Safari 2012 Journal Entries: Day 11 – Thursday, July 26th, 2012 (Osonjiva part 5)

by david on September 20, 2012

We finally change tactics and give something new a try.  When the intersection in front of us is clear, we ease the truck up to the edge and stop before it can be seen from either the right or left.  We exit the truck and slowly creep to the edge of the veld and glass as best we can without exposing ourselves to anything that may be in the blocks on either side of us.  This finally allows us to spot a few waterbuck bulls.  Next, we turn the truck around and drive back a half mile or so and hike diagonally through the veld to we get close enough to glass the bull and see if he is worth stalking.  This has its good points and its bad points.  The bad point is the bulls have more than likely moved into the veld from where we spotted them in the open.  This translates to us running the risk of bumping into them on our cross-block bush hike, or they are in some other block altogether.  The good point is that we are left with a short stalk if the animals are in the same location we spotted them in.  The new strategy works better than our first attempts of earlier in the day, but we walk considerable distances only to find the waterbuck we had spotted from a mile away were cows and young bulls not worth stalking. 

            Shortly before lunch, our old nemesis Mr. Wind comes howling back into the picture.  It is not only blowing hard, it is constantly changing directions and stirring up the dust.  At least the animals now have a legitimate reason to be jumpy.  The thought crosses my mind that they can’t get any more jumpy than they have been all morning, right?  Wrong.  The wind makes all of the animals (not just the waterbuck) more jumpy than a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs.  A sudden gust of wind form the opposite direction is enough to make them run a short ways before looking back and discovering nothing has actually been chasing them.  If I were not hunting, it would have been comical to watch them jumping and running from unseen and imagined foes. 

            I guess, in all fairness, I should explain why the wind screws with the animals and makes them so jumpy.  It, plain and simple, takes away all of their defense mechanisms.  Animals will always use a breeze to their advantage, bringing them the scent of anything dangerous.  When the wind is swirling they can still smell, but not from long ways off and not from any constant direction.  The wind also cuts down on their visual acuity.  Plains game can see in the open for long distances, but in tighter quarters they rely on movement for signs of danger.  With the wind swirling and blowing stiffly, it keeps all of the brush and trees in a constant state of movement, and there goes the animal’s ability to pick up the motion of a threat.  The last thing a howling wind takes away is the animal’s hearing.  If you have ever been outside on a windy day you know how the wind can roar in your ears, making it difficult to carry on a conversation with someone right beside you.  The animal’s ears which can normally pick up sounds of danger from dozens or yards away are now virtually useless along with their vision and sense of smell.  I guess I would be jumpy too. 

            The removal of the animal’s defenses might sound like a good thing for the hunter, but I can assure you it is not.  As I mentioned earlier, they jump at everything.  I have seen them jump at a bird taking flight because it could mean a predator is near.  If one of their own herd steps on a stick and it breaks, the group will scatter in umpteen different directions.  It is not a good situation for a spot-and-stalk hunter.

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