North Carolina Quarter-Ton Black Bear!


When you think of oversize black bears, offshore Canadian locations such as Vancouver Island and the Queen Charlotte Islands – or perhaps coastal Alaska – usually come to mind. But Tom Harrison, whom I first met at the SCI Sportsmen’s Prayer Breakfast, showed me some photos of bears from North Carolina that started to change my way of thinking.

Tom, in a partnership with several other landowners known as Mattamuskeet Ventures, owns 16,000 acres in eastern North Carolina. The property is adjacent to the vast Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge near Lake Mattamuskeet, famous for its massive waterfowl populations.

Most of the partnership’s land has been sequestered in a conservation reserve, though a block of 4,000 acres is still an agricultural enterprise. This terrific combination of location, high-quality, year-round food and cover, genetically superior bears and an excellent management regimen has led to some awesome bear hunting. Mattamuskeet Ventures sells no hunts or hunting rights, but by God’s providence, Tom invited me to hunt with him.

nc-bear-2_-JonesPast hunters there have included Craig Boddington, who took a 487-pound black bear; Jim Zumbo, who scored on a bruin weighing 420 pounds; and Will Graham, a minister and frequent lodge guest who is the grandson of the evangelist Billy Graham. I had met Will before, and he was slated to be my roommate on this trip. The lodge was a comfortable six-bedroom house near the farm’s operational nerve center.

Eastern North Carolina has a split bear-hunting season – the first part is a single week in November. Mattamuskeet took six bears during that season in 2006, with an average of just under 400 pounds, smaller than usual because an enthusiastic youngster was allowed to shoot a 275-pound bear. I was hunting the second season, the middle two weeks of December. I had set my standard at 400 pounds and was determined not take anything lighter.

Tom sat with me on a tripod stand on opening day as a deep pink dawn crept in from the east, slowly revealing the frosty terrain. We were beside a road, scanning a harvested cornfield some 300 yards away. A strip of fallow land covered with early succession weeds separated it from us.

Quite a few bears are taken there from stands, or by spot-and-stalk as the big bruins feed in the rich farmland. However, since hunting over bait piles is illegal, most bears are taken by using hounds. Eastern North Carolina is a prime destination for houndsmen in December, and more than a dozen dog enthusiasts were here on this farm alone, including a sizable contingent from the mountains of northern Georgia. I got along with them well because I am a product of those same mountains and felt a sense of kinship.

nc-bear-4_-JonesEach day in late afternoon, a drag device was pulled along all the roads so that tracks made during the night would stand out the next morning.  From the size of the tracks and how deep they were, experts could determine roughly the size of a bear. All the houndsmen were combing the roads for fresh sign even as Tom and I waited on the stand.

One of the houndsmen advised us to move on down the road, where a big bear was observed in a field at dawn. It fled into dense woods when the vehicle surprised it. Preparations were already being made to put hounds into the woods, and I was stationed on the road with my old Remington Model 700 in .30-06, a veteran of some 70 guided North American hunts. I had brought the rifle out of retirement just for this hunt.

A spirited chase ensued in the woods in front of me. The music of the trailing hounds filled the air and chilled me with nostalgic thoughts of raccoon and cougar hunts long ago. The pursuit consumed a couple of hours. It ended when a sub-adult bear plunged noisily into the canal and swam out, then safely crossed the road into another block of timbered land.

The next day dawned crystal clear, and we started out watching another likely field. Again, we saw nothing except deer, so it appeared we would have to go in after our bear with the help of those dedicated houndsmen. We found a good track entering another swamp farther down the road, and we spent most of the day trying to keep up with the hounds.

nc-bear-12_-JonesThe dogs finally barked “treed” deep in the swamp, and we moved as close to them as possible on the road before plunging into an awful tangle. The underbrush was so thick that we had to crawl in many places. The ground had a spongy, peat-like consistency, with deep, hidden holes of wet muck that surprised the unwary. I repeatedly sank almost to the tops of my rubber boots, but we pressed onward, drawn by the rhythmic baying up ahead. Sweat drenched my clothes, and my tired legs struggled to get over or under each successive barricade. To my disappointment, the tree held a “ghost bear,” though we could never have discerned this from the passion of the hounds. We caught the dogs and then retreated back to the road, weary from our foray.

