First ever guided hunt - South Africa

OntarioHunter

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An extremely nice gemsbuck! Forty inches looks about right. Hope you were able to eat some of her. Best red meat I've ever tasted. Good shooting.
 
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npaden

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We get the gemsbok to the skinning shed and it is still fairly early so we head back out.

Kudu is still the number one priority and we have jewel sitting on the front bumper looking for tracks. We end up finding some and again they can tell it is a good bull just based on the tracks. The wind is still holding steady and the tracks are headed in a decent direction for the wind so we start tracking.

Again, it is pretty amazing to see these guys follow a track. It's almost like watching a magician do tricks. I had a hard time believing that it was real. It's not like we were following a track down a trail or down a road, they were wandering around through the brush and somehow they are able to stay on them. We are moving very slowly and somehow they can tell that we are getting close and things slow down even more. We are back to the take a few steps then stop and glass through the brush for a couple minutes then take a few more steps. Somewhere in here we hit a big snag, a flock of guinea fowl. These are just as bad if not worse than the giraffes. They are everywhere and about the only way to deal with them is to wait them out. They are not dumb like the francolins, more similar to a turkey in that they will bust out and make lots of noise doing it if they see you. Maybe worse because they will take flight more easily and they are really loud when they do that.

We are stuck there for probably 15 or 20 minutes just standing there frozen waiting for the flock to move through. I'm tired from standing and it seems that they are pretty much all gone and so I lean over a bit to stretch my back. I stand back up straight and two guineas are way behind the rest of the flock and see me stand up. They take flight cackling and screeching and the whole bush explodes all around us as the other guineas take flight and we can hear some large animals running off through the brush probably 50 or 60 yards in front of us. We start following the track again and sure enough it leads right to where we heard the animals run off and you can tell by the tracks that they are at a full run. Pieter says it is not worth trying to follow them as they will be very wary for at least a couple hours.

Looking through my pictures on my phone these pictures would have been taken right about the time we were stalking the kudu. Pretty good representation of what we were stalking through a lot of the time.

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By this time we are past time for lunch which seems to be turning into the norm. It seems that peak animal movement is early in the morning then around noon then again in the evening so it is hard to go back to the lodge at noon for lunch when it seems to be a good time for animal movement. Each day it seems we have gotten later and later going back for lunch so we've learned to start packing snacks. It's nearly 2:00 by the time we get to the lodge and we set 3:00 as the target for getting back after it.

After another good lunch we climb back in the truck and head out. Again with Jewel riding the front bumper looking for tracks. We find a sable track and they can tell by the track that it is a good bull and the wind is good so we offload and start after it. Again we are moving slowly and trying to really take advantage of the steady wind for both scent and noise control. We follow the sable for quite a while and then it turns and starts heading the other direction. The wind is still steady but now it is not in our favor anymore. We do a few circuits looking to skirt the wind but it isn't looking good. We leave Jewel to keep an eye and see if anything changes and head back to the truck.

We drive a bit and I can't remember if we saw some zebras or just crossed their track but I have in my notes that at this point we started after some zebras. We had talked it through and decided that since zebra were near the top of Eli's list that we would let him have another chance at one. We follow the zebra a good ways and it is looking promising when we get a radio call from Jewel that the sable had moved and he was able to get eyes on him and it was a very good bull and that the wind was now in our favor again. We immediately stopped following the zebra track and headed back to the truck. Eli was surprised to see the Pieter was capable of a very brisk walk, both of us would occasionally have to jog a little just to keep up with him. We get back to the truck and start heading that way.

