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Hunter's Do It on a Sunday - Richard A. N. Harland

Twinkling eyes and a wicked smile told me my protests were useless. John stood up, with the invitation, “See you for lunch at the visitors’ lodge tomorrow”.

Maj. Desfountain's men load a buffalo.
Maj. Desfountain's men load a buffalo.

The Land Rover was driven by Major Desfountain who knew the ranch well, with John a passenger. My tracker Tsuro, and I stood in the back of the vehicle with a couple of Hippo Valley cattle guards. The Major drove slowly through the bushveld, mow-ing down the long grass and weaving amongst the denser clumps of brush and big trees.

Suddenly a lone buffalo was spot-ted standing in a small thicket, and we approached slowly, my Mannlicher .458 at the ready. Something strange here; the buffalo shuffled around but did not run. At thirty paces I shot it and we found the unfortunate animal was caught by a cable snare.

Don't take chances with me!
Don't take chances with me!

John collected his samples, looked at his watch and remarked that we still had three hours to find the other nine!

“You will be damn lucky to get one more after that shot,” I reminded him. The Major seemed to think we would find one of the herds known to live in the area; I could not share his optimism. Besides, one more shot and that would be the last we would see of said herd.

Major Des was a military man and sure enough showed the troops the target within half an hour. Fifty to sixty buffalo, all sizes and sexes. John whispered to me to shoot adults only; juveniles may not have acquired carrier status of the virus! Just to be difficult.

Tsuro and I jumped off the back of the slow-moving Land Rover and I waved the Major on to distract the animals. It was an easy approach through the expanse of long grass with thickets of scrub, and without further ado I got in three shots. Reloading the magazine from my 20-round ammo belt, I ran up to the first buffalo and saw it was dying. The second was twenty yards further on, also heart-shot and dead. The third had followed the group then stopped under a tree, facing us. Not wanting to fire a shot now to frighten the rest, we stopped and watched it, and a minute later it collapsed with a bellow. This is usually a signal of the animal’s death throes, so we ran on after the herd.

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African Hunter Vol.5 No.1 February 1999
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