Crossbow Safari

With a gentle shake, I felt the plane bank sharply to the left. Excitement quickly chased the sleep from my eyes. I struggled to see out the window as the plane descended rapidly and broke through the clouds. There before me lay the pristine coast line of the Indian Ocean. Kissing its shores was the culmination of a life long dream. Africa!

After quickly unpacking, the first order of business was to send some arrows down range to make sure our equipment was still intact after the twenty-three hour flight. The TenPoint Stealth FX4 was none the worse for wear, and no adjustments were necessary.

It was mid-October which is the spring season in Africa, and mother nature was not going to be kind to us. Temperatures pushing the mercury to 97 degrees Fahrenheit with rain and gusty winds were the predicted forecast for the duration of our hunt.

Essentially that meant that every nook and cranny in the thick African bush would be holding water, and animal activity around established water holes would be sporadic at best. Throw the gusty winds into the equation, and our effective killing range would be cut in half.

Dawn found us trudging along a stony two track that led to a reservoir blind which would be our hideout overlooking a centuries old water hole. The stars above us were breath taking and appeared to be closer than at any other time of my existence. The air was thick and heavy, causing perspiration to flow easily. Dust bellowed under foot at every step. After several kilometers, we arrived at the stone built blind and settled in for our first hunt.

The first animal to arrive on the scene was a warthog. He was headed for the water hole directly in front of us. When he reached the water’s edge at twenty-five yards, I sent the arrow through him, and he exploded into the water and out of our view. Confident in the shot placement, I was ecstatic to have taken my first African animal less than three hours into the hunt.

The PH (Professional Hunter) radioed for the trackers to come up as we went to examine the blood soaked arrow. After finding the location where the warthog exited the water, the PH turned Flex and Rigby loose. The two well-trained Jack Russells scent trail silently and then bark when the animal is located. The African tracker Lloyd followed the blood trail. After only a few minutes, the dogs opened up and we scurried through the thick bush to get to the downed animal.

The following day broke calm and clear with temperatures again pushing the upper 90s. Shortly after daylight an entire troop of baboons were headed across the short grass directly towards the blind. The dominant male was in the lead and bearing down on us rapidly. He was three times the size of the other baboons.

The thirty yard reticle was squarely on its chest, but it was moving rapidly toward us. At twenty-five yards my heart was in my throat because it was still coming too fast, and I didn’t know how to stop him. At twenty yards it hesitated, and the TenPoint jumped as the arrow slammed it and the Lumenok disappeared through its chest. My second African animal had been harvested.

The following two days were very windy so we abandoned the blind for spot and stalk hunting. Even though the conditions were tough I was able to harvest a springbok and caracal cat at close distances.

Finally we caught a break with mother nature, and the following day was sunny with no wind. It found us back in a blind overlooking a water hole. We were prepared to sit all day when suddenly a herd of blesbok were spotted making their way to the water hole.

The lead two animals were a ewe and a lamb. The third in line was a mature ram. To our disappointment they hung up at thirty yards. They were facing us and getting more nervous by the minute. They knew something wasn’t right. My crosshairs were settled on the ram, but I needed him to turn. Finally he slowly turned to head back in the direction from whence he had come.

He was quartering away, and I guessed him at thirty-five yards. When my breathing calmed, I gently squeezed the trigger and he did the classic mule kick as the arrow passed through him. I could see the Lumenok glowing in the distance and knew the hit was lethal.

We gave it a thirty minute wait time before we turned the trackers loose. The blood trail was excellent, but I must admit when I didn’t hear the dogs barking immediately, I became a little concerned. Finally about one-hundred-fifty yards away, they opened up and I let out a sigh of relief. The shot had been good and the splendid looking animal was collected, processed, and served for dinner that very evening.

Whether hunting Africa for the first time or as an experienced hunter, the Dark Continent’s impact on one’s life never seems to fade. Africa gets born inside of us all. She is majestic. She is beautiful. She can be dangerous, yet she calls out to every hunter.

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