PSE’s Keith Hubbard and his African Adventure

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Editor’s Note: Keith Hubbard of Tucson, Arizona, owner of Arizona Hunting Adventures (520-400-8196, www.huntingarizona.com), guides for elk, coues deer, antelope, bear and javelina. Hubbard recently took his PSE bows on the hunt of a lifetime in Africa. This week, he’ll tell us why.

Keith Hubbard Takes His First African Trophy with his PSE Mach 12

Keith, why did you decide to go to Africa?
A friend of mine owns property in Botswana, Africa. He was considering starting a commercial hunting outfit, and he wanted me to come there to evaluate the hunting, the animals and the opportunity for both bowhunters and gun hunters to hunt there. For years, he’s invited me to come hunt there, and I finally decided to make the trip.

Which PSE bow did you take, and why?
On that hunt, I took two PSE Mach 12s. I had one set at 75 pounds, and the second set at 90 pounds. I’d planned to hunt the typical plains game species, like the kudu, the impala, the warthog and maybe the zebra and the wildebeest.

When you arrived at Botswana and started sighting in your bow, was the bow off?
You often have to do much of your traveling in a foreign country in a small plane. The people handling your gear do not take good care of it. When I arrived in Botswana and opened my case, my Mach 12 set at 90 pounds had a broken sight. Luckily, I’d brought a spare sight. I put the new sight on the bow and set my yard pins. I hadn’t planned to shoot that bow very much, but I’ve learned over the years that you should carry two bows and spare parts on major hunts to save yourself heartache.

What animal did you try to take first?
The first day we decided to hunt impala. I had hoped that we could hunt from the ground and take an impala using hunt and stalk tactics, which is the hunting technique I like the best. We found a nice sized impala in the rut that was making a lot of noise on top of a hill. This ram was walking a ridgeline and moving through the trees looking for females. We got in front of him and waited for him to come out of the brush. The impala finally came out, and I ranged him at 15 yards. I was so excited that when I took the shot, I completely missed. I was bummed out after missing that shot, because I’d ordinarily make this shot. I’d shot low, and the arrow went right under the impala. Since he wasn’t startled, I had time to settle down, nock another arrow and take the impala. The Mach 12 delivered my first African trophy; a nice sized ram. I was very proud.

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Keith Hubbard Takes His Second Impala with his PSE Mach 12

Keith, what did you do on day 2 of your African hunt?
Fifteen miles of river make up the border of my friend’s property in Botswana. But these rivers don’t contain much water, so my friend has to pump water to fill up dirt tanks to provide enough water for the animals on his land. However, late in the evening, elephants will come to the tanks and drink all the water out of them. There are tons of elephants in this area. Earlier we’d seen numbers of animals moving in this one drainage on trail cameras. We put out a game camera in the morning at a spot with a natural blind. When we returned to the watering hole after lunch, we couldn’t believe the number of animals we saw. We didn’t even check the game camera until nighttime. We could see the animals as they arrived. I was still hunting an impala, but if there were any other animals coming in, the professional hunter would be able to see them and let me know what type of animals were coming to the watering hole.

Most of the time, a professional hunter would sit in the blind with his client. But on this day, we split up, and he sat on top of the hill, less than 100 yards away from me. In a very short time, he radioed to me that animals were coming in to the watering hole, including a large number of impalas. When the animals reached the watering hole, one big, male impala was chasing does. I easily could tell that he was the most dominant animal in his herd. When he was at 18 yards, I took the shot with my PSE Mach 12. He only ran less than 20 yards before he piled up. The impala I took on the first day was a nice sized buck, but this impala I had taken on the second day was much bigger. One of the lessons I’ve learned about bowhunting in Africa is that to take a trophy animal, don’t be in a hurry to shoot. When you’re there, look at the animals, decide what size animal you want to take, and listen to your professional hunter, because he makes a living knowing about the animals, the types and the sizes, on his property and putting bowhunters in a position to take more quality animals.

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A Trophy Sized Kudu and the PSE Mach 12 with Keith Hubbard

Keith, what happened on day 3 of your African hunt?
On the second day, we saw a good number of kudus in the area where I took my impala. On the third day, I asked my professional hunter if we could return to that same place and hunt kudus. He explained that although a little water was there, the elephants would hog the water after they stomped up the ground and cause water to seep to the surface. Once the water came out of the ground, the elephants usually drank it up. Due to not much water being left for the other animals, usually a big concentration of kudus or other animals weren’t on that section of land. We decided to go into the region and check it out anyway. As we were driving there, we spotted a good number of kudus, so we returned to camp and found a tree stand and some netting. When I set up the tree stand and tried to get into it, I realized that the tree stand wasn’t secure enough for me to feel safe. We built a ground blind for the evening hunt instead. That afternoon, we started seeing large numbers of kudus, and one was particularly large. However, the kudus kept hanging up just out of range. The kudus would come in to water, and then a herd of elephants would show up and run them off and scare other animals. One female elephant kept running off a number of young bulls. I don’t know whether the elephants were breeding or not, but there was a lot of elephant activity where we hunted. My professional hunter told me that if the wind changed direction, and the elephants got our scent, we’d have to get out of there fast.

Finally, the elephants walked off, and this huge kudu came in to the water. My shot presented itself when the kudu was standing at 35 yards right beside the water. He had birds on his back, and we were enjoying videoing him. Finally, I decided to take the shot. I drew my PSE Mach 12, but something happened. I think perhaps I sighted in on the wrong pin. My arrow went straight into the dirt, the kudu ran off, and I was disgusted with myself, because I’d completely screwed up the shot. I tried to regroup, get my emotions under control and search for more animals. We spotted a herd of kudus coming toward the water a few minutes after my ill-fated shot, but the elephants were returning too. They had smelled us, and we had to get up and get out of there. So, I didn’t have an opportunity to shoot at a second kudu. But the adventure of the elephants and the kudu made for a great hunt, even if I didn’t take an animal. I’d advise any bowhunter to go to Africa, since even if you don’t get a shot or you miss an animal, you get to see a number of animals and have exciting adventures that will last a lifetime. There’s nowhere else on earth with such a target rich environment and an added danger factor.

