Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Hunt We Will Never Forget

Friday, May 20

Our last hunting day in South Africa came with a cold blast of winter temperatures.  Since the zebra had more than cooperated with us on Thursday, today we were heading back to the mountain in search of a Red Hartebeest.

Do you remember me telling you back during Wednesday's Kudu hunt that there were Red Hartebeest everywhere on the mountain?  Yeah, well that was Wednesday!

We arrived before daybreak, but didn't get to watch the sun come up.
It was so cold and cloudy that you couldn't even see the top of the mountain from our Lookout place.

Despite the low visibility, Arno glassed and glassed.  We couldn't see anything moving anywhere!

After hiking all around the mountain in search of those Red Hartebeest that were literally everywhere on Wednesday, the guys finally decided to just go drive in hopes of bumping into some.

So, we drove...and drove.  But I rode in the truck with Simon because it was COLD out there, y'all!!!

Finally, a sighting!  The guys unloaded from the back of the truck, glassed to see if a trophy was in the group but couldn't tell for sure, so off they went.
Arno, Jimmy and Jim - the Three Amigos.  They took off into the Bush at the right in search of Red Hartebeest.

They were not gone five minutes when Simon motioned for me to look off to the right.
Do you see him?  Remember how on Wednesday we saw all those Hartebeest but no Kudu? 
Well, this Kudu walked right up on me and stared me down while the guys were out looking for Hartebeest.  I told y'all that the Ostrich is a snitch!  Come looking for Kudu and you only see Hartebeest...come looking for Hartebeest and you only see Kudu!

About five more minutes went by when I looked down the road and saw the guys.  No Hartebeest found in the first place so they were off to try another.
This went on for hours!  A glimpse of a Hartebeest and off they would go, only to be calling for a pick up a little later.
At first, Bullet was anxious for some action.  But after about the fourth time the guys left and came back, Bullet looked like this.
Bored!  Poor thing!

Well, things really picked up around 10:30 or 11 when they stalked up on a small herd of Hartebeest with a monster standing in their midst.  I was still in the truck.  It was still COLD!  And I was ready to head in for some brunch when we heard the shot.  But unlike Jim's other shots, there was not a call on the radio to come pick them up. 

Time passed...another shot...and finally a call. But not to come pick up an animal.  It was a call to bring the dog!

While Simon carried Bullet to Arno and Jim, Jimmy and I set off to try and get ahead of the Hartebeest.  Apparently the Hartebeest doesn't know when it has been hit and can run FOREVER!  We were half running to make it to the bottom of a ridge where Jimmy predicted he would cross. 

Meanwhile, Bullet began barking...and running.  At times we could barely hear him from where we were.  According to Jim, Arno would let Bullet go and Bullet would follow the blood, barking until he caught up to the animal.  At that point, Arno and Jim would flat out run trying to make it to the dog as quickly as possible so that he didn't get hurt.  The Hartebeest would run away from the dog...and it would start all over again. 

Jimmy climbed a Lookout Tree to see if he could spot the Hartebeest  so that we could cut it off.  But no luck!  We were on our way up the ridge when we heard Bullet behind us.  We ran back down...well, as close to running as I could do at that point. 

All of a sudden the Hartebeest was standing in front of me.  I threw up and shot free handed...grazing him.  He turned tail and RAN!  So, Jimmy grabbed by rifle and took a shot...slowing him down but not stopping him.  We caught the dog and tracked him to a thicket where he was laying under a big bush.  I threw up again and SNAP!  I was out of ammo!  By the time I reloaded, the Hartebeest had taken off again and we could see Jim and Arno ahead of us.  One more shot from Jim's gun and he was DOWN!
I love this picture!  It is the sheer pleasure of finally getting the trophy that he had worked very hard for!  By now it was about 1 p.m and he was exhausted...but elated! 
Bullet had to make sure that the Hartebeest was not going anywhere.
Once he was satisfied that no more chasing would be required...he crashed in the grass...and drank a litre of water!  Jim was offering to buy him a T-bone steak!
It truly took 'a village' to take this beautiful animal.  He is a true trophy in every sense of the word.  (At least that is what they tell me.  See how his horns touch in the middle of his head?)

From left to right: Trackers Lawrence and Simon, Jimmy, Arno, Jim and myself.

We made it back to the house for a late lunch around 2:30 or 3.  We normally left for the afternoon hunts around 3:30...but Jim walked up to the patio and announced, "I'm done!"  Our hunting time had come to a close.  And this is the last dead animal you will have to look at!

Stay tuned though...there are more pictures to come of the beautiful places we toured during our Kruger Park visit!


Robin said...

enjoying all your post and pictures

Tammy said...

so how many new heads are going to be mounted in your house!? Congrats to Mr. Jim!

Anonymous said...

How much did you get to bring back with you? Just heads or some of the meat? Where are you going to put the heads of those big animals? It must have been a wonderful lifetime experience. Congratulations to both of you. Aunt Fran