By Donald E. Black, SCI Director-At-Large
Diamonds and gold! Africa! Yes, think diamonds and gold and think Africa. But in my case, it was not the precious stones and metals that came to mind. That’s because I am a hunter, and I fully participate in the SCI World Hunting Awards Program.
In order to achieve the World Hunting Award Ring, a minimum of 17 Diamond Level Inner Circle Awards are required. So, prior to attending the SCI Annual Hunters Convention each year, I review my current Inner Circle Award standings and attempt to buy or book hunts that will advance my quest toward that goal during the coming year.
A recent review enlightened me to the fact that three African species would satisfy the Gold Level of two Inner Circle Awards and bring me closer to reaching the required Diamond Levels. Accordingly, during the last Annual Hunters’ Convention and several Chapter Banquets, I watched closely for opportunities to arrange to hunt the three species.
Thankfully, at the Southern New Mexico SCI Chapter Banquet, I encountered a young (aren’t they all these days?) outfitter and professional hunter whom I have known for several years. Plans were made to begin a hunt in mid-July 2022 in the Eastern Cape of South Africa for a copper springbok and a Cape grysbok. The quota for the latter species had not been available to my outfitters during my previous hunts in the Eastern Cape Province.
I got on a plane in Michigan, flew to Atlanta, then Johannesburg and finally to Port Elizabeth (recently renamed Gqeberha). I took a day of rest that allowed me to prepare for a hunt for the Cape grysbok the following evening. These animals are typically sought during the hours of darkness.
Fortunately, a male and female pair of grysbok were located within an hour after the hunt began. The male had excellent horn length. Using a borrowed .30-06-caliber rifle, I had a 97-yard shot at the animal on the side of a slight incline. I brought the animal to bag.
The next day, we took a long drive to a different location that had an excellent population of copper springbok and numerous additional species. Warmer temperatures and hilly terrain resulted in a hunt that was not as easy for this aging sportsman as the previous days.
Nevertheless, after several lengthy stalks I was finally able to harvest a beautiful animal near the noon hour. Again, only one shot, this time using a borrowed .270-caliber rifle, at a distance of 262 yards was all that was needed. Success resulted in an excellent trophy and with the Gold Level of the SCI Gazelles of the World Inner Circle Award!
After a day of visiting nearby Jeffreys Bay to watch — yes, just watch — the surfing at Supertubes Beach, with its right-hand point break and 12-foot waves, it was back to Johannesburg. From there it was on to Beira, Mozambique, where a charter flight took me to a camp where I could hunt Livingstone suni.
This skittish little antelope species which inhabits thick forest, unlike Sharpe grysbok which prefer grassy landscape, were plentiful along with numerous Natal red duiker, Southern impala and common nyala.
Two days of hunting for a Livingstone suni with another young professional hunter, (again, aren’t they all young?), resulted in seeing dozens of mature and immature males along with many females of the species. Regrettably, none possessed the horn length we were hoping.
Then, late morning of the second day, we spotted one with exceptional mass and horn length. Fortunately, this one was standing at a distance of less than 30 yards, apparently believing he was undetectable in the shade of a bushy tree.
One shot with a borrowed .300 Winchester Magnum rifle ended my quest for the Gold Level of the SCI Pygmy Antelopes of Africa Inner Circle Award. As a bonus, along with the Cape grysbok, it more than satisfied the requirement for SCI’s new Tiny Ten Antelopes of Africa Milestone Award.
That’s the story about the Africa’s gold. And what about the diamonds of Africa? Well, that is another story for another time.
Donald Black is an SCI Director-At-Large, attorney and member and Past President of the SCI Detroit Chapter. He hunts mainly throughout Europe and his home state of Michigan and in New Mexico, where his spends his winters.