SOUTH AFRICA: My PH/Guide/Tracker Was Not Human

Randy F

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Growing up in whitetail country without any serious hunters in my family, I'm a self-taught hunting addict.
After 40+ years of gun and bow hunting, I had considered myself fairly adept at tracking. My style has always been stalk hunting. The first rush-find them, the second rush-get in range, the third rush - make the shot. So I was always pretty proud of the fact that without anyone else to lean on for experience, I was eventually able to recognize the signs, seek out the one, get in range, make the shot and if not perfect, find the animal. I was taught many hard lessons by the animals that were excellent at making a fool out of me.
But I learned from it and felt I wasn't just to darn bad at it. There are a few Whitetails, Mule Deer, Antelope, and Black Bear mounts that had helped satisfy that thought.

Then I went to South Africa.
:Wideyed:

Libert was my PH/tracker/guide. We got to know each other fairly quickly. We had to. I only had 2 1/2 days to hunt in a ten day vacation visiting friends. (Including travel days) At least well enough that he got my humor when I was giving him crap and that I could know what he was thinking by a look he'd give me and his body language while on the hunt.

He was from Zimbabwe. By the time our short PH/client gig was up, I was calling him Zimbabwe Zeus. While he smiled at that, in the back of my mind I wasn't certain that there wasn't something superhuman in his DNA.
I'm not so sure he didn't have x-ray vision for one thing.
Superman would likely be his only rival in the hearing department.
Ethiopian long distance runners have NOTHING on him.
Mummies drink more water than he does.
He had a sense of smell that would make a bloodhound jealous.
I'm reasonably certain that the invisible lightning bolts emitting from his fingertips to the ground allows him to detect the slightest seismic anomaly.
And even though it was very hot and he was wearing a long sleeved shirt, the only time I saw a bead of sweat on his forehead was when, for just a split second, he thought he might have to carry my ass up the steep ridge we were on during a Kudu stalk. He did offer to carry the gun. The look I gave him convinced him to shut the heck up and keep going. I know the little @%#^%$ was grinning when he turned around and headed straight up instead of taking the angled path the Kudu were on, but he hid it well. But that's for a little later.

Having the physical attributes is one thing. Applying them to his surroundings coupled with his experience is quite another...and so damn cool to watch.
I had 2 1/2 days to hunt so I made my wish list (according to my checkbook) for my first hunt. (Yes, just being there convinced me I'd go back)
I wanted a Kudu, Nyala, Waterbuck, and threw in the obligatory Impala knowing full well there wasn't a snowball's chance in hell that there would be time for all four.

So this is really more about Libert than it is about me or the trophies I was lucky enough to bring across the big pond. But here goes.

1. The Impala.
We had spent the evening before sitting around the fire and just chatting. He asked all the right questions and had a good idea of my level of passion and experience. So at day break we were out there and in it to win it. I was amazed at all the sights and sounds. Even though I'd hunted all my life I felt like a kid again. Just Giddy.
We stalked around for a few hours, sometimes a brisk walk, sometimes slowly creeping. But always when he stopped and we peeked through or over, there was something there. To this point there was nothing I wanted to take but the sights and sounds were amazing and all the game we'd already seen had me cranked up!
Later that morning, while at a relatively brisk pace, he stops dead in his tracks, and looks back. Off to my right. He slowly points to a void in this stuff so thick that a cat would struggle and I see...nothing. Now we all know the tricks, the flick of an ear, swish of a tail, slight tip of a head and all that but I swear there was nothing! At first I thought he was making stuff up cuz he knew I was behind him with a loaded weapon and was afraid he was going to take 180 grains in the right cheek if he didn't find something to get the pressure off my itchy trigger finger. But, I was wrong, instead he was using his x-ray vision to see through all that thick stuff and his superman hearing to detect the breathing of a small group of Impala hanging out in an opening behind the thicket. He claims he saw a horn move. Yeah right, at a strong walk? Behind us? At 100 yards? Naw, he conjured them up. I know he did, because we stood motionless for a lifetime before my mortal eyes finally caught movement. He slowly stood, motioned for me to follow...and we walked away. ?! I gave him my best wtf look, he smiled at me and nodded again to follow. Well of course I'm going to follow...but but...ugh! We crept back off to our right. As he leads us away I keep watch over my shoulder at the Impala in an attempt to see whether we're spooking them. That's when the ground disappeared from under me. Luckily it was only about a four foot deep washout so I somehow managed to stay upright and not turn my weapon into a lawn dart. It was however not the most graceful of dance steps which apparently caught Libert's funny bone head on. He was crouched down and silent laughing. In fact, a full belly chuckle complete with tears. Resisting the urge to kick him in the twins, I whisper-yelled "Warn a guy would ya?!". It's hard to whisper-yell. No matter how pissed you might be, it's funny. So this didn't help. By now he is convulsing silently and doing his best not to snort. That made me see the short movie that he just saw so now I'm laughing too. Ever the professional, he recovered quickly. The washout led us down around to a trail that led directly into the path of the group of Impala. We set up on the path and waited and watched. Eventually the group was all in the open enough and feeding so he was able to pick out the one to take. At the 50 yard line I let fly and one shot put down my first African animal. They could have trailed off anywhere given the distance between us and where Zeus conjured them up but he put us right in front of them. So for now I'll let him think I don't know what he did and keep listening as though I'm an idiot.

