Here's my rewrite of my last hunt in RSA, or at least one stalk on the hunt. I love reading everyone's stories here so I thought I would share this. Shoooooooooooot, Jakes said. Boom. I'm sure every animal within 5 miles heard the roar of that gun. The Browning .300 Remington Ultra Mag went off like a cannon. The rifle's recoil slammed into my shoulder and the rifle and scope kicked momentarily blocking my view of the Zebra that I so desperately wanted. I thought I had a good shot and had settled the rifle's crosshairs perfectly on the front shoulder. But had I missed? Was that even possible? How could I have missed? It was 100 yards more or less. I missed. Really? And then I heard the thud. A bullet fired at 3000 feet per second at an animal approximately 100 yards away reaches him in an instant. But there is a sound, almost like a hollow muffled thump similar to a thumping caused by the beating of your own chest, when a bullet reaches and enters an animal. It's a distinct sound. It's a strange confirmation of tragedy and triumph. I heard the sound. I had hit my mark. There were 3 Zebras standing in that particular group. 2 of the Zebras ran a short distance, maybe 20 yards, and stood watching. The Zebra I had shot circled where he stood and immediately went down. I dropped my head and allowed the inevitable nerves to come flooding through my body. The Zebra was down. Jakes picked up the shooting sticks that I had shoot off of and I secured my rifle and then slung it over my shoulder as we began to walk towards the downed Zebra. We didn't say a word. There was no victory speech, no confetti, no back slapping. There was only silence. The only sound came from our boots hitting the red African dirt and stirring up a low trail of hanging dust behind us. As we walked, Jakes put his hand on my back. It was not a sort of congratulations but a confirmation that he knew, as a hunter, my feelings at that moment and was offering his support for me in that moment. I appreciated it, probably more than he knows. I am not what I would describe as a spiritual person. But hunting, for me, is a spiritual experience. and God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth (Genesis 1:28). In that moment, I knew what God meant. Rounding a mopane tree about 60 yards from the fallen Zebra, Jakes and I looked up. 3 Zebras were standing under the tree. Not 2, there were 3 Zebras standing. I looked harder. One should have been down. The Zebra I had shot had stood up. And there he was, not 60 yards away, standing broadside and looking directly at us. The other Zebras were still 20 yards away from the wounded Zebra, almost in a way lending moral support to the wounded Zebra. As Jakes brought the shooting sticks up into position in front of me, I swung my rifle from my back and jacked the bolt, pushing a round into the chamber. Quickly, I threw the rifle on the sticks and found the Zebra in my scope. shoot him in the head, Jakes said. Okay, I said as I quickly moved the rifle's aim from the front shoulder to the point between the Zebra's eyes where the stripes of Zebra are very close together. It almost looked as if the Zebra had a black line down the middle of his face. The Zebra still hadn't moved. He just stood there, standing. Boom. The Browning kicked again but in the moment, unlike the countless hours spent on the range, I never heard the report of the rifle or felt the kick of the rifle into my shoulder. However, I did see the Zebra still standing. A Zebra, shot in the head, at 60 yards should definitely not be standing. He should be dead. I missed. At 60 yards I missed. I suppose it was the nerves, the shots of adrenaline still running through my veins from my first, now unsuccessful, shot. ?&^%, I missed. I'm pretty sure, no, I'm sure my mother probably doesn't want to know that her son curses but in that instance, I'm hoping she would understand. Instead of running this time, the 3 Zebras never moved. Not a step. They didn't move forward or backward. They didn't seem nervous at all. In fact, the wounded Zebra turned his head away from us, looking out over the bushveld that is South Africa. You missed, Jakes said. I know how I felt. And I didn't feel good. Shoot him in the ear. Okay. I racked a round from the magazine into the chamber of the big gun and settled the crosshairs on the ear of the Zebra. What was that Zebra looking at? Boom. The rifle recoiled. This time there was no thump, no confirmation of a well placed shot. No, this time the Zebras started running. You missed. I didn't miss. I hit him good. How was it possible that this animal was still upright and now running? Lets go, we can't lose them, Jakes said as he raced after the Zebra. I grabbed the sticks and my rifle and starting running. I have had 5 knee surgeries; running isn't what it used to be for me. reload, Jakes yelled as he raced ahead. Jakes, my South African professional hunter (PH), played