o start off, I can unfortunately not take all credit for the rhino hunt, the donations and the education that all came together off of this hunt and others just like it. The purpose of this hunt was to kill two birds with one stone, the client wanted to hunt a big rhino bull but did not want to export any of the actual body parts as in a normal case with a trophy hunt and we needed to hunt this old bull.
The Rhino Hunt
Took some fine planning and some brainstorming to get everyone on the same page. None the less everything was set in stone all permits where in order dates where set for the big hunt.
On arrival the camp staff presented us with homemade welcome drinks, the staff then took each of our luggage to our rooms after we pointed out who’s luggage is whose and while we enjoyed our welcome drinks we showed the clients around camp, the lounge, kitchen, bar, bathroom, outside deck, swimming pool and then their rooms.
Everyone got their private time to unpack and get nestled in on their own time. On their own time each client popped back to the main lodge to enjoy some drinks around the African TV (open camp fire, called the African TV as everyone stares at it an never says a word) after a few drinks we got called in for dinner and then we chatted the evening away. After a wonderful meal and company we all synced our clocks for an early bird breakfast.
Around 6am everyone started appearing from their rooms for breakfast at 06:30am.
After breakfast we set out to the shooting range for a quick safety briefing and to zero all our rifles and hunting gear. All rifles have to be zeroed at the shooting range as the location they have been zeroed has a different elevation and air pressure that would make it shoot a little different.
After leaving the shooting range we set off to find the particular rhino bull.
Two days went by before we found the bull we needed to hunt. He was in a crash of other bulls, they were in a large open field between two valleys. Then the planning started, we needed the bull to either split up from the crash into the bush or we needed the crash to move into the bush so we have some cover.
The planning was made in such an if and but manner seeing that we are working with mother nature! The wind, the sun, the surroundings and the rhinos. If we move to quickly they could hear us, if the wind turns they could smell us, if the wrong rhino walks in our direction we are busted! And if this happens they could just run into the closets valley and then we have to give them a couple of hours to settle and restart.
I am not going to lie, we worked with what we had and made the best of it.
We cut the crew short, from a Tracker, a Professional Hunter, the client, a backup Professional Hunter, a Nature Conservation officer and a cameraman we ended up being Two Professional Hunters and the client. We used the sun on our backs the wind in our faces and each little bush tall enough to hide behind. Bush for bush edging closer we had the others behind us in hindsight giving us hand signals. As we head from bush to bush looking in front of us, around us and back at the stationary group we slowly move forward.
Not being sure of how many bushes tall enough left in front of us to give us cover the nerves start to get rattled.
We can now see the rhinos, they can’t see us but if the wind had to turn they would smell us. Behind the last bush we open the three legged shooting sticks move them past the bush, assist the client with the rifle onto the shooting sticks. Now all that has to happen is the bull on the far left has to move a little to the right. Patients is key at this stage as shot placement is crucial on such an animal.
With the client on the shooting sticks the rhinos sense something is not right and in that moment the one on the left moves to the right, a perfect 90 degree broadside shot and click………. the client never took the safety off and they all run away!!!!
Just joking, the client places a perfect broadside shot with the .470NE hitting both lungs leaving the rhino with its last death dash into the open field. The rhino had run about 150m before coming to a staggering stop falling over dying in peace.
As we did all the hugs and high fives in celebration we could before it got weird, imagine someone spotting you and two other men hugging and high-fiving each other just to see three more men join in the parade! Dancing (to no music) shouting YES!!! at the top of your voice in the middle of the African bush.
Getting back to the hunt, as a general rule we leave the animal (shot, dead or wounded) for about 20 to 30 minutes.
The last thing you want to do is spook a wounded animal and have it run away filled with pain and adrenalin, sometimes losing the clients trophy. We all went as a group up to the rhino, still keeping the wind in our favour and approaching the majestic bull from behind to see if it is dead. After we have followed all precautions we called the recovery crew to bring in the heavy equipment to set up the beautiful rhino for the trophy pictures.
That evening the tension in camp was so different, we celebrated as if we heard that scans came back clean of some treacherous disease or something. Please do not hesitate to request any more information regarding any hunting activities in and around South Africa.
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Johan Petzer & Co