“Amongst Crocodiles and Hippos, in a small corner of Africa, 6 men better known as the Dagga Boys, enjoyed a hunt on the banks of the mighty Limpopo River.”
The purchase of a compound bow in 2006 was the first step of many that brought change to the lives of 6 unique individuals.
After years of rifle hunting and the harvesting of several plains game species, we were up for a new hunting challenge.
The excitement in his eyes after taking his first kudu with his Bowtech that he bought at Archers Edge, prevailed a look in a man’s face not seen before. The desire to accomplice the same feat inspired 5 friends and the challenge was laid down. One by one the mighty hunters acquired new bows. All the dry bows where dressed with the sights, arrow rests, stabilizers and peeps. Triggers were bought with fletched arrows and then the quest for the ideal broadhead started. After much investigation, discussions and bow hunting tips that we received from the friendly and professional staff from Archers Edge it came down to personal preference. Mainly mechanical broadheads T3’s by G5 Outdoors and Rage made by Rage Outdoors were favoured with the odd fixed blade for certain animals.
Extremely dedicated all the hunters started practising. Going to shooting ranges or simply spending a few hours in an open area firing of arrows, the bows were soon tuned in and ease and accuracy was the order of the day.
All the guys registered their first bow kills in only a month or so and the first few years multiple hunting trips were conducted. We soon realised that extended hunting trips posed a problem as the wives did not approved. We also concluded that our work schedules and responsibilities at home were obstacles.
In 2011 we decided to end the confusion, for our wives and ourselves. Ground rules had to be laid down to insure an annual hunt for our group of friends…so an informal, but structured, bow hunting club was started. We played around with a couple of name options, but in the end we decided to dub ourselves the “Dagga Boys”, which refers to an old buffalo bull that has been cast from the herd.
To have structures in place is very important as this ensures that all participants, at any given time, are familiar with their roles in contributing to the future of the club. We wrote our “constitution” and a membership fee was set. This accumulated monthly contribution will be spent on an African Hunting safari once every 7 years. This will allow us to safe up a lot of money that will make even a big 5 hunting safari possible for those individuals who are brave enough.
There are a lot of rules that follows but I don’t want to go into too much detail on it now. Feel free to contact African Adventures who will be able to share it with you. This structure is ideal not only for bow hunters, but also relevant to rifle hunters, fisherman ranging from deep sea fishing to Fly fishing, scuba divers, or general bush adventures. This is an ideal way of ensuring that good friends get to spend some time together doing what they love to ensure they remain motivated.
We had our first club hunt this year in July and it was an awesome success and we would like to share our experience with you. We are all based in Gauteng and we decided to go to Botswana for our first hunt.
Most people’s perception of hunting or visiting Botswana is usually that it is too far and the administration involved is a nightmare.
We found a suitable farm 50km from the border post with a large number of huntable species at very affordable prices. Be sure to visit Lapolosa Africa for your next bow hunting trip to the Tuli Block in Botswana, but be prepared for its beauty and splendour.
Based on the banks of the Limpopo River we were pleasantly surprised with the setting of the tented camp as well as the beautiful views we had. Spotting the odd hippo and regular sightings of crocodiles patrolling the river was a wonderful add-on to our trip.
It was truly a memorable experience, being able to fish whilst observing Hippos and Crocodiles after a great day in the field. This was the best of both worlds. We had great success harvesting an array of different species which we set out to hunt. A great deal of appreciation goes out to Kobus and Ulinda Smit, our hosts, for their contribution in making our first Dagga Boys trip a memorable one.
Here is some more information to keep in mind if you plan a trip to the Tuli block.
- 1. General Information:
The Tuli Block is quite different to anywhere else in Botswana. It is generally referred to as the Hardveld because of the rocky outcrops and the abundance of rocks, stones and pebbles of all shapes and sizes. There is also a network of dry riverbeds and the larger rivers host gigantic trees along its banks.