It wasn't the biggest Impala and he gave me the choice to shoot or not but it was respectable enough for me. I was thrilled.


2. Nyala
After a quick bite to eat, the Impala dealt with, back slaps and high fives done, it was time to get on with it. With a shot ringing out in that area, we moved to another area with steeper terrain and taller trees with shadowy underbrush. We took up the same routine and saw a whole lot of wildlife. I was in heaven. Warthogs, Blue Wildebeest, Baboons, heck I can't even name them all here but each time an offer to shoot but I was sticking to my plan. A few hours in we took a short break on a ridge because he said "we" needed one. What he meant was we didn't have time for a cardiac event which implied that if I needed mouth-to-mouth I was going to die. I was actually in pretty decent shape but that little ^&&^# was a machine!
Anyway, about an hour later, early evening after 34,647 miles on my carcass, I actually spied movement across large ravine which by that time could be better described as a small canyon. We glassed four Kudu that he determined to be all young bulls. I'm still glassing the Kudu and out of the corner of my eye I see him slowly crouch way down. He'd reached for my shirt to give a little tug to get down but I was already sinking as I looked to where he was staring. Just off to our left, straight down about 180 feet, out from under an outcropping of rock strolled a beautiful Nyala. Mr. superman hearing guy must have heard my heart pounding cuz he patted my arm like I'm a little kid or something. Little Pr**k! I was about to boot him off the cliff when it dawned on me that he was telling me the shooting sticks were coming out. I guess he's not so bad. But as I'm lining up on the Nyala, he whispers "don't shoot". What?!
As I'm reconsidering the boot, we watched a second, bigger Nyala step out from beneath the outcropping. Wha...how...who...but... Since it was impossible to hear or see it under there, I'm certain he sensed the seismic signature of a second set of Nyala footsteps and stopped me just in time. I guess I'll let him live. We had to wait for them to move out to a better area for a shot but my number two African prize was down...and my heart rate up. After high fives and a bear hug that nearly killed the poor guy, we finished up everything just before dark. And to think a short time ago I was nearly willing to risk maiming him with a boot over the cliff. Go figure.

What a first day!

The second day was even better.
I didn't think I would take up so much of your time or space. Sorry.
If there is any interest I'll continue on with day two.

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cls

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Cool story, let's see more
 

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Great so far :A Popcorn:
 

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What a great story, and fantastic first day! I can't wait for the rest, so get on it will ya.
 
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Growing up in whitetail country without any serious hunters in my family, I'm a self-taught hunting addict.
After 40+ years of gun and bow hunting, I had considered myself fairly adept at tracking. My style has always been stalk hunting. The first rush-find them, the second rush-get in range, the third rush - make the shot. So I was always pretty proud of the fact that without anyone else to lean on for experience, I was eventually able to recognize the signs, seek out the one, get in range, make the shot and if not perfect, find the animal. I was taught many hard lessons by the animals that were excellent at making a fool out of me.
But I learned from it and felt I wasn't just to darn bad at it. There are a few Whitetails, Mule Deer, Antelope, and Black Bear mounts that had helped satisfy that thought.

