“Now Comes the Excitement”

This story comes from previous client Sandy Trout:

Now comes the excitement. We got a deal offered for a lion on a game ranch being plagued by them, and I decided to take one. So we sat in a tree blind about 70 yards from a bait. About 5:30pm, two lions showed up. After determining which one to shoot, I hit the lion broadside in shoulder, and before I could get off another shot, it stumbled from the shot and took off with the second male into the brush.

After a half hour wait, we started tracking and found blood, but as it was getting late we decided to return in the morning to take up the track. With two trackers, Vaughan and myself, we started off on the track and observed the two lions had split up. We started on one track, and after about an hour and half of walking we decided this was not the wounded lion. We returned to where the animals had split up and took off on the second track. In about a half mile, we located the lion lying broadside under a tree with his head against the base. He was not looking our way. After it was decided this was the lion, I took aim just behind the shoulder from about 80-90 feet away.

As I fired, the lion jumped up and with a roar he started a charge at us. I fired straight on at him and scored a hit, but it did not slow him. Vaughan fired his 458 from about 30 feet which slowed him down momentarily, but did not stop the charge. As Vaughan was reloading, he tripped on a bush and fell with the bolt open, and the lion was almost on top of him. I fired from about 2 feet away through his side behind the shoulder, which turned him off Vaughan, and he came at me. I had run out of ammo in the gun and backing up for more room, I tripped and fell on my back with the lion almost on top of me. I had the rifle in both hands and as the lion came at me. I hit him as hard as I could with the rifle, which broke his tooth as it skidded up the forend. My finger got in the way, and I got cut by the canine.

This startled him for a second. He backed off, and his left paw snapped my lower sling swivel. As he appeared to be coming back for seconds, Vaughan had got to his feet and fired broadside at the lion, which fell over about 2 feet from me.

The entire incident probably lasted no more than 5 seconds but the adrenaline high lasted a bit longer. After our hearts had slowed to a reasonable rate we congratulated each other for saving one another’s skins. It took six stitches to sew up the bite, and although this could have gone very bad, it didn’t. Vaughan and I now share something that very few people have experienced. He is definitely a person that passed the test of fire.

Sandy Trout

Unpredictable Leopard

Here is a hunting story from previous client Joe McCray:

At five a.m. we crept into the blind. The wind was blowing through the blind from front to rear, and we stayed awake by shivering and waiting for light. I hadn’t brought my binoculars and was relying on Gert to keep an eye on the bait tree.

Expecting some warning, I was surprised when Gert whispered that the cat was in the tree, and made the hand motion to shoot.

I put the rifle up on the shooting sticks and looked through the scope. Sure enough, the cat was sitting on the limb like a dog, intent on munching the bait.
I removed my right glove and released the safety, and then carefully lined up the crosshairs on the pale form. Unfortunately, there was a three inch diameter limb running across the shoulder. Crowding the limb as much as I dared, I squeezed the trigger.

“You missed!” Gert whispered.


“I saw him bouncing away through the grass.”

How could I have missed? I ran through my entire vocabulary of curse words, found a few I liked and repeated them until I got bored with them.

“I couldn’t see the bullet hit with the muzzle flash…” Gert allowed as we got out of the blind.

We went back to the truck, letting the light improve.

But during the drive down and around to the sand river then back to the bait tree, I went through the shot a dozen times, and I kept coming up with the same answer. No way I could have missed.

The cat has to be dead. I kept telling myself that anyways.

We got to the tree and to nobody’s surprise, there wasn’t a dead leopard under it. But behind the tree was blood. First a little, and then a clear trail into the grass and headed toward brush.

“This just keeps getting better and better,” I thought, wishing now that I HAD missed.

Gert grabbed his 458 Lott and I had my 375. We started the follow-up. Guns shouldered and safeties off, we eased forward.

One step at a time.

I kept my eyes on the brush, trying to see the cat before he started his charge. To my left Gert was scanning the grass, doing the same.

“There he is!” Gert breathed, then repeated, “There he is!”

I saw out of the corner of my eye, Gert had his rifle aimed at something in the grass to our left. Then I saw the cat.

“If he moves, shoot him!” Gert instructed.

No kidding? I had my gun on the leopard now, and was ready to shoot again for any reason, maybe to just break the tension.

