HMMMWhat are your thoughts on camp rifles in this situation. Were they available, would they have been good quality and would they have made your life quite a bit easier?
Yes there were opportunities for all of the other animals there. It would simply require buying another license, and making sure the concession has ample animals on quota. I feel this particular one is careful not to take too many animals, they have a count of over 200 eland with 20 to 30 mature bulls but only want to take 4 or 5 this year.I’m really glad you got to go and were successful. Did you have an opportunity to take bushbuck and waterbuck or you choose not to buy the special license? Harnessed bushbuck is one of my top animals to take someday in addition to lord derby eland.
I was scheduled to hunt there this year with a different outfitter. I moved my hunt up to avoid joe Biden taking office. I was going to borrow a gun to eliminate any issue from changing travel. I had to cut planned hunt short to work around international and domestic air routes and add some hotel stays to make sure I could get a covid test before departing USA. Then when I tried to apply for my visa, they would not process application at embassy in USA. Outfitter asked me to send it to Brussels and had a minister sent official letter to embassies about hunting, but I was scared away by that point since the country borders are technically closed and I would have been one of first hunters for year. I see now maybe I should have tried Brussels. I’m really glad you were successful and found a way around all the issues. I’m rescheduled for 2 years out, but hopefully I can go next year.
Yes!! That and the Moot-Moot bees... I think they are similar to the Mopani bees elsewhere. I have a unscientific theory about the number of Moot-Moot bees. Take the number of minutes you are standing still, multiply by ten and that's the number of bees trying to get in your facial orifices. Example 1 minute, ten bees, 5 minutes, 50 bees, etc. I can't imagine how many there might be when it actually gets hot there...Congratulations on surviving the worm castings. My feet hurt just looking at those.
It’s not possible to get a visa and gun permit from embassy in USA. It must be done in Paris or Brussels like you did. Funny thing is that I see now, had I decided to bring my own firearm, I would have applied for visa and gotten it with no issue. They were rejecting all non-essential applications across the board in the USA, under a normal year a tourist visa no gun permit in USA would have been no issue. I was using a very reputable travel agency and one of the bigger outfitters in Cameroon.Yes there were opportunities for all of the other animals there. It would simply require buying another license, and making sure the concession has ample animals on quota. I feel this particular one is careful not to take too many animals, they have a count of over 200 eland with 20 to 30 mature bulls but only want to take 4 or 5 this year.
My visa was handled in Paris, all the outfitters I contacted used the same procedure and NONE said the US visa process was working - just a waste of time. I trusted the people I was using as they do it often.
Those worm dirt clods or what ever you call them are terrible to walk on. Like you mention some break and that is fine but them some don’t. Like putting all your weight down on a rock! You never know where to step. Setting fires was fun for me and like you we were covered in ash everyday. Not a place for shorts!So the amount of game in this concession is diverse and plentiful. We saw Kob around every bend, common and Red Flanked Duiker, Waterbuck, Bushbuck, buffalo, Hartebeest, and Roan. The license in Cameroon is two trophies from group A and 4 trophies from group B but no duplicates. In my case the two main animals I wanted were the Lord Derby and Buffalo, both group A so I was ignoring the Hartebeest and Roan we saw daily. I tried very hard to convince Mr Jacques that we needed a Roan for camp meat, but got nowhere in that discussion. After reports from the scouts that the Eland had moved across the river into the other concession, we began a new search the next day.
We began the day with fresh tracks of a herd of Eland which was a good sign as we knew with young calves they would not travel as far or as quickly. We finally got the break we had been needing when we found the group before the wind swirled and before they saw us. Jacques got me behind him and we began looking for the best bull. He was behind the thick brush with a cow and could only get fleeting glimpses of him. When the cow began to move we knew the bull would follow and there was an opening about 20 yards ahead of them 140 yards away. I got on the sticks and we could see several bulls already in the opening and then the cow stepped out, slowly moving through the cut. Then HE stepped out, large black neck, horns that turned out again and a dewlap that nearly dragged the ground when he walked. I was ready but as both Jacques and I realized, the shot was not clear as there were other eland directly behind him and with the Barnes X I was shooting, it would have been an unfortunate double. The trackers couldn't believe I didn't shoot but eventually understood. We waited for about another fifteen minutes and then saw the cow coming back through the opening. They quartered through the same opening and this time I had the crosshairs on his font shoulder. I was not able to get the shot off before another eland crossed in front. It looked like we might get another shot as the herd began to slowly feed toward us but just as the cow was exiting the thicket, a closer cow smelled something and took off, taking the herd with her. This was one of those soul crushing moments in lots of hunts where you have the opportunity and the right moment and then I was unable to make the most of it. Everyone was very disappointed, but no one more than me. I felt like throwing up, as hard as we had worked just to have it all fall apart. I felt like I had let the whole team down. It was a long quiet ride back to camp. I apologized to the team in camp, but then realized later that at least we hadn't made a mistake, we didn't have a wounded animal, and the herd was still around. Tomorrow was a new day!
