So It begins.
I had only planned one hunting trip in 2019 again with Marius @KMG which would be a father and son expedition. The boy having reached the grand age of eighteen and starting to spread his wings, this may be the last opportunity for both of us for a while.
Then late summer my daughter asked where were we going in 2019 as her brother was having a trip. When I enquired where we should go it was either Japan or Namibia. So you can guess which destination won. My daughters friend would also join us for this trip during school half term in February. The only conditions were they had to pay for their flights , day fees, and trophy fees and I would pay the rest.
So the booking was made with Philip for February.
So we arrived in Namibia midday on February 17th after an uneventful flight from London via Johannesburg as expected Philip was waiting for us and we headed off to the Khomas highland once more. The most noticeable thing to me was how dry everything looked much worse than I had seen before, the rains had not arrived yet and you could not help but notice. Philip offered to stop in Windhoek for lunch but we decided to go straight to the farm and settle in.
We pull off the main dirt road onto the farm access road and once where a waist high stack of rocks is now a sable head mounted like a piece from a giant chess set. Next is new gate electric opening with a key fob so you don't even have to get out. We drive on down along side the completed game fence that now surrounds the main lodge area and takes in an extra if I remember correctly 250 acres of ground with it. we enter the enclosure, no electric gate this time and drive into the lodge area. We pull up outside the main building we all get out and unload the suitcases. Philip then says he will take us to our rooms I was about to head off in the usual direction when Philip announced we were in the main building. They had during the close season been busy reorganising the accommodation which now is something like this. The small bungalow which most hunters stayed in is now where Philip and his partner live, Yani Philips brother has moved into Philips old pad in the barn, and Philips farther has moved into a small cabin in the farm yard and the hunting guests now have the old farm house to themselves which should have 5 bedrooms last two were being completed while we were there . After showing us our rooms Philip showed me the improvement he was most proud of the new draught beer keg and tap pull and pour self service ( although I think they all enjoy playing pub landlord because I very rarely had get my own).
The view from the veranda over the new waterhole into the game viewing area
After a freshen up and afternoon tea we went for a drive through the new game reserve in what looked like a vehicle out of Jurassic park the Toyota had the doors taken off all the glass out rollbar fitted big tyres lots of noise and dust.
just some of the animals we saw there are lots more.
me and Philip discussed the plan for next couple of days. Monday morning would be an early start as we had some distance to travel for my first animal.
So I woke at 4am Monday morning, First's days hunting ahead of me I began to get my gear together then at 4:30 the sound of phone alarms meant it was time to make sure the kids were getting up and moving. Plan was a quick cup of tea breakfast had been prepared for us to take on our trip. At 5am we were all in the truck for the 180km trip to the Erongo area to look for another of the tiny ten the Damara Dik Dik . We took a short cut in the dark through Philips farm and the neighbours until we hit the main road. much distance was travelled in the dark but when the sun did begin to rise the views were spectacular. After 2 hours we arrived at the turning for the property it would take us another twenty minutes from the main road to reach the house where we would meet the owner and pick up a guide.
typical ground we would be hunting rocky hills with flat sandy areas inbetween.
We arrive at the farm and soon Ralph appears He is a long time friend of Philips and is quite the character but does keep taking in German so Philip has to translate for me. Ralph disappears to return with my rifle for the day .22 magnum and a box of ammunition the rifle was in good condition but had a
like above picture. If you liked you could just use the forward trigger but it was set very heavy, or you use the rear trigger to sett the forward trigger to a light setting . I practised with the set up dry firing until I felt confident and we loaded up tacking one of the farms trackers with us. Philip picked up a can lid to shoot at as we left and when we were away from the farm I put a shot through the rifle and the lid flipped up. Lovely all good to go . So we set off in earnest to locate a dik dik . the plan was to slowly drive the tracks of the farm locate a dik dik when located give it the once over if suitable we decamp from the vehicle and set off on foot. Now the most notable thing about the farm was the lack of large antelope species, They had been suffering three years of drought in the area and although they had water from bore holes the grass has long gone and the grazing animals had moved on or starved apparently the oryx population were very badly affected in the area. But the smaller browsing antelope population seemed in much better condition. We drove for a while winding our way around the property some 60000 acres in size the initial buzz was beginning to wear off as almost an hour had passed without a site of a dik dik . We rounded a corner when sat in the middle of the track was a small antelope. Philip stops and we all grab for our binoculars in a rush to see only to identify a young steenbok ram, we watch for a minute and then continue on. We had not travelled more than 300 meters when Philip spots something about 50 meters off into the scrub, we stop and look through our binoculars again, this time it is a dik dik my first impression was how small they actually are and the colour of the fur from the waist back was a speckled grey that blended so well with the background their hind end was almost invisible.( but that could be my eyesight. ) After a few moments me and Philip agreed it was a female and we began to search for a male which should of been near . with no success locating a male from the truck we left the vehicle and slowly proceeded on foot we had not gone far when we spotted a male who had been hiding behind a small bush Philip gave him the once over and said it was a nice male. We crept to a small scrubby tree and got into position to shoot at about 40 meters away I located the dik dik in the scope safety off sett rear trigger and as began to place the cross hair on the dik dik I placed my finger on the trigger and crack off went the shot. The trigger was quite a bit lighter than I expected the shot went straight over the top and the dik dik took off only to stop 10 meters further away. The second opportunity resulted in a repeat of the first shot after a few choice words I went and played with the trigger some more. We continued our hunt and saw one lone female, A small ram but he was on the neighbouring property so we passed on by and gave chase through the scrub on two more males but both times they gave us the slip with no chance of a shot. We headed back to the farm for lunch and rest after our early start.
