Thank you cpr0312. Hopefully I have the chance to go back. Now to continue my story. . . .
Day 10 - After the fireworks we experienced yesterday taking both a trophy Waterbuck and a Zebra, the outfitter Werner felt that might be our lucky water hole. Although it was set up primarily for bow hunters after a Cape Buffalo, it had been very productive for us, so he encouraged us to try it again for our Gemsbok. So even though my butt was sore from 3 previous days in a blind, we decided to try it out for the morning. My mother-in-law decided to hunt with my niece & nephew today, so it was my wife Michelle and I, with our PH Charles. We got to the water hole around 7:00.
Since it was our 4th day in a blind, we really felt it, falling asleep or drifting off while sitting up. The best activity was a hyperactive squirrel that kept flicking its tail. We saw a small Kudu bull and a Warthog, and that's it. No Gemsbok. At about 12:30 a truck picked us up and we went back to camp. We were lucky to have been moved to a new room, in a new building that was just completed. So I grabbed some lunch an quick half hour nap, while my wife visited, and Werner told us we would go spot and stalk from the truck in a large concession.
We left at 3:55 on the cushioned chairs of the hunting truck, very cool. As we drove we saw some herds of Wildebeest on the road, a group of five Zebras cross the road, some Impalas, and a Steenbuck for the first couple hours. We drove through some pretty thick stuff, then we spotted a large Gemsbok up the road 150-200 yards that took off into the trees. We pulled over and Werner jumped out with sticks and we took off. My wife was hunting today and I followed behind, taping the whole thing. We ran up the road and then cut through the trees and tracked him. We spotted him at a distance stopped and looking directly at us, but at about 100 yards through the trees. No good shot. This was a very large Gemsbok bull, and just when the sticks were set up he took off again at high speed, so she couldn't get a shot. Dammit. We decided to go back to camp, and we'd be back again tomorrow. . . . Back at camp Kenny our chef beat the dinner drum, and we all had a great Kudu meat dinner, a dancing contest with some good beer and good laughs. . . .
Day 11: Our first day hunting a Gemsbok was somewhat successful as we saw our first bull of the hunt. He spotted us and took off too quickly yesterday, so today we decided to hunt a water hole that was directly ahead of his last direction of travel last night. Of course I wore the lucky hat, hoping for the best!
On the drive out the wind was cold and our fingers froze, but we did see ten giraffes, a Steenbuck, a Kudu, five Zebras, Wildebeests and Impalas, but no Gemsbok yet. On our way out, Werner stopped to show us tracks of a Leopard dragging its kill across the road. We got to a blind set up on stilts next to a large water hole, in the general area of the Gemsbok we had tracked last night. We climbed the ladder into the blind and started another quiet day. Many animals came by the blind to drink, Kudu, Warthog, Impala, Zebra, Nyala, Waterbuck, Baboon, Bushbuck, Rhino, Wildebeest, Mongoose, and water fowl. Apparently the large Gemsbok bull had already watered because we never saw him again. It was a long day hunting, and we didn't have any luck. We got to ride back to camp inside the truck, and stay warm. Back at camp, Kim told his story of his 55" Kudu bull, Ren and Tasha found the Wildebeest Tasha had wounded yesterday 500' yards away. Good day hunting, at a very active water hole, but no Gemsbok. . . . yet.
Day 12: After waking up to another beautiful orange sunrise, and a great bacon, egg, and sausage breakfast, we were ready to go! My wife and I had both hunted the Gemsbok, and today it was my turn. When planning this Safari for the past two years, the animal that I wanted the most was the Gemsbok. Reading about how skiddish they were had played out exactly for us, as the first one we saw took off on a dead run after spotting us, and we never saw it again. We had not seen any other Gemsbok our first five days hunting, and now we had two days left. I really wanted to get another chance, and we talked with Werner about our chances in different areas. He decided our best chances would be in a concession about 45 minutes south of our location. Maybe today would be our day!
