BOTSWANA: Tholo 2017 Is In The Books!!

Aaron Nietfeld

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Pros- everything
Cons- leaving

What more do you need to say! Congrats on the great trip!
 

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Congrats and nice trophies, GA Hunter! Btw, I believe we were on flight 201 to ATL together on the 28th/29th. I think I sat next to your FIL on the trip back and I do recall you from the US Customs firearms area. I was returning from a buff/leopard hunt in Zim.
 

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Thanks for the report and Congrats on a successful hunt
 

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Congrats and nice trophies, GA Hunter! Btw, I believe we were on flight 201 to ATL together on the 28th/29th. I think I sat next to your FIL on the trip back and I do recall you from the US Customs firearms area. I was returning from a buff/leopard hunt in Zim.

So how was your hunt?? I look forward to hearing about it.
 

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The hunting

My first instinct is always to fashion these reports in a linear chronological format reporting on each day in it’s entirety. I found myself struggling to do that with this report so I decided to take it animal by animal. I hope you enjoy it.

Eland

This was a three day adventure with a few distractions thrown in mostly in the afternoons.

Despite the heavy fatigue of travel we were all up and on time for breakfast then on the cruiser right at first light. Riaan took up position on the bench seat at the rear along with Kamoora, and Charles our faithful trackers. Myself, LC, and my father in law found our place in the bucket seats immediately in front of them. Then there was Lagos at the wheel. The 45 degree temp had me cringing a bit but the excitement was enough to make it not matter.

It would not be fair to my team if I did not take a moment to tell you just a bit about them. Our captain Riaan was born and raised on a neighboring ranch and at 38 years of age he has been a PH his entire adult life. His mandatory 3 year apprenticeship was finished when he was 20. He is a veteran of literally hundreds of big game hunts in the Okavango. He was humble about it but once we learned a little about his career we pressed for more every chance we got. To give you an idea of his level of experience pointed out one particular worn and tattered cruiser and told us that he quit counting when he reached 125 leopards that he had loaded onto it. Then there was Charles who at 56 was the elder statesman of the group. He has been with Riaan through most of his career and stood shoulder to shoulder with him through many hair raising adventures. The scars on his arm and the back of his head and neck were left by two separate leopards. He didn’t speak much English but Riaan’s accounting of the leopard attacks and many other adventures told me all I needed to know about the man. Kamoora was probably in his early thirties and had been born into the trade, it was all he had ever done. He spoke very good English and was always quick with a joke. As the following stories will show he is as fine of a tracker as I can imagine. Rounding out the gang was our driver Lagos. His real name was just about impossible for anyone other than a bushman to pronounce so he was asked to pick something more palatable for the English tongue. As the story goes he whipped out a map and quickly chose Lagos after the town in Namibia. There was no explanation why. About all I can say about him is that I was always glad to see him after we put in a long stalk and called him to come get us.

The first order of business was Eland. Here is where I admit that I did not really understand what I had signed up for. I had seen all the AH members talking about how an eland is not simply taken but earned through persistence and boot leather. I partially dismissed this not knowing that eland are not generally a spot and stalk animal. It didn’t take long for me to realize how big of a mistake that was.

Everyone on the truck knew what we were doing other that the three knuckle heads in the middle. After a few miles on the sandy road Riaan tapped the side of the truck with a long stick and started signaling for the driver to back up. When we had gone far enough he again tapped and we gently stopped. Both trackers and Riaan bailed of without addressing us whatsoever. After several minutes of discussion and looking around they remounted and we were off again. Of course my curiosity forced me to ask what was going on. Riaan explained that the tracks were those of several eland cows and only a couple of small bulls. He then explained that we would spend the morning looking for eland tracks crossing the roads and inspect them for those of a worthy bull. This is when I started to figure out that I may have miscalculated things with this eland nonsense.

