Thursday, January 2, 2014

Happy New Year & New Name Announcement!

There is change in the New Year’s wind. Great change—a monumental change that will mark the beginning of something epic and lasting in the outfitting industry in Arizona! Two companies that have firmly established themselves as the highest performing guides for Arizona’s big game is Chad Rhoton and Jay Lopeman’s “Mossback Arizona” and Matt Schimberg and Bryon Goswicks’s “Arizona Strip Bucks”. These two very successful companies have been the top producing outfitters for mule deer, elk and coues deer for most of the last decade. While AZSB has focused primarily on mule deer, MBAZ has focused mainly on elk and coues.  No other competing outfits have been able to match the number of trophy- caliber animals taken by these two top quality hunting companies  . . . year after year after year.

Born from friendship and deep professional respect for one another, Arizona Strip Bucks and Mossback Arizona are stoked to announce a full partnership and full merger of the two companies. No longer will we compete against one another but will mesh together and move forward as the greatest hunting company in Arizona! The combined knowledge of species and years of hunting and guiding experience will be unmatched in Arizona. The highly qualified and experienced seasoned guides that come from joining our companies will be unlike any other team ever assembled. Both outfitters owe their success to the dedicated quality guides that have been the beating heart of each organization. This philosophy will carry forward as we have both learned the key to finding success lies in the quality of our guides, and we are darn proud and thankful to have each and every one of them as part of our new organization.


This new company, starting January 1, 2014, will be known as A3 Trophy Hunts. We will be offering a full array of options in all of Arizonas units for all species. Both companies bring private land elk hunting to the table and our control of even more private land for huge bucks and bulls continues to grow annually. The harvest records of the two combined companies are, simply put, untouchable by any other outfitters available in Arizona. If you look at sheer numbers of game taken by A3s clientele,  you will find it to be vastly superior to even our closest competitor:  44 bulls over 375” with 15 of those over 400”, 25 mule deer over 200” with 14 of those over 220” and 3 over 240” and 52 Coues bucks grossing over 110” with 17 over 120” and 6 over 130”! In 2013 alone, we were able to harvest 4 bulls scoring over 400”, our top 6 coues deer averaged 132”,  and 2 bucks over 225” including one that gross scored an amazing 246”.  This record is a testament to our passion and dedication to preseason preparation and the quality of our guides. A short time period spent looking through our photo galleries will back up these numbers as fact, not just boasts recklessly thrown out via Face book or text message that seems to be the fad these days.


We are not becoming a booking network that clings desperately to the success of several different struggling outfitters operating under one umbrella. No sir, we are one company, with exclusive guides, that consult, book, outfit and guide your hunt under one roof with your personal success and satisfaction as our number one priority. Not just any success, but a preplanned, prescouted and precisely executed plan to put your tag on a trophy worthy of it. A3 will continue to treat each tag as if it was their own.  We understand that there is never a guarantee of harvesting an animal, but rest assured there is an understanding by our team of the value and importance of each and every hunt.  These are special times that dont come around often and deserve to be treated as such.


The founding members of A3, both owners and guides, have made Arizona trophy hunting a way of life. We live this job we love and love this job we live. We are not part timers that like to hunt. We are a fulltime professional hunting company hell bent on becoming the best that this state has ever, or will ever see. We take being number #1 very seriously and keep this goal in focus at all times. We know reputation is what makes or breaks outfitters in Arizona and we guard ours very closely. Any amount of research into either of our original operations will reveal a history of impeccable work ethic, professional guides and happy clients. Both of our reputations are rock solid gold and we intend to keep it that way. Our guides are men with integrity and are committed to your success. Arizona is a highly competitive place for outfitters and several of the very best in the world operate here. We are dedicated to forever etching out our place in history at the top of this rock pile. Call it pride, call it obsession, call it whatever you like. We call it life...Welcome to A3 Trophy Hunts, please buckle up…
To contact A3 Trophy Hunts, please email us at a3trophyhunts@gmail.com. Head over and like our new awesome Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/A3-Trophy-Hunts/665394283503735?fref=ts We look forward to hearing from you!  Our website will be up soon at www.A3trophyhunts.com.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Resuming the 2013 South Africa Safari.... Day Seven, Michelle takes a Zebra!!

