Bowhunting Namibia with people you don't like
orange Namibian sun sank over the horizon to find us making a large
camel thorn fire.
There were four of us on the hunt this
time: three very good friends and an arrogant, irritating,
red-haired government employee by the unfortunate name of Cyril van Hoogard.
Cyril is one of those civil servants who
has few qualifications and little character. But there was one thing
that made Cyril’s life worth living: he had the power to sign
cheques , delay (or expedite) payments and make life hell for
independent contractors who only wanted a good day’s pay for a job
Danes is an independent contractor, and he
has brought Cyril here in the hope that life would be a little
easier for him after this trip.
We realized our mistake on the very first
Instead of three friends talking around
the fire of things that only the best of friends share, there was
the constant arrogant loud mouthing by Cyril.
It got worse around the time he finished
his ninth double Klipdrift and coke. He burped loudly and moved his
tongue around to get the taste of it. His piggy eyes sized us up and
he started his nonsense.
He knew that he was not there because of
friendship but because of his position of power over Danes. He
talked down on everyone, secure in the knowledge that none of us
would dare say anything that would upset him and so damage our
He boasted of his bow, his extramarital
affairs and his superior hunting and survival knowledge. He argued
that his bow is the best, that his camo works better than ours and
that he is the best bowhunter in Namibia.
“You people do not know about bowhunting
man. It is because you shoot those Hoyt bows of yours. You should
get a decent bow – then you would get something bigger than a little
Springbuck.” He smiled contentedly at the depth of his own wisdom
and licked his fat lips.
Cyril was not a handsome man. He was
overweight and his camo pants were so tight around the belly they
seemed on the verge of exploding. His red hair was thinning and he
combed it carefully over the top of his head to cover his pink pate. He has small, pale
eyes and almost no neck.
As he spoke, I looked at him. The thick
sausages of his fingers clutched his drink. They had curly red hair
on them. I noticed that Cyril did not go overboard on personal
hygiene and his fingernails carried the dirt of weeks.
Like all arrogant people, he was
completely unaware of his own stupidity and the company he was in.
He did not know is that Danes and I started bowhunting in Namibia more than 20 years ago – and it was still
illegal in those days. Danes has shot more animals with his old
Hoyt than he can remember – from giraffe to warthog, eland, kudu and
gemsbuck. Kobus is a medical doctor.
looked at Danes on the other side of the campfire. He stared quietly
at his feet, saying nothing. I wondered how much more of this he
On and on Cyril went. Our annual hunting
trip was headed for disaster.
Cyril let off a loud fart, laughed and
headed for the bush toilet with his drink in his hand.
“Danes, I’m going to smack this idiot. I
can’t take any more of his crap” Kobus was over six feet tall and
skinny as a bullwhip. I knew he was serious. We all saved for a year
to come and hunt and now our trip was wasted.
But I knew it was just
talk. Danes’ business was in danger, and if this
red fool left the hunt unhappy it would be closed down. We both looked up at Danes, expecting him
to ask us to please bear with Cyril for these few days.
“One more of his wisecracks about his wife
and I’m going to pop him myself. She is a decent woman.” He shook
his head and frowned. Then he leaned forward, and, to our
astonishment, said: “Let’s get him.”
Just then Cyril’s unlovely voice reached
us from the bush toilet. “You guys don’t know pain until you have
had piles. Mine are the size of oranges and they bleed like you
slaughtered a pig!”
We all stared into the fire, secretly
enjoying the thought of Cyril’s suffering. He stumbled back to the
fire and quickly dispatched the rest of the brandy.
One bottle down, one to go. But Cyril
never finished the second bottle. Some time during the depressed
silence around our campfire Cyril uttered a gentle sigh, dropped his
glass, sank even lower into his chair and started snoring loudly. He
was out like a light.
We looked at each other.
“He’s your client, Danes”. Kobus had said
his piece and considered the expanse of the Namibian night sky. I
remembered that my knife needs sharpening.
Danes tried, but it turned out Cyril
proved too much for him. It was like trying to carry a bag of sand
-very heavy and no place to hold on to. This bag was smelly and noisy, too. We
relented, grabbed an arm each and with Danes at the boots we got
Cyril onto his bed.
“You going to undress him and put on his
little nighties?” I gave Kobus a conspiratory elbow in the ribs.
Danes whipped his head around and fixed me with his hunter’s stare.
“Like hell. He can freeze for all I care.”
“Hold it. I have a plan.” Kobus
disappeared with speed, leaving Danes and me staring at the unlovely
and open-mouthed Cyril. A shiny sliver of drool was already
creeping down to the pillow. It blew a little bubble with every
Kobus returned, smiling that almost-nasty
smile of his. He had in his hand a 18-inch length of
Springbuck intestine taken from the buck we shot earlier.
With difficulty he turned
Cyril on his side. He loosened Cyril’s pants. Danes shot me a
nervous look, but I pulled up my shoulders and shook my head.
He pulled the underpants away from the
pudgy buttocks. Using a stick he pushed the Springbuck intestine
deep down between the plump, milky white buttocks. I could not help
but notice they were covered with frizzy red hair and shuddered.
“Now let Mr. Piles sleep”, he said.
The rest of the evening was spent sharing
hunting stories, talking about politics and our families under the
coldtall, open sky – in peace, this time. When it grew silent and only a lone jackal
called in the distance, the cold crept in and we went to bed.
I heard it in the silent half-dark of the
freezing pre-dawn. The sound cut through my half-asleep state and shocked me
It was the low, desperate moan of a wild
animal in the deepest agony. The eerie sound grew softer and ended
in several soft, deep sobs before it started again. I ran outside to
see Danes and Kobus as they stumbled bewildered out of their tents.
The strange animal wail was coming from Cyril’s tent.
Superstitious dread gripped us and we
stared wide-eyed at each other. He was Danes’ client and without him
the business was going to go under. In a tight, safe group - knives
in hand - we approached the tent and opened the flap to face the
Cyril was lying on his back in a birthing
position. His face was wet with terrified tears. The veins in his
forehead stood out as if ready to burst. A petrified grimace twisted
his fat face and his eyes pleaded with us for urgent help.
The loud and arrogant misfit had turned
into a frightened and crying little schoolboy.
Mitchell is a bow hunter, outdoorsman and the author of
several books on African wildlife and survival
It seems that in the early dawn the still
half-drunk Cyril woke to find the cold intestines in his pants. He
must have concluded that his piles were taking a serious turn for
We were just in time to see Cyril push the
last of the cold and slippery Springbuck intestine back into
adapted from a story told by the late Tolla van der Merwe. Only the
facts were changed.