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Tales of a District Commissioner AN02169_.WMF (9820 bytes)

A Cadet goes Shooting
by R.C. Dening

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I had been a few months in Africa and was on tour in a new District where large game was scarce but small stuff fairly plentiful. The Head Messenger had seen me accidentally shoot a reed-buck the previous Sunday, and so, feeling sick himself, he considered he could entrust me to a junior.

Thus it was that on the Sunday in question I went out from camp along the wide riverine plains with Messenger Chisuwa; I carried my .303 with at least six clips of hard-nosed bullets, Chisuwa had my double barrelled twelve bore loaded with buckshot.

We had not gone far before we spotted away on the horizon, a reed-buck feeding at the edge of the plain. We stalked it with the noisy stealth of novices, and when it was still many hundreds of yards away, I felt, probably quite correctly, that soon it was bound to see or hear us. I therefore took up a position behind a fallen tree, laid careful aim and fired.

The gun of course went off and the animal stopped feeding. It paused for a moment pondering; then because, presumably, it had heard the bullet strike a tree on the far side, it turned sharply and came galloping straight towards us. We crouched behind our tree, shaking with excitement. Obviously it could not be allowed to come too near or we might shoot each other. About ten yards away there was a patch of thick grass and as it reached this, I fired again.

The reed-buck got the fright of its life. It leapt sideways on and 'froze' in a standing position. With shaking hands I re-loaded and jammed the rifle. I rectified the jam and fired again, a bit lower this time. To my incredulity, the animal still stood there, so I fired yet again. Observing no change in the scene in front of me, I turned to Chisuwa and shouted at him, " Fire man, fire you fat-head!"

"I have already fired both barrels, Bwana", he replied. "Then it must be dead", I said. But as it still stood there, I fired again, and yet again.

Suddenly the animal realised that it was in mortal danger, unfroze, pricked up its ears and galloped away. I continued to fire at the moving target until it was in the bush on the other side of the plain, when I too collapsed on the ground in spasms of uncontrollable laughter. When I came to examine my ammunition, I appeared to have used 15 rounds.

Even I, who took the major part in the episode, often find it difficult to believe that it really could have happened. If the good Lord possesses a cine camera, even the Archangel Gabriel could scarce forbear to smirk!



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Website: Copyright B.Corker 2008     Images: Copyright EGL Dening 2008