Christo was our PH to go hunt Gemsbok with Mike and Lana who were hunting Gemsbok and Kudu. We took two trucks down to the southern concession with four hunters and three observers. We entered a pretty vast area with some areas of thick vegetation. As we drove through, we saw some Roan running in front of the truck. At about 9:00 Christo spotted the curled horn of a Kudu hiding behind a tree about 120 yards off the left side of the truck. At first Mike didn't see it. Mike took my spot on the left side, steadied his 300 Win Mag on the cushion rest, located the Kudu and fired a shot at the chest. It was a perfect shot and it dropped right where it stood. What a nice start! It was exciting to get such a nice start. We loaded the Kudu in the back with us, and continued hunting for Gemsbok.
After a few minutes, Christo and the tracker spotted a Gemsbok moving through the trees about 100 yards to our left. We got the sticks, and followed it, and it was moving fast and got ahead of us. We tracked it for about 30 minutes through some trees, and ran across two Sable bulls (which were tempting) but it had gotten too far ahead and we lost it. We decided to try to circle around and find it, and drove around trying to spook it out, but couldn't locate it again. I had seen it when we first started stalking, but it would have been about a 100 shot through the trees, and now it had eluded us.
We continued our spotting from the back of the truck, driving through the desolate red dirt roads of this remote concession. After another hour or so, we spotted a group of four Gemsbok to the right of the truck. After we jumped out and followed them a few hundred yards, we got close enough for a shot, and I got a rest on the sticks. I had a large one in my crosshairs when the PH told me they were all cows, and we only had permission to take the bulls on this concession. Damn! We left the concession and drove to a nearby farm, and the PH and trackers gutted Mike's Kudu while we ate lunch. It was good entertainment. A stranger drove up, and he was a Portugese persian rug salesman, who was fascinated by the Kudu and got a picture with it. His name was Vicente and he proceeded to try to sell me five Persian rugs for $2,000. About this time John, Joe, and Tina pull in, and Joe had shot a nice Gemsbok bull. The other PH Tian gutted and skinned the Gemsbok, on this little farm.
After lunch we hunted for a couple hours but didn't spot any Gemsbok, and then Christo took us to a blind that looked like an old hay barn next to a water trough. The local tracker knew of an old Gemsbok bull that sometimes came in to water here. We set up about 2:30 using a hay bale as a gun rest. My wife and PH Christo sat behind me watching animals come in to water. The plan was to wait for the old Gemsbok bull, or any other Gemsbok that might come in. I set up my rifle and got comfortable in my camp chair to wait. Almost instantly Warthogs came in, and then a Nyala. We saw Waterbuck, Roan, and Warthog as we waited and hoped, for about three hours. At dusk I turned on my scope's illuminated reticle to help me see, because it was getting pretty dark, and felt that I might have about 5 minutes of visibililty to make a shot. Right at dusk at about 5:45 pm, an old Gemsbok bull slowly move in, walking cautiously. I was so happy to see that bull, I watched each step. I immediately had it in my field of view, and Christo gave me the signal to shoot, tapping on my shoulder. I took a nice broadside shot; he ran about 25 yards retreating away, then he dropped.
After working for the past three days to get a Gemsbok, our patience had paid off! Three hours of planning, patience, and silence had given me about a 20-25 yard shot, and now I had filled my package! My PH Christo was so excited and gave me a high five!! My wife was thrilled. PH Christo showed me that the Gemsbok's horns were well worn because he was about a 10 year old mature bull who had used them a lot to fight other bulls, pull up fences, etc. PH Christo nicknamed him "Madala" (Gramps). I was ecstatic, because it was almost pitch black when I took the shot! We had filled our package with only four shots for four animals! Woa! Not bad.
We drove back about one hour in the dark past some dark neighborhoods without electricity, which was a surprise. We got back to have Sable stew for dinner. It tasted great, a lot like elk! Ren and Joe had also gotten Gemsboks today too, so we went to the skinning shack and watched the PH's and trackers skin two giraffes and the Gemsboks. This was a great hunt! It was a fun and a very exciting day where I got to shoot the animal I had wanted the most!
Thanks for letting me share my story. What a great trip to South Africa, I hope that we can go again!