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GRAND SAFARI in CONGO: Last Safari of the 2014 season

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It is early October 2014 and I am in Brazzaville waiting for a group of French hunters. The main raining season should have started already, but although it is hot and humid most days, rain is not quite here yet. While waiting, I take advantage of Mami Wata deck over the Congo river hoping to catch the evening breeze. Facing me are the lights of Kinshasa city, the capital of DRC.

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François, a South African biologist coming back from camp, was telling me about the great amount of data he and his team collected over the last 4 years. Healthy population of forest antelopes as well as dwarf buffaloes. That includes lots of Giant Forest Hog and we hope to get some quotas in the future. I saw that for myself during my first safari in May, this place is in its own league really!
There are also over 400 species of dragonflies, next study will be on butterflies …

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18 :00, I am at Maya Maya airport waiting for Air France direct flight from Paris. Quick formalities (thanks to our dedicated team in Brazza) and hunters, weapons and luggage are in the shuttle taking us to the hotel for the night. Brazzaville is an international conference hub mainly for the forestry and oil industry, there is a fair choice of world class hotels to choose from.

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Next morning, Air Congo Tupolev will take us to the colorful town of Ouesso on the Northern side of the country. This is where the second biggest rain forest in the world (after the Amazon forest) is to be found. A Chinese contractor is doubling the length of the airport runway and pretty soon traffic will improve greatly as bigger planes will be able to land.

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Vian, friend and South African PH operating in Congo, is waiting for us to cross the Sangha river on the barge belonging to forestry company CIB. We will get to camp about 2 hours 30mn later.

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First hunting day, we are 3 teams with different priorities. Bernard has a dwarf buffalo high on his list with a yellow back duiker, Wolfgang is after bongo and David is mainly looking for Sitatunga and that yellow back duiker that he has been hunting in CAR and Cameroon for the last 15 years. He is yet to get one.
We will all see some yellow back, Bernard and Wolfgang will also spot some bongo, leopard, gorillas and chimpanzees. David and myself will bump into a sitatunga bull going down the river, but no chance to take a shot. Lots of game here for a forest area, huge potential…

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Each day will bring some action and opportunities. Hunting in the rain forest is a lot different than hunting in the savannah, one sees a lot less animals each day in the dense rain forest. However, we will see bongo just about each day. Yellow back prefer moving just after the rain and is best hunted walk and spot in areas where tracks have been identified before hand. Those are very territorial animals and no one really know why they like to walk so much after the rain. Some pygmy hunters recon this is because they would rather walk on drier road than in the forest where big drops hit their backs. Not sure about that, I think the rain just make them more willing to walk around and maybe they need to re-mark territories after the rain too…
The rain is great for hunting, but it also make some trees to fall on our roads. They get so heavy with the rain that the sandy soil doesn’t hold them anymore.

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This morning, David and myself have decided to walk an old road now closed to vehicles. This 8km stretch has come very quite and we should find some action. Each rain pretty much erase all tracks on roads, so when you see tracks, it can basically only be from after the last rain.
Let’s see what the movements are at the moment here… First a young male leopard, then further on a female leopard with cub, seems like other have had the same idea about the potential of this place… Lots of yellow back duiker tracks, coming from the deep forest, walking for a while on the road and getting back into the forest again. Each track will be of a different territorial duiker. Then a family of red river hog crosses the road in front of us. Further on, bongo tracks. Vian was mentioning a nice old yellow back ram that he spotted between a fallen tree and a bend on the road, herewith the tree but it is now a bit late in the morning and rather getting hot. Chances are getting slim to see him around. We soon find his tracks … we will be back …

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While our two trackers are fixing the leaks of our mokoro with tar, we decide to take a seat at the river just above the bridge made out of huge logs by the exploitation company CIB. This is a good place to wait for black fronted duiker, a unique little guy with split hooves sitatunga like. It allows them to walk near the river, pretty much same behavior as sitatunga. We also harvested a few sitatunga just sitting here before, so maybe we’ll get some action going. A few hours later, we only got loads of annoying little flies wanting to get into our ears …

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The rain comes as a blessing and we are now thinking of paying a visit to our old yellow back ram and see if he wouldn’t get out of his forest. Ponchos, waterproof bag with cameras and satellite phone, rifles, shooting sticks and we are now walking back on this morning’s road. Some fresh tracks on the way to the fallen tree, but no sighting. We turn around, start walking back when a yellow back get onto the road about 200 or 300 meters in front of us. Quite relaxed, just minding his own business, disappearing in the forest, getting back on the road…we manage to get closer to the last spot where our animal went in and wait, wait and wait some more … that yellow back is not coming out again … just about to leave when I thought I might as well try to call, even if it does not usually work so well. Not even a minute and here it is, looking at us, very curious about that funny call … David has his cross on the chest and is waiting for my call to shot. It is only our third hunting day and I want to make sure this is the one we are looking for, but it is impossible to identify and soon, it turns around and go back in the deep forest …
What a disappointment for my hunter that just had his dream at the end of his barrel …

