Sarge Karim shares some photos of some of his hunts in Zambia.
Mufunta is an area located in the west of Zambia bordering the Kafue national park. The area boasts the highest density of Sable than any other, with several trophies scoring in the high 40s. Other plentiful plains game in Mufunta are; roan, eland, kudu, hartebeest, reedbuck, common duiker, impala, warthog, bushing and buffalo.
Nyamvu and Nyakolwe are adjacent, privately owned wild and unfenced hunting concessions located in the famous Luangwa Valley. These areas boast some of the largest roan populations in Zambia. Other huntable species include; hippo, crocodile, buffalo, puku, bushbuck, impala, kudu, warthog, hartebeest, zebra, hyena, and waterbuck.
You know you are in Hog Heaven when … you are in Africa!
I have hunted numerous plains game animals in Africa on multiple hunts, but the one animal that holds a special interest for me is Phacochoerus africanus sundevallii, the Southern Warthog. You can pursue wild pigs over much of the world, but if a hunter is looking for the toughest, orneriest, as well as the one with most outsized tusks, the warthog is for you. Even lion and cheetah know to tread lightly around those guys.
The southern warthogs are to be found in the savanna, woodland and grassland regions of Sub-Saharan Africa. For me, Namibia has proven to be particularly rich in this special trophy. In planning for my first safari to Namibia, I considered several outfitters and, after much research, narrowed the list down to one–Rolf Ritter of Ritter Safaris. Rolf told me that if I was looking for some plains game excitement, the warthog should be high on my wish list. Rolf was right on. The opportunities were many and the fees affordable.
It has been my experience that these wild pigs of Africa are often taken while hunting other game and, fortunately, most rifles used for plains game are suitable for warthogs. My two pet rifles are both Winchester Model 70s; one in .375 H&H Magnum and the other is a McMillan fiberglass-stocked 7mm Remington Magnum. Each sports a Leopold scope. Both have served me well with plains game in general and warthog in particular. In fact, my best record book warthog was taken with my 7mm, using a 160-grain Nosler Partition bullet; however most of my big-tusked hogs were taken with the .375 H&H, using the fine 260-grain Nosler Partition bullet.
The opportunity to take my first warthog came as I was hunting kudu with Rolf. We were in a blind late on a Sunday afternoon looking to the left toward the setting sun when I happened to glance to my right and spotted him–a huge lone boar trotting toward water. I whispered to Rolf and he confirmed that it was a trophy for sure. I silently raised my rifle and eased the safety off, placing the crosshair of my VX-3 2.5-8x Leupold for a lung shot. I touched off my 7mm Magnum and the warthog bolted from the hit. Quickly cycling the Winchester, a second shot headed his way. Upon its arrival, he went down hard. To say I was excited would be a bold understatement.
It was my first warthog and still my biggest to date, easily making the SCI Record Book. We confirmed that the first shot was a good one and the second probably not necessary, but better that than tracking him into the bush in the rapidly fading light. In keeping with German tradition, Rolf placed a sprig of grass in the boar’s mouth, toasting me with the phrase Waidmanns Heil – Hunter’s Luck. (By the way, a couple of days later we did get a kudu–a nice record book bull at that.)
Later that week, we were tracking gemsbok when we had the opportunity to witness how savage Africa can be. In the distance we observed a lone piglet with no sow in sight. It didn’t take long until a large boar showed up. The old male went relentlessly on the attack. His razor sharp lower tusks ripped the smaller warthog to shreds. The violent struggle was not unlike the reality of the cycle of life and death to be found throughout the game fields of the African bush. We passed on that boar but took another fine specimen later on that day. Today its skull rests on my desk making quite a conversation piece.
I have long been an admirer of the late American big game hunter and publisher, Robert E. Petersen. He would often take his lovely wife Margie on safari with him. Well, my wife, Sharon, let me know that if Margie Petersen could go on safari, so could she. Sharon proved to be not only a great outdoorswoman, but a fine tracker as well.
So off we were for a second safari, with warthog again definitely on our list of “most wanted.” Both eland and gemsbok were also on the menu. With eland as the primary quarry, I decided to rely on my .375, confident that throughout our safari I would be ready, come what may–eland, gemsbok or warthog. After our long flight from Los Angeles, Marion Ritter met us at the Windhoek airport with a big hug and we were off to their ranch, Woltemade, near Okahandja. Exhaustion from our travel made sleep come easily and we were on the go at first light.
Soon, Slinger, our San Bushman tracker, my wife and I were heading out in Rolf’s Land Cruiser. We arrived at a good jump off point whereupon I chambered a big .375 cartridge into the Winchester, and we were ready for whatever Africa would bring us that day. After about an hour, Slinger stopped, suddenly motioning ahead with his right hand. There he was, a nice heavy-tusked old boar facing directly at us about 75 yards out. A straight on chest shot is not what I would have preferred, but you take what you can get. I went down on one knee and shouldered my Model 70. While the shot felt good the hog exploded in flight and was gone. Slinger said that it looked to him like a frontal shoulder shot, disabling but not immediately fatal. I knew what that meant–a potentially long tracking job.
