Discussion in 'Hunting Reports Africa' started by Johnny7604, May 2, 2014.
I guess a woman's intuition was right this time, but don't tell my wife I said such things
Hunting Day 3, A Perfect Day
To understand how much this particular hunt meant tome you need to understand that I grew up hunting and fishing in the Selkirk and Monashee Mountains of British Columbia so any hunt in mountainous terrain is always a special event for me. That coupled with the fact that like many others Kudu have held a special fascination for me since I was a teenager reading my first hunting magazines.
We were going up into the Waterburg Mountains to hunt Kudu in an area that Chris had told me had not been hunted before. This was property that was owned by Chris and had recently been scouted by himself and his new tracker Samson. The three of us had also taken a short scouting trip up the mountain the day I arrived seeing three nice bulls and half a dozen cows. With this knowledge in hand we were confident in today’s hunt.
We set off shortly after first light and went straight up the mountain. Large red boulders littered the mountain, we picked are way up the side step by step, rock by rock. I was beginning to learn which bushes carried the hooked thorns and steered clear of those.
About half way up the mountain the sweat was starting to really start running, it heated up fast here once the sun was up. “What the hell did they do with the wind in this cursed country” I thought to myself. I don’t know what it is about this are but they get almost no wind. The few gusts they do get are almost always switching which makes stalking exceptionally difficult.
No time for complaints or excuses it all adds to the experience. We continued to climb a winding path up the mountain finally reaching the top taking a moment to cool down and enjoy the view.
Chris and Samson strategized in Afrikaans on how we would move down the other side to get a good view of the next mountainside. This is where we saw them on our scouting trip and had no reason to believe they would be anywhere else.
Chris and Samson decided on a direction and we slowly picked our way down the other side of the mountain into a narrow valley. We quickly found a spot to sit in the shade and glass the next mountainside. It didn’t take very long for eagle eyed Samson to pick up the small herd of Kudu on the other side. With a little guidance I was able to spot them shortly thereafter. We counted 7 cows and 3 bulls. Once of the bulls in particular was the one we wanted to harvest if possible. I ranged the other mountainside and my Terrapin told me 450 yards to where the bull was laying down. It was a do-able shot with a proper rest and shooting position. I scanned the area unfortunately while there was a few positions that would offer an ideal position there was just too much grass and trees in the way to give a shooting lane.
“Chris there is no way I can take a shot from this position” I whispered.
“No problem, we will move down to the next little plateau and see what is there. We just have to wait a moment, there is a cow looking right at us.” he responded.
I was a little shocked that we were busted at nearly half a kilometer but I held perfectly still impressed by the vision of these wonderful animals.
It didn’t take long for the cow to go back to feeding and we slowly crept down the red rocks to the plateau right below us. Keeping the trees between us and the herd we silently slid through the bush to the edge. Along the way we stumbled across the rotting carcass of a young Kudu bull that Samson believes was killed by a snake.
“Friggin great” I said…..with my inside voice.
Not far from the carcass I looked ahead and spotted a series of large flat rocks big enough to lay prone. There was no grass or trees in front of them and they offered a perfect view and shooting position to the opposite side of the valley. I pointed to the rocks and whispered to Chris “That’s our spot, I can take the shot from there”.
“Alright, looks good”. He whispered back.
We crept along the edge of the plateau and moved to the rocks. Now we just needed to find the herd again.
It didn’t take long to find the cows and one of the smaller bulls. The herd was slowly feeding their way down the mountainside. We could not see the other two bulls. Seconds turned into minutes and still no other bulls. We knew they were there….somewhere. They wouldn’t abandon the rest of the herd for no reason.
After glassing the hill over and over again we still had no joy on the other two bulls. I decided to get behind my scope and see if I could pick them up with that. Settling behind my nightforce optics I began picking the mountainside apart spiraling out from the herd of cows. As I passed the scope over a large tree in the center of the mountainside something drew my attention. A small patch of grey and white on the other side of the tree that looked out of place. I focused on that patch, suddenly it moved.
“I’ve got him” I whispered. Before I could get the words out I saw and small bush move above him. It was the other one as well.
I’ve got both of them. I switched my vision from the shooting eye to my non shooting eye to verify where they were on the mountainside.
“Where” Chris asked?
“The large light green tree in the center of the mountainside” They are right behind it at the moment. I pointed out the tree.
