Hunting South Africa – Second in a Series

Editor’s Note: Dave Stueve is the owner of Double Lung Archery, the La Porte City Pro Shop dedicated to all things bowhunting. As the exclusive booking agent in the United States for Infinito Safaris, Stueve makes an annual trip to South Africa each June to hunt on the 30,000 acres in the western side of the Limpopo province Infinito Safaris devotes to bowhunting. Hunting South Africa, Part I Second in a Series by Dave Stueve

BEAUTY, WONDER, DANGER - In the wilderness of South Africa, the danger of the hunt is complemented by the beauty and wonder of maginificent animals like this giraffe. Photo courtesy of Dave Stueve.

BEAUTY, WONDER, DANGER – In the wilderness of South Africa, the danger of the hunt is complemented by the beauty and wonder of maginificent animals like this giraffe. Photo courtesy of Dave Stueve.

Day two of the hunt begins and I am up early stoking the fire. I listen to jackals howling in the pre-dawn and hear impala rams grunting, the rut is just finishing up. Once everyone else is up and had some breakfast we hear the plan for today. Chuck and I get dropped off at the hide where he hunted yesterday. We are hoping for a chance at a nice kudu bull Chuck saw yesterday. We are also after one of the gemsbok that frequent this spot. We see plenty of animals throughout the day but very few come in. Finally, about an hour before dark, an impala ram with three ewes is heading our way. After about 15 minutes of hanging back, the ram offers Chuck a shot. I whisper to Chuck I have him on camera, shoot him! But Chuck did not have a clear shot yet. I move a little so he can maneuver for a better shot out of one of the windows in the hide. Our movement set off an alarm and we were busted by one of the ewes! Off they all ran! Fortunately, they didn’t go far and soon I had the ram on camera, a 30 yard shot for Chuck, slightly quartering away. “Shoot him,” I whisper, again. Chuck had to hold at full draw for at least three minutes waiting for him to turn a little more. “Wait, wait. He will turn, wait,” I whisper. The ram does turn and Chuck touches the shot off. I hear a loud whack as the bow string hits Chuck’s sleeve and watch the arrow veer about a foot in front of the ram. We are both bummed! A short while later, just at last possible light, a jackal is coming in and I get ready. He stops at what I think is about 30 yards. No time for my rangefinder, I put my 30 yard pin on him and shoot. I am high, and my arrow, complete with it’s lighted nock, goes skipping like a rock across water, out across the big open field. Dang! Two shots, two misses for us today. Good thing we still have six more days to hunt. We arrive back at camp to find that Randy is the hero today, as he shot a nice blue wildebeest bull! Matt and Andrew had three kudu bulls that teased them at about 40 yards, but never came in. Everyone else had a pretty slow day. Right about dinner time Charl gets to camp with a celebrity hunter, Craig Boddington. Craig has been a writer and professional hunter for the past 35 years and has been published in pretty much every hunting magazine out there. He’s even been the editor of a few. He currently has two shows on the Outdoor Channel. On top of that, he is a Colonel. Not every day you get to share camp with such a man. He and his videographer, Jane, fit right in. They join us at the fire and then for dinner before heading out on a night hunt. . He has been hunting a serval cat for 18 years and been on two serval hunts with other outfitters. He has yet to even see one! Now it’s Charl’s turn at bat. We wish them luck as they head off into the night to call for cats and other night predators. Day 3 Randy, Chuck and I are going back to Bush Fellows. We will be in the hide where Randy shot his wildebeest. It’s a nice, big pit blind overlooking a water hole and mineral lick. I check the pit blind for snakes, as Africa has some of the most deadly snakes in the world. I give the all clear and we get get all our stuff and ourselves into the hide by 8 AM, where nothing was happening. We only see two mongoose and a couple birds all day. At dark we get picked up and find out that Randy and Matt both shot kudu bulls today! Whoooo Hooooo! Randy’s is a 46” bull and we see pictures of Matt’s, since it is being skinned at the Mlala property where he was shot. Today