MOZAMBIQUE: Traditional Mozambique Safaris

flatwater bill

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TRADITIONAL MOZAMBIQUE SAFARIS, SIMON LEACH, ET AL.

OUT OF SOUTH AFRICA

I hope this report is a good one. Simon would like that. He so loves a story well told. You see, l had a hunt in Mozambique, at the foot of the Chaxie Hills. But it began before that. It really began before that, in South Africa.

Before hunting with Simon Leach of Traditional Mozambique Safaris, on our way to Moz, we stopped off and hunted five days in South Africa. Five days with Henry Griffith Safaris to get a buffalo for Uncle Bob.



WHAT ABOUT BOB?

My hunting partner on this trip, Bob, or Uncle Bob, is 86 years old. He always wanted to hunt a buff in his younger days, but like so many I know, put it off one more year. And then one more. Then, thinking he was too old, he struck it off his bucket list. He is a fit, tough old codger, but he is still, well…..86. Having lost a step or two, and lost the vision in his dominant eye he learned to shoot the rifle, and then the shotgun left handed after the age of 80. A testimony to true determination, and a true hunter’s hunter. Despite these accomplishments, I felt we needed to hunt buffalo now. No coming back in 5 or ten years for another crack at it. We needed a relatively sure thing that didn’t smack of a cannery. And baby steps…no slogging all day on a set of tracks under a fierce African sun. We needed a special hunt. We needed an accomplice named Henry Griffith.



REGARDING HENRY



To Henry’s credit, he titrated the hunt perfectly. Bob wound up with a 41” heavy, solid bossed buff, and ambushed it at a place that Henry had seen it frequent before. We sneaked down a dark, tree lined ravine on the downwind of a water hole, and waited, morning and evening. It was a great set up, with a little adventure yet a fairly certain outcome. On the second evening, just at twilight, a herd of about 40 approached the water cautiously. It took a bit for the bull to step clear of the cows and calves, but when he did, Bob made it pay. Everyone was happy, except perhaps the bovine. And we did it in only a couple of days, leaving 3 full days to get an oryx and a few zebra hides. I was quite impressed with our hunt. It was expertly scouted and handled. Bob was thrilled. His shooting was great, breaking the left shoulder with the first shot from his custom .375X64 Mauser bolt. The Hornady bullets also performed well; expanding nicely but penetrating deeply. A quality hunt with modest physical requirements. Well done to both Bob and Henry.



Henry has been written up several times here on AH, I won’t rehash it. All good. He hunts numerous areas. I don’t want to imply that all of Henry’s hunts are easy. Not at all. But he will go the extra mile (kilometer?) to arrange whatever you need. Having said that, I will also say that I am not a big fan of Kalahari hunting in South Africa. There are places I simply like better. HGS hunts some of them as well. Personal preference. But you will not find a better value for your dollar, and Henry is a wonderful host.



MOUNTAINS OF THE MOON

We left Josy for Mozambique, and the strange mountains called eisenbergs. Giant granite eggs dropped on their end and sticking into the flat scrub. Getting there was not half the fun. One of Simon’s two diesel Land Cruisers went tits up the day before we arrived. Sitting in the back of the remaining Toyota, the heat and wind took a lot out of me. There was only one passenger seat in the cab, and Bob had earned that spot. The worst was not being able to open one’s eyes due to the dust. No anticipating the fierce bumps; no chance to get ready. Just a sudden, unexpected wrenching of the spine. It was exhausting. We arrived in camp at 11:07 PM. 9 hours and 38 minutes after we left the airport at Lichinga. Simon summarized it best; “miserable”. That was far too kind. On the plus side, we did see wild elephant. I was too tired to eat or clean up. I fell on my cot and into a coma filled with dreams of my previous trips to Mozambique.



Things got better. We soon fell into a great routine. In the evening we would have a few drinks, and a very nice dinner. Intellectual discussions around the campfire usually centered on quantum physics, followed by a good night’s sleep. We rose early, in the dark, and after some coffee headed out in the Land Cruiser; Uncle Bob and I occupying the high seats in the back…….the very one that I had had so much experience with on the road from Lichinga. Our gunbearer and two trackers also rode in the back. Courtney, the other white man in camp, was our driver. Around 10 AM we would swing back by camp and pick up Justin, a young PH working for Simon. We loaded him in the truck like a piece of cord wood, what with the late night and all. But his powers of recovery were amazing and by 11 AM he would be spotting game just as well as Uncle Bob. Initially, and while we were getting to know Justin, the blacks would point out the odd sable or kudu, but by day three Justin could easily tell them apart.

