Personal Experience on Guided Hunts I Have Attended

First of all as always I want to mention that my guide reviews are 100% honest. After all this is hard earned money that I save for years to go on a guided hunt. In doing so we place a huge amount of trust in the guide that we give this money to. Most of us aren't fortunate enough to be able to own a tv show that gets to hunt for free in return for endorsement on the show. Due to that I have high expectations when I pay a guide for services.


April 2017 - South Africa Hunt with Hennie Viljoen

I reserved a 5 day hunt starting on April 11, 2017 with Hennie Viljoen African Hunting Safaris. I discovered Hennie through FB. Sent him a few messages and conversed for a few weeks via FB before sending a deposit. 

From the moment that I met face to face with Hennie and Elmarie who assisted Hennie during my trip, until the day he dropped me off at the airport I must say that they could not have been more hospitable and accommodating. Extremely friendly people. Throughout the trip they made sure I was comfortable and consistently asked if I needed anything.

We ate many delicious home cooked meals including portions of the Impala and Kudu that I killed during the week. I am here to tell you that Elmarie can COOK! She cooked some amazing breakfasts and dinners. Her humorous personality kept a grin on my face throughout the trip.

My hit-list of animals that I hoped to take during this trip was the Kudu, Impala and a large tusked Warthog. Honestly a very large tusked Warthog was on top of my list with the Kudu coming in 2nd. Also while there I was willing to take a baboon if the opportunity arose. They look at the baboons in Africa in the same way that we look at coyotes and armadillos here. I did not meet an African while there that was fond of baboons. The baboons do a lot of damage to the farms. They injure farm dogs and catch some of the baby plains game animals and literally eat them alive. I didn't have an opportunity to take a baboon while I was there but I did see quite a few.

Upon arrival I was informed by Hennie that the ranch that he had been scouting and prepping for my hunt was now closed down due to the extreme rains that Africa has been receiving. The grass had grown taller than ever before which caused seeing short legged game difficult. Needless to say the moment Hennie told me about this I was immediately concerned after flying 8300 miles to hunt here. Even though that was out of Hennie's control, as a paying client I feel that my guide should have a 'Plan B' prepared for any situation.

Note - This piece is directed to all guides- If any guide reads this and raises an eyebrow at what I am about to say, understand that I am a guide also and I live by the golden rule. Yes it is true and understandable that real hunts are not guaranteed. And no - I will never pay for a guaranteed hunt. I am a hunter and prefer to hunt. However if I save my hard earned dollars to hunt on the other side of the globe or anywhere for that matter then I absolutely trust that my guide has the experience to provide me, his paying client, with some sort of opportunistic shot at the animals we are hunting. That is why guides take money out of our hands. If all I wanted to do was walk in the bush in Africa or in the US and not see anything then I can easily do that on my own without paying a guide and save a lot of money. I have been guiding for over 8 years. If for some reason nature prevented my clients from having what I would consider satisfactory opportunities then that would cause me to feel horrible. Welcome to the stress of guiding. In one way or another I would work it out whether that be offering an extra day, a discount on the any future hunt or something along those lines. Fortunately I have only experienced maybe one or two situations during my guiding where I felt the client deserved more. Anyway, that's my soap box on guides. I mention this because there are so called  'guides' out there that only want to take your money. As a paying customer do your research before committing. Social media reviews has certainly helped us with selecting a worthy guide.

Fortunately Hennie was already working on his 'Plan B' for my hunt. We would be traveling the next morning to a ranch where Hennie had made arrangements. Supposedly this ranch was huntable even with all of the rains that had been occurring. So of course my next concern was, how will this work out since my guide has never set foot on this ranch before? 

