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African 29

Southern Roan, What Finished my African 29

As the plane touched down in Johannesburg it was late evening, but I could feel that early November heat as I walked out of the jet bridge, I knew I was going to be in for a few warm days.  The concierge service that Patrick Wright my travel agent arranged for me met me and without any hiccups walked me through customs, collected my luggage, cleared my bow, and soon I was in the City Lodge airport hotel. I’m not entirely sure if I call it jet lag or excitement when arriving in Africa and not being able to sleep. It was after 3am when I finally drifted off only to have my alarm ring at 5am my flight to Kimberly was to leave at 8 that morning so after a quick breakfast I was making my way through check-in and security on my way to my gate.  This Safari was going to take place in the Northern Cape with Danie Geel of African bow hunting adventures. November can be a very good time for bow hunting if the rains haven’t kicked in yet making sitting over food and water very productive. I had originally planned to hunt in June with Danie but due to a business conflict I couldn’t make it with the group of hunters I had put together. But later is better than never, once I arrived and Danie picked me up we were off to camp unfortunately on the way to camp you could see distant storm clouds and green shoots of grass were busy growing rapidly after the previous weeks rain. We still had high hopes luck would be on our side. This was a short safari of only five days, not ideal for any safari but it’s what we could make work. After settling into camp and checking the bow after the long trip we quickly headed off to get an afternoon sit in. It was warm out with temps reaching 100 degrees (37 Celsius) the action was a bit slow at the begging and Danie caught me several times drifting off to sleep in my chair. This blind was a platform in a tree with a ground blind secured to it, so we had a nice bird’s eye look over the area. As the temperature began to dip off the action picked up with a group of young roan coming into the feed. It was amazing to be back in Africa and to be seeing the amazing game that calls Africa home. It was an eventful evening in the blind as we seen numerous animals including a monster Sable bull and the resident heard of buffalo, but the only shots taken were from my canon camera.

The following morning, we got an early start to one of the pit blinds but on the way to it we noticed a group of vultures amidst a tree and coming up off the ground, so a closer inspection was necessary, it didn’t take much investigation to see what had happened, a healthy-looking Golden Gemsbok bull laid out across the ground. After some inspection we couldn’t determine a cause of death. Mother nature shows no mercy.

The blind was a pit style blind where a hole is dug than a solid structure blind is built into the hole giving the shooter a ground level shot. These blinds on Danie’s property looked like rock piles but they provide the comforts of a bench seat and more than enough room to draw back a bow and give you and the PH plenty of room. While we sat in the blind and watched Africa come to life that morning with the sun painting a picture across the Africa landscape Danie and I talked about how difficult it was going to be with all this fresh green grass sprouting up.

Nothing came to water or feed that morning so after a while we got picked up from the blind and went about trying the spot and stalk technique. This proved to be the way forward for this safari. Our first spot and stalk attempt were on a tremendous white springbok ram, we closed the distance to 45 yards, but I failed on my part pulling the shot missing the ram and lodging my 650-grain grizzly stik arrow into a Umbrella thorn Acacia tree that arrow will be part of Africa to remember me by. I don’t profess to be the best bow hunting in the world I do love practicing and shooting at home but when you’re in the field drawing back on any game species it’s a different story I melt like butter and seem to almost black out with excitement. Over the next two days I was given the chance to redeem myself on a nice Black Springbok ram, a beautiful Golden wildebeest bull and a Golden gemsbok but all three of my shots where to high into the no man’s land area so instead of letting my ego get the best of me I relucted to use the camp 243 to make things right.  Shot placement is tough and in the heat of the moment with excitement sometimes things don’t go to well and if anyone tells you they have never struggled and made mistakes they have not hunted enough. On this safari I was struggling badly with the stick and string, and I was starting to second guess myself with the bow. But fortunately, I finished the Safari off on a good note. We relocated the big White Springbok I missed the first day and closed the gap to 43 yards and I was able to make a great shot and the ram didn’t travel far at all and fell in sight. He is a truly magnificent Ram with a wider flare to him and I was extremely excited to have taken him turning around my luck.

