Hernandez Safari with Barry Podesta
Thursday, 21st July 2016
The Hernandez Family Safari with Barry Podesta,
Their South africa hunting safari story told by Barry :
The hunt was a gift from two sons who had never hunted to their father who had never hunted out of Spain and all three men had come for the experience of a lifetimes dream.
Everything went like clockwork with the pickup and transfer out to Shenfield. Plenty of time to unpack and have a good brunch before sighting in and coming back to the lodge for a relaxing afternoon. Jesus and Javier were fluent in English while there dad Epifanio spoke only Spanish.
Our first day out was a good day and with us being gifted an easy approach under cover to within 100m of a Black Wildebeest Bull who stumbled and fell dead soon after the impact. After taking our photos we shaded the beast and continued working a contour along a valley into the wind. Not long after we walked up onto a Waterbuck as we slowly crested a slight rise. He was facing us front on at 50m and with a short dance we were up on the sticks the impact echoed dropping the antelope in its tracks.
Eric our trusty tracker headed west to fetch the truck while we positioned the animal and took our pics. After loading the two animals we headed back to the lodge and dropped the animals off for trophy preparation and spent the rest of the day relaxing and chatting about the day’s events. As the fire sparked away I cracked another beer and thanked my lucky stars for a great start. Both these species’ are incredibly hard if the shot placement is wrong and can easily spoil a first day.
I suggested that with our current luck we should start looking for the Buff while we hunted the area for Kudu and Warthog that were also on the list. Both boys positioned themselves with their father and nonchalantly told him that tomorrow he was hunting Buff. He had no idea the boys had put a Buff onto the list and to see his face when it sunk in was a delight that I won’t forget soon.
The next day my good friend and hunting buddy Wayne Van Aarde was there bright and early for coffee as agreed, to be my back up. Buff had been spotted by a local the evening before and we made our way to where he explained he had seen them. Cutting the tracks easily they headed south uphill towards a far off watering hole that is flanked on either side by steep slopes and thick Bush. I was pretty sure they would have stayed overnight in this protected area.
With the wind coming out the North we walked a long a semi-circle coming in well south of where I hoped we would find them. Eventually with the wind into our face we spotted 2 Bulls and soon another drifted across almost unseen in the shadow over a small gap in the thicket. We were slightly above them on the opposite side of a shallow depression . They were too far to shoot and I realised that by approaching them as we went down the slope we would lose the height and view we had over the thick bush. As we got lower down and the bush got taller and closer we started to edge forward more carefully. Soon we saw a dark shadow, close by on the other side of the little stream that formed the hollow we were in. The bulls we had seen were much higher on the slope and although we were in range now all were soft boss bulls. Soon a bull spotted us and turned to give us the investigative look. Taking a few steps forward it peered across at us before giving a huff and a puff. Spinning round it took the small bachelor group in the direction of the group we were trying to find.
Following the tracks after the two groups joined was easy enough but slow in the thicket with them eventually leaving the valley and heading north east to a dry river bed full of tall dry reeds in the river bed and very thick acacia thicket along the banks. With a short walk we got into a position I thought they may move to an ideal place an ambush alas they cut out the valley and headed due east leaving us far behind. The day had slipped past and it was well after midday when we decided to find some shade and have our packed lunch.
After a good break we picked up our gear and got ourselves onto a high hill that would allow us to view a wide area in the direction they had moved. After some time we spotted them far in the distance feeding slowly over a large clearing. We made best speed in that direction but once we got there the herd had moved over the clearing and we found ourselves edging forward in the thicket again.
Close by a snapping branch a movement to my right then a buff directly in front another movement to my left. We are kneeling down I go prone and slide a meter forward Buff on my left looks good, lots of bush, side view, 30m I’m not sure. Finger signs with Wayne he eases out long inspection bull turns head slightly its hard boss thumbs up from Wayne I move kneeling and place sticks. Rifle mounts sticks I assume my position behind Epi and realise he is aiming at wrong bull but the only one he has seen. I brace his shoulder and twist the 40 degrees onto the bull. With a nod of understanding and a short time the shot rings out as the bush around us erupts with the sound of hooves and breaking branches. As the bullet hit a very short grunt from the bull as he spins and disappears. We wait and hear the plaintiff bellow as the bull breathes his last and then wait some more. We work our way forward on the blood and find him soon enough. A safety shot from behind in the spine and a slap on the back and shaking of hands all round. A good Buffalo measuring 38 was photographed with ecstatic hunters as the sun marched west and the shadows lengthened.
Back at the lodge and a whiskey or two as we recount the days adventure and plan the next day’s approach.
A sound sleep and early start find us walking along a ridge looking down onto a large plain for Kudu. Directly below us a bushbuck eases out over a grass patch. He is stunning Black with solid braces and long horns. I explain that the animal is not on our list but that it is a very good specimen and the boys nod in unison and tell dad to shoot. Not every day you get a 16 inch ram and we all marvel at his colour and build as we slowly carry him out onto the ridge for loading.
Moving east we drive in the direction of the skinning shed to do the field preparation on the trophy only to see a very old warthog with good Tusks feeding on a open plain very close to us. We continued to drive and the warthog trotted off in the direction of some bush. Wanting to try and hunt him I stopped the truck once we were well down wind and started to circle back. The warthog was nowhere to be found and after spending about two hours we cut a line directly towards the truck in the next valley. Suddenly a warthog boar came out of the same bush line our pig had disappeared in. Wrong pig not the one we wanted and we walked on.
My little Jill Russell, Addie slipped past me as we walked into some thick Renoster boss and started to bark a meter in front of me. I peered over the bush and here was the warthog we wanted standing in front of my little dog. I rammed the sticks down and gave some very explicit hand signals for Epi who was about 5m behind me to approach the sticks. As the rifle was placed up onto the sticks his enquiring face changed when he saw the pig. Before he could move the pig charged my dog and exploded out the bush at our feet running headlong into the shooting sticks and knocking them down and displacing the rifle. It then head butted Epi who placed a boot on its head and tried to push it away. I bent down and picked up the sticks swinging them like a club and with a loud clatter hit it across the head and back. It continued to attack the legs of Epi who was doing a dance that was reminiscent of a Russian polka , I shoved the sticks forward in a spearing action only to have the pig bight the front end . The rifle back under control was pushed onto its chest and fired sending the pig trotting away only to collapse 20m away. What a pig what a day.
Our hunt is going well but we still need the elusive Kudu and dedicate the remaining time we have to hunting one. As luck would have it we found a good old bull standing in a position that we approached easily under cover coming out 100m broadside to the bull. He fell to a perfect shot leaving us a day to hunt the last animal on the trip a Blesbuck.
A wonderful dream hunt to have been part of and to have shared with such special people.