I'm not going to post pictures and I'm not writing this to explain a hunt rather an experience.
I recently returned from the last of Botswana's elephant hunting days. My trip was eye opening and awe inspiring to say the least. I finished this hunt with the most unexpected trophy to ever come from Africa.
Lets start with how this hunt started.
It started when I was in Reno at the SCI show in February. My wife of 15 years was my best friend and hunting partner. She wanted to show me how much she loved me so with a little persuasion from Ivan Carter, persuasion because of pervious failed hunts that were a disaster with other companies, she took me to Johan Calitz' booth. We booked a recently canceled elephant hunt. The hunt was to take place on September 1 of 2013. To say I was overwhelmed with emotions was an understatement. Never in my life had I been given a gift like this or been made to feel so loved and special.
Fast forward 3 months and apparently my best friend was very unhappy with me which I never knew. She met a helicopter pilot on a trip around vegas with my kids and 2 weeks later she left me for this new love. To say that I was now devastated was an utter understatement.
The next chain of events was an utter whirl wind and took me by complete surprise. First off my wife and kids were my only valued things in life. Now I found myself with the loss of one and on the verge of loosing the others, my kids. For the next few months I was bombarded by the constant threat of her moving off and taking my kids to Las Vegas to live with my ex wifes new boyfriend. To say I was an emotional wreck was not the best way to put it. I had lots of problems with my wife in the past and I thought we were through the infidelity. So when the last affair happened I was actually very relieved to finally let go of her and not hope that one day she would love me back. However, now I faced the stark reality that I would loose my kids and as of now that reality is still very real.
Lets fast forward a few more weeks. I was wanting to go on this elephant hunt but timing was bad. I almost had the hunt sold many times but the deal always fell through. The final deal fell through 2 weeks before the hunt was suppose to start and my lawyer finally persuaded me to go assuring me that spending time away from my kids on a previously scheduled hunt would not cost me the custody battle. I finally agreed to go. I called Tharia with Johan calitz and asked if I could start a few days earlier. On August 30th I arrived in the NG41 block of Botswana with a very low spirit and feeling like the god I had followed my entire life had abandoned me.
My entire story of my life is one of faith. From getting full rides to college, to building a muti million dollar per year company with $6,000, everything I did was because I learned how to follow god and I never looked back. Well now I find myself wondering if my god is still here, and believe me I was looking hard trying to hear something. I heard nothing!
Day one found us setting out of camp at 1pm. We quickly found a herd of 6 bulls. One was a giant with only one tusk of which Cobus estimated to go over 80lbs! The other two in the group Cobus estimate to be at 48" sticking out of the lip with 17" circumference and the other at 46"x18". both he estimated would be double tuskers at or over 70lbs. He told me that we should never pass a 70lb ele as you usually only see one in a hunt if you are even lucky. He said our goal was to get a bull over 70 lbs and what we were looking at all in one group he had never seen in his life. I was taken back by how blessed I felt to see such an awesome sight. I decided I didn't want to end my hunt and would rather see these animals every day and shoot a 40 lb'er on the last day rather than to end my hunt now. Cobus understood that I cared nothing about trophy size and without hesitation gladly led me back to the cruiser so that we could go have one encounter after another. At last light we spotted another bull that was pushing 75lbs on both sides and again I passed. At dinner Cobus call Johan who was hunting with Tony Makris. I had eaten with Johan and Tony the night before and both were beside themselves telling us we were mad for passing those ele's. Cobus told me we would never have a day like that again but that it was a truly awesome time.
Day 2 we probably saw 100 to 150 bulls and passed another 7 bulls over 70 lbs. Cobus again was asking what was causing all the stars to align. I simply told him I've always followed god and that I had asked god for clear direction on this ele hunt. God, in my mind, had cleared all the sales and obstacles in my path and led me straight to Botswana. I was now hearing god once again and it felt good. Now I knew why I was here. I do believe in a higher power and I do not believe in evolution or the big bang. I was simply reveling in the fact that god was showering down blessing after blessing upon me and I did not want the show to stop. By listening to Cobus I understood that many men dream of finding only one of the many ele's I had been passing. He described how a previous hunter had returned for his 25th ele to finally get his bull of 80lbs earlier in the year. He reminded me I passed a one tusker which was at that mark earlier. I could see by the chain of events unraveling before me that god had a plan and that greater things were intended for me in every aspect of my life. I viewed this elephant hunt as an exact correlation of how my life had been and where it was now heading. I now knew god had much greater things in store for me and I told Cobus that the only way I will end my hunt is if there is something that is just unbelievable that makes both of us know something truly great has just happened. Cobus said it was my hunt and that he totally agreed. My plans were to simply let god show me a good time and to end my hunt on the last day with a representative bull. I thought that gods plan was simply to allow me to spend time with him, and I liked that plan.
Well I was wrong. day3 comes about and I passed the one tusk 80lb'er again along with the long tusk bull and several ele's that Cobus told me after we passed he would shoot himself personally if given the opportunity. Well towards the end of the day we had passed over 10 bulls over the 70 lb mark. We just saw another long tusker cross off the Chobe and tracked him down and realized he was pushing the 70 lb mark when I decided to pass again. We got back in the truck and headed out. I was sitting there just in awe of seeing so many bulls over 70lbs and realizing that god was definitely still blessing me and had a plan of an awesome 17 day hunt when I looked up and saw the mother of all elephants coming out of the chobe and heading for water. The trackers and everyone were beside themselves. I realized right then and there that I still was not meant to settle in life. Before me was an elephant with total tusk length of 85" long with 19" lip circumference. One tusk weighed 89lbs and the other weighed nearly 87lbs. To see an elephant with 53" of tusk sticking out of the lip and circumference of 19" was awe inspiring. I've never seen an elephant like that on tv or in real life. I realized right then and there that god wanted me to have only the best and that no matter what happens god will show me a path that was more than what I could ever have hoped for in life.
I shot that elephant, and in doing so I realized a new beginning to a life I have yet to understand the end to. I don't know what that end will be but in the end I feel like my kids will be the happiest and most blessed kids I could ever hope for, and that I will find the most amazing person ever or I will find the most peace in life I've ever know. I never knew a safari would have an ending like mine did, but walking away from that dark continent knowing I was not alone in this world was worth far more than killing the largest elephant on combined tusk weight to be killed in Botswana this year.
I may have my nay sayers, but I do believe in god and I do believe he is very real. Im anxiously awaiting the future.