Well, here comes the excuses......

First, our computer basically bought the farm. It takes forever just to check emails, let alone try to upload pics or draft a blog posting. My wife finally got around to ordering a new computer so I'm back on the map and ready to help Chad stay current on our sites. Combine a problematic computer with the fall hunts, and you got the making for some fine excuse making. Regardless, the hunting has hit a lull so I thought I'd get back to working on the Safari posts.



A ZEBRA FOR MICHELLE


We'll catch back up with a Day seven posting. With a long trip and plenty of animals harvested on Day 6, the plan for Michelle and I on Day 7 was to take it easy in the morning. Michelle and I would hunt with Daniel again and Andries and Amanda will join us this morning. Dad would head out for a morning hunt to try and find another warthog. Joe and Heather head out early and sit at a blind in hopes of arrowing more animals.

Michelle sights in the 30.06 at the range

Before we headed to Africa, I'd put plenty of time into trying to figure out which animals would make my wish list (at least within what I could afford). At no point had I considered hunting zebra. They just didn't turn my crank. HOWEVER, my wife wanted a zebra rug for the house and even though I have no idea what we'll do with a zebra rug I didn't want to disappoint the wife so we added it to the list. Since Michelle wanted the zebra rug, we made a plan for her to harvest the zebra. There are 2 species of the zebra that Andries can hunt.  The Mountain and Burchell, or as I like the label them, the expensive one and the cheap one. Both are very beautiful but the Burchell species has the shadow stripes where as the Mountain is the straight black and white striping. We slept in a bit, ate a great breakfast, and when Dad returned from his morning warthog hunt, we loaded up in one of the trucks and headed out in search of zebra. As we made our way past Mt Carmel, we spotted the first zebra of the day. Unfortunately the first species we seen were of the expensive type so we spent some time watching them through binoculars, then kept moving along. Not long after, we spotted the type of zebra we were looking for but being the wary animals they are, they did not stick around long and were  quickly swallowed up by the brush. Daniel, Michelle, and I grabbed our gear and headed into the brush to see if we could get the wind right and cut them off before they made it out into the wide open country. Andries had previously told us the zebra and warthog were the two toughest animals to hunt. The zebra are very smart animals and typically do not make getting within shooting range a very easy task. Michelle would shoot the 30. 06 today and I would follow with the video camera. A pretty stiff wind allowed us to move quickly and it wasn't long before Daniel found the zebra again. The zebra were just leaving the cover of the brush heading out into the wide open valleys as we caught up. I set the video camera up as Daniel set out the shooting sticks for Michelle. Daniel then turned his attention to finding a stallion in the herd as I got a range on the zebra. At 347 yards, I told Michelle were to hold as Daniel whistled to get the walking zebra to stop. As Daniel pointed out the stallion, Michelle drew a bead and fired. Through the lens of the camera, I seen dust fly and told Michelle she shot low. Daniel quickly grabbed the sticks and had Michelle moving. He said he was sure she hit the zebra so he wanted to close the distance in case another shot was needed. I stood videoing as they headed out and it wasn't long before I could tell the zebra was hit hard. Michelle had placed a perfect double-lung shot at 347 yards with a bit of crossing wind. When we later watched the video of Michelle's stalk and shot on the Zebra, we were surprised to see the actual bullet in flight and its vapor trail when we walked through the video frame by frame!


Michelle and her beautiful stallion!
We called Andries and Dad on the radio and they found their way to us. Andries was a bit surprised as usually zebra hunting requires more than one stalk but fortunately Michelle and Daniel done their jobs and we had closed the deal on our first stalk. Also, Andries thought the 30.06 was a bit small for zebra and was surprised that the bullet was a complete pass through (you can see the entrance hole directly below Daniel from the 180 gr Barnes bullet in the picture below). As we made our way up to Michelle's zebra, we were  surprised at the beauty and size of these animals. It's pretty amazing to see them up close, with beautiful contrasting stripes and a very stout and muscular frame, and these animals are surprisingly bigger that what we were expecting. Our usual photo session followed as we waited for additional help to show up to help us load this animal. We headed back to the ranch for a great lunch and a quick nap. Later that afternoon, we headed out to look for warthog and duiker. We were able to find some warthog but not of the size we were interested in. A sighting of a great steenbuck and the usual fleeting glimpse of duikers helped round out the day. As we did every day, we finished the evening sitting around the fire having drinks, sharing pictures, and telling stories. It's still hard to believe the fun we had and the memories we made while in Africa. If we could do it, we'd be back every year....

