A Safari in Uganda
The Last Piece of Hunter's Heaven
I took an early morning flight from Sophia to Brussels on the 27th of June 2011, where I was supposed to meet Archie Nesbitt, before embarking on our latest adventure to Entebbe, Uganda. Situated on the shores of Lake Victoria, Entebbe is Uganda's second largest city and the departure point for our excursion into the wilds of the nation. I was eager to hunt alongside the legendary bow hunter, but my excitement quickly turned to anxiety as the time for departure drew ever closer with no sign of Archie.
I was almost overwhelmed by the feeling that I'd be travelling alone when I was pleased to spot Archie's big silhouette and unruly hair. He was anxiously looking for me. Fortunately, there was still time to board our flight, as delays within the airport had prevented several passengers from reaching our gate by the specified time. In this age of the super-modern, an airline clerk had to force a manual print of Archie's ticket so he could make a last minute dash to the gate!
The trip to Entebbe was long. The flight alone lasted eleven hours which was followed by an hour long stop-over in Uganda's capital city of Kampala before we finally made our way to our destination. Once in Entebbe, we were forced to wait in an exceptionally long airport line up in order to purchase visitor's visas, which are a requirement for staying in Uganda. $50 dollar later, we were certified to enter the great African nation.
Our host in Entebbe had been expecting us. Kaka was an elderly man with thick, grey hair and a legendary hunter of elephants who would prove to be a valuable source of knowledge in our own excursion. After placing our luggage into Kaka's Land Rover, we headed towards the luxurious hotel that had been booked for our first night's stay. Although the accommodations were world-class, I had trouble sleeping as thoughts of tomorrow's exhilarating day kept me waiting anxiously for the sun to rise.
We all piled into the Land Rover the next morning for a drive through Entebbe's crowded streets. It us two hours to get away from chaos of the city's traffic, but once we did, a city of wonder appeared before us. Although many of the streets appeared to be identical to one another, a deep sense of wonder came over me. It felt like many of the city's inhabitants had built homes right alongside the road. Hand-made clay bricks had been used to build squat, windowless homes that were probably constructed to keep the heat of the day outside.
Uganda is one of Africa's more fortunate nations in that it has rich, fertile soil. As a result, 80% of the population is involved in some aspect of agriculture and the steady stream of trucks carrying freshly picked bananas – of which there are four varieties in Uganda - showed that this industry was thriving at the moment.
After a six hour ride we finally arrived at our hunting camp, located on the shores of Lake Mburo, just 150 miles from Kampala. Even from a distance one could tell that this location was perfectly picked.
The view to the lake in which huge islands of bulrush were floating was truly amazing. The nearby mountain peaks were covered with huge cacti and acacia plants and the shores were overgrown with bulrush that were up to ten feet in height, creating the perfect environment for wild animals.
Our arrival at this heavenly place, untouched by intense hunting activity made us feel like we were the first to set foot here. This location might very well be the last of its kind in Africa. The camp was well-equipped with several huge military tents.
In each and every sleeping compartment, one could see the mandatory mosquito protection nets, hanging over beds with perfectly folded sheets. In the middle of the camp hung two huge tar-black kettles, steaming above the ever-burning camp fire. They served the needs of our cook, but we also managed to put the steaming water to use for the portable bath situated among the nearby trees.
Archie quickly tested his bows before we settled into a meal of fantastically cooked tilapia, caught in Lake Victoria that very day. We had bought the fish on our ride to the camp a few hours earlier and the driver of our truck had hung it on the front of the vehicle, which seemed to be common practice as others around us had done the same with their fish.
After the abundant dinner and some red wine we all sat around the camp fire where Kaka told a few marvelous hunting stories from his past. His stories were real and heart-felt. After we went to our beds each of us had dreams of elephants and predatory leopards like the ones that the elderly man had once hunted. The next morning I was woken up by the pleasant scent of hot coffee brought to me by Alex who had a big smile on his face. Having such coffee at 4:30 every morning made those early wakeups a lot easier to handle.
