My heart raced as I found the Gemsbok in the sights of the .30-06, I told myself to breathe slowly and squeeze the trigger as I had been taught. The adrenaline pumped as the beautiful animal moved broadside at 150 yards, the rifle rested on shooting sticks, and PH, Brad Phillips, instructed me on proper shot placement. This was the animal I had dreamed of hunting since my father had told us we would be going to Africa one year ago. I was confident, and when instructed fired the weapon, and the animal vanished from my scope. I had made a perfect shot and the animal fell where it had been standing.
This was a memory forever etched in my hunting legacy. The Gemsbok was a handsome 38-inch male and scored 92 1/8, making it silver in the SCI books. That night around the braai, barbecuing South African style, I relived the hunt with my family and friends and beamed with excitement, as I was the Bwana for the evening. The day had started with my first African animal, a bronze Impala, and my face being "painted," a tradition of hunters in recognition of their first animal harvested in Africa.
We were guests at Morongwa Bush Safaris in the Limpopo province (check them out), seven kilometers from the Botswana border. This beautiful facility is nestled on 6000 acres of bush and plains and is home to many different species of African animals. Catering to bow and gun hunters, I had planned to spend my time in bow hides waiting for the big game to come within range. We spent two "educational" days in the hides, but did not see the big animals and had to re-adjust hunt planning to spot and stalk with the gun. Due to the wet summer and abundance of grass the animals had not visited the watering holes as they had for my father the year before. This was difficult for me to accept, as I love bow hunting, but I remembered many hunting stories told to me before this: the key to a successful hunt is to be flexible.
Morongwa Bush Foundation and my father had also scheduled three days to work with the local school, Vaalpenskraal Primary School. My family and I were to share our assistance with the local school children, as well as culture, education, and the musical talents of my sister, who is an accomplished bagpiper. You should have seen the children's faces when the bagpipes echoed through the bush. We all sang, danced, laughed and became friends. I also learned about SCI's Blue Bag program, we had collected school supplies, pencils, rulers and clothing from the SCI Ohio Safari Chapter, with the assistance of President, Scott Bagi.
The final day of our trip we left camp an hour earlier in hopes of finding another trophy animal. Through the binoculars we spotted a nice red Hartebeest soon after sunrise. My previous hunts had quieted my nerves a little, but the thrill of the hunt made my heart feel like the beating of African Drums. From a prone position I leveled the 30-06 and squeezed the trigger. I watched as the animal jettisoned off into the bush. Lung blood and shoulder bone helped the tracker find the spoor which we followed for the next 8 hours. When sundown approached I marveled at the toughness of the African animals, and was disappointed that I did not get my final trophy. On the way to the airport the following morning the owner of the lodge called to inform me they found the hartebeest and because of the cool temperature the cape was in excellent shape! At 63 5/8 it scored bronze for the SCI and completed my dream hunt in South Africa. (See more Pictures)
Posted on Wed, August 16, 2006
by Alec Janda filed under