Hunters Path XV

carolinavarmero

Jagdzeit

Hunter’s Path


Supplied only to owners of a valid firearm permit.

K3 EXTREM

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Pathfinder.

For successful hunting:

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LEICA GEOVID

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results take into account temperature, barometric pressure, and angle

incorporates Perger-Porro prism system for high light transmission and high-contrast viewing image

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ABC ® ballistics system. Displays the the holdover correction in the desired output format.

Holdover correction in cm Corrected, equivalent horizontal range Reticle adjustment in clicks

Leica Camera AG I Am Leitz-Park 5 I 35578 WETZLAR I GERMANY


EDITORIAL

The Best Season

It’s an early morning in August in the High Rockies of

Colorado as I write this. Sitting on my porch enjoying the

sunrise, the first chill of fall has caused me to pull on a light

sweater. As I sip my morning coffee and look out across the

mountains, the first few yellow leaves suddenly catch my eye.

The change had somehow slipped my attention. The visual

cue causes me to notice that the light scent of the mountains

is carrying a hint of fall. Almost involuntarily, I scan the

mountains for a mule deer or elk, but none are within sight

this morning. A sense of anticipation fills me, and a sudden

small jolt of adrenaline shoots through my veins. Fall, the

best season, is just around the corner. Fall for me means

chasing elk, mule deer, and bears around the mountains, and

even joining a good friend on a moose hunt in another part

of the country. Though I am always excited to hunt, this year

is different. It means more than it ever has.

You see, I suffered a fairly serious knee injury in January.

This might not sound like a big deal to a lot of people, but it

was the first time in my life that I have suffered an injury

that curtailed my active lifestyle. For several months, simply

walking was a challenge. Running was out of the question.

(People who know me understand just how important running

is in my life.) Spring scouting forays in the mountains

were unthinkable, as was just about every other outdoor

activity. Those hours spent on a stationary bicycle, as a form

of rehab, just weren’t an adequate ersatz. A private battle

with mild depression and a sense of despair ensued. The idea

of physical limitations involving hiking and hunting had

never before occurred to me. I came to realize that everyone

faces limits in one form or another, and that these limits

must be respected, and not to take hunting for granted, as I

had in the past. At some point, hunting comes to an end for

every individual, and it can be sudden.

The healing process was slow, and even as late as early July

I wasn’t sure if taking up the chase again would ever be

possible. My own limitations and weaknesses were blatantly

obvious. Then, over the span of a few weeks, there was a

drastic improvement in my knee. I am able to run again,

and will be able to hunt almost as though nothing happened.

The physical recovery to reach this point took seven months.

There are however a few lasting effects of my skiing accident.

The dark time taught me a deeper respect for hunting

and hunters, and humility. I will never take hunting for

granted, or question the limitations of others. Every sunrise,

sunset, and moment in the woods will be enjoyed with a

renewed sense of awe and thankfulness. I am grateful just to

be out there this fall. Enjoy it while you can.

Good Hunting,

Chris Eberhart

Editor


CONTENT

24

ALASKA

Nothing is easy in sheep

country, but that fact makes

the sweet taste of success

even sweeter.

Photo: Billy Molls

74 INDIA

Come along on an almost indescribable

journey that bridges

the past with the present. Jim

Corbett’s rifle returns to India.

Photo: Tweed Media

116

NEW ZEALAND

Some hunts take on a dreamlike

quality. Chasing tahr in the

mountains of New Zealand

can indeed be an otherworldly

experience.

Photo: Juha Kylmä

2 | Hunter´s Path 3/2016


FEATURES

GREAT BRITAIN – Chinese Water Deer 10

ALASKA – Dall Sheep 24

SURVIVE AFRICA XII – Trapping and Fishing 34

TEXAS – Aoudad 42

M a n i e w s k i

TAXIDERMY

From booking

to finished mount:

Everything is in our hands!

Russia - Kirghizia - Poland -

Bulgaria - Spain - Latvia -

Namibia - South Africa

UGANDA – Bushbuck 52

COLORADO – Mountain Grouse 60

ZIMBABWE – Elephant 66

INDIA – Jim Corbett‘s Rifle 74

FIJI – Wild Boar 98

NORTHWEST TERRITORIES – Caribou 106

NEW ZEALAND – Tahr 116

P S

HUNTING TRIPS

COLUMNS

Editorial1

Hunting News From Around the World 4

Illustration – Lakomy 8

We deliver what the others

only promise!

Our hunts take place only

in select hunting areas, and are all

personally tested for quality.

Conservation – Cecil the Lion 20

Portrait of an Artist – Percival Rosseau 92

Marketplace124

Maniewski Taxidermy

& PS Hunting Trips

Preview & Masthead 128

Alte Burgwedeler Str. 11

30938 Burgwedel, Germany

Phone: +49 (0)5135/774 or -799

praeparation@t-online.de

info@ps-jagdreisen.com

www.ps-jagdreisen.com

3


HUNTING NEWS

FROM AROUND THE WORLD

AFRICA

Economics of Hunting

Tourism

THE FLORIDA-BASED CONSULTING Company,

Southwick Associates, which specializes in fish and

wildlife economic research, has analyzed the economic

contributions of hunting-related tourism in

Eastern and Southern Africa. Countries included in

the study were Botswana, Ethiopia, Mozambique,

Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

According to the study, visiting hunters on average

spent fourteen days in their destination country,

with eleven of those hunting days. The travel party

most commonly consisted of three people, with

two of these actually hunting. The United States

provided the largest proportion of hunters (74%),

followed by Europe (16%). For the entire study

area, an average of 18,851 tourists hunted annually

between 2012 and 2014. South Africa received the

greatest number of visiting hunters (8,387) followed

by Namibia (7,076) and Zimbabwe (1,361). Tanzania

was visited by 794 hunters, Mozambique by 428,

Zambia by 398, Botswana by 350 and Ethiopia by

21. Hunters reported high satisfaction rates, and

nearly 75% have taken more than one hunting trip

to Africa.

The average total spending per hunter is estimated

at US$ 26,000, of which US$ 20,600, is spent

in-country. For the eight nations examined, US$

327 million were spent annually. The amounts varied

between US$ 141 million in South Africa and

US$ 432,000 in Ethiopia. The contributions to the

gross domestic product are estimated at US$ 426

million. This spending supported over 53,000 jobs

in the eight nations.

The study, financed by the Safari Club International

Foundation, is based on figures provided by the

respective countries, and by interviewing a sampling

of hunters. The results do not correspond

in every case with my own data, nor with that of

other publications. It would have been beneficial,

if the authors had consulted more readily available

publications and studies. A similar survey, which

was jointly undertaken by the German Hunting

Association (DJV) and the German CIC-Delegation,

showed that German hunters spend 1.6 billion

euros for hunting, and 82.5 million euros annually

for biodiversity conservation.

Undoubtedly, more research is necessary, as the

economics of hunting are an important issue in the

debate about hunting and hunting tourism. Animal

rights activists deny that hunting provides economic

benefits, although they do not provide valid data

to support their claims.

rdb

The economic impact hunters

have in Africa is undeniable.

Photo: iStockphoto

GREAT BRITAIN

Born Free Foundation Calls

on New British Government

to Ban Hunting Tourism

TOGETHER WITH OTHER animal rights

organizations, the Born Free Foundation has called

on the new British Environment Secretary, Andrea

Leadsom MP, to give greater protection to Africa’s

wildlife by closing down hunting. Will Travers,

President and CEO of Born Free, said, “We have

been working to bring the brutality of this so-called

‘sport’ to the attention of policymakers, enforcement

bodies, and the public, for many years.” Now

the Foundation is demanding an international moratorium

on trophy hunting. The Foundation was

also a leading force in recent months in numerous

attempts to pressure the EU Commission and the

EU Parliament to ban the import of hunting trophies

from Africa.

The major institutional financer of the Born Free

Foundation is Land Rover, a vehicle that is widely

used by hunters in Africa and Europe. Will Travers

also said, “The Born Free Foundation is on the front

line of conservation and wild animal welfare, and to

get us to that front line we rely on Land Rovers.”

rdb

CHINA

Interest in Hunting

Tourism Is Growing

ACCORDING TO A REPORT from the Guangzhou

Daily newspaper, hunting tourism is becoming

increasingly popular among the rich elite in China.

More than a hundred Chinese businessmen and

politicians - most of them in the age category between

forty and fifty - have hunted overseas recently.

The number of Chinese hunters is increasing

and they are visiting more countries. The largest

agency offering such hunting opportunities was

founded by an American seven years ago. Most

4 | Hunter´s Path 3/2016


Chinese hunting tourists don’t have any previous

hunting background, and therefore little knowledge

of common hunting practices. Their views on hunting

and their understanding of the ethics involved,

have thus been questioned. The growing interest

however can be seen as an opportunity to inform

and educate.

rdb

SOUTH AFRICA

Drought Affecting Safaris

SOUTH AFRICA IS PRESENTLY plagued by a

severe drought. It is feared that even rhinos in the

Kruger National Park might die of thirst. Eight of

South Africa’s nine provinces have been declared

disaster areas, with only Gauteng the exception.

Safaris in South Africa have also been affected, and

in some cases hunters have already been moved

to other areas, in order to find better hunting conditions.

Professional Hunters’ Association of South

Africa (PHASA) said in a press release that the 2016

hunting season is going well despite South Africa

having recently experienced its worst drought in

a century. PHASA’s Chief Executive Officer Tharia

Unwin said, “Demand is being met, and the hunting

season is going well.”

Nevertheless, hunters headed to South Africa

this season should contact their outfitters to see

whether the drought will affect their hunting plans.

rdb

this proposal recognizes that “well-managed and

sustainable trophy hunting is an important conservation

tool, which provides both livelihood opportunities

for rural communities and incentives for

habitat conservation, and generates profits, which

can be invested for conservation purposes”.

MEP Karl-Heinz Florenz, President of the Intergroup

“Biodiversity, Hunting, Countryside” commented,

“sustainable and legal trophy hunting is secured”.

MEPs also adopted amendments highlighting the

role of local communities, who will continue to be

part of the decision-making process and benefit

from wildlife management.

rdb

KENYA

Strike Affects the Kenya

Wildlife Service

A GO-SLOW STRIKE has hit the Kenyan national

parks. Important services have come to a halt. Even

anti-poaching efforts have suffered from the slowdown.

Ever since the Kenyan President appointed

the former director Richard Leakey as Chairman

of the Board of the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS),

dissatisfaction with his leadership has been growing

among the staff. Instead of focusing on policies

and combatting the illegal ivory trade, Leakey

has focused primarily on controlling and changing

daily operations. The finances of the parastatal

service, according to an insider, are meanwhile “in

a complete mess”.

Leakey himself is part of the animal welfare movement.

The US-based International Fund for Animal

Welfare (IFAW) has been pulling the strings in the

background for years. IFAW can even be found

listed with functions on an official, however confidential,

organizational chart of the KWS. IFAW

and similar animal rightist organizations have been

preventing the reinstatement of hunting in Kenya

for decades. During this same period, wildlife populations

have declined by three-quarters, according

to scientific surveys.

The leadership of the KWS reacted promptly to

the strike, and reshuffled all fourteen directors of

national parks and conservation areas. While KWS

Director General Kitili Mbathi spoke of routine

transfers, the Kenyan newspaper Star cited a senior

source within the Service, as saying that this was

“a classical example of running away from the root

causes of the crisis.”

rdb

MONTANA

Killing All Bighorn Sheep to

Save Them?

BIOLOGISTS CAN CALL for some drastic

approaches to managing wildlife, and when Montana

Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) recently pro-

EUROPE

European Parliament

Confirms the Role of

Sustainable Trophy Hunting

IN JULY 2016, Members of the European Parliament

(MEPs) expressed support for the EU’s proposal to

have international guidelines on the trade and traceability

of hunting trophies. At the same time, they

rejected a proposal that called for a ban on trophy

hunting and to ban the sale of hunting trophies.

The European Parliament’s Environment Committee

(ENVI) adopted a draft resolution on the EU’s

strategic objectives for a major international conference

on global wildlife trade, which will be held

in Johannesburg, South Africa in late September

and early October.

The MEPs expressed support for the EU’s proposal

that seeks to provide further reassurances

that trophy hunting is subject to sufficient control

in terms of sustainability and legality. Importantly,

Sometimes conservation calls for drastic

measures. Photo: iStockphoto.com

5


HUNTING NEWS FROM AROUND THE WORLD

posed to remove an entire sheep population, it left

several people scratching their heads. The problem

is disease. Pneumonia is endemic within the entire

population of bighorn sheep that reside in the Tendoy

Mountains, in Hunting District 315 of Montana.

There were big sheep die-offs there in 1993 and

in 1997, and although there have been attempts

to bolster the population, the outcome has never

been sufficient to help the herd. With little or no

lamb recruitment, a plan was devised to bring all

the stakeholders together to try a radical new approach.

The pneumonia problem stems from contact between

domestic sheep and goats and the wild bighorn

sheep. So, as part of this sheep-saving plan,

researchers have found strains of sheep that don’t

carry the pneumonia virus. The Wild Sheep Foundation

(WSF) and its Montana chapter, are working

with Montana FWP and several universities to

learn more about domestic sheep, and then work

with producers that share the same range as the

bighorn sheep. Having pneumonia-free domestic

sheep in the Tendoys, before bighorn sheep are

reintroduced, will hopefully give the animals a running

start.

Bighorn sheep will then be trapped from healthy

herds with robust populations and reintroduced

to the Tendoys, where the WSF will help with

radio-collar research to monitor habitat use and

identify risk factors.

The project brings together wildlife managers,

hunters, volunteers, livestock producers, and researchers.

Having all stakeholders involved means

the project has a good chance for success. ce

hit the country equally hard. The Government’s

revenues from hunting fees reflect the problem.

They decreased from US$ 24 million in 2010/2011

to US$ 11 million last season. This is very unfortunate,

as a new Tanzania Wildlife Authority (TAWA)

has recently been created. This parastatal enterprise

will take over all management functions from

the government, including the administration of

hunting. TAWA will be self-budgeting, and is therefore

dependent on hunting, as this will provide

80% of its income. It is hoped that TAWA will be

more efficient than the government, and will better

conserve the country’s wildlife areas, most of

which are not national parks, but hunting reserves

and community-based wildlife management areas,

where tourist hunting is also the major source of

revenue. The decline in hunting turnover, although

much applauded by animal rightists, will damage the

country’s ability to manage and conserve its wildlife.

This comes at a time when poaching pressure is

higher than ever.

In a separate development, the Tanzanian Government

came under fire, when it took the Lake

Natron hunting block away from the American

Friedkin Conservation Fund, and gave it to the

Green Mile Safari hunting company, owned by

Sheikh Abdullah Bin Butti, a member of the ruling

family in the United Arab Emirates. The dispute

has meanwhile even reached the White House,

and the US Government has intervened at a high

level, as presumably investment agreements have

been violated.

Part of the dispute that has become quite scandalous,

is the fact that Green Mile Safari has been

accused of violating the Wildlife Act and hunting

unethically. A film on YouTube, presumably shows

the Sheik on a shooting safari with his young son,

in a vehicle in the Green Mile Safari hunting block

of Gonabis, a wildlife management area that borders

the Selous Game Reserve. The film contains

disturbing scenes of cruelty to wild animals, including

driving over a live antelope. In the film, the

Tanzanian Wildlife Act is violated multiple times.

According to the Act, in such a case the Minister of

the Environment must withdraw the hunting block

lease. The former minister actually did just that, but

the decision was later revoked. Instead, the new

minister, in a dubious arrangement, gave Sheikh

Abdullah Bin Butti an additional hunting block.

rdb

Hunting in Tanzania has become more expensive.

Photo: iStockphoto.com

TANZANIA

New Tax on Hunting Causes

Confusion

IN A CHANGE OF fiscal policy, all services

rendered to foreign tourists in Tanzania are now

subject to the Value Added Tax (VAT) of 18%. This

includes hunting tourism, and operators will have

to increase prices correspondingly, as most are not

able to cover the tax themselves. Currently, the

problem is less the tax as such, but the fact that

it was introduced with immediate effect. All hunts

for this year, and even many hunts for next year,

were sold without the tax. Confusion reigns, and

this damages an industry that is already facing crisis.

Poaching has hit many protected areas hard, and

legally shootable elephants have become rare. The

import bans for elephant tusks and lions from Tanzania,

which some countries have imposed, have

6 | Hunter´s Path 3/2016


Game birds are big money in the United States.

Photo: iStockphoto.com

UNITED STATES

Economic Impact of America’s Game Bird Industry

NEW RESEARCH THAT MEASURES the impact

of America’s game bird farms and hunting preserves,

reveals that the industry contributes

nearly $1.7 billion annually to the U.S. economy.

The research also shows that the industry plays

a vital role in providing hunting opportunities and

creating wildlife habitat.

Findings on the industry’s social and economic

benefits come from the study “Economic Impact

of the Gamebird Industry,” which was funded by

the National Shooting Sports Foundation for the

North American Gamebird Association (NAGA).

The research was conducted by Southwick Associates,

a leading research firm on outdoor recreation,

and presented by founder Rob Southwick

at NAGA’s annual convention in Orlando,

Florida. While actual expenditures by game bird

facilities are estimated at just over $634 million,

Southwick explained that the U.S. Department

of Commerce models reveal these dollars actually

create a $1.7 billion annual impact, when the

purchasing power of the recipients of the initial

funds are considered.

The study also found that hunting preserves and

game bird producers annually account for more

than $500 million in wages, supporting nearly

12,000 jobs and contributing $188 million in state,

local and federal tax revenues. Collectively, the

game bird industry supports a wide variety of

other businesses, annually spending nearly $200

million on feed, $51 million on buildings, vehicles

and other capital expenses, $14 million on veterinary

services and $3 million on kennel operations.

NAGA president Fuzzy Stock said, “Quantifying

what we mean to the economy is a great help,

when defending game bird farming to legislators,

agriculture officials and the media”. “We create

important jobs, especially in rural areas, which

tend to be economically depressed during tough

times.”

“The hardworking men and women that make up

the game bird industry have long assisted state

wildlife agencies in meeting demand during downturns

in natural production,” said Kelly Hepler,

secretary of the South Dakota Department of

Game, Fish and Parks. “The industry is an important

partner in keeping the North American

model of wildlife conservation moving.” Ringnecked

pheasants are the main driver of the

industry, garnering two-thirds of the species

hatched by producers, followed by quail, which

make up a quarter of the hatch. Game bird farms

produce millions of birds each year. ce

7


ILLUSTRATION – HANS LAKOMY

8 | Hunter´s Path 3/2016


Flying Buffet

9


Great Britain

Chinese

Water Deer

Hunting in

Norfolk

Text: Selena Barr · Photos: Tweed Media


12 | Hunter´s Path 3/2016


Top: The Norfolk Broads are a long

way from China, but they provide

ideal habitat for Chinese water deer.

Bottom: Finding the exact right cull

animal can require a lot of patience.

The county of Norfolk is

known for a number of distinctive

characteristics: a lack

of motorways, flat topography,

the local dialect, water reeds and best

of all – one of the world’s most important

populations of Chinese water deer. With

their elongated canines, ‘vampire deer’ love

the lush riparian and swampy habitat provided

by the dense reed beds of the Broads.

Having already hunted Britain’s five

other deer species, this diminutive antlerless

species was next on my bucket list.

However, finding a representative male

(with tusks measuring approximately 7.5

cm.), at the very end of the hunting season

in late March, when the rut is truly over,

was going to be extremely tricky. “It’ll be

like looking for a needle in a proverbial

haystack,” explained Chris Rogers, the deer

manager on Euston Estate, adding: “The

bucks have served their purpose so are now

chilling out, ruminating in the reeds.” Oh

goody, I like a challenge.

In its native East Asia, Chinese water

deer numbers are declining, and they are

currently classified by the International

Union for Conservation of Nature as ‘vulnerable’.

In England they are thriving, however.

This non-native species was originally

introduced to Woburn Park in Bedfordshire

at the end of the nineteenth century.

Escapees and deliberate releases resulted

in the current wild population, thought to

be around 2,100, which is ten percent of

the entire global population. To this end,

Euston Estate culls just five trophy bucks

and a small handful of does each season,

in order to keep the population healthy

and their impact to a minimum. Unlike

Britain’s other deer species, which eat crops

or nibble tree saplings, Chinese water deer

have little negative environmental impact.

They tend to just graze grass, and are rarely

the subject of negative headlines.

After checking my rifle’s zero on a

reactive steel target on the estate’s range,

Chris and I headed off to the marshes in

search of our quarry. Despite not having

hunted for a few months since the birth

of my baby daughter, I left the range feeling

confident. Like all good guides, Chris

has an unhurried, calm approach to rifle

shooting and hunting, which helps steady

the nerves when one is feeling a tad rusty.

The legal minimum calibre for hunting

Chinese water deer is a .22 centrefire rifle,

which means a soft or hollow-point bullet

of no less than 50-gr, and a muzzle energy

of not less than 1,000 ft/lb energy. I opted

for my favourite failsafe combination of

.308 calibre and 150-gr ammunition.

To hunt these diminutive deer, you’ll

need pale-coloured hunting attire to help

you blend into the fawn-coloured reeds,

pale green bulrushes and watery meadows.

The prehistoric-looking species has a reputation

for being an “easy hunt”, due to the

flat topography of its habitat compared to

other species of British deer. Of course, this

is totally subjective, but I always like to feel

challenged when hunting. So I asked Chris

to take me for a lengthy stalk and not to

stop hunting until we found the exact beast

that met his cull plan.

When the waterways and canals were

originally created, I bet the engineers never

stopped to think what great backstops the

sloping banks would make for hunters.

Their forty-five-degree angles make ideal

bullet catchers (in the unlikely event of a

miss), plus they conveniently elevate the

Chinese water deer above the reed-line,

making them far easier to spot. The Broads

were teaming with wildlife. Hunting at

dusk around the spring equinox meant the

deafening chorus of waders and songbirds

made for a cheery backdrop. The red setting

sun glistened on the lakes and canals, as the

waterfowl noisily chatted before bed. Chris

and I stealthily walked along abandoned

footpaths, stopping to glass the reeds with

binoculars. True to Chris’ word, we spotted

numerous tuskless does, but zero bucks.

“The only way to tell the sex of a Chinese

water deer is to look for tusks through a

high magnification spotting scope. Unlike

antlered deer species, it is much trickier to

tell the bucks from the does, as they tend

to have similar body weights and heights.”

To tell an old buck from a youngster, Chris

says the key is to study the ears. “The biggest

giveaway is torn ears from territorial

fighting,” he revealed, adding, “Despite

their teddy-bear-like appearance, they can

be quite aggressive with one another.”

13


Top left: Chris’ young Bavarian mountain hound,

Capra, was bred by Selena.

Top right: Chinese water deer are a diminutive

species and have tiny slots.

Bottom: The Chinese water deer’s appearance

is said to be ‘teddy bear’ like.

14 | Hunter´s Path 3/2016


Chinese water deer always

shed a lot of pins on impact.

15


16 | Hunter´s Path 3/2016


Top left: Selena used this fence

post to steady her rifle.

Bottom left: Many hands make

light work. Selena and Chris set

about gralloching the buck.

Right: Incredible tusks of

Selena’s buck.

By now, the hunting ground was

teaming with grazing does on the open

meadows. We slowly stalked the edges,

carefully trying to sex each beast. “Tonight

seems to be ladies night,” quipped

Chris. “I did explain before we set out that

the bucks might be laid up.” As darkness

fell, we gave up and headed back to Chris’

house for some supper and much needed

sleep. The following morning we left the

house in darkness at 4:00 am for another

attempt. Within minutes of stepping out,

Chris had spotted tusks. Too young, however.

No matter, we continued our stalk.

The does were obviously having a lie-in,

as the bucks were out in full force. This

time the beast in the spotting scope was

the right age. His tusks hung down from

his jaw like scimitars. The buck lifted its

head to survey the field for danger. Luckily

we were obscured by a gate post. I rested

the rifle’s forend on the fence and lay in

the prone position. Without hesitating, I

lined up the crosshairs and immediately

dispatched the buck with a clean heart

shot. Dressed out, the buck provided eleven

kilograms of delicious venison. Back home,

that buck will feed my family for a few

months. The venison is exquisite. The animals

develop a thick layer of fat, like lamb,

when the grazing is good.

