Back to Africa Chapter 3


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Roebuck
August 7, 2007, 02:34 PM
The subject kudu was feeding behind a group of scrub, aloe and thorn trees but was not visible to us though Paul and Andrew kept assuring us that the bull was still there, standing in some dead ground behind the cover. I settled in to a comfortable shooting position, or at least as comfortable as a forty-five degree, loose rock slope will allow and scanned the target area through my binoculars. The range finder told us that the distance was two hundred and eighty five yards and Allan asked if I was comfortable with that range. (Kei River PHs will never push a client into taking any shot, at any distance, if the client is not fully satisfied that the shot is right for him or her.)

Answering that the shot was fine, I waited, uncomfortably in the shoot position for about fifteen minutes but the kudu must have been enjoying the eating where he was, as he never moved out of the cover. The consensus was that if startled, the kudu would run out of the blind area and down into the valley, obliquely and across to our right. There he should pause for a second or two, looking back towards the cause of his alarm. It was then that my .300WSM would claim its first kudu. Consensus again decided, that Paul should fire a shot towards the kudu, to spook him out for me and having clocked that the kudu was out of range for his rangefinder, (800yds which later turned out to be 1200yds), fired towards the kudu. He could see that his shot had dropped well before reaching the kudu but had thought that the noise from his 7mm Remington Magnum would encourage the kudu to take off. Wrong! The kudu acted as if deaf and did not even look up. Paul fired again with a similar result and then again but the kudu just kept on feeding (We could still not see even a horn tip of this kudu bull from our position.). Paul’s Night Force scope with its Kenton Industries Turrets is graduated up to one thousand yards, so Paul wound up the elevation, took aim at the kudu and fired. Still no reaction. The kudu kept on feeding. We then asked Paul to apply a bit of extra elevation and try to put the bullet as near to the kudu’s feet as possible. Paul replied that he was worried that he might hit the kudu but was persuaded that he would not. So, Paul applied a bit of hold over and fired, only to see the kudu collapse in a heap, as if struck by lightning. Of course it had not been struck by lightning but by a 140gn Nosler Partition, which must have come down on the kudu like a mortar round!! Same result, stone dead. It is hard enough to drop a kudu at normal ranges with one shot and I do not think that there have been many taken at what turned out to be twelve hundred yards. One usually hears stories like this in a bar, with the teller filled with bonhomie and alcohol but I assure you it is true.

As you can see, the kudu was in a difficult place to access judging by the perspiration on Paul’s face, it got to Paul’s son Tom as well.

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Andrew’s young son Cameron was there too but that was the next morning.

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Of course Paul was embarrassed as he had just done what he told us he did not want to do and we had encouraged him as we did not believe that it could be done!! All I was thinking was that where I had struggled to get down to my shooting position, I must now struggle to get back up to the truck. I proceeded to do so and started my one hour trek back to the truck, crying over a lost kudu and consoling myself with the thought that Paul and Andrew would have to retrieve the shot kudu (In the event, the kudu had to be quartered and carried out.).

By the time we got back to the camp, restored ourselves to our personal comforts and met up in the bar, there had been much Mickey taking about kudu poaching and magic bullets etc. A few beers and a good laugh later, we were to be found at the dinner table, enjoying a fine dinner accompanied by copious quantities of good South African wine. Coffee and brandy at the bar preceded a much needed good night’s sleep. No kudu and no impala but a hunting story never heard before (Or do you know different??).

Iain had likewise had an unproductive day. He had been hunting a caracal (lynx) with dogs but had no more success than I.

Each evening, it is the norm to discuss and plan the next day’s hunt. As far as is possible, the order of the hunt species is as the client wishes. Obviously it is not always possible to have it just the way one would like (logistics can interfere) but if the client’s order of hunt can be met, it is. For my part, I had no preference in the order that I hunted my package and advised Allan and Andrew that I would leave that detail to them.

One of the Kei River Hunting Safaris concessions is a place called Huntshoek. This is a very large game farm some two hours drive from Rentons’ Lodge (The Kei River Hunting Safaris main base.) At Huntshoek, I could hunt for kudu, nyala, impala and warthog, so it was decided that Allan and I would travel to Huntshoek and stay there for two or three days as may be necessary. Huntshoek is managed by a most genial, friendly and hospitable gentleman called Charles. I had met Charles the previous year and enjoyed some coffee and conversation with him.

Charles has a lovely hunting lodge on the farm, set in a commanding position with stunning views of the landscape. The lodge has a large observation deck area and I was looking forward to sitting there after the hunt, beer in hand, going over the days hunting. Regrettably, this was not to be, for it turned out that the lodge was being fully renovated and accommodation was not available. Charles did offer to accommodate us in his personal bungalow but we felt that such an imposition would be unfair and we (politely I hope) declined Charles’ kind offer.

Since it was a two hour drive to Huntshoek, it was reveille at 0430hrs and off while still dark at 0530hrs. We arrived at Huntshoek at around 0730hrs and immediately called on Charles, who, hospitable as ever, offered us coffee. Being keen to make use of the early morning we declined. Charles offered us the assistance of one of his trackers, a man by the name of Rube, who was intimately knowledgeable of the land and of Huntshoek in particular. This assistance we accepted with alacrity and it was into the truck and off.

Nyala was the first species on the list and I was fairly excited about it. Nyala are beautiful creatures, a bit like the Bush Buck’s big brother and those of you who have read of my previous hunts, will remember how much I like these tenacious and aggressive little antelope. The thought of a full shoulder mount Nyala on my wall had been in my mind for the previous nine months or so and now it was time to make reality of the dream.

