Well, no luck on the hunt today. Not really “no luck”, but rather no kill today. We left out to the farm at 445am, when we arrived at the farm true dawn had just started and we were geared up to do some hunting. Our goal was to go after warthog and impala. The farm we were hunting on is primarily a dairy, but there are beef there as well as goats, sheep, and yard birds.
Hunting here in Africa is all stalk hunting with spotters and professional hunters as guides, the animals are different from those in the states in that they still have predators here and do not become programmable to clockwork feeding and watering times. The only hunters that set up around “easy” spots such as water holes are those too old to take part in the stalk or too physically unable, and the occasional bow hunter. Seemingly even most bow hunting is done via the stalk here as well.
Early on in the morning we began to spot and see plenty of ostriches, and if we had wanted to there were plenty of easy shots to be had. We approached a watering hole and spooked the troop of vervet monkeys that were there for their morning drink, as we were standing there watching a black-striped jackal was spotted and then ran off before a shot was available. The jackal here is between a red fox and coyote in size and considered by the farmers to be pests. Once finished checking out the watering hole we moved on down the line to an old homestead site, once there we were looking in particular for the hogs to be feeding. As we watched and waited there were tree squirrels among the ruins as well as a black-tailed mongoose. We eventually saw a massive hog across the bush on the next hillside over. He was a truly massive boar. We made our decisions and started or stalk. The distance as a straight shot would have been near to 700 yards, and the walk to him was 15-20 minutes. During our trek a giraffe spotted us from a far hillside and bolted, causing a stir in the animal kingdom of the immediate area. After we were sure that nothing else had spooked or had spotted us we continued on with our stalk of the monster boar.
We trekked to the area where we had last observed his feeding movements, and found his trail as well as plenty of other sign belying his passage. We followed his path through the brush for several hundred yards and thought that he was still quite a ways away when all of a sudden his head popped up 20 feet away and on my left side! (I am a left handed shooter) it appears that he was willing for a few brief moments, but I wasn’t ready. After the missed opportunity we waited for him to calm a bit before we followed in pursuit. He was a large boar and our fellow hunters/ guides weren’t just buttering us up, they were impressed with his bulk. To cut this narrative short it will suffice to say that after much walking and stalking the hog for me was never seen again.
After a water break, we are hunting in a rocky desert-like place by the way, we went to another water hole to see if our luck would present itself for a shot. On our way to the “honey hole” we startled a few impala….a bachelor herd of nearly twenty rams, over half of which were harvestable in size. I threw the rifle up to see them better in the scope and immediately found a ram with perfectly massive horns. Impalas are the ones whose horns rise off of their heads and make the shape of a very graceful lyre. It was a no shot because here you have to use shooting sticks and a spotter to call your shots for you, so we waited for the herd to circle through an area with a shooting lane and made ready the bracing apparatus. Of the whole herd not a single one stopped for a shot while passing through the lane.
Some may be asking why I haven’t taken a shot yet….the answer is, if you wound an animal and cannot track it you still have to pay full price of the animal as if it were harvested. Which can get pricy in a hurry. So best to make sure shots.
The impala did this routine several times during the next three hours of tracking and stalking until we finally found where they were standing in the shade. We had the wind in our favor and took steps to find a shot in between the little breaths of wind. The ground was incredibly rocky and the grass was as dry as the hay fields in late august, so the wind helped cover our sound as well as our scent. To line up an incredibly difficult shot took nearly 30-45 min. I had a bit of a shot at 210 yards at a ram with little horns that I passed – I am not familiar with the rifle or its scope. So the shot that I had in the end was a neck to the base of the skull shot at 70 yards, not too difficult, other than the window was a 3 inch square through the brush and aloe Vera plants, and their necks are more slender than my forearms.
I took the shot.
Needless to say, I missed the shot and the animal. I suppose you could say that I bagged a limb or some distant rock, and no tangible reward for my adventure for the day. But I’ll say that I have this story to tell in addition to two very tired feet and the excitement of having stalked impala and warthog in the bush of southern Africa. ( I am not currently in the country of South Africa by the way)
If you don’t kill it you can’t grill it!
It would have been nice to have bagged something while out today, and the opportunity may present itself in some way before we return to the states. If so I know that I will most certainly enjoy the hunt for the sake of nature and the love of the wild.
Until next time,