In recent months, the international

media has been loudly debating whether

hunting is actually an integral part of conservation.

The example of Chinese water

deer could not give a clearer picture of

how the two really do go hand in hand.

In their native East Asia, where numbers

are seriously dwindling, it is not possible

to hunt them. In fact, all sport hunting is

banned. Therefore the species has little economic

value to the Chinese and Korean

locals. Despite the species being endangered,

Chinese water deer are treated as

agricultural pests in some areas. They also

have to deal with being poached, habitat

destruction, and they are illegally hunted

for the semi-digested milk found in the

stomachs of unweaned fawns, which is used

in traditional medicine. No proper care is

taken to manage the population, it is just

a free-for-all. Eventually, the inevitable

will happen: they will become extinct in

Asia. Here in the UK, where it is legal to

hunt Chinese water deer, landowners have

an incentive to keep populations healthy.

They are thriving. I feel pleased and proud

that conscientious British hunters are the

caretakers of this unusual species, and hope

that they continue to flourish here. It may

be a bitter pill for some to swallow, but

trophy hunting is a fantastic bedfellow to

conservation.

For me, hunting is about harvesting

organic, wild meat – medal-class trophies

are never my sole goal. That said, if a gold

medal walked into my crosshairs and was

part of the estate’s management plan, then

I would not hesitate to squeeze the trigger.

But as a general rule, the sex and size of the

beast is immaterial. Like it or not, hunting

plays a tangible role when it comes to

safeguarding vulnerable species around the

world, and the Chinese water deer story

is one such example. I am proud to be a

hunter and one day hope the rest of Britain’s

meat-eaters will open their eyes to the

benefits of deer management. •

17


18 | Hunter´s Path 3/2016


KIT BOX

• Sauer 404 Artemis in .308

www.sauer.de

• Hornady Superformance SST

150-gr ammunition

www.edgarbrothers.com

• Leica Magnus 1.8-12x50 riflescope

www.leica-sportoptics.com

• Leica APO-Televid 82 spotting scope

www.leica-sportoptics.com

• Leica Geovid 10x42 HD-B rangefinding

binoculars

www.leica-sportoptics.com

• Swazi Tahr XP Anorak

www.swazi.co.nz

• Swazi tough Kevlar-blend Ali-Gaiters

www.swazi.co.nz

Fact BOX

• Latin name: Hydropotes inermis

• Open season for bucks and does:

1 November to 31 March

• Rut: November/December

• Height: 50-55cm

• Weight: 11-18kg

Contact

Hunting a representative male Chinese

water deer on Euston Estate costs £800.

For more information, email:

eustondeerhunting@yahoo.co.uk

19


CONSERVATION

Conservation: Opinion

Cecil the Lion – The Truth

A little more than a year ago, on July 2, 2015, an American dentist shot a very old lion in Zimbabwe. The

animal was wearing a collar with a radio transmitter, like many lions from the area. Researchers from the

University of Oxford had given him the name ‘Cecil’ for their purposes. This was catchier than its research

code MAGM1, and it ultimately helped to facilitate the campaign that was soon to follow.

Text: Dr. Rolf D. Baldus

Photos: Philippe Chardonnet/International Foundation for the Conservation of Wildlife


Without Hunting Cecil Would

Have Never Been Born

The shooting of a lion in the unfenced

Gwaai Conservancy near the Hwange National

Park was not unusual. Sixty-five lions,

forty-five of them with collars, have been

shot there in the past sixteen years. In addition

to the national parks in Zimbabwe,

there are many private and state reserves

where sustainable hunting has replaced the

more environmentally damaging practice of

cattle grazing. Without hunting, Cecil would

probably never have been born. Instead, his

grandfather and all of his relatives most likely

would have been shot or poisoned to protect

cattle, as is unfortunately common practice

in many African countries. Peter Johnstone,

one of the pioneers of hunting tourism in

Zimbabwe, who converted his cattle farm

to hunting in 1969, told me that “For years

I spent a lot of money having lions killed

in order to protect my cows. Now I make

money by conserving them and other game,

and occasionally by allowing a guest hunter

to shoot an old lion.” Hunting tourism has

proven itself effective, and is ecotourism in

its true sense, which not only protects lions,

but also natural wilderness habitats.

Hunting opponents declared Cecil ‘Africa’s

favorite lion’, even though up to that

point he was only known to a few researchers

and a very few tourists. Zimbabwe’s

political situation has made tourism a rare

commodity. With obviously strategic thinking,

anti-hunting organizations unleashed a

never-before-seen and unparalleled media

campaign. They claimed falsely, as British lion

researchers have since clearly dispelled, that

the lion had been lured by the hunters with

bait from the national park. US talk show

hosts berated the dentist with rude names.

PETA demanded that he should be hanged.

He received death threats and had to go

into hiding. Worldwide, at the peak of the

controversy, there were up to 12,000 articles

daily in editorial media. Social networks

overflowed with emotional comments and

pure hatred. The media and the public were

presented with intentional misinformation.

“We knew immediately that many ‘facts’

were completely fabricated, but no one

wanted to hear about it,” said an embittered

Zimbabwean wildlife expert, with thirty years

of experience.

The Lion Was Killed Legally

We now know that the hunting and killing

of collared lions is essentially legal. Legally

objectionable in this case – so the current

understanding – are only minor offenses.

For example, a state game warden should

have been present on the hunt. A criminal

case against those involved has not yet been

opened, and it seems unlikely that it will.

From a conservation perspective, the killing

of the animal was not objectionable. The

lion was thirteen years old, and his removal

affected the population more positively

than negatively. The lion researcher and

anti-hunter, Craig Packer, has scientifically

proven that the social structure and reproduction

cycle are not damaged when lions

older than six years are killed. In Tanzania

for example, every lion killed is examined

by independent scientists to verify its age.

If it is too young, the professional hunter is

held responsible.

Even though the lion was collared for

research purposes, did not speak against

shooting it. The purpose of the research

project, among other things, was specifically

to examine the impact of trophy hunting

on lion populations, so as to make hunting

more sustainable. In Zimbabwe in general,

hunting licenses may be transferred under

certain conditions from one area to another.

Whether this aspect was handled correctly

in this case, is controversial, even in Harare,

and probably can only be clarified in court

proceedings. That the professional hunter

and his client threw away the collar transmitter

and did not turn it in, speaks of a bad

conscience and of unprofessional behavior.

The professional hunter involved was not a

member of Zimbabwe’s professional hunters’

association, which is not a good sign. Therefore,

the events have left a bad aftertaste in

most hunters’ mouths. Bowhunting late at

night with an artificial light, regardless of the

legality, does not fit my understanding of ethical

hunting. According to the scientists from

Oxford, the lion died the following morning

about 250 meters from the spot where it

was initially shot. There are indeed inconsistencies

and unanswered questions about

this hunt that, as we so often see, are and can

be easily used by anti-hunters to denigrate

hunting in all of Africa, and reach far beyond

this individual occurrence.

Anti-hunters Earned Millions

from This ‘Scandal’

As one consequence of this affair, a number

of airlines will no longer transport hunting

trophies from Africa. France and the Netherlands

have, on the same grounds, banned

the import of lion and other hunting trophies

from Africa and have started a campaign for

a complete ban on hunting in Africa. The US

has also limited and made imports of hunting

21


CONSERVATION

to better protect its lions. In a joint communiqué, priority actions for

lion protection were agreed upon. These actions include: involving

local inhabitants and the better sharing of the revenues from tourism

and hunting with them; resolving conflicts between pastoralists and

lions; and improving the management of protected areas and combating

poaching. Restrictions on lion hunting or hunting bans were

not included on the priority list.

It’s time to acknowledge and respect Africa’s opinion on this topic.

Instead, so-called animal rights activists from Europe and America

pretend to know exactly what Africa needs. Obviously, they are convinced

that Africans themselves are not able or prepared to manage

their own wildlife. I call this an arrogant and racist attitude. Hunting

opponents and their friends in the EU environment ministries want

to decide, in a neo-colonial manner, what is good for the continent,

its people, and its wildlife, over the heads of Africans.

Tweets Don’t Help Lions

trophies more difficult. For the next CITES General Assembly, the EU

Commission has proposed extensive bureaucratic constraints that

could choke off hunting. In several countries in Africa, the number of

hunting tourists has already fallen drastically, and hunting revenues

have decreased. Various conservation administrations now lack the

resources for the urgent fight against poaching. For the animal rights

activists, however, the campaign has caused millions of dollars to flood

into their bank accounts. Even the Oxford lion researchers took in

more than a million euros in unsolicited donations. Coincidentally,

it is reported from African nature reserves that hardly any of the

money from the so-called animal rights activists actually arrived in

Africa or is being used for meaningful conservation work.

Clever public relations professionals staged the perfect storm,

that could wash away both hunting tourism and conservation in

Africa. And, the truth has been left by the wayside.

Africa Speaks

On June 1, 2016 at a Lion Range meeting organized by CITES and

the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild

Animals (CMS), twenty-eight African countries, and thus virtually all

with lion populations, released a very carefully worded declaration. It

stated that well-organized hunting can contribute to the protection

of lions, that hunting quotas must be determined scientifically, that

the social rank, age and sex of the animals have to be considered, and

that bans on the imports of trophies can harm stable lion populations.

One can imagine what effort was involved in the formulation of this

declaration, because only in a minority of these countries are lions

actually hunted. It was recognized that the primary cause for the

decline in lion populations is the loss of habitat. Also acknowledged

was that snaring and poisoning lions as acts of revenge, after they

have killed humans or livestock, play a large role as well. CITES and

CMS, the organizers of the meeting in Entebbe, Uganda, even spoke

of the historical achievement of Africa agreeing on the way forward

What have the many hundred thousand people who raised their

voices for Cecil last year on social networks actually done for the

protection of lions? Expressed simply, nothing. According to the New

York Times (July 1, 2016), tweets do nothing at all to help lions. And

even worse, the tweeters have no idea at all on how to even begin

to help conserve lions.

They differ in no way from the political demagogues of the European

populist parties, or even many of the Brexit supporters,

who only know that they are against something, without knowing

the basic facts of the matter. Jürgen Kaube, in a commentary in the

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, speaks of populist politicians who are

“planlessly against something”, whose speeches are long when they

enumerate everything they are against, but that don’t have much

to say when they are asked to list concrete ways and means to

implement effective changes. Green animal rights populists behave

exactly the same way. They tweet hate and threats against hunting,

hunters, and wildlife managers but haven’t a single proposal on how

the complex issues of the conservation of lion and other wild animals

of Africa could be solved.

Lions in those countries where they are sustainably hunted are

doing much better than in countries where they are completely

protected on paper. Acreage devoted to hunting far exceeds that set

aside for national parks. If hunting tourism were forbidden, these vast

stretches of land would be lost for conservation purposes. In Namibia,

South Africa, and Zimbabwe alone, thirty million animals could

disappear, and with them hundreds of thousands of jobs. Whoever

wants to eliminate sustainable hunting tourism in Africa to ‘save’ a

few individual animals from premature death, is actually calling for a

death sentence for millions of wild animals.

Hunting is not the universal remedy for the conservation of all

wild animals and wild places in Africa. If it is sustainably utilized it

can however play an important role in conservation. Therefore my

advice to readers: Go to Africa and experience a quality African

hunting adventure with a reputable outfitter. By doing this you will

be helping both conservation in general and our African partners.



22 | Hunter´s Path 3/2016


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23


ALASKA: DALL SHEEP

Nothing Is Easy

IN SHEEP COUNTRY

TEXT AND PHOTOS: BILLY MOLLS


Beneath an endless blue sky, Alaska’s vast Brooks Range was blanketed with nearly a foot

of heavy, wet snow. Bright sunshine reflected off the steep white slopes in every direction.

The sun’s warmth and energy radiated into the hunter, as he lay in the snow atop an

unnamed saddle, in the very heart of this wilderness. Physically, emotionally, and

mentally exhausted, the moment he had dreamt of his entire life, and had

worked so tirelessly for was at hand...

The author has enjoyed many successful

sheep hunts after snowstorms. Rams will

often travel many miles to south-facing

slopes, wind-swept mountain faces,

willow creek bottoms, and other areas

that offer easier feeding.


Meeting

“Someday, I hope to go after one of those,”

the man beamed, pointing to a picture behind

me. “They’re such beautiful animals,

and the country they live in looks so amazing.”

As the daydreamer continued to study

my display, his contagious smile kept growing

wider. “I’d love to go to Alaska just to

see one of those big old rams perched up

on a mountain.” I stood up, offered a handshake,

and introduced myself. He replied,

“Good to meet you, Billy. Mike Rhoades”.

As the floor of the convention hall grew

more congested, I handed him a photo

album filled with photos from past Dall

sheep hunts. “Come on back,” I grinned,

motioning for him to join me inside my

tiny display area. As Mike poured over the

pictures, he told me about himself, and I

quickly took a liking to him. The blue-collar

worker and fellow ‘cheesehead’ (a term

that refers to people from Wisconsin, the

cheese capitol of America), was good-natured

and easy to talk to. “I need to save

my pennies and get back into shape,” he

explained. “My back’s all messed up. I’m

not sure if I’d ever be able to climb those

mountains.” Having spoken with many

sportsmen over the years who yearn to hunt

in Alaska, Mike’s story wasn’t unusual. The

spark was in him, but I wasn’t sure if he

had the willingness to fan that ember into

a fire. He purchased every DVD of mine

that involved Dall sheep hunting, thanked

me for my time, and went on his way.

Over the next few years I kept noticing

the name of Mike Rhoades appearing on

purchase orders for my videos. Finally one

day, Mike called me. “Well, I’ve saved up

enough money, so I guess it’s now or never.

If you’re willing to guide me, I’m ready to

give it a shot.” Mike was happy to wait

almost two years until my next available

slot. “That’ll just give me that much more

time to dream about it and get in sheep

shape,” he asserted.

Arrival

After booking the hunt we spoke several

times over the phone, but I didn’t see Mike

again until one mid-August evening at our

base camp, eighty miles south of the Arctic

Ocean. Having just come off a grueling

sheep/caribou combination hunt that

went the full ten days, my enthusiasm and

physical well-being were lackluster at best.

However, Mike’s infectious smile instantly

elevated my spirits. “Hey, Billy! Good to

see you!” he beamed, as we shook hands.

Dressed entirely in hunting clothes and

much slimmer than I remembered him,

Mike indeed looked like a true sheep

hunter. “Sounds like your last hunt was

pretty tough.” “Good to see you, Mike!

Yeah, it was brutal. I’ve never put so many

miles in on one hunt,” I replied. “Dang, I

hardly recognized you. You look like you’ve

been doing some training!” “I lost seventy

pounds. I haven’t been this weight or in

this good of shape since I got out of boot

camp. I guess we’ll soon find out if it is

enough,” he smiled. “You’ll do just fine,”

I assured him. “I’ll get our camp together

tonight and we’ll fly into the mountains

tomorrow.” “Sounds great,” Mike nodded.

We woke the next morning engulfed in

fog. By early afternoon the sun and wind

had done their job, and it was time for me

to do mine. Jake, the pilot, and I stuffed

my gear and camp in the Super Cub and

we lit for the mountains. Snow flurries almost

forced us to turn around in a couple

of high-mountain passes, but the seasoned

bush pilot managed to sneak through, and

set me down in sheep country. “I don’t

know if I’ll make it back in here today,”

said Jake after we unloaded the plane. “If

26 | Hunter´s Path 3/2016


A journal ensures

the details of an

adventure won’t

be forgotten.

A quality lightweight tent is

essential for success, not to

mention survival, in Alaska’s

harsh climate.

not, tomorrow looks flyable.” With that, he

lifted off and disappeared into the snowy

distance.

With everything set up, I was carrying

water back to camp when I heard the

distant drone of the Super Cub. I dropped

ten gallons of fresh spring water next to

my tent just in time to film a smooth

landing. Mike’s smile barely fit through

the small aircraft’s door. He stepped clear

of the wing and surveyed the surrounding

mountain peaks. “Finally!” he exhaled, with

outstretched arms.

Jake and I quickly unloaded the plane.

He wished us luck and crawled back into

the cockpit. As the engine roared and the

tires bounced, Mike was taking pictures. In

seconds the plane was airborne and fading

into the distance. “Just riding in one of

those planes is an adventure in itself,” my

client grinned.

Mike wandered around camp marveling

at the beauty of the place, as I relaxed

and cooked some leftover sheep steaks. “I’m

actually here,” he beamed. “I’ve dreamed of

this for so long, and to actually be standing

here is unbelievable.”

As Mike and I talked during our meal,

there was no doubt we were going to enjoy

our time together. It would be my pleasure

to guide someone so genuine and downto-earth.

I asked him, “So what made you

finally pull the trigger on this hunt?” “It

was Barry Barton,” said Mike without

hesitation (referring to a client I guided

a few years earlier). “After watching your

video with him and hearing the story of

how he couldn’t walk without hand canes,

and then after a double-knee replacement,

came out here and took a beautiful ram--I

asked myself what my excuse was.” “That’s

awesome,” I replied. “I’m guiding Barry on

another moose hunt in September. I’ll be

sure to tell him that.” “I’d be honored to

meet him someday,” Mike noted. “I hope I

can do his inspiration justice on this hunt.”

After several pans of fried steak and

a cup of hot tea, sunset brought a cool

autumn chill. With a full belly and weary

bones after my last hunt, I was ready for

bed. “We’ll get up at four,” I said. “If it’s

clear we’ll head out.” “You go right ahead,”

Mike approved. “I think I’m going to soak

this up a little bit longer.”

27


Mike Rhoades high atop the Brooks Range.

I woke feeling refreshed. “Did you get any sleep?” I smiled

sipping coffee, knowing full well he was too excited to have rested.

“Not really,” he jested, crawling out from our frosty tent.

Shortly after five we were on the trail with a light camp on

our backs. Taking advantage of the nice weather, we covered an

eighteen-mile loop I had budgeted two days for. We stumbled

back into camp at eleven that night. We saw several ewes and

lambs, and a few rams, but none were legal. “I don’t think sleep is

going to be an issue tonight,” Mike chuckled, wolfing down his

freeze-dried dinner.

We slept in the next morning and loaded a four-day outfit.

Hours later, not long after bumping into an oversized grizzly in a

creek bottom, I spotted a lone ram in the distance. He was several

miles away and heat waves distorted our view, so we hiked a mile

closer to get a better look. I watched him for some time before he

disappeared over a ridge. “I’m ninety-five percent sure he’s not legal,”

I sighed. “But with the mirage and the distance between us, the only

way we’ll know for sure is to climb up there and find him again.”

“You’re the boss,” Mike added. “I won’t be fast, but I’ll get there.”

Four laborious hours later, and three hundred yards from the

ram, my suspicion was confirmed. He was no more than seven

years old, with a 15/16th’s curl. We were both disappointed, but

satisfied by our effort. “At least now we know,” Mike smiled. “It

was a great stalk. We just need to find one a little bit older.”

It was a long descent off the mountain. We arrived at our spike

camp after midnight. As I boiled water for dinner, Mike tended

to his feet with moleskin and athletic tape. “You might have to

carry me to the plane eight days from now, but I’ll wear my feet

to the bone before I’ll quit,” he assured me.

Neither of us was disappointed when we woke to dense fog at

five the next morning. Our bodies needed rest. Later that morning

we were up, and waiting for the visibility to improve. I called base

camp to check-in. Mike overheard my conversation, and he knew

it was good news. “Bobby finished guiding his caribou hunt a

couple of days ago, so he’s been scouting for sheep. He has found

two big rams not far from his camp,” I said through a smile. “If the

weather breaks this afternoon, they’ll move us over to his camp,

about twenty miles from here.”

The Move

Shortly before dusk, we were setting up our tent next to Bobby’s

as he fried three giant caribou cheeseburgers. “The biggest one’s

two inches past full curl,” my young, fellow guide and rough-cut

woodsman swore. “I spotted them last night right from camp

and then found them again this morning before the fog covered

them up.” As we devoured the delicious protein, Bobby continued

to enthuse us with more details about the rams he had seen.

28 | Hunter´s Path 3/2016


Mike takes a well-deserved break while searching for

the rams Bobby spotted the day before.

“They both have real dark horns, and lots

of mass. They’re old rams. I’ll take you right

to where they were last seen. We’re going

to get them. I guarantee it!”

In my humble experience as a guide and

hunter, I’ve come to learn that ‘guarantees’,

‘no-brainers’, and ‘sure-things’ usually lead to

dead ends, goat ropes, and chasing the wind,

but nevertheless, I loved Bobby’s confidence.

We were all excited for the next day.

It was still dark when I started coffee.

We ate breakfast and started out under a

thin layer of morning fog. By nine the skies

had cleared and we were looking into the

basin where Bobby last saw the rams. “They

were right there, 280 yards away, feeding,”

he explained. “The wind was in my face,

so I know they didn’t wind me.” We spent

the entire day unveiling every draw, ridge,

basin, and bowl within two miles. What

we discovered was a pile of fresh scat and

a few fresh tracks.

The following day we broadened our

search area. All we found was shale rock.

Morale was low as we hiked to camp that

night. Mike admitted he was physically

and mentally spent. “You’re not eating and

drinking enough,” I told him. “I’ll cook a

big dinner tonight. You need to eat as many

calories and drink as much water as you

can. You’re doing great, but we’re only halfway

through.”

After a huge meal and quart after

quart of Gatorade, we discussed our options.

“This country looks like Afghanistan.

There’s not enough food around here to

hold sheep for very long, but there’s one

more drainage we should check. Tomorrow

morning I think we should load up

enough food for the remainder of the hunt,

hike up there, and if we don’t find them,

we abandon this area. From there, it’s about

an eight-mile hike to get into some good

country that I know like the back of my

hand. I know it’s a long way to go, but I

have had a lot of guys take good rams in

that area over the years.” Mike grinned and

nodded. He was rehydrated and refueled.

I could see the rejuvenation in his face

and hear it in his tone. “That sounds good.

Right now we’re chasing shadows. Let’s do

what we have to, to get to proven ground.”

The next morning we said goodbye to

Bobby, as he had to fly out to go on a bear

hunt in another area. Six miles later we

found ourselves in prime sheep country.

We cut fresh droppings and two sets of

tracks leading into an adjacent drainage.

“I’ll bet that’s them. Where they went is

out of our hunting area. We’ve been at least

twenty-four hours behind them this whole

time. Best thing we can do now is to forget

about them and move on.”

We climbed up to a pass and stopped

to glass. Storm clouds billowed over the

Continental Divide. Rain began to fall. We

donned our rain gear and marched down

the mountain in search of fresh country.

The rain soon turned to snow and visibility

was lost. We hiked several miles in blinding

snow. Luckily we were awarded a brief reprieve,

and I was able to navigate by a few

29


familiar landmarks. Before nightfall, we

were exhausted, but nestled in our tent at

a camp where my clients had taken numerous

rams over the years. Mike and I hoped

we could find just one more.

A Ram

With temperatures well below freezing,

snowfall continued the next day. Curled

in our sleeping bags we read our books,

Mike wrote in his journal, we ate, drank

a lot of water, and rested as best we could.

The following day dawned clear and

cold. Everything was white. We purposely

waited for the sun to come out before

striking out. “We want to be sure the rams

will be on their feet before we go stomping

around in these narrow drainages,” I

explained. “When it’s snowy like this you’ll

usually see tracks before you see the sheep.”

By nine we were breaking a trail.

While I had planned on being conservative

and hiking up a wide drainage to

the east, where I’d seen sheep in the past,

my gut told me to go west, up and over

a saddle into a tight canyon that I knew

to be a regular ram hangout. Being at a

severe disadvantage with the snow camouflaging

any potential sheep, we would

need some luck. “Let’s take our time and

move slow,” I said as we approached the

saddle. The sunshine was welcome on our

frozen faces, but with so much snow reflecting

the light, it was all but impossible

to see. “They could be anywhere in here.

If they see us before we see them, they’ll

be gone for good.”

Not long after cresting the low pass, I

panned my binoculars across the white hillsides.

“Big ram!” I gasped, while dropping

into a knee-deep snowdrift. Mike dropped

down too, but having not seen a sheep in

five days, he was in disbelief. “Are you serious?

Don’t joke with me right now!” “Yes.

He’s about five hundred yards in front of

us,” I whispered. “Stay low and follow right

behind me.” Mike and I backtracked out of

the ram’s sight and moved forward to find

a decent shooting position.