A heavy rain that night lasted until dawn, washing out all hopes of finding a track the dogs could work. Fog shrouded the fields so thickly that we could see scarcely 50 yards. Since stand hunting was out of the question, Tom and I joined the dog men early, looking for tracks. Those we found had been thoroughly rained on, and the dogs showed little interest in such faint scent. We spotted a few tracks made by bears in the 300-pound range, which the dogs could possibly have followed, but Tom and I adamantly stood our ground on the 400-pound class bear we were seeking. The day turned out to be a total washout, but Tom and I enjoyed a great lunch at a dockside restaurant and I even got in a nap that afternoon. Once more we spent the last hour and a half of the day watching a likely road, but nothing showed except the ubiquitous deer.

Another big track entered the same section we had hunted two days before, a block adjacent to the national wildlife refuge. We hurried to position ourselves to cut off escape, and we actually saw a big bear well in front of us cross the road from the farm into the refuge. Two logs spanned the deep canal there, and the bear’s wet track was easily visible on one of them. Where its feet hit the mud on the NWR side, the track was deep and measured five inches wide. We knew this was a really good bear. We sat at the bridge and waited while the hounds were running, but nothing else crossed.

nc-bear-7_-JonesOne of the houndsmen reported that a big bear had almost run him over on a road that ran between two blocks of farm property, and entered the tract we were watching. My inclination was to wait right there, but it wasn’t to be. The hounds had soon run so deeply into the swamp that they were barely audible. One of the houndsmen, Steve Crisp, was listening intently.

“They’re bayed on the ground,” he said flatly. Then he added: “No, the bear broke and they’re running again.”

Steve repeated this litany several times and finally declared that the hounds were barking “treed.” I was only marginally interested after my Herculean effort two days before to reach an empty tree. The biggest bears seldom climb trees, so most are killed by cutting them off at a crossing. If they come to bay on the ground, they often won’t stay put long enough for the hunter to approach for a shot, though this is the only way to do it when a bear comes to bay repeatedly. This bear had stopped at least four times, but now a dozen minutes passed with no change in the dogs’ position. The rhythm and tone of the barking dogs, as well as their unchanging location, indicated that the bear had gone up a tree.

We drove to a place where we could best hear the tumult, then plunged into country even rougher than we’d experienced before. Wax myrtle and vines were intertwined so thickly that we had no choice but to either go over or under them. Water was pooled everywhere.

Fifty yards or so from the hounds, we still could see nothing in any tree, though visibility was severely limited. Jay Eakes, the farm manager, had me chamber a round just in case. We parted the last bushes separating us from the dogs. The pack formed a multicolored swirl around a huge tree.

nc-bear-6_-JonesSuddenly I could see the bear.

It was sitting on a limb 30 feet off the ground, and it was truly a big one. Bears of that size usually won’t tree, and we realized that it might yet bail out. There was no doubt this was a taker, but it surely wouldn’t tree again if it jumped. The best we could hope for in that case would be to have it come to bay on the ground and shoot it at 10 feet or so. For the moment, it was hugging the massive trunk while pandemonium reigned on the ground. The deafening barking of a dozen plotts, walkers and redticks drowned out all attempts at communication.

“We’re going to try and get the dogs back,” Jay yelled. I nodded in agreement, replying that I’d shoot only if it appeared the bear was about to leave. I positioned myself against a convenient tree and placed the crosshairs on the massive neck. If I was forced to shoot prematurely, I wanted to make certain the animal would be dead when it hit the ground.

