Safari 2012 Journal Entries: Day Three – Wednesday, July 18th, 2012 (part 2) Gemsbok & Duiker

by david on August 7, 2012

After lunch and the video, I am feeling a little funny.  Even though it is 80 something degrees outside, I am cold.  I decide to go lie down for a while and pile on the covers.  I am unable to sleep and lay shivering under three blankets. 

            The alarm goes off at 3:00 pm, although it is completely unnecessary for it to do so.  I am wide-awake.  Three o’clock in the afternoon is the time when the animals start to move around again after taking shelter from the midday heat.  Johann told me he has been seeing some good duiker around and asks me if I am interested in taking one.  A duiker would be my second member of the African “Tiny Ten” small antelope slam, so I am very interested in taking one.  It was not on my radar or in my budget for this trip, but, since I have blown the budget all to pieces with an elephant anyway, what the heck.   

            We decide to head to a new waterhole that had been constructed in the last year or so.  The water hole is in near a bend of the non-perennial  (meaning it has water in the rainy season) Huab River and has tall mountains on the opposite side.  It is sort of a natural funnel for anything coming down the mountains or traveling the riverbed looking for water.  It would be an easy stalk (only about a kilometer) for me since I wasn’t feeling well.  As we eased our way up the side of the mountain to an elevated spotting location, we stumbled across a very old gemsbok.  Johann asked if I wanted to take him as a management gemsbok.  I should have said “yes” on the spot, but in my fever-clouded brain, I could only think about spooking the duiker that could be around the next bend. 

            If you are asking what a management gemsbok is, I’ll try to explain.  Johann manages his property very scientifically and methodically when it comes to game.  His property is small in relative African terms at only 16,000 acres.  He figures the carrying population for his land and the number of trophies he allows to be taken.  If the number of trophies taken does not reduce the population to a safe, sustainable population, he offers his hunters a management animal (this manages the population), to further reduce the population.  The price covers the cost of meat processing and the hunter gets to keep none of the trophy.  It is an inexpensive way to get more hunting bang for your buck, so to speak.  To qualify to be a management animal, one or more of the following requirements must be met.  The reasons are age, poor overall health, if the animal is wounded, if a female is barren, if horns are broken, or there is mature but inferior horn quality (genetic) or some kind of malformation.  In other words, he wants to give the best specimens the best chance to survive and reproduce.

            We eased on towards the water hole and got settled into our elevated vantage post.  There was enough brush in front of us that the animals would have a very tough time spotting us unless we made noise or moved quickly.  After getting settled in, we start glassing the game milling around the water.  There is a VERY nice kudu that Johann thinks will go at least 53 inches.  I am tempted to take it, but it is not that much better than the one I already have.  At this point, I am content to just watch it walk around showing off its magnificent head gear.  And so it goes that we are treated to a parade of animals coming to the water, quenching their thirst, and returning back the way they came. 

            As the sun sets, we decide to ride the riverbed to perhaps catch a duiker out in the open.  We see a few, but none are shooters.  We see steenbok, gemsbok, and more kudu.  If I had to hazard a guess, we saw between 40-60 animals in the five-kilometer (3-mile) drive through the river bed.  The more we ride, the worse I feel.  Just as we get back to the lodge, Johann’s phone rings and it is Jan.  The tribal chief now wants double what we agreed upon to hunt the elephant.  What else can go wrong this evening?  It is now about 6:30 and I excuse myself to go to bed.  I can’t wrap my head around the fact that I felt great this morning when I got up.  I had fun at the shooting range this morning and had a good lunch, but now I feel like warmed-over horse hockey.  It dawns on me just how bad I feel when I realize I have forgotten all about my sundowners and the wonderful meal I know is waiting.  Damn, it sucks to be sick on vacation. 


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