NAMIBIA: College Station, Writing Across the Curriculum, Kowas

Discussion in 'Hunting Reports' started by Jfet, Jun 6, 2014.

  1. Jfet

    Jfet AH Veteran

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    Use of Words: A+
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    Story Line: A+


    Marvelous job Brick! You wrote almost as if you had been there. Come to think of it, I bet you have been there. I remember being so tired from that day that when I sat day to write about the hunt all I could manage was single words and simple phrases. It was the next day that PB reminded me of how some English teachers will give assignments like this. I thought is would be fun to see what some of you would come up with and it is amazing how close you came to the actual story. THANKS!
     
  2. Jfet

    Jfet AH Veteran

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    June 23: Kowas


    Sunrise in Namibia is exotic. The light you see peaking over the mountain has come from the Indian ocean. It has passed over Victoria Falls. It has traveled through the Kalahari Desert. As you look east you see the black African sky change to a dark blue and then before you know it the color has changed to a light rose-pink. Then it explodes into passionate reds and oranges and then its daylight.
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    However, its been a long time since daylight. I am climbing a mountain again. I think it’s the sixth one of the day.


    Claude our PH, Ty, and I had started the day by heading to the mountains to hunt Oryx and Kudu. It was an early start because we had to travel to get to the mountains where the kudu live. Much like one would experience traveling west across the plains of America the mountains always seem closer than they really are.


    Ty was first up this morning and I was third in line with the camera. As the sun rose behind us we were climbing our first mountain. When the sun topped the ridge we were asceding we could see the glint of spiral horns on the far slope. Several minutes glassing the kudu elicited an excited, “That’s a good bull!” from Claude.


    So, we started down the mountain through the camalthorn acacia. These camalthorns are not the large sprawling trees with flat tops that provide shade for animals and the quintessential skyline of Africa. No, these are young camethorns and thus more bush than tree. In another 100 years these might well be trees you can stroll under but right now their branches reach out to tear at your clothes and skin. It is impossible not to make noise as we move down the mountain and into the valley below.


    We stopped periodically to study the kudu and his location. It quickly became evident that he was interested in a cow. Not being an expert in kudus, that is my opinion, but the bull did have his nose buried into the rear end of a cow. This explained why he may not have heard us moving towards him. At this time, though, the bull could not ignore the 4 oryx that ran past him. The oryx had heard us and with the same speed and agility that a married man may exhibit leaving a bordello during a police raid, the kudu bull was gone too.


    So having experienced the agony of defeat, we now had to decide which mountain to climb. We choose the one in front of us and we started climbing. We were climbing in the direction the oryx had gone. As we neared the top we slowed until we could stand on our tip toes and just see over the last lip of the mountain before we crested the top. Because we were eye level with the ground, we saw hoves below the brush and we became quite still. The oryx, for they were oryx because we could clearly discern the white stocking with the black stripe that extends from their hoves to just below their knees, moved on but not with any sense of alarm. We sat down on the rocks for several minutes letting the oryx clear the flat top of the mountain and for some of us to catch our breath. Then we climbed up the last terrace of the mountain and crossed to the edge of the far slope. It is at this point that Claude and Ty heard the relaxed steps of animals grazing a short distance down the hill. Me, I cannot hear a thing for I have inherited my father’s good looks and poor hearing. Claude motioned for Ty and I to sit still. He moved right along the ridge line to an opening in the brush. He glassed down the hill and gave the slight flick of his hand signaling for Ty to come to him. Claude quickly signaled that I should stay where I am at. The sign language of hunting is universal and is easily understood by hunters even when they do not share a common tongue. Ty eased up to Claude where the sticks were up. Ty placed the rifle on the sticks, settled, and fired. All was told by Claude relaxing, standing up, and gently clamping Ty on the back. Smiles quicly replaced the pain of scratches and the ache of muscles and I exhaled. Each time we shot an animal with Claude he always insisted that we wait quietly. I liked the reverence he always had for the moment.

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    Most of the hunting shows about Africa never show you the work that takes place after an animal is harvested. I have seen Ivan Carter’s Tracks Across Africa attempt to show this part of the hunt but in a short 30 seconds you do not get the entire picture. Recovery of an animal is work! It is work that I enjoy. It involves lifting, grunting, straining, and not necessarily a great deal of complex thinking. I am best when you point me at a rock and say move it.


    Midday found us down the mountain, oryx being skinned, and our picnic lunch being consumed under the shade of a sprawling camelthorn acacia tree. These trees our like teenage boys if you can restrain from destroying them when they are young they become useful as they age.


