Karoo Whispers

The searing African heat was fuelled by a gentle zephyr that caused the dry savanna grasses to rustle, hustle and murmur. Africa whispers to you— constantly.

Hunting the dark Continent is subtle cnd layered… if you do it right. My eyes meandered across the textured landscape of the Greater Karoo; a once prehistoric inland sea that subsided with time, leaving raw earth that was then sculpted by the wind in the hand of millennia to create a Leonardolike masterpiece: elephantine rock statues built from blocks that could have been left over from the pyramids, the topography laminated then chiselled by intermittent watering, and orphaned mesas that add a hint of melancholy—Mona Lisa.

Having hosted many Kiwi hunters over the past decade, I have learned one valuable lesson; treat Africa right and she smiles on you—disrespect her and she bites! My first trip to the Karoo saw me take an ancient free range kudu, a magnificent old mountain reedbuck and a gigantic tiny steenbuck on the one day—a trifecta. Unforgettable.

Already, on my return to the Karoo, I had taken a wily old red hartebeest and an incredible black springbok. Both exceptional trophies. But neither came easy; I had to work hard for them—Africa likes that. But I didn’t want to tempt fate.

I couldn’t possibly hope for a third outstanding animal—again—could I?

I looked through the heat haze at the herd of springbok quietly grazing in the distance.“There’s a copper to the left,” my PH Pete said. “Looks reasonable.”

He was referring to the size of the horns. On a springbok, you look for big bases— always big bases— and plenty of height with hooks that curve back. I couldn’t tell. It was too far and the shimmering air made the perfect excuse for waning eyesight.

“Let’s go!”

The hunt was on—not that it was ever off. We’d already clocked over 15km on foot looking for a decent animal and, now that we’d found one, Pete wanted me to take the long way round to get to it!

hoping the herd hadn’t vanished. We were in luck. They hadn’t moved far but were still over 300m away—and there wasn’t a skerrick of cover. Moving in tight Indian file, we inched closer, freezing every time a head Dropping out of sight, we ‘circumnavigated East Cape’ to get the wind right and eventually found ourselves at the base of an escarpment. Climbing in the heat over cobbles and uneven ground was tough but Africa likes to test you.

Cresting the top, we took a breather as we scanned the plateau, lifted. Then off again at a creep. In this painstaking manner, we closed the gap to 80m. Then Pete decided to get closer!

“I don’t trust your shooting,” he jibed.

Bastard!

At 60m he sat me on an ant hill and positioned the sticks. I cradled the .300 Win Mag, chambered a round and found the buck through the Swarovski glass. Then squeezed the trigger— no hesitation.

Walking up to the fallen animal, I was stunned; I couldn’t have dreamed of a more magnificent trophy. Not only was he an old campaigner, but he was the biggest buck ever taken on the property. Words seemed superfluous.

In the tradition of the San bushmen, I knelt and plucked some tail hairs from the old buck. Then, to help spirit it into the next realm, I cast them upon the hot breeze. As they floated off, the wind whispered and I shivered.

Africa smiled.

I’d hunted right.

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