Game Farm: Doornkuil Bow Hunting Safaris
Manager/Owner: Oom Piet Smit
Farm Size: 200 ha
Location: Rust De Winter, Limpopo
Professional Hunter: n/a
Date: 23 March 2013 (day hunt)
Non Hunters: n/a
Weapon: Hoyt Turbo Hawk – 80lbs
Broad head/Bullet: Slick Trick Std – 125 grains
Arrow details: Carbon Express Maximum Hunter 452gr
Hunting Method: Walk and stalk
Shot distance: 50 yards
Animal hunted: Blue Wildebeest Bull
After a long morning, form 6am to about 11h45, and 5 x failed stalking attempts on impala and belsbok, I call in to be collected so I could fill my hydration pack with energade, in my modified “bum bag” (I feel a back pack in summer makes my back way to sweaty). I asked the tracker to see if we could see what area the wildebeest were in on the way back to camp for the quick refill.
We spotted the wildebeest under a tall tee in the middle of what, at first glance looked like very open terrain. We left them under the tree and contained as the camp. After the refill I walked back to the bush, deciding what to do.
First I decided I would sit in the pit blind and wait for them to come in for the food at the blind which was about 250 yards away from the tree they were sleeping under. The pit blind is only 200 yards from the camp. I decided this because the terrain looked very open, with not much cover for a stalk.
When I got to the blind I decided to go have a closer look at the possibility of a stalk, as I had already decided, I was only going to walk and stalk this year, no matter how many times I failed at the stalks, it does however get a bit frustrating, and after about half a day of failures, I am normally very tempted to go and sit in a hide.
Finally got to within 140 yards, and sat down for a while to try plan the rest of the stalk. After planning the route, checking the wind and observing the animal’s behaviour, I continued the stalk. The wildebeest we now lying under a tree in the shade. During the stalk every few minutes one would get up and scan the surrounding area. By observing their behaviour before the final stalk, I knew they were doing this, so I had to keep an eye on the constantly. Every time a wildebeest stood up to scan, I stopped dead in my tracks and did not move a muscle, sometimes not always in the ideal position.
I had ranged the distance before I got to the bush, by ranging the tree, they were lying under, and then the bush I was aiming to get to. Subtracting the distances, I knew if I got to the bush in question, I would be 50 yards from the wildebeest. I therefore set my HHA single pin site on 50 yards.
After about 2 hours, of stalking bent over and crawling (trying to stay as low as possible), I managed to get within 50 yards, and was kneeling behind a small bush, that just covered my head; there was no more cover between myself and the wildebeest herd of about 5 animals, so I could go no further.
As an afterthought I feel I was a bit impatient at this point. I drew my bow, and stepped slightly to the right, to get a clear shooting lane. I gave a soft whistle, to get them to stand. Nothing moved. Gave a louder whistle, and then the bull stood, looking in my direction. I aimed for the tip of his nose, and released the arrow. With my bright yellow fletched, I could see the shot was spot on, going to hit, just below his nose. I would not have taken this shot for an impala or warthog, due to their super-fast reactions, and their ability to spring jump. I thought the wildebeest was too big to move that quickly. However, at the last second, the wildebeest “spring jumped” the arrow, I think due to 2 x mistakes I made:
1) I whistled and the wildebeest was looking in my direction, and was therefore alert.
2) The shot distance was too long for an alert animal, and he heard the arrow on the way to him.
Fortunately I was in the Lord’s favour on Saturday. The wildebeest did “spring jump” the arrow. He went down and to the right. The arrow could very easily have hit him on the shoulder bone, and I would have deeply regretted the mistakes I had made, but fortunately he moved just enough for the arrow to hit in the vital triangle, and turned out to be a great shot, (with a lot of luck).
The arrow penetrated about 20 inches, and as the wildebeest ran to the right, I could see the bright yellow fletches and arrow was in the vitals. It broke off after the wildebeest ran 10 yards. I watched the run taking note of the last bush he disappeared behind. Making a mental note (almost a mental photo). This is very important for recovery, especially if there is not a great blood trail.
I was ecstatic. I walked back to the camp and after an hour the tracker and I went to look for the BWB. We found the broken end of the arrow, with some good frothy lung blood. There was not a drop of blood on the ground, but I was not worried due to the visibility I had of the shot placement. We tried to follow the tracks, the herd split. The tracker went back to where the BWB stood when shot to look for a blood trail again and I went to the bush I had marked (where I saw him last).
I saw a dirt road about 20 yards away. I walked down the road, as it was directly in line with the direction the BWB was running and I was sure he would cross the road. Sure enough I found his tracks and then a few drops of blood in the sand. I started following the tracks and the blood. 20 yards away, just to the left of the road lying in the grass, I found my BWB.
I was overwhelmed. I was only the fourth animal in 3 years I have taken on walk and stalk.
I always try and review my walk and stalk sessions in my mind and replay them, whether successful or not, and formulate a lessons learned, to ensure I don’t make the same mistakes again. Here are the lessons I learned from Saturday.
1) I had 5 x failed stalked and an impala combined blesbok herd of about 30 animals. There are way too many eyes and ears together, and success on a walk and stalk with this many animals is very limited.
2) On the first stalk I did that morning, I did get to with 37 yards of the closest impala, but as I move closer a very young kudu calf, stood up from behind a bush in front of me, and spooked the herd. There was nothing I could do about that though, as I had no idea she was there, but it did remind me to be completely aware of all animals in the area. You do not need to be “busted”, by the animals or herd you are stalking, and any animal in the area could give that dreaded alert call.
3) Spot and stalk is a lot easier than walk and stalk. I feel you stand more chance of success than walk and stalk. I normally get busted on the walk and stalk due to movement and/or making too much noise.
4) Wildebeest, even though very large, can “spring jump” and arrow, and now I feel all animals have the ability to spring jump, as all bows and arrow make a noise. Limit the shooting distance if the animals is alert or wait until the animal is totally relaxed.
5) Don’t take long shots on an animal looking in your direction, or on an alert animal. Wait until the animals in looking away.
6) Always mark the last bush that the animal disappears behind. This was key to the successful recover on Saturday and on others hunts where I did not have a good blood trail – even when shooting from a blind.
I have recounted the story of my walk and stalk hunt honestly, and would welcome any criticism – both positive and negative (as I expect to get both) from the hunters on this forum, to learn even more from the mistakes I made, but did not identify.
Dimitri, if you happen to read this, please comment, I enjoy your open and honest comments.
Shot taken from this bush
Me with BWB
Me, Oom Piet and BWB