Why I want to hunt Africa!!!
To truly live life, to feel, to smell, to taste, to struggle, to sweat, to smile, to laugh to bleed, to triumph. That is why I hunt, to experience the world around me, as it was intended to be experienced. I love the earth, its game and the struggle to experience her, on her terms. Weather thatís sitting out a summer snow storm, in a high mountain basin, or picking cactus out of my knees, from a failed pronghorn stalk. I am amazed, I am captivated, I am in love with all the world can provide. Oh what I would give to be haunted ever more by the temptress that is AFRICA!!!!
Why I would like to hunt in Africa.
Alright, I'm throwin' my hat in the ring. 1000 words on the dot. I hope everyone enjoys it....
Africa. To some it is fantasy. To others it is a fulfillment of the quest that only the untamed spirit aspires. The Dark Continent holds more than its share of adventure for those that dare the teeth, claws, thorns, and venom to experience the richness of its resources. Many find satisfaction in the pursuit of game with flash and film, capturing images for posterity. Some need more, a closer connection to the land and its devices; a chance to experience a more unfettered form of stewardship. The uninitiated and the skeptic see it as little more than filling a trophy room. But that notion is empty, reduced to the likes of collecting shot glasses or stamps. It is anything but collecting; collectors donít know the thrill of the chase, the blood on the hands, the pain of defeat, the unknown. Hunting is not collecting, it is connecting. Connecting, in this sense, is deeper in meaning than the simple connection of a missile to flesh. It is the tangible connection of mastery of the land, of understanding that life is sustained by death.
I didnít understand it at first. Raised by a first generation big game hunter, my father did the best he could to show me the way to meat, horns, and hide. He had a 20 year head start, but even still, he was learning as he taught me. Early on, it was as much about the meat, horns, and hide for me. Then later, as I came into my own, it was the pursuit and the satisfaction of providing. But now I recognize something greater. It isnít a mere statement said to pacify the unbeliever or to mask bloodlust. Make no mistake; taking an animalís life is not for everyone. Nor does killing necessarily set well with me. But killing is not the goal, it is the result. And that greater thing that I am recognizing is truth. Truth sets us free.
I hunt because it is right, the right thing to do. The African model of conservation is undeniable: placing value on species gives it value for sustainability. My pursuit (it is so much more than a hobby) is a win-win given the correct perspective. I desire an animal for its yield. If I am fortunate enough to kill it (harvest is such a sanitized description), my hard earned money is placed into the local economy to benefit others, then with them I will be filled from the creatureís meat, and the breed benefits overall by the human realization that there needs to be more of them tomorrow to propagate the circle. Even the offal, offensive to the prejudiced palate of most westerners, is consumed by thankful people. Upon return of my cargo, I will display the hide and horns to honor the animal for the challenge that was presented me. Nothing goes to waste. Environmentalists should be impressed; it is the ultimate demonstration in recycling.
I was fortunate enough to experience Africa firsthand once. It was a pure endeavor, but for it I had to sacrifice. I have no benefactor, no trust fund, no winning lottery ticket. I possess ability, so I chose a career of protecting human life over a cushy office and a big salary. I have no regrets about it. My job fits my personality and I find it rewarding, but all that fulfillment doesnít buy me daily rates and trophy fees, so earn I must. While working as much overtime as my bosses could give me, I reacquainted myself with all literature about the continent. Despite all my reading from the greats, I was still unprepared for the depth and breadth of Africa; from the smells of the veldt to the scenes of the mountains, rivers, and valleys. Much of it was familiar like my native Arizona, but the context of it was so alien that I couldnít bring myself to recognize it as anything but curious and extraordinary. Each day in the bush presented new experiences, new creatures, and even new feelings. One day those new feelings took me by surprise.
In my life I had yet to experience a dichotomy like Africa. It was fulfilling in every sense, yet I am left with a craving that only that sole experience can fill. It is like having a full belly and being hungry at the same time. In fact, I remember the wife of my PH citing some prose about drinking the water of Africa will make me feel the need to return. How she was right! Not a day goes by that I donít think about that hunt. Perhaps it is because I have unfinished business there.
It happened during my first day. An incredible spiral horn specimen presented opportunity. It was the animal at the top of my wish list, and the PH said it possessed horns unmatched in magnitude for his concession in quite some time. No matter the numbers, it was big enough. I have played the scenario in my head more times than I can count. I have never had so calm and confident a moment as the one where I saw the arrow strike the intended spot where the white line meets grey hair. My normally unflappable PH gave me a congratulatory backslap so hard I chipped a tooth. But for reasons I donít understand, it was not meant to be. Whether he lived on or was carrion for the jackals and hyenas, none of us will ever know. Of course I felt bad, feel bad. I still had a successful hunt and even took a management bull of the same species. But for me, that big bull is still out there, and I need to pursue him.
In the meantime, my broadheads are sharp, my muscles are tense, and my dreams are haunted. Someday I hope to go back. To drink the water, see the sunset, and take in more experiences, even though I know they will only serve to make me desire more.