now, that was an interesting talk. Somehow their GPS found the local farmers co-op from where the luggage was recovered.
Dinner was something out of this world.
Getting up early becomes easier with age, or when duck hunting. So we got up early because we wanted to go duck hunting and not because we are older.
It was a chilly winters morning and my introduction to duck hunting was a great one. The staff put out the decoys while we set up. I made sure my camera was handy in case there were going to be interesting camera shots. One of the staff cut a bushel of grass with which both Peter and I covered ourselves and I have to admit the extra layer warmed me some.
With daybreak threatening to spit out the darkness around us it really started getting cold. I found the spinning goose decoy most interesting and started taking pictures of it. The gaggle of geese flying overhead brought my mind back to why we were there. My initial thoughts were that it had to be a whole flock of females because they were all yelling at each other on where to go. I think the one that yelled loudest convinced the group to visit the next pond.
Right about then a lone Egyptian goose wanted to commit suicide by flying low overhead. I fired two warning shots when Peter filled the goose with lead flavored AAA pellets. This goose did not shout or yell so we determined it was male. He fell in the pond behind us where we collected him later.
Sometime after that another Egyptian goose couple flew by and Peter let them have it. One dropped like a hailstone from the sky and landed in some grass in the center of the pond.
Soon as the water became unproductive we started collecting the decoys and the bounty. The dogs did not know where the one goose was so one of the staff commissioned a small canoe to collect the goose. The dog retrieved it once she saw where it was.
Brunch was a welcome affair.
The afternoon session saw us head out for some upland game bird hunting for francolin, guineas and whatever flew by. It was a great walk and numerous points by the dogs kept our interest. We were looking more at hunting ducks so left the rest of the francolin in the fields to thank their stars when we left.
The duck pond was very close to being a lake. Our line of attack was from two sides and when I approached the side there must have been a 1 000 ducks that took off into a howling wind. This meant we were not only leading the flying ducks, we also had to lead the wind. Just out of force of habit I fired a couple warning shots. Peter was way more serious; he shot two of which we could retrieve one.
It was a great day for duck hunting South Africa and we enjoyed it.
Early to bed early to rise so we left after a great breakfast. The trout fishing mecca of South Africa is considered to be the lovely town of Dullstroom in the eastern highlands of South Africa.
Dullstroom is right at about 6 500 ft above sea level with a climate to suit trout. In the late 1800’s the British stationed at a town called Sabie, wanted to import trout so they could fish something that reminded them of home. Unfortunately, the train on which they were transported broke down in Dullstroom. The conductor decided that the gasping fish needed rescue so set the fry free in one of the creeks. That’s when the legacy of fly fishing Dullstroom started.
Dullstroom was named after the first Dutch inhabitant, Wolterus Dull, who decided to start a living in that area. According to local standards Dullstroom becomes extremely cold and foggy during winter with a very moderate summer climate.
This is where we ended up looking to fish for rainbow trout.
The first afternoon we were casting and trying to find our rhythm when sunset caught up with us.
Peter was voted Chef and de-breasted the one Egyptian goose. While I did the hard stuff like prepare the pre-prepared salad, Peter fried the goose breasts to perfection. A good bottle of Nederburg Baronne complemented the goose breast dinner while some amber Scotch complemented my plate of food.
It was cold outside. Very cold.
The fire in the fireplace did its job until a few hours before we got up and then left us in the cold. After some good coffee we headed out. I needed to get a new pair of fins for the float tube and make a few calls while in town. Peter stayed behind with the float tube and the ice chest.
We had another set of Egyptian goose breasts and needed a few more ingredients to make another meal an experience.
Upon my return Peter confirmed he caught a rainbow and showed me what size it was while on the tube.
The pond was very quiet indeed so we moved off and inspected another. It looked positive but we were going all-out and decided to inspect the pond furthest away. This turned out to be a great decision.
