I found myself at full draw, anchor point in place, nose button at the ready, and staring down my aligned sights at an unexpected quarry only 31 yards away. Everything had fallen into place, now it was all down to shot execution. Moments before, I stopped my truck in the shade of a Mopane tree about a mile from the watering hole I had planned on sitting at for the afternoon and began the walk into the blind. As the overwhelming excitement for what the afternoon may have in store rushed through my mind, I saw something in the corner of my eye.

As quickly as I spotted it, it had disappeared

Setting down my pack, I picked up my binoculars and started scanning the specific patch of thorny brush I just saw movement in. It didn’t take long for me to discover it wasn’t my eyes playing tricks, but a testament to the species unparalleled camouflage. They had simply stopped moving and settled behind a few well-placed bushes.

I quickly got rid of what I didn’t need and although at the time optimistic of whether a stalk would be a success this close to a drinking point as animals are always on high alert coming into the water, promptly yet carefully I began my stalk down into the river bed and across onto the opposite bank. As I closed the distance, I noticed the three of them were nervous and unsettled, circling each other, seemingly trying to push one another forward towards the watering hole a mere 100 yards or so away. I suspect they were uncertain about the foreign object only 20 yards from where they intended on quenching their afternoon thirst. Although camouflage and well hidden, the pop-up blind I had placed there a couple of days before wasn’t fooling these old bachelors.

Knowing their utmost attention was elsewhere, I made as much use of the minimal cover between us as possible. Stopping dead still as they glanced my way and made my moves on the turn of their heads.

Setting Up The Shot

Before too long, and without disturbances, I found myself at the targeted shooting point only 31 yards from the closest and what seemed to be the oldest stallion. His condition wasn’t quite as prestigious as the others. I was well within range and knew it was time to take the shot.

No novice to the walk and stalk bow hunting game, I knew the perfectly broadside shot the old guy was presenting me with wasn’t going to last much longer. I drew my bow, set my anchor, felt the nose button meet its mark, opened my eyes, and looked down my perfectly aligned sights. As I rose up from behind a chest height Mopani yearling, I found that I had a very small window to shoot through but knew, at this distance, I didn’t need much to make things happen. I began running the fundamentals of a good shot through my head as I always do.

The Privilege of Being A Hunter

As I released, the shot felt good but to my demise, the arrow had struck slightly higher than my intended mark. Whether it was bad shot execution, target panic, or perhaps some interference to my arrow on its way in, it’s hard to say, for a few seconds before and after the shot becomes a blur as you get an adrenaline dump like no other. The Zebra trotted off confused. Up until this point, they had no idea I was there. However, the old stallion stopped only 10 yards later to look around for what might have just delivered him a cut of death.

My arrow had passed completely through, only being healed by the fletching on the opposite side. I noticed a significant amount of blood gushing from both sides of his flanks as well as his nose. To my relief, my arrow, although high, had severed a two-inch cut through both lungs. Realizing his time was up he made his final sprint, going down within sight followed by a significant cloud of dust.

As I approached the beautifully alluring stallion, I couldn’t help but feel the overwhelming gratitude and privilege I have been able to experience the opportunity of hunting these beautiful Equidae, for it is a species I have close ties to. My predecessor, Dr. Wiliam J Burchell, described and named the Burchell Zebra on his first quest to Africa as a botanist in 1810. Now, over 210 years later, I glare over the fallen stallion reminiscing the generations that have come before both me and him and make a promise to myself that as a hunter, I will fight to protect our wildlife so that just maybe, generations after me may experience the amazing privilege I have just experienced, that of being a hunter.