Safari, Namibia 2016: Next Link In The Chain. Blog #5 “Old and Blue”

by david on April 10, 2017

Up at 5:00 and breakfast at 5:30. My favorite granola cereal and warm milk were waiting for me at the breakfast table. Try as I might, I can’t find it’s like anywhere back home in the US. I always should not, but always do, have two bowls the first chance I get when I get to camp. Today was no exception. The cereal and a few cups of coffee had me revved up and raring to go. A tumbler of coffee to go — and we headed to the truck. Johann, Ben, and I were headed to Hobie’s and Stephie’s place (in Ekongo) to look for an eland. The only problem was that the wind is howling, which will make for difficult hunting conditions. We made the 45-minute drive in good time. As we pulled onto the property, we saw a large group of eland cows. We took this as a good sign and continued to our first glassing spot. It did not take long for Ben to spot a group of bulls that bore closer inspection. I grabbed my 416 Rigby, and off we went. The stalk was on and, 45 minutes later, we were in close enough for a good look. There was one very nice bull in the group. If the bull I wanted was a 10, this one was an 8 ½.  I was hoping I didn’t regret things later, but since it was still early, and this is not the bull I wanted, we passed.

The eland bull I wanted is a very specific animal. He must be: old, blue, black faced, and have a bushy forehead. Perhaps to say “old” is redundant here, as all of the other attributes are only found on old animals, the “old” is also important to me. Old age is important, because an old animal has contributed to the gene pool, is now is past its prime, and is no longer a breeding animal. An animal that is out of the breeding pool can be taken with no ill effect whatsoever on the remaining herd. A young eland’s coat is brown. An old animal’s coat has turned a blueish grey color, much as we humans turn grey as we age. The face of a very old eland is mostly black with very little brown left. The only brown remaining is found in a large, bushy patch on the forehead, much like bushy eyebrows found on some old men.  All these add up to the trophy eland I wanted.

We were able to hit two more glassing spots before lunch, but had no luck spotting any eland at all.  It was getting hot so we decided to head back for an early lunch. It would be nice to see Hobie and Stephie again. It had been seven years since I had last visited them and I was looking forward to catching up over lunch. Both lunch and the conversation it afforded were very nice. Even nicer was a nap in the cool room Stephie was kind enough to offer. I was more tired than I thought, as I don’t even remember closing my eyes.

Three o’clock came too quickly, and we were off once more. If anything, the wind had picked up instead of laying down. It was absolutely howling. The eland certainly noticed, as we did not see hide nor hair of one the rest of the afternoon. We did not even run into one of the many blue wildebeest that inhabit the area. We did however run into some black faced / common impala hybrids. Once upon a time, I had considered a black-faced impala but changed my mind after considering its two drawbacks. First off, he is an expensive trophy. Secondly, then and now, they are not importable into the US. In this particular area, common impala were introduced to provide another trophy opportunity for hunters. Unforeseen, and I am sure of much to the chagrin of the person doing the introducing, this animal bred with the more expensive, black-faced impala. Since the animals are a hybrid, not the 100% black-faced impala, it has to be classified as a common impala, making it less expensive and legal to import into the US. While not even remotely on my radar when I came over, a hybrid impala is now defiantly worth considering … just not today.

We turned back towards Tualuka and enjoyed a moment or two of quiet before one or the other of us brought up a new game plan for tomorrow.  We were soon sorting out the details, and the drive passed quickly. There was no activity that day as we passed the skinning shed. Doug was in camp before me, having been thwarted by the wind as well. Since it was already dark and supper was ready, we skipped the sundowners and had dinner as soon as we could wash up. Tonight we had Bobotie, a sort of minced meat with lots of curry and spice. Tonight’s after-dinner trip to the fire pit yielded a plan to wait until we see what the wind is doing tomorrow before we plan anything. Sleep came quickly for me again tonight.

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