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

Maj. We're watching you!
We're watching you!

Both in our early twenties, Tsuro and I were incredibly fit and physically strong. Hunting was our very existence, a basic instinct. Not the kills, which had to happen anyway, but the hunting. Maybe a five or ten mile walk tracking a single lion or wounded buffalo, or an hourís jog to gain on a herd of crop-raider elephants. Uncounted thousands of kilometres in the Tsetse Corridors following the persecuted, vicious cow elephant and buffalo, working in unbelievably dense msimbiti (iron-wood) forests and jesse thickets.

Eyes, ears, and even nose, all acutely tuned by adrenalin over-doses helped the reflexes (and .458) keep us in one piece.

After hundreds of such experiences, maybe the adrenalin became my cocaine. Certainly, our life of hunting kept us as fit as Olympic athletes.

The buffalo herd had unexpectedly halted after a half mile gallop; we were in luck. They were on high alert so a very careful approach was needed using cover. Fifty yards, no more cover, so I stood up slowly next to a mopani tree. Several animals were clearly visible, and giving one a careful heart shot, I swung onto another and got off two rounds. It was down within ten seconds.

Big black and mean!
Big black and mean!

Sprint, dodge, leap, stop, shoot. Again and still again. Until I was sure a further four buffalo were down. The last one must be some kilometres from the first group of three, so we started back towards the beginning and were suddenly charged in long grass by a buffalo cow. A brain shot at four yards collapsed it instantly. It turned out this was number eight and we had not checked it properly in our rush after the herd.

Fifteen minutes later we met John and the Major at buffalo number six. All was going well and John still had an hour to get his samples to the airfield. A gang of men with tractors and trailers were coming behind collecting the carcases. It was a perfectly balmy lowveld evening, so, Tsuro and I opted to walk the few kilometres back to the Lodge.

Over dinner that evening, John gave us a resume of Foot-and-Mouth Disease, recounting that little was known about how and why it was transmitted from buffalo to cattle. To further complicate matters, there were three different known strains of the virus.

Months later, I received a note from John revealing that those samples showed the buffalo carries one strain of virus, but the anti-bodies to a different strain. This was a completely new discovery, with various implications! Maybe so, but hardly cause for disturbing what should have been a quiet Sunday afternoon!

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African Hunter Vol.5 No.1 February 1999
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