Namibia Sable & Klipspringer Hunt in 2019
Well, plans were put into effect for this much anticipated hunt. I had booked our airline tickets and had checked with the ticket agent if there was anything required to do with reference to traveling with firearms and ammunition. I was assured there was nothing special required. I next went to the airline’s website and typed in “Firearms” and the following came up as the answer, “It is not allowed to bring any chemical or toxic substances that can be hazardous to safety or health in your baggage. Some substances may only be taken as check-in baggage or only as hand baggage. Read more about chemical substances in your baggage.”
You can imagine my total disbelief when we made our way to the airport for our flight to Namibia and were immediately approached by an employee of the airline and informed that we did not possess the proper permits from the Dutch Customs for our firearms and ammunition. I explained that we were flying through the Netherlands and were not entering the country. Unfortunately, we were not going to be allowed to board the aircraft and we had no place to store the firearms until we returned.
The story is much longer, but the point I am trying to pass on here, is to check with an organization which deals with providing a service of firearms and ammunition clearance into various countries. Fortunately, the airline did not charge us extra for re-scheduling our flight ten days later and the Outfitter was able to supply us with firearms and ammunition as well as the time for our hunt. We were quite fortunate that this episode did not cost us a fortune and that we in fact had time available to re-schedule the hunt.
We finally arrived at our destination of Windhoek, Namibia and were met by the Outfitter. It was nice to re-acquaint from the time we hunted together the previous year. One good point is this is one of the first times my luggage arrived at my end destination, although usually it was my firearms, which did not arrive at the same time as I did??
We loaded into the vehicle and made the drive to another large farm, where I would be hunting Sable. We arrived around 2 pm, got settled in to our quarters and then set about sighting in the supplied firearms. One was a 25:06 which was very accurate, but ended up jamming during the sighting-in phase of the hunt. There was a .308 also and it was sufficient until we arrive at the Outfitter’s Farm and I would use his 375 H&H, a rifle I had used in the past and which was extremely accurate. As we were getting the rifle sighted-in I looked to a far hillside and saw several Sable heading towards some brush. I mentioned this to the Outfitter and he just looked at me and said that we would go after them a bit later.
Soon, we were heading in the general direction f where I had previously spotted the Sable. I was looking for a good representative of the species and we were sure I would be successful on this ranch. We left the vehicle approximately one mile from where we were hoping the Sable were still feeding. After about a ½ mile we spotted three (3) Waterbuck feeding in the open. The Outfitter knew I was interested in taking a Waterbuck and asked me it I wanted one, as there was a large bull with the two younger males. I passed, as I wanted to pursue the Sable as that has been an animal I wanted to take. I had hunted them in Zimbabwe, but without luck in taking one. So, we continued on toward the Sable. Soon the Outfitter said to me, “We have to cross that open space and we should set up by that lone dead tree, which is about 150 yards from here. The Sable will feed towards us and we should be able to have a good look at the quality of the bulls.” We started to slowly walk across the opening and towards the tree from which we would observe the feeding Sable. The Outfitter looked over his shoulder at me and quietly mouthed the words, “We had better pick up the pace, as we do not want to get caught in the open.” So, we scurried to the tree, which was large enough to conceal our shapes.
Once there, I found a good rest for the 308 and shouldered the rifle to get a feel for it and to ensure I would be able to comfortably shoot from this position. Once I was happy with my position, we now just had to patiently wait for the Sable to feed towards us. After about 15 minutes we spotted the curved horns of a bull making his way in our direction. Several minutes later we observed a few more horns above the sky-line. They were still about 300 yards out and I readied the rifle for the shot, when the Outfitter whispered in my ear, “we have lots of time, as it looks as though they will feed right to our location.” I brought the rifle down, unloaded it and rested it on the tree, It was interesting to watch these majestic animals feed so nonchalantly and seemingly not a worry in the world. Soon we had the whole bunch in view and slowly moving towards us. The Outfitter pointed out the bull I should concentrate on and also his twin which was feeding another 100 or so yards passed him.