After a long walk the next morning, we were at the road waiting for the truck when I looked to the right and saw a very old Kob with his head down, standing in the shade of a tree at about 120 yds. I could tell his horns were much longer and worn off at the tips. I pointed him out to Jacques and Pascal and he said, well, YOU don't have Kob yet....so the sticks came out, and I dropped him where he stood.View attachment 386753
Once again the tape came out in camp, and he is just a couple of centimeters shy of RW. Probably before he was worn down he may have made it, but a quality trophy and one I am proud of.
Day 8 dawned much like the others, but soon we were on the tracks of a herd of Eland. This group seemed smaller, but had cows and young mixed in. We tracked for a couple of hours then found ourselves within sight. Again it was difficult to find the bull in the group, but then Jacques said, "there- on the left! head pointing left!" this time I was able to see the large head and the black mane quickly, and said, yes, got him. In only a couple of seconds I was able to find him in the scope, safety off and trying to place the shot. All I had to shoot at was the front shoulder but I fired at the best location I could. The Eland buckled but spun around. The trackers seemed to know where he was, and we hurried up to get a better spot for a follow-up. He was struggling to walk at the bottom of the bowl, and I was able to get a broadside shot into him through the brush. We quickly tried to close the distance and saw he was still up and struggling to get away. If an animal is on its feet I will keep shooting, so I took an offhand shot at about 120 yards as he was going away. He piled into a brush pile about 50 yards further. Eland Down! This turned out that the herd we had been on a couple days before had split again, and this was the good bull! After lots of clearing brush and positioning him for pictures, we loaded him up for camp.View attachment 386756
This is one of my favorite pictures as it shows the dark neck and dewlap. Not as good a picture of his horns as this one...View attachment 386757
Still more to come....
Wow you got a red one!After pictures and loading up the Eland, we have a chance to go over the shot. Jacques said the first shot was 240M. A bit further than what I was calculating in my head, so the first shot was a bit lower than I had planned. It entered low but broke the offside front leg. The second shot was a good shot into the ribs but missed the heart, The third shot grazed the back right top of the eland just beside his hump and then stitched his left ear. If it had been a couple of inches lower it would have spined him and possibly brained him also. It was confusing to look at on the ground but after replaying the angles made sense. So after we had loaded up the eland and headed to camp, we stopped a few hundred yards away from camp and as is the custom, unload the rifles. This day was no different, so when the truck stopped I leaned forward and unloaded my R8. Jacques next to me said, no, they want you to fire a shot into the air. I was confused and it took me a minute to realize they were serious. I had a practice round of a Nosler in my bag so I loaded it up and Jacques said, "that way" so I did. The truck erupted in chanting and singing as we slowly rolled into camp, and all of the camp came out to meet us with branches and flowers waving and chanting. It was unexpected and overwhelming all at the same time. Something I have not experienced before. Jacques has a video of it possibly on his personal page if you want to view it. The income from these hunts and the meat from an Eland is cause for great celebration. We celebrated with an adult beverage and a full night's sleep. Except I couldn't. The feeling is a bit like being redeemed in football if you are the field goal kicker and miss the shot just before halftime, then get a chance to make it to win the game. The tape came out and at 110 cm just 2 cm shy of RW. A trophy I will not better in my lifetime.
With still 2 hunting days to go I still have time to fill out my license, so out we go again after buffalo. We get on the tracks of a small herd with a deep bull track soon after leaving camp. We have gone several Km into the hunt when the trackers freeze. Jacques says, "reedbuck, and he's a very good one and old" and that's all I need to hear. I am quickly on the sticks and have a broadside shot at 180 yds. The shot broke both front shoulders and he was quickly down. A few steps later and I put the finishing shot into him. He was so old you could visibly see each rib. The secondary growth on his horns is a good sign of age as well as the thickness at the base.View attachment 386762
So this species is called the Bohor Reedbuck and while I didn't write down the measurement, it will also go into RW. The trackers show so much respect to all the animals they cut a bed of leaves to put into the truck when bringing back an animal.
