Steenbuck Trophy Judgement, My first Warthog, Elephant hunt
Steenbuck in Limpopo 1998:
Over a move between our maize farm in the Northwest and Pretoria in 2007 I lost a hunting album that had been compiled for me by my father for hunting trips between 1998 and 2007. It was a great loss as it recorderd my hunting progress over the years. I now only have a few pics floating around between family. These two pics I came across by accident. Suppose I can call them my own 'vintage' pics.
While scratching around for some documents in my fathers old office I came across this pic of a Steenbuck that he took in 1998 in Thabazimbi, Limpopo, South Africa.
What are your judgements for the size of the horns?
Take note that the head is tilted forward, and the other pics that were lost with the album are more clear as they were set against the sky and open light-coloured grass where the head was held upright to get a clear picture of the size...perhaps this is why this pic was not added to the album.
I have requested that the shoulder mount be sent to me in Pretoria.
In the mean time, just for fun, what do you estimate the size to be? Granted I have seen larger, particularly one steenbuck that Koos Barnard posted in SA's Magnum Magazine where it looked like that steenbuck was an inch larger (and other larger ones). I am just curious about how you judge this buck. I don't believe it to be of Rowland record on any level but the farmer suggested we have a look to see what the measurements were, we never did as my dad didn't care much for trophy, but as any hunter he looked for the most impressive representative and when he saw this Steenbuck...we usually would pass on Steenbuck and the litte fellows as our hunts are for hunt and meat, and Steenbuck and Duiker etc is not good value for money in terms of the mass versus the price (for a meat hunt).
The Steenbuck was taken with a .375H&H with factory 300grain PMP Soft that was intended for Eland, but we saw this Steenbuck and the PH obliged. With a full on frontal shot the entire buck was 'gutted clean' with the Soft 300grainer before it ended up in the skinning shed. Most of the skinning process was merely removing the cape and other skin off the body.
My first Warthog (sow) in 1998:
.270 Win Musgrave M90, 150 grain PMP Soft.
It's body faced me with its head looking way to the left of me, perhaps it was looking at me by peering through the left eye and trying to get a better picture of me by focusing on me with one eye only. I moved a bit to get a clearer view as it was in longish grass and took a quartering shot that entered the left shoulder and exited the posterior end of the right lung, she dropped.
It saw us earlier from about 100yrds away and bolted for thicker brush. I followed it, but already knowing the nature of a Warthog as I had hunted them before without success (quite a few times unsuccessful) I suspected it made a real dash for the other side of the property and never expected anything to come of my light foot, stalking and wind-checking, but after about 15 minutes of suspense, just before I gave up, I saw it staring passed me as though it were looking at something else to my left, this was at about 30 yards.
It knew I was there but clearly it did not realise that I had seen it as it gave that characteristic 'statue' stance, the 'I'm-just-a-tree-stump' look, hoping that I would carry on walking by. I have learned later that sometimes they only bolt off once you see them, otherwise they can keep dead still and can wait till you pass without even noticing them if it can't slip away quietly ie if moving at all would give away their position they first wait and see before running off (in my experience). How I figured this is that a few times the guide would point at a Warthog that was within 25yrds and it would only run off once I saw it but all the time being aware that the tracker/guide has spotted it and sometimes this lasted a whole minute before I saw it, and other times they woud jump right from behind a bush 10 yrds away and I think this is only because it was too close for comfort and not because it thought I had spotted it. I think they wait and see whether it is good to run or not first if they cant slip away quietly, as it is pointless to break their cover and give away their position if not necessary, so if they spot you first I don't believe they will just bolt off I they don't see fit. I think all animals are this crafty and I sometimes underestimate them. I guess it's eyesight let it down and the wind was in my favour. This is just my own theory based on my own experiences with warthog and other common bush game and is by no means a word of fact.
I learned this phenomena of 'animal tact' also with the elephants in Tuli Block where I thought that because of their size they would be easy to spot and track, but insteasd I was surprised that they effectively walked 'cirlcles' around us in a conscious attempt to avoid us, and that is not my assumption, the guides of that area said it was a tactic they use to avoid hunters when they realise they are being persued. The reason they never just left the area is because water was scarce and it was January in an open free-roaming concession where the water in the bush was restricted to rain pools/litte dams. If they moved off they would have to follow the river either back to Zimbabwe where they fled from, or move closer to the humans they were in conflict with in the Botswana villages, so they stuck it out in the bush and just played games with us by constantly walking in the day and resting only at night (usually elephants rest in the heat of the day under the shade, but they never did this and the PH's and game scouts made a point of telling us that we cannot hope for this for these elephants as they are too aware of what we do, they are born around people). And even though it was the water that stopped them from migrating, we never took one Elephant near or around a watering hole, and we did try to ambush them a few times at the watering holes that we knew they frequented, as the walking was dreadful in the humid, thick, and green mopane shrub. I suffered heat stroke once and every one had their turn of prevailing ailments brought on by heat or bush. They also tended to meander through the bush instead of going the straightest route to a certain destination and the trackers, PH's, and game scouts said that these Elephants are not the ones you find in Okavango or other areas like it, they are skilled in avoiding people and quite tempramental. I think the meandering is also to find food and not necessarily a tactic, though the guides sometimes pre-empted their movements with this and went off the tracks and found them crossing our onward path a mile later, just as the trend of their previous trail paths had predicted. They would meander with a certain flow and keep a certain girth between the turns, like a snake will leave its meadering trail. Instead of following spoor we predicted movement and tried to cut them off, but to no avail, they were never there as we planned!