Then I went to South Africa.
:Wideyed:

Libert was my PH/tracker/guide. We got to know each other fairly quickly. We had to. I only had 2 1/2 days to hunt in a ten day vacation visiting friends. (Including travel days) At least well enough that he got my humor when I was giving him crap and that I could know what he was thinking by a look he'd give me and his body language while on the hunt.

He was from Zimbabwe. By the time our short PH/client gig was up, I was calling him Zimbabwe Zeus. While he smiled at that, in the back of my mind I wasn't certain that there wasn't something superhuman in his DNA.
I'm not so sure he didn't have x-ray vision for one thing.
Superman would likely be his only rival in the hearing department.
Ethiopian long distance runners have NOTHING on him.
Mummies drink more water than he does.
He had a sense of smell that would make a bloodhound jealous.
I'm reasonably certain that the invisible lightning bolts emitting from his fingertips to the ground allows him to detect the slightest seismic anomaly.
And even though it was very hot and he was wearing a long sleeved shirt, the only time I saw a bead of sweat on his forehead was when, for just a split second, he thought he might have to carry my ass up the steep ridge we were on during a Kudu stalk. He did offer to carry the gun. The look I gave him convinced him to shut the heck up and keep going. I know the little @%#^%$ was grinning when he turned around and headed straight up instead of taking the angled path the Kudu were on, but he hid it well. But that's for a little later.

Having the physical attributes is one thing. Applying them to his surroundings coupled with his experience is quite another...and so damn cool to watch.
I had 2 1/2 days to hunt so I made my wish list (according to my checkbook) for my first hunt. (Yes, just being there convinced me I'd go back)
I wanted a Kudu, Nyala, Waterbuck, and threw in the obligatory Impala knowing full well there wasn't a snowball's chance in hell that there would be time for all four.

So this is really more about Libert than it is about me or the trophies I was lucky enough to bring across the big pond. But here goes.

1. The Impala.
We had spent the evening before sitting around the fire and just chatting. He asked all the right questions and had a good idea of my level of passion and experience. So at day break we were out there and in it to win it. I was amazed at all the sights and sounds. Even though I'd hunted all my life I felt like a kid again. Just Giddy.
We stalked around for a few hours, sometimes a brisk walk, sometimes slowly creeping. But always when he stopped and we peeked through or over, there was something there. To this point there was nothing I wanted to take but the sights and sounds were amazing and all the game we'd already seen had me cranked up!
Later that morning, while at a relatively brisk pace, he stops dead in his tracks, and looks back. Off to my right. He slowly points to a void in this stuff so thick that a cat would struggle and I see...nothing. Now we all know the tricks, the flick of an ear, swish of a tail, slight tip of a head and all that but I swear there was nothing! At first I thought he was making stuff up cuz he knew I was behind him with a loaded weapon and was afraid he was going to take 180 grains in the right cheek if he didn't find something to get the pressure off my itchy trigger finger. But, I was wrong, instead he was using his x-ray vision to see through all that thick stuff and his superman hearing to detect the breathing of a small group of Impala hanging out in an opening behind the thicket. He claims he saw a horn move. Yeah right, at a strong walk? Behind us? At 100 yards? Naw, he conjured them up. I know he did, because we stood motionless for a lifetime before my mortal eyes finally caught movement. He slowly stood, motioned for me to follow...and we walked away. ?! I gave him my best wtf look, he smiled at me and nodded again to follow. Well of course I'm going to follow...but but...ugh! We crept back off to our right. As he leads us away I keep watch over my shoulder at the Impala in an attempt to see whether we're spooking them. That's when the ground disappeared from under me. Luckily it was only about a four foot deep washout so I somehow managed to stay upright and not turn my weapon into a lawn dart. It was however not the most graceful of dance steps which apparently caught Libert's funny bone head on. He was crouched down and silent laughing. In fact, a full belly chuckle complete with tears. Resisting the urge to kick him in the twins, I whisper-yelled "Warn a guy would ya?!". It's hard to whisper-yell. No matter how pissed you might be, it's funny. So this didn't help. By now he is convulsing silently and doing his best not to snort. That made me see the short movie that he just saw so now I'm laughing too. Ever the professional, he recovered quickly. The washout led us down around to a trail that led directly into the path of the group of Impala. We set up on the path and waited and watched. Eventually the group was all in the open enough and feeding so he was able to pick out the one to take. At the 50 yard line I let fly and one shot put down my first African animal. They could have trailed off anywhere given the distance between us and where Zeus conjured them up but he put us right in front of them. So for now I'll let him think I don't know what he did and keep listening as though I'm an idiot.

