The Old Bull

The Old Bull

"...when I nocked the arrow, it made a slight click, and the bull jumped to his feet..."

The red hartebeest was still there, almost exactly where we had seen him the day before, lying on a slight ridge, his head swiveling above the waist-high brown grass. He had complete command of the area surrounding him, and he knew it. He was safe.




Guide Roland Leibenburger, right, helped me stalk within easy recurve range of this ancient bull.

Cobus Mouton, owner of Tshepe Safaris, took one look at him and told me the bull's life story. "He's an old one, and he's huge. He's done his breeding, and now he's been driven out of the herd by the young bulls," Cobus said. "Maybe tomorrow you can 'walk and stalk' him."


Thus, the next morning, when my guide, Roland Leibenburger, asked, "What do you want to hunt today?" I had a quick response.

"Let's go get that hartebeest," I said.

We hopped into the back of the truck and Bushveldt, one of Cobus' native trackers, drove us to where we had seen the hartebeest the past two days. As we topped a small hill, I couldn't believe my luck -- the old bull was still in the same place. Roland tapped on the roof of the cab, and as Bushveldt rolled to a stop some 150 yards from the hartebeest, Roland and I bailed out and used the truck as cover to scurry into the waist-high grass.

On all fours, we crept along for about 30 yards until Roland held up his hand to signal a halt to get our bearings.

"Let's crouch-walk up to that small tree," he whispered. Keeping hunched low, we quickly waddled the 40 yards to the tree, which put us about 70 yards from the hartebeest.

The closer we got, the bigger he looked. Cobus was right -- he was huge!

Back on our hands and knees, we crawled another 40 yards in a few minutes. Thankfully,

I'd remembered to bring my kneepads and gloves. Suddenly, Roland stopped and, peeking through the tops of the grass, held up three fingers to signal we were 30 yards from the hartebeest.

I leaned over and whispered in his ear, "Gee, if I had a compound€¦" He looked at me with surprise in his eyes until he saw that I was having a hard time restraining my laughter. Then he began to chuckle silently, too.

Back to crawling, we made each movement slowly and deliberately. A few minutes later Roland again paused and peeked, this time holding up two fingers. Twenty yards.Earlier, we had agreed that I would proceed alone on the last approach of the stalk, so I started to crawl ahead. Roland reached out his hand and touched me.

"Where are you going?" he whispered, with a quizzical look on his face.

"Right there," I indicated, pointing to a small clearing five yards in front of us.

The high veldt of South Africa supports an amazing array of big game.

Slowly crawling to that spot, I eased up. The hartebeest was still relaxed and looking away from me. I managed to extract an arrow from my quiver undetected, but when I nocked the arrow, it made a slight click, and the bull jumped to his feet, looking around to see what had caused that sound.

Instinctively, I drew my bow and released the arrow at the animal standing broadside, 15 yards away. Had he been a whitetail, my shot would have been perfect. For a hartebeest, it was too far back.

The bull spun and ran about 60 yards across the veldt before lying down. Roland and I had a quick conference about what to do. He wanted me to get another arrow into him as quickly as possible; I wanted to wait to let the animal die right there. After a bit of whispered discussion, we went with Roland's plan, but as we started to move toward him, the hartebeest saw us and popped up, loping another 50 yards before bedding again.

As we watched, the hartebeest's head began sinking lower. This time, Roland stayed put to distract him while I crawled backward into grass that would hide my movement. Then I got to my feet and started forward, using a trick I learned in the Army called the "Malaysian slow walk." Each time I took a step forward I would put down the outside edge of my foot and then slowly roll the rest of my foot quietly to the ground. Silently, I covered 40 yards.

Then I realized another problem -- the way he was lying, I had no shot at his chest. That left me two options: leave the trail and stalk through the dry, noisy grass, or creep another 15 to 20 yards past him until I got the right angle. I decided on the latter.

As quietly as possible, I crept past him, with every step sure the hartebeest would hear me and take off. I knew that Roland couldn't permit that and would finish him with the rifle.

So I crept ultra cautiously, step by step, until I crouched 10 yards from the bull.

