SOUTH AFRICA: Hunting With Karoo Wild Safaris

Discussion in 'Hunting Reports Africa' started by RolandtheHeadless, Jul 8, 2016.

  1. RolandtheHeadless

    RolandtheHeadless AH Veteran

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    Sunday, June 5,2016

    gemsbokDSC_0130.jpg

    Outfitter and professional hunter Victor Watson picked us up at our hotel in Port Elizabeth and took us to his lodge. Victor is a tall, fit young man with short hair, a clean-shaven face, and kind of a sly but good-humored air about him. Since Victor and I had previously exchanged a lot of email, I had the feeling we already knew each other. We shook hands, I introduced my wife, and he somehow found room for all of our luggage in the back of his truck. We followed an asphalt road, which Victor called a "tar road," for an hour or so, then hit a dirt road, which Victor called a "dirt road" too. I thought the landscape looked a lot like the Southwestern United States, complete with cacti and bushes that somewhat resembled sage, but were larger.

    Most of the way we saw vervet monkeys, flicking their long tails as they darted across the road. Go figure. I always thought monkeys live in trees, but there are no real trees here in the Karoo Mountains, just bushes with big thorns. Our host said the monkeys got into the main lodge the other day and broke a bunch of wine bottles. The grass thatching on the roofs of his chalets have chicken wire over them to keep the monkeys from tearing or chewing their way in. Victor warned us not to leave our chalet door open.

    As we drove down the dirt road, something like a big jackrabbit without the over-sized ears darted away in front of the truck. "Blue duiker," Victor said. I knew from my reading that the duikers are part of the Tiny Ten of Africa's hunting trophies. I didn’t have much interest in them then. More on duikers later.

    The Karoo Mountains aren't really mountains by Alaska or Rocky Mountain standards, more like what they call mountains in the Appalachians. Not rocky or sharp, forming no jagged outlines on the horizon; from a high point of ground these rounded weather-worn hills showed themselves as if a series of waves coming in to shore. The hills were covered with sparse, almost tundra-like vegetation and scattered low bushes, mostly bearing nasty thorns. The rounded bushes, triangular-shaped leaves of the aloe plants, and the high, crooked termite mounds made the near landscape look like an alien world, or a set for a Vin Diesel movie. The country didn't make much of a first impression on me, but I would grow to love it.

    After we arrived and my wife was ensconced in unpacking our over-packed baggage, Victor took me out to his 100-yard shooting range, nominally to see if my scope had been knocked off-kilter by the trip, but mainly to see if my shooting was off-kilter. My trusty .300 Winchester Magnum, managed to put two holes in the target that were touching and in reasonable proximity to where they were supposed to be. I decided that was enough of a demonstration, not wanting to try my luck with a third shot.

    There were a few hours of daylight left, so Victor took me out hunting the property around his lodge. His family came into the country five generations ago, and have owned property in South Africa for just as long.

    Victor drove a Mazda long-bed truck with a diesel engine, converted into a hunting vehicle they call a "bakkie" in Africa. We drove up rougher and rougher tracks, until we were climbing trails that would do an Alaska 1920's-era mining road justice. At one point we were clinging at so steep a sideways angle that if I'd opened the side door I'd have fallen a hundred feet without hitting anything.

    And now that I looked matters over more carefully, I could see there were some sizable rocks way down there, after all.

    “Hey, you’re not afraid of heights, are you?”

    “Not really,” I lied. “Let’s say I have a healthy respect for them.”

    “As for anything that can kill you, eh?”

    My nerves weren't supported by Victor's habit of pointing to various game animals while driving, saying casually, "There's a blesbok," or "There's an impala" or "There's a cow kudu." I kept trying to look at where he pointed, and even when I fully focused, I couldn’t see a damn thing.

    After a time, measured in days, I could usually see game when he pointed to it; but he or Mitchell was always the first to spot it. When we reached a less precipitous section of the trail I was able to see a nice blue wildebeest bull amidst a group of three, and later I almost got a shot at an impala ram, but he was standing in the middle of a group of ewes. I didn’t know it, but this was the beginning of my impala jinx. We also saw kudu and nyala cows.

    Suddenly night was falling. It gets dark quick here in Africa, I realized. I'm finally in Africa! And tomorrow the real hunt will begin.

