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For most of the year, Jos� F�nyk�vi is a prosperous Madrid businessman. But each fall F�nyk�vi and his wife abandon Europe and take off for their 1,000-acre ranch in Angola, the vast Portuguese colony on the Atlantic coast of Africa. There, for three or four months, F�nyk�vi hunts big game in the dense and trackless wilderness of that remote corner of the world. This is the story of his biggest trophy—the largest elephant ever shot.
It was while hunting in a remote area of Angola in 1954 that I got the shock of my big-game hunting life. Examining the muddy shore of a lake I saw an unbelievably big elephant track. Getting out a tape measure, I found it measured an even three feet in length—more than a foot larger than the world's record trophy.
As I stood up a little chill went through my body. I knew I was looking at the spoor of probably the biggest animal living on the surface of the earth.
What should I do? If I followed the beast long enough, undoubtedly I would in time find him and shoot him. But then what? I had only three helpers with me, and it would take us days to skin such a trophy. I had neither the mechanical equipment nor the human help for such a task.
With these considerations I calmed my hunter's ardor and went on my exploratory way. But I never forgot that great track. All last winter, spring and summer in Madrid I thought about it.
Last fall, I got back to Angola and began preparations for the biggest hunting expedition of my life. We loaded a two-ton "power wagon," a big truck with four-wheel drive capable of crossing almost any terrain, and with a brand new jeep, and sufficient supplies for myself and six men, we set off again to cross the Cuito River and look for my elephant. With me this time was Mario, my favorite aide-decamp, and Antonio, my Spanish driver, who is the factotum of our expedition, and who doubles as mechanic, cook and camp overseer.
Mario had not been with me in 1954, so he was unfamiliar with this part of Angola. But I guided our party to the place where I had seen the big tracks. I knew that the habit of solitary old males, whether they belong to the human or elephant race, are set and methodical. They eat, drink, sleep and travel in accordance with a strict plan and timetable.
It had been at the little lake that I saw the big track on November 9, 1954. In this year of 1955 we arrived at the same spot at 2 p.m. on November 12. Since the place had probably never before, or since, been visited by men, I was sure of finding the spoor of my old elephant first seen a year before.
Sure enough, there was the track again. It was not fresh, being covered with dust and leaves. I examined it carefully and concluded it was about two days old. My elephant had been there as late as November 10.
It was early in the afternoon when we saw the track. With me were Mario and my favorite native tracker, Kukuya. Mario got down and looked at the spoor. He agreed that in 40 years of the jungle he had never seen so big a footprint.