Safari 2012 Journal Entries: Day 7 – Sunday, July 22nd, 2012 (part 2) Big Duiker

by david on August 27, 2012


For the first time in many days, I was actually hungry, starving as a matter of fact.  I wanted a big breakfast.  As I work on my second, third, and fourth cup of coffee, the aromas coming from the kitchen are killing me.  First it is the bacon frying, then I smell onions sautéing, and, finally, I smell potatoes frying and bread toasting.  When breakfast finally appears, there is a large mound of bacon, a bowl of fried potatoes, a bowl of sautéed mushrooms and onions, a stack of toast, and a plate of fried hen fruit (eggs for you non-southerners).  A large plate with a heaping pile of all of the above with a fifth cup of coffee and I am good to go.  I am ravenous.  Everything titillates my taste buds beyond all rational expectations and I thoroughly enjoy the meal.  As I finally slow down my eating to the point we can carry on a conversation. we start to plan the rest of the day.  After breakfast, I will take some time to catch up on journal entries and hopefully be able to post some entries to my blog.  At the very least, I will be able to catch up on my e-mail correspondence.  After lunch and a short siesta, we will head out to try and find a management gemsbok and at last light look for Mr. Duiker.


            Working goes as well as any work can go and it is soon lunchtime.  I am glad lunch is on the light side as I am still full from breakfast.  I am told not to worry as we will be burning calories at a pretty good clip this afternoon.  With that little piece of information noted, I decided to head back to my chalet and take a nap.


            I don’t care what I am getting ready to do; I have never been happy about an alarm going off.  This afternoon is no exception and I feel like flinging it across the room.  No time for that.  We are hunting gemsbok and I do not want to be late.  Once again, “the game is afoot”.


            This afternoon we try a little different tactic.  We drive as far up a koppie as we can.  When we can drive no further, we hike to an observation spot.  The view is phenomenal and we can see miles of bushveld in a panoramic view.  I simply enjoy the view while Willie and Johann glass for gemsbok and they spot several groups.  All we have to do now is decide which one to go after.  The gemsbok have been a little leery of the truck so we decide to wear out some shoe leather after we get to the bottom of the koppie.  We start out a considerable distance from a waterhole and are going to approach several groups on foot as we make our way to the water.  Our reasoning is, if we approach quietly, we will have more time to glass and hopefully find the right animal.  The plan is a reasonable one and I am always happy to be out walking and looking for game.   


We approach and glass group after group, but still no management animal, and soon we were approaching the last group.  After a few minutes glassing the last group, Johann was forced to call no joy as all the animals were young and healthy.  If we were to be in the riverbed in time to ambush the duiker, there was not enough time to find another herd of gemsbok so Johann offered a plan “B” for the afternoon.  His proposal was simple enough.   I want to stalk as close to the animals as possible and he wants Willie to get some practice leading a hunter on a stalk.  Why not let Willie lead me on an attempt to stalk up to this herd of gemsbok?  It sounded like fun to me, so plan “B” it will be.


  Once again, it is up to apprentice PH Willie Isle to get me into position to shoot.  The stalk would be identical to a regular hunting stalk, ending up with me on the sticks looking at an animal through my scope.  The only difference was I would say “BANG” instead of pulling the trigger.  We follow the herd for a considerable distance as they amble about, grazing as they went.  We would gain a little and then have to wait for a straggler to catch up before could continue to catch up.  We play this game for about 45 minutes until we are across a 200-yard stretch of open ground with nothing between them and us but knee high grass.  We are about to give up when we notice that all heads are down and the whole herd is feeding and unaware of our presence.  There is a single tree some 200 yards distant that will provide some cover if we can get there unnoticed.  Johann and Willie are skeptical that we can make it, but I decide to try it.  After all, if they bust us we have not lost anything since this is only a practice run.  “The heck with it” are the last words out of my mouth as I decide to give it try despite the odds.  Johann, Willie and I take off at a fast walk and we cross the open spot with all possible haste.  Somehow, probably because this is only a pretend hunt, we cover the distance and end up tucked in close to the tree unnoticed by the 30 or so gemsbok feeding only 15-20 yards away.


“Holy catfish, Batman”, we are close.  This is so cool that I can’t believe it.  I could hit one of these critters with a rock if I chose to do so.  I have never been able to stalk up to anything this close before.  Willie is picking out the best gemsbok for me to go “bang” at, and as luck would have, it he is directly behind the tree from us.  We are too close for anyone to speak, so everything is communicated by hand signals.  Willie reaches around the tree and sets up the sticks.  I get into position and when the signal is given; I step out from behind the tree, cradle the rifle on the shooting sticks, find the gemsbok in my scope, put the crosshairs on the sweet spot and say “BANG” 


What happens next is comical.  Thirty or so heads pop up and look straight at me.  I swear that their eyes double in size just like a startled cartoon character form the Saturday morning TV shows.  Funnier yet nothing moves, neither the gemsbok nor the hunters.  We just stand there staring at each other.  Johann finally mumbles something about wishing he had a camera.  I reach down unclip my iPhone and hand it to him so he can take a few pictures.  It is not until he hands me the phone back that one of the gemsbok decides it has had enough of this most unusual situation and leaves our little impromptu gathering with all possible haste.  It takes about half a second for the others to follow and we watch them disappear in a cloud of dust. 


The first words spoken (I don’t remember by whom) were: “Damn, that was cool”!  In fact, it was pretty damn cool.  We had beaten 30+ pairs of eyes and done the all but impossible.  Sneaking in that close did not seem conceivable, but the three of us had done it.  Even though no shot was taken or trophy harvested, this will rank as one of my all-time favorite adventures.

A Suprsed group of gemsbok.

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