When we think of BIG game in Africa we often think of the Big 5 or the Deadly 7. It is right of us to think this because those animals certainly justify the term BIG. My meaning of the term BIG took a large turn on my recent trip to South Africa with Sidebar Nkwe Hunting Safaris.
A year and half ago I had an up close encounter with a Giraffe. It was immense and powerful and majestic all at once. I was amazed at how quickly it was able to move and disappear while standing 20 feet tall. It was there and it was gone. I saw Giraffe on two occasions and became enamored with them instantly. I was not able to hunt one because of budgetary reason, but it is an animal that I do want to visit at some point with my Mathews bow.
On day 2 of our trip, Chris Crites, came face to face with Giraffe. Like many who have come to Africa in the past, he had not even considered a Giraffe. He thought of it as zoo animal and had not even imagined trying to harvest one. After watching 6 Giraffes move gracefully through the bush and also seeing their BIG size, Chris was convinced he would need one. That day would lead to what would come on day 3 of his safari adventure.
The third morning began with our team being on a mission. That mission was a BIG mission for a large Giraffe male. This specific Giraffe was about 13 or 14 years old and was no longer producing offspring. The dark color that we had witnessed on him was quite unique as was his size. Our focus was as clear as our resolve.
We left our luxurious camp to head out in pursuit of this giant animal. The pure size alone had Chris and his 378 Weatherby Mag ready to go. We drove around in the safari vehicle to find this colossal beast. One would think you should be able to see him anywhere but that is not the case. We looked for hours and then we finally found a female Giraffe hidden up against the backdrop of a tree. We looked around the immediate area and spotted the dark male.
From there one would think “ok, it is a huge animal just shoot it.” Because it is so large and because the hide can be two inches thick and its bone structure is huge, we wanted a perfect angle. We waited, but it slipped out the back. It literally disappeared from us. We got on its tracks, which are quite impressive, and we followed it and got within range two more times and it left us in its tracks two more times. We were baffled at its ability to disappear. We decided to regroup at the vehicle, go get some lunch and not continue to push it.
About two hours later we were back on the search. We once again were on a spotting mission from the safari vehicle. After about another hour we spotted the male Giraffe. This time he was in a good position for us to sneak up to him. There were a few large trees between us and we got in tight. Chris was able to make an incredible frontal shot on that giant from about 60 yards. His shot with his 378 custom Weatherby Mag hit the spot and Giraffe spun around and as it did you could see blood spewing out of its nostrils. As it moved away it was wobbling and at about 50 yards it disappeared. This time the disappearance was not due to its awesome camouflage, but rather due to it falling to the ground. The majestic dark Giraffe had tumbled to its fate at the end of Chris’s gun.
The two day pursuit of what we would think was some tame zoo-like animal had come to end in victory, but it was hardly an easy hunt. It was very difficult to say the least. This animal was so impressive on the ground that I was, and I know it is rare, at a loss for words. I could not believe it mere magnificence. The color, the pattern, the size, the head, the entire animal left me in awe. The work was just beginning and for the next 3 hours we worked diligently to get that 2 ton animal out of the bush.
I have an appreciation for the Giraffe like never before. So much so that I will now seek to hunt one with the bow for the challenge of being able to get into range and also being able to fall such a beast with a bow. I know it will not be easy, but thanks to sharing Chris’ hunt, I am now well prepared. Don’t dismiss the Giraffe as a gentle giant unworthy of a hunt. In fact, it is very opposite of reality. Put one on your African list and you will not regret it.