    As we arrived at the lodge, I looked up at the Milky Way sweeping across the sky. I asked Victor to point out the Southern Cross in the sky, and he did. It was unimpressive, rather a common dime-a-dozen asterism after all. The crossbar wasn’t at a perfect ninety-degree angle and the star on the right was too faint. It seemed a stretch to call those four stars of medium to faint luminosity a cross. What was so special about them anyway?

    Monday June 6

    We met after coffee and toast at 6:30 am at the bakkie, where I was introduced to Victor’s San Bushman tracker, Mitchell.

    “I hear you’re a great tracker,” I told him, as I held out my hand.

    “Of course,” he said with a broad grin, closing his hand on my own.

    I never did find out how good of a tracker he really is, but Mitchell was always busy, opening and closing gates, cleaning the bakkie, checking the tire inflation, packing the lunch box and hunting gear, gutting the animals in the field, and skinning them back at the shed. Seldom speaking, his primary means of communication would be a rap on the roof of the cab whenever he spotted game from his open seat behind and above the cab. Before we set out, he and Victor spoke in Afrikaans about the day’s plan.

    We drove down gravel roads through several gates, and Mitchell got out each time to open and close the gate. Hunting in South Africa is conducted almost exclusively on game ranches and private property behind high fences intended to keep game from leaving or entering the property. Under South Africa law, if you enclose your property behind high fences, you own the game located there. You can set your own hunting seasons, bag limits, and pick your own hunters. Victor owns or has access to 120,000 acres of property to hunt, so he has plenty of options on where to take hunters. The animals on the property were born there, are completely wild, and won’t tolerate the proximity of humans.

    We arrived at a property owned by someone else, on which Victor has hunting rights. This was a working sheep ranch. I was amazed to see big piles of oranges, limes, and lemons with sheep feeding on them, standing hock deep amidst the orange, green, and yellow surface. Citrus orchards were very common in this part of South Africa, Victor said. Citrus fruit that wasn’t perfect for human consumption was trucked in and dumped for the stock, because of the severe drought. First I ever heard that sheep would eat citrus fruit, but there they were.

    We drove on the dirt track, switching back and forth as we climbed the mountain. Cacti were all over the place. Victor said the cactus had been imported from Mexico some decades back to provide a source of food for livestock, and had since gotten out of control. What little game, a few impala and blesbuck, we saw quickly disappeared into the cactus and acacia thornbrush. Suddenly, there came a rap on the roof of the cab from Mitchell. Victor looked around and immediately spotted two gemsbok grazing on the sparse grass on a steep section of the mountain. Gemsbok were right there, Victor insisted.

    I couldn’t see a damn thing.

    Victor directed a stalk up a draw full of thorny acacia through a strong crosswind. We climbed and I kept reminding myself not to grab a branch to steady myself. Finally Victor stopped and set up his tripod—“sticks,” as they call them in Africa. Shooting from sticks was not comfortable for me at first, but I came to the realization that they were a very good idea wherever a natural rest was unavailable--provided you have someone to carry them for you.

    I still couldn’t see a damn thing.

    “Right up there.” Victor’s voice said hurry, even if his words did not.

    I put my rifle on the sticks, untangled the sling. Then through the scope I saw two gemsbok walking side hill on the steep rocky slope.

    “The one on the right,” Victor said, his voice still telling me to hurry.

    The rifle wobbled on the unfamiliar sticks. I could tell the gemsbok were about to leave the opening in the brush. The gemsbok were moving with the wind, and I put the crosshairs ahead of the near shoulder of the one on the right. I fired. The gemsbok dropped, then struggled to rise.

    “Again,” Victor said.

    I was steadier now, and swung the crosshairs down to the animal’s front shoulder and squeezed off another round. The gemsbok slumped to the ground and turned over on its side, kicking out its life, then was still.

    “Congratulations.” Victor stuck out his hand, and I took it.

    Mitchell was already running to the kill site, and we followed Victor up the steep, rocky slope. (Did I really say there were no rocks here?) At last we reached the dead gemsbok.

    “It’s actually a female.” His voice suggested that he wasn’t sure if I’d be disappointed. “But the horns and bases are thick enough that she could be a male. She’s old, past breeding age, in any event.”

