We are in the middle of the season and everything at Crusader Safaris has been going extremely well. We have had a great bunch of clients, the trophies have been top class, and the new lodge is running smoothly. Andrew and I have been very fortunate to have such a hard working staff, we could never do this without them. PH’s Scott and William de Villiers, Andrew Birch and our team of trackers, Rusta, Elvis, Willy, Lucas, Solly, Toolbag and Bob have done a great job in bringing in some exceptional trophies. My fiancée, Melinda, and her team at the lodge, Nyasha and Simba, have kept everything in order and made sure everyone is comfortable and well fed.
We started the season with Curtis Urps and his wife, Elizabeth, and son Drake. It was their first time to Africa, and PH, Andrew Birch, made sure it was an experience they would never forget. Curtis took a couple of species of the larger game, the highlight being a 50 inch cape kudu. Young Drake took a mountain reedbuck and a springbok.
Dean Grommet of Montana, came on a more specialized hunt. Hunting with PH Scott de Villiers they brought in a large red lechwe and a 9 inch vaal rhebok. They also hunted along the coast for blue duiker, grysbok and small cats, they were successful on most of the species except the caracal of which they really hunted hard.
Jim and Delana Nelson returned for their second hunt with us. Jim got lucky on the first morning and shot a monster vaal rhebok. The hunt kept on going well and before long a big blue wildebeest and a 29 inch red lechwe was in the salt. Half way through the hunt they met up with Andrew to hunt the Umkomaas. The Umko produced and in 3 days Jim had a heavy horned 55 inch kudu and a very respectable nyala.
Colby Johnson returned for his second hunt, accompanied by his hunting buddy Nathan Dreger, of Spirit River, Alberta, Canada. Colby shot a huge eland, weighing just under 2000 pounds with retired PH Hugh Ainslie. His waterbuck was one of the best shots I have ever seen. He dialed in his tactical scope to 550 yards and dropped a 29 inch waterbuck at 545 yards!!!! His new custom built 300 win mag with carbon barrel and knowledge of his ballistics made this possible. Nathan shot a great kudu and gemsbok bull along with a few other species.
Tom Lund was with us for some of the more rare animals. He only had four days with us but was still able to get his bontebok, vaal rhebok, red lechwe and three springbok.
Repeat hunter Keith Brock started with Andrew in the Umkomaas. They shot 2 monster bushbuck and then the biggest kudu of the season, a massive 58 inches. On the Eastern Cape leg of his trip he bagged a book mountain reedbuck to go with his book vaal and common reedbuck from his previous trip to give him a book reedbuck slam. PH, Scott took him for an afternoon and they came back with a massive fallow deer and red lechwe.
John Bambara, hunting with Scott de Villiers had a great hunt. They were in action every day and kept on bringing in great trophies. He was the second hunter of the season to bag all three springbok, the black, white and common. We finished the trip at our beach house where John shot a really old bushbuck ram less than a mile from the Indian Ocean.
Scott Taylor, Jimmy Dean and Blake Richards, all accompanied by their wives were the next group in camp. We started in the Umkomaas and Scott had bagged all three spiral horned antelope in the first 24 hours. We went a little further west and Scott shot a book common reedbuck. The highlight of his trip was when his wife, Sheila, decided to pick up a rifle and go hunting for the first time. Sheila did extremely well and shot five animals in six shots. Her best trophy was a super wide 27 inch red lechwe. Jimmy and Blake both got all three spiral horns in the Umko, the trophy quality was exceptional. Edmonton firefighter and veteran whitetail guide, Dan Dalynchuck, joined us at the Umko camp while he was on a sightseeing vacation and shot a huge 17 inch cape bushbuck. In the Eastern Cape, Jimmy and Blake shot some of the animals indigenous to that area and Becky, Blake’s fiancée, shot an old kudu bull. Melinda took care of the girls for a couple of days while the guys were hunting. They spent time at health spas, shopping and had a fun day at the zip line canopy tour near Durban.
Jerry Butler and his crew from Wisconsin joined us at the end of April. Jerry, his wife Chris and daughter Sam hunted with PH Andrew Birch and shot two kudu in the first three days. Curt and Marie Berweger hunted with William de Villiers and had a massive day on day three when they shot four trophies in Cowie Valley. Chris Kontny was with Scott de Villiers and was harvesting big game everyday, his girlfriend, Melissa, also did some hunting a couple of days into the trip and bagged a massive 50 inch cape kudu. After five days hunting the whole crew headed up the garden route from Port Elizabeth to Cape Town for a couple days of sightseeing, relaxing and wine tasting with guide, Leslie Cummins.
The first week of May saw us with the Louisiana boys. Lane Dyess and Lee Bishop hunted with their bows and Mr. Michael Boykin with the rifle. Lee harvested a great kudu and a zebra with his bow. A great feat, as we all know how tough it is to hunt free ranging wild animals with a bow. He put some time in the blinds and eventually got his prized kudu. He was also able to stalk the zebra. Lane was not so lucky with the bow but shot an exceptional kudu with the rifle. Mr. Michael, hunting in the Cowie valley shot the biggest kudu taken there for some years. All three guys enjoyed a day’s greywing partridge hunting with John Broster in the Stormberg mountains.
Ed and Marge Kuchynka, hunting with Scott de Villiers and Larry and Laura Davis, hunting with myself had a fantastic hunt. We started in the Baviaans river conservancy, then headed north towards the Stormberg and finished off the trip in the Umkomaas. A good time was had by all and it was great to see Marge and Laura each getting a trophy themselves. Ed’s best trophy was a vaal rhebok which was very close to 10 inches and Larry made some good shots to get both a cape and a southern kudu. An article Ed wrote will be posted on the website shortly.
Thank you for the time taken to read this update and we’ll keep you inform as we move through the season.