The Great Zebra Steeplechase of 2018 or How I Spent my Summer Vacation We’d had a good morning, and I’d already taken a fine Blesbok and Waterbuck. After lunch, my PH and I were discussing what to do for the afternoon, and we decided that we would hunt Zebra. So after a quick nap, we headed out. After driving for a little more than an hour, we cut fresh spoor across the track. We got out of the truck and began to track the Zebra. It was a warm afternoon, approximately 78°, perfect conditions. After a short time, I had a feeling that we were being watched. After looking around, I finally figured out what it was. Giraffes. There were four of them, but all we could see were their disembodied heads floating above the very thick bushes. The giraffes weren’t terribly interested in this, but just kept their eyes on us to make sure that we didn’t get too close. After about 500 yards, we heard some animals moving up ahead of us. We checked the wind, and approached very carefully. It was the Zebras! We could see their black-and-white striped bodies moving approximately 30 yards of us. The wind was in our favor, so they couldn’t smell us. All we needed was a clear area to shoot. And then. . . Dammit! The wind was shifting, I could feel it move around start to blow on the back of my neck, and about 10 seconds later, the herd of Zebras took off of running. Back to tracking. We ended up pushing this group of zebras a couple more times but then we heard some fairly loud noise and I realized it wasn’t Zebras, but rather a couple of Impala rams fighting. This is the end of the rut in South Africa and these Rams were going at it, with a small group of females looking on to see who the victor would be. I wish I’d had the presence of mind to take out my camera and put it on video, but I was too busy watching the spectacle in front of me. They started out about 30 or 40 yards away and we could barely see them through the thick brush, but as they fought they got closer and closer. Eventually they broke out into a clearing in front of us and they were fighting perhaps 10 to 15 yards away, completely oblivious to us. Bonjo the tracking dog was going crazy with excitement. He stood there trembling but managed not to bark or go after the Impala‘s, pretty impressive considering how excited he was. But then the Impalas got even closer, and the excitement got the best of him and eventually Bonjo raced after them barking up a storm. The shocked Impalas stopped their fight, looked at the dog, looked at us, and with a couple of leaps into the underbrush they were gone. We picked up the spoor of the Zebras again and followed it for another few hundred yards. But they were getting further and further away and it was unlikely we were going to come across them while they were stopped. At this time, we crossed one of the roads and decided to set up for a possible shot in case the Zebras ahead of us decided to cross. It was a good bet. With my rifle on the sticks and looking intently down the road, we first heard, and then saw the first Zebra cross the road. It was one of the smaller ones, we waited for the big stallion to cross. After three or four zebras crossed, my PH hissed, “that’s it! Shoot it! My range estimation was a little bit off, the Zebra was quite a bit farther away than I estimated. What should’ve been a perfect heart/lung shot ended up being a low brisket/high leg shot. But we didn’t know that at the time. About 10 zebras raced across the road after the shot and then just a few seconds later they came back across the road from the same direction they started in. We could hear a crashing through the underbrush and then, all of a sudden, it was quiet. Other than the range estimation error, I felt good about my shot and was certain that I hit, but I didn’t know where. We went to the spot where the zebra was when I shot, and we immediately found blood. We sent Bonjo off to see if he could locate it while we waited for Jim the tracker to come up with the truck to help us get on the spoor of the Zebra. A few minutes later, the dog started barking up a storm, and we knew he found the zebra. “Come on!” my PH yelled as he raced through the bushes. Now picture this - you’re running through deep soft beach-type sand, carrying a 10 pound rifle, and dodging thorn bushes in thick undergrowth that makes it nearly impossible to move ahead without the thorns grabbing clothing and skin trying to stop you. And you’re racing as fast as you can, which for an old fat man like me isn’t that fast, but I surprised myself. After a couple hundred yards of crashing through thorn bushes, jumping over logs and trying not to fall down in a Warthog hole, we came across a clearing where the Zebra was on his knees with the dog barking and keeping him busy, but as soon as we broke through the underbrush, the Zebra saw us, leapt to his feet, and raced off. The chase was on again! Another hundred yards or so yards of thorn bush dodging/log jumping/warthog hole avoidance and we finally came to another clearing where the Zebra was walking and trying to get away from us and the dog. By this time, I was pretty much praying for a heart attack rather than continue this bit of African fun and games. As quickly as I could, I raced to the side to get a clear shot and put another .375 bullet in the Zebra as he was quartering away. This time he dropped to his knees, with blood pouring out of his chest, like a spigot had been turned on. A few more seconds and the Zebra was down and the Chase was done. Then all the work started. The tracker managed to bring the truck in as close as he could to us but it was still 30 or 40 yards in from the road but the brush was too thick to get the truck any closer. Zebra are pretty heavy and it would have been very difficult for the three of us to drag him out, not to mention the damage to the hide as we dragged it, which we wanted to avoid as this Zebra was destined for a rug. Therefore, the tracker had to get out his panga and started cutting away the brush, making a new road into where we could access the Zebra. Now, if you remember, we started this hunt in the afternoon and by now the sun was almost down. The remaining Zebra in the group that were remaining were apparently very upset at the way things had transpired, and we could hear them close by, milling about, and making an incredible amount of noise, braying, whining, stomping their hooves, as they were none too pleased that we had taken one of their group members. It was all rather surreal. However, as the work went on, the noise of the Zebras got much louder and more intense. Bloody hell! The Zebras had managed to call in reinforcements! There were now approximately 15 to 20 Zebra, and by all appearances, they had us surrounded, they weren’t too happy, and it was pretty apparent they were planning a counterattack. I had the only torch, a rather small one which I was using to illuminate the area and help the guys cutting away the brush. Occasionally, I would shine the light outside and you could see movement of the zebras just outside the outer edge of the light. In addition, a group of black backed jackals had heard the noise, and came to see what all the fuss is about. You could see them seemingly floating about at the very edge of the torch light. So here’s the scene - it’s pitch black, there are 15 to 20 angry Zebras milling about trying to get their revenge, there are jackals running around trying to see if they can get in on the action, and who knows what else would show up to the party? It wasn’t too long before we found out. What was that new sound? Damn! Hyenas. A group of hyenas has no problem pushing an adult male Lion off of a kill, and they wouldn’t have any problem with three puny humans, especially since I was the only one with a rifle. About that time, the brush cutting had stopped and we had our road to get the truck in where we needed it. We quickly backed the truck in, attached the winch, loaded up the zebra in the back of the truck and off we went. Success!! As we were driving home that night, enjoying the cool South African air and reflecting on an exciting and successful hunt, I thought to myself, if one dies of a heart attack as a result of chasing Zebra in Africa while on safari, will one’s life insurance pay off?