There are many plains game species to hunt in Africa but rarely do you see pictures of springbuck taken with a bow. This is my story of hunting Springbuck with a bow.
So a couple of years ago we hunted in the Newcatle area situated in the KwaZulu-Natal midlands in South-Africa and I wanted to hunt a Springbuck with a bow. The preparation started as usual with many hours spent on the shooting range practicing from 20 meters up to 60 meters with my Hoyt Maxxis set at 80 pounds with 500 grain Mamba arrows and 100 grain G5 – T3 Mechanical Broad heads. As I’ve been bow hunting with this setup for about two years at that time I was shooting pretty well at all the ranges and was ready to take on the challenge. I have to mention that Springbuck are pretty small body wise so you need to shoot accurately and they do tend to string jump so you have to pick your shot at the correct moment.
As this was my first Springbuck with the bow I opted to shoot one out of a ground blind. Hours went past day by day with no Springbuck even coming near my blind, it seemed like the entire farms animals had a drink and a lick of the salt lick in-front of me but the Springbuck were just not interested. This was not the only water on the farm so my chances did not seem that good until the last day.
On the last day late in the afternoon I heard a sound behind my blind. There they were, three Springbuck walking behind the blind, at this stage I didnt want them to walk past without having a shot opertunaty so I opened the door of the blind slowly to see if there was any posibility of crawling up to them. As I scouted the area I quickly realised that there was absolutely no way that I could cover the 60 odd meters without them seeing me, as there was literally no cover between us. I got back into the blind and kept my fingers crossed that the Springbuck would just come into my shooting area and that they were within my shooting range of about 50 meters, and they had to come in quickly as the sun was setting rapidly.
I could not believe my luck, they came running in and stopped at the salt lick 20 meters in-front of me. I quickly drew my bow and moved into the shooting window, there were tree of them but only one ram. I stood there with the bow on full draw for a couple of seconds that at that time felt like an eternity, just waiting for that ram to turn broadside so that i could take my shot. It finally turned and was slightly quartering away, I squeezed the trigger and the arrow silently flew towards him at 300 feet per second. As the arrow was in the air I could see the Springbuck react to the oncoming arrow, but as it was ducking the arrow hit him at the correct spot that I was aiming at and slid through his body completely like a hot knife through butter. I got him!
As it was almost dark at this stage I didn’t give the animal the usual 30 – 60 minutes time before following up. I got out of the blind as soon as I was finished shaking and glanced over the open plains to see if I could see my Springbuck. I spotted the other two Springbuck standing about 100 meters away from the blind so mine was down. I walked towards the Springbuck and quickly found blood all over. There he was, my first Springbuck with a bow.
This is the best image I could get with the bad light and my cellphone.
Earlier this year I was offered a free Springbuck on a farm just outside Potchefstroom, which is situated in the North-West Province of South-Africa. The set out rules from the farm owner was that I could hunt it for free if I could shoot it with a bow firstly and secondly I had to shoot it walk and stalk method. A million things went through my mind at that very instance of how impossible it is to shoot a Springbuck with a bow while walk and stalking, but i would not give up this amazing opportunity.
So weeks before the hunt I started practising between 40 and 60 meters and even had a couple of shots at 80 meters with the same setup as mentioned above. You may wonder why I was practicing at these rediculous ranges, it was because I couldn’t see myself getting any closer to the Springbuck. Springbuck are very skittish animals and sometimes its a challange just getting within rifle shooting range of these quick antelope. For those of you that have ever shot a Springbuck with a rifle knows exactly what I am talking about.
So the day finally arrived and I headed out into the bush early in the morning. I found many Springbuck but was still searching for the old ram that I had to shoot. I tried getting within shooting range of all the Springbuck I saw and could not get closer than 60 meters. At about 10 o’clock I found the ram I was after, it was walking with two other old Springbuck. I tried stalking them numerous times but they kept on spotting me as there is not allot of cover to hide behind. I called off the hunt at about 12 o’clock as it was a boiling hot day and my morel was pretty low because i could not even get close to the Springbuck.
We sat in camp talking about what happened during the morning and that we had to change our game plan to get this Springbuck. We decided to wait until 3 o’clock in the afternoon and then we would try again as animals tend to be a bit more relaxed in the afternoon. Our game plan was to find the Springbuck rams and then to try and get ahead of their feeding path and wait for them to pass so that I could get a shot. So we headed out and as soon as we found the rams we started putting our new game plan to the test. Needless to say it was not working as well as we planned, but at least we were ahead of the Springbuck and they were not spotting us so we continued to move ahead of them and to wait in the cover we could find. We were doing this for about a two hours when the stars just aligned.
The Springbuck were feeding in a game path about 80 meters away from me. I followed the game path with my eyes and realised that it forked into two directions at a big bush, that was my best chance! I had to get behind that bush and wait for them to pass me. I got behind the bush and ranged both of the game paths to my left and right, they were 30 meters away and I quickly set my sight for that range. I waited in the shade of the bush in a standing position with my back snugged up against a dead tree. I could see them through a small gap in the bush and noticed that they were heading straight towards me. My heart raced in my chest as the first Springbuck popped its head out behind the bush not even 8 meters from me, I could not draw my bow as it was looking directly at me. I stood as quiet as possible and was trying to blend in like a chameleon while the Springbuck was glancing the bush, it suspected something but luckily it just started walking away. I knew the second ram was going to come around the bush any second and I had to draw my bow before he did, but I had to wait a bit longer as the other ram that just passed would hear or see me draw the bow. As soon as I felt comfortable that the first ram would not be spooked I drew the bow and waited. It wasn’t even 5 second later and the second ram cleared the bush and was standing with its head sticking out behind the bush nothing further than 5 meters from me. I stood there at full draw and just waited for it to take one step forward, it moved and was walking slowly. I aimed the pin on its shoulder and let the arrow fly. The arrow hit the Springbuck with a hard thump and it went right through the Springbuck with no effort. I could see the blood spraying out of the wound as the Springbuck ran away and knew it was a good shot.
This was an outstanding Springbuck ram measuring 14.5 inches, a dream come true on a bow.