We were traveling close to the Limpopo River for my Water Buck hunt. The terrain changed so much in just a very small area. We went from arid desert like conditions to tropical and lush. The Limpopo River had been dammed up to provide irrigation for a ranch, and in the process, they created a multitude of man-made lakes and marshes, perfect habitat for water bucks.
Shortly after lunch, we spotted a trio of water bucks. One of them stood out from the rest. We tried and tried to put on a successful stalk, but the winds kept swirling, and even though they were not spooked, they were uneasy. Later in the afternoon, my husband and our tracker raced up to where we had just completed a stalk. That had spotted an even bigger buck!
We quickly made our way over to the area. Sure enough there stood a magnificent water buck and 2 does. Altus quickly set up the shooting sticks, and I took aim. I actually suffered from buck fever at this point. I was so nervous about making a bad shot. I took a cleansing breath and squeezed the trigger. The way he hunched up and tucked his tail, everyone knew I had hit him good.
My tracker immediately took off to look for his trail. We followed behind, certain that we would find the buck right inside the tree line. Problem was, he wasn’t there. My niece spotted him walking toward the water. I pulled my gun up, and waited for Altus to verify that he was the same buck. We couldn’t be sure, so I waited. We went back to where I had shot him, and started tracking from the beginning. The trail led us right to the water’s edge. There was a barrier of reeds 20 feet or more thick. We couldn’t enter the water due to the possible presence of crocodiles and hippopotamus. Almost on cue, we could hear hippos barking or grunting, it was an eerie sound coming from behind the reeds.
Pete. My tracker, and I heard what sounded like crashing into the water. I was sure it was my buck, and he was down. Despite the thought that we were so close to him, the decision was made to call it a day, and start looking again in the daylight. That made for a long night.
The next morning, Altus, Pete, my niece Morgan and I picked up the trail again. We circled the lake to see if he had exited the water, and the only trail we found was coming out right where he went in. We found him not more than 20 yards from the water’s edge. I was so happy and relieved at the same time!! He was beautiful!!
Over all he had only traveled 150 yards, then back 20 yards closer to where we had started. My tracker theorized that the buck exited the water shortly after we left, choosing to bed down under a corpse of trees. I am so thankful he did. I feared he would be eaten by crocodiles or so water logged the meat would be ruined. Instead here he was, and not one bit of meat would go to waste.