After three or four more such inspections they announced that they had finally found a set of tracks worthy of following. The wind was right and there was at least one mature bull in the group. Our procession was headed by Kamoora and Charles, Riaan close behind, followed by me, LC, and my father in law in that order. Watching the trackers work was amazing. Of course no one spoke a word but the body language of Riaan and the trackers was plenty clear enough to let me know what was going on. After about 4 or 5 thorn filled miles we could hear wildebeest here and there around us and we slowed our pace to prevent spooking them as best as we could. After quite a ways the trackers paused at the distinct click of a bull elands hooves. It took a few minutes to decide that they did not belong to the one we were after so we continued. After another mile or two Charles froze with a slight gesture ahead to the left. Riaan was inspecting things and I even managed to pick out a small tan patch only 25 or 30 yards away. The bull knew we were there but couldn’t quite sort things out. He gave it a full minute before he had had enough and left in a big hurry. It was decided that we had not completely blown him out because he never got our wind. On we marched.

The ever present wildebeest continued to force us to leave the track, circle down wind, and pick it up somewhere beyond them. Suddenly Charles quickly squatted and froze and we all took his queue and froze as well. After a few seconds I heard the distinct groan of a wildebeest right on top of us but off to the right. Only after noticing that Riaan was staring straight ahead past Charles did I see the other wildebeest standing only 7 or 8 steps from him staring back at all of us. I was confused because I knew he could see us and the breeze on the back of my neck told me he should smell us. My confusion quickly went away when he finally winded us, snorted, and headed full steam at Charles. Charles answered this by springing out of his crouch with a yelp and two handfuls of sand thrown into the air. The bull swerved towards the next likely opening which by the way is where the rest of us were standing. Riaan, the fearless leopard killing PH, dashed to the right making me, his trusty client, next in line. I yelled an explicative and ducked to the right as well. Thank goodness he found an opening more to his liking and chose to exit there. We all spent the next several minutes laughing at ourselves and discussing how ironic it would have been for Charles, after all he has seen and been through, to have been trampled to death by a wildebeest.

The stalk continued for quite a ways further and we knew we were close by the droppings we encountered. Finally Charles once again froze for a split second and a small hand movement told everyone that he was looking at our quarry. Riaan moved a step forward to be able to see him. He was on our left only 10 or so yards away. Riaan’s shoulders suddenly slumped telling me there was something wrong. He stood erect as the bull finally sorted things out and busted from his cover. He was old and decrepit and his horns were worn to mere nubs. With this new revelation we broke off the stalk.

This was quite an inauguration into Eland hunting. I do not really know how many miles were involved in this particular stalk but it was enough that I was feelin’ it. We made one more unsuccessful stalk this particular morning that was not nearly as eventful as this first one.

When we went back out for the afternoon I had stiffened up from lounging around camp and was very relieved when Riaan explained that unless we came across tracks that we knew for sure were fresh we would not be tracking eland in the afternoons. I swear I heard my feet and back let out a big sigh of relief.

The following morning was a rinse a repeat of the first with the exception of the crazed wildebeest. Two or three stalks, a hell of a lot of miles, and no success. It was on day three that things got interesting.

The sweat rolling down my back was a gentle reminder that it had warmed up quite a bit since the first two days. We were only 30 or 40 minutes into our first stalk and everyone not employed by Tholo was developing wet streaks in their clothes. These guys set a pace that they somehow knew was right on the edge of what the slowest person in line could match. Their work continued to amaze me. How could they possibly tell so much from a jumble of tracks and a few bent blades of grass?? To them is must be like an open book written in a language that only people in their trade knew. I had learned that my only task was to watch their body language, stay alert, and more importantly try to keep up.

Kamoora had followed a set of tracks off to the left of the main line. The rest of us were just entering an opening when we heard him signaling. He leaned around a bush and I immediately saw the desperation in his eyes. Everyone stood still as Riaan and I made our way over to him. Before we were half way there the group of eland burst from cover about 50 yards away. Even my novice eyes could tell that there were at least 3 bulls in the group and one exceptional specimen. Riaan announced right away that we were in for long day and explained that no matter what we were staying on this group. We continued at a faster than normal pace through two blocks of land. To give you an idea of how far this was, these blocks were roughly 2000 acres each. Realizing that the eland were outpacing us Riaan called for the truck. When Lagos made it to us Riaan quickly retrieved two Rhino GPS/Radios and gave one to Kamoora. With only a small amount of instruction he was off into the bush. Riaan finally explained what the plan was. The trackers can move faster and quieter without the processional in tow. They would stay on the track and call us only when they knew they were getting close. This is when things got amazing to me.

