We arrived to find our temporary professional hunter, Paul, with a towel around his head and a big black beard. I know it’s not very PC to put it like that, but this rag-head turned out to be a very nice guy, a true gentleman with a great sense of humour. He soon became a good friend and by the time Jaco arrived a few days later, we were sorry to see him leave.
Being the first group of the season meant that not all the roads were open and old grass had not been burnt yet. Doing this takes time but in the process some plains-game animals did fall into some coarse salt. There were southern impala, Niassa wildebeest, Bohm’s zebra and Lichtenstein’s hartebeest – Greg’s nemesis from the previous year. Greg had issues with his .300 but when he shot the .375, the skinner had work to do.
Our main targets were simba and mbogo – lion and buffalo. During the first 10 days of Greg’s 33-day hunt (he added an additional five days since we planned to go to Masailand), we had several lion bait sites set up. Each day we would check them and on day 10, close to the furthest bait site, our little Masai tracker, Loman, spotted two daggaboys (buffalo) feeding in very tall grass.
We worked our way around them. The wind was perfect and we set up an ambush. The leading bull got to within 40 yards of us, still grazing. A bush made him turn broadside, giving Greg the perfect angle. The .375 barked and the bull reacted like a well-hit buffalo should. He hunched up and started running, straight towards us. Greg didn’t have a clear second shot but Jaco took two steps sideways and aimed his .416. At that moment the old bull dropped his head, and Jaco’s shot went high but he was already aiming down his barrels, finger on the second trigger. Luckily the bull stopped 20 yards away behind some cover, head down. We waited. The situation made me think of a teenager about to hook up with an older woman: the trophy is right there, obscured by bush, and if no one shot prematurely everything would be just fine. Looking to my left I saw Greg reloaded and on point, next to him our game scout, wide-eyed but with his rifle in his shoulder, and to my right Jaco was ready with his double. We waited a minute or two … and then suddenly the bull dropped in his tracks! The heart and both lungs had been hit with that first shot.