|one of us|
I have been a part of AR since 2004. I have learned a lot. I used a great deal of that knowledge on this very tough hunt.
Thanks for the encouragement to go on trips like this.
CAR Trip Report
Dates – March 6 – 21, 2012
Location – Central African Republic
Safari Company – Central African Wildlife Adventures – www.cawasafari.com
Owners – Erik and Emelie Mararv
Booking Agent – none, booked direct on special offer
Travel Agent – Thomas Cook Agency in Cairo – they handled the visa also
PH’s – Adam Parkisson and Erik Nyman
Game Sought – Lord Derby’s Eland, Giant Forest Hog, Warthog, Red River Hog, Western Bush Duiker, Red Flanked Duiker, Yellow-backed Duiker, Savannah Buffalo, Lelwel Hartebeast, Western Roan, Harnessed Bushbuck, Baboon
Game Taken – Lord Derby’s Eland (2x), Giant Forest Hog (2x), Warthog, Western Bush Duiker, Yellow-backed Duiker, Red Flanked Duiker (2x), Harnessed Bushbuck, Baboons, Lelwel Hartebeast (lost)
Central African Wildlife Adventures – an Overview
CAWA is owned by Erik and Emelie Mararv, a young Swedish couple that grew up in CAR. Charlotte Mararv is Erik’s sister living in Bangui and handling the logistics, meet and greet, and a hundred other details to support the operation. The area is very large and located a 2 1/2 hour charter plane ride from Bangui and is 200km from the nearest village. It was and is difficult for me to grasp the complexity of organizing and staffing a safari operation in this country and in the area. It is very remote and there is no road system giving access to this area. It is a FIVE day drive from Bangui to supply this operation.
The Mararv’s and staff are truly some of the toughest people I have come across in my life, career and hunting adventures. They are doing something I would have not dared to do, even at their ages.
This is a relatively un-hunted, unspoiled part of Africa. The area I hunted was rolling savannah with trees interspersed by several streams surrounded by dense canopy forest. You can check their website for the exact location and size of the area.
They hunt from six camps, some as much as five hours from the airstrip. Our camp was the Ngoy Camp about one hour from the airstrip.
I learned about CAWA via a hunt reports on AR and a recent article in Sports Afield. Here are the links to those reports –
Sports Afield Magazine – March – April 2012 issue – “Central African Adventure”
Bill C’s hunt report for his Lord Derby’s Eland hunt in Cameroon was of use as well –
I read nothing negative about CAWA. I had communicated with Erik over the past three years about hunting but the dates never worked. I received an email of a date cancelation that fit my schedule and booked the hunt. I had tried to book a hunt via an agent a couple of years ago but he raised Erik’s prices 20% compared to booking direct, so I booked direct.
Two things Erik offers that I have not seen elsewhere are- 1) a guaranteed shot opportunity at your desired animal, and 2) an all-inclusive price except trophy fees. I like an outfit with “skin in the game” with the guaranteed shot opportunity as that keeps the PH’s motivated to put you on an animal. The longer you stay (21 or 28 day trip) the better the shot opportunity guarantee. On the costs, it is expensive but you get no surprises when you leave.
They started hunting the area in 2006 after Erik spent a year surveying the various areas in CAR for a hunting concession. Erik’s parents live in Bangui and help with some aspects of the operations. In summary, this is a family operation where the family is very hands on and involved. To the extent possible, everything is top notch.
Food was very good. Kitchen pics –
I have travelled the world in my job and worked in many no-so-nice places (Papua New Guinea, Pakistan, Nigeria, and Russia). I currently live and work in Egypt. Each has corruption in one form or another. However, the Central African Republic sets a new standard for what I have experienced. The Nigerians could learn a thing or two from the CAR folks.
When I booked my trip via our travel agent, I was immediately notified by our corporate security that CAR was not the normal country in Africa when dealing with corruption. In fact, it is ranked in the top 5 in world in terms of corruption, bribes, etc. I thought, “Yea, yea, yea, I have heard this before.” For once, they were right as were the warnings on the US State Department website. With this said, we were not hindered significantly on our trip, just hassled by the relentless asking for money by the local “officials” and fake officials.
CAWA and especially Charlotte Mararv do a superb job of navigating this maze of corrupt officials and bribes. Charlotte has lived in Bangui most of her life and was able to get us in and out of the country fairly painlessly but it was still a hassle.
