Hunting memos

Hunting memos

Alldays, a one-horse town, has one stop sign in the centre of town, two churches, a post-office, policestation, fillingstation, a general dealer and hotel. The town is about 50 kilometres behind the Soutpansberg in the Limpopo Province, South Africa.

The town was given its name, according to a local report, by a hunter who was a heavy drinker – van der Merwe arrived on this place during the day. He was on ox-wagon loaded with crates of brandy, consumed too much on his arrival and he fell asleep. The hot sun woke him the next day and he started drinking brandy again until he was unconscious only to be woken by the hot sun again the next morning. He called the place ALLDAYS.

Hunters around the fire at night tell their believe-it-or-not stories. The days when the bushveld was wild, without camps or roads and big game roaming this area.

Big John with the red beard was leading a hunting party setting up camp before dark near Alldays. John decided to shoot something for the pot, walking with his .303 mauser, he saw an impala ram. When he took the shot the ram moved forward taking the bullet through the lungs.

He followed the blood spoor, much to his surprise there were lions around the impala – no time to find another before sunset, he shot the first and second lioness but the male was charging – his last bullet wounded the lion and John ran for the marula tree.

The lion was waiting under the tree and John saw a black mamba staring at him from another branch – fortunately he had his pistol and shot at the mamba, but unfortunately he wounded the mamba, but fortunately the mamba fell out of the tree on top of the lion. The mamba struck the lion and after a while both were dead. Big John picked up the impala ram and carried it back to camp.

In those days hunters feared the black mamba the most. Once bitten by this snake you have to greet the dear ones around you very quickly otherwise they remain ungreeted – big John and his friend Paul were out hunting the one day when they were charged by a black mamba – they were running and big John managed to take a few shots at the mamba during the chase but the mamba kept coming and struck Paul from behind at the back of his neck.

The two exhausted hunters sat down under a big boab tree and Paul was giving big John his last will and wishes before he died … Paul was explaining to John what to tell his wife and children, how to distribute his goods, where he wants to be buried, and so on…

After about half an hour Paul was still talking and big John decided to take a good look at his neck … the poison of the mamba marked the skin of Paul’s neck but to his amazement … no bite marks – big John and Paul searched for the mamba and found that the upper jaw where the fangs were supposed to be, was removed by a bullet.

George hunted mostly on the farms at Riversdale, Campfornis and Concordia around Alldays, his experiences were not so far-fetched and very true.

The prime trophy for a hunter is a kudu bull with those curled horns as long as possible. The length of Roland Ward’s trophy was measured at 56 inches, any hunter would be very fortunate to find a kudu bull with horns close to 50 inches. The berg-kudu with narrow horns and thick neck was found at Campfornis near the mountains, the sandveld-kudu with wide horns and longer hooves at Riverssdale.

The older the kudu bull, the wiser it gets to avoid hunters, the big ears are sensitive and they run at the first smell of a hunter – a hunting trip successful when you shoot one of these animals.

The opportunity of a lifetime came to George one day on the farm Riversdale during 1987. Freddy, the farm manager, woke him at 04h300 in the morning. They drove with an open land-cruizer at sunrise. From the tar road Freddy spotted a kudu cow. They were hunting for game meat, selling as much as possible to Kovisco who paid by kilogram including skin, horn and legs, only the inside to be removed. The first kudu was on the cruiser at sunrise.

Freddy has been taught by George to drive and shoot since his youth as a black boy on the farm. He knew the farm well, aware of the dangers of big holes dug by warthogs, the rooibos veld easy to drive as the trees have no haak-en-steek thorns. Freddy had the skill to know when it was time to stop and shoot and when to chase after the kudu – for some reason when kudu are chased they tend to stop and look at what is behind them.

They entered the first camp from the tar road driving through the bush with one kudu loaded – the next moment kudu bulls (about 8of them) were standing around – George shot the first one through the heart with the .308 winchester. The bull jumped backwards landing on his horns.

The next one George shot in the run through the lungs and the Freddie chased after them … the third bull stopped to look back … the third shot hit his neck and he dropped.

George and Freddy loaded this one first and went back for the other two. The first bull still lying on his horns and the other bull they found about 100 metres away. The four kudu loaded they arrived at the coldroom at the farm house, while the other workers take skinned and removed the inside of these four kudu .

George and Freddie rushed back to the next camp, the direction of which the remaining kudu were jumping.The next camp was observed along the fence, when they took the turn at the corner a kudu bull was standing 300 metres away, when George took the shot some other kudu jumped into our camp.

Freddy chased after them … hitting brakes when they stop … George shot four more cows as they proceeded and after loading them, they went back to the spot where the kudu bull was standing … they found blood and followed the spoor … the bull could not go far with so much bleeding … this was the old bull and heavy to load on top of the other kudu. George and Freddy shot 9 kudu before breakfast and they were very hungry.

In these years it was the alltime record for shooting kudu in such a short time on the open field – Lukas Steyn of Kovisco wrote a fat cheque to George for a few hours of fun.

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