Stefan Fouché with his magnificent 2¹⁄8″ trophy blue duiker ram,
hunted with Stompiesland Safaris.

This hunting story has various possible starting points. The fact that I have always dreamt of hunting both the biggest and smallest species Southern Africa has to offer, cannot be overlooked. Then there is the trend among great modern-day trophy hunters to pursue the so-called Tiny Ten, which must also have sparked something in me, although I have never admitted it. Another possible trigger is an interview on one of our local shows, Vat die Spoor. During this interview, Hancke Hudson and I asked our two studio guests, Laurence Jennings (hunter) and Cliff Williamson (owner of Savuti Taxidermy), what inspired them to complete the magical Tiny Ten challenge. But whatever the reason behind this hunting story, it couldn’t have had a sweeter ending …

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.

The .17 Hornet case compared to a 6.5 Creedmoor cartridge.

The next morning, we were up bright and early as Richard needed to be in the blind before sunrise. Nelson Mandela University, which conducted the study on Nico’s property, has the fullest confidence that this is the area with the highest density (population) of blue duiker in South Africa. The trick was not to shoot the first duiker we saw but to make 100% sure we take the right animal. Sitting in a blind allows ample time (between one and five minutes), to determine the sex of this little antelope, a luxury you definitely do not have when hunting them with hounds. At the same time you will most likely be able to determine the age of the animal fairly accurately, provided you have a decent pair of binoculars. I cannot stress the advantage of a good pair of binoculars enough. Even though you are sitting a mere 20 paces away, it is difficult to see the scrotum of a ram and to judge the thickness of the horns. And although you have a lot of time in the blind, there is no winning recipe – the duiker can disappear into the thickets within a split second, never to be seen again. Therefore, time is of the essence and if you cannot see properly, you will not be able to make the correct decision.
Richard and our cameraman, Coenie le Roux, were dropped off well before sunrise. Nico and I drove back to the lodge, about 15 minutes away. Nico jokingly said I shouldn’t be surprised if the hunters called on the radio even before we got back to camp. I realised that Nico had great confidence in that specific blind, and now the waiting game started. As the kettle boiled, we received a call from Richard over the radio, confirming that he had shot a beautiful ram. Nico laughed and pointed out that it had been just over half an hour since he had joked about this.

What a way to start the morning, looking over tens of thousands of hectares where the tiniest of them all thrive …

We drove back and found the ecstatic hunter and cameraman where we had left them less than an hour previously. The sun had not even reached them from behind the mountains! Next to them lay a beautiful blue duiker ram – an absolute beauty with thick horn bases and horns that seemed very close to the magical 2″ mark. When we reached camp the second time that morning, and with Richard’s prized trophy in the salt, the kettle was forgotten. With no further hunting planned for the day, we decided to have the breakfast of champions – an ice-cold beer and a braai!

Owner of Stompiesland Safaris, Nico Lourens (left),
with a proud Richard Eales after successfully hunting a big 1⁷⁄8″ blue duiker ram.

Following a short siesta, Nico briefed me on the behaviour of the blue duiker as I was rather nervous after Richard had made it look so easy. Good shot placement and adequate equipment ensure a good, clean kill, but still … He had also hunted several blue duiker before and I was sure the “unknown” factor was getting to me. Nevertheless, Nico explained I would be moving to a blind called “Dean’s Blind” as they had seen some good activity there over the previous few weeks. He also told me not to spook the monkeys, because the duiker would regard the monkeys feeding in the same spot as an alarm system – if the monkeys feel safe, the duiker feel safe. Armed with a bottle of water and a few pieces of springbuck droëwors in my back pocket, we headed down the mountain and parked the vehicle about 300 m from the blind. We walked closer and could sense the forest settling down as we approached the blind very slowly and quietly. We settled in and I made sure all my equipment was ready. When sitting in a blind, it is essential that you be dead quiet. Whether you are targeting leopard, bushpig or antelope, day or night, it does not matter – once you make a noise, you are busted and chances are good that the blind will be ruined for weeks to come, with all the hard work and preparation in vain.
I immediately stuck the barrel through the hole and slipped one of the tiny little cartridges into the chamber. As always, my binoculars were ready, hanging from a strap over my shoulder. It is good to use muscle memory instead of trying something new when you need to stay focused and be careful not to bump anything that could cause unnecessary noise. The sounds of the forest came alive and I tried to identify numerous bird species we are not familiar with in the northern parts of the country. As predicted, the monkeys came in, not taking their eyes off the two openings in the blind for even a second. We sat in absolute silence. About 45 minutes later, I almost had a heart attack when I suddenly saw a tiny blue duiker appearing in the clearing. My heart was racing as I raised the binos to my face as slowly as possible, careful not to spook the ever-wary monkeys. I could see the little duiker had a decent set of horns in terms of length, but the thickness worried me. The last thing I wanted was to get the gender wrong, but then I also did not want to waste time and miss a golden opportunity …

