It was the second-to-last day, 30 minutes before last light, when the tracker spotted a buffalo. "Dume, dume!" he said -- Swahili for male, male. "It's a male! It has balls!"
"I don't see a thing," I said. All I could see through the scope was thick African brush. No movement, no black shapes.
"Shoot!" he said, jiggling his binoculars. "He has balls! He has two balls! Shoot him!"
My guide had to position the rifle for me, and suddenly there was the buffalo's ass, about 180 meters away. Far, far from an ideal shot. My only hope was to hit the spine. I had three people urging me to shoot. My adrenaline was pumping. Tunnel vision. Sound fading away. As soon my finger hit the trigger, I saw nothing but clear Tanzanian sky. The .458 Winchester Magnum was a beast itself.
The shot only startled the buffalo, enough to make it turn broadside. I took my second shot. The hill went black. More buffalo. So many more buffalo. Apparently a whole herd had been sitting there in the shade.
The guide yelled "Shoot again!"
I realized I should probably find my buffalo and keep shooting at it. Those things can never be too dead. With the third shot, the other buffalo kicked into high gear and were gone. My ears were ringing, my shoulder was throbbing, but I got him. Then the guide looked at me and said, "You hit one, maybe two buffalo." We only had a tag for one, and our guide thought the first buffalo was the only bull in the whole herd.
The worst thing you can do when you're buffalo hunting is wound an animal. They get extremely aggressive, and will charge anyone or anything that gets near them, including trackers, villagers, children, and stupid 20-year-olds who didn't demand to sight in the rifle first. And don't think that you're safe just because you have a gun on you. A very experienced British hunter once tracked a wounded Cape buffalo to finish it off, and it caught him by surprise, tossing him and killing him.
"But I saw the buffalo kick when I shot it, both times!" I said.
"Yeah," said the guide. "But there was no death bellow." Cape buffalo let out a low, guttural moan as the last breath leaves their body. I had read about this for years, but in the heat of the moment, it had completely slipped my mind.
It was getting dark, so I had to spend a sleepless night in my tent worrying about some poor villager getting gored by the buffalo I'd injured. I drank the better part of a bottle of gin, but it didn't help me sleep; it just made for a miserable next morning.
15 minutes into searching, and the trackers said they smelled buffalo. There was blood on the ground, and we followed it.
"You hit just one, it's good," said a tracker.
We came to the body. It had died mid-stride. My first shot went through one shoulder, both lungs, and the aorta, and my second, moving shot severed the jugular. It was a clean kill, and the bull didn't make it more than 100 yards before expiring.
This wasn't trophy hunting. Meat is a luxury in East Africa. We hired 15 donkeys (and 20 Maasai kids) to haul the whole thing off.
We pulled the organs out and threw them in the fire to cook while we cleaned the buffalo.
"It's huge!" I said. "Is it a record?"
"Ah, no," said one of the guides. "It's not even mature."
"Look at the bosses [the horns]. Still soft. It's a child, this one."
We cut off some more meat.
"Still impressive, that I bagged it though, right?"
"Uh? Yeah, yeah, sure. Good job, mzungu. For you, good job."
You can reach out to Nick Rudicle here. Ryan Menezes is an editor and interviewer here at Cracked. Follow him on Twitter for stuff cut from this article and other things no one should see.
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