“He’s feeding toward us… three hundred

twenty-five yards. Take off your pack.”

30 | Hunter´s Path 3/2016


Top left: Billy glasses a band of young

rams on the first day of the hunt.

Left: To be a legal ram in Alaska, the

horns must be ‘full curl’, broken on both

sides, or the ram must be at least eight

years old. This ram was close, but upon

stalking to within three hundred yards,

the hunters realized it was not a legal

sheep.

Top right: After more than eighty

grueling miles, guide, Billy Molls(l) and

hunter Mike Rhoades are happy to pose

with Mike’s ten-year-old ram.

Mike eased ahead to set up for the shot.

“Oh, he’s a big ram, Billy!” “Don’t worry

about the horns. Just get comfortable and

steady,” I reminded him. Just then the ram

came to full attention. It was late morning.

We were positioned on top of a cold,

snowy mountain pass with a sweltering sun

above; the thermals were blowing in every

direction imaginable. “He’s got our wind.

Stay on him.”

For the next several minutes we waited

as the ram stood still as a statue, quartering

uphill and toward us. “He needs to take a

couple of steps uphill, or I’m afraid I’ll hit

this berm in front of us,” Mike lamented.

Finally the ram took a couple of nervous

steps forward. “If he’s clear in your scope

take him in the shoulder,” I said. “Boom!”

Snow and dirt flew up thirty yards in front

of us. The ram chugged uphill before turning

to run away. “Reload!” I ordered. “Get

set and wait for him to stop.” Unsure of

what had happened, the ram stopped and

turned to look back. “Three-fifty. Take a

breath, pick a hair, and squeeze it slow.”

“Boom!” The ram collapsed. Hooves flew

in the air as he rolled out of sight.

“He’s down!” Mike shouted. “You got

him!” We both got up from the deep snow

and collided like sumo wrestlers. “You

earned that ram buddy. Congratulations!”

“We did it! I can’t believe we did it!” Mike

cheered.

Regaining our composure, we reflected

on all the events of the hunt. We

were physically and mentally exhausted.

“I have to admit Billy, lying in that tent

all day yesterday, I was starting to have my

doubts,” my client divulged. “To be standing

here right now and know that we have

a big ram down in the snow over there, it’s

unreal. We earned that ram, Billy. I couldn’t

31


e happier. I’m glad it happened the way it

did.” “This is exactly what sheep hunting is

all about; never quitting. You have to keep

climbing one more mountain and if that

doesn’t work, you climb another,” I asserted.

“The fact that you’re tested and challenged

over and over again is what makes it so

satisfying when it all comes together.” “I

wasn’t sure we were going to get a ram,

but I made my mind up on day five, when

you told me I wasn’t eating and drinking

enough, that no matter what I wasn’t going

to quit. I needed that kick in the ass, so

thank you!” he smiled.

We gathered our gear and made the

joyful trek up to the ram. We found him

wedged against a boulder. “Oh, he’s beautiful!”

Mike beamed. “Dark horns, good

mass, and a little bit of flare on his tips. He’s

everything I hoped for.” As we continued

to admire the ram, Mike asked. “Do you

have your satellite phone with you?” “Yeah.

You want to use it?” “If you don’t mind, I’d

like to call my dad. He was diagnosed with

cancer a couple of years ago. He knows

how much this hunt meant to me. He was

the one who always encouraged me, and I

wasn’t always sure he’d be around to see me

do this,” Mike revealed. “I’d love to share

this moment with him.” Before he finished

explaining I had already handed him the

phone. “Take as much time as you need,”

I smiled. “Dad,” Mike’s face was glowing

as tears welled in his eyes. “We have a big

ram down!”

Top and middle: The bear that came

into camp. Fortunately, the pilots were

able to come pick the hunters up that

morning. The brazen grizzly watched

from nearby bushes as they loaded the

planes and took off.

Bottom: Super Cub takes off from the

hunters’ original camp.

32 | Hunter´s Path 3/2016


A Grizzly

It was dark by the time we got back to

camp that night. We hung the hide and

meat in a willow bush by our tent. “Tomorrow

we’ll build a fire and eat some sheep

ribs,” I promised.

The next morning I woke and stepped

outside, to find a grizzly thirty yards from

our tent, tearing into a bag of our sheep

meat! I grabbed my pistol and Mike his

rifle, and we raced from the tent, shouting

at the bear. The grizzly took off with the

bag in his mouth. Pieces of meat fell out as

he fled. Following his tracks in the snow,

we found everything but the tenderloins

and half of a hindquarter. Within minutes

the bear returned to reclaim what he felt

was his.

We fired shots over the young grizzly’s

head, but that didn’t faze him. I ran

for my phone and called base camp. “We

got a bear in camp and he won’t leave us

alone,” I explained in a direct tone. “It’s

clear blue up here, you’d better come pick

us up as soon as you can, or we’re going to

have problems.” Fortunately, the weather

was also flyable at base camp and the pilots

were just warming up their planes.

I hung up the phone. “Keep an eye on

him. They said they’ll be here in forty-five

minutes,” I shouted to Mike, who was

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watching the hungry bear through his

riflescope.

Grabbing our yellow, inflatable sleeping

pads from the tent, I walked towards the

grizzly, which was standing on the runway.

“The pilots have never landed here,” I

explained to Mike. “I need to put these at

the ends of the strip so they know where

to land.”

As I approached with the six-foot-long

bedrolls flopping in the breeze, the grizzly

appeared nervous for the first time. I waved

them wildly in the air and charged directly

at the bear. Luckily, our unwelcome visitor

retreated, which gave me an idea. “Mike,

grab the tarp we used to cover the meat

last night and wave it in the air.” Mike

retrieved the six-by-eight-foot blue tarp

and shook it in the air. The bear became

increasingly nervous, but he wouldn’t leave.

“He’s way more scared of these than he is

of our guns!” Mike joked.

Soon the grizzly worked up the courage

to come back to our camp, and he began to

circle us. “I hope they get here quickly,” I

sighed as we backed into camp. Not long

after, two Super Cubs rounded the bend.

I hailed them on my air-to-ground radio.

“We’re at your two-o’clock, about a mile or

two out.” “Yep. Got you in sight,” replied

the pilot.” “Wind’s blowing five miles an

hour down valley. There’s a yellow sleeping

pad at either end, and we’ve got a grizzly

bear with us in camp that’s going to watch

you land, so don’t get nervous,” I joked.

“Okay,” he chuckled. “I’ll try to impress

him.”

As the first plane approached to land,

the bear became nervous and sauntered off

into some nearby bushes. With both pilots

on the ground, Mike and I were finally able

to pack our belongings. As we scrambled

to get our gear together, the pilots laughed,

“You guys better hurry! It looks like he’s

coming back!”

We looked behind us to see the bear

in the bushes, circling camp. As we all

pitched in by hauling the gear, meat, cape,

and horns to the airplanes, and scrambled

to stuff everything into the baggage holds,

we looked back to see the grizzly just sitting

there watching us.

“There’s nothing about sheep hunting

that’s easy, is there?” gasped Mike. “Nope,”

I smiled. “That’s exactly why we do it!” •

Billy Molls is an author, public speaker, Alaska

big game hunting guide, and producer of The

Modern Day Mountain Man video series. For

more information on his books, DVDs, and

hunts go to www.billymollsadventures.com.

C

M

Y

CM

MY

CY

CMY

K

33


Food from the African Bush

Trapping and Fishing –

Catching Food in the Wilderness

This installment of Survive is about how to gather animal protein using the

simplest means possible. Proper use of snares, traps, and fishing can be

life-saving skills in survival situations.

Text and Photos: Douw Kruger

Small pitfall traps are an ideal way

to catch scorpions and mice.

SURVIVING IN THE WILDERNESS OFTEN

MEANS ONLY ONE THING - FINDING

FOOD! There is usually enough available

to survive in most wilderness areas, but

the trick is finding it. Forget the idea that a

variety of fruits will be found hanging from

branches in abundance. Or that fresh cuts of

meat or fowl will run your way to be caught

with ease. The reality is that prey animals are

quite adept at avoiding predators, including

you. You will probably have to climb, chase,

dive, grab, stab, catch, and kill it. It all boils

down to a hard, sweating, tiring, and bloody

affair. In the end your prey is hopefully bleeding

more than you.

Trapping and fishing can save you a lot

of the hard, tiring work involved in gathering

food, and save time and energy, especially

if done correctly. Survival is reaching

a balance between losing energy, and using

energy efficiently, to procure enough calories

to stay alive. Reaching this balance is exactly

why trapping and fishing are so important.

They can allow you to gain energy with less

effort than other food gathering methods,

and there is a lowered risk of getting injured.

The golden rule of trapping and fishing

is to keep the methods and mechanisms as

simple as possible. The biggest challenge is

being patient.

TRAPS AND SNARES

Preparation

The most important factor in trapping is

knowing where to place your trap or snare.

To be successful, there are a few aspects that

are very important:

1. It is crucial to know the feeding and

drinking habits of your prey, and to use

the correct bait to attract them.

2. Always inspect an area for signs of the

animal you intend to trap.

3. Traps are best placed on game trails or

in bottlenecks caused by obstructions,

such as bushes, rocks, or logs.

4. Bait helps in most trapping situations.

Use natural fruits or seeds to attract

34 | Hunter´s Path 3/2016


land birds such as guinea fowl and

francolin. Meat or carcasses can be

used to attract predators, or bush pigs,

if you are prepared to eat them.

5. Funnelling can be used to cause your

prey to move in a certain direction,

toward the trap. This is usually done

by modifying the surroundings to force

movement, such as piling thorn bushes

in a manner that funnels the prey down

a selected game trail.

6. Camouflage any trap or snare with

grass and lightweight plant material.

7. Camouflage any freshly cut branches

and your snare rope with fresh dung,

moist soil, or mud.

8. Collect camouflaging material far away

from your trapping site. Animals are

sensitive to changes in their immediate

environment.

9. Use the strongest and thinnest rope,

string, or cable available. Birds and

animals are all stronger than you

think when caught in a trap and when

attempting to escape.

10. Strong, hard wood, like raisin bush, is

best for triggers and other trap components.

11. Plan to set as many traps as possible.

The more traps you have out, the better

your chances of success.

12. Don’t urinate or leave any strong

smells close to your trapping sites.

13. Exercise patience and great care when

you initially place a trap. You may only

get one chance at the prey you are

targeting.

14. Traps should be checked two or three

times a day, so keep this in mind when

considering the distance from your

shelter.

Top: A basket trap made of reeds.

Bottom: The author setting a snare

to catch guinea fowl and francolin.

SNARES

Snares are a string, cable or steel wire with

a running noose, and with a slipknot which

tightens around the neck of the prey. No

trigger is involved. The snare is anchored to

a strong log or a horizontal branch of a tree

above the ground. The height depends on the

size of the prey. For walking birds, such as

guinea fowl and francolin, and rabbits, the anchor

position should be approximately thirty

35


centimeters off the ground, if possible. For

small antelope, like duiker and steenbok, it

should be approximately fifty centimeters

from the ground. The bottom of the noose

should hang about five fingers off the ground

for the aforementioned birds and rabbits. The

size of the noose should be big enough for

the prey’s head to pass through comfortably,

but not so big that the entire body can pass

through. For guinea fowl, francolin, and rabbits,

the noose should be as big as a man’s

Left: Snares should be

set on game trails.

Top left:

The well-camouflaged

snare is barely visible …

Top right:

… and soon the first

guinea fowl is caught.

fist. The noose has to be kept open and in

the right position, with split-grass stalks on

the sides, as indicated in sketch (A) and in

the accompanying photo.

TRAPS AND SPRING-SNARES

Traps and spring-snares usually have a trigger

mechanism that activates a system to

catch prey by the foot or neck. The trigger

is generally a small toggle-bar held under

tension by a spring or a bent branch above

the trap. The pressure bar/stick is held in

place by the trigger and one or two pegs,

which are driven into the ground alongside

a game trail. Once the prey steps onto the

pressure bar, the trigger slips free and the

spring-arm pulls the noose closed around

the foot or neck of the prey. The trap illustrated

here can be adapted to fulfil many

different applications for a variety of prey

animals. The purpose of a spring-snare is to

lift the prey into the air so that it can’t be

eaten by predators, and also to prevent rabbits

and predators from chewing through

the rope.

Strong, hard wood should be used for

pegs, triggers, and pressure bars. If possible,

select strong spring-loaded branches, like

those of the raisin bush and of the firethorn

(taaibos), to use for spring-arms. If

there aren’t any natural branches that can

be used as a spring-arm, you can cut a branch

elsewhere and push it into the ground.

CAGE TRAPS

Cage traps can be used to catch small

birds up to the size of doves and pigeons.

It is basically a box or pyramid-shaped cage

36 | Hunter´s Path 3/2016


constructed from reeds or sticks, and tied

together with rope or tree bark. The bottom

remains open so that it can fall over the birds

when they are attracted under the cage with

bait, such as seeds, fruits or worms. The trap

is set with one edge on the ground and the

other edge approximately twenty centimeters

above the ground. The open side is kept

in position by the same trigger system as the

deadfall trap, as illustrated.

PITFALL TRAPS

Pitfall traps can be effective to catch small

rodents like mice, and scorpions. Dig a hole

approximately twenty centimeters deep

and fifteen centimeters in diameter in front

of the mouse or scorpion hole. Then place

some kind of container in the bottom of

the hole. This is to prevent the prey from

escaping by digging its way out. If you don’t

have a container, you can line the bottom

and sides of the hole with bark or stones.

The mouse or scorpion will fall into the trap

when leaving their hole at night. Check these

traps early in the mornings before birds or

mongoose steal your meal. Mouse holes are

round and about two fingers wide, with a

visible trail leading to their entrance. Scorpion

holes are oval and of various widths.

Look for the biggest scorpion holes you can

find, to catch a reasonably sized one that is

a worthwhile protein snack.

DEADFALL TRAPS

Deadfall or deadweight traps can be used

for variously-sized animals, but when you are

alone, it is better to set them up for smaller

prey like birds, mice, mongoose and maybe

porcupines. Bigger prey require bigger and

heavier deadfalls, which could be a source

Primitive deadfall trap.

of injury. The main component is a big and

heavy rock or log, of which one end rests on

the ground, while the other end is supported

about thirty centimeters above the ground,

held up with a trigger system. The prey is

attracted under the deadweight with bait or

scent. Once the animal steps on, or bites, the

pressure stick, the trigger will swing loose,

and the rock or log will fall on the prey. The

trap illustrated here can be adapted to fulfill

many different applications for a variety of

prey animals.

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37


FISHING

Fish are a valuable food source in survival

situations. Catching fish can be a wonderful

energy-saving way to get a meal, but it requires

a lot of patience and perseverance.

Although fish can be found in many lakes,

ponds, and rivers all over the world, it can be

a challenge to catch them. The most common

species to catch in southern Africa are bream

or tilapia, carp, barbel or catfish, mudfish,

yellowfish, tigerfish and bass. The following

preparation tips will help you be successful

in survival fishing:

Preparation

1. Learn the feeding habits of freshwater

fish so you can select the right bait and

fishing site.

2. Always carry a supply of hooks, swivels,

small weights, fishing line and a few

lures in your survival pack. These are

important items that don’t take up

much space.

3. Inspect any water where you are considering

fishing, for signs of fish, such as

small bubbles, ripples on the surface,

or small baitfish darting about to flee

predator fish.

4. Select fishing sites with some form

of structure. This can be overhanging

trees, reeds, logs, rock ridges, or lilies,

among many other possibilities. Fish

congregate around structures for cover

and to feed.

5. Use bait native to the area, such as

naturally occurring fruit (wild figs,

waterberries, mangosteens), worms,

insects (crickets, grasshoppers, dragonflies,

termites) and bigger bait like frogs,

small birds, small fish, and crabs.

6. Approach fishing spots slowly and with

stealth. Fish are very sensitive to any

disturbances.

7. Use the thinnest and strongest string

you have available. The inside core of a

parachute chord is a good example.

8. Use strong, hard wood, thorns and

bone for improvising hooks, and small

stones for sinkers or weights.

9. Plan to set a few night lines, as these

will increase your success rate dramatically.

10. Be very patient and do things right the

first time. You may not get a second

chance at a good fish.

11. You should check your night lines or

fixed lines two times a day, so do not

place them too far from your shelter.

12. Protect yourself from the sun while

fishing. Dehydration is a killer.

HAND LINES, FIXED LINES

AND NIGHT LINES

Fishing with a hand line means that you have

to hold the line in your hand all the time.

When you feel the biting fish pulling on the

line, give it a quick, short jerk and reel it in. It

might take time and practice to give the jerk

at the right time, but as they say “practice

makes perfect”.

Fixed-line fishing is when you tie your

line to a branch of a tree on the bank, and

then throw the baited hook as far out into

the water as possible. Tie as many of these

along the bank as possible. Then simply watch

from the bank for any of the tree branches

to start moving, signalling that you’ve caught

a fish. Make sure that the branches are alive

and flexible, because if they are dead and dry

they might break. If there aren’t any trees

close to the banks of the river or lake, you

Night Lines with many hooks increase your

chances of successfully catching fish.

38 | Hunter´s Path 3/2016


may have to cut the branches elsewhere and

plant them in the bank. Make sure to anchor

them properly. When there are other necessities

to tend to, fixed lines can be left alone,

and checked a couple of times a day.

Night lines are basically the same as fixed

lines, with only two differences. You anchor

the end of the line with a stone to the bottom

of the river or lake, so that the current

won’t wash the line onto the bank or into the

plants on the bank. You also attach several

hooks with bait at different intervals along

the line, which will allow you to catch fish

feeding from the surface to the bottom. The

night line can be checked and re-baited two

to three times a day.

NATURAL BAIT

In most survival situations, you don’t have

much choice but to use naturally occurring

bait. Live worms should be your first choice,

as they are usually effective and work on most

types of fish. Grubs, maggots, grasshoppers,

termites, dragonflies, centipedes, millipedes,

caterpillars, crickets, aquatic snails, and even

frogs, crabs and small fish can also be used.

Natural fruit like wild figs, waterberries, and

mangosteens are also options. I once caught a

big bream on a mangosteen fruit with a hand

line in the Kavango River. Try different baits at

different depths and never stop trying.

SEASON AND WEATHER

Spring is a good season to catch fish because

they are hungry after a long winter, and they

are more active due to the warmer water.

Cloudy and rainy days are also good for fishing.

In summer fish will often move to deeper,

cooler waters, calling for a boat or raft to

fish from, or challenge you to cast your line

deeper. Fishing in the early mornings or late

afternoons, or even at night, is usually best.

Hot summer temperatures over several days

can have a negative effect on fishing. Water

in shallow lakes, ponds, and rivers becomes

too warm for too long, lowering the oxygen

level in the water and causing fish to become

sluggish. In autumn, water temperatures are

cooler again, and fish are more active near

the banks. Fish feed more aggressively as they

prepare for winter, making fall a great time

to fish. Winter in southern Africa can be very

cold, with frost in some areas, and although

feeding activities slow down dramatically,

heavyweight carp and yellowfish can provide

great excitement when they grab a line.

Changes in weather conditions will also

affect fishing. Fish are sensitive to barometric

pressure. Several types of fish feed more

actively right before a cold front, but that

feeding slows down, or stops, when it actually

hits. After a cold front has passed, fishing

can be poor for several days. A warm front

causes surface temperatures to rise, and fish

activity usually resumes. This is especially

true in winter, when sluggish fish become

much more active due to warmer water.

Light rain is another weather condition

that generally improves fishing. Raindrops

falling on water help conceal your presence,

reducing the risk of spooking fish. Rain also

washes bugs and other natural bait into the

water, drawing fish near shore in search of

food. During heavy rain though can be a poor

time to fish, because the water becomes

muddy. Always be aware of the danger of

lightning if you fish in any rain.

IMPROVISED HOOKS, LINE

AND LURES

Hooks can be improvised from many materials,

including needles, safety pins, nails, paperclips,

thorns, a wishbone or a claw from a

bird, any piece of metal, and even the opening

tab or ring from an old drink can. If you have

a knife available, you can also carve hooks in

the traditional shape from wood, shells or

bone. A simpler type of hook — the gorge

or toggle hook — has been used by primitive

people for centuries. This is a short (2.5

centimeters or less), straight piece of hard

material, such as bone, antler or wood, that

has been sharpened at both ends and slightly

notched in the middle where it’s attached to

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1 10.08.16 11:05 Seite 1


the line. The gorge is hidden inside a piece of

soft bait, and when a fish swallows the bait,

the fisherman pulls the line and the gorge

turns sideways, lodging in the fish’s throat.

Fishing line may be harder to produce,

but can be made from the sinew from a

carcass, from twisted plant leaves (motherin-law’s-tongue),

or tree bark (baobab or

wild fig). See our article on rope-making

in Hunter’s Path, Issue No. 8. You can make

lures from pieces of cloth, feathers, and bits

of bright metal, fashioned to imitate natural

insects.

FISHING SPEARS

A spear can be fabricated by tying a sharp tip

made from bone, wood, or metal to a long,

strong pole or branch. This type of spear

is very effective when used at night with a

torch while wading in shallows, as fish are

attracted by light. Be very careful of crocodiles

and hippos though.

A jawed spear may provide a better

way of catching fish. Split one end of a long

green sapling about fifteen centimeters on

one end. Carve sharp, rear-angling teeth

into each flat side of the split. Use rope

to bind the split’s upper end so it won’t

split any further. Open the ‘jaws’ by wedging

twigs between them, strong enough to

separate them by about five centimeters.

When you thrust the spear down over a

fish, the twig will be knocked out, and the

jaws will snap shut, holding the fish. This

method, however, requires a lot of patience

and practice. Gaffs are usually a much better

option. A gaff is basically a giant hook

on a shaft, and it is jerked upwards from

underneath the fish.

FISH KRAALS AND BASKET TRAPS

Fish kraals have been used for centuries

by hunters in shallow lakes or lagoons. A

fish kraal is constructed by driving sticks

side by side into the bottom of shallow-water

lakes, to create a rectangular

fence (kraal) with three sides. The open

end of the square-shaped fence should

be on the downstream side. More sticks

are driven into the ground on the open

or downstream-side to create a V-shaped

wall that points into the open end of the

rectangle. The point of the “V” should be

left open so fish are funnelled into the

kraal. Fish that are trapped inside can be

caught by hand or speared. This method

is applicable for long-term survival and

not really worthwhile in the short-term,

and also is not safe for crocodile-infested

waters.

Basket traps are made from reeds, or

saplings, bound together on the thin ends

and then kept open on the other side by a

ring made from a sapling. A shorter V-shaped

funnel, with a wide opening, that matches the

open-side of the basket and a small opening

as the entrance for fish into the basket, is

made separately but of the same material.

It is then placed in the opening of the basket.

The small opening of the funnel points

towards the inside of the basket. The basket

trap is placed in a river with the entrance facing

downstream. The idea is to catch fish that

swim upstream. The trap must be securely

anchored so the current doesn’t wash it away.

The information shared in this article is

applicable for southern Africa, although

most of the methods and techniques can

also be applied in other parts of the world.

Also, please be aware that trapping is illegal

in many places, and should only be implemented

in a serious survival situation. •

Essential fishing gear can be made

from simple materials.

For a real wilderness experience – with the

focus on learning – you are welcome to join

me on a hunting safari, photographic safari

or survival course in South Africa. Please contact

me:

E-Mail: info@douwkruger.co.za

Phone: +27-12-5485819 or

+27-829389465

40 | Hunter´s Path 3/2016


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Web: www.jamesdjulia.com | Auctioneer: James D. Julia | Lic#: ME:AR83 | MA: AU1406 | NH 2511

41


Texas: Aoudad

Under the

Texas Sun

Text: Jake Adams

Photos: Jake Adams,

iStockphoto.com

Houman, who was dating my older sister

at the time, set his beer on the table and

asked, “How do you prepare deer and elk

ribs? I bet they’re amazing, slow-cooked

on a grill, after curing in a cajun-style

rub for twenty-four hours.” His and

his buddy Teddy’s eyes were sparkling

with delight as they dreamt of ways to

make table fare out of the entire animal

carcass they had just hunted. Killing a

wild animal and making it their own,

was something they felt they must do

in order to fully understand the marvel

of their favorite food; red meat. Neither

had ever been hunting. And, living in

Brooklyn with their only weapons being

routinely sharpened kitchen knives,

hunting to them was intangible.


