The day had finally arrived and we were at the airport on our way tot he Kalahari. We booked our rifles in and awaited our boarding time. After boarding the plane our conversation turned to hunting. Very intrigued about how the hunting works in North America and chatting extensively to the client, I found out everything I needed to know.
When we touched down in Kimberly we were off the plane collected our rifles and where in the vehicle in the blink of an eye and the road begins. After a short 4-hour drive we started seeing the telltale signs of the Kalahari. The sand started changing from grey to red in colour and the texture of the ground underfoot went form hard and strewn with rock to soft red Kalahari sand. This alone is something to behold, the whole landscape changes in front of your eyes. The Camel thorn trees start becoming more and more prevalent and the bush thickens up with swart and rooi-hak bush.
After another hour and a half drive through the sand we arrive at our camp the setting is absolutely beautiful, the sand surrounds the luxurious rooms and the dinning room and bar area are decorated with some really amazing trophies and conversational pieces. Once settled, every one sat around the fire feet in the sand and enjoyed an ice-cold beer and the aroma of camel thorn burning in on the fire.
The food and hospitality of the Kalahari is renowned and I can only hope that everybody has a chance to experience this. We had an early start the next morning and the modus operandi was to look for tracks at the waterholes. We were out of luck at the first few. While searching, we managed to get the client a great Springbuck and a 24” impala ram. On the third morning we found what we were looking for, just a few hundred meters from a water point there they where the spoor of a big male lion. Even being my first lion hunt I could tell they were big, twice the size of my hand. So we all get off the vehicle and kit up. Ample ammo, water hat sunscreen and communication incase of an emergency. We then commenced our walk.
After the better part of an hour we all had the spoor stuck in our minds and were following it fairly easily when we heard the wildebeest in front of us making a commotion. We all slowed and then we saw him. Walking tall and in that gate that so describes the king of the jungle the lion was walking towards us at about 50 meters. We all sank down in the grass and the rifle went onto the shooting sticks. The shade of the camel thorn tree we were in was perfect cover and the lion kept on coming completely occupied by the wildebeest.
The wind changed and the lion stopped in his tracks and lay flat on his belly looking straight at us with those yellow oversized eyes. He emitted a guttural growl and then turned and was gone like smoke in the wind. We all though we had him but it was not meant to be right then. The spoor was fresh and we took it away and at faster pace now and in the next 2 hours we bumped him under a tree or a bush in the shade 3 more times.
The 5th time we found him he was un aware of where we were and he was standing at 50meters broad side everything went as planned the sticks went up and the client lined up he aimed carefully and then a big bang of the 375H&H. The lion jumped and hit the ground in a flat outs spring, I couldn’t believe my eyes he was so fast it was almost impossible to follow his dash through the bush and he was gone. The 5 of us all looked and listened for any movement or sound when a ferocious growl broke the silence and we all know we had our lion.
We walked up to where we had seen him disappear and found the positive blood trail one hope for dashed with the sign of lung blood. Not 40 meters from here there he was lying dead still, we approached cautiously as the saying burns your brain “ it’s the dead ones that kill you”. After sufficient time we have the lion in the shade and radioed for the vehicle which was now 9 km away. After the photos and loading of the great cat which we estimate at 250 kilograms we headed back to camp in the blistering sun of the Kalahari all of us smiling from ear to ear.
We sat around the campfire that evening and relived that hunt over and over.
PH, Jono Joseph