    “Just like for mountain goats,” I said. “Sexually monomorphic. Not much difference between the sexes. Both billys and nannies have black horns, although a lot shorter than these. You can’t judge a trophy billy by anything except the bases of the horns.”

    You could see that my first shot had shattered the gemsbok's off foreleg, and the second had hit the gemsbok in the left shoulder and passed on into the chest. Victor and Mitchell got a small, heavy, blue tarp from the bakkie and used it to slide the gemsbok down the steep slope to a grassy, flat piece of ground where they set up for photos. I was pleased, even though my shooting was less than perfect. These would be the only gemsbok we saw on the trip.

    That evening we ate Blesbok stir-fry with rice and a cake with pudding for desert. Victor and his stunning wife Lindsay proved to be great conversationalists and we stayed up talking to about nine o’clock, then went to bed.
     
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  2. RolandtheHeadless

    RolandtheHeadless AH Veteran

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    Today Lindsay is taking my wife on a shopping trip and for an elephant ride. For some reason, my wife badly wanted to ride an elephant.

    Meanwhile, our three-man hunting crew drove to a different property in a different kind of environment. Here, the ground was flat and covered with taller trees and shrubs. There would be only close-range work here. We followed a dusty track almost as rough as the mountain roads of two days before. It would probably be impassable during rainy season. A nyala bull was on the menu for today.

    We wound our way along the dusty track, seeing warthogs, springbok, and a female nyala. Even I could spot most of the animals, after they were pointed out to me. I had trouble seeing them when they were standing still, but usually spotted them when they moved. Blue and common duiker darted across or alongside the road, and I had no trouble seeing them. I commented to Victor that it would take a shotgun to bag one of those. And I hadn’t come all this way to shoot jackrabbits. Or so I thought at the time.

    There came a hollow, metallic rap on the roof. Victor pointed out a group of four nyala, including two bulls, looking at the vehicle. They were about seventy yards away. Victor drove on by a ways and turned off the ignition. We then went sneaking back, keeping behind the bushes along the edge of the road. Our feet were silent on the dusty dirt track.

    The next thing I knew Victor was setting up the sticks. He looked at me and his eyes said hurry. I discovered that if I flipped the sling while raising the rifle, I could set the rifle in the notch before the sling swung back. No tangle.

    Victor, looking through his Leica range-finding binocular, whispered they were now 115 yards away. They had run off a ways and now stood looking in our direction. “The one on the middle-right.”

    I lined up the bull and pressed the trigger. I didn’t hear the gun boom or feel the recoil. The nyala went down, flopping, bawling like a calf being branded, and Mitchell ran toward him. When I arrived he was dispatching the animal by sticking a knife blade into the base of its skull. I was surprised at how small the nyala was, not much bigger than a large deer.

    “Why not cut its throat?” I asked.

    “It would ruin your trophy mount.”

    “Oh.” I felt kind of stupid.

    After the photos, while Mitchell was gutting the nyala bull, Victor said there were giraffes and pointed. Against the near horizon the giraffes necks stuck up like telephone poles, their little heads and weird ears indistinguishable at the distance.

    Mitchell and Victor put the nyala in the bakkie and we started up again. Soon we came upon the giraffes. They stood towering above us on both sides of the road just yards away, walking around nervously, each not wanting to be separated from the others by the bakkie. This was the first time I had ever seen a giraffe in the wild, outside a zoo. I almost could have touched the closest one.

    A herd of Burchell’s zebra ran across the road ahead of us, their flanks dusty from some wallow somewhere. Then half a dozen ostriches, running very fast and in a line, sprinted furiously over the road. We saw duikers, springbok, impala, and waterbuck, including a nice bull. Waterbuck wasn’t on my list. For this trip to Africa, at least.

    I kid you not. There were game animals coming out the yin-yang.

    We were crawling up a slight slope when a big warthog ran across the road.

    “It’s a monster,” Victor said. “Let’s go.”

    We got my rifle and the sticks from the back of the bakkie and ran after the pig. The warthog stopped behind a bush, Victor set up the sticks, and I raised the rifle to position. The warthog took off. This dance was repeated three or four times, the pig running maybe fifty yards at a time, stopping, and us running hunched over to set up for a shot. At least Victor and Mitchell were running. I was moving only as fast as my bad knees and feet allowed.