One interesting tidbit is that I never saw any of them us a GPS for anything. I thought one time that they must be using the find me feature on their phones or something to be able to come out on a road several miles from where we went in and within a minute or two at the tops the truck would be pulling up to pick us up. They used their radios but they weren't talking about their location in much detail so it made sense that must be what they were doing. They weren't. They just knew the property so well that just a couple words about where they were at was all that was needed. Even when they left a track to pick it up the next day or had an animal down and left to get the truck, they didn't mark anything with a GPS waypoint like I normally would. They just used the GPS in their heads as they knew the property so well. Pieter did tell a story about leaving a client one time when he was looking for a track and he spent a lot of time finding the track and when he went back to where he had left the client he couldn't find him. He said he walked back and forth for nearly an hour and couldn't find him and finally started calling for him. The client had sat down behind some brush and called back to him from maybe 100 yards away. Pieter asked him where he had been and the client said he had been right there and watched him going back and forth but thought he was still looking for the track so he didn't say anything. Thought that was a funny story.

Okay, all that to say what they do use a GPS for. The dog collars are tracking collars and a few times during the week they would take a collar off a dog and one of the trackers would carry the collar with them. Jewel had taken a dog collar with him earlier so we were able to know exactly where he was and used the GPS tracker to be able to go right to where he was so we didn't risk coming in and blowing out the sable. Somewhere in here I felt a little like the guy from Jimmy Johns showing up to pull the trigger on that monster elk last year. I really wasn't involved in stalking this sable, I had been on the stalk with them earlier but this time Jewel had found it and we were just coming in to pull the trigger. Anyway, we got to where he was and the sable had moved. He hadn't followed it but remained back so he didn't risk bumping it. We then started following the track VERY slowly. They figured he wouldn't be far but we didn't know how far. The wind was still good and that helped a lot but we again were doing the take a few steps then glass for a few minutes type stalk.

We go a couple hundred yards and they think we are getting close. We actually hear the sable's horns clacking on the trees as he is feeding ahead of us. He is very close, for sure less than 100 yards. The very slow stalk turns into an extremely slow one. It is now take a couple steps and glass for 5 minutes. We've gone maybe 50 yards in 20 or 30 minutes and Pieter spots the sable ahead of us. He is bedded down in some pretty thick brush. We take a few minutes glassing him and determine that he is looking away from us. The wind is right and this looks like it is going to be a slam dunk. Pieter gets the sticks setup and I'm on them. I can see him flick his ears and I slowly can make out his back through the brush. The easiest thing to see is actually his horns as they are sticking up above most of the brush. We whisper back and forth about whether I should shoot him through the brush laying down. Pretty much everything is partially obscured by the brush and Pieter doesn't want me to shoot. His quote "It is an expensive animal, we need to wait for him to stand". I'm on the sticks waiting for him to stand for at least 15 minutes. I keep replaying the earlier chance I had at the bedded impala where it went from laying down to out of my visual window in about 2 seconds.

The wind is still good, we wait some more. Finally he starts to shift around a little. He's still bedded but now his neck is completely clear of any brush and you can see his head clearly. I'm still thinking of the earlier missed chance at the impala, I think of the gemsbok earlier that morning that dropped like a sack of potatoes when Eli hit it in the neck on the run. We had watched several YouTube videos on shot placement and one of them that I had discounted at the time had some head and neck shots shown as a preferred shot placement. We were 50 yards away and I was on the sticks and steady and I was shooting a small cannon... I pulled the trigger.
 
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npaden

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Everyone was completely surprised by the shot except me. Instead of falling over dead on the spot the sable exploded out of it's bed and took off. 110% not what I was expecting. We run after it hoping to possibly get another shot but it is gone. We see the direction it went and hear it running off. It doesn't sound like a mortally wounded animal at all. I'm starting to wonder if somehow I completely missed it or something. I really was expecting to see it just flop over dead. My previous shots on the zebra, wildebeest and impala had all be nearly perfect, I am in shock.

We pick up the track and before long see a tiny little drop of blood. I did hit it, but that sure wasn't much blood. Pieter asked me where I was aiming and I pointed at my neck where I had aimed and he grimaced. Evidently on a sable their spine drops low on their neck with a large muscle mass above it. It sure seemed like I had just shot through the muscle and this was going to be a VERY long tracking job. I marked in red where I aimed. Right in no mans land. On most North American animals and even on some of the African animals that would have been a dead right there instant kill shot. Not on a sable.

