September 10, 2014 |
Last month I talked about an incredible hunt that my daughter Jessica and I went on to Mozambique Africa with Marromeu Safaris.
I have found that many people who haven’t been to Africa don’t understand the processes there and would like to know more. Be prepared – this is a bit lengthy.
I will go through a few basics here of what goes on behind the scenes.
I have been asked – “Can you bring back the skins and skulls of the animals that you shoot there”? Yes, you can, but they have to go through some lengthy processes in order for them to shipped back to you. This is all arranged for you by the people you have hunted with. You can’t bring them back with you on the airplane. A good share of the time it can take from 6 months to a year before you have them in your possession. Be aware that there are shipping fees and customs fees to pay to get them into the U.S. or any other country you may reside.
When you book a hunt with a concession, be it with a booking agent or the concession themselves, they walk you through all the things that need to be done beforehand as well as what you will be doing when you get there to hunt. You can also book hunts at various trade shows.
A few of those shows are the Dallas Safari Convention held in Dallas, Texas in January or Safari Club International Convention that is held in Las Vegas, Nevada in February. What is good about that is that you will most likely meet some of the people you will be hunting with and I like to meet the people in person. There are also booking agents here in the U.S. as well. The people you book your hunt with help you with your important paperwork that needs to be done before the hunt. Each country can and will be different as far as proper paperwork requirements goes.
If you are taking firearms, and I highly suggest you do take your own, it is important to obtain a form C-4457 before you leave for your hunt. That form asks for information on the firearms you are taking and is necessary to have when you arrive back in the United States when going through customs. Before leaving for your hunt you will take the firearms with you to the customs office at or near the closest airport to you. You will fill out that form with information that will show make, model, serial # and caliber and they will check that information you have written on the form against the firearm you present to them. You cannot change your firearm at the last minute before leaving for your trip. Be sure of the firearms you will be taking before going through that process. Remember you will be showing that form to the customs agents when you arrive back in the United States so don’t leave it home. You are also limited to the number of rounds you can take into the country you are hunting depending on how many rifles you take. Don’t take ammunition that does not match your rifle. That will not be good if you do.
When booking your hunt, you will be given a list of the animals that you can hunt in that area and it is up to you to make the decision as to what animals you are interested in and will be told what is left on their quota. You will be charged for each animal that you shoot. If you shoot at an animal and wound it and it isn’t found – you will be charged for that animal. It is important that you take good performing bullets like Barnes and be a competent shooter.
Obviously booking your hunt early is critical so you can hunt the animals that are a priority to you. Each concession has a quota that is given to them by the government of the country they hunt in each year and they must abide with that quota. Also, each concession has specific areas they can hunt and they stay within those boundaries. Often times you can even hunt other animals that you haven’t chosen beforehand when you get there if there are animals left on quota that haven’t been booked or taken by other hunters. That is something your Professional Hunter can tell you.
“What is a Professional Hunter?” A professional hunter is someone that makes a living out of hunting. He or she gets paid to guide hunters. All professional hunters I have had the privilege to hunt with have been amazing and truly know what they are doing and give 110% to help you achieve your hunting goals. They go through a very lengthy and detailed process to become Professional Hunters. You cannot hunt Africa without a Professional Hunter nor would you want to.
When you arrive at the airport at your desination you will be greeted – thank heavens – by people that will help you through customs and arrange for places to stay if you have to spend the night in the city before going to hunting camp. Either a long drive or a small plane is arranged for you to get you to your camp. When your hunt is done and it is time to return home, you will have that same kind of help. That is something I am very grateful for.
The concessions have trackers that help your P.H. and you locate animals to hunt. They are there each and every time you go out to hunt. They are constantly looking for tracks and can tell you how old the tracks are what kind of animal it is and if it is big enough to take the time to go after. When you get an animal down, they are just as happy as you are. They are there to do the work of loading the animal on the truck to head back to camp or do any other things that are necessary to be done with the animal. To put it bluntly, they work their _____ off!!! They have eyes of an eagle and I am always in awe how keen their senses are on everything.
Most areas are very big that you will hunt in so you are in vehicles a good share of the time so that you can get around to the many different areas. The Coutada 10 area we hunted covers an area in excess of 1000 square miles, unfenced and wild with the Indian Ocean coastline of over 28 miles.
I’ve been asked – “Where do you stay?” Let me explain about the Concessions that you will stay in. Concessions are like small villages and are set-up with a lot of great and comfortable conveniences. Concessions are located in the area that you will be hunting. You have your own private place to stay with beds, hot running water for showers, sinks for washing up and toilets. As a plus, you don’t have to take many changes of clothes because the clothing is washed and ironed every day and waiting on your bed when you return from a long day of hunting. (Note, they don’t do the clothing in washing machines. It is all done by hand and on washboards.)