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Stuck between a Zebra and a Kudu with PSE’s Keith Hubbard

Keith, tell us about day 4 of your African adventure.
We returned to the same place where I had missed the kudu the previous day. As we hiked in, we could hear elephants all around us. We walked to the watering hole. A butan elephant decided he didn’t like us being there and started chasing us. The elephant got to within 100 yards of us on a dead run, and we ran as fast as we could to reach the truck and then got out of that area as fast as possible. I knew my professional hunter wasn’t nearly as frightened as I was, but I could imagine myself being ground up under the hooves of the herd of elephants. That fear added some speed to my step and strength to my muscles. While we were in the truck driving to a new hunting site to get away from the elephants, my professional hunter told me that he had had to shoot a rogue elephant a couple of weeks earlier. He was glad he didn’t have to shoot any of these elephants that had zeroed in on us. After we got away from the elephants, we returned to the tank where I’d shot one of my impalas. A friend of mine who was hunting with me decided to sit on the hill above the tank and look for animals as they came into the water. The professional hunter sat in the blind with me near the water tank. Over the radio, I heard my buddy on top of the hill say that there was an incredibly large zebra coming in towards us. When I decided to go to Africa, zebras weren’t on my want list. But after seeing how cunning and sharp those animals were, I had changed my mind about hunting one. When I saw the zebra, he was almost black with very little white on him. I spotted him first at 150 yards with my binoculars, and my professional hunter said that the zebras usually were the last animals to come into the water. The other animals would come first, and the zebra would watch those animals from afar, until he determined that the watering hole was safe for him. Plenty of other animals were around the watering hole for us to watch and admire while we waited on the zebra to show up. The zebra moved super slowly, and my professional hunter told me that the zebra might not arrive at the watering hole before dark.

About six other zebra were with the big black stallion, and he was definitely the largest animal. The professional hunter said that the black stallion was probably the only male in the herd. Then my buddy on top of the hill called on the radio and said, “The black stallion is coming in at a pretty steady step, so I think you’ll get a shot at him before dark.” I got really excited, but when I looked over my shoulder, I saw a huge kudu at the tank within range. I couldn’t believe it. My professional hunter said, “Listen, this is a huge kudu.” I whispered back, “I know, and there’s a big zebra coming in too.” He said, “You can’t shoot both of them, so decide which one you want, but I think you should take that kudu.” I finally nocked an arrow and ranged the kudu that remained stationary drinking the water for what seemed like forever at 35 yards. Finally, the kudu backed up and turned broadside, and I took the shot. The kudu took the arrow and ran up the hill toward my buddy. We trailed him, and even though I made a good hit, I had to put a second arrow in him. He was a monster kudu at 54 inches, but I don’t know his total score.

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PSE’s Keith Hubbard Takes His Trophy African Warthog

What did you hunt on day 5?
I wanted to shoot a wildebeest or a warthog, and since we’d seen a number of animals at this watering hole, we decided to return to that spot on the fifth day and look for a warthog or a wildebeest. However, for the four days we’d hunted, we’d only seen one warthog, and it wasn’t very big. The area was under severe drought conditions, and my professional hunter told me that the warthogs weren’t surviving very well. He said my chances of taking a warthog would be extremely slim. As we sat in the blind, I had more or less decided to take a wildebeest. Even though we saw a good number of wildebeest, none of them would come close enough for a shot. Off in the distance, we heard the elephants coming again, and the animals around the watering hole became really spooky. I looked off into the trees and saw this warthog trotting to the watering hole. My professional hunter said that this was a trophy warthog and the biggest one he’d seen on the property. My professional hunter told me to get ready to take the shot. So, I came to full draw and concentrated on making sure I picked the right pin and put it on the spot I wanted to hit on the warthog. But I didn’t realize when I took the shot that the cam had rolled back on the top of the bow. I moved the bow up too close to the top of the blind. When I released the arrow, the cam hit the top of the blind, my bow jumped out of my hand, and the arrows in the quiver went everywhere.

In spite of my mess up, the PSE Mach 12 took the arrow right through the shoulder of the warthog at 18 yards. The professional hunter said that I had a good hit on the hog and suggested waiting a little before we started trailing. We waited 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Once we started tracking the hog, we didn’t see much blood, but we heard cattle and some elephants coming. We started tracking quickly, because the professional hunter said that if the elephants and the cattle came in, they’d destroy the blood trail. I used my binoculars to see the hog, and it was bedded down. Then we moved in for a closer shot but had to back out not wanting a problem with the elephants. We once more waited about another 1 1/2 hours. This time we found the very big, but dead, warthog bedded up against a tree. He was the best trophy I took while I was in Africa. I was invited to stay longer and take more animals, but I decided not to wear out my welcome. I was pleased with the animals I’d taken. Also, all the animals I took were given to people for food, since my friend and his wife provided food to the people who lived in that section of
Africa. I was glad that the people who needed the animals I’d shot with my bow could be able to eat and enjoy them. I brought my trophies home.

Africa is a bowhunter’s dream, because the game is plentiful. African bowhunting is a different type of hunt than you experience in this country. Not only are there plenty of animals to see every day, but you also don’t know what types of animals will come in each day. Botswana’s an extremely target rich environment, and the region we hunted had no fences. So, we hunted free range animals. If you ever get a chance to travel and hunt in Africa, go. You’ll never forget it, and you’ll always want to return.

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