Mike's Hunting has never been high on my agenda
There are a few episodes that happen in your life that are life-changing and this one might be worth recording.
Hunting has never been high on my agenda of activities. I did, however, have an experience that has stayed with me because it was so unusual.
Whilst visiting in Africa, some friends, all very keen hunters persuaded me to go out into the bush as a hunting party. They gave me an old 303 rifle, a leftover from the war but fortunately a weapon I knew very well (I had been an armourer in the RAF).
It's too tedious to explain how or why I became separated from my friends: but I was on my own, stuck in the bush with an old rifle, with just one bullet in it.
My immediate problem was to find my way back to the camp. The sun was high so I was able to judge the direction I needed to follow and I set about doing just that.
After walking for a short time, through fairly heavy jungle growth, I came across a large clearing and although it looked empty enough I felt some trepidation about crossing it. This was Africa, after all, and I would have made a tasty meal for some large carnivore.
The choice was either to walk a long way round, through the quite thick jungle growth, or to risk walking across the clearing.
I decided to risk it.
It must have been 10 minutes or so and I was about half way across when a lion appeared in front and over to my left. It was walking toward me, low down, preparing to charge. I was caught totally unaware but I guess that's what lions do, catch you unaware!
I had only seconds to decide my course of action. The obvious thing was to wait until the lion was closer and then shoot it. I was good with guns since I had spent 3 years working with them in the military, but I was reluctant to kill such a magnificent animal. It's just not in my nature to kill anything!
This had all happened within a few seconds though it seemed like an age, almost as if life was taking place in slow motion. Then something happened to change everything!
Out of the corner of my right eye (my left eye being engaged with the first lion) I spotted another lion, also low down and preparing to charge.
Now I knew I was in real danger! I was live bait and must have looked like easy prey for these two beasts. In a flash I thought perhaps they would fight each other while I made a quick getaway!
With a lion to the left of me and a lion to the right I had to make an instant decision! But I couldn't! Then I spotted the answer.
Almost dead centre between the approaching lions I saw a small rock glinting in the sun and knew what I had to do.
Raising the rifle to my shoulder I aimed my shot at the glinting rock, fired, and as if by magic the bullet hit the rock, splitting the bullet in two, each half hitting a lion between the eyes! They both collapsed, knocked out!
Phew! What a relief! It was a close call. It had all happened within the space of just a few seconds.
I trotted over to each lion, tiring in such heat, checked they were both okay, patted them on the head and carried on across the clearing.
Obviously, I found my way back to camp, or I wouldn't be telling you about this episode in my life.
Apart from being chased by some baboons in a park, the only other experience I've had with wild animals was years later in North America where I had a run-in with a giant Kodiac bear. It must have been 10 foot tall! That was an experience so fantastic that if I was to write about it, I fear no one would believe me!
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