We remounted the cruiser as soon as Kamoora left and started towards the next road we thought the eland would cross. As soon as we stopped in a likely spot Riaan realized and announced that the eland and Kamoora had already crossed it. LC and I looked at one another in amazement. It wasn’t that the eland had already crossed but the fact that this man had somehow outpaced us while staying on the track. Granted we were in no particular hurry but it was still almost beyond comprehension to me and I was there. This continued for several more blocks with Riaan occasionally getting updates from the radio. One time we stopped and knew we were ahead of them by the GPS. After a minute or two we spotted Kamoora literally running as he crossed the road ahead of us. Once again LC and I could only shake our heads. Kamoora eventually tagged out and let Charles take up the track. Eventually Riaan deduced the following from the feedback he was getting from the trackers. The elands pace had essentially created a domino effect or wave through the bush. Each group of animals they encountered spooked and the rush of the spooked animals were feeding the eland’s frenzy. What a mess. The only way to overcome it is to let it run it’s course. With this in mind it was decided that we needed to leave them for a spell and try to pick them back up after taking a break and getting some lunch.

As we pulled into camp Riaan announced our 2:30 departure time which did not leave much time for rest or goofing off. After a quick lunch and a couple of cold Castles and we were back at it.

Instead of picking up where we left off we cheated a bit by cutting their tracks a couple of blocks ahead. The guys started with the same routine as the morning. Never pausing, never complaining, and always smiling. I saw Kamoora sweating pretty good when he came back to the truck one time and I knew these guys were doing all they could.

Finally as the afternoon was growing short they announced that we were close. The anticipation had been growing in me since the first moment I watched Kamoora disappear into the bush that morning. It was almost too good to be true. A moment of doubt entered my mind as I pulled my trusty 300 RUM from the case. But none the less I remembered my role in all this, watch their body language, stay alert, and try to keep up. Little did I know how relevant that last point was going to be?

It felt like we had only been on the track for a few minutes when the normal quiet methodical pace of our task suddenly turned to chaos. All I knew was that someone ahead of me had spotted something and now our entire group was now at a dead run and it was my job to keep up. With no time to do anything more than try to keep up I never even tried to make sense of what was going on. Kamoora, Charles, and Riaan led us through the bush as if we were being chased by a lion and I was taking no chances that this may actually be the case. Despite the pace I sensed that we were supposed to be going about all this as quietly as possible hence I resisted the urge to scream as the thorns tore at my arms and face. We rounded a corner and everything became crystal clear. We had been moving parallel to the unaware eland in an effort to get to this particular opening before they did. We were about a half an eland stride from being completely successful. As we cleared the opening so did they. The look of confusion in the eyes of the eland could only be matched by my own. As we all shook our heads in disbelief they took off running from left to right and without saying a word I was begging Riaan to tell me which one to shoot. From somewhere behind me Riaan shouted “he’s the one in the back, no he’s third from the back, no take the next to last one”. At this last command the cross hairs found the leading edge of the big bulls shoulder and the rifle instantly barked. As I recovered from the recoil I heard the thud of the bullet finding it’s mark. The big animal stumbled forward for another 40 yards or so and just as I was about to send a second salvo he went head over heels in a crash of dust and flying eland legs. I stayed steady on him for a moment as he made one futile attempt to raise himself. The bullet entered dead center of the shoulder and had done it’s job well as it stopped just under the skin on the off shoulder. He was done.

Let the celebration begin!! After three days chase and countless miles he was down just like that. No one person in the group was any happier than any of the others. It was a mutual feeling of elation and satisfaction. There were thanks, congratulations, handshakes, and backslaps passed around for the next hour as we admired the great beast.

And for one last time, thanks to a great team!! I don’t know if any of them will ever read this recounting of our adventure but I can easily say the job they did for me on these three days was second to none. Riaan’s direction and the trackers incredible abilities were amazing and a pleasure to watch. Unfortunately for them they are going to have to put up with me again next year. Until then my friends, happy hunting!!
 

