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by Bill Aurand a.k.a. billa Last updated: 2015-08-09 16:51:45
Africa with the 358JDJ Contender - Part III - Warthogs in the bush.
By: Bill Aurand
If you have read my earlier stories about this South African handgun safari you already know that I have successfully hunted several species of plains game at the Glen Boyd plantation and the Kubusi Lodge and Reserve. This writing covers the days spent pursuing Warthogs throughout the course of the safari.
(June 2nd 2014 – Day 3 of the safari)
It seemed like such an ideal setup as we slowly moved along the rocky ridge line glassing the dry riverbed in the valley below, hoping to ambush a feeding Warthog. The dusty, rugged valley stretches perhaps a half mile wide and runs farther than we can see in both directions. The valley floor is thick with bush but there are a few openings where we can see the ground for a few yards at a time. We spot movement out ahead and quickly set up the sticks as Themba (my PH) whispers “Warthog”. It turns out to be a sow Warthog with 2 young piglets feeding along the dry riverbed. We carefully glass the surrounding area for other pigs hoping to spot a mature boar. Just then we catch a glimpse of a very large Waterbuck off to our left. He spots us and he, along with his two lady friends, bolts off in the direction of the sow. Soon they are all gone into the distance. We gather the shooting sticks and continue along the ridge line. About 30 minutes later, Themba spots a pig in the distance moving our way. He says it is a shooter boar Warthog and that I should take him. As the distance closes to under 150 yards or so, we see the boar slowly but steadily moving across our field of view moving in and out of the openings in the thick bush. I have the TC on the sticks but he is just moving fast enough that I cannot steady on him. Every time he stops he is in the cover or behind a log. I followed him in the scope with the gun cocked and ready to fire as he moved along the riverbed for 10 minutes or more. It was intense. All I needed was for him to stop in one of the openings for a few seconds allowing me to settle the crosshairs on his shoulder. There were 2 or 3 opportunities when I almost fired as he moved through my scope but it was just too risky. I promised myself back when I was preparing for the safari that I would only take a shot I was sure of under favorable conditions. Eventually the big boar went over the riverbank and was out of sight.
Themba decided that we should pursue the boar and hopefully head him off in the riverbed. We hurried along the ridge line for a good half mile or so and dropped into the valley heading for the riverbed. We peered over the edge of the bank into the riverbed and there was the Warthog right in front of us looking Themba in the eye from about 30 yards away. Unfortunately I was two steps behind Themba and could not safely shoot without moving up beside him. As I inched forward the Warthog decided he had enough and trotted off into the bush. Just like that the stalk was blown and we were done! By now we were a good 2 miles from the truck so we decided to circle around to the other side of the riverbed and work our way back to the truck. It was already lunchtime and the wind was really kicking up so we headed back to the tent camp for lunch and to plan our hunt for the afternoon. After lunch we spotted 3 different boar Warthogs throughout the course of the afternoon hunt but they were either too far away or on the move so that no shots were possible.
(June 3rd & 4th 2014 – Day 4 & 5 of the safari)
After breakfast we packed our gear at the Glen Boyd tent camp and made the 2 ½ hour drive to the Kubusi camp where we would spend the next two days hunting Blesbok on the open plains.
(June 5th 2014 – Day 6 of the safari)
We awoke to to a very windy, cold and rainy morning. The temperature was 1 deg C, just above freezing! Certainly not ideal conditions for a good Warthog hunt. We piled into the truck and drove 30 minutes to a nearby ranch where the rancher has complained about Warthog damage in his fields. It was Themba's hope that the weather would break and the Warthogs would come out to feed. It was not to be as the rain continued throughout the morning and the cold winds would not let up. For awhile I thought I was back home in Pennsylvania fighting the elements as we often do during our Whitetail Deer season. Due to the inclement weather we decided to forego the Warthog hunting in the afternoon and pursue other game for the rest of the day.
(June 6th 2014 – Day 7 of the safari)
The cold front was still hanging on and the strong winds were still blowing as the sun came up on day 7. Themba said he knew a place that offered good protection from the wind and should hold Warthogs as it gets little hunting pressure. We drove quite a distance on two track bush roads to get there and then spent over an hour slowly descending on foot down the mountainside, stopping to glass the valley floor as we went. The farther we went the steeper and more rugged it became. Some sections of the path were so steep that we had to slide or crawl down instead of walk. It was an awesome adventure in a beautiful place but as we proceeded downward I did begin to wonder how we would make it out of there at the end of the day. Far across the river valley we could see several sow Warthogs with their young so our hopes of seeing a boar were high. We sat on a protruding rock ledge for about two hours watching the valley floor for movement. After six days of almost constant activity it was a welcome change to sit, watch and just drink in the beauty of the untouched wilderness. What a beautiful place.