professional rugby in the US. He's well built but not a huge guy and, well, he can still run. I was falling behind. I don't know if you have ever tried to reload a large rifle while running, carrying shooting sticks and trying to reach for cartridges on your belt not to mention the binoculars bouncing around on your chest. I'm sure it is comical to watch. But it wasn't funny at all right now. Something had to go. The shooting sticks were dropped as I ran and began trying to ram cartridges into my rifle. I dropped the first one but didn't stop to pick it up. I slowed to plodding pace to ram the rest of the shells into the gun. Come on! Jakes was pleading now in his tone. é„lan, we have to hurry. Didn't he realize I was hurrying? I was trailing Jakes by 100 yards when I noticed the wounded Zebra had stopped running and was again standing in the open, facing away from us but looking back over his hind end to have a look at us. Since we weren't hunting dangerous game, Jakes wasn't carrying a rifle at all. He was carrying a 9mm pistol. As I continued to run, Jakes pulled his pistol. He had run to within about 30 yards of the Zebra and was now slowly advancing with his pistol aimed at the Zebra. Pop, pop, pop. A pistol doesn't make the same sound as a rifle at all. I'm not really sure how many times he shot but the Zebra was off again. And now, it was gone. After catching my breath, I caught up to Jakes who was holstering his pistol and looked tired. I know I was. Come on, you have to run when I say run. I can't describe adequately how I felt. I had shot 3 times and hit twice although that was still up for debate between Jakes and I. I now had a seriously injured Zebra and I had done the animal a great disservice. He had deserved better. Jakes began walking back to the tree where he had pulled his pistol. Slowly and methodically, he began circling the area. He was going to track it. I secured my rifle on my back and started to look at the hot, dusty and sparse ground. There were animal tracks everywhere. But I knew we were looking for little horse tracks. Sure enough, there they were. Just like the horseshoe hanging on the wall in the barn back home. But more importantly, there was blood. As Jakes started tracking the animal, we walked to the right of the tracks. The dust made it easy to see the tracks. But there were so many of them. After about 20 yards of following the tracks, there was a spot of blood. The spot was smaller than a dime but it was blood. We kept walking with our heads down, hands behind our backs, trying to decipher the code of this Zebra. About 800 yards later, we came to a well worn truck track cut into the bushveld. About 10 feel on the far side of the road there was a fence. Not a big game fence, just a short cattle fence that looked like it had been there for 50 years. At the base of the fence there was blood. A lot of blood. The blood spots could be covered by a regular sheet of paper but it was enough evidence to further convince me that this Zebra, my Zebra, was seriously injured. Beyond the fence was grass. There was a lot of grass but it was not the bushveld dirt, the red African dirt that I have grown to love. And there wasn't any blood. At this point, Jakes was on the phone. With whom I can only assume. He was yelling, almost screaming in Afrikaans. Since I don't speak the language I can only guess what he was saying and my mind was creating his conversation. He missed from 60 yards. Not once, but twice. 60 yards. Can you believe it? I don't know where it is. No, I've lost the track. We are over here about a mile away. No, take the road and bring the truck. Hurry, it's getting late. NO, BRING ME THE TRACKER NOW. Hurry. Yes. Can you believe he missed from 60 yards? Jakes hung up the phone and made another call. Again in Afrikaans and again my mind raced with imagination. Bring Ammon. Bring him now. Yes, we shot the Zebra. I don't know but he missed from 60 yards. We are by the old cattle fence, just take that road and you'll see us. Can you believe he missed? I can't either. Jakes walked over to me and began speaking. In English thankfully. The trucks and the trackers are coming. We will wait. Whew, what a rush huh? Come on Alan, you have to run. He was all smiles now. My imagination was not reality. Jakes, I know the first one was good. I hit him good. I would repeat that sentence over and over. I hit him good. I hit him good and I know I pulled the second one to the right. I know it. I still had the shakes from the first shot and was coming down from the first shot and, well, I don't have any excuses for the second shot. But I hit him good on the third shot, maybe a little low but I hit him good. Did you hear it hit? No. I could tell from the look on Jakes face that he wasn't buying that my third shot was good. After all, if it was a head shot, we would be loading a Zebra not tracking a Zebra. At that point the truck with