"The Thing A Man Hunts Most When He Hunts Is Himself" - Part 2: Rats With (Unusually Wide) Horns

Updated: Jul 23

By saying a hunter is "hunting himself" the original author suggests that a man hunts to find out about himself - to finally one day come into a situation where he is confronted not by a charging lion or Cape buffalo, but by himself. He will see himself naked in the eye of nature - meaning that despite his $800 manly camo uniform, his loudly visible laminate rifle stock and shiny stainless steel barrel with helical fluting, or the magnum designation on it, or his big talk on gun forums - he will observe his downed animal on Africa soil, with Africans looking past him and at him; and he will also see himself as he his. He will see the reason he hunts, or has been hunting. He will see whether it is a sincere reason or whether it has been for display. He will realise that he had come to Africa to hunt - or he had come to merely be driven around to quickly in a week's time kill some Africa species and be able to say "I hunted Africa". He will see himself for who and what he is as a man.

The typical South African meat hunter who for years had insisted to hunt on foot and find his animal with the assistance of a local "tracker" may still want to do that - but only if the property owner allows him. He may find himself constrained by having to shoot off the back of a seated-out Toyota Landcruiser truck with a padded rifle rest over the cab - and with loudmouthed, foulmouthed "corporate hunters" on invitation sitting behind him drinking "brannas-and-coke". If the "Cruiser" stops at his impala at the side of a fence and if he gets off to observe the bullet behaviour - and if he is of keen observation to fully see the scene around him - he will see himself for what he is as a hunter or a man. Hopefully he will make a decision there and then.

Hunting the Cape buffalo is a dream for many, and for some it will remain a dream. Some will come to South Africa and hunt a buffalo. Just prior to and during a buffalo hunt there is a certain amount of introspection to be observed in the client by the tuned PH - if the PH himself is a tuned hunter and not a mere truck driver to the encampment where the canned buffalo are walking a set pattern between a bale of hay and a through of water.

If the client is allowed the true experience to walk with the PH and tracker and find tracks and follow them and spook the daggha bulls and follow them until the heat and heavy rifle become issues - and THEN take the truck and find where the bulls' tracks had crossed another sandy road, and take up the spoor again and spook them again and finally being able to collect his breath and do proper trigger control and down his buffalo, he has hunted and found not only the buffalo but himself too.

The hunter who comes to Africa to quickly shoot a canned buffalo from a vehicle, or puts an arrow, or a pistol bullet, or a large calibre airgun bullet into a buffalo and the PH kills it quickly with his .375 H&H, may or may not hunt and track again and find himself after the event. But one day he will if he keeps on "hunting" this way. That day he will insist that the back-up weapon for his 75 lb Matthews compound bow is another 75 lb bow, or demand that the PH only carries a similar .460 Smith & Wesson as his own. That day he will find himself to be a hunter.

The American client who simply must have the widest set of horns to be high up or on top in the Rowland Ward record book of trophies may read about the unusually wide horns that Cape buffalo suddenly carry in South Africa. There have always been exceptional genes that ensured record horns of 42" and more - and that was why the Rowland Ward system that only publishes exceptional horns chose that particular width as already being exceptional. Suddenly you see photos of Cape buffalo bulls with horns so "exceptional" that an exceptional set of 42" looks like the lower end of herd material and certainly not stud quality. Yes - nowadays there are BREEDERS of Cape buffalo studs in South Africa; that once wild and wily and dangerous animal is now DNA tested and registered in a breeders association just like domestic cattle or goats or yappying puppies. Breeders who by manipulated husbandry force unique horn width genetics versus normal DNA outcomes in their buffalo studs. The once natural balance of good genes that had ensured wild buffalo with nature's best balanced natural selection processes in place for high herd balanced immunity against nature's curved balls are now replaced by a selective, unnatural selection process of husbandy. Rats with wide horns are being bred and not naturally developed Cape buffalo.

The trophy hunter who comes to South Africa to quickly shoot one of these individually bred and named and tagged canned "rats with 52"+ wide horns" may one day look at his mounted "trophy" and decide to start hunting and tracking - and go on a quest to find himself as a hunter and as a man. Hopefully he will come back to South Africa and hunt a big bossed 35" mean beast - and find himself.

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