Gary sat the Kudu Pond today in search of gemsbok. Gemsbok, at the top of Gary’s wish list, had so far proved scarce for him on this hunt. Joe and Eric had taken their gemsbok early in the trip. But it never fails – whichever species you want most are the ones you will see the least. But Gary was patient and bided his time. And the nice thing about Africa is while you are waiting for one species, several more may come in.
After about half an hour in the hide, six kudu bulls, including one decent bull; 20 wildebeest cows, calves, and bulls; a steenbok ewe; and a warthog sow with three piglets all came in and drank or ate. Then they must have gotten the hunter’s wind and spooked. But a little later a nice impala ram came in by himself and watered. Unfortunately, he was drinking facing directly away. But after a couple of minutes he turned slightly quartering away at 18 yards. Gary’s PH, Hein, gave the OK, and after a well-placed shot the ram was down after only making it 22 yards. Gary was ecstatic!
This lone Impala sipped as Gary drew
Done. Another great trophy is down
Joe and his PH Stefan drove about 30 miles southeast from the main ranch and hunted a different property for kudu, impala, and warthog. It was a slow morning but about 1:00 p.m. several kudu cows and immature bulls showed up to drink and feed. Then about 1:30, three mature bulls came in – one with wide horns, one with narrow horns, and one just right that had about 51-52-inch long horns.
Of course the wide one, which Joe really didn’t want to take, presented an easy broadside shot. Joe wanted the medium-width bull but of course he never presented a shot. Joe stood waiting for 45 minutes with his release hooked to the string. Then a big warthog boar came in and the PH, Stefan, told him to shoot the warthog and forget about the kudu, stating that kudu are a lot more predictable than warthogs and they could come back another day for the kudu.
Joe was dumbfounded. He had waited 45 minutes to get a shot at a kudu and now his PH told him to shoot a warthog? But Stefan was right. Kudu are a lot more predictable than arthog boars. But Joe wanted that kudu bull and wouldn’t shoot the warthog. Joe drew on the bull a couple of times but the bull heard him drawing and spooked. Eventually the kudu bulls left. Joe’s words of wisdom for the day were to listen to your PH.
A little later, three mature impala rams came in and went directly to the water to drink. One ram presented a nice broadside angle and Joe took the shot. Unfortunately instead of shooting the impala, he shot the concrete blind. His arrow hit the corner of the shooting window. The impala jumped about 2 feet in the air and took off. Joe and Stefan couldn’t help but laugh about the incident. Joe later mentioned his broadhead got good penetration in the concrete.
Getting ready for the hunt
We continued to look for my eland. At dawn we drove the roads looking for fresh tracks to see where the bulls had gone. Unfortunately, there were many fresh eland tracks and it was difficult to tell which ones belonged to the bulls. The tracker, Levi, tracked a herd of eland while Hein and I waited at road crossings with the rifles. We had one large herd of eland come out but they were just cows, calves, and young bulls and my bull was not with them. Hein thought the bulls had gone into a thick bedding area but we combed the area heavily for tracks and never saw the bulls. At about noon, we finally decided to give up. Man was I bummed and couldn’t keep from thinking about the shot placement and poor penetration. I had replayed the video over and over just wondering what had gone wrong. I would have to try to put it behind me and continue hunting.
For the afternoon hunt, I decided to do some “walking and stalking” solo near where we had last seen the eland bull still hoping to run across him. I still didn’t find the bull but had an incredible afternoon which helped distract my mind. First I almost got a shot at a big 24-inch or so impala ram. I saw the ram feeding through the thick brush at about 30 yards. He was slowly feeding my way so I just waited kneeling. He fed to 25 yards but the cover was still too thick to shoot. Then I lost sight of him for a minute and then he just appeared in an opening to my left. But he had spotted me kneeling and stared me down. Man, if I just knew he was going to step into that opening, I would have been at full draw. But he surprised me and now there was no way I could draw without spooking him. After a long stare down he spooked. But it was a rush being that close to a nice ram while stalking.
A little later I saw two mature wildebeest bulls feeding in a small meadow about 150 yards away. They had their heads down and seemed oblivious to their surroundings. So I quickly and quietly moved down the trail toward them. I was wearing stalking sandals over my boots which greatly helped quiet the sound of my footsteps. I closed to within 35 yards of the bigger bull. His body looked huge as he hunched over to feed. He was feeding directly toward an opening 20 yards in front of me so I just waited him out. He was meandering as he fed but still headed my direction. The shot seemed imminent. What a thrill it would be to take a big wildebeest bull on foot. But as luck would have it, the bull fed the other way and bedded down behind a bush. I snuck within 30 yards of the bedded bull and stood waiting. Eventually, due to gemsbok snorting downwind of me, he stood up and offered me a broadside shot at 34 yards. But the distance was a little too far for me on African game so I passed the shot. But although not successful with my “walk and stalk” hunt, I had one of my most memorable days a field in Africa, which helped dampen the sorrow of losing the eland bull. I would be ready for a new day tomorrow.
Tip of the Day
Stalking big game in Africa, while sounding inviting, can be very difficult because the animals are so wired, the ground so noisy, and the countryside relatively open so they see you coming from a long ways off. On the occasional windy day, you may have a chance stalking. But the vast majority of your hunting will be over waterholes from blinds because it is so much more successful with a bow. Most of the hides you hunt in Africa will be pit or aboveground blinds. Both blinds work well but I prefer pit blinds. They are cooler and you can shoot standing up. The pits also contain your scent better and it is easier to see the sex organs on animals to identify their gender. Make sure your outfitter places carpet or padding on the bottom of the blind to quiet your movements. Nothing gives away our presence more than a noisy floor. An open soft bowcase can also work and I would recommend you bring one because you will also want it for transporting your bow back and forth to the hides.