We had seen a giant sable the first Afternoon of the hunt and as the hunt went on, we decided we should try for him, he had come into the blind and gave us a great opportunity that first day but that wasn’t to happen again. Rain clouds were building up for an afternoon shower when we found the bull feeding with the same group of young roan that came in the first afternoon, several attempts were made to close the deal but each time we were busted. While giving them time to settle back down we got hit with a short fast and furious rain storm that soaked us but provided us with the right conditions to stalk into 40 yards, the bull was quartering away feeding and placing my pin on the opposite shoulder I touched the shot off, the arrow flew true hitting the bull perfect passing through the liver, lungs and the top of the heart smacking into the opposite shoulder. At first, I was very nervous that I had hit him to far back but quickly new I was wrong with that opposite shoulder being packed as he ran crashing through the acacia trees soon, we heard the crash of him falling. The tracking job was short and we found him less than 80 yards from where we took the shot. This was my third Sable bull but my first with a bow and being my biggest at 48” He is a truly spectacular animal and I’m grateful to have had the chance to take him and grateful that my luck was turning around on my shooting abilities.

My biggest Sable bull

The rest of that afternoon Danie and I spent with cameras in hand just cruising around the property taking advantage of the diversity of wildlife he has. We made some stalks in on different species such as Gemsbok and Red Lechwe capturing some cool images. We ended the night with another amazing African meal and time spent around the fire telling stories of the days prior and making a plan for our last day that was to come. During the planning of the Safari Danie and I had talked heavily about hunting a Roan, I had not taken a Roan before although I had tried in Tanzania with no luck several years prior. But at this time the roan would be a little extra special for me, it would complete my SCI African 29, finishing a big milestone for me but also putting me closer to one of my biggest goals of hunting the animals of Africa. The weather was perfect when we woke up on that last morning of hunting the rain clouds and wind from the previous day were gone. The morning birds of Africa were busy serenading the landscape with all their sounds, to Danie’s standards it was a cold morning I believe it was brisk but when your spoiled with the warm weather Africa has you tend to get cold much easier. We left camp heading to the area we had seen the big Roan previously. It didn’t take long to locate him and from there we had to make a game plan, the bull was living in a fairly open area with a few Acacia tree and thorn brush spread out making it hard to close the distance to within bow range. We made several stalks on the bull getting closer each time, but the bull knew something was up and would keep moving ahead of us. Finally, he made a mistake and put a large dead thorn bush between us giving us the perfect opportunity to close the distance. The thorn bush gave us the perfect cover and allowed us to close the distance to 32 yards Danie gave me a range and I drew back and stepped out settled my pin an released, the Grizzly Stik hit home, and the Roan took off in a big semi-circle disappearing behind some brush. I was extremely excited I had just made a great shot on a bull Roan of a lifetime. We didn’t see the bull go down and I was a bit worried maybe I had put the shot just a tad back behind the should and only got lungs. The Roan is the second largest antelope found in Africa and they can be very tough and if you’ve ever studied the anatomy of African game, you have learned it does sit a bit further forward than our game here in North America. So, as we waited for Zulu Danie’s dog to arrive from camp we searched everywhere for my arrow knowing that it was a passthrough, but we never turned it up. Once we had Zulu in hand, we began tracking the bull in his semi-circle we had seen him run. We didn’t go far from where we had lost sight of the bull and found him Kaput as a lot of African PH’s put it. The bull hadn’t gone more than 150 yards and upon taking care of him back at camp the skinners showed us that the arrow had went straight through the middle of the heart making a perfect two blade cut from the Maasai 200 grain Grizzly Stik. All though some of my shots weren’t what one hopes for its hunting things don’t always go as planned but, It was an amazing way to finish off a great Safari for me to complete the SCI African 29 taking a monster Roan that is #3 with a bow in the SCI record book. You can see this hunt on my YouTube channel I can’t wait to be back in Africa.


Southern Roan

The end of a good Safari

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