Kowas Campfire, December 2014

 

 

Kowas: Our Pride & Passion

Back in May of 1990 when Danie & Ansie Strauss the owners of Kowas Hunting Safaris bought the Kowas ranch, there was merely no wildlife on the property. The only indication that there was wildlife on the property was dust-blown tracks of Oryx and Springbuck in the red Kalahari sand. Maybe once a month, at most, a dust cloud would emerge in the distance while the owners were out in the field, signalling that there was actually something running about 1,000 yards out, most probably a Kudu…

A slow and laborious transition from a cattle, sheep and ostrich ranch took place over a period of 10 years (staring from 1990) to change it into a wildlife-only ranch. It was Danie Strauss’ life-long dream to create a conservation area where wildlife species that occurred here many moons ago could be relocated to interact and reproduce under natural conditions as God intended it to be. But it’s not only the wildlife species that benefited, the Fauna & Flora at the Kowas ranch flourished as well creating a haven for all living things.

A natural environment was born from a dream, slowly molding it to perfection over the years, where today, man is part of the food chain where there is a correlation of hunter and prey. Taking you back to yesteryear, where Africa treats you as one of her own.

A vital part of the natural environment at Kowas stems from Trophy Hunters, since they are the ones that add a value to species that are at Kowas. Without these wildlife species having a value, there would be no incentive to keep them here. Photo safaris in areas where there are mainly plains-game species are not as popular as big game species, making trophy hunters a critical factor at Kowas. Unfortunately, here in Africa there is one slogan that will forever remain true; “If it pays, it stays”.

1.  Springbuck

“To ensure that the utilization of natural resources is sustainable” is a direct quote from Article 95 of the Namibian Constitution, making Namibia the only country in the world to make mention of “sustainable utilization of natural resources” in its Constitution. This quote shows you that Namibia is open-minded and recognizes that our resources should be utilized sustainably, and what better way to achieve that than through trophy hunting.

Today, Kowas ranch boasts with a variety of wildlife species namely:

Predators

  • African Wild Cat, Aardwolf, Bat-eared Fox, Cape Fox, Caracal, Cheetah, Brown Hyena, Honey Badger, Small-spotted Genet, Large-spotted Genet, Leopard

Odd-toed Ungulates

–  Burchell’s & Hartmann’s Zebra

Even-toed Ungulates

  • Duiker
  • Giraffe
  • Eland
  • Impala
  • Klipspringer
  • Kudu
  • Oryx
  • Red Hartebeest
  • Springbuck
  • Steenbuck
  • Warthog
  • Waterbuck
  • Black Wildebeest
  • Blue Wildebeest

As well as 200 birds species and five different habitats across the Kowas ranch.

Danie & Ansie Strauss, owners of Kowas Hunting Safaris, strive to continuously en-hance and perfect our operations. With the right management of our sustainable utili-zation programme, we will ensure that wildlife will occur natural with minimum human interference.

Reminiscing

I’m standing in our skin and salt shed where we store and dry our client’s trophies before we send it to the shipper or taxidermist. It’s the 1st of December. The shed is empty. The tick-tick-tick sound of rain drops falling on the tin roof is music in my ears. The sound is getting louder, but my thoughts wander, eliminating everything around me.

From the middle of March this year, up to the end of October this shed was pretty much occupied the whole time displaying some magnificent species that we harvested in 2014. I have a habit of visiting the skin and salt shed at least twice a week for inspection of the trophies. What usually happens is I end up here with a cup of coffee in my hand staring at the trophies and loosing myself in thought. I imagine each trophy displayed on the wall of a trophy hunter, living an eternal life. But that’s not all. The stories that will be retold of these hunts will echo into eternity. As a PH here at Kowas Hunting Safaris, it makes you proud that we have the right combination between good quality trophies and that we still abide to strong fair chase principles. One without the other is meaningless, much like you trying to walk with only one leg.

19.  Trophy Kudu with PH

My thoughts drift off, reflecting on the year that has passed.

