Diary of a Day in the Blind - Kanana
As an introduction I have been slowly compiling pictures and writing some of the tales from my last hunt(s) in Southern Africa.
This is not my promised hunting report on Kanana Safaris, Botswana, it is only one day out of the two weeks.
Diary of a day in the Blind
July 9, 2013 - Day 10 at Kanana Safaris, Ghanzi Botswana
It was time to get up early and hunt all alone. It would be just the critters and me today.
There are two bow hunters who want to be in the blinds this morning and we are up in the dark and ready to go.
Up at 0500
Out to the lodge and ready to go at 0530
the Lantern Walkway from the tent. (overexposed)
The new student from the UK, Wills #2, was willing to get up in the dark and the cold to help us get to where we needed to be. His enthusiasm is quite welcome and appreciated. Morlund is going to #1 Blind with the other bow hunter so he is up and ready to go.
This young man has been driving these roads for only a few weeks and he is expending a good effort to learn the property. There are no road signs on Kanana! Well, there is one. Not pertinent for our travels today.
It is chilly out this morning.
The hunters jump into the high seats in the Baakie and we are off heading north at a pace that would make Mario Andretti proud.
Wind chill is playing a huge factor in this little excursion. I am hunkered down as low as I can go behind the cab. I thought that the clothes I had packed were for the mountain hunts later in the Eastern Cape that I knew were going to provide
You know how everyone says you will always pack way more clothes than you値l need. That may be the case for your typical 7 day adventure, not this day.
I have every piece of outer clothing I have packed on my body. Toque, mitts, four layers on the top side, including my lined outfitter camo.
It is a very good thing I had them with me in Botswana.
No one else in camp will even be up for breakfast at this point.
We pass headquarters, weaving through the compound, swaying, not sliding or slipping; this is sand. If it really grabs??
One sandy corner in the road has us lurching sideways and I am actively wondering where I would be propelled from my high perch. I am searching for a place between the bushes as we approach the next corner.
Holding on tight, we round the last corner onto the straight road north at pace. We make it to #1 Blind in short order.
The accompanying bow hunter is being dropped at his blind first. No big deal to me. We dropped the bow hunter and Morlund and it is now time to do the bus route. Back to headquarters to pick Will #1 up and drop him at Jason痴 place on the way by to the blind.
Slowing down enough to let Will #1 off and finishing all but the last stop, Will #2 has us off in a hurry to my destination for the day.
We head south and then west, we hit the third crossroads and Will is a little uncertain about the direction. I can only ascertain this by the momentary reduction in speed.
I yell encouragement to reassure him he is heading the right way. This was the only point he had any hesitation during the entire trip.
We arrive in the pre dawn light and arrive in good time. We unload my supplies into the blind and Will #2 is off as he had fuel and other staff to pick up on his return to the lodge for breakfast.
I am now alone and there is no one to blame but me for the day's events.
My home for the day is the spot for Eland? I have been hearing this since my arrival. JP says Samson Blind is where the Eland come to drink. The echo is repeated again and again from all corners.
This will be my third trip to this blind and I have yet to see an Eland. This is where trust and determination come into your hunting experience. high fence hunting is a gimme, my ass! Not when the place is this big.
I chose to write notes on my iPhone as this day progressed. I wanted to see what the pattern of the wildlife was throughout the entire day. I was determined to be here from dark to dark. I had a phone if I needed anything and there is reception here.
I settle in and note the time off arrival at Samson blind: 0700. Sunrise is in Eleven minutes.
As I walk up to the blind the first critters to depart are the KorI Bustards. They were at the water and they left with our approach and arrival.
I certainly did not expect anything to already be at the water at this time of day.
I sat down and situated all my gear
and decided to leave two of the three sets of louvers closed/down. JP had commented that you can shoot through them. I left the two side ones down and opened the center one.
I was able to get some pictures of the sunrise as it rose directly east if the blind over the water.
I discovered that the Samson blind's center window faces dead east. The Sun rises straight into your face. It is stupendous for taking pictures, not for hiding in a blind.
The insides are painted with a flat black paint and the rocks and mortar create a texture that swallows up the light. Your white face staring into that sunrise however, does not swallow up the light.
The Bustards waited until 0840 before they returned. At this point I got some good pictures.
I got to listen to the Doves sounding off as the sun rose and all the small birds coming to water.
