Sometimes It Is Not Enough - PULL THE TRIGGER


Dec 26, 2007
Here is an article I wrote for my hunting club after returning from Africa the first time I hunted there in 1991. The thread where there was a comparison between a smaller caliber and a larger one has caused me to share this story to illustrate that bigger is better most of the time. It demonstrates what under kill is and "Sometimes What You Are Using Is Not Enough." I hesitated in sharing this story because it is a very personal story and an event where for two years I had nightmares from time to time after I got home from the hunt. I hope it opens the vista of your minds for adventure and understanding.


A symphony of sound flooded my ears as the sun broke into view illuminating the sky and reflecting off the lake. With beams of brilliant light shooting through the trees and baboons scrambling above me on the branches. The road was dusty and this dust was like silt and nothing was safe from its intrusion. It got in our rifle actions, clothes, caked in our nostrils and found its way into everything in our possession. Yet, the wonder of the place consumed my attention and over whelmed my senses. I was totally mesmerized by the Tanzanian nights and exciting days that were filled with game. You would have thought I was traveling through a fenced in refuge but it wasn’t, it was the wilds of Tanzania.

I came to Tanzania by way of plane to Arusha and then traveled south, then west some beyond Lake Manyara National Park and then south west for a while. Lake Manyara Tanzania is a beautiful park that is at the base of the Great Rift Valley. We continued on until we came a ways west of an area called Mtowambu. Flies and mosquitos were at times tough to deal with and we slept under mosquito nets. I was excited to go on my hunt and the terrain and landscape was so diverse from flat open plains farther than my eye could see across to heavy bush and thick forests that lead right up to the mountains. What a place to capture the imagination of some one and it had my full attention.

I was hunting with a resident of Tanzania who was a friend of mine. Getting a game license was a real trick in Tanzania in the early 1990’s. Especially if you are not hunting with a professional out fit. My friend was able through personal connections in the government to obtain the needed paper work for Imapla and Buffalo. He was also able to get a friend of his who was a professional hunter to clear my rifles at the Airport. I brought with me two rifles, my 30-06 Ruger Mk II using a 180gr Protected Point Partition and Ruger 458Win Mag using a 450gr A-Frame. I was going to use the 30-06 for the Impala hunt and of course the 458Win Mag for the buffalo.

The buffalo hunt was much easier than the Impala hunt. We located the buffalo first along a small body of water with 300yds are so clearing from the thick bush to the lakes edge. We found three big old boys by themselves just lying there taking up the sun. Now I don’t know about you but I did not want to be any closer to the buffalo than 50yds. I wanted time to have a follow up shot. Well, we worked our way on hands and knees through the knee high grass till we were close to one of the bulls that was about 75 to 80 yards from the other two. He was not the biggest of the three but two of the bulls were between our approach and the biggest bull. I opted for the second biggest. We must have waited in that grass on our knees for an hour as the wind was in our favor before the closest bull to us decided to stand.

Finally he stood and was facing us, what a picture and I will never for get it. I took the kneeling position instead of standing so I would not be seen before I shot. Taking careful aim with my heart racing, I think it was fear trying to over come me. I had not seen any animal this large, this strong, looking at me, while knowing their reputation and how mean and dangerous they are. I let that 450gr A-Frame go and like a runaway freight train running straight down the track the A-Frame struck home in the middle of his chest. He buckled some and took off for about 35 yrds and hit the ground kicking. His back was facing me and I put another A-Frame right between the top of his two shoulders and it was over. What a rush to say the least. The other two got up when I fired that first round and ran a good three hundred yards away from us, stopped looked back at us and then left the area.

Now I said to myself, "it does not get anymore intense than this!" Boy, was I ever off base! I would find out soon that intense can be defined on another level. We hunted for three more days trying to get close enough to take a good buck Impala. We hunted in an area that had open spots of knee to waist high grass, short trees and tick bush. After three days I thought we would not be able to get close enough to a good buck. Trying to get close to the impala was not the reason I did not get one.

On the morning of the fourth day of pursuing an impala we came to another open area that had grass just above our knees. It was about 200 yards deep and 320 yards are so wide. We had not stepped into that open spot and gone 20yds when one of the two trackers said, “a lion, a lion is attacking”.