After leaving the airport Hennie took me to the taxidermist that would be performing the dipping and drying of any animals that I manage to take during the hunt. The taxidermist was called Big Buck Taxidermy. I met the owner Peter and his son. We then drove over to Bushman's Rock Country Lodge where we had dinner and then checked into my room for the night.  I awoke the next morning, well actually I didn't have to wake up as I was excited and full of jetlag throughout the night that prevented sleep. I was thinking I would be sitting in a blind the following morning before the sun came up but unfortunately the guide was late picking me up. However this did not affect my hunt that day. Of course if you know me then you know I gave him a hard time about it the rest of the week. As a client you feel that when your hunt begins you will start hunting bright and early the next morning.  In this situation that didn't happen but I still managed to take an Impala that evening. 

We traveled that morning maybe a couple of hours away to The Stables Country Lodge which is where we would stay for the next few days to hunt. The owners and family members at the Stables were amazingly polite. I truly enjoyed their company and hospitality while I was there and wish there were more people like them. 

We hunted in a blind that evening where I drew first blood with my Obsession bow on a really nice Impala. The following day was a little less productive. We didn't see much in the blinds but we did jump a few animals while stalking. If I remember correctly while hunting in the blinds on this day we did see blesbok and a few small warthogs out of bow range.

Each day I could see that Hennie was working hard on strategies to provide the best opportunity for me to tag out with the situation we were in. He worked with the farm owners to have a better blind setup at one of the feeders. This was necessary as the current blinds could have used some improvement. They were not blinds that we would have used here in the states as they didn't conceal much and were difficult to hunt out of using a bow.

On the third day we hunted that morning in a popup blind that had plenty of room for two. We saw a nice variety of animals that morning including Impala, Bushbuck and Waterbuck, maybe even more but I can't think of the names of some of these critters. These were not on my hit-list and I had already taken an Impala. We were hoping for either a Warthog or Kudu that morning.

During the day either on the second or third day we decided to sit for a moment in one of the blinds in the middle of the day. A flock of Guinea fowl came by and I managed to take one of them with my Obsession bow and a judo point attached to the arrow. We thought we had good video footage of the shot but somebody (hint hint mr. guide) pressed the wrong button on the phone to record. Hey we did get a nice picture with the button that he did press. The guinea fowl hunt was fun!! 

Back to the third day; a group of four warthogs decided to hang out in the area. This group came to the feeder while Hennie and I were in the blind. None of these warthog's had the sized tusks that I was hoping for so we let them be........temporarily. I began thinking that there was a chance that I may have to go home without shooting a warthog because we had only seen this group and one other small group throughout the week. I asked Hennie what the cost would be if I decided to take an additional warthog. I was okay with the price and decided to go ahead and take the largest warthog out of this group of 4 in an effort to not go home empty handed. It's fortunate that I did because there were no other warthog opportunities while I was there. I made a great shot on this warthog at around 38-39 yards. Found him not far, I would say 80 yards or less. 

On the fourth day we didn't hunt that morning. We went to another part of the ranch owners land and cruised the property looking for game. Saw a few zebra for the first time. We went back to the main property that evening where we were staying and hunted in the pop up blind. We were desperately hoping for Kudu on this evening. Less than an hour after being in the blind we were surrounded by different plains game including Impala, Duiker, Bushbuck and KUDU!! The Kudu came in and took over. I made a shot that was lower than I anticipated but we found the Kudu and I could not be more satisfied with this animal. 

I had one day remaining to hunt. The goal at that point was to go for a worthy large tusked warthog. We were out late the night before dealing with the Kudu. We slept in until around 8AM the following morning. I wanted to take some better pics of the Kudu in the daylight with my bow but the workers had already began skinning the Kudu. Oh well. Live and learn. Still I am very satisfied with this Kudu bull. 

Later that day Hennie decided that we should head out to another camp to hunt a warthog and do some sight-seeing on one of the game reserves. So I packed and we left that evening. I ended up staying back at Bushman's Rock that night. Hennie and Elmarie stayed at their home. We were to meet the following morning and head out to this new camp and do some sight-seeing. Well things didn't work out that morning and we ended up not hunting. We did have an enjoyable day on the game reserve where I saw plenty of African plains game. It was mentioned that we would hunt that evening. Hennie was waiting on some reply calls from ranch owners and mentioned that we would either hunt that evening or in the morning before heading back to the airport. Long story short, we didn't hunt anymore. I was looking very forward to hunting in one of these other camps but things didn't work out. 