We spent three weeks in the bush under a canvas canopy on a few matresses next to a river, it was great. The first elephant fell only a week after tracking hard, the last four fell in the last few days, where the last two were taken at the same time in the same herd on the day before the season closed. There were many days of endless walking and tracking with no result, some days we found no spoor, some days we found the trail so fresh that the urine of the beasts was still trickling down the fresh untouched sand but still we could not get them as even though they were 10 or 15 minutes ahead they did not stop walking to rest. We stopped and ate the sweet marula fruit every now and then just to do something other than walk.The one PH, a Ronnie McFarlane, operated in the Okavango but was not the official PH for this hunt, he was the friend of the client who bought these elephants. The official PH was a Spencer from the government, it was only when he joined the group and replaced the other PH from the Botswana government that the first elephant fell as he changed our tactics completely. He basically said, "No, no, no...this is how you hunt a Tuli elephant..."
These two PH's hunted elephant differently. Had Spencer gone to guide in the Okavango it would be Ronnie who would take the reigns. There was a guide in our group who was a game scout and elephant behaviourist for these rogue elephants, a woman named Mapula. She also led the group to victory as without her guidance on certain occassions we all would have gone left when we should have gone right. The client, who was the father of my friend, offered me a .375H&H Mauser and said I could be the follow up on the elephant. Then Mapula said to me, "Have you hunted Big Five before?", I said, "No?". She said, "An elephant is not like a Kudu, it is big and dangerous...". At the time I thought the statement to be quite obvious and did not comprehend her deeper meaning as I already could see that Elephants are huge and dangerous. I told her of my own hunting experiences but she told me that though it is clear that I can shoot, the problem is that this bush, these elephants, the close-quarteredness, is not in favour of me carrying a rifle with the intention to shoot an elephant here for the first time. I let up and followed her instruction as did the group, I was highly disappointed and irritated at my inexperience, "Why did'nt I just shoot an elephant earlier in life?! Maybe she would have let me have my first one again here..." So, I took up the camera instead and only realised why she had told me to leave the idea of shooting once the Elephant was in the lens and me behind the camera, I realised that she wanted me to see them first and see what happens when you shoot, how they react, how the group reacts etc. It was like she said, an Elephant is not a Kudu, and when I saw this magnificent animal upfront I stood in awe and was quite intimidated as it stood not more than 8yrds away in thick bush. The first shot rang off and my adrenalin was so high that I felt that I was floating, I was scared and over-exihilirated, I messd up the footage much to the demise of my career as 'camera man' for the rest of the trip. The reason I had an overload of the hunting-high is that we also heard this elephant from literally a mile away, it is this that gave him away, upon hearing this I started to feel out of place, things switched from serious to dead serious in a second and I was positioned by the PH so that I dont get hurt... this is not like a kudu hunt. As we got closer the sound reverberated through my gut the way a speaker does when you stand too close to it, and I had never been intimidated by any Kudu like this before! The PH said it was the wounded one, as someone had taken a neck shot with a .470Rigby double two weeks before, he knew this because he said, "That one is not moving, it's the one...", assumingly the one that everyone had been talking about, the wounded bull. Turns out it was the one, and the wound in the neck had already gone septic and leaked pus. The last two bulls were taken simultaneously on the last day and the team was almost trampled to death as the .505Gibbs jammed, the .460Wby ran out of ammunition, and the .375 almost ran away but stood later after being grabbed by Ronnie mid-run to finished the bull off. This is by no means the end of the story...
I have a lot of pics of this hunt and would like to write a more comprehensive article about this experience as I believe it was the one hunt that opened my eyes and sparked my desire to forget about university and a mediocre life, and get into hunting as a passion and trade as hunting is what I dream about all day long during my lectures, during my studies, before I sleep and so on. I make plans to be around hunting or to be hunting and I dont see where or how a psychology degree fits in. The pics I have are not mine and I have no legal rights for them. So I cannot just post away.I will first have to get permission before I post others. But here is one of this specific wounded bull that fell about 8yrds from us:
6 frontal shots in total all in the brain. 5 standing/in falling, and the last was an insurance shot.
Perhaps the incidences are circumstantial, and it is also well-known that all animals are mostly opportunists and that their behaviour is not so set in stone as we believed in the Darwin years (yikes!). The only predictable thing about wild animals is that they are unpredictable, I would quote that but have forgotten who said it.
Perseverance pays off in the end.
The pics are not loading.
Guys, unfortunately I have tried everything in my power and knowledge to get these pics onto this site. They simply will not be loaded. Have loaded pics before in the same way of different sizes etc but these pics will not load. They are scanned photographs but I don't see where that will make a difference as they are pictures that are loaded on my pc as such.
Anyway, when or if I ever get the trophy to my place in Pretoria I will take a pic and post it, the warthog was not mounted as a shoulder mount or anyhing as it was quite a regular looking sow, which I used for yummy leg roast and sent the rest to a butchery to be made into russian sausages, it was lovely, but a tad rich! Enjoyed the odd one with breakfast every now and then and it lasted quite a while as nobody elese in my immediate family besides my father would eat venison or game.