Our first hunting day was supposed to take place within the vast territories around the borders of Mburo preserve. After a two hour ride in the Land Rover, the truck veered off the asphalt road and started to follow tracks left in the grass by other vehicles. More and more often we began spotting groups of zebras among the bushes. Here and there, there were also bigger groups of domestic cows with big horns. These animals account for about 90% of Uganda's meat supply.
Most of the day had been spent studying the landscape and the local animal life, but Archie managed to make up for the relative inactivity by taking a big topi with his new heavy 80-pound Mathews MF Monster with double cam. His arrow was the Trophy Ridge blast 300, weighted inserts 750gr with a double Magnus 165gr blade. The arrow went right through the animal's shoulder and chest and ended up showing out from the other side of its body. The topi jumped like it was stung and ran towards a cactus where it finally died after no more than half a minute. Our Professional Hunter (PH) was really surprised to see what this weapon could do. This was the first bow-hunt he was taking part in and he was quite skeptical about the success of our endeavors. It was a true pleasure for me when I took a photo of his astounded face while he was examining the deadly arrow.
The topi antelope is a rare species, most often found in south-eastern Africa. Our topi would go on record as the first of its kind to be shot with a bow! According to Safari Club's regulations, the first kill of any species becomes an automatic world record. After a quick photo session, our guide - who was obviously delighted by the outcome of this hunt - advised us to get back to the camp in order to process the meat of this animal, which, as he assured us was extremely tasty. We were soon treated to delicious topi steaks, served with mashed green bananas, proving our guide to be entirely correct about the quality of the topi's meat.
The second day saw us following an enormous impala which ran towards the borders of the preserve. A field, separated by big white stones indicated the line where we were no longer allowed to chase the animal. The impala vigorously ran towards the safe area of the preserve, joining the quietly grazing flock of other impalas. We stood gazing at the animal for a while, hoping that it would come back to the area in which we'd be allowed to chase it again .
While we waited, watching our impala in the distance, our trackers took the downtime as an opportunity to set up a few portable chairs and a table where we soon refreshed ourselves on some freshly cut pineapples, jackfruit and mango. I took the opportunity to drink a cup of aromatic coffee which was a welcome addition to my day .
After a short break, we set off in search of potential new trophy animals. Around two o'clock in the afternoon, when the sun was about to reach its highest position in the sky, we managed to track an extremely beautiful impala. The shot that took place from about 50 yards distance found the animal's shoulder and the arrow went all the way through its body and, just like the previous day, came out from its other side. The impala made a desperate attempt to run away but it could only make a few leaps before it dropped on the ground almost 60 yards from the place where it was shot. The impala's horns were elegantly wound in the middle and slightly open towards their end. The size of this trophy was astounding and this would probably be Archie's next world record.
After an up-beat photo session with Archie's new trophy, we mounted the antelope to the truck and drove back through what seemed to be an endless row of valleys, covered with short dry grass and a set of lonely green spots under the shadows of giant cacti. My camera was almost constantly in use as numerous herds of impalas, zebras, creeping duikers and oribi antelopes provided perfect photo opportunities that I couldn't pass up on. The animals that were the most interesting to me were the bushbucks which were watching us unabashedly while standing on top of termite mounds.
During the next few days the hunt went on by the book, with wake up calls before sun rise and the hunt commencing just at the crack of dawn. I have got to say to those who love hunting using guns that bow-hunting requires that you track and spot the animals until you reach a distance that should be no more than 50 or 60 yards. Despite this condition, our PH managed to present us with numerous opportunities to approach the antelopes that we were hunting from this particular distance and during the next few days Archie took hold of several unique trophies from Eastern Bohor, Reedbuck (world record); Defassa Waterbuck (world record) and a very beautiful Grant Zebra. I was successful at filming all the above mentioned situations with my HD camera so that I could turn this into an unforgettable experience for all those 33 million fans of Archie's "Ultimate Shot" TV show in America and Europa.