On the trip in, we had no issues with passport control and the bags were not inspected. On the trip out, we went through 7 separate checks and inspections. We made it through the first four without issue because Charlotte was standing there and knew the inspectors. When she was not allowed to entry the passenger area, she warned us not to pay anyone and to just say “no”. We were then “inspected” by three different idiots each dumping our bags and asking for money, my binoculars, playing cards, deodorant (they needed it) and whatever else caught their eye. When I said no each time, they got increasingly agitated and finally settled on a hand mirror in my wife’s bag. Insisting it was a weapon, we were told to check the bag or leave it with them. I argued for ten minutes but they would not relent. To check the bag meant they would inspect the bags without us being present and likely steal whatever they wanted so I opted to give them the $5 mirror and move on. It was likely sold on the black market later that day. If you go there, be prepared for this.
It made me wonder what kind of mentality that governs or drives those people and that country. My opinion is that they are basically expecting something for nothing. They seem to expect the white guy to hand out whatever they ask for. I saw very little in the way of work going on anywhere in Bangui. While in the airport (it is not much of an airport and very small) we saw an Air France 747 cargo plane arrive and a French military C-130 type transport arrive and off load a bunch of “stuff”. I suspect it was food or something else that will appear on the black market within a couple of days. The UN and NGO’s are there but I doubt any of the money that is spent in the country goes anywhere other than someone’s Swiss bank account. The French ran this place until they granted independence years ago, but it is a mess. Nothing has been built since the French handed over control. It is run down and a very shabby place. I was thoroughly amazed that the Mararv’s have been able to build a business here on the scale they have done it.
In summary, do not go here on vacation. Go to hunt, experience the “wildness” and get out.
Very simple. Drive the roads and look for tracks. Check salt licks, look for tracks or animals. When you find a fresh track you will follow it. The animals do not move as much as I expected due to the abundance of water and food, so finding a good track to follow sometimes involved several hours of driving. You will see the occasional animal from the road but rarely. I shot both duikers and the baboons after spotting them from the truck. We spotted hartebeest from the truck but followed a short distance before I shot and lost the only one we saw. We attempted to follow a roan when it flashed across the road in front of us, but the trackers lost the track.
The animals most likely to be tracked are the Lord Derby’s Eland and buffalo as they move the most. We followed four or five Lord Derby’s Eland tracks before connecting. We followed buffalo three or four times and never connected. The trackers lost the tracks each time or bumped the animals into full flight late in the day. I was unaccustomed to giving up on a track, but the PH said that chasing them further would not be productive. If we did not have a track my mid-afternoon, we started looking for tracks that would give us a clue where to start looking the next day.
We did see a lot of activity at the various salt/mineral licks. Each was unique and different that I expected. At the end of the hunt we saw several groups of Giant Forest Hogs at the licks. I took one at a lick that was very nice. The bad news is that the licks are spread out and you spend a lot of time checking them.
My experience with CAWA was that the trackers were average compared to what I have experienced in Zimbabwe and Cameroon. I am no expert on evaluating trackers but we lost several tracks and one herd of buffalo. I expected better tracking but have no point of reference in CAR. The PH did a great deal of the tracking. The trackers were former poachers. In my experience, a former poacher is not much of a tracker as they are poachers shooting targets of opportunity, rather than tracking and hunting. My son felt the same way about his trackers. He had one experienced tracker that did a good job and two that were average. My group had three average trackers.
One of the salt licks
Rather than do a shot by shot or day by day diary, let me just discuss the various animals we encountered and the results.
Lord Derby’s Eland
This is the prize on any trip to CAR. Magnificent animals in stature and being. You hunt them by tracking and tracking and tracking. They do not stop to graze as they eat while walking. Occasionally, they will bed down for a rest, but only briefly. The bulls travel alone or in bachelor groups when not in the breeding season. In the breeding season, they are in the herds or fighting to get in a herd.
We drove roads to find tracks. Tracks are tough to find as the area is very large and they are constantly moving. You need a very fresh track in order to have time to follow them.
On his second full hunting day, my son and his team got on an hours old solitary track at 6am. They tracked until 9am, bumped the eland and did not get a shot. They then waited, tracked, rested an hour in the heat, then resumed the tracking until the bull stopped to look at his back trail at 3:30pm. A fatal mistake as my son made a one shot kill in the chest. Eland go down easily, according to the PH’s. Nearly any hit in a vital area will put one on the ground. The goal is to get the eland to stop walking.
This eland walked 10 to 12km before being taken, then required a three hour march back to the truck. The trackers stayed with the eland after the pics were taken and waited on a crew to recover the eland during the night. Each of the PH’s carry a GPS so finding the truck or the eland was not hard, just a long hot hike.
They had followed a couple of older tracks on the first day to no avail and were fortunate to find a solitary bull on the next day to follow.
Here are pics.
