Summit Treestands's Live Bowhunting Adventure

Day 2

Join Pat Lefemine in the Northwest, and Limpopo Provinces of South Africa for a Buffalo and Lion Bowhunt

day 1

day 2

day 3

day 4

day 5

day 6

day 7

day 8

day 9

day 10

day 11

day 12

day 13

day 14

day 15

day 16

Discuss this hunt

I got to tell you; today was a day I’ll never forget. I didn’t know what to expect my first day lion hunting. I can tell you that you could cut the tension at breakfast with a knife. The trackers had located what they considered relatively fresh tracks of two lions in a particular cattle section of the ranch. According to Jacques, this was a big male that had been moved to this vicinity 5 months ago. He was seen several times and he had taken his share of Tsessebe and Blesbok. The area he was in was about 6000 acres, separated from the high fenced plains game area and the low fenced cattle area. Each area was divided into sections and separated by a low cattle fence. The way Madiakgama hunts lions is they will trap them and release them into this area of the ranch. From there, it can happen quickly, or it can take your entire hunt. There is no guarantee. Their strict adherence to SCI’s code of Fair Chase along with the South African Conservancy’s new lion hunting provisions were the reason I considered this hunt in the first place.

We took two vehicles and began to comb the miles of sandy roads to try and determine fresh tracks. Jimmy and Jacques looked at the tracks and one was obviously the large male, the other was 2/3 its’ size and they did not know what that track was from. Lion hunting takes place on surrounding properties as well and apparently they will often get out, or come on to Madiakgama property. It was also possible that this was an old female, which was moved to this section a long time ago and had disappeared – apparently she had come back and was now teamed up with the big male. This surprised me. I knew that mixing lions in with plains game was probably bad for business. The lions eat them! So everything I was told, and everything I read led me to believe that the lions were placed in impenetrable areas separated from plains game. But that was simply not true here. I watched two warthogs dash from the bushes and go right under the high fence into the plains game area. We also had to distinguish the lion tracks from blesbok, hartebeest, warthog and impala tracks. When I asked Jacques about this he told me this happens often. The lion will typically not get over the high fence, but it will easily go under it. Either into the plains game area, or the cattle area. The neighbors will pick up the track, or they will find it on their plains game section. Then they will go dart the lion, and bring it back to this section. If I didn’t see it with my own eyes I’d not believed it.

We combed up one road and down another within each section. Some sections had more tracks than others and although the lions could move from section to section easily, the big male tends to stick with one section as long as it’s got enough game and water. The females tend to be more nomadic.

A couple of hours had gone by as we continued combing the roads. We turned a corner and I had to do a double take. Lying right in the middle of the dirt road was a huge male. I turned to Jacques, still looking down at the tracks, and said – “there he is.” William, the tracker, driving the land cruiser, stopped immediately and killed the engine. The lion just stared at us. He was not nervous, but we drove closer and he got up, walked into some thick brush, and then sat down to watch us. He only stayed for a few moments then scooted into the thick briers and out of sight. I’d never seen a lion before except in a zoo. He was magnificent. It was breathtaking. I shot both video and photographs of him:

Jimmy and Jacques met up and we began talking about what just happened. They couldn’t believe it. This was a great sign and quite remarkable. The lion was hanging in this area and hopefully he’d be here tomorrow. We opted not to hunt him today. They did not think the situation was perfect. The wind was blowing hard and the lion was watching us. Also, we had already lost several hours just getting to this section. We went back for brunch.

To balance out the afternoon, Jimmy and I sat a waterhole called the “bottom” which had good populations of zebra. It was one of those things where we knew better – but hunted it anyway. What I mean by that is; the wind was swirling when we arrived at 1PM. And we thought it would settle down. By 6:30 PM it was still swirling and all we had seen during those hours were four warthogs and a snorting impala. We made the best of the slow day by reviewing photos of the lion - and Jimmy going over a dozen different shot scenarios. Since this was not my first conversation on shot placement (3 rd of the day) I could tell how dangerous this hunt was for them. And they were justified in going over this several times with me. American bowhunters always shoot too far back since that’s where you shoot deer. However a mid-lung shot on a whitetail is a gut shot on a lion. And a gut-shot lion is not their idea of a good time. They experienced more lion charges than they cared to share with me, including one just last week that resulted in the death of a tracker at a different ranch. Just last month, a female lion charged a gun hunter and he shot her in mid air with his 30-06 - at Madiakgama. They claim the males are a lot less likely to charge unless they are hit poorly, then it’s fried nerves and the first person with the shot opportunity takes it. Safety first – I don’t need a lion that bad.

Over dinner we discussed the next days’ plan. I had a small arsenal with me including my PH Jacques, my back up PH (required by law for lions) would be Jimmy, his two best trackers and his wife Linda would hang back and try to get it on film. We all called it an early night. We know where the lion is and there’s a very good chance we’ll see him tomorrow. As they explained, my best opportunity for a stalk and shot is the first time out. Like my leopard hunt, everything has to be right the first time. If we start pushing the lion too much, day after day, he can start jumping cattle fences and this can drag out for a long time and decrease our chances of being successful. Of course, that is best case scenario. Worst case is he gets pissed and decides he’s had enough. That’s when, they explained, things can turn “hairy.”

Sweet dreams.




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Next - Day 3

Our Professional Hunters for this safari is: Madiakgama Safaris
P.O. Box 138
Republic of South Africa
International Phone: 011-27-82-684222

USA Agent - Jeff Frey
Bowhunters Select Outfitters

[email protected]

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