Those following our YouTube hunting channel, AFRICA’S SPORTSMAN SHOW, will know about the special relationship between Martin Muller, owner of African Sun Productions, and us. Having travelled thousands of miles together while covering almost every single topic under the sun, the “Tiny Ten” topic popped up somewhere. The Tiny Ten consists of the following species (in no specific order): common duiker, red duiker, blue duiker, steenbok, klipspringer, Damara dik-dik, Livingstone’s suni, oribi, Cape grysbok and Sharpe’s grysbok. Martin wanted to know which of these ten small antelope I hadn’t hunted yet. Without hesitation, I told him I was not actually pursuing this challenge, but if I had to choose one of the seven Tiny Ten members still outstanding on my list, it would be the blue duiker. I have always thought this little antelope is a species one simply has to hunt sometime in your life. There is just something special about hunting the smallest Southern Africa has to offer.
Martin immediately said that if I ever decided to hunt a blue duiker, there was just one person to contact: Nico Lourens, owner of Stompiesland Safaris in the Eastern Cape Province. The name sounded familiar but only closer to the hunt would I realise that Nico was a famous houndsman with the best success rate when it comes to hunting spotted cats with hounds. A few months passed before I phoned Nico and we started planning the hunt more than a year ago.
Nico told me their success story of hunting this elusive little antelope, explaining that, with the number of excess animals left on his 2020 quota, more than one animal was available. This conversation took place while returning from a buffalo hunt, and fellow hunter and very good friend, Richard Eales, overheard it. To cut a long story short, Richard hopped on the plane with me and we met Nico on his farm between Hankey and Patensie in the heart of the Eastern Cape. Thanks to good management practices, backed up by studies from the Nelson Mandela University in Port Elizabeth, Stompiesland receives a considerable number of blue duiker permits from the South African nature conservation offices. What struck me was the fact that Nico and his team hunt far less of these sneaky forest dwellers than their allowed quota – proof of his love for these animals and his concern for their survival, and the need to protect them for future generations.
Late that afternoon, we sighted in the rifle, a CZ bolt action in .17 Hornet calibre, fitted with a 3-9×50 mm Burris scope – perfect for close shooting conditions. The flat-shooting 30 gr Berger bullet that Richard loads himself, hit the mark from 20 to 50 m – ideal for the shooting conditions we would experience from the blind. That evening around the campfire, Richard won the coin toss, meaning that he would get into the blind first thing in the morning. We enjoyed a festive meal and chatted long into the night, meeting new people and making new friends under the African sky.