Jay and a couple of the houndsmen had just reached the tree and began attaching leads to the dogs when I was forced to make a critical decision. The bruin pushed back from the tree, turned its head in the opposite direction and crouched slightly. It was about to jump, and I could wait no longer. My shot had to kill the bear or a disaster could occur.

I shouted twice, then once more, to Jay that I was going to shoot, but had no time to judge whether the houndsmen had even heard me. I touched the trigger as the animal leaped, and the bear crumpled and came crashing down. It was stone dead, killed by a 200-grain Nosler propelled by one of Steve Comus’s handloads. The hunt was over and all were safe, including the dogs. I breathed a huge sigh of relief before letting elation set in.

The animal now sprawled on the ground was the reason I’d wanted to hunt North Carolina. Guesses about its weight started immediately, the drift being that it was in the 500-pound class, give or take a little. After photos, the houndsmen used an innovative winch powered by a chain saw motor to get the animal to a waiting truck. The process was tedious because we were a third of a mile into the woods, and it took until almost dark. Back at the skinning shed, the scales tipped to exactly 525 pounds. This was the black bear of a lifetime.

I couldn’t thank my friend Tom Harrison enough for allowing me to experience this adventure. Taxidermist Jim Edwards drove down immediately from Colerain, North Carolina, and did the skinning. The meat was prepared for distribution to all.

And I was now ready to head for Georgia. I didn’t have to kill a bear to have a great time on this trip, but I got that wonderful bonus. I was a most happy and satisfied hunter, and my heart overflowed with thanksgiving as I motored homeward.– J.Y. Jones

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30 Years of Service!


Congratulations to SCI’s Libby Grimes, Director of Conventions and Events, for 30 years of outstanding service to SCI, its members and the Annual Hunters’ Convention.

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Register Now For The 2013 SCI Convention!

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SCI Northern Nevada Chapter Sponsors Maison T. Ortiz Youth Camp


The Youth Outdoor Camp was established in 2011 to help children who have not had opportunities to experience the outdoors and related activities.  Thirty-two boys and girls ages 11 to 16, who had not yet taken their Hunter Education Class with the Nevada Department of Wildlife, participated in the second annual camp.

Located on a Nevada ranch 30 miles north of the Reno/Sparks area, the camp is nestled in a valley between the Dogskin Mountains and Tule Peak. The commonly seen animals are deer, antelope, wild horses, chukar, quail and sage grouse.

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A key component of the camp is developing a youth mentor program with qualified adults who lead the attendees through the camp and follow up with them on future hunting and fishing experiences.  Activities include: familiarization, handling and shooting of shotguns, 22 caliber rifles and bows; fishing and fishing education; survival skills and first aid; orienteering, map reading; laser safe shot station and fly tying instruction.

The camp was held Friday, Saturday and Sunday in July 2012.  The children enjoyed their experiences as evident in the following camper’s testimonial.

Camper Luke: “I really enjoyed attending the camp because hunting and outdoor activities are things that I enjoy and love learning more about. I have not had a lot of opportunities to hunt and fish, primarily as my father is not an ‘outdoorsman’ and I have limited opportunities with my grandfather.

“I have to thank the people at the Maison T. Ortiz camp for allowing young kids to come to a camp and get hands-on experience in so many outdoor activities. We were able to sleep in tents, sit around the campfire, learn about the many career opportunities with wildlife, and sharpen our outdoor skills. The time went by very quickly and each day presented a new opportunity to learn a number of outdoor and survival skills. The instructors were great, very helpful and were terrific mentors and guided the activities ranging from fishing, orienteering, shotgun shooting and archery. The activity I enjoyed the most was fishing, which is surprising because I enjoy shooting and archery so much, and because I usually don’t have a good time when I fish, but this time was different – I caught a good size fish. A few days later, when my father and I barbecued it, the fish was delicious.”

The Maison T. Ortiz Youth Outdoor Skills Camp is a unique partnership with the Northern Nevada Chapter of the Safari Club International, Nevada Bighorns Unlimited (NBU), and the Sparks Rotary. Volunteers worked more than 2,500 hours.

