In May 2006, Jean-Paul, Jean Vannier and myself welcomed 3 hunters from Brussels: Walter, Guillaume and Jean, each one hunting with one PH. In the interest of fairness, they chose to rotate every four days.
Their main targets were Giant Eland for both Guillaume and Jean and Elephant for Walter.
Plants and soil, washed by the first rains, release a bouquet of subtle scents. Antelopes’ fawn coats stand out from the verdant landscape. Africa had put on its green mantle.
9th day of hunting. Jean accompanied me. On the track, we spotted the cast footprints of 2 Giant Elands joining a herd of 10 animals. Stems from which viscous sap spurt out, confirmed their proximity. Contact occurred. The natural shield of a mound of earth allowed a fast approach. Already, a majestic Eland was standing in profile 30 meters ahead, while we remained contemplative for a couple of seconds, the shooting order blocked to my lips.
Jean aimed and released his bullet. The Giant Eland jumped up and disappeared in a breakneck trot. We tracked him for a few miles: there was no trace of blood.
Hence, Jean thought he missed his shot. Was a trigger malfunction or emotion the cause ? After handling Jean’s .375 rifle, I noticed it variably striked from a shot to another. I felt my host’s confidence somewhat impaired. There was no other alternative than to bear this defect until such time the rifle could be returned to the gunsmith.
We got back to camp, quite disappointed.
The very next day, we encountered the footprints of about 50 Giant Elands on the track wet with dew. We traced them back within an hour. The herd was enjoying a morning nap. I could spot 2 bulls, resting in the shadow of a massive tree. One of them detected us immediately and raised, followed by the second. Crouching, I pointed Jean to the one on the left. A single shot echoed. The Lord reared up and disappeared behind vegetation. The superb trophy would fall 20 meters further.
The rest of the herd filled us with a phantasmagoric spectacle. With shaky steps, the Elands headed towards us, the horns proud, haggard eyes and noble countenance.
They did not locate us and approached to only 20 meters from us. I pulled my ‘’Canon’’ out and shot an entire camera film of the tangle of helical horns and striped coats. From that distance, we could admire the drape of their undulating dewlaps. Thin white stripes naturally enhance their brisk and intelligent eyes.