Once again, Daniel did his job. This photo gives a bit more perspective on the size of the Zebra.

By Day 7 we had established a great friendship with Daniel and he wasn't afraid to get a little silly on us!!
It'll sure be hard to beat the relaxing end to the days of hunting that we had while in S Africa

More from Day 7 to follow soon...



Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Day 6.. A GIANT day!!

The common and white blesbuck

Day 6, we now enter the second half of the safari. Day 6 would have Dad, Michelle, and I traveling to a new area with Andries, Amanda, Daniel, and Jim in search of the #1 animal on my wish list, the eland, and to continue dad's plains game pursuit, the blesbuck and springbuck. Before we leave, Jim and Daniel attach a trailer to the four door Land Cruiser in the hopes that we are successful today, which means we'll require additional space for the haul.

As we enter the new area we'll be hunting we spot several giraffe. Now, we've all seen giraffe at the zoo but to get to see these odd creatures out in the open gave us a new perspective on just how giant these animals are. Although Chad really wanted one of us to harvest a giraffe, I could not imagine where I would put a giraffe mount and even before that decision, how do you load such a large animal? After snapping some photos, we head into an area with many large drainages. As we are driving through the first drainage we begin to see plenty of game. We see a very large gemsbuck but since dad and I have already harvested one, we drive on. We soon come across hartebeest and a big herd of blesbuck. As the herd begins to head up the hill, we begin to look for a shooter. It's not long before Jim and Andries have one picked out. As the herd continues to head higher, Dad gets ready for a shot. I range the ram that Dad is following at 186 yards. As the herd nears the top of the hill, the big ram finally separates a little from the herd and gives dad a quartering shot. At the report of the rifle, the ram piles up. One perfect heart shot and the ram doesn't take another step! We all load up in the truck and hold on for dear life as Andries climbs the hill in the truck. It's so steep that as we pull up next to the ram and I put rocks behind the tires, diesel fuel is leak out of the fill spout. Thankfully Andries repositions the truck as we get Dad's blesbuck set up for photos. We didn't know it at the time but Dad has killed a giant ram! Dad's ram exceeds the minimum score for Gold by 3". We don't really know what that means other than Dad has another trophy and we all got to share in the excitement.

Dad made a perfect shot on this giant ram!!
Michelle and I got to watch Dad harvest this blesbuck. The rolling hills in the background was typical of this new area

The rest of today's group, Amanda, Andries, Daniel, and Jim
Dad's ram was 17.5 "
Although happy, Jim didn't quite look like the typical blesbuck despite having the right horns



The front hoof of my eland!

