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A Most Excellent African Adventure

     There is no doubt about it, Africa is a long, long flight away for the USA! We left Savannah, Georgia at 7am and arrived in Johannesburg via Washington and Dakar around lunch time the next day. However, bringing guns into South Africa is an easy and swift process, under the guidance of our outfitter. Clearing immigration and customs, we were greeted by our genial host, Mark Haldane, owner and operator of Bird Hunters Africa.


      Placing guns and luggage in the trailer we boarded a bus for the two hour drive to Bloemfontein and De Oude Kraal Country Estate. This is a very, very nice hotel indeed, and the recipient of many International Wine and Dining Awards. The main building contains the reception, lounge, dinning room areas and a unique bar! The wall decor featured racks and racks of neck ties from around the world - every regiment, old school and athletic club tie was on display, each one referenced by a story describing how (and on whom) it had arrived at De Oude Kraal!

Tie collection

     The rooms are individual buildings in a traditional corral setting and truly Five Star luxury, the decor and comfort surpassed only by the superb cuisine and wine cellar.

      It was an early start to the hunting- 4 AM, but our jet lag, induced by the time change, helped! We began the day with a goose flight, first setting up in the freshly harvested wheat fields adjacent to a National Wildlife Park, containing one of the largest dammed lakes in South Africa.
      With enormous care and great stealth, the guns where positioned in the dark, by masked flashlight, along the boundary abutting the Park. As the first whispers of sunlight crept over the horizon, the ducks and geese began to stir - first calling to each other, then rising, curling and circling around the dam before turning to pass high over the waiting guns to breakfast in the fields behind them.Flying goose
      There was a stiffening breeze from the west and this, combined with the deceptively lazy wing beat of geese disguising their true speed, created some really challenging and exciting shooting!
      Tip! The trick to making passing shots at geese is to ignore the body, and treat the head as if you were shooting a snipe. In this way you get a true impression of its speed and also place your shot in the most vulnerable areas, ensuring a clean kill.
      As the fireball of the rising sun crept up over the horizon, majestically sweeping away the last cobwebs of gloom, the flight slowed to a trickle. We had acquitted ourselves very well, and there was a large mixed bag of Spurwing and Egyptian geese together with a variety of duck.

     The Egyptian Goose is of similar size to a Canadian, but has the most wonderful colorings! The Spurwing Goose is twice the size of the Egyptian - as big as a Swan with solid black and red markings on the head and huge spurs, 4 to 6 inches in length, at the elbows of the wings, hence the name. The native ducks have red and yellow bills and are of a similar size with the familiar flight characteristics of a Mallard.

Goose hunt

      After a short drive home and a hearty breakfast, we proceeded to try our hand pass-shooting at mourning doves in volume that would put Argentina under pressure to match! For me, the contrast between the lumbering geese and these winged jet fighters made an incredible day's shooting experience!
      This was, of course, complemented by my favorite - Lunch in the Field - a variety of grilled sausages 'Al Fresco' and a cold beer - what better combination to cool our hot barrels!
      On our recent trip to South Africa, we shot over 21 species of Game Birds in 3 distinct locations. Each area offered a different hunting experience and to share these with you will require more than one article, so "Wing Shooting Africa" will be a regular feature until all of our adventures in Africa have been covered.


For trips: www.birdhuntersafrica.com
Mark Haldane - Bird Hunters Africa
5 Sedgley Place,WorldÕs View 3201 S. Africa
Telephone: + 2733 343 2247

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