For me, our group tracked eland nearly each day until getting a real hot track on Day 9. My son had left camp by then and we had the luxury of two teams looking for tracks. My son’s crew found the track and called us via sat-phone from ten miles away. We hurried over and started the pursuit. It was a group of four eland which we had previously followed. In the days leading up to Day 9 , we tracked a single bull, a group of 8 to 10 animals, this same group of 4 and a couple other groups. We actually saw one of the previous groups on Day 3 of my hunt, but were busted by a barking bushbuck as we made the final approach. It was very frustrating to get busted just as we spotted the group and were prepping for a shot. The bushbuck barked just as we were stalking the final few meters to get a better look at the bull. I glimpsed the bull for my first sighting of a Lord Derby’s Eland. I was surprised at the elegance and size of them. What magnificent animals.
Anyway, we were busted by the bushbuck. We walked ahead a little ways to see the direction the eland had taken when out stepped the barking bushbuck. Turns out he was a medium sized Harnessed Bushbuck and the PH said to shoot him. I thought that odd being this close to the LDE but I shot anyway. After the shot, I asked why he said to shoot. Adam’s comment was that LDE were easier to find than a good Harnessed Bushbuck and we had several more days to hunt eland. Little did we know that we would be seven more days before getting close again.
Back to Day 9 – we picked up the track at 7am and followed as fast as we could move until the eland walked into a very rocky area making tracking hard. We slowed and could tell from the tracks we were losing ground on them. Adam pushed hard and we gained a little ground finding that they were trying to bed down but not able to find a good spot. At about 11:30am the tracks separated. Most of the time, eland walk downwind to smell you if you are following them. Each group we tracked did this most of the time. On this day, the wind kept shifting and they had a hard time staying downwind from us. When the tracks separated, one bull walked downwind and the others walked across the wind. We ended up walking in between the single bull and the group of three. When we figured out what they had done, we knew it was a matter of seconds before we were busted again. Luckily, the group of three stopped and started looking back for the other bull. That is when we caught sight of them. Adam said, “Shoot the closest bull now.” I fired into the chest at about seventy five yards and heard the shot connect. All them took off at the shot. The one I hit stopped quickly and I put another round under his tail that broke a rear leg. He hobbled another twenty yards or so when he stopped. I finished him with a shot in the neck. All of this happened in less than thirty seconds following nine days of tracking, sweating and getting eaten by tsetse flies.
Needless to say, we were all elated. My wife of thirty years was with me on this stalk and she was as tired and bitten as I was. It was great to see him on the ground but also very sad. They are truly stunning animals, much like bongo or elephant. I doubt I will hunt them again as they are special.
One of the trackers carried on a long conversation in Sango with the other guys. I asked Adam what the monologue was about and he said the tracker was telling a make believe story of the conversation between the surviving eland. It went like this –
Eland 1, “Ed? Where is Ed? He was right beside me?”
Eland 2, “Yea, he was. I saw him right beside you. What happened?”
Eland 3, “I told you morons to walk downwind. You never listen. When I started moving to get that breeze on my back, you said, ‘It’s too hot, it’s too much trouble to keep changing directions all the time. My feet are sore, yada, yada, yada.’ You meatheads, trouble always comes from behind us. You did not listen and Ed did not listen. Poor old Ed is no more. Let that be a lesson to you. Let’s get out of here and go downwind.”
A great hunt and stalk, not likely to be repeated.
This pic is where the eland stopped to rub his horns on a termite hill and break off some branches of a tree to eat the leaves. This was the only thing they seemed to stop to do.
Giant Forest Hog
I had no idea what these were. I had heard of Giant Forest Hog but was unsure if this was a Russian boar or some other sort of African pig. I had no clue that they were hard to hunt or were a real trophy. The PH’s and Erik Mararv each said that they are challenging and hard to get. Usually half of the hunters go home without one. Hearing that, I had no real compulsion to hunt them hard. I ended up killing two.
The first one came by accident. We were scouting for eland or buffalo tracks and chanced upon three that were near the road. One was a big boar, the other being a sow and youngster. Adam said to shoot the big one and do it quick as they run when spooked. The good thing was that Giant Forest Hogs have poor eyesight, not so good hearing but exceptional noses (as you would expect from a pig’s snout). They did not hear us or see us and we were downwind so the shot was easy and quick. What I did not expect was the size, the prickly hair and the cute ugliness of these beasts. They are big – pushing 200 kilos. They are hairy – but with bristle type hair widely spaced (see the pics) with squished faces. Their tusks are short by warthog standards but imposing nonetheless. I came away thinking that I underestimated the Giant Forest Hog as a trophy. When we got to camp that evening, the staff held a dance or “kaboobi” to celebrate the taking of one. That was my first dance and just watched not knowing I was to dance as well. I got scolded by the trackers for not celebrating enough. I remedied this on the eland a few days later.