    The warthog was diabolical. He knew just when to take off again. Finally he got cocky and careless, and I found him in my sights and squeezed one off. A big cloud of dust sprang up from the warthog’s sides and he took off like a rocket, the brush waving to mark his passage. The waving stopped. Mitchell was running toward the last point of movement.

    “Give me your rifle,” Victor said.

    The last thing I wanted was to let someone else finish off my trophy. But I’d agreed to abide by Victor’s judgment in such matters, and it was obvious I couldn’t keep up. I handed over my rifle and he disappeared into the brush. I waited for a shot but didn’t hear one. I walked as fast as I could and came upon the two men standing over a very dead warthog.

    “Sorry to take your rifle like that,” Victor said. “Sometimes they try to run into a hole when wounded, and it’s impossible to get them out.” Warthogs, he explained, often take refuge in holes dug by anteaters.

    Victor said it was the second-largest warthog he’d seen so far this year. We set up for photos, ate lunch, took a siesta at the ranch house, and then set out to hunt kudu.

    nyalaDSC_0142.jpg warthogDSC_0151.jpg
     
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  3. enysse

    enysse AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

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    Very nice animals, that is nice warthog!
     

  4. cpr0312

    cpr0312 AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

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    Congrats and thanks for sharing!
     

  5. Neale

    Neale AH Enthusiast

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    Great trophies so far. Fantastic warthog. Victor and Lindsay run a professional operation.
    The special thing about the Southern Cross my friend is that when you can see it you are in a good part of the world.
     

  6. buck wild

    buck wild SILVER SUPPORTER AH Fanatic

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    in for the finish !
     

  7. jasyblood

    jasyblood BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Fanatic

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    Great story so far and nice animals!! Keep it coming!!
     

  8. Nyati

    Nyati AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

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    Excellent warthog !
     

  9. gillettehunter

    gillettehunter AH ENABLER AH Legend

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    Sounds like a great start to your hunt. Nice pig there. Congrats. Bruce
     

  10. PHOENIX PHIL

    PHOENIX PHIL AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

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    Dandy warthog!
     

  11. rinehart0050

    rinehart0050 GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    Thanks for sharing! Congrats on your trophies!
     

  12. RolandtheHeadless

    RolandtheHeadless AH Veteran

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    So far, game had come easily for me. It was only the second morning of the hunt, and I’d already taken three out of four of the animals on my list. I wanted a kudu more than anything in South Africa. If my luck held and I bagged a kudu that afternoon or evening, what would I do with the last half of my week with Karoo Wild? My wife and overseer, She-who-must-be-obeyed, would never allow me to keep running up trophy fees at the rate I was going.

    But I needn’t have worried. A trophy kudu was going to prove elusive for me, just as it had for Hemingway and Ruark.

    The greater kudu is referred to as the Gray Ghost because of its ability to walk right by a waiting hunter without detection, to issue a single, throaty, doglike warning bark before disappearing into the brush, and to slip away with one or two crashes of the brush, then silence, not any further sound of their retreat.

    On the afternoon of the day I’d shot the nyala and warthog, while She was off riding elephants and petting cheetahs, and after a lunch and siesta at a friendly ranch house, we set out for a new property to find a trophy kudu. This country was different yet. Small hills covered thickly with acacia and other bushy plants, and meadows of grass, and places that looked like the surface of the Arizona desert, if you didn’t look too closely at the vegetation.

    Victor and Mitchell were spotting kudu, but none of them were mature bulls. We drove along, occasionally hearing a tap on the roof, and stopping to look at a cow or young bull. Finally, Victor stopped the bakkie and we got out to walk for a while. We left Mitchell to drive around the roads to look for kudu. Down below was a big square impoundment that was completely dry. During the rainy season, in November through March, it was undoubtedly full of water. Now it was bone-dry, cracked, and dusty. Dust rose about our knees as we hiked across the bottom of the impoundment.

    A kudu cow ducked out of the acacia, saw us, did a one-eighty on the impoundment slope, and ducked back into the brush within feet of where she’d come out. Victor and I crossed the impoundment floor, climbed the bank, and walked up to a high fence that cut across our path. We turned and walked along the trail parallel to the fence, where we were on high ground that overlooked the brush. A cow kudu popped her head up above the brush, looked at us, and gave a warning bark. She kept looking and barking as long as we stayed in place, and soon we realized the hunt was blown. We were going back across the dry impoundment when a cow walked out on the bare ground a hundred yards ahead, slowly, tauntingly, and crossed the impoundment and went into the brush on the other side.

