Ok Brick step it up lets gett to mr spots I what to see some pics.:popcorn:
Ok Brick step it up lets gett to mr spots I what to see some pics.:popcorn:
I got up early again today.
Showing up with bare feet on the marble floor sure got the staffs attention.
It was just cool to me. They were shaking their heads.
Another sunrise breakfast.
We had passed an old Impala with a broken horn yesterday and today we spotted him in about the same place.
I was not going to let this opportunity go by again.
Today he has managed to find some buddies to hang out with, two Wildebeest.
It is interesting to me that in the absence of another critter with the same fur color these different species join up and seem to cooperate for mutual safety.
It is time to try a little harder on this guy. I get out and its time to stalk in. You can just tell that A does not really get the fascination with this broken horned beast. It took some convincing but we got out and started after him.
We move in and our eyes are not open wide enough at this time in the morning and then to top it off we are blown by shifting wind. I guess he is safe.
As I am walking back I feel a sharp stab in the bottom of one of my feet. I look and can't see any thorns. I later determined after taking the Leatherman to my boots that I had picked up a host of hitch hiking pointed objects.
The one that surprised me was the roofing nail. What that was doing in the middle of the bush I have no idea. It was the offender for the sharp stab earlier.
We make our way to look at Leopard baits. It appears it has been hit. We changed the bait and off we go.
I loaded the trail cam pictures onto the computer. I'll look at them later.
Somedays I think this is a Mongoose and Civet feeding program. :)
It was time to go around the back side of the mountain to see if we can see anything new. Of course we would see something new, but new ground is always exciting when you see if for the first time.
It is a long trip and the cover is thicker than anywhere else on the property with fewer roads.
Where would you hide if you were a Leopard or large Kudu? I know where.
As we start our trek around to the dark side I spot a Baboon making its way up the mountain. We stop and glass and I range him at 300 yards. Very tempting. By the time it stops he has sky lined himself on top of a rock.
I would have taken a shot if there would been a backdrop. Safe on their perch they watched us go by.
When you watch an animal on those rocks you start to get a real appreciation for the size of the boulders. They are huge. Until you see something of known size disappearing behind them or parking on top of them you are under the misguided impression that you would just walk up them like stairs. This is an refuge for animals.
As I am glassing I watch a decent Kudu bull disappear into some cover two thirds of the way up the mountain. There is a bowl, when you really look closely, and it has swallowed up an entire herd of Kudu.
I am not sure if they bedded down or just disappeared into a fold. That creates some serious perspective on how much game can actually be hiding right in front of you on this mountain.
I see some other bulls of course as we move along on our trek.
We also run into some Zebra herds. I get excited each time because they all have stripes.
I do not grasp how A is differentiating species so quickly. He just said "White legs" and drops his binoculars. When I look at the pictures more closely I finally get it. Burchell's don't have stripes all the way to their toes. Hence, White legs. Ahah!
We pass the west side of the range and start to climb into some thorns and run into another old carcass. No use checking it as it is dried up and nothing could feed on it now.
Run into another Leopard track on road around the back of the mountain.
As we pass along the back side I do not take my eyes of the mountainside.
A managed to spot a Dassie posing on a rock outcrop. I attempted to take a picture but he disappeared too quickly.
As I looked out toward the north I saw something that appeared to be an Oryx. I turned out to be a rock buck. As I turned around to look at the mountain I saw a great Kudu standing on an outcrop right behind us.
He acted just like an elk, safe and sound up on his perch. He knew exactly where he was and never moved a muscle while I took pictures. He watched us, fully alert and waiting to disappear but never flinched.
I am sure he might have behaved a little differently if I would have left the Baakie to chase him.
He was well within rifle range where he was, but be warned, if you do shoot him there I guarantee that you are done hunting for a long time. Make sure he is worth it.
I am being very snobbish about the size of Kudu bull I am hunting and I just take pictures of him.
It was time for a break so we sat at a blind. While we sat we shared a cup of tea. Pauline and France had been creative in providing me with a cup for my tea. There are no to-go mugs, so one was created.
At this point I cut up a water bottle and took the protection from my china cup and we wrapped it so A could enjoy some tea with me.
Worked like a charm.
Hoping to see different Leopard tracks we circled back and checked the dead Kudu in the pass one more time. It appears that some Hyena have decided to visit the site. The Kudu is slowly disappearing. If it were not in such nasty thorn cover I am sure it would have been consumed by now. There is no use sitting here for Leopard with the Hyena taking over. I am more interested in Leopard than waiting for the Hyena to return here anyway.
