NAMIBIA: Cheetah Hunting Ozondjahe Hunting Safaris

dory

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I don't know how many millimeters they had, but there was plenty of rain at least in Ozondjahe. It was a little more dry before I came but apparently I took the Finnish weather with me and everything was soaked...
Thats great !
Everyone will be rapt to have some decent rain .
 

JWB300

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"Time seems to slow down and everything is calm. No excitement, no shakes, nothing. I am fully concentrated, place the crosshair just behind the shoulder and squeeze the trigger. Shot is off and I know it’s good. I can see the place of the crosshair in my eyes when recoil throws the gun off balance.

I’ve been there before. I can be nervous and excited, have shakes and high heart rate, but when the moment to pull the trigger comes, I’m totally calm. A little like nothing but me, the rifle and the target exists. That’s a feeling I can not describe, but I believe it comes from focus and concentrating. And that’s when I shoot best. It’s not always like that though. But these are the moments I will remember the rest of my life."


Riska,
Great report thank you for posting it. The phenomenon that you describe above is a state of being called 'flow'. I have read a fair amount about this state and I believe it is the reason that many people hunt. It is often quoted as the reason many people participate in extreme sports and some suggest is even the meaning of life (I know - big call)!
When in flow you make all the right decisions, have no awareness of time and self. Your mental capacity to determine the bounds of time and self are inhibited by a much more powerful part of your brain. That is why you experience the sensation of time slowing (allowing you to analyse large volumes of information and make correct decisions under pressure) and 'oneness' with objects (i.e. you feel like they are an extension of your self) such as rifles.
It is a very interesting subject - here is a link to a brief description of Flow:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flow_(psychology)
If you want to read more about it I suggest reading Steven Kotler's book: http://riseofsuperman.com/
Cheers,
JWB300
 

Riksa

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Thanks for the input JWB300. Now back to the story.


Wednesday 1.4 Mission Oryx bull

Morning hunt was pretty uneventful. We continued our search for Oryx bull and cheetah, but neither made appearance. Francois said that he has a certain old Oryx bull in mind and we tried to search the areas where he usually has been spotted but no sign of him. Animals are still not around waterholes due to the rains that are almost daily. I took a shot for a jackal but missed. What might have contributed to the miss was the fact that I was twiddling with the scope in the morning and accidentally left it on 12x magnification. Jackal at 30 meters was a little difficult to hit with that setting. No excuses, the man behind the rifle was the one to blame. It started to seem that the easy close distance shots are the most difficult ones. My wife keeps on saying that I need to concentrate and then I shoot well. If I don’t concentrate, I don’t hit s**t. I believe she is right. Easy shot also requires concentration.

For the afternoon ride my wife joined me for the hunt with a camera. We saw giraffes, oryxes, wildebeests and zebras. No shooters, but my wife got some pretty nice pictures. We also spotted a semi-nice kudu bull with a lady and wished him to return with his big brother. No such thing happened unfortunately.

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At the last light of the day we saw a large giraffe bull whose horns were totally ripped off. It had probably been fighting with some other male and the end result was clearly visible. Bull looked healthy and couldn’t have cared less about us when the last light of the day faded behind the horizon.

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And so came another nice hunting day to an end.
 
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Riksa

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Thursday 2.4 non-hunting day with family


Friday 3.4 Bull ahead

I was full of energy after the non-hunting day. Oryx bull search continued. No rain in the evening/night. Hopefully animals are close to waterholes. While driving we saw that one of the baits had been hit. Based on the tracks it looked like a good size leopard. Not a monster, but good. I miss leopard hunting :)

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We continued driving and suddenly Francois stops the car. He says that he spotted Oryx bull in the bushes. He didn’t see the horns, but based on the behavior he thinks it might be the big bull he wishes us to find. We leave the track quietly and head to the bushes. Less than 100 meters from the truck we see the bull. It’s just 50 meters from us and has no idea we are after it. It’s facing to the other direction and Francois quickly checks the horns. It’s not the bull we wished him to be. He is a very old bull with short worn horns. Francois asks if I want to take it as management animal. Yes!

