The 48-Hour Safari: Wild Beest Encounter

By John Zent, Editorial Director

After breakfast, Drew and I parted company; he was hunting with PH Naude Alberds, while I again teamed with Jamy. Into a colorful African sunrise, we headed out ready to hunt whatever we happened upon.

My partner didn’t have to wait long for his adventure to begin. Though Eden edges up to the Kalahari Desert, the foliage was surprisingly lush on the heels of a very rainy summer, and while Drew and Naude had no trouble spotting kudu and impala, getting an open shot was another matter. 

They persisted in sneaking along a two-track hoping to relocate their quarry when suddenly a blue wildebeest bull stepped into the open lane just yards away and headed directly toward them. 

“Naude immediately put his fingers in his ears,” Drew said later. “That told me all I needed to know—shoot! That close, a wildebeest can be pretty dangerous, so I hit him almost straight-on at 15 yards and dropped him in his tracks. It happened just that fast.

“It was a great test and the new bullet did just what it should. Even at maximum impact velocity it held together and penetrated all the way through to the rear of the ribcage. My first African animalvery exciting, very unpredictable!”

That Bites!
Meanwhile, Jamy and I got started by stalking what may prove to be my best impala ram to date, then worked our way into a wide omorongo, a dry riverbed, grown thick in waist-high shrubs. We were hoping to intercept a rutting kudu bull, but instead spotted a gang of warthogs feeding through the cover, including one major-league tusker. A brisk wind masked our scent and sound, and we were able to move forward whenever the pigs were screened by the cover.
Warthog Finally the big guy stepped clear to give me a 75-yard shot. The shot felt and looked good, but the tusker vanished in the brush and though we searched and searched some more, the only clues were random tracks, no sign of any blood.

I started kicking myself for messing up what should have been a gimmee, when Jamy nearly tripped over the quite-dead boar hog.

That was a relief, but at the same time my PH also discovered another critter, in fact a poisonous caterpillar biting his arm. Past encounters with these two-inch-long, hairy yellow devils had been frightening, causing an allergic reaction marked by nausea and swelling.  Already Jamy’s arm was throbbing, so we loaded the warthog quickly, and headed back in to get him some medicine.

In Africa, even on a hunt for non-dangerous game, there can be some risk.  But a caterpillar bite!? Unpredictable is right.

Opportunists
Gemsbok was high on Drew’s wish list, and with a bit of searching he and Naude found some of the handsome, spike-horned antelope feeding through acacia brush. The hunters were doing their best to parallel the herd’s movement, hoping to catch them crossing an open lane where they could see if a good bull was present.

Abruptly the PH turned from his binos and gestured: A large bull was skulking through the tangle, but instead of spikes, this fellow sported thick, coiled horns: kudu!

Cautiously Drew and Naude followed, and the bull led them to an opening where two more kudu bulls lingered in the thick edge cover. It took several heart-pounding minutes for the PH to pick out the best among them, and when he did Drew was presented a raking, angling-away shot. Boom! At that hard angle, lots of bullet penetration would be needed. 

And as it turned out, that was exactly what Drew’s Federal load delivered. The bull lay dead about 50 yards away. 

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