The three of us were dining

at The Spotted Pig, a gastropub

located amid the

busy streets of Manhattan,

and owned by the world-renowned chef

April Bloomfield. They were introducing

me to the realm of adventure eating. Just

then our waiter appeared and set a pair of

fried thyroid glands from a pig, next to the

perfectly prepared lamb kidneys we were

nibbling on. I answered Houman’s question

while glancing down at the unusual

food before us, “I normally leave the ribs.

Packing out an elk or deer is hard work,

especially in the remote areas I like to

hunt. I bone the animal and pack out the

meat, antlers, sometimes the heart, liver,

tongue, or testicles for a novelty meal, but

the quarters and backstraps are my top priority.

The ribs are heavy, and deer and elk

don’t have much rib meat. The ribs have

never been worth the effort when packing

out multiple heavy loads in the mountains,

sometimes in the dark, to get the meat in

a cooler on ice before it begins to spoil.”

My answer leaves them unsatisfied. I can

tell they think leaving the ribs is a sinful

waste. I change the subject by asking Teddy,

a part-time chef, what motivates him to eat

the guts, or ‘wobbly bits’ as he prefers to call

them. He takes another gulp of beer and

points at the dish in front of us, “Take that

thyroid gland for example. It’s a disgusting,

slimy organ that most would throw in the

wastebin. If it were cooked simply on a grill

like a steak, it would taste awful. The trick

is to make it actually taste edible. If you’re

enjoying a thyroid gland, then you know

the preparer is a skilled chef. The challenge

of taking something disgusting and turning

it into something that melts in your mouth

is what makes this fun.”

That night at The Spotted Pig

happened years ago. I made a

vow over that dinner to show

Teddy and Houman what

hunting was about, and it wasn’t long before

I was organizing a wild boar hunt on

the California coast. They devised a plan

where Houman would buy a license and

be the shooter, and Teddy would bring his

knives and join the hunt as a guest, to cook

up the ‘wobbly bits’ when Houman filled

his tag. They would be guided by a local

rancher while I archery hunted a different

section of the ranch. The hunt’s highlight

for Teddy and Houman occurred when a

large, hairy, black boar ran out of an oak

brush thicket, and crossed a dirt road in

front of the jeep they were sitting in. At the

sight of the boar their guide yelled, “Shoot

that son of a bitch!” Houman grabbed my

loaner rifle, swung it over the side of the

jeep, and tried to settle the crosshairs, as

he watched the spooked boar dart away

through tall grass and brush. That was their

only wild boar encounter during their firstever

hunt. They enjoyed the experience, but

I felt I’d let them down. If we were to go

hunting again, things would be different.

A couple of years later I was silently

reminiscing about the boar hunt during

my sister Lori and Houman’s wedding ceremony.

At the reception he and I agreed to

go hunting together again. I promised not

to leave his side, and to show him how to

stalk unsuspecting wild animals. He was

delighted with the proposition.

Eventually, the right hunt presented

itself, and our busy schedules aligned for

round two of Houman’s introduction to

hunting. We would be hunting aoudad

sheep on a huge ranch in West Texas,

booked with Mike McKinny, owner of

West Texas Hunt Organization. Mike

manages a handful of sprawling ranches for

hunting, and aoudad hunts are his specialty.

My younger brother Chad would join the

hunt as well.

This would be a special hunt for all of

us. It would temporarily satisfy my obsession

for hunting wild sheep, it would be

Chad’s first sheep hunt, and it would give

Houman another opportunity to bag his

first animal. Often, price is the first thing

that comes to mind when sheep hunting

is mentioned. It is notoriously expensive,

or next to impossible to pull a tag in the

state lottery draws. That is where aoudad

hunting differs. It’s far and away the most

affordable sheep hunt. Tags can be purchased

over the counter as a general hunt in

Texas, and there’s a liberal season. Aoudad

are often referred to by the catchy phrase

‘cheap sheep’. Typically, when a hunter

draws a sheep tag, they are joined on the

hunt by friends, who wish they could be

so lucky. The fact that the three of us were

all holding sheep tags was a fun novelty.

On a hot sunny afternoon last March, I

picked up Chad and Houman at the airport

in El Paso. From there we drove southeast

to the small town of Van Horn, where we

were given directions to the 40,000 acre

ranch we’d be hunting. We drove for miles

through the desert on rolling dirt roads,

before I stopped in front of the ranch gate.

Houman hopped out of my truck, dialed

the combo on the lock, and swung the gate

open. It felt good to be in Texas, with the

entire ranch to ourselves. On semi-guided

hunts such as ours, Mike sends a guide to

show hunters around the ranch. Our guide

and soon to be friend Josh would arrive at

first light in time for the opening day of

the hunt. That night we drank beer under a

star-filled sky, as coyotes yipped in the distance.

Houman remarked that he couldn’t

remember the last time he had seen the

stars, as the lights of New York City block

the view. Chad and I laughed, and Chad

said, “Well Houman, you’re a hell of a long

way from that big city now”.

Josh rolled in before the sun broke over

the horizon. We took a break from shuffling

gear around to introduce ourselves

and shake his hand. We then set up targets

to make sure our rifles were still okay, and

44 | Hunter´s Path 3/2016


to allow Houman to familiarize himself

with the rifle we would be sharing. Chad

took one shot and hit the bullseye at 200

yards. He smiled and tucked his rifle back

in the truck, ready to hunt. Houman was

a steady shot, and he and I both shot nice

enough groups out to four hundred yards.

We loaded up and followed Josh up

a rough road to a high pass. From there

he and Chad hiked up a ridge to glass for

sheep. Houman and I took our time and

met them at the top. As soon as we crested

the summit, I pulled my binoculars up and

spotted a group of aoudad feeding away

from us in the distance. Chad and Josh

were sitting in the shade above us, looking

at the same group. We were fortunate to

see sheep this early in the hunt. One of

the rams in the bunch had a respectable

set of horns. They were out of our range,

so no shot opportunity was presented.

The sheep soon wandered over a ridge

and out of sight. The four of us followed

and eventually came to a summit overlook

where we hoped to relocate them.

From the overlook we could see in the

distance the canyon that cradles the Rio

Grande River and the mountains of Mexico

beyond. We were limited to hunting

on the ranch, which provided more than

enough terrain for our group. Free-roaming

aoudad are habitual wanderers. These

agile desert sheep are not confined to any

particular ranch in this part of Texas. They

easily pass through cattle fences separating

adjacent ranches, and even wade across the

Rio Grande to pass back and forth from

the United States and Mexico.

By the time the sun was high in the sky,

we had only spotted a lone ewe standing

on a distant knoll. I restlessly dug through

my pack to see if anything in my snack bag

looked appetizing. It was hot, so I grabbed

a water bottle from the ones that had sunk

to the bottom. Josh leaned back under the

sparse shade of an ocotillo shrub, pulled

the brim of his hat low over his eyes, and

said, “Let me know if you see anything.”

Chad stood up and walked away, carrying

his optics, to scan the far side of the overlook.

Houman watched us for cues on how

to behave while hunting in the mountains.

I became fidgety as the thought of his

last hunt crossed my mind. This one would

be different. We needed to create an opportunity

for him. I got up with spotting

scope in hand and told him I was going

to walk around the overlook to peer into

every pocket of shade I could find for napping

aoudad. He asked if he could join me.

“Sure,” I said. “Should we take our packs?”

he asked. Looking at them I mumbled, “If

we take them we won’t need them, but if we

leave them here, we’ll wish we had them.

You never know what we’ll get into. Let’s

take them.” With that we shouldered the

Jake, Chad, and Josh discuss which

fold in the terrain would provide

the best cover for a possible stalk.

45


packs and walked away from Josh, who was

now taking a siesta among a pile of rocks.

We hadn’t gone far before we could

see a finger ridge that sloped away from

our position, to the distant knoll where

we had seen the lone ewe earlier. I led

Houman down the finger ridge, hoping

to spot more aoudad where that ewe had

been. We climbed blocks of rocks with cactus

growing out from the cracks. I paused

every so often to scan the new terrain that

came into view. Houman, wondering if

I was pausing to let him catch up, asked,

“What would you be doing if I weren’t here

with you?” Not breaking my concentration

on a distant patch of shade beneath a

cliff, I answered, “You’re looking at it.” We

continued down the ridge. The two of us

were tiny specks in the vast expanse of the

desert. Our sense of adventure grew with

every step.

While looking down a long draw, I

saw a sheep standing in the shadow of a

band of cliffs above a dry wash. Through

the spotting scope I could see another

sheep bedded at the base of the cliffs. Both

were rams. They were at least a mile in the

distance. A rough mile! When I informed

Houman, he smiled and waited for more.

I knew he was game for whatever plan I

came up with. I looked my brother-in-law

in the eyes and said, “If we can make it over

there before the rams move off, then I think

you’ll get a shot. We need to hurry. Let’s

be careful not to injure ourselves, but let’s

get moving. We’ll take a break at the halfway

point, then we’ll break for water again

on our side of the small ridge in front of

where the rams are. Once there we might

Top: Glassing is an important part

of any sheep hunt.

Middle: A pair of aoudad rams as

seen through a spotting scope.

Bottom: Chad with his ram.

46 | Hunter´s Path 3/2016


e close enough for a shot.” With that we

got moving.

We were parched and our mouths dry

by the time we reached our first resting

point. We were not accustomed to the

low humidity and heat. We each drank

a half-liter of water with ease. Our bodies

wanted more, but we knew we should

start rationing our supply. I noticed I wasn’t

sweating, which felt odd. Houman didn’t

appear to be either, and we both should

have been. I could tell he was wondering

what I was thinking. I tried to sound convincing

when I assured him I would hike

back up to Josh and Chad and bring down

water if we really got into trouble. In the

back of my mind I was hoping it would

never come to that.

I was out ahead of Houman when I

reached the small ridge that was our landmark.

I set my pack down and pulled out a

half-liter of water for each of us. We would

leave our packs while crawling to look over

the ridge. I hoped the rams were still there.

As soon as I looked over the ridge I saw

not two, but four rams feeding on a side hill

across from us. All the rams looked about

the same size. They all more than satisfied

our expectations. I folded down the bipod

on my rifle, and set it up for Houman. I

then motioned for him to join me. The

rams were 180 yards away and were totally

unaware we were watching them. Houman

asked which one he should shoot. I told

him they were all the same, and he should

take the one that offered the best shot. He

wiggled forward, and lying prone, brought

the rifle to his shoulder. He appeared relaxed

and confident while watching the

rams through the scope. I wanted to keep

instructing him, but there was nothing left

to say or do now but watch. Not knowing

what the next moments would bring, gave

me butterflies in my stomach. Houman

calmly whispered, “I’ve got a clear shot at

the ram that moved down to the wash. I’m

going to take it.” I plugged my ears with

my fingers and said, “Take it when you’re

ready.”

The rifle roared. The rams scattered.

The ram Houman shot at took several

quick steps before buckling up and falling

over backward. I saw the ram lying still,

while two rams ran for higher ground.

The fourth retreated down the wash, then

paused to look back for his fallen companion.

On seeing this I blurted out, “Nice

shot! Scoot over, it’s my turn.” I jacked in

a live round and steadied the crosshairs on

the ram now walking away down the wash.

Excited, Houman asked if he had hit the

ram. “Your ram is dead,” was my matter of

fact response. Then I pulled the trigger. I

didn’t notice the roar of the rifle this time,

just the sight of the back leg of the ram

crumpling with the impact of the bullet.

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Top: Chad uses and old

fencepost to steady his

shot.

Middle: Jake skinning

the downed ram.

Right: After the shot is

when the work begins.

The injured ram hobbled about in the wash as I sent a

volley of bullets in his direction. Soon the rifle clip and

my pockets had been emptied. I jumped to my feet, jogged

down to my pack for more ammo, and told Houman I

would return after finishing off my ram. In no time I was

down in the wash walking past Houman’s dead ram and

looking for mine. He saw me coming while bedded in a

thicket of desert brush. He rose to his feet and starting

running on three legs. The last two shots rang out in quick

succession, and my ram was down for good.

Back with Houman, we got Chad on the radio. I excitedly

told him we were tagged out, and had taken a double

on rams. I could practically hear his smile through the

radio. He told us the shots had woken them from napping.

Startled awake and confused, Josh asked Chad, “Could that

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50 | Hunter´s Path 3/2016


Top: Houman and Jake with

Houman’s aoudad ram, the

first big game animal of his life.

Bottom: Preparing the heads

for the taxidermist.

be them way down there?” Chad knew it

was us, and he knew he would hear from

me on the radio once the smoke cleared.

Josh informed us he and Chad would drive

around to pick us up on a road in the flats

below.

Houman acted as my assistant and

photographer while I butchered his ram.

We sipped our remaining half-liter of water

during this process, not knowing exactly

how far we needed to go to reach the road

below us. While loading Houman’s ram

into his pack, we started cramping up from

dehydration. I looked at what remained of

the ram carcass, and with subtle sarcasm

asked him if he wanted me to tie the rib

cage to his pack. With a dry mouth he

replied, “No, let’s leave it here. We’ve got

enough meat.” It was apparent we needed

to hike out for more water before returning

for my ram.

Houman shouldered his pack, loaded

down with meat and horns, while I carried

the rifle and all of our supplies. We navigated

our way down the wash in the dark,

with cactus thorns brushing against our

legs and arms every now and again. At the

truck, Josh and Chad offered us cold beer

and water. We chose water. After drinking

several liters we hiked back in for my ram.

Chad wanted a trophy ram, and he now

knew his odds had improved, as Houman

and I would put down my rifle and spot

sheep for him. We spent the next day

searching for a big mature ram. That afternoon,

we were positioned on another high

point with a commanding view. As the sun

was setting, I spotted a herd of a dozen

sheep walking among some rolling hills.

One look through a spotting scope and

Josh knew one of the rams had super-long

horns. Chad and Josh quickly pursued that

ram, while Houman and I followed carrying

Chad’s gear. We caught up to them as

Chad was trying to get a clear shot at the

distant ram in the fading light. That night

we celebrated another thrilling day, and

hoped to find the big ram again for Chad

the next day.

In the morning the four of us were

back where we had last seen the

herd. The aoudad had moved off

and were nowhere to been seen.

Josh and Chad decided to go for a hike

to check out new terrain at a far border of

the ranch. Houman and I cracked open

a couple of beers and enjoyed the desert

solitude while we waited for their return.

Josh and Chad hiked for hours before

seeing more aoudad. The new herd was

spotted at a half-mile, and held a couple

of dozen sheep. As they planned their approach,

Josh saw three wild horses between

them and the aoudad. The horses were alert

and watching the hunters. Not wanting to

spook them, they decided to hike in a large

semicircle around them.

When they got within range, they

looked back to see that the horses had come

up from behind to keep an eye on them.

I wasn’t there to verify it, but I have my

doubts that anything polite was said about

those wild horses that had put the stalk in

jeopardy. Chad and Josh belly-crawled the

last fifty yards to get a better vantage on

the sheep. There were two good rams in the

herd, one having more massive horns than

the other. Chad watched them through his

scope at two hundred yards, waiting for a

shot opportunity at the largest. The chosen

ram lay down in a dug-up patch of

white powdery dirt. He rolled on his side,

scooped up some dirt with his horns, and

with the flick of his neck, flung it onto his

back and shoulders. This dirt bath no doubt

provided protection against the black flies

that are attracted to the sheep.

Chad was ready when the ram stood up

in the dirt patch. The animal was slightly

facing towards him and Josh. He steadied

the crosshairs on the ram’s near shoulder

and squeezed the trigger. His bullet passed

through both of the ram’s shoulders and

exited on the far side. On impact, the ram

sprung into the air with all his legs slanted

out to one side. This aerial acrobatic move

ended with the ram landing on all four feet

and darting off at a dead sprint. The mad

dash came to an end as he hit the dirt, dead

only feet from the edge of a sixty-foot cliff.

We saw them crest over the horizon on

their way towards the truck. Josh was in

the lead. Chad followed under the load of

a heavy pack. We could tell he was carrying

a ram, and were eager to hear the story

and see his ram up close. They crossed a

large drainage and appeared below us. The

last pitch up to the truck looked grueling,

as Chad paused to catch his breath every

hundred yards or so.

After Chad loaded his ram in the truck

bed, we celebrated with a round of beers.

This aoudad hunt had far exceeded our expectations.

The four of us were happy and

satisfied that night, eating dinner around

the campfire. We had adjusted to life in the

desert, and had learned a lot about hunting

the unpredictable aoudad.

The following day was spent around

camp, enjoying more of the experience before

we had to head for home. Chad and I

skinned our ram heads in preparation for

travel the next day. Houman organized to

leave his ram cape and horns with a local

taxidermist in Van Horn. We were all curious

about the taste of aoudad meat, as

opinions varied depending on who we had

asked. Houman lit the gas grill and fried

aoudad steaks, using the bare kitchen essentials

at hand; vegetable oil, salt, and pepper.

They were cooked to perfection. Chad

and I ate slices of steak with our hands, and

when the skillet was empty, asked for more.

Every now and again I’ll get a text from

Houman with a photo of the aoudad meat

he has prepared, and with a concise recipe

of the ingredients used. All of his aoudad

meals have looked divine. He no longer

wonders what it’s like to go hunting and

bring home wild meat. Living in New

York City, I’m sure he has to answer a lot

of questions about hunting. Like Teddy

asking him, what’s his favorite recipe for

preparing aoudad ribs?


51


Uganda: Bushbuck

BUSHED BUCK

Text and Photos: Larry Weishuhn

“Mind you, if you don’t put him down, and only wound him, we, my

friend, will have a bloody, sticky situation on our hands! Aim carefully

and place your bullet precisely.”

I

nodded. Nothing like pressure to

make one perform. For the past ten

days I had been hunting for bushbuck

in the canyons and on the

brushy hillsides of South Africa’s Eastern

Cape, near Port Elizabeth. If I were to get

one, it would be my third spiral-horned

antelope of the trip. Earlier in the hunt, I

had taken an Eastern Cape kudu and an

nyala. Each day I had searched for the secretive

bushbuck, which inhabits the draws

and creek bottoms of the huge concession.

Alas, all without success. Others on this my

first safari a quarter-century ago, had not

only seen Eastern Cape bushbuck, they had

taken them at all hours of the day.

It was the last afternoon, the last possible

shooting light. “We can’t hunt with a

light, but you can shoot as long as you can

still see an animal through your scope.” For

all practical purposes it was dark. We had

just spotted a bushbuck that had walked

into an open spot. I could see the shape

of the animal in my scope. My professional

hunter, the landowner on whose

property we hunted, continued, “There

are two bushbuck rams we’ve seen in this

immediate area. One has both horns and

one is missing his right horn.”

Earlier I had been told, “If you wound

a bushbuck ram and he gets into the brush,

he will wait in ambush until you pass him.

Then while your back is turned, he will

charge and drive both horns into the kidney

area of your lower back. I know of two

hunters who have died after being charged

by wounded bushbucks, and several who

have spent days in the hospital.”

With those words running through

my mind, I held for a high-shoulder shot

in hopes of putting the bushbuck down

where he stood. I took a deep breath, then

let it out, and gently tugged the trigger. The

muzzle blast obscured my vision. I heard

my PH say, “He’s down!” By the time he

had uttered those welcoming words, I had

reloaded.

A second shot was unnecessary. My

ram was on the ground. At his side I gave

thanks. Finally, I had taken a bushbuck!

The next morning, with all our animals ‘in

the salt’, we headed home to Texas.

53


I should have known I would not be

happy with simply one bushbuck. After

all there are a number of subspecies scattered

throughout Africa. That’s one of the

reasons that when Tim Fallon, my favorite

hunting partner started talking about

hunting Burkina Faso for roan antelope

and harnessed bushbuck, I listened. Tim

is with the FTW Ranch, where they offer

the Sportsman’s All-Weather All-Terrain

Marksmanship (SAAM) training. “There

are those who will argue that the harnessed

bushbuck is the most handsome of all the

various subspecies. Based on what Patty

(Patty Curnutte with The Global Sportsman

who has set up numerous adventures

for us throughout the world) has learned,

the area we’ll be hunting in Burkina Faso

has some really good bushbuck. Of course,

there are other species there as well, including

some you can’t hunt anywhere else.

You know I like the idea of taking as many

different species as possible.” That’s one of

the reasons I truly enjoy hunting with Tim.

While I usually try to take two or three

species on our safaris together, he likes to

take as many as possible. Generally, I’m

at his side when he pulls the trigger. I get

to enjoy the hunt without having to pay

trophy fees on animals I do not necessarily

feel the need to take. Like me, he too hunts

for mature animals and not for the inches

or scores.

Our Burkina Faso hunt was interesting.

Our professional hunter and his staff

spoke only French. Between Tim and I,

we knew possibly two words in French,

and one we jokingly referred to as ending

with ‘fries’. Even though we did not speak

the same language, we did more than okay

communicating. ‘Hunterese’ seems to be a

universal language.

We spent considerable time driving

two-track roads between parallel rivers,

separated by five to six or more miles, and

driving to areas we wanted to hunt. Then we

walked to promising areas to glass, looking

for various antelope. On our fourth day of

walk-hunting, we spotted a dark antelope

on the edge of some tall grass. Through

hand signals Phillippe, our PH, indicated

it was a male bushbuck that he thought I

should try to shoot.

We waited for the bushbuck to walk

through a patch of tall grass, tall enough to

have easily hidden an elephant. When he

reappeared on the other side, we used it and

the bushes to get closer for a better look.

Through my binoculars I could clearly

see it was a harnessed bushbuck. This subspecies

has a solid white line on either side,

that starts just behind the shoulder and

runs back to the antelope’s flank. They are

russet to red in color, absolutely gorgeous.

The next year I hunted Nile bushbuck

in Uganda. These bushbuck tend to be

54 | Hunter´s Path 3/2016


Top left and right: Harnessed

bushbucks encountered while

hunting in Uganda with Uganda

Wildlife Safaris.

Right: Christian Weth and his

tracker glass for bushbuck from

a high machan along the banks of

Uganda‘s Kafue River.

55


While Professional Hunter Christian Weth

watches through his binoculars, Weishuhn

takes a shot at a harnessed bushbuck.

Photo: Tim Fallon

Uganda Wildlife Safaris‘ Christian Weth and Tim Fallon (l) are

all smiles over the huge and ancient bushbuck taken by Tim.

56 | Hunter´s Path 3/2016


owner in color, and they have a line of

spots that runs from just behind the shoulder

to the flank. More about that later.

When the harnessed bushbuck walked

away, we followed, ever decreasing the distance.

Moving very slowly, it took about

ten minutes to cut the range to one hundred

yards. When the bushbuck stopped

to feed and turned broadside, the tracker

quickly set up my shooting sticks. I stepped

forward, rested my Ruger rifle in the crux

of the sticks, found the ram in my scope

and settled the crosshairs on his shoulder.

I settled in and gently pulled the trigger.

At the shot the bushbuck dropped in

his tracks. My .375 Ruger 300-grain Hornady

DGX had done its intended job. Even

though the ram had dropped in his tracks,

I quickly bolted in a fresh round and again

got on the bushbuck. I stayed on my target,

remembering the warnings I had received

while hunting bushbuck in South Africa.

When there was no movement, I accepted

the handshakes of my professional hunter

and his trackers.

At the ram’s side, I marveled at its

beauty. I loved its reddish coat and its brilliant

white streak and spots, as well as its

thick spiraled horns. I could hardly wait to

get the cape to the taxidermist. The following

night I prized my bushbuck even more

when I had a chance to eat its succulent

and delicious meat.

No sooner had Tim and I returned

from Burkina Faso than we met with Patty

to start planning our next adventure, this

time to Uganda with Uganda Wildlife Safaris.

‘The Pearl of Africa’ has long fascinated

me. Teddy Roosevelt hunted there, as

did Robert Ruark and Ernest Hemingway.

I longed for the chance to hunt sitatunga

and Nile buffalo, but also bushbuck, and

hoped to follow some of the same game

trails as my heroes.

Frankly, African bushbuck intrigue me.

Maybe it is because they are, in many ways,

like whitetail deer. They tend to live on the

edge of dense thickets, are often nocturnal

and can be downright difficult and challenging

to hunt.

