Back to Africa Chapter 5


PDA






Roebuck
August 7, 2007, 02:39 PM
Having got his eland, Paul turned his attention to getting his gemsbok. He stalked on to one later that afternoon and as PH and Kei River Safaris owner Andrew was assessing the gemsbok, he noticed a small blood trickle from the top of the animals back. It had been the first gemsbok that Iain had taken a shot at early that morning; Iain’s bullet had just grazed its back. That fact sealed the gemsbok’s fate and it dropped to a lung shot from Paul’s 7mm Rem Mag.

Here it is.

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Meanwhile, Allan and I had been walking round hills, up hills, down hills and over hills, looking for a suitable gemsbok bull. Around 1530hrs, we (well Allan did) spotted a group of gemsbok on a hillside up to our right about four hundred yards distant. We stalked up to one hundred and forty yards and stood still, concealed by a thicket of thorn and watched the group of gemsbok. Allan had his glasses on one animal and was just waiting to confirm that it was a shootable bull. Both genders of gemsbok sport horns, with the females tending to grow longer horns than the males. Males have thicker horns and this is most visible around the boss of the horn. This is not sufficient identification, especially in thick scrub, so what we were trying to identify was the p*nis sheath. Females definitely do not have one of them!! Eventually, we were able to view that part of a gemsbok bull’s anatomy and Allan said, “Shoot it.” I did and heard the bullet strike with a satisfying thud. The gemsbok lowered its head and moved slowly down hill. I racked another round into the chamber of my rifle and we moved forward to where the beast was standing when shot, but first, Allan tied a marker on the tree where we had been standing when the shot was taken. Gemsbok, when wounded, like bush buck, can be very aggressive and dangerous and the two giant size toothpicks they sport on their heads could easily do one a serious mischief, so we approached the area we expected to see the gemsbok with great caution. However, we need not have worried. Fifteen yards or so, downhill from where it had been standing, lay the dead gemsbok. As we approached the beast, Allan exclaimed, “Oh dear me. What a dreadful error we have made.” Well, that is not exactly verbatim what Allan exclaimed but propriety on this fine family website precludes me reporting the actual statement made. As we stood around the gemsbok, we could see clearly that it was a cow and cows were not supposed to get shot. As a professional hunter, Allan was concerned and disappointed that he had identified a cow as a bull. This cow had been in a fight with another gemsbok and her opponent had managed to poke her in the belly with its horns. One hole, the deepest one, was exactly where the p*nis sheath would have been and the tissue surrounding the wound had swollen up to the size of a softball thus making the cow look like a bull. I felt Allan could be vindicated on two counts. One, the wound did look, for all the world like a p*nis sheath and two, if we had known it was a wounded cow, we would have shot her anyway as it would only have been a matter of time (short time) before she died or was killed anyway.

When we reported back to the farmer, he agreed wholeheartedly. Allan felt a bit happier then but I suspect the professional in him was still a little disappointed in himself. He need not have been. Probably eleven out of ten, in those particular circumstances, would have called the same shot.

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A cold beer, coffee and some delicious cheese scones (muffins) with the farmer and some good hunting conversation later, we boarded the trucks for the drive back to Rentons’ Lodge.

Andrew had been telling us about how eland fillets were his favourite game cut and to prove it, he had Paul’s eland fillets stowed in his truck, to bar-b-que (brai) for our dinner that evening.

Here is a picture of Andrew doing just that.

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They were delicious.

Iain had completed his package by this time. Here is a picture of Iain’s PH Dave, a keen bow hunter as you can see.

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Iain’s Caracal.

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Iain’s Common Reedbuck.

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Iain’s Geese.

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I had two animals left in my package by this time. A common reedbuck and a bush buck. Paul and Iain also had a common reedbuck in their package but they had already shot theirs. Andrew, the consummate professional, told me that he did not feel that there was a big enough trophy left in the immediate area and asked if I minded a longer drive to an area near to Durban, where a good trophy could almost be guaranteed. I declined, preferring to stay local and changed my common reedbuck for a second bush buck. I do like hunting bush buck, probably because they remind me of roebucks with attitude. Andrew had no problem with this, nor did I think he would as the clients comfort, safety and wishes are always foremost in his mind. He informed me that if I would fly into Durban on my 2008 hunt, he would take me for a common reedbuck and a nyala, before driving South to Rentons’ Lodge. It’s a deal!!

