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Bowhunt South Africa 2010


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#1 Leo

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Posted 02 September 2010 - 09:54 AM

Ok guys. Here's the draft of the article I'm submitting at here at Huntingresource. Enjoy!


Spiral Horn Dreams

An African Bowhunt 2010

By Leo Strick

Aug 18th,

I checked my bow once more my bags are packed. Shots up to date. Tomorrow I leave for the Bowhunting Safari in South Africa I booked with Infinito Safaris. The hunt will occur on bow hunting only concessions surrounding the Sídudla camp near Thabazimbi totaling almost 60,000 acres.

Aug 19th:

I begin my drive to the airport. Quick stop at the gas station. The truck refused to start when I was ready to leave! I was stranded. It was 11:30am. My flight was at 4:34pm, The airport is over an hour from the gas station. Yeah, I was leaving real early, but experience with travel has taught me, there is no such thing as too early when a flight is involved. Even with the extra time, this was big trouble! Iíve practiced for months shooting my bow preparing for this trip. I have done practically nothing else but shoot my bow this summer. To say I was looking forward to this trip was a major understatement. Here it was next to zero hour and the trip was falling apart right there in the parking lot of a gas station less than five miles from my house. I was devastated!

I manage to hold it togetherÖ somehow. I get on the cell phone and call a buddy. My wife is substitute teaching today. I canít pull her out of a classroom to help.

ďKeith! Iím in big trouble! My truck has died and my flight is at 4:34pm.Ē

Keith knows I wouldnít call unless I was desperate.

ďThe boss wonít let me leave today. No way! ď, he tells me.

ďIíll call Carol and see if she can help.Ē, he adds.

Just then (I still have Keith on the line) a delivery van pulls into the gas station. They need directions! I actually take time from my personal crisis to tell them how to get where they need to be. They are very thankful and offer to jump off my truck. I explain Iím trying to catch a plane. I have cables. The jump doesnít help!

ďKeith! Iím in trouble! Jumper cables didnít help!Ē, I almost cry.

One of the guys in the truck says, ďLet me try something.Ē

Iím not an idiot around cars and I admit I was stumped. He pulled the fuel line and fished a piece of junk out of it.

We get it started but it wonít keep going unless the gas pedal is pushed three quarters of the way down.

ďKeith! Itís started! Iím going for it! Iíll call back if I donít make it!Ē, I hang up and take a very sticky sixty seven mile journey.

In short, I make it to the parking garage with enough time to catch my flight. I get checked in and call my wife after she has just finished classes. Iím going but might need some help when I return I explain.

The plane comes, I board it and breath a sigh of relief!

I get to Atlanta and find the gate for the next flight that will take me all the way to Johannesburg South Africa. I find a comfortable seat and settle in for a three hour lay over. Three hours is the minimum recommended time for an international flight to ensure your baggage makes it. Expect your baggage to be inspected thoroughly. Since 911, this is the way it is flying internationally.

My brother texts me.

ďTheyíve changed my flight again!Ē

His flight ends up getting changed four times on the way to Atlanta. When he hits the ground 45 minutes before departure. I breath a sigh of relief. I was thinking I may be leaving without him. Twenty five minutes to departure. They start boarding. I hold out until last call. Where is he? I board the plane. There were only two people in line behind me. They ran up as I got in line. I was listening to them breathing hard as I explained to the gate agent, my brotherís flight was late and heís running to us now.

ďWeíll let him on sir.Ē, she assured me.

I got on and settled in for the seventeen hour flight. Everyone was in the plane. We had just a few minutes to departure time. Iím accepting the fact I will be traveling alone and my brother steps on the plane. They literally shut the door behind him.

His plane landed but he had to wait for a gate to deplane. The attendants literally made everyone else in the plane wait for him to leave first. Even then. He barely made it!

I told him not to expect his baggage to meet him in Johannesburg. He agreed it was highly likely heíd be waiting there an extra day in Johannesburg before he left for Thabazimbi.

Seventeen hours of wondering if the bags will make it. A long time even without worrying. Brutal if you are!

I told him, ďIím hunting. Weíll send someone to get you.Ē

He agreed. He was photographing the hunt. He wouldnít delay my hunt if his bags didnít make it.

