The flight from JFK airport in New York to Johannesburg International aboard a South Africa Airways 747 lasted nearly 15 hours.
One of the bunk houses at Mahuto Lodge on the Munnik Concession, 40 miles east of Polokwane, the capital of the Limpopo. The accommodations were quite comfortable, the staff very friendly and the food was plentiful and delicious.
Faanie Malan plugs his ears while Tim sights in his rifle. Faanie, 19, recently finished his schooling and is working with Professional Hunter Theo de Marillac to train to become a PH, himself.
One of the sponsors of Tim’s hunt was Merkel, who provided one of their new KR1 bolt-action rifles in .30/06. Trijicon topped the rifle with an AccuPoint scope. Cabela’s coordinated the hunt and provided the apparel, and South African Airways provided the airfare.
Tim Wagner (right) and John Taranto, posing with Tim’s 38-inch gemsbok, taken at dusk on the first full day of the safari after a 2-hour stalk.
Nothing beats sitting around the fire pit reminiscing on a long day of stalking African plains game. Professional hunter, Theo de Marillac, OL Senior Editor John Taranto and Tim Wagner (left to right) enjoy a few Castle lagers.
Much of a day’s hunt is spent riding in the back of a Land Cruiser, looking for animals and determining the best approach for a stalk on good, mature animals.
Theo discussing strategy with tracker Felton Mondlane and Tim Wagner mid-stalk.
Attempting to stay low while closing the distance on a herd of blesbuck.
Tim, following Theo’s lead, as they move in on a mature impala they had spotted from the Land Cruiser.
Success! With the wind in his favor, Tim was able to drop this awesome impala ram in his tracks at 90 yards.
The impala had no sooner been loaded into the back of the Land Cruiser when a large herd of blesbuck was spotted about a half-mile in the distance. The stalk was on again, and Tim sealed the deal on this old male with a single shot from about 195 yards.
The night sky over Munnik Conservancy was something to behold.
Tracker Felton Mondlane has worked for PH Theo de Marillac for 16 years.
Felton has been by Theo’s side on hunts for countless animals, from kudu and gemsbok to lions and elephants.
Tracker Dala Shoko, from Zimbabwe, has hunted with de Marillac for only a couple of years, but is a valuable member of the hunt staff.
Dala glasses distant hillsides for game.
Patrick Charke works for the Conservancy and did a lot of the driving around the property in search of trophy animals.
Acacia trees dot the landscape of the Munnik Conservancy.
Tim steadies his Merkel KR1 on shooting sticks, preparing for a shot at a diminutive steenbok, as Professional Hunter Riaan Drotsky and tracker Chingeta look on.
Tim poses with his steenbok. This little antelope proved to be an extremely challenging animal to hunt. Given its stature, it is difficult to pick up in a scope’s sight picture as it flees in leaps and bounds from the slightest movement.
Tim remarked that the country he hunted in South Africa was quite similar to the terrain he is used to hunting back home in Texas.
It’s difficult to tire of the rugged beauty of the South African landscape.
As the truck crept slowly up and down the roads of the hunting concessions, Tim had to always be at the ready for a possible snap shot at a fleeing trophy animal.
Wagner was a good sport when it came to posing for photo editor Justin Appenzeller.
Tim eyes a young warthog through his Trijicon AccuPoint scope. The trackers had built a ghwarri bush blind above a waterhole, a prime spot to target warthogs as they come to drink water and wallow in the mud.
Another ideal warthog location was Cordier Concession, just outside the small town of Morebeng, which is in part a tomato farm. The fresh vegetables are a magnet for the hogs.
Even the African vegetation wants to hurt you.
The sparse landscape seen here is combined with thick, brushy tracts to form what is know as mixed bushveld.
The scene outside the Impala Cafe in the tiny, historic town of Morebeng.
It never hurts to have a back-up rifle along on a stalk, especially when cape buffalo and white rhinos are known to frequent the area.
Stalking in the dry conditions of winter can be somewhat difficult. PH Riaan Drotsky wears nothing but sandals, regardless of the air temperature or ground cover.
Camouflage isn’t yet hugely popular for hunting in Africa (in fact it is illegal in Zimbabwe). Instead, hunters wear drab shades of green and brown to blend in to the surroundings.
A trip to Kruger National Park, 2 hours from Munnik, provided the chance to see dozens of animals and birds in their natural environs. Here is a mother baboon with her young.
This Technicolor bird is known as a European Roller.
Just one of dozens of elephants we saw at Kruger over the course of the day.
A young kudu bull gets a bit of exercise.
A few of the roughly 8 billion impala we saw at Kruger.
A blue wildebeest stops to check us out.
The very rare Striped African Donkey.
An old buff gives us a look from a relatively safe distance.
There’s nothing in the world quite like a giraffe.
The safari crew. Front row, left to right: Felton Mondlane, Chingeta, Patrick Charke and Dala Shoko. Back row, left to right: Theo de Marillac, Riaan Drotsky, John Taranto, Tim Wagner and Faanie Malan (with Kika).
An outtake from a photo shoot for the story to run in the December/January issue of Outdoor Life. From left to right are tracker Chingeta, Tim Wagner, PH Riaan Drotsky and OL Senior Editor John Taranto.
Our first adventure on a continent other than North America–and our fourth overall–took place in June 2009.
Outdoor Life‘s Senior Editor John Taranto accompanied winner Tim Wagner on a seven day plains-game safari for six trophies including Southern Greater kudu, gemsbok, impala, warthog, duiker and blesbuck. Read More>>