South Africa’s Grey Ghost

10 10 2013

This post was originally published on Ladies in Camo’s website at http://ladiesincamo.com/lictoth/2013/06/20/south-africas-grey-ghost-diane-hassinger/

We traveled several miles from the lodge, to an area that was known to hold big kudu.  They are known as the Grey Ghost, and they certainly lived up to their name.  We would catch fleeting glimpses of their horns glistening in the sunlight, then they would be gone.  Several times we tried to stalk.  Once we came close enough that when they sensed our presence, they almost ran over top of us fleeing.

The following morning we were again going to search for an elusive Grey Ghost, when we spotted a trio of males in the distance.  We slowly and methodically closed the distance to 80 yards.  At that point I braced my gun and took a shot at the biggest male.  That is almost an oxymoron statement; of course I would shoot the biggest one!

The 2 smaller ones turned and ran back the way they had come, but my buck forged ahead, crossing into a tangle of mesquite type bushes.  Everyone was so certain I had had a perfect shot that we took off at once to find him.  There was no blood, not even a drop that I could find, but everyone was still confident.  Sure enough about 40 yards off of the trail laid my kudu!

I don’t understand what the physical differences are from our North American animals, I had heart shot this kudu, and he didn’t leave a blood trail, and my guide and tracker were at no point alarmed by this.  Your emotions can run the entire gauntlet of feelings in just a few moments of hunting; the elation of a good shot, the disbelief of no blood trail, the fear that your animal will not be found and the elation again when your trophy is found.

Diane with her very real Grey Ghost, aka Kudu

Diane with her very real Grey Ghost, aka Kudu                               Photo Credit:  Diane Hassinger

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Heart Shot Impala

10 10 2013

This post originally was published on Ladies in Camo’s website at http://ladiesincamo.com/lictoth/2013/06/09/heart-shot-impala-diane-hassinger/

It was finally time!  We were about to take off for our adventure in South Africa.  We had been planning and saving for this trip for a long time.  I knew the different animals, the shot placements and their habits.   The only thing I had not researched enough was the airlines.  We had a lengthy delay in our first airport, which led to our plane landing after our flight to Johannesburg was due to take off.  Luckily a Gate Agent was waiting for us, and whisked us off at a very quick run, to our departure gate, where they had been holding the plane for us.  The flight was as good as you can get, for being stuck in a seat for 17 hours.  My sleeping bills that the Doctor prescribed wore off not even half way thru the flight, so I fidgeted and flopped around like a fish out of water.  There is just no way to get comfortable after that amount of time.

We arrived in Johannesburg the following day, and immediately tried to claim our bags.  We had a bit of a language barrier, and then it became apparent that we had no bags.  Both gun cases and the 4 suitcases were all missing.  I filed the necessary claim with the agent, who informed me that our bags were still in Washington, DC.  ?????  They wouldn’t put them on another flight until our claim was filed.  So the earliest we could expect our clothes and guns would be in 2 days.  After arranging for the gun import permits to be awarded without our presence, we made a quick detour to a Woolworth’s.  Of all things my first purchase on our trip of a lifetime would be for socks and under garments.

The evening we arrived at Amanita Safaris, we took a quick ride around the area to scope out the terrain and wildlife.  This was our first opportunity to view Impala, Giraffe, Kudu, Gemsbuck and more.  The morning could not come fast enough!

As all of luggage and guns were lost by the airlines, I was loaned a 30-06 by Erik.  After just a small adjustment, the rifle was sighted in.  Our hunt started and I was in awe of all the magnificent animals we were able to see.

We tried several spot and stalks, but the wind was swirling, and the impala would bound away from us.  Finally we spotted a huge herd of Impala, with one male that stood out.  As we crept through the brush I kept reminding myself that the shot placement is different than our North American animals.  We slowly got into position, and my PH Altus quickly set the shooting sticks.  I placed the crosshairs on the Impalas shoulder and prayed it was the right spot.  I fired.  The Impala dropped right where he had stood!  A perfect heart shot!!  That was a confidence booster to be sure.

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When we took my trophy back to the skinners, they informed me that I had hit the heart perfectly in the center; it was as if it had been measured out!  Boy did I need that to assure myself.  This was going to be our dream trip of a lifetime after all!

Photo Credit:  Diane Hassinger