Hennie reserved a room for me that night at a place where they have lions and you can hear them roaring throughout the night. I can't think of the name of it. This was a nice 'hut' type of lodge that overlooked the African prairie. We grilled my Kudu tenderloins that night on the fire. Each night during my stay we would have a fire. Hennie always offered drinks and we had some great conversation with everyone I met. I enjoyed the evenings winding down and relaxing while sharing stories.

To sum the trip up, I did have an opportunity and did manage to take each animal that I came to Africa to hunt. I did not get the trophy warthog that I was desperately hoping for because the opportunity did not present itself while hunting. But at least I did manage to take a warthog and I could not be happier with my Kudu and Impala. Hennie Vilojen was able to put his 'Plan B' into place making this a successful hunt after 'Plan A' fell through. I could see that Hennie was working nonstop throughout the week to try to come up with the best strategy for me to have a successful hunt. I felt entirely safe while there. I did not have any issues with crime or anything of that nature.

Would I hunt with Hennie again? Yes I believe I would. His prices are very competitive. He proved to me that his primary goal was to make this hunt successful. He understands that his success as a PH (guide) depends upon our success as clients.

Thoughts: I would suggest to every guide/ph that they have an open mind when a guy like me comes to hunt with them. I am a guy who has hunted all his life, has taken over 100 animals with bow and arrow, who can track an animal as well as anyone I have ever met or better, and who knows quite a bit about hunting. No I have never been to Africa until now which is why I placed my trust in my guide. But a guide should also listen to a client with this type of experience with an open mind. I know there are some know it all type of clients out there but I think these can easily be weeded out soon after meeting them.

Here are a few video links from the trip:

https://youtu.be/mn7qpXtZzSQ

https://youtu.be/3Gz2dm0tKJ8

https://youtu.be/THixOSUfK7M

https://youtu.be/8MD_cwksCNU

https://youtu.be/FxMpRuulRks

The good Lord blessed me with being able to take this trip. I appreciate that.

Keep reading if you would like more detail on each animal I took and the equipment used:

Obsession bows exceeded my expectations while hunting in Africa. From the time I left the house until I returned home I never once had to  make any adjustments to the bow.  Here’s a quick report on how my equipment performed during the hunt. 

First, my Obsession M7Z performed flawlessly. I took each animal with the Obsession M7Z set at 70 lbs. draw weight and 30 inch draw length. I was shooting IMO the best flying/penetrating/performing  broadhead on the market – the Ramcat. The Ramcat’s were attached to Goldtip Hunter 340 arrows with a total weight of 412 grains. I used the Nufletch Ignitor nocks and was happy to see that they illuminated during each shot and stayed lit even after taking abuse received after the shots. I was also using the very familiar reliable QAD Ultra-Rest.  As always the Ultra-Rest rest performed perfectly and has never let me down.

I was blessed to take a nice Impala on the first day. The shot was approximately 30 yards. Made a great shot that entered the left front shoulder and exited the right rear quarter. The arrow was sticking in the dirt with the Nufletch Ignitor nock illuminated and shining bright. The Impala ran maybe 80 – 100 yards. One of those ‘running dead’ type of runs.   

My next critter was Guinea fowl. There are massive numbers of Guinea fowl in South Africa. I decided to use a Judo point for this shot. Judo points have four spring steel arms designed to stop an arrow on impact. I made the shot on the Guinea fowl at 20 yards. The Obsession bow slung the arrow straight through the Guinea fowl . I was surprised to see this as I have never seen a Judo point penetrate through its target, per it’s design. When the arrow impacted the Guinea fowl all you could see was a cloud of feathers.

