I have read many statements in Africa’s Bowhunter & Archer magazine, similar to the following: “I drew the bow, put the 20-yard pin on his shoulder and released. It was a perfect heart shot.”
I have always believed that these shots can only be read about in books. In 2004 I shot an impala at 18 yards, but not through the heart; the shot was a little too high and too far back, yet he ran about 40 yards and expired. I got my impala but not the heart shot people talk about.
The 2005 hunting season came sooner than I thought. When I woke up, some of my friends asked: “Have you been hunting?” By June, I still had not booked anything. Early in July my good friend Dave Purchase mentioned that he had arranged a bowhunting weekend in August for us and two other friends and that I should diarise the dates.
On Friday 19 August at 14:00 we departed from our homes in Pretoria and Boksburg. We met in Thabazimbi at 16:30 and after we had filled the cars with fuel and our families with pies, we resumed our journey to the farm.
I cannot describe the feeling when we arrived at the gate and entered the farm, just as the sun was setting on the horizon. It was a feeling of a dream come true, that we were there to experience the anticipation and peaceful atmosphere one can only find in the bushveldt. We met Ryno, the PH, and while talking to him saw eland passing about 60 yards from us.
After we had settled in we met in the lounge where Ryno briefed us on the rules and showed us an aerial photo of the farm, indicating the location of the various hides. We decided who would occupy which hides and Ryno showed us a chart of various animals, their vitals and bone structure. We also discussed shot placement extensively. After dinner and sitting outside at the fire we hit the sack.
Up at 05:00 on Saturday, we had a cup of coffee at 05:30, and in the light of the new day threw a few arrows to make sure our equipment was still fine.
Off we went to our hides. Looking out of it in the early morning and experiencing the quietness of the veldt in the coolness of the morning brought back a feeling similar to what I had experienced the previous evening when we arrived at the farm.
It was a busy morning. Nyala, warthog and monkeys were around most of the time. Impala and kudu came in, but not close, were disturbed and moved off.
Between 12:00 and 14:00 it was very quiet. At 14:00 the kudu and impala were back, but at a distance. I had the bow in my hands, ready. At 14:50 an impala ram stood broadside at 24 yards. I tried to remember the previous night’s discussion on shot placement, put the pins where I thought best and released the arrow. I watched it penetrate, but things happened so quickly, it was havoc. Animals ran in all directions, and the ram was running fast and straight in the direction from which it came. I started to shiver and could not switch on the radio to call Ryno! When he and my family finally arrived (it was the longest 20 or so minutes of my life) we picked up the arrow where the ram had stood. “It’s a good shot,” said Ryno. We followed the blood spoor and found the ram not more than 60 yards away.
“You must have hit the heart.” Ryno said when he saw the ram. “If I hit the heart, will you keep it for me please,” I replied. I spent the rest of the afternoon in the hide with my wife and kids. Back at home I went to have a look at the slaughtered buck. It was a perfect heart shot.
Now this is a heart shot
“Last night’s discussions on shot placement paid off,” Ryno said. Bevan shot an eland and Dave a 24-inch Rowland Ward impala from an open tree stand.
What a weekend it was! Thanks to Dave and Alex for inviting us to accompany them. A big thanks to Ryno who went out of his way to help, assist and make our weekend as pleasant as possible.