October 2012, World’s Largest Land Mammal & Most Dangerous Hunt; The Tuskless Cow Elephant! By~Marti Mace The drive down the escarpment into the Zambezi Valley was superb. Soon we were on our way through the thorn bush, on a drive to camp. On way we saw a pride of lion’s, parade of elephants, herd of cape buffalo, rank of impala, leopard, bushbok, warthogs, etc. This was definitely big game country, having seen 4 of the Big Five on 1st afternoon. We reached camp just at nightfall. There is no real twilight in Africa, it’s bright and sunny one minute and dark minutes later. The next thing we took off at 0400 hrs every morning and only ran into tusk elephant’s for 5 days straight with boots on ground going appx 5-8 up to 10 km’s a day, then day 6 and just within the 1st couple of hours…we ran into many spoors and followed them, 3 elephant’s, then found out they were with tusk, so walked a little further and ran into another herd. Again, they were with tusk, so we were on our way back to the bakke…then appx 25 elephant’s appeared…we glassed the herd and 1 of them was tuskless…wow, what’s the chance…the big grey tuskless cow elephant seemed huge as I peered through my Bushnell binoculars, so here I go…wiping sweat off my hands…pouring on some powder (wind check powder) at appx 1030 hours this 21 Oct 2012. Appx 25 tusk elephants were all around and I cautiously waited for the clean shot on only 1 was tuskless. PH, APH, X 3 Trackers and game scout were a little irritated that I didn’t make a shot when they wanted me to. I had 25ish elephant’s all around the only tuskless cow and I only shoot when I know it will be a clean shot. Appx 6-8 elephant’s were grouped around a Mupani tree and my elephant would go forward, then back and then another elephant was right in front of one I wanted to shoot. So I was waiting for either the one in front of mine to move or mine had to move forward a waise for me to make a clean shot. It was a scorcher of high temp of 129 degrees F. I had practiced daily with my Hoyt Alphamax 32" bow, pulling 74 lbs, using a 675.7 grain arrow that I had made with a ACE 550 arrow inside of the Gold Tip Big Game hunting 100+ arrow with electrical tape every few inches around ACE 550 arrow so that it would fit tightly inside of the Gold Tip Arrow, then I added weight to front and back to get as much weight on arrow as possible. I looked into the most suitable options with regard to arrow & broadhead choice for my particular bow set up, a crucial factor when hunting elephant in this manner. I had specially ordered in the 180gr German Kenetic broadheads out of Alaska as I couldn’t get them at home in Wyoming. With my bow set up and tuned to perfection, I spent some much needed time at the range from 10-100 yards daily. I take this to heart to try and eliminate all possible human errors before going on the hunt. My arrows were shooting through my chronograph at 267 fps. I did the calculations and was very happy with the outcome of kinetic energy and a momentum value, which gave me a piece of mind. I felt surprisingly confident. Here I was standing on a pile of rocks in the Zambezi Valley with a firm grip on my right hand fingers holding the string of my bow…thinking to myself…is my arrow heavy enough as a couple other’s told me that I needed a 900gr arrow at a minimum or it would riquichet off elephant. No matter what, I added all the weight I could on my arrows that I made, so I was still ok with it. Then thinking…about my poundage of my bow…was it going to be good enough. Other’s told me that I need to pull 80-100 lbs and 66 was pushing it for me, then daily pushups, body lifting, pec’s, etc to build up to the 74 lb pull and it is very hard for me even now to pull this bow. I have to pull it high in the sky to get the bow pulled fully, then I just bring it down to sight in. I felt this is ok for a hunt of a lifetime for the World’s Largest and Most Dangerous of all. At 51 yrs old, I feel I was ready to find out if I could do this. If not, then it would just be another plan to make it happen later. I studied the African animal vitals and the required shot placement everyday since the beginning of 2011. Closing my eyes and visualizing the elephant at various distances and standing in different positions…still thinking what struck me about these elephant’s when you are on foot; their size alone is more than enough to make you doubt your equipment, let alone their reputation as the toughest big game to hunt in the world…Anyway, everyone stayed quiet, the wind was in our favor blowing toward us as we approached, then my PH said, ok, you ready to shoot, you can do it, you’ll be fine. He kept saying, are you going to shoot? I said, I’m waiting for clean shot. I did knock my arrow although…I don’t shoot anything unless I’m confident with the position and with 25 elephant’s in front of me…I’v gota make sure as only one of these are tuskless and it must be the tuskless cow or it’s a $5000 fine if I shoot a tusk cow. I am the hunter, so I just made