On the next day I was blessed with an opportunity at a warthog. I was hoping for a much larger tusk warthog but realized I could not afford to be picky as we were not seeing many warthogs. Africa has received a lot of rain this year causing the animals to be more difficult to pattern.  I shot the warthog at approximately 38-39 yards. The arrow hit exactly where I was aiming and penetrated through the warthog with the Ramcat protruding through the opposite shoulder.  The warthog didn’t run far and shed plenty of blood immediately after the shot. I was able to find it without having to track up to where it lay due to the Nufletch Ignitor nock that was illuminated next to the warthog.

On my final evening hunt I managed to take the amazing Kudu in the pictures. Talk about being excited!! I had to watch this Kudu feeding for about 10 minutes at 30 yards before finally having an opportunity to make a feasible shot. All my shots throughout the week impacted exactly as expected. Not so for the Kudu. With the adrenaline rush and waiting forever for a shot I ended up hitting the Kudu a couple of inches lower than expected. Once the Kudu finished feeding he wasted no time walking away before stopping at around 38 yards. I was at full draw with my 30 yard pin on him when he decided to walk and stop at 38 yards. As soon as he stopped walking I released the arrow. I neglected to compensate for the extra yardage which caused me to hit low. The arrow still managed to pass completely through while penetrating the heart and clipping the lung. We began tracking too soon and jumped him up. Finally came upon him just before he expired. Made a final shot and it was over in a few seconds.

 


2013:  

NOV 10, 2013 - Well we completed our hunt at Rush Creek Outfitters.

When we arrived one of the guides had a 130ish deer in his truck that a client had taken the night before on his first sitting. We followed the guide to camp (modular home) and managed to get unloaded in time for the evening hunt. We were placed on about a 250 acre farm that had a cut corn field joining a still standing soybean field. This farm had a small 'mountain' included. We hunted this area both at the top (saddle) and the bottom close to the fields. We really didn't see but just a couple of deer from this particular farm during the time that we hunted it which was 3 days. This farm was loaded with excellent deer sign including impressive rubs and scrapes. But unfortunately there was some activity surrounding the property line on this farm including hunters on the adjoining property and a group that decided to start taking timber in the area. I could hear the chainsaws screaming and the trees falling for a couple of days. Of course this puts pressure on any deer in the area. In my opinion that will halt the deer movement in a particular spot or they will only move at night which seemed to be the case for us. I say that because I would find fresh sign in the morning walking to our stands. However, I feel this property would have absolutely produced eventually. Just a bad week that week.

In addition to us not seeing many deer the first few days I discovered that many in Indiana were not seeing much deer movement. I spoke with T-Bone from Bone Collectors who was hunting a couple of hours north of us. None of the Bone Collectors took a shot that week while in Indiana. One group in our camp was seeing good deer almost every day but just could not connect except for a 130ish deer that one of the guys shot but was not able to find. A few other guys at camp were not seeing much throughout the week. One of the guys connected on the very last day with a nice buck.

While we were there that week a 130ish deer was shot by one of the hunters in our camp but not recovered. A young 10 pointer was taken on Wednesday of that week. A 140ish 9 pointer with some cool character on his rack was taken at the end of the week on Friday. Another 130ish buck was taken from the other camp by one of the hunters at around 1:00PM on Wednesday. And I did manage to take the 8pt in the picture below on the very last day of my hunt after we moved to another farm. Had it been earlier in the week I would have let this guy walk.

I feel we were there a week early. It appeared the rut activity was just barely starting during our week.  Of course that is always a gamble you take when scheduling a hunt.

I know these farms held some good bucks because we saw plenty of deer at night along with some good bucks on the way back to camp after the evening hunts.

- Would I go back? Yes I would go back. I would however pray for some good rut activity or I think this would be a hit or miss hunt for opportunity.