It wasn't the biggest Impala and he gave me the choice to shoot or not but it was respectable enough for me. I was thrilled.


2. Nyala
After a quick bite to eat, the Impala dealt with, back slaps and high fives done, it was time to get on with it. With a shot ringing out in that area, we moved to another area with steeper terrain and taller trees with shadowy underbrush. We took up the same routine and saw a whole lot of wildlife. I was in heaven. Warthogs, Blue Wildebeest, Baboons, heck I can't even name them all here but each time an offer to shoot but I was sticking to my plan. A few hours in we took a short break on a ridge because he said "we" needed one. What he meant was we didn't have time for a cardiac event which implied that if I needed mouth-to-mouth I was going to die. I was actually in pretty decent shape but that little ^&&^# was a machine!
Anyway, about an hour later, early evening after 34,647 miles on my carcass, I actually spied movement across large ravine which by that time could be better described as a small canyon. We glassed four Kudu that he determined to be all young bulls. I'm still glassing the Kudu and out of the corner of my eye I see him slowly crouch way down. He'd reached for my shirt to give a little tug to get down but I was already sinking as I looked to where he was staring. Just off to our left, straight down about 180 feet, out from under an outcropping of rock strolled a beautiful Nyala. Mr. superman hearing guy must have heard my heart pounding cuz he patted my arm like I'm a little kid or something. Little Pr**k! I was about to boot him off the cliff when it dawned on me that he was telling me the shooting sticks were coming out. I guess he's not so bad. But as I'm lining up on the Nyala, he whispers "don't shoot". What?!
As I'm reconsidering the boot, we watched a second, bigger Nyala step out from beneath the outcropping. Wha...how...who...but... Since it was impossible to hear or see it under there, I'm certain he sensed the seismic signature of a second set of Nyala footsteps and stopped me just in time. I guess I'll let him live. We had to wait for them to move out to a better area for a shot but my number two African prize was down...and my heart rate up. After high fives and a bear hug that nearly killed the poor guy, we finished up everything just before dark. And to think a short time ago I was nearly willing to risk maiming him with a boot over the cliff. Go figure.

What a first day!

The second day was even better.
I didn't think I would take up so much of your time or space. Sorry.
If there is any interest I'll continue on with day two.

View attachment 366074View attachment 366073
@Randy F.
I know what you mean our tracker David was the same. He also smoked continually on the bakki but could still walk or run the pants off anyone in our group. Even after a 20km chase for a kudu he hadn't raised a sweat and looked like he was ready to do it all again straight away.
Bob.
 