We get to Johannesburg. My hunting clothes come first. Then amazingly, one of his bags shows up! We celebrate shortly. Then his second bag shows up. Weíd jump up and down with joy except for the fact that I still donít have my bow! There was blood boiling behind my eyes. We watch bag after bag hit the carousel. I start running around. I spot my bow stacked on a cart with some gun cases. I grab it daring anyone to tell me I couldnít!

We sail through customs with no events. All our paperwork is in order. We are ready!

Now to find Gerhard Delport, our ride to the lodge and Professional Hunting Guide (PH) for the eight day hunt. I had chatted with Gerhard on Facebook fifteen minutes before I left for the airport. I took one last stab at trying to drag out details on the nyala he had been scouting.

ďGo get on the plane!Ē, he had replied.

He told me heíd be waiting just outside the international baggage claim area. Since at this point I was really almost expecting something else to go wrong, I was almost surprised and truthfully incredibly relieved to see Gerhard standing exactly where he told me he would be. I donít think I can remember a more welcome handshake and introduction.

Now we are rolling. Itís about four hours to Thabazimbi. But after just one hour we meet Erika at Trophy Service taxidermy near Pretoria to do a tour of her facility. This was done to eliminate any doubts that we would have with the quality of their work and capabilities.

Trophy Service is one of the most complete taxidermy studios I have ever seen. Itís extremely impressive. Besides showing us very well executed examples of their work (There was a full mount black wildebeast that was absolutely brilliant!). We were shown their receiving area, skull and horn treatment area, form molding area (yes they mold their own forms) and their own on site tannery! Erika is also a registered measurer for both Rowland Ward and SCI.

Ok, I am sold, anything Iím lucky enough to harvest I want taxidermy for is coming right here! Before we left Erika took us into her house and fed us a terrific meal that both my brother and I thoroughly enjoyed. She didnít have to do this, I truly expected some kind of fast food grab. I strongly suspect she doesnít do this for everyone and I donít think she can but the timing was right and so was the chemistry of the moment. It was a lovely time I will forever cherish. My brotherís first exposure to South African cuisine was his first clue of what was to come! We left Trophy Service fully sated and very impressed.

We drove another hour. Time to stop for Petrol (Gas). I ask if I can get my favorite. South African Cream Soda! Itís green! Yes, American Cream Soda is a brownish liquid this seems totally wrong to South Africans this is as alien in fact as green crŤme soda seems to Americans. But oh my, the green is so very good. Try it. Youíll be hooked too.

We pile back into the truck and in another hour we turn at this sign.

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We get to the Sídudla lodge our home for the next few days. My brother and I each get a thatched roof one bedroom one bathroom chalet to stay in.

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These things are exceptionally nice. Honestly, almost too comfortable for a hunting trip, but Iím not complaining! I stayed in the Warthog chalet and my brother stayed in the Zebra chalet. The beds in the warthog chalet had been arranged to accommodate my height. Iím six foot five and short beds are hard on my back. They moved two beds end to end to make a super long bed for me. It was pretty funny, we had a good laugh but honestly I found it quite welcome. This arrangement was very comfortable for me.

The first morning was sleep in time. Both of us severely jet lagged had no argument. We both showered and passed out in our beds. We woke up well rested and had an absolutely fabulous breakfast of eggs and wild game sausage.

Now things got serious. First order of business was to ensure my bow was hitting right with broad heads. I was confident this would be no problem as I practiced almost exclusively with broad heads all summer. My bow was sighted in and tuned for broad heads. I made sure! Things happen to bows going halfway around the world though. And mine was no exception. I was stunned. I had to re-sight in my bow. Luckily, the Sídudla camp has a real range and broadhead targets. This wasnít the disaster it could have been. Both Ryno and Gerhard are very capable archers. We got everything fixed, fast!

I donít know what happened. It appeared only the sights needed adjustment. Maybe it was lack of humidity, different gravity on the other side of the world or the effects of high altitude transport. I honestly donít know. Regardless of the reason, it was obvious the sights needed to be fixed. Thankfully, the facilities to do that were readily available.

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We took a quick five minute ride to the Impala hide. A large elevated hide that could easily hold all three of us.