I could not believe my ears as I looked up and 75 to 80 yds out a big female lion was charging us. I threw up my 30-06 and said to myself, “this is it, man don’t miss, take your time, PULL THE TRIGGER!!!!!”. At least that is what I think I said to myself. To tell you the truth I really don’t remember for sure if that conversation with myself actually took place. All I can clearly remember is that I noticed the lion was not coming in a straight line but in a slightly curved arch as I put my sights on her. I fired and hit her in the front chest area at about 25 yards. That's right, she covered a little over 50 yards in the time it took me to throw up and fire.

I was frozen, could not move my legs as I bolted my rifle and put another round in the chamber. Fortunately for me that 180gr Partition did put her down for a moment as my friend immediately put another round from his 458Win mag in that lion to anchor her for good. I let out my breath and sucked in a big gulp of air. For the entire event I had held my breath. I was light headed and almost lost my balance. My hunt ended that day because I was done. Emotionally done and my desire to finish my hunt was gone.

What stood out most in my mind as I think of that moment, was that I knew there was a good chance my 30-06 was not enough gun to put her down and keep her there, as I yelled at my self saying, "PULL THE TRIGGER". When I got home and told my wife the story, she ask, "what will you take next time you go?" I said, "A BIGGER GUN!!!!!"

Historical correction:
In reading my diary and pulling out the news letter from my hunting club, I found that it was not an A-Frame I used in the 30-06 but a 180gr Protected Point Partition so I made the correction in the above post.

What a rush for sure! Great story.

Wow Mike bet you had a few more white hairs after that.
Now I would call that a REAL exciting hunt.
What an awesome story! I have heard a ton of stories at various hunting shows, but never anything close to this. My vote for best story of the year!
That was quite the trip. I believe being the hunted would be a whole different game!

Well thank you for sharing such a personal story. Hopefully sharing it has alleviated the nightmares. But it was very well written for sure.

Thanks, it was a time indeed. Got up this morning about 4:30 to relieve myself and when I got back in bed it took a while to go back to sleep as I was involved in remembering my trip.

Yes, it will always be the high light of my hunting life. In fact I don't want any trip or event to surpass it, don't think my heart could take that much adrenaline at one time again. :)
Great story, that would an indelible mark on ones' memory for certain.

Great writing too, by the way, it is all to often that I read posts or threads online that are written in text slang and acronyms, without any skilled writting or grammar. Writting with skill is not a common thing anymore.

Awesome story Mike. It is good that you were using premium bullets, that probably penetrated like mad on that peeed off feline. Makes a good point for carrying premium rounds, even when the game you are hunting doesn't require them. They may save your life! Scotty
Wow :shock:
That sounds like a nightmare that became real. You stood the test of fear and came thrue it like you and all the rest of us would hope to. The difference is,you now know you can, while the rest of us still just hope!
Excellent writing and lesson for us to learn.
Thank you for sharing.
Excellent story and one of the best personal accounts of being in a dangerous game situation. Dan.
An interesting story, with the validation for the old adage "use enough gun!"

One always wonders how you will fair in a true life threatening situation, and you have faced the challenge and came through as having passed the test. You faced the danger head on and did what was needed to stop the charge and help save the group from the danger.

Having stopped a charging black bear, I can understand what you felt while facing the charge and waiting for the proper shot presentation to do so. While the whole situation spans mere seconds, it is amazing how fast the mind works through the process and i clearly remember thinking "wait until the chest clears to take the shot". The whole charge covered the span of 20 to 30 yards, with the shot finally presenting itself at 5 yards. Like you, I was lucky to have had my rifle in my hands when the charge began. I only had to shoulder the rifle and take aim, waiting for the right moment to pull the trigger. Luckily it came! If it had not, I do know that he was getting to where I would have shot it in the head in order to stop the charge, and then followed up with body shots to finish the bear. As it was, the shot turned the bear, and I shot it again as it ran away. It ran about another 15 yards, and was wobbling when I made the final shot.

While a black bear is, and can be a dangerous animal, and one I will never underestimate, that young black bear did not instill the same sense of danger as your lioness would have to you and your group. You managed to remain relatively calm and reasoning during your ordeal, and made sound decisions and actions that helped resolve the issue. It is the reliving the ordeal afterwards, where the mind is at work and the real fear and adrenaline kicked in. Take solace in the fact that you faced the situation in the best possible manner, and while your 30-06 may not have been the best firearm to stop a charging lioness, it was what you had and you used it effectively in that moment. And I am fairly certain that if the PH had not finished the lioness with the larger rifle, you would have followed up with finishing shots, and concluded the ordeal on your own. And is all that one could have done!