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Hunting in an Ancient Place

Kendrew Estates is situated midway between Jansenville and Graaff-Reinet in the Karoo region of the Eastern Cape of South Africa.  It is an ancient land where the earth you walk is millions of years old.   The stone formations have been formed and eroded through countless cycles, exposed and hidden, capturing the new and giving up the ancient.  Below are pictures of what are believed to be fossilised dinosaur tracks in an exposed river rock bed.  It is explained that, as the huge animals walked in the particular section, the ground was compacted underfoot and fossilised to a harder substance than the adjacent ground.  With erosion, the softer rock was worn away at a faster rate and the tracks became raised above the surrounding rock.   There are areas where stones are found that look exactly like pieces of wood because that is what it was eons ago.

Every year, for the last fifteen years, a group of old friends get together at Kendrew and hunt for the week.  Five years ago, at the tenth gathering, the organiser asked knife maker Sean Culhane to make a commemorative knife.  Everyone got to pick his own serial number for the knife and gave a springbuck horn, from the hunt, for the scales.

Below are pictures of part of the bag taken this year.  In all, more than 50 springbuck, two blesbuck and a black wildebeest was taken.  A variety of calibers and ammunition was used, ranging from 223 Remington to 30-06.  One springbuck was taken with a 375 Holland and Holland.

 

 

With such a variety of calibers and ammunition used, interesting things are seen.  Below are two carcasses shot with 150gr, unbonded core, jacketed lead bullets from a 270.  The first was shot side on and the shot was fired from the same level that the springbuck was on.  The bullet entered in the yellow square and exited roughly in the direction of the arrow.  I have seen this happen before but not twice on the same hunt.  The second shot was a quarter going away and entered low on the rib cage, in line with the heart.  It turned and exited through the spine, before entering the thoracic cavity.  The meat damage was substantial with bloodshot meat extending along the spine from the top of the neck almost to the back legs. 

This is the springbuck taken with the 375 H&H with a 265gr GSC HV bullet.  The shot was taken at a downhill angle, entered high on the left shoulder and exited lower on the right side rib cage.  The left shoulder was not usable but at the exit hole, very little damage occurred and it was confined to a hand sized patch.

Below is one of the five springbuck taken with the GSC wildcat .224.  It runs a 40gr HV bullet at 4700fps and the distance to the animal below was under 100m.  The bullet did not exit.   The entrance can be seen in the first two pictures and the bullet stopped on the inside of the opposite flank (third picture).   The bullet could not be found.  All the other shots, ranging from 150m to 250m were pass throughs.  Meat damage on all shots taken with the 224 was very similar, as was the shot placement.

 

My aversion to taking head shots, ostensibly to save on meat damage, was again confirmed.  While walking in the veld in search of a blesbuck, I came across this impala ram.  The jaw was shot off and the animal must have taken several days to die.  A PH on the hunt with us said that, when the animal becomes so weak that it finally falls, crows will have a go at the eyes and tongue while it is still alive.   To me, the gamble of a head shot is not an option, given the lack of meat damage with monometal bullets and the inevitable outcome of a thoracic cavity shot.

On Friday morning, while packing and getting ready to drive back to Port Elizabeth, this young meerkat was obviously feeling the cold.  He tried to climb up any trouser leg wide enough to accommodate him.  A game ranger on the hunt with us took off his shoe and the little guy tried to get comfortable inside it immediately. 

Those who are used to sub zero conditions will find this amusing.  On the way out from the farmhouse, I hit the windscreen washer and, as the wipers swept the water across the windscreen, it turned to ice instantly, forcing me to stop until the defroster cleared it well enough to drive on.

It was a good week, visiting with old friends, stocking up the freezer and observing how different combinations of rifle, bullet and caliber compare.

 

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