The second Giant Forest Hog came to us while checking a salt lick in a marshy/muddy area. We had checked the area several times looking for eland or buffalo. When we approached the area in the heat of the day, not expecting to see anything, we found two separate groups of Giant Forest Hogs at the site about two hundred meters from each other. We chose the biggest boar, took a ton of picks as we stalked (we had the wind perfect for the stalk) and got to within one hundred yards for a very open and easy shot.
When the boar dropped at the shot, the others just stood around trying to figure out why their buddy was sleeping when he should be eating. We took pics of the shot and the milling around after the shot. The others ran away when we exposed ourselves from our hiding place. Again, it was a nice pig. It was older and skinnier than the first. Tusks were thick but worn down. An elegantly ugly trophy.
Before I broke up the dinner party
Seconds before the shot –
The Ham Slam is almost assured.
|one of us|
Part 2 - continued
There are lots in this area but very difficult to see. The streams that crisscross the savannah are bordered by very dense thickets and trees. The bushbuck love that area and environment. We saw several females but only the one male that I shot when he busted us on the Lord Derby’s Eland stalk mentioned earlier. The Harnessed Bushbuck is a smaller version of the Chobe Bushbuck. The horns are smaller as is the body, from what I could tell. The one I took was average for the area according the guys there. I was not hunting them when I shot him. He was a target of opportunity.
Red Flanked Duiker
This is the one animal we saw every day. They are plentiful and not too smart. Getting one is no big deal as they come to a call but more often are seen while looking for tracks. They run a short distance, then stop to look at you – a big mistake for them if you are hunting for the Red Flanked Duiker. Mine was above average for the area and very pretty. My son had the same type of experience I did – see them, wait for them to stop, look at the horns, shoot in the center of mass.
Western Bush Duiker[b/]
I was told we would see a lot of these, but in reality we saw very few. They are quick to run, stand very still, and bolt when scared. You do not get time to evaluate them for long before you need to shoot. You cannot track them and likely cannot stalk them. If they come to a call, it is quick in and out. I wounded one and lost it, then took a second one. On the second one, I used the .375 H&H with 300gr TSX bullets. The bullet took out the entire mass of one shoulder and the duiker still ran seventy five yards before dropping. The trackers each said that the bush duiker is one of the toughest animals they hunt. They do not go down easily. They said if the eland had the heart of the bush duiker, they would not able to be killed.
I call them “Mr. Convenient” and “Mr. Ordinary”, except for the fact that warthogs in this place get very nice teeth. The pictures on the CAWA website and a trophy or two I saw convinced me to hold out for a big one. I did. The one I took was average for the area but the best one I have taken. Like most warthog hunts, they are taken while hunting something else. We were hunting eland tracks when this one showed up on the road. One look said, “Shoot now”. So I did. It was not a hunt so much as another target of convenience. With the warthog in the salt, I had 2/3’s of a Ham Slam as they call it in CAR, needing a Red River Hog to complete the slam. I did not get one but am happy with my partial Ham Slam.
We saw several more during our trip but this was the only really nice one.
From previous hunts, my son and I have enjoyed busting these shiny butted beasts at every opportunity. Our young PH’s enjoyed this activity as well, so we chased them whenever we came across them. In total, we shot at eight and connected on three, not a good average but considering they were well hidden and moving most of the time – we did ok. I tried one long range shot on one high in a bare tree – 250 to 300 yards. I missed but sent him scurrying down the tree head first in record time. We followed him and his harem up and never could get him to show his face. We saw several youngsters but not the old dog we were after. CAWA use baboons for leopard bait and the local boys like to eat them, so we did not feel bad shooting a few.
Another animal I had no feeling about. I had heard of them and that they are hard to find but had no desire to take one on purpose. My son was driving from the airstrip (he just arrived in CAR) to the camp when they came across a troop of baboons. Being a confirmed baboon addict, he and the PH stopped to chase baboons. When they lost the baboons in the dense forest understory, they started calling for them using a distressed duiker sound. In this area, the baboons eat duikers and come to a call. When they called for the baboons; out walked a large, mature Yellow-backed Duiker. Erik the PH said, “Shoot now, right now!” My son, like me had no idea that the Yellow-backed Duiker was a big deal. He made a good shot and the celebration began. We did not know that this is the second toughest animal to take in CAR, followed by the Roan Antelope. There was a Belgium guy that flew to camp with us that came just to hunt Yellow-backed Duiker. I never heard if he took one.
When they got to the camp, a dance celebration started that lasted for a half hour. Just goes to show you that hunting is as much luck as skill in most cases.
