It even snows in Africa, Part Seven
Up to this point in the search for the hidden herd of Vaal Rhebok, I had not even seen one of the animals. I had no idea how many animals were in the herd or where the ram was located within the herd. All I knew was that somewhere below me, underneath a rocky ledge that lay in front of us, was a herd of Vaal Rhebok that were now calling to the animal or animals off to our left that had winded us and were sounding an alarm.
I could tell by Ockert’s antics that it was now or never, and time was of the essence. I ran as fast as I could to where Ockert had the shooting sticks set up. As I approached his location, I glanced off to the right and downward, and there was a herd of Vaal Rhebok.
There were at least 12 to 15 animals and they were 60 yards away. I threw the .257 Weatherby Magnum down on the shooting sticks and began to frantically look for the ram.
“Shoot the ram!” Ockert said.
“Where is he?” I asked.
For the life of me, I could not spot the ram. The horns on a ram only rise up eight to 10 inches above the head and are only about 1-1/2 inches in diameter. With the ears standing straight up above the head, the horns don’t exactly stand out like a whitetail buck’s antlers do. I could not find the ram!
“He is the third one from the right standing broadside!” Ockert shouted.
The intensity of the situation was picking up. My heart was literally pounding out of my chest. I located the animal that was standing broadside and put my head behind the scope.
“Shoot him quickly!” Ockert said.
I found the ram in the scope and was just about to pull the trigger when the ram swapped ends and was now quartering away from me. I readjusted the scope to line up with the ram when one of the ewes stepped in front of the ram. She was standing to the point that I could see the front shoulder of the ram but it was just in front of her front shoulder.
“The female is covering up the ram!” I shouted.
“You have room,” Ockert said. “Shoot just in front of her shoulder.”
I put my head back to the scope. I could see the animals all looking in all directions. They had no clue what was going on and did not know whether to run down the mountain or to run to our left to join up with the other animal or animals. What was very obvious was that in an instant they were going to be in full flight, and our opportunity to knock down one of these highly sought after trophies would be gone in the blink of an eye.
I put the crosshairs on the shoulder of the ram. It was barely in front of the shoulder of the ewe. One little waver in my aim and I would put a bullet through the ewe and into the ram. That would not be a good situation at all! I know that Ockert was about to have a fit standing beside me waiting for me to shoot, because I heard him once again imploring me to shoot. The crosshairs got centered on the shoulder and I am pretty sure I just yanked the trigger. The gun went off, and I lost sight of the ram with the recoil.
“Good shot!” Ockert shouted.
I glanced up and could not see the ram lying there. Ockert ran toward the last known location of the ram. The rest of the herd simply vanished over the edge of the cliff and down the extremely steep mountain. As I made my way to where Ockert was now standing, I could tell we had been successful by the big grin on my professional hunter’s face.
“Nice shooting, buddy,” Ockert said.
The ram was a magnificent trophy. It was even more beautiful than I had anticipated. We had worked extremely hard for this trophy and had been rewarded for the effort. The tracker immediately went to work and gutted the animal. The ram weighed about 50 pounds, and when the tracker was done he threw the ram over his shoulders and began the long and difficult ascent back to the top of the mountain. I dreaded the hike out, but at that moment I did not really mind. We had just bagged one of the most difficult trophies to hunt in Africa in one of the most beautiful settings.
When we finally reached the top, we were all totally exhausted. If you would have told me that one day I would have been hunting in Africa in the mountains that had snow on them, I would not have believed you. It just cannot snow in Africa! But it does!