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A couple hours pass with no action. Suddenly a Nyala cow melted out of the surrounding bush intent on taking a drink. Two more cows followed and shortly thereafter two small bulls appeared. No shooters but some enjoyable action that set the stage for the hunt to come.

The Nyalaís left and we were again staring at empty bushveld. That is more than enough excitement to carry you though the day as a hunter. I smiled at my brother because I knew that Africa often has much more to offer. It wasnít long after the nyala left that a calf waterbuck appeared. Following shortly behind were two waterbuck cows. No large bull waterbuck showed before they got their thirst quenched and left.

My brother was photographing some birds at the waterhole when he saw a nose hit the water in the corner of his field of view.

ďWhatís that? Look! Look!Ē, barely keeping his voice low enough to remain unheard.

It was a really nice blesbuck. I wasnít specifically after a blesbuck but this was a real good one and a great opportunity. Like Gerhard says, ďTake what the bush gives you.Ē

He was ranged at seventeen yards. I drew back and was just lining up on the vital triangle and the blesbuck turned to face towards me. The blesbuck started walking. No shot! Gerhard told me to let down slowly and try to get a shot if he stopped at the salt. I managed to let down the arrow without spooking the blesbuck. The blesbuck walked purposefully to the salt and kept going. I was disappointed. Two more seconds and I would have had a shot. That is how it is sometimes. Seventeen yards and no shot. There really arenít any guaranteed easy shots bow hunting.

A one horned duiker skirted out of range just before sundown and my first hunting day in Africa came to an end. Gerhard radioed the truck. On the ride out we saw some zebra and several waterbuck. A truly exciting day in spite of the disappointment in not getting the blesbuck.

We stood around the fire pit. Warming up to the hot coals of African wood logs. Yes itís Aug and it is the end of winter in South Africa. A good bit cooler than back home and a welcome break from the heat. Dinner call came while we were sitting engrossed in watching ďBush TVĒ (the campfire). Itís awesome. A reality show with no commercial interuptions!

Beef, stewed sweet pumpkin and vegetables. The food was absolutely top notch.

Aug 21st,

We climb into the Kudu Hide. A pit blind formed by reinforcing wire and concrete. We all slip off our shoes to move quietly in the hide. I was thankful for bringing thick wool socks as this made shoeless hunting much more comfortable.

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Gerhard and the author.

Just ten minutes pass and we are alerted to heavy hoof sounds. Here come the buffalo. I was very glad to be secure in a concrete reinforced hide with these animals scarcely fifteen yards away.

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Gerhard worked with me on shot placement on one of these brutes to help prepare for animals I was hunting. Shot placement on all plains game is very similar. Most striking is the fact the best placement is further forward in the game animal and lower than what American deer hunters are used to. African game animals have much smaller lungs than whitetail deer. A couple inches behind the leg may very well be a gut shot instead of a double lung hit. Aligning the shot even with the center of the leg and a couple inches above the elbow is a good start. In fact, I have found you will kill whitetail deer quite effectively with the same shot placement. Try it, this is a good way to prepare for Africa.

The buffalo finally decided to move on about thirty minutes later. On this hunt the buffalo isnít in my plans and my archery gear isnít set up for that task anyway. A good solid deer setup is adequate for most plains game but dangerously underpowered for one of these brutes. I had a solid plains game setup. A bow hunt for Cape Buffalo is another pursuit entirely requiring itís own specialized equipment. Though we enjoyed the buffalo we were happy to see them go. When they are at the water you will see nothing else.

Three Nyala cows came in. I was hoping the bull would follow but he never showed they moved off and we had a small snack in the hide. It was just after 8am. I looked at Gerhard and told him my prediction for the next action was 9:30am. Making these kind of predictions, makes the time go faster in a blind for me. Itís a mental game of anticipation. If the time comes and goes I make another. Occasionally these predictions are right which makes it even more fun.

At 9:15am more Nyala cows show. Six minutes later here finally comes the long awaited bull. Gerhard asked if I wanted him. My answer was an emphatic yes!

