The hunt started one evening when Andy and I were walking, at sunset, past Khadi Dam on the farm that our great grandfather purchased in South Africa early in the 20th century. We saw that a herd of waterbuck cows would go down to the water to drink each evening. After discovering this, we planned to get into position near the water and wait for the herd to come in so we could stalk them.
We attempted hunting Khadi together one evening, with no luck. So a few days later, we went to hunt it again, this time with Jonathan (my sister’s boyfriend), who was after his first animal. We decided that we would split up and hunt opposite sides of the dam in case something came in on either side. Jonathan was hunting with Andy and I was on my own.
The bush near the river was fairly sparse and open, which would make it a difficult hunt. We knew it would be an ambush-style hunt, but we’d have to be careful with our movements and be alert.
Sitting and waiting in the shade of an African wattle, I see some movement across the dam. I slowly lift my binos to get a better view and realize it’s a wildebeest bull that we had seen previously at the dam. I radio Andy to see if he’d seen it, which he had, but he’d decided not to stalk due to it being out in the open.
Waiting a bit longer, I can see the wildebeest is distracted by something on the hill behind me. A few minutes later, I get a radio call from Andy to say the waterbuck are coming down the hill behind me and are going to come right past me.
I get into position and wait for the herd to walk past me. Everything is dead quiet. First sight I have of the waterbuck is as they’re walking past me, up wind, about 15 meters away. They have their usual alertness that occupies African game when they go down to water. The herd walk past me and down to the water to start drinking. I choose the waterbuck I want to take: a young cow that’s in the open, to avoid pass-through woundings on the other animals.
The waterbuck sees my movement and looks straight at me, and I just sit dead still…waiting. She decides all’s well and goes back to drinking. Now’s my opportunity, I range her and my trusty Bushnell says 25 meters. I draw and she sees movement again and looks up. I know it’s now or never, I find my mark on her shoulder and squeeze the shot off. With the explosion of the bow going off, I watch my arrow disappear behind the waterbuck’s shoulder. The shot was good! She blasts through the shallows of the water past the rest of the herd, who are also in panic mode trying to find what’s happening. I watch as the herd, with my waterbuck cow, disappear along the river into the thick bush.
First thing I do after the shot is get on the radio to let Andy know that I had shot a waterbuck and that the placement was good. Andy seemed more excited than me! He and Jonathan came around the dam, grinning from ear to ear, to help me follow up on the cow. We had limited time as the sun was setting and light was getting low. I talked them through the shot and showed them where she was standing. We start tracking and don’t see any blood until we get to the thick bush she entered, where there was loads of blood that brushed onto the tall grass. We followed her blood trail, which was fairly sparse, over rocky terrain just on the edge of the river which made tracking difficult. No more than 70 meters later, we found where she’d collapsed. The shot had been good. We finished off in great camaraderie recalling the hunt and paying our dues to the animal that had given itself while the African sun set on horizon. A great hunt!
This article originally appeared on Adventurous Bowhunter and is republished here with permission.
Image courtesy Nigel Ivy