The Kudu were slowly moving out into the open. “They will be coming into the open in a moment, watch the right hand side of the tree” I added.
A moment later the two Kudu broke cover and we could see them clearly.
“That’s our bull” Chris exclaimed.
The big bull was truly a sight to behold. Seeing him in the flesh going about his daily business was a true privilege.
“If you have a shot take it” I heard Chris whisper.
He would not be giving me a shot though. He continued to move through the open area and settled behind some bushes. This continued for the next hour or so. The bulls would move from tree to tree switching positions on the hillside as they followed the cows. We lost him and picked him back up again more times that I could count.
I was in absolute heaven as I watched the big bull chasing the cows and running off the smaller bulls. I almost forgot we were hunting a couple of times. I would snap back to reality quickly however as the bull would feed his way out of my range of windage and elevation adjustment. Twice I had to shift to the next rock over as he fed his way lower and farther to the right.
I was on the last rock as far to the left as I could go. There was another large rock that was jammed into my ribs preventing me from shifting anymore and my left leg was wedged in between two other rocks. The sun was high in the sky now and we were like three eggs cooking on a frying pan. The only relief from the heat was the occasional light gust of wind which inevitably brought us a good whiff of the rotting kudu carcass not far away. None of the mattered though as I watched the big bull oblivious to our presence. I had flown 21,000 km for this hunt and I would stay here until I burst into flames if I had to.
The bull was still moving from bush to bush and tree to tree. I was out of adjustment. If he didn’t give me a shot now we would have to relocate completely and risk losing the bull. I asked Chris to give me one last range to him before he disappeared. “315 yards” he replied.
“2 ½ minutes of adjustment” I checked off in my brain. I quickly adjusted my point of impact to take into account the angle of the shot.
The bull was in the open now quartering towards us moving slightly downhill.
“Remember the shoulder” Chris reminded me.
“Thank you” I whispered.
Then he stopped……….
I don’t even remember squeezing the trigger but the big rifle barked and sent 250 grains of copper coated lead tearing across the valley. When my sight picture came back from the recoil I saw the big bull rear up on his hind legs, pulled a quick 180 and put the pedal down heading to the right.
“He’s hit”! Chris shouted “reload”.
I didn’t even have another round in the chamber when the bull crashed into the rocks. It was over in the time it took to rack a round into the chamber.
“HE’S DOWN, HA HA HE’S DOWN” Chris shouted!
I slowly got to my knees and looked down across the valley. He was just a small dot of white from here. But after watching him through the scope for the last hour or more I knew every inch of him.
White dot indicated by red arrow is the Kudu.
I got to my feet and for the first time in my hunting career I hugged another dude. That’s right hugs all around for Chris and Samson. Over 20 years of dreaming about this day. It was the perfect place, the perfect animal and a perfect clean shot. To put the cherry on top I now had the distinct honor of being the first hunter to harvest a Kudu off of Chris’s mountain property.
After a few minutes of celebration we made our way down to the Kudu. There was no ground shrinkage here. He was a nice old bull. He was no record breaker but he was still a big old bull that was king of his little piece of mountain and that’s all that mattered to me.
We quickly took some pictures and hiked back out of the valley and to the ranch where we quickly ate a delicious lunch and rounded up some help to pack the big boy out.
As I watched the boys clean up and skin the kudu I couldn’t help but think how lucky I had been so far. 3 days and 5 magnificent animals.
We finished off the day with another wonderful dinner and perhaps a couple too many drinks . We were not overly concerned as the “hard to get” animals were already in the salt. From here on in it was no pressure and clear sailing for the rest of my list. Or so we thought.
Stay tuned for hunting the elusive Impala.
Great report! That is awesome. Nicely done.
Nice Kudu, very thick horns!
I'm thoroughly enjoying your chronicles
Thanks, I'm doing my best to relate my experience as accurately as possible.
Congratulations on a great hunt......so far. You have me captivated and waiting for more.
nice ,heavy kudu ,johnny .
your detailed account of this hunt is great .its easy to tell how much you've wanted to do this .
Hunting Day’s 4, 5 & 6 – The Elusive Impala
For those that haven’t been over there yet this year please understand that the bush in the area I was in was extremely and unusually thick. The areas have received record amounts of rainfall that created widespread flooding. While the amount of rain the area received is great for the local flora and fauna it is playing hell with the hunting industry. Areas that are normally dried up still contain a lot of standing water. The trees are still green and the grass and other undergrowth is high. Visibility is extremely low and animals that prefer the thick bush are living the good life.
