After the two day delay the rest of the trip was uneventful. I did end up with a middle seat (both ways…), oh joy…. At any rate, the entire Mostert family was waiting at the airport for me when I got there, Bossie, Henriette, and their eight year old son DJ. Since Bossie was picking me up I didn’t use a rifle service this time and all went well and we were out quickly. The drive up north To be closer to the hunting and the Badger bait in particular Bossie suggested we stay at what I’ll call a little cabin as opposed to the traditional lodge. It worked great for the four of us, although Henriette often went back home as it wasn’t that far. So day one was to be for getting additional bait down for the badger in particular. The weather was rainy and windy though and nothing was moving, at all. We saw giraffe and that was about it, other than a monkey, which was promptly shot. If anyone is wondering, a .300 WSM is enough rifle for a monkey. Yikes…. Finally got a small impala female down late, after I blew the first shot. So there was some bait to put up for the next morning. We got into the badger blind just before dark even though the badger hadn’t been there the night before (brown hyena, bushpig, and leopard had). Since nothing was happening and the badget had been showing up early we only set until 9 PM or so. The rest of the evening was spent spotlighting and calling for jackal. We did have a jackal coming in, but the wind busted us. With the spotlight I did manage to get a porcupine as they are shoot on site animals and Nancy wanted more quills. So done. A couple of genet cats were seen as well, but no shot possible
Manage to miss a long shot on a baboon (see a pattern here with my shooting??? It didn’t get better…. By far the worst shooting I’ve done in Africa, not even close…) Some kudu and other assorted animals, including more giraffe. Man that place is loaded with giraffe…. Some really nice and dark old bulls. I’d like a giraffe someday, but not this trip. If anyone is interested Bossie has a great price on them for sure. At any rate, the day hunting ended fairly early as tonight was bushpig night and that meant about an hour drive. So off we went! We were in th blind before dark and these pigs had been coming in fairly early and this night was no different. Just after 7 and we heard them coming. Pigs aren’t quiet animals for sure…. A mature boar and sow came in and no one needed to tell me which was which. Then as quickly as they came, they left. I thought I’d blown it waiting for the pig to turn, but within 45 seconds they were back. Seems to be pretty common for them to do that? When they came back it was a hard quartering shot and bang flop. Beautiful red in the pig and a shoulder mount won’t do him justice, but no room or budget for full body mount… Regardless, I was thrilled. We drove around spotlighting some more after that but nothing of interest that presented a shot. I am learning to hate genet cats by this point though….
So here is what I really liked about the badger hunt. It really was a “poor man’s leopard hunt.” Same motions, go check baits in the morning, add meat where you need to, and check trail cameras. Bushpig it seems that folks know when they are coming in and I think once you get badger on bait they do pretty well too, but we had one that had left bait, so it really added to the hunt. We actually even had to add thorns around bait to keep the leopard and hyena off. Most guys would kill to get a leopard on bait and we are trying to discourage a big Tom from feeding. Go figure…. I did bang flop a couple of baboons including a really stupid one who sat and watched me get out of the bakkie from a hillside. He’s out of the gene pool for a reason! I also missed another one, but long shot again so didn’t feel terrible. The badger had come back, so time to sit again. After seeing what my WSM was doing to animals, including the bushpig we decided that I’d use Bossie’s 7×57 on the badger, with night vision. The night vision was pretty interesting as it goes over your scope and you see the cross hairs in a small screen. So you shoot with your head up, which is different. Its almost like a video game. So we sit. At just about 10 PM I’m looking at the bait with normal binoculars (lots of moon light) and think I see movement. Almost like a shadow flickering, no shape, just movement. I whisper at Bossie for him to look. He whispers back after a minute or so that he can’t see anything. Then I see it again. Eyes must be playing tricks I think…. And then a crunching noise. Kind of like ribs being cracked by strong jaws. And then you could see him. The badger was eating away. The night vision was switched on and I could see him on the screen. Gray looking and dim, but plenty good to shoot. So I lined up the cross hairs and squueezed off a shot on what Ithought was the middle stripe. He jumped but didnt drop and then another quick shot and silence. No noise at all. We went and looked but no badger…. Bossie decided we’d come back in the morning and look more, but didn’t want to mess up any tracks in the dark. So off spot lighting we go and stayed out half the night. When we first get to the Macadamia nut orchard we do see another porcupine. So I take out my frustration on him with my shotgun. As soft as they are a shotgun isnt the best weapon for them for sure. The quills make great armor against the pellets…More of those confounded genets that don’t give a shot and we see and chase a big civet cat who also doesn’t give a shot. I think we stopped around 4 AM? Maybe a little later?