The bull is behind some bush, but we are so close that I think it doesn’t matter. The bull slowly walks away from us and is quartering away. Rifle on the sticks, I take aim and put the crosshair behind the shoulder aiming so that the offside front leg would be hit. Francois shouts and the bull stops. Shot goes off immediately when the bull stops. The bull drops on the spot. Another spine shot, what the ****??? How can I shoot spine from 50 meters when aiming way lower. The shot didn’t feel that bad. We go to the bull and there is not exit wound. When the bull is turned we find the entry behind the middle of the body. The bullet must have hit a branch on the way.

When the shot was taken I thought that the bush was just in front of the bull. In real life the bush was almost 10 meters from the bull. I trusted that .338 with heavy bullet would be OK to shoot through some small branches because of the short distance. That might have been the case, but I managed to hit a branch that was roughly 4 centimeters in diameter. This branch was enough to change the course of the bullet and cause the minimal penetration.

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Afterwards I think we were extremely lucky that the bullet hit the spine and brought the oryx down on the spot. Far more likely scenario (after the bad decision to shoot through the bush) was to have a wounded animal with a gut shot. When the first warthog was shot I made the mistake to aim a little high (shot what I could clearly see). I wanted to correct that issue and despite the bush I aimed directly to the spot I wanted to hit. That was not right either. I should have looked clear path for the bullet and place it there. If there is no clear shot, then don’t take it.

Max seemed to appreciate the oryx almost as much as I did.
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Driving continued and we were still after the trophy bull oryx. Before lunch we spotted a jackal and I took a quick shot from 50 meters. Not a good shot, but enough to take it down. Max was there to bite the jackal and learned an important lesson when the jackal bit him back. There seemed to be a huge question mark on top of Max’s head when the jackal got a hold of his jaw (wtf, it should be me doing the biting…)

When Max was still brave and didn’t know what is going to happen
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Afternoon started slow. We found a dead giraffe. It was a large old male that had been dead minimum 3-4 days. If you think they stink when they are alive, try a dead one... The giraffe was however not food for any predators. There was plenty of worms eating it and one turtle probably eating the worms, but no vultures and no predators. Maybe it was struck by lightning and was totally burned, hence not suitable for anything besides worms.

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At some point we saw a jackal. I was not too happy about my morning shooting so I decided to take it slow and aim well. I took too much time and the jackal started running. It stopped behind a thick bush and I quickly took a shot. The shot went high and the jackal continued running. Shot might have hit some branch or I simply shot badly. Probability is that I shot badly. Wouldn’t be the first time and not the last time either.

The second jackal of the afternoon got it worse. He was sitting face to us at about 60-70 meters. A quick shot later he was down. Max went to see him but was much more careful. I guess he learned the lesson. The third jackal was found when it started to get dark. We noticed him from 150 meters and he slowly walked towards us. I took the first shot at around 120 meters when he was still walking and shot a little high. Jackal didn’t know what happened and second shot 5 seconds later stopped his movement. We got the whole episode on video. At least the correction shot seemed OK. Total score against the jackals was hunters 7 - jackals 4 (missed ones). It could have been 11-0 though. None of the jackal shots was impossible, so more practice is definitely needed from improvised shooting positions. Before the trip I mainly focused on shooting off sticks and these quick improvised positions (although with good support) seemed to be a little challenging.

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Total for the day was very old non-trophy oryx bull and 3 jackals. Additionally we saw plenty of other game, just not the ones we were after. Not a bad day overall.

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davidarizpe

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Great Report!!! thanks for sharing!!
 

Hank2211

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I agree - great report! There seem to be a lot of jackals there - it's a wonder that there are any other animals left, if they're eating the young, as they do.

