There’s no denying that a big kudu bull is the most glamours of all African plains game, yet once you’ve downed your trophy, which animal is next? An exciting answer is to try for a “slam” of beests: the blue wildebeest, the black wildebeest, and the red hartabeest.
Each of these animals have distinctive horns and coloration and they are often found in the same area, although the black wildebeest is more of an open-plains animal than its blue cousin. The “beesty slam” was my goal on a recent safari; here’s how it went.
The “beests” of Africa are as amazing as they are different. The blue wildebeest, sometimes called the poor man’s buffalo, is as tough as a tank and ruggedly handsome, while its cousin, the black, often seems not to be playing with a full deck, and is very unpredictable. The third member of the “beest” fraternity, the hartabeest, is racy red with motorcycle-handlebar horns and speed to match.
Jere Neff and I booked with Agagia Safaris in Namibia because they have, hands down, the best bowhunting operation in my 21 African safaris. That said, they can’t control the weather; this year they had double the rain of a normal year, as well as a downpour the day before we arrived. The result: Only a fraction of the usual animals came to drink. The exceptional rainfall didn’t affect rifle hunting and we did very well in the few days we used the “long bow.” Yet bowhunting was our priority and Jere took a great, wide-horned bull blue widebeest on the third day of the safari. He was so excited, he could practically fly.
The next day, I took the black species of the slam when a big bull came to drink in late afternoon. On my previous Agagia safari, I took the blue and the black wildebeest and had several opportunities at medium red bulls, but could not pull the release on a big bull. This year, I left our safari a couple of days early to take my wife to Victoria Falls and Jere mentioned that he only needed the red for his “beest slam.” I hope he succeeded.
In any event, my name is already on the Agagia schedule for mid-August of next year. That way, I’ll be assured of dry weather and great action at waterholes. Any animal that has “beest” in its name and comes to drink had better beware.