South Africa — Tough day in the blind

IMG 6432LSON Managing Editor Conor Harrison recently returned from a trip to South Africa. He kept a journal of the trip and, for the next few days, we will publish his notes from the hunt. 

5.19.12

Hunting the same ranch this morning but trying a different blind where we might have a better chance at a nice warthog or big wildabeest.

We arrived at the natural waterhole soon after first light this morning and did not like the position of the blind. So we moved it to one we thought would work better with the current wind direction and likely drinking place for the animals.

Our move was confirmed as a good one when the first animals began to show up right at 9 a.m. Herds of waterbuck came to the water all morning, along with good numbers of warthog, red hartabeest, an impala ram with a broken horn and one wildabeest bull with nothing but his bosses. He is ancient! Both of his horns are snapped about 12 inches past their base but he is super heavy.

He walked away without offering a shot, but if he comes in again, I might take him if the opportunity presents itself. I can only imagine the stories he could tell about his time in the bush — just an old warrior.

At one point this morning, Whitey and I have more than 40 waterbuck, 15 wildabeest, zebra and warthog within 25 yards of the blind — just an incredible amount of game. We have begun to call this blind “the zoo” due to the continuous animals that keep showing up.

About 1 p.m., Whitey said a large warthog boar is making his way to the water — this is the one we’ve been looking for.

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IMG 6428The big pig comes into the water and offers a good broadside shot at nine yards. “This is a gimme,” I think as I pull the bow back for the shot.

At the release, the arrow takes the pig high in the shoulder — much too high. I immediately have that sinking feeling as we watch the boar stop at 75 yards and look back at the water. Blood is trickling from a wound below his spine but he runs off without showing any signs of slowing down. Not good.

Whitey and I spend the next two hours on hands and knees looking for more blood and any sign that the boar might be fatally hit to no avail. After the first 25 yards on the track the blood stops and we are forced to try and follow tracks. This is almost an impossibility due to the myriad warthog tracks coming into the water.

My confidence is waning after missing such an easy shot, but historically, the close shots are the ones I hurry and usually end up messing up. It is a dejected feeling sitting the rest of the afternoon in the blind knowing I have wounded an animal that most likely will not be recovered. Hopefully, the wound is superficial and he will survive.

Around 5 p.m. a huge nyala bull came to the water. He was a great trophy, with large bell-shaped horns that flared dramatically at the top with ivory tips. Whitey said he would push the magical 30-inch mark that all nyala hunters strive for.

IMG 6430Taking a few pictures of this awesome trophy salvages an otherwise sour day.

Still, seeing the amount of game we saw today leaves a hunter in awe at the wildlife of South Africa. It would have been perfect to put my hands on a really nice pair of warthog tusks, though.

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