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Day two in Africa

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  • Day two in Africa

    Africa trip day two. Part 1

    Having shot four animals the first morning, I was only left with three remaining on my package deal bucket list: springbok, gemsbuck, and kudu. Another of my PH’s old school chums who runs a large game/domestic livestock ranch had an interesting offer. Years ago three gemsbuck escaped from their large enclosure (hundreds of thousands of acres!) into adjacent livestock lands. These three needed to be culled. There was no way to get them back through the fences to where they belonged and, because the bull was on a separate piece, none of them could do any breeding either. Just wasting range and in this drought that is critical. Worst case scenario is they would tear a hole in a fence trying to get back to the others ... or get themselves hung up trying and go to waste (neither gemsbuck or springbok are any good at jumping fences). Apparently the bull was content to stay where he was. My PH had been trying to get him for five years but the old boy was just too sneaky. They managed to get one of the cows for a client back in June. So the offer to take the bull was made. It wasn’t a guarantee by any means but maybe not entirely a “wild” hunt either. At any rate, John had lots of springbok on his property and most were the prized larger Kalahari variety. Shouldn’t be much trouble to find a big one (though getting a shot at those wily open land little stinkers is always a challenge). Okay, sure. If we get the springbok out of the way maybe I’ll take a shot at the renegade gemsbuck bull. Keep in mind that gemsbuck cows generally have longer horns than the bulls. The males usually have slightly thicker ones though. This bull would have a tag in his ear but that wouldn’t make any difference to me since I would only be bringing back skulls. John also had lots of kudu in the hills and we might get a shot at one of those if we were lucky.

    The ranch was quite a drive from the lodge and neither springbok nor gemsbuck required early morning hunting so we slept in a bit. John met us at the gate and he already had a good idea where we could find springbok (like impala they are doing well in the drought and are quite numerous). First spot was a bust but we hit pay dirt on the second attempt. A bunch of about fifty was spread out feeding behind the brush surrounding an almost dry water hole. We were able to keep the cover between us until we closed to seventy metres. Then the problem was trying to find the ram. Animals were walking back and forth in front on the other side of the brush but all ewes. Suddenly he appeared front and centre walking through our window of opportunity. He didn’t stop so I got off the quad sticks and asked for John’s unextended bipod which I planned to use in sitting position. But just as I crouched to right knee, I pulled my left hamstring! Ouch. No matter. I got the leg extended on the ground and then the right hamstring pulled! After all that I only just managed to get the gun in place as the ram walked out of sight to our right. The bunch kept working that direction so there was no hope of him turning around. Plan was to work our way behind cover to the end of the water hole and intercept them. It required a lot of stooped over sneaking (painful for me!) with sudden stops when we were exposed. Finally we reached the edge of open land and the flock was just to our right ... but the ram was not! For whatever reason he had walked off about three hundred yards straight away from us. He was too small a target to attempt shooting at that range (or so I thought!). Fortunately the crowd kept moving off further to our right. Now the plan was to wait for them to split away enough so that if/when we exposed ourselves and they busted, the ram might not catch on. Then we noticed three ewes way off to our left had taken an interest in him and a couple of stragglers from the herd also headed his way. That was good ... and bad. Alone it was unlikely the ram would hang around if the herd left. But maybe with company he might feel comfortable enough to stay put long enough for us to stalk in for a closer shot. The downside was we now had an extra five pairs of eyes to worry about. The plan worked. After the herd moved off we were able to slip into a shallow draw and get out of sight. When we finally crawled out the ram was about 150 yards and standing still. He saw us but was unsure what he was looking at. PH hurriedly set up the sticks and I took a quick shot. Like all the animals the previous day, the ram dropped in his tracks. A very nice animal. They are pretty things and a shoulder mount would work fine in my tiny house so I planned to have the cape processed for my daughter to work with.
    Click image for larger version  Name:	2019-08-24 springbock.JPG Views:	1 Size:	55.2 KB ID:	713954