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Heís very good. Not giant but very good. I prepared for the shot. Gerhard coached me through the shot placement and helped calm my nerves. The bull faced towards us for an agonizing period of time. Finally he turned. I drew aimed and shot. I was using nocturnal lighted nocks. They really help me see shot placement. I told Gerhard I had delivered the arrow the right height but was a couple inches back from ideal. I looked at my watch 9:30am sharp. I showed it to Gerhard and we both smiled. This time the prediction was spot on! Gerhard radioed Ryno Potgieter and asked him to bring the tracking dog. Ryno showed up thirty minutes later and we took the up the trail. Ryno and his tracking dog are an amazing team. They unraveled a sparse blood trail in ten minutes. It would have taken me at least an hour. My nyala had gone 120 yards. The hit was as I predicted back from perfect but managed to catch the back one inch of both lungs. The 125grain Slicktrick standard had made a perfect pass through. The glowing nock made the arrow a snap to find.

The skinners bundled the Nyala in a tarp and got him to a place more adequate for photos. They then expertly posed the Nyala and Ryno laid in front snapping pictures with everyoneís camera. Ryno is good. He even made me look better.

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We returned to the hide. And got back in for the remainder of the day. You got to love Africa! Your hunting day isnít over just because you succeed! We saw some more Nyala cows, a zebra far off and a lone bushbuck ewe. Absolutely a great day! I could go home happy tomorrow with this Nyala. Iím estatic.

Back to the campfire to relive the day and bath in bush smoke. Venison pie for dinner was an excuse for overeating!

Aug 22nd,

Today Iím hunting a bushbuck. Specifically, a very nice bushbuck. Iíve seen the game camera photos of him. I will give this hunt my all. The only animal which would deter me from this single-minded goal is a very nice eland. Gerhard and Ryno had scouted for this bushbuck and located him on another concession. For many African hunting outfits this means a long drive in the morning to get to the other concession. Not so with this operation. The concessions are merely fifteen minutes away.

My brother is going to Pilanesburg to photograph with Gerhard. Ryno will take me to the ladder stand I will be hunting.

I shoot four practice arrows in the target at the range, put on my harness and climb in Rynoís truck. I meet Francois the manager of the adjoining concession. Quick introductions and soon Iím hunting again!

About 8:30am a lone kudu bull trots past. Heís just passing through with another destination in mind. He was beautiful to watch but was quickly out of sight. A 9:00am a lone bushbuck ewe slips out of the bush in front of me. She starts ďbarkingĒ at something behind me but I dare not turn around to look. She eases of quietly into the dense thorny branches. Five minutes later five vervet monkeys come in from behind me. Things are very tense for the next few minutes. Vervet monkeys are extremely sharp eyed and look up constantly. If they spot you, expect the hunt to be ruined for an hour or two as they sound the alarm. I do not like monkeys! Suddenly the vervet monkeys go on alert and run quietly away. This was odd. I knew they hadnít spotted me.

Just a couple minutes pass and what scared the vervet monkeys comes in. A huge troop of around thirty baboons. They are every bit as sharp as the vervet monkeys and as loud. The big difference is they donít leave. They sit for hours just out of range staring at the water hole daring danger to show itself. Many animals will not come to water with baboons. Bushbucks donít seem to care nor do warthogs.

Three little warthogs show up and roll in the mud and drink water. They get enough and move away. A massive old boar with one broken tusk comes in for a drink. I risk a couple snapshots moving very slowly to avoid detection from the baboons.

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#2 Leo

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Posted 02 September 2010 - 09:55 AM

He moves off and I somewhat regret not taking him but Iím sticking hard to my plan. The baboons move closer and end up sixteen yards in front of me. I feel totally exposed and frozen. I donít want them to bust me. Iíve fooled them so far and this is a good thing. A bushbuck fawn pops out of the bush and then a ewe and a small buck. They drink and suddenly what Iíve been waiting for all day comes out of the bush 16 yards away. He starts rubbing his heavy long horns in the mud. This is the boss! I slowly lift my bow from the holder. The bushbuck turns and jumps back into the thick stuff. I freeze. Holding my bow with just one arm completely motionless. I spie the bushbuck surveying the area from back in the bush. The baboons werenít frightened so he gains confidence and comes back in. I let him relax and really mud his horns thoroughly before I even think about moving slowly again. I carefully attach my release. Slowly and as smoothly as is humanly possible I draw back the bow. I settle the pin center of the leg, just above the elbow. I squeeze the trigger. Itís complete and total pandemonium for the next few seconds. The baboons go absolutely crazy. They were less than twenty yards away when I launched the arrow. I believe I hear the bushbuck crash thirty yards away. I call Ryno on the radio.

