Africa a different way... or bowhunting on Mauritius On the stalk bowhunting in Mauritius During the Jagd & Hund fair 2010 in Dortmund/ Germany a booth caught my attention regarding the attractive combination of hunting along with a wonderful beach and sight-seeing vacation on the island of Mauritius. Relaxing and hunting on this paradise island in the Indian Ocean roughly 1243 miles away from the African continent east of Madagascar in an awesome 4-star Resort & Spa hotel sounded very interesting. Moevenpick Resort in Mauritius So I got acquainted with Lionel Berthault Le Chasseur Mauricien (Le Chasseur Mauricien) Lionel was born in France but is living since 2003 on Mauritius. Beside the fact that he is a very nice guy he is also a passionate hunter since his early childhood when he accompanied his father for hunting at the age of 6. As a teenager of 15 years he obtained his official hunting license and later started his working career at the French government hunting authorities. He is a rifle hunter but also since 14 years passionate about hunting with bow & arrow. Hunting is not just work for him it is his real passion. He is the agent and organizer, Professional Hunter & Outfitter in person. Lionel Berthault (right) from Le Chasseur Mauricien Hunting on Mauritius? What can you hunt there – maybe one or another will ask? OK, quite a lot and hunting had an old and important tradition on Mauritius. Mainly you hunt the Rusa or also called Java Deer a big stag (Cervus Timorensis Rusa Rusa). It is a bit scraggy but nevertheless gracious stag with strong and heavy 6-point antlers. During the rut they decorate their antlers sometimes with tuft of grass, branches and leaves. Furthermore you can hunt on wild boar, hare, pheasant, quail and helmeted guinea fowl. Hunting lodge in Mauritius of Le Chasseur Mauricien Hunting lodge in Mauritius of Le Chasseur Mauricien Lionels ambitious explanations, the offer as well as pictures and references were very convincing so that it was easy to convince also my „non-hunting Ms.“ tonight at home to travel to Mauritius. The next day I called Lionel and we defined the trip in detail and I booked the „Golden Medal Package (acc. to SCI & Rowland Ward specs.).Via email we handled the rest without any problems. The rut starts at the beginning of July and lasts roughly two months. So we left Germany on July 15 and flew in to Mauritius via Paris with an11-hours over night flight. The arrival and immigration the next morning at the “Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport“ in the southeast of the island went flawless and Lionel was still waiting for us. By the way Lionel took care about everything starting at the airport, the hunting, organisation of trips & more – very professional & reliable. The sun is shining and we have comfortable 75 degrees F (24 degrees C). The 1-hour drive to the hotel in his Toyota Double-Cab Pick-up led us through small villages, huge sugar cane fields, the Indian Ocean to our left and the interesting mountain scenery to our right before we arrived at the Moevenpick Spa & Resort in Bel Ombre in the South The Moevenpick Spa & Resort is a beautiful complex situated directly at the Indian Ocean and is resembled a little bit like the Taj Mahal. We had a warm welcome with a tasty cocktail while the formalities were settled quick and easy. Our room, literally it was more a gorgeous luxury cabin, had a straight view on the lagoon and ocean, surrounded by pine and palm trees, our own beach and within 100 feet or 33 yards you stood in the crystal-clear water of the Indian Ocean – fantastic. Our booking included half-board accommodation with an extraordinary breakfast buffet as well as an abundant, tasty and continuous changing dinner-buffet. There was a nice and well equipped Spa- & Wellness area, lots of water-sport options, a gym as well as 2 tennis courts available. If you wanted to play golf the 18-hole court was 5 minutes away by taxi or car. Everything was available for a nice vacation and lots of activities before or after the hunt. Also your wife / partner would feel comfortable. Hunting grounds overlook in Mauritius The Hunt Directly on the afternoon of our arrival I slipped in my Sniper Africa Camo cloths, grabbed my bow and drove with Lionel to the hunting grounds in the mountains roughly 10 minutes by car from the hotel. Our way went thru 10 ft high sugar cane fields and sub-tropical vegetation before we reached the 3500 Hectares (8650 acres) hunting grounds of Bel Ombre. There is also another hunting area west of Bel Ombre called Case Noyale close to the Black River Gorge National Park area. The hunting lodge is in a wonderful spot on top of a mountain where I had an awesome overlook of the hunting and stalking areas for the next days. The Lodge is quite big with several shoulder-mounts of Rusa- resp. Java Deer stags and some full mounts of pheasants as well as lots of pictures. It has a huge lounge and terrace where the hunters join and meet for the driven hunts. Moreover it has a kitchen and small bar where we had a Welcome Drink - a tasty Mauritian beer called “Phoenix”. On the stalk Then I made some practise shots with my bow to check that everything is alright before we started. The hunting area is mostly mountainous with steep slopes, meadows, pine trees, broadleaf trees and subtropical forest with bulky and high bamboo, small creeks and there is also a 100 ft. high waterfall. Chamarel Waterfalls in Mauritius Hunting is only by spot & stalk respectively walk & stalk – no tree stands or blinds and absolutely no hunting from the car. From the lodge we could spot with the binos a small pride of java deer roughly 800 yards away in the valley. We decided to walk down to the valley. Maybe we would find some deer during our stalk downwards in the forest or on the meadows in between. On the stalk We crossed a small creek and worked our way through thick and huge bamboo trees – uphill and downhill - interesting but also sweaty. To be in good physical shape is definitely an advantage for stalking here. Suddenly Lionel stopped because two females were lying in the high grass 50 yards in front of us. If they would see and realize us their barking would betray us. We hide behind a grass covered hill and he tried to push them along by imitating the fawn distress call. It worked – they were looking up to find out how the land lies and moved away. We also moved back roughly 100 yards before we further went downhill and roamed through a copse of bamboo. Lionel stopped again because there they were – at ca. 80 yards a small pride of about 20 Rusa deer stood on the grassland between us and the palm forest on the opposite. Cows, fawns from last year, yearlings and two year old as well as 3 big stags with huge antlers stood there. Rusa Deer We had to turn around them in a wide circle to get closer because they were standing near to the palm forest behind them and the sparse cover on the grassland would not be sufficient for a stalk. Slowly we backed out and walked a bigger loop to the right to stalk through the thick cover offering subtropical forest where we passed the above mentioned nice waterfall and went along the sunken course of a river before we climbed up the slope again. About 20 minutes later we were on the opposite side of the spot where the stags were browsing. Quiet and slowly we sneaked up the stony slope. On top we were lying on our bellies and looked through the binoculars. Rusa Deer The herd was still there browsing at about 45 yards. Like a duck we toddled behind a palm tree to find some cover. Lionel was pointing to a big stag I could shoot and whispered that he is standing at 40 yards distance. I did not hesitate long and drew back my Elite GT500 bow. At the moment I aimed on his vitals with the appropriate sight pin the stag was looking at us. It looked like that he realized that something is wrong and ….jumped off. Immediately the pack also set in motion. Cautious I let off the bow. Wow what an amazing experience and start I was thinking when my adrenalin kick went down to normal level. We tried to follow the pride but when they started running uphill and the dawn was starting we stopped and went back to the lodge. Rusa Deer Saturday morning started early at 5:20 a.m. and a pick up at 6:00. It was still dark when we entered the hunting domain. At sunrise at 6:30 we were on the opposite side of the lodge & domain because the deer often spends the night there. We found a group of 30 animals with the binos and stalked them although it started raining. Unfortunately the rain got worse and we had to pause under a palm tree. At 9:00 a.m. it t rained cats & dogs so we stopped and went back to the hotel where I enjoyed the warm refreshing shower and afterwards the rich and tasty breakfast buffet. Unfortunately the weather was not in our favour for the rest of the Saturday. So we decided not to go for hunting in the afternoon and early evening... ...On Thursday morning I was out for hunting again. Rusa Deer Mostly it was a replication of the day before but to be out in this wonderful nature was more than relaxing. After breakfast we spent a nice and sunny morning and lunchtime at the beach before I got picked up for hunting again at 2:00 p.m. This time we went to the south-west part of the hunting property. We strolled over a harvested sugar cane field before we virtually got swallowed by the tight and dark woods. After a downhill stalk we crossed a creek where I stopped for a minute to enjoy the gurgle of the creeks water as well as the spare rays of sunlight that found their way through the thick subtropical leaves and plants. We moved uphill thru 15 ft. high bamboo with a diameter like a drain pipe before we entered a mixed forest and heavy brush area again. We took cover behind the trees and bushes to look for deer on the meadow in front. Yeah – there were 5 big stags, some cows, youngsters and last year fawns in the high grass. All stags had good trophy size antlers. Far right was one with huge approx. 37“ antlers – too much respectively the trip would be a lot more expensive than planned. Rusa Deer But left to him a good stag with nice symmetrical antlers was lying in the grass. He was ideal because no other deer was lying behind him like the others where sometimes females or youngsters were laying packed together with the stags or just the antlers were visible. We were ca. 35 yards away but from the bushes and trees was no shooting window or not enough space to pull the bow. Therefore we decided that I should crawl outside on my own to close the distance. So I moved forward inch by inch on my belly to get in a better shooting position. Rusa Deer At a snails pace I crawled. After what felt like an eternity I was only 20 meters (22 yards) away. Rusa Deer So far nothing had changed. The stags were still lying calm in the grass. Now it started to get interesting and challenging because I had to straighten up to shoot from a crouched kneeing position sitting on my heels. At this position I would