We sidled sideways, across a washout and closer to the leopard.
Finally, Gert leaned forward and tapped the cat on the head with his muzzle.

“You have no idea what you have here!” Gert said to me, then shook my hand. I was laughing.

“He’s huge!” Gert blurted.

Gert was running around yelling. I was still laughing, until I checked the blood trail. The leopard had run straight towards the brush, then fishhooked around and hid in the grass. He had died with his feet under him, waiting for us.
Gert tried twice to lift him, failed, then took off his coat and tried again. He WAS huge.

Joe McCray

Elia and the Snake

Here is a story from previous client, George Galphin:

On stalks, I preferred being behind Thorsten and have Elia following me. That was until the stalk on my springbok.

We had located a herd of springbok with an exceptionally large male in it. Thorsten felt that if hurried, we could cross a mountain and intercept the herd. We were moving at a fairly quick pace and Elia had moved ahead of me. About midway up, Elia suddenly jumped about five feet to the left, came to a dead stop and was pointing and staring intently at a bush and rocks to my right. Needless to say, anything that could make a local Herero move that quickly had me concerned. Elia’s snake movement with his hand confirmed my suspicion. We watched the snake move off and my concerned shifted to catching up to Thorsten, who was getting further ahead. We turned to resume our stalk, but at Elia’s much slower pace. I realized then that snakes spook Elia! Thorsten, unaware of the snake encounter, kept looking back wondering what was taking so long. It was apparent he was anxious for us to catch up.

Once we caught up, there was no time to explain, as the herd was just where he had hoped. Carefully, we got into position for a shot and a few minutes later I was rewarded with a 16.25” springbok. Only after scrambling down to claim my trophy did Thorsten ask if I had a hard time with the stalk thinking that Elia had slowed down taking care of me. I said not especially and explained what had happened. While we had a good laugh at the time, I made darn sure to follow Elia for the rest of the week knowing full well that he would spot any snakes first.

George Galphin

Not Typical Eland Behavior

Here is another story from previous client, Joe McCray:

The eland were out there. Somewhere. I couldn’t see them through the brush, but Vaughan had them spotted through his glasses.

We were lined up like guineas; Vaughan sitting behind a scrub mopane, then me, uncomfortably crouching, trying to be as quiet as possible as my legs went to sleep. Over my shoulder, Andreas was sitting, looking bored and staring off across the countryside.

A few years passed, and then Vaughan motioned for me to get the rifle up. As I leaned forward, using the mopane as a rest, I could see the eland. Several eland, milling about. Vaughan whispered to take the one to the right. I found him through the scope, and as it turned to move off Vaughan hissed, “Shoot!” Even as he said it, I was taking the slack out of the trigger.

The 416 went off, the eland bucked and ran, and Vaughan looked back at Andreas, who was grinning and nodding.

After waiting for Vaughan to smoke a cigarette, and for feeling to return to my numb legs, we found the big bull laying dead fifty yards away. As we stood around him, the other eight bulls all stood and stared, un-eland like, before moving off.

Joe McCray

The King of the Mountain

Here is a story from previous client Mike Homcha:

Prior to booking my hunt with Vaughan, I was very honest with him about some limitations I have concerning my mobility. I asked Vaughan if he felt I would be OK on the hunt, and without blinking, he said “Mike, I promise to take excellent care of you, and see that you don’t get hurt.”

While hunting Mountain Zebra, Vaughan asked me to stay put while he went down the mountain and glassed to see if there were any Mt. Zebra about. Twenty minutes or so passed, and then I saw Vaughan coming back up the mountain, waving me toward him. Vaughan said that he spotted a herd with a nice stallion but it would involve a stalk of several hundred yards to get into position for a shot.

Vaughan carefully led me down the boulder and rock strewn mountainside, constantly checking on my condition, asking if I was still up to it. Eventually, he maneuvered me into a shooting position, and I was able to take the Zebra with one shot. I was so happy, I had tears in my eyes.
Vaughan then said he’d go back for the truck and we would drive up to the downed Zebra, but I was so thrilled on having taken the Zebra, that I told him I wanted to walk down the mountain the rest of the way. It took me a while, gimpy legs and all, but I did it. Without Vaughan’s taking such good care of me, I wouldn’t have been able to take what I consider to be the King of The Mountain. I learned that Vaughan is a man of his word, and you can trust him with your life. I did.

Mike Homcha