We headed back to camp to get the Reedbuck into the skinning shed, have lunch, and return to the Buffalo tracks.
After a break we are hot on the trail of the buffalo, which have headed toward the Oldiri River and the boundary of the concession. Most of the time they simply water and return, but there is always the chance that they can cross. The spoor and dung are fresh and still warm, when the trackers freeze. Jacques begins glassing the thick brush just in front and to the right. There is a branch to his right I get my gun on, not waiting for sticks. Then Jacques says, "there, the one on the right beginning to walk"... I don't have a shot yet as I can barely see its head but at least I have the right animal. The cover ahead of him is a bit thinner and as he gets into it, I estimate where his shoulder is and get a round off. He hunches and exits left following the cows. We immediately begin tracking and find good lung blood after just a few yards. Its a good thing we left quickly as the fires set behind us sweep through where we were standing. After 30 or 40 yards we find the buffalo already done, the shot took out lung and heart. While not as large as a cape buffalo, they are still imposing and stout. If they wanted to, they could quickly damage you.
View attachment 386765
I especially like the worn off tips of his horns.
The rest of the team from left to right, Bertram who also works the anti-poaching patrol, myself, then Poppy and Sabu the trackers.
So much more information to put into a hunt, will post soon about the travel back and more pictures of the hunt.View attachment 386767
A morning conference about what to do today...View attachment 386771
A good view of what was (usually) behind us.
Yes! It evidently is a sign of age and it seems everything I shot has a split ear...Wow you got a red one!
I stayed at the same hotel in Douala. It was good/strange that police were always in the hotel. Douala is not a place you want to stay for any length of time. It’s a shame Customs were not more professional. But that’s NJ for you! My last two trips I cleared at Dallas and Houston and Customs were friendly and fast especially DFW.So some of the other tidbits of information about the hunt. We left a bit early as the RULES OF COVID are changing daily. The US government in its infinite wisdom has designated Jan 26 as the date all incoming travelers must have negative Covid tests. I am returning Jan 23rd, so all should be good but Jacques needs a test to return to SA so when we get to the hotel in Garauo Moussa has arranged for a doctor to come give Covid tests where we are. That handled, we go off to the La Casa for a meal. This time I am going straight for the Camerones as a main meal, grilledView attachment 386783
That's two shrimp on a plate with a side of fries. 9 euros.
So as not to slight the food in camp, every meal was expertly cooked and without exception, nicely done. Usually every P.H. I have known asks before camp if I have dietary restrictions. I always answer, no vegetables! My wife is not here to make me eat my vegetables. So before every meal there is a lovely plate full of vegetables. Jacques happily ate my portion every time, especially the avacadoes so nothing went to waste.
Mr Jacques spent a bit of time on the river fishing and was able to bring in a very nice Capitan and shared it with camp.
The fresh fruit was always great, Pineapple, grapefruit, Papaya and oranges in abundance
The Mousse was always a treat, chocolate and lime.
As to the travel, every stop required an inspection of my gun case and verification of the serial numbers and counting the rounds of ammunition. EVERY STOP. and then there are the "unofficial" checks by every person with a security badge or who seems in an official position. especially the ones wanting a bribe. (no one got a cent from me) if every traveler who goes would quit offering a bribe to every official they would eventually stop - maybe. Here is a picture of the back of my visa and gun permit with the official stamps - there were just as many "unofficial" checks.View attachment 386789
Two checks especially stood out. The security chief at the Garaoua airport called us back just before walking out clear back into his little cubicle office in the back of the dark hallway to "check" my gun. He wanted us to sit down, I refused. he began quickly speaking in language neither of us could understand. I was doing my best to remain calm and Jacques was also but repeating "we don't understand". The guard said at one point "we are all friends here, please have a seat" so I said, "Oh you speak English, so you will address me in English, sir" He immediately began talking faster and louder and finally I opened my gun case and he brought out a piece of printer paper and wrote down the serial number of the gun. He didn't even have a stamp! Then we got to the door and our meet-and greet gentleman Salihou showed up quite late and got us into the parking lot. on the way several teen-age men offered to help with the single bag. I was a bit tense after the exchange inside and squared up in front of them and simply said, "NO" and then continued following to the truck. The teens said, he's our friend and pointed to Salihou. I said, then he can pay you. They stayed a bit further back after that. I am understanding of the need of the average African to earn a couple bucks but after that I was a bit testy. We get to the Hotel Falaise in Douala which has a noticeable security presence and x-ray machines at the door. Guess what, the local police needed to inspect the serial number of my gun. I nicely complied until he told me they would keep my gun. I told them no, that's why I have a permit to have a gun. I would check it at the desk where they would give me a receipt for my gun. He was a bit perplexed that I argued with him without offering a bribe. Wrote down the number on a piece of paper! All part of the adventure!