There is a very small breeze, nothing that should matter. I know it will pick up as the sun starts to make its daily pass here in the Kalahari.
I am plagued with Leopards this trip. A Leopard male has now pissed all over the blind door, using it as a scent post. I inspected it and he has visited no less than Three times. There are fresh tracks from last night right at the canvas door in the gravelly sand. He is a decent size.
The sun has started its work and at 0915 the wind is up and the windmill is operational and is now pumping water. The concrete cistern is now over flowing in a waterfall over the algae clinging to its edges along with various vines. Samson blind is situated immediately beside this cistern. There is very little room between the two structures, possibly 15 feet.
There is nothing moving yet. The Wind is out of the NE.
Three kudu cows come in at 10:00.
A 52 inch Kudu bull is standing off watching the cows at 10:10.
He is being very cautious. I am bow hunting today and will be making my trophy decisions based on this tool set. He is making a very good decision.
Wildebeest are coming in to.
By 10:40 the Wildebeest are out. An old cull male came in and I did not shoot.
The Kudu are in the periphery and moving out as well.
I watch as Three kudu cows are still chewing their cud off to the south side 90 yards out and it is 10:45.
Three new Kudu cows are approaching from east at 10:53.
I look up and make sure the bow is set and ready to go. The bow is hanging from a ready made hanger screwed into the ceiling.
For one person there is plenty of room to move around. You have to be careful on the sand covered concrete floor. Without deliberate steps you can make a startling amount of noise in this stone blind. It is something you learn to address very quickly.
Four young kudu bulls in all at once at 11:00. They walked right into water in front of the blind. I have the camera ready and the shutter is going off at pace.
I take note and think that I have to find a way to silence the auto focus and the shutter. The animals are so close they are reacting to the noise.
The Cows moved out.
At 11:07 Oryx are coming in from north. The four Kudu bulls are still on salt blocks.
The Oryx are very young ones; Six juvenile males.
They are amazing little scale replicas of mature animals. This is a new piece of information for the trophy judging manual.
I look off to the north out the window and notice an Older male Oryx chewing on something. I look through the spotting scope and determine it is an old leg bone. I wrote that "I got some pictures hope they turn out". 11:22.
The dog is still chewin on his bone at 11:39. They are obviously adaptable animals to try to find minerals from any source.
The Young Oryx is moving off at 11:26, but they are still in periphery.
It's 11:30 and Jackal came in and drank. He was not concerned at all.
Gorgeous coat with great color. He left at11:36. The Kudu bulls investigated him by entering into the water slowly moving toward him. Not one was spooked by his presence. The Jackal was also not concerned as the Kudu bull moved toward him.
I want to have a bloody nap but there are too many critters in here :)
OMG. A warthog sow walked by the whole water hole. She is so big she would make many Males appear small.
11:47 Warthog male came in to water and he was gone at 11:50. They do not dally around the water. They are all business.
The herd of Oryx are all hanging around north of the blind, all within 100 yards.
The Kudu bulls are still working the salt at 11:52.
The Oryx are now bedding down in the sand. I am quite glad. Everything is relaxed and that can only mean more things to come.
Critters appear to relax with more animals around the water. Makes sense.
The Kudu bulls are now browsing on the trees near the blind - 11:55
There are now New Kudu coming in and Wildebeest. It is 12:00.
There are enough now that they are blocking each other. Wildebeest and Kudu love to walk right into the water and drink. All milling around in the water as they drink.
Two decent bulls and a bunch of cows in the group all drinking.
I am sizing one of them up to see whether an arrow should be making its way out the middle window.
I did not notice as one of the younger bulls decided to walk in next to the blind at less than 10 feet from the south window. He must have gotten my sent. He bolted into the middle of the water hole like he was shot out of a cannon and this sent the entire waterhole fleeing for their lives. F**K!! 12:07
All you hear is hooves hitting rocks, water splashing and then watch butts as they depart to places unknown.
The Kudu Cows are now standing and barking at fifty yards. They may settle down.
( I keep hoping anyway)
I tightened the canvas door up to keep wind from blowing through. These are hopeful, after the fact, actions on the part of a desperate bow hunter.
A few wildebeest are standing off in the bush at a hundred yards just hanging.
The Cow Kudu is still barking 12:13.
