On the morning of Day 8, I told Vinsel that I wanted to hunt with the rifle the whole day. Due to the extraordinary amount of rain they had experienced earlier in the year in Namibia, the bow hunting had slowed down at my water hole the last few days. I stated that I wanted to go after a Springbok and a Gemsbok (Oryx) if possible. The Springbok is very simlar to the north American antelope, while the Gemsbok is unlike any animal I have seen before.
We spent the first hours of light driving through the vast property trying to locate some Gemsbok that we could spot an stalk. If you have spot and stalk out west then you would be familiar with this experience. You spot the animal from a far, and you try to use the terrain and brush to get close enough before they wind you or see you. Sounds easy and I thought it was going to be so as well. Until I found out that these animals would see us from a half-mile away and move away quickly. We hunted until about 10 and had tried a few times to get in on animals to no avail.
As we turned a corner Venzel spotted a large Springbok at 300 meters. We stopped the truck and grabbed the shooting sticks. We slithered back and forth through the terrain using every shrub and stick bush to move within 150 yards.
Vinsel told me that I must stay right on his heals at all times as he wanted me right there if a shot presented itself. After another 20 yards, we dropped down and crawled to 100 yards. We saw the Springbok stand up and move to the right. I took the shot.
We found lots of good blood right at the place of the shot but were alarmed by the fact the animal ran out of sight. I am very good shooting a gun and know I held that shot. The way these animals spring makes it very difficult to follow a blood trail, and in this case we searched for over a hundred yards and found no sign of blood. We then decided to go back and get the safari truck and drive around until we see something.
250 yards away he laid. I was so excited when I saw it was a perfect shot that had taken out both lungs! I still find myself amazed at how far these animals can go even after a perfect shot.
After a little lunch, we decided to go back out after the Gemsbok. Time after time we would see animals only after they saw us and could not spot and stalk our way to them.
This time we had the owner of the ranch go out with us. I really enjoyed getting to hear Johan speak about his passion for his property and how he works to manage it.
After 4 hours of hunting, Johan suggested that we drive the dried up river. We saw a ton of Kudu cows and smaller bulls but were constantly getting busted by the Oryx. As we drove out of the river, Johan spotted a group of Gemsbok in a field on the other side of the river. Vinsel and I exited the truck and snuck back across the dried riverbed. Vinzel belly crawled up and then came back to tell me that they are 100 meters out in the field but they are watch our direction as they knew the truck just went by.
I suggested we work up the river 200 yards and keep the wind in our favor and come in from a completely different angle. He agreed and we crouch-walked 200 yards up the bed. We crawled up the bank and we could see they were not looking in our direction which was good. Unfortunately, they had moved about another 150 meters. They were only 175 meters from us when we expected them to be about 300 meters from us. We belly crawled into about 125 yards. At this point I am thinking to myself about the snake from a few days ago and wondering, what am I doing crawling on the ground?
I wanted to get a little closer as the animals had moved again. I ducked in and out of the thick brush using them for cover. As it was earlier in the day, the God?s Country Camo and Atsko UV killer were doing their job.
I raised up and used a small tree limb as a gun rest. After the shot, Gemsbok were running everywhere. There must have been 25 in this group and I could only see about 8 of them. We walked up to where we thought the animal was standing. The brush was very thick. We found no blood. My guide insisted that he heard a hit.
We walked for 75 yards and found no blood. I walked off to the left of the group by about 40 yards and was standing there disgusted with myself when I heard some thrashing in the thick brush behind me. At first I thought, maybe this is my gemsbok, and then I thought, maybe its something I don?t want to meet. I whistled to the guys (I?ll admit, I was afraid) and motioned them my way. I told them what I heard and we slowly walked around the brush. It was my gemsbok! Relief and pressure went away immediately. My guides had worked so hard for me and for a short period, I thought I had let them down with a poor shot or a miss.
This was my prized moment in Africa, as the gemsbok resembles the uniqueness of their animals. I was elated to have taken this large cow and to have placed a great double lung shot. This was a great reminder that, just because there is no blood, does not mean there wasn?t a hit. As we never found a single drop of blood besides the blood where the animal laid. It was well worth the belly crawl across the Namibian floor to take this giant.