Jack Brittingham's World of Hunting Adventure

What Hunting Dreams Are Made Of

Jack Brittingham's 2003 African Hunt

Field Report #3 - July 7, 2003

Finally Got The Lion

This morning, I finally got the lion we have been hunting for the last five days. After having seen him twice before we could determine he was OK to shoot, and then not seeing him for a couple of days, it was a great relief.

Lion - Click to enlargeLast night he was within sixty yards of my tent. He was roaring from two AM on, but I don't think he roared when he made the tracks just down by the river. It always sounded like he was more like two or three hundred yards away when we heard him.

At first light we were in the blind where we had been baiting him. He never showed, although some other members of the pride fed on the bait (mostly cubs). After about two hours the hunting vehicle came rushing in without being called. We all knew they must have seen him or they would not come in. We all thought that we heard the pride kill a buffalo last night, and as it turned out, that is what happened.

Stork - Click to enlargeAs it got lighter, the trackers spotted him on his kill, a nice buffalo bull, and came in to alert us. We rushed out of the blind and back to the spot where they had seen him. He was still there, so we drove down wind about 200 yards and jumped off the cruiser to make a stalk. At about 100 yards several yellow billed storks rose from the stream bed alerting the lion that all was not well. He immediately ran offering no shot opportunity.

Our next plan was to build a blind and wait overlooking the buffalo he killed with his pride. After locating a logical sight, we left to get the vehicle and go to the opposite side of the river to pull the buffalo carcass up out of the bottom to a location where we could see it when they approached it again on the late afternoon. As we were approaching the location of the kill, one of the trackers spotted the male laying about three hundred yards from the river. We stopped the truck and began a stalk that brought us within 100 yards of the lion. He was quick to spot us and begin moving away.

Lion - Click to enlargeThe shooting sticks were set up and I found him in my crosshairs, but could not shoot at the angle he was giving me. Before disappearing into the tall grass he turned to look back one more time. Doug gave me the go ahead and I sent a .375 through his front shoulders. He growled and began spinning around but before I could shoot again he disappeared in the grass. His lionesses began crouching and pointing their bodies in our direction. As one of them began flicking her tail over her back, which is the first signal of a charge, Doug suggested we move back. As we did so, they made the decision to retreat, ending a very exciting sequence of events!

We then approached the downed lion with all the anticipation of a covey rise when quail hunting. I commented to Doug the similarity, to which he replied" these quail can bite!" At about sixty yards I spotted him laying in the grass and after a minute or so we determined he was not moving. We still repositioned to where we were approaching from his back side and got right up to him, poking him with our barrels to ascertain he was finished. As I had hoped the shot had gone straight through his front shoulders, undoubtedly taking out his heart, or the blood vessels on the top.

Lion - Click to enlargeHe was magnificent! We spent nearly an hour taking still photos and loading him into the vehicle for the trip to the skinning shed. First, we stopped by camp where the entire camp staff sang the lion song while carrying me around in a chair which they jointly hoisted in the air. This went on for quite a while, followed by more photos with the camp staff, lots of hand shaking, and then the trip to the skinning shed.

That's the story. It was a hell of a day, and one I will never forget! Later we found a black spitting cobra seventy yards from camp and spent quite a while trying to get him out of the rock pile he was in. At one point he came out long enough to spit at me (which I got on video), then he went back into the rocks where he hissed terribly as we prodded him with the shooting sticks. Juma, our head tracker, was absolutely fearless of this snake, and is the first local I have seen who was not terrified by any type of snake. I have no doubt he would have caught it if given the chance. We had to call him away from his pursuit in order to depart for the afternoon hunt.

Wildebeest - Click to enlargeAll in all it was quite a day. When we returned to camp, we found that Ray and Mandy had taken a nice wildebeest, and had also spent a great deal of time stalking in on three different group of cape buffalo totaling about 500 animals. They never saw a mature shooter bull and decided it was too early in the trip to shoot a lesser animal.

Jack Brittingham

Next: The Buffalo Hunt

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