Black Springbok

Black Springbok

RSA Copper Springbok

RSA Copper Springbok

Springbox

Springbok

Springbok

Springbok

White Springbok

White Springbok

Springbok Muzzleloader Safari


By Gary Tennison

On June 12th 2006 I arrived in De Aar along with my three hunting companions, Bob Stallman, Fred and JoDean Peters. We were hunting with Julian Theron in the Karoo region of South Africa. Julian is not only owns the land he is a PH as well and operates Jules of the Karoo Safaris from his farm. This was my third muzzle loader safari to Africa, and my second hunt with Julian.
Julian has the biggest springbok in all of South Africa that I am aware of. It was my goal to take all four South African species of springbok with my muzzleloader and to have them all place number one in the muzzleloader category of the SCI record book. I never dreamed by how far I would exceed my expectations.
On first the day of my hunt, our entire hunting party went in search of one Julian’s common springbok breeding rams. This past his prime ram was referred to lovingly as Cheeks because of a distinctive facial stripe on his muzzle. He was well known by many hunters that had seen this big ram over the last several years including Fred and myself on our prior hunt. It did not take very long to find this ram’s home turf.
The biggest problem was to get within muzzleloader range, and to get this big ram separated from the rest of the animals in a herd of fifty or more other springbok for a clear shot. On our third attempt we managed to get to a range of 71 yards and I was able to take my shot. When the smoke cleared, I found that the big ram had fallen dead on the spot with out taking another step. The length of his horns exceeded an amazing 17 inches. The springbok that I had just taken was not only a new number one muzzleloader record, but a new all time all weapon world record!
Julian has been managing springbok for the past twenty five years. He has a real passion for huge springbok. His culling and breeding programs prove that. His severe culling of both rams and ewes, leaves only the ones with the best horns, to produce the best offspring. This has gotten Julian to the world class trophy quality rams that now exists on his farm.  I have no doubt that the Safari Club Record book will be written and rewritten several times on Julian’s farm.  
The next springbok that was on my wish list was the white. I currently had the number one in the muzzleloader category and was determined to break my own record. Armand knew just the place to go looking for that record. Soon we were once again attempting to close within shooting distance of a springbok. On our second attempt we were 126 yards from one of the biggest White Springbok I had ever seen. This time when the smoke cleared I saw the ram running toward the horizon but he went down less than 50 yards from where it had been hit. Two springboks and two new muzzleloader records this was starting to look easy! I had broken my own record with this 14” plus springbok by over four points. The 12” springbok that just fallen to number two, was taken with Julian on my first hunt with him in 2003. That is how good the trophy gene pool is progressing.
Fred and I were both in the quest for a Copper Springbok, a newly recognized species. There are only about 1000 copper springbok in the world right now and Julian has a strong growing heard established. With the severe culling of rams and ewes that Julian insists upon I am sure that many record coppers will come from his farm.
Fred and his PH Jerry went one direction while Bob with video camera and I went about a mile away in the same area. Armand’s plan was for us to ambush a springbok at an area they liked to pass through a three strand barbed wire fence. Armand figured they would take enough time to go through the fence and be in close enough range for me to get a good steady shot. We had just forgotten to tell the Springbok what the plan was. Some passed to our left at 250 yards, while others passed to our right at over 350 yards, so much for the spot we picked out for them to cross.
We did have one small herd come to with in 60 yards, but they stopped behind the only large patch of bushes in the entire Karoo. We could only see parts and pieces of them through the brush. When they came out from behind that brush they were in high gear and gave no chance for a shot.
As the day wore on and the sun grew hot we decided to go meet up with Fred and Jerry for lunch. When we meet up with Fred he not only had a big smile, he had a big Copper Springbok as well.
After lunch Armand, Bob and I decided we would set up for our afternoon hunt near where Fred had taken his Copper Springbok during the morning hunt. We decided to set up in a brushy area on a small hill near a corner fence line. The sagging strands of barbed wire and game trail showed that it provided an easy and well used passage for the springbok.  As we were in the process of stashing our backpacks and searching for some soft rocks to sit upon I was using my range finder to locate a few known distances to some landmarks in front of us. From out of nowhere a heard of 30 or more springbok came running over the hill from behind us. Armond threw up his shooting sticks and pointed out the biggest ram in the heard. In a flash and huge ball of smoke I had my springbok down. After a slow morning the hunt was over in minutes, before we had even gotten set up. No long afternoon wait for this over 14” long and very heavy springbok that just happened to be a new muzzleloader number one record.
With the Copper Springbok in the salt shed I only needed the Black Springbok to complete my South African springbok slam. We had saved the hardest of all for last; the black is by far the most flighty of all the springbok.       First thing the next morning my faithful cameraman Bob, Armand and I spotted a very nice ram. Armand informed me that it was a very big ram and not to miss, as I will never get a second chance! After several attempts to get close with no success I decided to try a 150 yard shot into a strong cross wind. When the smoke cleared we watched the ram sprinting for the horizon. As I was reloading the ram suddenly turned and sprinted back toward his territory. Armand said that he had never seen a ram turn and run back toward him like that before, it must be the smoke screen! He could not believe we were able to get within 177 yards of the springbok for a second chance. He also could not believe that I missed again!
This time the lone springbok sprinted off 400 yards or more to join a small heard of about 15 other springbok. To our disbelief, in reality he appeared to be chasing them out of his territory. He turned around and ran back toward us once again.  On my third shot at 191 yards the ram he dropped in his tracks. Armand, Bob and I all stood in disbelief at the strange chain of events that led to completion of my springbok slam, all of which are new SCI number one muzzleloader trophies.
Hunting with Julian is just short of incredible. During my safari with Julian I not only took four new muzzleloader number one record book springbok, three of which are top ten all time all weapon, I also took a new number one muzzleloader 41” bull Gemsbok and a number one 5 5/8” Steenbuck. I also took a Bush Buck, White Blesbok, and Bush Pig, but I will save their stories for a later date.