The day started out with beauty all around. Howling winds most of the morning. Drove and glassed, walked and glassed, and glassed some more. Walked over to tops of numerous ridges looking for our next animals to hunt. They told Matt that he could choose between killing the gemsbok I was supposed to hunt or we could take another Kudu if the opportunity presented itself. That would/should make things easier. The animals were moving much this morning and we just had a hard time finding the animals we were looking for. Drove to a far area in and through the mountains to a narrow part of the Fish River. It was very pretty.
Coming up out of the River bottom we saw baboons about 500 yards away but couldn't get situated for a shot. they knew we were there, of course. We saw a Gemsbok but he disappeared on us, not ran away, just vanished. For an animal to be so large and distinctive looking, they can fade out when they want to.
We went to another ridge and parked. Coming over the hill we saw a Gemsbok on opposite hill, 400 yards away. Matt and Marius stalked down hill to get closer. They had been gone a long time when a massive Kudu stepped out in range and showed himself but stepped behind thick stuff. Sticks go up. But they had to wait still a long time more for him to step out. Finally, Boom! Then about 8 seconds later another shot. I came down to them. It seems the bull was quartering much and Matt shot just behind the left shoulder and the bullet came out the front of the chest. Likely hit nothing vital but hurt him pretty good. As it trotted away, Matt put a shot through the spine and it fell, unable to move anywhere but still alive. We didn't know that yet because we couldn't see him. We walked up to it and Matt finished it off.
The recovery on my bull last night was difficult, but this one was 5 times worse because there were no close roads or even trails. It was a very long and difficult haul.
Matt's bull was 48.5 inches. He was pretty funny as he seemed almost apologizing for killing one bigger than the one I killed. Mine was 42.5 inches. Both, I understand were good for this area, with Matt's being very nice.
Before this bull, all our kills had been one-shot kills. It's been really good thus far. Had an awesome morning, but weather is getting worse with some rain likely coming in before dark. Had a wonderful lunch and made ready for the afternoon hunt.
Day 5 (Cont)
Pride. It's a tough thing. I have been a Christian for many years and a minister for 17 years. I've been through some very difficult things in my life and faced much adversity but always came through with the Lord's help. I hate pride. In fact, for a long time I was proud to say that there wasn't a more humble guy on the planet. lol. I had thought all vestiges of that condition had been purged from me long ago. But, I realized that was not completely true.
Why am I talking about pride during a hunting narrative?
Hunting and life go hand in hand for me. And, if we're paying attention, God can speak to us as easily while hunting as He can while we're sitting in a church pew or even in the pulpit.
I had overheard myself talking about my new rifle (300wsm) and how pleased I was with it and the comfort I felt shooting it and the accuracy, but I had added that my 7-08 has been my favorite for 10 years and in that stretch I had basically hit everything I shot at with one shot kills and no lost animals. In Mississippi, you can actually kill 8 whitetails per year, so that can add up. I had talked about how my last 5 or 6 deer had fallen right where I shot them without taking a step.
Now, I've never claimed to be a "crack shot", but definitely a good shot, imo. Not a competition shooter, but a good hunter/shooter.
Didn't seem like bragging when I said it, but it sure did while I was hearing it coming out of my mouth.
I know in my ministry, God cannot use a prideful servant.
With that said, I'll pick back up on the afternoon of Day 5.
We had a late lunch and were off to find me a Gemsbok or a Bushbuck. I had seen some Waterbuck that were beautiful to me and was really thinking I'd add that to my options for the last 2 days. We began on the top of a ridge where we saw 2 or 3 Gemsbok about 500 yards away. We circled around to get downwind and begin our stalk.From downwind we started our stalk and got to within 200 yards of being at a place we should be able to see them. Suddenly, a Gemsbok steps out in the trail ahead. Sticks went up but I fumbled my rest and pushed the sticks in my slight haste. I should have just shot him free-handed. While I was recovering to steady my rifle (the 7-08) and take my shot, the gemsbok turned his head and stared back at me. My mind is registering what is happening, but my perception was that the animal was in a hard-quartering away with him looking almost down his back. Reality, though, is that it was a 45 turn. If I hadn't fumbled the attempt, I think I'd have processed everything and made a fine shot. It was only 50 or so yards away. a chip shot.