As we load the blesbuck, we can see springbuck across the valley on the next ridge top. We all piled back in the truck and head back down the hill to make our way towards the springbuck. As we begin to climb towards the springbuck we spot two eland bulls. We watch the bulls for a few minutes and although these are far bigger than any bull we have seen thus far, Andries thinks we can relocate them so we continue towards the springbuck. As we crest the top of the next ridge, we pick up the two eland bulls cresting the ridge and they continue down the backside of the hill and meet up with a group of 5 more bulls. Incredibly, there are larger bulls in the new herd so we decide to focus on killing an eland since we have giant bulls in front of us. The bulls know we are above them but are not spooked. We crouch-walk towards the end of the ridge and I get set up on the shooting sticks while Jim, Daniel, and Andries begin sizing up the bulls. Dad, Michelle, and Amanda watch from just behind us. Jim and Daniel find a big bull in the herd and describe him to me. The bull is 223 yards but he is behind several other bulls. This bull looks heavy horned and all I need is for him to step out a bit more. As I am waiting, Jim and Andries begin discussing something in African. They then tell me to shoot the 3rd bull from the left. They believe this bull to be the biggest in the herd and he has unusual horns that flare at the top. I still like the first bull so I make sure they think the newer bull is the better one. Everyone agrees he is bigger so I switch positions on the shooting sticks so I can kneel down and rest the gun against the leg of the tripod. As I pick up the new bull in the sights of the .300 WSM I let Andries know that when the bull clears the other eland, I will take him. A few seconds later the herd is getting nervous and begins to shift. As the big bull takes a few steps forward I follow with the crosshairs. As soon as he is clear he stops slightly quartering towards us. I feel a bit nervous as all that I've read about these bulls are that they are giant and tough to bring down. I slowly squeeze and the bull buckles at the shot. The herd turns and runs across a small draw just behind them. I reload and just before I squeeze on shot #2, the bull slows, wobbles, then falls over backward. With a perfect heart shot, the bull only makes it a mere 60 yards!! We know the bull is big but before we head down the hill towards him, we make our way back to the truck, then to the ranch house for this area. There, we unload Dad’s blesbuck and pick up two ranch hands to help us load the eland then we head back to the bull. Fortunately the eland headed downhill after being hit and we are able to back the truck right up to it. As we finally approach the bull, Dad, Michelle, and I are blown away at the size of the bull. I was told they were like brahma bulls and that was not exaggeration. This bull is almost indescribable to most of the folks here in the SW. The estimate weight is 1700-1800 lbs! After skinning and butchering, this bull will hang as 600 lbs of meat in the locker. As I am freaking out about the size of the animal, Andries is equally as impressed with the horn size. This is one of the largest bulls he has taken in some time. At 37”, he was an old bull with worn horns so he lost 1-2” in length, the bull is a true giant, both in score and body size. I knew this bull was big when I shot but since all the eland in this herd were bulls, he did not completely dwarf the others. It takes all seven of us to position the bull for photos but we manage to get it just right and some of my most memorable hunting photos were captured. That was the easy part! Again, it took everything the seven of us had to get the bull loaded. I don’t know how the truck managed to hold our weight and the weight of the bull but we made it back to the ranch house in one piece!

 
The sheer size of the eland bulls made it the #1 animal I wanted to harvest on this trip


Even at 37", this old bull's worn bases reduced his overall length by 1-2". The flaring horns add great character to this bull
Sharing the hunt with family will make this bull even more memorable
...and it took everything that everyone of us had to get this loaded into the truck!!!
I added this photo so you can see that there was no photo shopping needed to exaggerate the body size!!
What a truck load



We unloaded the eland and Daniel stood behind to take of the bull and prepare it for our trip back while we headed back out to try and find a springbuck for Dad. It wasn’t long before we were overlooking a beautiful valley that held a good ram at the far side. As we drew near in the truck, the ram stood from his bed and headed over the ridge. We followed and as we crested the next ridge, the picked up the ram again. Dad was again having issues with his rifle, (we think the scope was bumped as we made room to load the eland) and to make a long story short, Dad was ready to throw in the towel after the third missed shot. It was this ram’s luck day and after a long run, he finally made his escape. Although frustrated, Dad was willing to give it another shot so we made our way to the top of a high ridge and began glassing again. The wind had picked up a bit but Jim was still able to glass up a few springbuck. We loaded up in the truck and set out to close the distance. We made our way to the backside of a ridge where we last seen the springbuck headed. As we closed in, we found the “Honey Hole”. As we made our way closer to the springbuck herd, we pushed a variety of other game out. Apparently this is where the animals went to hide from the wind. We had zebra, hartebeest, gemsbuck, impala, blesbuck, wildebeest, and springbuck crossing in front of us. What a cool site! When we got close enough to the herd, Jim picked out a nice ram and explained to Dad which one to shoot. I had the video camera rolling while Jim and Michelle watched through binos. At about 150 yards, the ram stopped for a quick look back and Dad fired. This time, the ram piled up and much to Dad’s delight, the hunt for springbuck was finally over. Dad added yet another trophy to his growing list and we had just past the half way point.  Our photo session followed and this time, one man could load our harvest. With Dad’s springbuck loaded, we headed back to the ranch house where Daniel already had the eland loaded in the trailer. We made quick work of loading Dad’s blesbuck and soon we were traveling the long road back to Andries’ place.