To say I wasn’t excited would be a terrible understatement - smile. Soon the Outfitter whispered once again in my ear, “He will be 100 yards from us when he feeds to that small bush he is heading for and you should take him then.” I nodded my response to him and slowly raised the rifle and with slow-motion, moved the cartridge into the breech and closed the bolt and assumed a shooting position using the tree as a rest. As soon as the bull reached the bush I once again nodded at the Outfitter to let him know I was firing. At the shot he said, “You shot high.” We saw the bull gain speed as he was ‘Getting out of Dodge’ and was showing no signs of being hit. He immediately said, “The other good one is right there by that log on the ground.” I moved a couple of feet to assume a new shooting position and as soon as I had the cross-hairs on his shoulder, I dropped them down a bit and as my last shot had been high, I lowered them a few inches. At the shot I heard the outfitter say, “You hit him in the spine.” As I looked out in the open space, I could see him kicking on the ground. We quickly moved closer to where he lay and I dispatched him with one more shot. I took pics, but my camera was not working properly, so all my pics were ‘fuzzy’.
When Darryl and the driver arrived it was decided that the Outfitter would take Darryl and try to get the Waterbuck bull we had encountered when getting into position for the Sable. Unfortunately, this was not going to happen, as the Waterbuck must have been spooked by my shooting ad had headed to the larger bush. They found them, but they seemed nervous and when Darryl took his shot, the bull was in the process of moving and the shot was not fatal. They tracked it for a while and then it was decided that we would resume tracking it the next morning. After a fruitless attempt to locate the bull, it was decided that he was not hurt too bad and would most likely recover. We returned to our quarters and packed and got ready to travel to another Farm where I would hopefully be able to take a Klipspringer - an animal, which has always intrigued me and been high on my list.
We soon arrived at the Farm, met with the PH (Professional Hunter) who was going to look after me on this hunt. The land sure looked desolate, but soon we were amongst small animals running everywhere (a bit of an exaggeration). I asked the PH what they were and he replied, “Those are Damara Dik-Dik.” I said, “I thought they were sort of hard to find?” His answer was, “Yes, but we have lots of them here.” Soon we were near some cliffs and he pulled the vehicle over and we dismounted. He had seen a Klipspringer male run along the top of the cliffs in front of us. We could not find him, so we started our hunt along the cliff-tops. Now let me interject here to relate to my healthy (at least in my mind) fear of heights. These cliffs were straight down for 300+ feet and nothing to stop you before you hit the bottom?? I relayed my fears on to both the Outfitter and the PH and they said not to worry as they were going to walk along the edge looking for Klipspringers and I could parallel their movement well back from the edge, which was fine with me.
I am used to hunting sheep around home and if you are above them, they do not seem to panic?? These little guys were off and running as soon as they saw us and well before I could get into a shooting position. After we had unsuccessfully encountered two pairs, it was decided to move via vehicle to a new location further down the cliffs. We had travelled about ½ mile when the PH touched the driver’s arm and the vehicle stopped. I gather he had seen something? He pointed to cliffs to our front and said to the Outfitter, :That is a decent male.” I could easily see it standing on a rock and it was beautifully sky-lined against the clear morning sky. I lined up on it and the Outfitter said, “Don’t shoot as there is too much brush in the way.” I retorted, “I have a clear shot.” He replied, ”Do not shoot as there is too much brush.” The one thing I learned after hunting many years with Outfitters and that is respect their judgement and if he said do not shoot, then I wasn’t going to shoot. Soon, the animal dropped of the rock and was soon gone forever. I turned to the Outfitter and explained that from my position I had had a perfect shot. He just looked at me and smiled, “That was the female you were looking at. The male was below her and there was a lot of cover between us and him.” Good thing I was listening, or I would have ended my hunt on a sour note.
We continued on in the vehicle and soon arrived at a point where we parked the vehicle. As we were dismounting, I said to the Outfitter, “Can the driver carry the shooting bag, as I would feel more comfortable shooting off it.” Once we got to the edge (near for me - smile), they found a pair of Klipspringers feeding a short way down the cliffs. Unfortunately, I could not physically see them and after much verbal assistance to get me on to them, they had had enough and started to run along the cliffs. I finally was able to pick them up crossing the sheer rock-face a couple of hundred yards away. I dropped into the prone position and tried to line the 25:06 up on them, but I completely lost them. The Outfitter was losing patience with me, but the PH motioned for me to stand up. Once I was standing beside him, he motioned for me to pass him my binos, which I did. He then motioned for me to move closer to him and then he placed one eye-piece to his eye and one to my eye and son I was looking at a nice male Klipspringer feeding on the rocks. I mentally marked the spot where he was and once again dropped down into the prone position and soon had him in the cross-hairs of the scope. I asked for the distance and Darryl relayed that it was 275. I had an absolute steady rest and gently squeezed the trigger until it broke and the projectile was on its way to the target. I saw the Klipspringer bouncing down the cliff-face and everyone was all smiles. That is a relatively small target and not that easy to pick out, unless you have hunted them many times, which I have not.
