Safari 2012 Journal Entries: Day 7 – Sunday, July 22nd, 2012 (part 1) Big Duiker

by david on August 24, 2012

I get up at 5:30 am to bid Byron and Peter farewell.  They had spent the night in one of the vacant chalets in order to get a closer start to their destination.  They are going to a neighboring property to bird hunt.  They are hoping to take some sand grouse and doves.  I am a rabid wing shooter and I would have liked to tag along and give it a try.  Since my scattergun is a few thousand miles away and I have no shot shells with me, I quickly put any thoughts out of my head and decide to concentrate on the duiker that had been eluding us for the last few days.         

            After we watch the taillights of Byron’s truck disappear into the darkness, I head back to my chalet to grab my rifle and daypack.  On the way back from grabbing my gear, I swing through the lodge and grab a cup of coffee to go, and head to the truck.  Johann is not there yet, so I toss my pack in the back, my rifle in the cab and relax for a few minutes.  It is cold (probably in the mid-30s) and the coffee goes down good.  Add a quick smoke and the morning is getting much better.  In the cold and quiet pre-dawn of the African morning, my mind tends to flutter from one thing to the next in rapid succession.  What if the elephant hunt had worked out?  Would I have been up to the task?  I think so, because my shooting thus far has been perfect.  Boy, bird hunting this morning would have been fun.  Would we get our duiker this morning?  Is anyone at home reading my blog?  How are my wife and children getting along without me?  They probably have fewer headaches without me rather than if I was at home.  Johann startles me and breaks my train of thought.  I guess it is just as well as I was not getting anything accomplished anyway.  We climb into the truck and head toward the riverbed. 

            The grey that precedes the sunrise was upon us as we dropped off into the riverbed.  This is a great time of day to be out anywhere, but Africa is particularly special.  Just being on the Dark Continent is extra special in itself, but I am partial to it because you never know what you are going to see.  The first thing I see is the swish of a gemsbok’s tail as it decides it wants to be elsewhere and heads off for parts unknown.  We see at least one of everything: a kudu bull with several cows, a warthog, several steinbuck, and even a handful of duiker, but none are shooters.  I see and hear lots of birds, but their songs are drowned out by the low rumbling of the diesel motor.  It suddenly dawns on me that I am completely content with my world at the moment.  If I don’t get out of the truck this morning, it is all right with me.  It is enough to be where I am, and hunting with a good friend.

            We started out by crossing the river; we turn left and go a few miles, and then we drop into the riverbed and head back toward the lodge.  As we approach the lodge, I figure the early morning ride is over and it is time for breakfast.  I must have had a funny look on my face when we popped back onto the riverbank but went right past the lodge in the other direction because Johann started laughing.  After he got through snickering at the confused look on my face, Johann tells me we were going down a short ways and then work our way back to the lodge.  This is fine with me, as I am really enjoying the morning.  We only travel about a mile or so before it is back down into the river and we start our search all over again. 

            We do not travel far before the truck eases to a stop and Johann’s binoculars go back to his face.  The words, “this one is really good, let’s go now”, were barely audible as he switched off the truck’s ignition and it gently rolls to a stop.  We exited the truck, my rifle in my hands and the shooting sticks in his; both of us leaving the doors open so as not to make any unnecessary noise.  Now it was a game of move, when the duiker lowered his head to feed, and make like a statue when he was looking around.  We close to around 80 yards and our quarry still shows no signs of alarm.  Just as the shooting sticks go up, the duiker steps behind a tree forcing us to wait until he reappears.  We wait for what seems like minutes and finally decide to take the opportunity to get closer.  We head straight for the tree at a fast walk, closing the distance quickly.  At 40 yards, we set back up and wait for the diminutive antelope to reappear.  Unbeknownst to us, once behind the tree, the rascal had turned and walked straight into the tall grass along the riverbank.  We only figure this out after we wait for about a day and a half (or at least it seems that long) and finally ease around to where we can see behind the tree.  Johann urges me forward on the chance we can spot the duiker in the tall grass and it offers a snapshot.  We ease around for a minute or two and finally decide that, since we had not spooked him, he might stay in the same area offering us another opportunity tonight.  We walk quietly back to the truck and head back the same way we had come.

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