REMEMBERING A LEGEND

By Johan Smit

In 2005 I started to shoot Bow. I was introduced to bowhunting by a friend and I immediately knew this isn’t just something I like to do; it was something that is part of who I am. Back then I was still hustling and looking for every opportunity I could get make a buck or 2. I started to do a little of bowhunting with a friend and we started out a Bowshop in Tzaneen. 1 day a stranger walked into the shop with a client and he introduced himself as Claude Kleynhans and we immediately “clicked” and he told me he is an Outfitter and hunts with clients all over. I told him if he ever needed videos or websites, he mustn’t hesitate to give me a call. I helped Claude with a few Videos and helped him with a website and he asked me if I would like to hunt a Trophy Kudu bull and Waterbuck bull. I was so excited to get the chance because before then I only shot a few duikers and bush buck. Claude said that he just wants to finish his season then after that we can go and look what we can get.

In the meantime, Claude would have long talks with me explaining how important trophy hunting is for our country and that we must always be thankful for the animals we harvest. He invested a lot of time and effort in helping me understand the values and importance of this industry. Today, I am thankful that I met Claude back then because it helps me a lot with Huntech Pro. He mentored me and awakened the love and passion for hunting inside me. Claude was not only a role model in the hunting industry to me, but to many other proud hunters around. He taught me everything I needed to know about what hunting is and how to become good at it. I will forever be grateful for all the lessons I learned through him and I’m honoured to call him my friend and mentor.

On 17 September 2014, Claude, Beulah (My Wife) and myself made our way to his one concession near Hoedspruit and we were looking for Waterbuck bulls and Kudu bulls. The bush was very thick and it was very hot. We drove around the whole day seeing plenty of bucks but not anything Claude thought was a good buck to take. At 16:45 we finally found a nice herd of Waterbuck bulls. We stalked closer and Claude said I should put the gun on the sticks, calm down and take the shot when I’m ready. I was very nervous back then being a “Rookie” but I knew I had a Legend next to me should I make a mistake. I pulled the trigger and the Waterbuck Bull fell in his tracks. It was a high shoulder shot.

My 1st trophy buck was this Waterbuck bull with Claude Kleynhans

Claude said that we must wait 1 month then we’ll come back to look for my Kudu bull. It was 11 October 2014 when we went back to his concession in Hoedspruit. The morning was cold and it was rainy and I remember Claude told me that we might not see a lot of bucks but if the clouds can lift and it may get warmer then we will definitely see the Kudu bulls. And just like Claude called it everything played out. At 13:30 the sun was out and we saw 2 Kudu Bulls standing near a dry river bed. Claude told me that I must look at the bull on the right and I must take the shot quickly because if they start running, we won’t find them easily again. I was using Claude’s 7×57 for the hunt, he told me “Johan, vat die skoot” and I pulled the trigger. I aimed behind the shoulder because the kudu was standing quartering away from us.  Claude said we must wait 30 min then we’ll go on the “spoor”. We walked through the dry river bed and when we looked over the opposite side my kudu was lying there.

My 1st Kudu bull, 54”

My dear friend passed away in 2018 on a dangerous game hunt. He loved the outdoors and always felt at home in the bush. I admired him for his outlook on life and how he lived every day to the fullest. I honour him for teaching me the fundamentals and importance of trophy hunting in our country.

Claude always had time to teach you something new

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