When I reflect back on the year, there was a time between July and September that I walked into the shed and there were three Kudu bulls of which exceeded the 55-inch, which in itself is unheard of in most cases when looking at other outfitters across Africa. We managed to maintain an average size of 52,5” on our Kudu bulls in 2014, which in the SCI measuring system is a gold-medal average. There are three Kudu bulls that we harvested at Kowas Hunting Safaris with our clients that are worth mentioning; Ty Fetner’s Kudu of 57,5 inches, Alan Abraham’s Kudu of 58 inches and Joseph von Benedikt’s Kudu of 56,5 inches. The biggest Kudu bull harvested this year goes to Joey Dry from Texas with a size of 58,7 inches and believe me, the story that goes with it is far greater than the inches he measured.

3.  Alex Wetzel trophy Oryx

(***NOTE: The Safari Club International (SCI) Measuring System takes the measure-ment of both horns and both bases and total it to give a final score, while Roland Ward takes only the longest horn into account.***)

4.  Trophy impala Rick Butler

Our Oryx trophies that we harvest at Kowas Hunting Safaris still remain our pride year after year and this year was no different. We averaged at 35,5 inches right through the year on Oryx, which is an outrageous achievement. There are a few Oryx trophies worth mentioning as well; Jeremiah Sasala’s Oryx of 38,5 inches, Alex Wetzel’s Oryx of 39,5 inches and Ty Fetner’s Oryx of 40,5 inches.

A good Oryx trophy will forever remain one of Namibia’s jewels, each one being truly unique and the hunt itself a challenge that any hunter should take on.

Our Red Hartebeest trophies averaged at 23 inches which is a Gold medal in Roland Ward and Safari Club International measuring systems. Two noteworthy ones are; Scott Carol’s of 24.5 inches and Joseph von Benedikt’s of 25 inches. Each year Red Harte-beest are becoming more popular with our clients. The hunt itself can be compared with that of an Oryx, since their eye-sight is incomparable with any other species and skittish can be used to describe them perfectly.

Our Impala trophies averaged at 22.5 inches with one standing out like a sky-scraper in the Namib Desert, Rick Butler’s Impala of 25 inches… The Impala populations here at Kowas Hunting Safaris are shooting through the roof and we excited about the years to come.

5.  Joseph Von Benedict Trophy Black wildebeest

All the Black Wildebeest harvested with Kowas Hunting Safaris this year were all Gold-medals according to the Safari Club International measuring system which is without a doubt, a colossal accomplishment. On the other hand, we averaged at a silver-medal according to the Safari Club International measuring system with our Blue Wildebeest. The reason for the average being lower than usual was the big drought we experienced in 2013, causing us to capture and translocate many of our Blue Wildebeest to other parts of Namibia.

6.  Trophy image Miguel Delgado Eland

Two outstanding Eland trophies that we harvested are worth mentioning; Miguel Delgado’s Eland of 37 inches and Evgeny Shirikov’s Eland of 38.5 inches. These two specimens are remarkable since a considerably “good” Eland bull is anything from 34 inches upward, and the World Record being 46 inches.

I am totally tied up in my thoughts. We had a way-above-average year and needless to say, one that we will always reflect back on. It sounds like Kowas Hunting Safaris is all about “The Inches”, but the exact opposite is the truth. The only reason my mind relates the inches is because it’s a standard to which we can evaluate our trophies at Kowas Hunting Safaris, and unfortunately there is no standard measurement in the evaluation of the enjoyment and fulfillment that such hunt brings to a client.

7.  Ty Fetner Trophy kudu

As I walked out of the skin and salt shed, a beautiful rainbow is magnificently displayed high up in the sky. Puffy clouds float by like the current of a river. We are awaiting our turn for the rains to come. This is perhaps the time of year all ranchers in Namibia are closer to God than ever before, and some may even have rashes on their knees. The tide will turn, and we will get our rain when the time is right for I am left with high hopes after this year.

8.  Jerome and Jeremiah Sasala ORYX

Once again, our list of clients are slowly depleting year after year… But the list of friends that we have after a safari with Kowas Hunting Safaris far outweighs a mature Elephant bull. Thank you to each and every client that has found a place in our hearts as a friend, that has supported us endlessly; you will forever remain our corner stones.