Funny about your shot on the gemsbok. I related - I think - on another thread some time ago about shooting a bongo in exactly the same way. Spined it, which was fine since it kept it there, but it wasn't where I was shooting. When I tried to figure out what happened, I found this:

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Fortunately, like you I was using a big bullet (.375 in my case).

Shouldn't count on luck, but since we put up with bad luck, I will take good luck when it comes my way!
 

huntermn15

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Great hunt, thanks for posting. I look forward to more.
 

Riksa

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Thank you all for your kind comments!

Hank2211, looks like your tree is bigger than mine :) I also take the luck as it comes and some good luck is very much welcome. I believe that hard work increases the chance of good luck. We got more jackals than what is usual. Why? I have no idea. I just shot them every time I could.
 

IdaRam

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Great hunt, great report! Thank you for sharing (y)
 

gillettehunter

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Great report. Lots of Jackals there. Seems like they could be a problem. Nice pics. Thanks for the report. Bruce
 

Riksa

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Great report. Lots of Jackals there. Seems like they could be a problem. Nice pics. Thanks for the report. Bruce

Jackals were a problem until :W Shooting Uzi:

Well, actually based on the amount of game in Ozondjahe I wouldn't call the jackals a problem. For some reason the jackals just seemed more active and present than usual. Good for us, bad for them.
 

UKHunter

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Did you get your cheetah?
 

Riksa

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Saturday 4.4 non-hunting day with family


Sunday 5.4 “I didn’t hear the hit”

Beautiful morning. Plenty of driving around looking for cheetah and oryx bull. We stalked 2 separate oryx bulls, but no luck to get into right position. Almost at lunch time we spotted another 2 oryx bulls and got to 50 meters from them, but wind blew our cover and we needed to pack our gear and head for lunch.
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Dangerous oryx bull, looks better than he is. Wide and thick on the base, but the horns are pretty short. These were the ones that got me excited and Francois took me down.
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In the evening on the last light we found pack of 5 oryx. They were standing on the road 350 meters from us and we quickly stalked closer and Francois carefully checked them with binoculars. There was a good bull in the heard. We stalked closed and finally got to 100 meters. It was getting dark and we literally had the last light of the day left. “There are 2 oryxes, shoot the one on the left”. I aimed and called that I need to take aim a little higher than usual to avoid big branch on the way. Then I fired. Immediately after the shot the oryx on the left sprinted, but the one on right stayed still for a moment. Francois said he didn’t hear the bullet hit. Had I missed the shot? I said that the shot felt good. Still, doubts started circling in my head. Memories from the last oryx bull were still fresh in my mind. Did I hit the branch anyway?

We walked to the bushes that were on the way and I quickly checked whether there was any mark of bullet hitting the branch. No mark. Then to the road where the oryx had been standing at the time of the shot. There was a blood trail leading to the bushes. Francois called Gottfried with the car to the scene. Upon arrival he said that he had heard the hit and it sounded solid. So on was the search. We followed the blood trail and found the dead oryx after maximum 100 meters. The shot was exactly where I aimed. A little high, but right on the money and double lung hit. There was a problem however. “Are you sure you shot the one on the left?” Yes, I was sure. The oryx was a female. The oryxes were circling and it was really the last light of the day so it was easy to mix them when the time for the shot came. Well, she was down and I was happy that we didn’t need to search for wounded oryx in the dark.

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We saw no jackals during the day. Maybe it was because one of the workers on the farm told us to take the shot jackals back so that they could eat them. I guess we won’t get any jackals from now on...

Monday 6.4 non-hunting day with family


Tuesday 7.4 (7th hunting day) “Shoot him again”

What has been disappointing is that we can not find cheetah tracks. But if they are not here right now, they aren’t and we can not change the fact. So we will continue looking and meanwhile try to find good oryx bull.