Well, I shot. It ran. As Marius and I talked I realized I shot him too far back. Blood was found, but not a lot. It starts raining. We searched until dark, finding blood in a few places. With all the rain it was not looking good and Flex couldn't trail far in the rain. Found blood on some bushes but no more on the ground. All indicating bleeding from the entry wound side, with no exit wound.
Raining, dark, we must wait until the morning to pick up the search again. Feeling horrible. Stupid, stupid hasty shot.
I did not feel we would find him as he had surely covered much ground after the shot.
Day 6. Saturday, July 28. my 28th anniversary. but not feeling celebritory.
Woke up with rain continuing. Very hard day. disappointing in every way. not disheartening, but disappointing. Replaying the errant shot over and over and my pride-filled words.
Large effort to find the gemsbok. No luck at all. While on the end of a long gulley, we watched trackers come down the hills looking for him. We had already covered so much area, it surely didn't look good. While sitting there, we could hear buffaloes in the thickets in the bottoms. We briefly saw a beautiful Bushbuck and tried to get position for a shot, but wasn't able to make it happen. Concensus from all involved was exactly what I already knew. I shot him too far back and he was plenty healthy and with the heard and we'd not find him.
Marius offered that it was my call and we'd hunt for him all the way thru to the last day or do whatever I felt was best.
My mind drifted to all the animals over the years that others had shot and I trailed up. How I found animals that folks said nobody else would have recovered. I pushed it out of my mind. I don't want another dose of pride.
i decided hunting for him on this rainy day was pointless as the animals were holed up and no telling where he was anyway.
So, I made the decision to go to another concession and hunt a large impala and warthog that had been seen often. We planned to pick up the hunt for the gemsbok on the next day.
Well, the rain continued and our hunt for the Impala/warthog was fruitless. It didn't matter, my thoughts were on the Gemsbok.
We returned to camp.
Matt and I talked and we decided we wanted to spend the next morning hunting the area where the Gemsbok was shot, hoping to see him again while glassing/stalking.
I told Marius at supper that I'd like to open the option of shooting a Bushbuck or Waterbuck on our last day of hunting if we stumble on one while looking for the Gemsbok all day.
Tomorrow is the last day. I want that Gemsbok. but, I'll be satisfied with one of the 3.
Morning starts out on the ridge that the Gemsbok was shot. We overlooked a long valley going left and right with a huge ridge on the other side. Animals everywhere. What to try for? Probably 500-600 yards away a huge Waterbuck is making his way slowly down the hillside towards the bottom.
Marius said it is the same giant waterbuck that was standing there 150 yards away on the first day of our hunt when the jackal spooked the impala away. Redemption?
marius and I left Matt and the others watching from the hill as we drove around to the entrance to the valley to try a proper stalk from downwind. Stalk began about 1000 yards away. On the way in, we saw numerous animals. Wind kept changing directions.
We slipped in down the trail going thru the valley. slowly. methodically. We know the Waterbuck had gotten to the bottom and turned walking away from our direction, feeding.
Funny thing, though, is that Waterbuck don't have anywhere they have to go. he evidently changed his intentions. It was very thick cover and we were shocked when he was there 30 yards away. We saw him as he turned and headed away. No shot. Impressed with his size. Marius and Rudy talking about his hugeness.
on the way out, we saw a bushbuck and tried to move in closer but, as bushbuck do, he just wasn't there anywhere. Hadn't left, just couldn't find him. Mattered not, as a group of 10 impala come up on us and spooked and that was that.
We walked back down the hill and continued thru the valley. We saw 2 large Waterbuck as we approached the truck. There they were. Watching us as we watched them. Marius said the loner was larger and we'd likely not sneak up on those 2 anyway since they already saw us.
