Southeastern Outdoors Birds & Birding
Southeastern Outdoors
  Home > Outdoor Activities > Hunting > African Safari Day 5
Bass Pro Shops Web Site Promotion

Diary of an African Safari: Day 5

By Skip Berry

We got to Nimrod's tent camp in the middle of a large ranch in the Kalahari Desert. We got there in the afternoon of day 4 and Thomas our cook and camp do everything started working on dinner. This is a DELUXE tent camp with tents housed under permanent shelters and a wood fired water heater for HOT showers in the bathroom with TWO flush toilets! 

Safari Camp, Africa
Safari Camp

In the meantime, Pieter and I took off and looked around the ranch for a good Gemsbok or Springbok. The Gemsbok in this area are generally larger than anywhere else in Africa, because of the soft sand there. They do a lot of digging etc. with their horns, so in many areas, the horns are constantly being worn back as they grow. In the Kalahari they just keep growing. In case you doubt the "largest Gemsbok in the world" claim, understand that Pieter has guided the #3 & #4 SCI Gemsbok out of his camp and believes that he will guide one of his hunters to #1 in the next couple of years. (Petzal and Carmicheal are hunting with him later this summer and I would bet that F&S and OL will have Nimrod articles by year end...and I would bet that one or both of those guys drop REAL BIG Gemsbok...) We saw a herd of Gemsbok and some Springbok, but nothing that got Pieter excited. 

We got up early on day 5 and drove 1 1/2 hours to be at a ranch that bordered Botswana. This ranch held good Eland, lots of Kudu, along with Gemsbok, although Pieter felt he could do better on the Gemsbok near our tent camp so we were mainly there for Eland and hopefully another crack at the Kudu. 

We had some breakfast with rancher and just after daybreak left the ranch in the hunting truck. We hadn't gone 200 yards when the driver stopped and pointed toward a water hole in a valley behind the ranch. There were 2 bull and 3 cow Eland at the water hole. We slipped off the vehicle and stalked behind some hills and a group of trees, but the bulls were young and the rancher had told Pieter of a very old bull Eland he had been seeing so we left them to grow. We drove further into the ranch when one of the native boys spotted tracks crossing the road and shouted "buw" in very bad English. The only two words he spoke that I could understand were "buw" (bull) and "coie" (cow). This boy would astound me with his eyesight and ability to pick out individual tracks before the day was done. We followed the tracks and 400 yards ahead of us we spotted the old bull eland with 6 cows. We stalked them, but they spotted us and took off. A bull Eland is the largest antelope on earth, over 2500 lbs., heavier than most cows but you would be amazed at how agile they are. Watching them run and jump fences was just amazing given their size. When a Eland "gets the trots" as Pieter like to say, you will never catch up to them on foot. They can trot for MILES at a pace you can't keep up with running on foot. Since we wanted that particular old bull, the only course of action was to get back in the truck and circle ahead and try to pick up his track somewhere else on the ranch Pieter explained. It sounded like looking for a needle in a haystack to me, but what the hell...he was the PH so I went along with him. 

Skip with ElandWe took the truck around in a large circle that would intersect the direction the group of Eland went. We drove slowly looking in the sand for tracks where the Eland had crossed. All of a sudden there they were, a group of tracks crossing the sand. Even I could make out the tracks of 7 2,000 lbs plus animals in the soft dirt, but I was amazed that Pieter and our boy tracker agreed that this was definitely the same Eland, so we got out and started after the Eland. We tracked them for over an hour when I really got a lesson...I was completely amazed when the group split from 7 to 4, 4 to 2, then 2 to 1 and we finally where on 1 track. How could they be sure this ONE was the bull we wanted?? I was a little skeptical, but I went along with them and would you believe it, we spotted THE bull up ahead of us. We did not want to spook him again, so we were very careful, but an hour later I was watching him slip inside 50 yards of me when I hit him in the lungs with the .300 WBY.
This was the only time on my trip when I was wishing for more gun and thinking about my .375 H&H, especially when Pieter told me "make it good, a wounded Eland will go for miles and DAYS before we get him", but the shot was good. I shot two more times, basically I was going to shoot until he dropped or I was out of ammo, but after about 100 yards he stopped running then crashed to the ground!!! My first shot had gone through the lungs, split his liver and into the off shoulder. So if you make a good shot, yes a .300 is enough for an Eland, but if you make a bad shot, a .375 probably wouldn't be ENOUGH!! 
We took pictures and then winched the Eland into the truck (he really didn't fit into the compact pickup that is Pieter's hunting truck). Pieter measured him and declared him solidly in the SCI book, so we went back to the ranch house to eat lunch and celebrate with a cold one! 

After lunch, Pieter and Hendrich (the ranch owner) ask if I was ready to go get my Kudu?? I thought to myself, that the Kudu bulls had been giving me the slip since I got to Africa and to hope for a book Eland and good Kudu in one day was a little cocky, but of course I said "Let's do it!!!" Only I sounded a little more confident then I really was. We headed out and this is where the tracker boys eyes really blew me away. I always considered myself to have pretty good game eyes held my own with Pieter on our trip, given the animals and area were all new to me. But this boy astounded me. We were heading out across the ranch when he shouted "buw". We stopped the truck. With the naked eye I couldn't even really make out an animal. I pulled up my 8x binoculars and then could see a Kudu under a tree...800 yards away. With the binoculars I could make out it was a bull (has horns) vs cow (no horns)....with my naked eye I wouldn't have even noticed him, I could barely see him when I knew where he was after looking at him in the binoculars....and this boy had spotted him while we were moving and could tell he was a bull not a cow with just his eyes!! 

We got out and started stalking and as we got closer, saw there were 2 other bulls with him. They spotted us when we were about 350 yards out, moving to get a good shooting angle on them as we slipped from tree to tree in relatively flat area. It was mid-afternoon and the animals were mostly under trees in the shade, but the spooked and took out to the next county, so we had no choice but to let them go.  

We moved to another part of the ranch and once again from behind me came "buw" and once again I could see nothing but through the binoculars we saw another good bull in the shade of a tree about 600 yards away. Another "attaboy" for the tracker!! We circled for the wind and began our stalk. This time we lost sight of the Kudu, but keep moving bush to bush in the area we knew he must be, but he had moved from the tree where we first spotted him.
Skip Berry with his Kudu
Skip Berry with his Kudu

We came around a bush and bam...there he was 50 yards away with his ass facing us as he nibble on some branches from a bush. We stopped and I swung my rifle up and put it on the little bit of shoulder I could see. Because of the severe angle, the Nosler went through his shoulder and into his neck, dropping him in his tracks. I was jumping up and down and high fiving the tracker boy who couldn't speak English and had no idea what a "high five" was, but he was happy and "high fived" me back *grin*. 

We took pictures and Pieter measured him...3 1/2 turns...50 inches. Short of the record book but he was heavy and very pretty! A beautiful trophy no matter what he scored. So that was the day that I dropped more pounds of game animal (2500+ Eland and 550+ Kudu) than any other day in my life! 


Day 1 - 2, 3, 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8


Contact Skip Berry at Skip Berry Outdoors or call him at (616)813-3645

Fish & Fishing
Hunting Forums
Africa Hunting Book
Sponsor Links
Related Links
Hunting Guides
African Safari Books