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We follow the track a little more and Pieter points out the tiniest drop of blood and there isn't a doubt that I did hit him. At some point I was hoping that maybe I misjudged the mane and it was a clean miss but obviously I have drawn blood. I'm immediately questioning my terrible decision making process. When Eli shot the zebra earlier it wasn't really a bad decision, it was poor execution. I think my execution was fine, I'm pretty sure I hit him exactly where I was aiming, it was my decision making that was terrible.

We are maybe 100 yards on the track and now we start to find real blood. Like 1/4 cup splashed on the ground in a spot about the size of a coke can. They aren't super consistent but there is 100% no doubt that it is bleeding pretty good. Not good enough for it to be a mortal wound probably but there is some hope that he is hurt enough to be slowed down enough for us to catch up to him and finish him.
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Pieter had gone back to the truck and updated everyone on the status that we were now on a tracking job and he grabbed the .270 left handed rifle that Eli had been using. He checked my rifle and adjusted the scope all the way down to 2.3x and said that we needed to be ready because we could bump him and we needed to try to get another shot into him. He asked me if I was good with him shooting if he saw him and I told him that was 100% fine with me.

We go another 100 yards or so and I'm thinking about it and there is no doubt that Pieter is going to have a much better chance of hitting him than I would if we bump him and there is a close running shot through the brush. I ask him if he would like to switch rifles and he is 100% for it. We are actually in the process of handing the rifles across to each other and the sable bolts less than 100 yards away. By the time either of us get the swapped rifles shouldered he is gone into the brush. Not sure we could have timed that worse if we had time traveled and planned it out. One thing that really strikes me is that a sable is a big animal. That thing was massive. It was a little encouraging that we bumped him because that made me think that he was hurt pretty good and not wanting to just take off and keep going. We still had over an hour before dark and if we could just stay on the track there seemed to be a good chance we could make this happen.

We head off on the track again and it is pretty easy to follow. The ground is sandy and we are still in the thick brush so there are limited options for where he can walk/run. We see some more blood where it looked like he had been standing for a while before he bolted. Another 200 yards or so and we see him again, this time he is maybe 200 or 300 yards ahead of us and on a trot. Pieter shoulders his rifle, takes aim and fires. It's a miss. When we had swapped guns back he had left the scope on 2.3x and the sable was tiny in the scope at that distance with it on that magnification. All the sudden we seem like we have all turned into the bad news bears.

We continue to follow and the blood slows way down. It seems that when he is moving there isn't any blood, but when he stops he bleeds quite a bit. Over the first mile of tracking we see sporadic blood but then we are following the track for another mile without any blood at all. It is starting to get dark and there had been some pretty tricky spots on following the track and I'm loosing faith that we are even on the right track. Somewhere in here we end up maybe 50 yards from a large herd of buffalo and that got a little exciting. Several of them ducked their heads down low in the brush and gave us the stink eye for a bit but then they all ran off. They made quite the racket running off.

Tracking gets tougher in the low light and I'm starting to feel unwell. I still can't believe my terrible decision making and then the comedy of errors that happened early on the track when we had a real chance. By now I'm fairly certain that we are just walking aimlessly. There are more rocks than normal and some grass and it it nearly dark, there is no way we are still on the right track. It gets full dark and Jewel calls me over and points at the ground and say blood. It's too dark to see so I turn the flashlight on my phone and sure enough a large patch of blood where the sable had been standing. We were still on the right track at least!

It was too dark to continue so we headed to a road and radioed to get picked up. It was a pretty depressing ride back to the lodge.
 
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OntarioHunter

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You'd think a cannon .375 could shoot through brush ... but it ain't necessarily so. First finishing shot at my buffalo bull standing broadside at 70 yards in thick crap did nothing. PH says, "You missed!" The thing is big as a boxcar and I'm on sticks. How can I miss? I just placed a perfect shot just behind its shoulder on full run offhand. The bullet hit something but not the bull.
 