I looked over to my wife, gauging her reaction to the task ahead. She gave me a thumbs up and said, “Lets do it!” and off we went. Sharon is a California girl who has been in a number of TV shows and movies, but is right at home tracking in the thick thorn bush of Namibia. At first the blood trail was easy to follow, but soon became more sporadic. Those Bushman trackers are just amazing, finding sign where I was sure there was none. For a moment, we lost sight of Slinger; Sharon briefly thought we were lost in Africa for sure. But, Slinger was right there and we continued on.
Suddenly, our warthog erupted from an aardvark burrow. Startled, I must have jumped three feet before I swung my rifle to take a snap shot–a clean miss! Sharon was undeterred by all the excitement and insisted that we press on. We took up where we left off and I bumped that big boar a time or two, and after four hours of determined tracking I was finally able to close the deal. He wasn’t my biggest warthog, but it was a family affair and I am very proud of what Sharon and I were able to do together. She couldn’t wait to retell the story to her girlfriends and our children back home. Later, we did connect with an excellent record class eland and gemsbok, but that’s a story for another time.
Rolf saw to it that our trophies were properly cared for in the field and carefully prepared for shipment to my taxidermist back home. My best warthog is now a full shoulder mount displayed on the wall of my trophy room, with the skull of another proudly resting on my bookcase.
Success comes naturally to Rolf Ritter. Since my safaris, Rolf’s other clients have also achieved Waidmanns Heil, taking a number of outsized trophy warthogs. I am now part of a growing fraternity of satisfied hunters, who have discovered that Hog Heaven is a place called Africa.– Tom Nichols
“I want to thank my grandparents for bringing us on this trip. I love them so much,” our 14-year-old grandson, Parker Swan, said. He had just shot a beautiful blesbok at Lindenhof Ranch in Namibia and was thanking us for bringing him, his 10-year-old brother, Mason, and his mother and father, Bill III and DeAnn, to Africa with us for a family hunting trip. Jaco, our PH, was running the video camera while saying,
“I think I am going to cry!” Vicki, my wife, and I had tears in our eyes after hearing him say that. His comment made the trip for us.
Vicki and I had been planning this African trip for our family with Cedric and Karin Neiuwoudt at Cape to Cairo since the 2010 SCI Convention in Reno. We selected them because they were an SCI Corporate Sponsor the year prior, and because of that, we became close friends. Cedric and Karin provided a “hassle free” trip that included transfers, three different camps and an overnight at a country club. For our family, it was a trip of a lifetime and one we hoped to cherish forever. Only Vicki and I had ever been to the African Continent, and this would probably be our last trip to Africa since we had other places we wanted to experience.
My son and I have been hunting deer and turkeys with the grandkids since they were the “ripe old age” of six when each of them was able to harvest a whitetail buck. Later, we took them with us on hunting trips to many other places, including Canada, Ohio and Kentucky. Both Parker and Mason have since become avid hunters.
My fondest memory of hunting with Mason was on one very cold morning here in Tennessee when he was eight. Bill III dropped the two of us off at a shooting house overlooking a food plot. Mason climbed the stairs to the house and Bill III handed me Mason’s .243 (or at least he thought) in a zippered case. I grabbed my Kimber .300 WSM and followed Mason into the house. In less than an hour, a nice eight-point whitetail appeared 25 yards in front of the stand. I quickly unzipped the case and instead of Mason’s .243, pulled out my son’s (unloaded) muzzleloader that he mistakenly picked up that morning when leaving the house. I looked at Mason and he was shaking all over with his teeth chattering. “Mason, are you cold?” I asked. He just shook his head no and pointed at my Kimber. Needless to say, I was afraid the recoil might take him for an “unplanned ride.”
For our family, planning the trip and letting the kids pick out which animals to shoot added to the excitement. Parker’s number one animal was a kudu and Mason’s number one was, of all things, an eland since that was the largest plains game animal. For him, bigger is better. Parker had always wanted a kudu, so his choice was easy. I had not planned to hunt, but Cedric talked me into hunting sable, which is an animal Vicki and I had always wanted to adorn our log home. Bill III was hunting with his bow. Several hours were well spent with the kids prior to the trip, having them shoot off sticks to get the feel of what was in store for them. Vicki and DeAnn spent time honing their camera skills and we were ready. Vicki and DeAnn took more than 3,000 photos on the trip.
The day after our departure and being in airports and planes for more than 24 hours, we arrived very tired and very excited at the Windhok, Namibia, airport. There, Jaco and Janse, our PHs, grabbed our luggage and we were quickly on the way to the lodge. Parker, Mason, Bill III and DeAnn were like revolving doors trying to see all the sights and animals en route. After an early supper, we all became pumpkins and fell asleep, dreaming of what was to come.
