NAMIBIA: Namibia, The First Time. A Family Affair


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Mar 26, 2014
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Hunting reports
Part 1: Anticipation

We had discussed it before. Many times. That someday we would do an African trip and a hunt and what we would hunt and how and where. I started thinking about it but Dad ran out of time and for many years I did not think of it again. Around 2019 I stumbled onto stories of Namibian hunts on Africa Hunting and started remembering and thinking. Planning started, and then during covid I had more time to think and start to plan. I spoke to people I had never met before and asked questions and started planning. I asked for a client lists. I spoke with a family that had been on 6 safari trips in 7 years. It’s like walking through the marina in San Diego... Where do people get all this money? But I digress. In 2021 I paid a deposit at Kowas Adventure Safaris in central Namibia. I figured that would be the start, and in a way it was. But there was significant “scope creep” in this mission. What began as us looking for a family-friendly safari on a low fence ranch outside of the Malaria zone quickly grew into a full-family affair, and then Grandma and also my wife’s Dad, Rich (Papa) decided they didn’t want to miss the fun either. So, three years later here we were on the nonstop to Heathrow and then onto Johannesburg to meet our concierge and help us get the rifles into Africa.

If you have not done a safari before I hope this write-up is helpful. These reports were certainly helpful to me int he planning process. I will add the things I wish I knew. It will take me several parts, so if you are looking for a quick read this thread might not be for you. But I hope it is helpful and reflective of the experience we had.

We looked at transiting from Frankfurt direct to Windhoek, and that certainly would have been easier. But the costs are huge, and since everything I do is also applied tot eh wife and kids, and further obligates my Mom and my wife’s dad, we had to rule out both the nonstop from Atlanta to Capetown AND the Frankfurt to Windhoek routes. Perhaps another time.

Having heard all the drama about bringing rifles through Johannesburg, we did opt for the concierge service and I am glad that we did. Here is our escort and out little family caravan heading to do all the very important paperwork and wait in all the very important lines that are required to move a rifle into South Africa for a few hours.

If you have not done this in the past, I cannot imagine doing it for the first time without either local or professional help. We had to go to FOUR difference offices in the airport to buy airline check tags, police permits, airline permits, check the rifles, then head to the actual firearm office so we could check the rifles one more time to get them into Windhoek. This little office was crammed with people and loud and everyone talking and gesturing and laughing and asking questions. We got it figured out but the money for the concierge service is one of the better investments we made.


Finally, after nearly 24 hours in the air, just one more flight and we would be in Namibia. Flying over Namibia there are no clouds and the ground below is a rolling red expanse, interrupted by the occasional red scar of a road or two track stretching to the horizon.

We land. Our hosts – Jacques [“Jock”] and his wife Elleni are there with their 2 year old son and we are all ready to pile into the trucks as soon as we pick up the rifles and ammo cases. I tell Jacques I can see the cases are in the police office on the Tile tracker so I’m not worried. The policeman finally opens the office and my rifles and ammo case are there and Papa’s rifle is there but no ammo case. How could the ammo case make it to the other side of the world and through all the steps in Jo’berg and then get lost on the last 90 minute flight? The wifi in the airport is shut down and now we can’t get his air-tag to connect but it’s no where to be found and we fill out some more paperwork and head to the farm. It’s dark when we arrive. We eat and collapse, exhausted.

I make coffee and get set up for day one. We will visit the rifle range and then maybe do a quick afternoon hunt. Papa and the kids and my mom are off in two days to do a photo safari at a private game reserve but I will stay and hunt hard. On Papa’s list are an oryx and a kudu. My list is a bit longer and will change some over the course of the trip. But first, like the song says “A cup of Coffee and a sunrise, Sunday drives and time to kill”


The land is sparse and dry. Absolutely everything has some kind of vicious thorn that is ready to grab you. Everything in your nose and sinuses and eyes freezes and dries—there is almost no humidity at all and there will not be any for months more. We eat and hit the range. First on the bags, then on the sticks. Jacques has this kind of modified stick contraption that lets you stand but also has a front and rear rifle support. It takes a minute to set-up, but it is relatively stable and both the wife and I shoot a few shots and then Jacques seems happy and all of us area satisfied.


