Unsuspected Charges | Faro Safaris
Histoire de Chasse - Je me remémore ici quelques souvenirs de charges des plus insolites, de quoi remettre en question auprès de mes fidèles clients, toute ma réputation.
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Hunting Chronicle

Unsuspected Charges

Hunting Cameroon
3rd March 2020 | in Hunting Chronicles | by Frank Vannier

I remember of some of the most unusual charges I have ever had, and this is enough to make my loyal clients question my entire reputation.

Maguida Chroniques d'un Pisteur Blanc

The very first was some twenty years ago, when I was just starting out in my profession.

I remember of a hunter from Northern France. We were approaching with all the care that a Western Bushduiker requires…

 

All the sudden, an aggression from the sky, in the form of a black bird no bigger than a thrush – no doubt I got close to its nest – assailed me assiduously with beaks. I defended myself with great gestures, the weapon in vain, causing our prey to flee, very worried by my pantomime.

A feeling of ridicule still lingers in my memory, as I was already building up the “aura” of a “Great guide of… Big Game Hunting”…

Maguida Chroniques d'un Pisteur Blanc
Maguida Chroniques d'un Pisteur Blanc

My second attack was no less grotesque… One afternoon, with the help of experienced trackers, I drove a few timid guinea fowls back towards the impatient guns of dilettante hunters stationed on the banks of the Faro river. A colony of guereza colobus, frightened off by our noisy progress, played trapeze artist over our heads. Unbeknownst to me, one of them dropped down on me in a huff. Astonishment! Unarmed, I scrambled out of the way, looking for something to defend myself with. I found a piece of dead wood that was enough of a deterrent to stand my ground. Psychologically reassured, I seized it, brandishing it and shouting. Watching at my expense, the trackers laughed their heads off. Faced with my determination, the aggressor abandoned the confrontation and turned on one of them. After a gesture of hesitation, the latter took off running. This burlesque situation made me laugh as well. The exhausted colobus swallowed his snarl, certainly due to too much testosterone. All this commotion frightened the guinea fowls, who flew back to the reserve, crossing the river without the cannons’ mouths spewing their lead pellets…

Then came the experience of buffalo, hippos, lions and elephants charges. Personally, I think their bad temper is overrated.
Most of them have an instinct for self-defense. Only a small percentage have aggressive personalities and can cause any concern. There is no point in repeating what many well-known guides have already written… In order not to frighten my readers, potential guests, I will spare them my professional anecdotes. I will, however, recount here my very first experience with a buffalo charge.

I was about fourteen years old and, like every school holidays, I was heading for paradise on earth: my father’s hunting camp on the banks of the mythical Faro river.

Accompanied by the son of a tracker, I unconsciously followed in my father’s footsteps.

One early morning, I set off from camp and soon came across a splendid solitary buffalo bull. I aim for the shoulder and fire, armed with a 6.5X58… The buffalo reacts. It turns and looks for us. Hamadjoda, barely older than me, insists on pointing me to a tree where we would be safe… He urges me to climb it. All this under the bewildered eye of our impatient buffalo. Panicked and inexperienced, we haul ourselves out of reach. I take the initiative and shoot from this uncomfortable position. The buffalo moves towards us, both annoyed and astonished. I double on its chest. The buffalo takes the shot and freezes. Bloody bubbles emerge from its nostrils. I triple. He pretends to charge straight, stops, turns and runs away, offering us a backside that I riddle with bullets. In the end, he falls a few hundred yards further on, victim of the haemorrhage resulting from my relentlessness.
Of course, I spared my father the details of this very first confrontation with a “big five”.

Maguida Chroniques d'un Pisteur Blanc
Maguida Chroniques d'un Pisteur Blanc

I will then recount a surprising charge. As far back as I can remember, I had never personally been attacked by a… warthog!
On that February day in 2004, a Flemish hunter friend of mine shot a warthog with a very wide trophy. The warthog took the brunt of the blow, fell, got up and quickly disappeared into the shrubby savannah.

 

We start tracking with blood. We follow him for half an hour and lose the trail on the outskirts of a narrow burrow. An underground noise followed by movement made us realize that the suid’s mouth was flush with the burrow. Its immobility and color had hidden it from our view. Unfortunately for him, the width of his canines prevented him from fully penetrating the burrow. Instinctively, in a last gasp of life, he bursts out, facing us from less than a metre away. I fire without shouldering. The bullet from my 458 delivers him from his torment and us from ours…

Many of my colleagues have suffered charges from dangerous animals. Some have perished. Many heroic stories of confrontations with wild beasts fascinate. With derision, I will finish by laughing that I was the only professional hunter, to my knowledge, to be charged by a Lord Derby eland.
 I take great pleasure in collecting these exceptional moments that propel me into the twists and turns of Mother Nature… “Nobody is perfect”

It was early February. We were tracking a herd of about thirty elands. After two hours, we made contact. Feline approach to a laterite-colored cathedral termite mound, eighty meters from the herd napping in the shade. Two representative males within shooting distance. Our attention is drawn to a splendid trophy set back behind the others. We watch it for a good half-hour. The wind freshens the back of my neck. A bad sign. Nostrils dilate. Eyes widen. A few animals are already picking up our scent. Hoarse sounds emanate from their throats. The worried herd emerges from its lethargy and moves in line to our right. The superb bull looms within shooting distance.

My hunter pulls the trigger. Muscles bulging, the animal rears up, then melts into the dispersing herd. We pick up his blood tracks. 
They soon emerge from those of the rest of the herd.

We reel in our bull twenty minutes later, but he spots us first and takes off again. We catch up with him twice: he is ahead of us in our reflexes.

After an hour, his footprints head for a densely vegetated lowland area. We go around it to try to cross it: no sign of an exit! Then I catch a glimpse of a motionless auburn reflection through a thick screen of tangled vines. No doubt about it, it can only be him. This is impossible to estimate which part of the body this coppery stain corresponds to. After a few moments’ hesitation, I ask the hunter to put a bullet in it. The eland reacts immediately, emerging from the “bako” (small and thick forest) with a badly damaged shoulder and thigh. It glides straight ahead, then twirls around and charges us, head down, eye determined. I respond in amazement, the animal less than ten metres away. He stumbles and lies down for good.

 

After the mechanics of the gesture comes the realization. The first bullet (from 375) had mushroomed too quickly on contact with the shoulder joint and had only superficially penetrated the rib cage. The cornered and exhausted animal had no other recourse than this final charge…

Maguida Chroniques d'un Pisteur Blanc
This article is taken from our latest publication « Maguida, Chronicles of a White Tracker », available for purchase!
As a gift to a friend or to treat yourself, order your copy as of now.
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30th May 2019 | in Hunting Chronicles | by Frank Vannier

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21st October 2018 | in Hunting Chronicles | by Frank Vannier

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20th June 2018 | in Hunting Chronicles | by Frank Vannier

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Indeed, I have never seen the opportunity on a Lord Derby Eland be repeated 3 days in a row in my lifetime. Unbelievable…