9.  Joey Dry trophy Warthog

10.  Joseph Von Benedict Trophy kudu

14.  Ebola 1st

15.  Ebola 2nd

The Grey Ghost of Africa

Lightening cracked across the sky and steely-black storm clouds gathered over Namibia’s hills. A steady wind froze my cheeks stiff. Inside, a burning passion warmed my spirit: We are after my favourite quarry – the grey ghost of Africa.

13.  Miguel Delgado kudu trophy

Our crew consisted of my faithful tracker and driver, Moses and Mr Doug Dry and his son Joey Dry, from Texas, USA. This hunt was a long time coming – Joey dreamt of hunting the African savannahs since he was a lad. His father turned dreams into reality on Joey’s 27th birthday.

As we stopped at the first hill, I got off from the back of the vehicle, with Moses trailing to scan the valleys below for any sign of Kudu. Mr. Doug and Joey would wait at the vehicle. It was rather difficult to climb the tall boulders with cold and stiff legs. After a sniff or two from my running nose, we paused at the summit to sit down and glass the valleys below. The sun’s rays broke through the clouds as if there wasn’t a cloud in the sky 30 minutes ago, lighting up the granite rocks underneath us like a bulb in the night. Below were numerous large camel thorn trees, near them thick patches of black-hook bushes scattered in such perfect fashion.

17.  Kudu in bush

Recently, an increase in rabies found in Namibian Kudu populations has raised concern for us, which in turn makes it extra hard to find a mature, old trophy kudu bull. Rabies is typically associated with carnivores, but does appear in non-carnivore species due to a “spill-over effect”. The current outbreak began in 2002 and is still causing declines in Namibia’s kudu. In 2008, 50% of the Conservancy Association of Namibia (CANAM) reported losses ranging between 25-70%. From 2008 to 2010, 12 farms in the Otavi and Tsumeb areas, which are 3 hours north of us, showed kudu declines ranging from 30-68%. The statistics are against us, but contrary to popular opinion, I believe that trophy Kudu bulls are less affected by rabies than let’s say cows and younger bulls. My theory is that the old trophy Kudu bulls have been with the “herds” for a number of years, and by now, they are old, they don’t want to be bothered by the others. It’s like a grumpy old man. Leaving them by themselves to meander around and by doing so, avoiding contact with any Kudu that has the rabies virus.

The matter of the fact still remains… It is very hard to get a Kudu bull this year exceeding the 50 inch mark. You have to hunt hard to break that barrier. That’s the fun part though. It’s tough and you have to work for a good trophy.

One thing was certain as the coming day; we were in superb kudu country. The ridges, saddles and crests formed by these mountains provided the perfect solitude that a kudu bull seeks. As I glassed, Moses rolled him a fine cigarette in old fashion from a piece of newspaper, adding just the right amount of Tabaco and carefully tightly rolling it.

I sat thinking: A good fisherman would try to think like a fish, but, these valleys were devoid of kudu.

“If I were a kudu bull, this is where I would be”; reassured my thoughts… Protein-rich camel thorn pods provide a good source of protein this time of the year which makes it ideal for Kudu bulls that just finished rutting. Besides that, this place is isolated, quiet and peaceful. A perfect mixture to a successful Kudu hunt.

After a while, I sent Moses to join our clients waiting at the vehicle. I would continue to trek over the boulder and high grass trying to figure out the kudu hiding place. Allowing Joey to save his energy for the final stalk after I managed to locate a suitable bull.

 

As I walked to the next peak which was about a mile away, so I could glass the saddle adjacent to it, my eye kept probing shadows in hope to see a glance of a spiral horn. That’s the magic of Africa; you never know what’s around the next bush. For this rush, this is why we hunt. It’s the beat of the drum, it’s in our blood, and the thrill of the chase is bread for the soul.

As I got to the top of the little peak, I selected a boulder to sit on and slowly scan the mountain side and saddle. The sun was shining brightly on the granite boulders, the kudu-bush so contrastingly green. The large camel thorn trees beneath me feeding a lone Oryx bull, in the distance a herd of hartebeest warming in the sun. Glassing… Probing for a hint of a spiral-horn hidden in the shrub. Nothing.