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DSC01197.JPG
 

PARA45

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Great hunting story, and what a magnificent trophy. Well done!
 

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Darn good looking Eland. Congrats. Thanks for sharing the story. Bruce
 

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Awesome! I am truly enjoying your report! I feel like I was there except not scratched from the thorns and not exhausted from the tacking!
 

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Nicely done and like the report!
 

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GA Hunter- well done and thanks for the report! I was kind of late to the other thread on this trip and just caught up to your report here. Those guys can track, can't they! Charles, I believe is River Bushman from up in the delta somewhere (as he explained it) so is slightly different from Kamuru who is local San. Charles is very interesting to watch track as he is much taller than the others and uses a different style- he's a deceptively fast tracker. Kamuru has super eyesight that must be at least 20x :). Time after time, I watched him and the other San trackers accurately assess animals at unbelievable distances without using binocs. And yes, mornings and evenings can be much colder than one would think. I appreciate your story of the eland hunt. For me nothing beats tracking eland and dagga buffalo. That Kalahari sand is something else. It feels very fine textured under foot and is somewhat slick, so for me, requires different mechanics for walking efficiently over a distance. Those eland once spooked are a true and most rewarding challenge!!!! Again congrats and thanks for sharing.
 

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Eland is the best! Nothing like trying to walk one down where they can truly be eland. Congrats on a wonderful, well earned animal.
 

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Great hunt and report, thanks! One question for you, did you fly into Windhoek and drive to Botswana? Just curious about small details like that for future planning purposes.
 

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GA Hunter- well done and thanks for the report! I was kind of late to the other thread on this trip and just caught up to your report here. Those guys can track, can't they! Charles, I believe is River Bushman from up in the delta somewhere (as he explained it) so is slightly different from Kamuru who is local San. Charles is very interesting to watch track as he is much taller than the others and uses a different style- he's a deceptively fast tracker. Kamuru has super eyesight that must be at least 20x :). Time after time, I watched him and the other San trackers accurately assess animals at unbelievable distances without using binocs. And yes, mornings and evenings can be much colder than one would think. I appreciate your story of the eland hunt. For me nothing beats tracking eland and dagga buffalo. That Kalahari sand is something else. It feels very fine textured under foot and is somewhat slick, so for me, requires different mechanics for walking efficiently over a distance. Those eland once spooked are a true and most rewarding challenge!!!! Again congrats and thanks for sharing.

I am privileged to have watched them work. As time went on I picked up on more and more of their body language. They know when the animals have been browsing, walking, running, standing, laying down, and I'm sure that if you follow these guys long enough you'll pick up on something that let's you know that they understand what the animals are thinking.

What you say about Kamoora's eyes and ability to judge an animal is very true. We saw and passed a lot of kudu every day. I only got really pumped one time and it was when he got excited over one that he got a glimpse of. Unfortunately I did not see him and we never caught up to him on the stalk. All the more of a reason I have rebooked for next year.
 

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Great hunt and report, thanks! One question for you, did you fly into Windhoek and drive to Botswana? Just curious about small details like that for future planning purposes.

We flew from Joburg to Maun, Botwana via Air Botswana. Our PH picked us up at the airport and it was about a three and a half hour drive to the reserve.
 

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Wildebeest

It was the first day of our hunt and Riaan and the trackers had spent the morning educating me on just how one goes about pursuing eland. As chronicled above I was clueless on the matter when I arrived. Like most trips I was anxious to get the first animal on the ground so I was happy to be out cruising for any and everything this afternoon. We started out after lunch with no particular agenda other than to just see what presented itself.

After about three hours of playing peekaboo with everything from kudu to duiker. The light tapping of Riaan’s stick signaled Lagos to stop the cruiser. He nudged me and said we were going for a walk. As we all climbed down my curiosity forced me ask what the plan was. He explained that there was a salt lick ahead and we were going to sneak in and take a look around.

