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Please enable cookies in your browser to get the full Trove experience. Skip to content Skip to search. Capstick, Peter Hathaway. Physical Description xix, p. Published New York : St. Martin's Press, c Language English. Author Capstick, Peter Hathaway. Edition 1st ed. Subjects Hunting -- Africa. Safaris -- Africa. View online Borrow Buy Freely available Show 0 more links Set up My libraries How do I set up "My libraries"? In any case, this was becoming a rather serious matter, especially when I heard a very strange sound just off to my left: a click, followed after perhaps a second and a half by a tremendous boom!
I knew, of course, that it was Gordon firing his. The only problem was that his ammo was defective and, after four attempts, Gordon had had three hangfires and one complete dud.
Or, to be fair, at least the ammo did. I shifted my sight to adjust to the fact that the lion was coming in at a five-degree angle and smashed a bullet right where it should have counted, smack in the middle of the chest. Okay, I knew that a. Gordon and Karonda knew the same thing. The lion didn't. He at least swerved at a few yards, and, with a dexterity I thought long gone, I worked the bolt and got a fresh round up the spout. As he turned, I thought, Aha! Wrong again. I have not yet had the chance to examine the skull of that grand beast, but I can tell you with a dozen witnesses, three of whom were on the spot when the incident occurred, that I shot that bloody lion exactly behind the base of the left ear.
Precisely what the damage was has not yet been determined, but it sure as hell wasn't enough. He spun and came straight for us--and when a lion does that from a few yards, you had betterhave the ammo belt in the Maxim if you want to see the home airfield again. Another hangfire! To say that this lion had me highly motivated would be an extreme understatement. There have probably been men who have worked a Mauser bolt-action faster, but I am inclined to at least give myself the benefit of a tie.
I claim not the record, but I will tell you that there was a fourth round in my chamber in an astonishing hurry. As the lion continued his spin, I smacked him up the butt in an attempt to smash the pelvic girdle. Although the bullet hole was not more than an inch from his evacuating mechanism, I might as well have missed the bastard completely. It just made him madder and, trust me, he was mad enough to start with after my first shot.
I heard the snap of Gordon's striker on the. Meanwhile, the bloody thing was damned near on us, so old Karonda, the eighty-year-old Subiya gun bearer, decided to have a go at him with the spare.
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I saw it blow a clump of turf into the air some six feet behind the lion, though he later swore he had shot it through the hips. There was no such bullet mark, more to our bad luck, as Karonda had once saved Gordon's life from a highly imminent lioness under very similar circumstances.
I believe high-school boys have a term for the position we were now in but it is not for family reading. I was carrying nine cartridges, all grain Silvertips, and had thus far shot that cat twice through the head, once through the chest, and again up the arse. Gordon, through what I consider magnificent shooting, considering his hangfires, had to date placed at least one big soft-point through his guts.
It's not the kind of shot that does much to break a lion down but, let's face it, it must be to some degree discouraging. Having by now clearly seen us, the brute finished his turn and came straight for us. He was one hell of a lot bigger than the lions you see on television, at the circus, or in the zoo, and I want to tell you he was most definitely on a kamikaze mission.
I slammed him again in the chest, which, according to all the textbooks as well as my own work and experience, should have cooled him down considerably. This was, however, not a cooperative lion. I don't think he could read. You must understand that all this sort of thing goes on in a matter of seconds--if you're that lucky--and it is pure reflex that keeps you alive or gets you killed with amazing rapidity. You just don'tfool around with wounded, charging, record-book lions. Not very often, you don't. I had now shot him four times, as I said; twice through the noggin, once in the chest, and once more in unspeakable places.
Gordon had by that point gotten at least one grain soft-point into him and--it all happened so fast--perhaps a second. Hitting a running lion at that speed with three hangfires and a dud and connecting with two of the three rounds that actually fired is an amazing feat of marksmanship and shows the kind of, shall we say, intestinal fortitude with which Gordon Cundill is gifted. I carry a custom Mauser-action, Blin-dee-barreled, bolt-action.
I had it made to hold six cartridges. If one loads directly from the action, however, there is always the risk of breaking the extractor, which is precisely what you don't need in the middle of a safari, let alone a lion charge. I therefore carry four rounds in the magazine and one in the chamber with the hammer down. My last shot was in the chamber of the barrel. The lion finished his spin and resumed his charge. Gordon was off to my left and Karonda just to my right.
