The love of hunting is deeply entrenched in us as human beings. Since the dawn of time, man has taken to the veldt, or field – depending on your persuasion – and strived to not only find food, but to challenge themselves to best nature.
But the perfect kill is not simply a part of humanity’s innate drive to hunt. No, the perfect kill comes as part of a unique set of circumstances, as individual to a hunter as the print on their trigger finger. It is a combination of ingredients, which may, at their conclusion, have very little to do with actually hearing the bark of the rifle and witnessing the game fall.
My father was a great hunter. He, as a farmers son in Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, spent many hours wandering around the bush. One of his constant companions – alongside some worryingly small shorts – was his rifle. The leisure and grace with which he traversed his landscape showed how at home with the bush he was, and the ease with which he carried his rifle told a story of many years of wandering the land. For him, being in the bush, spending time tracking and finding game, was as much a part of the perfect kill, if not more of it, than the moment he would squeeze the trigger. His favourite past-time was to sit, quietly and patiently, and just munch sugar cane. He would watch, wait and take time when out hunting, merely observing and enjoying his surroundings. That leisurely pace also translated into his activities long before he got out into the bush, but still in preparation for his hunt. He would sit and obsessively clean and oil his rifle, taking hours, as any craftsman should, to ensure it was in the finest condition.
For him, the perfect kill wasn’t about the size or type of game, nor was it about the perfect shot – sure, they played a part, but it wasn’t a huge part, and it certainly wasn’t the key part.
So what’s my perfect kill? I too appreciate the hard work which goes into getting in the bush, and also the skills required to actually drop the game from a distance. But for me, one of the key ingredients of my perfect kill is the coming together of the different strands. On first look, the perfect kill appears to be a solitary pursuit, as the hunter lines up to take the shot, with all the pressure on him. But when scrutinised, it becomes more of a team effort, with different strands, each just as key in my mind, playing a part. The tracker, and the other assorted people in the party all make my perfect kill, and without them, in my view, it would just be another chunk of time spent in the bush. It’s the teamwork, camaraderie which builds up, and coming together of the group which I find are those little elements which I find bring the magic of the perfect kill to my hunts.
And that’s the same for all hunters; whatever the type of game, wherever we are, we all have our own ‘perfect kill’ and we will all spend large – and very enjoyable – chunks of our lives searching for it.
Guest Post by Jamie S Weir. Photographs by Mark Hall