I’ve just returned from my first hunt of the year, had somewhat of a late start this year as my little boy was born in early April. Being my favourite animal I had been hoping to hunt a mature Nyala bull again and in my opinion there is but one destination in South Africa for top class trophy Nyala, and that is Kwazulu Natal, or more precisely, the Hluhluwe and Mkuze area. A quick look at the record books proves this as most all the very biggest bulls come from this area, I am also pretty sure that any other big Nyala taken in other areas of South Africa come directly from this area thanks to game traders and wildlife auctions that has really taken off in recent years.
I had booked a hunt with Dr. Mark Sutherland in Mkuze; his property Bronte Game Farm / Umkhanyakhude is situated about 30 minutes drive from the town of Mkuze. One of the first things that stood out was the fact that his camp was a very basic, yet very comfortable tented camp, with a cluster of large canvas tents on wooden stands, there is no electricity yet one has the luxury of borehole fed water and a warm shower. I found this especially nice as although the vast majority of hunting camps these days have a star rating of sorts, very few hunting operations, in South Africa especially still cater toward hunters wanting to “rough it” for a lack of a better term. I found it refreshing as it reminded of the hunting camps we used when I was but a young boy. Another concept that goes hand in hand with Dr. Sutherland’s rustic camp is the fact that he insists that absolutely all hunting, irrespective of the client’s nationality or preference in weapon, is done on foot. One starts out the day by walking from camp in the early morning and returns at dusk, only the recovery of the animal is done by vehicle. Hunting the way it was meant to be, on foot and by fair chase, I sincerely hope that it stays this way as Umkhanyakhude rates very high on my list of favourite hunting destinations.
I had booked a week long hunt and had spent three days of hard hunting, walking from dawn to dusk, in the hopes of arrowing a Nyala bull, I had set the bar rather high as I was only looking for a very old, past mature Nyala bull, I wasn’t concerned about what the bull measured only wishing to take a bull with loads of character. There was certainly no shortage of Nyala, I had looked over 42 adult Nyala bulls of between 24” and 26” and passing on four larger than 27” in the three days as they were still young bulls and would be fantastic trophies in the years to come. I finally found the exact bull I was looking for on the third day, spotting what looked like a big bodied old bull filtering through some trees in a particular thick stretch of bush with a handful of females, at first I could only make out his body and the bottom half of his horns, but this was enough for me to know he was the one, a thick scarred neck, thick bases with a very good “step” and his swagger proved his status as an old boy. Leaving my tracker behind I quickly moved ahead to try and intercept the group, setting up in a slightly more open area, a short while later I saw the Nyala reappear with the bull second to last, the first decent gap the females walked through was exactly 38 yards, I nocked and arrow, clipped my Scott release on and waited for the big bull to make his way through, when he did he must have noticed me drawing back my Answer as he lowered his head to stare at me underneath some branches overhead, it was too late however as a mere second later the 540gr arrow with its razor sharp Muzzy hit him on the point of the near shoulder as he stood quartering toward me, exiting just ahead of his far leg, punching a hole centrally through the heart. The old warrior only made it 80 or so yards before going down. He was magnificent, thick horns with a huge bell together with a worn and scarred coat was all I had hoped for, I wasn’t really interested in what the tape said as he was perfect in my opinion, but after being caped we measured the longest horn at 29 3/8” which was simply the cherry on top.
Dr. Mark Sutherland’s contact details are as follows:
Phone: 083 643 2861
Po Box: 596