We tour past the place we dropped the guts and it is entirely cleaned up.
A thinks it is likely birds cleaning it up. It never even entered my mind as I searched for tracks around the site. Oh well, I learned another new one today.
I had not seen enough Vultures in the air to think they would clean that whole pile up so quickly.
During this conversation I find out that the guts are food for the guys. I decide that's it, no more dragging guts. It does not appear to be working anyway.
I did a sneak on some Gemsbok and also an Ostrich. The Ostrich spooked from so far away that no shot was ever possible.
If I knew the ground/layout better we could be better prepared and stalked in differently.
It is time to head in for lunch. As we are passing the rear fence of the compound the girls waved us down. It must be good to wave us down.
It turns out to be more than worthwhile as I get to see a trophy I have never run into before.
Francois had found a younger armored dinosaur and transplanted him close to the lodge so that everyone could see something special.
It is the sig of a very good PH when he is out hunting and he is constantly looking for opportunities for every client, not just those he is currently guiding.
I got lots of pictures of this little guy and then we made sure he got back on his way into the bush where he belonged.
It is absolutely awesome. I got to see my first Pangolin.
I spent an hour going over the trail cam pictures and discover that a cat came in twice, once early and once late.
It felt like it took forever to sort it out, but I finally did.
Hands down this information determines where I will be later today.
We left early from lunch looking for big Steenbok, in the field blind and we had a broken horn Impala come in.
Oh, I was so tempted, but it was approaching the time to get into the Leopard blind. I did not take the shot as A thought it would scare the Leopard away.
It was not the time to move.
We moved very quietly into the blind and sat there for 4 hours.
I had no idea how close an encounter I was about to have today when I entered the blind.
You settle in and let the sounds all come back to normal. You know the birds, etc.
You stare and you stretch your neck and you make sure the scope and rifle are settled in. Don't bump them after that.
Then you wait...........
You stare through binoculars through the small hole in the blind peering into the cover beyond the bait and at the bait and beside the bait.
You watch birds land on the branches around you and on the bait tree.
I found that you use your ears just as much, if not more than your eyes. You become used to the rhythm around you and it becomes natural/normal.
You wait.......................... and move as little as you possible.
and you wait....................
Then there was a sound that I thought was right beside the blind. I froze in place and felt the electricity race up my spine and down my arms.
It was a very soft grass rustle. It is a sound that is out of place and it does not belong in the quiet rhythm I have become used to.
Your first thought is, what was that? You run the gambit in your mind.
The blind is made of grass and if there is a breeze the grass on the top of the blind will move ever so slightly. Could that be it?
Your second thought is that it was just the wind, but there was no appreciable wind and the sound came from below my ear level and behind me not from the top of the blind.
I did not dare to shift to look or for that matter, breath.
What would I see? There are no holes to look through.
As you sit there reading this, try and look behind yourself without moving your head.
I look at my rifle. It's useless, as it is facing forward on a rest. There is no way to move it without noise and this small space would not allow it anyway.
Meanwhile, the sound repeats itself in a slightly different direction.
You look at the rifle again.
The noise was still below and behind to my right.
It is not the blind or the wind!!
It is absolutely impossible to move the rifle in the direction of the sound without making noise.
It presents an interesting dilemma.
You know you have heard something walking behind you, what do you do?
You are frozen in place..... waiting.
How do you will an animal to show itself in front of the blind and the rifle??
Three times during this wait I had my nerves put on end and was electrified.
When you have had Leopard tracks within two feet of where your butt is sitting you hope it does not have an urge to visit any closer.
It now dawns on me that, when we saw tracks on the path beside the blind the other day, A&M were trying to stack thorn bushes up behind the blind for a reason.
Hmmm. Another lesson learned.
I resign myself, as I recall the lightening reflexes that the videos have shown these incredible cats to have.
You know theYoutube video with the idiot poking a Leopard with a stick.
I really do not want to be that idiot.
No pictures, I had to be absolutely quiet. Shutter noises would not fit in the rhythm
It is dark when we leave the blind to head for the Baakie. At this point as I am packing up I am thankful Leopards are not Lions.
Nothing ever came into sight in front of the blind.
This is the side of the blind.
