I've been hunting in Africa for 14 years, but two years ago my good friend, Mark Haldane with Zambeze Delta Safaris, recommended I purchase a Global Rescue membership. Mark is a very level headed guy who wants the best for his clients, so I decided to take his advice and join Global Rescue. I hoped it was a waste of money, of course, but I soon found out that no international hunters should be without a membership.
In November, 2011, I landed in Beira, Mozambique, for a forest buffalo hunt with my friend and professional hunter, LJ. Trained personally by Mark Haldane, LJ is a great PH who has proven himself to be top-notch in the field.
Hunting in Mozambique in November is not for sissies. Itís hot as hell for one thing, and I don't like heat. We spent the first two days tracking old dagga boys, only to spook them in heavy cover and have no chance of a shot. On day three, we found the tracks of a nice herd of buffalo. As we followed the tracks, the excitement of chasing a big bull helped override my discomfort in the 120 degree temperature.
We had been on this track for about an hour when I had the shock of my life. Suddenly, a sharp pain blasted through my ankle. I let out a scream as though I had been bitten by a cobra. No, it was not a snake, but, of all things, a poachers gin trap made from the leaf springs of a car. This trap was attached to a log with a cable and placed in a hole covered with native leaves. It is hard to believe that a herd of buffalo and my four-man team had all missed stepping in this trap. The trap was designed to catch large African game but it did a good job of catching me instead in its strong, rusty teeth.
If you've ever had a kidney stone, you know the intense pain that a trap with 1 and a half inch spikes digging into your ankle can cause. I was not just in pain; I was also bleeding. My first thought was, we didn't have the phone with us to call Global Rescue. My second thought was that I was going to die.
If you've ever wondered about the ability of a tracker under pressure, wonder no more. These guys were awesome. With LJ holding me up, the trackers busily worked on a plan to stop the pain and release the trap. Their first attempt involved cutting down a tree to create a pole about four inches in diameter and about ten long. They used it to try to pry the trap open. When this plan failed, Mudu, the lead tracker, began digging under a tree with his machete to find a big root. His plan was to unearth a root and use it to hold in place a still larger pole created by cutting down another tree. The root would be the fulcrum for a pry bar of sorts.
Everything in place, they dragged me over to the tree root to begin their second attempt to free my ankle. This plan did not work either because the pressure on the trap caused the trap to sink down in the sand. The pain that caused was almost unbearable. Next, the trackers cut some small sticks to go under the trap. That kept it from sinking in the sand. With one last effort, the trap began to open. Thank God! I was finally free of the excruciating pain.
It's hard to believe that my ankle had been in that trap for only 20 minutes. It felt like an eternity. I was very fortunate to have not broken any bones. I was also lucky in that only one of the 1 and a half inch spikes had punctured the skin.
We rested for about ten minutes before we began a two-hour, turtle-paced walk back to the truck. Upon reaching the vehicle, it was great to head for camp where I could use my emergency medical kit which contained Neosporin antibiotic cream and a very large bottle of Aleve. Applying a little Neosporin to kill any infection and following that up with a drink of Crown Royal Canadian Whiskey did wonders for my spirits. So did having a Global Rescue membership in reserve if I needed it. The combination soon cheered me sufficiently to go hunting that afternoon.
I know this sounds like the hunt from hell, but it ended with a great, deep-curl buffalo. I also took a beautiful sable, an awesome nyala, a bushpig, a warthog and a reedbuck. What a hunt! After I was free of the trap, Mark Haldane wanted me to go to the hospital, which could have been handled for me by Global Rescue. But thank God for Neosporin, Crown Royal, LJ, Saki, Mudu, Antonio, Zambeze Delta Safaris and Aleve! I have since learned that I am the only known client to be unlucky enough to get caught in a gin trap.