My rifle is Grandad’s Ruger M77 in .338 win mag. It belonged to him for many years and he hunted elk with it in New Mexico. It belonged to Dad after that and he hunted elk with it in Colorado and New Mexico. It belongs to me now. Bubba (age 7) comes along and shoots Jacques’ 22-250 that will figure very prominently in the story later on. Chrissy takes a few shots too but this is just for practice as much as anything else.


We do have to make adjustments to both rifles but nothing major. Perhaps one error—here we do NOT shoot Papa’s 338 win mag with my 338 min mag ammo. I am using the same load I use at home for elk but in the past his rifle has not patterned as well as mine with this handload. So we defer on zeroing his rifle, since we are going to have his ammo back in a day or so, surely, and would only have to repeat the exercise then (right?). It would be a decision we would regret. When we check the air tag on Rich’s ammo case we can see it’s still in Jo’berg. Not sure how that happened, but it’s there.

After the range we take a break. We learn quickly that in Namibia in the afternoon almost nothing moves. People or animals. This will come into play later, but the hunts are almost all morning/evening affairs and then a nap or relaxation or rest or billiards during the afternoon.


That afternoon we do a quick game drive. It will be Big sister (age 9) who joins first since she will be leaving for the other game park in a few days. It’s the very first real day, so we are not really hunting, but not really NOT hunting either.

We ride onto a neighboring farm that Jacques says will have some kudu. The general procedure is not unlike hunting elk or mule deer in Oregon. Drive somewhere you can glass. Glass, then hopefully find something to chase. Well on this occasion, our first real foray, the kudu does not get the memo to wait until we are on the “koppie”, and when we come around a curve Jacques stops the rig and signals to look ahead. He says there is a good bull 500 yards out in the road. We quickly hop down and swing right. We cut through the bush and stalk quickly but can’t get the wind right and when we pop out to where the Kudu was there is nothing. In trying to get around the kudu, we circle around some Oryx, but when we cut back in to see what the oryx look like we have pushed them out. We decide it best to back out and not push the kudu bull out of the area. But even in this little hunt we see oryx everywhere and are very content to put this bull to bed and come back in the morning.

Continued in part 2
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Part 2: Opening day

Morning comes early. We have a good breakfast. Since Big Sister came out the night before it’s bubba’s turn. He is excited almost beyond words. We also decide Papa will be up first, and since we just zeroed my rifle, he can just use my rifle on this first hunt, even though obviously this is not ideal. I tell Bubba it will likely be a long morning and will be hot and lots of walking. He’s amped. We return to the area where we put the kudu bull to bed the night before. There is a road and then the kudu should be up on the koppie. We get to a spot to glass and Jacques is on full alert. As soon as we stop things get going immediately.

“You see him there? Good bull, bit out of our age class….there’s a second, see to the right?”

I am looking. The ridge looks like nothing at all.

“There is a third, see that one too? And a fourth—bit further down the ridge. There are four.”

I do finally pick up one and then the others. The are all up on the top of the koppie, huge spiral horns shining in the sun. Jacques is particular on age class and this takes time to determine. We crawl down to a spot we have a tree blocking us from the ridge and then can glass. Jacques says there is a candidate bull and we need to close some distance. We cross a fence, then pause again. Anticipation is very high. Is this really going to happen this fast? It’s not 8am. Jacques says it is a good bull and we should take the shot. We close to 275 yards and then have nowhere else to go as we will lose visibility if we start to climb. The shot will be at a pretty steep angle up the koppie.

“Should be OK” Papa says. With his rifle I believe him. With mine?

I am watching with the binoculars and see the bull now. He is partially covered in brush but clearly visible. There is another bull further left that (to me) appears nearly as big but Jacques says is younger. Papa gets on the sticks, the rest of us on the glass. The bull is not visible in this photo but is on the ridge top hidden behind the left green tree in the foreground.