The morning started really quiet. It had apparently rained again and all animals seemed to be still sleeping. We found a sleeping giraffe and also some other animals were still bedded down. We also finally found the bull that Francois had been looking. A quick stop with the car, checking the bull (it was only 20 meters away) and off we went. The bull was walking away from us, but stopped after a short walk. We were just 50 meters from it and Francois set up the sticks. Sticks were low to avoid the bushes. I checked through the scope and it was a quartering away shot. However there was a lot of branches on the way. No possibility to shoot. I could only make a decent shot to front from the front leg in our side. No chance to shoot there in the quartering away position.

The bull started walking and we went after. It stopped again after 20 meters and up where the sticks again. This time the situation was even worse. No clear shot. I might have taken the first shot if there wasn’t the earlier issue with the branch. But I learned my lesson and did not risk the shot. The Oryx sensed that something was not right and it increased speed. That was the last time we saw him.

Later we took a roughly 6 kilometer walk through the bush to see some game. We only spotted 2 jackals (no chance to fire), couple of wildebeest and oryxes (no shooters). So we started heading back to the lodge for lunch. Suddenly my brother started pointing at the bush and we all could see large Oryx bull bedded under a tree just 50 meters from the road. We passed the bull and behind cover we jumped off the truck. We walked quickly to the opening, but the bull was already making his escape. There was also some other Oryx(es) that we saw. The bull or one of the others stopped to about 100 meters from us to have a last look and after that they were gone. We went after them, but no luck. After 1 kilometer we thought that we spotted the bull again in the bush, but unfortunately that was a group of zebras. That was the end of our morning hunt.

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Afternoon started with seeing a lot more animals. Especially plenty of Impala. We were checking a large herd of impalas and there was a nice gold medal size impala male fighting a little smaller male. Problem was that we were upwind from them and behind them was oryx, kudu and ostrich. So no way to get close to them. Additionally the large male seemed to be surrounded by rest of the herd so getting a clear shot might have been difficult. Furthermore the male was not as large as the one we saw on the waterhole earlier. So we let him be for the time being.

We had added also large blue wildebeest on the menu in case we would find one. It was days since we got the eland and I wanted to stop the “non-trophy” time of the hunt. I had been seeing so many great wildebeest during the past days that I just had to go for them.

We saw plenty of game, especially zebras and impalas, but no trophy oryx or blue wildebeest bull presented itself. Around 17:30 we finally spotted a really nice wildebeest bull. It crossed the road in front of us as part of a larger herd and stayed for us to have a good look. Hunt was on. We lost the sight of the bull as soon as we got out of the truck. There was some thick bush in the area. We continued to the direction where the herd had gone and found another herd of wildebeest. Suddenly we were surrounded by wildebeests. The closest one was just 10 meters from us and had no idea we were there. Also zebras and giraffes were present. There was literally dozens of animals walking all around us. Some (giraffe) making their escape, some unaware of our presence. The wildebeest grouped in an opening and we got a decent look at the herd. It had roughly 20 wildebeests. There were some young males that were already having very nice horns, but we could not spot the one that we were after. We concluded that it had gone with the other herd and continued to the direction where the other herd went. We also passed on opportunity to shoot a nice warthog that walked to 50 meters from us and then jogged on without having any idea we were present.

We found the other herd in an opening roughly 300 meters from the other herd. We approached them and could not see the male we were after. We walked closer towards the grunting sound that the leading bull was making. When we got close we could immediately see that it was not the same bull. But luckily it was a really good one too. Different shape of horns, but very good in any case. We were hiding behind a bush and the bull was looking at us in about 60 meters trying to figure out what we were. Francois instructed me to shoot him to the center of the chest and up went the sticks. I put the rifle on the sticks, but the male turned and made 360 degrees spin before standing again pretty much where he was before. I squeezed the trigger and the bull jumped to a run. He turned left and disappeared behind some bushes. Was it a good shot? I thought that it was a good shot, but can I be sure?

The bull reappeared a couple of seconds later running away from us. Francois said to shoot him again. I took an offhand shot and the bull went down on the shot never to get up again. The second shot was taken from roughly a 100 meters. First shot hit him in the heart. Second shot was through left rear leg into stomach. Better to be safe than sorry anyway. And what a beautiful trophy after a very nice stalk with lots of activity.