    With lunch finished it was my turn and so we started climbing. At this point in the narrative I am reminded of the high school play , You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown, that Wyatt had performed. In the play there is a scene in which Lucy has to write a 500 word paper about Peter Cottontail. She reaches the end of her paper and realizes that she is many words short of her assignment. She solves the problem by constructing her last sentence thusly“…this is the very very very very very…end” So, my hunt went like this;


    We climbed and walked, we climbed and walked, we climbed and walked, we climbed and walked, we climbed and walked, we climbed and walked, we climbed and walked, and at the end of the day we found the sunset.

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  3. Jfet

    Jfet AH Veteran

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  4. enysse

    enysse AH Ambassador

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    Oryx are really fun to hunt in Namibia!
     
  5. Jfet

    Jfet AH Veteran

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    Kowas: Kudu


    Kudu are subtle. Kudu are picturesque animals. Kudu draw you in and down into the spiral of their horns. Kudu are secretive. Kudu are ghosts. Kudu are Africa.

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  6. Jfet

    Jfet AH Veteran

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    Yes Sir! They are either in the wide open grasslands where they can see you from afar or they are on the mountains in thick brush where you can not see them at all.(y)
     
  7. Royal27

    Royal27 BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Elite

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    What a great quote!!! Love it!!
     
  8. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR GOLD BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    If this is another assignment I'll tell you now: The dog ate my homework.
     
  9. Jfet

    Jfet AH Veteran

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    No Sir, just enjoy the picture but this is Africa and thus the baboon ate your homework :)
     
  10. enysse

    enysse AH Ambassador

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    I wish I would have had a good camera on my trip to Namibia. Seeing 50 to 100 oryx on top of the sand dunes eyeing you down is something to see. They are a lot harder to hunt on the ground, than just driving around and getting on top of them.
     
  11. WFet

    WFet New Member

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    Having finally settled in to new apartment and work, I find that my mind is constantly being drawn back to the wild plains, blazing sunrises, and primal beauty that is Africa. Since some techies at work have decided to lose my paperwork, I find I have ample free time to jot down my accounts of Team Fet’s venture into the Dark Continent.


    Day 1


    Having spent the morning sighting in our rifles and assuring our PHs that we could at least scare the broadsides of barns off the sticks, we piled into the back of the trucks for a brief game drive to scout and familiarize ourselves with Kowas. I was constantly amazed by the sheer variety of animals that Namibia produces. Used to seeing nothing more exciting than groups of white-tailed deer in West Texas (plus the occasional turkey, coyote, and pig), viewing groups of zebra, blue and black wildebeest, hartebeest, ghostly oryx, and energetic springbok was immensely exciting! And, because it can only happen in Africa, the rustle approaching from the acacia trees, so very like their Texas Mesquite cousins, was made not from a curious white-tail doe, but an equally curious juvenile giraffe and his mother, necks outstretched above the tree tops. Witnessing sights such as these only fueled my excitement as I would soon match wits with these magnificent beasts.

    After lunch (which at Kowas means a full three courses including Kudu meatballs, fresh baked bread, soup, gravy, more bread, and the ever present “may I get you something to drink”, the Strauss family are exceptional hosts) Ty and I paired off with our PH Claude Thornburn to chase after a blue wildebeest for me and a red hartebeest for Ty. Being the nice older brother (questionable description if you ask the younger) I allowed Ty to hunt for his hartebeest first. Once again mounting the truck, we set off for our first hunt.

    Those who have hunted the grasslands of Namibia before can join me in admiration of the skill of PHs and trackers. Claude and Michaels, the driver, immediately began to see signs and animals with the unaided eye long before we could with our binoculars. It was a pleasure to see true craftsmen at work, boosting my confidence that we would find animals. Taking them however, depended on our ability to put bullets downrange. We dismounted for our first walk and stalk, attempting to mimic Claude’s silent movement through the bush. The pasture that we were in was fairly open, grass covering the ground not filled by rocks and acacia trees. We moved parallel to the road, constantly straining our senses to find our quarry. After an hour, we had spotted nothing and returned to the truck.

