South African men (most of them anyway) love guns. Guns are used for numerous things in the country, from game and sports hunting, to illegal poaching; from self defence to car-jackings, cash van heists, general robbery and then by the police in the ‘dropping’ of crime perpetrators. Let’s stay on the right side of the law for the remainder of this post.
One of my friends recently purchased a handgun, adding to his growing arsenal, which he proudly showcases in its leatherette (or perhaps leather?) holster attached to the belt on his jeans. It goes everywhere with him and is clearly visible (is this a rule?). Now the weird thing is that his new accessory has an accompanying cowboy-come-Chuck Norris style swagger attached to it, and when not swaggering, a thumbs-through-belt-loop control of his hands. Got the picture? It’s like the BMW car effect of the gun world. Perhaps if I owned a handgun I would also be….possessed?
When I first moved here, a number of the oaks I worked with (or for) asked if I’d ever been hunting? Being an Englishman, fresh meat in Africa, my answer naturally was ‘no’. Then the tall stories started; how so and so had downed a charging hippo (how can you miss a hippo!), or that time when a lion came within a whiskers breath of killing the hunter before it was shot d-e-a-d. The lion now poses as a mangy floor rug in the hunter’s house and whose stuffed head trips up the unsuspecting house guest.
I have been on a couple of hunting trips now – one to a farm in the Karoo and a second to a big game hunting camp in Zimbabwe (I went tiger fishing on the latter trip). My first experience of hunting for game meat was rather pleasant and me and my wife came away with a nice bok which got turned into biltong and choice meat cuts for the braai. On with the story!
The morning veldt air was chilly, although I spent the much of it driving around in the comfort of a Hilux with the heater turned up to keep my extremities warm. My hunter friend was dressed to the nines in warm camo gear, sporting a navy seal style ear piece with which to radio the vehicle base, aka ‘us’ (code name ‘Bravo Zero”), holding a badass hunting rifle and having a facial expression to match. He looked cold when we spied him through the window! The morning’s hunt was an anticlimax when it came to action sequences, the bokke running circles around the hunter. We chirped him a little over the walkie talkie. This provided some in-car amusement, but there was a definite sense of humour failure in the other camp, given away by pure radio static responses.
Roll on the afternoon! After a hearty lunch of pap and a littering of meat-based protein, I had a go at shooting the badass gun in the garden. When that thing went off next to your head, part of your brain metaphorically ‘threw in the towel’ and dribbled out of your nostrils. What a din!! And if you had seen the size of the bullets, they made anal suppositories look like Tic-Tacs…. arme bokke!
Target practice over and minus a few brain cells, the hunting crew (that’s right, So Solid crew in the UK ain’t got nuffink on us) decided to bring our secret weapon into game – an original 1970s series Landcruiser pick-up. This thing still started after year of neglect and more rusty bodywork than pop icon Cher – it is a LEGEND. Dat’s right – dem Bokke be goin’ down!
The afternoon was warmer, which made riding around atop the back of the Landcruiser bearable if you factored out the bone breaking ride quality! Our hunter (aka The Merchant of Death) managed two clean kills. The first from quite a distance away in a bushy hideaway and the second after creepy-sneaking up on the bokke whilst they were chillin’ having their lunch break (personally a bit unfair). Both kills were followed by the mandatory Kodak moment (one for the kids honey) where our hunter adopted a squat pose which wouldn’t look out of place in a Jay-Z or Snoop Dogg music video (Yo!) whilst the dead animal’s head was propped up to smile at the camera. Everybody say ‘cheez’! The Landcruiser’s flatbed was graced with the two bok carcasses and the little lightie riding with us got to wade around in the animal blood on the way back to the farmhouse – everyone was in good spirits!
When darkness fell over the farm, we all hopped back into the Hilux to go jackal hunting. Steven Spielberg had nothing on our special effects equipment, consisting of an infra-red torchlight (so we wouldn’t scare our prey), black-ops face paint, 90s-era Sony Discman with portable speaker and an audio CD of jackal porn tracks to attract our prey (like they say – you can get almost anything off the internet). Let’s also not forget about the badass gun and space shuttle sized spotlight, the latter to catch the jackal in the act of dropping their pants. Bottom line is that these farm jackals probably had other sources of jackal audio-porn and we didn’t manage to see of shoot any. The Milky Way vista that night was however the most spectacular I had ever seen and made for a good consolation prize.