Your gui­de and you

Good com­mu­ni­ca­ti­on be­t­ween you and your gui­de is the re­ci­pe for success.

SA Jagter Hunter - - INHOUD - By PE­TER ST­AN­NARD

Pe­ter St­an­nard

Does your hun­ting gui­de know w­hat to ex­pect from you and do you know w­hat you ex­pect from him? Does he know w­hat heig­ht to set your tri­pod at, how you want to ap­pro­ach your prey and w­hat he must help you with? You mig­ht say: Su­re, we of­ten hunt to­get­her and we know e­ach ot­her well. But is that re­al­ly true? Ne­ver ta­ke a­ny­thing for gran­ted w­hen you are hun­ting.

The­re ha­ve been ma­ny ta­les told a­round a bushveld camp­fi­re of the hunter that shot two a­ni­mals with one shot! Un­for­tu­na­te­ly a lot of them are true and ho­pe­ful­ly we­re ne­ver plan­ned as such. For any hunter to ta­ke such a shot on pur­po­se is both fool­har­dy and laying on­e­self wi­de o­pen to being in­stru­men­tal in woun­ding an a­ni­mal. Yet it still hap­pens and I am em­bar­ras­sed to say that it has hap­pe­ned to me! Why? W­hat went wrong? The­re are su­re­ly les­sons to be le­ar­ned he­re. For me the first les­son star­ted short­ly af­ter ar­ri­ving at the ga­me farm...

THE GUI­DE

We we­re greeted by the o­w­ner and went through the nor­mal pro­cess of hun­ting ru­les and in­dem­ni­ties. We we­re keen to get star­ted and w­hen we en­qui­red w­he­re the gui­des we­re, we we­re told that one of our re­gu­lar gui­des had been hurt whi­le fix­ing a trac­tor. For­tu­na­te­ly the far­mer had a sub­sti­tu­te gui­de cal­led I­zak who was still very young, but knew the farm well. That being said, we accep­ted that he would do his job well and re­a­died our­sel­ves for fi­ve glo­ri­ous days in the bush. W­hat can be bet­ter than the bushveld, na­tu­re, good com­pa­ny and ex­cel­lent food?

Not being a trop­hy hunter I was look­ing for me­at for the wi­fe and I; so­mething tender to fill our me­at needs for a good few mont­hs. Look­ing at that par­ti­cu­lar ga­me farm’s hun­ting me­nu and keeping my bank ac­count in mind I de­ci­ded that a young ku­du cow would fit the bill.

THE SEARCH

Three days (and ma­ny ki­lo­me­tres tre­ad-we­ar on my boots) went past, but the ku­du cows we­re not in­te­rested in sho­wing their fa­ces w­hen I was a­round. W­hen we had on­ly two mo­re days left in the veld, my friend Wil­lem said: “This af­ter­noon I’ll show you w­he­re the ku­du cows are. I know ex­act­ly w­he­re to find them.” This soun­ded good and in­te­res­ting so we we­re all set to go af­ter a good brunch and a rest.

Wil­lem, I­zak and I jum­ped on­to the back of the bak­kie and he­a­ded out to the furt­her re­a­ches of the farm. Af­ter a­bout 15 mi­nu­tes we we­re dri­ving al­ong a fen­ce-li­ne w­hen sud­den­ly a lar­ge tract of old o­ver­gro­wn farm­lands o­pe­ned up on our left, and the­re, stan­ding a­bout 300 me­tres a­way, in the o­pen veld, we­re three ku­du cows. Wil­lem told the dri­ver to stop be­hind so­me ram­bling ka­ree bus­hes and I­zak, Wil­lem and I has­ti­ly got off the vehi­cle out of sig­ht of the ku­du. Wil­lem then as­ked the dri­ver to dri­ve slo­w­ly straig­ht to­wards the ku­du. He tur­ned to me and said: “Wa­tch the ku­du. The bak­kie will spook them and they will run up to the tree-li­ne and then in our di­recti­on. Get re­a­dy and stay still, they are very in­qui­si­ti­ve and will want to keep an eye on the bak­kie.”