June, 27th, brought us a real tropical storm as rain poured over our camp. On the very next morning I was once again awakened at 5:30 am with the mandatory cup of coffee. Our host had seen that there was thick fog covering our camp and was eager to delay our departure until we'd have better visibility. This time we drove the truck on much shorter distances and visited completely new hunting fields. The landscape here was almost the same as the ones we had seen the previous days with the exception of a few hills that were overgrown with thorny bushes. There we managed to spot a very rare bushbuck but when Archie drew his bow, the animal was quick to leave the scene. We were trying to find the fugitive animal among the bushes for another thirty minutes but we had no luck. We then drove on towards the plain regions near the lake. It was there that I had the chance to see and film some of incredible jackals that happen to be protected from hunting .
After a while we spotted a big herd of impala, one of which drew Archie's attention with its big beautiful horns. We got off the truck and taking cover in a group of bushes we succeeded in getting close enough to the unaware animal. Well-covered among the high dry grass, Archie drew his bow. He was using a Bear Carnage 75 pound bow equipped with one cam. The seconds seemed to turn into minutes while Archie waited for the right time to shoot. I watched in slow motion as a distant sound managed to spook the impala which suddenly bolted into a thicker section of the brush.
Cursing the animal's sudden flight, we all automatically set our minds into 'chase mode', crashing through the thick mass of bushes that had obscured the impala's flight. It was fortunately easy for our trackers to guide us towards the impala's last heading as we crashed through the broken branches of the thick brush until we had regained the animal's tracks on the open grass plain. The impala's course had suddenly shifted away from the grasslands, towards the adjacent hills which were covered with an impenetrable mass of thorny plants. Despite the seemingly impassable terrain, we managed to soldier on, following the impala's tracks under the thick shadows of the cacti and the numerous winding plants growing around them.
We had a really hard time with the thick acacia bushes that lined the hill top, as their branches were covered with deadly thorns which measured a few inches in length. After what felt like hours, passing through the acacia bushes, our guide motioned for us to stop with a silent wave. Among the thick nest of cacti and ivy some 50-60 yards in front of us, I spotted the form of the impala through a small hole in the bushes. This was the last we saw from this animal. The wind had helped it sense our presence and it fled with a few leaps. After a short discussion with our trackers, Kaka decided that we should leave the hunt for later that day so we could use the help of a few local hunters with knowledge of the hill-top terrain. The locals also had the benefit of having a few very special hunting dogs that could help us regain the trail of this magnificent yet elusive impala.
We walked down the ridge where our tracker was busy marking trees with his huge machete. While passing by a huge hole in the ground (about 60 or 70 inches in diameter) I was surprised by a young warthog. The animal, frightened by me, leaped out of its hideout and in a flash disappeared in the bushes. After this funny event Archie and I started checking each of those holes, throwing a piece of cactus or some wood sticks in it. However, our efforts were in vain, maybe much to our luck. When we reached the end of the bush-area, we decided to take a rest in the shadow of a huge cactus. We got the truck closer to this zone and asked our trackers to arrange the familiar dining set for us – three chairs and two thick-tarpaulin tables.
Once again we enjoyed exotic fruit and local, aromatic coffee. While resting, Archie's attention quickly shifted to the horizon where he had spotted numerous vultures beginning to circle about a mile from our location. The reason for their sudden appearance was obvious – a dying or an already dead animal.
We quickly broke camp and hopped onto our truck, driving towards the location of the vultures, where we hoped to investigate the scene. A massive flock of thirty to forty birds had congregated around the remains of an impala and our hearts immediately sank, as we feared that our magnificent adversary had met an untimely demise. The trackers quickly identified the animal as having been killed by a leopard. Fortunately for us, our impala was still somewhere out there, roaming the local countryside.
