El Sable: In search of the elusive african antelope
When we think of Africa, we often think of the vast plains of the Maasai Mara or the Serengeti, with their vast grasslands dotted with acacia trees and populated by thousands of wildebeest and zebra. On a recent trip, I had an exciting adventure in the heart of South Africa's Eastern Cape, in the Winterberg Mountains, in search of several species of antelope, with one goal in mind: the prince of Africa.
These mountains offer a unique mountainous landscape in a wild and different area, where unique species live and where I had the opportunity to experience an authentic adventure. This special corner invited us to move away from convention and immerse ourselves in the beauty of nature.
My host during this exceptional journey was Willem de Beer, owner of De Beer Safaris, along with Joaquín Vadillo of Big Hunting Spain. I enjoyed a vast open terrain of almost 100,000 hectares, home to up to 40 huntable species, but my main mission was to track the elusive sable.
The Winterberg Mountains are located in the Eastern Cape province of southern South Africa. This mountain range is known for its stunning scenic beauty and natural environment. It extends from east to west, north of small towns such as Bedford, Adelaide and Fort Beaufort, with an average elevation of about 1,800 meters above sea level.
For this exciting adventure, I chose reliable equipment that included the Blaser K95 single shot, the Zeiss V8 2.8-20x56 scope, the Zeiss Victory SF 10x32 binoculars and the NORMA EcoStrike 7mm RM (Remington Magnum) bullets. These bullets, composed primarily of nickel and copper, offer an impressive ballistic coefficient and effective terminal performance, making them an ideal choice for hunting medium and large game. Their ability to expand at different speeds minimizes animal suffering and provides precision even on long distances, while being environmentally friendly and reducing environmental impact.
The 7mm RM caliber is known for its speed and accuracy at long ranges. These bullets can maintain a flat and stable trajectory at long distances, which is crucial when hunting in open terrain or in the African savanna, where shots can be long-range. Additionally, they are designed to offer excellent energy retention, meaning they maintain a large amount of kinetic energy even after impacting the target. This helps ensure that the bullet makes an effective impact on the animal, which is especially important when hunting large ungulates such as sable and African antelope. They are also designed for controlled and uniform expansion once they impact the target. This reduces the risk of overpenetration and ensures that the bullet transfers maximum energy to the animal, which can be essential for a quick and ethical result on the hunt.
The sable (Hippotragus niger) is my favorite antelope and, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful in Africa. It is notable for its impressive scimitar-shaped horns, which can grow to over a meter in length in males, and its shiny black coat with white underparts and white facial markings. They are majestic and elegant animals.
Our hunting strategy was to climb to the highest point at dawn to locate the animals while they were calm. We knew it would be easier to find a group with a beautiful dominant male during those hours. After walking for a while, we located a fairly large herd with females resting and some young males grazing. Finally, we identified the male we were looking for, expertly camouflaged among the vegetation. Sables, being large and mature animals, are extremely cautious and know how to hide from predators
Following Willem's advice, we approached with the wind in our favor. The approach was spectacular, and we found ourselves just a few meters from the animals. I prepared my single shot while observing the saber.
Even though I wasn't in an optimal position, I didn't hesitate to take the shot when he moved. The bullet did its job, although not with the precision I would have liked. We had to follow a trail for a short time, but the sable was a hardy animal, one of the toughest in Africa, along with the zebra and the blue wildebeest. Finally, a second finishing shot was necessary, but when we arrived, the animal was practically dead. I experienced a mixture of indescribable satisfaction and joy: my dream had come true. I had been successful in hunting the most iconic antelope in Africa and, without a doubt, the most special to me.
Every time I visit Africa, I am in love and amazed by its pristine nature, its diversity of animals, its culture, its gastronomy, and much more. I do not rule out the possibility of returning soon to these lands that always give me unforgettable experiences.
Pilar Escribano, NORMA Ambassador in Spain