He was still staring at Roland. With a perfect shot angle, I picked out a tuft of hair on his right side. As my arrow plunged through his chest and buried in the opposite shoulder, he lurched to his feet, staggered two more steps, and fell over. I could hardly believe I had done it.

We called Bushveldt to come and get us. After taking pictures, we loaded the old bull into the back of the truck for the ride home. A sultry South African breeze flowed over us as the warm sun shone on our faces. I looked over at Roland, and said "You know, I've never felt more alive." He smiled and clapped me on the back.

The author is a reverend from Nescopeck, Pennsylvania.

Author's Notes: On this hunt, I used a 50-lb. Wes Wallace "Mentor" recurve and 550-grain Blackhawk Carbonwood arrows tipped with 125-grain Magnus Stinger BuzzCut broadheads. For more information on hunting with Tshepe Safaris in South Africa, contact: Bowhunting Safari Consultants, 1-800-833-9777, www.bowhuntingsafari.com, neil@bowhuntingsafari.com.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

2018 Bowhunter TV Episode 6: Great Start!

2018 Bowhunter TV Episode 6: Great Start!

Guest hunter Christian Berg visits Whitetail Heaven Outfitters in Kentucky and gets his deer-hunting season off to a great start with an amazing velvet buck.

Canyon Ranch Bowhunt

Canyon Ranch Bowhunt

Bowhunter Equipment Editor Tony Peterson sees plenty of action while hunting whitetails and hogs in Texas.

2018 Bowhunter TV Episode 12: Deer Slam!

2018 Bowhunter TV Episode 12: Deer Slam!

Bowhunter Magazine Editor Curt Wells lives his life-long dream of taking all five species of North American deer.

Season Opener: Kentucky Whitetail Bowhunt

Season Opener: Kentucky Whitetail Bowhunt

Christian Berg arrives at Whitetail Heaven Outfitters in Kentucky to kick off the beginning of his hunting season.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Follow this advice before embarking on your first hunt! Big Game

Beginner's Guide to Bowhunting Mule Deer

Ron Niziolek

Follow this advice before embarking on your first hunt!

New year, new look at your whitetail ground How-To

Summer Scouting from Scratch

Tony J. Peterson

New year, new look at your whitetail ground

Archer Chris Cammack has arrowed the new world record for brown bears with his Alaskan giant. Other Game

Massive Alaskan Brown Bear is the New World Record

Lynn Burkhead - October 18, 2018

Archer Chris Cammack has arrowed the new world record for brown bears with his Alaskan giant.

Black bear meat is dark and rich, and delicious ground up in this Pâté chaud recipe. Recipes

Vietnamese Black Bear Pté Chaud (Meat Pie) Recipe

Jenny Nguyen-Wheatley

Black bear meat is dark and rich, and delicious ground up in this Pâté chaud recipe.

See More Trending Articles

More Stories

Choosing to bowhunt during gun season certainly adds an extra layer of difficult to and already Stories

Yes, You Can Bowhunt During Gun Season

Bowhunter TV - November 20, 2014

Choosing to bowhunt during gun season certainly adds an extra layer of difficult to and already

Bowhunter Magazine is turning 45 years old! My, how time flies! I began bowhunting not long after Stories

Bowhunting: Passion, Obsession or Addiction?

Randy Ulmer - October 21, 2016

Bowhunter Magazine is turning 45 years old! My, how time flies! I began bowhunting not long...

If your vacation plans take you to the American Midwest, be sure to visit the St. Charles Museum of Bowhunting, a place where the Beanfield Buck still stands guard Stories

Mel Johnson's Buck Still Stands Guard at Pope and Young Club Museum

Lynn Burkhead - June 15, 2018

If your vacation plans take you to the American Midwest, be sure to visit the St. Charles...

Suddenly quiet, the bright-orange, one-time Danish Coast Guard boat drifted with the current, water Stories

A Greenland Hunting Adventure to Remember

Jeff Waring - January 02, 2018

Suddenly quiet, the bright-orange, one-time Danish Coast Guard boat drifted with the current,...

See More Stories

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get Digital Access.

All Bowhunter subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now