just do it, HIS way
The time finally arrived to leave on our South African 10-day handgun hunt. We were both excited but apprehensive about the long flight and unknown places. However, Africa was a someplace we always wanted to hunt and experience. My wife Deena and I were booked with Blaauwkrantz Safari's; www.blaauwkrantz.com
owned and operated by the Arthur Rudman family, three generations of Angora ranching and hunting. Arthur met us at the airport in Port Elizabeth, we immediately new we had made the right choice. We felt we had known him forever.
We were soon on our way to his ranch and were looking forward to a long, overdue shower and a bottle of red wine. We got both but held off on the wine to make sure our guns were still zeroed. Deena was shooting a T/C Contender in 35 Rem. with 200 grain bullets. My choice was a T/C Contender in 375 Win., also shooting 200-grain bullets. Both guns were equipped with long eye relief 4x scopes zeroed in at 150 yards.
Francois, Arthur's youngest son, gave us a tour of a small part of their property and soon we were stalking a couple of bushbuck. It was exhilarating to say the least. The jet lag seemed to have disappeared as we headed back to the ranch (they call it a farm) for a super-gourmet meal and state of the art South African wines.
The PH's are all part of the Rudman family, Arthur, his two sons, daughter and son-in-law. Arthur's wife, Trinette was a most gracious hostess, and made us feel right at home. After dinner we had a little conversation and discussed the daily routine; up in the morning about 5:30 am, coffee and toast, hunt till noon, back for lunch and take a break till 3 PM then hunt till dark.
We started looking for zebra on the first day. We stalked and stalked but couldn't get close enough. Every time we were near, the impala would spook the zebras' and off they'd go. In the beginning, we didn't seem to care too much because we were having such a great time. The land is so vast with so many animals, you just drink it all in. We hunted hard all day and in the last hour we spotted a blesbok. We had seen him in the same area that morning. Deciding to try for him, I left Deena and Francois in view of the ram. I stalked behind the brush until I had a clear shot.
Ed and his first African trophy, a blesbok and another beautiful African sunset.
I was using shooting sticks, not my favorite rest. The ram was standing broadside but I held too high, as my first shot went over his shoulder. The ram, still looking at Deena and Francois, didn't know where the shot had come from but soon switched ends and took off running to my right; for some reason he stopped. He was about the same distance as before and this time I held lower, behind the right shoulder. At the shot he went down hard. He tried to get back up but couldn't. I hurried to his side and finished him off with my S&W-44 mag. Trail-Boss holster gun. The shot was later ranged at 170 yards.
Deena and Francois arrived at my side and our tracker OB showed up with the truck. I think I was the most excited I've ever been. Deena congratulated me and after pictures, OB had the task of field dressing. Watching him, I realized how skillful he was. He was through in just minutes with ease. It had been a long but rewarding day and we
Day two was set up for Deena to try for a Lynx. Arthur, knowing of her desire to bag one of the cats, had contacted a neighboring rancher four days earlier to be on the lookout for fresh tracks. Be sure to read Deena's story!
Headed back to the skinning house, then on to the lodge for a hot shower. After another superb dinner and wine we were eager for the old sack.
Day three, out for zebra again. Along with OB, we brought along another tracker. We walked and walked trying to locate the zebra. Finally, we spotted a small herd and the stalk began! Closer and closer we would get and at the last moment, an impala would spot us and off the zebra would go. We tried for three hours before Francois sent the two trackers on ahead to cut the zebra off and get them turned back in our direction. We watched in the distance as the herd turned and guess what? Here they came! We were now at a termite mound in the middle of a clearing. Deena was off to one side about 25 yards away behind a big stand of bushes. They came and they went, right by us and out of sight. My neck was cramped from the position I had been in and I was looking at the ground taking the pressure off; Francois was glassing two blesbok in the distance and Deena was having a fit from behind her bushes.
A zebra is a wary, tough animal and as Ed and Deena discovered they taste great too.
