A Pictorial Journey
This post will be updated regularly as we dig out pics and video from all the different devices we took with us.
After two days of continuous travel, we finally arrived in Namibia. We were greeted at the airport by the outfitter’s greeter/driver and shuttled to the drop off point about four hours from town. From there we were picked up in Uris and bounced off into the bush for another half hour drive to the hunting camp.
The Two Mountains…
They seemed out of place or out of the blue. Like two pyramids standing alone amongst a series of plateaus, plains, and hills.
Namibian sunsets. Not a bum in the bunch.
My son and our PH inspect his first-morning black wildebeest bull. It was one shot and one kill at 162 yards using Hornady 165Gr SST’s from his Remington 700 Custom 30-06 Spr sporting a Nikon Prostaff 5 3.5-14×40 FFP BDC. Practice makes perfect.
With about 300,00 acres to explore, we never saw it all. The neighbors were interesting, unique types though. This sable bull and his cows stood still long enough for me to get a quick photo.
Winter in Namibia is funny. Mornings are cold and sometimes frosty (it snowed south of Windhoek while we were there). But by mid afternoon the sun will take the hide off of you. Everything either lays down in the shade in the afternoon or goes to water. We did both. We’d spend a couple hours after lunch sitting in the shade and watching a waterhole each day. The first day it was pretty quiet until this loan gemsbok bull wandered in for a drink. Was a little surprised to see him since the word was that the gemsbok were scarce, spooky and good at making themselves disappear. He measured 36″ or thereabouts and will probably make SCI. Better to be lucky than good I guess.
Ever wonder how a giraffe goes for a drink? Well, now you know. I guess its easier than bending the front knees to get down.
While we were hunting a rogue bull elephant charged and killed a hunter from Argentina in another area about sixty miles from where our camp was. Apparently, he stumbled across the bull without even knowing it was there. You’d think something as large as an elephant would be easy to spot. Then you see them and realize that they quickly fade away into heavy bush. You also realize you’d better be paying attention. Or else.
I shot this cranker of a blue wildebeest on the third day (I think). He was by himself which is unusual because every other blue we saw was in a herd of some kind. We bumped into him while looking for a kudu bull. He was pretty old and on his way out. He was tough as nails too. I shot him twice, both solid killing shots, and both times he acted like he hadn’t even been hit. I guess when you’re that old and that big you get to be kinda stubborn. He makes SCI and my PH figures Roland Ward as well. He’s a big boy.
I recovered one of the Barnes TSX bullets from him. I’ll post it later.
Ok – so here it is. Got home this evening and dug this out of my still unpacked gear. This Barnes TTSX was my first shot on the blue wildebeest. It was a quartering shot that went in right behind the shoulder, took out the lungs, travelled the length of the body cavity and lodged in the rear hip on the opposite side. That’s almost 100% weight retention. Impressive performance. The second round exited in the opposite direction.
This bullet is the one I pulled out of my gemsbok bull pictured above. Again, another Barnes TTSX. Less weight retention because this quartering shot hit the shoulder bone first and travelled a similar path as the bullet above where it got lodged back in the rear hip area. Still, damn impressive performance as well. The gemsbok dropped in his tracks.
This is a picture of the Uri we used to get around in. It needed pretty regular TLC while we were running about but given the condition of the “roads” it was pretty understandable. A lesser vehicle would have been completely and utterly destroyed.
The Namibians use small dogs to track any game that doesn’t hit the ground instantly. They were a lot of fun and most of them were real hams. They were also damn good at their jobs and nice company in the Uri when moving about. This is Clara. She thought she was pretty special. We thought so too.
We hunted Waterbuck for a number of days. It was the top animal on my son’s list. After a few blown stalks and a number of immature bulls that were passed up we were feeling no love. About the fourth morning we were on our way into the far reaches of the preserve when this guy literally just appeared out of nowhere standing perfectly broadside on a small hill at 120 yards. It was an easy shot with the sun at our backs and in his eyes. My son had plenty of time and teed up the shot then pulled the trigger. The bull dropped like a sack of potatoes and we all started getting pretty excited and high-fiving one another. When we got to where the bull went down he was nowhere to be seen. We were mystified. Cue the dogs. They got his scent and found him dead about eighty meters away through some thick and nasty stuff in a little clearing. It was a perfect double lung shot but he had enough juice in him to go a few yards before tipping over. Of course we couldn’t see him take off because he’d dropped behind the hill he was on. The lad was one VERY happy camper when we finally found him. All’s well that ends well.
We spent a few mornings traipsing around the mountains. They’re not as steep or as high as home but they are grassy, rocky and the loose, gravelly ground constantly feels like it is going to slip out from under you. Walking while not paying attention was hazardous to your health.
