#Namibia2017: Day 2
We got up a little earlier this morning and got a great start on the day. We hadn’t been gone from the lodge for very long when we came upon an impala ram with some springbuck. Steve had me line him up in my scope just to get a feel for the gun and the sandbags I was shooting from. I was able to get a steady rest and felt very confident with my position and how the rifle was situated. Steve asked me how it felt, and I told him I was pleased with the setup. I thought we were just practicing, but Steve smiled and asked, “Would you like to take him? He’s a nice, mature ram.”
I grinned back and flipped the safety off of the rifle. The ram was broadside to me, so I waited for a springbuck to move so I had a clean shot, and then lined up on the ram’s shoulder crease. I let out my breath and squeezed the trigger. The shot felt clean, and the impala twisted and took off like a rocket. I felt a little nervous that he didn’t drop right away, but Steve assured me that they almost always run a little way before they pile up. Sure enough, James, Russ and Addison took off on foot in the direction that the ram went, and there he was, not 100 yards from the truck. Double lung shot, and he was down within seconds. So thankful!
It was amazing to get my hands on that ram. They are beautiful animals, and you see so many details up close that you miss from the cruiser. Addison learned about the scent glands on their back legs and the scars on the old ram’s face and neck from fighting with other impala. James field dressed him, and here at the lodge, the trackers take the stomach and clean it out in the field and then bring it back to camp to eat. The other organs are removed in the processing shop where the animal is skinned and eaten as well- nothing goes to waste on these harvests!
The guys loaded him up and we headed to the skinning shed to turn him over to Gabriel, the head skinner. The shop is immaculate, and while he started hanging the impala, we looked over the different options for taxidermy. I want to remember every moment of this trip, and having the mounts is going to be an amazing blessing.
After we left the processing area, we headed back out to see what we could see before lunch. We had a few warthogs run in front of the cruiser, but they didn’t stop long enough for a shot. The warthogs are plentiful here, and they make excellent meat, both for human consumption as well as to feed the other animals on the preserve. The animal management here is top notch, and we’ve learned so much by observing how they run things here at the lodge.
We drove around for a while longer, pausing to look at various animals. You can’t throw a rock here without hitting a springbuck, so although we saw dozens of them, we decided to wait for a nice, mature ram. As we rounded a corner, Steve spotted some black wildebeest off to the right. They were in some thick brush, and as soon as they saw us, they took off running. He had mentioned that they are tricky to hunt, but he was hoping that an old, territorial bull was around, and that we might catch him by himself.
Sure enough, just a few moments later, we spotted the old bull off to the left. He was standing under a shade tree, and he was solo. Wildebeest tend to face you head on, which makes getting a clean shot very difficult. I set up the rifle just in case and waited to see if he would turn at all. He quartered towards me a few times, but he just would not turn enough. We decided to drive towards him a little to see if he would move, but as soon as the cruiser creeped his way, he kicked up his heels and took off.
We followed for a while, but he soon caught up to the rest of the herd and disappeared. I knew this was a huge probability, so we chalked it up to a great learning experience and continued on. And then we ran into another loner bull right around the corner. He was also off to the left of us and was staring right at us at about 80 yards. We stopped the cruiser and I got him in my scope, fully prepared to attempt to wait him out. He turned slightly but always came back around to facing us head on. Steve encouraged me to keep at it, and the bull snorted away but refused to turn. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, but was probably about 20 minutes, he started to turn broadside. I knew I wouldn’t have a lot of time, so as soon as he made the full turn, I fired.
He ran about 50 yards, somersaulted, and went down. It is such a great feeling when you make a good shot and the animal goes down quickly. After we loaded the wildebeest into the truck, we dropped him off at the skinning lodge before heading into lunch.
We took a short rest, and then left for the ground blind we had started working on the day before. We saw a blue wildebeest and a few gemsboks, but nothing we had a shot at. We actually pulled off the road at one time for a warthog, but we lost him in the heavy brush. A little farther down the road we stopped at a rock outcropping and watch a dik dik, which was quite possibly the cutest little pygmy antelope I’ve ever seen. They have huge, doll-like eyes and a tiny little snout. We all decided we would love to hug one. We also saw a few hyraxes running in the rocks, which were equally adorable.
We continued our drive, and as we approached the blind, a dozen or more gemsbok were milling around a salt lick, and they scattered as soon as they saw the cruiser. This was a great sign, and encouraged me for a day later next week when we would utilize the blind. We unloaded and started to add more brush when we noticed some of the netting from the day before had been torn down and spread out around the blind. James examined the tracks and determined that several hyenas had had a field day wrecking our blind! Steve later remembered that about four days before the webbing had been in the back of a truck with an animal carcass, and the hyenas must have smelled the old, dried blood on the netting and thought it was food. They were in for quite a surprise when they tasted the plastic, and we were glad that they left it so we could put it all back together!
We spent some time making sure all of the shooting lanes were clear, and then headed back to the lodge to freshen up a little before dinner. Another delicious meal of ox tail and gemsbok vegetable wraps, and then we hit the sack. Another amazing day!