As the panic started to build, my inner conversation was simply, “What is wrong with me?!” The image of the Cape (Red) Hartebeest at which I was attempting to point my 7mm Remington Magnum would not stay still. Instead, the trophy bull swung from one side of my Nightforce scope’s field of view to the other, resulting in the crosshairs traveling from tail to nose of the still unconcerned animal. The Hartebeest might have remained calm, but the Nimrod trying to shoot him wasn’t. Shake your head if you will at my stupidity, but the fact that I was standing and aiming at an animal in a gale force wind never entered my rattled brain. Once again, I tried to place my crosshairs between the bull’s shoulder blades as he faced me at 200-yards with his head down grazing. And, once again my scope swung wildly as this time, I placed my hand over the barrel in front of the scope to try to stop what I thought was my bull-fever-induced shaking. Again, I screamed internally, “What is wrong with me?!!”
It seems ridiculous in hindsight, but at the time I had no clue what was going on. Unbeknownst to me, my PH, Arnold Claassen knew exactly what was keeping me from shooting. At the edge of me completely melting down, screaming, and throwing rocks at the Hartebeest, the wind calmed for a few seconds. The crosshairs finally settled on the ridge of the bull’s withers, the trigger broke, and I was rocked back. As I came down from the recoil, I watched as the bull rolled down the steep hillside on which he had been grazing. Though ecstatic at our success, I also wondered how the devil we were going to recover the animal for photography and field dressing.
I shouldn’t have worried about the recovery of the trophy bull. Arnold’s long-suffering truck came to the rescue once again. Reversing down the slope to a point as close as possible to the Hartebeest, we extended the cable from the electric winch in the back of the truck and secured it to the bull. While Jambo slowly retracted the cable, Arnold and I kept the bull’s horns and hooves from digging into the ground. Once loaded into the back of the truck, Arnold drove back up onto the ridgeline and, therefore, back into the teeth of the gale force winds. The look on my face in most of the ‘trophy’ photos is classic – teeth gritted, eyes blurry from the blowing sand, but still wonderfully, immensely pleased.