Safari 2018 #38 Record Book Waterbuck?

by david on September 11, 2019

With the cooling of the late afternoon Johann, the host of trackers, and game scouts that accompanied us everywhere we went, and I set out to look for waterbuck.  We found the one on the Botswana side pretty much where we left him yesterday afternoon. We drove back around to the other side of Ngoma Road and started glassing.  We were just about to head to a new spot when Johann exclaimed “whoa!”. He had caught a glimpse of a waterbuck about 1000 yards off. He told me, “I can’t be sure but it looked like the tips of his horns were pointing very much forward, and that normally means a very good, very old waterbuck”.  The animal was feeding and when he put his head down he disappeared. He must have been behind a small hill or in one of the floodplain’s drainage corridors. We marked his location by the zebra herd in which he was standing and started working our way towards him. The floodplain was still too wet in spots for even the mighty Landcruiser, so we took the long way around.  This was good as it would also put us down wind of the waterbuck and more importantly all the zebra noses. Twenty minutes or so after losing sight of him, we finally located him still in the midst of the zebra heard. This was good news. Even better news was after a really good look at him through the binoculars, he was a very good waterbuck as evidenced by the sly grin that Johann flashed me.  Of course, with good news comes bad news. We would have to sneak into a herd of zebra for a shot, and even worse news, he was within sight of the local lodges “sundowner cruise” boats. Add in the game drive vehicles constantly moving up and down the river bank on the Botswana side, and this was going to be tricky. We were perfectly within our rights to take the animal, nothing illegal or immoral about what we were doing, but there was no reason to shock the local tourists if at all possible.  The boats were not too much of a problem and it did not take too long for them to get out of sight. There did seem to be an endless stream of tourist vehicles on the Botswana side though. As soon as one was out of sight, another appeared around the corner up river. We were losing light quickly and we decided to work our way in and get set up for a shot. We moved among the zebra very slowly, keeping our heads down. Staying low and not making eye contact kept us from being perceived as a threat.  This allowed the zebra to ease out of the way just enough to keep us out of their perceived danger zone. We were hidden from the waterbuck’s view by a slight ridge and Johann kept poking his head up every so often, just enough to keep track of the waterbuck. We inched our way along until we were about 80 yards distant. We gave a quick look around and no vehicles or boats were in sight. The sticks went up and the sound from a single gunshot followed.

Tour boats and sundowner cruises had to be out of sight of the hunt and more importantly out of the line of fire. Tour boats and sundowner cruises had to be out of sight of the hunt and more importantly out of the line of fire.

 

Lots and lots of eyes to get past. Lots and lots of eyes to get past.

 

Thank goodness there was some terrain we could use to get closer. Thank goodness there was some terrain we could use to get closer.

 

 

 

 

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