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Cameroon Savannah Hunt for Buff and Eland

Dates – January 3-17, 2016

Area – South of Garoua, Cameroon in Faro East Area

Safari Company/Operator – Faro East –owned by Patrick Dahlan, www.faroeast.net

Agent/Safari Company – Northern Operations Africa – Dave and Maria Rademeyer, www.northernoperationsafrica.com, 305-790-8711 in the USA

Travel Agent – Stacey Gibson, Falcon Travel, 210-492-6933 , sggibson@earthlink.net

PH’s – Thierry Labat, www.thierrylabatsafaris.com, and Pete Wood


Animals Sought – Lord Derby’s Eland, Western Savannah Buffalo, Harnessed Bushbuck, Western Hartebeest, Sing Sing Waterbuck, Western Kob, Behor Reedbuck, Red River Hog. Western Roan are here in abundance but I was not hunting them.

Animals Taken – Lord Derby’s Eland, Western Savannah Buffalo, Harnessed Bushbuck, Western Hartebeest, Western Kob – missed shots on Sing Sing Waterbuck and Behor Reedbuck (see the details below for my excuses)

Executive Summary

This is no hunt for sissies or the fearful or those that believe everything they see on CNN. If you take this on, be prepared for very slow processing of gun issues at the airports, dust in the air, a crush of humanity as you drive to the concession and then heat, tsetse flies and the other “testing’s” of Africa. You will be safe from outside intrusion as Faro East is a well-respected and established operator with a strong anti-poaching program that has teeth (more on this later).

With Thierry Labat’s exceptional PH skill, I was able to take a super buffalo early in the hunt and then a great eland on the 7th day. The other animals were a bonus and were great fun to hunt. My wife was on this hunt and had a great adventure as well seeing lions up close and other game.



Background

I am in the twilight of my hunting and working career. I am within sight of retiring from the workforce (and my get retired quicker if oil prices do not improve!). I have been able to hunt most of the places I want to hunt and only have a “few” exotic hunts on my personal list I still may try – Pakistan, Uganda, Tanzania in the hills/mountains, Ethiopia, Nepal, Argentina, Namibia Caprivi, Zim in the Save, (ok, I guess that is not a “few”) and then to take grandkids to Africa as well.

I had never heard of either outfit- Northern Operations Africa or Faro East- before this hunt. I was familiar with Cameroon as we hunted bongo several years ago and we have all heard of Mayo Oldiri, Faro West and other Cameroon safari outfits over the years. I am usually very thorough in my research on any hunt I go on and deep dive into the details, the history the people I am spending a lot of money with. I did not do that on this hunt.

This hunt came about as a result of meeting Thierry Labat in a camp in the Central African Republic in 2012. Thierry had recently been named PH of the Year in Zim and I knew about him from AccurateReloading. We meet briefly in CAR, then again at the Dallas Safari Club show as well as corresponding via email. We tried to set up a Zim hunt for eland in the Save but the dates did not work. He then suggested considering a hunt with Northern Operations Africa for Lord Derby Eland.

I made the deal over the phone with Maria Rademeyer, the brains and brawn of Northern Operations Africa, contingent on hunting only with Thierry. I then met Maria and her father-in-law (a long time Zim PH) at the DSC show to set up the dates and logistics. I never met or spoke to Dave Rademeyer, Maria’s husband and Zim trained PH.

Overall, the booking process was easy and professionally handled, much like the way Greg Brownlee and Jeff Neal (www.nealandbrownlee.com , 918 299 3580) handle most of my hunts.

Faro East and Patrick Dahlan

Again, I have never heard of Faro East or Patrick Dahlan. I booked this hunt on the reputation of Thierry Labat and Northern Operations Africa. I did not know Faro East or Patrick until I landed in Garoua. That normally reads like a recipe for disaster, but it turned out perfectly as I applied most of the lessons noted above from Jeff Neal.

Faro East is a well-managed concession next to Faro West. It is 312 square miles of hilly savannah and has a solid supply of game. We were there during the early hunting season and the grass was still being burned off. In areas already burned, the green shoots of the new growth were evident and attracting some of the animals we hunted. From what I could tell, there are a lot of Lord Derby’s Eland. We saw roughly 500 in total, nearly all cows and calves in herds. The bull I shot had joined a herd we had seen regularly. The bulls were not yet with the cows as the rut had not started.

Patrick Dahlan is a businessman from France that is addicted to hunting. He was born in Africa and is a PH. He has also attended Harvard Business School, so he fully understands the fundamentals of running a long term business. He was/is an excellent host and knows this area. He is the president of the Cameroon Professional Hunters Association and has excellent ties to the local and national government. While we were there, the local officials sent four Cameroon military personnel to help in anti-poaching and to serve as a visible protection for Patrick and his camp.

Patrick knows hunting and how to provide a great hunting environment. We ate all of our meals together and I had the chance to learn a lot about the local politics and problems. In Africa, nothing is as it seems – there is always the hidden fact or item that surprises you. He was skilled at managing a 35 man staff and camp in this business environment. He also knows the other operators in the Cameroon as well as who to hunt with and who to avoid. This is a break-even “passion” for him and we could tell from our time with him that he really loves this country and the animals.

If I go back to Cameroon to hunt eland, I would go here.

