• Ed Bell's African Safari

    Day Two: the real hunting begins!

    My Black Wildebeest hunt

    Karel and I headed out with Joseph (Joseph is a Zulu who works on the concession as a tracker/skinner) in search of a nice Black Wildebeest. We drove around for a little while looking for a herd or two. After we got to within a 1/2 mile or so of a few herds, we proceed on foot. The wind was howling at 35 to 40 mph steady and from the same direction all day long. The sun was shining and the weather was warm. The terrain was quite rolling with 50 to 100 foot hills several hundred yards apart. There wasn't much natural cover as the spring season was just beginning and the grass was low in most of the area (only 10 to 12 inches or so and completely dry). Trees were few and far between so we were forced to use the hills for cover. I soon realized that I was overdressed, rolled up my shirtsleeves, and undid a couple of buttons. The elevation was approximately 5,000 feet above sea level and it was certainly making my breathing a bit labored.

    We come up on a herd of black wildebeests about 400 yards away and Karel spotted a couple of bulls in the group before suggesting we go in for a closer look. We began to creep in and got to within maybe 200 yards of where Karel said he saw a good bull. We tried to get within 150 yards or so in order to get a good shot with the strong winds we were experiencing and we were just about where we wanted to be when one of the Blacks spots us. They quickly ran off about 200 yards or so and settle down atop the next hill. We tried to creep over the hillside and set up for another chance at a shot. Karel spotted a good bull and tried to get me lined up on him, but by the time I got my crosshairs on him we were made again and the herd moved on. Karel jokingly said "hey, sometimes you get lucky; sometimes you have to work a little harder." We moved on. There was another herd over to our left a few hundred yards away so we circled to the right and headed out after them again. As we were walking straight ahead with a hill to our left to cover our advance we almost trip over a herd of Blesbok running with a herd of Blacks right in front of us and just down the far side of a 15 foot hill. They ran to our left breaking up the herd we were after. Oh well, try try again.

    We headed off to the left with that wind blowing from left to right. As we began to crest the hill Karel motioned for me to get down. There was a small group of the black wildebeests right in front of us with a nice bull about 200 yards ahead. We moved in a little closer to maybe 175 yards. He was standing with his chest straight to me and Karel said he is a taker. I lined up the shot for the crease of the neck and move about 4 to the left to compensate for the wind and tap the trigger. I heard a whack and saw him jump, I expected to see him drop within a few yards but he stayed on his feet and made his way back to the herd. Karel was sure I hit him and so was I, but we were not too sure how well. Karel managed to find him in the binos and confirmed that he was hit and carrying a hind leg. We thought maybe the bullet had passed through him and took out his hind leg in the process. Karel advised that we wait him out a bit and see what happens. After a while he said we need to go get him and finish him off. We summon Joseph and he picked us up with the truck. We finally got within about 400 yards of the black and I put a shot through his spine, pretty much anchoring him at that point. As we approach him, he struggled to get up and managed to get to his feet with some effort. Karel told me to finish him so I put another round into his heart area from about 100 yards. This one finally finished him off. Let me tell you, this was on tough animal! In addition, this one was a dandy! Karel said it would easily make the books. The horns are nicely dipped and with good height and big bosses. He will make an excellent mount and a terrific hide for perhaps the foot of my bed. I was quite satisfied with the hunt and very impressed with Karel's ability and knowledge of the game.

    My First African Game Trophy, the Black Wildebeest.
September 24, 2005

    We all felt the first round was blown off course the width of the Blacks chest by the extreme crosswind approximately 12 to 16 inches striking the Black in his left rear leg just above the knee. I made a mental note to use a little more lead if this wind continues. The wind was making things tough but it should be calmer tomorrow, we were sure of it.

    Day Two: Afternoon Blesbok Hunt
    A well-executed plan!

    After a nice brunch at the lodge, we moved our gear into the chalet and relaxed for a bit. Around mid afternoon Karl, Joseph and I went out in search of a nice blesbok. We didn't have to search too long as we found one laying in the veldt (open grazing area in South Africa). I decided to pass on him, as one horn was slightly shorter than the other was, even though he was a nice buck I did not want to take him.

    We moved on about a mile or so and Karel spotted a herd in a bowl shaped depression maybe a mile away from a dam wall (in South Africa a dam is a lake or pond). From cover of the dam wall we make our way to a natural funnel shaped area maybe 300 yards wide from the far edge of the dam wall to the next hill. Karel is pretty sure that the blesbok herd will make a run for this area if we send Joseph around behind the herd and push them towards us, I agreed with Karel that this was a good plan and we set out to execute it. We dipped down below the wall, hiked maybe a hundred yards or so, and waited. Karel was watching the herd for a good ram and said he saw one. They began to come our way just as planned but started going a bit wide to our right. Instead of following the funnel, they were running nearly at the top of the ridge. We had to move fast to cut the distance if we were going to get a shot.

    We quickly covered the distance and setup about 1/3rd of the way up the ridge giving me about a 250 yard shot if they continued in their current direction. Well as luck would have it, they continued on their way towards us and miraculously stopped right were we wanted them. Now blesbok are like the alarm clock of the veldt and extremely observant of their surroundings as Rob had cautioned me prior to the hunt. They don't miss much. We were down in the grass and I was preparing to shoot. Karl picked out a nice buck and was counting off from a white ram one, two, three, six from the white, do you see him? Yes, I see him. Take the shot when he is open. I settle the crosshairs on his shoulder and wait for the ram to separate from the others so as not to hit two of them. I'm ready to pull the trigger, they are just getting ready to bolt as we were busted he is quartering away slightly. He never takes the step that he began to spring into as he goes down in a heap, never took a step not a twitch nothing, the blesbok was down in an instant. As Karel picked him up in his binos he slapped me on the back and shouted great shot! The 180 grain Sirocco took him right off his feet with about a 200 yard shot through both shoulders. There was not a drop of blood on him as he went down so fast there was no time for him to pump any blood at all.

    My Second African Game Trophy, the Blesbok
September 24, 2005

    In closing:
    Karel had an excellent plan that almost worked exactly as he had hoped. With the Blesbok coming along just below the ridge we were protected a little bit form that relentless wind. The 300 WSM and the Sirocco bullet performed like magic on the blesbok with a pencil-sized hole going in and the same going out. Very little damage to the pelt and no meat loss. Karel said that this guy would easily make the books as well. He will look great on my wall as a full shoulder mount. His rack is absolutely flawless and there is not a single blemish on his ears, face or coat. If you look closely, you can see the tiny exit wound midway up towards the front of the left shoulder. Tomorrow I will hunt Springbok; I am glad that the wind will die down overnight because we are looking at long shots out in the open with these little guys.

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