I was the last one off the plane, so I had to wait in customs for over an hour while my little cousins had excitement convulsions. We hopped in there and they took me back to their home. It's on a street that's fun to say: Kabulonga Drive. Nice.
Since I was only supposed to spend a couple of hours in Dubai, I was a day late, so the next morning we had to hit the road for Choma, a small town in Southwestern Zambia. My uncle's friend, the tobacco farmer lives there.
Choma's out there, and the farm is even more out there. We got lost so Murray told my uncle to look for the five egg trees. That's the entrence. We saw four of them and figured that was good enough, and our old Toyota land cruiser slumped into his dirt driveway. Zane, my younger cousin, informed Murray that he had to clear up his directions rearding the four* egg trees. He responded with biscuits and tea.
Murray asked us what we'd like to do, and my uncle being upfront said hunting had been on my mind. He agreed and led me to my guest house about 500 feet down a dirt path.
At 5:30 I woke. I actually just got out of bed because I didn't sleep a wink. I threw on my cargo pants, grabbed my backpack, and headed outside to meet the orange glow of your average African sunrise.
I was feeling good to go for 'The Hunt' when I saw four tall Africans in camo with guns, laughing and walking down a path that met mine. I jumped off the trail and hid behind a bush, as I had no idea what else to do. Maybe they wanted to kill me. Long story short, I soon after saw Murray come out and shake their hands. They work on the farm as the anti-poaching unit. They kill people, but fortunately not me.
The biggest was named Bright. He was the youngest too, 18 or 19, and Murray is convinced that he's going to "feed him up" and make him the most dreaded anti-poaching dude in Choma. This kid stood about 6'4" and he had the longest arms I've ever seen, and his hands looked like they were the size of boxing gloves. Murray said he grew up in the bush and hasn't had any good nutrition his entire life. I guess he got noticeably bigger after a single week Mrs. Murray's eggs.
|The dreaded "Bright" - Anti-poacher|
We hopped into the off-road hunting vehicle, and set off into his land. The first hunt-able animal we saw was a bush pig, but by the time Bright hopped out and tossed me the .223, he ran away. I got out with Governor, the oldest of the group and no doubt the most battle-tested, and tried to track the damn pig. We couldn't find him, but I found a centipede bigger than my head.
After hours of driving and watching impalas and wildebeests run with terror at the sound of the familiar vehicle, we saw a couple of warthogs. We circled around and Phineas threw me the gun. We were standing in the bed of the truck, so I plopped it on the top of the cab, and fired from about 70 yards out. And... they all ran away. But wait! Did someone say that warthogs run 20 meters after being shot because of adrenaline and then drop dead? Yes, Murray did. I got it right behind the shoulder with a perfect shot and down went Fraser.
The most shocking part of the trip came next. Omar (my uncle) shot an impala right near the thigh, granted we were about 100 yards out so I'll give him the benefit of the doubt. We drove up next to the screaming animal and bright jumped out with a knife that Ricky Bobby would refer to as a "Jack-Hawk 9000." He slit the poor animals throat and that was that. I was stunned to say the least. (after seeing thousands upon thousands of these other animals, you don't feel so bad. There're enough to go around)
I don't really condone killing for sport, which is why the coolest part of the hunt was that the local villiage was going to have a giant New Year's Eve feast with the animals that we killed. Pretty sweat. I'm a provider.