With me in the blind was Vincent, the Stompiesland tracker and the one person who knows a blue duiker better than anyone in the area. Nico had told me the males are quite a bit smaller in body size than the females, but for someone trying to tell a male from a female for the first time, this information was somewhat useless (ha-ha)! The only way I was going to take a shot was if I could see its scrotum or if Vincent was 100% sure it was a male, which at this point he was not. I kept looking at it through the Swarovski, but with the hind legs covering the spot where the crown jewels were supposed to be, I could not be sure. After about 90 seconds, the duiker vanished as if into thin air. Not a single sound was made during the entire 90 seconds – absolutely amazing! Still a bit unsure about the gender, I was 100% satisfied with my decision not to take a shot.

Another half an hour ticked by with only the forest sounds as entertainment. While looking at a small opening in the forest curtain (from which a duiker could possible emerge), I saw the tiny head with the distinct mark of a duiker between the mouth and eye. The little antelope rushed to the water and started drinking. It all happened so fast. Coenie was moving as quickly as possible to get the camera ready and in focus without disturbing the duiker or the monkey mob. I could sense Vincent wanting to jump up and down behind me. I slipped off the safety, glanced at Vincent, who was on the edge of his chair, his eyes wide while trying to signal me to shoot quickly. As the crosshair reached the centre of the duiker’s chest, the shot broke. The silencer ensured that I could clearly see the ram go down in the scope, dead on the spot. After the shot, I was shaking like a leaf, unable to control the adrenaline rushing through my body. The guys left the blind but I had to sit for a few more minutes, trembling like a reed.
When I finally went outside, Vincent was smiling from ear to ear, and he shook my hand to congratulate me. It was a fantastic ram, and by the look of it, very close to the 2″ mark – an absolute bonus! The horn bases were nice and thick and the tips were quite worn. To be able to study this little antelope from this close was special and a great privilege. Indeed, all the hard work of our outfitter had paid off – two awesome blue duiker trophies taken in a single day!

According to Nelson Mandela University, Stompiesland Safaris is the area with the highest population of blue duiker in South Africa – easy to imagine with habitat like this.

With ample time left, Nico made arrangements and took us to one of his concessions adjacent to the coast to hunt some Eastern Cape bushbuck. We took two beautiful rams and captured everything on film. (Be sure to scan the QR code in this article to watch both episodes filmed with Stompiesland Safaris on our YouTube channel, AFRICA’S SPORTSMAN SHOW.)
On the flight back home, Richard and I discussed the fact that I had now also been bitten by the Tiny Ten bug – the same bug that bit me after my klipspringer hunt, just much worse this time. There is something special about hunting these tiny antelope, and I now realise that you have to experience it first-hand to understand what it is really all about. I am sure Cliff from Savuti will have a good chuckle when I drop off my trophy, saying, “I told you so …”

Richard Eales with a fine Eastern Cape bushbuck hunted close to the coast with Nico Lourens of Stompiesland Safaris.

Two splendid rams taken in one day, ready to be full-mounted by Savuti Taxidermy.

Stefan Fouché with a fine Eastern Cape bushbuck taken at last light. The smile says it all!

For me, the hunt does not stop here. Now comes the part of telling the story and sharing my experience. Being able to share experiences like these and many others prior to this over the last few years has been a great blessing. This is what we do – promoting our Southern African conservation success story through hunting. Our heartfelt thanks go to our readers and followers, as well as to Nico Lourens, owner of Stompiesland Safaris, for orchestrating a dream blue duiker hunt. The way you conducted this hunt just emphasises what companies like yours and ours stand for. I am proud of this hunt and proud of the way we work together as outfitters and marketers to promote hunting on the Dark Continent. Four down, six to go … Watch this space! ASM

Africa's Sportsman Show Episode 64