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Ivory - Gold at the End of the Hunter's Rainbow - Richard Harland

Tim and Pieter Henning were highly successful on the first day: an elephant bull carrying 73 and 55 pounds of ivory, followed by a good buffalo! Victor and I covered a lot of territory, looked over several herds of elephant and crossed plenty of buffalo sign. We had decided to leave the buffalo, concerned that shots may disturb any elephant bulls which might be in the area.

Trophy tusks.

Our second day found us changing our minds when we crossed spoor of four buffalo bulls, very fresh. Tsuro and Willie tracked for two hours before the bulls were seen, resting in the shade of a mahogany. Victor chose one standing broadside, and placed a perfect heart shot with his double .470 Rigby. Back in camp, the horns measured forty-four and half inches across the outside of the curves, a fine trophy.

Victor, I estimated, was around 70 years old (I was 22, so he seemed “old”!) and had hunted big game all over Southern Africa. He had tactfully questioned me on my experience with dangerous game. He seemed relieved on hearing that, since being a schoolboy of 14, I had taken over 200 elephant and 40 to 50 buffalo on my own. It had naturally crossed his mind as to who would hold whose hand in a tight spot!

Victor’s confidence in me resulted in us forming a common bond - every decision was mutual; neither thought differently on any aspect of our strategies. This undoubtedly assisted in the flawless, unhurried hunt the following day.

From early morning on our third day, we had worked by both Land Rover and on foot, checking pans, roads and paths for elephant spoor. Two cow herds were scanned for the presence of bulls. Then we suddenly met up with Tim and Pieter who had come looking for us.

They had seen an elephant with huge tusks, accompanied by a couple of younger bulls, close to the belt of riparian forest some kilometres upriver. Victor and I lost no time in getting ourselves to the area described by Tim.

The trackers, Victor and I, held a council of war before setting off from the vehicle. I knew the lie of the land well; the depth of the forest belt, the pools in the river bed and the major game trails to those pools.

The elephant were assumed to be travelling west, upstream; the wind was from the south and we were on the north side of the Lundi. We would travel outside the riverine, but parallel, and trust in hearing the bulls ahead. This would minimise the chances of our scent being detected.

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African Hunter Vol.5 No.2 April 1999
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