Northern Operations Africa and the Rademeyer’s

I have been on a number of safaris and hunts. I can tell you that the logistics of getting visas, gun permits, hotels, airline reservations and ground transport in many countries is daunting and fraught with peril. This is especially true of Cameroon. If you rank the 51 countries of Africa in terms of weirdness, bizarreness, and overall chaos – Cameroon in the top ten list especially if you are traveling with a gun. Take out the gun issue and it gets to be a fairly normal trip to Africa.

The Rademeyer’s seem to specialize in dealing with weirdness. They offer several hunts in Cameroon and Ethiopia for the high profile species of bongo, Lord Derby’s Eland and mountain nyala. Maria is the queen of getting you through the maze of bureaucracy to get the gun permit, the visa, the hotels and local air tickets. For instance, our airline tickets inside Cameroon on CamAir changed several times up until 24 hours before our departure. When we got to Cameroon, instead of direct flights from Douala to Garoua, we took a circuitous route to other towns and even into N’Djamena, the capitol of Chad. What we booked as a 1 ½ hour domestic flight turned into a couple of 4+ hour flights to eventually get where we were going.

Maria stayed on top of the changes and we, along with our luggage made it fine to each destination. She is the best “logistic” expert I have dealt with traveling to Africa.

In the end, NOA delivered what they promised. You cannot ask for more than that.

PH’s

Basically, we had three PH’s in camp – Thierry Labat (for me), Pete Wood (for the other hunter) and Patrick Dahlan- the owner of Faro East and a registered PH in Cameroon and the president of the Cameroon Professional Hunter’s Association. What made this combination somewhat unique was that Thierry and Pete were both trained in Zimbabwe and came on this hunt with the qualifications that make the Zim PH a cut above the rest of Africa. Patrick, as the owner of the concession, was a qualified and experienced PH as well. Having all three there while we hunted allowed us to see and hear how they worked together comparing what they were seeing on the 200,000 acre or 312 square mile concession. We each drove to different parts each day hunting, came in at noon and in the evenings for meals and compared notes and ideas on where the eland would be or where to hunt next.

Thierry and Pete are close friends and have hunted together for many years in Zimbabwe and Cameroon. Both are exceptionally skilled and I would hunt with either anytime anywhere. They are consummate professionals at their craft. Patrick is a skilled hunter and understands the American sportsman very well. He has a Harvard MBA and is a very successful businessman in Paris when not at the concession. He is an excellent host as well, running a good operation in a tough working environment.

Travel Agent

Travel agents are always in the background and usually get no praise unless things go sideways. Stacey Gibson has booked my travel for ten years. She does things in a personal way and leaves no details to chance. On this flight, she especially diligent due to traveling with guns on Air France. AF will take guns but need advanced notification and some extra paperwork. Stacey headed this off and all went well. She has also been pro-active in suggesting when to buy three coach seats for two travellers or upgrading to economy plus/enhanced or going to business class. She is good at her job and worked closely with Maria Rademeyer to get the flights exactly right. Thanks.

Camp

The camp was a permanent type camp that was well maintained and clean. We had good water, electricity from a generator, fresh food and an attentive camp staff. The skinning shed was good and the trophies were handled properly. The cabins/chalets/rondovals we stayed in were roomy, clean and functional. This is not a 4 or 5 star South African type camp. It is comparable to some of the Zim camps I have stayed in. Vehicles were in very good shape and we suffered no mechanical issues.

The chalet’s were fine….


Food and meals were fun….



Equipment List and Comments

Here is what I used and what I would do the same or do differently.

Gun – I used an H-S Precision Takedown in .375 H&H topped with a Swarovski 1.7x10x42 scope with an illuminated reticule. Obviously I have no excuse for poor shooting with this combination of gun and optics. I used factory Nosler Trophy Grade ammunition in a 300 grain Partition bullet. I would recommend a .375 H&H for a hunt in Cameroon. Also, take extra ammo to leave behind due to the scarcity in Cameroon. One of the benefits of the takedown rifle is the case it travels in. At US customs, I never get stopped for an inspection. This saves time when coming home.

My new take-down rifle –



Actually, this was a homemade rifle confiscated from one of the many poachers that were caught while we were there. This is single shot, shotgun using spare parts from cars and other metal. A shotgun shell was empties of shot and reloaded with a homemade lead slug. These poachers killed a buffalo with this contraption.

Footwear – I was warned about the worm mounds and the uneven walking conditions. This was accurate as there were areas that the walking was difficult and hard on the ankles. I used a pair of Danner Grouse boots that were 8” tall and had a bob-type sole. This worked fine. My wife wore a pair of Saloman hiking boots that gave good ankle support. We also used Outdoor Research short gaiters. You will need gaiters due to the massive amount of grass seeds and stuff that gets in your boots.

Insect Repellent – This was our most valuable item! If you use anything other than Avon Skin-So-Soft, you will get eaten. This stuff keeps the tsetse flies off. However, you have to re-apply it every couple of hours for the full effectiveness. We used 4 tubes of it on this trip. It is also a 30SPF sunscreen that you will need here.

If the Skin So Soft does not work, use the tube to squish a tsetse…



Clothes – Wear dark colours (greens, greys or browns). Camo is fine. Understand that your clothes will take a beating in the bush and in the hands of the guy washing them. I left mine behind as they were pretty well worn when the hunt was over. I prefer Columbia PFG shirts and the Cabela’s 7-pocket shorts or long pants. I wore long pants most of the time due to the grass and grass cuts.

Hats – There is a lot of sun and heat in Cameroon. Wear a hat – ball cap or wide brimmed. I used both.

