My anticipation is running wild for hunting, fishing expectations in Africa
As you read today's column, I'll be over the Atlantic Ocean en route to Johannesburg, South Africa.
I'm high on anticipation, and I thought I'd share my plans and my hopes with you. Will reality prove to fall short, reach or surpass my expectations? I'm counting on a "reach," and hoping for an "exceed."
While Jim and I spend 10 days hunting plains game on a large ranch an approximate two-hour drive from Windhoek, the capital city of Namibia, my long-time partner Doug will be hunting dangerous game on the Caprivi Strip where it borders Angola and Botswana. At the end of Jim's and my 10-day hunt, we plan to join Doug at his Katima Mulilo area camp where Jim and I will fish. It is a wetland area fed by the Okavango, Kwando, Chobe and Zambezi Rivers. If you are online, Google Jamy Traut. Jamy is our outfitter, and his website is full of awesome photos and information.
Relative to my 10-day hunt, I will hunt one-on-one with my own personal guide. So will Jim who plans to hunt with his crossbow. I have a serious tremor, and I must choose my shots very carefully. I'd like a trophy red hartebeest, and I'm hoping for a crack at jackals. I also plan to hunt for more affordable non-trophy or cull blue wildebeest, kudu and gemsbok that I won't take home. I can't speak for Jim's desires, but I'd bet on kudu and gemsbok. I already have trophy gemsbok, kudu, eland, impala, and warthog skulls on the wall.
I'm taking along a .30-06 and a 12 gauge shotgun as I plan to bird hunt. Some consider the African sand grouse to be the sportiest wing-shooting in the world, and I aim to find out. I also look for Jim to pack his shotgun. If I don't get a rifle shot I'm comfortable with because of the tremor, I still have the shotgun. I might also make a day or overnight trip to Swakopmund on the Skeleton Coast (West) for shark fishing if the rifle hunt becomes frustrating.
Now for the river fishing on the Caprivi Strip. Jim and I will either make a long road trip or a short small plane charter trip to the Caprivi where we join Bwana Doug. I surely don't plan to fish from a butt-wide dugout canoe in croc-hippo infested waters. Nor will I be bank-fishing hors d'oeuvre for an enterprising crocodilian. Truthfully, I haven't seen a photo of the boat, but I am excited.
I want a tiger fish — the silver-colored killing machine with razor-sharp interlocking teeth. The tigers where we will fish aren't the 100-pound goliath variety found in East Africa, but they can and do pick birds out of the air. A tiger is a top priority.
The waters hold a variety of tilapia or "bream" including the olive, red-breasted, three spot, and purple-faced largemouth varieties. I know tilapia fillets are for sale in our grocery stores and served in our restaurants, and I'm hoping for a chance to eat fresh tilapia. I'm curious about the sharp tooth catfish. He looks like an eel, averages four feet in length, crawls on land to find food or water, and is caught primarily at night. Could you imagine a fish sneaking up on your lunch from behind you? The African pike looks a lot like our musky or northern pike. I hope to find out if his size and feeding habits are similar to our pike.
Anticipation is a wonderful thing. Often times it exceeds the actual experience. It comes along before a first kiss, starting a first high school football game, our teeing off on the 18th-stroke lead. I've been to Africa twice, but I don't remember being this excited.
I'm also very happy for Doug. I'd love to face the "Black Death" or cape buffalo as he will, but with this tremor, I'd only be putting the lives of the trackers and my professional hunter (PH) at risk. There was a time when I could flat out shoot, but those days are gone. I can't recall ever missing a running fox or coyote. I was either good or lucky in the old days. On occasion I still get on a roll with a shotgun.
As mentioned in the past, I want to see my byline in a Sports Afield or Sporting Classics magazine.
To me it would be comparable to a young ballplayer stepping from the minors to the major league. With that credential, my writing will become far more marketable. I believe that an African story about partners going different directions on the same hunt with the same noted outfitter would have great appeal. Add wing-shooting and fishing, and we're talking unique. With Doug, Jim, and I collecting photos, it should put the story over the top.
Some unrelated thoughts
After 50 years of hauling sandbags and shooting rests around every time I wanted to sight-in a rifle, I went to Mitchell's Precision Reloading and bought myself a Caldwell Lead Sled. I'm upset with myself.
Why didn't I do this years ago? Even with my tremor, I shot a one-inch group earlier this week.
In November 2012, I killed a respectable whitetail buck. I removed the hide from the head and made a so-called European or German mount of it by sawing lengthwise through the skull. Instead of boiling the flesh out of it and stinking up Betsy's kitchen, I procrastinated and left it on a shelf in our garage.
Last summer I glanced at it and noted a pile of sawdust-like matter under the skull. The skull was dingy yellow but clean. Some insects had done the job for me. All the skull needed was bleaching with a half water, half hydrogen peroxide solution. Was my luck unusual?
Last November I killed a decent mule deer buck. I did the same thing to the skull and left it in the garage. Last week I checked on it. As I write the bugs are working on my muley skull. Remember Shakespeare's Hamlet talking about "a certain convocation of worms"? Apparently those Danish worms also inhabit certain Wagner garages. By the way, my worm friends have never damaged anything else.
See you next week when I write about a very recent Canada fishing trip with some great partners.