We were quick to leave the spot because leopards are often unpredictable. We learned just how unpredictable leopards can be by our host's stories from just a few nights before and decided not to take any chances. We decided to go look for another impala while we were waiting for the guys with the dogs to arrive. There were several groups of six or seven of them all around the valley and it wasn't hard to spot them. We found an impressive specimen in the second herd.
At the sight of it we immediately lowered ourselves behind the bushes and started slowly creeping towards the herd. Some of the impalas sensed our presence and smelled the air, ready to flee. We were already close enough to make sure we could produce a good shot and without any hesitation whatsoever Archie raised his Bear 75 pound Carnage bow and drew back. The animal was standing diagonally with his back towards Archie. The shot was perfect, sending the triple arrow straight through the animal's body, leaving a small speck of dust far behind the impala where it had ended its flight. The mortally wounded antelope leaped high in the air and ran behind the nearby group of cacti. We quickly followed the animal towards where it had fled but during the chase Archie stepped into a well hidden pig-hole. This fall was quite unfortunate for the hunter because one of the arrows that he carried on his back had hurt his right arm. Kaka immediately sealed this deep wound with one of the miracles of modern medicine – a spray which was making a thin but also firm, transparent and elastic layer above one's skin. Meanwhile, the trackers had found the impala and were bringing it here to us.
Despite his deep wound, Archie ran towards them and joyfully started examining his trophy. Our guide measured the beautiful horns of the impala – each of them was 29 inches long, which meant that this was the next new world record. The excitement over this new trophy made us quickly forget the massive impala that had eluded us earlier in the day and after an exchange of heart felt congratulations, we decided to head back to camp.
I was relieved to return to camp where I was able to enjoy a refreshing shower in the camp's portable bath.
Under the raging thunder of an approaching storm, we tasted the gourmet wonders that Alex – our cook – had prepared for dinner. He surprised us with tasty shish kabobs and boiled potatoes. Combined with cold beer all of this made us easily forget about the tiresome hunt. The only thing on our minds now was the world-record impala hunt that we had just successfully completed which was perhaps one of the greatest accomplishments in impala hunting history. The raindrops falling on the top of my tent were just starting to sing their lullaby and I jumped beneath the cozy sheets, well-protected from the thirsty mosquitoes that could not pass through the net hanging above my bed.
The morning of July, 28th was damp and foggy and the land was pock marked with deep puddles of mud. The previous night's rainfall had refreshed all of the landscape's dry and yellow plants which seemed. We were driving around all morning, hoping that we'd be able to spot some shy bushbucks on top of a termite mound. We had decided to look for exactly this type of antelope and finding one was our main goal for the day. If we were lucky, this would be the first Nile Bushbuck to be shot by a bow.
Even in the first few minutes, while making his way through the tall, dry grasses, Archie tried to shoot one. His shot wasn't on the mark because he hadn't correctly estimated the distance between him and the animal. The thorny bushes were too thick and too difficult to maneuver in. It was not before twilight, when we had lost all hope that this day would end successfully, that we suddenly got lucky. One of the local boys showed us a spot near the marshes where he had seen a bushbuck a few hours before. We couldn't believe our eyes as in the distance in the feet of the hill we were on top of, close to the shore of the nearby swamp; we spotted the reddish back of a male bushbuck.
Archie and Kaka rushed towards the animal as it was busy having a dinner of green grass. One abandoned termite mound provided cover for us. We were staying low, hidden behind the tall dry grass and thus we managed to get close to the termite mound. Archie was able to fire a deadly Trophy Ridge Blast 350 arrow from his Bear bow.
The bushbuck leaped, managing to run some 30 yards until it reached a group of high bushes where, judging by the movement of the grass, we could tell it had collapsed. The trackers were already rushing towards us from the top of the hill, excitedly waving and pointing at the place where the animal had fallen. Even before we managed to warn them to keep away from its lethal horns, they were already dragging its body in our direction. The arrow had killed it in no more than 15-20 seconds and all of us were extremely happy that we had scored another new world record.
