Safari, Namibia 2016: Next Link In The Chain. Blog #16 “Surprise, Surprise”

by david on May 18, 2017

When we got to the eland, I was most pleased. He was very old as the lack of brown on his coat proved. His face was also black as night and he had what appeared to be a bird’s nest on his forehead. He was also huge, most likely approaching 1700 pounds. He was perfect. While we waited for Ben to bring the truck, we examined him a little closer. My first shot was a little far back, but would have been lethal. The second was in fact a clean miss. We could not even find a hair out of place on his chest. The third shot had been perfect. The 400-grain solid had broken both shoulders and spine. While I was appalled with my first two shots, I could not have been happier with the third. I thought back to all of those days practicing and reaffirmed my belief that practice makes good things happen.

When Ben made it, he was all smiles. He had watched the whole thing unfold from over a mile away. He was afraid I had really messed up when the eland took off for the second time. He also said it caught him completely off guard when the eland piled up on the ground. I thought he was making fun of my shooting ability but in reality he saw the eland fall a few seconds before he heard the shot. That would be a little difficult to comprehend until your mind can process it.

It took all three of us to wrestle this huge animal into position to take some pictures. It was well worth the effort to get him just right for the best picture. It is difficult to appreciate just how big the animal is without something to lend the proper perspective and scale. After the pictures were taken, we hustled quickly to get him loaded into the truck and to the skinning shed. It was amazing but we got all 1700 pounds into the back of Johann’s double-cab Land Cruiser. I wanted to get him out of the sun as soon as possible to minimize any chance of the meat or cape spoiling. We made good time getting to the skinning shed at Ermo and I was a little more at ease when we backed under the shed and into the shade. All that was left for me to help with was to get my trophy out of the truck undamaged. The chain hoist we used was ± 13’ in the air. With it at its highest point the eland’s nose was still touching the concrete floor. I’ll say it once again — this animal was huge. We stayed at the shed for the roughly an hour and a half for him to be caped out and then headed back to Ekongo.

The hot shower and the opportunity to remove at least the first hundred or so thorns from my person was well appreciated.  I was feeling on top of the world as I made my way to the bar for my first sundowner (actually it was probably a pre-pre-sundowner).  I was in for the evening and ready to sit back, reflect and commit every detail of the day to memory.  I must have been deep in thought and probably grinning like a fool because Johann startled me when he sat down with his own pre-pre-sundowner.  I was about to thank him for an excellent hunt when he flabbergasted me by asking what I thought of the horns on my eland.  I am sure I flabbergasted him right back when I asked “what horns?”  I vaguely remember there being horns on the animal, but I had paid no attention to them.  I was so keyed in on his blue coat, black face, and bushy forehead that I looked right past the horns.  Johann took this an opportunity to torment me (as only the best of friends can) for a bit and started feeding me clues.  He said a really good eland was 32”, minimum for the Roland Ward book is 35”, and the Holy Grail is 40”.  Well, since I have just missed the Roland Ward book by a few fractions of an inch in past hunts, I guessed it was 34 7/8”, but Johann just shook his head.  Disappointed, but by no means surprised, my next guess was 32”.  Again he shook his head and said “wrong direction”.  I am sure my eyes widened a bit, and I attempted one more guess, and I came up with 37” as it would make the eland my first RW animal.  All he said was, “Nope”.  “Come on, tell me.  I have no idea how big the darn things were”.  He said, “I knew he was big but I did not want to say anything in the field in case it made you nervous”.  Then he went all quiet.  I am not sure if he was pausing for dramatic effect or to tease me, but I had forgotten all about my pre-pre-sundowner and was sitting on the edge of my chair.  After an even longer pause, he finally told me it was 40”.  He continued by letting me know that 40” on an eland is the same as 60” on a kudu, or 45” on a buff.  I sat back in my chair and for some reason suddenly remembered my drink.  A rather large sip led to me to rethinking about seeing the animal for the first time and the quiet realization the hunting gods had smiled down on me today.

 

Big Boy Big Boy

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