Hunting Day 3 - Redemption
So as we come up to the top of a dune, yet another Steenbok is spotted. It bolts, but Ocker spots a Black Backed Jackal and wants Austin to shoot it. They want as many jackals taken as possible here. Austin pops him perfect at about 100 yards. There's a second we hadn't seen at first who bails out on all this. My turn, Ockert whistles and stops this little dog at 220 yards. With Austin?ｴs .308, I pop him, gut shot so it?ｴs not pretty. But the little Steenbok and Duikers I'm sure are pleased. Boost of confidence after the misses yesterday.
Oh before this episode with the jackals, we found a herd of Eland. Two bulls in the herd, one of which an old blue bull with beaten up horns, ivoried out at the top. Had to use the truck to get into position on this one. At about 80 yards, with the bull trotting I let loose with the .300WM, I know this is a good shot into the boiler room. I put two more in him to slow him down and he indeed stops. He goes down without a fourth. The first 200gr North Fork is evident on the offside of the bull. I used this rifle, because as stated, the scope on the .375 went down. I purposely loaded 200gr bullets for the .300WM just in case this sort of thing happened. Not much doubt in my mind you can take an eland with a .300 Win Mag using proper bullets.
Back in the truck after pictures, seeing the usual Steenbok on virtually every climb over a dune. Itｴs fun trying to spot the little horns or call female while looking for the larger game we're after. On our way back to the lodge for lunch we spot a good herd of eland. Jacques wants some cows culled, but unfortunately they get into that trot and we can't catch up.
After another good lunch, we are back in the truck in pursuit of Gemsbok. We find them fairly quickly, but they're in no mood to play. We continue to pursue in the truck. This is truly the only way you can do this. We are playing this hunting game in an ocean of sand which is about the consistency of sugar. Moving fast in this stuff isn't happening and no matter how good a shape a guy is in, you're going to wear out quickly on foot.
After a long pursuit back and forth across the dunes, with the herd I'd say 1/4 to 1/2 mile in front us they start to split up a bit. Two bulls worth taking have gone their own way. We went towards one of them but he gives us the slip in the tangle of dunes. Back we go in search of the other, across a dune we go in following him. He turns broadside at about 225 yards. I get my shot, holding nice and firm on the shoulder for a heart shot I squeezed off the round. Bang....flop. Perfect heart shot right to the neck! Don't know what is happening to my shooting, the shot anchors him for sure but follow up required to dispatch him.
This long pursuit has put us a long way from the lodge in the middle of the sand ocean, we don't want to be here after dark. So we are headed back in the direction of the lodge. We see two different large herds of eland, but they aren't going to let us get close. The eland don't move extremely fast, just fast and for a very long time, their endurance is simply amazing. Not far from the lodge another jackal meets another 165gr .308 North Fork. Jackal hunting could become addicting.
We also got a fleeting glimpse at two cheetah on the way in. Clearly there are also lion roaming around too.
Back at the lodge, we are treated to a dinner of Springbok stew. This is a dish native to the bushman that have inhabited this area for who knows how many thousands of years. It?ｴs just a stew, but it?ｴs absolutely delicious. The bushman people have another delicacy they make called ash cakes. They take balls dough and place them directly into the ashes of a fire. This obviously cooks the bread which tastes a bit like pita bread. But it?ｴs a thick piece of bread like a dinner roll.
So we have taken the animals we planned on this part of the trip and will be headed back to Hartzhoogte ranch (HartzView Safari?ｴs main area) tomorrow. I will miss this truly wild place. This land is some 36,000 hectares in size, I made a mistake earlier in saying it was 30,000 acres. There are some interior fences, but all low barbwire type fencing. The land borders the Kgalagadi Tranfrontier National Park which is fenced, but again is low fenced. We are wedged in that finger of South Africa between Namibia and Botswana. I can't see how hunting gets more free range than this.
Attachment 20130Attachment 20131
Picture of eland up close where bullet stopped against the hide.
Forgot the jackal photo....
Hunting Day 4 - Back to Austin
We're back in the hills this morning chasing Kudu. We get out on foot to check an area and end up on a blue Wildebeest hunt, there's a big bull in the herd. Short story, I moved forward when Ockert my PH was signaling to stop.....I blew it.
The rest of the morning we're not seeing much, the wind is blowing pretty hard as a cold front is moving in. About a 1/4 mile from the lodge however we come across a group of impala ewes with one nice ram. This was more of an opportunity animal, but I want Austin to take him. Out the truck Ockert and Austin go, 5 minutes later....bang and thwap. He had a frontal shot at 50 yards and clipped the bottom of the heart. Impala goes 40 yards and drops.
The afternoon hunt nearly had us on a Kudu bull and at very last light into a Zebra herd, but the wind is swirling and the stalk is busted.