have no cover. The stags still did not realize me so I raised my upper body in slow motion and sat on my heels. My left hand clasped the Gripwerks quilted maple grip of my Elite GT 500 bow and I drew the 70 lbs slowly to full draw. Rusa Deer I had agreed with my PH that he imitates the sound of a fawn when I am ready. Ok – he did it but it did not impress the stags or females at all – nothing happened. After 40 seconds I let the bow slowly down always looking at the deer not to spook them. Two minutes later, they still had not noticed me, I drew again and this time he roared like a big stag which sounded a little bit funny but all of a sudden all animals were on their feet. The one I aimed on was facing directly to my direction. „Stay calm Frank hopefully he will turn broadside“, I thought. All hunting gods were in my favour this time and he turned left and stood broadside for a few seconds. Before he could walk downhill I released the trigger of my Scott release and sent the Carbon Express Maxima Hunter arrow with the G5 Tekan II broadhead on its deadly mission. The stag jumped up and kicked out with his hind legs before he ran downhill with the others. My blood pressure was in a range that cardiologists would not recommend so that I sat down for a moment. We crawled on our knees forward to look down the hill and saw the group standing roughly 90 yards away close to the edge of the wood. With the binoculars we checked if the one I shot was with them but he was not there. Maybe he had left the group and went down into the wood? We decided to wait for at least 45 minutes which seemed to be endless. Meanwhile the animals had left the spot and we searched for the arrow and a blood track. In spite of intensive and accurate searching we did not find any blood or the arrow. „Damned, this will be no laughing matter“, I thought to myself. We decided to walk into the forest from the spot where I had shot the stag. Perhaps he bedded down in the wood. About 100 yards later through the wood we saw a big and dark brown object lying on the steep slope. That was not a stone or something this was my Rusa stag stopped by a tree when he probably died and felt down the slope. Horrido – Waidmannsheil – Congratulations My eyes were shining with joy and our sense of delight nearly endless. What an exciting and challenging hunting experience. We both were more than lucky when we started to retrieve my stag. Therefore we had to call two guys from the hunting lodge to support us along with the pick-up and the winch to pull up the nearly 400 pound heavy stag. My Rusa Deer At 5:30 p.m. we made the trophy photos. It was shortly before dawn when it started to drizzle and we had uploaded the deer and drove our way back to the lodge and abattoir. During the skinning and slaughtering we recognized that the carbon arrow penetrated through both lungs and was an invariably lethal shot. The skinner prepared everything accordingly for a straight looking nice shoulder mount and finally we enjoyed a very tasty and delicious Mauritian beer. The next day I had the opportunity to bowhunt on wild boar, hare, pheasant, helmeted guinea fowl, a yearling Rusa deer or a female. Therefore we drove this time to the hunting grounds called „Case Noyale“ which are located west of Bel Ombre within a 20 minutes drive. Also here I had wonderful stalking opportunities in a breathtaking landscape. The vegetation was less sub-tropical and the climate was more arid and a little warmer. Yohann, my guide and PH told me that in this area also coffee is cultivated which tasted very good by the way. While stalking I could get 27 yards close to a hare and could shoot but foolishly the arrow hit the small branch in front of him and so the arrow was deflected and flew clearly over his body – fortunately hare and arrow were save. With the wind in our favour we stalked together a small wild boar of about 25 lbs in the thick bushes close to 18 yards. I did not shoot it although there was a perfect shooting window because we were chasing for a big bruiser. These hogs we saw but they were smarter than the young ones and gave us no opportunity to get closer. My first attempt on a pheasant ended at 55 yards distance when he spotted me and got airborne in the clear sky of Mauritius. Second time – same game again. At 5:00 p.m. I got a last chance when we heard and saw two pheasants yelling to make clear whose territory it is. Between both rivals were approx. 35 yards distance and I stalked with Yohann towards the bird on the lower end. I was hiding beside a bush at about 14 yards when the bird turned towards me his chest swollen with pride and I released the arrow with the adder head which hit him hard in the middle of his chest. Congratulations - he was directly dead – no movement, no quivering. What a great final for another nice hunting day. My Pheasant The last days we just relaxed and did some sightseeing. The Walk with Lions - yeah real big lions - was again a special highlight. Tuesday we made a nice last Game Drive all together through the Bel Ombre hunting estate before we had to leave back home the next day. Conclusion This hunting and vacation trip was a wonderful and challenging experience. It was a great combination of exciting bowhunting paired with a sightseeing, beach and shopping vacation. Every time again. Thank you very much to everybody who made it happen and especially indeed to Lionel and his wife from Le Chasseur Mauricien Waidmannsheil, Horrido and always good hunting Frank Hope you like it!