As my thoughts wept another tear, I glanced back to the thick patch of kudu bush near the middle of the crest of the hill in hope. If there is nothing, we have to go to a new area.

Wait….

There is a movement in the greenery of kudu-bush! “Okay, Jacques, hold still…focus, what is it?” my mind spoke to me. A chill ran down my spine. My heart kicked into overdrive and my shallow breaths got shallower. A silhouette of an ivory tipped spiral horn showed against the blue August sky. A kudu bull was feeding gracefully, horns swaying. Disappearing over the horizon like no other species.

I knew this was a bull we could not let go. The forward pointing tips and the deep curling chocolaty horns was a sign of his age. He was a perfect trophy. I radioed Moses to bring Joey so we could make the final stalk. I horse-shoed the crest to get in a favourable wind position and that would be the ideal place for Joey to meet up with me.

A short discussion was held, and Joey and I left the vehicle with the wind in our faces. We walked fast until we rounded the peak. Now we were in a favourable position to stalk in closer to where the kudu bull was…slowing to make minimum noise. Step by careful step. The voice in my head reminded me again: “They are not the grey ghost for nothing”…

We silently walk 30 yards alongside the kudu-bush thicket right where the peak meets the red Kalahari sand and tall camel thorn trees. Rifle ready, shooting sticks ready. Probing for any movement. Palms sweaty, knees weak and heavy. This was the moment. The tension hung like a skunk’s scent.

We were there…right there. The exact spot he was 40 minutes ago. He can’t be far. He should be here. Somewhere… Eyes probing, scanning and searching.

The great Ernest Hemmingway hunted the grey ghost of Africa many a times without any luck. Are we doomed by the same luck? I hope not…

I motioned to Joey to halt, edging forward onto a big boulder to get a better view – and locked eyes with the kudu bull 30 yards away. The stare lasted for a mere 10 seconds and he darted off. His spiral horns rocking back and forth like a rodeo bull with each stride, tail held high… Horns deeply spiralling, with heavy boss and tipped with white gold. A sure heart stopper for any hunter.

I looked back at Joey. He pointed with a dazed pale face and lips mumbling “kudu, kudu”. With a thumbs up, signalling I’ve seen the bull we hurried off behind our quarry in hopes of seeing it fleeing the scene and hoping to get a shot.

In vain. We were left with a signal track left in the red Kalahari soil.

Turning to Joey I said: “We are not leaving this kudu today. We must get it. Even if it’s a difficult shot – take it.” We have a small chance of catching up with him, but a small chance does not mean no chance. I fixed my eyes on the track and we were off… The clouds rolled away and the the sun ruled the sky. It was a slow and laborious tracking session calling for great focus.

Measuring the speed at which the kudu bull was running by looking at the tracks, we followed at a good pace matching the Kudu. When the tracks signalled that it was now walking, we slowed down. A slight breeze picked up. The bull made headway straight upwind.

I paused, kneeling down on one knee to study the track, I closing my eyes I envisioned the bull: head lowered, to duck this low hanging branch, his beard slightly blown by the gentle breeze and his feet sinking deep into the soil. A true monarch that played the sands of time wisely. We continued. I knew we would catch up with him soon. Hopefully before the start of the big hill.

Our eyes angling for a moment’s hint of a horn glancing in the midday sun.

I stopped to glass the side of the hill; there he was 300 yards away minding his own business heading up hill without any clue. I signalled Joey to follow close. We rushed as quietly as a hurried man in tall grass. Bush to bush. Stopping at a tall black-thorn bush as the kudu bull neared a gap on the hill. I threw up the sticks and Joey was on them with a single movement. Rifle ready, cartridge chambered. “Joey, do you see him?” I mumbled urgently. “He is coming to the gap… Watch the gap.” Finally I had to push Joey’s barrel to where the kudu bull was heading to… “Aahh, there he is”, Joey responded.

