The third morning after breakfast we headed out as usual to see what we could find. I told Crispin that I would shoot pretty much anything on the license and had no particular list other than buffalo. I had another buff on my license but I was going to be pretty picky about buff #2. We had not cleared camp when a Leopard streaked across in front of us and into the trees across the clearing, he was probably stalking the skinning shed. We made stalks on Hartebeest, Zebra, Impala and Warthog all to no avail, either we would get busted by Giraffe or a stray breeze would betray us. On a couple of occasions we would have a successful stalk but there was nothing really suitable to shoot. Late in the afternoon we were driving along when I spotted a Bushpig, one of only a very few times I was able to spot something before the trackers, Crispin, Martin and I jumped out of the truck and went after the pig as he trotted off. We followed him for a bit trying to maneuver into position for a shot, finally he turned broadside and the sticks went up but just as I was starting to squeeze the trigger he bolted . This time when the pig left he took off like a scalded dog, we turned back to the truck but when we got there the truck wouldn't start.
Crispin got the sat phone out and called in our breakdown, after that we decided there wasn't much we could so Crispin to of the trackers and I took off on foot and hunted 'till sundown. We made our way back to the truck and they had a nice fire going so I stretched out beside it and took a little nap. There was a Leopard sawing just across the road from us and I think he made Crispin a bit nervous as he kept shining his light in that direction.
An hour or so after dark we heard our rescue vehicle coming, turns out we had blown a fuse, we were up and running in just a few minutes and we headed back to camp, it had been a long but thoroughly enjoyable day.
Day four began with the regular routine. Shortly after leaving camp we spotted a couple of Hartebeest bulls that needed a closer look. We looked the bulls over and had just about decided to move on when the bull on the right gave us a little better angle and we could see he was a pretty good bull so I took the shot at around 100 yards, he ran maybe 50 feet and rolled and that was it.
We took some pictures and got him loaded up and continued along our way. The morning was nice and cool and the game was moving, we hunted a couple more hours and then stopped to skin the Hartebeest. By the time that was finished it was time for lunch so we just stayed there and had our meal. After lunch we concentrated on Zebra, they seemed to be everywhere we went but were very wary. Stalk after stalk something would happen and we didn't get the shot. Late in the afternoon we got on a herd and were able to get close to them and almost pulled it off but I wasn't sure I was on the correct animal. We kept to cover the best we could but they spotted us and took off, we followed them a couple hundred yards and got busted again. I think it was the third time we got on them that the stars aligned and I got on the sticks, Crispin pointed out the one he wanted me to shoot, there was no question this time as he was the only one facing us. I pulled the 130 yard shot a little left of where I wanted to but the 300 grain A-frame did its job and he went down within 100 yards or so, I shot him again as we walked up, it turned out that it was not really necessary but better safe than sorry. I had a beautiful Zebra and another good day gone.
Today we decided to hunt close to camp and come in for lunch. The plan was to have lunch, take a camp tour and an afternoon off. We didn't have a lot of action early, we were looking primarily for Duiker with the possibility of another Buff lurking in the background. As the day started heating up we started making our way back to camp, we were nearing an old game scout outpost when a troop of Baboons crossed the road ahead of us, I had a taxidermy project in mind for a couple of Baboon skulls. The action was quick and dirty, jump down and grab the rifle, load on the move, as we headed out after the troop Crispin said " shoot the last one if he stops" the old male jumped up on the side of a tree to check on his pursuers. His curiosity quickly satisfied the old Baboon hopped down and took off , at about 60 yards out he hesitated, I was already tracking him in the scope and when the crosshairs settled I pulled the trigger. I felt sure of the shot but as I turned to to my right I caught Crispin shaking his head a little. I made the rifle safe, Martin and Thomas took up the track, Crispin and I didn't even get to where the Baboon was standing when I shot him and I heard the guys laughing, he hadn't gone 20 yards. Crispin looked at me and said "that was a fantastic shot" he was amazed that I had taken an off hand shot at all let alone connected. I grew up hunting rabbits with a .22 rifle and my favorite method of hunting whitetails is still hunting, if you don't learn to shoot quickly in either of those pursuits you won't be very successful!
My previously mentioned taxidermy project was a pair of Baboon skull bookends for a few of my favorite titles, I though those long canine teeth would make an impressive display. As it turns out I had shot the oldest Baboon in Tanzania, maybe all of Africa, he had no teeth left!
Oh well, I guess one of my bookends won't have long canine teeth. The afternoon was relaxing, we had been hunting pretty hard and it was a welcome break.
Okay, Back on it!
That afternoon was spent touring camp and meeting some of the camp staff that were not normally encountered.
Everywhere around the staff quarters there were lines of biltong drying in the sun.
After the meat was mostly dry, it was chopped into bite sized pieces and dried a little more. After drying completely the pieces were packed into 5 gallon buckets and stored for the guys to take home at the end of the season, it was quite tasty stuff!
We stopped in at the skinning shed to take a look at our skins and skulls and meet the skinners.
It was amazing to see what the cooks had to work with considering the meals they turned out !
I am really glad I took the afternoon off to tour the camp, it was a very eye opening experience!