    Next up was the bull gemsbuck. He was on a rather small piece at the base of the kudu mountains. This should have been an easy job. Our trackers quickly found his fresh tracks. PH and I situated ourselves on a small bench in the centre of the piece with our tracker on the opposite higher mountain. John’s two ranch hands worked up the bottom following the bull’s tracks. Everyone had radios. The day had started quite cool but by noon it was getting very hot ... and dry! The two guys in the bottom went round and round in that thick stuff below us. Gemsbuck are quite brightly coloured and the bull should have been easy enough to detect with three sets of binoculars scanning everything from different vantage points. But, though he was definitely there, none of us ever saw him. Finally we had to give up. Really cheezed off my PH. “I am going to come back here and get the SOB myself!” He’d been chasing that ten year-old bull around in there for half its life. Too many disappointed clients. Time to just kill it and be done.

    End part 1 of day two
    Last edited by Ontario Honker Hunter; 09-09-2019, 09:58 AM.

  • #2
    Africa trip day two, part 2

    We had lunch with John and his wife at the ranch complex. Then he showed us his budding sable breeding operation out back of the house. About a dozen came out of the thick stuff to the feeder when he rattled it, including a spectacular big bull. We were heading down the driveway to the highway when I asked the PH about the cow. “If you’re interested she’s just down the road.” Why not. We’re here already. So he called the owner and made sure it was okay. John got a tracker and headed out to meet us. Just after closing the gate on the property I saw the cow’s white face peering at us from a thicket of acacia not seventy yards away. “Oh, we’ve got this one! She can’t get out of there without being seen.” PH grabbed the sticks and away we went. Okay, she was over here, right? No. Must have been up there a bit. No. That danged cow simply dematerialized! She must have taken off running as soon as we moved the truck into cover. Nuts! About that time the owner showed up. My PH figured the cow might head for the back end of the property where they’d shot the other one, so we took off in that direction while the owner and his tracker climbed the steep rocky hill in the centre of the property to see if they could spot her. We found some shade under an isolated tree behind a grove of acacia and waited. After about a half hour the owner called on the radio to say they had seen the cow and she immediately took off running. They could also see where we were hiding and the cow was running in our direction. A deep, sharp banked washout was behind us and we figured the cow would cross the opening in front to avoid it. Soon an excited voice over the radio warned she was almost to us. No sooner were the sticks set up facing a rise seventy yards away and the gemsbuck came galloping over the top. “Wait for her to turn.” But she didn’t turn! As she entered the acacia thicket I said, “Take the sticks! She's not going to stop” and turned the scope to 3X. She was coming straight at us, and I could just make out her white face in the thick acacia bobbing up and down rhythmically in that typical big plains antelope jog we’ve all seen on TV documentaries. She broke through the brush at fifteen yards still at a full gallop and still coming straight at me. I fired and the PH shouted, “You hit her.” But she didn’t break stride. All in one smooth motion I dropped the Springfield from my shoulder, ejected, reloaded, remounted, swung on her as she passed by twelve yards away, and put a bullet smack in her front shoulder. That one knocked her sideways. She stumbled, bounced off a tree, regained her feet for another couple of strides, and then piled up headfirst into the rocky ground, her horns making an awful clattering sound. We approached her carefully but she was clearly dead. My first shot hit her low and just left of the centre of her chest. Another heart shot. Second bullet entered the shoulder square on about six inches from the first entrance wound, also hitting her in the heart. I called both shots before we turned her over for a look to confirm. My PH was duly impressed. With a grin he said, “Great shooting ... but maybe you should give em a chance to fall over?” Was she coming for us, or were we just in her way? Who knows. But I can tell you this, if I had only dinged her instead of putting that first shot in her heart, we doubtless would have had a VERY exciting time. Gemsbuck don’t mess around. They regularly take on lions! Rule at the lodge is they are always double tapped just to be sure. As it was, I never really had time to get excited. In fact, I had plumb forgotten gemsbuck are “dangerous game” until she was on the ground. Good thing I guess. Shooting low gun at skeet and clays undoubtedly prepared me well for making that shot on a flying gemsbuck. And what magnificent animals they are! About the size of an elk with extraordinary colouration. Unfortunately, this old gal’s face and nose were gashed so there would be no shoulder mount for my daughter (see the tear above her left eye). Those wounds were not fresh. It’s anyone’s guess what happened. Perhaps she tangled with a leopard. Or was she simply trying to get back through the fence to the herd on the other side?

