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Cumbrian 1

Trip to Cameroon with my double

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Some of you may remember my new toy - http://ukvarminting.com/forums/topic/28692-new-light-weight-stalker/

 

I was never sure whether I wanted to hunt a lion as I had no interest in taking one over a bait where they are often shot during the night with the aid of an artificial light. However all that changed after I had chatted to a Zim PH during an elephant hunt when he told me about lion hunting in Burkina Faso, in many of the former French colonies it is illegal to hunt lions over baits and to use an artificial light, the hunt is done by purely tracking on foot. He told me that the lions often had little or no manes but it was one of the most sporting ways to take one. My agent who is French had an arrangement with an outfitter in Cameroon, after a brief chat I was informed that the dry season was a necessity as the game would congregate near the water courses and holes and subsequently the lions would be close to the game thereby improving our odds, my hunt was booked.

 

I practiced often both with the telescopic sight and open sights always offhand until I was confident, after a few sessions I could hit a rock about 4" in diameter at a hundred yards with the swarovoski which was perfectly adequate.

 

Upon my arrival in camp my PH said because of the thickness of the bush it was advisable for the lion hunt to use the telescopic sight as much of the target could possibly be obscured by grass and other foliage.

 

The routine was to get up at 5am to leave at 5.30 am we would try calling from a few positions based upon where lions had been calling during the night then would check the many watercourses and roads for tracks. A pride would always be close to water however after moving into an area the game would get wise after four or five days the game would vacate and the lions would move 30-40km to another area. When we had found recent sign we would intercept the river using the 4 x 4 to work out which direction they were travelling once assured then we would start tracking. You could walk 10, 20 30km you never knew the temperature was always around 40 Celsius in the shade at midday. Once we had established that the lions had moved on we would try a different area and start all over again, it could take a couple of days to make contact.

 

If the tracks were fresh i.e. that morning then you could almost guarantee contact around 10-11am as the lion would find some deep riverine bush to lie up in. Once the lion had gone into the riverine bush it got very interesting, the first time my PH informed me that I had to walk immediately behind the head tracker always looking ahead as the tracker will always be looking down, the shooting distance would be 5-6 metres, the PH had previously explained to me that despite us hunting the lion he still thinks of himself as the top predator however if he thinks the tables have turned he would flee but not instantly "pride he said will get him killed" he said in his French accent "when the lion stirs from his resting place he will do so reluctantly and he will always stop to look and slowly he will turn then you hit him behind ze shoulder, never when he is facing you as it is difficult to hit the vitals".

 

We went on pushing through the thick stuff when a colobus monkey started to shout indicating that lion was moving about 20yds ahead we burst forward there was a tawny hide and put my rifle up to shoot only to have it pushed down, too young! Very exiting!

 

On day 10 I was getting tired and a little despondent, within the concession which was 200,000ha close to the Nigerian border and surrounded by other concessions there were several prides so several mature lions (prides were small 2/3 lionesses) however it was like looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack. There is only one lion quota per concession per year and previous hunts over the last two years had drawn blanks.

 

On the evening of the ninth day we had tried to find fresh tracks and followed a dried up watercourse which had small pools scattered along its length until we had reached the main Faro river which flows all year round, we were eaten alive by the tetse flies and we found nothing. The morning of the 10th day was not productive, at lunch the other team which were hunting Lord derby eland had found tracks in the very same place as the evening before, so we went back down the same route however the trackers were exited as there were very fresh tracks, at the mouth of the river we spied 300 yds away on a sandbank a mature lion and two lionesses, we couldn't sneak along the faro river as there was a deep pool and as hippos and crocodiles live in the river it was not an option. We had to head back through the riverine bush to close the distance, we walked silently, as we got close we kept peeking over the bank but no lions, he decided that if we went to far then we would spook them, we both slid down the river bank and crawled on hands and knees to peer around the bush to see the lions about 20yds away.

 

As always nothing is simple the lion had laid down and a lion was lioness was sat upright in front -no shot! We could not openly communicate and my concerns were:

- The wind could change 180 degrees which it often did and if the lioness stood first the lion and the lion exited into the undergrowth no shot

- If we waited indefinitely and the lioness obscured the view before the lion headed back into the bush - no shot

- if we whistled then the lioness could still block the shot

 

The lioness slightly moved showing the lion's head and neck, my PH whispered "now is the moment of truth don't miss", I was kneeling with no rest, I slid the safety off and put the red dot on the lion's neck and squeezed.

 

KABOOM the lion never moved, my PH said "what have you done, why did you shoot? I did not tell you to shoot what have you shot" His view was obscured by the bush and he had a different angle to me on the proceedings. I felt like a naughty boy then the trackers came up and shook my hand then the PH was all smiles when he realised that I has shot the lion and not the lioness. Apparently he said "when the moment of truth comes" not "now", he was happy and agreed that if I hadn't taken the opportunity then we may not of got a shot and as we only had two full hunting days left that it was the right choice.

