Steadily the drizzle fell over the open acacia savannah north-east of Marble Hall in the former Lebowa. I managed a reserve there in the days when I could still walk with crutches, but despite the grass being short and sparse, the rocky terrain made for tough going.
Although it was summer, not much rain had fallen. The impala had been hammering the grazing and consequently, they had to be reduced. I could’ve done it with a spotlight at night, which I find quite distasteful, or hunt them by day, on foot, with a handgun.
Up close and personal
As impala are quite sensitive to cold and, knowing that scent carries better in damp air, I paid particular attention to the wind while my eyes searched the thickets where I knew they would be hiding. Slowly moving through the bush among spectacular outcrops of huge, rounded granite boulders, my thoughts wandered back through time. I thought about the ancient skin-clad hunter whose unseen tracks I stepped in and who, armed with only a stick and flint-tipped spear or a flimsy bow, hunted the same quarry in this very place.
Tired and with a wry smile on my face, I sat down against a tree at the edge of a clearing, thinking of many who would frown at me for not using a rifle as my hunting-arm. I unbuttoned my jacket where my leather, chest-holstered hunting handgun, a 30-30 Contender with 14” barrel and 2.5x Bushnell scope, and my binoculars were shielded from the rain.
Scanning the bush ahead, I eventually spotted movement and then the impala, all bunched up in a thicket about 250m away. There was no cover between us and I knew my gun could do it. But hunting with a single-shot pistol, you do it with one good shot. For that, you get as close as possible, and then try to get 10 paces closer still.
Off to my right, about 150m away, was a stand of acacia trees. Buttoning up my jacket, I stuck some leafy twigs in the band of my floppy hat and started to leopard-crawl through the wet grass.
Contact Abré J Steyn on 083 253 4822 or e-mail [email protected].
Read more about getting up close and personal and a handgun culture in the 29 July 2011 issue.