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We took the photos and continued the hunt. I had taken 2 shots so I needed to fill the magazine. I noticed I had left the extra cartridges to the lodge when I unpacked for the previous days Etosha National Park visit. I was using the same backpack and figured that Etosha guards wouldn’t like me bringing in ammunition to a national park. Well, luckily extra ammo was no needed today.

During the evening we spotted also 1 jackal, but no possibility to get a shot. He was running across the road and we didn’t see him again. A nice and eventful afternoon hunt came to an end.
 
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Riksa

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Wednesday 8.4 The cat

My brother joined me again for the morning hunt. Morning was very quiet with rain from previous night and moon still shining brightly in the morning. We were still mainly focusing on trophy bull oryx, but no luck with that. Basically we sat the morning in the car and returned early to the lodge as my family was leaving for the return trip. Only small piece of action was when we spotted an oryx and the driver stopped. I thought he stopped for the oryx, but after a small while he said to us that on the opposite side there was a jackal. Quick 180 degree turn later the gun was up and the jackal was gone. I jumped out of the car and quickly took aim but it was too late. The jackal was too quick and disappeared behind the bushes.

We got some nice pictures again though.
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Afternoon the PH was changed to Theo as Francois was taking my family to Windhoek. It had rained quite a bit in some parts of the property, but luckily the rain stopped pretty much when we started hunting. We headed first to area that was not so badly soaked. We started to walk towards a waterhole after a couple of nice oryx bulls. Suddenly we spotted fresh pool of blood. Something had clearly happened just before we arrived to the scene. After short search we started following the tracks and it was clear that something had been dragged in the ground and every now and then we could also spot blood. The ground was pretty hard so we couldn’t see any paw prints. Terrain was suitable for a cheetah so hopes went up exponentially. Is this the lucky shot on the cheetah? All my senses were on high alert. Theo was tracking and I had the gun ready. Scope magnification was on minimum and I had my finger on the safety as we went after the drag marks.

We followed the track for about a hundred meters and found the scene where the capture of the prey had been done. We had followed the track to the point of origin and not to the right direction. We quickly returned to the point where we originally found the blood. We could also see the drag marks continuing to the other direction and tracking continued. Less than a hundred meters later the drag marks went into a thicker bush. Suddenly there is movement and something yellowish is sprinting away. There he is, running just 20 meters from us. He makes no sound at all, just runs and after 20 meters he vanishes behind the bushes. Small leopard offered us a very nice hunting moment. His catch was a small warthog that we found from the bush. I guess the leopard returned on his catch after we left the scene in our search of a) cheetah, b) oryx bull, c) something exceptional. Leopard was either a female or a young male.

Rest of the afternoon we spent stalking and could get close to a young oryx bull. Unfortunately for us, he was way too young. Well, he’ll make a nice trophy for someone one day. Otherwise there were not that many tracks after the heavy rain. We walked close to 5 kilometers in the sand which I swear is a lot more like mud. It’s interesting that when it’s dry, it’s sand. And when it’s wet, it’s mud. Go and figure. Anyway, tomorrow then a new area in search of cheetah and oryx (and impala and possibly red hartebeest).

This was the second time I see a wild leopard. Although it was only for a short moment, it was still something I will remember always. The excitement of following the drag marks, being ready to shoot any moment and the leopard escaping from his pray. Even if it was not the cheetah I did not feel disappointed at all, I felt privileged. Not many people will ever be able to see and experience what we experienced this afternoon. This is hunting!
 