I got my tri­pod re­a­dy and with I­zak on my left and Wil­lem on his haun­ches be­hind me I stood qui­et­ly wa­t­ching and wai­ting in an­ti­ci­pa­ti­on at w­hat was going to un­fold. Su­re e­nough, just as Wil­lem had pre­dicted, the ku­du wa­t­ched the bak­kie ap­pro­a­ching for a short whi­le and then took off for the trees. On­ce they we­re a­mongst the trees they tur­ned and ran al­ong the tree-li­ne in our di­recti­on. I quick­ly chec­ked the wind, the­re was a very lig­ht bree­ze in my fa­ce. Per­fect. All was set.

Then, very ty­pi­cal of ku­du, they stop­ped just be­hind the tree­li­ne and with e­rect e­ars sta­red in­tent­ly at the bak­kie, which had now stop­ped so­me dis­tan­ce a­way. The way they we­re stan­ding was per­fect – three ku­du

cows pre­sen­ted their flanks to me and we­re look­ing bac­kwards to w­he­re the bak­kie had stop­ped. The dis­tan­ce was a­bout 80m – an e­a­sy shot for my .303, lo­a­ded with PMP 174gr am­mu­ni­ti­on. I se­lected the ku­du in the midd­le and just as Ke­vin Ro­bert­son ex­plains in his book, The Per­fect Shot, I pla­ced the cross-hairs at the top of the front rig­ht leg. I just couldn’t miss.

THE TWO-SHOT KU­DU

I fi­red, and for a split se­cond the re­coil and flash blin­ded me. Then di­sas­ter! As my vi­si­on cle­a­red three ku­du we­re jum­ping gra­ce­ful­ly in­to the air. They tou­ched ground lig­ht­ly and dar­ted dee­per in­to the bush. How could this be? No shot in the bush is e­a­sy but this was re­al­ly the e­a­siest that I had e­ver had. I now had a pro­blem. W­hen ku­du jump li­ke that the­re is a very high pos­si­bi­li­ty of a bad shot too far back in­to the ab­do­men.

For­tu­na­te­ly my luck was in. They ran a­bout 50m dee­per in­to the bush and then stop­ped on a s­lig­ht ri­se, their cu­ri­o­si­ty ta­king o­ver a­gain. On­ce mo­re they pre­sen­ted them­sel­ves to me per­fect­ly, stan­ding bro­ad­s­i­de on and we­re still sta­ring at the bak­kie, ob­vi­ous­ly very con­fu­sed as to w­hat had hap­pe­ned.

Wil­lem stood up, lif­ted his bi­no­cu­lars and wa­t­ched them in­ten­se­ly for a few se­conds: “The one in the midd­le looks a litt­le un­hap­py,” he said, “she is twit­ching. Drop the one in the midd­le.” I couldn’t let this op­por­tu­ni­ty go. If I mis­sed now it could be a very long and ti­ring search for a kwes­bok.

Ca­re­ful­ly I ai­med at the sa­me spot, ste­a­died and fi­red. To my re­lief the cow went do­wn. I was e­la­ted, no kwes­bok!

Wil­lem stay­ed at the ka­ree bush and with I­zak in tow I wal­ked to­wards the a­rea w­he­re I had last seen the a­ni­mal. Wil­lem hel­ped by cal­ling “left” or “rig­ht” so that we re­mai­ned on tar­get. Af­ter we batt­led through the sh­rub­be­ry and bush we found her. I quick­ly tur­ned her o­ver and the­re, just a­bo­ve the front leg, we­re two small en­try ho­les a­bout two in­ches a­part. I had de­fi­ni­te­ly hit this a­ni­mal twi­ce. It was the rig­ht ku­du, but w­hat went wrong with the first shot? Well, it didn’t mat­ter, I had my ku­du and the­re is no woun­ded a­ni­mal in the veld.

It took a whi­le for the bak­kie to ma­noeu­vre through the bush so that we could lo­ad the a­ni­mal. On­ce this was ac­com­plis­hed, I re­pla­ced my rifle in its car­ry-bag and stas­hed it a­way be­hind the dri­ver’s se­at. A­he­ad lay a­not­her 15-mi­nu­te boun­cing ri­de back to the farm’s but­chery.

A­NOT­HER KU­DU?

Then, just as I was star­ting to re­lax and the bak­kie had al­most re­a­ched the ed­ge of the tree­li­ne a­gain, I­zak said to me: “Sir, w­hat a­bout the ot­her ku­du?”