Bubba is ready.


Papa does not take long and gets the shot off. There is a very clear slap-back that rolls down the koppie to us. Papa reloads and the kudu is still on his feet but clearly hit hard. Jacques is mumbling

“Don’t break a horn….DON’T break a horn…”

“Fire again?”

“I think we are done”

He is on his feet for a few moments stumbling downhill but then disappears into a thick camelthorn patch and does not come out. All signs are looking very positive, but of course you never know until you check. I am looking at the “third” kudu on the ridge.

--That other one is big too

“Yes, big, but young. Not in the age class yet. Will be big one day.”

--Are we looking at the same one?

The thing looks like some kind of dinosaur standing on the ridge. Giant spiral horns almost glowing in the morning sun.

“Yes, he would measure but is outside the harvest age range”

OK. Thought I would try. Up we go.


We know that he was hit, but some bright red blood is reassuring

First look

There is no ground shrinkage on this one. There is also no way we are getting the truck up here. So Jacques calls in some help and we catch our breath

Jacques points out the signs on the horns that indicate a mature bull that fits the management plan for harvest, and which differentiated this bull from the other one that was also on the ridge. This is a good wide bull and Jaq says will be 53-54”, which is about the line for the SCI book/Namibian Hunters Association Silver or Gold medal. We are thrilled beyond words and reflect for a minute on the top of the koppie and take a bunch of pictures.



The bull is big—about the size of a big rosie bull. We have some time before the rest of the crew gets there to help out on the extraction.

--Are there packboards?

“No pack boards.”

-How do we get him down?

“In pieces”

--Well I guess I knew that, but why no..?

“This is Africa”

That’s about all the explanation I’m going to get, so it will have to suffice. Soon enough the guys come with the truck.

The driver of the truck is Mathus, the other PH. He is out of the truck and speaking urgently with Jacques in Afrikaans.

“Hartebeest?” Jaq asks

They do this kind of crazy thing while speaking. All of them speak 3-4 languages, so things usually start in Afrikaans, but then every 6-7th word will be in English, or some Afrikaans word that I can understand (“Hartbeest, wildebeest”) and then occasionally they also slip into Ovambo, which is the language native to the trackers and Mathus, although Jaq speaks it too. I am not really trying to follow what they are saying, but Hartebeest are on my list. Mathus is talking very fast and Jacques is clearly interested in whatever it is he is saying.

“We are going to go” Jacques is looking at us.

--We are not helping?

“They say they have it and we need to find the hartebeest on the other side of this koppie”

We are back in the truck. On the way out Jacques says that Mathus – one way or another—had recent intel that there are a bunch of red hartebeest that have been hanging out in the meadow in the mornings on the other side of this farm. Since it is early and we are already on the right farm, we can likely find then in the open and intercept them before they bed. So we are back on the truck and off again.

When we reach the other area, which is not far away, we do not see anything from the truck and there is no glassing knob. But there is a windmill. Up go Jacques and Humphrey (the tracker/assistant guide).


Bubba is NOT happy that he is not allowed to climb way up the windmill. After a brief debate we settle on the “third bar” and no higher. He is then very happy with himself. I tell him we are not going to be here long, as Jacques clearly has something spotted and I warn Papa too that we are about to move. I am not sure what we are going to do, but clearly we are about to do something. Jacques and Humphrey are both gesturing and pointing as they conference on the top of the windmill.


After a few more minutes Jacques comes back down

“We are going to move quickly—we need to cover about a mile”


“There is a large herd of hartebeest and at least one good bull. They are heading to bed but we can catch them if we can move now, but we have to move fast”

--Let’s go

I try and take a few photos of this stalk. When we are trying to get into position I never seem to take photos, generally since we are all trying to move, not spook anything, etc. It is the hardest part to take photos of on an entire hunt. But here we do drop below a little rise and can move quickly with the wind hard into our faces. This whole morning has moved very, very quickly. And now all of us are on a half-jog covering ground. Here we are moving up the rise and the windmill is behind us in the background.