I believe this will pay off big time for trophy quality when the areas do dry up but for now it is causing a lot of grief with outfitters. We had received many reports while there that a lot of outfitters were suffering and coming home with empty trucks. While I do believe that some of our success thus far was due to luck Chris did an amazing job of finding areas that worked well with my particular fitness level and shooting skills. We worked very hard for the animals we harvested and I think that is why we were successful.
Anyway on to the story…….
Chris’ plan was to hunt for Bushbuck in the morning and then go after Impala and Warthog after that. Let me tell you there is going to be some monster Bushbuck out there later in the season. We tried everything short of burning the little buggers out and while we did see a couple we were unable to get one to stay still long enough to take a shot. With the bush being so thick and the switching wind being what it was Mother Nature was not going to let us connect with one. I made the decision that I would like to forget about the Bushbuck for this trip and focus on the rest of the animals.
We spent the next two days searching for the plentiful and easy to get Impala. We saw quite a few but every time we would put a stalk on them we would get the inevitable gust of wind at our backs and the Impala would make that wheezing noise they do and run off into the distance.
Time and time again we were getting busted. The thick bush was making longer shots impossible and the switching winds were busting us up close. In the beginning it was no big thing but I think after a while it was really starting to bother Chris and Samson. Apparently the running joke in Africa is when a PH isn’t worth a shit they say he couldn’t even get an Impala.
I was beginning to think that the rumor of how plentiful and easy to hunt Impala was simply a marketing ploy to get foreign hunter over there. I was getting a quite a bit of enjoyment getting friendly digs into Chris about it however.
After day 6 myself and Chris sat down and discussed a new strategy, I asked him if there was any areas he knew where we would be able to catch the Impala feeding in a field or open area where we could take a longer shot at them. I promised him that if we can catch them in the open I will make the shot.
The morning of Day 7 Chris informed me that we were heading south to an area that had a lot of nice Impala on it. When we arrived to the beautiful property I immediately had seen that Chris came through again. Off in the distance we could see a huge open area. We met up with the landowner, a very nice gentleman named Rhadie (I apologize if that is not the correct spelling). After a short conversation he informed us that some of the Impala frequent the large open area that we had seen on the way in. He offered to drive us to a small creek bed south of the clearing where we could begin our stalk from.
Myself and Samson jumped into the box of the bakkie and grabbed a seat. As we headed towards the are we would be hunting I took a moment to enjoy the view of the mountains that were kissed up against the area we were going to be hunting.
We arrived at the creek bed and disembarked from the vehicle. After grabbing my gear and throwing a bit of suntan lotion on (I learned the hard way how quickly it heated up around here) we set off in the direction of the field.
The field was expansive to say the least, I didn’t range the far end but it was at least 1 ½ km long. Lush tall grass filled the field only broken by the occasional tree to provide cover. The field was surrounded by thick thorny bush on three sides with the creek bed bordering the south end. From where we stood we could see a herd of Impala in the far north east end as well as a mixed herd of Red Hartebeest, Zebra and Impala along the eastern fringe of the field. One lonely ram wandered in the middle of the field, he was the one we wanted.
I took a quick scan of the geography spotting a small hill along the south border. “Can we move to that hill, we can glass from there and it would provide a good perch to take a shot? I whispered.
“No problem” Chris returned.
We stalked the distance to the hill staying low and single file. Once at the hill we crept up and peeked over the edge. The ram we wanted was slowly feeding his way across the field. My trusty terrapin gave me a range over 700 yards. I know I can make a shot like that with a good prone shooting position under good environmental conditions however the thing that gave me pause is that my rifle had been banging around the back of trucks and though thick bush for a week. I know the scope took a couple good whacks and although I trust nightforce optics with my life I was not willing to risk wounding an animal on the off chance that my scope had shifted slightly.
We discussed the situation quickly, the ram was clearly not going to move towards us so we decided to try and stalk through the brush that bordered the eastern edge of the field and move into a closer shooting position.
We snuck over to the tree line where we were greeted with the thickest nest of thorn bushes I have ever seen. It was a challenge just to find a place to get into the brush. Finally after a few minutes of looking we were able to work our way in and begin the tedious task of picking our way through the thorn bushes towards our quarry.
