Sunday, September 11, 2016

Into Africa: The Wishlist

As I plan for my African safari, I was asked to create a wishlist of animals I would like to take. This was more of a challenge than I anticipated because Africa has such a wide variety of animals, and they are all so unique compared to our North American game. Of course this list isn't set in stone but it helps the Professional Hunters plan the hunt around the right locations for particular animals. After quite a bit of thought, research and countless hours searching Google images, I've finally come up with my wishlist.

The number one animal on my list is the Impala. To me they embody the best qualities of so many Plains game animals with their beauty and grace. To me, the trip would not be complete without taking one of these.

Number two on my list is the ugly little warthog, and honestly, it may really be my number one. These animals are so smart and the behaviors I've read about them make them seem like more of a challenge than most would give them credit for. Mike Helbing, the owner of Wild Wildebeest Safaris, told me that they are his favorite African game to hunt.

The gemsbok, or Oryx, is another animal that represents Africa, and as such is a must on my list. Its long, sweeping horns and black and white face markings are a beautiful representation of the variety and beauty of plains game.

Last but not least is the blue wildebeest. Another animal that is uniquely and unquestionably African, this is another one that I feel would be a great addition to the list. It's also supposed to be some of the best eating Africa has, and I'm looking forward to that, as well as the other game on the menu.

Of course if an opportunity to take something not on the list arises, I'm game to give it a try. I've been told by several people that photos don't do many of the animals justice, and that once I see them in the flesh I may change my mind. There are so many animals there that it's bound to happen. But this list will get me started!

Friday, September 9, 2016

Utah Archery Elk

If you've followed my blog for the last few years, you know that my elk hunting has been a struggle to say the least. I've been archery hunting elk for the last few years and have come up empty handed every year. Some years the hunting was tough, some years I made a lot of mistakes, some years I missed shots, but every year I ate my tag. This year I was able to break the streak.

I moved back to Wyoming this year, but wasn't able to draw a tag of any kind. Not wanting to sit out the whole season, I decided to buy an over-the-counter elk tag in Utah. Having never hunted Utah, and with only a couple days to scout, my first days in the field were spent "bowhiking." The bulls weren't bugling at all, so I resorted to looking for sign and trying to find an active wallow. I lucked up and found a couple of wallows a few miles apart that were being hit pretty regularly. I set a trail camera on one of the wallows and got some pics of several smaller bulls, and consiering this was an OTC tag, I was looking forward to getting a shot at one of them.

On the afternoon of September 2, I decided to sit one of the wallows and hope a bull would come out for water in the heat of the day. About 6:30, a 5x5 came out and started feeding through the clearing toward me. Soon after, a small 3x4 came out behind him, acting nervous and looking back the direction they came from. After a few minutes he took off running and the bigger bull looked around and then followed after. I had ranged the wallow from my makeshift blind, but the bull finally turned broadside just past it, leaving me to guess the yardage. Miraculously, he paused for a split second in a shooting lane, and I released my arrow. My guess was a little short, but I felt good about the hit.

I gave the bull some time, then followed his trail. There was barely any blood, but I was able to follow his tracks, eventually locating him about 300 yards from where I shot him. After quartering and caping him and taking one load out, I made the trip out of the mountains to where I had cell phone service and called my parents. My dad was able to come in the next morning and help me pack the bull out. Truly an awesome experience.

This bull has been a long time coming and I'm so proud of him. He's a beautiful 5x5 and a great trophy, especially for an OTC, general area hunt. The only sad part is that my season is over already, unless I decided to pick up an OTC deer tag. But I will be able to hunt elk and deer with my dad and hopefully help him. Another blessing of being back home.