The next morning we set off on the short drive to the bush buck hunting area. Bush buck are beautiful antelope with an amazing variety of coat markings and shades. I had a shoulder mount made of the bush buck I got last year and wanted another to match it and a further bush buck to have a full flat skin for my trophy room floor.

Arriving at the hunting ground, we made our pleasantries with the farmer and headed off for the hunt. As we parked the truck, we could see a bush buck ewe feeding along the edge of a grass field above which was bush land about four hundred yards away to our front and right. Where there are ewes there are rams so we crossed a wire fence to our right and moved off in waist high grass towards a series of thorn trees, strung out in line between us and where the ewe stood. We had only moved about one hundred yards when we spied the ram and a fine ram too. We slowly moved toward him, keeping the line of trees between us and the ram and stopped at a fairly stout thorn tree, ranged at two hundred yards from the ram, which was oblivious to our presence. The tree gave me a fairly stable shooting rest. The bush buck stretched up to eat from a tree, giving me a perfect opportunity to introduce him to Mr. Hornady. Although the ram was knocked over by the shot, he was still kicking for a second or two. Both Allan and I felt that the first shot had been enough, but we stood still for a few minutes, rifle ready to squeeze off another shot should it be necessary. It wasn’t and we made our way forward, down the valley, across the dry stream bed and up through the dense bush and into the grass field, at the top of which, the bush buck lay. Ever mindful of the damage that a wounded bush buck can do to man or dog or both, Allan sent the dogs ahead of us. If the bush buck was still alive, the dogs would let us know. As it happened, the bush buck was not alive and when this had been ascertained, I made the rifle safe and got ready for the photographs. I’ll swear I have never had so many pictures taken of me since my wedding, twenty six years ago!!

Pictures are an important part of any and everyone’s safari, as they are what will keep your memory of your safari alive and will help you communicate to others what a wonderful experience and time you had on your African plains game hunt. Picture taking forms a part of the professional hunter course syllabus and most PHs can take a decent photograph. Allan is a bit of a perfectionist and quite a bit of time would be spent in the taking of photographs and he wouldn’t quit till he felt it was just right. Then, he would show you the photographs to make sure that you agreed with him. Quite frankly, after fifteen minutes sitting with my butt on a sharp rock and my legs curled up (you mustn’t get your boot in the picture) thinking that they were no longer attached to your body, I would have confessed anything to escape. All the E & E Training I ever did in the military did not prepare me for the interminable photo sessions! Joking aside, these PHs really want you to have the best they can give to keep your hunting time with them as fresh in your mind as can be.

Allan caught this shot at the bush buck ram on video too.

Here is my early morning ram.

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With Allan.

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This poor beast (the ram, not Allan) was covered in little red ticks and I did my best not to get any on me. I had been spraying anti tick spray on all exposed parts and some that were not exposed too and these ticks were the first I had seen this trip. However, they did not spoil the enjoyment of the hunt.

Success coming so early in the morning (it was only 0930hrs) I thought we will get another before lunch and then it will be back to the Lodge, cold beer and sit in the sun. That dream was not to be for although we saw more bush buck ewes, we did not see another ram. Lunch time arrived and we were near enough to a local truck stop type burger restaurant to go there to eat lunch. The heavy mixed grill that I was hungry enough to eat was also enough to make me want to sleep if I would have stopped moving, so Allan took me to see one of the farmers on whose land I hunted bush buck and warthog last year. Andrew the farmer, hospitable as ever, served up the coffee and hunting banter in equal proportion. Allan showed Andrew the nyala video on Andrews big television screen and he too felt that the nyala could not have lived long after the two shots.

Having consumed enough of Andrew’s coffee to keep me awake, I made my goodbyes and Allan and I went back to the task of getting my second bush buck.

We walked for about an hour an a half and eventually came to a stop at a clump of thorn trees that gave us enough cover to stand and watch across a small valley with a dried up stream at the bottom, over an open clearing to the edge of some bush land.

