Disappointing Hunt in Mozambique... booked with Hunt It All
My Mozambique hunting experience which I would like to share with all of you was not so nice.
Our group of 4 hunters arrived in Mozambique in September 2010. Preceding the trip was a few months of letter exchange with our agent Mark Willman from the American Hunt It All, Inc company. I have participated in over 20 African expeditions and usually (if we aren’t talking about standard antelope hunt in Namibia or SAR) I prefer not to pre-purchase a whole hunting package. I pay daily rates beforehand and pay for the trophies only when I kill the animals. In this case however I made an exception. This decision was obviously influenced by the offered discount, but final argument was the fact that Hunt It All, Inc president Terry Сundiff was also a co-owner of the receiving Mozambique Unlimited Safaris company. This means that Hunt It All, Inc was not just a regular booking agent, but exclusive and well informed one. During the two week hunt we were planning to get three buffalos, two leopards, two sable antelopes, two crocs and two hippo’s.
First part of the trip went very smoothly: we met with the receiving party, went through the formalities, spent the night in Maputo and then boarded the plane to Lechinga. Problems started to appear 15 minutes after we met our professional hunters. Group leader Stan Harding became very confused, when we told him, that our primary targets are buffalos, saying that he’ll try to think of something. His partner Neil Lindsay was more radical: “There are no buffalos in our area!” Speaking forward his words were proven to be correct – during our two week hunt we haven’t seen even a single buffalo footprint.
It was the first, but unfortunately not the last “No” we met with during our stay. Two hunters from our group had leopard included in their package with a prepaid (following Mark’s recommendation) prebaiting ($1,500 per person). PH’s had no idea about it and didn’t make the baits beforehand. To make things worse money required to support basic camp functionality was not transferred in time. First couple days we were eating some leftovers, but later we were forced to survive without even such simple things as bread, eggs, tea, jam… “Outdoor” lunch (me and my friend spend the whole day in the blind for the croc) for the two of us was just a small can of preserved fruits, and for PH’s it was a can of beans of a similar size. I don’t know if the problem was with money or with anything else, but promised shipment from Lechinga had never arrived. In the nearby settlements we were only able to occasionally buy bread, tomatoes or tinned fish and sometimes a few cans of cola or beer… And for this we were paying a $1200 daily rate.
However food was not our main problem – after all we came here not to eat, but to hunt. I had already described the situation with buffalos. Same story happened we the hippos, although PH’s told us that hippos do inhabit the hunting area, but not during this season.
We could only get a single crocodile (the only one we had seen) and it was less than 3 meters long. However it’s less than prominent trophy qualities were easily outweighed both by the interesting 2-day hunt and by the fact that this croc was with a “history”. It had eaten two kids from the nearby village. We brought the croc to the house of one of the kid’s parent and pictures where poor mother tries to smash the monster’s head with her fists would remain our main trophies.
It would be unfair to say that there were absolutely no animals in the hunting area. We managed to get one mediocre sable, 3 or 4 non-trophy antelopes to eat, a few bushpigs (rare in other places, it was a common animal here) and whole lot of baboons to use as baits. However getting any animal required a lot of sweating – many hours of stalking, long walks in the bush… I have already mentioned that I have hunted many times in different parts of Africa. However in no place I have seen poaching on such a scale as in this part of Mozambique. During these two weeks we have removed hundreds of loops, seen dozens of hunting pits and once found a 3 km long wall made of dry wood with openings after each 150m ending with 2-3m pits.
On the other hand we’ve seen a lot of elephants. While being in one of the fly camps we even helped to evacuate last inhabitants of a nearby village: elephants had destroyed the crops and razed a few huts. Now the villagers were facing a very grim perspective. Because of the abundance of the tsetse flies there are no cattle in the region, and now they lost their crops.
In terms of adventures and exotics the trip ended up being quite exciting. However only 3 trophy animals (one of the hunters at the end successfully ambushed the leopard, but missed – which is obviously his fault and not hunt organizer’s) from 11 is a result that can hardly be called satisfactory.
We tried to discuss the situation with the local organizers on the way back to Maputo. However soon we realized they had very vague understanding of their own lands and were only complaining that they never received the promised payment from the US partners.
Obviously we asked Hunt It All to return at least part of the money we paid – at least for the inexistent hippos and buffalos and for prebaiting that didn’t happen. And this is where the real trouble began. After two polite letters asking for a short deferment (they claimed they were waiting for a formal report from the professional hunters, Hunt It All representatives stopped answering e-mails or picking up the phone. They didn’t appear on SCI convention in Reno either – on their stand there was just a lonely piece of paper with the name Hunt It All, Inc.
Our professional hunters (we can’t complain about their work – they honestly tried to do all that was in their power) tried to persuade us not to make rash conclusions about hunting in the Northern Mozambique just by our experience in this hunting area. They told us that just 150-200 km to the north, closer to the Nyassa National Park, the situation is completely different. In either case I advise anyone planning to go on a safari in this region to be more careful than us when gathering information. Even more important we urge everyone not to trust their money to Terry Cundiff and Mark Willman, whether their company would be called Hunt It All, Inc or anything else.