    Riding a half mile to the west, we once more left Michaels at the truck and set off. Fifteen to twenty minutes pasted when Claude froze and signaled for us to do the same. In the distance grazed a small herd of hartebeest. Even though I was not the shooter, my adrenaline surged! I was certain that my heart could be heard by the hartebeest over 600 yards away! We slunk stealthily from tree to bush, bush to clump of grass, praying the wind would stop shifting and that a lone black wildebeest sentinel would not detect us. Drawing behind an acacia tree, Claude mimed to me to stay put as he and Ty moved closer. I crouched down, balancing my rifle between my knees and waited. Each minute dragged into an eternity as I silently fought swarming hordes of flies, waiting for the sound of hooves or gunfire. The crunching of boots is what met me, followed by Ty and Claude.

    “What happened?”

    (Claude shaking head) “Damn springbok was hiding in the bush. He run off and take everything with him.”

    Ty shrugs his shoulders and we move on.

    Moving another 200 yards, Claude once more called a halt, raising his worn, but reliable binoculars. (These binoculars bare the marks to the leopard that took a liking to the taste of Claude a few years back. You can see the teeth marks that were meant for Claude’s neck, but that is a story for later.) Claude urgently motioned to me to come up, excitement poured off of him.

    “Big wildebeest, male,” he breathed.

    True adrenaline hit me, my breath coming in short gasps as I fought to control my excitement. I followed my PH in a low crouch, legs burning after several dozen yards. We eased behind a large bush and I received my first view of the horned prey. A group of four blue wildebeest stood 100 yards from us. The first two were in the open while the last was partially concealed by a large tree. The third, naturally being our target, was completely hidden to me behind a line of medium brush. When asked if I could see it, I asked if wildebeest were supposed to look green and leafy. We crept to the right, judging every footfall and once more offering any price for the wind to stay in our favor. 20 yards closer I could finally see my target. By see I mean a small black patch between branches, amazing how such large animals blend in! Claude set up the sticks for me and I placed my rifle, looking through the scope. The wildebeest stepped forward into a large gap between the branches and I could make out the thick neck and dark stripes along the shoulder. The only problem was a young sapling directly in my line of sight, half way to the target. The only way I could take a shot was to shoot between the branches of the sapling, then through the branches of the second tree!!

    I felt a whispered “can you take him?” and feeling that I could, answered with a trigger pull. BOOM! Reload! I stayed in battery as I cycled another round into the chamber. I heard a sharp “he’s down” from Claude as I attempted to remember how to breathe. The picture process that followed was very interesting. Any animal that we would typically take on our ranch will be photographed, yet it will typically be on the ground covered in blood caked dust. African trophies are presented in a more appealing way, cleaned diligently, rolled into a kneeling position, and faced toward the camera. Claude, honoring the Jager-styled tradition, presented me with a small twig smeared crimson from the animal. Pictures were then taken, wildebeest loaded (with effort!), and we focused upon finding the hartebeest.


    By 5:00 pm the sun began casting long tendrils of shadow as it lowered behind the eastern hills. Our search had moved us to the edge of a wooded strip, ending the open plain that we had spent the day on. A quick tap on the roof of the truck pulled my attention from my trophy and binoculars flew to our eyes. Five hartebeest stood still amongst the trees, staring but not seeing us due to the orange glare that masked us. Silently we offloaded, Ty behind Claude with his rifle while I brought up the rear. Using the tree line to cover our approach, we moved ever closer to the area we had seen the prey. At 200 yards, Claude again motioned for me to hid behind a bush as he moved ty into position. Once more I waited, amusing myself by watching a line of ants stoically march by. The light continued to fade, then BOOM!

    BOOM,BOOM,BOOM! I jumped up as Ty called to me, “I need more bullets!” I had wisely brought two extra rounds, but they were sitting in my vest in the truck. Claude shouted for me to watch the downed hartebeest, tugging his radio from his belt to call for the truck as he and ty ran towards the road. The wounded animal had been struck high in the shoulder and was struggling to stand, crushing the tall grass around him. As I heard ty reloading some yards behind me, it suddenly heaved onto its legs.

    “He’s up,” I shouted.

    “Drop!”

    Being good at following orders, I dived down as Ty let off another round. (For everyone’s info, he DID NOT shoot over me, merely to the side about 30 yards. I was still down range though, and knowing it makes a better story, like to leave that out unless asked). The hartebeest stumbled along its terminal steps, then droped underneath the boughs of an acacia tree.