It was a slow process in which I strained my left butt cheek duck walking through a hole in the thorns barely small enough to crawl through. Shortly there after I wound up caught up by two of the hook shaped thorn bushes. I now know what a fly in a web feels like, as I sat there with my clothes hooked by a dozen or so of the little sickle shaped thorns trying to be as silent as possible my inside voice was cursing a blue streak that would make a rig worker cringe.
After freeing myself from my hooked captor I quickly resumed the stalk. After Samson and Chris believed we had gone far enough we made our way back out to the field. A small group of Impala stood less than 100 yards ahead of us against the tree line. We all did our best impression of a living statue until the eagle eyed ewes decided we were nothing to be concerned about and continued feeding. We slowly crept along the edge of the trees to where we would have a better glassing/shooting position.
Peering through the brush Chris motioned for me to come closer. “There is a 20 inch or so ram standing in the middle of the ewes. He’s not the one we saw earlier and he’s no record breaker but with the luck we’ve been having you may want to think about taking him. If we find a bigger one later I’ll make you a good deal on him”.
I knew better than to push ones luck. With the hunting conditions the way they were I would take what I could get.
Chris set up the trigger stick and I slowly moved into position for the shot. Looking through the scope I could see the ram, they were all looking right at us. It wasn’t an overly long shot but the Impala are shockingly narrow through the chest. I settled the crosshairs mid chest and gave a gentle squeeze to the trigger. BOOOMMM, the trusty .338 spoke again and the Impala dropped in his tracks. The shot was true and dead center.
Everyone was elated that the curse of the Impala was finally lifted. Chris and Samson both shook my hand and as we looked back we could see Rhadie had been watching the whole ordeal from a hill overlooking the large field. After watching the ram fall he was kindly bringing the truck over to us.
Suddenly the big herd of Impala that had been up against the edge of the field earlier broke cover and burst into the clearing. Chris quickly waved off Rhadie and we waited to see if the big ram would make an appearance. Sure as hell the ram popped out and began rounding up all the ewes that figured it was safer in the open. Then as quickly as they had popped out they rushed back into the bush and disappeared. Rhadie fired the truck back up and continued up to meet us. Chris walked over to speak with him.
Samson and myself stayed put discussing today’s events then out of the corner of my eye I caught a flash of movement. “You’re shitting me, Sammy look” I pointed as the entire herd of Impala once again burst out of the trees and back into the open! The ram was with them again trying to keep control of the ensuing chaos.
“Chris, Chris” Samson waved.
Chris saw what was going on and ran up to where we were perched. We had already set up the sticks and I was ranging the herd. 340 yards.
“There he is, the one we want is farthest to the left in front of that big bush” Chris whispered.
“Ah yes, I’ve got him” I replied.
Chris and I continued the communication as he moved through the herd to the left. I ranged him again, he had moved another 20 yards out putting him at 360 yards.
Chris not yet knowing the distance asked “It a fair ways, can you make that shot”?
I adjusted and stabilized my kneeling shooting position and focused through the scope. A couple of slow breaths and I was able to see the wobble of the reticle was well within the animals vitals.
“Yes I can make it” I think I said it out loud but at that point I was completely zoned in on my sight picture and position.
“Wait until he’s broadside and let him have it” Chris added.
The ram slowly cleared a ewe that was in front of him and stopped broadside. The reticle settled on his front vitals and I took up the remaining pressure on the trigger. BOOOMMM the rifle barked a second time today and the ram disappeared in the recoil.
The ram was gone and Chris was shaking his head and laughing.
“Is he down” I asked? I had heard the smack but wanted to confirm.
“Dropped in his tracks” Chris responded.
I couldn’t believe my luck at having the opportunity to take two more magnificent animals. As we all stood going over what had just happened the heard from the north west corner of the field began a quick run single file into the bush. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing as around the entire herd of 15 rams (yes they were all rams) filed one by one into the tree line.
I think we were all relieved that we had managed to put not one but two of the “elusive and rare” Impala in the salt.
The ride back to the ranch was filled with jokes about how the last few days unfolded holding a much lighter mood than the last two days. A few celebratory drinks and a delicious dinner at Sabrisa ranch wrapped up another amazing hunting day in Africa.