- Were the guides worthy? Yes the guides did exactly what they said they would do. I did recover my own deer and checked it in myself. But this was my choice due to the fact that I knew the guide was assisting another hunter. I decided to go ahead and take care of it myself. Remember this hunt is a semi-guided hunt. The guides did provide a place to stay and they did take us to our farm the first day and to the another farm in the middle of the week after not seeing much on the first farm. Maritn (the owner) hung out at camp each day and seemed to be a pretty nice guy. The other guide Dan that I spoke with a few times on the phone checked in with me from time to time while I was hunting. Dan was not in the state that week but I could tell  that he was really hoping I would connect. I think Martin was a bit short on help that week but everything worked out. They did have a full house that week.

- What would I recommend for this outfit? If I were running this outfit I would absolutely purchase a couple of dozen trail cameras and somehow figure out a way to have the manpower to maintain these cameras. I feel without a doubt this will help clients get a better idea of what to expect on the farm they are hunting and it will give them an idea of roughly when the deer are moving. This would assist the client with stand placement if he brought his own stands and of course this would help the clients have a higher oportunity at a possible shot at a good deer. 

I'LL PROVIDE MORE DETAILS SOON................  

 

Here's a very nice hog that I managed to take while hunting with 'Neal Smith's Wild Hog Hunts' located just south of Milledgeville Georgia. I explained to Neal that I was hoping for a good opportunity at a trophy boar taken with my archery equipment. Neal came through for me. I took this boar at 33 yards with my BowTech Invasion bow equipped with GoldTip arrows and Ramcat broadheads. The arrow made a clean pass-thru and the boar ran only 75 yards before expiring. Neal offers different hunt packages to meet your needs including do it yourself hunts, meat hunts and trophy boar hunts. Neal has been doing this most of his life. He has a vast knowledge of hogs including proper care of the meat! Check him out for some adrenalin rushing action.

Neal Smith's Wild Hog Hunts - 478-456-5301




Wyoming Antelope Hunt

I set out to take a trophy antelope Cody’s Hunting Adventures. I simply cannot express enough how much we enjoyed this hunt! The guides (Paul and Brandon) worked very hard to meet and exceed our expectations.

Setting up a guided hunt is basically a gamble. You never truly know the quality or sincerity invoked in your guides until after you arrive for the hunt. I have heard of a few horror stories from friends that have been on guided hunts and returned early because the guides left much to be desired.

Paul and Brandon stayed by our sides the entire trip except for the few hours that we spent in a blind. Even then they made sure they were in contact with us. While stalking, our guides used their expertise to get us within a shot range that we were confident with. Personally I am comfortable taking long shots with my bow. However while doing so I depend on knowing the range to my target. My guides stuck with me and had rangefinders handy at all times. They would continue to call out the yardage each time I was at full draw. It was also obvious that our guides were not happy with just any antelope. They wanted to make sure that we had shot opportunities at Pope & Young potential antelope. I ended up taking a Pope & Young antelope at 73 yards with my Limbsaver DZ32 bow.

I was also blessed with a doe antelope with horns which was another request that I had.

I told my guides that I was very interested in taking a doe with horns. Due to that they continuously glassed the prairies until they found what I was looking for. I met a personal goal of mine shooting an antelope at 102 yards and another at 103 yards with my DZ32. We have video footage of the 102 yard shot and the 73 yard shot on my Pope & Young antelope. I will attempt to post the footage as soon as I can.

For those of you who are not quite as comfortable taking long shots don’t worry. My hunting partner took his buck antelope at 24 yards. This antelope was just 1/8” shy of making Pope & Young. He also took a doe antelope at 46 yards. For me this antelope hunt with Cody’s Hunting Adventures has so far been the best guided hunt that I have ever been on. They also offer a combo hunt for antelope and mule deer. You will find these hunts very affordable when compared to other similar guided hunts.

Feel free to contact me if you have any additional questions.

Contact info for Cody’s Hunting adventures:

Paul Cody 307-464-6681Brandon Cody 307-299-8762
Email: codyshuntingadventures@msn.com
Website: www.codyshuntingadventures.com/index.html

Note:Website address is subject to change