thriller

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Randy F

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3. Kudu

Day two saw us rumbling along in the back of a truck up out of the camp on a winding road at predawn up through the bushveld. We eventually stopped near a craggy red rock outcropping just as the sun started to peek over the trees. I was in awe of the scenery. Somewhat different than yesterday, this area was vast with longer open areas and a lot more rock. Always a bit of a geology nerd, my head was on a swivel checking out the terrain. My attention span was like a puppy chasing leaves in the wind if I didn't get my game face on. I didn't want to anger Zeus, so back at it!
We were walking slowly skirting the edges of the clearing on the top of these immense hills/mountains. Occasionally the clearings would be low enough over the side to afford a good look at just how high up we were. The views were mesmerizing and I remember thinking that if I don't get a chance at another shot this is still going to all be worth it!!
I got over that bullsh--right away and got back on task. We had work to do. I had to. Libert was giving me his best wtf look.
We were moving side-by-side, me watching the right side, Zeus monitoring ahead and left. I caught some movement ahead to the right a couple hundred yards out. My heart jumped. Kudu bulls. Half a dozen or so. Libert judged them to have at least one good bull among them. We stood still as we watched them slowly disappear over the edge without offering a shot. I told him not to chance a move setting up the sticks. The clearing was too narrow to chance any quick shots at that distance. I have no doubt I could make the shot if I needed to but we had time. They weren't spooked. We could get back on them.
You know how it is, you end up questioning those decisions for the rest of the day...or the rest of your life sometimes. Waddaya do?
Of course Zeus scampers off to the left down over the steep hill away from where the bulls went. I get it. I don't run straight at a critter as soon as it disappears. We all know better than that. I've had plenty of success circling around to get ahead too. Libert's knowledge of the land, terrain, and the habits of these animals was complete. As he would prove time and time again, disappearing in the opposite direction for over an hour did not mean we would never see them again. Except, at that point, repeat performances had not yet been proven and this skeptic was considering strangling the game god. Partially because I new the farther down the steep left side we went the farther back up the even steeper part we'd have to climb. Apparently Zeus wasn't capable of producing an escalator.
As I feared, we managed to reach the absolutely steepest area where Mr. Never sweat decides we need to climb back over to the other side again. This scenario would encompass the next 5 1/2 ours of my life. We climbed up and over and all the way to the bottom. Libert had picked up their trail half way down this side. More proof that he knew his animals and the land. In my mind they could have easily gone the other direction after disappearing over the edge. Had they done that we would have been miles from them but here we were on their trail. They had heard or scented us and picked up their pace. So did we, and facing me again was a formidable climb. I couldn't see the top. It was at about the half way point up this rocky face that I'll refer you back to "day 1" page where he offered to carry the gun for me. I was still grumbling under my breath about that offer and his evil grin when we reached the top. We had paused just below the crest to glass the area ahead in hope =s of catching them on top. No such luck. Over the nest few hours we tried not to get frustrated. I even saw Zimbabwe Zeus shake his head once after the third time we were busted. Kudu are smart. Each time they slowed to graze they would circle quite a ways back on their back trail before they got serious about settling in to feed. Each time we slowed and crept where they began to slow, they were already behind us. We managed to get within range three different times. Only one of those times did the biggest bull hint that he might present an opportunity. I'm pretty sure this big guy was messing with me. The others stayed somewhat in the more open areas. He was roaming around the edge of it then walked directly into thick brush...toward us. Zeus stood up the hated shooting sticks and I we waited at the ready for him to present a shot in one of the very few openings in the thicket. He had wandered back and forth toward us, feeding as he went. He was now only about 50 yards away and still roaming slowly closer.
Then he approached an opening. Here it is. My heart is pounding. He's moving very slowly left to right. There is a small window in the brush that his nose is just entering. Now his eye. His ear. Time has stopped. Then he suddenly turns his body toward us and is staring through the "window" directly at us. Now he's straight on, offering no shot but his head. Zeus has somehow made himself invisible and I haven't moved a muscle...especially my trigger finger. The breeze is in my face so I doubt he caught our scent. Maybe he was just nervous cuz he knew he was being trailed. I don't know. But it all blew up right there. He stared at us forever. Then the damnedest alien bark-growl-grunt-bellow sound blew out of him and the whole bunch was gone before his snot even hit the ground. Ugh.