    “These kudu are as smart as whitetail deer, almost.”

    “Smarter,” Victor told me.

    Well, maybe, I thought, but you’ve never hunted whitetails, especially the mature bucks.

    Where were all the mature kudu bulls now? I didn’t need any record-book animal, just a mature bull that was a fair representative of his kind, preferably one past his prime breeding years.

    Victor talked Afrikaans into his radio, and Mitchell met us with the bakkie at the top of the bank. He hadn’t seen a bull either while driving around. We were following the track across a flat open ground broken by patches of grass, stunted cacti, and other thorny plants. Then something happened for one time that had never happened before and never would again: I was the first to spot game. A group of kudu in the near brush on the passenger side of the vehicle, where I was sitting, including some wearing horns. I tapped Victor’s thigh an instant before Mitchell tapped on the roof. Victor spotted them as soon as he looked that way.

    Then the kudu were sifting toward the road ahead of us, shifting around altogether like a cloud of smoke, passing in front of our vehicle soundlessly and almost without disturbing an air molecule.

    “There’s one nice bull in that group,” Victor said. Shooting light was almost gone, but he braked the bakkie with the intention to see if they’d stop and look back. So long as they were moving there was no way to pick out a target in that shifting, insubstantial mass. They never stopped, acted as if they didn’t care who we were or what we were doing, so confident they were of not being caught or killed, and faded away into the bush on the far hills.

    As we neared the gate to the property, a small canine, similar to a gray fox, but darker in color, bounded away from our vehicle and kept bounding down the road ahead of us. Its sharply triangular ears were so large, and its leaps so prodigious, that I expected the animal to take off into the air each time it leaped. Finally it broke away from the road and ran, leaping, across an open field, outside the scope of our headlights.

    “Bat-eared fox,” Victor said.

    “I wouldn’t mind shooting him to add to my fox fur collection,” I said. “How much is the trophy fee?”

    “Not legal to shoot them, except by limited permit.”

    “How do you hunt them?”

    “With a spotlight. They’re nocturnal.”

    “When I was a teenager, we used to hunt rats in a dump with a flashlight strapped to a .22 rifle.” I waited for Victor to comment on that piece of information, but he didn’t.

    “We’ll try this place again tomorrow morning,” Victor said. “There are obviously a lot of kudu here, and the bulls may be moving then.”

    The next morning Setsuko joined us again, revitalized by her shopping trip and elephant ride. She sat in the back seat and listening patiently while Victor and I talked hunting, and responding eagerly and at length to any questions about her trip to Graaff-Renet. We went back to the property we’d hunted the previous evening, gradually climbing into the hills, looking for kudu. When we neared the crest of a hill Victor would stop the bakkie and the four of us would get out and silently sneak forward. Repeating this dance three or four times netted us nothing. I felt ready to quit, when we rounded a bush and Victor spotted a bull kudu feeding on the top of the hill. He set up the sticks and told me to shoot, as soon as the bull moved into the clear. I waited, unsteadily on the sticks, while my crosshairs wobbled across the target. When the kudu moved into the clear, I shot.

    Dang it, a clean miss, over the animal’s neck. My faults as a hunter include shooting too high and leading a moving animal too much. Being able to call my shots was something I had in my favor. I worked the bolt as the kudu jumped forward, then I shot again. The kudu went down. The brush was still.

    Mitchell was already running, and Victor followed after. By the time Setsuko and I arrived, me huffing and blowing, Victor and Mitchell had sorted out the kill.

    “Sorry,” Victor said. “I thought he was a trophy, but he’s not. He’s a runt, the kind we cull from a property when we see them. They need to be removed from the breeding pool. My mistake. The perspective fooled me, and I thought the range was farther than I thought.”

    So did I, I thought.

    “I won’t charge you for it.”

    Mitchell pointed to a splintered hole in the trunk of a bush.

    “Looks like you hit a branch,” Victor said. “The bullet was probably tumbling when it hit the kudu.”

    “Lucky shot, then.” The twig was close enough to the deer that the bullet hadn’t the distance to deflect very far from its course.

