Kelsey Wantz's Amazing African Safari- Making Memories... and History!

"Hi... I'm Jason"

"Hi... I'm Kelsey" and from that point, we hit it off. I met young Kelsey Wantz this past summer while hunting if Africa. Recently graduated from college, her dad Jay treated Kelsey to an African safari as a graduation present. I was very impressed with Kelsey's motivation and maturity.

Friendly and outgoing, Kelsey was easy to talk to and fun to be around. I did pick on her quite a bit for her "strange" (or what I consider strange) eating habits while in Africa- but she handled it well. In Africa- the "normal" eating pattern was wild game, three times a day buffered with delicious billtong in between meals and as a nightcap. Kelsey didn't eat as much of the red meat as the rest of us did, so we had perfect fodder for mocking her.

I liked watching Kelsey and her father Jay interact. They seemed to have a great relationship and enjoyed being together. I am blessed with a daughter of my own as well and hope we can continue to spend quality time together like the Wantz's do when she's an adult. Each day, Kelsey would fill us in at the dinner table about her adventures. We'd laugh and listen, gathering every detail of her hunts. Eventually I started to notice something, and by the end of the trip, my hunch had come true. Kelsey had taken all four types of the Spring Bok while we were on the Dark Continent, and to our guide Johnny Vivier's knowledge- she's the first woman to do so with archery equipment!

This story was too goo not to tell, so I asked Kelsey to jot down some thoughts for me. Here it is- in her own words, Kelsey's tale of the Springbok Grand Slam.

My love for hunting and the great outdoors started when I was little. I loved going out spotting, tracking or even hunting with my dad. I got my first bow when I was 7 years old and it quickly became my obsession. There’s nothing better than the adrenaline rush you get when the first animal of the day comes walking into sight. But for 18 years basketball had been my passion and I played year around. Which meant the first time I would go big game hunting would be after graduating college this year. Although I no longer get to play the game I love, I’m excited to finally enjoy my passion for the great outdoors.

It was our first full day of hunting at the beautiful Linksfontein Game Lodge, the sun was out but the air was cool. We got settled into our blind a little after 8:00 in the morning and my adrenaline was starting already. Within the first half hour the watering hole was attracting game. We had common springbok, copper springbok, ostrich, and wildebeest all making an appearance. With every animal that comes into view, you can feel you heart beating faster and faster. We continued to watch the mixture of game throughout the morning and around 11:00 my PH Peter spots a black springbok ram approaching from a distance. As the black springbok got closer and we saw the nice horns, I knew it was show time. I slowly picked up the crossbow and got in position. The second I realized this black springbok was the one I was going after, I immediately became a mixture of nerves and adrenaline. I started replaying everything in my head, where to aim, and tips for using a crossbow, “if you hit them, you pay”. The black springbok then turns broadside to the left of the watering hole, and stood 23 yards away. I’m trying to keep my breathing quiet while working on keeping the crossbow steady. I slowly pull the trigger and let it fly. Within seconds the black springbok took off. My nerves quickly became excitement and I couldn’t wait to get out of the blind to track and find my first ever big game kill! After informing the trackers back at the Lodge that we had a black springbok down, we got out of the blind and began tracking him. We tracked him for close to 250 yards, where we found him at the base of a tree. When you first see this beautiful animal it’s not only a sigh of relief that you got him, but being my first big game kill I was filled with all sorts of emotions.

Kelsey and Jay with her 1st African kill- a beautiful black springbok. Kelsey and Jay with her 1st African kill- a beautiful black springbok.

 

Around 3:30 PM we decided to move to a different blind just to see if other animals were hitting a different watering hole. We got settled into the blind an unlike the first blind, we didn't see anything for a little over an hour. A little before 5:00 pm a nice copper springbok ram comes walking to the watering hole from our right and I quickly took my spot at the window, crossbow in a hand. Hoping with one kill out of the way the nerves wouldn't be as bad, but realizing quickly that they were just as bad! The copper springbok presented me the shot I wanted and I slowly pulled the trigger. This time I failed to aim from the angle I was shooting correctly an I hit him low. After he ran 40 yards he decided to just stop an stand there. With the sun beginning to set PH Peter wanted me to stalk up on the hurt cooper ram and try and get another bolt into him. Unfortunately as soon as he heard the blind door open he took off an left a rather small blood trail, making it hard to track. The last hour before the sun sets completely, five of us and the tracking dog Rigby searched for over a mile and had no luck. The next morning we were at it again but this time we were riding in the back of one of the trucks. We began sweeping all the land hoping and praying we would find it, but for me I got me upset an angry. As we continue to ride, we saw my springbok! Flip the driver informs Peter to shoot the 75 yard shot as it was running. Thank God Peter made an incredible 70 yard shot to drop my copper springbok ram.

Kelsey and Jay with her springbok. This thing wasn't easy to track- but the Wantz's didn't give up. Kelsey and Jay with her springbok. This thing wasn't easy to track- but the Wantz's didn't give up.

 

After successfully finding my copper springbok we set our sights on finding a nice white springbok. We went to a new blind and as we were pulling up to it, we chased off a herd of white springbok. As we were unloading our gear from the truck into the blind, Peter said they'll be back in later tonight. After getting everything situated we decided to eat lunch quick. While sitting there I saw something move out of the corner of my eye. I couldn't believe it the herd of white springbok was already making their way back to the watering hole only 10 minutes after we had chased them away. Needless to say lunch was cut short and a standoff began. The ram made a point to stand and feed in the center of the herd, making it impossible to get a clean shot. Finally after a good 25 minutes the ram was cornered away at 30 yards and giving me an open shot. I took the shot and we watched him take off and drop 100 yards from the blind and it was hard to contain my excitement. I couldn't believe how fast everything happened or that the standoff lasted longer we had been in the blind.

Kelsey's white springbok. The standoff with him lasted longer than she had sat in the blind! Kelsey's white springbok. The standoff with him lasted longer than she had sat in the blind!

 

It was our last day at Linksfonstein and we were dropped off an settled into the very first blind we had hunted out of and where I got my black springbok. This blind was also where we had a nice common ram come in the first day, which is what we were hoping would come back. Like most of the other days the sun was shining but air was brisk and the wind wasn't helping! It was a slow morning and the watering hole was vacant majority of the day. There were a few gems buck that had passed by but none of what we needed to finish off the grand slam! With no action to watch the hours felt like they were going so slow, then out of nowhere Peter quickly gets my attention an tells me to get ready. A big common springbok ram was slowly an hesitantly making its way to the watering hole. Knowing that any second the wind could change direction again give the springbok a better chance at winding us, I knew the first opportunity presented needed to be taken. As soon as he turns broadside, I let it fly and he took off immediately! After about 10 Minutes we were on the track and working to follow the blood trail. Soon after, we were walking up on him and seeing the last puzzle piece needed to complete the grand slam. The cool thing about it was I shot my black and white or first and last springbok at the same blind.

The final piece of the puzzle- Kelsey's common springbok! The final piece of the puzzle- Kelsey's common springbok!

 

Not only did Kelsey get all four Spring Bok- she also was able to tag a few other animals.

Kelsey's impala. Kelsey's impala.
Kelsey's Blesbok. Kelsey's Blesbok.

 

Kelsey- from all of us at ScentBlocker- CONGRATULATIONS! Not only on your Springbok, but on the amazing memories you and dd will share forever. Now what's next? We've heard hunting New Zealand is nice:) Maybe dad will make you get a Masters Degree to earn that trip.

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