W­HEN O­PEN SPACES CALL

SA Jagter Hunter - - IN MY VISIER -

It was dark, de­ad qui­et and very cold w­hen I slip­ped out the door of the guest­hou­se in Bloem­fon­tein. The Toyo­ta’s en­gi­ne pur­red w­hen I tur­ned the ig­ni­ti­on and mi­nu­tes la­ter, with the air con­di­ti­o­ner pro­per­ly ad­jus­ted, warm air star­ted trickling in­to the Hi­lux’s ca­bin.

I tur­ned off the N8 ne­ar Pe­trus­burg and he­a­ded in the di­recti­on of Kof­fie­fon­tein. The re­a­ding on the temp gau­ge was -3˚... Ex­cept for the bak­kie’s he­ad­lig­hts fee­ling their way through the dark mor­ning, a pa­le moon dim­ly lit the sur­roun­ding veld. I felt sa­fe and co­sy in the in­ti­ma­te spa­ce of the Toyo­ta’s ca­bin. The­re is so­mething spe­ci­al a­bout tra­vel­ling al­o­ne in the dark on the back ro­ads of our big sky coun­try. It al­ways feels as if I am in a co­coon – sa­fe from e­ver­y­thing that li­fe and the sur­rounds can throw at me. To me so­li­tu­de is bliss. With the Hi­lux’s en­gi­ne pur­ring con­tent­ly (that’s w­hat I i­ma­gi­ne) and the ty­res’ mo­no­to­nous sin­ging on the tar, my thoug­hts ran­ged far and wi­de... re­cal­ling hunts of the past that took pla­ce in the land of horizons, the G­re­at Ka­roo.

E­ven­tu­al­ly I tur­ned south and w­hen I pas­sed Heu­ning­nes­kloof on my way to­wards Ho­pe­town the first rays of sun­lig­ht re­luc­tant­ly star­ted cra­w­ling o­ver the veld. Lif­ting the veil of dar­kness, the sun see­med to cling to the ed­ge of the e­arth for long mo­ments be­fo­re it la­zi­ly cle­a­red the ho­ri­zon. Af­ter a mi­nu­te or two it ap­pea­red to gat­her mo­men­tum and then star­ted pain­ting the rol­ling plains, stret­ching as far as the eye can see, in hu­es of gold.

Alt­hough I am hap­py a­ny­w­he­re in the veld, my soul feels mo­re at ho­me in the wi­de o­pen spaces of the drier parts of our coun­try. It is the land of the black kor­haan, the gom­pou (ko­ri bus­tard) and the springbuck. A­ni­mals that lo­ve the sun dren­ched plains and the o­pen spaces w­he­re one’s soul can bre­at­he free­ly.

A herd of springbuck to the rig­ht of the ro­ad caug­ht my eye, their gol­den tan and whi­te co­ats shi­ning brig­ht­ly in the e­ar­ly mor­ning lig­ht. Brin­ging the Toyo­ta to a halt I got out to ta­ke a bet­ter look. Cold air nip­ped at my no­se and e­ars but the freshness of the mor­ning soon ma­de me f­or­get a­bout win­ter.

Look­ing at the springbuck (a­bout six­ty strong) I star­ted thin­king a­bout the trek­bok­ke of y­e­ste­ry­e­ar. I was he­a­ding to Kar­reek­loof, west of S­try­den­burg, a hu­ge pro­per­ty w­he­re I was told lar­ge num­bers of the­se won­der­ful buck still ro­a­med the drie­do­ring plains and black- thorn-li­ned gul­lies. Springbuck are chal­len­ging to hunt on foot in o­pen ter­rain and the me­at al­so tas­tes g­re­at – ve­nison-wi­se it is my fa­vou­ri­te a­ni­mal.

Alt­hough I re­al­ly lo­ve hunting springbuck, it is ac­tu­al­ly not a­bout the ve­nison or the trophies. I would feel con­tent, e­ven wit­hout bag­ging a sin­gle a­ni­mal. Just to be out the­re in the wi­de o­pen spaces is e­nough to soot­he the soul and ma­ke you w­ho­le a­gain.

W­hen I dro­ve on I de­ci­ded to “put foot” as they say, be­cau­se I was in a hur­ry to get dirt on my boots and bre­at­he in that spe­ci ial kind off so­li­tu­de­o­li­tu­de that­tha is so in nhe­rent to the land of horizons.

Mooi loop!

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