After months of practising, Mia Delport (12years) finally got her bow to 40 lbs. She was ready; ready for her first warthog.
Mia has been shooting bow since she was 9 years old. She cut her milk teeth on a Bowtech Diamond, and once she mastered the basic principles of taking a breath, focussing on the kill zone, and a gentle trigger release, she progressed to a Bear Odyssey dual cam bow.
It was time to take it outside.
Girls will be girls, (but if you ask me, boys can be girls too). Day one in the blind, was somewhat of a clash of greatest wish and greatest fears.
Let me just say, “tampanne” is a tick like insect, which can cause some discomfort and harm. Not lethal by any means, but certainly a powerful dissuader for those who are sensitive to the creepy crawlies outside. Not only did father and daughter both have to deal with all the unpleasant insects, but also extreme temperatures of Namibia. It was a sweltering 40 C and 15:30 in the afternoon.
The pop up blind was strategically placed at exactly the same distance to her practise range. 15m was the ideal distance for her 40 pound pull, and a broadside shot.
Mia is a cool cat, and managed to keep her dad calm while she took aim. It is incredible, to see how the patient teachings of a father, translates into the confidence of a young hunter. It took one shot. It was not a perfect shot. Perhaps 2 inches off dead centre, but it was a good shot, and also taught the fledgling tracker a few important rules. , watch, wait; then track.
She’ll take the lessons learnt and aspires to a trophy Red Hartebeest. Her father, Jannie Delport, is a hunting guide with his own hunting business, Toekoms Hunting Safaris in Namibia. Having three daughters, Jannie is happy that they share his passion for the veld, nature and hunting and he is also a bow hunter.
A story of 300 hours
By James van Rooyen
At the beginning of 2017 I decided that I would give up rifle hunting and beginning my bow hunting journey. First off, I spent countless hours at the archery store getting my old bow up to scratch, I had owned the bow for several years but had never found the time to use it. When the bow was all back to good shape I began practicing my skills as often as I could and by the beginning of the hunting season I felt confident enough to go and hunt.
My first bow hunting experience was a real revelation for me, I thought bow hunting was easy, I managed to bring down 3 warthogs and an impala in quick succession. How wrong I was. I spent the next 2 months hunting extensively with the bow and amassing 285 hours in the blind, I believed that persistence would pay off. I would get into the blinds at sunup and leave the blind once the light had left the veld. But alas nothing came to the blind, Namibia had a good rain season and so the animals were still getting their water from the green grasses and had no need to enter the blinds. In all 285 hours, I saw very few animals and none of them were shooters. I felt as if I was cursed.
Then in early August I continued my journey to Toekoms Bow Hunting, by this stage I had become desperate for success and was eagerly awaiting my chance. On the first morning, I asked Jannie if he would please join me in the blind to see if there was something I was doing wrong and he quickly accepted my request. We fired a few practice shots at the butt and we were happy that the bows sight was in. We started at an elevated blind, The Hilton (the blind is called the Hilton for a reason). But unfortunately, the wind swirled around for most of the morning. At about lunch time we moved to a pit blind and we were rewarded with a nice warthog sow and 2 piglets that came in quickly. We let them pass as we hoped that a Boar would soon follow however this never came to be. Just before sunset a herd of Zebra came in and ended our day with a close encounter.
At dinner which was delicious by the way, we decided that the next morning we would get up extra early and go to a tree stand that Jannie thought would have action. Early the next morning we headed out to the Etosha tree stand. It quickly became evident that we were in for a busy day. We could see both Red Hartebeest and Oryx in the distance heading towards us. After about thirty minutes a mature Red Hartebeest walked in and gave us a shot. After so many hours 301 to be exact I had my chance. I drew the bow took aim and let fly. In my excitement, I did not do my usual procedure and made a complete mess of the shot, after searching hard we could find no blood and no trace of the animal. I felt demoralised at the fact that after all that time I had wasted my chance. We proceeded back to the stand and settle down. Unfortunately for me the wind was swirling and scaring animals off the whole time, we saw several nice warthogs and a few Red Hartebeest that were shooters that were alerted to our presence by the wind. We headed back to the farmstead a little down by our lack of success. After a delicious lunch, we headed back to the same stand for the afternoon. We had a few animals come in to the stand such as Kudu and Warthog but none gave us an opportunity. With every hour that passed I felt as if I would again return home unsuccessful. At about 4:30 we had an oryx come in she was headed straight for the water until the wind turn and she made a hasty exit. At this point I was ready to give up but I decided I may as well wait the last few moments, then suddenly out of nowhere a herd of oryx came in. For once the wind was on our side and the animals were oblivious to our presence. After a few tense moments, I had the bow from its perch and drew my weapon. I took careful aim and made sure I followed my procedure. I picked my spot and squeezed the trigger. I followed the arrow until the broadhead made contact and vanished inside the animal. Blood started pouring and I knew I had made a good shot. In a flash, the animal darted off and we heard the distinct sound of her crashing to the ground. We got to the ground and began to follow the tracks she went about 100yds before piling up under a bush. I was overjoyed to have finally broken the drought. After all those hours, I had managed to get another animal with my bow, a beautiful Oryx cow. I would just like to take this time to thank Jannie and Marilize. Marilize your hospitality was amazing, I felt like I was part of the family and enjoyed my stay tremendously. Jannie I believe that without your guidance and knowledge of the farm and patience with my bad luck I would have left empty handed, instead I left with a happy heart and a memory for a lifetime.