If you are like me and have never even seen a herd of hartebeest they look like this in the distance. It’s a big herd and this is the best I could get with my phone.


Over the course of the next few minutes, several things happen in a very fortunate sequence that really helped us. This story has a happy ending. First, we had this roll in the plain that let us knock off the last ~quarter mile without being seen. Next, the herd seems to “hang up” and stopped to feed instead of just booking it across the property line to our right. We cleared the ridge and then stopped and the whole herd is below us, maybe 5-600 yards out feeding in this very tall yellow grass that’s maybe waist high. Jacques says we can clear another 100 yards but then there is an obvious break in the cover and no more big bushes to hide behind. I can see the bush he is looking at. I tell my son he is going to hang up and watch from here, and he and Papa sit behind a blackthorn bush. Jacques and I crab walk and belly-crawl anther 100 yards and stop, panting, behind another big blackthorn brush.

“Might be 400 yards—can I see your range finder?”

--400 yards on the sticks?

“Yes, 380”

--That’s a long shot

The grass is high so there is no getting prone for this one. But at this instant the third very fortunate thing happens. Compelled by the Holy Spirit or forces of nature or good fortune, a cow hartebeest breaks off the herd and starts jogging directly towards our blackthorn bush. We are crouched down and holding position, watching. Seeing the cow peel off, a young bull pursues, and they are both swimming through this grass sea headed directly to our little refuge behind the blackthorn bush.

“Wait, here they come”

--Yes. I can see.

Seeing two of the herd break loose, the larger herd bull turns to follow.

We hold, crouched down. Now, the fourth and final bit of good fortune we are blessed with: The initial bull and cow pair get within 100 yards of us and bed. Seeing this, the larger bull also beds maybe halfway between the break-away pair and the main herd.

“We are going to stand, and when we stand you are NOT shooting the small bull that is right on us.”

--Got it

“The pair will spook but the bigger bull will get up. Then you will get a shot as he stands”

--Right. Ready.

Up we go onto the sticks and only now can I fully see that the pair of hartebeest are only maybe 75 yards away. Our very sudden appearance rising up from the grass sea is of considerably concern to the eloping pair, and they spin and start to head back into the main herd body. Seeing the movement of the young bull, the larger bull, maybe 200 yards distant, snaps to attention. I’m already on the sticks and the rifle is up and I am on him. He stands and turns to intercept the returning pair and this puts him broadside to us.


I’m already into my squeeze and the shot flies almost immediately. There is a clean slap-back and the bull stumbles. He gets to his feet and the herd moves off but he is clearly lagging in the back.

--Another one?

“No, I think we’re good”

And sure enough down he goes. About the time I come off the rifle Papa and Bubba are already to us and we get to share the moment, the second down animal of the morning


On our way over we find his bed


And there he lays. Jacques is telling me to put the shot flat onto the middle of the shoulder, further forward that what I would normally do. So this one that is well forward for me is –apparently—perfect.


Jacques is pointing out the things that mark a mature bull—the hard bosses at the base of the horns and the grey patch in the forehead. We take a bunch of pictures. They are very particular in the way they pose the animals there, but the photos do come out kind of cool.


--OK, but at home we would do it this way


This one we can get the truck right up to and then it’s onto the winch and straight into the back of the rig. Pretty slick. Bubba supervises.


We get the animals hung up and into their skinning and butchering shed, which is also a nice set up. The kudu is there waiting for us. We cover some ground after we rest in the afternoon and glass some at sunset. But it has been a heck of a day and the sundowner that evening is a very good time around the campfire. We drink a cold beer and tell stories of the day and the memories and Bubba tells Grandma the story of the animals we found on the rocky koppie or in a yellow grass sea.