Sunglasses and eye-protection – I did not take sunglasses but wished I had. You need them to protect your eyes while walking in bush and riding in the truck. I was whacked in the eyes several times while driving under trees or close to the tall grass.

Cameras – Anything that is fast and you know how to use. My wife used a Nikon CoolPix P600 that worked perfectly. I used an older Canon S600 series that is several years old but takes good pictures. You can use rechargeable batteries here as they have power or you can charge on the truck.

You need a decent camera to pics like this…..



Optics – Use a good variable scope. The PH’s liked anything variable that went up to 10x. Hunt with it on 3x and dial up when needed. On bino’s, 8x30 or 10x42 are fine. Frankly, I only needed the binos for bird watching as I am no trophy judge and was virtually no help spotting game. Everything I saw was seen first by a tracker or would have. I personally over-think optics. I like a quality scope (I use Swarovski) but nearly anything works well if it is a name brand like Leupold, Nikon, and others.

You need good bino’s to see cool stuff like this Pied Kingfisher….


Extras – I brought a lot of chewing gum (most went to the trackers and drivers) and coffee. Starbucks has one serving sized packets now that work in hot water. I brought 50 of those and had good coffee each day. The weather was exceptionally dry – bring a moisturizer if your skin gets dry.

For the Trackers and Staff – I usually have a fun event for the camp staff. I bring sling shots and marbles for a shooting contest. They seem to like it and I set it up so that all of them win a prize – my clothes to be left behind, batteries, flashlights, and cash. I intentionally bring a bag of shirts, socks, pants, jackets, hats that I was giving to Goodwill anyway and leave that for the staff. This is in addition to tips.

Hunt Method and Daily Routine

We quickly settled into a daily routine. Up at 5:45am for breakfast, out of the camp at 6:30am to start hunting. There are no long drives here as you start hunting when you load up in the truck. We came back to camp at noon for lunch and a nap. Then started out again at 3:30pm for the cooler part of the afternoon. We hunted until dark, then back to camp for a shower and dinner. This sounds boring but it was nice to know we had a good meal and shower waiting when we got back.

The hunt method was simple – look for tracks as we drove around and look for animals too. This was pretty much the same as most African hunting. Here, we saw a lot of game from the roads – lots of eland, buffalo, roan and hartebeest were seen daily. We usually looked them over and if a good one that merited a closer look was there, we made a stalk. This happened a lot of times before we took any of our intended quarries.

We had to deal with the “harmattan” or sand storms from the Sahara Desert. These are seasonal dust storms that blow across northern Africa and into some of the northern sub-Saharan African nations. It is an extremely fine dust that can obscure the sun and lower visibility to less than 200 meters. Air flights get grounded, it is hard to breath and dust covers everything. We experienced this in a slightly less severe form on this trip. Just before arriving, CamAir grounded a number of flights due to this. As we tracked eland, we had a lot of dust to deal with that came off the grass and that was in the air. If you suffer allergies, take your drugs and be prepared for this.

Part of the fun is seeing new stuff. This insect looked like a piece of dead grass….



Western Savannah Buffalo

This buffalo is much like the Cape Buffalo. Same hunt technique, same “stare” when you see them, same issues judging a big one vs a big old one. You hunt them by tracking and by being mindful of the wind. One other method we used was calling them. Yes, that is right, by calling them. On several occasions, when we spotted a herd with their heads down or if they were easing away from us, Thierry would make the sound of a distressed calf and more times than not, the group lifted their heads and started coming our way. This happened several times while we were in the truck. They only stopped when they smelled us and realized we were not a distressed calf. This was great fun and actually brought one group up to within twenty yards of the truck. See the pictures below.



On the bull I ended up shooting, we spotted a herd while driving. They were unalarmed and grazing away from us. We drove past , got out and made an upwind stalk. It took a little tree climbing and glassing to ascertain that one really old, gnarly dugga boy was in the group. When Thierry was happy with the bull, we slowly stalked the herd from the side until they spread out enough for a shot. I placed the shot on the shoulder, like all good buffalo hunters do, and he turned 180 degrees and took off. I put another shot in his backside and Thierry put one in the front half. He ran with the herd about a hundreds and stopped. We finished him there with a couple of heart shots.

I love buffalo hunting almost as much as eland. This old boy was scarred, beat up and the obvious winner of numerous battles for breeding. See the scars on his neck and shoulders in the pictures. He was a grand buffalo and one I am proud of being able to hunt. As Thierry said, “That is a proper buffalo”.



He had been in a few fights…






Lord Derby’s Eland

The Lord Derby’s Eland and bongo are why you go to this country. There is not another good reason. This was my second hunt for LDE as my first was in the Central African Republic a few years ago. We were successful then and again this time. All things considered, this is a better hunt than CAR. I have been to a lot of places and only two or three rank up there as the worst place you could go – Nigeria is on that list, Pakistan is not far behind, but the Central African Republic is a sewer of the first order. Cameroon has it’s weirdness but is ok and workable.

The good news for us was that Patrick and his son, who was in camp while we were, had been there since early December getting ready for clients. They had done a lot of scouting and had a good idea where the eland were and what bulls were out there. When we arrived, they both told our PH’s that the bulls had not joined up with the cows yet but there were some in the herds and some in bachelor groups. It did not take long to find numerous groups/herds of cows and calves.