Forgive me guys as the jet lag is setting in…. So we go check baits the next morning and of course the one we set at is the last one…. when we get there and look, no blood is found. It’s a miss. How I miss at 30 yards I don’t know? I was both relieved and extremely frustrated at myself. I had let an amazing opportunity slip through my fingers…. The hunting continues and it is cold, at least by South African standards, and windy as well. Two constants on the trip for me were less than optimal weather and shooting! It didn’t slow us down though and that afternoon and evening definitely turned around a bit. We did make a stalk on a nice mountain reedbuck, but it just didn;t come together. I had one opportunity at a shot and just wasn’t quick enough. We saw a nice bushbuck, or the head of one. It was back behind a little rise and nothing but the head was showing. It had looked towards us, but then turned its head “broadside.” I aimed just below the eye and hit it right where I aimed for once. It obviously dropped like a rock and there would be on tracking or looking for this animal. It was nice to finally have a bushbuck as it is another animal that has eluded me. It is also one of those animals that I’ll take on any trip over if I could improve, or get a different sub species. After the bushbuck it was time to drive around and spotlight again. We weren’t seeing much other than duiker and more bushbuck, maybe a genet? Then we saw our friend from the night before, the Civet Cat. This time I had a good look and a shot. From what I saw those things never stop moving – constantly on the go, so it is a matter of finding it in the semi open, and in this case trotting away from me. At any rate, he was down, although the bullet did exit through his front right leg, doing dome slight damage.
Use the .300 WSM and if I blew the badger up, so be it. We took a good walk during the day, with the plan being to having Robert (the tracker) pick us up at a waterhole that we’d walk to.his is where radios are interesting. Not long before we got to the waterhole Robert radioed and said there were a couple of pigs at the waterhole, and one seemed to be pretty big. I was non-commital, but knew I would take a nice pig. As we stalked up and saw him I didn’t even need to look through the scope to know I was shooting. Bossie told me after that if I hadn’t shot he would have borrowed my rifle and shot himself. I wasn’t going to give him the chance! There was also a chance during the day to use an African tire plug…. Thorn wasn’t broken, so don’t fix it…
Compressor was brought out and a real tire plug inserted in record time and we were in the blind and getting settled by about 5:15 I think. Well, I would spend plenty of time in a blind this trip, but not this evening. At about 5:40 the badger ran in and started to climb up on the bait. it wasn’t dark even, not by a a long shot. We let badger get up where we wanted him and let me tell you they are fidgety little things! Per the camera my shot was at 5:44 PM and there was no doubt this time. The badger dropped like a rock when I shot. I had my badger. Interesting that the pictures make him look bigger. He was actually smaller than I thought. That Civet is way bigger. And @Hank2211 says they smell. Well, he’s right. I touched it, but not much and I was glad when the pictures were over. The real test though? The smell gagged the tracker…. that’s stinky! Short of a skunk it is the worst smelling animal I’ve ever well, smelled.
The story doesn’t end here though. Remember that miss from the other night? Well…. It wasn’t a miss. There just wasn’t any blood. And a honey badger really doesn’t give a %^$ it seems!!! This sucker got shot and didn’t miss a meal….So after dropping the badger off and putting it in the cooler we went to look for African wildcat. we saw one and I shot, but as I was pulling the trigger it ducked away and down a little rise that protected it. I hot where I was aiming with the shotgun, but that cat simply wasn’t there when the shot made it. This was all we saw all night as it was cold and windy. Well, other than Steenbok and duiker, which were everywhere! It was a tough and cold night, but it had been a great day.
This would be the last day of hunting with Bossie. We decided we were going to look a little mre seriously for a Kudu. Right before we sat in the badger blind the day before a nice bull had run across the road we looked quickly and only spent about 10 minutes. Today we went back in earnest and began tracking a bull, probably the same one. After maybe two hours we founf him. we were at the bottom and he was all the way up at the top of the mountain. The shot was about 400 yards and I shot low the first time. I hadn’t held high enough and dust kicked just under and behind the bull. the second shot I held just over his back and was on height wise this time, but I pulled the shot…. :S Censored: And when I say I pulled it I pulled it good. I broke his back leg…. The shooting wows continued. That bull bleeed like a stuck pig, but had plenty of fight left in him. And we tracked him for miles. We finally got a dog and some more help. Bossie’s idea was for us to try and get out in front of him while tracker and dog pushed. We were now running out of light too…. We were set up at a likely place looking t a hillside and at one point thought we were going to see him cross the road behind us, but he had turned again. then Bossie yelled he saw him. bossie and I had talked and I had told him that this was shoot as soon as you see. I didn’t care if I had help on this bull. He deserved better. so at any rate, I get my rifle but on the bull and have him in the scope when Bossie’s 416 Rigby goes off. I just watch the bull crumple. It was a roughly 300 yard shot, offhand, with the Rigby. Bossie hit it in the head! Luck? Sure. but it takes some skill to get that lucky! It was an amazing shot…. I made Bossie take the first picture with the bull because I thought it was the right thing to do and that’s the picture I’ll post here.
It was a hell of a day with highs and lows. I’m just happy we got the bull down. That night we didn’t eat til almost midnight after having to get the bull cut up and off the mountain. That kudu liver sure was good though. It’s my favorite, although I hear Eland liver is even better. This was the end of hunting with Bossie. I had a blast! And the night critters are a lot of fun and very little sleep. We averaged four hours, tops, and several nights that time was split. I knew I didn’t have enough time to get everything, unless I got lucky. My friend Hank said that you should have at least ten days and I agree. Genet for example, I bet we saw 15-20 Genet, but never got a shot (could have shot one on badger bait first night and chose not to for obvious reasons). I’m not done with the night critters for sure. I see why Bossie is so passionate about them.