It took us about 20 minutes to get close enough to our destination for the “fall in line” command to be passed back from the head of our procession. For the uninitiated this means walk directly behind the person in front of you to reduce the horizontal profile of the group. Charles took the lead with Riaan and I right on his heels. The other three members of our party fell well behind us. Charles was the tallest in the group which allowed him to see over the brush between us and the clearing. Immediately he let us know that there was life there but he made no effort grab me or put up the sticks so we knew it must not be much. Riaan moved to a better vantage point and motioned me to advance with him. There was a group of zebra about 80 yards ahead and to our left. When we first discussed what animals I may consider taking, zebra never came up. However I had later mentioned that for some reason I liked shooting zebra. (I have no explanation, I just do.) I suppose it was this that made Riaan look at me to see if I was interested. I shrugged as if to say, “not sure but maybe”, and that’s all it took for the sticks to go up. I took up my position and started looking through the group to see if there was anything that gave me a stir. After several minutes of considering at least a dozen reasons why I should I must’ve come up with 13 reasons why I shouldn’t and just settled in to enjoy the scene. Charles rustled a bit and signaled that he saw something else. Just then a kudu that was judged to be “only” 53 or 54 inches materialized on the far side of the clearing which was roughly 150 yards away. Close behind him was his twin brother. We were soaking all this in and enjoying every minute. Eventually a group of wildebeest joined the gathering and started milling about almost exactly where the kudu had first appeared. I heard some whispering going on behind me. As soon as it stopped Riaan leaned forward and told me that one of the photo camps to the north had called earlier in the day asking for camp meat. He then asked if I would be so kind as to dispatch one of these unlucky new arrivals. I nodded with a grin and settled back on the sticks. It only took Riaan a few seconds to point one out. She was walking from left to right through the group so it took a little time for me to get a clear shot. As soon as she cleared the rifle erupted and so did the clearing. Wildebeest, kudu, and zebra went everywhere. In all the confusion it was impossible to keep track of the one I had shot. I felt like the shot was solid but we didn’t see anything fall. Riaan and I made our way through the waist high weeds and grass to where we believed she should be. Right away we spotted her lying dead only about 40 yards from where she was at the shot. I had failed to account for the fact that she was walking and the shot hit her about 6 inches behind the shoulder. Obviously it was effective but not my best work by any means.

My itch had been scratched, the greenies in the photo camp had their meat, and it was now time for a cold Castle!!

Jackal

On the way from the airport to the reserve one of the many questions we had posed to Riaan was whether or not he thought we may see a jackal. He snapped back with a quick, “Oh yes”. He went on to explain that they imposed three simple rules on clients when it comes to jackal.
1.) They are free to shoot.
2.) If you miss, it costs you $50
3.) If you choose not to shoot it will cost you $100.
With this in mind we went into every day determined not to end the trip with a jackal bill pending.

It was the afternoon of day two and once again we were cruising in hopes of coming across something interesting. The trees in the area we were in were miraculously sparse so visibility was better than normal. LC jerked out of his seat and starting pointing and saying jackal. As soon as he did Riaan started yelling at me to get my gun. I retrieved the custom 300 RUM from a partially open soft case on the roof rack, closed the bolt, and popped the lens caps as I’ve done a thousand times. The rifle met my shoulder and my eye had already found my target standing still believing he was hidden. Instinctively the cross hairs moved between my eye the animal. As soon as they settled I began to squeeze the trigger. In all the excitement I had forgotten one small detail. The safety. So after a very determined attempt to pull the trigger through the housing I came to my senses and thumbed it off. Fortunately during this delay my target only repositioned himself a few yards further away, now about 50 yards. When the shot went off we instantly heard a loud pop as the bullet struck the small predator. To the amazement of Riaan and the trackers pieces of the poor jackal flew 10+ feet into the air. For those of you who have hunted prairie dogs this will ring familiar for you. The pic below pretty much says it all. There wasn’t much of a trophy left but I didn’t owe anyone any money.
DSC01073.JPG


Finally worthy of a name!