In the evening, having a glass of wine, we discussed the possibility of moving to another hunting territory the following day. More species, never hunted by a bow in Uganda, were surely waiting for us out there – like, for example, the ghostly sitatunga antelope that dwelled within local marshes. We craved for hunting a bush pig and, maybe, if we were lucky enough, an old eland. To make things even more exciting, Kaka told us that he had gathered information about a big herd of Nile Buffalo – one of the most dangerous species out there and yet another which had never been hunted by bow.
4 AM, on July, 29th, our trackers started gathering all the necessary stuff and about 9AM we were ready to set off towards our new camp. The road to our next destination was an outrageous hour long drive across uneven terrain between several scattered villages. We made a short stop and went to a medical clinic where Archie was brought to a local doctor. The doctor greeted us and put on a grim-looking leather apron that looked much like a butcher's. Archie's wound from the previous day turned out to be more dangerous than we originally thought. It was deep and needed some stitching. The doctor looked at his arm and started sewing it without using any sedative whatsoever. After 15 minutes in the hands of the big African doctor, Archie came out of the clinic with an obviously relieved look to his face.
Exhausted from our travels, some of us managed to fall asleep despite the fast movement of the truck that continued to hurtle towards our next camp. Awakened on numerous occasions by our driver's crazy maneuvers, we were relieved when we finally saw a sign that indicated we were approaching the National Preserve of Katunga.
End of Part 1
The Ghostly Sitatunga
Much to my surprise, the National Preserve of Katunga lived up to Kaka's story-telling, as the vast landscape was indeed populated by numerous herds of waterbuck and impala. At least a few herds of waterbucks were silently feeding – each consisting of about 20 or 30 animals. They were quite close to our camp which was situated on the shore of a nearby marsh. We were quick to make the necessary preparations for our first day of hunting here in this unusual part of Uganda. Despite our extreme desire to go hunting right away, our host told us that in order to be lucky in sitatunga-hunting we were supposed to leave much later – almost at twilight. Accompanied by raindrops, we took time to have an afternoon coffee, after which we headed towards the marshes.
Driving our truck across this new territory, we spotted a few enormously big waterbucks with horns an average of 36 inches long. We also came across one seemingly ill animal, which appeared to be limping. When we approached it, however, Archie found something unusual, something exceptional, a thing that probably many zoologists had only dreamed to see. While appearing to be a waterbuck, this young specimen's rear hooves ended with long claws that were wound backwards, just like the claws of a sitatunga. We all stood amazed at this sight – could it be that we had came across a cross-breeding between a waterbuck and a sitatunga? We didn't have a chance to look at this animal for a long time because it got suddenly frightened by our observation and it fled somewhere into the thick swamp plants. Soon, the rain became stronger and in order to avoid the risk of having our truck stuck in the swamp, we continued on foot.
Rain soaked us down to the bone, so it was without hesitation that we entered into the depths of the swamp. The landscape here was so full of life that it was too hard to avoid the delusion that I was right in the middle of some scene from Jurassic Park. Our path led us through the bulrush and reed close to the shore of this swamp. Once we heard the snorting of a big sitatunga, adrenaline filled our veins and we were no longer paid attention to the driving rain.
Our PH and the trackers had stopped walking and were intensely looking in the same direction. Half submerged in the waters of the swamp, was a huge male sitatunga which had noticed our presence long ago and was eying an escape route. The animal resembled a huge bushbuck with its wound horns. Knowing how dangerous a bushbuck could be I started imagining what could happen to us if Archie missed the first time. The animal astounded me in that it was seemingly able to walk across the water of the swamp, an illusion which was facilitated by its long, clawed hooves which helped the sitatunga keep its body on top of the thick swamp plants. This was definitely one of the most inspiring animals I had seen to date.
It was already getting late and for the sake of our own safety we decided to get out of the marshes and to go back to camp. There, we quickly changed our clothes and had an amazingly impala steak, courtesy of our camp cook. We didn't stay by the fire-side for long, as we were all exhausted from an incredible day's hunting. Rest was required in order to face the rigors of the following day, in which we'd encounter huge waterbucks and the ghostly sitatunga.