 
Dad's persistence made the harvest of his springbuck ram possible


Jr and Sr with the ram
Another family photo

The springbuck crew



While we were out in the new area, Joe and Heather teamed up with Jornam and headed out for another morning hunt for kudu. The kudu became the animal that Joe really wanted in part, due to the amount of time they had spent looking for a shooter. At one point, Joe had a bull they thought to be 53”+ but the bull did not give Joe a shot at his vitals. Joe could have taken a shot at the neck but in Africa, if you wound an animal, you pay the trophy fee whether you recover the animal or not. This adds to the pressure of making shots count to avoid wounding an animal. After their morning hunt, they group made their way back to the blind that I had already taken several animals from. The group was entertained by all the species that Michelle and I got to watch. There excitement was just as strong as ours was on day 1. Midway through the day, the group had several gemsbuck approach the blind. Joe readied his bow as Jornam and Heather watched the herd approach. Heather would provide back up with the rifle if Joe was unable to close the deal with his bow. As the gemsbuck made it to the water, Jornam found a heavy horned bull and pointed him out to Joe. Joe liked the look of this bull and settled in for a shot. As the herd made their way in to the water, Joe had good luck on his side and the bull ended up closer to the blind than the water. At 13 yards, Joe came to full draw and settled his pins tight to the shoulder. At the release of the arrow, the group knew Joe had placed a great shot on the bull and shortly thereafter, Joe had broken the dry spell for him and Heather. This opened the flood gates for the two for the rest of the hunt. Joe’s photo session followed and he now had his own gemsbuck to add to the few that Heather and her family have previously harvested in New Mexico!

 
Joe's first archery harvest, a big gemsbuck bull

Joe and Heather with Joe's heavy horned bull


Jornam helped Joe pick out and harvest this great bull
What a great day, 4 trophies harvested amongst the group. Things were really heating up and that head wave would continue through Day 10! Stay tuned, we have much more to share

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Day 5 continued.. Trouble in Paradise!


As I mentioned before, Day 4 was slower and the only animal harvested that day was my impala, the first of a few that we would harvest. Day 5 would have Michelle and Dad hunting together along with Jim and Henry. Instead of shooting from behind the camera, Michelle would get behind the rifle to try and redeem her earlier miss on an impala. When we seen just how sleek and beautiful the impala rams were, we thought a double pedestal impala mount would be a great addition to our house so the plan was for Michelle to hunt and harvest another impala ram if she could find a shooter while out with Dad. Dad would continue down his list of plains game and his focus today would be on a gemsbuck. Little did Michelle and Dad know that today would be a day of highs and lows.


One of my favorite photos I captured on our Safari! Michelle and Dad start the day in the hunting rig.
 

The group once again made their way around Mt. Carmel in the back of the hunting rig. Riding in the back of the rig gives you great views as you make your way around the plains but given some of the rocky terrain, it can make for a rough ride at times. In some spots, it takes all you can muster to hold on to avoid beating against the side of the rails or to be tossed out the back of the truck. This was all part of the experience that we'll remember forever. I remember after Day 1 Dad was one sore puppy after a full day of riding through the rocky terrain.

 

