The final chapter
There had been very little rain, we couldn’t begrudge them the little moisture we were getting on our last hunting African hunt day. As the cold drizzle kept the dust and the animals down, I found some clouds and rain made for a great little nap. After a perfect lunch, Nick asked if I would like to take a shot at the White Blesbok I commented on earlier in the week.
Having slept under the nice shoulder-mount in my room for a week, I found him one of the ugliest animals I ever saw. “Bles” (Afrikaans for blaze) referring to the white patch typical of the standard animal, or the white patch commonly found on a pony.
I did note that the Blesbok looks better in all-white
I think the only antelope hit by an uglier stick is the Hartebeest. But I did note that the Blesbok looks better in all-white, which seemed to entertain the typically stoic Professional Hunter.
Off we went then, up and down, the gravel road almost to the rock fence denoting the entrance to the farm, and a hard left through fields covered with sheep, finally to a large bowl about a mile round filled with Springbok and Blesbok in several herds with singles interspersed.
We had driven past these herds several times on various hunts, and Nick’s brother Rob had culled a lame Springbok not far from our current stalk. But this was the first serious look at a Blesbok trophy.
Nick seemed relieved to find a very lovely “white” Blesbok lying comfortably in his bed. Like us, these plains game animals like to lounge around when it is raining.
We jumped out the Land Cruiser at a half-mile or so. As had been my habit, I followed Nick lock-step about a yard behind, reading somewhere that two appear as one animal when so configured. He likely thought me gay at first but did note that I loaded my gun, before the stalk, instead of racking one in behind him, as he recalled one of his clients doing.
My African Hunt – White Blesbok
As we slowly, but deliberated, walked straight at the Blesbok, Nick reading his mood, stopping every 100 yards or so to glass the beast. Ever closer, I wondered just how close we would get in this now gently rolling terrain in plain sight of our target. After 20 minutes or so, the buck reluctantly got up from his wet bed to take a closer look at this 4-legged man.
Nick turned to me and asked if I wanted to shoot from the sticks or the ground? Ha! I went for the ground without answering, wet, or not. We had discussed the strategy the night before, and Nick agreed to lend me his suppressed Remington 700 in 7mm magnum for what would surely be a long shot.
I have asked if I would like the Swarovski reticle illuminated or straight. “Straight,” I said straight, thinking I wouldn’t know what to do with an illuminated crosshair.
As I nestled in behind the familiar furniture of his Remington 700 7mag–identical to 280AI, but for a bit more powder behind a 162grain Hornady SST, the suppressor and handy little bipod–the whole thing felt like home.
How far? “425 yards”; says Nick.
Now prone with the standard rifle and spectacular glass, I was cold as the rain gently covering everything. Fortunately, I have used a bipod and had only to find my target, still curious about the now dismembered 4-legged farmer. As I settled in and pulled the rifle gently back into my shoulder, take the slack out of the bipod.
How far? “425 yards,”; says Nick.
Knowing the seven mag shoots a bit faster than my old 280, I held just at the top the shoulder and let the gas out of that 7mag. A second and a half later, the Blesbok took the same attitude as the reedbuck earlier that day. As he went down, Nick started trotting toward him. I didn’t need to ask as I already had a fresh round in the chamber and followed him toward the badly hurt, but still moving animal.
As we approached at 150 yards or so, the buck noticed our approach-from a different angle–and tried to get up. Nick said, “Shoot him again.” Something about adrenaline seems to make my offhand better than my rested shooting, and the second round was straight in the boiler room, lights out for a nice white Blesbok.
Naturally, I was elated, but Nick was excited–since he had his prayers answered–and made a gesture to give me a high-5, which I mostly missed but just the same, I was happy for both of us.
My African Hunt – “All’s well that ends well”
As W.S. once said, “All’s well that ends well.” And so did our African hunt adventure. Not the grand safari I read about in my youth, conducted by the intrepid, if murderous, hunters like Karamoja at the turn of the century. Still, most of the animals taken back then are always available and sustainable through the mutual interest of avid hunters and capable animal husbandry practiced by my new friends in the East Cape.
I want to thank my gracious host, his brother Rob and their crew. Not forgetting my brother John who recommended the guns, I took note of the similarity of my Mauser 358NM and Bell’s 257Rigby– and Dan, who gave much insight from his time working in the new Medupi power station northwest of Johannesburg, Johannesburg to the locals. And of course, brother Thomas started the whole thing by wistfully recounting the trip he and the lovely Donna first made in 2010, while I admired the beautiful mounts hanging on the walls of his study.
Finally, I would like to thank my fans, without which none of this would have been possible. OK, my fan. OK, Teresa, my one and only.
It was a great time, and yes, I would go back in a heartbeat, plus 24 hours of air time, figure two days travel, little sleep, and a severe backache for your South African hunt.
Thank you all for tuning in. I hope you all enjoyed this short epistle and will endeavor to bring you a new and exciting hunting adventure soon.
Until then, keep that fan mail coming!