The King and I
It was mid-October, the last rain was in May, and so it was dry. It was also hot. The temperature was a blistering 100 plus and had been for the last several months. But Sub-Saharan Africa is more or less this way. It was my 8th day on the savanna.
We got the call around 7:15, the prey had been spotted. Warren had the 4x4 moving as fast as the rugged terrain would allow.

Would this time be different? Twice before we had saw our prey and both times it was too late in day to pursue him.
Phillip saw him first and pointed in the right direction. Warren stopped the jeep immediately, some 400 yards away. He and I got out slowly. The driver, Phillip and the other tracker stayed behind. It would be just Warren and me.

The wind was critical, we must stay down wind the other animals in the area would get our scent and alert our prey. So we move slowly like a ship tacking, this hopefully would keep us undetected. As Warren and I got closer I chanced a quick glance at the vast majestic land. Could this be Warren's last day as a Professional guide or maybe mine as a hunter?

Those thoughts were certainly on my mine as I saw fear the Warrens eyes for he more than I realized the great danger not only for us for those who stayed behind.

After what seemed like an eternity we got into position undetected. We are now 70 paces away, a distance the animal could cover in less than 4 seconds. Warren in an extremely low voice said "This is as close as we can get". It was now that I fully realized that in a few moments the events I will set in motion cannot be stopped.

Looking at me Warren whispered "Stay calm, take your time, and if you make a bad shot he will charge - don't run, if you run he will kill you".

At this point it is difficult to describe my thoughts. Will this be my finest hour or my final hour? Africa is an exotic and wondrous place but it is also hostile and unforgiving and 70 paces straight ahead was the most dangerous trophy a hunter can dream of an animal that possess speed and strength one can hardly imagine and when challenged a fury that one cannot imagine.

I had planned this moment for more than 6 years, traveled more than eight thousand miles, trained and practices endless hours to get to this point in time. It is now my decision, my moment of truth - It will never come again.

I took a long breath, stood slowly, aimed carefully and squeezed the trigger. I didn't hear the blast or feel the enormous recoil of my rifle, but something deep inside me told me the shot was absolute and I could see the relief fill Warren eyes as he too knew the bullet had taken the ideal path. My task complete I moved 70 paces forward and for a moment on the plains of Africa it was just the king and I.

                                                                          Lee Mathes - October 10, 1995