A Hunters Reflections
The Sands of the Kalahari, Part 2, Gemsbok and Hartebeest.
The animals were proving to be very scarce and nervous this morning, we thought that it was most likely because of the previous days wind, we were later proven wrong. They were simply staying bedded down as they knew the wind would return as the day warmed up.
We also tried to stalk a good Hartebeest bull from a large herd for Jack but they weren't playing the game either, they were simply too skittish and would not stop for any length of time.
We even had a stalk on a herd of Blesbok but they also proved to be too difficult this morning. Despite this minor set back we hunted hard all morning, unfortunately as the day warmed up the wind once again returned and the animals took to cover.So with the wind gaining strength and us being in need of some food we decided to head back to the lodge around 11:30 to clean up before lunch and the usual midday rest.
After lunch I took the opportunity to have a walk around and check out some of the smaller wildlife found about the lodge. There was an abundance of small lizards and plenty of ants, also lots of small birds. Over by the skinning shed I discovered a toy car made of recycled parts and wire with a long rod made from twisted fencing wire and finished off with a steering wheel, when I tried it the steering actually worked!!! it was a tribute to whom ever made it, and I am sure it gave someones child hours of fun.
We regrouped around 3:30pm and headed off on our afternoon hunt, unfortunately we had the same result as the previous afternoon, the wind was testing us. It blew hard across the pans lifting great clouds of fine dust into the air and making the whole sky take on an eerie orange hue. Eventually this proved to be too much and we returned to the lodge to once again scrub the sand and dust from ourselves.
The amazing food the kitchen staff prepared for us that evening more than compensated for the lack of success we had during the day, and after dinner we once again sat around the fire for a while before retiring for the night. I drifted off to sleep dreaming of an iconic Kalahari Gemsbok Bull, little did I know that the coming days would deliver just that and so much more.
I was once again woken early by my alarm and woke Jack before making my way over to breakfast, Richard and the ITZ crew had been up for a while and had captured some amazing sunrise photos and footage, including an aerial shot of the Sans Souci lodge.
The weather was cooler this morning that it had been and we took that as a good sign, hopefully there would be very little wind today and we would have some success locating a nice Gemsbok for me and a Hartebeest for Jack. We eagerly had our breakfast of coffee and rusks and even sneaked in a serving of bacon and eggs, before J.S hurriedly herded us out the door in into the Bakkie, he was also eager to hunt this morning, we took that as a good sign. We located some herds of game early on and stalked close enough to glass them over but they didn't have the quality bull we were looking for today, though in the coming years they would no doubt be magnificent bulls. This proved to be a continuing pattern throughout the morning and we were beginning to wonder if we would find a herd with good bulls at all.
J.S told me that they would be very agitated and if they saw us they would just turn and run, so we had to be quick. He explained we would stalk as close as we could and then he would quickly set up the sticks and I must take the shot as soon as possible. I was very nervous as we began our stalk and closed in on the Gemsbok, we so far had 5 failed stalks on them and I was starting to get anxious about missing out on a Gemsbok. I needn't have worried J.S got us close enough for me to be comfortable with the shot and the animals were too busy fighting to notice us. J.S pointed out a big bull and told me that was the one he wanted me to take, He quickly stepped out from behind cover and set the sticks, I did the same and took aim at the Bull, I heard J.S whisper to take him and slowly took up on the trigger.
At the shot the Bull dropped a little and spun around then took off running and I initially though I may have hit him too far back from the shoulder. We called Klaus over and he looked at the tracks and assured us the Bull was hit hard and well and we would have no trouble locating him. Klaus once again amazed me and after walking less than 100 meters through the bush we found the Bull dead in his tracks. How the Kalahari Bushmen can tell so much from a set of tracks really intrigues me and although I can track to some extent I wish I was as proficient as they are.
We Quickly set up and took our photo's while Klaus retrieved the Bakkie, unfortunately for me the last part of the stalk had happened a little too quickly and we had been unable to get the best camera set up for the ITZ crew. Amazingly they did manage to get the shot on film, it was just a little too quick to allow them to set up as they would have liked but they did an amazing job under the circumstances and I was more than pleased when I viewed the footage later.
It is very important to me that I take the time to appreciate an animal, to feel its skin and fur and the texture of its horns.
We returned to the lodge for lunch a very happy bunch and could not wait to see what the afternoon hunt would bring.
After resting up until 3:30pm we once again headed out, this time to try and get a Red Hartebeest Bull for Jack. He had hunted so hard for one in the Karoo only to have them elude him, we were hoping for a change in fortunes here, hoping we would not be disappointed.
We were soon glassing over herds of Hartebeest, we spotted a nice bull and stalked in on him only to have a herd of Blesbok bust us and send the Hartebeest running. We continued this pattern glassing and stalking only to have an unseen animal or Bird bust us at the last second it was extremely frustrating to say the least. After 7 failed stalks J.S even offered to let Jack take a different animal, but to his credit Jack politely refused and persevered.
Eventually Jacks persistence paid off and right on sunset the bull defiantly stood out in the open almost taunting Jack. J.S quickly set up the sticks and Jack settled in behind them, J'S told him to take the Bull and Jack made no mistake, at the sound of the shot the bull dropped where he stood. It was the perfect reward for the patience and effort Jack had put in over the previous 2 weeks of hunting to finally secure the animal he had set out to.
We took our photographs just as the sun set and the light was perfect, we couldn't have been happier with the way things turned out. We had hunted hard the previous days in some testing conditions and now our perseverance had paid off, we had both managed to secure outstanding trophy animals in the same day. We returned to the Lodge that night a bunch of very happy hunters, and once again we were treated to an outstanding meal of Skewers and Kudu steaks cooked on the Braai.
After dinner that evening we sat around the fire talking about the days events and what may happen over the coming days, it was here that we met Fabian, a hunter from Argentina. Fabian was very interested in the filming we had been doing and asked Richard if he could film his morning hunt, as he was to be hunting a Sable. Richard asked if I would give up a morning and film Fabian's hunt with him, I am very passionate about filming and hastily agreed to the Idea. Jack would hunt with J.S, Greg and Klaus, whilst Richard, Jacu and I would hunt with Fabian and his PH Whitey.
With arrangements for the morning made and agreed upon we all headed off to bed, tired and ready for some well deserved sleep, but at the same time eager to hunt the following day.