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Diary of an African Safari: Day 7

By Skip Berry

After hunting the Impala and Blesbok in a driving rain, my spirits soared when I woke up on day 7 to see the sun coming over a dune to the east and that the day was bright and clear. It was a beautiful morning and we were going to hunt Springbok in the dunes near or tent camp. We had seen lots of animals as we came in and out of camp, but today we were going to get serious about getting one of the pretty little antelope with the funny "bounce". 
African Safari Tent Camp
Safari tent Camp

We started hiking down a road that ran between a couple of major dunes, glassing as we went. Time after time we spotted Springbok, but it would turn out to be a group of does or a small buck. The sky was clear and day was getting hot and I was thankful for the Camelbak system on my back and the large hat I had borrowed from Pieter to keep the sun off my ears and neck.

As we came around a bend and over a dune, I spotted a large herd of Gemsbok. Never one to pass up an opportunity, we glassed the herd. There were lots of pretty animals, but Pieter felt we could do better than the biggest animals in this group, so we watched them for a while, then slipped back off the dune and circled so as not to spook them. As we approached an old windmill powered waterhole, a Springbok jumped up from the tall grass and stared at us for what seemed like a long time, but was really probably 5 seconds. He was only about 50 yards away, broadside and I had the scope locked on his lungs, but I waited to get Pieter's judgment on his quality. It takes some experience to judge a good Springbok from an exceptional Springbok, and since we had seen so many, I had instructed Pieter that I wanted to hold out for an exceptional Springbok.

At the same instant Pieter calmly said "Take him", the Springbok decided he didn't like what he was seeing and he bolted. Not wanting to risk a running shot, I watching him to see if he would stop and give me a shot, but he continued over the top of a dune and was gone. We figured that since we hadn't shot, he might not go far, so we took out after him and tracked him over 1 dune, across a velley then started up the next dune. We hoped we would find him in the next valley, so we crept up the second dune and peered into the valley ahead. We saw nothing and as we were about to move over the top of the dune, I saw the Springbok off to our left and about 175 yards away. I tugged at Pieter's shirt (my signal to him that I had seen something as we stalked along in Africa, me following closely behind Pieter. I pointed and Pieter quickly set the shooting sticks in the sand. I sat down and settled in the shooting sticks, but the Springbok was facing me head on looking at us and trying to decide if we were "trouble". When an 90 lb animal is staring at you head on from 175 yard away, there is little margin for error, so I held my fire waiting for him to turn and give me some "shoulder". He decided he didn't like us, so he turned in a swift movement and took off again before I got a clean shot at his chest/shoulder. He ran down the valley between some dune and around a clump of trees.
We started off after him again and as we worked around the trees, my patience was rewarded. We spotted the Springbok about 200 yards away, standing on the side of a dune, scanning for danger (us). He was broadside, but there was nothing to rest on and the grass was too deep for a sitting shot. So we "Leopard" crawled through the waist deep grass for about 50 yards to get to a tree that provided both a rifle rest and gave me the opportunity to move into a shooting position undetected, along with knocking the distance down to about 150 yards. The Spingbok never knew what hit him when the 180 grain Nosler Partition hit him square in the lungs and bowled him over. He turned out to be 15 inches and would make the book. Once again Pieter had led me to another trophy and a stalk to remember for a lifetime!!!


That afternoon we set off after a big Gemsbok, hunting on the neighboring ranch. We spotted a large herd and glassed a couple of animals that Pieter felt were real good. They were in the middle of a large valley, so we planned a stalk along the dune bordering the valley and hoped to close inside 300 yards.

As we got close to being in range, the herd was milling around. Somehow one of them must of spotted us, and even though we had enough time to settle into a prone position on the top of the dune, the only animals within range were a couple of the lesser animals so we elected to leave them alone. They spooked and moved into the next valley and headed out. 

We could see another thunderstorm moving toward us and it was getting darker by the minute, so we decided to let them go and try and find them again tomorrow. We had all day to find a Gemsbok on Day 8 before I would have to leave, so we left the herd alone for the afternoon. 

On the way back to camp, we jumped two Steenbok, on of Africa's smallest antelope, adults being about 2ft high and weighing about 35 lbs. They took off bouncing away through the grass and never stopped until they were out of sight. A running shot through tall grass at a antelope that is half the size of of a black lab would be a waist of ammo, but when we jumped a third one, he ran about 50 yards and stopped broadside in a small clearing to look back at what had spooked him. I was ready and waiting for just such an occurrence and it was lights out as the .300 pounded the my 7th trophy of the trip. As we walked over to pick up the little antelope, Pieter joked about wondering whether the .300 was enough gun for that antelope... 

Minutes later, the storm hit, we got back to the truck and day 7 came to a close with me still waiting for my Gemsbok, but happy with the days events, especially the mornings stalks on my Springbok. 


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


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

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