South Africa — First day in the blind

IMG 6342LSON Managing Editor Conor Harrison recently returned from a trip to South Africa. He kept a journal of the trip and, for the next week, we will publish his notes from the hunt.

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There are always several pressure shots a hunter needs to make when so much time and effort goes into a hunting trip, but one of the toughest is the first shot on the range with several of the professional hunters standing over your shoulder watching. The first impression is one that lasts. Thankfully, I stacked five arrows on top of each other from 10 to 40 yards. That got a few approving looks and a “looks like you’re ready” comment. Good show!

Several cups of strong coffee later and we were off.

We drove to another ranch about 15 minutes from camp. The first animals we saw on the way to the waterhole were a group of white rhinos. They are huge animals and according to my PH, Whitey Van Zyl, they have made a remarkable comeback in South Africa, mainly due to breeding and anti-poaching measures paid for by hunters.

The blind is an elevated enclosure overlooking a waterhole. The action was steady from 9:30 to noon, with warthog, impala, nyala, kudu, sable and vervet monkeys all within 25 yards. A really nice sable bull hung around all morning — they are impressive animals up close. Passed a shot on a young impala ram. It is only the first morning and plenty of time to hunt for a heavier, older ram.

The animals are very calm and the game is moving well — a good sign on the first morning of the hunt. The bird life is also incredible. So many colors and variations make the waterhole an amazing place, even when the bigger animals are not drinking.

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IMG 6370Around noon we headed back to the lodge for lunch and a nap. Whitey said later in the week we will be sitting all day at the waterholes, as many animals drink when the day is hottest. It can be a grind-it-out type of hunting, but if the animals are active, it can also be a terrific experience. Just be sure to bring a good book to pass the time.

The afternoon was spent in a large viewing blind overlooking a very large waterhole, not really hunting, just getting a feel for the game movements and taking some great pictures. Game seen included waterbuck, red hartabeest, gemsbok, ostrich, impala and warthog. Tomorrow we will start hunting hard, with a trip to the Waterberg Mountains about an hour away for a chance at bushbuck.

For more photos, click below.









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