Because are habitual “walkers and browsers”, you better have your hiking shoes on when you cut a track. We make several stalks/hikes before we connected. This is why I love to hunt them – they continuously watch behind and are constantly testing the wind. We were busted several times on wind shifts. When you are busted, that stalk is usually over as they tend to run/trot for a long distance and you rarely catch them a second time. On the second day, the other hunter in camp killed his bull near the road without a long stalk. On day three, we spotted three bulls and gave chase but ultimately, Thierry told me to pass as he felt we would find a bigger one. That advice was good and we did find a very nice bull several days later.

This was what we saw a lot of….



On our successful stalk, we found a sizeable herd while driving. We saw the bull but were unsure of the age and quality. We then stalked the herd for three or four hours just trying to see who was who in this bunch. Eventually they settled on a hillside about two hundred yards from us and we worked in close. We quickly learned that the group had split and our bull went somewhere we were not….

This was the group that did not have the bull. They are hard to see….



We backed off the stalk to avoid spooking them in hopes of finding the “lost herd”. We found tracks but not eland. We were at the 11am time period when the heat turns up and the eland slow down or rest in the shade. We decided to leave a couple of the better trackers behind to keep tabs on the group and we headed to camp for lunch and nap. Well, as you would expect, we were 15 minutes down the road when one of the trackers spotted the bull loafing in the shade not far from where we left the trackers. We hustled back and made a short stalk.

There he stood, just resting in the shade looking away from us. I set up on the sticks and made a 100 yard shot that dropped him. The herd scattered in all directions and trotted up to find our bull. He needed a finisher but was magnificent as you can see!!!





It was almost anticlimactic as we really did not outsmart this bull, we just staying on him until he stopped. I always feel bad when the big one is down – it is just natural I guess, but I still do.

Harnessed Bushbuck

Bushbuck in any form are some of my favorites to hunt. In Faro East, bushbuck are there but in the deep “mayos” (river beds) and stay in the thick stuff. We were there just as the grass was being burnt off so there were plenty of places for bushbuck to hide. We saw very few even though we saw a lot of tracks in the drying river/stream beds. On the one I shot, we were slowly driving down into a creek bed and noticed him sneaking away from us up the far side. The trackers and Thierry both pointed and said, “SHOOT NOW”, so I did and took this wonderful Harnessed bushbuck. I would like to say that it was the result of my superb hunting ability or my wonderful tracking skills, but in reality this was a target of opportunity that any hunter would take advantage of.



Western Kob

You may be thinking, “why bother?” with a Kob. Well, I can think of several reasons. First, they are cool to look at. Second, in spite of being somewhat easy to find and shoot due to a natural unwariness, finding a real nice mature male was hard. We looked at about a hundred males before finding the one we shot. They look like a Puku (in Zambia) or an oversized impala. The horns are not majestic but are classic looking and get to twenty inches or so. While hunting eland and buffalo, we saw a number of kob and looked at every group. In all, it took several days of looking before actually spotting a heavy horned male that Thierry said was a good one. We made a good, slow, fun stalk and were able to shoot him. He was hit with a lung/heart shot and still ran a hundred yards into some super thick brush before piling up. The red paint blood trail led us into the thicket for the recovery. I would look at hunting kob like you look at hunting impala when you are in Zimbabwe or springbok when you are in Namibia. It is fun. Do it.

The normal view of a Kob…



My favourite view of a Kob…


Western Hartebeest

See my comments above on the Kob. The same logic goes for the Western Hartebeest. They are plentiful, they are a bit more wary than the kob, but they are fun to hunt. Again, I spent more time looking for hartebeest than we did looking for a dugga boy. We looked at dozens and I actually stalked and fired on one that I missed (a reoccurring theme on this trip for me). They are a normal sized hartebeest, maybe a shade smaller than the Red Hartebeest but just as funny looking and fun to hunt.

We spotted the eventual victim from a kopje/hill at a distance of 1700 yards (thanks to my Leica ranging binos) and made a really fun stalk. Not normally the case, this one was by himself and not in a bachelor group or with females. At that distance, judging the horns was not easy but this hartebeest had horns we could noticeably see from a mile away. Thierry said that was a good sign and we should make this stalk.

We hustled off the hill, hiked across several tall grass fields, across a creek and then to a freshly burned off area where this guy was grazing. We were able to get the wind right and stalk close. My first shot was poor and low not a killing shot at all. He ran about 200 yards and was able to make a spine shot that put him down. Why can’t I make the easy shot when he is standing 150 yards away then make the hard shot when he is trotting away at 250 yards? There is no cure that I know of.

Anyway, this was an over the hill male, in the twilight of his life and not apparently breeding anymore. His horns were impressive and worn from a lifetime of use. I appreciate this animal very much.

Men, take your wife with you….



Western Roan

If you are a collector and want a Western Roan for the wall, this is the place. We saw as many roan as we saw hartebeest. They were here in abundance. We saw at least six that would go over 25” and one that likely would reach 28” or more. Due to the way the quotas work in Cameroon, you are only allowed two “A” animals. The “A” animals I wanted were eland and buffalo, so I did not hunt roan. I nearly bought another quota (very pricey) so I could shoot a real monster if one showed himself. Thankfully my wife reminded she wants to do a little remodelling of the kitchen – which would cost what a roan tag was going to cost.



Soon to be trophy roan…



The other hunter in camp killed a good one that was old and had a lot of mass at 25” that was worn down. I am not an inch hunter, but if you want a roan, go here.