Continued in part 3
Awesome report so far, can't wait to read more!! I'm thinking about taking my kid next time, sounds like you guys are having a great time! Congratulations!
Nicely done on the story, and some good shooting. Congratulations on a great hunt so far.
Sounds like a wonderful safari so far. Appreciate you sharing and lookin forward to hearing about the rest of your trip.
Excellent write up. Keep it coming.
Part 3 – The Koppies

The morning of the third day. The family will head to Erindi game preserve and I will stay to hunt. At least that was the plan. Bubba is beside himself that he is going with the ladies and Papa instead of staying to hunt. I hate to tell him he can’t hunt, but we talk about the next few days being very hard hunting and Jacques warns us we got pretty lucky with that first kudu and a second one that big will be more work. Bubba says he can do it and so it’s decided.

Another curious thing happens this morning. We are calling the airline and the baggage company every morning and when we check the ammo case this morning it’s in Windhoek.


How did that happen? We are calling the airport but today is Sunday and they say we are going to have to wait to Monday to make any meaningful progress here.

--The flights are going but there’s no way to talk to someone to get the case?

“This is Africa”

With the rest of the family away, Jacques, Bubba, Humphrey and myself spend most of the following day trying to connect on a spring buck. We come close, and Bubba almost gets a shot off on Jacques’ rifle, but we just can’t get him turned in time and the herd makes it to within archery range of us and finally spooks. The next morning we make a long drive to a new, different property. Jacques seems pretty excited to hunt this place and mentioned it does not get hunted and that they worked to get a quota of kudu on this ranch. We get to the gate. I’m in the back with Bubba since it was a bit of a drive


There is a very prominent koppie near the entrance and up we go. Bubba is loving it. We get up to the top and glass. The valley floor below is absolutely littered with kudu cows. Jacques says he counts 68. I can’t get that many in my count but Jacques’ ability to spot game is pretty humbling. There is a small water tank at the base of the road to the left of center frame, and the kudu march like a line of ants down the valley to get to the tank.


There are seven kudu cows in this photo

After initially thinking we have landed in kudu Shangri-la, our initial excitement gives way to the fact that they are *all* cows. We watch for a while and cover some more ground, but there is nary a bull to glass.


Glass from one koppie and climb another koppie, then glass, then head down to the next koppie. Over and over. Once we are over the initial excitement of seeing so many cows it seems strange to me that we struggle to find a bull at all, let alone and “shooter” bull. One other highlight from day 3 worth mentioning is that Jacques sends for the rest of the family and they make a drive out and we have a Namibian style field lunch in a dry lakebed on the property. Here Bubba supervises the hearth while our hosts play with their little one in the dry lakebed. I try to explain to Jacques’ Dad (and retired PH) Dani that we would do trips like this with freeze-dried food. He seems somewhat incredulous.



In Namibia, as elsewhere, hunters gathered around a campfire elicits the telling of many stories. And I do hear stories of buffalo hunts that went well and went poorly. Of Oryx in thick cover and kudu on the mountains. I tell them of the time that the wolf surprised me in Alaska and how I shot a caribou out of a lake once. We sit and eat the roasted Oryx sausage. There is another part of the property we have not yet covered, so we will do that in the afternoon. Dani has a beer and talks of the old hunts and the fire and the water hidden down in the chasm before us at the end of the dry lake. There will be no nap and no break today but I would take that trade every time. We shake hands and part ways and head up the other valley.

Coming around the entrance to the back valley things change. Jacques immediately says there is a good bull on the valley wall in front of us, but a long ways off. We move forward and find a small stockade that will play a central part in the next part of the story.


We are now across the mountain from the “other water” and this small white tank in the center frame of the photo above is the only water for many, many miles. We get to climb another windmill and can see many kudu bulls on this side, but they are all very high up on the mountain in front of us.


We take stock and re-group for a good plan. It looks like we might have “missed” the bulls coming down from this mountain to water in the morning as they are all very high on the mountain across from us. We glass the rest of the day but decide it best to come back first thing and wait for these bulls to come down.

The plan starts out well enough. Breakfast early, long drive, big climb. We get into a good position above the stockade. Jacques is pointing out bulls on the far side of the valley. They are still up high but have to come down at some point (right?). We work our way around the mountain and get into a good glassing knob.



