“Click”, the sound broke the still, silent Mozambique veldt and with the noise still ringing in my ears, I rapidly worked the bolt on the old Winchester to shove another cartridge into the chamber of my 375 H&H. I returned the cross hairs on the quartering animal, rapidly disappearing into the forest of bush and trees and squeezed the trigger for a second time while saying a silent prayer. I am certain, had I turned, I would have seen a strange look on the face of my PH, Gordon Stark. [www.nhorosafaris.com]
I first met Gordon at the Great Outdoor Show put on by the NRA at the Harrisburg Farm Show Building this past February. Gordon came highly recommended by the RJN Hunting and Travel Advisory Service. It is extremely important when going on a dangerous game hunt to have complete confidence in your PH and it took only a few minutes of meeting Gordon that I knew he was the right man to guide me and have my back. Gordon has concessions in countries such as Mozambique, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, and South Africa depending on what animal you wished to hunt for.
Gordon was born in Philadelphia, and worked on his grandfather’s farm outside of Pittsburgh, and when the wanderlust hit, he took a job on a commercial fishing boat in Alaska to earn money to go hunting. While there, he managed to down several Alocacoc’s. After a time, he found the cold weather not to his liking, saved up and booked a hunting trip to Africa, where the PH he booked and hunted with is now his partner.
My hunt was scheduled for Mozambique this past August on a concession of 250,000 acres, with about 90,000 acres being swamp land. With the water table close to the surface, Mozambique looks today as it did many hundreds of years ago when the land was hunted by mostly English gentlemen. Today, as of yore, animals inhabit the land in a totally natural environment. The camp was located on the banks of the Zambezi River where I caught a catfish of close to 30 pounds. Remind me and I will show you the pictures...
My trip started at the Newark airport on United Airlines going to Johannesburg 17 hours later, with the next flight to Beira, Mozambique, followed by about a wonderful 2 hour flight in a small Cessna, and then a 30-40 minute drive to camp.
To say this place is remote would be an understatement. There is a garden where they grow their vegetables, as there are no stores close by, so we ate from the garden and what I shot. Note that I don’t harvest animals, they are shot. Once, I checked the seed store and I couldn’t find any deer seeds to plant and harvest like farmers do with corn. The meat from the animals shot were prepared in various ways and can only be described as excellent table fare along with the bread baked daily and the vegetables from the garden. I have eaten in restaurants that would be hard pressed to meet the quality of the meals at this camp. The meat was definitely human consumable (ask Gordon).
There is a huge sugar cane operation owned by a company from France, and the local natives work there, but that is it for jobs in the area, other than the jobs available at the hunting camp. They have cooks, trackers, skinners, laundry folks, some cleaning the camp and cabins, working in the garden and so on. Hunting gives value to the animals and the locals work hard to prevent poaching. We did however, see one water buck that looked like a leg had been crippled with a snare. A most painful and horrible way to eventually die. For non-hunters, I am sure they find it difficult to believe that the best conservationists of animals are hunters.
I almost forgot the “click”. It was a cartridge that failed to fire. The fault was either the brass case or the primer and that is something to be investigated later. I was centered on a beautiful sable when the “click” happened, but fortunately, I was greeted with a boom on the second trigger squeeze before the sable disappeared into the bush.
One shot and down ethically with a 300 grain Barnes bullet. On our last day, we had sable tenderloin as the main part of the meal and it was superb along with everything else even dessert. I gained 4 pounds.
I had every intention of hunting a cape buffalo with an old double rifle, but I had a self imposed range limit of 50 yards or under with the open sights on the rifle, due to my aging eyes. We saw hundreds of buffalo, and I was amazed at the eyesight of the trackers as they would spot animals way off in the distance. We stalked several herds, keeping the wind in our faces, but could not get within the limits of my eyesight. Once as we had gotten close to a herd, a buffalo walked out of the swamp not 30 yards away to my right. Gordon said it was a big buffalo with small horns, so I could have met my goal with the old double, but passed for a larger horned animal and used my 375 as the large buffalo stayed well out of range of the 450-400 Nitro double.
Later in the day, we stalked within range of two buffalo close to a swamp, but just on the outside and out of range of my double. The one to the left was quite large, big horned with large bosses. We set up the sticks for the 375 and much to my surprise, one shot and he dropped on the spot. A most welcome but unusual occurrence. I love the 40 year old Nosler 300 grain partitions. The second buffalo ran off a short distance and stopped and turned to look at us. He moved about letting us wonder if he would close the distance. We shouted and waved our arms to scare him off, but it took a bit before he took off. If he had continued to come close to us, Gordon cautioned we would need to shoot him. Thankfully, that did not happen. My bull managed to stumble to his feet and lurch forward taking a few more shots, to finally falling into the swamp, only 5 feet from dry ground. We had to wade into the swamp to place the last bullet into him as Gordon admonished that it was the seemingly dead buffalo that would come to life and kill people. We took no chances and Gordon had his trusty 458 Lott if needed.
Usually on the hunts that I have been on, I look for three things to make a successful hunt. The most important is the PH and the animals available. The second in order of importance is food, and the third is the lodging. I don’t mind sleeping in a tent, and have done so in the past. I also don’t mind eating passable food. I have had hunts with one out of three, two out of three, but seldom do you find three out of three. If I were rating this hunt with stars, it would be 5 stars all the way. Gordon is a superb PH, great sense of humor (ask him about the shoulder mount for the buffalo), knows his animals and how to successfully hunt them. The food was excellent, and the accommodations were first class. Over my days in the field, I saw eland, sable, buffalo, waterbuck, hartebeest, reedbuck, etc. and they were everywhere and abundant. It was so encouraging to see so many animals and no fences on the quarter million acres. I had a blast, met and made new friends, and I thank God for giving me the opportunity to experience this wonderful adventure and I look forward to the next one as long as I am able and if not, I have a lifetime of memories.