Almost as soon as we arrived at the

Uganda Wildlife Safaris camp on the Kafue

River, we headed out to hunt sitatunga, a

most interesting papyrus-swamp-dwelling

spiral-horned antelope with elongated

hooves. En route to a tall machan overlooking

a huge stretch of papyrus, we spotted

several Nile bushbuck, different in color

and lacking the side stripe, when compared

to the harnessed bushbuck. But we also observed

several with very typical harnessed

bushbuck markings. That first afternoon

in camp we saw ten rams, including several

with relatively long and heavy horns.

A really good bushbuck, regardless of the

subspecies, has a horn length that starts at

about twelve inches. Any bushbuck with

horns of fourteen inches or longer is one

to truly celebrate. That first afternoon, had

we not been close to where we were going

to hunt sitatunga, I would have insisted

that we go after one of the big rams we

had seen.

That night in camp I asked our professional

hunters, Christian Weth, Scott

Guthrie and the legendary Dougie Stephenson,

about the bushbuck in the area.

Their consensus was that there are two subspecies

to be found, the harnessed and the

Nile. The latter is drab in color compared

to the harnessed, and lacks the extensive

white spots and lines. They also said that

the Nile bushbuck is a bit bigger in size.

Tim’s Nile bushbuck was taken midday

the following day, as we were driving

back toward camp after spending the

morning on the Kafue looking for sitatunga,

and dodging hippos and crocs. We

started seeing bushbuck as soon as we ‘got

back to land’. There were females, young,

and according to our PHs, almost-shootable

rams. About halfway back we spotted

an impressive bushbuck with long massive

horns. We stopped the vehicle. Christian,

Tim and I followed the old ram into the

riverine brush next to the papyrus. We

moved cautiously and slowly. Twice we

caught sight of him. He was very old, but

with great horns.

Bill Hanlon/Nov.11

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57


Harnessed bushbuck female in full

alert, note guinea fowl in foreground.

We caught up with the ram thirty

minutes into the stalk. He stopped and

looked back. The tracker set up the shooting

sticks. In one smooth motion Tim

brought his .375 Ruger to his shoulder,

rested the fore-end on the sticks, found the

bushbuck in his scope and when all aligned,

he pulled the trigger. His Nile bushbuck

proved to be an ancient warrior. He was so

old he was missing most of the hair around

his face and neck. Still, he was magnificent!

Later that afternoon while Tim hunted

sitatunga, I sat in a machan overlooking the

papyrus on the Kafue River. I could also see

fifty yards of dry land to my left and a hundred

yards to my right. I sat there for just

shy of two hours, during which time I saw

thirty-seven different bushbuck, mostly

harnessed but also a few Nile. All but two

were males. There were rams of every size,

from young ones just starting to venture

out on their own, to those that rivaled the

old ram Tim had taken. I could not wait

to tell Christian and Dougie.

When I did they just smiled, knowingly.

“I have hunted some great areas of

Weishuhn along with Christian Weth’s

trackers and the harnessed bushbuck he

took in Uganda. Photo: Tim Fallon

58 | Hunter´s Path 3/2016


Africa during my career, but this region

along the Kafue has the highest concentration

of bushbuck I have ever seen. To

me there is no finer place to hunt bushbuck

than right here!” said Dougie. Based

on what I had seen, I certainly could not

disagree. Everywhere else I had hunted for

bushbuck, I had felt lucky if we saw one

shootable ram the entire trip. Here they

seemed to be everywhere.

The following morning, we started

hunting as soon as we were outside the

camp’s compound. Twenty yards past

the gate we spotted our first bushbuck, a

young male. A hundred yards farther into

the bush we spotted another, and then another,

and another. Christian was grinning

with pride.

About a mile from camp he stopped

the vehicle when he spotted yet another

bushbuck. “Larry, that ram which

just crossed the road about fifty meters

in front of us has really big bases. His

horns are not as long as Tim’s ram, but

this is the most massive-horned ram we

have seen. If he’s as good as what I think

and we can get a reasonable shot, I think

you should consider shooting him!” With

that he said something to the tracker,

who handed me my rifle and Christian

my shooting sticks.

The two of us moved cautiously and

slowly toward where he had seen the bushbuck

disappear. It took three or four minutes

of moving only slightly faster than a

snail to get there. Christian and I spotted

movement twenty-five yards to our left.

He immediately set up my shooting sticks.

I rested my rifle, pointing directly at the

movement. I learned a long time ago that

there is a time to look through one’s binoculars

and a time to look through one’s

scope. It was time for the latter.

As he stepped clear of some underbrush,

the bushbuck appeared to be of

the harnessed subspecies. I followed him

through my scope until he stopped. My

crosshairs settled right behind his quartering-away

rib cage. The shot would take out

the opposite shoulder. I pushed my Ruger’s

three-stage safety all the way to fire and

breathed deeply. I waited for Christian to

say “Yea” or “Nay”.

I had let out all my breath when I heard

Christian say, “Shoot”. I brought trigger

finger to trigger and s-q-u-e-e-z-e-d. I followed

through with the trigger pull, then

reached up and bolted in a fresh cartridge

without taking my eye away from the

scope. I kept my crosshairs on the bushbuck,

which was down. If he tried to move,

I would shoot again.

Moments later we were at the ram’s side,

admiring the beauty of my Nile bushbuck!

He was a grand, mature ram with truly exceptional

horns. I reached for Christian’s

extended, congratulatory hand. Then I also

accepted the hand of our tracker, as well

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as Tim’s and Dougie’s, who had walked

up shortly after I had pulled the trigger.

After a round of photos and finishing up

all that we needed for a segment for my

Dallas Safari Club’s Trailing the Hunter’s

Moon television show, we loaded my bushbuck

and headed to an area where a big

Eastern Defassa waterbuck had been seen

that Tim wanted badly. Later that evening

while sitting around the campfire, Dougie

approached with a platter of kabobs. “If you

think what we had for supper last night was

good, wait till you taste your bushbuck!”



Wolfgang Schenk

Taxidermy

www.schenk-taxidermy.com

Schenk-Taxidermy@t-online.de

59


Colorado

Mountain Grouse

Haven

Text: Scott Winston | Photos: Scott Winston, iStockphoto.com


There is a special place in the Rockies where for a short time,

two species of mountain grouse are next-door neighbors.

The largest American forest grouse, the dusky grouse, also known as the blue grouse,

and the smallest sharp-tailed grouse, the Columbian sharp-tailed, can both be bagged

on the same hike in this magnificent area. Columbian sharp-tailed grouse are covey

birds weighing a pound and a half, about half the size of the dusky grouse. Dusky

grouse occur throughout the Rocky Mountains, but Columbian sharp-tailed only occur

in certain remote and often difficult to access locales. I can’t think of a more productive

and beautiful spot in the uplands where I’d rather be with my spaniels, pursuing the

sporting life and carrying a double gun.

I have branded this place Mountain Grouse Haven.

Golden September

In September, when the aspens in the high

country are just beginning to blush with autumn,

dusky grouse are on the hunt for grasshoppers.

It is here at this time when these

two very different grouse species cross paths.

At mid-day in the mountains with plenty of

blue sky, temperatures can reach the seventies,

but at night, it is best to have a warm sleeping

bag and a good campfire. This is the golden

month for upland bird hunting in the mountains.

I like to camp when the days are still

quite long and the air is dry and comfortable.

Brief rain showers can move through in the

late afternoons, providing excellent scenting

conditions for the dogs through the following

day.

When hunters get overheated out in the

open, it is just a short walk to the forest shade

where the duskers are hanging out. I found

some loafing there on one particularly hot

afternoon, when I was looking to get out of

the sun. The term loafing means the grouse is

resting, even napping with head under wing.

I hiked uphill through the aspen forest to

the edge of the dark pines. Several grouse

blasted out unseen, but certainly heard. Then,

a single bird presented itself and I promptly

connected. Izzy was quick on the retrieve. All

the while, a fat dusker stood still like a statue

on a stump, watching. After the delivery, I

sent Izzy on to that bird with a hand signal,

thinking it would be any easy shot. The grouse

flushed with a sharp right turn around a thick

pine, and I discovered that I am not as quick

as I used to be.

Low nighttime temperatures urge the

flowing forth of fall colors, which can quickly

transform the landscape. Bright yellow, orange,

and red catch the sunlight and project

a shade of the surreal throughout the forest.

The light was beautiful and unique on one

memorable day last fall. Izzy suddenly flushed

a single dusker, heading left through the pines

and aspens. Crossing through the top of one

giant golden aspen, one shot from my newly

acquired W. C. Scott side-lock dropped the

bird in bright forest foliage. My pup was

right on it, and lugged all three pounds of

this mother hen directly back to me. Unknown

to either of us, on her way to the

retrieve, Izzy passed within yards, upwind, of

two other grouse that were behind a fallen

log. It wasn’t until we were on the downwind

side of those grouse, that she flushed

them both through a five-foot hole in dense

pines on the ridgeline. While an opportunity

to take a double presented itself, I was

only quick enough to take the second bird

just before it disappeared. Holding up that

grouse to admire its feathers, I noticed that

I was standing in a spot with a grand view

of the majestic mountain valley below. I felt

awestruck.

My friend Richard Jung was there with

me. He had traveled all the way from upstate

New York for the adventure. He only

had a short time to hunt, so my aim was to

get him into both mountain grouse species.

He didn’t waste any time his first morning,

and promptly bagged his limit of Columbian

sharp-tailed grouse, each taken with

just one shot from his recently acquired W.

C. Scott Damascus, and over his beloved

English springer spaniel, Parker. Both birds

were going-away singles, and both dropped

like clockwork, the result of well-timed, instinctive

shots. It was picture-perfect, so far.

However, Richard and Parker hadn’t yet experienced

the rush of a covey rise of mountain

sharpies.

Our next hunt found us along the forest

transition onto the high prairie, where the

edge habitat offers diversity, including several

fruit-bearing shrubs. As luck would have it,

we came upon a family group of dusky grouse

next to the road and in the open. The nearest

trees were over a hundred yards away. Of

course, the grouse flushed as we approached

from the vehicle. I was surprised when they

61


62 | Hunter´s Path 3/2016


didn’t fly very far. When duskers flush in

the forest, they fly much further and usually

downhill. So we pursued, just up the creek

and in the open. Richard missed, like all of

us do from time to time, humbled by a bird

flying fast. Then, our moment arrived when

Parker flushed another big grouse from the

grass in front of some willows. I say ‘our moment’

because not only did the dog present

an exciting flush, Richard made a great instinctive

shot, and I photographed the bird

in a puff of feathers falling into the top of

the willows, just out in front of the dog to

the right. I was thrilled. Richard and Parker

Clockwise from top left:

A dusky grouse in the open goes down

in a puff of feathers just out in front of

Parker, an English springer spaniel.

Mac and Izzy with both species of mountain

grouse taken on the same hike.

Izzy and the author admire a limit of

dusky grouse back at camp.

Izzy proudly poses with her bonus retrieve,

a Wilson‘s Snipe she flushed next

to a creek.

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now had both mountain grouse species in the

bag on the same day!

A Few Days Earlier

I had arrived at Mountain Grouse Haven a

few days early to set up camp and figure out

where to take Richard. I couldn’t believe how

many grouse of both species I was seeing. I

had covered a lot of ground locating birds,

over hill, mountain, and dale. At one point I

stood in one place and shot my limit of dusky

grouse without moving. All three flushed

from an open, grassy side-hill that jetted up

in between the forest and an island of aspens

below. My elder springer, Mac, launched the

first one off a steep hill above me, and the

grouse flew right overhead as I fumbled with

my safety. By the time I had my footing and

my finger on the second trigger, the bird was

streaking by like a comet, and the shot was a

‘Hail Mary’. The bird however, took the load

hard and tumbled. Its momentum carried it

out there to the far edge of the aspen island

far below. Izzy watched the whole thing and

made a fabulous retrieve. Mac let her, as his

nostrils flared with dusker scent up on the

open slope above me. I hurried to reload. Two

more grouse flushed simultaneously, the action

clicking shut to the sound of clamoring

wings. Both birds were crossing a high ridge

to my right. They both folded in succession,

one right after the other. Izzy arrived with her

long retrieve, delivered it, and quickly moved

on to the next fallen grouse. Mac stood over

the third bird with the second bird in his

mouth, waiting for her to ensure that his

protégé found it. Both dogs then came in

with my double dusker, and I shouted out,

“It doesn’t get any better than this!”

As it turns out, I may have been mistaken,

because the very next morning I found my

way into a large covey of more than twenty

mountain sharpies. The birds were spread out

in the grass and sage mix on a high prairie

plateau. It had taken quite a lot of boot

leather to find them, but when they began to

stagger-flush, I knew my chances for another

double were ripe and well worth a new pair

of boots. The mountain sharpies flushed in

succession. I shot twice at the same bird and it

fluttered down. I was awestruck by the unique

staggered covey rise from a grouse no bigger

than a ruffed grouse. As a younger man, I

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63


Autumn‘s blush provides a

scenic backdrop, accentuating

the size difference between

these two unique grouse.

The dusky grouse hang on

the left and the Columbian

sharp-tailed grouse rest on

the branch to the right.

prided myself on being quick, but my heart

raced so at this moment, that I could not

reload fast enough, distracted while ogling

over all of the grouse flushing up around me

- even dropping a shell to the ground and

wiping a little drool from the corner of my

mouth. Izzy was jumping up trying to catch

my wing-tipped bird that was still attempting

to fly. At home, she is a Frisbee dog, so

it was natural for her to catch that bird in

mid-air, five feet up as it sprang into its final

flush. I verbalized “Wow!” She came running

in with the retrieve, and I commented with

some self-sarcasm, “That WAS the perfect

double opportunity.” With the bird still in

her mouth, she juked left, then right, and

found another grouse. It flushed right under

her nose and in between us - a straggler,

crossing left - I nailed it. She marked, quickly

dropped off the first retrieve, and took off

after the second. Once delivered, I held that

bird up to the big sky and pleasured in the

exquisite v-shaped black bars on its white

breast feathers. Then I spotted the stars in

its tail feathers, lots of them. “Much prettier

than a prairie sharptail,” I spouted off to no

one. I also noticed the purple air sacs on its

neck, identifying this bird as a male. On the

way back to camp, we flushed several other

coveys and I knew for sure where to take

Richard.

Doesn’t Get Any Better

“What a glorious golden day at Mountain

Grouse Haven for sure! Gorgeous weather,

a magnificent mountain setting, fine double

guns, excellent dog work, close camaraderie,

delicious food and some decent shooting make

for a festive atmosphere in camp.” I preached

to Richard. To say that we were on top of the

world is not only an understatement, it is a

pun. The Milky Way stood out large in the

night sky, and a million stars shone brightly

in our remote location at altitude. Our campfire,

warm and inviting, set the stage for the

inevitable one-upmanship and of course, the

storytelling. Laughter echoed out from our

camp, penetrating deep into the forest. The

only thing that would make the hunt any better

was if Richard and Parker could get into

a covey of mountain sharpies the next day.

Then, they too would experience this unique

game bird’s staggered covey rise. We had the

momentum as the final morning of our hunt

dangled in front of us, full of promise.

Up at daybreak, we hiked onto a high

plateau that had produced a large covey for

me earlier. We spread out across the plateau.

Richard was working the far side with Parker

when the mountain sharpies began to stagger-flush

in succession. I saw Parker make

a long retrieve. The grouse were many and

scattered, like a broad brush-stroke across

the high prairie plateau. Izzy and I ended up

all the way on the near side, where the flat

dropped off into the valley. I stood at the top

edge and watched my pup flush three more

grouse, just down and over the edge. The birds

must have been running ahead and popped

over the edge in escape. I chose the closest

grouse going away to the far left, and pulled

my full choke trigger - dropping it clean. It

tumbled right onto a well-worn game trail

down the hill, about sixty yards out. Izzy was

making a beeline for the retrieve, and four

more grouse flushed close on my right, also

from just below the top edge. I swung 180

degrees back around, reset my footing and

connected with my open barrel for the most

memorable double! I marked the bird down

and then heard shooting from behind me. I

turned just in time to see a grouse fall from

the sky out in front of Richard and Parker. I

64 | Hunter´s Path 3/2016


Richard Jung and Parker

collect their first Columbian

sharp-tailed grouse at Mountain

Grouse Haven.

also saw grouse in the air, and more were flushing

around them. I chuckled to myself as I watched

Richard fumbling to reload. By the time Izzy

was running up the trail with the retrieve, I only

had a general idea of where my second bird went

down. I tucked that pretty little grouse into my

Orvis dove belt. She looked at me with all the

excitement that could possibly be hoped for in a

bird dog. I grabbed her collar, knelt, pointed in

the general direction of the blind retrieve and

commanded, “Dead bird!” Well, as if I hadn’t been

blessed enough, she ran right to where I had directed,

and used her nose to find that bird. She

came in with a spring in her step and the most

beautiful little package in her mouth. I savored

the moment, thanked God, and double saved that

memory.

“Wow, how’s that for some icing on the cake!”

I proclaimed. Richard had walked up behind and

replied “Yep, it doesn’t get any better than this!”

The sun was up, warm and bright, drenching us

with comforting sunbeams. Richard took a few

photos with his pocket camera as we basked in

the moment, breathing in the mountain air and

the majestic setting. Our spaniels pranced about,

sniffing the birds. The satisfaction of our successful

adventure hung sweet in the air. We continued

to linger, recounting the action as if neither one

of us really wanted it to end. I turned with a wide

smile and looked at Richard, “Now you know why

I call this place Mountain Grouse Haven!



Contact

Mountain Grouse Haven is for serious

grouse hunters only. All dogs are welcome.

If you are interested, contact the author at:

scott.winston4@hotmail.com

+001 303-250-0302

65


Zimbabwe: Elephant

A Cowboy Gun in Africa

Five bull elephants smashed and crashed through the jess, and then there was silence. “You

shoot like a cowboy,” Bruce Watson quietly replied as he shouldered his .416. I was still looking

through my iron sights as I lowered my .475 Turnbull lever-action rifle. “You got off three shots

in about three seconds.” Bruce gave me a sideways look. “Fast as a double, with an extra shot.”

“I have one more in the chamber.” My voice was tremulous, the wilderness silent. Then a sound

came through the thicket: a stumbling crunch of dried brush, a cracking thunder of gnarled

trees splintering, snapping branches, and then again, silence. “You got your elephant.” Bruce

slapped my back and we shook hands. “That’s a really nice cowboy gun. Let’s go see what it did.”

Text: Brett Valette | Photos: Brett Valette


Tradition

I’m a traditional bowhunter, but I also

own and hunt with several rifles. My crazy

dream was to hunt dangerous African game

with a traditional rifle, an Old West rifle.

President Theodore Roosevelt loved his

45-70 lever-action, and named it his ‘Big

Medicine’. He used it successfully on lion

and other tough African animals, but not

on an elephant or hippo. I needed something

more powerful. But there wasn’t an

Old West rifle out there, that I had enough

confidence in to challenge some of the

most ferocious animals on the planet.

Then I met Doug Turnbull at the SCI

convention, and he showed me his new

lever-action rifles. I had found what I was

looking for. A new design on an old classic:

the .475 Turnbull lever-action with iron

sights. A cowboy gun for Africa! I found it.

I loved it. I bought it. Doug called his rifle,

‘The New Big Medicine’. And that it is!

You Can’t Hunt With That

Our chalets overlooking the river. Lions and

antelope snuck to the water‘s edge to drink.

The midnight platform we sat in

while the elephants came to bathe

and drink. No hunting was ever

done from the platform.

I heard that admonishment twice while

trying to book my elephant hunt. “You can’t

use a lever action for elephant,” the booking

agent told me on the phone. “Not enough

power and it’s illegal. That .475 doesn’t even

stack up to a .375, and that’s the minimum

caliber allowed.”

I checked the energy requirements again

and emailed the outfitter: “The .375 with

a 300-grain bullet averages 2,700 feetper-second,

and has 4,300-4,500 footpounds

of energy at the muzzle. A .416

with a 400-grain bullet is at about 2,400

feet-per-second and 5,000 foot-pounds of

energy. The .475 pushes a 400-grain bullet

at 2,150 feet-per-second and has 4,200

foot-pounds at the muzzle. How is that not

enough power, and how is that illegal?” The

outfitter wrote back, “My mistake.”

I did not book with him.

Very quickly I was finding that many

experienced booking agents and professional

hunters had the same impression of

my cowboy gun as they did of my longbow:

“It’s not good enough.”

But was it really “not good enough”

or was it just something unfamiliar?

Longbows have been around since the

Stone Age, but now compound bows are

the ‘in’ weapon of choice, and my longbow

is looked at with suspicion. The traditional

longbow and recurve have successfully

taken every dangerous animal on the planet

and can still do so today. Two months earlier

in Zambia, I had successfully hunted

and shot a huge hippo bull on land, eye to

eye, with my 86-pound Ferguson longbow.

So why the suspicion over a lever-action

rifle for dangerous game? Probably because

this powerful a lever action never existed

before. It does now however, and I wanted

to have fun with it.

The Outfitter Who Believed

After several failed attempts at locating an

agent who believed in the .475, I phoned

Wes Hixon, a booking agent in Wildwood,

Georgia. He told me, “I have an outfitter

in Zimbabwe who will take you elephant

hunting with your .475. No problem

and no concerns.” I had found the gun I

wanted, and now I had found the outfitter I

needed! I felt confident in myself and in my

choice of weapon, and I was thrilled that

Wes Hixon trusted me too, so I booked

the hunt at Impondo Safaris near Victoria

Falls, Zimbabwe.

67


An agitated young bull that

did not like our presence.

Cleaning the ‘newspaper’ so fresh elephant

tracks could be read in the mornings.

My .475 arrived in Zimbabwe in perfect

condition inside its Pelican gun case, and

with no scope to be knocked around, I

sighted in the rifle with one round.

Impondo Safaris

Only a half hour from camp and we were

crouched along one of the winding roads

that invaded the wilderness. “My morning

newspaper,” said Bruce as we studied the

red dirt road, crisscrossed with the tracks

of elephant, lion, impala, eland and hyena.

“I read this and I know what’s happened

all night long.”

“Simba.” Our tracker casually pointed

to the tall grass 150 yards away. Low to

the ground with his ears just barely visible

above the blonde, dry stalks, a young lion

watched us. As I brought up my binoculars

he vanished. Bruce chuckled, “Better than a

strong cup of coffee in the morning.”

He was right, my adrenaline had just

spiked through my caffeine buzz. We

hopped into the jeep to look for elephant.

I wasn’t after a trophy bull. I was hunting

for a broken-tusked, non-trophy elephant,

and was here to fulfill my dream.

We followed tracks, stalked small herds

of bulls, and stalked small and large family

groups. At one point we had elephants

surrounding us. We arrived back at camp

exhausted and fulfilled. Dinner, wine by

the fire and the sounds of the African bush

made every day complete.

“Want to have some fun tonight?”

Bruce asked me. Of course, I’m game for

anything unusual.

“It’s a full moon, I know a large platform

by a waterhole, let’s go sit there a

while and see what shows up.”

The jeep bounced down the rutted road,

and we stopped near an open savanna.

Above me was a huge platform fashioned

in the local trees, and twenty yards away

was a small watering hole. We climbed

the rickety ladder, sat on small stools and

waited. One of the trackers drove off with

the jeep, Bruce checked the radio, and we

settled in.

Eerie quiet. A few odd sounds in the

night. We chatted in whispers.

Softly the sound started. A scuffing

sound. Soft padding in the sand. Nothing

more. It drew closer, the sound of many

68 | Hunter´s Path 3/2016


The Zimbabwe government

game scout’s weapon of choice

next my .475. He shadowed

our every move.

69


70 | Hunter´s Path 3/2016


pads kicking up sand. I peered through

the darkness as the muted sound seemed

to float towards us on the night breeze.

Suddenly hulking shapes materialized.

Even now, as the elephants walked right

in front of the platform, they were silent.

Suddenly their huge feet entered the water.

Now it seemed that the rules of the

night were gone, and the trumpeting began.

Showers of water were sprayed onto

dry backs and into thirsty mouths, gushing

down throats and spilling back into the

water below. Twelve adults and three babies

drank and splashed about, unaware of the

humans twenty yards away. I could see a

trunk snaking skyward, sniffing. The dark

night, the glow of the moon, the sound of

thirst, another sudden trumpet, so close,

so threatening to me, and magical and exciting.