 

I put another round through his spine to make sure then we all rejoiced, it was 4 miles back to the vehicles and the poor trackers had their work cut out carrying it back. Frank the concession owner aged it as 6/7 years old which makes it a good mature lion, on average he said they live 7/8 years max.

 

Whether or not you agree with the hunt one thing is for certain; without hunting there would be no lions and this is very evident in Cameroon, in the 4 hour drive to the concession we saw no wildlife to speak off, once we crossed the boundary of the hunting areas it went from overgrazed deforested arid land to pristine bush/jungle brimming with elephants, lions, leopards, antelopes etc.

 

Enough rambling as there was so much that happened I could fill pages, some pictures:

 

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C7zpFA.jpg

 

xowOtr.jpg

 

The lion measured 2.72 metres from nose to tail.

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After 6 or 7 days we spotted a largish herd of buffalo without a suitable trophy however the PH said if we follow them we mighty find that there is a bull somewhere amongst them, we followed on their tails but could never overtake them, we did spot a mature bull however we needed to get in front and we had to stop and crouch meant times as there was always an old cow looking our way that we hadn't spotted in the long grass, eventually they started to cut diagonally away from us allowing enough time to catch up with them.

 

 

The hunt only seemed like minutes but it was 2.5 hours from start to finish.

 

The species found in the north of Cameroon is known as the savannah buffalo and has long hairs on its ears, has smaller horns that do not join with no bosses

 

SD4jki.jpg

 

rwnopj.jpg

 

ltFQsD.jpg

 

Typical habitat - not easy to see far

 

J00EPF.jpg

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Northern Kob

RloCpa.jpg

 

This buck two rounds through the heart leaving an entry hole the size of a 50 pence piece and he still need a last shot through his neck before he succumb.

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The toughest game - red flanked duiker

ty2A6K.jpg

 

This old boy took four shots of 300 grain bullets to his chest and then ran off, I thought I had missed but we soon found a huge blood trail that went 150 metres into a dry riverbed, it was the only animal that I used solids on as the PH thought it would be adequate without destroying it.

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Lion calling

5tRJ7G.jpg

 

The first morning we had a lion calling in reply to ours across the main river, it was very exiting we were hidden under some overhanging bush, my leg couldn't stop shaking.

 

The second morning the same lion appeared but it was only a middle aged one, it appeared at exactly the point the trackers predicted, a dry river bed mouth they explained that the lions like walking on soft sand so use the man made roads and dry watercourses.

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Knew Paddy would start itching when he spotted this thread.

Not for everyone but looks like one hell of

hunt.

Beautiful rifle!

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An excellent story, well told. Glad to see you used that awesome 'old shotgun' at last ;) Now that it's been used, if you want to donate it to the Sett Armoury...

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This is what I'd call impressive............................even allowing for the dramaticcamerawork.

 

 

RePete

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Cumbrian - what a lovely rifle. Missed your other thread the first time around. Makes my Heym look very working class.

Nice write-up. I don't fancy lion myself, but I agree with your assessment of the need for hunting to preserve game in Africa - its easy to be holier than thou about big game hunting, but without a financial value, there is nowhere left for game to be preserved-such is the pressure for land by the human population. In the '90s, I spent a season in Mozambique doing my MSc dissertation on the feasibility of re-populating an area of southern Mozambique with big game species to create a reserve - hardly saw any big game there, other than crocs and hippo. It had all been eaten, and every Saturday night there was more AK fire as the locals were shooting up the last of the game with lamps. A couple of years later, I spent a couple months in Zimbabwe working on a big hunting ranch - it was fantastic - because the animals were managed and valued, they were everywhere.

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... Africa - its easy to be holier than thou about big game hunting, but without a financial value, there is nowhere left for game to be preserved.......

 

My gunsmith mate was telling me about the aftermath of that Cecil the Lion debacle.

 

Enough heat came on the trophy industry in the area that demand dried up. In no time at all, the locals had wiped out all the lions with a readily-available ?herbicide- simply lace a carcase with some and they're toast next day. Great conservation result..

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My gunsmith mate was telling me about the aftermath of that Cecil the Lion debacle.

 

Enough heat came on the trophy industry in the area that demand dried up. In no time at all, the locals had wiped out all the lions with a readily-available ?herbicide- simply lace a carcase with some and they're toast next day. Great conservation result..

Very true the 4 million acres of hunting lands that adjoin the Faro national park is teeming with game whilst the national park itself is devoid of wildlife and is heavily poached and overgrazed by nomads from Nigeria.

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RoGRCx.jpg

 

The chap above was arrested when we came across him whilst tracking, not only was he poaching but also snaring antelope you can see in the picture a smoked haunch.

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HRpFvE.jpg

 

This chap was mining for precious stones and had the misfortune to be arrested, made to carry his possessions which were forfeited and had to go on a lion hunt for the rest of the day

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jRnhPn.jpg

 

The government game wardens from the adjoining national park deal with the poachers when they are arrested, here they can be seen with what I think are FN Scar rifles. Within the national park they make no arrests as they cannot be bothered with the hassle or risk. The hunting company employ around 60-70 staff and they operate two anti poaching teams which go out everyday and make many arrests.

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