After taking Tuesday afternoon off from hunting, Jim and I were both ready to get back to it on Thursday morning.
We awoke a little earlier as we had a litter further to travel for this hunt. We were going up into the Soutpansberg (Salt Pan Mountains) for a Kudu hunt.
No trophy kudu were spotted from the top of the 'hill', so we took a drive along the side of the mountain. It seems that the 'Gray Ghosts' (as kudu are often referred to) like the hills. As we drove we saw some very large red hartebeest, but Jim was on a mission for a kudu this morning and was not remotely interested in the hartebeest.
We stopped along a trail and the three guys took off up the side of the mountain. Now mind you, Arno and Jimmy are in their twenties and early thirties respectively. Add to that they are used to walking along hillsides and it turned into a tough morning for Jim! They walked and walked, until they came across a very large kudu bull. The stalk was on!
Meanwhile, I was sitting in the truck...watching a whole herd of red hartebeest and several kudu stare me down from about 150 yards away! I'm just saying, you never know where you will find these animals!
It wasn't long before we heard the shot ringing off the side of the mountain. Then came the call on the radio...bring the camera and the wife. It is time to take some pictures. So, off I went following Simon up the side of a mountain...swearing that my heart was going to burst if we didn't slow down! Once we made it over the first ridge things got much better and I could semi-breathe again. (Grin!)
We found the guys and Jim's kudu was laying up in some heavy brush.
Since we were hunting a little piece from the Lodge, they took the kudu down to the land owner's house to clean the animal. And since we will be having this one mounted, Arno stayed behind to make sure that it was prepared properly for the shoulder mount we hope to have around Christmas.
While they were busy with the kudu, Jimmy took me out in search of my elusive impala.
Just because I don't like talking about it, the day went something like this:
1. Spot impala.
2. Stalk impala.
3. Get near impala.
4. Decide to go around the other side and get closer to impala.
5. Have 40 or 50 guineafowl fly up in front of you and land with the impala which are 20 yards away.
Yeah, I really don't like guineafowl now! If I would have had a shotgun, I would have tried to take them all out!
6. Load back up in the truck.
7. Spot new impala.
8. Track new impala.
9. Watch new impala in the shade.
10. Shot at new impala at the same time that he decides to dart to the right.
11. Make a less than perfect shot and miss impala.
12. Back to square one!
So, we decided to break for lunch (by now it was nearing 2 pm and we hadn't eaten since 5 in the morning. Jimmy's wife made us a lovely quick lunch and allowed me (the only girl in this hunting party) time in the rest room to freshen up. (Why is it that only women think about that kind of thing?)
For the late afternoon I had two guides to help me out. Arno and Jimmy were hot on the trail of a beautiful impala and I was running to try and keep up. Did I already mention that we were on the side of a mountain? And they are younger? And I am not used to hiking the side of a mountain? I think I had my gun on the sticks at least 10 or 15 times without taking a shot.
The first time I threw up, Jimmy was holding the sticks and Arno had the video recorder getting ready to tape when the impala made that 'blow, blow, guttural roar' sound. I jumped like I had been shot...but so did both of my guides...so I didn't feel too bad!
This impala blew at us and blew at us as we tracked him through the bush. I finally got a shot...and off he ran like the wind! I missed again?
That is sure what it looked like for a long while. Jimmy and I headed down the side of the hill to try and get ahead of him in case he crossed the road while Arno tracked him through the bush. And then the call came, they had found blood. Time to call Bullet into action.
Next thing I knew all I could hear was Bullet barking like crazy. When I arrived on the scene (out of breath again) all I could see was my impala with his head down going around and around in circles as he tried to keep Bullet away from him. Meanwhile Bullet is running back and forth between his legs and in circles. We knew that the impala was not going far, but needed to be put out of his misery...so my second shot and he was done.
My BEAUTIFUL, long awaited impala and my lion-hearted hunting companion, Bullet, who made it all possible. I truly think Jim was more excited for me than for any of his trophies. He knew that I was getting very frustrated and wanted to just give up. I almost did, and then I reminded myself that this was a once in a lifetime opportunity and that I would regret it forever if I just quit trying. I had never missed an animal before this trip, and only had to track two in my life...but boy, was this moment worth it all! I can't wait for him to be mounted on the pedestal with Jim's Blesbuck. They are going in my office, that is for sure!!!
Oh, and that 'once in a lifetime' trip that had been cut down to five years on our first night had now become, 'can we come back next year?'!!! Africa calls, people. Don't go there unless you plan to fall in love with it!