We spotted movement in a small clearing on the valley floor about 600 yards away that turned out to be a feeding Warthog boar. The excitement was building as we planned our stalk. We stayed downwind and started to descend to the valley below. It was very steep and rocky. Finally we made it to the bottom and worked our way to where we had last seen the pig. It was very thick with trees higher than our heads and there were thorn bushes and heavy grass everywhere. Suddenly, Themba quickly set the sticks as he spied the boar in front of us at about 50 yards. All I could see was his head. I settled the 358JDJ in the Vee of the shooting sticks for a possible head shot but just then he turned and walked into an opening where I could quickly get on his shoulder with the scope still set on 2x. As the shot rang out the Warthog's body instantly rolled over as the 250 grain Hornady Interlock bullet found it's mark. All I could see were feet in the air! He was down on the spot! I was so excited to make a clean shot on my first ever Warthog. The bullet crushed both shoulder joints and exited the far side. After a quick photo session, Bhuti (our tracker) field dressed the Warthog and tied it to a pole with bark strips from a nearby tree. This tree bark makes very nice rope.
Soon we headed up and out of the valley along a steep "goat path" that I doubt any motorized vehicle could navigate. Bhuti and the ranch owner carried the field dressed pig, and Themba and I took turns carrying the head. It took us well over an hour to reach the mountaintop and make it back to our starting point. Themba's white Toyota pickup was a beautiful sight indeed.
This hunt was a tremendous physical challenge in a very beautiful and remote place. It was certainly one of the greatest hunting experiences I have ever had. Bagging my first Warthog in such a remote place with a handgun really makes a fantastic trophy. I will also say that carrying my little, 4 ½ lb handgun down and up the mountainside was far more pleasant than lugging a magnum grade rifle would have been.
(June 7th 2014 – Day 8 - final day of the safari)
On day 8 of my safari the plan was to round out my trophy bag by harvesting a sow Warthog. This would still leave the final day of the trip to be used for touring, photography, and souvenir shopping. The weather was better today and the expectation was high that we would see Warthogs early in the day. We were glassing a hillside not far from camp hoping to spot an old sow when Themba suddenly got very excited. He had just spotted a huge boar Warthog that he had seen several times in the past. He said it was a monster and was very old and very clever! Themba said it was probably the biggest pig on the ranch. Once I saw how excited that he and Bhuti were about the giant, I forgot all about a sow and decided to go after the giant boar. The guys first spotted him across a big valley well over ½ mile away. We watched him move into the thick cover and disappear into the bush of the valley below. We planned our stalk and headed into the thick bush close to where we last saw the big guy. Carefully we moved through the bush hoping to catch a glimpse of the big guy in the open. We hunted the valley all day but we never saw him again. As the light of the day faded, I decided to use my last day in Africa to hunt the big Warthog instead of going sightseeing. It was totally my choice but I am pretty sure Themba was quite pleased as I am certain that he would rather hunt than play tour guide. All evening as we sat in the lodge around the fireplace Themba and the other PH's just kept talking about the big Warthog and how they had seen him in the past. Themba kept saying how clever the big boar is but he is confident that we will get him tomorrow with my “baby rifle”. After my long range Kudu kill on day 2 he began calling my TC a “baby rifle”. Themba REALLY wanted us to get that Warthog! He also knew that if we did not get him tomorrow that one of the other PH's would be after him the next day with their clients. It was exciting for me to see him so pumped up about tomorrow's hunt.
(June 8th 2014 – Day 9 of the safari – no sightseeing)
The next morning we were up and out early to the same spot hoping to see the big Warthog again. At about 8:15am we spotted him heading down the far slope and into the thick bottom. Quickly we were on our feet and we headed straight into the thicket! He was within 300 yards of us when he disappeared into the valley below. After about 10 minutes of careful stalking we stopped at the edge of a small clearing to watch and suddenly, there he was - only 40 yards away! He caught us by surprise. I pulled the TC up and quickly got on the sticks as the hog was passing from left to right in the opening in front of us. I found him in the 2x scope and squeezed off a shot as he passed by at 35 yards. At the shot he lurched and bolted off into the bush. What an adrenaline rush! The encounter happened very fast but I was sure that I was on him when I fired. We both felt good about the shot and the pig's reaction. Boss, the tracking dog, was off in pursuit. We found a good blood trail that started right at the spot of the shot. We had only covered maybe 30 or 40 yards in the thick stuff when we heard Boss barking in the distance. We ran ahead and there was Boss atop the giant boar. He was down! A solid double lung hit - Game over. What a huge pig! Themba said it was the best trophy of my safari. Possibly the biggest Warthog ever taken on the Kubusi ranch in 16 years! I think Themba and Bhuti were just as excited as I was about the big pig. They were both talking, laughing and giggling like little kids. You would have thought that they were the clients and it was their first hunt. It's the most emotion I saw from them all week. What a fantastic ending to my safari!