Lions

One lion was on quota for this hunt but the US Fish and Wildlife Service effective killed that lion with the ban on lion imports after January 22, 2016. Yes, I was hunting before that time period but do I trust the USFWS to actually allow the importation from Cameroon? Not on a bet. Anyway, we never saw a male but had three encounters with lionesses and the other hunter in camp with Pete Wood came onto a lion kill that they “confiscated” and gave to the local guys for meat.

Lions impress. They always do. This was the first fairly close encounter I have had where the lions were not agitated or running away. In two cases, we came up on a lioness sitting in the road – see the pictures.

One of them was on a stalk and never acknowledged us. She was poised to make a run for a duiker in the nearby bush. We watched her track the duiker with her eyes, coil her body, and then make the death charge for her lunch. That was seriously cool.

Lunch has been spotted….



The other lioness just sat in the road grooming herself and keeping an eye on us. After ten minutes or so, we eased the truck up and she slowly rose and walked off the road to lie down thirty yards away. That was cool as well.



The third lioness was spotted by Thierry as drove into camp late in the evening. He saw her eyes in the headlights of the truck just off the road. We stopped and spotlighted her as she walked slowly further off the road. That was cool too.

We saw lion tracks daily and actually heard them a couple of times. On top of that we did see some large tracks that were likely a male, but never saw him. Lions are cool.

Local Sights

The main road through the concession was a public highway, as you can tell. These entrepenuars were travelling by motorbike over 500 miles for Douala to Garouoa to sell the FIVE motorbikes they packed on top of this motorbike. This was 500 miles over a dirt track with all sorts of hazards along the way, including lions….



Missed Shots and Excuses on Sing Sing Waterbuck and Behor Reedbuck

I don’t really want to write this section. I miss every so often but I had two very bad misses on this trip. The first was on a really nice Behor Reedbuck. This reedbuck really lives in the reeds. On this concession there are not a lot of true reed beds or pastures but in most of the reed beds we hunted, we bumped reedbuck. We passed on a couple and then, when we jumped a nice one, a really nice – I snagged my rifle sling on the bolt and did not get off a shot. Embarrassing to say the least. Anyway, I got a second chance on a smaller one when we had started a big fire to burn some grass. I had time to get on him as he walked out of the grass into the open at 125 yards. I proceeded to shoot offhand and missed right over him. He turned and went back into the grass never to be seen again. That was one of those misses where the trackers and Thierry looked at me like “have you never shot before?” I regret not practicing enough for this trip. I did not practice much, not like I normally do and I relied on my “innate” shooting skills. Well, that was not a good plan. I need practice time and have no one to blame by myself.

Fires are part of the fun….



After the grass was burned, this flower popped up within a couple of days. Tough flowers here.



The Sing Sing Waterbuck was a different miss but a miss just the same. We had seen a couple of decent waterbucks in our daily travels. I actually got on the sticks for one that was really nice but was blocked by brush. We tracked him a couple of times and saw him two more times but never could get the shot.

On the last day, we hunted the usual spots for waterbucks but came away with only cows and young bulls. On the drive in to the camp, we saw one at dusk. I was able to get on him as he stood in the shade barely visible at about 75 yards. I shot and thought it was perfect. But alas, it turned out to be a clean miss. For no good reason, I shot over this one, just like the reedbuck. No excuses other than lousy technique and lousy shooting. It happens, but usually to someone else.

Poaching

In any part of Africa there is poaching. In countries like Cameroon, there is a lot due to the rapidly growing population and no jobs. Faro East and Patrick have an intense anti-poaching program in place and working. While we were there, the teams caught several poachers including one group of seven. These folks get taken to court and jail right away. There were four military guys in camp as well. They caught the poachers pictured below and burned their camp. It is not good to be a poacher and get caught by the military. Within 72 hours, these men were caught, sentenced and in jail for a year.

There weapons were homemade…






Observations and Advice

Where to start? This country is not an easy place for a North American hunter to take on. The visa and gun permit issue alone is logistically difficult and expensive. The cost of the hunt is a barrier to most. The heat, dust and insects are tough. The hunt season is short. Let me offer my thoughts and you can take them for what they are – my limited view of a country after two trips there.

1. Take your wives on your hunts or least share the experience with someone significant to you. I offer this advice after taking my wife on all but one of trips to Africa. My wife is a nurse, she is tough and she enjoys seeing what we see on a safari. If your wife does not like bugs or some of the inconveniences of hunting in Cameroon or somewhere that is a bit rustic, then go to less difficult places. Every trip we have made has been exciting and fun. Do not spend this amount of time or money without the most important person on this earth at your side. You are sharing life adventures. This is a big deal.

If the PH or safari operator discourage you on this, change outfits or tell them that this is the way it will be and they had better treat your most important person with all of the care and respect due her. Guys, do this. You will not regret it and your life will be richer for doing it.



2. Plan ahead. Do your homework. Work with an experience agent and experienced operator. The pitfalls are numerous and the cost of failure is high. Start with the agent, then work to the operator. Get references from hunters that were on the property in the past year for info on the area. Get references from hunters who hunted with that safari company and PH in the past three years. I relied heavily on Thierry Labat and the reputation of Northern Operations Africa.

3. You do not need to be in great physical shape for this area. If you can walk for 2 to 5 miles in the heat with plenty of water handy, you will be fine.