As the beast whirled around, I stuck the last round in the rifle into his shoulder and aimed for his spine. It was the only lousy shot I made, just an inch high. It could have cost us our lives.
No two ways: I blew it. My rifle was now empty. Gordon's insurance gun, his dinosaur-stopping. It very much appeared that my career at the typewriter and the Mauser would both be coming to rather dramatic ends in the next few seconds The tarmac of Jan Smuts Airport turned from coarse pavement to flowing black velvet as our plane gathered speed. I was sitting on the aisle, my wife Fiona in the middle, and Paul Kimble next to the window. One of the better-known South African photographers, I had "engaged" him for the trip. There would be others to follow.
Paul, Fiona, and I were met on the dot by Keith Essen, representing Hunters Africa, who whisked us through Customs despite our guns and the other paraphernalia sometimes queried by authorities in any country. Our final destination was not Zimbabwe, however--where I had spent time in the Matetsi region as a professional hunter during the bush war in the bloody days of the seventies--but Botswana, and this was the easiest route.
He had, as Fate would have it, acquired the rights to Matetsi Unit 4, precisely my old stamping ground, and promptly invited our party down for a stay, provided the lion Gordon and I were about to assault did not do me first. Fair enough. I accepted, especially when I discovered that Eric had employed Stuart Campbell, my friend of some seventeen years, as his general manager. We drove from Victoria Falls Airport which I could barely leave with a dry eye, having met so many wonderful friends and clients there in the past and turned off onto the old hunters' road to Pandamatenga.
Our destination was Kasane, in Botswana, where we would take a flight by light aircraft to Saile airfield, only a few hundred yards from Saile Camp. It seemed as if nothing had changed on the old Pandamatenga Road I had traveled so many times before. As Keith Essen expertly maneuvered us along, I even recognized individual trees. We had, however, a slight problem looming ahead.
ISBN 13: 9780312006709
Not many hours before, the South African Defence Force had carried out a preemptive strike against several strongholds harboring African National Congress terrorists in the capital city of Gaberone, way to the south. Now two of my party were holding South African passports, and I was wondering if there would be an international incident at Kasane that could possibly sabotage my safari plans. I think that what is about to come is technically called a digression, but I shall do my best to deliver it accurately.
Should you be going on safari, I hope you will take it as gospel. Africa today is not that of Robert Ruark in the early days. To highly but not inaccurately simplify matters, it seems there is now just one element that matters, especially in so-called emerging nations: power!
Capstick, Peter Capstick's Africa: A Return To The Long Grass, 1e
Individually or on any other basis, it is the cornerstone of all black African society. When you enter Customs, as I shall vividly demonstrate later in this book, you may or may not understand precisely what I am saying but you will soon catch on. My observations are not intended as racial slurs but, as I have said in previous works, are a function of culture and of my personal experience.
The immense majority of Customs and Immigration officials are charmingly helpful in most emerging black African countries, especially those I visited for the purposes of this book. One does, however, run across the "new man" who is most anxious to obtain promotion byputting somebody in jail. That was bloody nearly me, and I have a low threshold for incarceration, especially in countries where the man on the street doesn't do very well feeding himself, let alone the poor bugger in the slammer.
Spare me Third World slammers With all this chasing through my mind. I was sweating blood as well as more urgent juices as we approached the tiny concrete-and-corrugated-steel hut that housed the formalities of Customs. No problem. My American passport as well as the South African documents were hardly glanced at. Honestly, in retrospect, I don't think that word of the strike on parts of Gaberone had reached Kasane yet. After a brief stop at the Hunters Africa office in Kasane, we were then driven to the airstrip, accompanied by Peter Hepburn, Hunters Africa's manager there.
Our pilot, a Frenchman called Luc, was already on hand, and it was less than an hour later that we landed as smoothly as pancake batter at the airstrip close to Saile Camp after a delightful flight in perfect weather. Gordon was there in person to meet us, along with his entire African safari staff --the damndest collection of charm and talent I've ever run across. Well, that's Gordon. If you're not the best, you don't work for him.