Manners Tusk Mystery Part 2 by Gregor Woods

  • Friday, 15 May 2020 07:09
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Manners Tusk Mystery Part 2 by Gregor Woods: “There was things which he stretched, but mainly he told the truth” – Mark Twain: Huckleberry Finn, 1884

Harry Manners was born in Bloemfontein in 1917. In 1924, he moved with his parents to Lourenço Marques, Mozambique. Harry attended boarding school in neighbouring Transvaal then worked for six years as a clerk in a shipping company in Lourenço Marques (“LM”, now Maputo). He began hunting antelope in his late teens, and took up weight-lifting and body building. 

At this time, he became friends with Wally Johnson, the son of Australian immigrants. Wally was born in 1912 on board ship to Durban. The family settled in Mozambique, where Wally grew up, joined a shipping company and later owned a Goodyear tyre agency. Wally became Harry’s mentor, teaching him to hunt. In 1937, in the Chibuto region, they shot their first elephant together. Harry owned a .30-06, 

a 10.75x68 Mauser, and a .404 Mauser. In the early 1940s, Mozambique’s game laws were changed to permit unrestricted hunting of elephants due to crop-raiding. Thereafter, Harry became a professional ivory hunter.

Harry’s book, Kambaku, is mostly about his latter ivory-hunting years, roughly 1944 to 1952. It is necessary, for our purpose, to give a brief résumé of the salient points. His first major anecdote is “Hoodoo Safari” involving his tracker and gunbearer, Sayela. Harry states that he used a .375 in this hunt. Earlier in the book, he wrote, “… in 1945 I acquired my first .375 H&H… a Winchester Model 70 with a surprisingly thick barrel.” In a 1996 Magnum article he states that this purchase was “shortly after WWII”. Harry’s “Hoodoo Safari” chapter shows a photo, captioned “Sayela”, showing a man carrying a bull-barrelled Model 70. 

Note that, in this chapter, Harry takes no white person with him on this Hoodoo Safari. Readers please remember this; I’ll come back to it in Part 3 of this series. He and Sayela fire together (Sayela with the 10.75mm) at an elephant which runs off wounded. They follow, and the bull charges from very close; Harry has no time to fire and leaps aside. Sayela flees with the bull crashing after him. Harry runs after them, unable to take another shot; the crashing ceases, Harry hears thumping sounds up ahead, and then finds the bull kneeling over Sayela, pounding him alternately with the undersides of its tusks “as one would knead dough”.

Harry fires at the ‘stern’ of the elephant; the bull then charges him, he shoots it in the eye and in the base of its throat and it staggers off into the bush to die. Aggrieved, Harry kneels beside Sayela, whose “dirt-covered eyes” are open and staring vacantly as he breathes his last. Harry orders his men to cover the body with branches to protect it from scavengers. Next day they return to bury the body, and Harry carves an epitaph on a nearby tree.

Read the full article in the June2020 issue of Magnum.

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