On the hunt for the giant Livingston eland

On the hunt for the giant Livingston eland

I tried a different hunting strategy last week. We’ve been seeing a return of deer herd numbers on our trail cams. The weather map showed a pretty substantial line of heavy rain bearing down on us.

So knowing deer hunker down during a storm and move after, I told my wife Taryn I was going to the blind to wait out the storm and see what happens. Now I know hunters get caught “out there” in bad weather, but not on purpose. This was not the wooden hunting hotel that some of y’all use. This was the fold-out kind with a dirt floor.

I was not ready for a hurricane. Luckily, no heavy branches landed on my head and the blind didn’t blow away, but let me tell you it was not one of my brightest ideas, and on top of that, I forgot to video it. I did actually see a deer right before dark, but too far away. I don’t recommend trying this.

Last time we left off on our African trip, we were heading out to hunt Livingston eland. If you remember, our outfitter had a big eland mount in his office and set up this hunt for me to pursue this giant.

When we arrived at the concession, we were met by the landowner who showed us where the herd was last seen. We found a salt lick, and the sandy soil around it showed a substantial herd had been there recently. Taryn went with Sully in the truck while Adam, Hannes and I tracked the herd for well over a mile over the hills and through the brush. Adam motioned that he could hear them. They were laying just over the rise from us, and whether they heard us or smelled us, about 20 large eland jumped up and ran. The ground actually shook from the stampede.

We tracked them for probably another mile before we caught up with the herd again. This time we could glass and get a better look at them. I was exhausted, and after all that, they told me the big bull we were after wasn’t in that herd.

We drove to another area where we had a picnic lunch. Then we found fresh tracks on the sandy road we were on, leading into the heavy brush. Adam and Sully circled around the brush, hoping to drive them toward us, but the eland circled back on them.

So Hannes took us to the truck, where he set me up sniper style waiting for the trackers to drive them past us.

When they came through behind us at about 50 yards, we saw the “big boy” as he stood a good head taller than the rest. I mentioned they ought to get a ticket for not stopping at the crosswalk.

We went after them in the truck, circling around the herd after they stopped to within 120 yards. We could see them through a small opening in the brush. I actually got “scope eye” waiting for the big boy to step into view.

Hannes whispered to Adam to drive around the herd to get a better view, but the cover was too thick.

I asked if we could just drive up the hill toward them. If they run, they run, but we were running out of daylight and I was running low on patience.

We actually drove to within 80 yards of them before they began to stir. Hannes asked me if I could see the bull, which was not hard to do as he was a lot taller than the rest, but there was a cow and a calf standing in front of him.

Hannes whispered to wait for him to clear. About that time, the calf stepped left and the bull stepped right. I had the crosshairs just ahead of the shoulder, and boom, the 370 roared and I saw four legs pointed toward the sky. Hannes had feared I had shot the cow, but I knew better.

I jumped down from the truck and fist pumped and screamed just like you see those athletes do on TV.

As we approached the bull, the herd stampeded off, and Hannes had me put two insurance rounds in his chest. He said rarely had he seen a big bull go down with one shot, but upon examination we found out why.

First of all, we were using a 300 grain bullet, but also my “zero” was set at 200 yards and the bull was only 80. The shot was high on the shoulder, which usually will put any animal down immediately.

The estimated weight is around 1,800 pounds, horn bases measured 16 1/2 inches, and length was 35 and 36 inches, which put him also in SCI’s gold category.

More to come. Have a great Thanksgiving everyone.

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