My flight was scheduled to leave Douala for Brussels in a few hours, so we relaxed in a room and got a bite to eat at the hotel. Salihou arrived to collect me and help me get onto the plane. He was helpful with the airport personnel and paperwork. A covid test was required by the airline to board, luckily I had a current one on me. Boarding was generally smooth once you get through the lines. A notable one was they installed an automatic hand sanitizer dispenser prior to the luggage check. It quit working about halfway through the line and held up the process for 30 minutes. It took a long time for the man in the white coat to realize it wasn't going to work and everyone in the line was showing our personal sanitizer bottles. TIA!! Then we go through the usual x-ray and metal detector line, then 20 feet later another hand check of everyone's baggage. Not sure what the hand check will pick up that the x-rays missed?
All seems well that I am finally on a flight and getting closer to home!
After landing in Brussels, with a short layover I am at my gate getting ready to board my flight to DC when the nice gate attendant (in English) said I am not allowed to board my flight to DC because I have a firearm. (What??) The kind folks at United explained our government has decided that no one is allowed into DC flights this week with a firearm. Nice!! My option is to overnight in Brussels as the no-fly order expires the next day, or there is a flight leaving for Newark in just an hour. They book me on the Newark flight and also rebook my connecting flight. Very helpful people!
After landing in Newark. my trip through customs ends up being called into a side office to wait for an "interview" with an officer. Apparently my flying into my own country with my own weapon and 4457 was cause for consternation with Customs. They had no issue with any contraband and didn't even check my weapon! It was all about my choice to fly home with my own weapon with a connecting flight in a couple hours. Amazing after all I went through in Africa to be treated like that in the States. I fear for what our country will become when this becomes easier and commonplace.
A side note- the two travel agents that were involved in this flight booking should have been on top of this - that is what we pay them for- not for me to find out about it halfway through getting home.
All of this sounds negative and I certainly don't want to convey the feeling that way! Jacques and the concession owner made a remarkable effort that every item under their control was properly done. I am impressed with the amount of details that were handled by Jacques and his team. I merely want people to know that a hunting trip to Cameroon will be an adventure and you must be prepared for delays and curveballs. It is an adventure!!
If I have left out any further details I will add them later and Jacques may have a different perspective about details so I welcome his input as well
Thanks for reading this report and thanks for the positive comments already! If anyone wants to visit more please P.M. me!
Hair loss is common in hot climates and is from heat and insects. Some are red and some are black more of a genetics thing, bulls that is.Yes! It evidently is a sign of age and it seems everything I shot has a split ear...View attachment 386938
Not sure what this loss of hair is on the back, but is interesting anywayView attachment 386939
Thanks Philip. Just a quick question, have your trophies shipped back to the states? And about how long did it take?
Some outfitters there have an extra gun but they have to bring them in with them. When I flew in I met another PH and he had an R8 for clients (we were entering the country and doing the gun check). The PH’s are mostly French. This is one of those places where it is best to have your own gun.Looks like you had a wonderful adventure and a great hunt.
Congratulations on some great looking animals.
What are your thoughts on camp rifles in this situation. Were they available, would they have been good quality and would they have made your life quite a bit easier?
Thanks for sharing your memories with us.
It was a nice hotel, comfortable and clean. I think the enhanced police presence was because we saw several black mercedes at the entrance , which we believe were politicians or officials. No one else gets one in Cameroon.....I stayed at the same hotel in Douala. It was good/strange that police were always in the hotel. Douala is not a place you want to stay for any length of time.