Bowhunt for the African Klipspringer

 
  
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By: Rean Steenkamp
By: Rean Steenkamp

The klipspringer (Oreotragus oreotragus) is a small species of African antelope, also known colloquially as an mvundla (from the Xhosa umvundla, meaning “rabbit”). It certainly is a beautiful animal and is well known for it agility on rocky hills. The antelope’s hooves are designed not to slip on the rocky surfaces as it jumps from rock to rock.

As I came down the mountain, I noticed a tree trunk with a shape that reminds one of a buck. I stopped in my tracks. Could it be an impala or a duiker?

I slowly moved forward, trying to make as little movement as possible. Fortunately most of me was hidden behind a bush a few meters in front of me and I was peeking over the top of the leaves. Step by step I went closer, making sure where I placed my feet. My Wildebeest boots made no sound. Yes, it was an animal and not a tree trunk! I could just make out the eyes, the black nose and the darker colour of the glands beneath the eyes. The animal was standing quartering away from me, while looking over its shoulder – and the back seemed much higher than the front. It was a duiker.

I had to move slowly from behind the bush to get a clear shot. Will it run? It did not! My arrow was already nocked, but I had to lift my bow slightly and draw the arrow. I focused on a spot on the shoulder of the duiker, just a little further back than I would normally shoot when it was standing square on. I knew a duiker was super fast and since it was looking in my direction I was probably wasting my time, since it will see the arrow coming and will be gone long before it is close. This has happened to me before. Nevertheless, I slowly brought the arrow to full-draw while focusing on the spot and then relaxed my fingers. The arrow whisked out of my bow.

However, let me start at the beginning. I received a phone call from my friend Martin Jacobson on this Monday. He said he had to accompany an American hunter to a game farm on the coming Friday and wanted to know if I would like to join them. We would be hunting impala and warthog, he said, and we would return that Saturday afternoon. The game farm had no hides and we would have to stalk the game. That was good news to me since I decided I would only hunt on foot this year. I thanked him for inviting me and started practicing with my 50-pound Scythian recurve made by Lukas Navotny from Saluki Bows.

I have taken quite a few animals with this bow in the past, but have not used it for quite a while. Lately I have been hunting with a 55-pound take-down recurve made by Johan Smit. However, since I did not have a bow quiver that fit the new bow, I decided to take the Scythian as I had a nifty little quiver for it that carries three arrows.

We left the camp early on Saturday morning and took direction to the hills on the game farm. About 500 meters from camp I took the left road while my friend, the PH and the American hunter took the right road. There were two fair sized hills on the game farm and the roads we took each lead to one of the hills.

It was a beautiful and clear morning, but it seemed as if all the animals had disappeared. I slowly walked up the slope of the hill until I reached the plateau above. I walked very slowly for quite a while, scanning ahead with my binoculars and constantly checking the wind direction. When I reached an area where the trees made a shady covering I decided to stop for a drink and a bite to eat.

I then laid down under a bush for a while and within a few minutes was surprised by the amount of birds that started sitting in the branches around me. They were certainly not aware of my presence. I enjoyed watching them jump from branch to branch and making a quite a racket.

About half an hour later I got up, picked up my backpack and bow and started slowly walking through the bush again. All the time I kept an eye on the fluffy feather that was tied with a piece of floss to the top end of my bow. This way I made certain I was always walking upwind.

Suddenly a heard a blue wildebeest snort and saw the herd as they took off – running about thirty yards and then stopping. They had either seen me or the wind had changed direction and they had got my scent. As I got closer to the animals again, I noticed there were two light brown wildebeest among them. These weren’t normal blue wildebeest; these were golden wildebeest. I walked past them as quietly as I could, not wanting to spook them again and thus alerting other game in the vicinity.

After a few minutes I started walking downhill, walking very slowly and carefully, since I did not want to knock rocks over or make loud sounds. I took my time, since my GPS showed the camp to be fairly close and I still had all the time in the world.

It was then that I noticed the suspect tree trunk – the tree trunk that would turn out to be a duiker.

The duiker was about 17 yard from me when the arrow left my bow. The arrow made little sound leaving the bow and neither did it when it zoomed in on the unsuspecting animal. I could see the animal startle as the arrow hit it – and then it took off at full speed.

As the animal took off I lost sight of it. Then there was silence.

I was fairly rattled myself. I just took a life, and that is never something to take lightly. I sat down, feeling quite out of breath and then I waited, giving the animal time to die.

There was no blood at the spot where the arrow hit the animal and I could find no blood in the area around this spot. I, thus, walked in the direction I heard the duiker run and at about twenty yards further I saw the yellow of my arrows feather showing above the rocks. When I got closer I saw the dead animal. I was quite surprised.

I wasn’t surprised to find the antelope, I was surprised because it certainly was no duiker! It was a klipspringer ram and a fine one it was.

My arrow had penetrated high on the shoulder and cut through to the lower part of the chest, penetrating the lungs and cutting of the arteries above the heart.

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