all of them impatiently wait for me to make the shot. The split moment came…I pull my bow up and back and then focus in on my elephant’s heart, My focus stays on my 20 yard pin at same time as keeping eye on other close elephants just to her mid section. I had to be quick as another elephant was just behind her front leg, so I had to make an exact shot for the heart. I controlled my breathing and squeezed the trigger of my tru ball cyclon release. I released the arrow and elephant did a 360 pivoting in place then dropped to the ground, in the shade under a Mupani Tree. Mupani and Baobab trees and Wooley Kaper bushes were in abundance at this location. I knew I had the right shot placement and I was so proud at that point. Her hind legs immediately went down, then front and then boom…all the way down on her left side. The matriarch of the Parade came to see if she could help her up…well, the tuskless cow never got back up and the matriarch left and all elephant’s went North up the ridge and away from us. I had been determined that the 1st shot would count, as not only the PH, then the APH and 1 of the trackers had their .458 Winchester rifles with them. The PH told me afterwards that the trackers were itching to get a shot & were somewhat disappointed that their marksmanship was not required. Then subsequent inspection, the arrow was right on target and fletching’s were all that was sticking out, so I knew it hit the heart. When she fell, the ground rumbled and I heard her make her last bellows and within just a few minutes, she had expired. The thrill of shooting this ele flowed through me…over me, etc. It was such an awesome thrill that neither my 1st solo flight in a Cessna 150 or my 1st parachute jump out of a C130 could match this feeling! This was the ultimate experience as a 1st solo doesn’t make you a pilot, nor one jump a parachutist, neither does an elephant make you an expert big game hunter. Never less, this was my elephant as well as my Alligator for another one of my most dangerous hunts. I have achieved another one of my childhood ambitions! My PH said congratulations with a hug and I was just so excited that finally I got the World’s largest and most dangerous down with a bow and arrow. I am so proud of myself and blessed that I didn’t let the other people get to me telling me, I can’t, cause I’m a girl, or I needed more poundage or heavier arrows to get in the way. I walked away from the crowd to the nearest baobab tree and took a moment of silence, I took off my hat, kneeled, closed my eyes to thank our creator for allowing me this amazing opportunity to hunt the World’s largest and most dangerous animal and blessing the Shona Tribe as now they can nourish their bodies. After a quick photo session, the Shona Tribe came out of the bush to begin the slaughtering. The African Sun was hot at 129 degrees F. So the Shona had to work fast. Machetes and knives flying and sticking out of their pockets, so a quick switch when the other blade got dull. I went out to tell them in their Shona Language, Tatenda, Maita Balsa (thank you very much) for all the help and now you all are blessed with meat and they danced and sang for me the song that you are the one, you are the best hunter & shooter. Then Women, kids, elderly and men all formed up line’s to receive a bag of meat. They all bring their gunnysack to fill up with meat. 3 different lines are formed. One with elderly, one for women with children and other for women & men. The elderly are given 1st so they can get walking back to their villages as most take longer & to get back before dark, then women with children. Women with babies strapped to their backs, put a bag of meat on top their heads and walk to their village and some many kilometers away. Furthermore, we all hop into the PH’s Toyota diesel land cruiser with the PH dressed in bush hat, chukka boots, the epitome of a professional hunter as well as the apprentice PH and rest of crew. We all were drenched with sweat, smiles and singing. Got back to camp and we gathered by the bush fire with celebratory drinks of gin and tonic’s, grouse whiskey shots, and we chatted about the bush university that we all attended at some point in our lives. The next few days, we listened to the camp Motorola 2 way radio with Dande North on the frequency as well. They didn’t have any luck getting a tuskless elephant down on Dande North, and as many tries I’ve had, this is the very first tuskless elephant that’s came across me in 2 years of searching. Only 3% of tuskless are left in the world and they want to reduce it to zero as these are the most dangerous elephant’s on the face of the earth. Meanwhile, I make video’s, make calendar’s, cards, etc. on my awesome elephant hunt & prepare going back to the U.S.A. After I’ve been here since end of July managing a Safari in Zimbabwe near the boarder of Zambia and Mozambique. They say if you hunt Africa you will keep on returning again and again. Blessings to all, MSG Mace (Soon to be retired) I promise!