My major disappointment on this hunt. I have not lost an African animal on six previous hunts. This was the first. We spotted them while driving looking for eland tracks. They ran and we stalked them. I made what I thought was a perfect shot in the shoulder at 100 yards. The hartebeest humped up, we heard the impact and he lurched forward on three legs out of sight. We went to the place last seen and no hartebeest. We searched and searched and finally found some odd tracks to follow. We followed a couple hundred yards with no blood and were about to give up when we found very fresh blood. Ok, now we would find him dead close by. Not so. We tracked for three hours finding spots of blood, a place where he laid down then lost the track. In reality, the trackers gave up on the track. We bumped him twice but I could get in a finishing shot before he ran. The last time we saw him, he was running flat out with no sign of injury – however the blood said otherwise.
When the temps got over 90F and we were a long hike from the truck, the trackers suddenly lost the track. Adam and I both were upset with them because it was not a hard track to follow. I felt they just gave up. I was very disappointed at losing the hartebeest and paid the trophy fee due to the blood we found. I never got another chance for one.
The little brother of the Cape Buffalo. This was my number two priority animal on this hunt as I doubt I would ever hunt them on purpose when I could hunt Cape Buff. When looking for eland tracks, we frequently crossed fresh buff tracks. If they were worth following, we did. On four occasions we tracked buffalo. On two occasions we saw them but could not identify a bull in the group due to cover. Our best chance was on a group we found very early in the day and bumped twice. We had the wind at our advantage both times but were spotted by cows. We then tracked the group for a couple of hours before the trackers lost the track (hard to believe you could lose a track of a group of twenty). When they gave up, they started talking loudly and spooked the bedded down group about fifty yards away. At this point, Adam and I were ready to shoot a couple of trackers. They were not doing well and we let them know it. I never had a shot opportunity on a buffalo.
Roan, Red River Hog, Oribi, Sing Sing Waterbuck
Never got on them with any chance of taking one. We saw one flash of a Roan run across a road but lost the track. The season on Sing Sing Waterbuck was closed so they were not available. We did see one nice bull that we could not shoot. I would like to have taken a Red River Hog to complete the Ham Slam of the Giant Forest Hog, Warthog and Red River Hog. It was not meant to be.
Leopard and Lion
Both are in the area. We did not hunt them but saw tracks. Leopards are not importable to the US due to CITES considerations. Lion are there and called, not baited. From what I could tell, leopard are everywhere with the lion’s being scarce.
I did not hunt them but they are available in another part of the concession. We saw tracks twice but the camp I hunted from is not a strong bongo area. Bongo are hunted by sitting in a machan at night and using night vision optics to judge them. It is a hard “sit” and not for me. They usually kill very nice bongo in the 32” to 37” range.
A Couple of Funny Sidebars
Every time you go to Africa, you see something that you never expected. We had several occurrences like that. First was the introduction to the anti-poaching or Sudanese Cattle Herder Interpreter Teams. CAWA employs a number of local people that keep an eye on the itinerant Sudanese cattle herders that migrate through the concession following the grass. These Sudanese guys are normally armed with AK-47’s and travel as they wish where they wish. They have walked out of Sudan to the west into CAR following grass for their cattle. The come and go from CAWA’s massive concession but have no concept of sport hunting and shoot what they wish for their own food. We came across a dead eland that they had killed for food and a couple of their abandoned camps. My wife and son bumped into some of the cattle, which were pretty sorry looking. CAWA has men that can communicate with the Sudanese in the local language. These guys do not carry guns but have home-made bows and arrows. They use them for getting something to eat while on patrol and for protection. CAWA has not had any issues with these herders other than an occasional disruption of a stalk on a game animal.
Here are the “interpreters” with their weapons –
The other funny sidebar was going “noodling” CAR style. Noodling in the USA is an odd sport practiced by some of our less educated country folk (rednecks) as a way to catch catfish. To be a noodler, you have to reach under logs or in holes under water to feel for a fish and then try to jerk it out of the water before it drowns you. While we were stalking bushbuck and duikers along a small watercourse, the trackers came upon some rocky outcrops that are normally under water. There were several pools of water with stranded fish in them. They felt around a few of the pools and hit the jackpot when they found a small pool with a lot of catfish/suckers they could catch. They had reached deep into a hole to grab the fish as shown in the pictures. They caught five fish pretty quick and dropped them in their pack for dinner. I was a bit surprised they would stick their entire arm in a deep hole, not knowing what was in there until I realized they must be related to some of my kinfolk who like to noodle.
