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Last Updated: Feb 22nd, 2007 - 18:37:03

Africa Bowhunt Day 1 & 2
By Matt Burrows Owner of Stick & Strings
Aug 21, 2006, 00:44

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Follow along on with Stick & String Outfitters on a 12-day African safari for plains game in South Africa.  Matt Burrows, owner of Stick & String Outfitters, a bowhunting-only booking agency and longtime supporter, will be going on two back-to-back hunts with two of the best bowhunting outfitters in Africa.  The hunts will take place from two geographically different hunting areas in the Limpopo Province of South Africa, the northernmost province.  Joining him on the second and longer leg of the hunt would be three of Matt's clients on their first bowhunt to Africa, Gary Schiesz, Eric Stewart, and Joe Lilly as hunters and Gary's son-in-law Alan Keith, Jr. acting as cameraman, all from Washington state.


Africa is a bowhunter's paradise and many adventurous bowhunters are beginning to realize the fantastic bowhunting opportunities there.  Where else can you expect to see up to 50 animals per day at your waterhole and harvest half a dozen or more animals during a 10-day hunt?  You will have more opportunities on a short safari in Africa than you would have during an entire season in the U.S.  And you will be hunting up to 20 different plains game species, from the diminutive gray duiker to the massive eland and all species in between including kudu, gemsbok, zebra, wildebeest, warthog, and impala.  The cost of a hunt is also much more reasonable than you might realize.  You can go on an Africa safari and shoot half a dozen animals, including air fare, for less than a guided moose hunt where you may or may not harvest an animal.  Your money goes a lot further in Africa.

This is my fourth trip to the Dark Continent and because I had taken many of the more common plains game species on previous trips, I was after more unusual quarry.  There are several spiral-horned antelope species in Africa and I will be after four of them - nyala, eland, bushbuck, and kudu - what I call the "spiral-horned grand slam."  I had only taken kudu before but none of the other spiral-horned species.  To take all four of these on the same trip will be quite a challenge.  These species are some of the most difficult species to take with a bow in Africa.  I will also try and take the reclusive and nocturnal bushpig.  

My Washington clients will be hunting many of the more common plains game species including kudu, gemsbok, wildebeest, impala, warthog, and blesbok.

Hunting Areas

I will be hunting with two of the best bowhunting outfitters in Africa, Ken Moody Africa Hunting and Dries Visser Safaris.  As the owner of Stick & String Outfitters, I have the privilege of being the booking agent for both of these well-known quality outfitters.  My bowhunting safari will begin with a short 3-day solo hunt with Ken and then I would join my Washington clients for a longer 9-day hunt with Dries.  South Africa offers bowhunters the largest variety of plains game species of any country in the Africa continent and both outfitter's hunting areas are located in the Limpopo Province of this country but are a long distance apart and offer varied terrain and species.  Ken's hunting area is in the far north part of the Limpopo Province near the town of Musina while Dries's hunting area is in the northwest corner near Thabazimbi.  Both locations are near the Limpopo River valley which is considered the best hunting area in South Africa.

Flight to Africa

There are direct flights from Washington, D.C. or New York to Johannesburg, South Africa through South African Airways.  Until this summer, there were direct flights from Atlanta to Jo'burg but these flights have been discontinued.  But I understand that next summer, Delta Airlines will be operating direct flights from Atlanta and due to the competition, prices may also lower.  This year the price was around $2,300 which is on the high side.   The flight from the U.S. to Africa is long (~18 hours) but not unbearable.  The trip is so long where it is just easier to get comfortable and not worry about the time.  Bring your laptop and your I-Pod, watch the movies, and try to sleep.  I even brought a portable DVD player and watched hunting videos.   

I flew from my home town west of Denver, Colorado to Washington, D.C. where I spent the night and then caught the long flight to the capital city of Johannesburg, South Africa.  Then I overnighted in Jo'burg and hooked up with Ken Moody and took a short flight to Polokwane (formerly Pietersburg) in the far northern tip of South Africa near the Zimbabwe border.  After about a 3-1/2 hour drive, we arrived at Ken's bush camp northwest of Musina.

About Ken Moody Africa Hunting

Ken relaxing

Ken Moody is the owner and operator of this successful bowhunting business.  He exclusively hunts approximately 40,000 acres of private land and his properties are bowhunting-only.  Most hunting is done over waterholes, feeding stations, or mineral licks from ground blinds, pit blinds, and treestands personally set up by Ken.  Ken's large properties have over 60 waterholes and 40 blinds (i.e., hides).  Ken, residing in Tennessee, has been operating his business for over 10 years, is extremely knowledgeable on bowhunting Africa, and has an excellent reputation for offering high-quality bowhunts for a very reasonable price.  His professional hunter (PH), Nico Neuhoff, has 16 years of professional guiding experience and is one of the best PHs you will find.  Several nationally-known bowhunters have hunted with Ken including Ted Nugent, Michael Waddell of Realtree Roadtrips, and Bob Foulkrod of Readhead/Bass Pro Shops. Ken also offers bow hunts for the Big 6 (cape buffalo, leopard, lion, elephant, rhino, and hippo) in Zimbabwe.  My only complaint was that I only had three days to hunt with Ken.

Ted Nugent with his warthog

Bob Foulkrod with Buffalo

Michael Waddell happy with his Elan

Just to demonstrate the quality hunting on Ken's concessions, a group of nine bowhunters hunted a 10-day period after my hunt and they shot five kudu bulls from 48" to 57 inches; some superb, huge warthogs: four blesbok: gemsbok: many wildebeest: many impala, and a 35" eland bull.  Ken's clients took 53 total animals during their hunt!