4. Be prepared for walking on a very uneven flat surface. You have heard of the worm mounds that show up at the end of the rainy season, well, they are real and are awkward to walk on. Use boots with good ankle support and take it easy.

5. Expect dust and biting insects. This is an issue for those of us who do not like our blood sucked. Tsetse flies are a problem early and late in the day. Use Avon Skin-So-Soft liberally. We even rubbed it on our clothes. This stuff works.

6. KEY - In Cameroon, the better areas are managed and owned by French or Spanish companies. I suspect the reason is that Cameroon is French-speaking and that the Mayo Oldiri folks have been in West Africa for many years. It is relatively easy to get there from Europe. With this said, if you are a North American, do not expect to hear perfect English. Do not expect the trackers to understand you. The food will be a little different and the attitude toward hunting is different. In my experience, European hunters are not as focused on SCI gold/purple/pink standards as North Americans and in particular Americans are. They see an animal differently. The European hunter looks for old, mature animals and not so much horn length or SCI inches. When you hunt with a PH or an outfit that mainly guides European sportsmen, be prepared to discuss what you want in a “trophy”. I personally prefer the European view and took only trophies that were older, mature animals regardless of horn length. I was looking for mass and character. Thierry Labat and our host, Patrick Dahlan, were dialled in to this and we had a lot of fun hunting. I passed on a buffalo that was young, long horned and obviously exceptional for an old dugga boy type buff that was worn down with a lot of character. The same thing happened on the Western Hartebeest I took.

7. The gun processing procedure in Cameroon is cumbersome. First, your gun permit is expensive and has to be acquired at least 60 days before arrival. When you get on Air France, you need a document from Air France as well that informs them what you are carrying in your luggage. Your travel agent will provide this. It is important to ensure your guns get on the airplane. At every airport in Cameroon, you will have your gun checked. Take 10 copies of your gun permit and 10 copies of your passport. You will need them as the local authorities want copies of everything. Plan for 2 hours at each airport to get guns on or off a plane.

8. This part of Africa is heavily populated. Outside the concession that are dozens of villages with lots of people. I personally believe that we are seeing a serious increase in population and intrusion into the concessions and wild areas. This will get worse as time goes by. If you are thinking of doing this hunt, do it sooner rather than later. Cameroon has doubled in population in the last ten years. Our cook at the camp had 23 kids by a variety of wives. All of this to say, Africa is changing rapidly and not for the better. Hunting will change due to the crush of people needing space and food. If you want to hunt this country, now is the time.
There is a level of weirdness anywhere you go… This guy was in Garoua and he we squishing mangoes on his head and letting the goop dribble down over him. He had a “distant” look on his face that told me he was on a mental vacation somewhere else…



9. This turned out to be a big deal. Practice your shooting! I did not practice enough or the right way and ended up missing two animals that I should have in the salt. The shots were easy, not long and extremely makeable. I whiffed. No excuses other than lousy shooting.

10. Zimbabwe trained PH’s – Ok, this will irritate a few who read this but I am stating my opinion here. I have hunted with a bunch of different PH’s in and out of Africa. For the PH that hunts his property and his own area exclusively for a long period of time, what I am about to write is not applicable. The PH with long term, local knowledge is usually exceptional.

However, in my experience, the PH’s trained under the Zimbabwe (old British) system are extremely skilled. The three year process and testing they undergo is outstanding. In my hunting experience, The training required by the various countries is the key as well as the examination process. For African hunting, Zimbabwe gets this right and I highly value hunting with a Zim trained PH. From what I have heard, Namibia is headed the way of Zimbabwe.

Conclusion to the Matter

Here is the time tested method to see if this was just a good hunt or a great hunt- ask yourself, “Would I do this again?”. For me the answer is a qualified YES. If I decide to hunt Lord Derby’s Eland again, of course, I would do this hunt again as Cameroon is the only place to find this elegant antelope in Africa with CAR being in total chaos. Right now, I doubt I will go again for Lord Derby’s Eland as this was my second one. There are other places to see and animals to hunt, so I doubt I go back to Cameroon. . In my heart of hearts, I love hunting eland, any eland. Could I have as much fun hunting eland in Namibia or Botswana or Zimbabwe? Yes, of course. Will I be tempted to hunt Lord Derby again? I expect to be tempted and tempted severely. Will I resist? I am not sure but would bet that if oil hits $100 again, I will succumb to that temptation.

Would I recommend this trip? Of course! Would I recommend Faro East? Of course! Will I hunt with Thierry Labat again? Absolutely! I hope to try out Uganda or the Save with him in the future. He is a solid hunter and fun to hunt with.

Appendix A – Bird List
I am a serious birder and enjoy spotting and identifying birds. On this trip I used the Princeton Field Guide series titled “Birds of Western Africa”. This is an excellent field guide for the experienced or the amateur birder.