Then as quietly as they had arrived,

they left the water in single file back toward

the safety of the bush. The night again was

still.

“How was that?” Bruce asked. “I don’t

have words to describe it,” I replied. “I

know. And you will never forget it.”

The elephant heart with the

.475 bullet hole in it. The first

shot was all that was needed.

The Cowboy Gun in Action

I pushed two 400-grain Barnes X hollow

points, followed by two solids, into the

chamber of the .475.

“We’ll go for a heart shot first,” said

Bruce. “Then try to break a hip with a

solid.”

Tony Makris and Craig Boddington

had both used the Turnbull .475 on dangerous

game in Africa, so I discussed shot

placement with both at the SCI convention.

I decided on a heart shot, instead of

a brain shot, and to be within thirty yards

of the elephant. Bruce was in agreement.

Elephant kabobs.

Left Page: The author with

his first lever-action cowboy

gun elephant.

71


We tracked a group of five elephant

for about three hours. When we finally

got close, one had a broken tusk! He was

going to be the one. The entire hunt had

been surreal. Most of the time when I’d

hunted in Africa, my PH would steer

us clear of elephants. On this hunt, we

walked right up to them.

With the wind in our faces, we

carefully made our way toward the

group. The elephants stripped bark and

branches and ate, while Bruce instructed

me on where to hold. I raised the cowboy

gun and leveled the iron V on the

crease behind the front leg, fifteen yards

away. The first shot went off. Without

moving the rifle butt from my shoulder, I

worked the lever and chambered another

round, and fired as the elephant turned.

The brush cracked as the trumpeting

elephants scattered. My third shot went

into the elephant’s hip, but too high to

break it. Then the silence.

In about an hour the elephant was

being butchered, and we ate elephant kabobs

by an open fire in the Zimbabwean

bush. When the elephant’s chest cavity

was opened up, they presented the heart

to me. I struggled to lift it with both

hands. And there, neatly in the center

was a bullet hole. The first bullet had

entered the heart, the second shredded

its lungs and the third was in deep, above

the hip. My .475 Turnbull revealed its

power that day.

If you want to have some fun, go get

yourself a lever-action cowboy gun. The

Old West is still alive in Africa. •

KIT BOX

• Rifle: .475 Turnbull lever action

• Bullets: 400-grain Barnes X solids

and soft points

• Booking Agent: Wes Hixon, Wes

Hixon’s Outdoor Adventures,

Wildwood, Georgia

• PH: Bruce Watson, Bruce Watson

Safaris

• Area: Impondo Safaris, Riverside

Ranch, Zimbabwe

Brett is an SCI life member and hunts

frequently with his son, Dalton. Father

and son both write hunting articles and

are currently writing a novel together.

The author and his .475 Turnbull .

72 | Hunter´s Path 3/2016


73


Jim Corbett‘s .275 Rigby in the hands of the

descendant of one of his village tenants who

had met Corbett when he was a boy.

India

Jim Corbe

Tracing the Steps of a Real Hero

Text: Simon K Barr | Photos: Tweed Media


tt’s Rifle


Heroes are ten-a-penny

these days. Football players,

singers and actors alike

are idolised on the strength

of seemingly very little. Recently, even I

had the experience of being mobbed by

an adoring crowd during my first visit to

India. Fortunately – for the sake of my

ego – it wasn’t my presence that sent them

potty, but the rifle I was holding.

To look at, it is nothing remarkable: a

Mauser-actioned .275 Rigby with no engraving,

bar the proof marks. The blacking

is all but rubbed off, and there are several

dents in the stock and scratches on the barrel.

Its one distinguishing feature is a silver

plate, recording the fact that in 1907 it was

presented to Jim Corbett in gratitude for

his saving the local population from the

dreaded man-eating tigress of Champawat.

This 500-pound killing machine accounted

for the deaths of 436 people during the

early twentieth century. She still holds the

Guinness World Record for the highest

number of fatalities from a tiger, proving

once again the female of the species is more

deadly than the male.

Now, Corbett was a real hero. He never

asked for thanks or reward. He saved the

lives and livelihoods of thousands of people

living in the villages of his native Kumaon

Province. He campaigned tirelessly

(and successfully) for better protection for

India’s wildlife and its habitat. He also

inspired countless young would-be adventurers

across the globe, including Her

Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, HRH The

Prince of Wales, and me, with his beautifully

written, honest and humble accounts

of his exploits. Colonel Corbett successfully

hunted countless savage beasts in the

depths of the Indian jungle, wearing a pair

of short trousers, and equipped with little

more than a packet of cigarettes, a reliable

rifle, and a stiff upper lip.

The bold decision to take Corbett’s

now priceless rifle back to his home in India’s

Uttarakhand Province, was made by

Marc Newton, managing director of the

firm that originally manufactured the .275

more than a century ago: John Rigby &

Co. (‘Rigby’). The rifle, which featured frequently

in Corbett’s best-selling memoirs,

Top: Jim Corbett‘s original .275 Rigby

arrives back in India for the first time in

sixty-nine years, accompanied by the author,

Marc Newton MD of Rigby and Bill Jones a

historic gun collector who owns Corbett‘s

450/400 Double.

Bottom: Corbett’s winter residence at

Kaladhungi, now the Jim Corbett Museum.

Top right: Newton takes Corbett‘s rifle to

the residents of Chhoti Haldwani, the village

Corbett built for his tenants.

Bottom right: Chhoti Haldwani resident

Trilok Singh Negi, whose family still treasures

a muzzle-loader gifted to his father by

Corbett, to protect the crops from boar

and the odd man-eater.

76 | Hunter´s Path 3/2016


77


Sign at Kaladhungi displaying one of

Corbett’s most famous quotes.

Marc Newton at Kaladhungi

with the .275 Rigby, by a map

showing the sites Corbett

killed the man-eaters.

78 | Hunter´s Path 3/2016


left India when its owner moved to Kenya

following Partition in 1947. When he retired

from hunting (due to poor eyesight),

Corbett gifted his trusty companion to his

publishers, the Oxford University Press,

before it was reacquired by Marc for Rigby

in 2015. Thought to have been lost, the reacquisition

sparked overwhelming interest

around the world, and started a chain of

events that eventually led to an eye-opening

tour of Corbett’s India for me, Marc, a

group of high profile international figures,

and of course this modest looking, yet precious

Rigby rifle.

The rifle’s homecoming to its spiritual

birthplace, the busy Rigby workshop in

south London, inspired Marc to commission

and build an exquisite ‘London Best’

rifle to commemorate Corbett and all he

stood for. The result was a work of art that

the firm donated for auction at the Safari

Club International (SCI) convention in

February 2016. It sold under the hammer

for more than any bolt-action rifle before,

setting a new record at US$250,000. This

crystallised the legend of Corbett in the

mind of the modern hunter, and was a great

win for the London gun trade.

Marc, who himself comes from four

generations of gamekeepers, was keen to

give something back to the wildlife to

which Corbett had dedicated so much

Corbett memorial at his winter residence,

Kaladhungi.

of his life. He also commissioned a limited

edition reprint of Corbett’s collected

works, with a view toward donating the

profits to tiger conservation in India’s Jim

Corbett National Park, a tiger reserve

that Corbett helped to establish in 1936

as India’s oldest big game park. Rigby, the

third oldest gunmaker in the world, has a

long history of exporting rifles to India -

shipping more Rigby firearms there than to

Africa in the early twentieth century – and

Marc was equally keen to recognise this by

visiting India to hand over the donation

in person.

Marc and I were determined that our

visit would be remembered and not lost

in the white noise of blue chip corporate

philanthropy. It was obvious, what better

way to draw the crowds and raise awareness

than by taking Corbett’s own .275 back

to where it all began? The idea alone sent

shivers down our spines as we sat up late

one evening at the Rigby showroom. We

could only imagine how it would be received

on the subcontinent where Corbett

is still revered as a demigod. It would be

like taking the Holy Grail back to Jerusalem.

But how to pull off this seemingly

impossible caper was the next question?

Nothing would be fun, or worth doing

if it were easy, right? To deal with the

man-eaters of Kumaon, Corbett had to

conquer primeval jungle. To get his rifle

back to his homeland, we had to overcome

some of the most complicated firearms restrictions

in the modern world. Hunting

for sport was banned in India in 1970,

and under normal circumstances, it is

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79


Top: The foothills

of the Himalayas are

a harsh yet beautiful

landscape that Corbett

called home.

Bottom: India is still

marked by its British

colonial past and the

people of Kumaon

welcomed the Rigby

party with warm smiles

and kind hearts.

Top right: A modernday

machaan, similar to

those in which Corbett

waited for man-eaters.

Bottom right: Press

frenzy at the packed

donation ceremony

at Ramnagar Civic

Auditorium, resulting

in front covers on 72

newspapers in India for

the .275 Rigby.

80 | Hunter´s Path 3/2016


81


In the Corbett National Park, a reserve that without

fences to the outside world, 215 completely wild

tigers roam free. The week before the Rigby group

arrived, a ranger was attacked and killed by a tiger in

the park.

A tiger‘s fresh claw marks on a sal tree outside the

nature reserve were a sobering reminder of the

ever-present chance of running into one.

82 | Hunter´s Path 3/2016


Most farming in Kumaon is done by hand, the

same as it would have been done in Corbett‘s

time. Every crop field is surrounded by the

jungle and its inhabitants, and is often where

human-cat conflict is most likely to take place.

SCIConAdVert copy.pdf 1 8/10/16 11:51 AM

forbidden to take firearms into the country.

As I mentioned earlier, real heroes such as

Corbett don’t come along every day, so we

didn’t have much difficulty in demonstrating

to the Indian authorities that ours were

exceptional circumstances.

The problem was that because our situation

was so rare, there was no precedent

or standard form for the bureaucrats to

follow, and, without these, the wheels of

bureaucracy tend to move even more slowly

than usual - or completely come off. Eventually,

after almost a year of negotiation on

Rigby’s behalf by the indomitable Patricia

Pugh and Raj Mohinder Singh, we were

granted express permission at the eleventh

hour by some of the highest officials in

both the British and Indian governments,

to take the rifle back to Corbett’s home.

On arrival in New Delhi a few days

later, we found ourselves in another type

of jungle – the sprawling urban jungle.

We rendezvoused with the rest of our

tour party, all with strong Corbett connections

and all keen to accompany us

on this landmark trip. Among them was

American gun collector Bill Jones, whose

collection of historic double rifles includes

Corbett’s other old faithful – a boxlock

.450/.400 Jeffrey – which he lent to Rigby

to display with the .275 in the USA earlier

this year. Bill’s wife Liz, was also one of

the party, as was Australian wildlife artist

David Southgate. David had also made a

contribution towards tiger conservation at

the Corbett National Park, by donating

the proceeds from the sale of one of his

original oil paintings, showing the demise

of the Champawat man-eater at the hands

of Corbett. Another Antipodean, Davey

Hughes, added to the numbers. Davey is

the founder of Swazi Apparel, who flies the

flag for Rigby in New Zealand. Raj Mohinder

Singh, who had been instrumental

in getting permission for the rifle to travel

with us, was another welcome companion.

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83


Top: The Corbett National Park is

a haven, with 488 species of plants

and a diverse variety of animals,

including the majestic Bengal tiger.

Top right: Luck was on the side of

the Rigby party. Several wild female

tigers were seen in the park, which

is most unusual occurrence.

Bottom right: A Reeves muntjac

in its natural habitat. Incredibly this

is now the most numerous deer

species in the UK, following an

introduction by the Victorians over

100 years ago.

Along with a film crew and photographers,

the party was completed by American journalist

Andrew McKean, editor of Outdoor

Life Magazine, which gave America its first

taste of Corbett’s Jungle Lore in 1953.

From the moment we set foot on Indian

soil, the crazy adventure began. The

standard by which most Indian motorists

drive is more suited to a stock-car rally than

to a bustling three-lane main arterial trunk

road. Somehow, God alone knows, it just

about works. It was the best-worst driving

we had ever experienced, and to that end,

somewhat entertaining in a white-knuckle

kind of way. The eight-hour drive through

the city’s bustling suburbs and on to the

foothills of the Himalayas became less

congested and more scenic. The countryside

was so full of life and colour, it was

impossible not to fall under India’s spell.

As we travelled deeper into the jungle

wilderness that is the Kumaon region,

this enchanting rural terrain worked its

way deeper into our souls. Picking highlights

from such a trip was never going to

be easy. There were nights under the stars

listening to leopards calling, from wooden

machans almost identical to those from

which Corbett shot man-eaters. There was

meeting direct descendants of the people

whose lives Corbett transformed by his

saving them from man-eaters, or by his

building of the village of Chhoti Haldwani,

where he is still deeply loved. There was

his summer house at Nainital and winter

house at Kaladhungi, both of which still

contain many emotive personal artefacts;

and, of course, there is the wildlife – so

much incredible wildlife.

The very reason for the trip was for

Rigby to make a donation to the Jim

Corbett National Park. Rather than cash,

we agreed something tangible would be

more appropriate. After some deliberation,

Rigby arranged for a $25,000 4x4 rapidresponse

vehicle, equipped for a vet to help

the park’s rangers deal with human-tiger

conflict. The official handover ceremony

took place early in the trip at the Civic Auditorium

at Ramnagar. A capacity crowd

of more than 300, the local and the national

press, as well as dignitaries, listened

to Marc’s speech about Corbett and what

his rifle represents to Rigby today. After a

84 | Hunter´s Path 3/2016


85


86 | Hunter´s Path 3/2016


Top left: Corbett National Park

comprises a 520.8 km 2 (201.1 sq mi)

area of hills, riverine belts, marshy

depressions, grasslands and a large

lake. The elevation ranges from 1,300

to 4,000 ft (400 to 1,220 m).

Bottom left: The Dun valley overlooking

the River Ramganga in the

Corbett National Park is an area dense

in tiger activity, due to its bounty of

prey species for the apex predators.

Top: A close encounter with a tiger is

a humbling experience.

Top right: Tiger pugmarks in the

dust of the forest floor.

Right: A crested serpent eagle looks

out over the forest floor.

Justin Bieberesque media frenzy over the

rifle (yes a rifle), Marc presented the keys to

the brand new, Rigby branded, Tata Xenon

pick-up to Samir Sinha, Chief Conservator

and Director of Forests for the Corbett

Tiger Reserve.

I watched with a great sense of relief

and pride that the hard work of Marc, myself

and others at Rigby had paid off. At

one stage, the donation had been put in

jeopardy when WWF India, whom we had

originally asked to assist at a local level,

refused to take part on the grounds that

Rigby is an ‘arms manufacturer’, which we

thought was scandalous. Fortunately for

the wildlife we found a way, and the vehicle

was donated directly, but not without

significant unnecessary hassle.

After the circus of the ceremony and

donation, the tour party had the chance to

follow in the footsteps on Carpet Sahib -

the local name for Corbett. On our first

evening in the park, which covers 52,000

hectares, has no fences and is totally wild,

we had our first encounter with a wild tiger.

In fact, we were lucky enough to see two:

one from a jeep and the other from the

comfort of a howdah atop an elephant, in

true Corbett style. Both were incredible,

87


88 | Hunter´s Path 3/2016


A rhesus macaque watches over

the Rigby group as they search the

Corbett National Park for tigers

from the back of an elephant.

89


Rudraprayag, a holy place for many,

where the Alaknanda and Mandakini

rivers meet to form the Ganges.

Newton addresses hundreds of locals at a

ceremony at the Rudraprayag kill-site. The rifle

lies respectfully on Corbett‘s memorial, which

is the very site that the leopard fell after eight

years of terror and 126 recorded deaths.

90 | Hunter´s Path 3/2016


Swazi’s Davey Hughes, a lifelong Corbett

and Rigby fanatic, takes a moment with the

.275 rifle to reflect on Corbett’s legacy.

but the latter just had the edge. The tiger

behaved more naturally when faced with

another jungle grandee than with a diesel

vehicle. We saw him in his full, regal, languid

glory just thirty yards away: stretching,

shrugging, then sauntering off into a

dense patch of flowering briar. King of the

jungle. It was sobering to know that the

week before we arrived, a ranger out on

patrol was killed and eaten by a tiger. It

could have been either of the tigers we saw.

The event that marked the end of the

tour was no less spectacular. This took place

at the other end of Corbett’s home province,

high up in the foothills of the Himalayas,

at the headwaters of the Ganges

close to the Chinese border. Rudraprayag

was the location where Corbett used his

Rigby to deliver the local population from

a dreaded man-eating leopard that had

killed a recorded 126 people. This cat was

a master man-killer. It would reputedly

come through the roof at night and pull

people from their beds. Such was the fear

of this feline, the entire valley was in a state

of curfew for eight years, until after many

failed attempts, Corbett was able to bring

the leopard to book and end the people’s

misery. He is revered by the modern-day

inhabitants, who celebrate a public holiday

each year on his birthday, and who have his

books on their school curriculum for all the

children to read.

A crowd of 400 people packed the Corbett

memorial site for a chance to see the

fabled Rigby that had saved their forebears

ninety years previously. It was not an instrument

of death, but of deliverance. The

site lies on the exact spot where he took

the leopard with the rifle. The very tree

where he built a machan and lay in wait,

still looms over the gate into the cobbled

area, where a rather simple statue of Corbett

looks back towards the tree. Guests

included high-ranking dignitaries, government

officials, children from the local

school and soldiers of the Kumaon regiment,

Corbett’s old regiment which was

fortuitously stationed at the local barracks

when we were there. People had turned out

in droves to pay their respects to the rifle.

As at Ramnagar, this event was marked by

more emotion and ceremony than you’d see

at equivalent occasions in Europe or even

in the USA. The flowers, brightly coloured

awnings and sheer passion made our typical

large cheque-and-handshake-for-thecamera

affairs seem dry and empty.

I for one came away feeling both

humbled and enormously privileged to

have been able to experience the people,

places and wildlife of Kumaon. To visit

and spend time at several of the actual sites

where Corbett dispatched the man-eaters

that he writes about in his books was humbling,

and to see two wild tigers in all of

their majesty is the best wildlife experience

of my life. The day following the ceremony

in Ramnagar, we made front-page news

in over seventy newspapers, including The

Times of India, the nation’s largest national

daily (7.6 million readers) as well as the

Hindustan Times (3.8 million readers). It

appeared that our primary objective to raise

awareness about conservation had been

achieved. Through Corbett’s rifle, together

with the donation, we were able to shine

a spotlight on wildlife and conservation

topics for a short period to a great many

people. We only hope it did some good.

I’ve always admired Corbett, but I don’t

think I’d really appreciated just how much

of a hero he actually was until we visited

this remarkable part of the world. It’s an

honour to have been able to help Rigby

contribute, even a little, to the continuation

of his conservation legacy and legend. •

91


PORTRAIT OF AN ARTIST

PERCIVAL ROSSEAU

The American Artist

WHO ABANDONED

NUDES FOR GUNDOGS

TEXT: BROOKE CHILVERSLUBIN

The charming village of

Rolleboise sits on the left

bank of a comfortable bend

in the Seine River, some forty-five

miles northwest of Paris. Only a few

miles from Giverny, where Claude Monet

famously made his home and gardens

starting in 1883, it’s remembered mostly

for the luxurious hilltop villa, built in 1908

by King Leopold II of Belgium as a trysting

place with a favorite mistress, today a

four-star hotel and restaurant. But many

an artist sojourned in Rolleboise, including

sculptor and explorer Herbert Ward

(1863–1919) who accompanied Stanley to

Africa, and American dog artist Percival

Leonard Rosseau (1859–1937).

Given his tragedy-filled youth in the

American South and surprising early success

in business, it’s astonishing that Rosseau

became an artist at all. For he was

born in slave country, in Pointe Coupée

Parish near Baton Rouge, Louisiana, at the

most precarious time in American history.

The Civil War (1861–1865) would sweep

away the boy’s entire universe, taking his

father, uncle, and two older brothers who

all fell in the field. His mother succumbed

to illness, and General William Tecumseh

Sherman destroyed the affluent family’s

plantation during his Mississippi campaign.

The story passed down from authors,

who met Rosseau’s then elderly son Francis

in the 1980s, is that a slave rescued Rosseau

and his sister. “Percy” was then raised by a

guardian in Kentucky who taught him how

to shoot, hunt and fish. While at school he

learned to draw and carve. At seventeen he

struck out on his own.

For the first six years he worked as a

cowboy, trading and driving cattle along

the Chisholm Trail from Mexico to Kansas,

shooting bison along the way to feed

his men. With his earnings he got into

the lumber business, but lost his timber in

an unrecoverable logjam while floating it

down the Mississippi River. He then went

to New Orleans and started a fruit import

business that he moved to New York City.

At age thirty-five he’d amassed enough

wealth to retire on his investments.

In an amazing switch, the American

entrepreneur set sail in 1894 for Paris

with the intention of studying art. Traveling

from San Francisco via Honolulu and

Hong Kong, onboard ship he met another

orphan, Nancy Bidwell of Los Angeles—

the first white child born in the Arizona

Territory. They were married in 1897 and

moved to France, where they raised two

sons and many hunting dogs in their Normandy-styled

half-timbered country house

in Rolleboise, that held the remnants of

a ruined twelfth-century British fortress

in the garden. When Rosseau’s business

partner fled with his money to Brazil in

1898, the couple lived off Nancy’s dowry,

until her agent stole her funds.

In Paris, Rosseau enrolled in the private

art school, the Académie Julian, founded

in 1868, and considered very progressive –

it accepted women, foreign students and

serious amateurs – compared with the government-sanctioned

École des Beaux-Arts.

Rosseau would have studied anatomy

and the nude under Jules Joseph Lefebvre,

renowned for his gorgeous female figures,

and learned composition and draftsmanship

from historical painter Tony

Robert-Fleury. Charles Hermann-Léon,

known for his animals and dramatic hunting

scenes, may also have influenced Rosseau.

During his six years at the academy,

he may have crossed paths with his contemporaries,

Henri Matisse (born 1869)

and Childe Hassam (born 1859), who also

studied there.

He certainly would have been exposed

to the revolutionary Symbolist art movement

called “Les Nabis,” which advocated

“an expressive use of color and rhythmic

pattern,” that was born at the academy in

the 1890s. Yet he would later write that

he was “quite shocked at the craze now

for the Ultra-Impressionists, Futurists and


October on Grassy Hill: Portrait of Transue

Bill and Glensale Happy on Point (1919)

Oil on canvas, 28 3/8 x 34 1/4 inches.

Photo courtesy of William Secord Gallery, New York

Irish Setters on Point

Oil on canvas, 20.25 x 28 inches.

Photo courtesy of Copley Fine Art Auctions, Boston


PORTRAIT OF AN ARTIST

The Pack at Full Cry (1913)

Oil on canvas, 30 x 40 inches

Photo courtesy Peter L. Villa Fine Art, New York

Cubists, and other so-called ‘schools,’ which are running to all

sorts of extremes…”

Rosseau’s early work is most closely associated with the Barbizon

School of Realism, which rejected religious, mythological,

and historical allegories as subjects, instead portraying nature from

nature, working en plein air. This in-the-field approach was made

possible by the invention, in the 1840s, of the portable, collapsible

tin paint tube, followed by the availability of commercially

mixed paints, which allowed artists to create colors and textures

unavailable until then. Prior to that, artists had to painstakingly

grind pigments in the studio, and then carefully mix them with

linseed and poppy oils.

Although this movement – named for the rural village thirty

miles southeast of Paris in the heart of the Fontainebleau Forest,

where the informal group of like-minded landscape artists congregated

in their “colony” – had faded by the 1870s with the deaths of

its pioneers (Théodore Rousseau in 1867 and both Camille Corot

and Jean-Franҫois Millet in 1875), its popularity with buyers was

at its height when Rosseau arrived in France, and French rural

realism would fit him like a glove.

After only three years of study, Rosseau received honorable

mention in the 1900 Paris Salon for his nude, Ariadne. His 1903

submission Diana Hunting (using his wife as a model) – his first

painting that included animals, two Irish wolfhounds – drew attention

to his ability to portray dogs. “A man should paint what

he knows best, and I knew more about animals than anything else.

I have run hounds from childhood, and have at my fingertips the

thorough knowledge of dogs necessary to picture them faithfully,”

he said after concluding that, “I would be stronger in depicting

dog life than in any other subject.” But until he discovered his

“natural inclination… I hadn’t the faintest idea of becoming an

animal painter…” Sure of his “proper knowledge of dogs” for his

two 1904 entries, his subject was setters working a field.

