Another Day In KwaZulu Natal

by Bob

I’d been in South Africa for 3 days, on my two other safaris to Africa I went without a wish list letting the hunting gods decide what I would take (on my first safaris when asked by my PH what I wanted it was a pretty one an ugly one and one with horns). This also suited my hunting ethos, as I believe if I take something it was destine to be mine to a point regardless of what I do. The following story I think give you an idea of what I mean.
This time I went with a wish list, because my trophy room was getting a bit full i.e. running out of wall space I had decided to try and take some of the smaller species of antelopes. Red and Gray duiker, Steenbok and Bushbuck as I spent a fair bit of time trying for one in Botswana after that it was what comes. One the first days hunting I took a very old Nyala this also happened to be my birthday, he was not on the list. As to the rest we didn’t see any in the first 2.5 days so I had a change of plan we would hunt impala, as we had seen several rams with very good heads. Once again impala was not on the list I had taken one in Botswana. So off we went impala hunting on the afternoon of the third day.
After driving around for an hour or so we found a ram, the vehicle was stopped we got out I loaded my rifle and off we went. We stalked the ram for about 30 minutes up went the sticks on went the rifle but for the life of me I could not see him, as happens he runs off. We follow him again; I was beginning to think there was something wrong with my eyesight even though I was following the tracker and PH I just didn’t see him. We were some distance from the vehicle and the ram had run off in the other direction it was decided to go back to the vehicle and drive to try and get in front of him. This was never to be on the way back it started to rain, looking at the sky, which was going very black it was determined the best thing to do was to go back to the camp. Which as things turned out was the best thing we could have done, after we got back to the camp there was the most fantastic thunderstorm I have ever seen or heard, which lasted for about 4 hours. So ram number 1 off the hook he did not have my name on him.
The next day we were out again this time in a different area. Once again after driving about half an hour we came on another good ram. Stop the vehicle load the rifle and off we go, once again I was having sight problems the PH was saying he’s to the left about 150 yards out in those bushes. I could hear him snorting but could I see him no. We stalked 20 or 30 yards closer and stopped the ram was still snorting I could still not see him, after about 10 minutes Steve (my PH) said move forward you know what your doing we’ll stay here. Great go get him boy but were is he? I move forward 5yards and sit down on a rock and look, yes he still there just by the amount of snorting. Then after about 10 minutes I see him and all at once I know what the problem was I was looking 100-150 yards when he was now 70yards from me. Could I get a shot no, all I could see from my position was his horns going up and down. What to do? The ram sounded as if he was going crazy he was snorting like a good one. From where I was to get a shot at him I would have to go down a short steep rock bank and then go about 15-20 yards to my right all very rocky. Then I had it or rather I reminder a tactic I’d been shown in Namibia, if I got to the bottom of the bank he was as good as mine. So I slowly went down the bank as I did I came out the cover of the bushes at that moment he really went crazy snorting several times in a go then doing it again but not running off, he was mine I slowly went to the right now right out in the open and all I get is even more snorting. I cover the 15-20 yards, the only thing that had changed was he had move to the right as well and now was covered by large acacia plant. He was still snorting every now and again he would just out into the open snort and then jump back, tactic now wait. I noticed each time him jumped out he stayed just a little longer, I think he was trying to make out what I was so get ready rifle up safety off. The next time he came out I never heard the shot or felt the recoil, he hit the ground but was up in a second and off he went. But the quick glance I had of him was he was not a happy ram. The tracker and Steve came down to me and off we went to find him. There was a fair amount of blood were I hit him the tracker and Steve get on the spoor I went slightly to the left of them and catch up with them looking at large spots of blood on the grass, I asked a question What are you doing, spooring your impala why, me he’s behind that bush behind you, I had seen it when I had come up to them. Steve told me afterwards that the tracker was having kittens with what I was doing, some one else who didn’t understand my ethos. The shot it had taken out his heart dead when hit but he just didn’t know it.
So I had my impala oh yes the tactic in Namibia I had hunted black wildebeest and we had the same scenario a bull in range but in cover. My PH at the time said he’s not sure what we are, but he thinks we’ve here to rape and pillage his women (or words to that effect) so we can get up and walk. There are two things that can happen the first he runs, second he stays, it’s up to you. In Namibia he stayed, as did the impala in South Africa. So like I said at the beginning if it’s yours it is, if not it’s not.

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