"Psst! Psst! Edward!" Wow, I looked up and the zebra were coming back. Thirty or more of them were about to walk right over us! There was a big stallion on the right and I had him in my scope. At the same time, Francois was telling me, " The one on the right." I wanted to wait till they stopped but it never happened. I put the crosshairs on the center of his chest, and started my squeeze. At the sound of the gun, he went down and got right back up. Francois said, "Shoot again." The range was about 100 yards. The zebra took off and by the time I got him back in my scope he was about 130 yards away going around a big bush. I fired again and hit him in the only target I had, the right hip. He went down again. We used the bush for cover and went to the far side to see him get up and fall once more. One more shot finished him for good. Suddenly, it was over and I had my zebra. What a great feeling! The two trackers showed up and all five of us together couldn't get the zebra loaded in the truck. Fortunately, there were some workers close by and OB went for help. Thirty minutes later with the zebra loaded we were on the road heading to the skinning shed. After lunch and our usual rest we tried stalking a good kudu bull but we just couldn't get within range.
The sunrises and sunsets in Africa are the most breathtaking I've ever seen. Day four was to be spent in a different area. We saw waterbuck, nyala and eland, all of which were very impressive animals. The eland were huge and I really wanted one, but it would have to wait till the next time, my budget wouldn't allow it. We made several unsuccessful stalks on kudu during the morning hunt. Lunch was excellent as usual and by 3 PM. I was ready to go. For the afternoon hunt we tried sitting in a blind and by 5 o'clock, we started seeing some kudu activity but mostly they were immature bulls and cows. Francois just smiled and said, "Too small, maybe next year they'd be big enough." All of a sudden the big guy on the block showed up, even I could see the difference. Francois said, "Get ready!" At 150 yards, I was starting to squeeze the trigger but he started moving closer. He would stop, I would start my squeeze again, and he would move again. This went on for what Ed, Deena and Francois pose ith Ed's trophy kudu bull. Ed used a 375 Winchester to take this animal weighing about 750 pounds.
Seemed like forever! As he got closer he was blocked by another kudu. Just before the bull got back into the thick brush, Francois made a noise with his lips and the kudu stopped and looked in our direction. The other kudu was clear and I was already squeezing. The shot went off and the kudu took two steps and jumped a four-foot fence. He cleared the fence but crashed down and never moved again. I was again the most excited person there was, except for Deena. Now, she wanted one! Oh boy! As we approached the kudu bull we could see he was a real beauty, such a magnificent animal. Francois guessed he was about 91/2 years old. Once again, we took many pictures. OB did his usual professional job of field dressing. It took the four of us to get the kudu under the fence, and loaded in the truck. After dropping off the kudu to be skinned, we headed for the lodge. I had almost forgotten about the zebra steaks on the menu! Francois did a fabulous job on the steaks. More wine, conversation and to bed. Boy, did that bed feel good that night. No one needed to rock us to sleep.
Day five was complicated by swirling winds as we tried to get close enough to kudu for Deena to get a shot but we were unsuccessful until nearly dark. We had largely give up on kudu but bumped into a small herd of angora goats, with a beautiful bushbuck ram on the edge of them, just grazing along. We were about 100 yards from it, and he wasn't aware of our presence. About 25 yards ahead of us was a 55-gallon drum on its side, a perfect rest! Deena stayed back and Francois and I went forward.
The bushbuck, despite his small size, is a formidable warrior when injured and can be very dangerous to follow up in heavy cover. If charged, the horns usually find their mark about the middle of you thigh.
I leaned over the drum, and found the ram in my scope. I put the crosshairs on it's right shoulder and tried to follow it. It would stop and then move on. Getting darker by the minute and a brush area was where he was headed. I had to go for it, and squeezed the trigger, and heard the sound of a solid hit. The bushbuck went out of sight, as I got up to follow him. Francois was quick to say, "Leave it alone till morning." He thought I hit it a little far back, and didn't want to lose it in the heavy brush. If we leave it alone it would lay down and die. Needless to say, it was hard for me to go off and leave the bushbuck. I just knew he was dead, lying just out of sight.OB brought the truck to us, and we were on our way back to the lodge. The usual gourmet meal was served, but my thoughts were of my bushbuck.