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Bernard will track dwarf buffaloes and find a young male that he did not shot. He will also bump into a huge giant forest hog with an attitude. It kicked, coughed and grouted looking at our hunters for about 30 seconds before walking away! Bernard will end up his day taking a red river hog.
Wolfgang will stalk 2 bongo bulls but did not get any good shooting opportunities. He will end up his day calling for some duikers and had a couple flying past him. Moving a leaf while the duiker is responding to the call will always end up having a very awake animal running for dear life, and boy they can run fast …
David and myself will check out a new mirador close to camp where mother nature gave us a non stop show. first it was a very big Peter’s duiker ram chasing a female (no chance to take him), then ducks and kingfishers feeding their young and the cherry on the cake was a beautiful leopard coming to drink merely 30 meters away from us … what a treat!

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The next day, Wolfgang takes a nice bongo in first light. On the afternoon, he decide to try his luck again by calling some duikers, maybe he could get a Peter’s a Blue or a Bay. Guess what comes full charge? A yellow back duiker that Wolfgang will shot 2 meters away with a 12 bore! Outstanding hunting experience and great trophy too since the field measurement puts it on SCI #40!!
Bernard will meet some more red river hogs and David and myself will call in some duikers including a Bay.

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This morning, we’ve decided to take the old “exploitation roads” to look for a bongo. We leave camp at 4:00 AM so we can be in the heart of the action as the light break. Tracker Joseph wants to walk a “bretelle” where he spotted lots of tracks lately. We have not even walked one kilometer when Joseph gets all excited, he has just seen a bongo bull ahead feeding along the old road … we walk quickly as close as possible to the last spot where it was seen and get David’s rifle on the sticks. The bull comes back and start walking away from us … got to wait … that broad side is what we need … and it comes with the bull’s head in a bush feeding. David’s .375 H&H Magnum will drop the bongo right there, it is 05:45 AM when we take the traditional photos.

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We are getting early afternoon rain today, ideal conditions for yellow back hunting. It is still raining a bit when we get to our preferred spot, the idea is again to look for that big ram and wait for him until dark if necessary. Slow walk to the fallen tree, nothing. We check our back all the time as this is perfect conditions for them to move. The rain has stopped and we trun around so we can get in what we think is the middle of its territory and find a place to seat.
Last check over my shoulder and I am taking my poncho off and dropping the back pack so we cans eat and wait, when David grab my elbow while looking on his back. There is a yellow back duiker that has just got to the road and is walking towards us, about 100 meters away … I drop everything, grab my binoculars and make sure this is our old ram … yes it is, David is ready but we need to wait, our duiker is relaxed and stop at about 70 meters, facing us. I know David will not miss this opportunity … the bullet hit the ram square in the chest and drop in its tracks … What a hunt! Harvesting a known animal after spending days for the right conditions is always rewarding, this is going to make a magnificent full mount, an old dominant warrior full of scares, stunning …

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Two days later, Bernard and Vian are on fresh buffalo tracks again. The beats walked on the road for a while and then went back in the forest. Vian knows the area well and the buffaloes behavior even better. He suggest to leave the tracks and go straight to a nearest bai where chances to find them are high. A bai is an opening in the forest with permanent water, buffaloes like to ly in the water during the hot hours of the day. So they go, walking the last kilometer very quietly listening for any noises that could give away the buffs.
PH, tracker and hunter are glassing the bai … nothing … tracker is ready to move on, so is Bernard that has experienced this scenario numerous time during his safari … but Vian is still looking, and looking some more … Communication with a French hunter can be challenging at the time for our PH, and his every day good mood and soft voice does not always give justice to his great knowledge of the rain forest towards our hunter … and it is with the very same soft voice that Vian announces that he finally found what he was looking for … the tip of a buffalo horn sticking out of the flooded grass! A quick stalk, the buffaloes are now standing up and Bernard is about to give that great bull a good shot. It is probably the best bull of the season, an old boy with very thick horns. His body is just about as big as a savannah buffalo, this is massive for a dwarf buffalo!

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The lasts few days will be spent calling some duikers. With a blue duiker, Wolfgang will have harvested the biggest (yellow back) and the smallest (blue) duikers of Africa.
Bernard will get a very nice bongo and a Peter’s duiker.

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We have had a very good season in Congo and are looking forward to some great seasons still to come.

Some additional photos

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We have a few exciting projects on the go in this country, with new areas and new camps pretty soon. A lot of new great hunting adventures are ahead of us, can’t wait …

2016 and 2017 bookings are now open

BUSH NEWS September 2014

UGANDA, some news record trophies taken recently

Tom has just been hunting with us in Uganda, herewith his first report:

Hello Christophe;

The trip exceeded my expectations by far. Uganda is an amazing destination. The whole country looks as if it is a golf course. The Park was exceptional and it did my heart good to see the elephant and Nile buffalo herds.
Fishing was exceptional.
The communal hunting in the main camp was interesting. Pieter and his crew hunted hard, and we were blessed with some wonderful old trophies (as it should be). Camps were comfortable, and food better than expected.

