I had my first encounter as an official back up this morning, it was very similar to my first on the trails course over a month ago. We were walking to Mashisiti Springs following fresh buffalo bull tracks. We didn’t realise how fresh and suddenly there was a crash and the thunder of hooves. Bruce dropped his stick and went to make his rifle ready, I followed suit and swung my rifle around to my right hand side and had my palm open and poised to work the bolt.
The buffalo had bolted away from us so all was good. We bumped him again further down the trail before deciding to take a wide berth, if we’d pushed him he was likely to get the hump and turn on us.
We’d almost made it back to the vehicle when one of the guests, Marianne, announced that she’d left her glasses at Mashisiti Lookout. The rest of the trail carried on and I went back to see if I could find them. This was like a dream come true for me, I was walking through the African bush all on my own with nothing but a rifle for company. The experience would have been slightly better if I’d located the glasses. That might have been possible if I’d actually found the ledge that we’d been sat on, there were lots of them and I was on the wrong one. I returned after 45 minutes and gave the bad news that I had no luck but I wasn’t sure I was looking in the right place.
A second day of no study which was disappointing, this wasn’t down to laziness, we were just too busy. After breakfast we had to clean the Landy and then change the tyre on the Cruiser before one of Bruce’s full on cross fit sessions.
I walked in the afternoon, we headed back to Mashisiti Lookout and found Marianne’s glasses. I had been in the wrong place but felt justified as it was a ledge through some quite thick bush. After the walk, Bruce and Dee went onto Wilderness and left me to take the guests back to camp. This was the first time I’d been all alone with paying guests out in a game viewing vehicle. As we drove back we came across a Swainson’s spur-fowl, I simply turned off the engine, said a few words and we watched it. I don’t those in the vehicle knew they were on the receiving end of my first piece of guiding. At this point I realised that guiding isn’t about standing up and presenting, it’s simply about letting nature do the talking, I’m there to add more if people want it.