November 04, 2010
By Tim Herald
For the best in African bowhunting at an affordable price, never overlook this overlooked country.
By Tim Herald
Admittedly, I am an African addict. I love the variety of game, the presence of truly dangerous game, the different cultures, the kaleidoscope of unforgettable sights, the unique smells, and the aura of the Dark Continent's historical hunting. However, South Africa has got a little tame for me, and countries like Tanzania, Botswana, and Zambia are beyond my budget.
Enter Namibia, located just above South Africa on the Atlantic coast. This independent nation is stable and safe, and the national language is English. Hunting opportunities abound in Namibia, from the famous Kalahari Desert, to the hill and mountain country, to the Caprivi Strip that can be as wet and wild as anywhere on the continent. Namibia has its game ranches, but it has plenty of quality free-range hunts, too.
A couple of years ago I met professional hunter (PH) Roger Coomber on the Accurate Reloading African Forums (http://forums.accuratereloading.com). Our mutual passion for bowhunting surfaced early, we became fast friends, and before long I was planning a bowhunt with Roger and his Vieranas Safaris. Roger saves the bulk of his land for bowhunting only.
After months of anticipation, a couple of friends and I took off from Cincinnati on our way to Windhoek, Namibia, via London. With a 15-hour layover in London, we spent the day sightseeing and made the final leg of the trip that evening. Roger met us in Windhoek and personally drove us to his place in the northern part of the country.
Before we began our hunt, Roger made us all pass a shooting proficiency test, which included shooting with broadheads through a narrow window frame that simulated a blind window. All of us passed, so we were good to hunt.
My number one priority was to take an eland. Roger had been seeing a herd at one of his waterholes, but they were drinking only every two to three days. He explained that this herd was ranging up to 30 miles and was likely leaving the property at times. With Cuddeback trail cams on most of his waterholes, he had identified two mature bulls in the group, one an ancient old bull with incredible mass and another with slightly longer horns that veered out into a wide "V."
When eland bulls grow old, their color turns from tan to slate gray, and they get a distinctive tuft of longer hair on the forehead. These old boys are commonly called blue bulls, and I had decided I would shoot only a blue bull. Knowing from Roger's trail cam photos that two such bulls roamed here, I vowed not to shoot any other animal until I got a shot at one of the big guys.
Well, I waited, and waited. During three full days in the blind, I saw giraffes, warthogs, and many other animals, including one tempting mature kudu bull. But I kept my resolve and passed on the shot.
Finally, a half hour before sundown on the third afternoon, a huge shadow passed over the window of the blind. Peeking out, I saw a bull eland standing 25 yards away but immediately realized he was a tan bull and not one of the old guys.
Then I heard the tell-tale click, click of an eland walking. Through my binoculars, I quickly spotted the wider-horned blue bull from Roger's trail photos. He was 75 yards out and coming.
By then, the younger bull was drinking, and the big bull strolled right in and started drinking, offering me a broadside shot. Still, I had a major problem. The younger bull was directly behind him. I hardly expected a pass-through on an animal that big, but I was not willing to take the chance.
After nearly five minutes of guzzling, the younger bull turned to leave, and immediately I drew my bow, settled my top pin low in the chest, and touched off my release. The arrow hit perfectly, and the bull jumped high, kicking his back legs like a bucking bronco.
The eland sprinted in an arc, but less than 80 yards from the blind his back end started to wobble and he went down. In my wildest dreams, I never anticipated shooting a monster bull eland and watching him fall within sight of my blind.
He was everything I had hoped for. His hide showed the blue-gray coloration of a bull past his prime. His long spiral horns had wonderful ivory tips and great mass. And the body was gargantuan. I have killed several kudu, two Cape buffalo, and many North American heavyweights like elk and moose, but for sheer bulk this eland blew them all away. He was a monster.
Without question, 33 hours in the same blind, numerous passed shots on other animals, and a stressful 10-minute encounter had all culminated in one of my most cherished hunting trophies, a giant blue bull.
When not chasing critters with his bow, the author serves as Director of Marketing for Bad Boy Buggies. He lives in Lexington, Kentucky.
Author's Notes: After taking my blue bull, I became an opportunist, meaning that any good trophy within range was fair game. That approach resulted in my taking a red hartebeest; a huge male baboon; a warthog; a gorgeous Hartmann's zebra; and, finally, on the last day of the hunt, a mature kudu bull, in my eyes absolutely the most beautiful and regal of all the plains game animals.
I used a BowTech 101st Airborne at 70 lbs. draw weight, Carbon Express Maxima Hunter 350 arrows, 100-grain Wac 'Em broadheads, and Nikon's EDG 10x42 binoculars, critical for judging trophy quality and sex.
For an African hunt in a safe and stable environment, give Namibia a look. You can take six or more animals and be treated like a king for less than the cost of a New Mexico elk hunt.
Roger Coomber maintains a small operation so he can guarantee high-quality hunts for parties of one to four hunters. Roger is knowledgeable on all aspects of African bowhunting and practices the highest standards and ethics. His prices are fantastic, and his bowhunting-only area of nearly 22,000 acres supports plenty of game. For further information on Robert Coomber's Vieranas Safaris, visit the website www.vieranasbowhunt.com.