I was awakened during the night by rainfall, but as it subsided, I was soothed by the steady rhythm of the water as it fell onto the canvas of my tent. In the morning, after a nice hot coffee, there was an unpleasant surprise waiting for us. There was a thick fog that had veiled our camp and we could only see a few yards from where we stood. The fog would make hunting impossible. We waited until the fog lifted and then we walked along the same path that we traveled the day before. The wind was not on our side so we were forced to take a longer passage until we finally reached the outer limits of the marshes.
In order to walk along the shoreline without being detected by the animal's sensitive nose, we crossed marshes and crawled through almost impassable bushes covered with winding plants. We could clearly hear hippos in every direction, but the thick bush created a visual barrier between us and these gargantuan creatures. Despite our desire to keep ourselves dry and safe there were several occasions where we were forced into the knee-deep murk of the swamp.
After an hour of fruitless creeping through that type of landscape, our guide Alex gave us a sign that he had spotted something that could be seen through one of the holes of the impenetrable bushes. He was the first to come out of those bushes and therefore the first to spot something. Before reaching his location, my thoughts raced and my imagination ran wild – I could only guess what he had seen. After countless efforts to avoid the deafening sound of our shoes splattering in the mud, we were finally in a position to observe the reason why Alex had given us a warning. There, in the middle of the swamp, slightly hidden behind the bulrush, was a grazing sitatunga. Its brown body was clearly distinguishable against the back drop of the swamp-plants.
I immediately grabbed hold of my camera because this was a perfect position to take an incredible shot of the animal. Archie, however, had to move a forward because of all the plants that were standing between him and the sitatunga – they could become a serious obstacle that would make his arrow deviate from the path towards its prey. It was obvious that Archie was allowed only one shot and he would take it only if he was completely sure of its success.
Time stood still and like a slow-motion movie, I saw how Kaka's body hesitated and he fell into the water. He managed to keep himself up but the waterbuck was startled by the sudden movement and rushed towards the bush. The sitatunga hadn't spotted our movement but, being scared by this other animal's escape, it suddenly stood up above the water and started to look towards where we stood with an anxious look in its eyes. The creature had a penetrating stare that bore into my soul.
Our camouflage fortunately made us invisible to all of the creatures that inhabited this area. Through my camera's lens, I could easily see both the sitatunga's reaction and Archie's twin cam, Mathews MF Monster – 80 bow. I was expecting the shot to sound any moment now but instead, the animal decided to bolt in the direction of the waterbuck that had fled moments ago. The strong "smell" of everybody's disappointment hung heavily in the air. Archie, the PH, our trackers and I were only moments away from a successful end to a hard day of hunting, before the mystical sitatunga managed to cheat fate and escape into the shadows of the swamp.
With heavy hearts we began to make our way back towards camp, when destiny presented us with a surprise – an amazing waterbuck. It lay right in the middle of a meadow where it was enjoying the sunlight. Its horns looked incredibly big and with an excited movement our PH let Archie know that this would be the one! Archie needed no further persuasion and immediately pulled out a Trophy Ridge Blast 300 Arrow with weighted inserts, 750gr, Magnus 165gr, 2 blades, Broadheads and carefully placed it in his bow. He was moving slowly and carefully, making no swift moves, not looking in the animal's eyes. Worried by the presence of the intruder, the females, who were quietly grazing until now, ran away. Then, the male stood up with the intention to follow them but it was already too late. Archie released the arrow and it effortlessly went through the big animal's shoulder. The waterbuck leaped and ran. It managed to keep its balance for a moment, after which it just dropped down to the ground. We were all delighted with this incredible trophy. By all means this was going to be the new world record. After we mounted it on the truck and drove all the way to the camp, Archie measured it. It turned out that its horns were 33 inches long. This was a unique achievement and most of the rifle-hunters out there could only envy us.After the trackers processed the meat, Archie decided that it would be really nice if he gave the meat to the locals. In many instances, hunters giving meat to the locals has helped vastly reduce the activity of poachers, therefore assisting in the preservation of local wildlife. Once we had come to our decision to feed the locals, we gathered all of the people from a nearby village – including their chief – and with the assistance of Kaka; we explained that anytime foreigners hunted these lands, the local people would receive a gift of free meat. The villagers greeted this news with noisy clapping and heart-felt smiles.
