I cannot see for the relentless whipping of my hair in my eyes. I cannot hear the PH Paul above the roaring gusts of gale like wind. Paul attempts some kind of Afrikaans sign language, which I roughly translate as “No animal in their right mind would be up here!”
He is right, and one might ask if we are in a right mind hunting Reedbuck on a bare mountain face in the July wind in South Africa. But if you want to hunt mountain Reedbuck, you need to go to a mountain. This is a tough assignment. I had been here the previous afternoon, with no excitement except for a scattering of females as we clambered along the side of the mountain, trying to be stealthy but retain our balance in the cyclonic wind. Although the weather conditions are slightly more favourable this afternoon, the Reedbuck are not playing the game. We have about an hour of daylight to find a good ram amongst the short grass and scattering of rocks. With no cover, and the tendency for Reedbuck to lie up, very well camouflaged when threatened, rather than run, it makes spotting them difficult. ‘Impossible!’ I think to myself. Wary in the wind, a scattering of animals spooks at our approach, while some lie camouflaged in the grass then race off when we pass, unspotted, at ten yards. They blend so well into the surroundings that when Paul spots a good ram, I get into position for a shot. I feel clumsy, I cannot keep steady and I cannot see the correct animal in the scope until he prances off over the ridge, taking my confidence with him. I am disappointed, but not defeated, but my steely determination is becoming fragile. I may have missed my only chance on this elusive antelope, but I comfort myself with thoughts of tonight’s Braai by a warm fire.
We decide to direct our tapering energy toward finding an Impala for Jen, my hunting buddy for the day. We drive the meandering trail back down the mountain to the flat, where it is sheltered from the wind, and the sun is still casting a warm glow over the landscape. Much to our surprise, the Mountain Reedbuck have the same idea. A small herd of them are milling about on a rocky outcrop. Amongst them is a ram. “A very good one!” says Paul.
The hunting God’s have given me a second-shot. A chance to redeem myself, and as I quickly load and prepare for the shot, I feel the pressure, knowing that if miss this chance I will not have another until the following day, if at all! The ram is now walking slowly. At 100 yards I take the shot. It is a little far back than I would have liked, but stops him in his tracks and I am able to get off a second shot, in the neck, which takes him down instantly.
Not only is this a special trophy in terms of it’s large measurements for such a species, but it is product of patience, persistence and determination; the skill and wise counsel of Paul my PH; and support of my team, Zac, Charmaine, Jen and Anushka, who were more than happy to be dragged up and down mountains for two days for this elusive creature. They say anticipation heightens the pleasure… and I am a very happy hunter.
Thank you to all the team at Tollie’s African Safari’s for supporting the ‘Heart of the Huntress’ with superb accommodation, magnificent animals, great company, skilful staff, and delicious food. Diet starts on Monday!
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