Kokoriba – a farm visit…
By Harry Marx
Last weekend I had the privilege of visiting Kokoriba, with my family, in order to write this review. And what a pleasure it was. Kokoriba is about 100 km north of Pretoria (North West Province), depending on your point of departure in Pretoria. We, for example, have already been driving for 27 km when we drove past a road sign indicating that Pretoria was still 17 km to go, and we live in Pretoria… spooky.
Kokoriba is the perfect fusion of a family holiday resort, with a hunting destination for dad. Something that sounds impossible, yet I have seen it. I was sitting in a very comfortable hide, while people were driving past on game tours, probably 500 metres away. Not even the normally jumpy impala lifted their heads, or even turned an ear. Indeed, the animals are very used to humans on vehicles. Of course, not so if you tried to approach them on foot, or made the dreaded “noise” in the hide… then all you see are tails high and a big dust cloud!
Kokoriba has 40 brick and wooden chalets, all fitted with the necessary utilities to keep your better-half happy. The children and mom all enjoyed the accommodation. We were staying in a chalet with a double bed in a separate room and two single beds in an open living-kitchen area. The bathroom had a shower and a bath, with indoor plumbing… And then there is the camping terrain, where you can go as rough as you please, with stands for 140 caravans/tents. Prices range from about R520 for two-bed chalets, to just over a R1 000 for six-bed chalets, per night.
The amenities for the family include three swimming pools, a put-put course, game drives on bicycles or quads, billiards, table tennis, and a trampoline. You can, of course, go for a hike in the game camp as well (the roads to and from the hides are closed off when someone is hunting from them). Then there is a very nice restaurant and a bar with a big-screen television for the rugby. They recently enclosed the hottest swimming pool with glass and canvas; my children simply could not believe their luck being able to swim in the heart of winter.
And when you get bored with all these activities, you can sit on the lawn and watch birds or rabbits playing in the sun.
Indeed, being on holiday with my family, while at the same time enjoying my second favourite activity, bowhunting, was new to me. Family friends joined us, and again the novelty of sharing “the hunt” with them was most memorable.
If this idyllic picture does not convince you, let me assure you of the hospitality and friendliness of the staff. They do not welcome you as guests, but as friends. “Johan, see you soon”.
Biltong hunters are always sensitive to the price of game. But who wants to read about prices in a hunting story, so let me stay with: the prices are very good for a venue that close to home. I was surprised.
We arrived on the Friday morning about 9 ’o clock. After unpacking and greeting the host, we warmed up the bows and polished the broadheads. By 10 ’o clock I was on my way to the hide. There are three hides in the game camp, but I preferred the one furthest from the camp, and the hunters were few, so I could pick.
By now I’m quite used to being dropped off and waiting for one to two hours before there is movement. Not so at Kokoriba – when we arrived at the hide the ostriches and zebra were already circling the hide. I stepped into the hide with great expectations, and was not disappointed. At around midday, I counted 50 impala, all milling around the “arena”. The wind was perfectly wrong, therefore only a few naive penkoppies and ewe lambs came close. But it kept me on the edge of my seat for almost three hours.
Then there were the waterbuck and a huge giraffe bull, as well as the impala, the zebra and the ostrich (again). It was in short a very exciting, but frustrating day. I missed the blesbuck, blue wildebeest and sadly, the beautiful red hartebeest bull we know is still walking there.
Saturday I was in the hide at 7:30 and then the wind changed. It turned from north-west to west, and suddenly the odours were carried past the game trail, and not onto it. The change in the animals’ behaviour was profound and suddenly I could take a shot. A young adult ewe, standing at 15 yards took the first shot.
I was shooting a bit “heavy” for impala – 830-grain arrows, Silver Flame broadheads (200 grains) and an Elite Hunter set at 80 pounds. Yes, it was my giraffe set-up I used the previous weekend. I simply did not have the chance to change back to faster arrows. Juan dared me to shoot a blue wildebeest with it, but I was going to shoot an impala with it.
