As a hunter, an indestructible spirit is essential to keep
us returning to exotic and remote areas of the world. And
sometimes we believe so much in our own longevity that we
really don’t plan well for life-threatening events that
frequently occur in these adventurous places . . .
Hunting with Barrie Duckworth,
P.H. and owner of Mokore Safaris, I just survived one of the
best and most memorable elephant hunts possible. We were at
Kazuma National Forest located in the extreme northwest corner
of Zimbabwe, about a two hour drive by bushroad from Victoria
Falls. After nine safaris to Africa and waiting several years
to access this recognized big bull area, this trip was intended
to be a memorable one. Not only was my son, Donald, accompanying
me to Africa for the first time, but our main target was to
take a minimum sixty pound-plus bull – not an easy task
Being a very patient hunter,
I had spent several years going through the agonizing and
difficult thought process that a true hunter requires when
trying to decide to actually hunt the world’s largest
and most dangerous land animal. For me, the peculiar set of
ethical, economical and emotional decisions involved in elephant
hunting not only took a long time, but called into question
the very essence of the hunt, i.e. is it right to kill such
a noble animal?
So with heavy thoughts accompanying me and
with stout heart (I thought) we found ourselves in the Kazuma
Camp during late August 2004.
Everything went well for the
first day – seeing and stalking lots of large bulls,
enjoying my son Donald’s delight at seeing Africa game
for the first time, and renewing acquaintances with several
locals who I had met the previous years. By the second day
I noticed I wasn’t able to walk more than few hundred
yards without some shortness of breath and chest pain. At
64 years, I pride myself on being in reasonably good shape
and since I always hunt hard in Africa, I make sure I increase
my workouts prior to the trip. By the fourth day, and now
in some distress, I decided to visit the tiny Victoria Falls
clinic for a checkup. After an ECG and blood pressure checks,
all is declared normal and the local doctor suggests a severe
case of indigestion, and sends me back on the 90 kilometer
journey through the bush to camp.
Mid-afternoon of the following
day, hunting in the famous Panda Masai block, we see three
large bulls at a distance. Reluctantly, since by this time
I was unable to walk without distress, we decided to stalk.
After a one mile walk we were able to see the way –
all three bulls were above 50 pounds and one was well over
60. Finally, after several years, “my elephant”!