“Noodling” CAR Style
Pros and Cons of this trip
1. Huge hunting area and relatively untouched.
2. Outstanding logistic support and execution of the hunt.
3. Very good camps and food.
4. Six camps that are very spread out. You will not see another hunter.
5. Very energetic PH’s ready to walk your legs off.
6. Vehicles were in excellent condition.
7. I rented guns and they were excellent.
8. Trophy quality is very good. One hunter took a 56” Lord Derby’s Eland the prior week to our trip. I was very satisfied with the Lord Derby’s Eland, Giant Forest Hog and other animals we took.
1. After mid-February, be prepared for hot weather. We did not expect 95F every day and very warm nights.
2. Bugs. Tsetse flies, black flies, Mopani bees, honey bees, ants – they are all there in abundance. Where protective clothing, use repellent and where head nets.
3. Bongo hunting is from machans at night. You will be expected to sit the entire night in the stand and use night vision equipment to see the bongo. Several men sat every night for 2 weeks without success. Some got bongo’s early.
4. You will not see a lot of game. There is plenty of water and grazing everywhere so the animals are spread out. We glimpsed roan once, did not see a Red River Hog, and I saw a total of three Lord Derby’s Eland. I shot the only bushbuck I saw.
5. You will walk about one kilometer for every inch of Lord Derby’s Eland horn you are after. I took the eland on day 9 after walking 40 to 50 km the previous days. My son took an eland on day 2 after walking from 6am to 3pm to catch up to the solitary bull.
6. Mentally and physically, this is the second most difficult trip I have done. The most difficult was an unsuccessful sheep hunt many years ago that I was unprepared for. You will get very tired, likely get dysentery, get bit by a lot of bugs and sweat a great deal to get your animals. If this appeals to you, then I should not put this on the “Con” side of the list!
Our legs after a couple of days –
Interesting non-game wildlife
We had two young PH’s. Both were apprenticed and trained by Erik Mararv. Erik himself is about 30 years old but has been hunting since he was 17. He built each camp, cut hundreds of kilometers of roads, built the airstrip, flew the area in an ultra-light plane to map the salt licks and streams, and hired every PH. Our PH’s had three and four seasons of experience respectively, with the first 2 seasons being apprentices. The hunting season is long in CAR beginning in November and ending in May, so the young guys get a lot of hunting and experience in a hurry.
One was Swedish and one was an American from Kansas. Both spoke English and Sango very well. I was concerned I would end up with a French speaking PH whose English was limited. There are several French PH’s at CAWA that are used for European clients primarily.
Rock star Zimbabwe PH Thierry Labat was there as well working for a couple who requested him. He is normally in Zimbabwe with Zambezi Hunters but works CAR in the off season.
Having young PH’s has pros and cons. On the pro side, they are energetic, eager to please, not tainted by old war stories or methods of old PH’s. They are optimistic and ready to hunt. On the con side, they have not had the exposure to a lot of different operations/safari companies and can have problems dealing with locals who do not respect young people. They got along well and my son enjoyed Erik.
Overall, both young men did a good job and I tipped them well.
Summary and Opinion
• A great hunt. A real hunt. A tracking hunt.
• A very difficult hunt.
• Not a wife friendly hunt.
• My expectations were met and exceeded.
• Be prepared to be pushed. Take the right clothing, bug nets and broken in boots.
• You may get lucky and you may not. Prioritize your animals. You will likely not shoot the full bag.
• Expect first class service and a shot opportunity. Prepare for that shot.
• Be in shape. If you are overweight and cannot walk 10km in the heat, do not go.
• Expect no sympathy when the going gets tough. The charter out is expensive.
• If a Lord Derby’s Eland with a full black ruff is mandatory, go in January.
• If you are a collector and need a Yellow-backed Duiker – get ready for a tough hunt as they are here but not easy.
• Rent your gun. The gun permit is pricey. You will likely not get your gun with your luggage and the flights in and out of CAR are weekly. Our rented guns were both CZ’s in .375 H&H with Leupold scopes.
• Be prepared to be asked for bribes.
• Be careful what you eat and drink.
The big question – Would I do this hunt again? Answer, a very qualified – maybe. The reason for “maybe” is that I am not so sure I want this type of challenge again. It is/was a tough hunt and not a vacation. If you are an adventurer and relish the mental and physical challenges, this hunt is for you. If you prefer Tanzania pampering or the plentiful game in Namibia, this is not for you.
If I do this again, I would go in January. I would go for Lord Derby’s Eland and buffalo only. I would go with Central African Wildlife Adventures and no other. The Mararv’s run a top notch outfit.
I am an avid bird watcher. Here is a list of what I was able to identify. I did not work hard at this and missed a bunch of the LBJ’s (little brown jobs) that I normally would identify. I was hunting too hard to spend a lot of time on the small birds.
