Although lions are said to be pretty tough if not hit well forward, a deep wound will probably cause their death ; for being carnivorous feeders their wounds are more liable to suppurate and cause inflammation in a very short space of time.
Mr. F. C. Selous has mentioned that he has found lions easy to kill, and most people who have shot elephants have found it very easy to kill them with small or medium bore rifles. Of course it is imperative to get close if one is to expect to place the bullet well, and certainly the most important shot with all game is the first one. People who fire long range shots at dangerous game, and then have to follow up the animals, really take much more risk in doing so than they would do in approaching close for the first shot, when they could make tolerably certain of placing their bullet in a vital spot. Also it must be remembered that a small bullet in the right place is always better than a large one in the wrong place.
After seeing the natives started on cutting up the elands, one of which I had given complete to Memeza to divide with his brother and one or two other headmen of adjoining villages, I started off to try to find some more game, and soon reached a dambo, where, however, nothing was visible. I walked along the edge of the timber, and every now and then I turned round and looked back, when suddenly I saw a bull sable leave the bush on the opposite side and begin to cross the dambo towards my side. It was a good 600 yards off when I first caught sight of it, so I turned back and ran inside the thick bush, for I wanted to get a shot at it before it reached thick cover. When I thought I was about 200 yards from the place I made for the open again, and saw the sable walking slowly towards the bush. I sat down and fired at it with the 200 yards leaf up as it was walking, and I missed. The sable stopped, so I quickly pumped another cartridge into the magazine of my 7.9 mm. Mauser rifle and fired again, this time with better results, as I heard the bullet make the welcome "phut." The sable started forward and was soon into the bush, so I followed, and suddenly saw him standing looking back. I fired quickly, he dropped, and I thought I had broken his backbone. On approaching close he suddenly jumped up and ran off at a great pace, and I missed him. I felt disgusted at my bad shooting, but I determined that I would follow him all day if necessary. From the glances I had had of his long curved horns I knew he had a good head, so I was soon on his tracks, which were easy to follow as long as he was running, for a sable cuts deep into the soil, and his hoofs spread much when he is moving quickly. At last he began to walk slowly, but he got into country where the ground was covered with a thick carpet of dry fallen leaves, perhaps the most difficult type of country to spoor in that it is possible to find. Then we lost the spoor completely, and I thought I was to lose the sable, but I spread out the men and told them to look for the tracks, and to keep their eyes open for the game. I was walking in the centre of the line when I caught sight of the sable standing nearly 200 yards away. There was no time to sit down and take a steady shot, so I fired standing, and very quickly, and I was delighted to see him drop, and on going up to him I found that the last bullet had entered close to the point of his shoulder and got him in the heart—a particularly good shot, but at the same time a very lucky one, for I could not depend on shooting so straight every time.
The horns were a fine pair, measuring close on 42m. on the curve, and they eventually dried to 41½in., as all horns do after being kept for a time. Ivory also dries up, and a 5olb. tusk may sometimes go Down to 461b. or so if kept in a hot, dry climate. Horn and ivory substance is full of moisture, and as this evaporates there is a slight decrease in weight and measurements.
As we had not brought out any water with us we were all rather thirsty and tired, so after photographing the dead sable we started back for the village, which was only about four miles off.
How different are one's feelings when returning successful from what they are after a fatiguing day when some fine animal has been missed or, worse still, wounded and lost!
In the latter case every step is tiring, and one's own feelings are reflected on the men, who keep silent and glum. Sometimes when a large animal, such as an elephant, has been killed, the natives will sing and carry the tail, and wave it as they get near the village. Possibly another man has got a load of meat and the villagers will run out and beg a bit.
All natives are extremely fond of meat and the amount they are capable of eating at a sitting is prodigious, and I am sure some of them could dispose of ten pounds without feeling in any way uncomfortable. After a succession of great gorges natives will become dazed with too much flesh ; in fact they get drunk with meat. Elephant meat they are very fond of, as they believe that eating it gives them strength.
The sable antelopes in the Eastern and Southern parts of Central Africa, such as in Nyasaland, for instance, seldom grow very long horns, and a head of 42m. or 43m. may be considered an exceptional one. I saw a head in Fort Jameson which measured 47m., and this trophy was picked up near the Mangazi valley.
On the plateau above Lake Tanganyika some sable with very large horns have been shot, but the best place for large sable trophies is North-Western Rhodesia, where heads of 45m. are common, and where they have-been shot up to 5oin. and slightly over.
As I always give natives most of the meat of any game I shoot, only keeping part of it and the head and skin for myself, this large quantity of meat was soon finished, and I still wanted many bundles of grass for my huts, so on the 29th I went out again to try to fill the larder.