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Wheels

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Pretty neat to see a leopard on a kill. (y)
 

Riksa

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Thursday 9.4 “Boss, we will not find it”

Hunting with Theo and Gottfried continued. The plan for this morning was to stalk through areas where cheetahs had been seen in the past. We would also be after oryx and mountain zebra. When driving to the area we spotted a nice oryx bull and went after. A short walk later the sticks are up but there are way too many branches on the way for a shot. Next moment the bull is gone. He was seemingly nervous about the car and sensed that it was time to go. They don’t get big by being stupid. We continued our stalk and found some other oryx that were guarded by giraffes. Stalk busted early by the giraffes. Stalk continued to another opening where we spotted blue wildebeest, red hartebeest and Burchell’s zebras. Got close, but the beests didn’t let us pass without busting the stalk. In the end they were downwind but still did not take any cover. There was a couple really nice young bulls in the herd. They will make nice trophies in a couple of years’ time. Zebras were headed by a huge stallion. That would also be a nice trophy… When seeing him flee the scene I felt remorse for not going after him. Well, too late to feel sorry about that now.

Stalk continued to another opening. We spotted a nice herd of mountain zebra and stalk was on. Unfortunately again there was 5 giraffes, wildebeests and Burchell’s zebras in the same field. Also 1 single oryx was following our actions from behind. Too many eyes around us and finally giraffes spotted us again and all animals made their escape to upwind. Except 3 jackals. They were following the actions of the other animals some 150 meters from us. One of them was climbing a termite mound to get a better look. Of course we needed to try to put a stop to that. The jackals came a little closer and started settling. They were about 100-120 meters from us. Theo instructed to wait until 2 of them are lined and try to get 2 with one shot. We had today Trigger Stick shooting sticks with us. We both were sitting in the ground and I tried to adjust the sticks so that a kneeling shot would be possible. I still had the same problem as earlier in the hunt. The sticks don’t allow taking a good supported shot from sitting or kneeling position. I needed to stretch a lot and place the gun in a really awkward position. Well it was better than trying to stand up as that would have been seen by the jackals without a doubt.

I aimed a sitting jackal and waited for one of the others to pass. Not too long and I see another jackal moving in from left. I keep the crosshair (as much as I can) on the chest of the sitting jackal. The other jackal crosses the sitting jackal and the shot goes off. On the shot one of the jackals jumps after a clear hit and the other takes a couple of spins. Theo says I hit them both. Third one made his escape and I tried to aim after him, but no chance to take another shot. The hit jackals are not found from the scene, but we don’t spend time to search for them. We have plenty of ground to cover this morning still.

Next we moved with a car a bit and spotted herd of oryx. Seemed like there were several nice ones so we went after them. We stalked closer and soon noticed that there was a herd of impalas between us and the oryx. There was also the big impala in the herd. Tall grass and bushes made it difficult to spot the impalas while oryx were clearly visible. It was tough to decide which we should try to focus. While thinking what to do the wind circled and they made the decision for us. Off they went. We continued walking hoping to catch up with the oryx later. We came to a large opening and found 5 more oryx there. We stalked closer only to find out that all of them were females. There was a couple of nice ones and I was on the sticks aiming at them, but Theo’s “we can find better ones” prevented me from taking the shot. They were only 100 meters from us and had no idea that we were there. We decided to visit a waterhole and then head back to the lodge for lunch. It was 11:00 already.

When driving to the waterhole we spotted a couple of oryx in the bush. We stalked them, but they noticed something was not right and made their escape. So we headed to the waterhole on foot. Suddenly Theo stops and then I also see it. There is an oryx in front of us. We quietly get down and Theo checks the oryx carefully. The oryx is feeding and slowly moving around. Further examination tells that it’s a female, but a nice one. After a little hesitation I make decision to take her.

We are sitting and I take support from Theo’s shoulder. I carefully take aim. The oryx is only 50-60 meters from us and slightly quartering towards us. There are some small branches on the way. I tell this to Theo and he says that they don’t matter. The small branches are just in front of the oryx. I take aim and try to find a spot where there are no branches. I still have the previous shot through the branches in my mind. I estimate the trajectory and try to keep clear of the branches. The oryx moves a little and the shoulder is visible. No large braches on the way. I whisper to Theo that I’m going to shoot. Theo puts his hands to his ears. I hold my breath, stabilize the crosshair and squeeze the trigger. The oryx sprints when the shot goes off. Theo immediately calls good hit. I was thrown off balance so I could not see what happened, but still I felt the shot was good.

