ZEBRA-ZIMBABWE-1999-GWAAI RIVER DISTRICT-LION'S DEN SAFARIS As we stopped on the top of a small rise we could see them. A small herd of zebra were 500 yards away, out in the middle of a small pan in the bottom of the valley in front of us. It was getting late, the sun was low and time was short if we were going to get a chance at the stallion in the group. Thys, my PH, said the best spot to try would be on the other side of the pan so we backed down from the top of the hill with all eyes looking at us. As we wound our way around and through some small hills trying to get to the other side without being spotted, we kicked up an occasional warthog and impala. A Go-Away bird squawked at our passing as the dust billowed up from our wheels. We crossed the valley about a half mile below the pan with the zebras and we got a quick glance that they were still there. Good, we might have a chance yet. Staying about a half mile back from the pan we finally rolled to a stop behind the hill blocking our view of our quarry. As quietly as possible, my PH, the tracker and I all pile out of the Toyota leaving my wife and one tracker in the truck. The wind is in our favor, but very light, but the sun is now lower on the horizon. We have one and a half hours before dark. We get moving. The tracker leads us up and around the hill and all of a sudden goes down on his knees. We all get down and I see the tracker and Thys whispering together. Thys motions for me to get ready to crawl. OK, I get ready to crawl. 100 yards, 150 yards, I'm in the back and can only see the south end of my north bound PH. Finally I see him pass the tracker and motion for me to do the same thing. We must be getting close! I sneak a peek around Thys and see them 200 yards away still in the pan! Yippee! We've got a chance-except for the sun. It's now about 45 minutes till it's too dark. Thys scoots down and takes a seat right behind a small bush and points to a bush about 8 feet away on his left side. I take it I'm supposed to sit there. OK, I get in position, start to raise my rifle And he motions for me to wait. Wait? Wait? It's getting dark? OK, I wait. He's the PH, I'm the new guy on his first safari and he's the boss. Wait we do. I'm contemplating the setting sun just slightly off to our right as I see the small heard start to move. One at a time, they start moving our direction, single file. I don't move, I don't bat an eye, in fact my hat is lowered, my gaze is lowered so I am only slightly able to see them as they approach. I don't want to stare at them straight on for fear they'll see my eyes. On they come, cutting the distance with every step, straight to us. 150 yards, 100 yards and now I'm thinking, when do I shoot, HOW do I shoot? Thys is slightly in front of me, I'm sitting on my butt and no sticks! Finally at about 80 yards they start to veer off to our left. Still single file, still coming towards us, they make no indication they see us yet the bush in front of me is very thin and small. I'm still hunkered down the same as Thys, trying to keep an eye on him and the zebras, not even breathing, when I see his left hand slowly move. As I'm watching, I see his left pointer finger indicate the 3rd zebra in line. His finger slowly follows that animal. That's all the movement he makes as they are only about 50 yards away. OH CRAP! We didn't talk about where to aim on a zebra! I'm thinking OK, horse, same as a horse, OK, I look and I see where the stripes come together in a kind of triangle right on the left front shoulder. So I figure, that's good enough for me! My long ago Boy Scout training takes over and I think, sitting shot, elbows on knees, good braced position, aim, breathe in, let half out, hold it, steady the aim- and I see Thys hands go up to cover his ears. Now we're talking! Cross hairs settle in place and I don't even feel the trigger break. They are all in high gear now and moving out in a cloud of dust before I can get back on target. As we stand up for a better look I see my zebra crash in another cloud of dust 50 yards away. The pack disappears over a small rise trailing more African dust. Unbeknownst to us, the other tracker had moved the vehicle and my wife to a hill top about of a mile away and they were able to watch the entire show. As the day finally gave up, I watched the sun fall below the horizon, followed by the yellow glow of another African sunset. Though this is my first safari, a once in a lifetime event, I know I will return!