Last Updated on Monday, 05 December 2011 15:56
Written by Tim Crites
Monday, 05 December 2011 15:39
April was the only time I could match schedules with Angus so early April it would be. This would be my fourth visit with Angus and Jenny; Willem Koch would be hunting with us as well. Willem and I began with a short range session; the .375 was good, a click or two and the 300 was as well. This accomplished we headed out in search of Vaal Rhebuck, if unsuccessful perhaps a baboon or two. Right off the bat we bumped a troop of baboon climbing the hills out of the corn field. I got two, one of which was pretty good. I did miss two however, or was it three? I don’t know, I don’t want to know, but I do know that I was very dissatisfied with my shooting! I would like to add this would prove to be the only hiccup I was to experience.
0330 the next morning found Angus and I headed out to hunt bush pigs with some friends. There had been 3 killed before we got there. Angus and I kept watch for a while in the corn field from the back of the cruiser, hearing the others fire from time to time. Eventually 2 pigs escaped the fenced field leading the dogs a merry chase, followed by us in vehicles. We drove high speed over dirt trails, of which we were unfamiliar, guided by occasional radio contact, 4 or 5 vehicles kicking up dust all the way. At one point Angus pulled over and set us up to watch a hillside, the rest of the cacophony continued on. The hill was steep and the grass high, it was unlikely we would see anything cross. Honestly, I had little expectation of seeing a pig let alone getting a shot but I was enjoying myself just the same. We were in the back of the cruiser with weapons at the ready. The dogs could be heard in the distance but movement in the bush caught our attention, Kudu, monkeys? I followed the movement along until much to my surprise a pig broke cover to cross the trail a hundred yards away, while not sprinting it was moving right along. I had time to say, “It’s a pig,” throw my rifle to shoulder, gain sight picture and squeeze the trigger, I had less time than it took to write that. Everyone showed up soon after. The dogs found the pig not far into the bush. It turned out to be a female a bit over 200lb., I was fortunate to have even gotten a shot!
After the bush pig adventure we focused on Vaal rhebuck. This would prove to be quite a challenge, we had glassed rams during prior days so had a good idea of where to start. At one point Willem and I had a few baboons taunting us within easy range. I thought sure we could come back for them later but for now we were focused on the vaalies. Angus had not advertised “trekking” but trekking we did, and a lot of it. We would spot a good ram, take endless precautions stalking, it would appear as if there was no place for them to go yet there would be no one home once we got there! Vanished, gone, no rhyme or reason. Finally perseverance paid off. We had lost this group on two stalks, we hadn’t really spooked them but they weren’t hanging around either. While re-positioning for another try we unexpectedly bumped into them climbing a hill attempting escape. I took this little guy through the ribs while he trotted up the hill following his ladies. He was a fine ram and had given us quite a chase.
So having one of my “big” trophies in the salt Angus and I set off in search of my second. I had hunted Africa four times now and still had no kudu. What’s up with that? Our first evening we spotted two bulls and a few cows, nothing to write home about but encouraging. The weather was considerably unhelpful! We marched on day after day rain or shine, winching the cruiser along from time to time because of the mud. We would make stalks only to discover the bull was sub-par, or just to be fooled by a bull having never gotten a good look. We were approaching the end of our proverbial rope, time was running out and my chances of going home without a kudu were looking really good! We were scheduled to leave and do some touring of battle fields close by; much to our surprise our guide had mis-scheduled us for the following day. With this gem of information we rushed back, grabbed our gear and set out for one last shot, so to speak. The weather was sunny and we were seeing way more kudu; we were still working hard for little in return however. Angus, Bheki, our tracker, and I were stalking well enough; we even came within a few feet of kudu cows. Once we were cut off by younger kudu as they fed allowing the bull to go free. At one point we observed a nyala bull with two ewes completely unawares which I really enjoyed. We hunted hard until early afternoon finally breaking for lunch and a much needed water break when it was decided to give another farm a try.
