Kigosi, Tanzania – September 2009
I awoke well before sunrise. As I looked up at the moon and stars through my mosquito netting, I consciously repressed the anxiety that this was traveling day back to the States. Almost 40 hours of either being in an airport or on an airplane awaited me. No, instead I tried to soak in the sounds and feelings of being in Africa. As I listened to hippos and hyenas and looked at the starlit sky, I felt grateful to be able to experience such an adventure.
My adventure began almost by accident. I had been in Reno at the SCI show in January 2009 and did not have any real intentions of booking a hunt in Africa. I had just returned from South Africa in September 2008 and was looking at South America as my next adventure. Anyone who has attended the SCI Reno show knows it is draining to try and see it all. So, myself and my hunting buddy decided to take a load off, have a beer and sit in on a day auction. Bidding was a little slow that day and I impulsively bid on a Cape Buffalo hunt with Jaco Oosthuizen of Ondjamba Safaris – Game Trackers Africa, never expecting my bid to hold up. Two minutes later, I was the proud owner of a Tanzanian Cape Buffalo hunt. Much to my surprise I found that Jaco was the Dallas Safari Club Outfitter of the Year in 2008. I am normally very cautious when booking hunts and do background checks on outfitters before booking, but as I was later to find out, I could not have picked a better outfitter.
My trip goals increased over the next few months to include not only two Cape Buffalo, but also the possibility of either a lion or leopard. I am not going to bore you with my discussions concerning weapons or bullet ballistics because I do not have any expertise in those areas. I am primarily a bow hunter. Likewise, I am no expert on scoring trophy animals, so I won’t try to impress you in that area either. But I do consider myself well traveled and a good judge of how well a camp is run, and in that arena Jaco is top notch.
The accompanying pictures speak for themselves in regards to quality of game. Furthermore, my trophies were the result of a team effort. The support team – both hunting and non-hunting was impressive. The hunting support team is just as happy as the hunter and PH when an animal is taken. The hunter is just the trigger man.
Even now, months later, when I find myself reflecting on my adventure, looking at the photographs, I cannot help but feel a sense of contentment. I go on adventures, not just hunting or fishing trips, and Jaco’s Ondjamba Safaris – Game Trackers Africa was a trip rich with adventure. ~ David Parks
Wade and Travis Watson
South Africa – August 2009
The top two photos are from Borakalalo Reserve of trophies taken by Wade Watson, the bottom two were taken by son, Travis in Botsalano. All of our hunts consisted of a lot of spotting and then stalking to get within range of the Game. We had a very late evening stalk on the Waterbuck and the Eland we trailed for about 2 kilometers before we could get a running shot at him. Same with the Red Hartebeest, a whole lot of walking to get within 100 yards for a good shot. The Impala was not too bad as we were able to judge him to be SCI quality and shoot pretty quick. After a measurement by our PH, we determined that the Eland scores 16 inches over the SCI minimum, and once officially measured, could possible make the Rowland Ward book as well. Beginners luck I guess. The hunt, the food and accommodations were great. We “roughed it” a little and that’s how my son and I like to hunt. Hopefully things will level out in the world economy and we will be able to do it again as I have an 8 year old and a 6 year old that I think would love the experience one day of Hunting Africa. It was an absolutely wonderful experience despite the 40 hours of flight time, but I guess it beats going by boat. Steyn Potgieter our PH was very selective and asked us to pass on several animals because he felt we could do much better and every time we waited we ended up with a better trophy. Jaco, your people did a great job of taking care of us and we plan on another trip someday.
~ Wade & Travis Watson
Frank and Tom Cornell Families -
South Africa – April 2009
We look forward to the SCI show every year and while attending the 2008 conference in Reno, Nevada my husband and his brother decided to purchase the eight day Nyala hunt in South Africa up for auction by Ondjamba Safaris. That meant that the four of us, my sister-in-law included, would all be traveling to Africa for a second time to hunt with Jaco Oosthuizen. At some point the men decided to upgrade this hunt to a full scale safari of the bush and extended our time to 12 full days of hunting! If we were going to be gone this long, unlike the week we spent with Jaco in Tanzania, this time, my sister-in-law and I would be prepared, no longer willing to watch and observe if we felt up to the challenge of pursuing a worthy trophy. We found out on our first day, there is no shortage of those in South Africa.
Our two weeks in South Africa was nothing short of amazing as we visited a sprawling privately owned ranch and the prime hunting grounds in two national parks, Bostolano and Borokalalu. We each had our moments in the sun and days when it seemed like disappointment rained down on us mercilessly. It was one of those rare experiences where every member of the group left feeling like it was the perfect trip, like there was nothing else that could have gone better and all the set backs that came on certain hunts just made the triumphs that much sweeter. During our twelve days of hunting there was not one day that went by where one of us did not take a marvelous trophy. Once my sister-in-law and I got a taste of the challenges of hunting, well, there was no stopping us. We started with game such as Impala and Blesbuck and by the end had taken Zebra, Gemsbuck, Waterbuck, Blue Wildebeest and Springbok. The men had brilliant hunts as well, starting out with Black Wildebeest, Red Hartebeest, Watrhog, Gemsbuck, Kudu, Eland, and yes, at the very end, when we all secretly thought it may not happen this trip, took their Nyala in those precious last few days.