Day 2: Who gets up at 6am to go hunting.... not me! 6:30 am is plenty early thank you very much. Breakfast was some German food that is very similar to prosciutto other than the fact that it was made out of African game it was pretty tasty. (side note I think it was oryx...oryx is delicious!)Willem cuts chunks off for me with his sweet little knife; he tries to be gruff on the outside but he's a softie! It's colder and cloudy today so I wore a jacket for the morning; it was a smart move. Here it is fall so the morning and evening are brisk then the middle of the day is really warm.
We see so many oryx hopping about while driving around in the truck. They behave like our deer; it's hilarious! They are beautiful animals with their new white sock colored nose juxtaposed against their black facial stripe. Their horns are so neat to look at. The horns are longer and skinny on the females and the shorter but thicker based horns are on the males. We took 3 fairly long walks for the first area; nothing. Same results for the second area but when we were walking in the third section we found an oryx to pursue. Jannie and Scott stalk/bound ahead and I slog along behind toting my camera, binoculars, and cell phone. ( I wasn't going to miss a photo or video if I could help it.) My strides are shorter than the guys too so that proves to be a bit of a problem. Soon it goes from strides to a crouched walk then to an interesting lunge type deal; thank you for crossfit!
We were able to sneak up on some warthogs; yeah, I thought we were stalking an oryx too. Plans had changed and I wasn't notified. It worked out though and I was able to get some pictures and Scott got a good old pretend shot with his fingers when it was determined the hogs were to small. After we had our fill of looking, taking pictures and being in awe we walked to the fence where Jannie called the truck. Sweet part of Africa the guide helper, Johannas, chilled out at the truck and would pick us up when JannieMarilize would radio. I was all about that! All the fields here are in squares so they can graze their cows in rotation. All these property squares do mean a lot of gates; I asked JannieMarilize and they guessed there was 60 on the property. To get down the "driveway" alone there is 8-10 gates.
We head off to another square now in search of a wildebeest. Jannie finds them and we decide to take a walk despite the wind being bad; this is a hunter thing. I took a neat spider picture along the walk.. this spidey is larger than it seems in the picture I swear. The stick in the picture is at least 8" long. We continue our walk until Jannie and Scott decide we can't get close enough because we ran out of cover. Back to the truck for a better vantage point.
You would think the silly things would run but nope we drive RIGHT by them and about 400 m down the road. The stalk is back on! Scott is excited now and we head off. We are glued to Jannie; see snake story(tomorrow) for details. The weird walking begins again... start with walk, look, walk, look, walk slower and drop shoulders, look(making progress) walk hunched over for about 30 m, stop and look, GAME CHANGER the bushes are short now cue strange lunge walk very slowly, stop... wait.... go....step ONLY when Jannie steps, get lower at this point I am crawling. The guys are ok with this but the camera strap is to long for me to crawl so I transition into a duck walk; thanks again for the functional fitness Brad! We are close now about 100 m out and the target is in sight. He is a nice old bull laying alone to the left of the herd. More duck walking to the next bush(by this point I started picking up sparkly rocks because why not?!) After waiting by said bush for about 2 minutes the critters forget about us then a quick plan is made. Jannie and Scott stand up real slow and prep for a shot then when the bulls stands up he will shoot. My job is to video this. Simple enough! I start the video and the plan moved into action. When he stands up Scott aims shoots and it's all over. While my love would never say it; he is a damn good shot and always chooses to be ethical over taking a risk.
We took some pictures loaded up the wildebeest and headed back for lunch. The rest of the day he was so hyped up about the wildebeest that we just enjoyed touring around the farm with Jannie and the girls. We got to see more warthogs, oryx, hardebeest, a few kudu, the zebras!, some spring buck and one steenbok. What a day Africa; what a day!
Day 3: Today I went to Windhoek with Marilize, Jacomien and Lienka while the boys went hunting. We went to the mall and surprise surprise their malls are just like malls in the US, only cheaper! Things here are so inexpensive! I bought 3 shirts for $10 USD it's crasy!