Michelle's towering ram
The first species on the hunting list encountered on Day 5 was a herd of impala. Michelle was first up so Dad handed over the .300 WSM to her. Michelle used the rail on the truck to steady herself for the 120 yard shot on a group of impala rams. As Michelle focused on her shot, Jim sorted through the rams to find a shooter. As luck would have it, there was a huge ram in the herd. Jim got Michelle dialed in as to which one to shoot and Michelle slowly squeezed the trigger.... and squeezed... and squeezed... Michelle found out the hard way that in her excitement to redeem herself, she had not yet released the safety. Now she was nervous that the rams would bolt so she quickly released the safety and began to settle back down for the shot. BOOM!! Before Michelle could steady her aim on the vitals, she prematurely squeezed off a round. The errant shot still found its mark but the group could tell that a follow shot would be necessary. Unfortunately, the rams made for cover and the brush quickly swallowed them up. As they approached the area the ram was last seen, the group fanned out in search of the ram. Dad was first to pick up the blood trail and Jim could tell by the direction of travel that the ram would be on the backside of Mt. Carmel. As the group rounded the mountain, Henry found the wounded ram. Michelle was able to make a perfect 100 yard shot to follow up and the ram tipped over. Thankfully, team effort paid off on this ram and despite a less than ideal first shot, Michelle was able to finally walk up and hold her ram, the largest to be taken by our group on this trip. What a ram it is! The photo session followed then the group hauled the ram back for skinning and caping and had lunch at the ranch. I will mention that Michelle continually reminds me that our double pedestal mount is going look more like Father and Son mounts as her rams towers over mine....
Michelle's redemption ram was the largest taken on our trip

 
Jim usually hunted with Dad but was able to help Michelle harvest her ram



Michelle's help. Dad found the blood trail while Henry was the one to turn up the wounded ram.


After lunch, the group headed back out in search of a gemsbuck for Dad. Feeling a bit relieved that they were able to find and follow up on Michelle's ram, the group had hopes of getting that feeling past them. Little did they know that their morning was only beginning the roller coaster of up and downs... more downs that ups. With the incredible amount of game in this area, it wasn't long before Dad was looking at a herd of gemsbuck. Jim was able to find a shooter in the herd and as Dad steadied himself for his first shot the bull turned broadside. Given Dad's record up until this shot, everyone thought this 100 yard shot was a chip shot. However, as Dad let his first round fly, the group could see the bullet hit low and behind the bull. Unsure of why he had missed, the group moved on in search of another herd. Shortly thereafter, Dad was preparing for his second attempt at a different gemsbuck. Making sure he didn't have the same results, Dad took his time but just as the first shot did, his second was also a clean miss. Now Dad was getting a little frustrated but the gemsbuck did not spook to bad and Dad was able to get a second shot at 150 yards but once again, shot #3 did not connect. By this point, Dad was a little embarassed, frustrated, and confused. He was sure his guide Jim had lost his confidence in the shooting skills he had seen Dad perform in the first few days. Not one to give up to easy, Dad persisted and soon enough the group was again on gemsbuck. This herd held a very long female that Dad liked so they closed the distance to 100 yards to make sure Dad would connect this time. As Dad fired shot #4 today he finally connected but the shot was a bit far back. The gemsbuck disappeared into the brush and trees so the group closed in and fanned out and began zig-zagging through the brush. The gemsbuck was relocated and Dad was able to finish the job and now stood over his fourth trophy. The group snapped more photos and headed back to the ranch. After the highs and lows of today, Dad made sure he visited the target range to sight in his rifle again. Sure enough, his rifle was shooting low and left, probably from bouncing around with Dad in the back of the hunting rig. This trip to the range help restore the confidence Dad has lost on the afternoon of Day 5. This was a much needed trip to the range as Chad’s rifle was only half way through its tour of South Africa. Before we would leave, this rifle would help us bring down many more animals.

Dad and his gemsbuck, taken with a .300 WSM and a lot of persistence.


Dad and Jim celebrate the tough earned success.


Henry, Jim, and Dad pose for a photo with the beautiful gemsbuck

Michelle and Dad had their ups and downs but pulled through with two great trophies on Day 5

