First in a series by Dave Stueve
Well, the day finally arrived- the day we leave for South Africa! This year I am even more excited than ever! This year I get to take Tammy Beckham with me and let her experience the place I love so much. After meeting Corey, a client from southern Iowa, we fly out of Cedar Rapids to Chicago. We end up almost an hour late into Chicago, giving us about 17 minutes to make our flight. Believe it or not, we made it! Off to Washington, D.C. we go, hoping our luggage made it on the plane.
D.C. goes smooth and we get on the plane to take us across the ocean. We are a little late taking off but I am thinking that just gives them more time to get our bags on the plane. Now for the 17 hour-long flight. It is a long flight but the hunting is worth it! I only hope Tammy and Corey agree!
We arrive in Johannesburg on time and work our way thru customs. Tammy is excited to get the first stamp in her passport. After customs, we head to the baggage claim area. Unlike previous trips to South Africa, all our bags made it to Johannesburg with us! We sign for our bows and head to the exit/greeting area. There is Charl waiting for us! We introduce Corey and head to the truck. In the truck, Charl has my supply of Monster energy drink and as close as you can get to Diet Pepsi in South Africa. Anyone that knows me knows how vital these two things are to my survival!
Off we head to camp. I have not been to this property before, so it’s all new for me, too. The road is paved almost all the way, and much of it is brand new asphalt. Finally, we turn off onto a gravel road. Well, kind of. It is under construction, so it goes from gravel to big chunky rock, to asphalt, back to gravel, etc. Just as we come off a section of asphalt, there it is- a gravel pile about four feet high, blocking our path. It’s a good thing we were going slow or it could have been a “Dukes of Hazard” moment with the General Lee flying through the air. We stop and get out to survey the situation. We kick a little off the top but can see that is going to take forever to clear it with no shovels. Charl decides he thinks his truck will go over it. I’m thinking and say, “There is no way it’s going to make it.”
Charl is undeterred. He gets to the top, the front wheels just over the far edge and, there it is, we are officially high centered. So, here we are in the middle of nowhere, stuck. Ahhhh, this is Africa! Charl climbs to the top of the truck, extends his arm up and gets 1 bar of cell signal! He calls Erika, who reports she and Solly are on the way to our location with the other truck, the one equipped with the HUGE winch on the front. We are saved!
We arrive at camp, and what a camp it is. Very nice. Erika shows us our rooms and we gather at the fire. We plan to sleep in a little in the morning, then check our bows on the range before heading out for our first hunt.
As usual, I am the first one up in the morning. Love the mornings in Africa! The sounds and smells, the sunrise, I love it.
Pat, the owner of the property, and his son Willim drive up. I introduce myself and thank them for their hospitality. Willim is a Professional Hunter and will serve as Corey’s guide for the week. Before long, the rest of the camp comes to life.
It’s time to head to the range to make sure our bows are sighted in. Everyone’s equipment checks out and shoots fine, so off to the hides we go!
While Corey is hunting with Willim, Charl, Tammy and I take cover in a blind at noon, plenty of time for some action. Within an hour, animals begin to arrive. Over the next five hours we see 20 warthogs, 10 impala (including two rams fighting), three gemsbok, Jackel 54″ a kudu bull with three cows, a wildebeest bull, waterbuck, zebra and giraffe.
Tammy and I have a couple of opportunities to take aim but nothing good enough to squeeze off a shot. While packing up to leave, a white rhino arrives. Very rare animal and we feel lucky to see one.
Monday, June 3rd
Our first full day of hunting! As I sit by the fire, I can hear rutting Impala grunting from a distance of 100 yards or so from camp.
The morning is slow. By afternoon, animals begin to arrive but none offer us a shot.
About 4 o’clock Tammy and Charl go back to camp, while Solly joins me in the hide for the last couple hours. As I pack my stuff, getting ready to go, Solly whispers, “Jackel!” He’s about 45 yards away, a target I really want to hit, as the property owners like it when you shoot them, South Africa’s version of the coyote. I take aim and shoot, but the arrow flies right over him! Crap! Oh, well, it was a clean miss and I can see my Bloodsport arrow with it’s flare nock glowing on the other side of the water hole. We finish the day making a new plan for tomorrow.
Next Week: Will Dave and his client bag the trophies they came half-way around the world to get?