She's looking off SW. This is not good. She is not fleeing but I cannot see through the cistern to know what she is on about. Who knows?
12:18. Warthog boar came in.
The Oryx are gone from the north side now.
There are three or four wildebeest and three cow kudu still here. That is, within sight. She is still barking 12:20.
At 12:35 a baby kudu is back.
The Wildebeest are moving in. Warthog babies are coming into the north side.
The Kudu cow is back at the water as well.
Wildebeest Bulls drink quickly. You have to be ready to go with them boy.
Off the two bulls go. That opportunity has passed.
A young Kudu bull snuck in with the cows 12:42
Three more cows came back 12:46
One more wildebeest at 47 yards standing off from the water.
I start to think up some solutions for the noise factor. Maybe get some kind of piece of tin to come of cistern lip so that the water cascades and makes noise form the fall into the water hole; instead of trickling off the edge. Maybe that will cover some sound.
The Bull Wildebeest bedded down 12:52 out at about 90 yards.
Kudu are drinking.
Male ostrich drinking at 12:54
The Ostrich are gone at 12:59
Bustard arrives back in the periphery 13:00
13:03 another Kudu cow back from the north.
Young kudu bull arrives from. SW 13:06
A Warthog sow and her piglets are in at 13:07. The same set that have come in each day. They come in to the exact same spot in the water hole to drink. That is a pattern.
Another Ostrich comes in for a loud slurp at 13:18. It is amazing to be so close to listen to how loudly they drink.
A Kudu bull moved in from SW.
Four kudu including a calf from NW 13:24
At 13:32 the Wildebeest bedded down again. The Kudu are drinking and at the salt lick.
A Warthog boar joins the group at 13:35.
13:37 another boar moves in and is standing at ten yards.
13:39 the Oryx are back in periphery around the water hole, coming in from north.
13:42 a big female with piglets from NW
A herd of Oryx are circling in from north east and they have just passed on by. They never even slowed down.
At 13:49 another sow arrives from NW
All the kudu just buggered off at 14:02 for some reason. No apparent reason, they did not appear to be spooked or startled in any way. Hmmm.
The Wildebeest all wandered off SW.
The waterhole is empty and I am wondering if I will have more company any time soon.
14:34 Eagles came in to water. They appear to be two different types of birds, but they can not be, they arrived almost simultaneously. Knowing that birds have various eclipse stages in plumage I am left wondering. I have never seen these raptors before so I have no idea what they are.
BOOTED EAGLE 1
BOOTED EAGLE 2
14:50 More pigs in from south and NW.
I am sitting in the center seat of the blind watching out the window when I notice a movement to my right. At 15:35 a Striped Mongoose jumps onto the window sill and looks inside the blind.
I did not move a muscle and wished I had been holding the camera. He left after determining that the blind was occupied.
I got some pictures of him as he decided to get a drink at the water hole.
16:24 The Bustard came in from east and left when I was taking pictures. No wind at all and it is too damn quiet. I have to shut this camera noise off. The manual is back in my tent, just in case you were wondering why I had not fixed it with all the time I had in the blind.
An absolute Monster Warthog came in from north and left after a very quick drink at 17:00.
Francolins and doves start making noise at 17:16 and start their approach to the water.
The Francolins start hop scotching around the waterhole and making their way to the side of the blind at 17:22.
I grab the camera and stalk slowly to the window and watch as they are being territorial over the dry dirt. There is a definite pecking order in this group. The Francolins are having a dust bath. They kept digging, scratching and rolling in the dirt until I poked my head too far out the window.
Nothing else came for the rest of the evening. Will Armitage (Wills #1's) the newest PH was in charge of the chariot that would be picking me up for my ride back to the camp.
It was 18:20 when they arrived and Civil twilight was 18:28.
I had been in this blind from Dark to Dark and had enjoyed my day taking pictures and waiting for those Eland while watching the wildlife come and go.
Apparently Kalahari Eland are not a gimme.
It was relaxing and quiet and I got some podcasts in. No sleep.
If that young Kudu Bull had not been so comfortable he might have allowed me to take that shot at his older brother. There were certainly several very good trophies for a bow hunter that presented themselves.
This is Wills #1's last day at Kanana so there is a big send off for him. All the staff are there to say goodbye.
He is taking Claire to Joburg tomorrow to deliver the new Bridger in RSA.
Big changes to come.