On return of some friends from a bow hunting trip to a relative’s game farm, it was clear to me that if I do not acquire a bow soon, my hunting opportunities will be limited for the season.
Any fear of the unknown did not deter me and was overshadowed by my desire to spend time in the bush. My research kicked off at my local bow store. After much confusion and deliberation I was referred to Archers Edge where the friendly reception and great advice I received, swayed me into buying a Bowtech Invasion CPX and all the essential accessories.
Spending the next few days throwing arrows into my bud and carefully studying shot placement at every opportunity, I was soon confident enough in my archery skills to book my first bow hunt. I franticly started my search for a venue with large numbers of game and adequate accommodation for my young family not too far from Pretoria. This proved tricky as most weekends were fully booked and I was forced to go during the week. Enquiring as to which of my hunting buddies can accompany me, it was not surprising at all that Cobus gave me the thumbs up as he is completely addicted to the sport of bow hunting.
With our departure time set for 5:00 the Tuesday morning, all the steaks, beers, bows and non-essentials were loaded just before 21:00 the previous evening. By now the excitement has taken full control and I realised I was in for a long night. After watching the entire “Impact Shot Placement” DVD series, again, I forced myself to bed. Drifting off now and then I kept my eye on the watch and constantly visualised my shot placement.
The day of my first bow hunt finally dawned and we were on our way to Shosholoza Bow Hunting farm just outside Beestekraal in the North West Province. I was as excited as a dog with two tales and couldn’t stop talking about what’s lying ahead. I had hundreds of questions for Cobus on what, when, where, how far and many more. He patiently answered the relevant questions and quietly chuckled at his nervous passenger. Before I realized we arrived at the gate of the farm and this is when reality really set in.
We quickly unpacked and Cobus suggested that we shoot a last couple of arrows before heading to the hides. I shot a good grouping and loaded all my equipment on the bakkie with great confidence. We were briefed on the hunting rules, handed two-way radios and a price list, which I studied prior to our arrival to prevent an expensive judgement error. At this point the wives and kids arrived just in time for a good luck kiss and with that behind us we headed out.
On our way to the hides it was evident that there was no shortage of game and we would have a good chance of harvesting a buck, spotting nyala, zebra, wildebeest, impala and many more on our drive out. By now I could not contain my excitement and could not wait to place my pin on the vital triangle. As we approached the first hide, 2 warthog fled from the water hole. I remember saying to Cobus that it would have been the ideal start to my career just to settle the nerves as this would not be an expensive mistake.
I was dropped of first and Cobus gave me a last rundown on what to do and wished me luck. Fully attired in Sniper 3D’s, I felt completely invisible as I entered the “pit blind”, not knowing that this will be the first minute of countless hours I will spend in a hide, tree stand or on foot in pursuit of a dream trophy. Silently I started unpacking my Invasion and armed it with a 350g Pile Driver arrow tipped with a T3 broad head trying not to make a noise. With my trigger secured to my right wrist, I reached for my rangefinder checking the distance to various markers. I was pleased to note that I would not be presented with a shot further than 25 meters. The video camera was set up and the wait started…..
I constantly scanned the surrounding area for any movement in the hope that a warthog or impala would show itself. By now the 10 longest minutes of my life passed and I started feeling restless. Just as my mind started playing games with me I heard the distinctive sound of hooves on gravel. Suddenly all my senses went into overdrive and I could hear my heart pounding. As I slowly moved up to the opening, I spotted a zebra approaching from the right. He stood perfectly broadside at 17 meters and the temptation was massive. Caught up in an internal feud as to shoot or not, a sms from Cobus came through that he has just shot a zebra. This didn’t help the devil on my shoulder! I sure did want to register my first kill but it would be an expensive mistake so I decided to pass on the zebra.
Observing the striped horse in his natural environment was truly wonderful and when a giraffe bull came in for a drink, I was sold on bow hunting for life. Whilst enjoying the moment and taking several pictures, movement to the left ignited my hunting instincts again. I saw a warthog boar approaching the feed and it was game on! I reached for my bow and prepared to draw. The pig came in fast and the adrenalin was flowing at the rate of knots with all the bones in my body rattling, I could hear myself breathing. Trying to contain my nerves, I kept repeating my pre-shot drill over and over in my head. This proved fruitless and I started doubting myself. The pig was extremely wary around the feed and any attempt to draw my bow would have alerted him of my presence and caused him to flee.
I decided to draw my bow at the back of the hide and away from the opening. This meant that the pig can’t see me but also that I can’t see the pig. My only solution to the problem was to view the pig on the video camera screen and wait for the right moment to move in for the kill. The waiting was killing me and by now sweat was running down my face. This was buck-fever like I never had it before. Moving slightly quartering away the pig offered me a brief moment of opportunity and muscle memory replaced the buck-fever and in an instance the pin was on his shoulder and I released the arrow to see the hog sped off in the same direction it came from. I was overwhelmed by excitement and adrenalin to a degree that I couldn’t watch the replay on the video camera to verify my shot. Shaking like a leave, I radioed the PH to inform him of my shot.
He instructed me to wait in the hide untill his arrival. Still overwhelmed, I sat down to relive the amazing experience I just had but it was a complete blank. I couldn’t recall much but what is undeniable is that this was the biggest thrill in my existence. The waiting was getting to me and all I wanted to do is get out and start the follow up to put my own mind at ease on my shot.
To my great surprise I was immediately congratulated with my first bow kill on their arrival. I said they must hold on to the thought until we got to the animal as I was not sure of the shot. They then pointed to the left were my pig lied just out of view of the opening in the hide. I couldn’t contain my joy and even sneaked in a small fist pump followed by high fives all round.
I managed to harvest a Blue wildebeest later that day with the same illegal dosage of adrenalin and relived every moment of both hunts with my friends and family that evening next to the camp fire.