The Youth Outdoor Skills Camp is named in honor and memory of Maison T. Ortiz, a 15-year-old Galena High School student who died in a tragic snowboarding accident in January 2011.  Maison was a fifth generation Nevadan.  From his early years, he had an uncanny ability to connect with nature and all of its creatures.– Terrance Melby, Chapter Director

The Face Of African Hunting Is Changing – Again.


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Ghana has never been available to safari hunting until the last couple of years. The primary trophy is the royal antelope, the smallest horned/hooved ungulate in the world, and a great trophy. Now that Ghana is open there is much potential, but this specialized forest hunting for this legendary forest antelope is a great start.

The first story I ever wrote about African hunting was titled “Sunset Safari in Kenya.” By lucky chance I hunted there very shortly before the country closed, so perhaps I can be forgiven the article’s aura of gloom and doom. In late spring 1977, with Kenya recently closed and Tanzania closed for four years, most people with an interest in African hunting thought the end was near.

I’ve written about it before, but this business of “gloom-and-doomitis” is one of two interesting syndromes that seem to attack every hunter who journeys to Africa for the first time. The other is “know-it-allitis,” in that, upon completion of a first safari, he or she is amazingly transformed into the greatest African expert who ever lived. This is fairly harmless, and is simply a reflection of how Africa grabs hold of a person and truly never lets go. This malady can clearly be seen in all of the stuff I wrote after my first few safaris.

The second syndrome, “gloom-and-doomitis,” is much more serious. For some reason every hunter who journeys to Africa seems compelled to recount that he or she saw Africa at its best, and all who follow will see something less. Roosevelt did this in 1910. Hemingway did it in 1935. Ruark did it in 1953. Boddington did it in 1977. Good grief, is this a pattern?

The reopening of Uganda made available long-lost animals like the Nile bushbuck, now readily available.
The reopening of Uganda made available long-lost animals like the Nile bushbuck, now readily available.

Africa has changed, and African game has changed. As we know, some is for the worse, and some areas are still declining. Some is for the better. In 1977, Namibia was a quiet backwater, and there was very little hunting opportunity in South Africa. Few predicted or could foresee the growth in their wildlife, the efficiency of their wildlife management, or that those two countries would come to host the largest safari industries on the continent. Amazing. But perhaps not so amazing. The reality is wildlife is more resilient than we give it credit. Despite the worst of mankind’s ravages, remnants often hang on against all odds…and given a bit of husbandry, can rebound more quickly than expected.

Bill Jones, Boddington, and outfitter Christian Weth with Jones’ great East African sitatunga, taken in the Kafu area of Uganda. Boddington believes Uganda offers the best sitatunga hunting on the African continent.
Bill Jones, Boddington, and outfitter Christian Weth with Jones’ great East African sitatunga, taken in the Kafu area of Uganda. Boddington believes Uganda offers the best sitatunga hunting on the African continent.

Since 1977, and thanks to the value placed on wildlife by international hunters, we have seen game in Namibia and South Africa increase exponentially. The same can be said of Zimbabwe, except that, thanks to Mugabe regime’s “land reallocation” program, wildlife carefully nurtured on private land from 1980 to 2000 is now pretty much gone. Tanzania reopened in 1981, and remains a staunch and solid hunting country. Botswana recently announced it will no longer issue hunting licenses–squeezed by the country’s lucrative ecotourism industry. Cameroon, once a quiet backwater to C.A.R., has become a key safari destination for both forest and savanna game. C.A.R., Ethiopia, and Zambia have had ups and downs and occasional closures, but remain important safari countries. But this is far from a complete picture of the hunter’s Africa in 2011.