It almost comes together on this, the second kudu day on this ranch. I am seeing the bulls on the opposite face, above the water. Jacques says there is a good bull coming down. It’s maybe 11am. There are a bunch of cow kudu also working their way up the valley, and that should give the bull some confidence with the cows at the water to hang out in the open for a bit. In this photo the tank is to the right and the cows are working their way in. There is a cow under the tree and a few more just above the two-track


We move. Jacques and I head down the mountain to get into a shooting spot. The bull is coming faster than I had thought and we are not yet in position when he reaches the tank and starts to drink. Scrambling to get down fast enough to line up for a LONG shot I slip and come down HARD on the rocks. Rifle in one hand and binos in the other, I don’t have a hand left to catch myself and hit the rocks hard on a fall. Jacques helps me up but that one hurt. Getting around into our spot I step on some kind of thorn which punches right through my boot and stabs me in the foot. I yank the giant thorn out but can feel my bloody sock squishing in my boot as we continue downhill. Warm bubbles push up between my toes on every step. Finally we find a big camel thorn tree and Jacques gets the sticks up. The bull is standing at the tank but looking back up the valley wall he came down. We are just getting set up but already out of time. I throw the rifle up and as I come into the scope the bull is there, maybe 400 yards distant and well below us. He has already turned.


“Are you going to shoot it in the a$s?”

Well, no. That would probably not be good. Embarrassed that I even asked at taking the “Texas heart shot” we watch as the bull works his way out of the stockade and back into the brush opposite. Jacques does not say anything but he is at least partially frustrated. I am not sure what else we really could have done different, other than set up here to begin with.

Bubba and Humphrey catch up with us and we spend a few more hours glassing from below this big tree but we never get another look. It is very hot. The only other part of the afternoon that did provide some much needed levity was on the way down. We finally decided to try something different, come up with a new plan and head out of this property for the rest of the day. Jacques says there is another property nearby that has good impala and good wildebeest and springbuck and we should hunt there in the evening. I’m ready for a break. Bubba is hot and sweaty and exhausted and not happy. So we are ready for something else. I agree. As Jacques goes back and Humphrey gets the truck the other tracker Joseph and I wait below. There are bunch of baboons that scream at us as we make our way down. In the bottom of the valley they huddle in a tree. Bubba starts working his way toward the baboon tree.

--There is no male in the tree?

“Females and babies”

--If he gets close what will they do?

[a very long silence] “It will probably be ok”

Here I snap a picture as I am calling Bubba back and not letting him chase the baboons away that are sitting in the dead black tree in the background. That’s one experiment I am unwilling to run at this time. Bubba is annoyed and Joseph is very amused.


Continued in Part 4. I think this will go to part 6. Update coming tomorrow.
Fantastic write up. Keep it coming!
There's a racket at Windhoek airport whereby a delivery service colludes with the baggage handlers and or popo, your ammo gets "lost" and then magically re-appears at camp (as the delivery service must get paid by someone, and they split the proceeds.) 'Came to me in a dream. Only happened when Windhoek was the last stop. When flying through to the Caprivi, it's no issue. Did you get your ammo back a couple-few days later?? Not a deal-breaker, but it pains the handloaders that dialed in their rifles so well with the perfect recipes, only to have to shoot meager ammo that the PH is also likely tacking onto your bill...Many don't realize the high elevations that are present in Namib (4,000-6,000 ft) so must rifles shoot quite high prior to re-sighting (even with your own ammo.)
My son took his first African animal off those exact shooting sticks just over a year ago. This report brings back such great memories. Keep it coming!

A couple weeks ago I sent a quote request to Ansie for my next Kowas safari. I cannot wait to return.
The Strauss' are a quality family that provide a great product.

It is neat to be able to recognize a couple places in your photos.

Enjoying your report and looking forward to the rest.

Making memories with your family......priceless!
Excellent report. Thank you very much for sharing. The story line with the pics are superb. Keeps me hanging on the edge of my seat waiting for more. The thorn in the foot sounds nasty. And a hard fall to boot. I hope that was the worst of it.
Part 4, Regrouping or, a New Hope in the evening

We break. Back into the truck. I try to get the kid to nap but he’s pretty bummed. I say we might be able to get him on a hunt, but we can’t do that chasing kudu. I wish I would have gotten out of the truck at the store in Dordabis since I love looking around these little country stores but I don’t and we sit in the truck and I tell him we’ll hunt something else.


