Every day is a hunting day, not every day is a shooting day - hunting with Jim Shockey in Namibia

Every day is a hunting day, not every day is a shooting day – hunting with Jim Shockey in Namibia

By Jofie Lamprecht

 

Let me tell you, Jim Shockey portrays an image of the strong adventurous hunter, with black hat and red bandana, always with a serious message about hunting and conservation. Willing to go to the ends of the earth to hunt species, open areas of the world never hunted before and bringing the viewers raw real footage from around the world. Let me tell you. What is portrayed in his shows does not show the humble hunter that he is. Jim is the real deal. Well into his 50’s, he is tough as a honey badger, fit as a wild dog and willing to do anything within the constraints of ethics and the law to get the species he pursues.

 

Having spent a month in 2012 in Namibia with Jim and his beautiful daughter and budding huntress, I have seen this with my own eyes. We discussed the final plans for our safari at the 2012 DSC convention. This adventure took 18 months to plan, starting in 2010 – the species and the criteria clearly outlined, some of the species were deemed not huntable free-range in Namibia by other professionals.

In western Namibia, the intimidating Erongo Mountains reach 7,500 feet skyward. This is where our safari started. Jim hunts STRICTLY free-range. No compromise. Our species of interest were black-faced impala and damara dik-dik.

The thick bush after successive good rain seasons in Namibia made this a tough task. Dik-dik were plenty full, but heavy cover made an ethical shot impossible. On the morning of the third hunting day, a family of thee Dik-Dik were spotted and stalked to within 30 yards. After a long wait the old ram stepped into an opening, thick right horn slightly shorter. With a single shot through the heart, he was secured.

Black-faced impala were nowhere to be seen. After changing geographic locations in the 270,000 acre Erongo Conservancy, the endemic impala were everywhere. After a frustrating hunt, the thick bush preventing us from seeing our quarry at even 30 yards, we finally got a shot. Across a valley after glassing for several hours, an ancient ram was spotted across the valley. At 370 yards, with a rest on a pile of rocks, Jim fired a single shot with his .300 Wetherby Thompson Contender (TC) topped with a Leopold scope. Both lungs and the top of the heart shredded with a Nosler bullet after a perfect shot.

 

Damaraland was our next destination in north-western Namibia. Giraffe and springbuck were our target species. After two days of looking for the “oldest giraffe” in Damaraland with a .375, a shot the chest and two back up shots from his rifle, our “black bull” was in the salt.

 

The next morning saw our luck change somewhat. Eva Shockey with her pink TC, was up. At 170 yards she “Nosler time’ed” a springbuck that was down to the shot. After inspecting her prize, Jim spotted three more Springbuck rams close buy. After a short stalk, father and daughter had their trophies lying 150 yards apart. Success!

It was a long haul from Damaraland to Bushman land, 10-hour drive across Namibia’s wonderful road network (it is wonderful, no sarcasm here).

 

So now the story starts in earnest. On the first day, driving from the airport to the Erongo mountains we discussed the hunt and where we would be going. Jim suggested, “to save time, as soon as we are done with an area, no matter the time of day, we leave for the next area.” That would mean driving at night, not the smartest thing to do in the wilds of Africa.

 

Leaving Damaraland late afternoon, the drive to Bushman Land – it had been a long day already for me, PH, driver and navigator. It was in the wee hours of the morning that the two track road ended in the headlights of my truck with a welcoming fire in the shadow of a baobab tree – greeted by our Bushmen hosts. After a two hours “sleep” we were up and at it again chasing adventures in the land of ‘upside down tree’ and massive bodied elephant.

We had walked in excess of 56 km (35 miles) in just two days of hunting for free range southern roan, in an area famous for is giant ‘sand veld elephant’ – the Nyae Nyae Conservancy. Every day is a hunting day, not every day is a shooting day – as my father used to say.

