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Dream Shot - One Shot - © 1999 Galen L. Geer

“We set the hunt for September,” Doc said. “When I arrived in camp I told Alec I wanted to take the elephant with the old double rifle, using my handloads.”

An unspoken question was whether Doc’s load would be as accurate and powerful as he believed. The answer would come with the shot. First, they had to find an elephant.

“We would see elephant every day,” Doc said. “But no bulls.”

On the third day of the hunt, Doc killed a trophy leopard. It was his second leopard but it wasn’t with the double rifle and it wasn’t an elephant.

“Finally, we cut spoor,” Doc said

Strauss led Doc on a chase following the spoor, closing in on the bull that afternoon. While Doc waited in some nearby bushes, Strauss and his tracker worked their way closer to the bull to check on the ivory. When they returned, Strauss told Doc it was a symmetrical bull but the ivory would weigh only about 40 pounds. He asked if Doc wanted to take the bull. “There’s a thing about hunting in Africa. It’s a big place, and there’s lots of game but the hunting can turn hard. When you’ve got the opportunity, you have a choice. Do you take it, or wait, hoping for a bigger trophy? It’s a tough decision. You’ve flown half way around the world but is this the one you want? Nothing’s easy!”

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Doc thought over his options. He told Strauss that he would take the elephant.

“We got up and began working toward the bull,” Doc said. “When we got within 40 yards I figured it was time to take my shot. The PH offered me the shooting sticks but I shook my head. I’d planned for this shot. I wanted to do it the way the old timers did it. Offhand and with the double rifle.”

There is always the question of dreams and reality mixing in that hunter’s moment. The gun’s memories of past hunts had to make room for Doc. He raised the rifle and sighted between the barrels - waiting for the elephant to raise his massive head. When he did, and Doc could see the spot between the ear hole and the eye of the elephant, he pulled the trigger of the thunderous rifle. There was only one shot fired, it echoed the history of the big double and Doc’s dedication to precision reloading.

“The bull’s back legs folded first, then his front legs,” Doc said.

“Everything worked. Every dream I’d had about shooting an elephant came with that shot. I did it the way I wanted.”

Doc didn’t need a second shot. Years of planning, work, practice and his craftsmanship at the reloading bench paid off in a single shot from a rifle that was only a few months short of being 100 years old, loaded with ammunition he’d perfected and loaded himself. Doc Greenlee had the satisfaction of using all of his own skills to make the dream become a reality - a single shot in the Africa bush. For him, it was a measure of his own worth as a reloader, shooter and hunter. He lived up to the measure.

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African Hunter Vol.5 No.6 December 1999
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