I went out to South Africa to visit my parents and my father had organised an impala and warthog hunt for me.
I met Paul Smith at about 7am the gate of his farm, Emakheni, in the eMakhosini valley in Kwa-Zulu Natal. He had mentioned that there were loads of warthog on the farm, so I was expecting those to be the main focus of the day, and had told me that, as it was end of season stalking, game would be skittish. First off, I went to sight my 30-06, which has been sadly neglected since I’ve been living in the UK. After three rounds I was happy with the grouping.
Paul and I set off with three of his trackers. The farm is mountainous, with very thick vegetation, and lots of water. Perfect for a good day’s stalk. And I shot my first warthog after about an hour of stalking.
We went back to the farmhouse for some sandwiches and tea, and though I’d made a kill, I was hoping for some more action in the afternoon – maybe a really big animal. My wish came true – on our next stalk I shot a really nice warthog boar.
With that animal in the bag, we turned our attention to the impala. I stalked several herds of impala without success, then we spotted a herd about 1km away. I stalked through some really thick bush and had to leopard crawl the last 100m or so. I selected an impala ewe – standing up a slope but with a perfect backstop - and fired. She put her head up – I had missed, but she clearly had no idea where I was. So I reloaded and fired the second shot. The herd bolted, but I was pretty sure that I’d hit her in the heart/lung area. The trackers set off to collect my ewe. I followed, wanting to see what kind of shot I’d made. Paul had got there first, and was talking to the trackers. He came up to me. ‘What did you say you shot at?’ ‘An impala ewe.’ ‘It’s a funny kind of ewe that has horns!’ He showed me what the trackers had found, 125m away. A fine impala ram. What? I’d been sure it was a ewe. Then the trackers gave a shout. They’d found the ewe! It all gradually became clear. I’d shot up the slope and the ram must have been perfectly hidden by the ewe, with his head behind a prickly pear bush. He must have been directly behind, because I’d shot the pair in exactly the same place, behind the shoulders. That’s a first for me – two animals with one bullet. And the ram was the biggest shot on the farm this season. I wish I could pretend it was deliberate!
After loading the carcasses the drive back to the building where they process them was a real pleasure. As well as the high I was feeling from that lucky shot, and the fine animals I’d got, there was lots of game to see. I came across one of the biggest nyala bulls that I’ve ever seen- and I’ve seen plenty, loads and loads of steenbok and lots of other common game species.
After we gralloched the animals, I went out again, looking for warthog. And it seemed that my luck was really in, because I shot a massive boar - it should make Rowland Award.
Needless to say, I thoroughly enjoyed my day!