Africa is a diverse continent, the dark continent as it is referred to, is what I dreamt about hunting as a young kid growing up on the US East Coast.
In 2019 this dream became a reality, the goal to hunt Kudu in South Africa, free-range and where they are indigenous. No high fences, big bulls out of real camps in large free-range areas. I was young, in good shape and ready for the challenge of hunting both the Southern Greater Kudu and the Cape Kudu.
The planning for the safari started in 2018, internet searches, talking to friends who had hunted Africa and finally the SCI convention in Reno, Nevada. For those of you who have undertaken this process, it is a big part of the program. Hundreds of outfitters, all look good and who to choose, where to hunt? It’s tough to make the final decision, but my criteria were important to me, and my research lead me to only one outfit, Crusader Safaris. They met these criteria, had been doing this for years and had big areas, great camps, the trophy quality I was after and most importantly authentic free range areas for both the Southern greater Kudu and the Cape Kudu.
The hunt was set for May, the Kudu rut, beautiful weather and the dark of the moon. We were to fly into Durban’s King Shaka airport, hunt the Umko conservancy, drive the scenic route south to the Baviaansriver conservancy where the Cape Kudu is indigenous and then fly out of Port Elizabeth. These two areas are a combined 800 000 acres of wild free range country, lots of game, lots of species and importantly big Kudu.
After four days of hard hunting in the rolling hills of the Umko, we finally got our Southern Greater Kudu, huge body, deep curls, probably ten years old and less important than the quality of the hunt but good to know horn length in the mid-’50s. I was not disappointed, the Umko was all I had dreamt of, big wide open country, lots of game and a challenging hunt. A tremendous free range Nyala was a welcome addition to the Southern Greater Kudu.
From the Umkomaas it was an easy six hours south to the Baviaansriver conservancy in the Eastern Cape province. This vast area has an abundance of Cape Kudu. We had set the standard high and wanted a really old bull, so we spent the first few days looking over some good bulls, but with time on our side, we wanted to be really selective. On day three we got a great old bull, darker but smaller than its cousin the Sothern Greater Kudu. The Cape Kudu is a beautiful animal, and together the two subspecies are a real challenge to hunt especially in a free-range environment where they are indigenous and occur naturally. The hunt in the Baviaansriver was finished off with a few days hunting Bushbuck, and these elusive medium-sized animals reminded me of the Whitetail I grew up hunting at home. Wide awake, solitary and very shy.
In all what a great hunt, I cannot wait to return to hunt some of the other plains game that the two areas offer. For anyone looking for an authentic free range safari for magnificent trophy quality animals where they are indigenous, wild and plentiful contact Andrew from Crusader Safaris.