On the morning of July, 31st we realized that we had only two days left for hunting and still we still hadn't managed to grab the most important trophy of all. The ghostly sitatunga still seemed to be as hard to hunt as it had been on previous days. We drove our truck towards the marshes pretty late in the morning – around 7:00-7:30AM, hoping that the thick fog that enveloped the marshes would soon burn off . Our hopes were in vain, as we ended up spending a fruitless two hours, wandering amongst the grey silhouettes of trees and bushes that surrounded the marshes.
Around 10AM, completely soaked and tired, we came back to the camp without having achieved anything. It seemed like some old spell was cast upon us. And just in order to confirm our guide's superstitions, the sun shone just when we were all back home at the camp. The fog lifted, chased by the spreading sunbeams and the swamp shone bright on the horizon. The high hill on which the camp was built over the swamp, was offered an incredible view of the local surroundings.
Without saying a word, all of us looked at each other and set off back towards the swamp. The sunlight was nice and warming and its rays made us a bit slow while we were following the trackers. After half an hour we were right back in the swamp. We were following our PH with complete indifference because we all knew that the sitatunga could be spotted only during twilight, just before the time when the hippos were expected to leave the waters. But this indifference of ours was swayed away like a speck of sand when one of our trackers suddenly stopped as if he were paralyzed. We stopped and waited – he must have spotted a waterbuck. The man gave us a sign to carefully get closer. I thought he was calling us just so that I would be able to take a picture of a huge male specimen and I almost froze when the following view was revealed right in front of my eyes. Two male sitatunga were quietly grazing in front of me. Our PH made a sign from which I knew that I should find cover but it was already too late – behind me one of the trackers stepped on a stick and one of the creatures nearby raised its head and started looking around. I was standing about 40 yards from where it was. Its eyes were fixed on me but it quickly looked away, unable to see me in my camouflage. Archie had managed to get behind me in the meantime and draw his Mathews MF Monster bow. I couldn't see him because all of my attention was focused on the sitatunga but I could almost feel his bow when I heard the sway of the arrow as it hurtled swiftly towards the animal. The swift move was a clear sign that this shot was successful and, despite the fact that the animal made a few leaps and disappeared among the nearby bushes, I was completely sure that we'd be able to find where it lay.
The two trackers took their clothes off and walked into the waters right in the direction towards which the animal had fled. We needed no further invitation, so Archie and I – both still dressed followed them right into the swamp. We jumped into chest deep mud, which proved to be very slow going. We soon lost sight of the two trackers who got lost amongst the high reed but we still managed to follow the blood-tracks that the animal had left upon the green swamp-grasses. It was almost impossible for us to move forward because the plants in the water seemed to be forming a stiff net of blade-sharp weed and reed above the water. It was hard to believe this but this plant-coverage was strong enough to carry our weight and we soon started walking on top of it, making our progress much quicker.
Upon reaching the location of our two trackers and the fallen sitatunga, we immediately burst into a chorus of happy shouts and emotional hugs and handshakes. We, as a team, had all got lucky. Archie had achieved almost the impossible for the first time in Uganda's history by managing to bow hunt the sitatunga. He seemed to be extremely happy about what he had accomplished during this Uganda safari and he asked me to film his speech right there at the site of this historic achievement.
Standing in the midst of the swampy waters, next to his unique trophy - he thanked Sani, who organized this hunt and the team of Safari Season from Bulgaria who had made this incredible journey amongst the last remains of Africa's virgin lands possible – with no fences whatsoever and a lot of antelope herds.