    Handshakes and pictures followed, then we squeezed the hartebeest into the bed of a very full truck. Arriving back to camp, we were greeted by the joyous bounding of Buckees, the Jack Russell. He came to thank us for the kills, which any African hunter knows, were definitely his. Thirty minutes later, Mom and Dad returned with Mom’s massive Burchel’s zebra. It was a fantastic way to finish the first day, and we celebrated long into the evening, watching the sparks of the fire float up into the velvet sky of Africa
     
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  12. CAustin

    CAustin AH Fanatic

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    The spiral of a kudu's horn is beautiful to see from top to bottom. Great perspective in your photo.
     
  13. safari gal

    safari gal SPONSOR AH Veteran

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    Awesome story and report, "Team Fet". Finally had some down time to take it all in. Congrats on your first but I'm guessing not last safari!
     
  14. kfet87

    kfet87 New Member

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    BACON and BULLETS (PB's thoughts)

    I am a people person---people energize me and challenge me. Yes, I also love the outdoors and its solitude and majesty, but add people who operate in that venue and I’m a happy, happy girl! Our safari had folks that were hands on and always around playing host and hostess—and very much appreciated. However, I know that to run a first class operation there are many unsung heroes I needed to find and thank. My 10 days at Kowas allowed me to meander into the kitchens, the laundry room, the skinning shed and where the trucks were kept clean…. There I heard laughing, saw both smiles and concentration and saw folks do THEIR thing. I’m thankful that my tummy was full, my clothes were clean and even my feet had raked sand to walk down each morning- that was because someone did their job well. In trying to learn about THEIR roles in safari, I learned about the PEOPLE! I learned that Selma and Julia cook and do clothes just like me- they are moms and wives—and they have jobs, but I also learned they had NEVER shot a gun. They did not tell me, but I heard through one of the guys. I approached the girls and asked if they had an interest—Selma was a little hesitant, but Julia flashed an instant smile and enthusiastic YES!!!

    On the last day of our time together, after lunch we headed to the range with Claude, one of our PHs ( you can’t be coached by guys you know well like your husbands in moments like this (can I get an AMEN!?) , the girls, my gun and ammo and an additional photographer (thanks youngest son!) The pics say it so much better than words!!!!!!

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    At the end of the day, we had women who tried something new, felt more confident in who they were and their abilities and we had shared another magical moment in Africa.
     

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  15. kfet87

    kfet87 New Member

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    WHAT I DO DIFFERENT MY NEXT SAFARI:

    *I will not think "khaki" is what I think it is--several of the pieces of clothing the boys and I took were TOO LIGHT colored. I will take "light browns" to browns to greens

    *I will study anatomy of plains game closer before I go........ I had my kill shots RIGHT ON- I KNEW where to shoot---although, I had never hunted in tall savannah grass --I had always found my kill zone by tracing up a leg, not down a shoulder. All of a sudden I could not see legs. I THOUGHT I could prob place a shot but doubted everything I knew looking through the scope 2 times and chose NOT to take a shot...I'm sorry, oryx neckas are shaped different from white tail deer and I freaked out. I am a careful and meticulous hunter--not risking that......

    * I will budget to buy trophy medals from this country as the fees go to education (I bought them anyway- just should budget it. I will DOUBLE the budget I expect containers coming back will cost....not even going there!

    the good stuff...... WHAT I WILL MISS ABOUT KOWAS.......

    360 degrees of horizon, amazing hosts/hostesses skills, "Good morning, Madame!" daily laundry service, trucks pulling into camp with BIG smiles, stories around the camp fire, a different set of stars in pitch black skies, a husband snoring soundly because the only thing he has worried about all day is trekking, stalking and grining, hearing our hosts pray in Afrikaans, homemade bread and amazing food, a house and lapa built around one tree, rugby matches, raked sand walkways, a jillion funny birds, taking girls shooting for the first time, the smell of savannah grass in the morning, 4 brothers laughing together- 2 from TX and two from a world away in Namibia- talking school, girlfriends, hammocks, snacks and friends who have become family.....(not to mention 15 trophy medal animals and mom's zebra).
     

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  16. Royal27

    Royal27 BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Elite

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    This may be the coolest post I've ever seen made here! Nice....

    I love the look on the PH's face in pic two. You can tell he is impressed with the shooting! :)
     
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  17. safari gal

    safari gal SPONSOR AH Veteran

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    That's awesome - yes, you get an "AMEN" from me! What a neat thing to share with those gals in camp - I'm sure you made their day!
     
  18. Bobpuckett

    Bobpuckett GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    Awesome report and pics and the start of your report is unbelievable how cool you kept. Congrats to young Wyatt on his graduation and to all of you on your Safari.
     

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