When you get the opportunity to sit in a blind that a Leopard has walked within arms reach of you will see how it feels.
"When you get the opportunity to sit in a blind that a Leopard has walked within arms reach of you will see how it feels."
That has got to be thrilling yet disappointing there was no opportunity. Your writing has allow one to come along for the ride. Nice.
Brick that must have been one hell of a thrill, That old toms got you guys figured out time to change you routine. Keep it coming.:nailbiter::sweat:
wayne its a shame it didnt start calling when it was next to you, as you can feel the deep bass vibrate through your body at that distance and its wild..:eyecrazy:
Any morning when you can eat cereal and watch guinea stroll across the lawn is the beginning of a great day!
As I was reading this thread last night I told my wife that we would end up on the ranch. I've got a trip to Zimbabwe planned forst, but this will be next.
Incredible writing, and incredible pictures.
Get up and do the usual breakfast and out the door to meet the day.
The first thing on the list?
Of course we go check the camera.
With that close encounter I am delusional and hoping that he might have had the gaul to head to the bait after we left.
Sure enough, the worlds smallest Leopard has hit the bait.
Ok, no such luck. The only pictures show me a Genet hit the bait.
Obviously happy and healthy with lots of time to access the bait.
In my mind I now have one last chance.
We start the search for other game and when I saw an Ostrich and decide to leave it alone.
We checked the Hyena bait in the pan, absolutely nothing eaten. What is going on. Not even the birds are eating what I put out.
As we cruised we saw a herd of Kudu in the heavy cover by the dam. It is such a pleasure to watch Kudu browse and then slowly fade into the cover. I did not get any pictures because M did not even slow down. There was nothing large enough to hunt so he just kept driving. Most days he has stopped for every photo op and today must have been another story.
But here is another we ran in to.
Winds are shifting constantly today. It will make stalking anything more challenging, to say the least.
I glassed every last Steenbok I could find and more; "Not big enough" was the echo I kept hearing coming from beside me. It is something I kept saying throughout the hunt as I dropped my binoculars.
I decided it was time to search in earnest for a large Oryx. I let A know this was the focus for today and with that we looked around a bit and then A had us headed to sit for Oryx .
A broken horn Impala came in and although they are on the list and two came in, I did not shoot, as I am now Oryx hunting.
It is hard to hold off sometimes. I seriously thought about a double. The wind shifted so it was time to change locations. This was not going to work any longer.
As I reflected on the last week of hunting I recalled passing up some very large Oryx. There was one we saw exiting a waterhole, as we were on our way to lunch, that would have gone at least 42 without any exageration. So noticeably larger than anything else that you are absolutely certain it is huge. This is what I am looking for.
We watch Warthogs doing the dominance shuffle and chasing around the next blind. There is one guy who thinks he owns the entire area. No one really had a rumble but there was plenty of dodging and weaving.
Finally, a herd of Oryx came in and I reiterate the goal I would like to meet; Rowland Oryx.
So, we start to stare through the binoculars and do some hard trophy judging.
Lots of smaller ones, but they all look mature and finally a female that looks to be the ticket.
We stare more.
She has a funny twist to her horns at the tips that certainly looks interesting to me. Nothing like character in a trophy.
We watch for a long time and I take pictures of the events. Trying to use all the guidelines I have learned for trophy judging:
If the horns are above the back by so much when the animal is feeding it is a big one.
Measuring the length of the face and comparing it to the horn length.
You know, all the tricks.
Finally I just look at A, I know which is the biggest one present and I ask is it over 40. He looks at me and says "a meter, but not more".
I know I am pressing him for a stupid number but that is what I am looking for.
I am trying to do some practice judging when we have a situation that presents a lot of time to do so. I decide that A is likely doing the proper PH thing and refusing to get caught out on a number.
I decide to go for it.
I make a perfect shot with the .270, that blows through the Oryx at 90 yards. Her reaction is strange and I decide to make certain.
I shoot again as she was dancing around in circles and she then dropped like a stone.
I am wondering what just happened. I was attempting to do another shoulder shot. The second shot ended up breaking her neck on the exit after going through the shoulder. No slowing these bullets down.
The manner she fell was strange. She ended up in the strangest repose I have ever encountered on a downed animal.
We thought she was a meter but ended up just shy.
I have now taken a nice Female. I made the choice and that is hunting.