It’s not over yet stay tuned for warthog and blesbok.
Looking forward to it!
that first paragraph sound like hunting pardise johnny.
nice impalas , its like a daily double with you mate .
looking foreward to reading about the blessie and the swine
If you can't find impala, you know it's a tough hunt.
It was indeed paradise. The areas we hunted were fantastic.
Also true. There was some very challenging hunts. As always though the greater the challenge the greater the reward.
It sounds like later this year, will prime time to hunt the animals when the brush is down a little. I better book a trip!
great read , I am really enjoying it
I really enjoy hunting impala , they are extremely cunning and because they are the most hunted species they can be difficult to hunt.
Hunting Day’s 7 & 8, Part 1 – R.I.P Harley
I need to rewind a bit. The day Chris picked me up at the Africa Sky Guesthouse and was driving me up to his ranch in Limpopo he had told me that there was a huge warthog he wanted to hunt while I was there. He had affectionately named the warthog “Harley” because his tusks “looked like the handlebars on a Harley Davidson motorcycle”.
We had seen Harley a couple times during the week and tried to put a quick stalk on him one day but he managed to elude us. Well to get to the point we learned that old Harley had met his end when a couple of biltong hunters had shot and wounded him. He was never seen from again and we could only assume he got back to his den and expired.
We tried scouting out some areas to find a big hog but were coming up dry. We were seeing plenty but nothing really mature. So in Chris Troskie fashion he sent up some smoke signals and managed to find us a place to hunt that he was told was absolutely rank with big ones. So on the morning of Day 8 we headed out to this new area in search of a nice warthog.
The evening before Chris and me were talking about different hunting adventures and I can’t remember how it came up but I had mentioned that there are few things I enjoy more in life than cooking up lunch or dinner over an open fire while out hunting. Well Chris determined to make this adventure as incredible as possible had some Kudu sausage made up from the bull we harvested on day 3. He had brought the sausage with and was going to treat me to a bush lunch Africa style.
It was another beautiful day in Limpopo; there was only a few puffy white clouds in the sky and as usual no wind to speak of. According to Chris we were looking for three “pans” (I’m not sure of the spelling) which I was told are low lying areas that fill up with water during the rainy season. So off we went merrily bouncing down the road in his trusted bakkie.
It didn’t take long at all for us to spot a big warthog as he slipped across the trail in front of us and into the brush. Samson and I quickly disembarked and went after the large boar. The area here was not as thick as the other areas we had been hunting. It was easy to navigate and move quickly. We were hot on the trail of the big fella when Samson got a call on the radio. Chris had spotted three more warthogs that were coming up behind us. Apparently the rumor about this place being hog heaven was not an exaggeration.
We continued to stalk forward after the first pig we had seen, keeping a wary eye behind us for the other warthogs. We had only gone another 50 meters or so when we began to see the sparkle of water through the brush ahead. Anther few steps and we could see one of the pans that Chris was talking about. It was a wide flat marsh approximately 400 meters across at its widest point. The place was an oasis in the sand veldt. Lush green grass was everywhere, birds floated lazily in the open water. It isn’t like I had never seen a marsh before but in this particular setting it was truly a sight to behold.
Samson and I quietly stalked up to the edge of the pan. We quickly noticed an impala ram browsing to our left. Samson’s eagle eyes also picked up on a couple of hogs across the pan slowly feeding their way around the edge. The ram slowly left the area and we began to work our way around the pan. Chris caught up with us and together we set off in hot pursuit of the hogs. We caught up with them quickly but soon realized that they were both female with little piglets in tow.
Chris decided to back out of the area and see if we could locate the other two pans. If we didn’t see anything there we would come back here for lunch and see if we could pull a big boar out of the area. We were unable to locate the other two pans before lunch so we headed back to have lunch.
As we approached the pan Samson and I disembarked and started to walk in while Chris gathered up some wood for the fire. We reached the edge of the pan and Samson’s eagle eyes again picked up a couple big hogs on the other side. If we stalked around the same way we had earlier we would be able to ambush them as they fed toward us. Once again after getting close and putting them in the crosshairs we realized they were female. On the walk back to the truck Samson turned to me and stated very matter of fact “I will stay here all day to get a big warthog”. Samson was definitely my kind of hunter.
