Yes, even getting out of bed at some ungodly hour was small penance to pay. Everything was set, so off I went to meet up with Don and Kevin. (A brief notation is necessary here. Names have been deliberately shortened or changed altogether. This has been done to protect the innocent. Innocent writers from the threat of libel suits, that is. I could even claim that any resemblance to any human beings is purely coincidental. This is not too far from the truth.) Off I went to the pre-arranged meeting place, as an early start was necessary to meet the Bulawayo contingent, Dave and Barry.
(See notation above. The necessity for this will become clear later). No-one there. Somehow, this did not surprise me as much as I felt it should have.
I waited and waited, and eventually trundled off to Don's place. There he and Kevin were, arms deep in the lower gastro-intestinal tract of Don's Land-Cruiser. I might add that this was the “Transport to the hunting camp” Cruiser. The “Ideal vehicle for the poor roads there” Cruiser. The “Don't anyone bother taking any other vehicle, the Cruiser will do it all” Cruiser. It wouldn't start, despite having its innards strewn all over the driveway and being wired up to every battery within reach (penlights included). It was when Don started eyeing out the overhead mains cable with a contemplative expression that Kevin and I hastily persuaded him that it would be better to leave it there and go in my battered old pick-up instead. We crammed the kit in the back, ourselves in the front and got off to an extremely belated start.
We met a somewhat indignant Bulawayo contingent at the Battlefields camp, who had already unpacked their kit (and eaten most of the lunchtime sandwiches). Nevertheless, we set off after hasty consumption of the sambos that they didn't want. (You know the sort - sandwiches that no-one will eat at the cocktail party, despite every other edible morsel having been consumed two hours ago. The sort that the bringer is too embarrassed to reclaim once its all over. The sort that even the dog disdains to eat, once you have smuggled them out of said party at the dead of night after waiting for three hours after the last person has left to be absolutely certain that no-one will see you. Yes. That sort.) Finally we were off on the first afternoon of our hunt, with hearts singing. I don't know about the others, but my heart seemed to be singing some obscure AC/DC number with a lot of bass. This was probably due to acute indigestion, more than anything else. (See sandwiches, eating and complaining about, for the use of, para.4, earlier).
This somewhat inauspicious start soon got onto an extremely auspicious footing when Don managed to bag a mentally defective, near record book Kudu bull at about 30 metres with his open sighted 7mmx57 Brno rifle. It was in the middle of some extremely thick thorn scrub, but Don hadn't dropped it too far from the road, so we weren't completely shredded after recovering it and loading it into Barry's pick-up. Just mostly. (Barry hadn't envisaged using his nice new pick-up for serious bush work and carcass recovery, but we soon put him right on that one. A half brick reinforced our point, once or twice. Oh, all right, five times). A fine trophy, and good shooting with open sights in thick bush (where they come into their own).
Dave later bagged a nice impala with his semi-auto FN rifle. How, I don't know. Dave is a keen service rifle shot, and is thus most familiar with his 7.62mm (.308) FN. No, he didn't unleash a fusillade of semi-automatic fire. Dave in fact conducted himself as a sportsman throughout. He was also safe when handling his rifle, as evidenced by its detached magazine and working parts to the rear, which is how things work on the range. HOWEVER, we were in the field, and when the impala were spotted quite nearby and it was Dave's turn to shoot, he had to make ready. CLICK-CLACK went the magazine. KA-CHUNK went the working parts as he cocked it. There were now only little puffs of dust where the impala had stood, and a series of rapidly disappearing rear ends heading off at speed into the sub-region. Nonetheless, Dave managed a fine stalk on a thoroughly spooked quarry, and emerged victorious. A fine time was had by all that night, with much Weidmanssheiling (that's Hunter's Toasting to you, and no, it isn't done with toast, but with copious quantities of alcohol). There was also much catching up to do with our Bulawayo friends, wrongs to right and all the world's problems to resolve. We did it, too, but I'm blowed if I can remember any of the solutions. Funny thing, neither can any of the others. Anyhow, a fine time was had by all (as previously noted).