It is always a tremendous thrill to take someone to a new place to hunt a new species. That is doubly true when taking a first timer to hunt South Africa. It is even better when that first timer is not only going to a new land to them, not only going to see things they have never seen, not only going to experience beautiful plains game animals, but in addition to all those realities they are going to hunt a lion.
That is exactly what happened on my recent trip to Sediba Nkwe Hunting Safaris www.sedibankwe.co.za . I had the privilege of hunting with my good friend Chris Crites on a 10 day Safari in South Africa. We had planned for months, saved for months, and were prepared to go. The agenda would start off with a complete focus on hunting a 6-8 year old mature male lion.
After the long flight from Colorado to Johannesburg, we cleared customs and were off on the journey to Sediba. We arrived at about 11 pm that night and got a short night’s sleep. Our internal clocks were messed up add and the excitement of knowing we would be chasing lions in the morning made for a short and restless night of sleep.
As we woke up we were instantly off and running looking for a male lion. We had several professional hunters equipped with 375’s and up, several trackers, and the owner of Sediba Nkwe Hunting Safaris, Vossie Vorster, all on hand. It seemed like a large group for the task, but we were reminded about the seriousness of hunting an animal that could quickly turn hunter on you. We received some instruction on the hunt and shot placement and we were off. The PH’s had located some fresh tracks early that morning and we would take off following those tracks.
The size of the track was incredible. The ability of the trackers to follow those large tracks was equally impressive. We had guns, ammo, and cameras all ready to go. We moved quickly, but cautiously through the bush to find that lion. The bush was thick to say the least. At several points I was looking at only 20 yards of clear view and that had me on edge for sure.
We stayed in this same process for about 2 miles when I had caught a glimpse, albeit short, of the lion we were tracking. He was out in front of us a couple hundred yards and I saw him in one of the rare openings we had encountered. He was there and gone in a second. We continued tracking him. We would actually set eyes upon him two more times in the next few hours, but could not get a shot.
We ended up walking about 7 miles in 4 and ½ hours. We had never lost his tracks and were confident with the heat of the day rising that he would not want to keep going on. The problem with that was that the PH’s grew continually more confident that he would eventually turn on us. Although I knew there was good to that thought, there were also some things that could go wrong.
We were able to get close to him on several other occasions but he just would not present an opportunity for a shot in the dense bush. He also would not turn toward us which left me wanting, in a sick kind of way, and happy in another. Then all of a sudden we came out into an opening and there he was. He was about 100 yards in front of us and going away from us. Chris was able to settle his 378 Weatherby Mag on the shooting sticks and settle his reticle on the massive foe. He squeezed the trigger and the bullet hit the mark. The lion’s backend settled down to the ground immediately. Chris shot again and the lion disappeared.
We moved forward with caution. Chris was in the lead but there was ample back up with three 375’s in PH’s hands. As we approached the lion he was down but we circled widely around him. Chris got into a kneeling position and settled in on the sticks one more time at 40 yards. He put a final shot into the mammoth animal to finalize the deal. The beast was done.
As we moved up to the lion with caution I could not believe the sheer size of the 6 to 8 year old cat. He was massive in every area. His head, his, mouth, his paws, his body size all were massive. They estimated the lion to be between 500 and 600 pounds. The thrill of this entire hunt was long lasting. Chris was very excited but surprisingly composed. He had just completed a hunt of a lifetime and knew it. The entire team of PH’s, trackers, hunter, and me filming, were equally aware of the opportunity we had just experienced. You can see a short clip of this video on Journey Hunts YouTube channel at http://youtu.be/SxSKLLMaRkM
Looking back on the hunt I still cannot believe I had that opportunity to be on such a hunt with such a good friend. The entire experience will be one that will never be forgotten. I am thrilled that we were a part of game management, of conservation, of contributing to the economy of South Africa, and of protecting those in the surrounding areas. That lion was harvested in his prime of life and at the perfect time. It is a perfect picture of exactly how game management should be running.
South Africa, Journey Hunts, Sediba Nkwe Hunting Safaris, good friends, large lion, and happy endings. That is a summation of this hunt of lifetime that we got to share. If the opportunity arises to hunt the large cats of South Africa don’t hesitate. It will leave you with unending memories and experiences that will rarely be paralleled. Go to www.journeyhunts.com for all your hunt needs.