Mills was finishing up his 18th African hunt, seeking leopard, buffalo and elephant in the Caprivi and some last-minute plains game at the Eden Wildlife Trust Ranch (www. eden-wildlife.com) on a hunt coordinated by Eden. He'd originally booked his hunt with Jamie Traut, but Traut was fired the day Mills arrived for the safari.
Mills' hunt hadn't been a success. Although his 71-year-old hunting partner had taken a 51-pound elephant and a 14-foot, 10-inch crocodile (with about 8 inches of its tail missing!), Mills hadn't killed an animal in more than two weeks of hunting. They'd had a large Tom leopard on the bait for the first three days of his hunt, but an administrative glitch had delayed his license for four days. By the time the license arrived, the Tom had disappeared, and they only saw females after that. Hunting elephant and buff, Mills saw only small bulls.
At the end of his hunt, Mills returned to the luxury tent camp at the Eden Wildlife Trust Ranch for two days to try (unsuccessfully) for an old bull eland. On October 10, his last night in camp, Mills retired to his tent early and, as he climbed into bed, was bitten on the toe by a Mozambique spitting cobra (Naja mossambica), which had been hiding under the bed. (No one knows how it got into a supposedly-secure tent . . .) This is considered the second-deadliest snake in Africa, after the mamba. It rarely bites but, instead, spits its venom into the victim's eyes). The cobra was killed by the camp cook who, fortunately, was wearing glasses when the cobra spit venom at him.
Mills describes the following hours as a nightmare of pain, as he faced a three-hour drive to a clinic in Grutfontein, where he received a life-saving injection of antivenin. The injection stopped the pain and seemed to reduce the swelling in his........(continued)