At the time Uganda reopened the Uganda kob hadn’t been hunted for a generation. These gorgeous animals are actually quite plentiful, and good trophies are available. This animal, photographed in Murchison Falls National Park, is almost certainly a world record.
At the time Uganda reopened the Uganda kob hadn’t been hunted for a generation. These gorgeous animals are actually quite plentiful, and good trophies are available. This animal, photographed in Murchison Falls National Park, is almost certainly a world record.

NEW/OLD COUNTRIES

During my lifetime, many African countries have changed names – and certainly some of them change governments like I change socks. But the basic political map of Africa hasn’t changed much, and there isn’t a lot of opportunity for genuinely “new” countries to open. On the other hand, some traditional African hunting countries shut down nearly a generation ago, and have been unavailable ever since. So one of the most exciting things in African hunting today is what you might call “recycled” hunting countries, countries that were once open, and now are again open to hunting.

The star player in this role is Mozambique. Ravaged by a brutal civil war for nearly two decades, her wildlife was at such a low ebb that, in 1989, I personally thought it could never recover. That was pure gloom and doom, and I was dead wrong. It has taken much time and effort both by enterprising outfitters and a supportive government, but today the hunting in Mozambique is fantastic. This is not true in all areas. Some areas are still recovering, and a few may never recover, but the hunting is now very good, and will probably just get better.

In Uganda, buffalo are available on the edges of the parks, but the primary populations are within the parks. In Murchison Falls, great Nile buffalo bulls like this can be seen every day.
In Uganda, buffalo are available on the edges of the parks, but the primary populations are within the parks. In Murchison Falls, great Nile buffalo bulls like this can be seen every day.

Mozambique competes with Zimbabwe for the most available and most affordable buffalo hunting, with her numbers increasing every year. She has no competition for the most available and most affordable sable hunting. Her indigenous rarities are few, but a buffalo hunt in Mozambique includes a goodly selection of plains game, and she is “the place” for Livingstone’s suni and red duiker, and her native range-free range nyalas are increasing rapidly. Hunting isn’t new there, pioneering outfitters started up in the late 1980s, really before the shooting stopped, but things were pretty tough back then. Today there are more areas, more outfitters, more game, and more opportunity. I’ve hunted and filmed in Mozambique for the past several years, and it has become one of my favorite hunting countries.

Uganda, reopened for just a couple of years, is in some ways where Mozambique was 20 years ago. Wildlife suffered under Idi Amin’s regime and during the civil war that followed, and today must be considered to exist only in pockets. With protection and the value placed by hunting this will get better, and you have to start somewhere. Uganda’s “somewhere” is really a pretty good position. The country is exceptionally beautiful (Churchill’s “Pearl of Africa”), totally peaceful and safe, and Uganda’s game is very interesting.

Most of her races and subspecies haven’t been hunted for many years, so even her common game – Uganda kob, Nile bushbuck, Jackson’s hartebeest – are extremely desirable. It was the chance to hunt the almost-mythical Sesse Island sitatunga piqued the interest of a lot of collectors, but one of the things I learned is that, on the mainland, Uganda has a large and very widespread population of East African sitatunga. This animal’s swamp habitat has been penetrated very little. It’s my judgment that Uganda offers the best sitatunga hunting on the African continent.

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Boddington, Bill Jones, and PH Tony Moore with a great Uganda kob taken in 2011. Outside the parks populations are small, but great trophies are available.

There are big Cape buffalo, and Nile buffalo to the northwest, but while there are good populations in some parks, Uganda’s buffaloes are very much a remnant population. Hunting is possible, with a number of great Nile buffaloes taken on the boundary of Murchison Falls National Park. It’s going to take time, but buffalo hunting will get better – along with everything else.

The West African nation of Ghana is a brand new hunting country. Although explored, exploited, and poached, she was never open to sport hunting until very recently. The incentive was royal antelope, the world’s smallest ungulate. This cool little animal is fairly widespread from the Dahomey Gap westward, but it appears that Ghana holds a major concentration. Until Ghana only a handful were taken historically, mostly in Liberia. In March 2011, mine was the 14th royal antelope outfitter Steve Kobrine has taken, and there have been more since.