On a side note to this story, when LC saw what the bullet had done to the jackal the first thing he said was “that is one BAD M….R F….R”. Now where I’m from any rifle worth having deserves a name but the names are never just given they are earned. I had only had this rifle for about a year and a half and nothing had seemed to fit. From this day forward it will always be referred to as BMF.

Springbok

I really wish there was more to this story but it played out about as simply as possible. We were riding high on the success of the previous day, however taking the eland had led to a bit of a headache for me on this grand morning. One too many glasses of Macallan by the fire. This was also the night that a much larger leopard made a visit to the bait tree so LC and I also used that as an excuse to extend our fireside activities.

Since the eland was in the bag the only other real target species I had was a nice bull gemsbok. I assumed we were to spend the day focusing on them but the plan quickly changed when Riaan piped up and asked about a springbok. We were close to a large open area where they were commonly seen and he suggested we take a walk and check things out. Riaan, Kamoora and myself set out leaving the rest of our party behind. After a short walk I could see a huge pasture. Probably 150 acres or more. As we got closer signs of life started to materialize. The first thing I noticed was a small group of black wildebeest several hundred yards off, then a huge herd of springbok came into view along with a couple of warthogs. As we got closer Riaan and Kamoora stopped several times to glass and look for a likely victim. Sure enough on about the third such occasion they threw up the sticks and pointed out a loner that was at least 50 yards from the nearest blade of cover or other animal. He was staring straight at us and fidgeted a bit as I got the gun settled. Eventually he took a few steps but it was far too late for him. The 300 barked and he dropped.

Once again I was slightly over gunned. At 150 yards the 200 Gr Accubond was still traveling at over 2800 FPS. The round produced an exit wound on the off shoulder the size of my two hands placed flat, side by side. Oh well, I have always said that dead is dead and there is no such state as too dead. The effects of the bullet were enough that he did not pronk when he died. The photo taking was therefore brief, the meat wagon was called, and we were off and cruising again.

Impala

This was a surprise trophy for me on this trip. Even though I can’t really explain it I have to admit that the smaller antelope have never really been all that interesting to me. With that admission out in the open I had noticed several really nice impala on their website and in their photo albums in the dining hall so I kept that in mind each day as we hunted.

It was early in the afternoon and we had only been out for an hour or so. We spotted a kudu that nearly had me off the truck. Riaan certainly didn’t talk me out of it but I judged his reaction and those of the trackers to suggest that the property could offer more. LC thought I had taken leave of my senses by not going after it and managed to get a really good photo of him to remind me about the encounter. In any case I stayed on the truck and we continued our search.

We rounded a corner and caught a glimpse of a small brown flash crossing the road ahead. With no warning or signal the cruiser rolled to a gentle stop. It was as if our trusty driver knew something good was about to happen. Sure enough a large group of impala made their way across the road about 100 yards ahead of us. When the last one made his appearance LC and I exchanged a glance acknowledging that this guy looked worthy of a stalk. I turned to Riaan to ask his opinion of the ram and he very casually shrugged and said “I’d shoot him”. At this, it took me less than 30 seconds to retrieve my rifle and hit the ground ready to go. Riaan and Charles quickly followed and we were on our way to where they had crossed. After going less than a hundred yards off the road Charles stopped and started glassing. We moved very slowly from this point only a few more yards to get in position. Riaan placed the sticks and pointed out three small brown forms about 75 yards away. I finally made out the fact that one was much larger than the other two and determined that this must be my guy. Riaan’s only instruction was to make sure to let the others clear before taking the shot. The ram had his head down and was only partially visible so I couldn’t tell which end was which. After a few seconds of waiting on him to raise his head or offer some other clue I finally whispered my confusion to Riaan. He quickly replied that he was facing to the right. I swung the cross hairs as far to the right as possible without hitting the small tree that had his head and part of his shoulder hidden. My trusty 300 barked and he went straight down. Immediately following this I heard a yelp of celebration from back at the truck. As I turned towards the sound I realized that somehow or another the last few yards of the stalk and the shot had played out in clear view of the truck. LC was already dismounting with camera in hand.