    “It’s got lots of ticks on its belly and behind the ears,” Victor said. “I think we’ll hunt elsewhere tomorrow. The ticks will spoil a trophy.”

    “Can’t the taxidermist preserve the ticks along with the hide? To make it more realistic?”

    Victor looked at me, at first not sure whether I was serious. Then his face broke into a smile.

    Now on a roll, I said, “I could get this mounted and just tell everyone it’s a lesser kudu.”

    “There are no lesser kudu here.”

    “I know, but most Americans wouldn’t.”

    “I think you should settle for pictures.”

    So I did. Even though it wasn’t going to count as my trophy, we set him up and took photos. Hell, it might be the only kudu I’d shoot on this trip. I came to refer to him as my “lesser kudu,” even though he was not a true lesser kudu, but a runt member of the Cape kudu tribe.

    lesserkuduDSC_0160.jpg
     
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  13. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN AH ENABLER SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR LIFETIME TITANIUM BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    Very nice Lesser Kudu. :)
     
    enysse and buckcurtin like this.

  14. CAustin

    CAustin AH ENABLER BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Ambassador

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    Very nice animals sir. Thank you for sharing your hunting report.
     

  15. enysse

    enysse AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

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    Very nice lesser kudu!
     

  16. buck wild

    buck wild SILVER SUPPORTER AH Fanatic

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    gotta say I've never seen a kudu like that- very unique "trophy" indeed :)
     

  17. RolandtheHeadless

    RolandtheHeadless AH Veteran

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    186
    Kudu Me-do

    We spent two more days in fruitless pursuit of kudu. By Friday, the sixth day of our hunt, my wife had become convinced she was a jinx; she pointed out that she had not been with us when we got the nyala and warthog. I didn’t argue too much because I thought she just wanted an excuse to do something besides hunt. She grows bored with fishing when we’re not catching fish, so it’s not surprising it would be the same for her with hunting. Lindsay took my wife off to the town of Graaff-Renet, with its old buildings, museums, and shops, and to visit a nearby animal park. I would return at the end of the day to hear a story about a cheetah licking her hand. By then I would have my own story to tell.

    We drove to a different part of the same vast property we hunted the day before. The sky was overcast, a light rain had fallen in the night, and the kudu were out. We saw several small groups of cows and immature bulls. Went a bit farther, and there came a tap on the roof. On the right side of the vehicle, the driver’s side, Victor stared out the window, then rolled it down all the way. He took up his binocular and studied a single point on the hillside for what seemed a long time.

    “He’s a good one,” he told me. “Let’s go.”

    For once I could see the animal as soon as I got out of the bakkie. The bull had seen us but seemed unconcerned, perhaps because of the distance. Mitchell handed me my rifle from the rack on the bakkie, and I followed Victor up the slope on my side of the vehicle, opposite the kudu bull that was now feeding slowly across the hill, as if taunting us at the limit of rifle range. The kudu was alert and on the move, but we must have been outside his alarm range. We climbed about fifty feet in elevation, and Victor told me to sit down. Indeed, there was no rock or tree or other natural feature that would allow for a rest, just the bare slope. He collapsed the sticks to half-height and set them up in front of me.

    “Any time you’re ready,” he said. Right then the kudu was walking slowly broadside to our position, providing the classic money shot for any quadruped game animal. If only those damn sticks would hold still. I couldn’t believe Victor was expecting me to shoot that kudu way out there, a tiny figure in my scope even set at maximum, 9x magnification.

    My rifle wobbled on the sticks. In the scope I could see the kudu passing through an opening in the brush. Crucial time was passing along with the kudu. I shifted in an effort to gain more steadiness. The downhill leg of the tripod came uncoupled from the slope, and the tripod became a bipod. The kudu had turned to more than a quarter away from broadside by the time I got rid of the wobble in my crosshairs. I realized I couldn’t have the time back, and now there would be no better shot, and I sent a bullet aimed to rake from his stomach on the near side and out his shoulder on the other. At the shot the bull took two leaps into a taller stand of acacia trees that ran straight up and over the top of the mountain. Then there was no sound or sense of movement. The usual kudu exit ploy, two leaps and then poof--gone! I was sure I’d hit the kudu, but if I’d hit him too far back….

