My Safari Addiction
I still can’t believe it, and it’s been over a year since I caught a plane out of Johannesburg and the left the Dark Continent behind. After winning the Hunter’s Choice Giveaway from AVID Hunting and Outdoors, my life was thrust into some sort of dream. At first, when I received the call from one of the owners, I thought my friends were playing a joke on me! I’m just not that lucky…But Brandon from AVID was patient and assured me that I did in fact win an African safari with Stanley Pieterse Safaris! The next several months before my departure, I really couldn’t think of much else.
Upon my arrival, Stanley was waiting for me at the airport and we would spend the next four hours immersed in conversation on our way to camp. Stanley operates out of South Africa near the border of Botswana and Zimbabwe on the Limpopo river. The four-hour ride seemed to fly by in the late night African darkness. As we drove through the night, I imagined if Africa looked as it did in my dreams. When we reached his home base, I was absolutely blown away…This place was like a five-star resort, and I would soon find out, right in the middle of prime hunting ground!
The hunt for my blue wildebeest taught me a lesson in humility. On the way to a pre-determined destination, we saw a dark figure up ahead. First off, I just wasn’t ready because it happened so fast, and I wasn’t expecting to see a trophy right off the road! We had been hunting pretty hard and I almost got a nice-looking wildebeest the day before but the thick African bush and subtle terrain concealed his escape. We were essentially spot and stalk hunting, but Stanley just calls it hunting. I was a little surprised to see such a nice wildebeest right from the road.
Stanley slowly slid to a halt, and in one smooth motion I got out of the truck, shouldered the .270 and took the 200 yard or so shot. I totally rushed the shot, but Stanley was certain I hit the bull, only a bit far back. He seemed confident in the tracking ability of his team, which put me at ease, a little. Maybe it’s because I’ve never shot at an animal in a situation like this, maybe it was the nerves, but I certainly rushed it, and I was a wreck!
We waited a bit then followed the trackers into the bush. The blood was great at first but stopped suddenly after about 300 yards or so. I learned so much watching the trackers do their thing! Seemingly insignificant signs were glaring signals to them that the bull was slowing down and would likely be finished by the time we got to him. Nearly two miles and a couple follow up shots later, I’m standing over my first African game animal, a beautiful blue wildebeest. I was so excited the saga of tracking him was finally over and have a deep respect for the hardiness of these awesome creatures.
I think impala are absolutely gorgeous animals. Their slender bodies and black spiraling horns seemed to dance through the background of much of my hunt. Impala are relatively common in this part of Africa so my hunt was over quickly. Stanley spotted a small band about a mile out and we used the more than ample cover to get in position for a shot. During the stalk, it was apparent that we would have to be fairly close to even see them because the brush was about 10 feet high. We eased slowly to the edge of the cover and the group was calmly, (well as calmly as an impala can be, I guess) feeding and Stanley instructed mt to shoot the one furthest to our left. One shot at only 80 yards and he was down quick! I felt somewhat redeemed for making a bad shot on the wildebeest the day before, even though it was a chip shot by most standards. He was beautiful and is now mounted in my office at home. Every time I look up at him I realize I need to find my way back to Africa! I was so enthralled with impala, that I paid extra trophy fees to take another one!
Zebra’s are some of the spookiest animals I have ever hunted. Constantly on alert and ready to flee at the smallest hint of danger. I mean it makes sense, they are absolutely delicious, and I bet the lions think so too! A zebra wasn’t included with the hunt giveaway package, but I had saved up knowing that I might want to hunt some additional animals during my trip. And I’m glad I did! I took me a few days to finally connect with a great zebra after chasing them through what seemed like half of Africa! We crawled to get into position from an unaware group and Stanley showed mt which zebra to take. I slowly raised up, put the rifle on the shooting sticks and put one right behind his shoulder. It was textbook!
If I had never spent a few bucks to enter the Hunter’s Choice Giveaway on the AVID website, I never would have had this unforgettable experience! I harvested six game animals on this trip, and the first three were courtesy of the contest. Additional animals are affordable since you’re already there…Unfortunately, the problem now is actually getting back to Africa as often as possible to feed my new safari addiction! Stanley and his team were first class all day, every day, and without fail. It’s easy to see that they love what they do and enjoy helping out the local communities with fresh game meat. It was very gratifying to play a small part in the process, and I’m grateful for the entire experience.
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