    Click image for larger version  Name:	2019-08-24 gemsbuck.jpg Views:	9 Size:	62.9 KB ID:	713959

    The owner was pleased to have his problem resolved and I was pleased to wind up with a hunt that was much, much more memorable than expected. And of course I was also pleased to come away with an excellent set of horns to help me remember it. My PH was pleased to be able to continue bragging about his “Mr. One-Shot” client. With a smile I did complain to the owner that I was disappointed my cow didn’t have a yellow tag in her ear. “Well, we can fix that. I happen to have a bunch here in the truck.” A great day. Pleasing all around. Now only the kudu remained on my to do list ... which suddenly expanded when we got back to the lodge. Cape buffalo was now on the menu too. That would be for day three. Stay tuned.
    Last edited by Ontario Honker Hunter; 09-08-2019, 10:14 PM.

    Comment


    • #3
      AWESOME, Honk!
      Good job.

      Comment


      • #4
        Excellent write up again, but the gemsbuck photo isn’t showing.

        Comment


        • #5
          That's what life's about. Great story.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by fitch270 View Post
            Excellent write up again, but the gemsbuck photo isn’t showing.
            The story wouldn't post originally because it was too long so I had to split it and cut and paste part II. The photo showed up fine in part II on my end so not sure what is going on. I went back in with edit function and deleted photo, then reinserted it. The insert attachment function is anything but flawless! Share photo function works better but adds all images at the end. I wanted to insert each photo in text where the animal is discussed. Can you see it now?

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Ontario Honker Hunter View Post

              The story wouldn't post originally because it was too long so I had to split it and cut and paste part II. The photo showed up fine in part II on my end so not sure what is going on. I went back in with edit function and deleted photo, then reinserted it. The insert attachment function is anything but flawless! Share photo function works better but adds all images at the end. I wanted to insert each photo in text where the animal is discussed. Can you see it now?
              Photo shows up fine in Pt II.
              Also called "oryx"? Correct?
              I believe they have a small feral population in either New Mexico or Arizona.

              Comment


              • #8
                Yessir! Great picture. You stand out well highlighted by the blue sky and the way her back lines up with the contour of the hill is neat.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Very good stories. Keep them coming.
                  The picture is just great.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by FirstBubba View Post

                    Photo shows up fine in Pt II.
                    Also called "oryx"? Correct?
                    I believe they have a small feral population in either New Mexico or Arizona.
                    Scimitar oryx is a different critter. Somewhat similar but lighter coloured and horns bend back slightly (hence the name). A few of the game operations have some but I'm not sure the trophies can be imported to US. I seem to recall that like the bontebok they are on the ropes in the wild. Let's see ... yes, scimitar oryx have been classified as extinct in the wild since 2000.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Congrats Honk!!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Outlaw View Post
                        Congrats Honk!!
                        Hey outlaw! Good to see you back!
                        How's Uncle Sam treating you?

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by FirstBubba View Post

                          Hey outlaw! Good to see you back!
                          How's Uncle Sam treating you?
                          Last few months have been a little rough, but I’m getting out very soon!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Well, good to see your handle again.
                            Here's hoping what time you have left is good and it goes quickly for you.
                            We lost quite a few old heads during the big shakeup.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Great stories OHH! It's very enjoyable reading with enough description to help picture the action.

                              Comment

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