Ondjamba Safaris has allowed us as a family to experience Africa in a very intense and personal way. We are so thankful for the professionalism of this company, the level of service we received day to day to ensure our needs were met, and the level of experience Jaco brings to his hunts. I think I speak for all us when I say there is not a day that goes by that we don’t drift back to memories of those two weeks. — Heidi Cornell
Jim and Melba Ellison
South Africa – June 2009
January 2008, J.D. Mason and myself booked a hunt with Jaco Oosthuizen of Ondjamba Safaris – Game Trackers Africa for a July 2009 hunt in Tanzania. Late in 2008, J.D., employed by Chevron, received a new job assignment which interfered with the Tanzanian hunt. At the Dallas Safari Club convention in January of this year, we asked Jaco if we could change the date to 2010 which Jaco did. J.D. then asked Jaco if he had any hunts that were available for June of this year; Jaco replied that he had some plains game hunting in South Africa which also consisted of 2 buffalo. Now, buffalo hunting is my passion and I have had all the hard luck possible on their pursuit! In 5 previous safaris to Zimbabwe and Tanzania with buffalo as the primary animal, I have just managed to get shots at, and kill, 2 buffalo so I was ready to try my luck in South Africa. We arrived in Joberg June 1 and traveled to Jaco’s safari camp in Borakalalo National Park and started hunting Tuesday, June 2. J.D. was hunting with Jaco and I was hunting with Eugene Visagie, a very fine and personable PH. The area consisted of mountains, lake, river and savannah. The park rangers said the buffalo usually hung out in the mountains and this is where we started our hunt. We had extremely cold weather, drizzle, overcast and constant variable winds. The mountains were covered with football sized boulders, lots of trees and underbrush, high grass and dry leaves which made silent walking impossible. However on Wednesday, Jaco and J.D. bumped into a herd of buffalo while the wind was in their favor and after an hour’s watch and stalk, J.D. took a very fine dugga boy with extremely heavy bosses. Eugene and I kept bumping buffalo which ran away in the brush before we could see them. We persisted all week, daylight to dark without getting a look at even one buff – consistent with my past hunts. However on Saturday while driving to a starting place, the sun had come up on a cloudless day and we saw a reflection of water which we did not know was there. We got out and checked a small spring with a slight 100 yard run-off and Wickson, Jaco’s head tracker picked up the tracks of 2 big bulls; we took up their track and after a couple of hours of following their erratic trail, Wickson suddenly froze, Eugene threw out the sticks and hollered “Shoot the front one!”. The bulls had already broke and were running full speed across our front. I just got a glimpse of a railroad tank-car sized animal running between 2 trees and behind some brush, threw up my .375 and fired a quick shot without even getting my face on the stock to see through the scope. I knew better than to shoot at a running unwounded buffalo but did it out of reflex in the heat of the moment. Eugene asked me if I hit him and told him no that I was sure I had shot over him due to the brush and hurried shot. We then took up the track again which proved very difficult due to the terrain, but Wickston persisted and an hour later, Eugene found a drop of blood and a few more after a hundred yards or so. Tracking was still very slow and difficult due to just a drop every now and then. The buffalo had also turned and started uphill. Eugene then called Jaco on the radio and he, J.D., and their game scout came and helped us track. We eventually lost the track, just scattered out and tried to jump the two old boys, but dark came without finding them. We went back to the spring the next morning to see if they had watered during the night and they had not. We looked until noon with no sign of the bulls and had to break camp and move on the next hunt for plains game. Jaco had one kudu permit which J.D. successfully filled with a huge 57 1/2″ bull two days before he got the buffalo. We each took very good black wildebeest, red hartebeest, springbok, and blesbok, and J.D. also took a very fine gemsbok to complete our hunt. We then returned home to the US. On June 23, I was checking our computer for emails and had one from Jaco. He wrote that the parks board had insisted he track and kill the wounded buffalo before some visitor could get hurt. Jaco was in Tanzania but arranged for Steyn, a fellow PH, Jaco Jnr. and Wickson to go to the park in order to lacate this wounded buffalo. No easy task awaiting them. After quite a search, the bulls were spotted, basically stumbled upon, but the two old bulls which returned to the top of the mountain, had other plans. They were not going to hang around, not with the smell of gunpowder and muzzle blast fresh in the memory. Steyn and the guys took up their trail and the two bulls ran down the mountain, went kind of crazy, ran back up the mountain, and down again. They then crossed a large savannah, a couple of miles later, crossed the river, and while racing across a smaller savannah, the wounded bull came to a stand still, and then just dropped dead! They discovered that the 300 grain Swift A-frame had gone beneath the heart and apparently disintegrated (I think the bullet was probably deflected by the heavy brush before hitting the buffalo). Wickson caped the bull and to my delight, has him in the salt!! So now I get credit for a one shot kill which took 2 weeks to take effect!! I hope to take many more buffalo, my passion, but I doubt I will ever have another hunt end as this one did.
~ Jim Ellison