An old roan antelope’s tracks wind lazily down the road. His territory demarcation still warm and steaming in the cold air of Bushman Land. Time to gear up and follow our slight Bushman friends to unravel the mystery of an unknown location and direction. It was now day 6 of our quest for roan, and we were not going to leave until we had secured what we sought. Many, many miles lay behind us, and we set of as determined as ever to catch up to our objective. Our Bushmen trackers walked at a casual pace, with their long strides eating up the sand beneath their calloused feet. Wild dog are prevalent in this 2 million hectare (5 million acre) conservancy, making the antelope species constantly wearily of predation, never mind the lion and leopard that also roam here. The weight of our loads, including a picnic lunch and enough water for the day, had settled and we had built up a head of sweat on the crisp morning our forward progress was paused in an instant. Everyone crouched down and a hooked finger pointed forward. A Bushman never points at the animal he is after, it is supposed to be bad luck – and that is all we had had on the previous 5 days of tracking. I instructed the Bushmen to stay put, as we crept closer to have a look. We were all strung tight with the fear of making a mistake and spooking our prey. Every moment we gave our full attention. Crawling into place, I peered through the grey black bushes with my binoculars. “Female roan?”. What? We had just followed a bull track, a single bull. What had gone wrong?

In the clearing before us I noticed ears moving. More roan. A herd. Did the bull walk past them, or had he joined up with them? It took some time to sort the herd – bedded down in no distinct order over a large stretch. I found one with very thick horns. “Bull”. I waited for him to turn his head, since one cannot judge horn length from the front. “Short”. “Is he old” Jim asked me in hushed breath. His eyes wide with his red bandana keeping the sweat and long hair out of his eyes. “Yes, I would say he is very old and broomed off.” “Perfect” said Jim. We agreed on which animal I was talking about, and Jim crawled into position. My suggestion, that, when he was ready, we make a noise and make the antelope stand up was shot down by Jim immediately. We can wait. And wait we did. Jim had his rifle propped up on a small tree and never took his eyes off the bull. The midday sun was burning us, and we waited. After an eternity, the bull got restless – as did the wind – and his hind quarter was pushed skyward, before being followed by his front quarter. As he reached full extension, there was a pop from Jim’s rifle and the roan went straight back down. We were all elated. Our long marches were now a thing of the past and we had a fine old bull in the salt for our effort.

To explain the emotion of hunting is hard for non-hunters to understand. Off camera Jim walked up and inspected his trophy with true admiration. The bases of the horns were truly massive, he had fine length at some stage, but had broomed of many inches of his horns thrashing bushes and in conflict with other bulls. A true trophy that I could see Jim truly in his heart appreciated and savored the moment while enjoying it immensely.

 

Now enough of praising the father, lets talk about Eva. Notwithstanding that she was, and still is after her two children, a beautiful young lady. She was delightful on safari. With her infectious laugh, bright smile – she walked every step we took, was first at the fire in the early mornings and all this while carrying her own rifle. The first three weeks were dedicated to her father’s hunt, and the last 10 days for her. Her pink rifle was a constant companion.

 

And that my friends, is a story for another time.

JIM HAS BEEN AN AWARD-WINNING OUTDOOR WRITER, WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHER, VIDEOGRAPHER, NATURALIST, WILDERNESS GUIDE AND OUTFITTER FOR NEARLY 30 YEARS.

He owns several exclusive outfitting territories in the wild lands of Canada, including the renowned Pacific Rim Guide Territory on Vancouver Island, British Columbia and the famed 12,000 square mile Rogue River Outfitting in the Yukon Territory. His television productions have won 15 Golden Moose Awards from 2009-2015, and he is accomplished in archery, muzzleloader and rifle. He is a retired Honorary Lieutenant Colonel of 4 Canadian Ranger Patrol Group (4CRPG) Canadian Armed Forces and is a Member International of the Explorer’s Club in New York City, and works in production with his entire family—Louise, Eva and Branlin.

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Photography by: Jofie Lamprecht