Sure enough, the elephants had crossed the road. The trackers said the herd would be no more than a mile ahead.
"The wind was in our favor, so we decided to try," Beller said. "We walked about 200 yards, and there the elephants were."
Under Namibian law, Beller was allowed to kill any elephant in the herd that didn't have trophy tusks.
"The first one we came across was a big, mature tusk-less cow," he said. "I decided to take her, so we stalked in for a better shot. I was 12 yards away when she realized I was there and charged.
"I tried for a brain shot but hit low and didn't turn her. I shot her again, and that knocked her down and gave me a chance to finish her off."
With his attention riveted on the elephant he'd shot, Beller forgot to watch the rest of the herd.
"I could hear Karl yelling. Luckily, he had my back. He kept a big, tusked cow from charging me. Eventually he was able to run the herd off. I learned a lesson that day: If you shoot an elephant and don't pay attention, you can get stomped."
The guides estimated Beller's elephant at 7,000 pounds.
"The local village got 2,200 pounds of meat from that animal," he said. "Once an elephant is down, the village's chief takes control. He sends in his crew, they butcher the elephant and everybody is happy."
The word of Beller's elephant went through the hunting camp like an electric charge.
"All the camp workers started dancing and jumping around all happy, because they were getting all this food," said Joyce Beller, who was there when the word came in. "These are people whose diet is mostly cornmeal and water. Unless a hunter comes in and kills an animal, they don't have meat."
African professional hunters tell tales of hunters who become emotional after taking the life of an elephant. Beller said the realization he was providing food for people helped him avoid that.
"I put a high value on life, but I viewed [killing the elephant] as the same as going to a slaughterhouse and watching a beef cattle go from a living creature to meat on a shelf at Kroger's," he said.
Would he go back and do it again? He says yes.
"It was a wonderful experience. I could go to Africa and never pick up a gun. I could spend a week watching someone else hunt and enjoy it every bit as much."
Reach John McCoy at 304-348-1231 or johnmc...@wvgazette.com.