Caprivi Strip, 2014 Part 17

by david on April 23, 2015

“Never empty your gun”

The words, “never empty your gun” came to mind and were immediately followed by “reload, reload, and reload”. My hand dropped to my belt and I pulled two of the finger-sized cartridges from my belt. A second later, they joined the one already in the rifle.

One more shot, breaking the shoulder and going through the heart, and my hunt was over. A hunt that took more than a year of planning was over in 8-10 seconds. Once again, my body was full of adrenaline (felt like five times more than before), and once again it was all rushing away. Fatigue slammed into me with the force I imagine the giant in front of me could have inflicted only seconds before. I walked away a few steps and sat down on a log. I hated to set my rifle down, but I felt suddenly very heavy. I laid it against the log beside me and tried to breathe normally again.

A million and one things started running through my mind. I have read of shaky hands after your first elephant so I decided to check mine. Steady. My thoughts then proceeded to bounce all over the place, stopping for only a second or so before moving on to another. They ran the gambit from rifle practice sessions, to being aware I needed to find my spent brass, to my shot placement, to ‘I’ve just killed an elephant’! I was happy, and then I was saddened the hunt over. I couldn’t wait to do it all over again. For some reason, I looked at my watch and noted it was 4:00 PM. We had been chasing this elephant for almost nine hours. I would learn later that the distance covered was about twelve miles.

Dang, I was tired and my feet hurt. As I sat there reflecting over the last few minutes, I must admit to a certain sense of satisfaction. I had completed a task I set for myself. I had stood my ground and not trembled with fear when faced by such a large opponent. I had even pulled off the most notoriously tricky shot in African hunting, the frontal brain shot. All was good, at least at that one little moment in time.

To this day I have no idea what the other five members of our group was doing in the brief moments between pulling the trigger and my finally getting off the log to have a closer look at my prize. When my senses returned fully, I noticed everyone was grinning from ear to ear. I was unsure if they were happy that the day was over, that the hunt was successful, or that I had shot well and no one got stomped. Maybe it was all three as once. It dawned on me that all three were very valid reasons to celebrate. I realized suddenly that I was missing out on the celebration of my hunt. I made my way over and joined the group for some handshaking and to thank the members of my group for their help in the completion of my quest.

Johann headed back to the truck and then on to camp to pick up the girls for some pictures. Pictures had not even crossed my mind yet. My camera was still in the truck so they would have to wait. I returned to my log for to wait for their arrival thankful for a bit of quiet so I can take everything in and make the memories more vivid. Memories and pictures will be all I can take from this hunt as it is an “own use” hunt and the villages get everything. I remember lots of small talk and someone handing me a bottle with the last two sips of water in it. Those sips were better than the finest Champaign as a fitting toast to the hunt. The girls arrived quicker than I thought as we had tacked the elephant fairly close to camp. Close enough the girls had actually heard my shot and had wondered if it was me. Janice looked at me with a sense of relief that I was still in one piece and had not been stomped by an angry wounded elephant. She then looked at the downed elephant with a sense of remorse at the giant animal now reduced to a pile of skin, bones, and flesh. I am sure I felt something similar. We both had the knowledge that this animal will feed three villages for some four to six weeks and nothing will go to waste. I, perhaps more so than she saw the greater good in hunting and killing such a magnificent animal. Africa is still a continent starving for protein and this elephant will go a long way in alleviating hunger for the three villages it is destined to end up in.

With pictures aplenty all that is left for tomorrow is to butcher and deliver the meat. Tonight we celebrate and relive the day again, again, and again.

 

 The gang is all here.  From L-R,  Ranger Hombrek, yours truly, Patrick, Mr.  "Lets Go" Angel, and seated is Shona Hunting Head Tracker Johnas. The gang is all here. From L-R, Ranger Hombrek, yours truly, Patrick, Mr. “Lets Go” Angel, and seated is Shona Hunting Head Tracker Johnas.

 

My very, very good friend Mr. Shona Hunting Adventures himself, Johann Veldsman My very, very good friend Mr. Shona Hunting Adventures himself, Johann Veldsman

 

The third member of our trio Zambezi East’s Byron Hart. The third member of our trio Zambezi East’s Byron Hart.

 

Some quiet reflection time before heading in for the day.  Some quiet reflection time before heading in for the day.

 

To my knowledge this was Johnas' first elephant.  He did an excellent job.  To my knowledge this was Johnas’ first elephant. He did an excellent job.

Monday: Buffalo? ?/ Open Air Meat Processing

 

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