KAROO GREAT PLAINS GAMES: NORTH VS SOUTH
Mount Melsetter is home to Great Karoo Safaris, and advertises itself as Plains Game Outfitters. Plains Game are soft-skinned antelope and gazelles. Each year, over a number of years, Mount Melsetter has hosted two groups of hunters. The glue that keeps these two groups together is that they all went to the same school together – The Grey, Port Elizabeth, in the South, and Pretoria Boys High School, in the North. Not only do they come to hunt, but also to reconnect with each other and have fun.
The groups have never met each other, but each have heard of the other group, and their prowess in hunting. In 2013 the Grey Boys started a tradition by writing a poem in our Visitors’ Book to the Pretoria Boys, to which the Pretoria Boys were moved to reply. Since then, they have continued to write to each other, via the Visitors’ Book, bringing in something that they may have heard about their opponents’ hunt.
The Pretoria Boys are about 10 years older than the Grey boys; their emphasis is perhaps more on the après-hunt, while the Grey Boys are probably more serious about their hunting. Have a read through the past five years’ poetry:
We walked, we laughed
We ran, we drank
It’s Mike and Candy, we must thank
A great time was had by the magnificent seven.
To the Pretoria Boys:
You gave the nation John*,
The rest seems a bit of a con
We laid 4 gnus to rest
We challenge you to beat the best!
*John Smit, Springbok Rugby Captain
Here we meet, as before
(Every year since ’94)
The Boys High Boys have shown their SALT
By bagging buck – despite the MALT
Melsetter Mount has served again
To tightly bind our souls as men
‘Tis here – and now – we do acquire
The SPIRIT to which the Grey Boys do aspire.
A coolbox of beer and box of ice cheer
We ragged and we joked
Some cheroot we smoked
Remembering memories of long time ago
Some boyhood agility we may have let go
But experience and wisdom we did not have then
Have come in its place and we’re nearly men
The game that we hunted and stalked with our crew
Is the reason we come here!
Pretoria Boys remember
We are younger than you!
Assembled again from afar and asunder
Melsetter Plains were made to thunder
Youngsters all in bodies of men
The Boys High Boys are here again!
Tales will be told until we are old
Of Babies, of Bokkies with DAMARA tags,
Finding their way into Hunters Bags.
To the youngsters from Grey:
All we can say is THE MEASURE OF MEN Is not what’s to come
But what has been done!!
Thanks to Mike of Melsetter and its stories of kills
To Candy for sustenance and remarkable culinary skills
We visit the Karoo as we visit our past
The more often we remember the taller shadows we had cast
New adventures we’ve had
And opportunities we took what we could
Unlike the visitors we shot what we should
If the measure of life is what is already achieved
The fact that the Grey again beats Boys High leaves us much relieved!
Again assembled in the cold
The Boys High men but NOT SO OLD!
Stories were heard of those who sashay-
To neighbouring farms, there to shoot*.
Could these be the lads from Grey?
Thinking that another’s buck they could loot
Fun was had –from the Saddlebum Straddle
To more painful Mike and Warrie – waddle
Then this we must right now declare
In 2016 we return, for fine food fare
And to make the fields ring again and again
WITH THE TRAMP OF THE OF THE BOYS HIGH MEN.
*During the previous Grey Boys hunt, one of them crossed one of our boundary fences into the neighbour’s farm, hence the lines in this poem. Our bar area is called The Saddlebum, where a couple of saddles are placed on some wooden rafters. These are often climbed onto in the early hours of the morning! Warrie is one of our horsemen who fell off his horse while springbuck hunting.
To Candy and Mike, Hosts Extraodinaire
Thanks for meals delightful and the cold beer
A time for us Grey Boys to remember and reflect
On Great times in the past and new Grey hairs to detect
Our bodies are painful, but our minds are alive
Because of this bond, we don’t merely live….but thrive!
Pretoria Boys……Welcome to the East Cape
Once a year only, but well worth the wait
Pathology. Urology….Radiology too
Are important skills within your crew
These remarkable professions will help you at home
But here they can’t tell you where the antelope roam.
Arrived at Melsetter to find sewerage in disarray*
Thanks to the excessive bowel moves of the Grey.
But lets not fret, the comfort and cuisine were as usual fine,
Especially combined with music and wine.
A shock to the system for Rob newly ordained
When witnessing Oom Rohr** by Hot Lips being maimed,
As he was pulled off his mount on the bar wall
And bore down on the culprit in wide-eyed appal.
Now to the matter of the springbok hunt……..
We must be polite and give our Grey friends a punt
To our tally of 19 they added their one, makes twenty
Thanks to all old boys for a combined bag of plenty!
*When the Pretoria Boys came this time, we were in the process of sorting out our sewerage lines, separating the grey water from the sewerage water. During the previous Grey Boys hunt, they were very successful with their Walk and Stalk hunting, but during their Springbuck hunt, only managed to shoot one springbuck.
** Very sadly, one the very special Pretoria Boys died of a heart attack while out cycling the previous year. This was an enormous loss to all who knew him. He was affectionately known as Oom Rohr. This Grey Boys Hunt was part of a celebration of their having left school 30 years before. Two of their group flew in from Australia, one being the poet for the poem, and another from the USA.
Tria Juncta in Uno, Virtute et Labore,
Values we are proud to share –
About the Springbuck hunt, do not despair
Thirty times since, we’ve circled the sun
We had finished, but barely begun.
We came to Melsetter to laugh, reconnect and reflect
To your Oom Rohr we offer our respect
Though PBH is a new school, you are a lot older
We are now all of The Grey and inconveniently bolder
Springbuck in the valley, who’s keeping count
We toiled with a Gemsbok on top of the Mount
Cricket we played as if we were young
And then drank a toast to the setting sun
From the four corners of the world we came
I’m sure for you it was the same.
Shoot true and shoot straight
For a year is certainly a long time to wait.
The Boys High Boys have raised the bar,
Brought their boykies from afar*;
So it seems that Schoombee Station,
Will yet resound to another generation!
To our brethren boys from Grey
(Some may ask who are they?)
We braved the cold and bagged our buck;
We held our own, as in the ruck.
But all we say is just in jest-
This light heart rivalry is quite the best!
*The Pretoria Boys came with three sons this time.
We’ll look forward to the prose of upcoming years as these two groups continue to return to Mount Melsetter for their annual reunions!