Hunting with Eitaalo Hunting Safaris
I was lucky enough to be on my first PH guided hunt during September last year. There was still a little bite in the air as we left the comfort of the chalets on the back of André's hunting cruiser. The day was just breaking towards the east with the cruiser slowly finding its way along the sandy tracks towards our hunting grounds for the day. Not far from the lodge we drove past a herd of Blue Wildebeest still lazy-stiff in the pre-dawn air. We were out looking for zebra and a special bull Wildebeest towards the west of the lodge. The beginning of a perfect day it was.
On the back of the truck in the now rapidly breaking light, my nephew from South Africa was hugging my old .30-06. I bought the gun from a friend many years ago and a local gunsmith 'roughly' rebuilt it for me way back. It is not an oil painting but it sure shoots straight! Leon is a Namibian by birth but work commitments took him south a long time ago. This hunt was a sort of homecoming for him since he has not hunted here for 25 years. We had the .30-06 loaded up with 200gr Norma Oryx's and topped with a Lynx 3-9X40 scope.
I was holding on to my fairly new Sauer 90 in .375 H&H with which I have not hunted more than three times before. We were still getting to know each other but I had a good feeling about this hunt. On the first hunt out with the .375 I took my first blue Wildebeest. For some reason I was not completely at ease with the rifle and the performance on the gnu left a little to be desired. I normally hunt kudu with my .30-06 and never had any issues on performance. Be that as it may, I was looking forward to the day ahead and the 300gr PMP African Elites in the rifle gave me confidence. The rifle was scoped with a sweet Swarovski Z6 1.7-10X42.
We were not out looking for trophies in the real sense of the word but rather gathering some meat to dry in the rapidly ending winter. As such Andre offered us Oryx, Red Hartebeest, Blue Wildebeest and Kudu if we could find them. I was also looking for a zebra skin.
As we approached the area where Andre know a decent sized wildebeest bull was holding with two mates. He was keen for me to have a look at this bull because it has outwitted him on many occasions before. We stopped from time to time to glass the vast open plains but to no avail.
Leon and Andre setting off trying to catch them a Hartebeest!
Hartbeest 1/Team 0 :rofl:
Leon took a sneak up to a herd of Hartebeest but they were extremely wary of his intend! Huffing and puffing, him and Andre returned to the cruiser after an hour of stalking without success. Being out in the bush was absolutely divine and before long the heat of day caught up with us fully and we decided to call it a day until the afternoon. We slowly made our way back to the lodge past a herd of Springbok in the distance. The cool thatch of the lodge and the chalets offered a welcome respite from the midday heat. After a light lunch I took the liberty of a power nap in my chalet before we headed out again two hours later.
No need for the heat to get the better of you with such amenities around!
Feeling refreshed and eager to be back on the spoor soon, we left camp and turned towards the east of the farm in our quest to find the right animal. At a watering dam halfway to our hunting grounds, we stopped just in time to see a huge swart mamba slither away and into the safety of an aardvark hole under the bushes close by. I made a mental note to not return that way for the rest of the days on site!
We were driving up a sandy track towards the sun slowly setting in the west when we saw a herd of Oryx grazing in the distance. We still had enough light left and Andre and I jumped of the cruiser whilst it continued up the track. The Oryx has spotted us and was steadily walking away from us and over the ridge of the sand dune. We had a good distance to walk with lots of broken cover to reach the crest where we last saw them. Thanks to André’s knowledge of the area and the animals, we were indeed able to catch up with them within an hour of tracking. Had I been alone, I still would have been on that track now!
It was amazing to quietly ‘settle in’ amongst them without them being any the wiser of our presence. This is always the best part of the hunt for me; getting up close! With my relatively poor eyesight, I prefer to take shorter shots rather than long ones. We spotted a fair sized bull somewhat on his own and Andre decided that we should move in on him. With my luck, the little shrubbery that so eloquently assisted in hiding my relative bulk all but disappeared! Such luck! The last 20 minutes was a painful exercise in playing the contortionist until we reached a distance I was comfortable with. Andre brought out the shooting sticks and I slid the 375 into position. Somehow the Oryx jump in my eye as the scope setting was on full magnification! So much for being prepared. A quick adjustment and all was well. A careful few more moments to savour before the shot rang out to surprise even me. I knew it was a good shot when I heard it struck home. The Oryx tumbled over without know what hit him.
Fresh meat for the fire tonight!
The whole operation took a little longer than anticipated but the setting sun gave us just enough time to load the Oryx and break out something cold to celebrate the first blood of the trip.
It was good to be in the African bush.