Hunting With My Grandson
My grandson Warwick has lived with us for most of his life, and his love of the bush and outdoors has been with him from a very early age. When he was 6 years old, he started to accompany me whenever I went wing-shooting, hunting or fishing. I taught him about the animals, tracking and how to handle and shoot with my Miroku lever-action .22. With time and practice he became quite a good shot, and I promised him that on his 12th birthday, if he worked hard at school, I would take him on his first hunt as a 'paying client' for an Impala and a Warthog. (Grandfather paying, of course!) Warwick had worked hard at school and his 80's and 90's report card was presented with pride and the question "So Granddad, when are we going hunting?"
We were ready, so I booked a hunt for this year's July school holidays with Rod, a good friend of mine, and partner and PH with Mukiwa Safari Company. Great excitement as the day approached, and then, it was upon us - Warwick and I were going hunting together.
Rod and his son Jason collected us on the Sunday, and we set off for the Limpopo Valley. This turned out to be a great idea, as youngsters do not want to be in the company of adults all of the time.
Monday dawned clear and cold, with us out at first light. Rod took his 'client' into the bush and started hunting. During the day they found Wildebeest, Red Hartebeest and other large antelope - all most prolific on Gannapan. But the Impala and Warthog proved elusive. But the time was used to practice stalking, getting into comfortable shooting positions, and accurate shot placement. Putting the cross hairs on animals without the pressure of pulling the trigger did a lot to curb Warwick's excitement and calm him down for what was to come.
Rod is a great teacher and has phenomenal knowledge of bushcraft. Warwick was learning a lot, and from a different perspective to my own, thus enriching his knowledge and experience.
That afternoon was my turn to take Warwick out. Again our quarry eluded us, but it was just wonderful to be out there hunting with my young Grandson, and enjoying all the experiences that the bushveld has to offer.
On Tuesday, the second day out, Warwick and I set off at first light with Zacharia, one of Mukiwa's trackers. Well, we hunted all morning, again bumping into Kudu, Wildebeest, Eland, you name it. Again, no Impala. I then decided that, given another opportunity, I would allow Warwick to take whatever came first, and I would deal with his Grandmother and my bank manager when we got home. Now, as Diana, the goddess of hunting chose to decree, we just couldn't get a clear shot on anything as we had earlier. To test us even further, whilst we were out with Zacharia, Rod and Jason had found a herd of Impala not far from the camp. The wind and conditions had been perfect, and they had stalked in close enough for some very clear shots. Oh well, that's hunting and you all know how it goes.
By now it was approaching midday, so we decided to return to camp and have something to eat and drink. Lunch was ready when we arrived, and our huge appetites soon satisfied.
After a rest Rod suggested that we try for a Warthog in the afternoon as he had a plan and an area that should produce. Well, the plan came together and Warwick took his first animal, a nice young boar, with a well-placed shot behind the shoulder. It ran for about 100 meters, leaving minimal blood spoor, but Warwick did his part very well in helping to track and locate his animal. Photographs and congratulations over, the adrenaline still pumping, we fetched the 4x4, loaded everyone and our Warthog, and headed back to camp.
That evening around the campfire, a great meal and a few well-earned refreshments in a magical place with jackals serenading us, we finally became heavy-eyed and went to bed. Thank you, Lord, for this privilege!
Wednesday saw us out before the sun. The first rays of light produced a lone Wildebeest bull only 300m down the side road from the camp. Grandmothers and bank managers forgotten, we were off after the Wildebeest. It turned out that the bull was part of a herd, and they led us a merry dance. We tracked them into a small river valley, where lo-and-behold, what do we see but a herd of Impala! The herd ram was on a mission of his own, keeping to the thick stuff, but the ewes were feeding out in the clear.
We had a long and hard stalk with some uneasy moments when we were either spotted or heard. With the sun and the morning breeze in our favour, we finally found sparse cover behind a raisin bush. A large Impala ewe was standing dead straight on at 70m. Warwick whispered to me that he felt good about the shot, although I must say it was not an easy one at all. He took it, and the Impala dropped in her tracks - a perfect one shot kill, exactly where Rod had instructed him to place it. We rushed over but she was not going to get up from this.
Congratulations and excitement all round. I took photographs of a proud grandson (not to mention an immensely proud grandfather). Then it was time for the hunter to take a few quiet moments, as he had been taught, to reflect and give humble thanks to Mwari in respect for the Impala that had given her life.
I would like to conclude by thanking Rod and his team for a wonderful three days. It was a great privilege to hunt with him and Mukiwa Safaris on a really great concession, as well as for sharing his knowledge with Warwick.
A few words on Warwick's rifle. It came to pass one Saturday morning in September last year that I could not resist a sweet-looking little rifle, as it seemed just right for Warwick. The rifle is a Zastava 7.62x39 and it fitted him perfectly. It was love at first sight for both of us, so I bought it.
We took it onto the range, with Warwick a little hesitant about the recoil, his first fear. With a lot of reassurance from me, he settled down and took his first shot. Wonder of wonders "Granddad, it doesn't kick at all!" were his first words after he had taken a perfect heart shot on the electronic Impala target.
The 7.62x39 is a light and compact little rifle and ideal for youngsters. It has a very light recoil, but packs enough wallop to take care of any small to medium sized game. As a hunting load, I settled on 16 grains S265 (Sonchem) rifle propellant behind a 150 grain Sierra Prohunter. It proved the perfect combination for Warwick on his first hunt, and it is also a great little bushveld rifle for Granddad.