My first bow hunt in the Eastern Cape, Africa 2014
On the first day Gary and I met all the other hunters and staff at the game lodge. The accommodation and meals were all first class and the chef, Max was there at all times of the day to look after us at whatever time we arrived back during the day.
Due to the time of year it soon became apparent that there was still plenty of natural food and water on the ground so the animals did not need to come into the ground blinds to drink. So from that point on the only chance of taking an animal was through spot and stalk. During these outings every small fault with our equipment was found. The bow slings which we used to protect the bows from dust, sharp stones and undergrowth proved very noisy when stalking through the terrain, a necessary piece of equipment due to the length of the hunting outings. We didnít take our normal bow quivers as we found them noisy on previous hunting trips so hip quivers were chosen at the last minute but failed to hold the arrow securely, they snagged and were very noisy whilst belly crawling and when the carbon arrows knocked against rocks the sound was easily picked up by the animals as it was an alien noise to them.
The landscape was perfect for spot and stalk but on many occasions we needed to drive over or around other mountains due to the wind changing directions. This is why it is necessary to have a good PH, Tracker and vehicle at your disposal. We were very lucky to have Khaleesi who knew the estate, game trails and wind direction in this mountainous terrain.
Over the five days numerous animals were spotted, some in stalkable positions and others on flat ground which would be impossible to stalk and get in range of. One evening we decided to try to stalk into a black Springbok which was feeding below us, we managed to stalk into the animal as it was feeding away from us, when we got within 50yds of the animal it turned and started to walk in our direction. At this point Khaleesi asked for my range finder as the animal kept disappearing from sight in the rocky terrain and long grass. The buck was spotted and Khaleesi range found the buck for me. Khaleesi told me the buck was at 30yds, I thought the buck was much closer than that but I thought because of the terrain I was misreading the situation and when I released the arrow it sailed above the Springboks back, a complete miss! It was later discovered that due to Khaleesi broken English he had actually said 13 and not 30!! At this point I made the decision to range find all the animals myself as to not make that mistake again. The next day whilst driving in the mountains, a group of approx 40 blue wildebeest cows were spotted. So as not to alert them we carried on driving past them for a couple of hundred yards, myself and Khaleesi got out of the truck whist Gary drove the vehicle further away. Khaleesi headed around a coppice and into some rocks above a game trail which he knew the wildebeest would be likely to use. We buried ourselves down into the undergrowth, at this point I ranged found the distance at 37yds between the passage and then waited to see if the wildebeest would do as he thought. Slowly they started to appear from the side of a mountain where there were three Sable grazing on the opposite hillside. Gradually the herd started to push forward and eventually all came fully into view, it was quite an amazing site to see so many powerful wild animals so close. It seemed that Khaleesi knew the animalís behaviour as he told me they would start to push forward between the two hills. At this point he said if they start to move, take the last animal in the herd. To my complete amazement, they did just that, I leant back and brought my bow back to full draw and waited for the right moment to release. I took the back one as she started to move forward when I released the arrow it hit her high in the chest but as we were elevated it angled down. We settled back down and stayed low to allow the group to move off. After a few minutes Khaleesi went to have a look to see if he could find her, at that point I saw his cheeks fill and I knew she was down. I ran over, she had only managed to go 5yds, the arrow had penetrated both lungs and was just starting to exit the skin on the opposite side of the chest. At this point Khaleesi radioed Gary to bring the truck over and after many photos and a video the animal was loaded into the vehicle so that they could transport the animal back to the skinning shed. There we watched Khaleesi remove the skin, this will be tanned for a flat skin and the skull bleached.
For my first ever bow hunt, I can truly say this is the most amazing feeling ever. Not just for the taking of the animal but the experience of everything this hunt had to offer, never have I been this close to a very dangerous animal, she didnít smell that good but she sure did taste great!