Caprivi Strip, 2014 Part 13

by david on April 15, 2015

Close enough to hear the elephants breathe

After lunch, the tension between Byron’s staff was obvious, but they started working as a team rather than as individuals. We soon found elephant tracks, and within four or five miles we found the elephants.   Johann and Byron had a quick conference and they formulated a plan to get us in close enough to see if any of the elephant in the herd met my criteria for my elephant.  The elephant were feeding peacefully and we had no problem getting in close.  We needed to be close because the cover was once again very thick.  I’ve said it before but it still amazes me how something so big can blend in and momentarily disappear in the thick bushveld.  There was a likely candidate in the herd, but there was also a mother with a very young calf.  The calf’s mother could be big trouble if she caught our scent.  She more than likely would stomp and smash first before asking any questions.   The wind was fairly steady and we decided to go for it.  We got in close, very close.  Close enough that one point we had elephants on three sides of us.  No matter how we approached, we could not get a clear look at the one elephant that might fit the bill for my hunt.  We moved in and out three or four times, to no avail.  If we had gotten any closer the wind would have carried our scent straight to big mama and no one wanted that.  We kept at it until the shooting light was all but gone.  I have to say I was greatly relieved when the decision was made to call the hunt and back off of the herd.  Even though I was becoming more comfortable around these huge beasts, the thought of being in the middle of a herd of wild elephants in the dark was quite disconcerting.  With no small effort on our part, we snuck out of the herd without them ever figuring out we were there.

We still had a few miles to go to get back to the truck when I suffered a minor tragedy.  The boots I was wearing, one of my favorite pairs started coming apart.  They were 10 years old, well broken in, comfortable and, as it became exceedingly evident, worn completely out.  The soles started coming loose from the uppers.  It started slowly at first with just the toes coming loose.  I tried picking up and putting down my feet very carefully but soon discovered that was not working.  Every few hundred yards, another inch or so would let go.  Pretty soon the soles were loosened all the way to my arch.  I had to stop and do something about the situation or I would be walking home barefoot in the dark.  Luckily, I was able to find two rubber bands in my first aid kit (the old Boy Scout motto of “be prepared” has served me well in life) and I could limp on back home without further ado.

The ride back was a quiet one.  Even though we were all tired and slightly disappointed at not getting an elephant, we had found them and got in amongst them.  The guys had worked as a team and things were coming together.  We were bouncing our way home in the Landcruiser and had just entered a small clearing when Byron slammed on the breaks.  After I picked myself back up, I discovered why.  A gigantic bull had just walked out in front of us.  His tusks were very small. Since he was more than full-grown, his genetically inferior ivory made him qualify for an “own use animal”.  Byron was considering going after him when I mentioned it was too dark. Since I could not see through my peep sight very well in the dark, it was probably better if we just let him go.  Byron just grinned at me and we continued on our way back to camp.

It was past sundown but I was sure some sundowners would be waiting for us by the fire when we got back.  I was not disappointed.


While not the elephant we saw that evening this mature animal's small tusk would make it a candidate for an "own use" animal. While not the elephant we saw that evening this mature animal’s small tusk would make it a candidate for an “own use” animal.


Friday: The Dance


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