We don’t see the oryx so we walk to the place where it was shot. When we arrive on the scene there is an oryx standing just 30 meters left from us. “Another Oryx?”, I say. Then the other oryx escapes. We check the tracks and there was only one oryx. Luckily there is plenty of blood and clear bloodtrail to follow.

After 100 meters we come to a road and Gottfried joins us for the tracking. There is so much blood that I am sure the oryx will be shortly found. We continue a hundred meters, then another hundred meters and then another hundred meters. The blood gets less and less. I am expecting to see the oryx behind each bush, but no. She is nowhere to be seen. At this point my confidence is quickly disappearing. Was the shot good? Did I hit branch on the way? I remember the previous shot through the branch so well…

Then we spot the oryx bedded down roughly 100 meters from us. She is looking around but not getting up. She is positioned so that a new shot is not easy. She is partially behind bushes and lies her tail towards us. We decide to wait and let the bleeding work it’s magic. After 5 minutes the oryx still seems alert although still bedded down. Theo instructs me to take a shot to the spine to anchor the oryx. Sticks go up and I carefully take aim. Neck is not visible so I try to shoot the point where the neck starts. I try to estimate where the spine is and take the shot. On the shot the oryx takes off with plenty of speed. Well, it’s safe to say that I did not hit the spine. I immediately think, why didn’t I go for the gut shot? That would at least slow her down. Now she is on the run again.

We follow the tracks and now there is no blood, first blood that we find is 50 meters from the place where she bedded down. That’s not right, there should be more blood from the 2 shots that she has taken. At this point Gottfried goes back to the place where she was bedded. Theo and I continue tracking. Soon Gottfried finds out that the oryx was not the same one we shot earlier. We have now 2 wounded oryx on the road. How low can you go?

The original oryx was also bedded in the same bushes, it was maybe 50 meters from the one we ended up shooting. We decide to follow the track of the second Oryx I shot. We think that time will do it’s trick with the first one and we want to find out what has happened with the second one. We follow the tracks for over a kilometer. There is very little blood and tracking is taking long time. Many times we lose the track completely and we need to take circles to find the right track. This one is running, that’s clear from the tracks. Nothing seems to be wrong besides a blood drop here and there. But there is very little blood and then it disappears totally. At one point Theo comes to me and says that he is sure that this oryx was hit to the muscle in lower neck above the spine. There is no way that we will find this one and it’s likely to make a full recovery. So we need to go back to the original oryx.

If you see the picture below, there is plenty of muscle in the neck above the spine. This is likely the place where the second oryx was hit.
gemsbok_shot_placement.jpg


We walk back to the place where we found both oryx bedded. Now we continue on the first one’s tracks. Her tracks actually cross the second oryx’s tracks. Accidentally we continue on the wrong tracks until we notice our own footprints and return to the right track. This oryx is not running, she is walking. There is blood here and there, but not plenty. Blood can mostly be found close to the ground so it seems to be dripping from the wound and coming down the leg. It also seems there is blood only on one side. How can that be? We were close, so I was expecting a clean shot that would go through the oryx. Have a hit a branch? We didn’t look as we went directly after the oryx expecting to find her shortly. Now close to 2 kilometers and 2 hours later I can not be that sure anymore. I discuss my concerns with Theo and he repeats that he saw the hit and it was right on the money. So what is wrong?

We continue tracking and the ground gets harder. We can not see the tracks anymore. Gottfried and Theo are looking at broken branches, bent grass and then again there is a small drop of dried blood. Sun is high up and I have no sun block. I didn’t need any at the time when the original shot was taken over 2 hours before. Well, I am hurting more inside knowing that somewhere there is an oryx I shot and probability of finding her is getting smaller as time goes by. Then the ground gets softer and we can see the tracks more clearly again. Maybe we find it anyway I think. Silently I walk after Theo and Gottfried.