OntarioHunter

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Interesting diagram of sable bone structure. I shot mine in the neck for finishing shot (first shot boiler room placement stopped him but you don't wait for them to die in that thick dry stuff). Fortunately the bullet did almost a pass through but still broke his neck. Copper Barnes I think (had to switch to lodge gun when mine crapped out). I didn't even think about the cape when I took the shot. PH asked where I hit it and when I pointed to the neck he winced. Turned out not too bad. Fortunately they are one of the hairier antelope species. Would never want to shoot an eland anywhere forward of the boiler room. VERY short hair. Difficult for taxidermist to hide any holes.
 

npaden

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Dinner that night was the tenderloins from the gemsbok that Eli had shot earlier that morning. It now seemed a LONG time ago. Hunting has some of the biggest roller coaster swings of emotions from high to low of about anything I can think of.
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I'd heard that gemsbok (oryx if you are in New Mexico) is one of the best tasting wild game animals and it lived up to it's reputation. Absolutely delicious.

The day ended with 6.5 miles walked and me still in a major depression. They told some amazing stories of tracking successes and seemed pretty confident that we were still going to get him. This was much different than tracking Eli's zebra though where we were expecting to find a dead animal, the consensus was that it was going to take some more shooting to get this one on the ground for sure.

We discussed again the option of splitting up so that Eli might have a chance at getting something instead of working the track of the sable with me. Pieter was on the phone again trying to work through our options.

Plan for the morning would be to start on the track at first light and if he could find someone to take Eli out we would split up.
 

Salmonchaser

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I’m not going to be surprised if you end up with that Zebra. I killed one at the request of my Ph that had been wounded the week prior, five days I think. Hit just in front of the shoulder, kind of a brisket shot. We bumped him saw the festering wound and my PH offered me a free zebra to put him down. I hit him good as he ran by but he still made it another 50 yards Before falling over.
 

npaden

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Sorry guys, not intentionally stretching this out, just trying to catch up at work and actually flying out in the morning for a conference. I’m taking my computer with me and hopefully will get a bunch typed up on the flight tomorrow.
 

colinstewart

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We just boarded the first of 4 flights on our way to Johannesburg.

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I bid on a hunt to benefit the Wild Sheep foundation of Utah and won the auction but did some research and decided to go ahead and book with another outfit instead based on reviews and pricing. I chalked up the winning bid as a donation and the tipping point to actually get me to quit talking about going on a hunt in South Africa and actually do it.

This is about 3 months of planning and getting ready but it still seems awfully quick and I hope we are ready.

My son is 15 years old and he will be hunting also, my wife is along strictly for the experience.

We have quite the list of animals we are hoping to get “in the salt” but the number one target for both of us will be Kudu.

Talking with another hunter who has hunted with this outfit before, things are exceptionally green and lush for this time of year which makes hunting more difficult so we will be lucky to fill most of the animals on the list.

Hoping that the flights go smoothly and we have a 8 hour layover in Zurich so looking forward to that as well.

Initially I am going to try to do this as a live hunt, not sure whether I can keep it going live or if I will get behind and have to catch up but we will see.

They are shutting the door to the plane now so I will post more as we travel that way.

Wish us luck! Nathan
Hope you have a good trip - enjoy!
 

Henry22

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What a wonderful write up, makes it feel like I’m right there. Thanks for sharing everything so far and can’t wait for the rest
 

npaden

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Day 7. We are back at it first thing in the morning. We still haven't sorted out someone to hunt separately with Eli but they are working on it. They (Eli and Cathy) ride with me to where we are going to start tracking the sable and just wait there.

They dropped me, Pieter and Jewel off to get on the sable track. Teferri stayed with Cathy and Eli and they drove around a bit checking to see if they could find the sable track where it had crossed the road. They stopped and the farm manager walks up to them out of nowhere and asks Eli if he wants to try to get a zebra. Cathy stays with Teferri in the truck and Eli leaves with the farm manager Martin and another tracker. They are on some good zebra tracks and head out into the bush. They followed tracks all morning but never did see any zebras. They got picked up in a different truck and headed back to the lodge for lunch.