Cattle Egret
Pennant Winged Nightjar
Common House Martin
Stone Partridge
Little Swift
Scaly Francolin
Pied Crow
Black-billed Wood Dove
Abyssinian Roller
Little Bee-eater
Bateluer
Blue-bellied Roller
Dark Chanting Goshawk
African Grey Hornbill
Helmeted Guinea fowl
Abyssinian Ground Hornbill
Vinaceous Dove
Yellow-billed Oxpecker
Emerald Spotted Wood Dove
Fork-tailed Drongo
Green Turaco
Dunn’s Lark
Western Grey Plantain Eater
Meyer’s Parrot
Senegal Coucal
Scarlet-chested Sunbird
African Palm Swift
Western Black-headed Oriole
Speckled Mousebird
Square-tailed Drongo
African Pygmy Kingfisher
Northern Crombec
Re-throated Bee-eater
Long-crested Eagle
Rufous Crowned or Purple Roller
African Hobby
Northern Re-billed Hornbill
African Green Pigeon
Fine Spotted Woodpecker
Double Spurred Francolin
Common Bulbul
African Harrier Hawk or Gymnogene
Ethiopian Swallow
Spotted Creeper
Pygmy Sunbird
Western Banned Snake Eagle
Four Banded Sandgrouse
Hadeda Ibis
Yellow-billed Shrike
Red-necked Buzzard
Brown-backed Scrub Robin
Senegal Parrot
Bronze-tailed Glossy Starling
Brown-backed Woodpecker
Red-cheeked Cordon Bleu
African Hoopoe
Denham's Bustard
Giant Kingfisher
Yellow-fronted Canary
White-backed Vulture
Barn Owl
Hammerkop
Grey Kestrel
Malachite Kingfisher
Green Wood Hoopoe
Tawny Flanked Prinia
African Golden Oriole
Senegal Batis
Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird
Northern Black Flycatcher
Western Violet-backed Sunbird
White-headed Lapwing
Tawny Eagle
Violet Turaco
Northern Ant-eating Chat
Pied Kingfisher
Short-winged Cisticola
Speckled Pigeon
Double-toothed Barbet
Black-throated Apalis
African Moustached Warbler
White Helmet Shrike
Bronze Mannikin
Common Scimitarbill
Lizard Buzzard
White Shouldered Black Tit
Grey-headed Kingfisher
Namaqua Dove
Northern Carmine Bee-eater
Yellow-billed Kite
Bruce’s Gr
 
Posts: 8840 | Location: Denver - Go Rockies!! | Registered: 12 February 2004Reply With Quote
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Great hunt and report.

Mike


Every man has a right to his opinion, but no man has a right to be wrong in his facts.

Bernard Baruch
 
Posts: 10144 | Location: Cocoa Beach, Florida | Registered: 22 July 2010Reply With Quote
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Outstanding. Thank you for the report.
 
Posts: 264 | Registered: 20 January 2005Reply With Quote
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Congratulations on a fine Eland, buff and other trophies. I totally agree that anyone interested in hunting LD Eland should do it sooner than later.



Arjun Reddy
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Posts: 1980 | Location: New York, USA | Registered: 13 March 2005Reply With Quote
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What a fascinating hunt and report. Great insight to the character of this area/people/observations/topography. The whole package. Thank you for sharing.
 
Posts: 2633 | Registered: 10 March 2006Reply With Quote
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Superb report as usual.

Sorry I didn't get to chat with you on your way out and my way in.

Very nice trophies, congrats!
 
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Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful.


ROYAL KAFUE LTD
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Tel/Whatsapp (00260) 975315144
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Posts: 8304 | Location: Zambia | Registered: 10 April 2009Reply With Quote
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I would be proud to take an LDE of that standard. Praying that the the lottery gods notice my deepest desires. Congratulations, and thankyou for the info and insights throughout your superb report. Would love to have my wife on one of my hunts at some point. No luck so far winning her over, but maybe one day...


Hunting.... it's not everything, it's the only thing.
 
Posts: 958 | Location: New Zealand's North Island | Registered: 13 November 2014Reply With Quote
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Very nice! Congrats!
 
Posts: 2503 | Location: North | Registered: 24 May 2007Reply With Quote
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Looks to be a first class operation and it's nice to see what can be achieved by proper management. Every single animal is above par and how lucky you are to have such an open minded wife to share in your travels!

Excellent report and many thanks for sharing.
 
Posts: 490 | Location: Manitoba, Canada | Registered: 10 September 2013Reply With Quote
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Great report. Thanks for all of the details!!
 
Posts: 225 | Location: North Texas | Registered: 08 May 2013Reply With Quote
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great report. I have hunted Cameroon twice. I thought I was finished with Cameroon. But now I want to go back. thank you

Good hunting

Carl Frederik
 
Posts: 437 | Location: Denmark | Registered: 04 March 2007Reply With Quote
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Very well done report...Thanks for posting. A lot of good information and very nice pics as well!

Congrats on a great hunt!
 
Posts: 11636 | Location: Wisconsin  | Registered: 13 February 2006Reply With Quote
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Great hunt and fantastic report!

Well done.

BH63


Hunting buff is better than sex!
 
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Fantastic report and pictures! I really enjoyed that, thanks!
 
Posts: 206 | Location: Fairbanks, Alaska | Registered: 15 August 2011Reply With Quote
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Congratulations.Looks like you had fun and took some nice trophies.Nice looking lioness.
 
Posts: 11651 | Location: Montreal | Registered: 07 November 2002Reply With Quote
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Outstanding as usual..Thanks for sharing the report and Congratulations!!
 
Posts: 1659 | Location: Winston,Georgia | Registered: 07 July 2007Reply With Quote
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.

Sitting at Lagos Airport reading this.

Superb! What a great eland. Congratulations to the two of you and Thierry! Great trophies, great report and pictures.

Btw this year has been the worst Harmattan that we have experienced in our 7 years in
West Africa. Hunting in it must have been tough.

Thanks for posting another great report.

Charlie

.


"Up the ladders and down the snakes!"
 