We pass onto a new ranch and then the pace quickens. Even after a very long day (or in this instance, days) of hunting we are energized by the new ranch. Jacques sees some impala on the way in but says we can likely do better. I am riding in the front and the trackers at in the truck bed and bubba in the back. We cross into the ranch, which is huge. We get up on a ledge and Jaq says “Eland”. I do see them after he points them out, but he says all small bulls. We cross another ridge and he stops very suddenly.

Jacques likes to play a game. It seems to make little difference if I am ready to play the game, but I am only aware of it once we are already playing. “Do you see the [thing]?” is the game. I am always behind.

We are headed up to our koppie. The game begins.

“Do you see the impala? Big ram.” We pause.
--I do not.

We reverse course down the road and cross quickly to the next road and are walking up towards the ridge. Bubba stays with joseph and Humphrey and Jacques says we have to move fast. The impala are somewhere in front of us this side of the ridge. We are walking down the road but walk right on top of them and they spook and blow out. We rush up the road and Jacques says we will get a shot. They are moving but in the cover and we get set and I’m on the sticks.


The herd is headed up and out of this draw but has to cross the open grass maybe 300 yards distant. I am on the sticks and finally do see the ewe cross into the open.

“See her?”

--I do

“The ram will pass.”

We hold and I am watching through the scope. There are ewes and then the ram does pass into the open.

“You see the ram? Yes? On the ram”

--I see the ram

“That’s the shot.”

The ram is moving slowly to the left and Jacques gives him a loud bark and he slows and lifts his head to see us as I push the shot. Jacques took a photo he shared with me later


There is a slap-back and the ram is on a dead run. But in only a few yards we see him roll in the grass, four legs in the air.


In Impala, as in whitetail, a “dead-on heart shot” is uncomfortably close to “you missed the whole animal”. Luckily in this case, it was the former. Although I get some gentle ribbing

“The shot was too far back since they were moving left”

--And low since they were further than I thought. But only in Africa is that shot too far back

“This is Africa”



Impala was NOT on my initial list but after three hard days I’m very happy to have had the opportunity, which came together very quickly. It’s a beautiful animal, sleek and muscular. Bubba is not thrilled and says it was his turn, but the trackers and Jacques all seem very pleased. They point out the long tips stretching up that indicate a good mature ram. Getting the impala loaded is a lot less involved than the hartebeest, so we are back on the hunt quickly with a bit more time. The sun is sinking.

“We may yes find some wildebeest if you are interested”

--I am interested.

We get back in the truck and drive to a very large open meadow. We get out and Jacques says we will poke into the meadow and there will be wildebeest. I can barely talk my little guy out of the truck. But he does get out. And this begins another remarkable sequence of events. We are working our way into this large flat meadow and then swing left and there is a large group of springbuck. They have seen us but are not spooked. Jacques stops.

“We could go back and grab the other rifle and hunt the springbuck. It would be a good opportunity for him. He would get back into it.”


I hurry back to the rig and get the 22-250 with the big can on the front and the other set of sticks. Jacques set up the sticks for my son on the range 3 days prior. He can get it set up almost like a collapsible rifle sled and the rifle sits there without anyone on it. The problem is that it takes more time to set up than throwing up the sticks. Here is Jacques carrying the “sled” and the 22-250. We are working through this broken grove of what look like Hazelnut trees back home. Beyond the line of trees is the meadow and the springbuck.


We get to the edge and there are the springbuck. We get the sled set up and get Bubba on the sled and then see what the issue will be. It takes time to get set up, and in that time if the spring buck move even a little they are out of the scope, and my little guy is only able to shift the rifle a little bit without having to move the entire sled and re-do the whole set up. We get set up on what Jacques says is a monster ram but I can’t get Bubba to get him square in the scope. I can tell he is very nervous since he is struggling to communicate with us.