This was the springbok I took on the morning we were supposed to be recovering from travel (I’m posting it late because the only pics of it were on another device that we just unloaded). It technically wasn’t our first day of hunting but… our PH didn’t want me laying around. I was pretty jet lagged and apparently, the recipe to fixing that is to get your butt out of bed and go shoot something. This is a good ram. He’ll look great in the man cave. He was worth losing a mornings rest over.
Reminded me of an Arbutus tree back home.
Shortly after I snapped the picture above this photo one of the tracking dogs decided to wander off. It was a little frustrating at first but then, as we were putting around the back roads trying to find “Rocky” we bumped into this old warthog. It was a quick offhand shot but I hit him hard, broadside. He ran off like I hadn’t hit him at all but fortunately, our other tracking dog, Blackie found him quickly, piled up about a hundred years away from where I’d pulled the trigger. No second shot required.
We found “Rocky” shortly afterward.
We went back to this waterhole the next day (near where we had shot the warthog) for kudu but nothing came in so after sitting for a few hours we decided to head to another part of the property.
There was an area nearby, about a half hour four by four ride from the water hole we’d been at, that held a very large population of black faced impala. Once endangered, these native to Namibia and Angola antelope now thrive in huntable populations throughout the country. My son spent the afternoon trying to find a nice sized ram we had seen a few days earlier. Finally, nearing sunset, we spotted him with a group of about six other slightly smaller males. It was a game of patience and tick-tac-toe, waiting, then maneuvering for a shot where we wouldn’t hit another animal. His patience finally paid off and after an afternoon in the blazing heat (that nearly cooked me out), he finally got his Impala. Just in time to go for dinner…
The core of the preserve is actually a rhino sanctuary. It is home to over 60 white and black rhinos. The plains game hunts that the preserve sells to people like us funds their rhino conservation efforts. We would get lucky enough to see them once in a while. One of them mocked charged our hunting companion’s Uri. Thankfully they were not in it at the time.
This is a steenbok. It is one of the smallest antelope in Africa. My son spent three days hunting this thing. It drove us nuts. They are solitary, small, live in the tall grass and are very fast. You couldn’t see them until you were right on top of them so you had to be quick. I was getting close to being fed up and ready to pack it in. They busted us constantly and we had a hell of a time with them. This one paused in mid flight just long enough for the lad to get a shot. It was the smallest thing we shot by a stretch but my son says it is his most memorable hunt and trophy because he almost wore himself out trying to get it. He gets an A+ for determination.
No matter where you are in the world, mother nature always has something spectacular to show you. Namibia was dry and alien by my standards. Everything was different; the rocks, the trees, the animals – all of it. But the land has the feeling of being very, very old in comparison to my back yard in the Northern Cascades. A part of me wished it could speak and tell me its story. We hunted this mountain cluster for Kudu almost every day for a week. The views were always worth the hike even without seeing the game we were looking for.
After crawling all over God’s green acre looking for a mature kudu bull I was resigned to going home without him. I’d failed to connect with one in 2008 when we we were in South Africa and I knew that even with abundant game there was no guarantee it would happen in Namibia either. Truth be told I was ok with it. We’d had such a good hunt and been surrounded by such wonderful people that I was happy to go home without him. On the last day of the hunt my son slept in, having connected with everything but his common impala. I went out on my own with our PH in one last attempt to find a bull.
Towards the end…
When we started out last morning of the hunt my philosophy was simple: relax and enjoy Namibia. I wasn’t going to worry about getting my bull anymore. I just wanted to be in the moment and soak the environment in. Thirty minutes into our trek back into the mountains we bumped into a small group of bulls in a bit of bush/riverine area. The largest of the group was nice and wide if not terribly long but mature. I made the decision to try and take him. So we moved into position… about five times! He kept moving into thick brush and behind the other smaller bulls and we kept maneuvering for a shot. After a while he started to figure out something wasn’t quite right and made a break for it. That was his last and fatal mistake; as he cleared the bush into an open spot I took him through the front shoulder, quartering at a quick walk/trot. He dropped in his tracks.
It was a last day bull that was a combination of patience, persistence, luck and a PH that wouldn’t give up. And if you look carefully in the center of his face you will notice he has a third horn growing out of his forehead. I am told that this occurs with maybe one in thirty bulls and not to this extreme. This is an unusual animal.
My kudu curse is now broken.
With my kudu down we spent the rest of the afternoon chasing common Impala for my son. It was supposed to be a 1,2,3 slam dunk. There were thousands of Impala around so it was a matter of finding a good quality ram and taking it out of the herd. We thought we’d be back to camp in an hour. Wrong!
It was like all the mature rams knew what we were up to. After hours of driving, stalking and glassing the sun started to go down. Each time we’d find a ram worth shooting the rest of the herd would bust us before we could get close enough for a shot. Finally, thirty minutes before last light we bumped into a bachelor group of three good quality rams. At that stage, it was a matter of waiting for a shot to open up as they were in the open and not moving towards the heavy bush. When it finally happened my son wrapped up our hunt with only half an hour of day light left to spare.
More to follow…