It looked like a likely place to find bush buck and sure enough, it wasn’t long before a small ram came feeding along the tree line. Shortly after, a bigger ram moved in but not big enough to shoot. We watched for another twenty or so minutes when another ram arrived on the scene. He was big enough to shoot and I watched him through my scope as he fed along the bush line. Again, like the first bush buck, he stretched up to reach what must have been to him a tasty morsel when I squeezed the trigger. To my shock, horror and dismay, the shot, (one hundred and eighty-five yards), had gone well over his back. A complete miss. However, the ram did not know where the shot had come from (my rifle has a sound moderator fitted) and he just moved off behind a bush. There was at least one of the other bush buck rams still feeding amongst the scrub to the left of where he had been. We waited about fifteen minutes when Allan suggested that we give it another fifteen minutes and then give up as the light would soon go. I asked Allan to stay for thirty minutes, until 1630hrs, as I felt that the ram was still in the area. Sure enough, ten minutes later, out came the big ram again.
He fed along the bush line, to the right and front of where I was standing. He stopped to sample a tasty leaf or two and my second shot took him, liver and lungs. He still took off but stopped again. Bearing in mind that the last thing you might want is a wounded bush buck at last light, I shot him again, centre mass. He took the bullet and moved forward again. As soon as I had him in my sight again I shot again, centre mass, and he fell behind some bushes. I reloaded my rifle and we moved across the little valley and dry stream bed and up the slope to where the ram lay. Bush buck horns are extremely sharp and they know how to use them. Many a dog has been killed by a wounded bush buck and they are just as willing to attack the hunter. The bush buck’s size make those formidable spikes line up for the average size human’s groin area and there have been plenty of femoral arteries severed by an angry bush buck’s horns.

We approached slowly and from above, Allan sending his dogs in ahead but there was no need really. The bush buck ram was dead, shot through liver and lung, with the two further shots where they were aimed, centre mass. They were not needed but the rule is if he does not drop, shoot again till he does. A wise rule too! All this was caught on Allan’s video camera.

Racing against the setting sun, Msetele the tracker put the ram on his shoulders and sped off to the truck. Allan asked if I minded if he rushed ahead to set the photograph up. I, as the star subject of the photograph (actually the bush buck ram was the star subject), could amble along at my own pace, which would take some fifteen minutes more that Allan’s.

When I arrived at the truck, I just had to flop down beside the ram and here is the result.

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And with Msetele.

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And with Allan.

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Bush buck loaded on the truck, it was back to Rentons’ Lodge, where, after a nice shower, it was down to the bar for cold Windhoek and hunting stories prior to dinner.

I had finished my package and had sought to have a lazy day, with Allan taking me to a local gun shop in the morning and hunting some long range baboons in the afternoon. Paul and his son Tom were off to shoot a bush buck in the morning and wing shooting with Iain in the afternoon.

We met Paul, Tom and Andrew as they arrived at the gate of Rentons’ Lodge, they coming in, us going out to the gun shop. Paul and Tom had shot a fine bush buck ram apiece.

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When young Tom found out that he was to go to Africa this year, he was delighted. However, he was not aware that Paul and I had planned a surprise for him. Whenever he asked Paul if he would be able to shoot something, Paul would answer, “We can set you up a target or two.” fully realising that that was not what Tom meant. We kept this up until just before we were about to leave for Africa, when Tom asked his Dad if he thought that Andrew would let him shoot an animal if Tom paid him for it. Paul replied that he did not know but we could see when we got there. Tom was very pleasantly surprised when he found out that Paul had bought him a bush buck and I, as a belated birthday present, had bought him and impala. Was Tom pleased??

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Paul had also taken a nice common reedbuck. Here it is.

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When we got to the gun shop, it was closed so we headed back to camp, ate an excellent brunch, got suited up and went out for some long range baboons, whilst Iain and Paul went wing shooting for geese.

I did get the opportunity of two shots missing both times. One shot was eight hundred and fifty yards and one seven hundred and thirty yards. Close but no cigar. I obviously need more practice using the stadia bars of my scope I thought. This was the terrain.

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