After a short drive, we reached the blesbuck camp. Andriette was taking in every moment and I could see she was nervous but very excited. We spotted some young blesbuck rams off to the side. I talked her through the shot placement, explaining to the best of my ability where I wanted her to place the bullet. After a few minutes I was happy with her responses and we drove further, looking for a big old ram.
The group of blesbuck was grazing when we spotted them. We manoeuvred a little closer, and at about 150 m I could see the animals were getting nervous. After studying the herd, we located a very nice, big-bodied ram. He was standing at the edge of the herd on our right-hand side, facing left. We got Andriette into position and then started to direct her towards the ram. A few seconds later she found him in the riflescope. The ram was standing quartering towards us – not the ideal set-up I wanted for Andriette. I told her to relax and wait until the ram turned broadside, presenting a better shot at his vitals. Her breathing was loud and fast and I could see the barrel of the rifle shaking. Speaking very softly, I told her to look away from the blesbuck and take several deep breaths. This bought her some time, as it gave the blesbuck the chance to move into a better position. It also helped Andriette to calm her nerves and bring the bad bout of bokkoors I knew she had, under control.
Taking aim at the ram again, I could hear that her breathing had slowed down and, looking at her, saw that she was focused. I explained again where the ram was and when she had him in the riflescope, she said, “I’m onto him.” I told her to take her time and shoot when she was ready. Standing broadside, the ram was about to move when she fired. The 55 gr Sierra GameKing was on its way and found its mark perfectly! At the impact of the bullet, the ram started running with his head held low and I knew it was a good hit. About 15 m further he went down with a perfect heart shot.
Andriette was smiling and at the same time shaking like a leaf. I asked her what she felt at that moment and she answered, “Relief!” Walking up to the ram, I realised that she was the perfect choice for this experiment of mine. We stood next to the ram in silence for a few seconds so that she could enjoy the moment. Kneeling down beside him, she just sat there, admiring his beauty. She was overwhelmed by the mixed emotions we hunters often experience, with happiness and sadness clashing after the shot. After taking some photos, we took the ram to the skinning shed, where Andriette watched the whole process being completed. It was great to see how she asked questions about everything that was done and also took part in it.
Back at the house I asked Andriette if she would hunt again. “When are we leaving?” she replied. I think I have succeeded in winning one over for the good guys! ASM