Four Paces from Death (part 04)

by david on November 29, 2012

After lunch, we decided to put some distance between the fire and us.  We drove down to and across the dry riverbed.  From there, finding the herd was not difficult.  We got lucky and spotted some tracks where the buffalo crossed the road.  After picking up the tracks, it was off on foot to try and get close enough to spot a good bull and then get to take a shot.  As I said, finding them was not hard but getting close enough for a good shot proved to be darn near impossible.  Since it was early afternoon, the herd was in the heavy cover they had chosen for their midday nap.  Their cover of choice was mopane trees because the crunching leaves would warn them of anything approaching.  Tip toeing quietly through dry mopane leaves is not easy; in fact, it is impossible.  The closest thing I can think of to describe it is to take a box of cornflakes, dump them out on the kitchen floor, and try walking through them without making any noise.  Take my word for it, it just can’t be done.  However, that is where he buffalo were and we had to try.        

      I soon learned that the mopane leaves were not the only problem I would overcome to sneak up on the buffalo.  I would have to stalk them on tiptoe while crouching down to about two thirds of my height.  For those of us that have developed a slightly wider midsection than we had in our younger years, this was a problem.  I had gotten in better shape for this hunt by exercising, walking and lifting weights.  For some strange reason however I had neglected to do any of them while on my tiptoes in a squatting position.    

      At first I tried staying in Phil’s tracks but, he was five inches taller than me and, even when tiptoeing, his strides were much longer than mine.  Next, I tried walking heel first and gently rolling my foot down, but I still made the crunching sound.  I finally achieved a small amount of success by slowly sliding the leaves out of the way with my foot before I put my weight on it.  It was difficult, and my legs and back would hurt for the rest of the trip, but, hey, I was hunting buffalo.  Needless to say, we had no luck that afternoon.

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