On day two, we spotted a group of three eland bulls; all young and highly motivated to depart. Still, it was nice to see them-the only wild eland I was to see during the trip, although the PH’s and trackers saw a large mature bull. On day three, we saw the almost mythical 60” kudu……..what a sight. Over the past 20 years I have seriously hunted kudu, and have seen as many as 20 large bulls in a day. I have become more adept at judging them than the other plains game. On this trip we had also seen kudu bulls of about 52” and perhaps 54”, we were in heady territory. One knows immediately to get the rifle ready when these boys show up. Alas, he proved too quick and wild for us. We tracked him a bit, and after following his path up a steady grade we came by a site where two bull duiker had killed a leopard. The hide was worthless at this point. These are the “duiker from Hell” we had heard so much about.

Then it was back to camp for breakfast/lunch. Simon would often be up by then. We would recount our adventures from the morning, take a nap, and prepare for the evening hunt. Uncle Bob would usually work on the broken Land Cruiser until the heat got to him. Those buggers can be hard to overhaul in the dirt. I believe had he been ten years younger he would have gotten the crank shaft out, but we had to settle for a ring and valve job.

Each day we saw Sable. 89 of them on the first day, but a dwindling number after that. I felt that three of the bulls were superb. Uncle Bob had first crack at one. Simon spotted him at great distance, and made an expert stalk. We first drove closer to cut down on a long, hot hike in hopes that Courtney could accompany us. Alas, his physical condition would not permit walking more than a few meters; driving seemed to exhaust him. How he could just “let himself go” at that age was a wonder. No matter, our entourage was big enough without him, Simon, Justin, Bob, me, a gun-bearer (although on the stalk we elected to carry our own guns, or so I thought) and two trackers.



Once we had closed the distance in the Toyota, we set out on foot. Initially, I carried my rifle, a JP Sauer 8X57 Mauser with a 2.5X8 Leupold, while Bob had his custom 375X64 on a model 98 action with 1X4 Leupold. Bob’s rifle philosophy is that if a pound is good, two is better, would come into play. A half hour into this hike he asked to trade rifles. He carried my 8mm tipping in at 8 pounds all up, while I enjoyed the buff killer. In weight, balance and handling, Bob’s rifle reminded me of a High-Lift Jack I once owned. To make a long story even longer, during the close phase of this stalk, Simon set the sticks up 9 times for Bob. Nine times he almost shot. Trees, shadows, 86 summers, a fleeting thought, something ALWAYS got in the way. This may not have been the “swiftest sable on the savannah”; demented perhaps. For instead of bolting like all the others, he walked a slowly widening circle around us. Visible thru the trees only as a shadow in the dappled light. On the tenth time lightning struck. The rifle cracked, the bullet told, and the Sable bolted.

We gathered ourselves, and the trackers set out. They found moderate blood, and followed easily for maybe 400 meters, then nothing. The blood and tracks stopped. The three blacks talked a bit, and looked to the distance; shielding their eyes from sunlight; splintering thru the forest. Contemplating. Where did it go? Where could it go? We looked about, had a drink of water, and looked at each other, before he charged.

With a low pitched bellow, the sable rose from hiding and charged in one fluid movement. He had circled back a little, and bedded in a shadow. Lest you wonder how they could miss him, I will simply say that you would have to see it. Roosevelt Sable are black. Shadows are black. The forests have all been burned many times. The stumps and tree trunks are black. Five meters away he rose, lowered his head and charged from behind us. He planted Raymundo, who went flying. My most vivid memory will always be of the two water bottles he had in his pockets flying thru the air. He landed on his back and the sable was on him in an instant, forcing him into the ground with 42” horns. It was exciting. Perhaps more so for Raymundo.