We drove out to a likely area and then proceeded on foot, along and down the side of a steep valley, the sides of which were thick with trees and bushes, euphorbia, aloe and acacia, to name but some. Stopping frequently to thoroughly spy the opposite side of the valley with our binoculars, we picked out some kudu cows and a couple of young bulls. Kudu was on the list of course but neither of the two bulls was of trophy class, so we stalked on. After some thirty or so minutes, Allan froze and motioned me to be still. He had picked out some nyala cows and where there were cows, bulls would be present. After some careful glassing, we picked out several young bulls and many cows and Allan studied each bull to assess the trophy quality. After some minutes, he said, “There, that’s the one.” He directed me on to what was a lovely big nyala bull, with good big horns which had white ivory coloured tips. A perfect trophy.

Very carefully, we stalked further down the valley side until we were just a little higher up than the target bull on the opposite side of the valley. We had plenty of cover and as long as the wind did not betray our presence or we did not make a noise, we should not disturb the nyala. I settled into a shooting position and picked up the nyala in my sight. Allan advised the range at a hundred and fifty-eight yards. It seemed to be a long time I watched that nyala, waiting for him to move through the scrub and trees to a position where I could get a clear shot. My rifle was sighted in at two hundred yards so it would be a point of aim shot and I could see the mount on my trophy wall already. Eventually, I had a clear view of his top half and fired to hit him high on the shoulder, where the neck becomes spine. The thump of the 180gn Hornady SST was very audible and the nyala bull was knocked off its feet on to its back, where it lay, kicking its legs and braying. I had thought it dead but after a few seconds and to our surprise, it got up and moved off up the valley side and to my right, where I lost view of it. It seemed to me that there were nyala running everywhere and finding the one that I had bowled over was not easy for me but Allan had never taken his binoculars off it and could tell me where it was. However, one acacia looks like another and I could not pick the nyala up in my sight. I offered my rifle to Allan, to take a second shot but before he took the shot, the nyala came clear of the bush and Allan handed the rifle back to me. By the time I picked the nyala up in my sight again, he was half in cover. However, he quickly moved out to where I could get a similar shot as before and I fired, hitting him again and hearing the thump of the bullet as it struck him. Again and to my surprise, the nyala did not fall but moved up over the valley rim and disappeared. Knowing that the bull was well hit and that we had two trackers and Allan’s two Jack Russell dogs, Fletch and Masie, I did not feel we would have much of a problem in finding the shot animal.

Unbeknown to me, Allan’s tracker, Msetele, had captured the shots on video so we were able to watch the scene and assess the state of the shot animal. The video clearly showed the two bullet strikes, both higher than intended and almost in the same place. We were of the opinion that the animal would be found dead, just over the other side of the valley. (If anyone would like to see the video of the nyala shot and some others that were captured on video, send me an E-mail and I will send it to you.)

Moving across the valley, we looked for blood and did find some but not a lot. We quartered the ground in extending pattern for some three hours before stopping for some water and food. Allan transferred the video from his camera to his laptop to give us a bigger picture but our conclusions were as before, the animal should be on the ground. We drove back to the main buildings and showed the video to Charles, whose immediate reaction was, “That animal is dead.” Charles gave us three more of his farm workers and we went back to try to find it but although we searched till almost dark and covered a very large area including the valley where the nyala was shot and the two further valleys and the river area that the valleys ran down to meet, we could not locate the unfortunate nyala. We had to call the search off until we could resume the following morning but before leaving Huntshoek, I asked Allan to set me up a target at two hundred yards. Having done so, I sat with my back against the truck and put two rounds right where they were supposed to go. Nothing wrong with the rifle.

That night, Charles had booked us in to a small hotel. Comfortable and adequate, run by a man and wife team, we were fed and watered well but somehow the Windhoek beer did not taste as good as it did the night before. The thought of the wounded nyala dulled the flavour for me.

First light saw us out looking again, seven of us and eight when we were later joined by Charles. That day was the most exhausting day of my hunt. We were up hills, down dales, along rivers, through bushes, up valleys, through brush and bushes and though we did find a dead warthog, we could not find the dead nyala.

At around 1400hrs, Allan and I broke off the search to continue the hunt, leaving Charles’ farm hands still searching for the nyala.

Looking for the nyala

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After a sandwich and some water, we took off for an area situated reasonably near to a water hole and it was not long before we spied a herd of impala some distance away. We stalked out towards them, stopping frequently to watch them through binoculars, trying to ascertain if there was a suitable ram amongst the group. There was, a fine light coloured ram with wide straight horns. All we had to do now was to stalk within range and all that the ram had to do was present himself for the shot. We stalked in to two hundred yards from the ram and Allan set up the shooting sticks. I placed the sight on the ram and waited for him to give me a clear view. He was quite easy to follow as his lighter colouring made him stand out from the rest of the herd. The herd was feeding in some fairly high scrub so it was some time before he walked out into a small clearing but he did not stop and carried on to stop behind another clump of shrub. Suddenly, he turned around and walked back into the clearing, pausing for a moment. That moment was enough, my bullet struck him in the spine and he went down like a sack of potatoes. Impalas were running in all directions but I was sure that my ram was on the ground. Walking slowly to the spot where he had been standing, we found that to be the case. There he was, a fine impala ram.

Here he is, along with the rifle that had brought about his demise.

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A happy Roebuck.

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With trackers Rube, Msetele and PH Allan.

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Msetele hoisted the impala on his shoulders and carried it the truck. Just the job for a fit young man but even he looked as if he had stepped from a sauna when he reached the truck!

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