Pieter, Jewel and I started out on the sable track. Right at the start we had a little trouble with a big grassy area, but we got on the track and started following. Pieter was carrying an open sight model 70 in what I assume was .375 H&H but I never confirmed. I was back to carrying the same exceptional rental rifle I had been carrying the whole time other than we made the terribly timed swap the previous evening.

Not too long on the track and we see where he had bedded the night before. Pretty good blood, seemed very fresh still and had soaked in pretty deep into the sand.

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Maybe another 1/2 mile and we find another spot where he had bedded with a similar amount of blood. We go probably 2 miles without any blood and then find 2 patches fairly close together. The sun is out now and the blood we find doesn’t seem as fresh but that is probably because it is drying up with the sun out in full force.

Not much farther and we hear a large animal crash through the brush in front of us. Pieter takes off on nearly a full sprint toward the sound but never does see it. He comes back a few minutes later with some pretty impressive scratches on one of his arms that was bleeding pretty good. This guy gives everything he does 110%. He is completely in his element.

Not long after this we see impalas ahead of us. We aren’t being extremely sneaky and somehow they much sense that we aren’t a threat because they end up letting us get within 50 yards before running away.

We’ve now been on the track for 4 more miles in addition to the 2 miles the night before. We follow the track and it is confirmed that the animal that just busted out was the sable based on the tracks. When we cross the road next time Pieter decides to turn the dogs out.

The dogs do some back and forth and then seem to get on the track. There are a few times where we get slowed down in a grassy area where the dogs are ahead of us and Pieter will go up to where the dogs are leaving Jewel on the track and Pieter is able to pick the track back up based on where the dogs have been. Things start to move a bit quicker know and it seems like we are closing in again.

It’s now getting pretty warm and the sun is out pretty good and the sable seems to be headed to a waterhole. The dogs get excited and start baying and the pace picks up even more. Pieter and I pretty much drop the attempt at following the track and start following the dogs while Jewel stays back following the track. The dogs are good, but they have a hard time differentiating between animals, Jewel is back up to make sure we are on “the” track.

The dogs veer away from the waterhole and head off in a new direction. At this point we do some double checking to make sure we are on the right track and that the dogs didn’t pick something else up going to the waterhole. Jewel confirms that the dogs are on the right track and we continue on.

Throughout the day I continue to kick myself for the poor shot decision the day before. All of this most likely would have been completely avoided if I had just waited for him to stand. Even if he had bolted and I didn’t get a shot off we could have been looking for a fresh track to follow or switching back to the area with the other sable we had tracked earlier or even better, going after some kudu which were higher in priority on both of our lists than the sable. Woulda, coulda, shoulda doesn’t change things though, so we are on the track and still pretty hopeful.

We continue on the track and the dogs still seem to have it. Samuel seems to be the best tracker to me and if he starts baying it really means something. They get going pretty good again but the sable is just not weak enough to stick around and he easily gets out ahead of them again.

Things quiet down and we are still on the track at 2:00 when we cross another road. I check my phone and we are up to 8 miles on the day already. They decide to send Tefferi back to the lodge and Cathy has been riding in the truck and waiting this entire time so they tell us to go back and eat lunch and bring some back to them. I offer to stay with them but they won’t have it and tell me to go eat a hot lunch.

Back at the lodge and lunch is probably the highlight of the day. Impala meat pies that are truly delicious. We catch up with Eli and I’m so happy that he is able to still keep hunting and he doesn’t have to suffer too much for my mistake.
We keep lunch quick and the cook packs lunches for Pieter and Jewel and we head back out. Cathy stays with us and Eli is going back out with Martin after zebra.

Another highlight to the day was that when we drove to the lodge went went a different way than normal and drove past the lions and they were out and about.