I asked the PH if this was a good Klipspringer and he signalled me by opening his hand and saying, “If the horn is as long as my hand is wide, then it is a good trophy.” He then placed his hand on the horn and it surpassed the width of his hand by about 1 ½”, so I was a happy hunter, to say the least and certainly glad to be away from those heart-stopping cliffs. We enjoyed a lovely lunch before heading to the Outfitter’s Farm for the remainder of my hunt and a couple of side-trips for Darryl’s hunts. It was a long drive, but we finally arrived and settled in, had a great dinner and headed to bed for a well-earned sleep.
Next morning we fell into the normal routine at the Farm. I was looking for anything which I might find interesting, so wanted to sit in a blind. A client of mine had taken a huge Steenbok a couple of years ago, so I was looking for a great Steenbok. I am always interested in Duikers and Impalas also. First day in the blind only produced a couple of small Duikers, so a quiet day overall. I went to the same blind the next day and besides the small Duikers, a few Black Wildebeest came in to drink. I find hunting from the blind to be totally relaxing and there is always the possibility of something large coming in.
Darryl was going to another Farm to hunt Sable on Day #3 at the Outfitter’s Farm and I decided to sit in the same blind for one more day to see if anything interesting came in. Around mid-day a small group of Red Hartebeest came in to water. One was really large and although I already had a good sized one on the wall of my trophy room, I decided to take this fellow. He was at 60 yards from the blind. At the shot, he spun and made a bee-line to the bush. I was in total disbelief and turned to the PH and said, ”Don’t tell me I missed that easy shot?” He just looked at me in awe and said, “Yes, I think you missed it.” We both left the blind and scoured the area looking for signs of a hit, but to my dismay there was none to be found.
Darryl returned that afternoon with a beautiful 41” Sable bull. We decided to share the blind I have been in for the past couple of days. We had the PH with us and had been
sitting in the blind waiting to see what came in. I looked across the waterhole and spotted two Kudu bulls standing in the bush. Neither were of exceptional size, but my girlfriend would like the horns for her house. I told the PH that I was going to shoot the larger of the two and then Darryl asked, “Do you want me to back you up?” I thought that over for a short bit and gave him the okay. I was shooting the 375 H&H and was resting the fore stock on a rolled up coat on the edge of the blind and I had shooting sticks located just in front of the trigger guard which nicely balanced the rifle. The Kudus left the cover of the bush and slowly made their way to the water, ever aware of their surroundings. When they stopped and the one which I wanted to take was broadside, I looked at Darryl and nodded and then moved my head back behind the scope and touched the shot off. Immediately Darryl fired the 25:06 and both Kudus turned and ran into the bush. The PH & I departed the blind and walked to where the Kudu had been standing and there was no sign of a hit?? We followed its trail for a short bit and suddenly we both were amazed at the amount of blood that had sprayed out of this animal. He was found a short distance further on, dead as a door nail. The shocking part came when we arrived back at the Farm and the trackers skinned the Kudu - only one bullet hole and it was small. I had purchased box of Norma Ammunition with 300 grain Swift A-Frame bullets. Well, to say the least, I was extremely mystified at the results of shooting at these two animals. I had shot this firearm before the hunt started and it was dead-on?? I told the Outfitter I would like to go to the Range first thing in the morning to see where the rifle was shooting. We did and it was shooting right on as it was the first day I shot it? The only thing different was at the Range I was shooting off the bench and a bag, whereas in the blind I was utilizing the Shooting Sticks. I decided to not use the shooting sticks anymore. When I arrived home, I went to our range and used the shooting sticks in the exact same spot as over in Namibia (just in front of the trigger guard. The bullet hit just over three feet high!!! My hunting buddy said he saw the rifle jump several inches as the shot went off. I had utilized a large piece of Cardboard in this instance, just in case it was shooting off target. Now, I did not have the rifle I was shooting in Africa, but used my own 375 H&H. Upon moving forward I was somewhat horrified to see the bullet had hit 3’+ on the cardboard. Went back to the bench, same as I had done with the rifle in Namibia and shot it from a rest, without the sticks and it was dead-on. We live and learn. I had previously utilized the shooting sticks to support the butt and everything worked out well - we live and learn!!!