African Grey Hornbill
Abyssinian Ground Hornbill
Stone Partridge with chicks
Crested Guinea Fowl
Helmeted Guinea Fowl
Heuglins Spur fowl (Francolin)
Senegal Thick-knee on nest
Blue Spotted Wood Dove
Black and White Casqued Hornbill
Blue Headed Coucal
Standard Winged Nightjar
Snowy Crowned Robin-chat
Palm Nut Vulture
Sahel Paradise Whydah –stunning long tail
White Napped Pigeon
Brown Snake Eagle
African Wattled Lapwing
Greater Honeyguide – caused us grief hunting Lord Derby’s Eland
White Crested Turaco
African Harrier Hawk
African Pied Hornbill
Eurasian Golden Oriole
African Paradise Flycatcher
Red-tailed Leaf-love Greenbul
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Wonderful report and photos, thanks.
SAFARI ARTS TAXIDERMY
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Great report. Congrats and thanks...
Worldwide Trophy Adventures
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All I can say is "WOW"!!! Well done and superb lifetime trophies! What an adventure. Thanks for taking the time to file such a detailed report...
On the plains of hesitation lie the bleached bones of ten thousand, who on the dawn of victory lay down their weary heads resting, and there resting, died.
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings - nor lose the common touch...
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!
- Rudyard Kipling
Life grows grim without senseless indulgence.
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Perhaps one of the best reports I have ever read, WOW!!!
Although I love the lion the most - the LDE is likely the BEST "hunt" in all of Africa, IMO. What a special treat to share this with your family too, that's awesome!
Congrats to you on a great safari, and a special experience.
Global Hunting Resources
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I always enjoy reading the sense of discovery when hunters, whatever their Eastern or Southern African experience, hunt CAR. I lived in CAR from 1977 to 1980 (including 8 months in N'délé) and have always considered the Lord Derby Eland as the most beautiful, the most regal African Trophy.
PS: I sincerely hope you can find a taxidermist who can do justice to your LDE trophies. I have seen exquisite work by Michel Vaillier in France. If jbderunz sees this I hope he will post a picture of his cousin's (or is it brother's?) pedestal/shoulder mount.
AR, where the hopeless, hysterical hypochondriacs of history become the nattering nabobs of negativisim.
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I will be hunting this area with the said and aforemantioned ROCK STAR in January, so I was very happy to see this great and informative report.
Congratulations and welcome home.
Beautiful trophies. Two eland, two GFHs, and a yellow back is quite a haul in 13 day's hunting.
Will J. Parks, III
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Thanks for a great report!
I really enjoyed it a lot.
This is my kind of hunting.
And Lord Derby Eland is on the top of my wish list too.
I just have to wait for winning big in Lotto and I will book the hunt as soon as possible
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Great report! Congratulations to you and your son on a great hunt.
"Build a man a fire, and he'll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life." Terry Pratchett.
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Wow, what a hunt, congrats to all involved.
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Thanks for the great report and photos. I truely appreciate all the information you included on the country, the trip and the hunt.
Your wife must be a very tough lady as I know my wife would never go on a hunt like this.
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Awesome as usual, Ross. Thanks for "taking us there" and giving your insight into the operation and hunt.
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Great Report and I very much agree with your PH assessment. I prefer (and in the future will probably demand) young PHs that are not tainted by a decade plus of hard hunting and hard living. I have found that the younger PHs interact with you more on the hunt which makes it your hunt as compared to trailing along on someone else's hunt which can really suck!
I hunt to live and live to hunt!
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WOW! ..What a report.Thanks
Congratulations on your trophies
Lord Derby Eland...That says it all
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Excellent report and thanks so much for expanding my bucket list beyond capacity.
2015 His & Her Leopards with Derek Littleton of Luwire Safaris - http://forums.accuratereloadin...6321043/m/2971090112
2015 Trophy Bull Elephant with CMS http://forums.accuratereloadin...6321043/m/1651069012
DIY Brooks Range Sheep Hunt 2013 - http://forums.accuratereloadin...901038191#9901038191
Zambia June/July 2012 with Andrew Baldry - Royal Kafue http://forums.accuratereloadin...6321043/m/7971064771
Zambia Sept 2010- Muchinga Safaris http://forums.accuratereloadin...6321043/m/4211096141
Namibia Sept 2010 - ARUB Safaris http://forums.accuratereloadin...6321043/m/6781076141
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Fantastic report and glad both you and your son were successful on the LDE's.
Looks like a challenging hunt to say the least.
Appreciate the opinions you expressed, very valuable information for anyone contemplating this hunt.
Wish I could do it but not happening for a few years anyway.
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Excellent report! A giant forest hog and yellow back duiker? Way to go. I'm all shades of green.
