Safari, Namibia 2016: Next Link In The Chain. Blog #15 “Best and Worse”

by david on May 15, 2017

Ben was easy to find when we got back. He had not wasted away due to starvation and we were able to follow the sounds of his rumbling stomach to the shady spot where he concealed himself. Mother Nature had done him a favor by providing him a shady hideaway where he could easily keep an eye on the eland without having to move at all. While Mother Nature smiled down on Ben, she was most likely laughing her backside off at the trick she was playing on Johann and me. Why would I think this? Because there was virtually no cover between us and the eland, and, as a result, the 1½ mile stalk was more than a little difficult.  She added insult to injury by placing one monster kudu in our path.  Johann estimated he would go 57”-58”.  Damn and double damn.  Most hunters will never see a 58” kudu, much less have one gift-wrapped and set in front of them.  I hoped I would not hate myself later, but I decided that I was hunting eland, not kudu, and hoped the hunting gods would not take offence at passing up such a trophy.  We eased off the top of the mountain hoping not to spook him and he, in turn, spook the eland.

So far, so good.  We left Ben behind to spot for us.  By whispering into the walkie-talkie, we discovered we had covered about a mile.  Most of the time we were hunkered over and spent more time on our hands and knees than I wanted to, but we had managed, so far, not to be detected. Making it this far required us to dodge a herd of zebra, a herd of gemsbok, and a few other critters thrown in along the way for good measure. Mother Nature teased us one more time by having the eland we were stalking feed in our general direction, and once again she played a joke on us by placing a young eland in our path.  She chose to do this when we were sneaking across a patch with ZERO cover — I mean absolutely nothing but rocks on the ground.  I was sitting on my backside, scooting a few inches at a time and trying to not to drag my rifle across the rocks, and Johann was on his hands and knees, inching slowly ahead.  Suddenly I saw his hand signal to stop.  He dropped and curled up in what can best be described as a fetal position.  I froze and tilted my head down, hoping my wide-brimmed camouflaged hat would conceal my face.  To make the longest 30 minutes (it felt more like 30 days) in my life a short story, that young eland kept us pinned in that position the entire time, and even closed the distance to about seven yards.  Evidentially, I looked enough like a bush and Johann looked enough like a rock that we did not spook him and he wandered away on his own.  Neither one of us saw or heard him leave.  He was just gone.  The joke did not end there.  When we tried to stand, one or more limbs were asleep as the blood flow had been cut off for an extended period of time.  One of my arms, both legs, and my backside were all sound asleep — so soundly, in fact, that after struggling to get on my feet, I almost went back down quicker than I had gotten up.

I was glad that no one was filming this hunt.  The remaining time of our stalk must have been quite comical since neither one of us could walk in any way remotely resembling normal.  After that, the stalk went well as there was some scrub for us to hide behind.  After another 30 agonizing minutes, we eventually closed the distance to slightly over a hundred yards and I was on the sticks.  At the shot, the eland bucked and trotted for about 40 yards and stopped to look to see where the noise came from.  He was looking straight at us and his massive chest was easy to see through the scope.  At the sound of my second shot, he took off at a dead run.  Johann then informed me that I completely missed and the quality of my first shot was now called into question as evidenced by the speed of the eland.  (I guess instinct took over as I dang sure don’t remember thinking about it.)  I came off the shooting sticks while racking another round into the chamber and swung the 416 like I’ve swung my shotgun a thousand times in the bird fields, squeezing the trigger for the third time.  We watched the eland somersault and come to rest in a rather large pile.  Hunting is rather funny that way.  In the space of about five seconds, I had perhaps the worst shot in my life, missing a stationary target the size of a pickup at 150 yards, and, after that, definitely one of the best, hitting the same pick up traveling at 30 mph at over 225 yards.  I hoped the gods were smiling, because I sure was.

My Eland My Eland


Previous post:

Next post: