News From Terre Haute, Indiana

June 23, 2012

Redneck quaker: Successful South African adventure

Kenny Bayless
Special to the Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — As two rednecks were telling hunting stories one evening, a little lady named Allison Winchell crawled up on her daddy’s lap while pointing at the other gray-haired and bearded man asking if he was Santa Clause, with him replying “Yes, I am honey and you can have anything you want.”

It was mentioned an adventure was being planned for South Africa and Max Winchell’s face lit up like a Christmas tree. Max’s wife, Jennifer, bless her heart, agreed that he could get away to do something for himself. She told me he is a very good provider for his family.

Nick Rice from the Tell City area was recruited, so the hunt was on!

As the three rednecks flew over New York City, the grand old lady stood in grandeur on Ellis Island, displaying her torch. You could feel the grief she had from losing her World Trade Towers.

Outfitter Cobus Van Vuuren was meeting his three rednecks in Johannesburg, South Africa, on May 15 to take them on an adventure of a lifetime.

It is true; any law enforcer is never off duty. While enjoying a 12-hour tour of Frankfurt, Germany, a lady came running down the sidewalk pushing a stroller with a baby in tow and her 2-year-old running ahead about to dart into an extremely busy street. Max acted in a split-second to outrun the child and stopped her at the street’s edge, no doubt saving the child’s life.

The three rednecks were relieved to be shaking the hand of Cobus, for they reached their destination from 23 hours of flying!

A three-hour scenic ride to the hunting camp in the Limpopo Province helped wear off the jet lag.

A day was planned to do some bird hunting, not knowing it was a usual thing to shoot a case of shells a day — no not a box, a case.

We joined up with some fine folks from Switzerland to walk the African bush and flush geunie fowl in hundreds and taking doubles was not a problem.

Did you realize a gourmet meal can be prepared in the African bush? A table and chairs with drinks and great food were prepared under a large shade tree. I thought you could only see this on TV!

After lunch, we set up on the edge of the African bush waiting for the three different dove species to come flying back from the sunflower fields. Boy, can those birds fly fast. They would even dodge buckshot. At times, there were so many birds you couldn’t pick out an individual to target.

I literally drew blood from my trigger finger from shooting so much. It is worth making the trip just to go dove and geunie fowl hunting!

The bows were shot to reassure the mind’s eye was tuned in with target practice with rifles. While hunting in the African bush, one well-placed shot may save your life.

Nick Rice started the hunt by taking a very nice Impala. He harvested it in very thick bush, while Cobus read its tracks in hard red soil. He can track a mouse across concrete!

An Eland was harvested while it grazed in the open grass plains, it didn’t realize a redneck from Indiana was stalking it like a hungry lion. The loins were cooked for a dinner one evening which melted in your mouth.

The food prepared by Cobus’s daughter, Chandelle, was second to none; a five-star restaurant can’t compete with her. We would go back for the food alone!

OK, back to the hunt, two Wildebeest went to African heaven on one day from two good ol’ boys sitting in blinds holding a stick and string that threw sharp things that were a real pain in the side. Both didn’t go over 100 yards before expiring from exact-placed shots.

Speaking of pain, disaster struck that afternoon while Nick was riding in a trailer pulled by a tractor going to his hunting blind. They hit a big bump in the road and upset the trailer with Nick flying through the air to break his arm from trying to soften the fall. So, to Johannesburg he went for a doctor to tell him he would be back tomorrow for an operation. Ha, you think that stopped him from hunting? A day’s rest and his left arm in a sling and cast, he picked up a rifle and started his dream of taking a Gemsbok and Zebra.

You’re not going to believe this, but here goes. With Cobus’s son Jacu finding a Gemsbok track and following it through some thick bush, there stood a Zebra. With Nick using a shooting stick, the Zebra dropped in his tracks and as he reloaded, two Gemsbok stood up about 75 yards away with one stopping broadside. Yes, it also went down. It was like winning the lottery, taking his two requested animals standing in one spot with a broken arm and shooting a .308-caliber rifle.

Max sat on a water hole that produced a wide variety of animals like Kudu, Eland, Wart Hog, Red Hurtabeast and Impala. Yes, he released another arrow taking a trophy Impala.

On another day in the same blind, two large Impala and a Wart Hog were harvested.

On Day 7, Max was hankering for a Zebra real bad, so Cobus said “I must go spend the day with Max and put him on a Zebra.” They sat in a blind on a water hole all day until 3:30 when Cobus said, “Let’s take a walk.” Max was in the height of his glory walking, stalking and crawling on their hands and knees through very thick African bush. It paid off when a herd of Zebra thought they were safe in such cover. The stallion knew something was up, so he left his herd of six to circle the odd critters on hands and knees to get a good smell of their carcass when at 25 yards the last thing he heard was a loud boom. It was a sight for soar eyes to watch 12 natives pulling a 900-pound Zebra lying on a conveyor type belt, like a team of horses pulling a wagon, after clearing the way with machetes.

Trading stories with other hunters from Germany and Switzerland was a treat along with invitations to visit them for a hunt in their hometowns.

These three rednecks lived a dream for 10 days that have bonded them for life.

Eleven animals were harvested in eight days — four Impala, two Wildebeest, two Zebra, one Gemsbok, one Eland and one Wort Hog. To live a dream in South Africa, contact Cobus Van Vuuren at cobusjvv@mweb.co.za. Website is www.javavusafaris.com



Kenny Bayless can be reached by e-mail at kwbayless@aol.com.