I sta­red at him: “I­zak, w­hat are you tal­king a­bout?”

Poin­ting to the left he said: “O­ver the­re sir, un­der that tree.” I look­ed to w­he­re he was poin­ting and su­re e­nough the­re was a ku­du cow lying in the long grass!

W­hat the hell was going on? The­re had been three ku­du and three ku­du had jum­ped from co­ver af­ter my first shot! This was ob­vi­ous­ly the cow that I had fi­red at first, but had that one not run a­way?

“I­zak,” I said, “but the­re we­re on­ly three ku­du. W­he­re does this one co­me from? Why didn’t you tell me that the first ku­du went do­wn?” I was fu­ri­ous and wan­ted to vent my an­ger on so­mebo­dy.

Then I­zak said: “Sir I thoug­ht that you had seen the fourth ku­du. They pic­ked her up as they ran al­ong the tree-li­ne. I thoug­ht you saw her w­hen she fell straig­ht do­wn be­hind the tree and that you just wan­ted to shoot a­not­her ku­du.”

This was cra­zy! I cal­led for the vehi­cle to stop and de­ci­ded to just shut up, be­cau­se this fi­as­co was al­so my fault. W­hen I thoug­ht a­bout it, this was pro­ba­bly the first time that I­zak and I had ex­chan­ged any words du­ring that day. I should ha­ve scan­ned the sce­ne bet­ter and pic­ked up that a fourth ku­du had joi­ned the ot­her three, and most im­por­tant, that it was stan­ding di­rect­ly be­hind the one that I had in my sig­hts.

TIDY-UP AND ANALYSE

I jum­ped off the bak­kie and lo­a­ned a .30-06 from a friend for a quick pho­to (mi­ne had been pac­ked a­way), and then we lo­a­ded the se­cond ku­du. My friends thoug­ht that it was a mag­ni­fi­cent job but I had a lot to think a­bout be­si­des the bank no­tes flying out the win­dow. At the but­chery I ex­a­mi­ned the car­cas­ses and saw that a small pie­ce of the 174gr bul­let had se­pa­ra­ted and pas­sed rig­ht through the chest ca­vi­ty of the first ku­du and hit the a­ni­mal stan­ding next to it. It had on­ly pe­ne­tra­ted the skin and was by no me­ans let­hal, but de­fi­ni­te­ly so­re e­nough to gi­ve the a­ni­mal a con­stant twitch.

That nig­ht as I sat a­round the camp­fi­re I moodi­ly di­ge­sted w­hat had trans­pi­red that day. The mo­ney wa­sn’t an is­sue be­cau­se a­not­her hunter had boug­ht the se­cond ku­du from me. I was moody be­cau­se t­hings didn’t feel rig­ht.

I had ne­ver spent time get­ting to know I­zak, as­king w­hat he knew a­bout the bush, could he fol­low an a­ni­mal track? I didn’t tell him that I pre­fer a shot in­to the ‘en­gi­ne room’ and as a ge­ne­ral ru­le wish to a­void a he­ad shot. I didn’t tell him w­hat ca­li­b­re rifle and am­mo I was u­sing, nor my pre­fer­red shoot­ing dis­tan­ce. I didn’t ma­ke su­re that he knew to check my shot pla­ce­ment and the a­ni­mal’s re­acti­on.

Pro­per com­mu­ni­ca­ti­on is very im­por­tant. The­re are pro­ba­bly a do­zen or mo­re t­hings that we should ha­ve dis­cus­sed to a­void misun­der­stan­ding.

In the end the les­son that I ha­ve le­ar­ned g­oes to all hun­ters. My ad­vi­ce: Ta­ke ten mi­nu­tes of your pre­ci­ous time and get to know your gui­de be­fo­re you go out in­to the veld. Ma­ke su­re that he un­der­stands your hun­ting stra­tegy, your wis­hes, go­als, mo­ti­ves and w­hat you plan to do in dif­fe­rent si­tu­a­ti­ons. Hap­py hun­ting!

The ku­du cow in the top pic­tu­re was the woun­ded one w­hil­st the one in the pho­to a­bo­ve was the cow that I kil­led first. I did not see her go do­wn and thoug­ht that I had mis­sed. The gui­de thoug­ht I wan­ted a­not­her ku­du and did not tell me a­bout this one.

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