Safari 2018 #49 A Waiting Game

by david on October 9, 2019

From our location we can see the tops of the heads of the largest two or three elephants moving in the reeds. Johann asked if I still want to hunt an elephant and a “hell yes” escaped my lips before I had time to think about it.  “But” … I want to call Byron and Peter to see if they could possibly get there in time for Peter to have a shot at the elephant. Before we could contact them, we had to get into a position for me to take the elephant if they couldn’t get here in time.  We parked the truck, grabbed the rifles, shooting sticks, water, and radios, and bailed out, heading towards the herd. Our objective was a small hill with enough trees on it to provide some shade while we waited. The hill’s elevation allowed us to look slightly down on the elephants.  The elephants were milling about feeding, sanding themselves and generally not going anywhere. The call was made and Byron and Peter are on their way. They were at least an hour away, and I needed to stay in position and ready to shoot, should the elephants start to move out before they get here.  We had an obligation to shoot at least one for the festival and could not afford to miss this opportunity. Thousands of people would be arriving that Friday night and Saturday. Without the meat the elephant would provide, many would go hungry and I did not want that to happen. It was a nerve-racking as well as a relaxing wait.  The anticipation kept my nerves on edge, but not having to physically exert ourselves and waiting in the shade is hard to beat. The animals were feeding our way and were expected to pass right in front of us. This should allow time for a well-placed first shot. The first shot on any game, but especially dangerous game, is all important.  It must not be rushed and it must be on target. Elephants are very deadly and account for a number of human lives each year. They are number three on the African deadly animal list, just behind crocodiles and hippos. They drop to number four if you count Africa’s most deadly, the mosquito, as its number one. I was ready, rested, and mostly calm.  I think it is impossible to remain completely calm knowing the task I had set for myself. Part of me was hoping Peter would not make it in time and I would have to shoot the elephant for the festival, but part of me hoped he would make it. Everyone who wants to hunt elephant and goes to the time and expense to come to Africa to hunt elephant should have the opportunity to do so.  I have taken an elephant before and Peter has not. He is also older than I, and may choose not to return to hunt jumbo. I am sure I’ll make other opportunities for myself, but that day would be Peter’s turn. The elephant decided to cooperate and milled around for the better part of an hour, giving Peter time to get to us.

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