As it was pretty late, I covered up the two sable and decided to return early next morning and try to find the bull.
Next morning I came back with all my men to cut up the meat and to resume the search for the wounded sable. The cows were both very fat and in the highest condition, and the natives relished this, as they got most of the meat.
I spent many hours trying to trace the wounded animal, and I could not find him, but I shot a reedbuck ram after I had left the sable spoor.
Finding this locality no good for elephants, as they had evidently been scared away by the smell of the dead one, I changed camp to Mitala's village, about eight miles from Maponda's, where I found the old camp of a white man who had been shooting there a month or two before.
Telling my cook to superintend the pitching of my tent and to make some lunch, I took three men and went for a stroll, and found a lot of old elephant and buffalo spoor. I came on a large herd of roan antelopes, and could have shot one had I cared to do so, for they would hardly move away; at least, they would let me approach to within 150 yards, and then run for two or three hundred yards, and stop and look back. Besides the spoor I have mentioned, the whole ground was covered with the tracks of elands and roan, and this was evidently a big-game haunt of the best description.
On getting back I found my tent pitched, and was just going to call for food when I heard the shouting of machilla men in the distance, and soon saw them coming round a bend in a path. A machilla is a hammock on one or two poles.
Then I saw a tall white man walking behind, and soon they arrived at my camp, and turned out to be Mr. and Mrs. Barns, who had camped here before, and since then had been shooting in another locality.
My cook soon added to the lunch, and while we were eating it we talked about shooting experiences.
In the evening I went out and shot two bull elands, each falling to a single 7.9mm. bullet, although I gave each of them a finishing shot to put them out of pain. These elands were with a herd consisting of quite 150 animals, one of the largest herds of elands I have ever seen. I could have shot several more had I wished to do so, as they were quite tame and would hardly clear out. Those I had shot were both full-sized bulls, one slightly larger than the other, and I gave one to Mr. Barns and kept the other for my men. Neither was very fat, and it is quite impossible to tell whether an animal will have plenty of inside fat until it is cut up. Many beasts that look fat will not have any inside fat, and others that look thin may be full of it. This fat is found round the heart and kidneys, and the intestines are often covered with it. It should be kept as clean as possible, and I get the natives to put it in the hide and transport it to camp in that way.
In cutting up a carcass the natives are usually very careless, and they do not seem to mind dirt getting on the meat, although, of course, when this happens it can be washed off.
Meat does not keep well when it gets wet, and no water should be put on the fat, as this is apt to make it go rancid when boiled and rendered down.
It is useful, when cutting up an animal, to take note of the exact position of the vital organs, such as the heart, lungs, liver, and kidneys, as a knowledge of their positions is a great help in directing a bullet for a killing shot. Naturally, when a beast is lying on its side all the organs mentioned will incline downwards with their weight, but a very good idea can be got of their natural positions, and this is a great help to good killing, and I advise young sportsmen to study the matter.
On the 8th I had a long walk round Matisi dambo, where there was water, and near there I found the tracks of a small bull and a cow elephant. These tracks 1 followed for some distance until I found that the animals had joined a small herd of cows, and as the bull, judging by his spoor, was not worth shooting, I left them and did a long round to look for the tracks of a bigger animal.
After travelling many miles through some very rough, thorny country, I again found the spoor of the same two elephants, which I followed again for a short distance, thinking that they might be joined by a bigger animal. About midday, having seen nothing, and finding I was not far from camp, J made for it, and found lunch awaiting me.
On this day the sun was scorching hot, and the ground was covered with small, thorny bushes, which were very hard on bare legs, and I arrived back with many scratches.
As two men should not camp together, I left next morning for Maponda's village, although, by the unwritten rules of sport, it was Mr. Barns's duty to move on when he found me in camp. However, Mrs. Barns was feeling unwell, so I did the moving to save her the trouble and exertion.
On the eight miles' tramp to Maponda's I found the night spoor of a lion on the path in some sand, but, when he got on hard ground, no traces of his passage were visible. I also saw the tolerably fresh spoor of a herd of buffaloes, but I was not feeling quite fit enough to start after them. Besides these tracks there was plenty of eland and roan spoor about, and I saw some reedbuck and a warthog, which all bolted before I could get a shot.
On the 10th I had a good try to find another elephant, and did a round of a good twenty miles, and went through some very likely country, but was not lucky enough to find any spoor fresh enough to follow.
In a dambo I found the carcass of a young eland which had been killed by a lion two nights before, and, strange to say, the lion had only eaten a small part of it, and had not returned the next night. If the moon had been good I would have made a machan near ; but, as it was a long way from camp and the kill was old, I did not think it worth while.
When I got back to camp I had some food and a smoke, and then decided to return to my home on the Bua River, so I packed up and got home by sundown, having covered fifteen miles, which made a total of a good thirty-five miles for the day's walk.