Like most forest hunting, Ghana has among the most specialized of safaris, with just a small selection of forest duikers and small predators also available. However, there is potential. There are bongos in some forest reserves, and the country also has reasonable numbers of West African savanna buffalo, West African kob, and Nagor reedbuck.

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Boddington and Bill Jones with a wonderful old Nile buffalo, taken on the northern boundary of the Murchison Falls National Park.

Benin, long known to French-speaking hunters but new to the American market, has emerged in recent years as sort of an “alternative” safari destination. I haven’t been there yet, but certainly intend to. The game is pretty much the same as northern Cameroon, except there are no Derby elands. So West African roan is the premier antelope species, and this area also offers Nagor reedbuck and West African kob, along with other plains game, savanna buffalo, and the occasional lion. Hunting in Benin has been extremely successful, but, absent bongo and eland, at a much reduced cost from hunting in C.A.R. and Cameroon.

NEW/OLD DISCOVERIES

The age of exploration is long since finished. Several expeditions have penetrated the forests in search of a rumored dinosaur that lurks there, but I don’t believe there are any large animals still awaiting discovery. Undoubtedly, as our record-keeping system continues to mature, there will be reclassifications and new categories, but genuinely new animals are unlikely.

A wonderful white-eared kob,  photographed in southwestern Ethiopia…and proving the presence of this animal in this area. (Photo by Bingam Admassu)
A wonderful white-eared kob, photographed in southwestern Ethiopia…and proving the presence of this animal in this area. (Photo by Bingam Admassu)

On the other hand, across the vastness of Africa recent discoveries provide hope and, once again, prove that wildlife’s will to survive can endure despite even the worst of mankind’s excesses. After the long civil war in Angola, most of us thought there was absolutely no chance that the giant sable might have survived. We were wrong. In the late 1990s, a seriously threatened population was found in game reserves in the Malanga District, north-central Angola. Most reports suggest that things have not gone well for this population, but with live captures and genetic research, captive breeding programs are underway that will ensure the survival of this incredible animal.

From a hunter’s perspective, North Africa is perhaps the most unknown part of the continent. From Morocco to Egypt there are pockets of aoudads, there are gazelles, and Egypt holds the largest African range of the Nubian ibex – but so little is known. A decade ago, when I hunted Chad, the folks there absolutely assured me that scimitar oryx still persisted in remote wadis along the Libyan border. I can neither prove nor disprove this, but the Sahara region remains huge and largely untraveled, so I think it’s very likely that oryx persist, and possibly addax and Dama gazelle. Now that Ghadaffi’s government has fallen, there may be greater interest in seeing what wildlife remains in the great Libyan desert.

As stated earlier, historically Ethiopia has been on-again, off-again as a hunting country. More recently, she was closed from 1994 to 1999, but since then has been a solid, if specialized, hunting destination. Ethiopia is a huge country, and not all areas are available. With southern Sudan closed for nearly 30 years, the Gambella region of southwestern Ethiopia – unhunted for many years – has held the only hope for “Sudan species” such as Nile lechwe and white-eared kob. Reports have been conflicting. Do these animals still occur in Ethiopia, or have they been exterminated by meat poaching?

Thanks to Ethiopian wildlife biologist Yitbarek Tibebe and photographer Bingam Admassu, we can now answer that question. Both the Nile lechwe and white-eared kob occur in huntable numbers in southwestern Ethiopia (which implies they probably do in southeastern Sudan as well). Access is an issue, and no outfitters are currently operating in this region – but they can, and probably will.

For years many African addicts have wondered if Nile lechwe still exist in southwestern Ethiopia. This great bull proves they do, and with help from the Ethiopian government, hunting is possible. (Photo by Bingam Admassue)
For years many African addicts have wondered if Nile lechwe still exist in southwestern Ethiopia. This great bull proves they do, and with help from the Ethiopian government, hunting is possible. (Photo by Bingam Admassue)

FUTURE OPPORTUNITY?