A very hard trophy judging lesson was learned: Do not compare your animal to the rest of the herd and rely heavily on that. I am quite happy with this trophy. It is an exercise in trophy judging I am talking about here.
For your reference:
We stopped by the skinning shed/ abattoir to drop the Oryx off.
When I said I would be doing a euro mount, A immediately took the "good bits" from under the chin of the Oryx. Not sure what they are but the picture shows the spot.
A was happy to cut it out and take it and I'm glad he did so. (I had been stealing the tripe all week.)
The guys found the Eland bullet in the offside shoulder. It was a perfect mushroom.
I started the newest Copper trading market in Namibia when my first animal went down.
I announced R100 per bullet recovered from my animals.
The current market price for Copper is $3.30/ lbs. or $.00047143 per grain.
Looking for higher recovery rates from the local mine I am paying 117 times higher than the going market price.
When I arrived one skinner ran back to his house to get the recovered treasure that had been kept safe the previous night in his home. Obviously that was the most valuable copper on the farm.
I got my bullet and he ended up with R50 + $5USD.
Off again we decide to do a walk and stalk for Ostrich.
Holy cow are they hard. Kudu are sneaky but Ostrich have eyes like you cannot believe.
They see anything threatening, a twitch, anything and they are not curious at all, they run and run far.
Yet another game animal I assumed would be easy and is not at all.
No luck here.
Saw some up and coming waterbuck and it was nice to see they were relaxed in the shade without a care in the world. While your on a truck.
This afternoon; Male Gemsbok, Broken horned Impala and Ostrich.
Oh yeah, that Leopard, one last time.
It's after lunch and we are supposed to sit for the Leopard at the Grass blind.
I am really excited at the prospects for today. They must be getting hungry now.
I know one will come in today.
As we move around the north property I notice and so does A, probably long before me, the wind is not shifting anymore. It is steady and strong.
The wind is exactly backward to what we need again.
No use sitting at all.
This is where I want to sit, but you cannot control the weather.
It is too bad because I do have a feeling something is going to happen.
Nothing has hit Gemsbok blind's bait in 4 days so I think there is no reason to bother sitting there.
Given my optimism at something coming into the Grass blind bait I am not sure what has made be disbelieve so strongly about the possibilities at Gemsbok blind.
This would later be determined to be a very big mistake.
We hit the dead Kudu on the mountain and check it again. Nothing of note.
I see a Dik Dik and nothing else in the hollow of the mountain. No Oryx, nothing alive. There were a host of Oryx in the area a few days ago. This time, nothing.
It must be the wind direction and time of day. No use sitting around here.
As we start the descent we see two Steenbok. A pair. One has to be a male. The male has his head hiding behind cover. We try for twenty minutes to move closer and angle around in hopes of seeing around the bush his head appears to be buried in.
After we can finally see his head we watch and size him up for several long minutes.
I finally decided no.
When we go to Eland Dam, M drives right in and scares everything away.
Absolutely amazing. Not sure what was up with that one.
There was no explanation but a brain freeze.
We set up the truck as a blind in heavy cover and watch Kudu, Oryx and Ostrich. The Ostrich move off first and then the wind changes 180 degrees and screws us totally.
Everything vacates the clearing.
Then Impala come up behind us and start blowing, Warthogs stop and stare.
Enough already. We can not win here, so we head out.
We do a walk and stalk on a Gemsbok.
We walk in on a herd to 80 yards and I am sizing them up when they start to run, I have no idea why. We were in high grass the whole way in toward them.
Perhaps its the wind again.
The only male stops at 380 yards and I do not bother shooting because there is always tomorrow. I know I will have a better opportunity.
That is it for today so I go and take a seat and wait for the last light to fade on my last evening hunting in Namibia.
The sunset is gorgeous.
I watch Venus rise over the mountains and get a few pictures and watch Wildebeest, Giraffe, Impala and Steenbok fade into the night.
Time to head to the lodge so we take the long walk back to the Baakie.
The Dining table
I have not given up yet.
Doing great wayne no Leopard today but like you said there's tomorrow. The Pics and veiws are worth the trip.
Great story. Love living it w/you. Just need you to type faster and more often. We're waiting too long! Bruce
Wayne - your story is riveting, the pics outstanding. Nice.
Fantastic reading Wayne, and great pics.
Just back from SA myself, will post my report soon.
Nyati = "Just back from SA myself, will post my report soon."
Can't wait to read your story and see your pics as well!