Day 5 - These are the days....
that make you really appreciate the days when the hunting comes easy. A cold front blew in with the wind from yesterday's hunt. We're on the search again for kudu and we're seeing lots of them, but again no shooters. Lots of cows and young bulls.
After lunch we're in a new area again looking for kudu. We come across a bull that looks good, but it gives us the slip in the thick brush. At least we are getting a stalk....turns out it's the only one.
Late in the evening and I mean with the very last light available, we spot a herd of Red Hartebeest on a hillside. Out front is what my PH is saying is a very good bull. I have to trust him, I know virtually nothing on these peculiar creatures. I swapped over the scope from my .300WM to my .375H&H, as I'm determined to put blood on this rifle.
The shot alignment isn't perfect as the animal is quartering towards me and it's a 190 yard shot. His head is really in the way of where I want to shoot. After waiting a bit, he turns his head and I let loose a round......thwap!! He's hit well, but I give him another on the now broadside shoulder and he's done. This isn't the animal I anticipated taking first with this rifle, but these animals are bigger than you think if you haven't killed one. By the time we get to the animal and rolled down a hill to the truck it's dark and it's cold. Check out the rosy noses and cheeks on father and son! Tough day hunting, but a last minute animal helps to boost spirits.
Day 6 - Desperate Times Call for Desperate Measures
So any large horned animal - Gemsbok, Waterbuck, Eland or Kudu is on the menu for Austin. The boy is enjoying himself and is not complaining a bit, but I want him to kill something on the bigger side. We're even going to put my .375 in his hands if it's an Eland.
We've got a big team this morning that are going to be on the look out for a Kudu. It is really cold this morning as we head out. We're hoping this will bring the animals out onto the open hillsides to sun themselves. And indeed, this turns out to be the case. Early in the morning a nice Kudu is spotted from the truck and off we go in pursuit. I purposely leave my .375 at the truck to not be tempted at shooting anything and let the boy finish his own kill. But a funny feeling hits me as we leave the truck that this isn't the best idea.
Up the hill we go in pursuit of the Kudu that has gone over the ridge. After getting to the top, he seems to have managed to fool us, but we're still looking. At some point, Ockert our PH looks over to his left at another hillside with a small canyon between us and spots 3 very nice Eland bulls. So.....a .308 Win shooting 165gr North Fork's at 2600fps muzzle velocity.....is this proper Eland medicine? Nope, but we're going to give it a go anyway.
Austin puts a very good first shot (right at 200 yards) on the biggest bull, he hunches and moves a bit but stops. Austin puts a second on him. He isn't down, but he's obviously hurt. Across the canyon everyone goes except for me. I stay back to keep an eye on the eland as they negotiate the brush. The other two eland stayed nearby in all this, but now start to move off with the approaching people. The wounded one starts to follow but his shoulder is clearly broken as he hobbles trying to keep up. By the time Austin and Ockert get over to where the eland was shot, the bull has managed to make the bottom. Time to send in Roxy and Boolit, and boy do they do a job.
In no time they've got the bull at bay with the hunters close behind. A few more shots and the bull is down. Yes, you can kill an Eland with a .308 Winchester. I've witnessed it, but I still wouldn't recommend it. But Austin has his big bull and I'm thrilled.
About an hour later as the morning hunt is winding down, we get into some blue wildebeest. I really want one of these to go with the black version I killed on the first day. Jacques has some very good bulls and we're onto one. I think the shot was right at 175 yards in a more open area. One shot from the .375 hits him very hard in the lungs, but off he goes. The poor man's buffalo is showing why he has this title. But he only manages a hundred yards leaving a big frothy blood trail and I even found a piece of rib along the way.
After lunch it was off to the taxidermist to get some quotes and setup the mounts. We get back to the lodge at about 4:15, back in the hunting truck by 4:25 for a last night's short hunt. We're off to the blesbok grounds. I really don't care if we kill anything, this is our last day here. I want to be back in the bush, to smell the aroma, to see some more animals one last time. We get Austin setup again and have the truck push a small group towards us. And do they ever come to us, right at us in fact.....to close. They bust us and take of like rockets, you could feel the thundering of their hooves.
No matter, we take off on a stalk of another herd. For the next hour and 2 miles, we play the cat and mouse game. We get close, they spook off. We pursue, get close and they spook again. After a few times of this, a ram is at 150 yards and we give Austin the go ahead. Gut shot, not good. Ockert has him put another into him, as he's headed away. This shot busts the ram's right hind quarter. In go those wonderful dogs and hold him up. We move in and finally get the dogs of the ram and a shot to the shoulder ends it.
The sun is setting, my son is standing over another animal taken after a most proper stalk. A perfect ending.
We left in such a hurry from the lodge, I left my camera there, so no picture of the blesbok yet. It will be forthcoming. Time to get some sleep, the ugly airplane ride is tomorrow.