This was my last chance, I was prepared to go home the goat but I was fine with it, it had been a great hunt! So Angus, Bheki, and I set out for new ground. We spotted a few kudu within an hour which was good because we only had one or two left to work with. After passing these cows we bumped into a nice bull. Angus kept on while Bheki and I set off with rifle and shooting sticks. He was there in a grove of acacia, the angle was terrible! He was looking over his right hip exposing just a little front shoulder. I had to send the bullet as close to his hip as possible, without hitting it of course, in order to still get into the front shoulder. The bull was looking in our direction; experience told me I had only a second or two before he would be a faint memory. I squeezed the trigger and saw him drop before losing him in recoil. I was immediately concerned as he went down hind quarters first. “Obviously not a heart shot, perhaps I nicked a limb,” I thought as I jogged closer. Upon closer inspection I had hit a bit forward but not by much and the bull expired quickly. It was a good trophy, well earned and a great hunt!
After a day of looking over the battle fields, which was enjoyable for a history nut such as myself, Angus and I made our way back to Memel for another try at baboons; after all they had sat and watched us a few days before. We hunted hard for a few days but they simply had no interest in our shenanigans and we had no luck whatsoever. Good thing I got those two the first day.
My last day we went to the shooting range; I met some great people and had a good time shooting with Angus. I should have shot a bit more but I was sort of interested in getting back to the field. We had been glassing mountain reedbuck for over a week and knew there was some nice rams around so Angus and I headed up into the hills after them. We spotted two or three blowing the stalk on one, one was too young, and the last one? We had the drop on a group of six with a good ram but quite frankly I was having so much fun stalking I didn’t want to shoot. Angus, undoubtedly seeing my apprehension, opined that perhaps we should not shoot too quickly and we slipped on by them. Besides we knew there were one or two really nice rams further up the ravine which we had spotted on prior days. We made our way across a large shelf about half way up the mountainside. There was much more bush and tall grass but it worked to our advantage. Angus soon spotted a group of reedbuck from a distance. Upon spotting the ram Angus pointed out that if he looked big from that distance, five hundred yards plus, then he was a very good ram.
Much to my surprise Angus then looked at me and said, “Well there he is, I am going to get the cruiser. Were it me I would stalk along that rock shelf up to that tree and try a shot from there. I will meet you at the bottom of the hill in about forty five minutes.” Then turned and walked away. Hmm, didn’t see that coming. I didn’t have an eternity of light left so I dropped off the shelf and began closing the distance. I had gotten within 300 yards when, much to my surprise I spotted a second ram! I loved stalking along on my own; however I was now faced with choosing between two rams and would have to do my own trophy judging. If I took too long I may not get either one, also I had no wish to be remembered as the guy that shot a non-trophy ram, on purpose. I racked my brain over all I had read about judging horns of mountain reedbuck. He was a shooter and in range, 143 yards, but I decided to wait until I got a closer look at the first ram. The terrain was such that should allow both rams to move quite a distance before getting out of range, the 300 Win Mag would make sure of that.
The ram, now accompanied by a ewe, trotted away heading up the ravine. To my good fortune the eight ewes spotted earlier now moved up the hill curiously watching the ram trotting away. Just then the first ram, even bigger I am happy to say, came strutting into the open searching for what the fuss was all about. I was laying prone in the grass, rifle on the bipod with my range finder in my hand. The ram was looking hard but not in my direction. I ranged him at 153 yards just as he stopped, just behind a large rock, great! I wanted to hit him through the ribs as the 300 is a bit big for game his size; however given the angle, and the rock I had few options. I was dead zeroed at 200 yards, If I were to send that 180 gr. Hornady ¼” over the rock I should hit just above the heart. Much of an error and I could shoot over him, or low hit the rock. I laid the horizontal crosshair along the top of the rock intersecting the vertical wire with where I thought the ram’s front leg should be and squeezed the trigger. I immediately bolted in another round and began searching but saw nothing. The ewes on the hill hadn’t moved at all. I waited several minutes then made my way up the hill. The moment of truth! Not only would I find if I had gotten him or not but also how my horn judgment had worked out. He was there alright, lying behind the rock. I had hit just where I had intended and he was in fact a good ram. I shouldered and carried him, much farther than it looked, down the hill in time to meet Angus and take a few photos before dark. What fun!