I want to help as much as I can, but no matter how hard I look, it’s always Theo or Gottfried who find the way the oryx went. Little by little my belief is fading. I remind myself think that it’s always darkest before the sunrise. That keeps me going while I am losing my faith. We must continue. Theo told that the shot was good…

Finally behind a bush I see something that feels a little off place. It’s grey. “There it is” I say. This is what I have been hoping for, but it takes a while for me to believe that we found her. She is lying in the ground 25 meters from us and she is not getting up. Everyone is seemingly relieved. She is laying on the side where the bullet entered and there is no exit. We don’t see where the hit is. Gottfried goes to get the car and we check the oryx with Theo. We turn the oryx and find the entry whole exactly where I aimed. Entry is a little behind the shoulder on the right height. It’s also exactly where Theo said he saw the hit. So what has happened?

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Theo now tells me that Gottfried told him three separate times: “Boss, we will not find it”. Theo had replied that he saw the hit and it was on the shoulder. Gottfried thought the shot must have been too high, but Theo insisted that we continue tracking because the shot was good. When Gottfried then asked: “if the hit was on the shoulder, why can we not find it?” There was no reply to that question. But we continued tracking. I was unaware of this discussion at the time of tracking. Afterwards, I’m very happy that Theo had the faith and determination that was needed to find our oryx. We finally found the oryx after 3 hours of tracking and over 2.5 kilometers (1.6 miles) from the point where she was shot.

Afterwards in the skinning shed we found what had been hit. The bullet had hit just above the heart. It had cut a major artery and damaged both lungs. We also recovered the bullet. It was a perfect mushroom and made it’s way to the off side ribs where it had stopped.

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Why this was not enough to stop the oryx? Nobody knows. It was close to a perfect hit from 50 meters with a reasonably large caliber gun. Could we have done something better? Probably not. Let’s put it this way: Next time when someone says that African animals can be tough, I know what that means.

After all this we had a quick lunch and continued hunting. My thought were still very much with the events in the morning though. We did plenty of driving around and found some cheetah’s tracks from the previous night. There were 2 cheetah in an area where they have been spotted before.

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We decide to search the area for the remaining evening, but find no additional sign of the cheetah. There is plenty of oryx (some nice bulls too), blue wildebeest and other game visible, but we are after the cheetah now. We also spot a python close to the road.

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Shortly after the python we spot a jackal. I take aim and shoot him through a thick bush in 50 meters. Jackal runs, but Theo said it was a hit. The jackal took a couple of spins after the shot. No time spent on searching the jackal as the hunt of cheetah continued. Maybe it was a hit or maybe Theo was just polite. I guess I’ll never know for sure. That pretty much ends an eventful day, but now we have an overall area where we will focus tomorrow to find the cheetah.
 
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UKHunter

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Very good account so far and im glad you found your Oryx.

It just goes to show that every animal must be followed up despite the thoughts of a miss or no reaction to the shot, or in this case a minimal continuing blood trail. Your perseverance to find the wounded game paid off and is all part of ethical hunting which we must all adopt to ensure minimal suffering and respect for our quarry.
 

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......................

This was the second time I see a wild leopard. Although it was only for a short moment, it was still something I will remember always. The excitement of following the drag marks, being ready to shoot any moment and the leopard escaping from his pray. Even if it was not the cheetah I did not feel disappointed at all, I felt privileged. Not many people will ever be able to see and experience what we experienced this afternoon. This is hunting!


I have to agree with you.
Following the fresh drag marks of a kill was quite thrilling. Doing it without a firearm was even more interesting until, we looked at each other and I said enough of this silliness.

Great experience.
 

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Tough go on the tracking and coming up with one.
The animals are so similar and can certainly be tough to differentiate between individuals.

That shot placement diagram sure will play in your mind for some time to come.

Thanks for sharing your story.
 

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