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Return of the 4-bore Part Two - John Millar

After a few minutes on the bulls’ tracks, Campbell whispered to check that I was loaded and on safe and fall in tight behind Pete, a quick glance back showed me that John, the Game Dept Scout and Tracy, the one girl film crew, had already fallen back about 75 yards. While those remaining at the front had all assumed a queer bent over position - I did the same just to fit in. Each step along the path took us closer and closer to the full crawl position which was to be the mode of travel for the next couple of hundred yards. This position of the stalk must have consumed at least 45 minutes and one of the highlights for me was running a one and half inch thorn into my front paw. I don’t think anybody saw this performance, luckily it happened just as one of the stop, don’t move, or even blink signals had been sent out. Besides if anyone had noticed that strange wide eyed look that swept over my face they would have only thought “Oh he’s just excited - that’s good - he’s getting his money’s worth!” The good thing is the guy that made those thorns left a little handle on the end to pull them out with. The further we manoeuvred along the trail the more to the rear the rest of the party retreated till Pete and I were alone crouched in some thorn bushes, could we be that near that the rest knew something I didn’t. And then Pete asked those most stressful of questions: Can you make out the big one on the left? And do you think you can take him from here? The word “no” came to my mind immediately, as of that precise moment I hadn’t even seen the one on the “right” so how in hell would I have seen the big one on the left!?

And to answer the second part of this question - I was half sitting on one cheek of my ass crouched down straining to see through a thorn bush holding a 24 lb rifle that produced hundreds of foot lbs of recoil at my end. Not the ideal position to be asked such a question. But as they say, “everything comes to those who wait” so I guess those two and half seconds that I was choking back the “no” words were spent wisely. Mr Big Black Buffalo on the right and his Bigger Blacker Brother on the left made their move, they rushed from behind their hiding place at full buffalo gallop across in front of us left to right. Now I was with the programme and on my hind legs trying to get clear of as many of these bushes as possible to swing the gun up and at least be able to say I had a bull in my sight, it was at this most opportune of moments actually clear of thorns with the rifle up and cocked and swinging in a left to right direction that the pair actually halted to change course. They were a fraction of a second off from showing us their other ends when I felt that familiar push on my shoulder. My brain recentred itself in my head just in time to hear Pete say “reload” and see Campbell running to the right and a warthog family rushing right through our midst. I was now running beside Campbell as it was obvious he knew where to head. From his vantage point off to the right of the smoke and noise, he had had a clear view of the buffalo bull at the moment I had fired. As we slowed our advance a little, Campbell uttered those words that every Safari client longs to hear, “Good hit!, he’ll be right here, he won’t go far after that”. There he was! He had done the classic buffalo manoeuvre-run down wind and lay in wait watching his back trail. But the big lead slug had taken its toll, he had only gone about 60 yards and was down on his haunches. We approached from the side and the second slug sent this magnificent animal in the history books.

Article continues below.

The first Cape Buffalo taken in Matetsi area in Zimbabwe in a long, long while with a 4-Bore Double Rifle. While the site was being readied for the all important photo shoot and the vehicle brought in to retrieve the prize. We gave the bull a close inspection; the first shot had gone in well back in the ribs as he was angling away at the moment of impact, but had done a very good job of penetrating the full distance through all the vital parts and was still in there. The second round entered squarely through the shoulder and was also still in there! A walk down the back trail made it very clear that the second shot would not have been needed. The one inch bullet left a huge open wound channel and the big guy was out of juice even before the 60 yard distance had been covered. Pete and Campbell both agreed they had never seen a buffalo lose so much blood so quickly. Everyone was glad to have been there that day and had the opportunity to slip back into the pages of one of those books we had all read of the olden days and the big doubles.

Back at the butchery, both slugs were retrieved in perfect condition: The first had broken ribs, traversed the whole lung and heart area hitting the opposite side lower shoulder bones and stopped under the hide; The second broke bone passing through the first shoulder through the lungs and was lodged in the off shoulder ball socket.

.465 solids recovered from an elephant and 4-bore hard lead alloy solids recovered from a buffalo.
.465 solids recovered from an elephant and 4-bore hard lead alloy solids recovered from a buffalo.

After a quick lunch, we were back on the elephant’s tracks. But now the P.H.’s seemed a little less apprehensive with this gun and hunter combo. They mentioned that “now we can get in close and really check out their teeth!”. I wondered how much closer! They looked pretty big and awfully close the other day. I would find out in the remaining days (close means just that when you hunt elephant!). We had already done and accomplished so much and still had 13 more sunrises and sunsets to enjoy the African bush in-between. This is a story about the Big Double Rifle and the hunt for Gums, the elephant - which did go on right till after sundown on our last day. At which time two big bulls walked out from the herd of about 50, and did battle in the glowing twilight. This may sound like a bit of writer’s exaggeration - it’s not so. When the light completely failed us, we could still hear the ivory’s clacking before we started the Land Cruiser to back away and leave them undisturbed. On the last evening, Pete seemed to be trying to console me with the fact that there would not be a Dad and Daughter and 4-bore elephant photo in the album. I was quick to tell him that there would be several hundred other wonderful pictures and memories - including the buffalo, a super kudu, a very nice zebra and an impala. The next morning as the sun’s first light hit the strip - the Cesna left the ground below effortlessly in the cool morning air. I twisted around in my seat to look at Tracy wedged in between the gun cases and hunting gear. A big smile came across her face - neither of us said anything, but I know the same thought had formed in our heads. “We had done it. We had hunted the elephant”.

Go to Page: 1 2 3 Related Articles: Return of the 4 Bore part 1
African Hunter Vol.5 No.5 October 1999
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