Monday, July 29, 2013

Day 4 and part of Day 5

Day 4 found us in a new blind in search of impala

We awoke on Day 4 to the coldest morning of the trip. There was a slight frost on the grass at the ranch. Today Dad would warthogs while hunting with Joe, Heather, PG, and Pula as they were looking for kudu. The best place to hunt warthog was in the open valleys below the brush hills that the kudu favored. Michelle and I were up at 600 am to meet Daniel at 630 for an early start as the previous couple days as we spooked blue wildebeest off the water as we pulled up. Even though most of the plains game moved more once the sun was up and things started to warm, we wanted to be in the blind at first light in hopes of getting a crack at wildebeest. We would be sitting a different blind today in an area that wildebeest and impala frequented. As we pulled up, we noticed a thin layer of ice on the pond so we made sure we unloaded an extra layer from the truck. This new blind was in a smaller valley so my view for glassing animals was not as great but I was still able to glass impala, eland, and waterbuck on a distant hillside. We had a few new species of birds to keep up entertained until the animals began moving. After a couple hours in the blind, Michelle picked up two impala rams heading our way. As they approached, Daniel let me know that one of the two rams was a shooter so I grabbed my bow off the hanger and prepared for a shot. As the two rams made it in to the pond, they began to drink on the far side. I ranged them at 45 yards and attached my release to wait for a good angle on the bigger of the rams. Just then, the rams bolted. They began snorting and whether they caught our wind or noticed something wan't quite right, they weren't happy and they began circling our blind about 100 yards out. When Daniel asked if I wanted to shoot the larger ram with the rifle, I passed but Michelle was interested so we got her set up. Although it wasn't the most ideal set up, Michelle steadied on the ram as I tried to get the right angle to video and Daniel was describing which of the two rams to shoot. Michelle squeezed off  a shot but we could not tell if it was a hit. As they circled behind the blind, Daniel and I spilled out the back of the blind to get another look before they made it in the brush. Unfortunatley they made it to quick so we grabbed the rifle and headed into the brush tracking the rams. The brush was so high that Michelle and I waited as Daniel ran back to get the truck so we could follow the rams. Daniel wanted to get a good look at the rams before they mixed in with a larger herd. As we caught up to the rams, we were not able to see any signs that the bigger ram was hit. As they made it in the herd, we began to sort through the herd looking for the same big ram, or another big ram but with so many moving animals it was tough.
The ostrich egg we found while chasing impala

As we followed the herd through the brush, we rounded the corner and found an empty, but unbroken, ostrich egg. We couldn't just walk on by so we stopped and picked it up. After securing the egg, we were quickly back on the trail of the impala. One ram and two ewes headed back to the spot we first started this morning. As we got back above these impala, Daniel told me to take a shot if the ram stood still. We finally caught the ram sneeking out underneath us but fortunately, we were ready and waiting. Since the brush was so high, we had to jump into the back of the truck to give us enought elevation for a shot. Even though I would shooting off the Triclawps this time, I could not fully open the tripod legs so as Michelle held them to give me more stabilization, I slowed the sway as much as possible and squeezed off a shot at 180 yards. The report of the hit was followed by a 50 yard dash and we quickly lost the ram in the brush. Daniel said it was a perfect hit so we made our way down the hill to search the brush. Sure enough, another heart shot and I had my impala ram down! With a soft and beautifully tri-colored hide this was yet another beautiful and great trophy and my first with a rifle. We made the call, took photos, and headed back to our blind. Andres the skinner brought us lunch and hauled the ram back in for caping and skinning.
Daniel and I with our 3rd trophy, a beautiful impala ram!!
Michelle's first encounter with impalas, her story is yet to come!!



We spent the rest of the afternoon  in the blind and had visits from gemsbuck, more impalas, and waterbuck but did not fire another shot. Our usual evening drive back produced sighting of steenbuck and duiker but still no shot opportunities. The other group had great encounters, including one big kudu bull that did not produce a good shot opportunity, so no shots were fired. Oh well, tomorrow would be another day!!











Day 5..
Today would be another great day both in the weather and the hunting. Daniel and I went back out to yet another blind in search of blue wildebeest. I was beginning to get the feeling that these animals will elude me on this trip. Each day as we watch the herds of blue wildebeest, we keep making plans on how to be at the right water when they decided to show up. Of course, they always seem to be at least one step ahead and are always where we "should've been". Not to worry, we would be persistent and be ready when the opportunity arises. Daniel and I are back in the third blind at first light again. This time, the action would start sooner. As Daniel and I wait patiently, it only takes about an hour before we have our first animals in range. However, this was not our usual opportunity. As Daniel is looking out the front of the blind, he sees two steenbuck chasing each other around in the wide open valley ahead of us. This in not uncommon, but it's the first time I get a good look at these tiny antelope in the daylight. Daniel says if they come back through I could get a shot with the 30.06 as they are over 200 yards out. As I keep looking, I finally see the two steenbucks heading back across the valley. I grab the rifle as Daniel whistles to stop the two. Daniel tells me to shoot the second one as it is a good ram. I can't seem to get a steady rest and I'm too scared to pull the trigger without getting a better sight picture. The two rams start off again but another whistle by Daniels stops them. I tell Daniel to get ready and slowly squeeze off a shot. Thump! Even I was suprised by this one! 246 yards with a less than ideal rest, a fast dropping 180 gr 30.06 bullet, at a target just a bit bigger than our jackrabbits and I was able to score a perfect shot. It was no suprise that the little antelope fell in its tracks. We quickly run out and get the steenbuck, snap a few photos, then hop back in the blind as we can see blue wildebeest on the horizon.