Posts: 1446 | Location: South Africa & Europe | Registered: 10 February 2014Reply With Quote
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Thank you sir. LDE has been my most wanted hunt for 30 years. I enjoyed reading your report and seeing the pictures. Smiler

Ski+3
 
Posts: 808 | Location: Kalispell, MT | Registered: 01 January 2004Reply With Quote
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Nailed it! Congratulations.


I meant to be DSC Member...bad typing skills.

Marcus Cady

DRSS
 
Posts: 2656 | Location: Dallas | Registered: 19 March 2008Reply With Quote
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Fantastic hunt report. I very much enjoyed this. Congratulations on some wonderful trophies and a great hunt.
 
Posts: 1170 | Location: Shelton, CT | Registered: 22 February 2010Reply With Quote
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Great report, I really loved the pictures.


Frank



"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."
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NRA Life, SAF Life, CRPA Life, DRSS lite

 
Posts: 11735 | Location: Bakersfield CA. USA | Registered: 30 December 2002Reply With Quote
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Beautiful photos and trophies, congrats.
 
Posts: 3720 | Registered: 03 March 2005Reply With Quote
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Ross;

As usual, a fantastic report! Congrats to you and your wife for your successful safari & partnership!

Beautiful trophies!

Best regards, D. Nelson
 
Posts: 2264 | Registered: 17 July 2003Reply With Quote
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One of the best hunt reports I've read in a long time. Congratulations on an excellent adventure for you and your wife. Thanks for sharing.
 
Posts: 2964 | Location: California | Registered: 01 January 2009Reply With Quote
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One of the best hunt reports I've read in a long time. Congratulations on an excellent adventure for you and your wife. Thanks for sharing.

Correct, I see it exactly.
Best wishes.
B"


 
Posts: 822 | Registered: 13 March 2011Reply With Quote
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Great report, getting me excited for Cameroon next year.


Caleb
 
Posts: 1010 | Location: Texan in Muskogee, OK now moved to Wichita, KS | Registered: 28 February 2005Reply With Quote
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Well done on the hunt as well as a proper report!!
 
Posts: 108 | Location: Mooketsi& Phalaborwa Limpopo Province RSA | Registered: 13 August 2012Reply With Quote
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Fantastic report and very detailed.

Love that Eland.
 
Posts: 15123 | Location: Australia | Registered: 30 December 2013Reply With Quote
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Awesome report, thanks for sharing!

I see the area still has tons of great game! Loved it when I was there 2 years ago.

Another success for Thierry too!
 
Posts: 1486 | Location: New York | Registered: 01 January 2010Reply With Quote
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Ross & Thierry - Congratulations on an amazing adventure! Your eland is the one in my dreams. Simply spectacular.
 
Posts: 289 | Location: Kansas | Registered: 13 September 2007Reply With Quote
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Damn nice Eland! Congratulations on a fine hunt.
 
Posts: 4214 | Location: Southern Colorado | Registered: 09 October 2011Reply With Quote
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Great Report
 
Posts: 64 | Location: South Louisiana | Registered: 25 July 2009Reply With Quote
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Very nice post. The part that really resonated with me was how wild Africa is being lost. The whole description about population growth and poachers painted this clearly. It sounds like this hunting concession and its anti poaching enforcement is literally the only thing keeping that part of Africa wild. I thought of those who want to abolish trophy hunting. If they were successful, the wildlife and wild land in the area of this hunt would be wiped out in a heart beat. The message I heard loud and clear was the recommendation to go to Africa sooner than later.
 
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I always love reading your reports and this one was great. But then they always are.

Don


Trust only those who stand to lose as much as you do when things go wrong.
 
Posts: 287 | Registered: 28 June 2011Reply With Quote
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Excellent Hunt report. very informative. if i can be of any help setting up a trip in Pakistan it would be my honour.
Regards
Danish

www.indussafaris.com
 
Posts: 778 | Location: Karachi & London | Registered: 26 February 2010Reply With Quote
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Excellent!


_________________________________

AR, where the hopeless, hysterical hypochondriacs of history become the nattering nabobs of negativisim.
 
Posts: 6967 | Location: Rambouillet, France | Registered: 25 June 2004Reply With Quote
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Congrats Ross and thanks for the phenomenal report...


Good Hunting,

Tim Herald
Worldwide Trophy Adventures
tim@trophyadventures.com
 
Posts: 2871 | Location: Lexington, KY | Registered: 13 January 2005Reply With Quote
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Congrats on some fine old trophies and thanks for the usual excellent hunt report!

Cameroon is great safari country and a true go-to destination for adventure seeking hunters with some magnificent game available, from LDE in the savannah to bongo in the rainforest. I think your advice is spot on. The only thing I would add as an equipment recommendation is a "Buff", the neckwear you see saltwater fishermen wear for sun protection. It is easily pulled up over the nose and mouth to keep the dust out when riding or stalking. The Harmattan winds have to be experienced to really understand the amount of dust in the air that can lead to congestion, stopped noses etc.

Well done Ross and I salute your wife for traveling to these places with you. She is a hardy soul!


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.
 
Posts: 6864 | Location: Victoria, Texas | Registered: 30 March 2003Reply With Quote
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Fantastic hunt and wonderful trophies- you were certainly in good hands with Thierry! Well done indeed!
 
Posts: 1020 | Location: Zimbabwe | Registered: 22 June 2009Reply With Quote
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