Ta­le of a taw­we tie­nie ran­ge­fin­der

A Leupold ran­ge­fin­der was all al­o­ne out in the wild, but it re­fu­sed to die.

SA Jagter Hunter - - INHOUD - Ger­hard Ver­doorn

T­hurs­day Ju­ne 18, 2015 will al­ways re­main a me­mo­ra­ble day for me, al­beit not one of very good me­mo­ries. I was hunting on Rib­bok­rant (moun­tain reed­buck hill in En­g­lish) in the Eas­tern Ca­pe Ka­roo of South A­fri­ca. It was mid-af­ter­noon, a few hours be­fo­re sunset would ha­ve her­ded me back to the farmste­ad. A small clan of bles­buck was stan­ding a­cross the val­ley on a hil­lock in the af­ter­noon sun. My Leupold RX-1200i TBR ran­ge­fin­der in­di­ca­ted the dis­tan­ce to be 283m, which was within com­for­ta­ble re­ach of my Re­ming­ton Sen­de­ro 7mm Re­ming­ton Mag­num lo­a­ded with 150gr Bar­nes TTSX bul­lets at a few nicks short of 3 000fps. I was in pro­ne po­si­ti­on with the Sen­de­ro res­ting on its Har­ris­bi­pod. I ai­med for the neck of a bles­buck ewe but as I pres­sed the trig­ger the ewe mo­ved her he­ad and the bul­let whis­ked past her. The en­ti­re herd de­par­ted at con­si­de­ra­ble s­peed do­wn the hil­lock. The GPS trac­ker wris­t­wa­tch sho­wed it was 15h40, the sun would set within a­bout two hours. I had to mo­ve!

I grab­bed the Sen­de­ro and Ca­melBak back­pack to pur­sue the herd. Man­kind with its two legs is a poor ma­tch for four­leg­ged cre­a­tu­res, es­pe­ci­al­ly in roc­ky ter­rain! A­bout a mi­le in­to my purs­uit I spot­ted the herd gra­zing on the plains. A long stalk, fol­lo­wed by a 400-y­ard le­o­pard cra­wl broug­ht me within ran­ge of the bles­buck. My left hand se­ar­ched for the ran­ge­fin­der that was al­ways snugly tied to the back­pack by me­ans of its la­ny­ard. My fin­gers fro­ze on an emp­ty pouch. Go­ne! How could it be?! Ta­king the Ca­melBak off my back on­ly con­fir­med the va­cuum in the RX-1200i’s

pouch. So­me choi­ce words left my mouth but they did of cour­se not bring back my fa­vou­ri­te Leupold toy. Need­less to say, I bla­med the bles­buck, but, to my ut­ter shame I must ad­mit it was Yours Tru­ly who fai­led to se­cu­re the ran­ge­fin­der pro­per­ly to the Ca­melBak. I shooed the an­te­lo­pe a­way and re­grou­ped. The ran­ge­fin­der was so­mew­he­re out t­he­re in the vast, o­pen Ka­roo.

I back­trac­ked but my se­arch was all in vain. The RX-1200i was no­w­he­re to be found and dusk was ap­pro­a­ching fast. Lo­sing a Leupold ran­ge­fin­der and a bles­buck in a sin­gle e­vent was a ter­ri­ble blow to my ego and of cour­se to my poc­ket.


The next mor­ning be­fo­re I pro­ces­sed the ga­me I had hun­ted, I went back on “Mis­si­on Im­pos­si­ble”; a­not­her tho­rough se­arch still left me wit­hout the RX1200i. I just had to accept the fact that I ha­ve lost one of my fa­vou­ri­te toys. For­tu­na­te­ly I still had my fait­hful pair of Mo­ja­ve 10x42 bi­no­cu­lars, the on­es I al­ways rig to a Le­o­pold har­ness a­round my neck.

Last y­e­ar in Ju­ne 2016 I was a­gain hunting on Rib­bok­rant and had high ho­pes of re­co­ve­ring my RX-1200i. No such luck! I had vi­si­ons of a ba­boon ha­ving fun with my ran­ge­fin­der... ran­ging scor­pi­ons and ot­her e­di­ble crit­ters whi­le I had to re­ly on my ar­my- trai­ned tar­get a­cqui­si­ti­on and ran­ge de­ter­mi­na­ti­on skills. T­he­re was on­ly one op­ti­on left: I had to dig in­to the cre­dit card vault and li­be­ra­te the Leupold a­gents For­ma­li­to of a new ran­ge­fin­der. So ca­me the day in Fe­bru­a­ry 2017 w­hen I was on­ce a­gain the proud o­w­ner of a new Leupold ran­ge­fin­der, a RX-1200i TBR/W.

I ar­ri­ved back at Rib­bok­rant on 13 Ju­ne 2017 full of ex­ci­te­ment be­cau­se t­his y­e­ar I would for the first ti­me e­ver hunt an e­land. The loss of my RX-1200i was still em­bed­ded in my me­mo­ry but the new ran­ge­fin­der wor­ked li­ke a charm and on the af­ter­noon of the first day at a­bout 4pm my CZ 550 .300 Win­ches­ter Mag­num drop­ped a good e­land cow with a 200gr Bar­nes TSX bul­let at a ran­ge of 347m. The fol­lo­wing day I hun­ted a bles­buck that broug­ht back sor­ro­w­ful me­mo­ries of the lost RX-1200i. I was, ho­we­ver, soot­hed by the pre­sen­ce of the new RX-1200i TBR/W se­cu­red by its la­ny­ard a­round my neck. I tou­ched it e­very now and a­gain to ma­ke su­re it didn’t go AWOL!


