Editor’s Note: Dave Stueve, owner and operator of La Porte City’s archery pro shop, Double Lung Archery, is a booking agent for Infinito Sarafis, located in South Africa. His partnership with Charl van Rooyen, Infinito Safaris’ owner, outfitter, as well as a professional hunter, has paved the way for dozens of area hunters to pursue the hunt of a lifetime on the other side of the globe. Last month, Stueve was joined by four clients for the hunt of a lifetime. Last week: The first days of the hunt proved to be busy and successful ones for the group from Iowa.
I arise at 5:30, quick shower, get my gear ready and do the wake up rounds. Ben has a new plan to lay out the hay and to put a branch at the far end of the water hole to force the animals to come in from the side. Sounds good to me and Charl gives us the green light to do it.
The Kudu come in shortly after we get settled. Ben’s plan works great! We have Kudu on the left, Kudu on the right, but none right in front of us!
Hey, wait, there’s an Impala Ram coming in! This one is way too small, with about 10” horns, but it’s a good sign there are Impala in the area. It’s only a couple minutes and here comes another ram. This one is a shooter. Ben and I go into action getting all the cameras on and preparing for the shot we hope will present itself.
The ram is coming in from our right and he heads to the far end of the water hole for a cool drink. As the ram turns to go he stops, offering Ben a perfect shot opportunity. Ben is at full draw. But, the Kudu Bull has moved in too close to risk a shot, I tell Ben, “Wait, wait.”
The ram moves off to our left and out of the shooting lane. Dang! So close! We think it is game over, but after a couple minutes, the ram decides he wants another drink! Game back on! With cameras rolling, Ben is ready. Here he comes. He slowly circles around the far end again, past the Kudu Bull, all the way around to come in from our right againWith the camera port hole in the blind blocking my view, I cannot get the entire Impala in frame and there is no time to reposition the tripod. Ben is settled on the Impala at full draw. I tell him to go ahead and take him.
Instantly, the arrow is on its way! Nice hit! A touch back but good. The Impala jumps forward. Seconds later, down he goes as Ben watches him from the side window. Impala down! Success! Team Iowa has done it again!
In five days of hunting Ben has shot two Impala Rams and a Zebra and filmed me getting my Zebra. Pretty good week if you ask me. It is cool how quickly Ben and I have become a team and worked so well together. Basically strangers a week ago, we’ve hunted like we’ve been doing this together for years. Very cool.
I tell Ben he should call this one in, using the phrase “Impala Down!” Charl knows those code words mean we’ve actually seen the Impala go down so he doesn’t have to gather Solly, his tracking crew and dogs to follow its trail into the South African brush to locate it. All he needs is the Land Cruiser and a good camera to photograph the trophy.
To get reception on the two-way radio, Ben will have to poke his head and the radio out the back door of the hide. Before he can do this, he sees two more Impala Rams about 50 yards behind the blind! He quickly, but gently, closes the door. We will have to wait them out so they don’t see us. That is why we are driven to the hides on a truck. The truck scares away any animals in the area. The hunters quickly get in the hide before the truck drives away. Animals cannot count how many people get off or back in the truck, which keeps the hides fresh all season long.
While we are waiting, a group of five Blesbucks come in to the water hole. It is their lucky day, as we are not hunting Blesbuck. After they move off, a quick check out back confirms we are in the clear. Ben makes the call, “Charl, Charl. Impala down, Impala down.” Charl answers back with a congrats to Ben and we begin gathering all our gear. About ten minutes later, we hear the truck rolling up. Charl and Solly head over to where we tell them the Impala is laying as Ben and I go out to retrieve his arrow. As they prepare the area and the ram for a photo, Ben recaps the hunt with Charl. It is only 9:30 AM! A short day, but what a way to end Ben’s hunt!
Charl’s 9 year son, Leon, helps me load our gear onto the Land Cruiser, we put the Impala in the back and all climb aboard. So glad I get to see Leon again this year. He tells me how he has been shooting the Mission Craze bow I gave him last year. He will be hunting with it soon! The tradition lives on!
So Ben is done. He has completed the hunt he outbid everyone else on at the Iowa Bowhunters Association (IBA) banquet in March of 2014. Charl donated this hunt to the IBA, so every penny of Ben’s winning bid went to the association. We donated another hunt package at the 2015 banquet and I am looking forward to bringing Dean, the winning bidder, to hunt South Africa with my group next year.
Now, I don’t want you to think we left Becky back in camp with nothing to do all this time Ben and I have been hunting together. Oh, no. She and Erika have been having a ball doing what we hunters jokingly call “girl stuff.” They spent a day shopping in town and visited an animal preserve, where they got to pet baby lions. Today, they are on a boat ride around the reservoir. She has been coming back to camp just as excited as we have been! You don’t have to hunt to have a great time in South Africa. Erika loves doing the day trips with our clients.
Ben and I decide to take the rest of the day off. Tomorrow he, Becky and Erika head off for the second part of their adventure, a two day trip to the Kruger National Park. We eat the lunch Chef Seeba had packed for us to have in the hide. I use the time to get caught up on email, Facebook, Archery Talk and writing. There was even time for a nap!
Soon, Becky and the rest of the group return from their boat ride. After another great meal and some time by the fire, off to bed we go. Just before dinner, Charl pulls me aside and tells me he has been called to a meeting of the Professional Hunters Association of South Africa in Pretoria for tomorrow. He tells me about the subject matter of the meeting and I agree that he does need to be there. I guess I have tomorrow off!
Part 4: What surprises await the Iowa hunters during their final days of hunting in South Africa?