First Elephant Hunt

Dan Braman

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On our sixth day in the Caprivi we didn't get anything but what did happen is worth writing about. Up at 4:00AM and off to look for elephant tracks. We found the tracks shortly after daylight and set out tracking them.

The trackers in Africa never cease to amaze me more then anything else that ever happens there. After about an hour we were close to the heard, so close we could hear them chewing, but couldn't see them. The bulls were in a huge thicket feeding on trees. It is an amazing experience to be so close to them. Imagine an animal that snaps limbs the size of our thighs and chews it up. These bulls on several occasions were within 10 yards of us but all we could see was an ear flap here and there. We sent our trackers up in trees to point them out and they did. We moved a short distance and found an open area where one of the bulls was feeding along the edge. His left tusk was around 60 pounds but his right was broken. He literally fed to within 10 yards of us and looked down at us. With five rifles aiming at his head he stopped probably two steps from us having to defend ourselves. We slowly backed out and tried to get better looks at the other bulls. For over two hours we were in that thicket and in time saw each and everyone of the bulls. None were big enough, but to be there with my son and see that was worth the entire 18 hour flight to Africa.

The following day we found elephant on an island and began our stalk. We were in knee deep water and made our way to within forty yards of the bull we wanted but he wouldn't stop his slow walking pace. Our PH decided to move even closer and in doing so we came to a small creek. As our PH stepped in it I saw him disappear. This "small creek" was about six feet deep. Here we go, rifles held high over our heads and wading/swimming. I'm not sure about everyone else but I was certain that at any moment a croc was going to take my leg off. One by one we made it through and came out about thirty yards from the bull. Again he never stopped. Finally, he disappeared into the reeds and that was that. Again, an experience I wouldn't trade for anything with my son.

Day 9 would turn out to be my son's lucky day. Once again we left at 4:00AM and headed out to look for tracks. We found some fresh tracks around nine in the morning and decided to follow them as one of the bulls had a bigger then normal track. We had only walked around a mile when we caught up to a heard of three bulls. They were standing together under a tree and the bull we wanted was of course, on the wrong side. Moving slowly and quietly we flanked the huge animals to their left side. Carefully placing our feet so as to not break a twig we moved to within 22 yards of them. All we needed now was for the bull on the left to turn just slightly. Considering our close range it was our plan for Daniel to try for the side brain shot and if the bull didn't instantly go down I would send two shots into the heart/lung area. I swear we waited forever for him to turn. Finally he did and my son's .470 NE roared. The bull swayed like he was going to collapse on impact but he didn't. I settled my 500/465 NE in the heart area and pulled the first trigger, then the second. I could see the blood coming out of two big holes in the elephants side. Just then, as he turned to run my son let his second barrel go, hitting the bull just left of the spine. By then I had reloaded and tried a hundred yard running spine shot. Later, I would find out that I had shot both barrels about 4 inches left of where I needed them to go. We chased after the bulls but of course couldn't find them. Immediately the trackers got on the track and off we went. I felt very confident that the bull wouldn't go far as most of them won't run over 200 yards with a proper heart/lung shot. Two hundred, then, four hundred yards went by and blood was scarce. Six hundred yards and I started to wonder. The trackers found the bull about 800 yards from where we had originally shot him. Again a testament to how tough animals are over there.

First Elephant

As it looked Daniel had shot about three inches low, my first two back up shots were exactly where I wanted them. Daniel and I had both missed the spine shots by about four inches as the bull ran away. Nothing can or ever will compare to my son's face as he walked up to that bull. He had around fifty pounds of tusks but his body size was like no other elephant I'd ever seen. Even Corne, our PH, kept talking about this bull's body. Lying on his side the bull was at least a foot taller then me and I stand 5'11". In looking at the video, right as Daniel pulled the trigger the bull started turning thus causing the three inch low shot. This was and will probably always remain the best hunt I'd ever been on. To be fortunate enough to see my son take his first elephant is something. But, to be able to see it and back him up was amazing. The video looks great so I am sure that soon, all will see this story as it unfolded on television.

Posted by Dan Braman under DBraman, Hunting on September 20, 12 07:55 AM | Permalink

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