Within the first few casts Peter hooked into a rainbow trout and while I was getting the camera ready it unhooked itself from the fly. I cast my line and on the first retrieve hooked a giant trout. In fact it was so big it broke my leader.
Peter relocated and I continued casting but I’m sure the one that broke my line ate all the other fish in the vicinity because nothing else nibbled on my Damsel.
Not too long after Peter relocated I heard him call out and saw a bent rod tip. This gave me some speed and I arrived in time to see him land the fish and release it again. I tried a few casts against the wind but found it rather difficult to get the line to water. Then Peter called out again and this time I was close enough to get a picture of him with the trout. It was duly released after reviving it.
This is about when I noticed the setting sun and could not resist taking a few pictures. Good grief, then Peter snagged yet another one. It looked like Peter had transformed into a commercial fisherman on amateur equipment.
Right at sunset we called it a day to have some more goose.
The owner of the property saw how much we enjoyed rounding up the trout so invited us to another property.
He said for us to be at his gate at 07:00, which is about an hour’s drive from where we were. He did not realize we are early risers so had to call him to open the gate at 06:45. He took us to a section of property that few people have the privilege of fishing and we were appreciative.
A lazy breeze blew slowly. The breeze was lazy because it blew right through all our warm bones to chill you to the bone in no time. Peter got an early take but then it went quiet. Very quiet.
I moved the truck and walked back to catch up with Peter along the way. The remaining ponds and weirs were too shallow for good fishing so we went back across the road. The large pond was full of water grass and did not appeal to us after hauling three cubic foot of grass per retrieve.
So we moved to the following pond that was way better. It did not take long for Peter to hook into a trout and I was at hand to make sure we got it on film.
Right about then we left for the final part of our trip.
We arrived at a hunting property to take pictures of live animals. Peter loves to hunt ducks, he loves to fish for trout but he does not hunt antelope or deer. So it was ended on a hunting property to take pictures of animals which he had not seen before.
On a previous trip to Kenya he saw a number of animals and was now looking at seeing something completely different.
Gemsbok and springbok were high on the agenda and somehow I knew we had a good chance of seeing these animals. So we set up in a bow hunting blind at a waterhole and the waiting game started.
I was not long before a couple springbok males showed themselves and I got excited about the trophy quality of one of them.
After that a number of animals came to the water and we were spoilt for choice.
It was only late afternoon when the Cape buffalo passed our flimsy hide that we were fully awake. The one buffalo passed our glass fiber igloo-type blind within 12 ft, sniffed the air and walked on. This is when you know you are alive.
Enjoy the pictures with us.
Sharing camp with us was a number of South African families hunting for meat. I have to mention this was the best behaved group of South African hunters I have ever come across. What a pleasure it was sharing camp with them.
It was a rather slow morning at the first blind with a gusting wind all over the place. Needless to say we did not see much of anything. The only visitor that came within camera shooting distance was a Little bee eater. My knowledge on birds is not extensive and between a guinea and an ostrich I might get lost with the more than 500 South African bird species.
Initially I named this guy a European bee eater. Nope. Wrong one; Little bee eater it turned out.
The afternoon session was much more productive with Cape buffalo, eland, blesbok and waterbuck visiting the water.
The male blesbok was in deep rut (maybe a couple months late, but who cares) and chased all other males away from his harem. Then he showed us what he was made from.
When movement died down we took a short stroll and waited elsewhere but due to the cold few animals wanted to drink water.
Sunset saw us back in camp.
On the last morning Peter wanted to know about the possibility of going on a game drive. We were able and willing to go and looked forward to see some animals.
The property is almost 15 000 acres in extent which meant we had to keep an eye on the clock and not travel too far from the lodge. We still had a fair distance to travel to drop Peter off at his conference venue.
The morning drive produced a number of animals. Most were too far for decent pictures and some were clearly not wanting to have their pictures taken.
After a couple hours we headed back and were on the road again (as the song goes).
Thank you Peter for visiting South Africa and creating job opportunities. We appreciate it.