Reproductions of Rosseau’s work had been selling well enough,

but there was little interest in purchasing the originals. “The day

after the [1904] Salon opened, I received eleven telegrams asking

my prices for the pictures, and I sold both in a few hours. Thereafter

I had little trouble selling my work.” Deducing that buyers were

more likely to hang the portrait of a favorite dog in their homes

than that of a naked lady, he stopped painting nudes, explaining,

“it doesn’t pay, and artists must live.”

94 | Hunter´s Path 3/2016


Two Setters (1911)

Watercolor, 12 x 15.25 inches

Photo courtesy of Copley Fine Art Auctions, Boston

English Setters (1924)

Oil on board, 9.5 x 13.5 inches

Photo courtesy of Copley Fine Art Auctions, Boston

Setter and Ruddy Duck

Oil on canvas, 20 x 24 inches

Photo courtesy of Copley Fine Art Auctions, Boston

Two Setters (1909)

Oil on canvas, 7 x 9 inches

Photo courtesy of Copley Fine Art Auctions, Boston

95


PORTRAIT OF AN ARTIST

in the attitude I wish.” Often using his own

gundogs as models, Rosseau placed them

in richly textured landscapes bathed in a

glowing light that bounces off cool streams

and golden meadows onto the dogs’ mottled

white coats, liquid eyes, and wet noses.

His gray boulders are flecked with lavender

and sky blue; a tawny horizon breaks down

the autumn grasses into a prism of greens

and yellows; darker gnarled roots, old oaks,

tree-dappled light, and atmospheric shadow-play

form a flattering backdrop for his

alert and active dogs.

English Setters in a River, 1920

Oil on canvas, 34 x 28 inches.

Photo courtesy William Secord Gallery, New York

Soon he was earning enough from

commissions to spend summers in France

and winters in the States, working for

thoroughbred dog breeders and famous

men with famous dogs who often invited

Rosseau to their private hunting clubs. For

example, in 1912, sportsman and president

of the Postal Telegraph-Cable Company,

Clarence Mackay, invited him to portray

his best dogs (he kept 200) to decorate the

walls of his 1,100-acre quail-hunt lodge,

Deep River Lodge, in North Carolina.

Himself an avid wingshooter, Rosseau

reputedly favored the French Darne shotgun,

which features a fixed set of barrels

and a unique sliding breech system. “In

France, I used to spend a great deal of time

in the hunting field making sketches from

the day the shooting season opened,” wrote

Rosseau. In addition to drawing on his experiences

in the field, he studied animals in

the Paris Zoo, the Jardin des Plantes, and

did many of his own anatomical studies of

specimens he killed, skinned, and dissected,

like the “panther” he hunted in Texas.

He found high-strung hunting dogs

more difficult to paint than humans. Although

he trained his dogs to pose for several

hours at a time, “I never try to get them

to ‘sit’ for a portrait. After studying the animal

carefully, I reconstruct it piece by piece

It was a good life, with Rosseau

writing in 1912: “Personally, I have

been doing more shooting lately

than anything else. My subjects

necessarily come from the field, and when

the shooting season opens, I begin to spend

my time seeing the dogs work, and making

sketches. I do most of my painting from

what I have gathered during the hunting

season, except that some of it is inspired

from real life and actual incidents.”

The Great War obliged the Rosseaus

to leave France for the States for good.

He brought with him the brushwork and

palette of Barbizon, but found another fit

within the American Impressionist artists’

colony in Old Lyme, Connecticut, and

moved his family and kennels to an eighteenth-century

home on Grassy Hill. The

movement resembled the Barbizon in its

country lifestyle set in a familiarly European

topography, proximity to a cultural

metropolis (in this case, New York), picturesque

subject matter, and plein air practices.

These well-dressed “Tonalists”—and their

dogs—found a convivial and inexpensive

meeting place in Florence Griswold’s

house, today a reputed museum.

A sixty-second black-and-white silent

film that was part of a 2009 exhibition,

Lure of Lyme, shows a kindly looking

gentleman wearing fedora and tie in his

kennels, moving confidently through a

horde of eager English setters vying for a

pat. Rosseau had turned almost exclusively

to painting pointers and English setters,

writing: “Man’s most faithful friend and

companion – often abused and caricatured,

yet loved by us all, is my theme. The days

96 | Hunter´s Path 3/2016


NEW

in the fields and woods my inspiration and just the dog, my

subject.”

Under the influence of American Impressionism, Rosseau’s

palette brightens and becomes bolder. His style,

especially his handling of landscapes, becomes looser, his

brushstroke more rhythmic and textured with impasto. Open

fields and the dappled light of woodland fringes replace the

subdued earth-toned colors of Europe’s somber and shady,

old-growth royal forests.

Rosseau was at the top of his game during the first decades

of the twentieth century. His clients included Remington

Arms, Western Union, as well as magnate Percy

Rockefeller, a director of Bethlehem Steel Corporation who,

in 1925, built Rosseau a winter home and studio at his Overhills

Club in Fayetteville, North Carolina. (In fact, Rosseau

died at Overhills in 1937, and is buried in the Cross Creek

Cemetery; Nancy and her cocker spaniel stayed on for years,

“joining” him only in 1965.)

A roomful of paintings of dogs flushing birds and honoring

each other’s point might start to resemble each other,

but Rosseau captured each animal’s unique expression and

personality. “I cannot remember a single instance of two dogs

being similar in character or temperament, and all this variation

is reflected in their faces and has to be caught by the

painter,” he wrote.

When asked to compare the appeal of Rosseau’s work to

John Emms’ hounds and terriers or Edwin Megargee’s purebred

dogs, dealer Peter L. Villa wrote, “This best of our native

sons is a perceptive observer whose work successfully conveys

a sportsman’s intimate knowledge of the bird-dog in

his element.” Art dealer William Secord added, “Rosseau

understood dogs—not only their anatomy, but their very

nature. His skill and training as a painter allowed him to

express this in a painterly, romantic style that captured the

essence of a sporting dog in the field.”

Unfortunately, no portrait or photo of the artist seems

to have survived. Yet Rosseau made it into the pages of the

New York Post in a 2012 article about a 92-year-old father

suing his 44-year-old daughter for the return of an original

oil painting, Tri-Color English Setters on Point, “worth at least

$40,000,” which he claims he’d only lent her (twenty years

earlier) to temporarily decorate her Manhattan apartment.

Other oils of his setters have brought up to $130,000 at

auction. Yet when I called in at the Rolleboise mayor’s office,

nobody had heard of Percival Rosseau.


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97


The exhausted author takes a breather

after watching his guide David and his

dogs do most of the work.

Fiji: Boars

Jungle Chase:

Hounds,

a Horse, and Pigs

The three Australian nurses wanted to go see a waterfall, and

when you’re on vacation in Fiji with nothing to do but snorkel

and relax, you tend to go along with whatever the Australian

nurses want to do.


A little homemade, household advertising

in the Fijian Village of Biasevu.

Text and Photos: Joe Flood

Waterfall

We were all tourists staying on the Sunset Strip, a sleepy stretch

of coast along the southwest corner of Fiji’s Big Island, Viti Levu.

After a night at a local cafe, with the nurses embarrassing me with

their pool-playing and Fiji Bitter beer drinking, we decided an

adventure was in order. So the following day they rented a car from

their resort and I joined them for a trip to the village of Biasevu,

where there were supposed to be waterfalls within easy walking

distance. After a thirty-minute drive down the coast, our little

economy-sized car had to brave five kilometers up a bumpy dirt

road that switchbacked its way up into the rocky highlands at the

center of the Big Island, an extinct volcano that had thrust up out

of the South Pacific some 150 million years ago.

When we arrived in Biasevu, the local headman ushered us

into a community building, where I contorted my inflexible hips

into a cross-legged sitting position on the floor for a small kava

ceremony —in Fijian villages, you almost never find chairs anywhere.

A traditional South Pacific drink made by straining the

dried root powder of a pepper plant through a cheese cloth, Fijians

drink kava as part of traditional ceremonies, as an evening

nightcap, or sometimes, as part of a night out. “When you go to

a club, it is expensive to drink beers all night,” one Fijian friend

had told me. “Much better to drink some grog before you go, and

only have one or two beers.”

Along with subsistence farming, Biasevu does a nice little trade

in tourists coming to see the falls. For a small fee Nimo Navatu,

a big, barefoot, muscle-bound villager in his twenties, led us on a

thirty-minute hike up to the closest, and tallest, of the waterfalls,

a rocky cliff about twenty meters high that poured stream water

down into a clear, cool pool, about chest deep, filled with little

frogs and fish.

“Some of the plants are good for medicine,” Nimo told us

on the walk back to the village. “This one,” he said, grabbing an

aloe-like plant that he crushed into a gooey gel and swabbed across

his scalp, “is good for your hair, like a...a conditioner.” The leaf of

another plant, Nimo explained, could be crushed and wrapped

around a sprained ankle or sore elbow to take down the swelling.

“And this one,” he said pointing to another plant, “you use to clean

out a cut if you hurt yourself climbing or hunting.”

“Hunting?” I asked.

Hounds, Horses, and Pigs

It was dark when someone shook me awake. After a few weeks

in Fiji I’d settled in to a nice routine of going to bed early and

waking up late, but even now, an early morning after a late night,

my heart was already thumping for a pair of firsts—my first pig

hunt, and my first time hunting outside of the US.

After the trip to the waterfall Nimo had brought me to meet

the village’s top hunter, David Kunavatu, a lean, bearded man with

99


A view of the Fijian highlands

from a clifftop boar trail.

David Kunavatu and his hunting

partner Lomex Delai sharpen

machetes for the hunt.

a cool demeanor. David was a little skeptical of my credentials as a

great white hunter. In Biasevu they hunt wild boars with nothing

more than a pack of skinny little dogs and cane knives, or machetes.

The dogs are routinely injured and killed, and it can be dangerous

business even for the hunters. I tried to reassure David that I had

plenty of experience hunting big animals (albeit with guns and

arrows, never hand-to-hand), but it wasn’t enough to override his

concerns. That was probably well-justified given how he met me,

traipsing about with sunburnt Australian tourists, wearing a goofy

pair of Vibram toe-shoes and a big sunhat advertising Fiji Gold,

the national brewery’s light or ‘lady beer’ option. But we arrived

at a compromise: I could join David when he went hunting in a

few days, but I’d have to stay back a bit from the action, and when

the dogs cornered a pig, David would be the one to swoop in and

break its spine with the foot-long blade of a cane knife. The dogs

already had to brave the pigs, they didn’t need the added risk of

my amateur machete swings to worry about as well.

The night before the hunt I hitchhiked my way back to the

village and spent the evening with David, Nimo, and the local

rugby team they both played on, telling hunting stories over big

coconut shells of kava. The more I heard about the local boars, the

more I appreciated David’s caution. It wasn’t just dogs that were

gored by the wild boars that lived in the surrounding highlands,

100 | Hunter´s Path 3/2016


ut hunters and passersby as well. There

was one story about a boar that attacked a

pair of boys without warning in the jungle

near the village, tearing a deep hole in

one boy’s stomach and nearly killing him.

We retired to Nimo’s house, where he, his

mother and siblings all slept on mats in

the living room. As a guest and a kaivalagi

(translation: wimpy American tourist),

they insisted I sleep on the softest mat. Not

that it mattered, I was thinking too much

about the pigs to sleep very well.

But as we started getting ready for the

hunt in the predawn darkness the next

morning, I thought the preparations were

a bit too much. Someone had tracked down

a horse, a short, scrawny thing that looked

like it would collapse under the weight of

a tourist child going for a beach ride, never

mind a full-grown me on a hunting expedition.

But David insisted I ride because

“the pig can knock you down when you’re

on the ground”. I figured my chances were

better on my own two feet than on this

hoof-sore horse’s, but I knew that the job

of anyone tagging along on a hunt is to stay

quiet and do what your guide tells you. So,

feeling like some lazy, pith-helmeted colonial

administrator being carried around

on a sedan chair, I got on the horse. Nimo

walked beside me, and David and his friend

Leone took the lead with David’s herd of

tiny dogs.

“When they are young, we let them

smell the blood of the pig,” David had

told me the night before about training the

dogs. “When they are a little bigger, they

go with the other dogs when we hunt, and

they learn from them.” I’ve hunted coyotes

with big, rangy hounds that outrun and

outweigh the coyotes they kill by a wide

margin, but I could see this was going to be

a different kind of hunting entirely.

David’s most trusted dog was a black

and white female that looked a bit like a

terrier. She was a little larger than most of

the other dogs, but still no more than thirty

pounds or so, and she was going to lead

the charge against a short, squat, tusked

boar that could weigh a hundred pounds

or more. There were nearly a dozen of the

dogs, so the numbers were in their favor,

but the rest of the pack would be taking

cues from the leader. They would either be

shying away or fearlessly attacking, based

on the behavior of this sweet little mutt,

that seemed more like a lap dog than an

elite killing machine. She was “very fierce”

though, David assured me, “very brave”.

“Sometimes the dogs get scared of the pig,

but not her.”

Fear was nowhere to be found in

the dogs as David led us into the jungle

at daybreak. They nipped and growled

playfully with each other, the young ones

watching and imitating as the lead female

and the other older dogs sniffed

Top: The Fijian jungle is thick

with trees and undergrowth.

Middle: David finds a fresh

track from the big sow boar

heading back to her den after a

night of foraging.

101


102 | Hunter´s Path 3/2016


excitedly at the ground. Morning is the best time to hunt

around Biasevu, David said, before the largely nocturnal

pigs bed down out of the midday heat. You can hunt them

in the evening, too, but in the morning is easier, because

the dogs can follow the tracks and scents that the pigs

leave behind after a night of foraging.

We followed winding game trails deeper into the highlands,

the top of my head brushing the lower leaves of banana

and mango trees, as we crisscrossed streams where the pigs

came to drink. It was nice not having to slog through all the

muck and water, but it was also becoming clear that I’d been

right about the terrain being too rough for the horse, who’d

started acting more like a stubborn mule, refusing to cross

streams and stopping constantly to munch on grass. Losing

more and more ground to David, Leone, and the increasingly

loud and excited pack of dogs, Nimo and I tied up the horse

and took off after the group on foot.

We gained ground steadily until we could hear the pack

just a few dozen yards ahead of us. There was a sudden shout

and the dogs started barking like wolves in a vampire movie.

The chase was on!

Nimo and I tore through the brush, his bare feet gliding

smoothly over the muddy ground, while I slipped and

struggled in my sneakers (I should have brought my toeshoes

for the extra grip!). Previously a calm crowd, the dogs

had turned into a raging mob. They had a good-sized boar

Top and bottom left: Small but courageous, David’s

hunting dogs use the power of numbers (with a little

help from the machetes).

Bottom: Lomex strikes a pose after a long hunt.

103


Top left: Removing the

hair from the boar.

Middle: Delicious boar

meat served on a stone.

cornered between a stand of brush and a

small gully. David’s alpha female was in

the front of the pack, biting at the pig’s

neck, then jumping clear of its short, but

razor-sharp tusks. The boar dwarfed the

dogs, but they followed the alpha female’s

lead, nipping and barking and bewildering

the panicked pig.

With the boar distracted by the dogs,

David jumped into the fray with his big

cane knife, delivering two expert whacks

that cracked the boar’s back. The pack of

dogs seemed far more concerned with tearing

off bites of the pig than putting it out

of its misery, but thankfully they dragged

it into a deep puddle and the job was done

quickly. After a few minutes to rest, and

drink some water (from old plastic Fiji

water bottles that we’d filled from a tap),

David cleaned the pig and the dogs gorged

themselves on the innards. Watching the

dogs eating, particularly the pups, made

it clear how important aggressiveness is

in animals who live without much access

to food. The bigger, more aggressive pups

were quick to grab food, leaving them all

the more well-fed and stronger for the next

time they had to fight over food.

Happy to be back on my own two feet,

we received a hero’s welcome when we returned

to the village. A group of boys walking

to the waterfall had also run afoul of a

large boar that had chased them. One boy

had stunned it with a rock, but by the time

he grabbed a knife from the village, the unconscious

beast had woken up and headed

out. Now though, there would be a feast.

The boar we’d hunted was a good-sized

sow, maybe seventy pounds after she was

gutted. We covered her with dried palm

fronds, tied her to a palm tree, and lit

the fronds to scorch off the hair. Then I

helped Nimo scrape the charred hide with

the dull side of a cane knife. Meanwhile,

Leone built a fire and filled it with rocks.

When the rocks had cooked long enough

to glow orange, we crammed as many as we

could fit inside the pig’s chest cavity, sewed

it up and roasted it over the fire, so the

flames would cook the outside while the

rocks heated the inside. As it cooked, we

went out and gathered some wild-growing

side dishes: spicy little peppers, unripened

breadfruit, a kind of lime called a moli that

looks like an orange on the inside (the

name is probably short for molikata, the

Fijian word for the color orange).

We tossed the big breadfruits into

the coals of the fire and relaxed in the big

main room of someone’s house, with a

freshly strained bowl of kava, as some of

the women from the village tended to the

final stages of cooking. In a short while

they brought in the boar on a platter, cut

up in big hunks. The hunting party and

many of the men from the village sat in a

big circle on the floor, and an elder said a

few words of thanks before we all dug in,

grabbing big hunks of boar and breadfruit

with our hands and dipping them into a

delicious sauce made of the spicy peppers,

the tartly acidic molis, and fresh, coarse,

sea salt. We gorged ourselves on pig and

enjoyed a couple of bottles of Fiji Bitter,

a few sips doled out to everyone in small

plastic cups, just as kava is shared equally

amongst people. Pretty soon the children

and women came in to eat, and many of

the men went outside to nap in the sun

and smoke cigarettes which, as with beer

and kava, people shared, a few puffs each,

instead of smoking their own.

I went back to Biasevu a few more

times before returning to the States a few

weeks later, and found out later from David

that his fearless black and white female dog

was killed by a boar on another hunting

trip. There were other dogs ready to take

over the top spot, and plenty of young dogs

ready to be trained, he told me. But he’d

never had one as fearless, and he didn’t

know if she could ever really be replaced.



If you would like to experience your own

Fiji jungle chase adventure contact David

Kunavatu via Facebook:

www.facebook.com/david.kunavatu

104 | Hunter´s Path 3/2016


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105


Caribou in open terrain.

It’s time to get closer.

Northwest Territories: Mountain Caribou

WITH OPEN SIGHTS

in the Wilderness

Henrik Lott has been hunting for several years strictly with open sights. In

Canada he hoped to fulfill his dream of a true wilderness hunt. His friend,

hunting companion, and filmmaker Sebastian Steinbrink shares their story,

and whether they managed to stalk close enough for success.

Text and Photos: Sebastian Steinbrink


The northern lights make the

long journey worth it.

Wupp Wupp Wupp... The blades of

the helicopter send waves across

the grass and bushes. With lowered heads

we unload. A last good-bye before the machine

ascends, and we are alone. With our

guide Ron, and my good friend Henrik,

I am left standing on the shore of an alpine

lake in the Mackenzie Mountains, far

from civilization. I’m here to film Henrik’s

hunt for moose and caribou. He has already

killed a moose in another corner of the

gigantic, 2.5-million-hectare concession.

We have been waiting for the start of the

migration of the mountain caribou. Believing

strongly that we would find our quarry

here, our outfitter Werner Aschbacher flew

us up to this high mountain plateau.

It is a picturesque and beautiful mountain-lake

setting for our camp, but nameless

like many of the rivers and mountain

ranges here. The summits of the surrounding

mountains are reflected on the still,

mirror-like surface of the lake. In central

Europe a place like this would have

long since been overrun by mass tourism.

However, it is only possible to get here by

bush plane or helicopter, and the arduous

journey takes several hours and is quite

expensive.

There isn’t a road or settlement far and

wide, only wilderness and the occasional

hunter. This is a hunting area that is untouched

by civilization as almost no other.

Moose, caribou, grizzly, Dall sheep, mountain

goats, wolves, wolverine and black

bears all make tracks here - as do a few

hunters in search of solitude, adventure and

pristine wilderness, far away from the now

almost unbearable stress of civilization,

with its many perversions and problems.

We quickly set up our tents, for the

night will be cold. We don’t even consider

hunting. The law dictates that at least

twelve hours must pass between the flying

in and hunting in the Northwest Territories.

In the distance, at last light, we see a

big bull caribou with a few females as they

travel up the valley along the river.

The night is luminous and bitter cold.

Negative temperatures and a frigid wind,

which carries ice crystals from the nearby

snow-covered summits, make sleep almost

impossible. I use the time in the best way

possible and shoot some footage of the

spectacularly beautiful polar aurora. The

sky is lit up by true fireworks. Continuously

changing, this optical phenomenon flashes

numerous color variations, and moves extremely

fast. However, by morning I long

for the sunrise, and laboriously pull on my

many layers of hunting clothes. The camera

batteries suffer from the cold as well, and it

is a real challenge to work under these conditions.

There is enough battery life to last

through about forty-eight hours of filming.

Henrik has his Krieghoff double rifle in

.375 H&H with open sights, that he shoots

exclusively. Our guide Ron carries an

American style lever-action. I am warned

not to walk away from the camp unarmed.

This is grizzly country. In the main camp,

our outfitter Werner Aschbacher also

carries a Krieghoff double in caliber .375

H&H, which considering the number of

grizzlies in the area, is a good choice.

108 | Hunter´s Path 3/2016


Henrik Lott, Mackenzie Mountains Fall 2015

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109


A grandiose sunrise following

a bitter cold night.

Following a quick breakfast of cereal

from a bag, we begin to extensively glass

our environs. It isn’t long before we discover

a troop of caribou bulls, which passes

by quite quickly. There isn’t a good bull

among the group, but we still decide to

attempt to give chase for filming purposes,

and because Henrik enjoys a good stalk,

even if only for practice. We do well and

get close. Henrik gets a feel for the caribou,

the terrain, and the distances involved.

We are successful on a second tactical stalk

as well. A truly mature bull however isn’t

among this group either. Ron glasses our

surroundings extensively, rating bulls, some

which suddenly emerge several kilometers

away and then disappear again. Impatience

now strikes us and we decide to explore

and stalk our way up the river valley. Our

decision is based on the fact that most of

the caribou we have seen so far have come

from that direction.

From habit, once at the river we fill

our water bottles. The sun shines only

diffusely through the clouds, it is warm,

and for some time we no longer see any

game. It must be around noon. As we are

glassing the far end of the valley, about

two to three kilometers away, a group of

caribou appears on a large hill. In the midst

of a few females stands an enormous bull,

whose size is immediately obvious even at

such a distance. We are electrified, check

the wind and our equipment, and shorten

the distance in a steady march. The bull

has already bedded down, which gives us

time, but which also raises the question of

how long the caribou will remain there.

We wait in the shade of a spruce and take

a closer look at the bull. I immediately have

the feeling that he is ‘our’ bull. His antlers

have good mass and long tines, and he has a

huge body. Henrik glances in my direction

and it is obvious he is of the same opinion.

There isn’t any discussion about whether we

should attempt a stalk, just how we can best

approach the bull. Ron thinks we should

wait until the small herd begins moving

again. When they do, it is likely that they

will move down the valley in our direction.

I agree with Ron, and Henrik approves,

provisionally.

Very little happens for about an hour

- the wind is stable, the sun moves slowly

across the sky, and the hunters rest. Then

it starts coming together as I had imagined

it would: Henrik suddenly makes his

suggestion. We should move to the left into

the shade of the mountain, and use the

cover of the river and the favorable wind

to get as close as possible. Then, with only

the necessary equipment, we should crawl

toward the bedded caribou. Should they

rise in the meantime, we will see them or

they will move in our direction. Otherwise,

after we crawl up the hill and close the

distance on the unsuspecting herd, there

will be a showdown. Henrik speculates that

he will be able to get a shot opportunity

shortly after the bull stands up. How I am

supposed to get that on film is momentarily

still another mystery, but the suggestion

sounds feasible, and sitting around waiting

is just not our thing. So we go!

The first part of the stalk unfolds

smoothly. We manage not to spook any

game. Henrik examines the wind often

with his wind checker, and it’s all good.

Ron allows us to do our thing, and even

appears to be infected with a touch of

hunting fever - as it should be.