Day six was devoted to Deena's kudu but day seven was set for hunting gemsbok. We left early that morning, as we had a two hours drive to a new property. Once we arrived at the farm, Francois checked in with the landowner and after a bit of conversation we were on our way. I had taken a place in the back of the truck where I could see and as the truck bumped and groaned its way to the hilltop we saw five gemsbok to our right. Francois stopped the truck and we went after them. Deena stayed in the truck. Our intent was to try for one of these animals but they disappeared down the hill. As we followed other groups were mingling in and out of cover on the hillside. Soon a real beauty came up out of a ravine and stopped broadside about 250 yards away. I had a perfect rest on a big rock and I knew the trajectory of my bullet so I decided to take the shot. I hit dead center of the shoulder. The animal didn't react - the 375 Winchester was nearly out of steam at that range and had little effect. I fired again in haste and hit her in the back leg. This was no good! I had to get closer. Francois started down and I followed. The gemsbok managed to get out of sight further down hill and we took advantage of this by getting closer. At about 125 yards we saw her standing on another hillside. I found a good rest and put her down for keeps.
The gemsbok is much larger than a bushbuck and also knows how to use its headgear to a hunters disadvantage. Being ready for the unexpected is wise when following up a gemsbok.
I stayed with the gemsbok while Francois went after the truck. OB was to find a clear path for the truck to get through. Thirty minutes later everybody showed up. Deena had missed the whole experience, and she let us know about it. When we left the truck, our plans were just to go about a 100 yards, and do some glassing, but we kept on going. The gemsbok was in perfect condition and we were all excited, even Deena soon forgot she was left behind. Aside from the driving time, this was our quickest hunt. We got back well after lunch, so we had sandwiches and cold beer, which hit the spot. We stayed in the remainder of the day and rested.
The following morning the weather was a little wet with some light showers. After all the stalks that impala had blown for us, and of course, the beauty of a fine ram, I decided I wanted one. We tried stalk after stalk with no results except tired legs. This is one spooky animal. Francois decided the only way to be successful would be to hide in the brushy areas and have OB drive them to us. It was close to lunchtime when the plan started to work. A herd came running right past where we were all hiding. Something seemed to catch the attention of the lead female and she diverted the herd away from us. In the meantime, we could see OB on the horizon in plain view. At that exact instant, a big ram came into view, 40 yards out, looking at OB. I was caught without a rest, had to free hand my shot. I took him through the chest at a slight angle, and the 200-gr. bullet went completely through him. He went about 20 yards and dropped.
Impala make a great trophy and are roughly the size of a whitetailed deer.
Once again, pictures congratulations and off to the skinning building for the last time. We had two phases left to our trip; one was a night hunt for Genet, a small cat, and maybe a Porcupine. The other trip was to Addo Elephant Park, about 65 miles away.
We spent about half day sightseeing and saw a variety of animals. The elephants were the stars of the show. We had to stay in the truck but we took a lot of pictures and video. It was very enjoyable. Returning to the lodge we enjoyed another great dinner before we would leave on our night hunt. Deena and I were surprised to see so many animals browsing about at night. Even the kudu were out and didn't seem the least bit spooky. We saw one small porcupine, but no genet. After about three hours we called it a night and headed back to the lodge for a few glasses of wine and reflection on our first safari. Our last meal was a big breakfast and we soon bid farewell to the family, OB and the maids and off we went to town for a little shopping before our flight. Let me sum it up by saying this was the greatest experience we have ever had! Everything pertaining to the hunt was perfect. I know Deena and I will go back someday. Don't wait too long to go to Africa yourself! Don't talk about it, just do it! Remember, sight-picture, breath-control and trigger-squeeze!