Next day after confirming the Outfitter’s 375 H&H was still right on, I departed for another blind and Darryl went to another farm in search for a large Warthog. After sitting in the blind for an hour or so, I caught movement along the bush line. I focused my Leicia Binos on that point and the clear glass depicted two Impala rams moving towards the waterhole. Soon, they came into the open and I whispered to the Tracker (Lucas) that I would wait until they were relaxed, if an Impala ever relaxed, at the waterhole and drinking. Once they had settled down a bit and started drinking, the large ram presented me with a broadside shot. With the crosshairs on his shoulder I gently squeezed the trigger. At the sound of the shot the ram just collapsed where he had been drinking. I have shot a better trophy Impala ram every year I have been to Namibia and this year was no exception.
We returned to the Farm for lunch and as we approached the skinning shed, we met Darryl and he had been successful in taking the Warthog of his dreams. So it had been a successful morning for both of us and we were looking forward to the afternoon\evening hunt.
Lunch was great and after a short siesta, we were taken to the blind where we had decided to share the afternoon\evening hunt. We got comfortable and soon we had a herd of Blue Wildebeest come sauntering in for a drink. We had plenty of time to check the bulls out and Darryl decided there was not a shooter in the group. A little late we had a couple of Red Hartebeest come in to water. There were other animals which came in to drink, but nothing of interest. Late in the afternoon, Darryl spotted a huge Impala just moving inside the bush-line. It has stopped and was just staring at the waterhole. He seemed to be by himself and was seriously wanting to check the area out before he committed to coming across the open land to drink. We watched him for about 20 minutes and he was like a statue, just standing there. Soon we watched him turn and melt into the bush and the next thing we heard the vehicle coming to pick us up.
Next day was much the same as we had several groups of Blue Wildebeest come in, but no big bull. A couple of days before, when I was there with the Tracker, we did have a large bull come in and he stood around waiting for the small herd to finish watering before moving away with them. Unfortunately, I was not interested in him and that fact may have just contributed to him presenting numerous shot opportunities? That day Darryl scored on a large Black Wildebeest
Near the end of the day, I noticed a couple of Duiker on the fringe of the bush-line and soon they were making their way to the water hole. One was a decent male and the other was his partner. It was extremely interesting to watch them make their way to the water as they utilized every piece of cover to their advantage and studied the open land in front of them, before moving to the next piece of cover. I whispered to Darryl that I was going to take the male. He was about 90 yards away and as I changed my sitting position in order to align the rifle with him, I slowly worked the bolt to get a round in the chamber. Not slow and as quiet as I should have been. He looked our way and took off at incredible speed for the bush-line. After about 40 or so yards, he stopped by a piece of cover, looking as though he had some doubts as to what had scared him? After a couple of minutes he stepped out of the cover and I squeezed the trigger. With the recoil of the 375 H&H, I lost sight of the Duiker, but Darryl had been watching closely. He said, “You missed him and I think you shot under him, as he jumped straight in the air before making a bee-line for the bush-line.” Well, the shot had felt good to me, so I replied, “I think I will check out the area where he was standing when I shot to see if there is any sign of a hit.” We both wandered over to the area and to my dismay there was no blood nor sign of a hit? I could see by his tracks where he had been standing and where he ran to and followed along a short distance. Darryl shouted, “You are wasting your time as I am sure you shot low.” I had gone no more than 40 yards along the trail he had taken and found him lying there expired. I gave Darryl a yell and he joined me. It was a nice Duiker, but not exceptional.
We shared that blind for two more days, and although we had lots of Kudu, Oryx and Blue Wildebeest come in, there was not one of the size, which Darryl wanted. Soon it was time to once again head back home and the end of another great holiday came to a close.