One of the most beautiful animals we harvested and the smallest!!
Daniel and I snapped a few quick photos and jumped back in the blind to wait for blue wildebeest


Blue wildebeest watch the waterbuck just outside of our blind
 
A few hours later, one of the trucks stops by to haul my steenbuck back to the ranch. As they are leaving, Jornam tells Daniel that there are blue wildebeest headed for our first blind so we grab our gear and make a quick dash to the upper blind. As Daniel drops me off, I began to put our gear in our "old faithful" blind as he heads out to hide the truck. This is the same blind that I have arrowed my kudu and gemsbuck out of. On my second trip back in the blind I take a peek out the side window and see wildebeest a few hundred yards out. I am worried they'll see Daniel or I so I begin to move the rest of our gear in with a litte more stealth. A few minutes later I can hear Daniel running back. He seen the wildebeest when he parked the truck so he ran  the long way around to get back and had to crawl into the blind to avoid detection. We watch the wildebeest and can see two big bulls with the herd but we are not so lucky right now and they all bed down in sight of the blind. One extremely long hour later, waterbuck appear at the water from the opposite side of the blind. This does not sit very well with the wildebeest so the entire herd begins to move towards the water. I get ready with my bow but as the wildebeest make it to the water, we cannot find the bulls. We have wildebeest a mere 15 yards away but neither of the bulls has come in. Daniel searches the herd as I wait but they are nowhere to be found. The herd drinks and wanders back out to a couple hundred yards and beds down again. We still cannot find the bulls so Daniel believes they have bedded in the taller grass so we continue the wait.
My archery blue wildebeest, 4th trophy
 Another long hour passes and as I am writing in my journal I can hear the wildebeest coming back in for another drink. This time, I can see that the bulls have re-appeared so I motion to Daniel that I can see the bulls. I slowly grab my bow and get ready. The bulls are both working through the herd harassing younger bulls and cows. Daniel picks out the bigger of the bulls and whispers to shoot when I can get a clear shot. This is not as easy as it sounds. There are around 50 wildebeest in the herd and of course the one I want is swallowed up by the rest. All of a sudden, the waterbuck show up again which gets the wildebeest riled up. I finally get a range of 25 yards on the bull and as the herd starts to seperate a little, I can finally get a clear shot. As the bull has also moved a bit, I estimate he is now 30 yards so I settle my pins accordingly and wait for the right angle. As the other wildebeest clear, I release on the bull and as we seen with the gemsbuck, my arrow skips across the dirt after passing completely through the bull. The entire herd runs off but my bull slowly follows. I learn just how tough these animals are as I watch as the bull pumps blood out of both sides, an obvious double lung shot, but refuses to go down. At a hundred yards out, he stands and watches the herd. Daniel motions to grab the rifle to make sure the bull does not get back into the herd but by the time we are out of the blind, the bull finally goes down. How exciting!! Our opportunity for an archery blue wildebeest finally materialized and we made it count. It's now 4 shots and 4 trophies!! These animals were bigger than I expected and have a very cool striping to their hides. With a beautifl mane and heavy horns, these are very cool trophies. What a feeling to be persistent and finally be rewarded with an exceptional archery trophy!!
In 2 years, this is the already the 8th animals I have harvested with my Mathews Z7!
Another of our family photos
Daniel and I teamed up on another great hunt!!
Day 5, Michelle and Dad's hunts, coming soon. Stay tuned!