is Chuck’s 54th birthday and Erika has made a zebra birthday cake for him. After we eat, she brings it out for dessert and everyone sings Happy Birthday to Chuck. He is totally surprised! Perfect! I am heading to bed Erika comes out and tells me she just got the WIFI hooked up! Yaaaaayyyyyy, I can see what’s going on in the world. So, I sit up the next two hours, checking emails and posting about our hunt on Facebook. Just as I am going to call it a night, Erika comes out all excited! Craig got his cat! Craig got his cat! Well, there’s no way I can go to sleep now! I continue working until I hear the Land Cruiser pull in. After 18 years hunting for a serval cat, Craig steadies his rifle on the shooting sticks as the cat is coming in to the call. The lights come on, BOOM! He missed it! He said it was one of the most disappointing moments in his life! He finally got his chance and he blew it! All was not lost, though, as two hours later, at a different location they called another one in. This time his aim was true! Charl, Craig and I sit up until about 2 AM. Craig is a very interesting guy. I have to admit, I had reservations about sharing camp with a “celebrity.” He’s a friendly, approachable, tell it like it is, kind of man. I have always respected his writing, knowledge and hunting accomplishments. Day 4 We are now half way through our hunt. Today, I’m going to be with Chuck again. We settle in for the long day. We see impala, birds, nyalla and bushbuck, but get no shot opportunities until the last two hours of the day. First in is a herd of blue wildebeest, about 30 of them. This is the same herd as two days ago, but now there is a nice bull with them! When the bull finally comes to the water, he gives Chuck a perfect broadside shot at 15 yards. But, there is a cow behind him, so Chuck can’t shoot. The bull then steps away from the water and stops at 19 yards, slightly quartering away, Chuck draws his bow. I tell him to wait, there is a calf behind the bull. No sooner than the calf moves, and quicker than Chuck can get a good shot off, two more calves take position behind the bull. As the bull moves, the calves match him, step for step, staying behind him and making a shot impossible. Chuck has to let down his draw as we watch the bull and his new best friends (after all, they just saved his life) walk away. Not 20 minutes later, a group of six zebra mares head our way. The land owner does not want stallions shot here, but a mare will work just fine for the rug I want and will taste just as good as a stallion, if not better. They close the distance from 200 yards down to about 80, then just stand there, still out of range, before eventually wandering off. This perfectly demonstrates the added difficulty bowhunters embrace. Had I been hunting with a rifle at 80 yards, it would have been game over for the zebra. A short time later, a group of kudu cows are coming. We think it is the same group of cows that had the large bull with them a couple days ago when Chuck and Dan were here. It is! He is coming too! Just then, Chuck spots a jackal and tells me to get ready. There is no way I’m blowing his chance at a kudu for a jackal. The kudu cows are now in the hay, 15 yards from our hide. The jackal passes by at about 8 feet! Aaaarrrrggggg! Once the jackal has passed we are sure the kudu bull will come in. Well, he doesn’t. He hangs up, about 35 yards out, quartering towards us and just stands there. Then, for a reason that remains a mystery to us, one of the cows picks her head up suddenly and runs off, taking the rest of them with her! Four target animals in about two hours and no shot opportunities. That is bowhunting, plain and simple. That is why I LOVE it, as frustrating as it can be some days! Darkness falls and one of the twins comes to pick us up. Great news! Scott has his first Africa kill! A nice impala ram. Whoooo hoooooo! We head back to Infinito Lodge. Erika has impala lasagna prepared for dinner followed by Malva Pudding Tarts. They are like a soft muffin and are really good! I am whipped tonight and turn in early. I lay awake a bit, thinking of the hunt, past hunts and clients. Life is good! I drift off to sleep. Next Week: What surprises await the hunters from Iowa during the last half of their hunt? Hunting South Africa, Part III

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