South Africa — Wildabeest, finally

IMG 6459LSON 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.


I managed to sleep in until 8 this morning before arising and heading to the range to shoot my bow.

Two high shots in a row, one resulting in wounding an animal and the other a clean miss, has me needing to shoot some to correct any form issues and make sure everything is working properly.

My first shot from 20 yards hits 9 inches high. My second shot is in the same place. I back up to 30 yards and let fly. Again, 9 inches high. I haven’t noticed a shift in my pins, but they have obviously shifted at some point. My next shot is with my 20-yard pin from 30 yards — it hits dead center.

My 10-yard pin hits dead center at 20 yards.

O.K., no problem. Just have to remember to add 10 yards to my 4 pins. This is a good lesson for many shooters. My routine at home had been to shoot everday, something I have not done here. Another lesson learned for me!

Whitey and I head to a blind at 8:30 for another attempt at a blue wildabeest.

We set up in the blind and, within 30 minutes, wildabeest are headed our way. With our past luck, I expect the wind to shift at any moment and the wildabeest to run from the water like I have watched them do on several occasions this past week. At least there aren’t any zebra around this time!

As the herd of wildabeest are walking towards the water, a nice impala ram shows up from out of nowhere and Whitey and I decide he is big enough to forget about the wildabeest for a while.

I quickly come to full draw on the impala — he is 20 yards away and broadside as I begin to settle my formerly 10-yard pin on his shoulder. As I exhale and begin to touch the trigger of my release, the impala turns and walks directly away from me.

Our luck! But he is quickly forgotten as a big wildabeest bull moves into the exact spot the impala was occupying and, once again, I come to full draw and find the correct pin.


IMG 6440At the shot, the wildabeest bolts from the water and runs 100 yards away before stopping. Whitey and I see the arrow took the bull a little too far forward and low on the shoulder — a fatal shot but it could be one heck of a tracking job before the bull expires.

Whitey has the bull in the sights of his .375 and asks if I want to end it quickly. Without hesitation, I say “yes,” and Whitey sends a round behind the bull’s shoulder. The wildabeest runs 10 yards before falling.

I am upset at myself for a poor shot, but happy the bull stopped in the open where we could finish him quickly.

Whitey continues to apologize, but there is no need. When you have a chance to end a hunt with a wounded animal, I believe you put pride aside and finish the job. It is the only ethical decision, in my opinion. I am a bow hunter, but that doesn’t mean the animal suffers so I can pat myself on the back and say I had no help.

The shot would have eventually been fatal, but, as Whitey put it, “he would have shown us the entire property as we tracked him.” 

We approach the bull and I am thrilled to have him. He is an old bull with heavy bosses well past his breeding age. A great trophy.

The afternoon is spent with my dad and stepmom driving another property looking for impala — the last animals on our trophy list. It is an enjoyable drive and we see many rams, just none that are big enough. I did get some great photos of many animals, including more nyala.

Tomorrow is our final hunting day and we will spend it together, looking for more impala.

We returned to camp to learn the power has gone out sometime during the afternoon. This is Africa, after all, and we eat a wonderful dinner by candlelight before sitting around the campfire in the dark.

Before heading to bed, I walk out on the lawn and look at the stars — they are amazing in this area of no light pollution. The Milky Way Galaxy is clearly visible, along with the Southern Cross and a large number of satellites streaking across the sky.

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