The last Impala
The deal was made and the contracts were being drawn up. I sat down and reflected upon what I have just done. Was it the right thing to do or did I just make the biggest mistake of my life?
These were all things that caused my hands to shake and made me restless. I was frustrated and on edge. I could not get the worry out of my mind although I planned everything very carefully.
My farm was sold. I spent everything I had to buy it. I worked around the clock and sweat gallons of blood to get it to where it was today. It was part of me. It was me. Now I sold it. These were the emotions that went through me one morning early in December of 2009. It was raining softly outside. The bush was alive and green, happy to receive this gift of heaven.
I stared outside without seeing. If this deal went south I would be ruined. I was alone and the weather played along with this sombre mood that I was in. I closed my eyes and breathed deeply. Then, like a wet dog shacking himself dry I shrugged the worry from my mind. I decided that I would go out and do what I normally do when I have a heavy weight on my shoulders.
I grabbed my bow and release and walked out into the warm soft rain. I loved hunting like this. The weather sucked but I really could get right into a herd without them being any the wiser about my presence. I wanted to hunt an Impala male. Not just any male but a really nice one and I wanted to do it well. This would be my last goodbye. I wanted an Impala because they were beautiful, graceful and whenever I see them, they remind me of that farm.
I walked along the small stream where the water made soft gurgling noises and the raindrops falling on the leaves of the big Waterberry trees covered every possible noise that I could make on this narrow soaking wet game trail. I was wet to the bone but not cold. I moved as slow as a shadow. There was no sunlight to reflect of any shiny surface or to create light and dark areas under the trees. The visibility was maybe 100 yards at the most.
I came to a crouch as a flicker of movement caught my attention. I had to stare hard to identify the shoulder outline of the huge kudu bull as he stood under a smallish Marula tree. He kept twitching his ears as the water bothered him and it was that movement that I saw. He truly was a big bull with curling spirals reaching high up into the branches of the Marula tree. I left him in peace. He was not what I set out for.
I crossed the stream so as not to upset the Kudu and have him bark out my presence all over the place. I was not wearing any shoes as they would make an awful sound every time I lifted a foot in the mud. My feet felt their way in the game trail so that I could keep my eyes searching ahead. There were no dry twigs or leaves that could warn anything that I was there.
I saw them when a head appeared above a small bush with ears flicking everywhere. They were no more than 40y away. I sat down to assess the herd and to see where the big male was. I knew that I found the right bunch and that the male would be close. I saw him often enough and guided many clients after him only to have the stalk ruined by some or other mishap.
He stood like a statue in the open with his back into the slight breeze. It looked completely as if he was fast asleep but I knew better. He did not get this big because he was careless or stupid. I went down flat. I became the mud and the water. Slower than a snail I crept ever closer. I had to pass less than 10 yards behind two ewes that stood side by side.
I did not feel the rain or the mud. I did not feel the breeze or the rocks and stones that ate away my elbows and knees. I was completely in the zone. My left hand held my bow just of the mud. My right hand slowly cleared a path through the wet grass so that I could crawl without moving the vegetation and alarming the Impala.
A lifetime later I came to my knees behind a small bush that was my goal. I removed an arrow from the quiver on the bow and nocked it onto the string. All this happened in ultra slow motion. The Impala ram was still standing where he was when I started.
I came to full draw and moved half a yard to get clear of the bush. The ram stood perfectly broadside at 12 yards. I knew my bow perfectly and the 20y pin glued onto a spot just below the brisket on the front leg. The shot was completely silent as everything was wet and damped the sound. The arrow went in low on the right shoulder and broke the bone on entry and exit. The 1050gr Arrow with a 180gr German Kinetic went through the Impala without deviating and cut the arteries above the heart and the thick pert of the lungs before the ram knew what hit him.
He fell flat on his chest and after 10 seconds it was all over. I stood frozen to the spot and did not even blink an eye. The rest of the herd milled around not knowing what happened. Some even walked up to me to see what I was. They could not smell or hear anything because of the rain.
I felt great! Everything went well and my mood could not be better. This was the best treatment that I could have given myself. Today I sit back and look at those beautiful 25 inch horns and smile a happy smile. The last Impala that I hunted on that farm was the best trophy I could ask for.