    “Stay down here, and I’ll check for blood,” Victor told me. I stood there and waited. I hated not being able to visit the site, but knew I couldn’t make it up to where the bull was last seen. “I don’t think you should have taken that shot, since he was turned away then,” Victor added.

    “I tried to angle it forward into his heart/lungs.”

    Victor looked at me, then went off to climb the hill on the opposite side of the valley. I figured Victor must be part mountain goat, so quickly did he climb. Mitchell squatted on his heels beside me, talking to Victor on the radio, guiding him to the kill site, which Victor couldn’t directly see as he climbed. I had a bad feeling that I’d gut-shot the bull, which then would have ran up the draw and over the top of the mountain. He hadn’t come down, and there was no other way to go.

    No matter how bad your luck is, if you stick with it and pay your dues you’ll eventually succeed. Didn’t Thomas Edison say something like that? I must have paid my dues on kudu. Victor reached the heavy bushes where the kudu had disappeared, then the radio crackled in Mitchell’s hand. Afrikaans was spoken. Mitchell looked at me and said, “He is dead.”

    “He’s dead? You mean the kudu? I killed him?”

    Mitchell nodded, and I could see Victor waving on the hill. A kudu! Then Victor was coming down the slope.

    “That,” Victor said, “was one of the best shots I’ve seen. The bullet went through a lot of tissue and wound up exiting from the off-shoulder.”

    I felt myself blush. To me it didn’t seem an extraordinary shot. I just knew the shot, from the moment I found a bit of stability in the sticks after they became a bipod. Somehow my subconscious had found the firing solution. I had felt a lot more uncertain about the shot I fired at the warthog, seeing only his back and being rushed as I had been. But the kudu! I knew the shot had hit the kudu; the only question was whether it hit him too far back. Too far forward and the shot would have broken the front shoulder, and we would have seen it in how he reacted. Oh, I knew the shot when I’d made it, but the self-doubts set in afterward, while we were waiting for Victor to find the kudu.

    “What was the range?”

    “It’s at least 250 yards.” Victor checked the kudu’s position with his range-finding binocular. “It’s 260 yards.”

    We drove back to the ranch house to get some help to haul the kudu off the mountain. Three ranch hands rode in the rear of the bakkie with Mitchell on the way back to the kill site. The slope was so steep that it took all four of them to skid and slide the big animal down. Once they had the kudu on level ground near the bakkie, they rearranged the bull’s legs to bring him upright. Mitchell had trouble pounding in the head-holder stake into the rocky ground, but with the help of the others he set up the kudu for photos and we took them.

    Later, I asked Victor how far he was willing to allow a client to shoot.

    “Maybe up to 260, maybe 280 yards, depending on the client. And conditions.”

    “Yeah,” I said. “I’ve taken a few shots on game a bit farther than that, but I’m not sure I’d try them again.”

    “Too much chance of wounding the animal, then letting him escape. Even if you know the ballistic trajectory, the wind is unpredictable in these mountains.”

    “I think the wind is unpredictable in all mountains, or at least all mountains I’ve ever hunted,” I said. “I think I like the stalking part best anyway. Although it does feel good to make a good shot every now and then.”

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    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 13, 2016

  18. Sand Rat

    Sand Rat AH Fanatic

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2013
    Messages:
    725
    Video/Photo:
    110
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    946
    Location:
    Texas and Saudi Arabia
    Hunted:
    Texas, Mississippi, Kansas, Botswana, Eastern Cape
    Congrats on the Kudu, great shooting at that distance!
     

  19. siml

    siml AH ENABLER AH Legend

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2013
    Messages:
    3,463
    Video/Photo:
    143
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    4,848
    Hunted:
    SOUTH AFRICA, BOTSWANA, NAMIBIA, ZIMBABWE, MOZAMBIQUE, ENGLAND, U.S.A
    Mighty fine warthog.
     

  20. Scott Slough

    Scott Slough AH Fanatic

    Joined:
    May 6, 2014
    Messages:
    982
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    888
    Location:
    Nacogdoches, TX
    Member of:
    SCI, Pineywoods SCI, NAHC, TTH
    Hunted:
    USA, South Africa (Eastern Cape)
    Great hunt and report! The warthog is a stud ... and hard to beat a free lesser kudu!!!!!!
     

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