One thing I heard early on in my process of deciding to go to Africa was when you get there, take what Africa gives you. That sounded like a really strange thing to say, I am such a planner and I had my wish list and when I heard that I immediately thought, I am not going to take the first animal I see. I quickly found out on my next hunt that that is not what they meant at all, in fact quite the opposite.
After the wildebeest hunt, we decided we would take the rest of the day and look for a kudu as well as a gemsbok.
On the way to hunt gemsbok we talked a little bit about the other animals that I was interested in seeing, both to hunt and just to see – while in Africa you really want to take it all in. Upon arriving at the place we wanted to hunt gemsbok, we saw many other different species of animals including the mountain Zebra which as a side note was a beautiful animal! After hunting a little while we had spotted some gemsboks and to be honest they just did not do it for me personally. We took a good hard look at them and I decided that after seeing them I was going to remove them from my personal list. Not because they were not amazing animals, or because they were too small but for some reason.
Looking back now, I think it was a sign from God that better things were to come.
Soon after that, a call came over the radio from Carl the owner of John X Safaris. Carl was hunting on a different property with my buddy Steve looking for vaal rehbuck up in the high mountains and they had spotted a monster eland bull down in the flats below the mountains. Knowing an eland wasn’t on my list, my PH Stix asked me if I wanted to go for it. I thought about it for a few second and I realized at that moment, you take what Africa gives you.
I knew that if Carl was excited about it that it must be a big bull, so we hurried back to the hunting rig and headed out to a new piece of property. The cool thing about the property where the eland was, was that it was 100% free range, which can be rare in South Africa because of the government requirement to fence properties were dangerous game reside.
When we got to the property the wind was brutal at 25-30 mph and we did not immediately locate the eland even though we were right where Carl told us to go. We stalked a little closer to where we thought they should be and we could see a bunch of eland cows beaded amongst a herd of horses. We looked over the heard for a while and could not locate the bull. Which was kind of strange as they are monstrous animals and you would think in an open valley they could not hide. Well about that time Stix and I both located the bull as he rolled his head up from his nap and he was HUGE! We quickly got into shooting position and as soon as he stood up things got western in a hurry.
I was set up at 220 yards and the first shot was perfect! I sunk it right behind the shoulder with the 28 Nosler but it didn’t seem to hardly phase him. I was shocked as the same round earlier in the year rocked a nilgai back in Texas. Stix quickly instructed me to keep shooting until he was down and try very hard not to let him get up into the mountains as the trek out would have been brutal. After going rapid fire for a few shots the bull sat down and it was over about as quickly as it started.
When we arrived at the eland bull, words could not describe the beauty and size of the animal. I had hunted Bison back in Montana and that feeling I got in Montana of walking up on an animal of that size would be the only way I could describe it. I knew I had a huge one as Stix was elated. He did a quick field measurement of the the bull and informed me that it was the biggest eland he had ever guided. The bull ended up going 38 inches!
After a few amazingly quick hours of work by our tracker we had the bull loaded up into the hunting rig and headed back to camp to close up day 1 in Africa.
Even months later, it’s still hard to believe that it happened that way and taking what Africa gave me provided me with one of my personal best trophy animals I have ever taken.
Watch this, and all of Derrick's hunts, in this video!
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