On a recent Safari to South Africa’s Eastern Cape, I was introduced to a hunting technique reflecting an unusual skill of my Blaauwkrantz Safaris PH, Arnold Claassen. This technique involved the use of an inexpensive varmint call to lure Grey (Bush) Duikers into the open, thus allowing a determination of not only gender, but the horn dimensions on the males. On our first outing, Arnold successfully called in a number of Duikers, but none of the males reached his self-imposed minimum length of 4.5 inches. A number of times as I readied myself on the bipod rest, he would whisper, “we can do better”. I must say that I didn’t mind at all not collecting the beautiful little brown animal on this initial foray, captivated as I was by my first ever hunting experience involving calling. Watching the animals dashing across the landscape, from one patch of vegetation to another, as well as crossing large open areas, just to reach the source of the call was a highlight of my hunting life. Some of these pygmy antelope traveled several hundred yards in order to investigate the sound, at time coming within bayonet range of our stands.
The next morning found us again heading back into the East Cape Lowlands to try and call in a trophy Duiker. As we walked from the truck, we passed into and through the chaparral-like habitat that I had come to, if not accept, at least expect. We finally arrived at the target of our hike, an open hillside from which we had a commanding view of a valley and the hillside opposite. Arnold blew only twice through his call, or what I now referred to as a Duiker love whistle, when a crashing noise was heard in the brush in the valley. Fortunately, I had already placed my rifle on the bipod before the Duiker bolted from the underbrush. Arnold had his binoculars to his eyes in an instant and quickly whispered, “that’s your ram.” As I aimed at the miniature mammal I asked, “How far?” Arnold’s “He’s seen us, shoot him!” preempted any further queries from yours truly. At the shot, the little form collapsed, immediately followed by “Let’s go collect him” from my never-flustered PH. As usual, the photos were carefully posed, this time with hunter and trophy ensconced in a handy bush. As I sat cradling the little ram’s chin, I realized that my PH and trackers had accomplished a transformation. In the span of one Safari they had changed a neophyte African hunter into a glassy-eyed fanatic. I now understood Ernest Hemingway’s quip that his plan now that he was back from Africa was to make enough money to be able return again to this hunter’s paradise. (Adapted from “Small Sizes Count!” – African Hunting Gazette, Volume 24(4), pp. 72-79)
If you would like to see just how receptive the little pygmy antelope were to Arnold’s ‘Love Whistle’ check out this YouTube video. This diminutive female came within 50 feet.