We sat down on a couple of boulders contemplating our next step. Libert called the owner with the require 11am check-in. The decision was made for pick up, a quick lunch and regroup for another plan.
What a roller coaster...and it's not even noon.
A new plan, a new area, and fresh chance. Here we go.
We were dropped off much like we were earlier...up on top of a ridge. I was kinda thankful to be thrown around and bruised up in the back of that truck. It meant I didn't have to climb. Yet.
I was not aware that a vehicle that small could navigate such large boulders on one side and not roll over. It likely stayed upright not only because of the high rate of speed at which we encountered said boulders but also the frequency of hitting the next one on the other side each time so as to halt and reverse the violent pitch created by the first. But I saved the gun. That's the main thing right?
As luck or conjuring would have it, it wasn't long after we started off on foot that we began encountering some really nice animals. Warthogs burning off through the brush snorting and gurgling in whatever language that is. A Blue Wildebeest standing broadside all alone 80 yards away while for the eight thousandth time I said no to Zeus as he kept trying to set the sticks up in front of me. I was about to stomp on his foot when we heard some clattering across a rock flat just out of sight of to our left and straight out from the Wildebeest. I'm excited even though my common sense is telling me it's more Wildebeest. It's just not on my list this time. Even though I haven't uttered a sound, Libert is shushing me as he's listening the the clattering fade. He's wide eyed. ? Zeus? Worked up? What the...
Then very quietly he says "Is Kudu".
Try to imagine the best "Holy Bullsh-- Batman!" face you can summon. That's the look he was getting from me. He whisper-yelled(he's better at it than me) "two or three of them, come now!" And he took off, get this, toward them at a trot. With me hot on his back explaining as quietly and as fast as I can the fact that the sound we heard could be any critter on the planet sporting a hoof. A Holstein cow maybe. To say nothing of a specific animal and the number of them. He was full of crap and I was busy letting him know how stupid I wasn't when his hand came up and stopped us both in our tracks. Holy crap he's setting up the sticks! I hate the sticks. Nevertheless, I set the gun up and we waited. Within ten seconds I was looking at the first Kudu I had ever seen. He was down at the bottom of the grassy ravine crossing to the other side. Not in a big hurry but not really wasting time either. IF, I say IF this is the Kudu that ran across that rock flat then I was going to have to eat crow because Zeus was right. BUT...It was alone. HAH! He's still not right.
My heart is pounding. He's walking up the other side, straight away. Not a leave or a twig between us. Just turn buddy, just turn. Safety is off. Finger on the trigger....
Zues is violently yanking on my pant leg below the grass line. I hate to break my view in the scope but he seems very insistent. I slowly look down and hiss a quick "what!!!". He doesn't look up at me, he's staring further down and says "you should take that one".
Nearly a cardiac situation here. A bigger Kudu had just stepped out on the same path as the first. Oh boy. I got readjusted and ready. He was moving the same as the other one had and was following him straight up the other side offering only his back. I was contemplating shot placement. He's now moved slightly to his left along side some brush. If he turns left he's gone. Libert is advising to hold off. I don't like the shot. 125 yards across this ravine is all. Easy enough but a horrible angle.
He turned left. UGH!
The other one has crested the for hill and only his rear end could be seen. A message directly to me I'm sure.
I glance down at Libert half expecting him to grab the sticks and bolt left to try to get to an opening in the brush there. But he didn't move. He just whispered "wait". I was straining at the scope while daydreaming of how far Zeus' nose could bend without breaking under the butt of my gun when the little miracle happened. The bull had turned around and his head was poking out of the brush! What?! How did you...there's no... Whatever, pay attention!!
The bull took two slow steps out of the brush moving right. He stopped with his right leg forward. Perfect! The gun went off and he was down. WOOOW what a rush!
That's how fast things can change. We went from working our butts off for hours to taking a bull within 50 minutes of drop off.
How he knew they were Kudu hooves over the rocks I'll never know. Lucky guess? maybe? I don't care. I don't know how he knew that bull was going to turn around, but he did. He didn't even seem to question it and displayed zero concern...the little creep!! I was panicking!! This bull is proof enough for me. And it's early yet.

