Caprivi Strip, 2014 Part 16

by david on April 22, 2015

Let’s go, let’s go.

Over the afternoon we got close 3-4 more times, with the herd having the uncanny ability to move off just as we figured out where the old guy is and came up with a plan to get me into position. Each time they moved off, we followed, and so it goes all afternoon. Each time as we caught up with the herd, we discovered a few more of the group had gone their separate ways. Yet somehow we always managed to find the group with my “old guy” in it.

It was hot — about 90° — and I was dehydrated. Despite drinking over 4 liters of water since lunch, I had sweated it all out. I felt cooked and all but ready to give up for the day. Just microseconds before, I announced my decision. There was Angel’s voice saying “let’s go, let’s go” exactly the same as I had heard it way too many times during the day, and my legs followed before my brain could tell them not to. I decided to concentrate on putting one foot in front of the other and keeping up with the group. Thankfully, the wind shifted and we had the opportunity to get in front of the group and wait for them to come to us. Hopefully, just hopefully, my “old guy” would be in a position for me to get a shot off. We moved on to the edge of a fairly open pan with several larger trees in it just as the herd of elephant moved out of the thick stuff on the other side. Just as they moved into view, everyone grinned at the same time. Lo and behold, there was my “old guy”.

Byron moved me to the front and I rested my .416 against a tree limb to aid my aching shoulders in keeping it steady. I saw my elephant through my sights but his head is on the other side of a bushy tree, offering me no shot. He took a few more steps and started to offer me a side brain shot and it looked like everything was coming together.

A side brain shot was what I wanted as it is easy to line up and make – unlike the frontal shot where the sight picture changes with every move of the head. Byron whispered that he thought the elephant was going to keep walking and not stop. That would require me to hit a moving target. This is something I am not overly comfortable with, but I can do it if the situation arises. Byron said he could stop him, and then he said “hey, hey!” in a loud voice. Well, he succeeded in stopping the elephant, but before the elephant stopped he turned and stared straight at us, offering only a frontal brain shot.

I had about three seconds to make up my mind if I could make and actually take the shot. I pictured where his brain was inside that massive skull and lined up my rifle for the shot. Everything looked good and the .416 Rigby shattered the silence. I never heard the gun go off. I watched the elephant’s head fly up and back at the same moment his back legs collapsed. The front legs collapsed a half second later. I remember working the bolt and putting another round into the chamber just in case the giant got up. I remember Johann grabbing me by the shirt and yanking me towards the elephant. I turned and watched him mouth the word “insurance”, but I never heard anything. He pulled me the 21 steps to the elephant and in those steps somehow my senses started to return. I put in the first insurance shot a few inches from where my first bullet hit. I worked the action and realized I only had one round left in the rifle.

Friday: Never empty your gun




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