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The male was out with 5 or 6 females but the male disappeared back into the brush as we drove up. A couple of the females looked at us like we might be a good lunch and one even looked like it might be trying to decide if it could jump over the fence or not. The fence was not that strong looking and I’m pretty sure they could get out if they really wanted to. Quite a bit different experience than seeing them in a zoo.

We get back to Pieter and Jewel and they have followed the track another couple miles at least and Pieter’s wife Eloise has swapped out Samuel for another dog. Evidently Samuel had gotten close again and chased the sable some more and he was completely gassed. Joseph was now on the track. Baba hadn’t really been on either chase so he was still good to go.

Pieter and Jewel scarfed down their lunch and we were back at it. Not much further and we started to hit a bunch of grassy areas and we slowed WAY down. The dogs didn’t seem to have the track anymore either and to make matters worse when we did find the track it was starting to get wildly sporadic with the sable changing directions every few hundred yards.

It has been a long time since we have seen any blood and I’m starting to wonder if this is going to end well. Pieter is still optimistic and assured me that we are in the right track. Again this seems like magic to me that we are now well over 10 miles on the track and they are positive they are following the sable that I shot even without seeing any blood. It does help that there aren’t many other sables so the tracks aren’t getting mixed up with other sable tracks like when they were tracking the zebra, but it is amazing they can track on animal so far.

We continued on slowly. A few times during the day they lost the track in grassy areas and had me wait while they found it again. They would fan out and circle around peering very intently at the ground looking for a track. The first time earlier in the morning it took a full hour before they found the track again but we had confirmation not too much further along that time when we found some blood. During the afternoon he didn’t seem to be bleeding anymore so when they would find the track again it didn’t seem 100% to me that it really was “the” track. Talking with Pieter later over dinner he said that the right front foot had an usual feature and that he wouldn’t forget that track as long as he lived. I believed him.

We continued on until dark. They were positive they were on the right track but it was very obvious the sable was not very injured and was not slowing down much at all. I ended up with 10 miles walked that day and they covered at least 2 miles during lunch without me so adding in the 2 miles from the night before and we had now tracked the sable for 14 or 15 miles from the time I shot it. I didn’t realize it until he pointed it out to me, but we were now a whopping 600 yards from where I shot him the day before. It had gone in a huge circle and was back in his home territory.

We radio for the truck and head back to the lodge. Everyone is tired and it is a very quiet ride.

After lunch Martin and his tracker got back on the track of the zebras and they got close but Eli never did even see a zebra that day. He said they did hear some baboons pretty close and took detour at one point because of some fresh buffalo tracks, they decided to skirt around them and try to pick up the track on the other side but they pretty much walked all day without any real opportunity at a shot.

This was probably the low day of the entire trip. We were tired, we were getting pretty far behind on getting most of the animals on our list and we both had unrecovered animals out there in the bush somewhere.

Below is a picture of a sable track if any of you would like to see one. I got to where I could tell what one looked like and occasionally could even follow them if they were in nice sand but once they got into the grass it was VERY difficult.
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npaden

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As frustrating as the day was, it was hard to be too sad and grumpy because the people and the surroundings we so amazing. Pieter and his wife made us feel like we were part of a close family unit and the lodge and food were spectacular.

We would debrief from the day around the fire pit and eat different Hors D’oeuvres each evening waiting for dinner. The weather is near perfect and we are so far from a city of any size that the night sky was spectacular.

About the only thing that wasn’t going to plan was checking the animals off our list!

When researching and deciding to book this trip I was extremely hesitant about 2 big things.

First, we weren’t going to be able to bring any of the meat home. This bothered me, and still does because to me a big part of the hunt is that we are doing it to acquire meat to feed our family. Sure we were getting to eat some of the animals we shot while we were there, but it is pretty hard to claim that we were not there “trophy” hunting. The meat was all either sold or would be consumed by the staff, so it for sure wasn’t being wasted, but this definitely crossed line from hunting for meat to trophy hunting. Are there people who trophy hunt in North America and the meat is not a real consideration as part of their hunt? Sure, but aquiring meat has always been an important part of the hunt to me. I’m still reconciling this in my head and not sure if I will get it resolved or not.