Highly recommend this trip to any one seeking Sitataunga, with the Nile bushbuck and Kob being a bonus. The experience was rather seamless from start to finish. New friend in Pieter (Grand Safari PH in Uganda) (another bonus). Thanks Sincerely, Tom

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CONGO

Christophe will be back in Congo this week for the last hunts of the 2014 season. No need to wait the end of the season to say that it has exceeded all our expectations with great trophies taken and lots of animals spotted.
Some exciting news for next year in Congo…that we will reveal a bit later …

BUSH NEWS July – August 2014

Herewith the second part of Sergey and his hunter Dima with us, guided by our PH Jarryd. Dima got a very good Mountain Reedbuck as well as a good common Blesbok, before heading to an other concession of ours a little bit more inland. Here, Dima will take a beautiful Oryx and a very good common Springbok when Sergey will harvest a great Blue Wildebeest.

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Then we had the great pleasure of having a french family from Lyon. Stunning landscape with loads of game in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa, some outstanding stalk with very good animals harvested, well done guys!

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Meanwhile, our PH Christo will get a very good leopard and some old dagga boys…

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As for myself, I was in Kimberley area with long time friend André Dubois, a renowned Swiss gunsmith, and his group of hunters. Cape Buffalo was what we were looking for, and we got 5 old big dagga boys in 6 days, along with some plains game.

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André will also harvest that outstanding Waterbuck of way over 33” that will score # 16 at SCI!!

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And the season just carry on with an other great East African Sitatunga in Uganda …

Sitatunga-Uganda

Until next time, happy hunting and sharp bullet!!

CONGO – BONGO in the MIST

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06:00 AM, there is now enough light to see that small herd of Bongo getting into the softest leaves alongside the road. It’s gonna be hot today, the mist is thick and comes over us in waves.

We’re on foot, 60 meters away from those mystical forest antelopes, about 12 of them, mainly females and young, a big male was spotted earlier and could be close by…

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We are in the Republic of Congo (Brazzaville), on the Northern shore of the huge Congo River, facing the massive DRC. Read the rest of this entry »

BUSH NEWS, May – June 2014

SOUTH AFRICA

More hunters in the Eastern Cape with some very nice trophies taken lately, herewith some pics

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PH Mike also guided some hunters in the Limpopo with a magnificent Southern Greater Koudou amongst other species taken

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UGANDA

We are also in the middle of our hunting season in Uganda. Although hunting had been tough lately on our concession bordering Murchison Falls National Park (high grass and no movement of animals staying inside the park, we had an alternative area further North for Nile Buffalo and Kob. Our last hunters decided to still try their luck around the Park and got a very nice old Nile Buffalo with a good Uganda Kob.

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Our party will then proceed to our Sitatunga area in Ndoma where they had great success, as always … herewith some pics of Sitatunga, Bushbucks and oribi taken

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Comments from hunter JM speaks for themselves:

“… in the second camp, despite very tall grass affecting the stalks, the density was so great that I could select my trophies and only harvest what I thought was exceptional. That is luxury!

As for my East African Sitatunga, out of 2 outings on visiting 2 machanes, we counted 7 bulls and 8 females, this is simply unbeliveable. For having spent hours, even days in CAR, Tanzania and Zambia hopping to find Sitatunga, I would have never imagine to be able to live one day such an incredible experience.

Overall, we had a great safari with always welcoming and smiling staff, top luxury at our tented camp. PH Philippe was always in good mood and available for us, great PH and hunting companion …”

EVENTUS with GRAND SAFARI

It is a real pleasure to have our russian agent and friend Sergey Tyutchev from EVENTUS with us at the moment. Sergey is hunting with russian hunter Dima and Grand Safari PH Jarryd on our Eastern Cape concessions in South Africa right now, I was with them yesterday when Dima harvested a very nice red Hartebeest. herewith some pics, have a look at the one showing our hunters 60 meters away from a herd of 15 hartebeest bulls. It looks real close, but because of the slope, our hunters could only see the head of that nive bull on the left … well guess what, that was good enough for Dima to take the shot. Welldone guys!!

More of this safari in the next newsletter…

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Grand Safari Bush News: May 2014

Some bush news from Grand Safari team with a few hunts in process and some great stuff drying in the salt…

Richard smoked an old dagga boy with a perfect frontal shot … He also took some very good plains game during his second safari with us.

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Sandra took a very nice Zebra, well done!

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Bryan has been hunting with us twice already, and took magnificent animals during his third Grand Safari, including a very nice Caracal

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Missy was also hunting with Bryan and took a nice Impala and a beautiful Oryx

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More coming up soon …

French Hunting Convention Rambouillet 2014

We had the pleasure to attend to the main french hunting convention Rambouillet 2014 again this year, this is a great show where we get to meet all our french hunters year after year.

Last year, we introduced Uganda to he french hunting community, and this year was Congo Brazzaville. Lots of interest for this new forest destination where we have great numbers of Bongo, Sitatunga, Dwarf Buffalo, Yellow backed duiker and the usual other forest duikers.

Feel free to contact us for further details.

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