The Sands of the Kalahari Part III, Stalking Sable, The Grey Ghost and the Eland
After a very restful nights sleep I woke feeling refreshed and eager to head out, I headed over to the dining room for breakfast and coffee and met up with Richard, Jacu and Fabian, Whitey was not far behind and once we had all eaten we loaded up the Bakkie and headed off to hunt Fabian's Sable. I had seen some Sable on a stalk a few days before and I wondered if we would be hunting the same ones.
We drove out to an area where the Sable liked to graze and then proceeded on foot, it wasn't too long and Whitey had spotted some Sable and we stalked in for a closer look, It turned out that these were immature Bulls and Females so we left them and continued on. We went through the area where I had seen the Sable Bulls and sure enough we saw them again shortly after, again we stalked in for a closer look and again we glassed over a herd of immature Bulls and Females.
We backed away so as not to disturb them and continued into some slightly hilly country and from here we were able to get a good vantage point. Whitey glassed the open plains and spotted a lone Sable Bull, that was what he was looking for as it would most likely be a big mature Trophy Bull, so we set off in the direction of the Bull. As we neared the area where the Sable had been we were all very quiet and nervous, not wanting to spook the animal in case it was a Trophy Bull. Whitey spotted the Sable first and quickly glassed it over before declaring this was indeed the Bull he was after. Again we backed away as Whitey wanted to approach the animal from a better angle. This being my first hunt behind the camera I was very aware of what I was doing and had the camera filming the whole time so I didn't miss a second of the action. It was a lot different than being the hunter and I will admit a lot harder too. I was always conscious of where everyone was in relation to the camera, always looking for places to put the tripod down etc.
We loaded the Sable into the Bakkie and then climbed in to head back to the Lodge for some well deserved lunch.
We rested up during the midday heat and as usual headed out around 3:30pm for our afternoon hunt, We were all back together once again after Jack and Greg had hunted the morning with J.S unfortunately they had not had any success. This afternoon we would be looking for Kudu and as we had seen a few smaller Bulls over the last few days we were hopeful of finding a nice trophy. We hunted hard walking miles through the thick bush and came across a couple of smaller Bulls but they did not have the trophy horns I was looking for, I was after a very particular head to compliment the Gemsbok I had taken earlier in the trip.
We backed away from the Kudu and continued on until we bumped 3 very nice looking Bulls, we glassed them over and J.S decided that they were all worth taking so we stalked in on them very cautiously. We got within range multiple times, sometimes as close as 50 meters but every time they either stood facing the wrong direction or would not stop walking. It was a very frustrating game we were playing and this went on for some hours, I lost count of how many times we set up for a shot.
We quickly set up the sticks and I got behind them and steadied the rifle taking aim, all of a sudden a herd of Wildebeest ran between us and the Eland, they were followed by some Zebra and Blesbok, half the Kalahari was stampeding between us I could not believe it!!. We thought we were done, the Eland must have spooked, but they didn't they stayed in the same area and settled down feeding and then we saw the Bull step out from behind the trees again. I wondered could we really be this lucky!!
As I took aim again I said to J.S are you sure and he replied you must take him, I slowly took up on the trigger and steadied the crosshairs on his shoulder, I didn't even feel the recoil of the shot, but I saw the bullet hit exactly where I wanted it to and I herd the sound of a solid hit come back as the Bull lurched forward.
He ran maybe 30 meters with great difficulty before going down in a huge cloud of dust, J.S watched him go down and congratulated me on a fine shot as we started to walk towards the Eland. Richard shook my hand, J.S shook my hand and patted me on the back and we all breathed a huge sigh of relief, just a little too prematurely!!!
We made sure he was down this time and cautiously approached him, we had been a little too hasty after the first shot and probably should have waited a few minutes before following him up. The first shot was a good shot and he would not have moved had we not been so hasty, it was a good lesson learned for the future if I ever get the chance to hunt Buffalo.
J.S used the radio to call for a recovery vehicle While Richard, Greg and I tried to take in what had just happened. I had a hundred questions running through my mind, had the Guys got everything on film? did things happen too quickly for them, would the footage be any good as we were facing into the sun?. Richard reassured me they had got everything on film and it was all good footage, that was a huge relief to hear. Jacu and Jack arrived in a vehicle and we began taking photos before we lost all usable light. Some 30 minutes later and right as the sun dropped below the horizon the recovery crew arrived, they quickly dug holes and backed the Landcruiser into them to get the tray lower to the ground. Then they all took hold of the Eland and working in unison they heaved and lifted shifting the animal a little at a time until it was in the tray. The whole operation took nearly an hour, and we returned to the lodge in complete darkness, a crew of sweaty, dusty, tired but very happy hunters.
The hunting part of our Safari was now over and after washing and changing for dinner we broke out a bottle of Single Malt to celebrate, dinner was once again amazing and Maree treated us to her home made ice-cream for desert. After dinner we sat around the fire for a few hours just reliving the events of the previous weeks. We had traveled from the East cape to the Kalahari, we had hunted in the Mountains of the East Cape, the Karoo and the Sands of the Kalahari, we had strengthened friendships and forged new ones, I was already thinking about a return trip and I hadn't even got home yet. We finished the Whiskey as the fire died down to nothing but glowing coals and slowly walked back to our rooms. I sat for a few minutes in the darkness outside my room and stared up at the stars taking in the beauty of the African night sky before climbing into bed and drifting off to sleep.
Together We had smelled the smoke of Africa and Walked the Sands of the Kalahari.
Our hunt may have been over but Africa was not finished with us just yet, we just didn't know it.