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It was well before daylight when we woke up the morning of the vaal rhebok hunt — the earliest morning of all of our hunts. It was also very cold. We had an hour+ drive to reach the 22,000-acre, low-fenced sheep farm that boasted some of the highest mountaintops in the Sneeuburg mountain range in the broader mountain area known as the Karoo. We drove an hour over roads that don’t really compare to anything we have in the states. The closest comparison I can think of is bump gate roads in West Texas. It felt like we were on private property, and some of the time we were, but they were public dirt roads.
Our 2017 South African safari with John X Safaris was the year that kicked off my quest for the Tiny Ten antelope. I was fairly ignorant going into this hunt about the unique qualities of each species, how hard they are to hunt, and how addicted I’d become to the concept of completing the challenge of harvesting all 10 of them. I only succeeded in collecting three of the ten on this trip, which just means that I have to go back again next year!
The holiday season is upon us and Christmas will be here before you know it. Have you found that perfect gift for the hunter in your life? Gift for hunters can be tough. There are so many hunting products out there, sometimes it’s hard to know what to buy, what’s worth it, and so on.
Growing up in Texas everyone dreams of being able to go to south Texas and hunt the Muy Grande. Some people just get lucky and I was one of those people. Thanks to some awesome in-laws, I have been able to hunt the south Texas brush country for almost 12 years now and it is definitely one of those special places. Up until this year my biggest deer was a 159” 10 point that I had taken on the same property at 585 yards. Based on the way we do our deer management, this year was finally my year to take a big one.
When you go to Africa there will be the animals that people say, “trust me that needs to be on your list” and you look at them and go, “nope.” But then you see one and your mind is changed real fast. For me that was the bushbuck. Nearing the end of the hunt it was the only animal I lacked to take the spiral slam so we decided to go after it, and I was glad we did.
I feel like I need to start this post by saying that even though I’ve worked in the hunting industry over the course of 10 years, for some pretty prominent companies, I’ve never had the opportunity to hunt outside the state of Oregon. I’ve never hunted out of a box blind. I’ve never hunted with a guide. I’ve never hunted on a ranch that officially manages wildlife population. I’ve never heard the word corn used as a verb. This hunting trip was full of firsts for me.
And I was fascinated by the whole experience.
The daughter of a consulting forester and general outdoor enthusiast, I essentially grew up in the woods of Oregon’s Willamette Valley. I tagged along on hunts with my dad basically from the time I could walk. Then as soon as I was old enough, I took my hunter’s safety course and started hunting blacktail deer alongside him. Hunting blacktail in Oregon isn’t easy. Spot and stalk hunting is where it’s at and you can be out hiking for miles, not seeing another person – or blacktail for that matter. Despite my love for the outdoors and hunting practically my entire life, the last few years (and a few kids) later, I’ve let life get in the way and my time in the woods has been sporadic at best.
Every hunter has their animal. The one animal that fills their dreams and the one they would give up all hunting just to chase them one more time. For me, that animal is the elk. There’s just something about them. I’m not sure, but I have to assume that it’s a combination of the beautiful country they live in, the size of the animal, and the size of the antlers. Or the fact that a bugle can haunt your dreams day in and day out.