Once upon a time I used to start walking before first light. By the time the sun came up I was already in the area I wanted to hunt. I would often hunt all day and only trudged back into camp as the sun was setting. Then came the kids. I had to set aside one or two afternoons when the boys would walk with me for a short session. They really are very good. Walk quietly. Never complain. NEVER tired
. But one pair of boots became 3 pairs of boots - triple the noise and more movement. The short afternoon sessions became longer and longer, morning sessions were added and now I am rarely able to hunt on my own anymore. It's not a complaint. I love it and don't care if we miss a few opportunities to take a shot because the animals heard us or saw us. I'm hunting with my children and it's soooo special.
On this last trip my 7-year old daughter asked if she could hunt with us on an afternoon session. And so 3 pairs of boots became 4. My wife dropped us off and off we went hunting into the wind all in a row. I stuck mainly to the roads or well used game paths. 4 people walking through the dense bush was not going to work so well. Amazingly, we got within 60m of giraffe, zebra (normally super-alert), wildebeest, warthog, bat-eared foxes and impala. We had walked about 3km when we heard the impala ahead of us. We followed the next path that headed in that direction and this led us to the game fencing which was the boundary between my friend's farm and the neighbours. We walked quietly along the road toward where we had heard the impala and eventually I spotted them. At the same time, something in the road about 150m ahead caught mt eye. A quick look through the binos revealed what looked like a dead impala next to the fence. I made a mental note.
A short while later, I radioed one of the workers to let him know where I was and to ask that he bring the vehicle for us to load the fat ewe I had shot. We loaded the ewe and drove to where the other impala lay dead in the road. It was a nice, big-bodied mature ram with decent horns - probably around 22". The carcass was fresh. It had probably died not more than two hours prior. There was nothing to indicate why the animal had died but when we rolled it over we saw a puncture wound between the brisket and the shoulder. Not much blood. The spoor showed us that the ram had been fighting with another ram - through the boundary fence. The other ram had gored the one we had found through the heart. It was amazing and fortunate to make this discovery considering that the ram would have been partially or wholly devoured by predators overnight and we would otherwise never have known about it. The farmer donated the carcass to the workers and I later went to inspect it. Considering that the horn penetrated the thick ribs just off the brisket it's amazing to think how much force would have been delivered in the other ram's killing thrust.
We never saw the ram that killed the one we found but I had read many years ago that one-horned rams/bulls are problematic during the rut. When 2 horns parry against 2 other horns it is more difficult for the animals to gore each other and for the horn-tips to pierce an opponent so deeply as to cause major damage. However, if one ram/bull has a single horn it has an advantage in that it is easier for the single horn to slip through the defences of an opponent and cause damage. When I had arrived on my friend's farm last week he had asked me to shoot all single-horned impala rams that I came across for this very reason. Unfortunately I didn't come across any single-horned rams but the dead ram might have.