Sportsman makes self-guided African safari
Jan. 25, 2002
You might consider Roy Hurst a fortunate man. Who do you know who gets to go to game-rich Zimbabwe, borrow a safari vehicle and go into the bush to hunt plains game on his own without a professional hunter? And all for free! Hurst considers the experience he had in Africa last summer a "unique blessing from the Lord."
Roy speaks of the experience, "Each of those 4 days my emotions were operating at full capacity, relishing every minute; feeling like I was in heaven."
During many trips to Zimbabwe, formerly Rhodesia, Roy has developed a close attachment to the nation's people and land. He claims "the people are the brightest, most polite and best educated in all of Africa, and the whites are aristocratic in their social graces and lifestyle."
Relationships there have resulted in Hurst being invited to stay in friends' homes and go hunting with them free of charge. Some of his friends in Zimbabwe are Christians as is Roy. "They practically roll out the red carpet for me," he remarks.
Hurst feels a kinship with Zimbabwe's history. During the 1970s Rhodesia was embroiled in a full scale anti-terrorist war, which ended in 1980. Like many Americans, Roy responded to their call for help, risking his life during 2 trips to the country. Beyond assisting the government and the military, he also interacted with Christians and churches. Today his trips are like those of a voluntary missionary; visits to seminaries, churches and Christian people, witnessing as he travels.
One Christian family, Cleve and Ann Fairey, have invited Hurst to their 8,000 acre cattle, paprika and game ranch twice. The 28 mile dirt road to their ranch is so bad even 4-wheel drive vehicles cannot negotiate it except during the dry season.
The ranch has abundant plains game, including 2 rare black rhinos, leopards, cheetahs and giraffes. Roy arrived there last summer and was told they needed to harvest an old bull eland, a zebra and a wildebeest. He was invited to make the hunt. Cleve furnished Roy a 30-06 rifle, his chief anti-poaching security man as guide and the keys to a 1981 land cruiser 4WD vehicle. It took much of the first day for Hurst to get used to driving from the right hand seat. Negotiating rivers, boulders and steep ravines in the roadless wilderness was itself an adventure.
The pair saw much game. At one point Roy stopped the vehicle and climbed a small mountain to view the surrounding countryside. The scene was "another blessing" according to Hurst.
They saw a pair of eland the first day and tracked them for over an hour without catching up. Another day they located 5 eland, one of which was an old bull. The eland spotted the hunters and moved into thick brush. After a half-mile stalk, Roy made a good shoulder shot. Surprisingly, the scout ran toward the wounded bull, trying to keep up as it followed the other 4 animals.
After a quarter mile chase, Roy got another shot and put the bull down. While the scout was attempting a congratulatory hand shake, the bull got up and fled. The chase continued until the bull crashed through an 8-foot electrified game fence and onto an adjacent ranch on which lived dangerous squatters, called invaders in the area. Lung blood at the fence indicated the bull was mortally hit and likely already dead. The scout refused to cross the fence.
Back at the ranch, the scout was reprimanded for chasing after the bull. Waiting after the shot before following is standard procedure for retrieving an escaping animal fatally hit. Cleve notified the adjoining rancher and was warned not to pursue the eland because of the danger posed by the invaders. The squatters would find the bull and eat it.
Roy and the scout stalked to within 50 yards of another pair of bull eland but they were not old enough to justify harvesting.
More bad luck ensued as Roy stalked and took aim at a wildebeest. When he pulled the trigger, the firing pin fell on an empty chamber. He later learned the rifle had a weak magazine spring and sometimes failed to chamber a round.
On the third day Hurst decided to take a zebra and after a stalk made a shot that dropped the zebra, which characteristically regained its feet and fled. This time they waited an appropriate time and trailed the zebra to where it died just 100 yards away.
On the last afternoon of the hunt, Cleve furnished Roy a 12 gauge over/under shotgun and 20 shells. They made Hurst's first ever African goose hunt. They hid behind huge granite boulders in a hundred-acre harvested corn field. Geese came in small flocks with a tailwind and Roy shot all his shells in about 90 minutes. He had bagged 4 of the 7 Egyptian and spur-wing geese taken.