Day 3: (Note: I did some editing/adding because Scott didn't write much but we still laugh about this.) Scott's account- Apparently Jody missed the fun as I shot my first warthog today. It only had one tusk but it was my first bow kill ever. While sitting in the ground blind we were watching and all of a sudden the warthog appeared.. we waited for it to get within range and I took my shot. After determining that I made a good shot we waited about 25 minutes before going to look for it.
While we were out looking for it I saw something move behind me and learned very quickly it was a black mamba. These snakes are super poisonous and I wanted nothing to do with this gross 7' snake. After spotting this fella I was done looking for blood; no thank you I don't want to find the warthog that bad. Luckily, Jannie isn't phased by snakes by I am and after a shudder and "black mamba yuck!" he kept looking. On the other hand I stayed in the short grass where I could see EVERYTHING!
JannieMarilize ended up picking up the trail and found the warthog. I picked my way over there; again with the not wanting to run into another mamba.
We headed back to the house and had some lunch and a nap before going back into the field for our evening hunt. Today was a lucky day for me it turns out. I shot a warthog with a rifle on tonight's hunt. Fannie, a friend of JannieMarilize and regular visitor to Toekoms seemed to be having the opposite luck as he still hasn't had success on his hunt. He hunted the Hilton blind today while we were in the ground blind across the place; hopefully tomorrow he has better luck.
Day 4: evening hunt
After our exciting morning of oryx hunting we ate yet another delicious meal. It saddens me to think I ever worried that I would be hungry on this trip, HA! Scott went to take a nap and I lounged around the house with Leinka. We mostly laid on the trampoline with Eva and I practiced my alphabet in Afrikans.. I was kind of getting better other than my inability to comprehend the letter "g". Lienka thought this was hilarious because it's a growly letter and I couldn't figure it out for the life of me. I also worked with pretty girl Eva on her sit command; she is really smart and a quick study when she decides to pay attention. I'm such a sucker for dogs! I find them wherever I go.
Scott woke from his nap and he and Jannie took a few of the workers down the road. When they got back I changed and we headed off to sit in the Hilton. Scott was going to bow hunt an oryx this evening. I liked the Hilton blind. It was elevated and new and JannieMarilize brings treats when you go to the Hilton. I think I ate like 4 cookies sitting there.
I snapped some pictures and was having a grand time but then the boredom started to set in. You see I have this very special "ability" if you will.. I can go to sleep almost anywhere planes, trains, automobiles, tree stands... anywhere! Tree stand was the most recent one I added to my collection at this point. I woke a few minutes later to Scott and Jannie silently laughing at me. Don't worry there are pictures; it really happened. Scott thinks it's hilarious to take pictures of me sleeping in odd places(I will admit they are kind of funny).
Now that I'm awake I go back to snapping bird pictures because their birds are SO pretty. Bright colors and shiny and funny looking birds; you will see lots of bird pictures. Scott jumped up and shushed us because he saw an oryx moving towards us. I took this opportunity to be trigger happy with the ole Nikon while they decided if it was a shooter or not.
After about a year(or 45 seconds) it was determined that it was a shooter. By this time Scott has had a chance to think and is a nervous wreck. He was shaking with excitement just like you would imagine. For a second or two I wasn't sure if he would shoot; earlier he said if he was too shaky he wasn't going to risk the shot. I jumped into action in the other window and got the camera set to video mode. He released the trigger and the soft ffffttt whoop as it hits the oryx a little high because he quartered away at the last second. He only made it about 30 yards and was down. Jannie was so excited he ran to the truck to get back before dark so we could take pictures.
Jannie got back and we took pictures as the sun was setting on the last night of Scott's hunting adventure. I have got to hand it to that Scott of mine... he is one hell of a hunter. 8 animals were taken with 8 shots and 8 quick clean kills in 4 days
Snake story! As most of you probably know I don't like snakes much. They are weird and sneaky and snakey... just not my thing. Anyhow, on day 2 of our Africa adventure we had come back for lunch when the girls came screaming into the house. Literally screaming it scared us all! Anyhow, it turns out one of their cats had been bitten by either a Puff Adder or a black mamba snake. Have I mentioned that I'm pretty sure ALL snakes in Africa are poisonous?! If not ALL THE SNAKES IN AFRICA ARE POISONOUS! (This may not actually be accurate but all of the snakes we saw were.)
Back to the story.. the cat died which was a total bummer because she had 5 little kitties. Marilize and the girls found themselves with 5 kittens to care for. Good news! The kitties made it thanks to lots of love and care from Marilize, the girls and one of their other cats... more on this later.
To say the least scott and I are now sufficiently scared of walking in the grass and follow Jannie basically step for step.
These photos are off my phone so they don't have anything to do with the snake story. :)
Oryx hunt with Jannie Delport
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