“Can you see him? He should be in the scope”


--Bubba do you have him?


“I had him but he moved”

We quickly re-set but the spring buck will only let us move so much. They finally have enough and move further down the meadow, but for whatever reason they hang close to the edge where the cover conceals us. We re-set again, moving a few more dozen yards. Each time Jacques gets the rifle sled set up, then gets the rifle steady on the sled, then gets the scope set on/near the buck, then Bubba gets on the rifle and gets set, and then….we wait. And each time, the springbuck moves, or in the set-up we spook them. Over and over. The rifle is a full size Savage model 12, so it’s very big on him, plus it has a huge can on the front so the whole thing is very heavy and not easy to move, even in the sled. Finally we get a good set up and it’s all there and we seem to hang in the air there for a minute, and the buck hops two steps forward and then the herd takes off. Jacques sighs very deeply for just a moment, then turns and says “We will get another chance”. I know he must be running low on patience—as am I—but he collects our stuff and we take off again. We follow close, but coming around a small rise we stumble right on top of a small group of warthogs. There is a monster boar, not 40 yards from us. Jacques stops on a dime and we all see the boar, white tusks shining in the setting sun. Jacques seems to hesitate—the first I’ve seen of that—and I almost think he will re-set on the boar, which is fine with me. But the warthogs make the decision for us and we continue ahead and find a tree to hide behind while the springbuck ram feeds out in front of us.

One more time, sled set, then rifle set, I nudge Bubba forward.

“He should be in the scope”

“I can see him”

--Front shoulder Bud, squeeze slow

“Yes I see him”

The air stops and the time stops and we hang there in silence. I am praying. Jacques must be praying. I watch the ram and try to will the rifle to fire. If I could just stare at the rifle and the ram beyond and will it to fire. The ram is head down and feeding slowly but will take another step in a moment. We sit in silence

The rifle cracks. And the ram flops.

All at once we erupt.

“He fell! He fell! He fell and I hit it!”

"He’s down, GOOD SHOT!”

We hug and Jacques swings around to look through the scope while I snap a photo but I saw a clean spine hit and there’s no way that one is getting back up



The ram is down just as we are losing the light and the night is coming fast. We walk over and the shot was a bit far forward. When he fired Jacques’ rifle at the range he was shooting a few inches right. And true to form, the shot is maybe 3-4 inches right but that made it a neck shot that broke the ram’s spine ahead of the front shoulder. So down it went in a heap. We hug as we get to the down ram and Jacques ranges the tree we hid behind in the picture above.


--Bit of a poke, Bud


“Can we show Momma?”

--She will be there


It is very pleasant to sit there with the sunset and reflect. And we reflect on the time there. On the pressure to make a shot and the anticipation of approaching a down animal. On hunters and fathers and sons, of hunting for venison in wild places and chasing game:

“Behold now, I am old, I know not the day of my death: Now therefore take, I pray thee, thy
weapons… and go out to the field, and take me some venison; And make me savory meat, such
as I love, and bring it to me, that I may eat; that my soul may bless thee before I die “

“We will bring it back home?”

--Promise bud.

The rest of the family will be back from their photo safari when we arrive, and with both the impala ram and now the springbuck ram in the truck we are greeted as conquering heroes. Plus the story of Bubba’s first ever big game animal will be told around the fire light, smiling teeth and waving hands re-animating the story in the orange glow. When we arrive Papa already has a bourbon in his hand.

But for the moment there is no truck. We wait in the dust and the gathering dark, with a moment to ourselves. The sun sets on the day, and I think of the sunset and the hunt and my son.


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BLAAUWKRANTZ safaris wrote on gpiccs94's profile.
You are welcome to join our family at Blaauwkrantz in February. We have been hosting international hunters since 1978 and known to be the best kudu hunting in the world! we are based on our 100 000 acre ranch, an hours drive from the Port Elizabeth airport. Please email me on
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DLSJR wrote on Will Clark's profile.
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