Dawn came cool and crisp, and it was hard to tell who was looking forward to the first day the most. Parker was using my Kimber .325 WSM that I would be carrying on my lion hunt after they flew home, and Mason was shooting
his older brother’s Howa 7mm-08 with Hornady 139-grain bullets. With airlines so strict on luggage requirements and South Africa’s cumbersome gun clearance and everyone in sight wanting a tip to help, we decided that we could survive bringing two rifles. Our only concern was Mason shooting a 2,000-pound eland with such a small bullet.
We decided Vicki and I would hunt with Parker the first morning, and Bill III and DeAnn would go with Mason. Parker performed flawlessly, making a perfect 160-yard one-shot kill on a springbok while I filmed the action. The first thing he did before picking up his animal was to give Vicki and me a hug and thank us for this trip. Upon returning with Parker’s springbok, we found that Mason had made a “one shot” kill on a black wildebeest; however, he got confused and shot the wrong one. Jaco, being the gentleman and great PH that he is, called it a cull and let Mason take a second wildebeest.
On day two, Vicki and I went with Mason in hopes of finding a trophy eland. Two hours later, we spotted a small group of eland. We left the truck for an hour-long stalk that had Jaco and Mason crawling about 50 yards to get into position for a shot. (At 68 years old, crawling is not the same for me as when I was less than a year old. There were thorns everywhere and they gravitated to my knees, so I choose to find a close tree and began filming.) Watching though the viewfinder, I could easily see Jaco placing the shooting sticks in position while Mason rose slowly and placed his rifle in position for the 150-yard shot. At the sound of the shot, Jaco grabbed the sticks and walked about 10 feet to his right with Mason in tow. The rifle was on the rest for the next shot when Mason began giving Jaco high fives. For the next two minutes the young hunter danced around like a Mexican jumping bean doing what he called the “eland dance” that he had been practicing at home for this moment. I have little doubt he added a few new moves.
It was at that point when Vicki and I felt we had gotten more than our money’s worth from this trip, but it only got better. As we approached the giant eland, Jaco said, “Mason, do you realize what you have gotten?” Of course, he had no idea, as this was the first time he had seen one of these animals up-close. Jaco then proceeded to tell him that this was by far the largest eland ever taken off this ranch. We could not believe it! One shot with the tiny rifle had taken out both lungs and finished
it within 25 yards of where it was hit.
The next day, Bill III, hunting over a waterhole with Jaco, shot a very nice oryx with his bow, while Mason got an afternoon double of a warthog and red hartebeest. Parker got a really nice blue wildebeest. The next days went by way too fast. We wanted the trip to be enjoyed slowly like a fine wine, but life is not like that.
While hunting and filming with Parker, we spotted a kudu bull worthy of gracing the wall of his room. It was a two-hour game of cat and mouse, spotting and stalking through the thick brush. Parker would place my Kimber on the rest only to see the gray ghost of Africa appear and disappear. Finally, he was able to make a quick shot and the animal of his dreams was lying at his feet. What a magnificent animal a kudu is. And, what a great time we had going through the thorns and brush chasing the bull. That evening, Parker’s brother had taken a beautiful red hartebeest and warthog (before leaving home he said he did not want to hunt a warthog, but this is Africa).
Cedric made arrangements for us to take a Safari Care (SCIF) bag to a local school adjoining a “squatter’s town.” According to Parker, that was his favorite part of the trip. Both Parker and Mason got to give out the contents of the bag in each classroom. The teachers were very excited to get the six soccer balls that were in the bag since they had a soccer tournament coming up in two weeks. At each class, the kids would sing and dance. Cedric told us the words to the song were “thank you and welcome.” It was really sad to see the living conditions, but it was uplifting to see the children in class hoping for a better life.
That evening at dinner as we enjoyed the eland tenderloin cooked over an open fire (which we agreed is the best meat we have eaten), Jaco informed us that we had set a camp record of 17 animals in three days for three hunters. He did count my sable, but the trip was about family and not about an animal for me. With the exception of Mason’s second black wildebeest, every animal was taken with only one shot. That was not too bad shooting for a 10- and 14-year-old, especially since I needed two shots for the sable, and many animals I took on my first trip to Africa required more than one.
After Lindenhof Ranch, our next destination was Erindi Ranch in Northern Namibia for a photographic safari. We spent the three days there reliving our cherished time on the
family hunting trip and enjoying evening rides into the bush, taking pictures of the African game. We even had a little excitement when a bull elephant actually ran at us and bumped the back of our Land Rover.
It seemed as though we had just arrived when Vicki and I tearfully had to say goodbye to Bill III, DeAnn and the kids at the South Africa airport. They had a flight home, and we had a charter flight for my lion hunt. This was a trip we wish could have lasted forever because it was not just a trip — it was an experience for the family. We will never forget Parker saying, “I love my grandparents so much.” We were all “bitten by the safari bug” and cannot wait to return.–Bill Swan