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Buffalo By Boat (Page 2)

In the floodplains of the Caprivi Strip, hunting dangerous game sometimes means taking to the water.

“When that bull stands,” he says, “shoot him right in the shoulder. You’ll have two seconds before he sees you and runs. Use the sticks.”

As I kneel beside the PH, he carefully raises the shooting sticks to form a tripod. When I stand behind them, I see the bull is already on his feet, staring in our direction. The rifle finds my cheek and the V formed by the sticks at the same time, and the safety goes off without me thinking about it. Even though the scope is set at 1X, it’s full of buffalo. I direct the crosshair to that triangular-shaped area on the bull’s shoulder I’ve studied in photographs for seven months.

“Wait until he turns broadside,” Anton whispers.
Seconds seem like minutes. The bull knows something isn’t right, but he’s more curious than scared. He takes a half step, slightly turning his body toward the muzzle of my rifle. I don’t remember pressing the trigger, but my shoulder rocks under the recoil of the .416. I chamber another round, recover, and see the bull is still on his feet, bucking and spinning in a cloud of dust.

“Hit him again,” Anton says firmly, the need for whispering now past.

I step around the sticks, find the bull’s shoulder in the scope and send a 400-grain solid through his vitals. To my dismay, the bullet seems to have no immediate effect, and I work the bolt again. But as the cartridge reaches the chamber, the bull stumbles. There is no need for a third shot.

Soon the villagers arrive via mokoro. They will feast for days on plentiful meat. They will take it by boat to their huts and cook it for their families as we celebrate a successful hunt.

Later tonight, motoring back up the Zambezi as its surface reflects a blood-red sunset, I will have plenty of time to recall the tense moments of the stalk. At one point, we were surrounded as much by buffalo as by water. My boots are wet, but my mouth is still dry.

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2 Responses to Buffalo By Boat (Page 2)

Jeanette Hall wrote:
August 23, 2013

I hunted with Anton 2 years ago. We did some incredible stalks and I came home with fantastic stories and beautiful trophies to remind me of my brief time in Namibia. Not a day passes when I do not long to feel the Namibian wind in my hair. Congratulations on a great bull! Cheers, Jeanette Hall

DSMbirddog wrote:
July 02, 2013

This was a great read. You could feel the tension right along with the writer.