After a little sleep and some lunch we set off again in pursuit of a dik dik. The break must have done us all some good as we began to see quite a few dik dik . We changed tactics after a few busted opportunities. So when we saw a dik dik we would continue on a away and then creep back to where we had seen them, This was getting us better opportunities but still no chance of a shot. We then repeated this routine several times. We were proceeding along a wide sandy track which gave the impression of a dry riverbed, when the guys on the back had spotted a dik dik in some bushes we carried on around a bend out of sight before stopping. The guys explained they had seen two dik dik hiding in a bush so we headed back to where they had been seen last as the guys began to search the bush with their binoculars for the dik dik I saw movement 10 meters to the left of the bush the dik dik were slowly moving away through the scrub. we moved to the far side of the track using a lone scrub tree to cover us as we followed them as they moved through the scrub. The dik dik appeared to be heading for a gap in the scrub I got set up to intercept them in the gap and the guys watched the dik dik approach. Just as I was ready a dik dik stepped out Philip says its a female as he was looking at the male, as I looked through the scope I saw horns I was about to tell Philip when it became apparent there were three dik dik a female a nice old male and a young pretender. At this point everyone is " quick shoot the one in the gap". This time the trigger is fine but I shoot miss reload line up same again Philip says I am shooting over its back, I reload the dik dik turns to take off but stops to look back this time no mistake a solid hit, the male lays up behind a bush I approach and fire one more shot to ease him on his way and the hunt for an elusive dik dik was over.
We returned to the farm and the guys set to work skinning the dik dik Ralph was away on the farm somewhere so we waited around had some refreshments and began to load up the truck. Philip had lent his trial bike to ralph as he was interested in buying it, but having come off accouple of times and frightened himself he said Philip should take it away. So we loaded up the bike It was very cosy in the back with the bike , Chuka the dog and Cole the visiting Canadian and several cool boxes.
only 180km of dusty rough roads you will be fine Cole.
We left before Ralph retuned as we wanted to travel in the light, but Philip sent him a picture of the dik dik. Ralph replied we had shot his breeding bull dik dik and that the price would have to be double . Who said Namibian/ Germans don,t have a sense of humour.
I took this picture to show how well the coat colour blends with the surroundings grey with the wood and the orange browns with the sand.
As we travelled back taking in the views with the sun slowly cast a shadow behind the hills. As we headed back into the khomas area we were back into cattle country and began to notice a lack of scrub. The scrub and trees that were there looked dead. Philip explained the were treating the trees and scrub with hormone based chemicals to clear the trees and scrub to improve the grass for the cattle to feed on. The area looked like a giant prairie of a couple of thousand acres. Philip did add That the owners don't understand why they don't seem to have any kudu or browsers anymore. It was quite sad to see these big open areas it will be interesting to look again in a couple of years to see how the area fairs. We arrived at the lodge just as the light faded helped unload and prepared for our evening meal.
I forgot to note that this was the first dik dik for Philip at khomas highland hunting beginners luck I think. Also My daughter told me the other day that her friend William thought we would be hunting for the week inside Philips game viewing area all 250 acres of it. Luckily for will I wasn't told until we got home or some serious ribbing would of taken place.
Greetings all! I've been a hunter for 50 years, but only now planning a trip to Africa. I was fortunate and successfully bid on a couple hunts for plains game in SA later this year and next. Also a rare Native Texas (5th generation) and USMC Vet. Hunt safe y'all!