I want a Waterbuck Bull and I had no idea the of the things I was about to experience.


But I gotta go for now. I'll catch up later though.

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Randy F

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@Randy F.
I know what you mean our tracker David was the same. He also smoked continually on the bakki but could still walk or run the pants off anyone in our group. Even after a 20km chase for a kudu he hadn't raised a sweat and looked like he was ready to do it all again straight away.
Bob.
 

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Ha! Yeah not fair is it.
I forgot to mention in part one of day two that the first Kudu stalk ended up being about 14 km of up down and around according to Zeus. The most fun I’ve ever had trying to survive. Lol
 
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3. Kudu

Day two saw us rumbling along in the back of a truck up out of the camp on a winding road at predawn up through the bushveld. We eventually stopped near a craggy red rock outcropping just as the sun started to peek over the trees. I was in awe of the scenery. Somewhat different than yesterday, this area was vast with longer open areas and a lot more rock. Always a bit of a geology nerd, my head was on a swivel checking out the terrain. My attention span was like a puppy chasing leaves in the wind if I didn't get my game face on. I didn't want to anger Zeus, so back at it!
We were walking slowly skirting the edges of the clearing on the top of these immense hills/mountains. Occasionally the clearings would be low enough over the side to afford a good look at just how high up we were. The views were mesmerizing and I remember thinking that if I don't get a chance at another shot this is still going to all be worth it!!
I got over that bullsh--right away and got back on task. We had work to do. I had to. Libert was giving me his best wtf look.
We were moving side-by-side, me watching the right side, Zeus monitoring ahead and left. I caught some movement ahead to the right a couple hundred yards out. My heart jumped. Kudu bulls. Half a dozen or so. Libert judged them to have at least one good bull among them. We stood still as we watched them slowly disappear over the edge without offering a shot. I told him not to chance a move setting up the sticks. The clearing was too narrow to chance any quick shots at that distance. I have no doubt I could make the shot if I needed to but we had time. They weren't spooked. We could get back on them.
You know how it is, you end up questioning those decisions for the rest of the day...or the rest of your life sometimes. Waddaya do?
Of course Zeus scampers off to the left down over the steep hill away from where the bulls went. I get it. I don't run straight at a critter as soon as it disappears. We all know better than that. I've had plenty of success circling around to get ahead too. Libert's knowledge of the land, terrain, and the habits of these animals was complete. As he would prove time and time again, disappearing in the opposite direction for over an hour did not mean we would never see them again. Except, at that point, repeat performances had not yet been proven and this skeptic was considering strangling the game god. Partially because I new the farther down the steep left side we went the farther back up the even steeper part we'd have to climb. Apparently Zeus wasn't capable of producing an escalator.
As I feared, we managed to reach the absolutely steepest area where Mr. Never sweat decides we need to climb back over to the other side again. This scenario would encompass the next 5 1/2 ours of my life. We climbed up and over and all the way to the bottom. Libert had picked up their trail half way down this side. More proof that he knew his animals and the land. In my mind they could have easily gone the other direction after disappearing over the edge. Had they done that we would have been miles from them but here we were on their trail. They had heard or scented us and picked up their pace. So did we, and facing me again was a formidable climb. I couldn't see the top. It was at about the half way point up this rocky face that I'll refer you back to "day 1" page where he offered to carry the gun for me. I was still grumbling under my breath about that offer and his evil grin when we reached the top. We had paused just below the crest to glass the area ahead in hope =s of catching them on top. No such luck. Over the nest few hours we tried not to get frustrated. I even saw Zimbabwe Zeus shake his head once after the third time we were busted. Kudu are smart. Each time they slowed to graze they would circle quite a ways back on their back trail before they got serious about settling in to feed. Each time we slowed and crept where they began to slow, they were already behind us. We managed to get within range three different times. Only one of those times did the biggest bull hint that he might present an opportunity. I'm pretty sure this big guy was messing with me. The others stayed somewhat in the more open areas. He was roaming around the edge of it then walked directly into thick brush...toward us. Zeus stood up the hated shooting sticks and I we waited at the ready for him to present a shot in one of the very few openings in the thicket. He had wandered back and forth toward us, feeding as he went. He was now only about 50 yards away and still roaming slowly closer.
Then he approached an opening. Here it is. My heart is pounding. He's moving very slowly left to right. There is a small window in the brush that his nose is just entering. Now his eye. His ear. Time has stopped. Then he suddenly turns his body toward us and is staring through the "window" directly at us. Now he's straight on, offering no shot but his head. Zeus has somehow made himself invisible and I haven't moved a muscle...especially my trigger finger. The breeze is in my face so I doubt he caught our scent. Maybe he was just nervous cuz he knew he was being trailed. I don't know. But it all blew up right there. He stared at us forever. Then the damnedest alien bark-growl-grunt-bellow sound blew out of him and the whole bunch was gone before his snot even hit the ground. Ugh.