MARK H. YOUNG
MARK'S EXCLUSIVE ADVENTURES
7215 GREAT DOVER ST.
LAS VEGAS, NV 89166
Cell, Whats App, Signal 307-250-1156
Check us out on https://www.facebook.com/pages...ures/627027353990716
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I have taken 6 clients to CAR for LDE and other game with a bow and arrow. Every time I went to CAWA. There is not a company that can compare with them.
They have a French PH called Phillipe that I always hunt with. TOP NOTCH!
This has been the best report I have read ever. Well done and congratulations on beautiful trophies and great memories.
Askari Adventures & Fritz Rabe Bow-hunting
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Awesome report! Can only dream about what you did!
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Thanks for the post - voted the best report of 2012!
We have heard good things about Erik. I was on the fence whether to hunt with him - after your report it looks like a must do.
Congrats on a great hunt, and thank you again for sharing your excellent hunt.
"You only gotta do one thing well to make it in this world" - J Joplin
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Fantastic report. What an incredible safari, and adventure.
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Wonderful hunt and report. Thanks for sharing!
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I truly enjoyed your report. Great shooting to all involved.
Michael Podwika... DRSS bigbores and hunting www.pvt.co.za " MAKE THE SHOT " 450#2 Famars
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Great Hunt and Report.
Thats a long way from Parchment Valley!
Thanks for the Report
Hiland Outfitters, LLC (BG-082)
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Great hunt and great report.
Unfortunately, opportunities may diminish there.
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Great job! Thanks for posting it.
"I don't know what there is about buffalo that frightens me so.....He looks like he hates you personally. He looks like you owe him money."
- Robert Ruark, Horn of the Hunter, 1953
NRA Life, SAF Life, CRPA Life, DRSS lite
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I just returned from an excellent hunt with CAWA, too. I took a huge eland and warthog as well as harnessed bushbuck, roan, red river hog, giant forest hog and western bush duiker. Christoph Morio was my PH for the first week and Adam for the second. Unfortunately, our hunt got cut short due to trouble in the area, but that wasn't their fault and everything about the hunt was first rate. I have included a pic of my eland.
Global Adventure Outfitters, Inc.
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Thanks for all of the great comments.
Greg - fantastic eland!
Tom - yes, it is along ways from the waters of Parchment...
On my comments on the young PH's - you older guys please do not take offense. While there, Theirry Labat and Mike Fell were there with clients. Both of these PH's I consider "young". An old PH to me is one that is in the twilight of his career and does not have the "get up and go" of some of the younger guys. My worst hunting experience was with an older PH who was a serious "I know everything and you know nothing" guy in Zambia working for Nyampala/Baobab Safaris for a less than honest boss. This guy was insufferable due to his attitude.
I like young, energetic, always learning PH's. Sean Kelley with Garry Kelly Safaris in RSA was with Thierry Labat's client. He is sharp, energetic young guy with a lot of Tanz and RSA experience, but just learning CAR. I like that kind of guy.
So, "old" PH's are not necessarily "old" in years, just old when they decide to quit learning and quit getting excited about a stalk.
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WOW fantastic report and a fantastic hunt congrats. This is one of my dream hunts but alas it will only even be a dream. Thanks for sharing
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It looks like the hunt of a lifetime, what boots were you wearing?
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I wore a tennis shoe weight Wolverine boot from Cabelas. I think it is called "Antelope". It fit like a sneaker, was quiet, waterproof and very light.
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Thank you and congratulations for an outstanding report of a superb safari. Congrats also to CAWA for running a top-notch operation in CAR.
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Great report. Love to hear about trips I will never most likely go on. Have lots of other places I want to go and species I want to get first. Been to RSA, Namibia next year. Then hopefully Zim or Zambia behind that. Thanks for sharing.
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Outstanding adventure and report! Thanks for the honest assessments too, which are generally lacking in the reports published in magazines!
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Wonderful report, hunt, and pics ! It sucks to be the ONLY hunter in the history of CAR to NOT get an eland, but hats off to those of you who have !!! Agree it is tough as nails, and I unfortunately had to go late April, the worst and hottest time to go. But I have enjoyed the pics of "you bastards", including Aaron and Greg, that keep me in a perpetual state of humility LOL
Great report, Thanks for sharing and again, a big congrats on a great effort .
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VERY cool. SO jealous!
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Thanks for taking me on your hunt. It looks to have been a great adventure. Where else but AR would we get to share a trip like that?
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Excellent report, and congratulations on a beautiful Bozobo! They are my absolute favorite antelope, and I hope one day I am financially able to hunt him!
President, Massaro Ballistic Laboratories, LLC
NRA Life Member
Hunt Reports- Zambia 2011
"Two kinds of people in this world, those of us with loaded guns, and those of us who dig. You dig."
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