As usual we drove 900km’s to the Kalahari desert for our annual Oryx and Springbuck hunting. Typically we shoot from dune to dune with distances varying from 200 yards to whatever you feel comfortable with. I was primarily focused on getting a trophy Oryx this year. 2 Previous visits had yielded good representative trophies but nothing that made Rowland Ward (40”) minimum. The 40” criteria for Rowland ward is not that tough for females, but the bulls have shorter, bulkier horns, and making the minimum is really tough. I missed the minimum in 2006 with an excellent 39 ½” bull. I was determined to achieve it this year.
Days 1 and 2 saw a number of good representative bulls but nothing that really stood out. On a game reserve of over 54,000 acres, with a reputation of having excellent trophies, the one I was looking for was definitely there. We just had to find him. Late morning on day 3 saw us spot a large Oryx from the vehicle on the way to a specific spot, but we couldn’t determine if it was a bull or a cow. We decided to walk further and hopefully track him to determine whether the Oryx was a shooter. Couple of dunes later (tough going up and down sandy dunes) we spotted a monster bull. He stood out from the small herd, and he was a bull. The excitement mounted. I had a local tracker and a friend that was going to range along for the hunt. Equipment was my Rem Sendero in 300RUM with 220gr SMK’s. Had been practising out to 750 yards, and been making comfortable kills out to 500 yards on small game so was feeling quite confident.
We setup twice on the Oryx from overlooking dunes, but couldn’t get a shot in because they kept on moving or where spooked. 2,5 hours later, many dunes, lots of sweat we set up for a 3rd time. We managed to crawl up a dune overlooking the small herd of about 7 Oryx, and setup prone through long grass. Again the Oryx kept moving which made the situation difficult trying to shoot prone through grass. I’d get into position, make sure no obstructions, and the herd would move off a little, move again for a better sight picture and the herd would move. I was sure that if I didn’t get in a shot now, they would be gone for good, along with the trophy bull. While shuffling on a 3rd attempt I lost sight of the bull while setting up. As I managed to get a sight picture of the herd I wasn’t sure which animal was the trophy any more. They started to move off again. Quick discussion between the tracker and myself. Normally I would never taking a moving shot, but this in my opinion was the last chance. Aimed for a high shoulder with a little lead at just over 265 yards and let the 220gr go. At the shot the bull dropped. I was very sceptical as Oryx are very tough and reloaded for a possible follow up. Both the tracker and my ranging buddy starting shouting frantically that I’d shot the wrong bull. The other animals in the herd had started running off along the top of the opposite dune. Shuffled once again and setup. Quick discussion between all as to which was the trophy animal. We’d worked too hard to let him get away. The herd slowed to a walk on the opposite dune. Range was 399 yards. Dialled in the appropriate moa, and watching as they started to cross over the dune out of sight. The trophy bull was just starting over the dune, when I took a quartering away shot. At the shot I was worried as I called it high. He turned back along the dune ridge and went down about 50m further. Elation !! we’d got him.
After the usual congratulations we took a walk down to have a look. One look at the 1rst “non trophy” bull that I shot made we wonder what was on top of the dune. The 1st bull was a monster. A huge 43”. You can guess it. The tracker and my buddy hadn’t been watching carefully, (blast of the 300rum makes some gun shy), and didn’t see which animal went down. The 2nd bull, the supposed “trophy” measured in at 38” which is a respectable representative trophy but pales in comparison to the 43”. I was still very happy and there where no hard feelings. 3 years later I eventually have my trophy Oryx.
the 43" monster bull
The wrong, but still very respectable 38"
Typical herd of Oryx