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.275 member

Reged: 28/06/11
Posts: 60
Loc: Bakersfield, CA, USA
KZN Nyala hunt
      #282190 - 11/05/16 12:58 AM

I thought that I'd post this one in the correct forum for a change.

From April 26th through May 4th of 2016, I hunted with Ian Blakeway of Venture South Outfitting on a free range concession in the Kwa Zulu Natal region of South Africa for Nyala and Bushbuck. I used my left handed Winchester Model 70 chambered in 375 H&H magnum, loaded with the 235 grain Cutting Edge Bullets, Raptor Extended Range bullets.


We were glassing what I called the “Power Line Valley” because of the electrical transmission line right of way directly west of it. We had seen a great bull a couple of days earlier and climbed the 45 degree shale slope a couple of days ago in 96 degree heat trying to get him. Yesterday, we sat on the opposite hill in the rain and 20 mph winds, in 42 degree weather.

Another PH stopped by with an older hunter and four teenagers in the back of his Land Cruiser to coordinate with us so that they didn’t interfere with our hunt. While they were there my PH Ian, spotted a group of four Nyala bulls on the slope two valleys to the east. One of them looked to be a good sized bull so we made the decision to make a stalk on it.

The second to the last valley is where the bulls were headed.

There was a dirt road on the opposite slope leading through the valleys and canyons on that side so we drove down the slope we were on, crossed the creek and drove up on to that road. We eased along to the valley before the one that we saw the bulls in and left the truck in the shade. I loaded my rifle and threw on my pack and we climbed the ridge to put us about half way up the next slope overlooking the canyon that the bulls should be in. Creeping over the top, Ian says “Freeze” there’s a kudu cow staring right at us. I was still below the rim of the canyon but the cow had spotted Ian from 100 yards down the slope. We stood there for a few minutes until the kudu lost interest and then set up the shooting sticks on the edge of the canyon looking into the dense brush on the opposite slope.

Ian says “Don’t move, there’s a bull looking right at us.” I have my binoculars in front of my face so I look at the opposite slope and see a long face with big ears staring straight at us about 140 yards away. We freeze on the hill until the head drops and I ease the binoculars down and get my rifle on the sticks.

Ian says that he’s a pretty bull, great shape but that he needs to see him from the side to judge his length. The bull picks his head up again and to me he looks 25’-26”. Ian says that the left horn is just starting to turn out and then the bull turns up hill and Ian says that he’s a good bull, maybe 27”. I put the crosshairs on his shoulder but he doesn’t look that big to me and I tell Ian that let’s wait to see if the other bulls come out. The bull walks up the opposite slope and Ian says, “That’s a big bull, he’s heavy in the body.” The bull silhouettes himself in an opening and Ian says again, “That’s a big bull”. I pass on him again and we suddenly another bull appears about 50 yards further down the canyon. The first bull bristles up and starts heading toward the second bull that is younger and noticeably smaller. Ian says “That first bull is big, a solid 27” and beautifully shaped, the best bull that we’ve seen.” Thabo, our tracker is whispering something that I later learn is “There’s two of them!” He thinks that we’re only seeing the younger bull because we should have taken the older bull by now.

The bigger bull passes through a small opening in the brush but I pass on him again. He then pushes the younger bull out of his area and over the next ridge. We wait another 20 minutes or so hoping that the other bulls will show up but nothing moves on the opposite slope. We talk about the bulls that we’ve seen and I mention that the bull just doesn’t look that big to me. Ian says that he’s a great bull. His body and head are so big that they make his horns look shorter, he also has great mass in his horns with nice ridges visible in the lower horn and ivory tips. I now regret passing on him so many times.

Finally, Ian stands up and we get ready to leave when he suddenly drops back down and says “He’s back!” There on the opposite slope, standing with his whole body exposed in a clearing is a big bull Nyala. I’m waiting for him to pick his head up to verify that it’s the same bull and Ian asks “Where did he come from? How did he get there without us seeing him?”

The bull turns straight down hill, 140 yards away, picks his head up for a quick look and goes back to feeding. I can see it’s the right bull and put the crosshairs on his spine right between his shoulder blades. Thinking about the performance of the two bullets used on my bushbuck and jackal, I’m reluctant to shoot through any heavy bone.

I shift my hold 1/3 of the way up the bull’s neck and with apologies to my taxidermist in case the bullet destroys the cape, I touch the trigger. At the shot the bull disappears and Ian says “He’s dead! He dropped like he was hit by lightning, rolled to his side and kicked once. He never knew what hit him!”

I picked up the empty brass case on the ground next to me, eased open the bolt and ejected the loaded round. I pushed it back in the magazine and closed the bolt on the empty chamber. I safed the rifle, we picked up the shooting sticks and worked our way down the slope to find the bull.
We intercepted the dirt road on the way down the hill and followed it around to get on the opposite slope. Ian thought the bull was down above the road and Thabo insisted that the bull was below. We split upon the hillside looking and Thabo found it and yelled for us. Walking down to it, it kept growing. There was no ground shrinkage on this bull.

He’s a great old bull, probably 12 – 14 years old and close to 400 Lbs. He’s got a big head and thick muscular neck and is in great shape for his age.

My bullet had hit about an inch to the right of his mane, broke his neck and exited about eight inches down the left side of his neck without destroying the cape.
We get him set up for photos and made ready to drag him up the hill. Ian and Thabo each grab a horn and try to drag the bull uphill. They grunt and slide the bull a couple of feet. After a couple of attempts at this, I grab the back legs and pull when they do and we manage to move the bull about 3-4 feet at a time. After 30 yards of this, Ian says “Stay here, I’ll go back to get the truck and see if I can call the other hunters to help.”

Thabo and I admire the bull and about 20 minutes later we see Ian’s truck come around the hill with the Land Cruiser right behind him. The other hunters come down and congratulate me on the bull and everyone gets a grip and the six guys get it up the hill and loaded in to the truck in short order.
We get him back to the skinning shed and hang him up for cleaning.


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