Saturday, November 10, 2012

ma, we're 'a going on a hunt

The kids have by now gotten into the idea of giving and getting ‘experiences’ for presents -- they love their gigantic stash of legos, toys, sports equipment, and books but when it comes to buying presents, it’s tricky anywhere but especially here.  And so...we introduced “the voucher.”

Our friends approached us first with an idea of giving a Bow Hunting voucher to FPFJ for his birthday and I think he was surprised at how quickly we agreed!  And so....Uncle Benjo and Thing got up at 4:30 the other Saturday morning and the two went off bow-hunting for impala.  The grown ups weren’t sure how it would go, neither did the little guy and so I went along as a chaperone/photographer.  FPFJ was totally awesome and cool as a cucumber and once I had the ‘lay of the land’ I was able to hang back and let the boys be boys. My concern was what kind of things they could encounter while tracking...since most of hunting is creeping around and trying to get close to one of the most skittish animals on the planet.  Creeping thru the tall grass in the bush is not high on my list of things I want the kids doing here in the land of fire ants, puff adders and black mambas.  Thankfully, the kid-friendly plan for the morning involved mostly creeping along open sandy paths with minimal stalking.  The grass and everything else is dry and crunchy and there is no step that could be taken thru the grass by clumsy humanoids, no matter how sneaky, that can possibly escape notice. ....CRUNCH CRUNCH CRUNCH, CRACK, (swearing), CRUNCH... is kinda how 'sneaking' goes this time of year.  This was great from a mother's perspective and I was happy to have some time as the sun came up to again disappear into the little tiny creative space I have carved out for myself and play with the new camera -- again confirming my complete lack of natural ability to photograph animals or, as you’ll soon understand the above photo, predict animal behaviour. 

The best part of any adventure is the clothes and the gear.  This adventure was no excpetion.


After a few frustrating exchanges "Can you see...?  Do you notice...?" Ben realizes that his hunting companion actually cannot see a thing! The grass is taller than him. he could be a foot away from a zebra and not notice until he got a hoof in the face. (he didn't, by the way!)   (It was amazing to see that the camouflage strategy for zebra actually is VERY effective in this setting.

On the right 'track' 

Off they go.....sneaking.....

This was when I had my close encounter with the sable.  The boys went off and I thought to myself.  "Let's see how close I can get to these Sable." Uh, crap.  I did NOT know that there was in this herd one semi-domestic sable: "Natalie."  this is the sequence I shot while I looked for something, ANYTHING to put between me and the sable.  And the photos I took before wondering where was ole Uncle Ben anyway? How loud would I have to yell for him to come running?  And...was he in fact just on the other side of this herd, peeing his pants while laughing hysterically at me running around a puny 5-inch diameter tree being pursued by an entuhiastic antelope with meter-long horns?  Thankfully after a few turns around the tree she lost interest and returned to her morning grazing.  I got my heart rate back to a reasonable level and backed myself right outta there. Good lesson. This property has on it a fully domesticated young sable, Rachael, and this darling, Natalie.  She is obviously NOT skittish around people but hangs with the herd.  Anyway, I was happy to re-join the boys who were just setting up to take a shot.  The shot missed and they headed over to see if they could find the arrow.  Because it hit a tree branch on the way, the trajectory was deflected, the animal was 'warned' and the arrow was easy to find.  By then, our friend Dan had arrived and they carried on together.  Here they are hatching a plan to head off the trail and into the long grass in hopes of the two hunters being able to flush out one particular animal toward Hunter #3.

The plan worked but not until we had to abandon the hunt and reunite with the the home-team.  This turned out to be a good thing because the shot that got off and that hit the animal was not a good one and the tracking was long and the death and 'dressing' of the impala was a bit gruesome. We escaped the gorey part of the hunting 'experience' and Ben has successfully recruited another young boy to his club. For now we are sticking to home-made stick and rubber-tubing 'gear' but I do anticipate the purchase of something 'proper' in our future.

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