Crossroads for Adventure

Botswana: 2011
Volume : 19.2

 

 

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The normal, routine patterns of daily life ended as we left Florida en route to Maun, to meet PH Clive Lennox for a 10-day elephant hunt on Kgori Safaris’ Kwatale NG 43 concession

All my life I’d dreamed of a classic African elephant hunt. Now, the time had finally come. I’d spent several months convincing my wife, Denise, that she needed to experience the adventure with me, and she finally consented and became our photo- and videographer.

Jim van Rensburg and the Kgori Safaris’ staff brought a wonderfully elegant style and friendly attitude to their camp, which we shared with Texas hunter Ronnie Rod, who kept us laughing from daylight to dark.

On Day One, we headed with Clive to our base camp, Tuskers, seeing giraffe, impala, kudu, eland, reedbuck, steenbok and zebra along the way. Elephant and their spoor were everywhere. At one waterhole a teenage bull was feeling his oats and ran after our truck. Along the way, Denise videotaped some good footage of different groups of elephant. As we were returning to camp we spotted a nice mature bull, but on closer inspection he had a broken tusk.


Rodger and Denise Haag (R) hunted elephant in PH Clive Lennox (L) for a 10-day elephant hunt on Kgori Safaris’ Kwatale NG 43 concession.

After a long day in the bush we arrived at camp, tired and hungry. After snacks around the fire, a four-course meal in the dining room, bed was a welcome sight for our tired bodies.

Day Two had the threat of an incoming front of rain. Clive had us on the trail by 6.30 a.m. and we visited one waterhole that had some decent tracks. Clive took note and then went to check as many areas as he could before the rain came. The morning rain was light, so it didn’t hurt our tracking.

After lunch under a shade tree and a 45-minute siesta, we started back on the trail at 3.00 p.m., looking for the track of the big bull. What a life!

About an hour later, we found a waterhole with steaming dung. Denise decided to stay on the truck working with the video, while Clive, the trackers, and I followed the hot trail. Once out of sight of the truck, the tracker climbed a tree for a better view of the situation. All of this took about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, the three bulls that we were tracking had circled back to the waterhole where Denise was sitting! She became more anxious by the moment as they advanced towards the truck. Quickly she reviewed her options: “Should l call for Clive and Roger”… “No, that might bring the elephants closer.” Just before she called out, she saw us reappear. We moved the truck, and she got some great footage of the elephants.

As we traveled, Laroto, the tracker spotted a group of elephant some distance away. Clive stopped the vehicle and sent the trackers to inspect the group. They returned wearing big smiles – there was a group of four bulls, and at least one was a good trophy

Now we were all starting to feel the excitement and anticipation. Quickly, we loaded our rifles (and cameras) and, with the wind in our faces, we took the track. After closing the gap, we checked the wind, then began glassing the four bulls feeding together. “Let’s get a bit closer,” said Clive.


Rodger convinced Denise to come along as the safari photographer and videographer and she was able to get some good photos and footage of different groups of elephants.

Now we were all in stealth mode – no spoken words and stepping only in each other’s tracks. After careful inspection, Clive whispered: “There’s the bull you want.” My mind was racing. Clive worked us into a better position. This bull was a giant! Twelve feet tall and weighing six tons.

I feel as though we’re in Jurassic Park and a dinosaur is bearing down on us. Time is slowing down. I can feel my heart pounding in my ears. I feel each breath. I find myself on the shooting sticks. Clive says: “Take him.” He has turned to face us and the wind swirls. He lifts his head to look at us as the trigger releases. He crumbles. Clive and I put in shots for assurance.

What a trophy! Congratulations continue all the way to camp.

Hunting elephant in Botswana is a special experience. During the day one hears a symphony of African birds and, at night, the call of lion. Experiencing life in the bush has a special intrinsic value that, unfortunately, words cannot describe.


Rodger and Denise Haag of Florida have been married for 32 years and have two daughters, Jennifer and Katie. Dr. Haag enjoys hunting and ranching.

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