At the foot of the hill we drop our

backpacks. I do this only reluctantly, because

all my gear is in there, including my

110 | Hunter´s Path 3/2016


Henrik and his Krieghoff double

rifle above the treeline.

filters for various lighting conditions and

the extra batteries. Bent over, we stalk up

the first portion of the hill. The caribou

must be above us and to the right, perhaps

still two hundred meters away. Suddenly I

see a caribou to our left. A short “down”

parts my lips, and we all lie down in the

heath. Another bigger herd of mountain

caribou passes by at about a hundred meters.

We remain flat for several minutes as I

film, and we debate where our group could

be, but we don’t have any choice but to wait

things out. When the bigger herd finally

passes, we begin our stalk anew, this time

on all fours. We repeatedly look to the left

for any stragglers behind the big herd. Meter

by meter we work our way up the hill.

We were right about the herd’s position.

Suddenly I see the first female standing to

our right, a bit above us. She crosses diagonally

downhill about eighty meters away.

She is followed by a second cow. Behind

her the tips of long antlers suddenly appear

and I warn Henrik, “The bull is coming!“

and the big-bodied bull with the enormous

antlers comes close indeed. We change our

position only minimally for the shot. Henrik

watches the bull closely as it passes by

Home base in the Northwest

Territories.

111


112 | Hunter´s Path 3/2016


Top: Caribou migrate in groups

through the Mackenzie Mountains.

Middle: Caribou’s hooves are

perfectly adapted to their habitat.

Right: The mature bull has enormous

antlers and a large body.

us at only about forty-five meters, broadside.

We must both sit upright, otherwise neither

filming nor shooting is possible. The bull

does not stop, but I can see out of the corner

of my eye that Henrik is following it with

his rifle. When it pauses just briefly, the shot

from the double rifle immediately drops it

on the tundra.

The other caribou run off, unaware of

what just happened. We walk over to the

downed monarch, Henrik sets his rifle to

the side, and the hunt is over. Ron can’t

believe it. He was behind a small hill and

couldn’t see much of what transpired. He

left us a lot of room to make our own hunting

decisions, which in my eyes and to his

credit, makes him the perfect guide. We are

delighted, and share the intense emotional

moment of hunting success, thrilled at how

things played out. Then we study the bull

closely, touch it, and stand still next to it

and are quietly moved. There is always a bit

of sadness and melancholy after making a

kill. This emotional state is known well by

most hunters, it is simply part of the hunt.

However, it is also natural to feel joy.

The bull has enormous antlers, and its

body is massive. The tremendous mass,

which extends to the shovels, and the many

points are proof of antlers of an exceptional

trophy. The fine lines left by large arteries

while the bull was in velvet, remind me of

rivers on a topographic map. Call me crazy,

but they look like the paths the bull has

taken throughout his life, recorded on the

antlers of this old monarch of the tundra.

As we stand there another group of caribou

flees behind us down the hill. There is

a bull of similar size in that group too, and

it is obvious the way of things in the far

north continues uninterrupted. And now

we have work ahead of us, filming, field

dressing, securing the meat, and cleaning

the antlers.

The venison is carefully but quickly

removed from the carcass. We take every

edible morsel, to be used at the main camp

or later flown to Wrigley. In Canada it is

generally illegal to sell game meat, which

is reasonable, and which means that only

enough game is harvested to satisfy personal

needs.

Eventually, the work is done and a great

day draws to a close. Our return to camp is

light-footed and joyous. The fact that it is

my birthday is purely coincidental, but Ron

and Henrik seize the moment and decide

to make a large fire. I generally don’t make

much of birthdays, particularly my own,

but on this day I feel like celebrating, and

the prospect of a warming fire is a genuine

gift. Although there are only a few trees up

here, the lower branches of the black spruce

are bone dry.

Finally a fire! We have waited a long

time for this. Up to this point we have

113


Field dressing and preparing

the head for transport, even

the cameraman has to put

hands on.

followed Werner’s advice and refrained

from building fires, so as not to warn the

game of our presence and not to lessen our

hunting opportunities. The extreme cold

the previous night had dug deeply into my

body. Now, relief finally and scorched shoes

– that were too close to the fire.

Just before dark, there are caribou everywhere!

They pass by only a few hundred

meters from our tents. The ones that end up

downwind, stop and stare at us. I manage

repeatedly to get good footage of the herds

and the small groups containing the occasional

trophy bull. The great migration, in

which the caribou move to their wintering

grounds, is now in full swing. After nightfall

the northern lights begin once more. It

is warmer than the night before, and only

a light frost creeps into our tent. I secure

the last memory card and finally we find

deep, restful sleep.

The next morning the weather is good

and we are able to use our multicopter

drone to capture some interesting aerial

footage of both the wildlife and ourselves.

From the beginning it was our intention

to use the drone only after the hunt was

over. Later that morning the helicopter

arrives to retrieve us from this valley of

the caribou. The meat is packed on the

outside, Henrik holds the antlers on his

lap, and along with all of our gear, it is a

tight fit.

Back at the base camp Henrik and I

reflect on the last few days. We both agree

that this place is one of the wildest and

most beautiful hunting grounds in the

world. The experience in this untouched

area is the main point and the highlight of

this hunt. The challenge of caribou hunting

involves being in the right place at the right

time, and having the patience not to shoot

the first or second bull you see. However, a

word of caution! Every now and then the

first bull is nevertheless the biggest you will

see! One must find the caribou, or, as is

often the case, let the caribou find you. At

any rate, it is often necessary to spend as

much time in the hunting area as possible,

which is always desirable, but technically

difficult in regards to the production of a

hunting film.

So, it’s not always easy, but worth the

effort. Personally, I find that of all the

North American wildlife species, the antlers

of a mature bull caribou are the most

interesting - and that is one of the reasons

why I will eventually return to valley of the

caribou.


WATCH THE FILM

If you would like to watch this

hunt simple follow this link:

www.youtube.com

/watch?v=1P9VOVXsoLA

or just scan the QR-Code.

114 | Hunter´s Path 3/2016


115


Bowhunting Tahr in

NEW ZEALAND: TAHR

HOBBIT COUNTRY

Text: Juha Kylmä

Photos: Juha Kylmä, iStockphoto.com

For most people the mention of New

Zealand is synonymous with the Lord

of the Rings trilogy. The islands are

famed for their otherworldly landscapes,

that make them a perfect place for the

many imaginary creatures of Middle

Earth to roam. It just so happens that

there is indeed a real mythical creature

living in the mountains of New Zealand:

the Himalayan tahr. Ghosting

across high mountaintops, this fleetfooted

adversary is the dream of many

hunters. Just getting close enough to kill

one with a rifle is an extreme challenge,

but getting within shooting range with

a bow and arrow can border on the impossible.

Tahr have been haunting my

dreams for decades, since I first saw one

many years ago. Eventually, I couldn’t

ignore the call from the craggy mountaintops

any longer, and had to head

to Middle Earth for an unforgettable

journey with my bow and arrow…


Terrain like this invokes images of

Middle Earth and Hobbit country.

New Zealand

Located almost exactly on the other side

of the earth from Finland, getting to New

Zealand is an adventure in itself, but just

being far away is only the beginning. The

seasons are opposite those in the Northern

Hemisphere. The New Zealand summer

is between January and March, with temperatures

that average a mild twenty degrees

Celsius. From a hunter’s perspective,

the best time to travel there is May through

July, depending on which species one is

after, and most of the beasts found there

are foreign to Finland.

Isolated from the rest of the world, the

original species that inhabited New Zealand

before the arrival of humans included

birds, reptiles, amphibians, spiders and insects.

Mammals were missing, and birds

filled the niche normally occupied by them.

There were as many as 245 species of birds

on the islands, and up to seventy-five percent

of those were indigenous only to New

Zealand. Many of the birds were large and

flightless. Most of those species are now

extinct. A couple of the surviving flightless

species include the kakapo and the kiwi.

Two other notable indigenous flying species

are the kea and the tui.

The first humans arrived on the islands

about seven hundred years ago. They were

East Polynesians who are known nowadays

as Maoris. The first European to arrive on

the islands was Dutch explorer Abel Tasman

in 1642. The British explorer, Captain

Cook, surveyed nearly the entire coast 150

years later in 1796, and declared the islands

part of the British Empire. It was then that

118 | Hunter´s Path 3/2016


the introduction of foreign species began.

The lack of predators made it easy for the

new species to quickly establish themselves.

The Dream of Himalayan Tahr

My first trip to New Zealand was almost

twenty years ago. It was a grand expedition

that lasted seven weeks. During that

adventure I became familiar with both

islands, and was impressed with how the

Kiwis warmly welcomed the wandering

traveler from the cold north on the other

side of the planet. On that adventure I

saw tahr for the first time, and learned of

many hunting opportunities from my new

friends.

Since that first fateful trip I have been

able to return four times, and hunt most of

the typical New Zealand species, such as

red deer, fallow deer, wild pig, goat, Arapawa

ram, turkey, rabbit, and possum. On

each of those hunts I found myself being

watched from above by fearless tahr, standing

proud among the cliffs and crags, the

bulls with dark impressive manes blowing

in the wind. I wanted to hunt tahr more

than any other species.

From my initial encounters I knew a

hunt wouldn’t be easy. They live in the high

mountains, and a hunter must be physically

and emotionally prepared for the challenge.

The sharp-eyed beasts know that threats

usually come from below, so a hunter has to

be prepared to get above them. The climbs

are long and incredibly steep.

It is quite frustrating to climb for hours

in treacherous terrain, only to see that the

group of tahr you targeted has moved to

the next mountaintop. In spite of their

size, males can weigh as much as a hundred

kilograms, tahr can scale sheer mountains

with almost unimaginable grace and

Juha was comfortable and able to

relax in this small hunting cabin

after hard days in the mountains.

speed. In a flash the king of a herd may be

standing on a tiny ledge on a cliff over a

gigantic gorge, staring back as if he were

mocking the clumsy hunters pursuing him.

It is no wonder that most bowhunters pick

up rifles after their first few unsuccessful

stalk attempts, and just hope to get within

three hundred meters for a shot.

Ribbonwood Station

I had met outfitters Phil and Dani Wilson

several times at the Archery Trade Association

show in the U.S., and decided

to book a hunt with them last year. The

only species I would be hunting was tahr,

and strictly with a bow and arrow. I was

well aware of the risks involved. It is a

long, complicated and expensive journey

from Finland to New Zealand, and the

hunt would be physically and emotionally

demanding, but I have had quite

good luck on my numerous bowhunting

‘walkabouts’, so success was certainly in

the realm of possibility, at least that was

my preconceived notion.

119


New Zealand is famous

for its many species. The

author encountered fallow

deer, red deer, and wild

turkeys on his hunt.

I was met in Christchurch by guides

Sam and Scott, who drove me from the

recently earthquake-damaged city to Ribbonwood

Station, about two-and-a-half

hours to the south. The ‘hunting lodge’

there lives up to a standard that can usually

only be expected from a hotel with several

stars. After dropping my luggage and

changing clothes, my guide for the week,

Darren, directed me to a nearby meadow

where I could shoot a few arrows to make

sure my equipment had made the long

journey unscathed. The first arrow flew true

to the target some twenty meters away. I

followed up with a good training round,

loosing shots of up to seventy meters. My

equipment was fortunately spot-on.

Following a superb but light lunch, we

left the farm behind us and drove toward

the mountains. The drive was a harbinger

of things to come. The track was barely

wider than the truck, and wound across

the mountainsides. It was very tight and

the clouds hung below us. I was happy not

to be the one driving, and tried to keep

my eyes on the road, instead of focusing

on the cliffs and steep slopes just inches

from our tires.

Eventually, we stopped to glass. It

wasn’t long before we spotted a few red

deer, elk, and Arapawa rams. A couple

of hours passed before Darren suddenly

blurted out, “bull tahr”. Initially, I couldn’t

find it in my spotting scope, but with some

detailed directions I finally found the bull

guarding a group of nannies on a distant

slope. Darren quickly formulated a plan

for a stalking route, and the climbing began.

As promising as that stalk looked in

the beginning, it just didn’t work out. The

group of tahr nonchalantly kept the distance

between us at about three hundred

meters, no matter how we tried to sneak

closer. Darkness began to settle in, and a

light rain made the trek back to the truck

soft and slippery, and even more challenging

than it already was.

Test of Will

The alarm clock rang at half past four. After

a quick shower and breakfast, we were on

our way to an area where Darren promised

we would see several groups of tahr. Leaving

the truck we grabbed our packs and

equipment and climbed into the mountains.

Typical for mountain hunting, we

soon arrived at a good vantage point and

began glassing. Almost immediately a herd

of eight tahr came into view. There were

several nannies and a few young bulls, all

under the watchful eye of a big boss bull.

Unfortunately, they were 1,300 meters

away on the highest of the mountaintops

visible to us, and therefore unattainable.

Our hike that day took us from ridge

to peak through a huge valley. At one

point a few nannies passed by at less than

a hundred meters from our vantage point

atop a ridge. As we climbed we spotted a

few more small groups, but nothing that

demanded a stalk. Our plan was to climb

up above the tahr and then attempt to approach

them from above.

Just after a brief lunch break and a

short rest, we noticed another group of

120 | Hunter´s Path 3/2016


tahr moving across the slope, at less than

a hundred meters. I dropped my pack and

other gear to begin a careful approach. To

my pleasant surprise the tahr passed behind

a huge rock formation, which provided me

with enough cover to close the distance

quickly. To my not so pleasant surprise,

when I arrived at the rocks the tahr were

already on the opposite slope heading for

higher ground. There was nothing more I

could do at that point except sit down in

the shade and resume glassing.

During the course of the day we

climbed mountains high enough to challenge

any experienced alpinist, and were

privy to a landscape that would leave even

the most scenery-jaded tourist awestruck.

The tahr however kept a safe distance.

Late in the afternoon we began our descent.

Initially, moving down the mountain

was a welcome change from climbing

all day, however, about halfway down my

thighs began to burn and ache. I was having

difficulty keeping up with the pace set

by my experienced mountain guide. In the

steepest parts of the descent I had to use

tufts of grass to keep my balance. The descent

turned out to be almost as challenging

as the ascent, which was something I had

never before considered. We climbed and

hiked for more than ten hours that day, and

I was exhausted. The stage was set for the

remainder of the hunt.

Doubt

The bulk of the third day was spent climbing

to the top of ‘nipple’ mountain, only to

discover after our arrival that the tahr spotted

there had already departed for different

environs. It was still early in the hunt and

already the toil began to seem hopeless.

This sense of hopelessness wasn’t helped by

the fact that within minutes Darren was already

on his way up another slope motioning

for me to follow. I was frustrated and

wanted to return to the vehicle, but Darren

had other plans. We followed a forty-centimeter-wide

‘tahr highway’ across the face

of frighteningly steep hillsides in search of

our elusive quarry. It was such a precarious

walkabout that I kept wondering to myself,

“Am I actually paying for this?”

That night after supper, I talked to

the outfitter Dani Wilson about possibly

changing the plan. The bowhunt seemed

impossible. Both Dani and Darren however

encouraged me to stick to my original plan.

It was good to have their encouragement,

even though I was beginning to think my

dream of taking a tahr with a bow was

just like Gollum’s dream of holding his

precious ring. Darren emphasized that

the words ‘tahr’ and ‘easy’ are never found

in the same sentence. He himself hunted

for three years before taking his first bull

tahr with a bow. They also made it clear

that while bowhunting tahr, it is normal

for a shot opportunity to arise only once

during the hunt. The average shot distance

is also a bit longer than most bowhunters

are accustomed to, typically just over fifty

meters. The conversation provided me with

new motivation and determination to stick

to my plan, and continue to hunt with my

bow.

New Mountaintops

The next morning I felt somehow rejuvenated,

and had accepted that this was

perhaps the toughest bowhunt I would ever

attempt. The days quickly passed and I enjoyed

exploring new areas, but no matter

121


Left: Juha points to the rock where

his tahr stood and presented him

with a shot.

Right: Juha with the mythical beast

from Hobbit country that he had

been dreaming of for decades.

what we did, it always seemed that the tahr

kept one step in front of us. Since other

rifle hunters were in camp, I could admire

their successes in the evening. They took

several stags, elk, and even a tahr, from

which I learned how to calculate the age

by the growth lumps on the horns. Long

days were followed by good times at the

lodge for all the hunters. Unencumbered

by serious hopes of success, I simply took

pleasure in my daily routine.

The week rolled quickly by, and on the

eighth day of the hunt I changed guides

as planned. Darren had other obligations,

so I was paired with another bowhunter

by the name of Remi. He immediately

changed areas, and we headed into terrain

that was craggier and a bit more rugged

than the mountains I was previously

hunting.

The Opportunity

Early that morning we had an encounter

with some goats and a few Merriam turkeys

that presented good opportunities for a kill,

but I stuck to my goal, tahr or nothing. At

first glance, the dark-brown goats look a lot

like tahr as they suddenly appear in your

binoculars. A morning rain shower forced

us to take cover for a bit, but soon afterwards

we were back to glassing. It was only minutes

later when we were lucky enough to

spot a few tahr nannies. At this time of year,

early May, where there are nannies, there are

also bulls! The rut was in full swing. As the

nannies made their way across a hillside,

they were soon followed by some immature

bulls, and eventually a thick-maned boss

bull appeared on the scene.

With the nannies in the lead, all the tahr

moved towards the next peak. It was time

to take action. As soon as the last one disappeared

out of sight, I crossed the valley to

get to the far ridge, and a new vantage point.

Fortunately, the series of valleys consisted

of moderate terrain, and I was able to cross

relatively expediently. We repeated the same

kind of crossing several times, and eventually

we peeked over the edge and found

ourselves within a hundred meters of the

group of tahr. The big bull was a handsome

sight, as he postured and paced behind the

females.

Remi instructed me to keep my

head low and get into position behind

122 | Hunter´s Path 3/2016


some bushes. I settled in and studied the

situation. The entire herd had climbed on

top of a rock outcropping about seventy

meters away. The wind was favorable, and I

knew this would be my chance. The nannies

led the way off the rocks, and I moved a few

yards closer behind some more bushes for

a better shot angle. Only seconds later the

bull’s horns came into view. In a few steps

he would be open for a shot opportunity.

The distance was still longer than in most

common bowhunting situations, but it was

one that I had to attempt. Darren’s words

came back to me. “When you bowhunt for

tahr, you usually only get one opportunity.”

I glanced at my sight-pins and focused

on the color pin I would need to shoot at

that distance, and then reminded myself

to think of proper shooting form, should

the bull really present an opportunity. Suddenly,

his deep chest appeared between

two boulders. This was the moment I had

dreamt of for decades. The mythical beast

of Middle Earth was really there, standing

in front of me. It was like a dream.

Instinctively, I crouched for cover behind

the bush, drew my bow, and then slowly

rose into shooting position. One would

perhaps expect heart palpitations in an

excruciatingly exciting situation like this,

but I was surprised how calm and focused

I was. Slowly, the sight-pin found the bull’s

leg and rose along it to the center of his

chest. The arrow left my string and flew

as though in slow motion. I watched the

white vanes disappear in the exact spot

where I had aimed. To be honest I was

surprised. “Perfect shot!” Remi whispered

from behind me.

After waiting for about twenty minutes,

we climbed on top of the rock where the

bull had been standing. We began glassing

the hillsides, a bit too far off as it turned

out. After just a few minutes Remi suddenly

turned to me and whispered, “Your tahr is

right there below us.” It hadn’t covered more

than thirty meters before its life evaporated

in the thin, foggy, mountain air. This was the

successful culmination of decades of dreaming

of the mythical beast that had haunted

me for so long. My emotions were indescribable.

I had come to the Hobbit country

of Middle Earth, faced what seemed like

an impossible challenge, and was rewarded

with my own precious prize. •

Contact

If you are interested in your own hunting

adventure in New Zealand contact

the New Zealand Hunt team:

www.newzealandhunting.com

123


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124 | Hunter´s Path 3/2016


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equipped with second barrels. The barrels are totally silver-soldered and

equipped with a top solid Churchill rib. The oil-finished Prince of Wales

stock features fine hand-checkering. The frame is a true round body (sides

of the frame are rounded). The frame is machined from a monolithic forged

steel alloy, with a ZOLI designed removable trigger group. All trigger parts

are titanium nitrate treated for maximum corrosion resistance. The main

springs are coated with a self-lubricating material to preserve the strength

over time. The exquisite scroll engraving, is totally finished by hand, and

signed by the famous ‘Bottega Incisioni’. To learn more about ZOLI’s new

line of shotguns, visit: www.zoli.it or www.zoliusa.com

ce

126 | Hunter´s Path 3/2016


Handcrafted Bows, Knives, and Axes

from Sparrow Gear

Are you frustrated with mass-produced products and gear? Master

craftsman Matt Moline felt the same way, and set out on a personal

journey to create the finest hand-forged knives, axes, and hatchets

possible. The result of his journey is Sparrow Gear, a company that has

revived traditional skills and craftsmanship, to create custom products

for the discerning outdoorsman.

For instance, Moline’s Hunter’s Hatchet is constructed of a milled steel

body, with a 1,095 high carbon bit that has been fire-welded to form the

blade edge. The blade shape is designed with the hunter in mind, as it is

perfect for quartering a large game animal out in the field. Also, great for

splitting small sticks for the fire, it’s lightweight and small enough to fit in

your pack or belt – perfect for a backpacking trip or camp adventure. It is

sharpened, polished and oiled for a fine finish.

Each hatchet head is individually hammered into shape, and bears the

initials of the smith who made it, creating a one-of-a-kind masterpiece.

The rugged charred-wood handle is painstakingly carved by hand for unprecedented

strength, and finished with a wax and linseed oil finish.

This kind of craftsmanship and attention to detail is what sets Sparrow Gear apart.

Every bow, knife, hatchet or axe is indeed in a class by itself. Order your own custom

product today. www.sparrowgear.net

ce

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127


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Vixen Riflescope 2.5-10x50

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• Length: 327mm, weight: 580g

• Light transmission of more than 90%

• Available also in 2.5-10x56

New Zealand

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NEW

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Vixen Riflescope 1-6x24

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small Duplex reticle.

• 30mm tube diameter

• Reticle in the second image plane

• Full multicoating

• Length: 275mm, weight: 420g

• Field of view on 100m = 38m

• Test result in several hunting

magazines: “Price – Quality Champion”

Sweden

IS HUNTING for brown bears

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Photo: Tweed Media

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Vixen NEW FORESTA 8x56 binocular

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• Roof prism with rubber coating

• Water-resistant and nitrogen filled

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• Weight: 1222g

• Adjustable eye cups and long eye relief

• Available in the following versions:

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Vixen ATREK 8x56 binocular

• Roof prism binocular with rubber coating

• Water-resistant and nitrogen filled

• Full multicoating Phase coated

• Weight: only 995g

• Available in the following versions:

• 8/10x25, 8/10x32, 8/10x42, 8/10x50, 8x56

Warranty on all Riflescopes 30 years.

Warranty on all Binoculars 5 years.

Kleinhülsen 16/18 · 40721 Hilden · Germany

Tel.: +49 2103/89787-0 · +49 2103/89787-29

E-Mail: info@vixen-europe.com

Internet: www.vixen-europe.com

Planned for issue No. 16:

South Africa – Zebra | British Columbia – Mountain Goat | Germany – Roe Deer | Colorado – Elk |

Africa – Survive | Alaska – Halibut | Spain – Ibex | And much more…

Masthead

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Prairie Mountain Wildlife Studio

prairiemountain@goldenwest.net

www.prairiemountainwildlife.com

Cell 605.490.2711 | Fax 605.985.5213

Brush Country Studios

office@brushcountrystudios.com

www.brushcountrystudios.com

Cell 713.202.8956 | 281.256.0742


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Rifles can only be sold to permit holders.

THE NEW

SAUER 404.

MAKE MORE

POSSIBLE.

INTELLIGENT // The sling swivel

loop is likewise the key to unlocking

the full flexibility and modularity of

the S 404.

INNOVATIVE // The SAUER Quattro:

Choose in seconds between 550, 750,

1000 and 1250 gram (1.21, 1.65, 2.20

and 2.75 lb) trigger pull weights.

INDIVIDUAL // A perfectly adjustable

trigger blade for sure hits with any hand

size. It’s your gun, after all!

WWW.SAUER.DE

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