The Best of Grand Slam Africa

A lifelong hunter, Tim Wagner of Arlington, Texas, saw his dreams come true when he headed to Africa on a hunt for plains game.

Africa_01
The flight from JFK airport in New York to Johannesburg International aboard a South Africa Airways 747 lasted nearly 15 hours.
Africa_02
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.
Africa_03
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.
Africa_04
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.
Africa_05
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.
Africa_06
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.
Africa_07
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.
Africa_08
Theo discussing strategy with tracker Felton Mondlane and Tim Wagner mid-stalk.
Africa_09
Attempting to stay low while closing the distance on a herd of blesbuck.
Africa_10
Tim, following Theo’s lead, as they move in on a mature impala they had spotted from the Land Cruiser.
Africa_11
Success! With the wind in his favor, Tim was able to drop this awesome impala ram in his tracks at 90 yards.
Africa_12
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.
Africa_13
The night sky over Munnik Conservancy was something to behold.
Africa_14
Tracker Felton Mondlane has worked for PH Theo de Marillac for 16 years.
Africa_15
Felton has been by Theo’s side on hunts for countless animals, from kudu and gemsbok to lions and elephants.
Africa_16
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.
Africa_17
Dala glasses distant hillsides for game.
Africa_18
Patrick Charke works for the Conservancy and did a lot of the driving around the property in search of trophy animals.
Africa_19
Acacia trees dot the landscape of the Munnik Conservancy.
Africa_20
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.
Africa_21
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.
Africa_22
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.
Africa_23
It’s difficult to tire of the rugged beauty of the South African landscape.
Africa_24
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.
Africa_25
Wagner was a good sport when it came to posing for photo editor Justin Appenzeller.
Africa_26
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.
Africa_27
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.
Africa_28
Even the African vegetation wants to hurt you.
Africa_29
The sparse landscape seen here is combined with thick, brushy tracts to form what is know as mixed bushveld.
Africa_30
The scene outside the Impala Cafe in the tiny, historic town of Morebeng.
Africa_31
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.
Africa_32
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.
Africa_33
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.
Africa_34
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.
Africa_35
This Technicolor bird is known as a European Roller.
Africa_36
Just one of dozens of elephants we saw at Kruger over the course of the day.
Africa_37
A young kudu bull gets a bit of exercise.
Africa_38
A few of the roughly 8 billion impala we saw at Kruger.
Africa_39
A blue wildebeest stops to check us out.
Africa_40
The very rare Striped African Donkey.
Africa_41
An old buff gives us a look from a relatively safe distance.
Africa_42
There’s nothing in the world quite like a giraffe.
Africa_43
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).
Africa_44
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>>