We sat down on a couple of boulders contemplating our next step. Libert called the owner with the require 11am check-in. The decision was made for pick up, a quick lunch and regroup for another plan.
What a roller coaster...and it's not even noon.
A new plan, a new area, and fresh chance. Here we go.
We were dropped off much like we were earlier...up on top of a ridge. I was kinda thankful to be thrown around and bruised up in the back of that truck. It meant I didn't have to climb. Yet.
I was not aware that a vehicle that small could navigate such large boulders on one side and not roll over. It likely stayed upright not only because of the high rate of speed at which we encountered said boulders but also the frequency of hitting the next one on the other side each time so as to halt and reverse the violent pitch created by the first. But I saved the gun. That's the main thing right?
As luck or conjuring would have it, it wasn't long after we started off on foot that we began encountering some really nice animals. Warthogs burning off through the brush snorting and gurgling in whatever language that is. A Blue Wildebeest standing broadside all alone 80 yards away while for the eight thousandth time I said no to Zeus as he kept trying to set the sticks up in front of me. I was about to stomp on his foot when we heard some clattering across a rock flat just out of sight of to our left and straight out from the Wildebeest. I'm excited even though my common sense is telling me it's more Wildebeest. It's just not on my list this time. Even though I haven't uttered a sound, Libert is shushing me as he's listening the the clattering fade. He's wide eyed. ? Zeus? Worked up? What the...
Then very quietly he says "Is Kudu".
Try to imagine the best "Holy Bullsh-- Batman!" face you can summon. That's the look he was getting from me. He whisper-yelled(he's better at it than me) "two or three of them, come now!" And he took off, get this, toward them at a trot. With me hot on his back explaining as quietly and as fast as I can the fact that the sound we heard could be any critter on the planet sporting a hoof. A Holstein cow maybe. To say nothing of a specific animal and the number of them. He was full of crap and I was busy letting him know how stupid I wasn't when his hand came up and stopped us both in our tracks. Holy crap he's setting up the sticks! I hate the sticks. Nevertheless, I set the gun up and we waited. Within ten seconds I was looking at the first Kudu I had ever seen. He was down at the bottom of the grassy ravine crossing to the other side. Not in a big hurry but not really wasting time either. IF, I say IF this is the Kudu that ran across that rock flat then I was going to have to eat crow because Zeus was right. BUT...It was alone. HAH! He's still not right.
My heart is pounding. He's walking up the other side, straight away. Not a leave or a twig between us. Just turn buddy, just turn. Safety is off. Finger on the trigger....
Zues is violently yanking on my pant leg below the grass line. I hate to break my view in the scope but he seems very insistent. I slowly look down and hiss a quick "what!!!". He doesn't look up at me, he's staring further down and says "you should take that one".
Nearly a cardiac situation here. A bigger Kudu had just stepped out on the same path as the first. Oh boy. I got readjusted and ready. He was moving the same as the other one had and was following him straight up the other side offering only his back. I was contemplating shot placement. He's now moved slightly to his left along side some brush. If he turns left he's gone. Libert is advising to hold off. I don't like the shot. 125 yards across this ravine is all. Easy enough but a horrible angle.
He turned left. UGH!
The other one has crested the for hill and only his rear end could be seen. A message directly to me I'm sure.
I glance down at Libert half expecting him to grab the sticks and bolt left to try to get to an opening in the brush there. But he didn't move. He just whispered "wait". I was straining at the scope while daydreaming of how far Zeus' nose could bend without breaking under the butt of my gun when the little miracle happened. The bull had turned around and his head was poking out of the brush! What?! How did you...there's no... Whatever, pay attention!!
The bull took two slow steps out of the brush moving right. He stopped with his right leg forward. Perfect! The gun went off and he was down. WOOOW what a rush!
That's how fast things can change. We went from working our butts off for hours to taking a bull within 50 minutes of drop off.
How he knew they were Kudu hooves over the rocks I'll never know. Lucky guess? maybe? I don't care. I don't know how he knew that bull was going to turn around, but he did. He didn't even seem to question it and displayed zero concern...the little creep!! I was panicking!! This bull is proof enough for me. And it's early yet.

I want a Waterbuck Bull and I had no idea the of the things I was about to experience.


But I gotta go for now. I'll catch up later though.
@Randy F
The joys and frustration of hunting is only understood by fellow hunters.
The only shot my Kudu presented was front on. The PH said I could wait for a side on but me being me said no tell me where to hit him. One shot 20yard run and down. The beauty of enough gun.
Bib
 

Randy F

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@Randy F
The joys and frustration of hunting is only understood by fellow hunters.
The only shot my Kudu presented was front on. The PH said I could wait for a side on but me being me said no tell me where to hit him. One shot 20yard run and down. The beauty of enough gun.
Bib
That’s so cool! Congrats! I wouldn’t have minded a frontal shot if it would’ve been presented. The brush was just too high up for it. Frustrating but wow.
 

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Those African boys are a tough breed. Superhuman......I like it!
 

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