As we got close to the truck I could see the smoke and smell the kudu sausage on the fire. Life was getting better by the step. Chris was busy getting lunch ready when we arrived. Long links of sausage sizzled on the fire. Samson without missing a beat went straight to the truck and climbed into the back scanning the pan for any sign of a big boar. His dedication to the hunt was unbelievable, “Chris truly lucked out with this this guy” I thought to myself.
After a few minutes of chit chat Chris pulled the sausage off the fire and handed me a roll. I could already taste lunch as I was breaking the bread open to prepare my “kudu-dog”.
“Warthog” I heard from the truck. I looked to Samson pointing to the opposite shore of the pan then back to my nearly ready kudu-dog.
“You have got to be kidding me” I thought.
Chris ran over to the truck and jumped in the back with Samson snapping his binoculars up. I broke out my terrapin and looked across the pan. From my low position I could only see the back of a large warthog. Samson informed us that lunch would have to wait, we needed to hunt now. It only took Chris a few seconds to confirm that the hog was a shooter.
Samson grabbed the sticks as I retrieved my rifle. I quickly glanced at the sausage on the way by. My stomach grumbled a bit in protest as we headed off to a tree at the edge of the pan maybe 50 yards from our impromptu camp. I could see the form of the warthog feeding on the other edge of the pan. I brought my rangefinder up but couldn’t get a distance through the grass. I quickly ranged a tree right next to the hog…..250 yards. A quick glance back at the sausage made up my mind.
“Screw it I’m taking the shot from here” I whispered to Samson.
A view from our "camp" and the tree I took the shot from. Warthog was along far treeline.
I adjusted the sticks and set up behind my rifle. There was too much grass between him and I to take an immediate shot but I noticed when I ranged the tree that if he continued on his current path he would be in the open as soon as he passed in front of it. I steadied my position and set the crosshairs in front of the tree. The hog did not disappoint, within seconds he moved in front of the tree and into the open. I settled the crosshairs mid shoulder and squeezed the trigger.
BOOOMMM……SMACK!!! He went down with a splash and immediately jumped up ran a few yards and went down again. The second splash the water was red and I knew he was hit hard. He repeated this performance two more times and then went down for good travelling maybe 30 yards total. We later discovered that he very nicely piled up right on the shoreline for us.
We packed up the rifle and sticks and went back to scarf down a quick lunch. The kudu-dogs were amazing made even better by the day’s events and location. After the quick lunch we made our way over to recover the warthog.
I thought they were ugly before but man they are way uglier in person. The kind of ugly only a mother could love. But one of nature’s creatures none the less and deserving of the respect any game animal deserves. Another round of handshakes and congratulations for another successful hunt.
The day wasn’t over yet. Still time to go make a try for Blesbok.
One of the best write ups I've read in a long time. Can't wait for the next installment. Congrats.
Hunting Day 8, Part 2 – Blesbok, Blesbok Everywhere!
With the bushbuck removed from my list I had asked Chris if we could make a try for a white and common blesbok. I did not originally have a lot of interest in them when I first came over however after seeing so many of them over the course of the week they had grown on me. Chris was more than happy to accommodate the list change and it just so happened that the area we taken the blue wildebeest had an abundance of both white and common blesbok.
We finished up with lunch and loading the warthog we had harvested. Our gear was stowed and we piled into the bakkie for the short trip to the other area in search of blesbok. We arrived at the property and met up with one of the landowners. Pieotr (forgive my spelling if it is not correct) a wonderful young gentleman who had recently received his PH license the year before had asked if he could come along and help out. Chris was more than happy to have him along. In my mind it was a win/win. Not only would we have a an extra set of eyes that knew the 10,000 hectares like the back of his hand but he might be able to pick up a few things from Chris as well.
We prepped our gear and Pieotr, Samson and I hopped in the back of the truck. Chris jumped behind the wheel and we were off. Pieotr guided us by a couple of fields that blesbok frequented. We saw several females but no shooters. It didn’t take long for ole’ eagle eyes Samson to spot a large herd of blesbok in the bush. We hopped out of the truck and made a plan to put a stalk on the herd. The herd was roughly 30 animals strong and a mix of both common and white.
The area was moderately dense sand veldt. There was plenty of room to navigate through the trees and brush without causing us any grief. This enabled us to pick up the trail of the blesbok quickly and we began slowly picking our way through the brush after them.