ďIím done.Ē, I tell him

ďWhat are you tired?Ē, he asks

ďNo, I got the bushbuck.Ē

ďDo you feel good about the shot?Ē

ďYes very good.Ē

Ryno shows up thirty minutes later to start tracking. I tell him where I thought I heard him fall. We go practically straight to him. I had managed to center the heart on the bushbuck! A perfect shot on a stunning trophy. This is the bushbuck dreams are made of. I almost cried, I couldnít believe it.

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I had shot the bushbuck at 3:15pm the baboons had me pinned in most of the day. I couldnít relieve myself or eat during that time. I was hungry and very stiff. I called it a day and was prepared a nice hot lunch back at the lodge. I waited in front of the bush TV (campfire) for my brother and Gerhard to return from Pilanesburg.

The bushbuck literally had his horns in the mud when I drew back my bow. He was definitely the dominant bushbuck of the area.

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I have a kudu with a bow from a previous hunt. This hunt I was concentrating on the other three major spiral horns in South Africa. In two consecutive days I had added two more spiral horns to my quest. I knew the bushbuck would be hard to get. I was incredibly lucky and I knew it. God gave me these animals and I am thankful.

Tomorrow I go to the eland hide. It is called that for a reason. The moon is now full bright at night limiting daytime movement of the eland and the wind is gusting and fickle. My odds for successfully taking an eland from a waterhole blind under these conditions are extremely low. Iím going to try anyway. You canít get them from the couch and Iíve already had a successful enough safari to go home very happy anyway.

Another fantastic meal. Night around the campfire. Shower and go to bed.

Aug 23rd,

Routine ritual now. Shoot three or four practice arrows. Get in the truck. On the the Eland hide we go!

The wind is bad. No the wind is awful! Gusting shifting absolutely very tough for hunting a pit blind. This day might very well be a total blank. Gerhard burns Zebra dung to help mask are scent. Too much dung smoke gives you a headache but it really is our only option. We see nothing until 9:30am, We then spot eland cows moving through the bush. They actually come in! No bull joins them but this is still a very good sign, the eland are moving in daylight in spite of last nights spotlight bright moon. At 10:00am a warthog sow with young ones comes to visit. The hang around for quite awhile. When they finish drinking they walk off totally relaxed. The zebra dung smoke masked our scent for the warthogs. This is no minor feat! At 12:30pm we spot another eland cow heading our way. Most likely one of the group we saw earlier. She comes in. A couple more cows follow. Suddenly Gerhard spots a young bull.

ďLeo! There is a young bull with this group. Will you take him.Ē

I think about it.

ďI know itís unlikely we will get another chance but I would rather take an older dominant bull.Ē, I reply.

The young bull comes in with the cows. He is nice but I can hold out. I donít have to wait long. A much bigger bull with a shaggy forehead and darker neck appears. He chases the younger bull some and then rubs his horns in the mudhole just like the bushbuck did yesterday. Thatís the one! I smile. Yes I want him.

I start waiting for the right opportunity. Eighteen yards. I need to aim a little higher on an eland. His leg bone would stop my arrow cold. I go for the top of the heart shot. The arrows sails into the money! The fletching disappears as I get a total pass through on Africaís heaviest antelope. These slick trick standards are fabulous penetrators!

Gerhard gets the whole thing on video. The bull collapses just fifty yards away on video as well.

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Thank you again Gerhard Delport and Ryno Potgieter. I am already dreaming of returning to hunt with you. My brother is as well.

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#3 Rowdy Yates

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Posted 02 September 2010 - 11:22 AM

Wow. What a super hunt and absolutely outstanding animals you shot. And as always I enjoyed reading your story about your adventures. Man do I want to go ever more after reading this. And yes congratulations Leo.

