It was a race against time

Early afternoon we finally saw a group with good bulls. We stalked and crawled closer trying to head them off, only to have them change direction and head up a shallow valley, probably heading for water over the rise. Quietly backtracking until we were a safe distance away I smiled at Dianne “ready to run?” I asked.

To get ahead we had to backtrack over a hill and then try to get in front of them before they reached the head of the valley, a distance for them of 800 yards and probably 2 kilometers for us. We literally ran over the hill keeping well within cover and around behind the crest of the hill, spooking some zebra which thankfully moved away without undue fuss. It was a race against time as the sun began to sink fast on the horizon. As we crested the skyline and crawled towards a lone Acacia tortillis tree, I could see the Gemsbuck feeding diagonally towards us.

It was a race against time 1The wind was almost perfect and we were looking almost directly into the setting sun. We hid behind the tree which had low branches allowing for a perfect rest. About 250 yards out the Gemsbuck turned and slowly headed away from us feeding as they went. Disappointment had yet again settled over us heavier than a lead blanket, we had hunted hard. Then inexplicably one bull turned and started feeding directly towards us. The glare made it impossible to see him properly. Would he be a good trophy? The setting sun showered the African savannah with a golden glow. The gemsbuck was still 200 yards out when he showed himself. He was a good bull, an old mature male with thick heavy bases and long symmetrical horns, a bull that was past his breeding prime.

Slowly he came, Dianne battling the glare of the setting sun on the horizon directly behind the gemsbuck. On he came until he was directly behind a tree 160 yards away, it was now or never. Then incredulously he saw us, head up staring trying to make out what we were half hidden in the Acacia tree, but it was too late, on the signal Dianne made good with a frontal shot that entered his chest and obliterated the plumbing on top of the heart. A quick insurance shot and he was down. It was difficult to contain our excitement as we admired Dianne’s trophy, a beautiful bull, his teeth already worn down level to his gums, a worthy trophy hunted hard.