T­hurs­day af­ter­noon, ex­act­ly two y­e­ars to the day af­ter lo­sing the old ran­ge­fin­der, I de­ci­ded to call it a day, my hunting for t­his trip was do­ne. I al­re­a­dy had the e­land, bles­buck and fi­ve spring­buck, all han­ging in the cold room. So I de­ci­ded to just go for a stroll, checking on small succu­lents, we­at­he­red rocks, birds and small rep­ti­les. Do­wn the slo­pe I went look­ing for tracks of small ga­me. The ti­me was 15h11 and I had am­ple ti­me to en­joy the en­vi­ron­ment and the beau­ti­ful sur­roun­dings of the Ka­roo.

I jum­ped off a shelf of pla­ted sands­to­ne and as I lan­ded my eye caug­ht a dark ob­ject with a black “tail”. Could it be? Yes!! It was the long-lost Leupold RX1200i lying in the dirt al­most en­crus­ted with a “pro­tecti­ve co­ver” of shale and dried-out mud! Ho­ly mo­ly! I couldn’t help my­self but point up to God and i­ma­gi­ne a big smi­le on His fa­ce. Oh the joy of fin­ding a long-lost friend! The ran­ge­fin­der see­med to be OK but the la­ny­ard had pe­ris­hed, li­ke a sna­ke lo­sing part of its skin. I re­mo­ved so­me of the ca­ked mud and look­ed at the litt­le tool. The stic­ker with its still re­a­da­ble se­ri­al num­ber CRA012542C was se­ri­ous­ly we­at­he­red and the de­cal with the la­ser war­nings was to­tal­ly mau­led by the two y­e­ars of re­sis­ting the Ka­roo we­at­her.

The eye-pie­ce had a half-inch fos­si­li­sed ca­ter­pil­lar in it – as if the litt­le crit­ter nee­ded any ran­ging ser­vi­ces – and the la­ser a­per­tu­re was ca­ked with dried mud. A­ma­zingly, the ob­jecti­ve was un­ble­mis­hed. The ou­ter rub­ber »

» was we­at­he­red and ma­de my hands black but that was no­thing com­pa­red to the e­la­ti­on I felt for fin­ding the tiny Leupold. I lif­ted the de­vi­ce to my eye and found the view cle­ar despi­te the de­bris on the front ob­jecti­ve. The po­wer but­ton re­spon­ded fa­vou­ra­bly to a gent­le squee­ze and be­lie­ve it or not, the e­lec­tro­ni­cs lit up li­ke a bon­fi­re! The ran­ge­fin­der was still in per­fect wor­king or­der! And w­hat’s mo­re, the bat­te­ry was the o­ri­gi­nal CR2 that I got with the Leupold. W­hat a miracle!


I ca­re­ful­ly bag­ged the ran­ge­fin­der and im­me­di­a­te­ly cal­led Jo­han­nes Coert­ze of For­ma­li­to, the South A­fri­can a­gents for Leupold, to share the gre­at news; gre­at not on­ly be­cau­se of the coi­n­ci­den­ce of fin­ding the ran­ge­fin­der a­gain but al­so gre­at that the RX-1200i sur­vi­ved two y­e­ars al­most to the ex­act hour in the harsh con­di­ti­ons of my Ka­roo he­art­land! We shared the joy­ful mo­ment and Jo­han­nes was just as a­ma­zed as I was that the Leupold had sur­vi­ved its two y­e­ar ex­po­su­re to the Ka­roo we­at­her.

I strol­led back to the farmste­ad full of joy thin­king a­bout all my Leu­polds: four 4.5-14x50 VX-3L sco­pes, one 4.5-14x56 VX-3L sco­pe, one 3-9x40 VX-2 sco­pe, one 1-4x20 sco­pe, one 4x28 FX-II hand­gun sco­pe and too ma­ny pairs of Leupold bi­no­cu­lars to men­ti­on he­re. All ha­ve ser­ved me well but no­ne ha­ve succee­ded in ca­ta­ly­sing such e­mo­ti­ons of loss and joy than the litt­le black box that I was hol­ding in my hand. It en­du­red the wind, droug­ht, rain, he­at and bit­ter cold con­di­ti­ons of the Ka­roo, yet still s­par­ked to li­fe w­hen I pres­sed the but­ton. How ma­ny ot­her pie­ces of e­quip­ment would ha­ve sur­vi­ved a two-y­e­ar lo­ne­so­me batt­le a­gainst the e­le­ments?

Wel­co­me back RX-1200i. All I can say is: “Leupold for now, Leupold fo­re­ver!”

My Leupold ran­ge­fin­der af­ter spen­ding two y­e­ars in the veld. I lost it on a pre­vi­ous hunt (see the a­rea in the main pho­to) and by luck found it a­gain w­hen I hun­ted the sa­me a­rea t­his y­e­ar.

ABOVE: The­se pho­tos show w­hat the Leupold ran­ge­fin­der look­ed li­ke af­ter ha­ving spent two y­e­ars in the veld. I wiped it cle­an and found to my ut­ter sur­pri­se that it was still in per­fect wor­king or­der.

ABOVE: A­not­her pho­to of the ran­ge­fin­der as I found it.

RIG­HT: I was not hunting but just strol­ling through the veld to look at and ad­mi­re the veld plants and rock for­ma­ti­ons w­hen I stum­bled upon my long-lost friend, the Leupold ran­ge­fin­der.

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