Hunting > African Game

Safari Days (Page 2)

Slip into the Kalahari’s red hills and you’ll meander into kudu, springbok, blesbok, gemsbok, zebra, wildebeest and so much more.

We stalked the herd several times, which took the better half of the morning. The rangefinder pinned the "shooter" at 300 yards, but he was on the move. This time I was using the .375 Ruger, which, despite the heavy bullet, performed admirably at 340 yards. An initial "green score" put the animal high in SCI's Record Book of Trophy Animals.

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The final jaunt in the Land Rover was a five-hour drive to the Khomas for Hartmann's zebra and greater southern kudu. The climactic hunt of these large animals was just the way to conclude our trip.

When I'd told folks at home I was hunting zebra, their response was, "That's like shooting a horse." Well, I have hunted zebra and it's nothing like shooting a horse. In fact, my mountain zebra stalk was one of the most difficult of all. These animals are swift and can get well out of range and into places you can't. Moreover, they are hard to find and camouflage well in the brush. It's astonishing that those stripes work so well in the natural world.

I loaded the "big gun." The zebra were grazing at the top of the mountain, but by the time we got there they had disappeared. Sakmin indicated they'd known our position and were now two peaks over to the north. "You have got to be kidding me!" I said. We went as fast as we could toward them. The mountain crossing was difficult and I had to wonder how my scope would hold up to the beating.

Near the top, we saw them in the brush. I placed the crosshairs behind the stallion's shoulder and squeezed. He reared, staggered slightly and fell 20 yards from where he'd stood. From our vantage point, it looked as if he went down in the bush.

Now the work would begin. We climbed the road in the rugged Toyota pickup. Sakmin and the skinners started cheering when we realized the zebra had died right in the middle of the dirt road. This was a relief as Johan estimated the animal weighed more than 750 pounds.

Our final hunt was for the coveted kudu bull. Its majestic deep-spiral horns are synonymous with African safari. Kudu hunting is similar to deer hunting in that one day they are everywhere, then the next day you can't find one. The first day we hunted kudu we saw only cows and calves, making it easier for me to remember the Afrikaans word for cow. Where were the bulls? The mountains of Namibia are covered with brush and mesquite—like trees that can hide a large Kudu even at close range. We ended the day with Mark shooting the only mature bull we encountered.

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With two days left, I still needed a kudu and Mark needed a zebra to complete our hunt package. As we glassed the hilltops, I began to realize the trip was coming to an end and how much I would miss this place. As a hunter, it had been perhaps the greatest experience of my life. I perked up when Sakmin said, "Big bull!"

Johan pointed out the location at 250 yards as I glassed him with my binocular. The bull was certainly impressive, appearing like a painted mural in my field of view. It was a textbook scenario as he stood broadside. I fired and ended my safari with a massive, 57-inch kudu. By dusk, we had seen seven quality bulls. Mark opted out on his zebra and instead shot a second mature kudu bull.

By the end of our 10-day, nine-animal hunt, I had taken a total of 12 animals and Mark had taken 15, providing plenty of additional springbok backstraps for the kitchen. I shot four animals with the Ruger .375 and eight with my T/C Pro Hunter in .30-06. All our animals made the minimums for the SCI and Namibia record books, exhibiting how Johan and the Kalahari Hunting Safari staff know the quality of animals on their various properties. We hunted more than 100,000 acres in total and the only high fence we saw was at the airport.

It certainly is true that Africa has an overpowering effect on a hunter's state of mind. Hunting there is addictive, and if there's a rehab for it, I refuse to go. I was obsessed planning for this trip and, now that I've returned, I'm more obsessed with going back. What's more, the trip is affordable and uncomplicated. The next time you're thinking of booking a hunt, contact the T. Jeffrey Safari Company. You'll make a trip of a lifetime without busting your wallet. 

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