We headed to lunch intent on coming back to search for the large waterbuck. If not found, then we'd look for either a bushbuck, a different waterbuck, or an impala. It is the last afternoon, by the way.
Day 7 (cont)
After lunch, same ridge as Gemsbok last seen. Glassing for him or that giant waterbuck. Spent 20 minutes glassing opposing hillside. the plan was if we didn't see him, we'd hike across and check every hillside over there.
We had about decided the waterbuck was nowhere to be found.
Then, he appeared in the bottom of the valley. Wind blowing from him to us. marius and I head down the hill slowly, looking for a place to set up. The others on the top of the hill watching intently. Marius is obviously excited about this animal. I say "He looks nice." I have no idea, I'm sure he'd be the biggest Waterbuck in Mississippi.?.?!
We got to 170 yards and I sat down and the short sticks went up. I feel comfortable. He is perfectly broadside.
I aim, squeeze, hear the thump, think I see where it hits him.
What does the buck do? nothing, not a flinch, didn't fall, didn't kick. nothing. It's almost like he said, "That was a good shot, but is that the best you got?"
He walks about 12 steps and lays down. He is obviously hurt bad and will surely die from the shot. But, a 2nd shot was decided, but while we shifted for the followup, he stood up, walked 10 more steps and laid down again facing us.
I aim at the front of the chest on the right side (his left). Squeeze off the trigger, thump.
No reaction. No flinch. no falling over. no panic on his part.
Almost feel him saying "OK, you hit me again, but watch this."
His only reaction was to stand up, walk 10 more steps and turn and look in our direction.
I squeeze off the 3rd shot and he falls down.
It turned out my first shot was a double lung shot just behind both front shoulders (entrance and exit). He was going to die right there, but the insurance shots put him out of his misery sooner.
It turns out he was something quite marvelous. I had no idea. I knew he was big. I knew Marius was excited about him, but I didn't know anything about Waterbuck horns really.
It turns out he was 30.5 inches.
Redemption. The best trophy on the last afternoon of the last day.
I had spent 2 days of feeling like a failure, depressed, only to soar right up to the top of the mountain again just in time.
I thought about pride and humility again while sitting there staring at this Waterbuck. I thought of failure and success. misery and joy. hopelessness and restored hope. defeat and victory. error and redemption.
I thought about how this is exactly what Christ did for me many years ago. He brought me out of a pit and made me whole again. He restored me.
After taking the Waterbuck back to the camp, our hunting done, we went back to search for the Gemsbok even again until dark. We retraced every area we had already covered well. Was it too much to ask that we find him? Would the only ugly detail be wiped away? It was not to be. I feel sure it is still alive, will heal, and go on about it's life.
Even with that, God reminded me of something. When I came to Christ with all of my mistakes, sins, moral failures, and problems that I alone had caused..... He forgave me, He redeemed me, He restored me, but the memory of those past failures were still there. Time continues to fade my pain, just as time will wane my anguish over that errant shot.
In both instances, though, these past failures will make me diligent to be less careless concerning my thoughts and actions and, certainly, less prideful.
Guess what I will be preaching on tomorrow?
Thanks Marius for a wonderful time and a wonderful hunt. God-willing, Lana and I will see you as soon as possible.
I'll post some other pics of the scenery, etc.
Well nice trip. All in all it looks like it went well. I know how you feel about the Gemsbok, I ended aproximately a 20 or so year streak without losing an animal on my 1st safari, a Hartebeest, it hurts. I also took a hurried shot that I was 100% confident about and had he been a Whitetail he would not have gone far, of course the same hit on a Hartebeest is nothing but stomach. Anyway congrats to you and your son.
Gorgeous Waterbuck. Indeed a dandy trophy.
Very nice waterbuck! Super long horns, nice mass!
Thanks for taking the time to write the report. I think the best thing about this trip, the campfire smoke found someone it liked more than me!
Take Care my friend, till we meet again.
Friends for life.
Awesome hunt and Fantastic Trophies Congrats and thanks for sharing a great Hunt with us.
Congrats for a great hunt and very nice trophies, thanks for sharing !