I wish I could say that Kenya was one of them, but despite 34 years of rumors, nothing has happened. Perhaps it’s just more gloom and doom, and thus to be taken with liberal doses of salt, but I don’t think we’ll see Kenya reopening. Some of her politicians and wildlife managers would like to see it, others wouldn’t, but I don’t think it’s likely. Realistically, after spending several months in Kenya on a military mission in the late 1990s, I am not convinced that Kenya, with a burgeoning human population, has enough wildlife remaining outside her parks to allow a viable sport hunting program.

This is a problem across much of Africa: The barn door has been open too long, and the horses are gone. But it is not universal. There is quite a bit of untapped potential for hunting tourism, and wildlife conservation efforts that can be realized by both direct monies and the local employment that a hunting safari brings to town.

For years many African addicts have wondered if Nile lechwe still exist in southwestern Ethiopia. This herd proves they do…and with help from the Ethiopian government, hunting is possible. (Photo by Bingam Admassue)
For years many African addicts have wondered if Nile lechwe still exist in southwestern Ethiopia. This herd proves they do…and with help from the Ethiopian government, hunting is possible. (Photo by Bingam Admassue)

We know that aoudad rams are dying of old age in Morocco, and hunting is open there – shotguns only – for birds and wild boar. Importation (or availability) of rifles has been a long-standing issue for aoudad, but there is potential for gazelle and Barbary red deer as well as aoudad. Morocco is a possibility. Just a few years ago, one knowledgeable agent was taking deposits for aoudad and Nubian ibex in Egypt. The final permits weren’t issued, but there remains strong potential. As mentioned earlier, Libya’s government has now changed (at long last) – and although it might take quite a while, there is potential there as well.

Moving down into Central Africa, just a few years ago an international survey revealed significant – if not amazing – quantities of game in Sudan’s Eastern Equatorial region, essentially southeastern Sudan. The south now has independence from the north, and as peace comes to the region, hunting is very possible – with a treasure trove of races and subspecies that haven’t been hunted for a generation. Pioneering outfitters are already working with the local government and scouting. I think this one will happen, but exactly how soon is unclear.

Also in Central Africa, Congo-Brazzaville has been on-again, off-again on a limited basis, almost never with more than one outfitter. Hunting is technically open, but logistically difficult, and at least one outfitter is again offering hunts there. “Congo-B” has all the basic forest game of southern Cameroon and C.A.R., possibly with fewer bongos, but almost certainly with more forest sitatungas and dwarf buffaloes. One outfitter doesn’t make an industry, but “Congo-B” has great potential for specialized hunting.

The white-eared kob has not been available for hunting for decades. As this photograph proves, they still exist in southeastern Ethiopia.  Photo by Bingam Admassue)
The white-eared kob has not been available for hunting for decades. As this photograph proves, they still exist in southeastern Ethiopia. Photo by Bingam Admassue)

I wish I could predict that Gabon would reopen. With great mineral resources and a small human population, this country has one of the best herds of forest elephant, plus all the forest game (like “Congo-B”, fewer bongos, but more buffaloes and sitatungas). I’m sure there will be more opportunities to hunt there, but who knows?

In Southern Africa there has been some discussion about Malawi, but I don’t see it. There are lots of nyalas and a scattering of other species, including elephant, but a large human population and limited opportunity. Otherwise, Southern Africa is open to hunting, except what may be the crown jewel – Angola. Although I’m sure we will never hunt giant sable, Angola is a rare place where everything comes together, kudu, sable, roan, sitatunga, lechwe, and so much more.

With the long civil war finally concluded, enterprising outfitters have already established camps and area, and report surprising concentrations of game. The stumbling block is that, currently, there is no game law in Angola. But there will be, and there will be great hunting. When Kenya closed, those of us (me included), who predicted an end of African hunting were just plain wrong. Isn’t that wonderful?– Craig Boddington

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