my Dad and Jaco showed up. My Dad decided to go with me to Africa along with my best friend and hunting partner Brent. This was a special trip for me. 5 years ago my Dad was diagnosed with MS. He isn't what he used to be. The man that had done pushups with my brother and I on his back was beginning to be more and more unsteady on his feet and had to sit down from time to time. It's the reason he was with the truck and not out running across the African bushveld with Jakes and I. While he's not physically the same, he one of my best friends and my idol. So, did you hit him? my Dad asked. I hit him good on the first shot, pulled the second and hit him with the third. The Zebra should be still laying under that tree a mile back. I hit him good. I was annoyed. Annoyed with myself as well as with the incorrect perception that Jakes was mad and I wasn't in a mood to talk. we'll find him, my Dad said. I guess. Fathers have a way of understanding their sons. Maybe it's because he knows how I feel because I'm a lot like him. He knew I was upset and put his arm around my back. I was still angry and upset but it was reassuring to know that he was there. lets go, Jakes said. And over the fence we went. There were literally dozens of tracks in the dirt at the base of the fence. Gemsbok, Impala, Eland, and Kudu. But there were Zebra tracks leading directly away from the fence. Carefully, and without disturbing the tracks, we began walking away from the fence. There was no blood and the ground became more and more less disturbed. I was losing hope quickly of finding my Zebra. We turned around and walked back to the truck. I didn't say a word. What was there to say? What could I say? I felt horrible. We were here trying to track a Zebra that I had shot because I hadn't shot well. As my Dad and I stood and waited from the other truck to arrive, Jakes and Jaco stood and talked. Again my mind raced. We missed. He sucks. Ah, well, we will find it. I don't know. It's getting dark. 60 yards, can you believe it? Just then the truck with Brent, Stan (Brents PH) and Ammon (the tracker) pulled up. Whats up? Get the Zebra? Brent asked. I relayed the story to Brent and he shook his head. Brent is my best friend and business partner. He also is the kind of guy whose no nonsense. He tells you like it is whether you want to hear it or not. He has really strong opinions and isn't afraid to share them. At times it's frustrating but when the chips are down or something is hard and needs to be done, he's the guy. And he can always be counted on. These guys didn't want to stop hunting to come help you but that I just messed up. I told them Alan is my friend and if he needs help we're going. And thats what I love. Ammon looked over the tracks surrounding the blood. What those trackers look at I will never know. How do you differentiate one Zebra's tracks from another? But he stared intently at the track. Jakes, Stan, Brent, Ammon and I all went over the fence again like Jakes and I had done previously. And we headed directly away from the fence like we had done before. This time we went further. We walked for a few hundred yards, walking around trees and looking for any sign of the Zebra. There was none. There was no blood. A few hundred yards later, Ammon abruptly stopped. Raising his hand he waved it in the air. No, no, no, no, no, no, no. What did that mean I thought. Ammon headed back to the fence. At this point I looked at Brent and rolled my eyes. I had had it. I knew that the Zebra, my Zebra, was going to die. My hopes of recovering the Zebra were falling by the minute. I had blown it. Plain and simple, no way around it. As we walked back to the fence, Ammon kept looking at the ground. No blood and lots of Zebra tracks. How could he tell them apart? At the fence he stopped. He studied the ground for a good minute. As if by magic he smiled and waved his arm to the left of the fence. This way. How in the world did he determine that? Not 50 yards from the point at which the Zebra went under the fence, underneath a tree and lying in some grass, was the Zebra. My Zebra. I closed my eyes and thanked God for answering a silent prayer. The Zebra, my Zebra, had died from a massive loss of blood. The first shot was well placed and would have, should have, certainly killed him. The third shot, the shot that was up for debate, was actually a little lower than the ear. The third shot removed the Zebra's throat that ultimately lead to the animals death. After the congratulatory handshakes and thanking Ammon more than once, Jakes and I began to talk. I told you that third shot was good. If I miss, I'll tell you but I told you I hit him good. You hit him good. So why are there holes in the Zebra's butt? Jakes smiled. Jakes had taken four shots at the Zebra with his 9mm. One of his shots had hit the Zebra in the butt. I now have a Zebra rug that has a whole in the butt. I didn't want it repaired.