The Tuli Block is occupied by private game farms, private game reserves and lodges. One of the main attractions is that it is less than six hours from Pretoria and the game is plentiful – an ideal weekend getaway.
- 2. Locality and Size
The Tuli Block is about 350 km long, stretching from the corner where the Shashe and the Limpopo Rivers meet in the east, right down to the Notwane River north of Olifants Drift in the South West.
The Tuli Block consists mainly of privately owned farms, but the eastern section has been declared a game reserve, known as the Northern Tuli Game Reserve. The entire conservation area, including the adjacent safari area bordering the Tuli Circle, comprises about 80 000 hectares.
- 1. Meat & Trophy Permits:
You need to apply for a permit that will allow you to transport your venison meat back to South Africa. One permit is allowed per person per month which will allow you to bring back 250 kg of venison as well as 100 kg of biltong with an additional 25 kg of meat per vehicle.
You apply for the permits at the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. You can contact Ina Labuschagne on 012 319 7514 who will send you the necessary documents. The cost per permit is R120.
Once the application has been submitted, it only takes a couple of days and you can then collect it from their offices or they will post it to you. Once you are in possession of the originals, you need to send it to the hunting farm at least four weeks before your trip to give them enough time to get the necessary stamps from their government.
Should you be blessed with a trophy animal, the following will apply:
Site permits need to be issued for each individual trophy. The cost of these permits is currently R150 and is arranged by the outfitter. All trophies are then sent to Gaborone where a State veterinarian declares it fit for export.
The Trophy is then dipped, packed and sent to the client after approximately three weeks. Alternatively, you can have your trophy mounted in Botswana by a local taxidermy.
- 2. Road/Vehicle permits:
Travelling to Botswana, you need a ZA sticker on your vehicle and trailer. This can be purchased at any AA store or various other outdoor stores. The average cost is R15 per sticker.
You need a copy of your vehicle’s registration document. The document where you cut out your registration disc will also suffice.
Furthermore, you need a letter from your insurance company confirming that the vehicle is insured and is permitted to enter Botswana. If the vehicle is still under hire purchase, you need a letter from the bank granting permission for the vehicle to leave South Africa.
An additional road permit needs to be bought at the border for R250. This is only once-off, just before you enter Botswana. You can pay with South African or Botswana currency.
1.3 Border control:
When entering Botswana at Groblers Bridge border post, you need to get your SA Passport stamped at the South African border post and receive a road permit. This is a very quick process which took us roughly 15 minutes.
You then proceed to the Botswana gate where your SA Passport stamped again and you pay for the road permit. Once again a very quick process that took us 15 minutes.
The tricky part is the search at the last gate. No fresh products are allowed, no fruit or meat. Alcohol is permitted, however it is limited to 1 litre of spirits, 2 litres of wine and six beers per person.
When we entered Botswana, they searched the three vehicles ahead us very thoroughly. We were lucky not to be searched thoroughly, but could easily have been. The farm owners usually know the situation and will gladly offer to purchase your necessary supplies before you reach the farm. I would recommend that as you could be held up for hours on the border and run the risk of losing everything you take with you.
Coming back was the same process; once again we were not searched and were not even asked for our meat permits. It took a total of 20 minutes for us to pass through and be back on South African soil.
The Tuli Block borders the Limpopo River in Botswana. We left the morning at 4:30 from Pretoria and arrived at the border at 9:30, a mere five hours with two 20 minute stops on the way. The shortest route is to travel via Nylstroom, Vaalwater and Ellisras, however, due to severe road works between Nylstroom and Vaalwater, we decided to travel via Sterkrivier and Marken.
Alternatively you can travel via Potgietersrus and Baltimore to Groblers Bridge. Depending on the location of your destination, it could be anything from 10 km to 350 km from the border. From Pretoria to the farm we booked, we travelled 480 km in a total travel time of just under six hours.
Looking back at a memorable experience, we all concurred that the minor additional arrangements to have the privilege of hunting or visiting Botswana is definitely worth it.
The pros outweigh the cons by far.