But speed cannot beat an impala – you have to wait for it to calm down. I waited. I knew they would eventually settle as they milled around and started to play. The ewe turned right, and I let go. The arrow entered perfectly in the centre of the vital triangle, and exited exactly on the shoulder joint, splitting and breaking the joint. The ewe went down within sight and I was elated.
After we recovered her, I was back in the hide, but now I was on an adrenaline high.
Now you may know I haven’t missed a SABA 3D shoot in many years, and am quite a good shot. Mix this with adrenaline, ego and a bow, and things are bound to go wrong… and they did. I was waiting for a mere half hour, and the impala was back again. This time I did not wait long enough, and the shot was taken at 20 yards. It string jumped me so badly that the “flesh wound” was more a “hair wound” through the top of the back, and did not even bleed. We tracked her on foot, and with the bakkie for two hours – then daylight was gone. We had it in view quite a few times, but eventually decided not to shoot again. The skin was shaved, but we could see no blood. Why am I telling you this? Never think you are too good to bungle – hunting will cut you down to size.
Sunday morning, a mere hour in the hide and still settling in, Christiaan told me the blue wildebeest were coming in. Now blue wildebeest is my favourite hunt and I was up in a flash. Now this hide has a thatched roof, thick walls and is sunken halfway into the ground, which means it is cold inside. I was sitting with my warm jacket, gloves, a beanie, and I did not say this, a blanky over the knees… Suddenly I was getting rid of all these, like an over-eager newlywed. Luckily the arrow was already nocked, but unluckily the sight was still on 40 yards for when I did the “warm-up shot” before we left for the hide.
I turned it down to 20 yards as fast as I could – I had found the time the previous night to change to “fast” arrows – 550 grains (still pulling 80 pounds). I had RazorTricks (125 grains) on them, and was ready. The bull came in fast, and I drew immediately – it was going to stop right in front of me at 15 yards and I was ready. Not so. It never stood still. For two minutes it turned and walked and turned and when it stood still, there was either another blue wildebeest in front or behind it. I saw they were rounding up and starting to head out. He turned and took one last look in the direction of the hide. 20 yards – my sight pin lined up with its brisket – a full frontal. And then the arrow flew. I saw it hit the spot, and the next phase of the hunt started…
A hunt goes through phases – the elation of “I’m going hunting”, the downer of sitting in the hide and nothing comes in, the high of “here they are”, the buck fever, the shot, the adrenaline and then… the wait, the doubt. I knew the shot was good. I saw it in my mind’s eye over and over. But you always worry.
After 30 minutes we started tracking. The first 50 yards was “easy,” but very troublesome. We could follow the spoor without any trouble, but there was no blood… just a speck or two. Did the shot go too high and miss the heart? I knew it was good, but knowing it is not the same as meat in the freezer.
We were walking all over, and the trackers were going off in all directions. Eventually, Christiaan found the blood trail at about 60 yards from the hide – a strong trail – bright red. We were walking along it at a brisk speed, when Andre (the 2IC) called in over the radio – he found the blue wildebeest around the next turn in the road. We followed the spoor further with ease and met him with the bull perfectly dead. The bull had run in total of about 300 yards. The worry phase turned to satisfaction.
Taking a high-risk shot like this is not for everybody (it was only my first, after many years of hunting), but every hunting shot is a risk. The previous day I bungled a simple one, today it worked. A successful hunt is not something to brag about, it is something to be thankful for.
Having enough kinetic energy and shooting accurately do not guarantee a good hunt, and too little of either do not imply failure. It merely changes the odds. Thank you Kokoriba, Johan, Andre, and all the staff – this has been a most memorable hunt.
I can only recommend Kokoriba to you. If you need a quick breakaway with the family in the bush, and show the wife how you hunt, this is the place. It has the best facilities for us normal folk and they are more than friendly – they go out of their way to help. Thank you again Kokoriba.