Recollection here is fuzzy for me. Things happened so fast. I am pretty sure I killed him with my Buck Folding Hunter while Simon and Justin were fleeing. Others present remember this differently. Still, it was one of the most memorable hunts I have ever been on. No one had more than a bruise or two when it was over, and Bob’s trophy was and is truly outstanding. We went back to camp then, a bit early, the blacks singing Bob’s praises with some amazing vocal harmonies enroute. Camp was festive and gay that evening, and all hands were pleased as the heroic Raymundo recounted the hunt in song and sang of the senior hunter’s success and prowess. (To be politically correct, the word “gay” here is used in the old sense, meaning happy and cheerful, not referring to a latte drinking, Subaru driving, wolf loving, Oscar Wilde reading friend of Dorothy….and no offense is intended to any cake-boy reading this)



Other than a little meat for the Government cronies, we didn’t shoot any other game during our stay. Two more sable bulls that we saw were in the 42 inch range, and although we put time on their tracks, we never could close the show. Game became scarce during the entire last week of our hunt, although I could have shot a Roland Ward sable every single day. The weather was great, the scenery was great, camp was fun, and we really enjoyed our stay in Mozambique.





There’s Something about Simon



I had Bob review this hunt report. I sometimes get a few facts wrong. His opinion: Duiker don’t kill leopards. His opinion: Simon is the right man to run a remote camp in Mozambique. He is organized and hard-working, his booming voice energizing the camp every morning in the still dark. It is a good camp, and he and I got on very well. Justin, very intelligent and with a dry sense of humor, had the best eyes for spotting game that I have ever seen…..his vantage point of 2 meters tall probably doesn’t hurt either. And, yes, you guessed it, he and Simon shot the charging sable almost instantly. There were no identifiable knife wounds. They did, however, praise my ability to run flat out, while looking back over my shoulder. So we all shared in the glory. Young Courtney, with his ripped physique and movie star looks who worked so hard in the heat and dirt to repair the Land Cruiser, Justin with the keen eyes and quick rifle, and Simon, with endless patience getting Uncle Bob set up on a Sable. As said before, I had a hunt in Mozambique, at the foot of the Chaxie Hills.



Flatwater Bill


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BRICKBURN

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................. He planted Raymundo, who went flying. My most vivid memory will always be of the two water bottles he had in his pockets flying thru the air. He landed on his back and the sable was on him in an instant, forcing him into the ground with 42” horns. It was exciting. Perhaps more so for Raymundo............

Perhaps more so for Raymundo.
FWB, damn that's funny.

Thanks for the well written laugh.
Impressive hunting Bob, very impressive.
 

Brent in Az

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Great story! I now have a vision in my head of Simon running, "Hell bent for the horizon", from a charging Sable! lol .
 

cpr0312

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Nice,thanks for sharing ! Congrats on the safari and trophies!
 

siml

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If I can add, two great gents to have in camp. 10th time on the sticks and to hear Bob's rifle roar was a joyous chorus.

@Brent in Az , Bill's memory does seem to fade at times, we don't run for sable.......only for cold beer.

Seriously I have never seen a sable charge like that, he went up on his back legs, making the loudest roaring sound I have heard and in the process, Raymundo was his target, it was a sight to be seen.
 

Brent in Az

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I imagine that Sable knew his time was short, and he was looking for a little payback.
 

Nyati

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Good story, congrats for a great experience !
 

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Great tail! Thanks for the fun read!
Oh and BEAUTIFUL sable!
This gives me confidence that I have a few more good years.
 

johnnyblues

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Just great. I need to hunt Moz one day....
 

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Are there dirt air strips in the Niassa, or is it road trip only?
 

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Simon are you absolutely sure you did not run from the Sable. If pictures turn up there will be no defending you! :P Elmer Fudd:
 

Brent in Az

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Running for the cold beer. I like Simon's style!
 

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Love love love!
 

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Flatwater Bill you do tell a fine story!
 

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Thanks for sharing Bill. Sounds like a truly great and memorable hunt for all involved. We really enjoy your writing style. Speaking of writing, I seem to remember you thinkong of going back to Kyrg. for a MP. Would really love to hear how that went. Bruce
 

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@CAustin , Charlie I promise there wasn't any time to run, that sable can from behind us so fast....looked like a race horse on it's back legs.

@Brent in Az , yes there is a charter flight as an option. 2.5km tarmac runway.

Usually it's only about a 6 hour drive, I had left one landcruiser in Lichinga and Courtney had come up from camp with second landcruiser, BUT just outside Lichinga, he blew the engine. I managed to get new engine flown up to Lichinga and Courtney joined us in camp 5 days later, with Malaria, which I also ended up getting the next day. Justin took over the hunting for a few days and did a great job with Courtney.
 

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