There is camp staff, cook staff and servers for your meals that will clean up after every meal – much like eating in a restaurant everyday. Your room is cleaned daily. The dirt around camp is even swept to a pristine condition. It isn’t home but many camps are extremely nice and comfortable and will amaze you how beautiful they can be. Usually they are built among some very shaded trees and they keep very cool that way. There is also a skinning shed and skinners that immediately take care of the animals that you bring back to camp. Basically you are taken care of and don’t have much to worry about other than making sure you make good sure shots!! Depending on the time of year, it can be down right miserable, as it definitely knows how to get hot there. My favorite time to go to Africa is in July to late August. Temperature is anywhere from 40° to 95° and it is humid. For people like Jessica and myself, coming from dry areas, it is something that we have to get accustomed to. The average temperature at that time of year is probably around 80°.
You have to be sure to take all your medications to cover your current issues or whatever illness you might get. You are not able to get those types of things easily after you get in camp and if you need something badly it is going to cost you dearly to have someone fly it in or drive it in to you. In other words BE PREPARED for anything and everything !!!
People also ask me, “What do you do with the meat from the animals that you shootz? Do you bring it home?” The meat cannot come back with you. It is not allowed in the U.S. Many times you will eat some of the meat in camp from game you have taken or game that other hunters have taken that are in camp. The camps have refrigeration and freezers and all electricity comes from a generator. The meat also goes to the local villages, where they dry the meat and make jerky. In nearly every case, the villages don’t have refrigeration and are so happy to get the meat. Without the meat they eat a very limited diet.
We were asked to shoot something for a villager government meeting in this area that we were in as soon as we could because they would need food for their feast. The village people are not allowed to have guns – nor could they afford them. While Jessica was out hunting they found a one-horned waterbuck and felt that it would be a perfect animal to cull out of the herd. When the waterbuck was delivered they were very appreciative of the meat for their meeting.
We were watching some of the native people in the villages near our camp and noticed they were eating something that looked like a potato, most of the time. We were told it was Cassava.
Cassava is a tropical root vegetable cultivated in Latin America and Africa. Despite the fact that it often plays an important role in their diets, cassava root is actually not that nutritious. The leaves of the plant have far more protein and nutritional value than the root does. It does have the advantage of growing well in poor soil, and being filling when little else is available. This vegetable can actually be highly toxic, since it contains cyanide, and it needs to be carefully handled and treated before it can be consumed.
Average life expectancy of the villagers is 42 years old. Malaria and Sleeping Sickness from Tsetse flies are most definitely a can be a factor contributing to their short life span, also the large amount of Cassava root in their diet as well could be a another.
They also use a lot of Mealie Meal. It is a relatively coarse flour (much coarser than cornflour or cornstarch) made from maize . It is a staple food in many parts of Africa and South Africa. It is traditionally made into umphokoqo, sour-milk porridge, pap, and also Umqombothi (a type of beer).
The raw ingredient of mealie-meal is added to boiling water, or boiling milk, for a creamier texture, and the result is a porridge with a very thick texture. It is eaten at breakfast as porridge, and also with meat and gravy as a mashed potato substitute. It is similar to Italian polenta or American grits except that it is usually made of a white rather than a yellow maize variety.
The starchy vegetable often acts as a thickener and stretcher making a dish seem more filling than it really is. People who rely heavily on it as a source of food may experience nutritional deficiencies, and they are at higher risk of neurological illness.
So as you can see, the meat the hunters bring in is very important for them to have in their diet and I’m proud that I have been a part of that process.
I have heard the statement – “If I can’t eat it – I won’t shoot it!” For those that are worried about shooting something that you may or may not eat in Africa should not be concerned with that as I have explained above. All meat is used in one way or another. I have seen some of our trackers on previous hunts take down a hind quarter of an animal that has been hanging in a tree for numerous days in sweltering heat being used as bait, and is covered with maggots. I was told they were taking it back to camp to cook and eat it and my professional hunter told me that it is not that uncommon.
Some people have a problem with shooting leopards as they feel they are endangered or the meat goes to waste. In all areas that I have hunted they issue a limited number of leopard hunting permits and they are very controlled. In the Coutada 10 where we hunted in July only two leopard are on quota. Which means that only up to two leopard will be taken by hunters. Leopard meat will be eaten.
I found out something very unfortunate shortly after I took my leopard this year. There was a male villager in camp that had been caught poaching. I asked “what did he poach?” I was told that he had said that among many other things, he had poached two female leopards and a male leopard like the one I had taken – 180 lbs – and he sold the hide and claws of all three for $100.00. That is a lot of money for them but the impact of taking that leopard out of the gene pool in many ways is astronomical. I was so very sad to hear that but unfortunately, as I’m sure you have heard – poaching does go on and every animal is at risk for that to happen.
Obviously I have not covered everything that will happen on your hunt but Africa is an amazing place to go and trust me, you will not go just one time. It gets in your blood. It’s not only about hunting there but it is also about the animals that you see, the people you meet and the village people that will often times steal your heart.
I am very thankful for the opportunity that I have had to hunt Africa. I have been to Zimbabwe, Tanzania and Mozambique and they all have similarities but also their individual uniqueness. If you haven’t been there, I hope you get the chance to. It is truly an opportunity of a lifetime.