The Call of the Dark Continent Resumes
It was so nice to see the smiling face of the Outfitter, as we passed through the doors of the Customs\Baggage Area, into the common waiting area. This time I was returning to Namibia with long-time friend Darryl Motley. Darryl and I had become good friends when I lived next to him in Czar, Alberta during my Military Service at Canadian Forces Base Wainwright and the friendship had remained strong over the next 30 years. I have the good fortune to be able to visit Darryl every Fall to hunt Whitetail and Mule Deer on his Farm.
Well, what seems to be a continual curse placed upon my travels, once again our baggage did not make our final flight from Munich, Germany down to Windhoek. So, after filling out the necessary documentation concerning the lost luggage, we began the six (6) hour drive to Gerrit’s Farm. The drive was uneventful and upon arrival, we headed to bed for the night. The accommodations at his Farm are very comfortable and soon I was finished counting sheep and off in Dreamland. It seemed I had just closed my eyes, when there was a resounding knock at my door. Wake up call does come early and soon we were enjoying a lovely home-made breakfast prepared by Gerrit’s lovely wife Makki.
Breakfast completed and Gerrit brought out a couple of rifles Darryl could use, until his luggage was located and retrieved. Darryl had purchased a Fierce Edge in 33 Nosler especially for this trip and was indeed disappointed when his rifles did not arrive on our flight. I had made arrangements to use Gerrit’s Winchester Model 70 Safari Grade in 375 H&H. I had used this same rifle in Zimbabwe several years previously to take both a nice large-bossed Cape Buffalo and a Chobe Bushbuck, so knew the rifle fairly well. I had loaded some Swift A-Frame 270 grain bullets and was eager to see how they worked on this trip. Unfortunately at the time of this writing, my luggage is off on a Holiday of its own - smile. Hence I was going to use 300 grain Federal Cartridge soft points.
This hunt was organized around the animals Darryl wanted to take, as this was his first African Safari and my fifth trip to the Dark Continent. Darryl had wanted, as his number one choice, the Kudu and the Plains Zebra, as the number two animal on his list. After sighting in the rifles we headed out and soon found a small herd of Zebra feeding in some sparsely treed fields. We were unable to stalk within close proximity of the stallion, but Darryl was able to get a shot at 250 yards. Unfortunately, using a rifle he was not used to and shooting off the Sticks, he missed the shot. Darryl is a dedicated shooter and takes pride in his ability with the rifle. He decided to wait for his rifles to arrive before attempting to hunt once more. He is always determined to make clean, one-shot kills and felt bad about this shot, although it appeared to be a clean miss.
Two days later word came that his baggage had been found and delivered to Windhoek. The unfortunate part was the Namibian Police had to inspect the firearms before releasing them to Darryl, so they decided to drive to Windhoek to retrieve the rifles and then be able to start hunting. This was going to take a full day, another one from the ten day hunt. The other PH was busy with another hunter, also trying to get a Zebra, so I went to a blind over a waterhole to sit for the day. We parked the vehicle, well removed from the blind area and hidden in the thick brush and walked the ½ mile or so to the blind. Gerrit has his blinds well placed and camouflaged from any animals utilizing the waterhole. We sat down on the chairs and I set up my rifle. If anyone read my article on the Nyala I shot in South Africa in the KwaZulu-Natal area, I utilized a solid rest for the rifle’s fore-stock on the front of the blind and I used the shooting sticks farther back to make the firearm “rock-steady.” The shooting sticks are adjustable. Now I was able to relax in the blind, as the 375 H&H was resting and the cross-hairs of the scope were on the cement water trough.
We had been in the blind no longer than 15 minutes, when I noticed movement off to my right. I leaned over to my left and gentle touched the tracker’s leg and slowly raised my hand to point in the direction of the movement. Soon three nice looking Impala rams were walking to the water trough. They were completely oblivious to our presence, as we were located 110 yards from the trough. I had ranged the distance with my trusty Leica Binos\Rangefinder. Two of them were sparing, while the large of the bunch seemed to want nothing to do with that “childish” stuff. None were shooters, so we sat there watching them get their fill of daily water. Once they seemed satisfied at having enough water, they ambled off into the bush, never to be seen again. A couple of minutes passed and a female Warthog and three young appeared from the left and soon they too departed into the bush with their fill of water. After about twenty minutes, I once again caught movement, but this time from my left. Two nice Blue Wildebeest bulls were approaching. This seemed strange as they usually travel in large herds? One was definitely a shooter, as his horns were outside his outstretched ears. I let them settle at the trough to drink and once their heads were down, I slowly moved to the rifle and when I pulled it in to my shoulder, felt the fore-stock slide off the support pole of the blind and the barrel gently hit the pole. I knew this would cause the shot to go high, but being this close I did not think it would matter. How wrong I was, as at the sound of the shot the larger one looked up and took three or four steps to my right. What, a complete miss at that short range?? I didn’t dwell on the first shot, as we North American Hunters are known to want to admire our first shot and that can just provide enough time for the animal to escape. I was a bit used to hunting here and I quickly racked another round into the chamber and holding the rifle fee-hand, placed the cross-hairs once again just behind the shoulder and squeezed the trigger. At the sound of this second shot, the Blue Wildebeest folded in place and when I looked over at the tracker, he had a huge smile on his face, as this meant food for his family. We went to the animal and took some pics and then he was off to get the truck, drive back to the Farm and retrieve some additional help to get the Wildebeest loaded into the truck and back to the Farm for butchering.
I waited for the Tracker at the Blind and within 20 minutes, he was sitting beside me once again. After about 30 minutes, more movement to my left. Boy, this was a busy spot!! Two Impala rams came in, with the smaller one reaching the trough first and the larger one standing back in the bush. They seemed nervous and soon the smaller one looked up and ran at top speed into the heavy brush. I figured they would be back, as the larger one had not had any water. Another 10 – 15 minutes passed and they reappeared once more. This time they both came in to the trough. I had made the necessary correction to the rifle’s position and this time when I leaned over it was rock-steady and the cross-hairs were just behind the shoulder. Slowly, I depressed the trigger and at the shot he collapsed in his tracks. I had taken an Impala during one of my previous trips, but this fellow was so much bigger.
Over the next several days I looked for a nice Steenbok ram. We would usually find them feeding early morning or at sunset in the harvested fields. At the first sign of danger, they will run to the cover at a very fast clip. Near the end of the 10 day hunt, we spotted one in the center of a field about 150 yards from the fence-line. We made a stalk to hear where he was last seen and to our surprise, he had moved toward the cover growing along the fence-line. The PH quickly set up the shooting sticks and whispered, “Hurry up.” I placed the fore-stock of the 375 H&H on the rest and took the safety off and was in the middle of squeezing the trigger, when I heard him say, “Wait.” The pull was too far gone and the 300 grain Nosler Solid was on its way. At the sound of the PH’s voice the Steenbok turned to see what had caused the noise. Everything happened so fast and the Steenbok was facing and not broadside when the trigger broke. The Solid should have passed through his shoulders, but instead with this new position, it hit him in the point of the lower jaw and exited his right hip. “Nice shot.” Is all I heard from the PH. He went to retrieve the vehicle, while I went to retrieve the Steenbok. While walking toward him, I thought I had made a good broadside shot, but as I got closer, I could see the face looked weird. Once beside the animal I could see the bottom jaw was almost disintegrated. I picked him up and saw the large exit would also. The PH was not too happy with the outcome, but the top of the skull was intact and it was an old ram.
My Hunting Partner was extremely busy securing all the trophies he was after, as the pics below attest. He was using a Fierce in 33 Nosler, which suited his needs to a “T”.