Themba headed back for the truck while I stayed behind with my trophy and took a few photos and shot some video. As I unloaded my Contender 358JDJ for the last time and laid it atop the pig for a photo I began to reflect on how truly blessed I am to have experienced such a marvelous trip. I took a moment to give thanks to the Lord for giving me the health to sustain throughout the trip and for protecting me along the way. I also thanked Him for giving me an understanding wife that supported me through the realization of my dream adventure.
As Themba's truck approached from the distance I realized that my nine days of exciting, wilderness adventure was coming to a close. While I was somewhat sad that the safari was over I was also feeling satisfaction in the achievement that I had accomplished my life long goal of handgunning South Africa.
This is part 3 of my South African safari adventure. You can find parts 1 and 2 in the 2015 back issues of The Sixgunner magazine or posted online in Handgun Hunter magazine at www.handgunhunt.com.
Important information and links
My personal gear for the safari consisted of the following:
Firearm: TC Contender in SSK 358JDJ - carried on a Uncle Mike's nylon sling, Pachmayer Gripper grips and forend.
Scope : Bushnell Elite 3200, 2x–6x scope on a 3 ring, SSK T’SOB mount.
Ammo: 46.5 grains of H4895 topped with a 250 grain Hornady Interlock spire point bullet, CCI 250 primer. This load chronos at 2000fps. I produce my own, custom fit ammo bands from commercial grade black elastic. I always wear it on my gun hand to make for a quick reload.
Firearm: For a 2nd gun I took my 44 Magnum Redhawk loaded with 300gr Hornady XTPs over 21.5gr H110 – 1250fps muzzle velocity. Removable scope mount with a 4x B & L scope. I carried the Redhawk iron sighted in a Bianchi 111 crossdraw, belt holster for most of the safari but the situations of the stalks and the open country distances were better suited for the precision of the scoped 358JDJ.
Binoculars: Leupold 10x42 BX2 Acadia. For the price these binoculars are amazing. If you are looking for a pair of binoculars in the under $300 price range I believe these are the best you will find without spending a lot more. FYI – practically every one of the PHs carried either Swarovski or Leica.
Shooting glasses: Radians, Eclipse photochromic glasses. I wore these glasses every day to protect my eyes from the wind and the brush. I am a contact lens wearer and the hours of constant wind is tough without a close fitting glasses. The glasses were great for shooting too They are yellow in the shade and they darken to brown in the sunlight. A great pair of glasses.
Rangefinder: an aging Bushnell Yardage pro 400. It served me well on the 190 yard Kudu shot and does everything I need as I had determined ahead of time that I would not shoot beyond 200 yards on a trophy animal.
The US contact and booking agent for Kubusi Safaris is EAI Outdoors www.eaioutdoors.com Ed Rymut owner.
If you contact Ed please use me as a reference.
The South African outfitter is James Williamson at Kubusi Safaris - www.kubusisafaris.co.za
Firearms pre-registration at Johannesburg – www.riflepermits.com
SSK Industries - Custom TC barrels, accessories, gunsmithing – www.sskindustries.com
SSK is also the home of HHI - Handgun Hunters International
Cost of the safari: EAI offers package deals or daily rate plus trophy fee hunts. I did a package hunt and added my Wildebeest and 2nd Warthog. I spent about $4600 on the hunt itself with 6 animals. $1700 on air travel/trip insurance and $100 for gun permit preregistration. I probably gave out another $500 in tips to my PH, tracker/skinner and the camp staff but that's totally optional.
Taxidermy: Kubusi has their own taxidermist on site at the Glen Boyd plantation and I decided to have them mount my animals and ship to me completed. The price list is on the EAI website but as an example a Kudu shoulder mount is $700 an Impala is $400. The crating and shipping will likely be $1000+ for the shipment but I am having 4 shoulder mounts, a skull and a rug done.
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