Kudu bull


The accommodations at his bush camp were also very comfortable with permanent red brick dining and sleeping chalets, generated electricity, hot and cold water, and a nice fire pit.  The food was also excellent consisting of Africa big game and American cuisine.  

Ken also showed me the 5-star Dongola Lodge if hunters desire to bring their wives or just want the comforts of home.  The lodge is top-notch, had three swimming pools, several modern dining and sleeping chalets, a restaurant, and actually is rated a 5-star lodge.  There is also an abundance of game for hunting or game viewing and the property has some of the Big 5 species.  Most bowhunters, however, stay in Ken's "bush" camp which is where I stayed.  

Day 1 - Wildebeest, Waterbuck

To help get over jet lag, we decided to sleep in this morning.  I got all my equipment ready and shot some broadheads to check my sights.  Then Ken showed me around one of his properties.  The countryside was very beautiful with rolling hills, a large mountain in the middle of the property, huge ancient baobab trees (several hundred years old), and deciduous mopane forest.  While driving around, we saw an abundance of game including zebra, wildebeest, gemsbok, and tons of impala.  It was good to be back in Africa and I couldn't wait to get in a blind (referred to as a "hide" in Africa).  Unfortunately I had timed my hunt poorly because it was a full moon and many animals would water and feed at night.  But due the abundance of game, my hopes were still high.


For the evenings hunt, I sat a hide which consisted of a ground blind near a windmill about hour from camp.  The waterhole was concrete about 10 feet in diameter and was fed by the windmill located several hundred yards away.  Three wildebeest cows, five waterbuck cows and young bulls, a vervet monkey, and numerous noisy helmeted guinea fowl and francolins came into the waterhole and drank.  It was a good start to an exciting hunt.

Mud Blind

Vervet Monkey

Wildebeest cows coming in to drink

Tip of the Day

Almost all of the plains game species in Africa are in the antelope family (zebra are one of the exceptions).  And they have horns rather than antlers and do not shed them annually.  Also, in some antelope species, both sexes have horns and in others, only the males have horns.  For example, for gemsbok, blesbok, red hartebeest and wildebeest, both males and females have horns and for kudu, impala, and waterbuck, only the bulls have horns.

There are no bucks and does for African plains game.  Males are either referred to as rams or bulls and females are either referred to ewes or cows.  For all species smaller than nyala, the males are referred to rams and the females ewes.  And for all species larger than the nyala, the males are referred to as bulls and the female cows.  Interestingly enough, for the nyala, males are referred to as bulls and females ewes.

Day 2 - Duiker, Giraffe

We awoke early today and I sat in a pit blind called "the moon."  Apparently it is called this because the blind is a concrete pit blind the color of the moon.  The blind was sunken 1 meter into the ground and sat about 17 yards from a small manmade, concrete water hole. A salt lick was nearby.  The amount of sign around the waterhole was incredible!  We saw tracks of many impala, kudu, and eland and my hopes were high.  Ken told me that last year there was a 60" kudu bull frequenting the waterhole that had not been harvested.  This was one species at the top of my wish list.
Moon blind over water hole

Early in the morning, four duiker came in separately and watered - two rams and two ewes.  Duiker are one of the smallest antelope species weighing only 20 to 30 pounds and only the rams have horns.  But they are extremely wary and strung as tight as a piano wire, likely a result of being at the bottom of the food chain.  They act like a squirrel on caffeine and can jump the string like no other.  One of the rams was also quite nice with horns extending just past the tip of his ears which would make him 4-inches or so.  This doesn't sound like much of a trophy but is actually a good trophy for a duiker.   He offered a nice quartering away shot but as I had harvested one of these animals during a past safari and was after larger quarry, I passed on him.
A small Duiker

Around mid-day, a group of kudu cows, calves, and one small bull came in and drank.  Also a large group of impala including two decent rams came in.  Mid afternoon a large troop of baboon came and hung around the waterhole.  These creatures are extremely wary and have incredible eyesight so you must be very careful not to move too much or show yourself or they will spot you in a heart beat.  If alerted or spooked, the baboon will start barking their alarm call and spook any big game near by.  It is best to just leave the baboon at peace and let them leave on their own accord because often big game will follow the baboon troops around, use them as sentries, and then drink when the coast is clear.  Unfortunately, the only large game that followed were three giraffe. But they were incredible to watch and one large bull came into the waterhole and drank a mere 15 yards from the blind.  He needed to splay out his legs to reach the water.  What a sight!  What a contrast of species today - one of the smallest species, the duiker, and one of the largest, the giraffe.  For hunting during a full moon, I thought I saw quite a lot of game today.
Yound Kudu bull alert to danger?

baboons scoping the area

Long way down to the water

Ken picked me up at dark and we had a wonderful dinner and a warm camp fire.  Nights can be chilly in Africa and nothing touches the soul more than a warm camp fire and a cold drink.  Africa makes me feel alive and one with nature.  I hunt as the leopard hunts.  When I am away from Africa, I long to be here.  When I am here, I feel at home.  It is in my blood.  I slept like a baby dreaming of all the animals to come.    

Tip of the Day

The full moon hugely affects the amount of game that will water or feed at the waterholes during the day or night.  Ken told me he believes that only about 50% of the game that normally water during a period of dark moon will water during a full moon.  The affect of the moon is so profound that most good African outfitters will not book hunters during a period of full moon.  So check your calendar for the year you want to hunt and try to schedule your hunt during the dark phases of the moon.

Next up:  Day 3 In Africa

NOTE: Stick & String Outfitters is a bowhunting-only booking agency (highly recommended by currently arranging bowhunts to Africa, the West and Midwest U.S., Alaska, Canada, and New Zealand.

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