Bushbuck Hunt, Luangwa, Zambia.
I was camped with two friends on the bank of the Luangwa River, Zambia. One day, one of my friends returned very excited after seeing a “monster bushbuck”. He would not tell me where it was, as he wanted to try for him first. He kept trying for about a week, but each time he returned empty-handed, till I finally managed to get him to tell me whereabouts this “monster” lived!
Armed with my trusty .458 Lott and a reasonable idea of where to search, I set off. The spot that was described was not easy to find, as many trees and anthills looked the same – and no bushbuck.
Then suddenly I heard the very loud bark of one. Found him!
The next morning I returned and just stood quietly and listened. There were a lot of monkeys on the ground eating some sort of pod, so I Imagined that the bushbuck would be searching for the same food source. I had to be very careful – if I alerted the monkeys the game would be over. After 30 minutes stealthy steps to go maybe 15 yards, I could just discern the bushbuck’s horns behind an anthill. What I saw made me start to shake!
The ram was feeding from right to left but disappeared as I saw him. I had an idea where he was, but would have to move about another 10 yards undetected, and also try get my nerves under control. I shuffled the 10 yards to my left but could not see anything. I knew that he was somewhere, and I just stood frozen, staring into every shadow.
Suddenly his outline was silhouetted in the gloom. Totally unaware of me, he was feeding on some pods. My trembling was still not under control, but I raised my open-sighted .458 Lott and tried to steady the bead without using a rest. It was only about 40 yards, but the barrel was weaving all over the place.
Finally, when the bead passed his shoulder I pulled the trigger, and the bullet found a spot high on the shoulder, and downed him in his tracks. It is hard for me to try and describe the feeling that overcame me. I knelt next to him and just admired his beauty for many minutes. Tears were very near, and I was grateful to be alone in silence. But it was not long before a few of the camp workers arrived as they had heard the shot. We carried the ram on our shoulders back to camp and, strangely, no one said a word.
And every time I look at this picture, now faded by time, I relive the moment as though it were yesterday.