Sunday morning we awoke early...before the sun had time to rise even. We grabbed our quick cups of coffee and ate a bite to tide us over until brunch. Then we headed out in search of the BIG IMPALA.
We ran into a South African Bush Traffic Jam before we made it very far.
We went back over to the ranch we had hunted the afternoon before in hopes that we would run across the big impala again. We never saw him again, but as we were entering the property we saw a very nice Impala grazing in an open area. We made our way around to him and Jim, Arno and I began the stalk.
I really wanted to take the Impala. I had even downloaded a picture of impala to my office computer as my reminder that our trip was quickly approaching. We stalked him for quite some time, trying to stay in the cover so that he wouldn't spot us. Since he was in the open plain with nothing between us and him, we just couldn't move closer.
He finally began to move into the bush, so we walked a wide circle through an old creek bed to come up on him from the side. Jim decided to drop back and sit still while Arno and I went closer. It is hard to get three people through the bush without being seen. Arno and I walked about thirty yards just a few steps at a time and then freezing in place so that we didn't spook the young male that was feeding near our trophy.
I was finally able to put my gun up on the sticks when this horrible 'growling' noise came booming from the other side of the road. I thought a lion or something was about to eat me...but that was nothing compared to how Jim felt. He was still hiding behind a grove of trees - alone and without a gun!
It wasn't a lion or a tiger, thank goodness. It was our Impala and another large male warning each other where their territories met! The young male kept staring us down. He couldn't see us clearly so he just kept staring. Now, I had my gun up and was looking down the scope when Arno whisphers, "whatever you do, don't move!" I stood stock still for so long that my muscles began to cramp and my eyes were dry from staring down the scope in my contact lenses.
For what seemed like an eternity, I watched 'my Impala' zig zag behind a large growth of acacia bushes. His rear end would be out, then his head, then he would have his back to us, then he would turn and I would almost have a shot before he headed back behind a limb. My heart was racing like a jet engine...but he never did present me with a shot. He finally ran over to try and chase off the other impala, so we hurried to our new position...but wouldn't you know it, his young buddy caught scent of us and off they ran like a bullet!
We met back up with Jim, who swore he was never sitting in the bush without his gun again!
Long story short, I was exhausted by the time we made our way back to the truck. I had every intention of just resting up for the remainder of the hunt, but while chasing down a kudu, Jim and Arno ran across another impala. They called to Simon, our tracker, and told him to send me with my gun.
This one was frolicking along the bank of a watering hole. Love was in the air for impala and this one was enjoying kicking up his heels. He didn't give me a shot at the watering hole with all his playfulness, but out on the trail I managed to squeeze one off. But I MISSED! As in completely MISSED!! It was my first time to shoot off of sticks, so I blame that...but I think I was just so tired from the first stalk that my muscles weren't working too well by that point.
It was time to head back to camp for brunch and a quick nap! I needed one, that is for sure!
That afternoon we stumbled upon a herd of blue wildebeest. After traversing through briars and thorns the size of a sewing needle and crawling on our hands and knees for a quarter mile (both of us in shorts!), they got away. We thought we were tired, but our companion looked exhausted!
I was still pinching myself to see if this whole adventure were real. I never dreamed that I, Fonda Goode - small town girl from Arkansas, would one day watch giraffes walking across the plains of Africa at sunset.