While I was already imagining an alternative strategy, I hear the grass moving, still on our right. I distinguish a brown mass, more imposing than the others. This animal is mature, no doubt about it. I cannot see its trophy yet. Is it a big female? Or the old male of my dreams? The animal comes out of the ocean of grass to put a hoof on the edge of the track, 40 meters from us: an old male! The only word I will say is “yes”. Didier pulls his trigger in a fraction of a second. His gun roars. The dull impact follows, characteristic of the bullet that penetrates the flesh. Our buffalo stumbles but continues its race. His imposing muscles unfold and order him to run for his life. The rest of the herd freezes at 200 meters, in hedge of honor. They are sizing us up as much as we are watching them.
My chief tracker spots our target first. He shows it to me at once, overexcited. Didier and I approach to position ourselves for a last shot. The buffalo collapses 100 meters away from us, in a never-ending fall. I can already feel Didier’s emotion and adrenaline flooding him. We stare at each other, all teeth out. But as I turn towards the buffalo, I notice its spasms. No, they are not spasms. He is trying to turn around, still on the ground, using his hind legs, his head up and his neck muscles contracted. He is looking for us. He will get up, I KNOW it. We must react quickly.
The buffalo is frantic, impossible to shoot from where we are. We have to get closer. I invite Didier to follow me quickly. 50 meters, 40, 30 meters. The buffalo gets up in a surprisingly fluid movement. I take off the safety of my weapon and immediately put it in sight. A mute confrontation follows. Time dilates. There is nothing left but him, and me. I do not feel any aggressiveness. Neither in his attitude, nor in his look. Where is it? The one I have often been portrayed. We look each other straight in the eyes, I try to understand. What does he feel? What does he understand about our meeting?
My chief tracker pulls me out of my torpor, I decide to put an end to this face to face.
8 days of hunting. 8 days of doubts. For only a few minutes when emotions are released, impetuous, tenfold.
What I will remember the most during this first safari, are the tears of my father. Those that translate the pride, the transmission of an ancestral heritage, of a family know-how for 4 generations.
Far from my client and from any light, I will also cry tonight.