Safari, Namibia 2016: Next Link In The Chain. Blog #14 “Over the top”

by david on May 11, 2017

Once again, I was up at 5:00 and in the truck at 5:30 with only my rifle and my Yeti full of coffee. I must bring a 30 whatever ounce for my next trip as the 20 ounce does not last near long enough. After the first few twists and turns, I know where we are going. We are going back to the place we climbed to the other day. I did not mention it before because I really did not want to remember it. Let’s put it like this, the rocks were loose, the turns were tight, the road was narrow, the drop offs were long and the grade was steep enough that 4-wheel low range was just barely enough. You could not even ride with your eyes closed because it hindered your ability to hang on to something. The view at the top however was astounding. The wind at the top was miserable. It was a steady 30mph-35mph, with gusts up to 50mph. It was absolutely howling. Johann and Ben finally saw some eland at an incredible distance. If I had to guess, it was between 2 ½ – 3 miles away.  How they could see animals even the size of an eland at that distance amazed me.

We all piled back into the Land Cruiser and drove back down the scary road (only slightly less scary going down than going up) and we were off to the back side of the mountain we saw the eland on. The plan was to drive around the backside, hustle up the top of the mountain, spot the eland, then ease our way down into shooting position. The first two steps were accomplished fairly easily. The only wrinkle was I don’t exactly hustle up mountainsides anymore. The third was a little more difficult since the eland had moved considerably more than we thought they would. We tried to ease way across the top, stop, and peek over the side to find the eland. It was more like ease along the top, stick our heads up and get blown over the edge by the wind or choke on a lung full of dust. With item three eventually completed all that was left to do was sneak down into shooting position. That proved impossible. There was a plethora of game between us and the eland. It was almost as if Noah had opened the doors of the ark and let out all the species in Africa right here. The only thing I can figure is that side of the mountain was somewhat out of the wind and was in the morning sun. The warmth and lack of wind must have been attractive to the animals, as their concentrations had to be seen to be believed. Try as we might, there is no way so get close to the eland with all of the other wildlife in our way.

New plan. Johann sent Ben back the long way for the truck while he and I continued along the ridge until it intersects with the road. While we were waiting Johann spotted another group of eland. There was no good way to get to these either. Here we were with two good groups of eland and no way to get to either. Executive decision time. Do we force a stalk now, or do we go back, grab a quick lunch, and hope at least one group was still here when we get back. The rumble from our stomachs made that decision pretty simple. We were hungry, so lunch it was. We did employ an insurance policy of sorts though. During the heat of mid-day the eland should not move much. Just in case they did, we decided to leave Ben to keep an eye on them. I don’t know that Ben was too happy about that since he had to be hungry too, but we assured him we would hurry up every chance we got. We left him in some shade with some water and binos, and away we went.

I don’t really remember too much about the conversation over lunch. Stephie had made fried chicken and it was going down pretty doggone good. We replenished our water supply, made Ben a lunch box and were back in the truck in 45 minutes. Not bad if I say so myself.

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