I have taken impala before and as I mentioned I just don’t typically find them all that interesting however this guy made me happy. He’s got plenty of length and a great shape that I positively love. Suddenly I didn’t feel so bad about passing the kudu. Break out the Castle boys!!!
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The kudu I passed.

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Gemsbok

It was getting late in the week and we still hadn’t come across a gemsbok worthy of pursuit. I wasn’t necessarily worried because we were seeing them every day however the thought had crossed my mind that it may not happen.

Charles led our procession with Riaan and I in tow. We were in the middle of a flawless execution of the old sneak up to the salt lick trick that had worked out so well on day one. The truck had disappeared about 10 minutes ago and as usual I was bleeding from every patch of bare skin and there was even a couple of red spots that had emerged through my pants legs. The thorns at Tholo are merciless and I was reminded daily. As I had grown accustomed to, Charles abruptly stopped and started to glass. After only a few seconds he nodded confirming that there was life ahead. He stooped into a low crawl and started forward again. Riaan and I followed his lead. It took us probably 20 minutes to cover the next 30 yards. Charles eventually fell to the rear and we all three either kneeled or sat down. There was a small group of gemsbok in the clearing around the salt lick and a couple of them were staring in our direction. We didn’t move a muscle for 10 or 15 minutes. They finally seemed to relax and go about their business. At this Riaan slowly set up the sticks. We paused for another couple of minutes just to make sure they were still relaxed. Riaan looked at me and motioned me to slowly get up and on the sticks. As I gathered myself to execute the maneuver he whispered for me to take the one on the right. As the gun found the sticks he changed gears on me and told me to take the one second from the right. Luckily we had managed all this without setting off any alarms. The one I was after was at about 120 yards and quartering towards us from left to right. This is one of my favorite shots because when executed properly the animal almost always goes down instantly. At the report of the rifle he did just that. The bullet had hit him on the point of the shoulder and he immediately flipped over backwards and started flopping. Riaan and I looked at one another smiling and shook hands. As I turned to Charles to acknowledge a job well done Riaan suddenly shouted “shoot him again”! After a split second of confusion I looked up to see my trophy running off. I snapped a quick hail marry in his direction that honestly didn’t even come close. We ran to where he had been when I shot him but did not pause long before heading to where we had last seen him. Thankfully we didn’t go 50 yards before we found him lying, with his head up, in a clump of brush. A quick follow up shot to finish him off. We all breathed a big sigh of relief and reinstated the previously retracted congratulations and handshakes.

I asked the skinners get their CSI kits out and do their best forensic work to retrieve my bullets and make a determination of what had happened. Bullet one had indeed entered on the point of his shoulder and was found lodged in the opposite hip. Bullet two entered right about the center of his chest and stopped in the mass of stomach matter. Considering all this my only explanation is that a gemsbok is a heck of a lot tougher than what I had given them credit for.

Our very concerned support crew appeared in the cruiser with confused looks on their faces. They were unable to hear the impact of any of the bullets and the fact that I had shot three times told them that things probably did not go as planned. My expression extinguished their concern. I recounted the events for them and we all had a good chuckle at how panicked I was when he ran out of sight.
I had a fine trophy and it was exactly what I wanted in a gemsbok. One happy hunter.
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This is a better example of how we normally saw the kudu.

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Wrap up

Tholo was better than I could have asked for. I pointed this out at the beginning of this post but I think it’s worth saying again.
Pros – Everything
Cons - Leaving
 

Neale

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Great trophies and a great report. That is one fine Kudu you passed.
 

gillettehunter

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So that looks like a pretty good Kudu. Did your PH give you a guess as to his length? Any regrets about not taking him? Beautiful Gemsbuck. They can be rather tough... Congrats. Bruce
 

GA Hunter

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So that looks like a pretty good Kudu. Did your PH give you a guess as to his length? Any regrets about not taking him? Beautiful Gemsbuck. They can be rather tough... Congrats. Bruce

Mid 50's was the estimate on the kudu and none of the really experienced people on the truck seemed overly impressed so I kept my seat. No regrets at all. I look forward to going back and finding something even better. I enjoyed the people enough to make me want to go back. The animals were a bonus. I can't wait to see what happens next year!!!
 

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