Movement to our left brought the little hunting party to a halt. God bless those white blesbok for standing out so well. The whole herd was feeding about 150 yards distant. There was significant brush between us but we could see several as they would pass across small openings. Binoculars and rangefinders were out and scanning the animals we were able to see. Mostly females, no shooters in sight.
The light breeze was in our favor for now so we started to move in a little closer…..suddenly a familiar grunt echoed through the brush. Houston we have a problem. The blesbok were buddied up with a small herd of blue wildebeest. I’m not familiar with blue wildebeest behavior but these ones were on the ball. Even with the wind in our favor they had us cold and for once the sparse undergrowth was working against us. All we could do is make like a statue and hope they would turn their interests elsewhere.
It didn’t take long for the wildebeest to decide that it was better to be safe than sorry and they exited stage right. We watched as the blesbok took the hint and followed along moving deeper into the brush.
With the wind still I our favor we decided to continue the stalk. They hadn’t gone far so we slowly pushed forward trying to position ourselves to get a good view of the herd. It was only a few minutes longer when suddenly the entire herd decided they were relocating back to the position they help originally. I couldn’t help but laugh a bit as I watched them run back through the bush to where we first found them. We waited for them to settle down a little more and moved in, this time the wildebeest were nowhere to be seen.
I don’t know what was up with these blesbok but it was only another few minutes into the stalk when the entire herd once again pulled up stakes and bolted back to the right. To our benefit they seemed to be ignoring us as we gained ground on them with every move. We were close now it was 100 yards max to the herd. There was still a lot of brush between us but things were looking good.
As suddenly as before the herd bolted again, heading back in the direction of their original position. This time though they were headed almost straight for us. We hunkered down and watched as the entire herd thundered past us at about 25 yards. I was amazed at how close we were as they passed next to us. We were completely exposed to the herd but they seemed oblivious to our presence. Even these smaller animals were impressive to watch as they stampeded by us at such a short distance.
“These animals are retarded” I laughed. “What the hell is wrong with them”? No one seemed to have an answer to what kind of behavior they were displaying but it was humorous to watch them none the less.
With the wind no longer on our side we decided to back out and leave these seemingly confused animals. There were a couple of fields we wanted to check before dusk. So we packed up and headed out. We made our way to a very large field and immediately saw 3 blesbok feeding near the far side approximately 800 yards distant. One of them appeared to be a nice white male. There was almost no cover and no place to take a prone shot so we would need to cut the distance to a few hundred yards or so. Chris decided we would stalk single file to a small finger of bushes that stuck out into the field about midway across its length. I ranged the animal and the brush and figured it would give us a 200’ish yard shot.
Single file and hunched over we quickly started making our way across the field trying to keep the line of brush between us and the blesbok. We had to be reasonably quick as we were losing the light fast. The blesbok sensing something wasn’t right relocated farther behind the brush. This actually worked well for us as it provided a little more cover for our approach.
We reached the bush line quickly and hunkered down. The blesbok was still behind a tree and we had no shot from where we were. I pointed to another bush about 20 yards farther into the field.
“I should have a clear shot from there” everyone nodded and we carefully moved over to the lonely bush.
Chris and Pieotr eyed the animal up through their binoculars and I quickly determined the range was 140 yards with my rangefinder. He was definitely a shooter, Pieotr set the sticks up for a kneeling shot as I had requested and we all watched in anticipation as the animal made his way back into the open. He stopped and looked right at us.
When I settled the crosshairs on him he was facing directly towards us. The crosshairs centered on where I believed his heart was and I squeezed the trigger.
A familiar “SMACK” followed the shot and the blesbok dropped in his tracks.
As we approached yet another amazing animal I was glad that we had decided to hunt them while I was here. They are certainly wonderful in their own way.
More rounds of handshakes and congratulations for another successful day in the field. It was dark by time we got the blesbok loaded into the truck and headed back to the ranch. We would finish the day with a couple well-earned drinks and another delicious dinner. Life was good.
Tomorrow we would be going to finish the list with a common blesbok. We didn’t anticipate any problems as we had seen so many. Funny how many curveballs get thrown at you when you’re hunting.
Stay tuned for my final day 9 and the conclusion of my hunt.
Good report Johnny, myself and Hannes went to the same high school and finished school the same year small world. I use to ride my bicycle to their farm not farm from town while still in school.
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