The kudu bull entered the gap. Horns greater than ever. He paused impressively in the gap. “Now. Take him.” I whispered. The 30-06 BSA reverberated along the mountain. I heard the bullet hit home and saw the bull leap. The bull bucked and went forward a bit and stopped. I watched the bull with baited breath through my binos. Joey put in a follow-up shot and the bull was down.

We made a slow uphill climb. Backs sweaty and breaths deep. The tension was building like a good horror film as we neared the downed kudu bull. I wanted to hold his horns in my hands so bad, I caught myself walking faster and faster. My heart skipped a beat. His horns – dark chocolaty, deeply spiralling and tipped with ivory. His body was scarred and beaten. He was a fighter. A true Monarch of this African wilderness – a mighty ambler who knew no boundaries. Turning to Joey I said; “My friend, you don’t know what you have here… You don’t know.”

19.  Trophy Kudu with PH

Back at camp the bull measured a whopping 58.7” on the longest horn. A magnificent specimen and an even greater hunt. It all came together perfectly.

THE HUNTER’S PRAYER

0 Lord, I am a hunter And life I seek to take

But let me not attempt the shot Beyond my skill to make

For Lord they are your creatures Given for our use

But each one falls within your sight They’re not for our abuse

And when I lose my arrow Please guide it swift and true Or let it miss completely, Lord That pain be not undue

A clean kill or no kill, Lord Such is my heart’s desire Give me the skill to make it so Or let me hold my fire

And when my time upon this earth The days they are fulfilled Grant that I may die at least

As clean as those I killed

AMEN

20.  KUDU

THANK YOU FOR SPONSORSHIP TO ERICA GAMES: HIGH SCHOOL 2015 – 2019

We want to extend a SPECIAL and sincere THANK YOU to Mr Mack and Mrs Doris Gray for sponsoring a 13-year old girl, Erica Games, to attend a local High School in Windhoek. Erica will start her High School career, grade 8 in 2015. She plans to graduate from High School (Grade 12) in 2019. The school that she wants to attend, is Jan Mohr High School in Windhoek, the capital city of Namibia.

Erica is currently a student from the local primary school in the Kowas area, Dordabis Primary School, situated in a local village. This village school caters for scholars from Grade 1 to Grade 7, after which these school children have to go elsewhere to a boarding school to attend secondary school education.

The parents of Erica, Wilma and Paul, support her and motivate her in reaching her full potential. The parents are not financially in a position to provide her with opportunity to prepare her for any possible further studies. Mack and Doris presented a sponsorship to Erica to enable her to prepare her for developing and reaching her full potential.

Kowas Hunting Safaris thank the Gray couple sincerely in making it possible for Erica to follow her dream to become a medical doctor… Although this dream might sound like “only a dream”, this gesture is a huge step in support of making her dreams a reality.

THANK YOU very much for extending a helping hand to those in need. It is highly appreciated.

22.  Mack Gray with Erica Games

THANK YOU: SPONSORSHIP TO DORDABIS PRE-PRIMARY SCHOOL: DANA TERRY

We want to express our sincere appreciation to Mr Dana Terry and Mrs Kathy Wright for going that extra mile in being creative in a DVD project to donate generated funds to the privately owned Dordabis Pre-Primary School.

The Terry-family was motivated and inspired to generate and donate funds to the Primary School after a visit to this private initiative of Mrs Marilene Joubert. Mrs Joubert identified the need to take care and educate the children which is between 3 and 6 years of age from the Dordabis squatter camp. This school provides two balanced meals per child per day. Since the parents of these children are unable to care for them properly, this school provides them with clothes and shoes. Mrs Joubert appreciates any form of supports since cleaning, maintenance, stationary and education are priorities.

THANK YOU very much for being creative in generating funds to make it possible assisting others in creating a better life for others. Your enthusiasm and efforts are highly appreciated.

Inspiring initiatives like these makes the world a better place.

23.  Pre Primary School Dordabis

Change the world – one child at a time…

26.  DSC

Booth: 3937 & 3939

It’s on the right hand side as you enter the DSC convention hall at the back, on the upper-level in rows 3900…

SEE YOU THERE!

28.  Xmas message Meerkat

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