Last Thursday morning I was outside talking to someone when I noticed men and boys coming from all directions carrying spears, machetes, bows & arrows. Their dogs were trailing eagerly behind them. Since I didn’t have any concrete plans for the morning, I thought I should join these guys on a hunt! I ran home to get Amber’s approval (which she gave, if a bit reluctantly), my hat, some water and a snack, a camera, my spear and machete. Then we were off scurrying down mountain paths toward the valley below. Excitement was in the air.
About thirty hunters in all, the Ik moved into formation once they reached the forested flatland below our ridgetop homes. They split into a V or U-formation with the open end forward and the closed end behind. This way they moved up and down dry riverbeds, looking to flush prey out into the open. Not ten minutes into this march, a small antelope called a duiker rushed out ahead of us at lightning speed. The dogs took off after it but to no avail. It easily escaped. Hunters reprimanded each other for letting one get away. Soon thereafter, a second duiker escaped, this time to the rear. However, also somewhere in the rear, a bit farther back, some teenage boys caught and killed a large rodent called a cane rat (see photo).
Not long after this first, rather meager kill, we heard commotion way back in the rear. I ran toward the sound hoping to catch a bit of action on video. By the time I reached the scene the animal, a reedbuck, had been dispatched. It had been caught in a snare and was finished off when the hunters discovered it. Right then and there, at 10:00 am, they butchered, quartered, and roasted the reedbuck over an open fire, keeping the bulk of the meat for the owner of the snare and enjoying the rest as a meaty brunch. I partook of liver, heart, and some other unrecognizable parts (see photo).
Others enjoyed sucking raw marrow and drinking hot blood right out of the opened chest cavity! (see photos)
Just when we were getting ready to head off again, I spotted a bushbuck bounded by our camp no more than fifty feet away. I yelled “bushbuck!”, but the hunters, still licking their fingers, responded too slowly, and the animal escaped. A bit annoyed that a third antelope had escaped, the group packed up and took off again in a loose, somewhat lopsided formation. Five mintues into it, a third duiker eluded their speartips. By now it was reaching midday and getting hot. We trudged along for an hour or two through the burnt grasslands without seeing anything.
Then, before I really knew what was happening, we reach a rivergorge full of thick brush. The Ik surrounded it, shouting out order to each other. An Ik man and I were covering a small patch of ground on the north end of the gorge. The usual procedure is for the dogs and young boys to enter the brush and flush game out. For reasons unknown to me at the time, neither the dogs nor the boys wanted to go in. Minutes passed. Men shouted at the boys, and finally two of them moved slowly into the underbrush from opposite ends of the gorge. After a couple minutes of suspence, the brush erupted in commotion! Three animals scattered, only visible by the way they pushed up the grass in tunnels as they ran. Spears held ready over shoulders, arrows pulled back on taut strings, shouts!, barking!...
To be continued in the Old Way (Part 3)...