I saw the gallery photos yesterday and that Bush buck thru me for a loop trying to claim the name for it. It looked like Nyala in some respects but again it didn't. But the Nyala is gorgeous. I'd get the hide tanned just to display it patterns. The eland is as big as a moose and has to make a awesome mount. I bet it feeds a tribe for a week.

Thank you for sharing these adventure with us, truly an amazing hunt. So when are you going back. ;)
"Keep the sun forever at your back, the wind forever in your face, and may forever God bless you out there on the trail."

#4 PA RIDGE RUNNER

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Posted 02 September 2010 - 11:37 AM

Yep that is what I read in the articles section. I did not realize that only authors can access that section. Great article and sounds like a grand time once you got there. Oh well even the sphinkter tightening moments all add to the adventure. Sure glad they had a bed(s) long enough for you too. Congratulations on the grand looking trophies you took. Boy if that warthog would have had both tusks he would have made a good trophy too. I just thank the Lord that you got there and back safe and sound, well safe anyhow. Just kidding. I had the rare opportunity to assist my son-in-law on a gemsbok in New Mexico and they too stressed that shot placement is a bit different than it would be for our indiginous animals.
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#5 TerryfromAR

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Posted 03 September 2010 - 05:36 PM

Leo.... aww man... I was glued to this post as I was reading...... Congratulations on the successful hunt and the 3 wonderful trophies you took...... My wife asked me if I would ever want to hunt Africa I told her if we could afford it yes, but I don't think we will ever be able to. LOL It's nice to dream though., and your story will inspire some very nice dreams. Once again congratulations, and Thank You for sharing this story with us.
Semper Fi

#6 Leo

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Posted 08 September 2010 - 09:12 PM

Leo.... aww man... I was glued to this post as I was reading...... Congratulations on the successful hunt and the 3 wonderful trophies you took...... My wife asked me if I would ever want to hunt Africa I told her if we could afford it yes, but I don't think we will ever be able to. LOL It's nice to dream though., and your story will inspire some very nice dreams. Once again congratulations, and Thank You for sharing this story with us.


Make it a priority and start saving for it. All three animals I took were outside of the trip I won. I also added an extra day. If I hadn't been saving for over two years to one day return to Africa I couldn't have done this trip even with 7 free days. First law of personal finance = Pay yourself first ;)

Heck yeah it was worth it! I wanna do it again!
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#7 Rowdy Yates

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Posted 09 September 2010 - 07:47 AM

Make it a priority and start saving for it. All three animals I took were outside of the trip I won. I also added an extra day. If I hadn't been saving for over two years to one day return to Africa I couldn't have done this trip even with 7 free days. First law of personal finance = Pay yourself first ;)

Heck yeah it was worth it! I wanna do it again!

Remember you have to go back for a trophy wart hog.
A third African trip is the charm, can you say monster wart hog.

Edited by Rowdy Yates, 09 September 2010 - 02:44 PM.

"Keep the sun forever at your back, the wind forever in your face, and may forever God bless you out there on the trail."

#8 TerryfromAR

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Posted 09 September 2010 - 05:21 PM

Leo, well with a 2 year old, and a baby on the way.... I don't see myself with disposable income for the next 18 years or maybe closer to 24.(The kids are going to college one way or another) LOL Maybe if we start eating more beenie weenies and Ramen Noodles, but it would take almost as long LOL I would love to do Africa, but I know I'm going to have to be patient. I don't mind being patient.
Semper Fi

#9 Phil

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Posted 10 September 2010 - 04:50 AM

:clap: :clap: :clap: Great Adventure Leo !
Awesome reading & pictures .....you can be really proud of such an accomplishment .
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#10 Coalman

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Posted 10 September 2010 - 06:08 AM

We are blessed to be able to hitchhike on that adventure with you Leo. I felt like I was there.

This was a 10 plus Posted Image read.

Thank you for sharing.
Your eye in the northeast sky.

#11 sschneid73

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Posted 11 September 2010 - 09:08 AM

Man Leo that was awesome. I was glued also. Great overview of your hunt. I have been saving for a bear hunt and an elk hunt in the future. I want to make sure I have enough for the hunt and taxidermy both.

Steve

#12 REDGREEN

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Posted 11 September 2010 - 12:03 PM

Great story, Leo. The best part is rhat you are back in one piece to tell it.




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