The second big thing is that the place we are hunting is high fenced. Nearly everything in South Africa is high fenced, you generally need to go to Botswana or Zimbabwe or somewhere like that to get into low or no fence concessions. When deciding where we were going to hunt I for sure wanted it to be a large property where the animals truly had a chance to escape. Some of the places I had talked to had properties that were 1,000 acres or less even. Don’t get me wrong, 1,000 acres is a lot of property, especially as thick as it was where we were at, but it just doesn’t seem like they really have a chance to get away on a property that small. Where we were hunting, the main property with the lodge and where we had been hunting the entire time was somewhere north of 20,000 acres. The total operation with some additional properties they have is just under 30,000 acres. We had seen the fence around the lions nearly every day and a couple days we had driven out to one side of the property or the other to start with the wind and saw the perimeter fence then, but at no point did I feel like the fence was an impediment to an animals ability to get away from us. Heck most of the time we were doing good to see an animal 100 yards away, and they seemed to be pretty good about giving us the slip when they knew we were there.

I mentioned it earlier, but I think another big thing to me was that Pieter doesn’t allow his clients to shoot from the truck. In some ways I think this is self serving as it gives you the ability to possibly see more animals since they aren’t afraid of the vehicle and don’t immediately run off when they see one, but with service vehicles, farm vehicles, etc. they do seem to get used to the truck and it would have been too easy if you shot from the truck. Being on the ground on foot really helped to level the playing field and based on our success (or lack thereof) so far it actually seemed to actually tilt the field into the animals favor.

All that to say that that although we weren’t checking multiple animals off our list each day we really were getting what we wanted. A challenging hunt with an opportunity to chase after animals you only read about. So far it had 100% lived up to our expectations and more from that perspective.

As we are sitting around the fire and over dinner that evening, the conversation centers around the chances that we will be able to recover the sable and the fact that we are 7 days into our hunt and we have 5 of the 12 animals on our list recovered and delivered to the skinning shed. We have already canceled the Kruger excursion to give us 2 more days to hunt, but there really wasn’t a way to extend it any further. 2 days left to get 7 animals when we were averaging less than one animal a day wasn’t looking very realistic. Especially when we are still on the sable track and it is showing no signs at all of slowing down.

We discuss various options, Pieter still hasn’t been able to line out another PH to allow Eli to split up so that’s not an option. Looking back on the day we just spent tracking the sable I really don’t feel like I was an asset at all. Several times I was just sitting there waiting for them to find the track again and even when we were on the track Pieter was ahead of me with his rifle and I’m sure he would have had a better chance at shooting the sable if we had bumped it. I proposed that we leave Jewel on the sable track by himself like when he was tracking Eli’s zebra, but since we weren’t expecting to find it dead, that if he caught up with it he would radio for someone to come attempt to shoot it. I asked Pieter if Jewel could just carry a rifle and shoot it himself, but he said no but didn’t go into any details.

After some discussion we decided that was as good a plan as any. Kudu were still at the top of the list and we had talked about going to the river property several times during the week but just never made it over there. The river property was supposed to have good kudu so we decided to set the alarms a little earlier and head out to the river property after kudu before first light. Jewel would also head out before first light and be on the sable track right away. If he got on it early we could come back and go after it, if we were at a place that we couldn’t get back quickly then Jewel would radio Martin and he would go after it.

I felt bad to be leaving the sable to go after kudu, but we were down to 2 days left and it really didn’t feel like I was useful in finding and recovering the sable anyway. Whatever I did wasn’t going to undo my bad decision to pull the trigger and to be honest chasing kudu sounded more enjoyable than following a track kicking myself for wounding it like I had done the entire day.

The decision was made, alarms were set, and we would be hunting kudu with Pieter on the river property the next morning.
 

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