About the Author

Competitive shooter, hunter, fisherman, pilot, vizsla servant, father, son, scientist, and lover of Civil Rights.

Hunting in the Congo Rainforest

By Michael Burke

If the reader wants to enjoy an exciting report about multiple species being killed with heroic tales of hunting dangerous game, perfect shooting with fine vintage rifles firing tailored hand loads, and plush accommodations that included wine and finely cooked meals, he should stop right here.

Flag of the Republic of Congo

This story will be about a hunt that was grueling and tedious at times, wet, hot, and dirty, the first rainforest hunt for the writer and the final trip in to the rainforest for one of the last true adventurers.

This hunt was my eighth safari that had previously included hunts in Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and Zambia. All previous trips included dangerous game on the license. However, I wanted something different. Then one day “Camshaft” posted this offer on the Accurate Reloading online forum.

“Here is a chance to go on a guided hunt in Congo with Cam Greig. I have had a postponement due to circumstances beyond the control of the client. We will fly into Congo Brazzaville in late May or early June 2015. We will take an internal flight (included in cost) then my vehicle, canoes and then on foot to the most remote B’Aka pygmy village I know of. We will negotiate with the local Bantu village to use “their” pygmies and hire 12 or so porters to carry all our gear for 10‐12 days of jungle adventure. You will walk on foot the whole trip once we leave the pygmy village. We will go where no one but myself has ever been as an ‘outsider’ in living memory of the B’Aka. I have hunted the area several times, but am the only outsider to do so. Animals anticipated will be forest buffalo (two allowed on license.) and yellow back duiker as the most likely encounters. Bongo, forest sitatunga and numerous duiker are there. Red river hogs, lots of monkeys and other forest species will be encountered like gorilla and chimps, which can only be photographed. This is a unique adventure for an Africa seasoned adventurer. If you would like to go on one of the last true exploration adventures left today get a hold of me. Cost is all‐inclusive from Brazzaville until we return to the same. You pay any expenses in town as well as trophy fees and costs to get CITES paperwork and export. I help with these procedures. This will be a 2X1 trip with a second hunter signed up already. We can all meet at Vegas if you want or if anyone wants to discuss further hunts, but I anticipate selling the slot before the [SCI Annual] meeting.”

After a couple of private messages and emails Cam Greig and I met at the SCI Convention in February of 2015. We discussed the details of the hunt and I gave Cam a deposit. A month or so later I received an email from Cam cancelling the hunt for 2015 due to a hip replacement surgery he required. After a bit of back and forth he kept half my deposit and I was on the top of the list for 2016. Finally the convention was held in February of 2016. I met Cam, we finalized an agreement and I was set to hunt in June of 2016.

Preparation for this safari was a little different than previous times. I bought the hammock that Cam recommended along with the other gear on his Congo “Cheat Sheet.” I went backpacking a couple of times, including one in the Ozarks that was pretty tough. I also walked quite a bit in the Atchafalaya Basin, Louisiana’s rainforest. Boots were the hardest to nail down. After going through three pairs I finally settled on the Bates Recondo Jungle Boots. I walked nearly two hundred miles on the hunting trip and never developed a single blister, so that effort paid off.

Cam and I stayed in touch. Airline tickets were purchased, and a basic schedule of events was developed. I received my letter of invitation from the Director General of the “General Management of Forestry Economy,” which I used to apply for my visa to the Republic of Congo.

A freshly approved Visa for the Republic of Congo

My date of departure finally arrived and I boarded the Delta flight in Lafayette headed for the Capital and largest city, Brazzaville with stops in Atlanta and Paris. The fights were uneventful. Cam arranged to greet me and provided me with with a guest house for me to stay. Customs and immigration was not a problem. Due to flight schedules Cam arrived the next day. He was held up for about an hour in customs because he brought shotgun shells. He said that was a test to see how security would react. We received our licenses (Petite and Grande) that day at the guest house and everything seemed to be moving forward as planned.

The next morning we boarded our flight to Impfondo and arrived around midday. The Impfondo airport is one of the most chaotic places I have even seen. Nothing works, no organization, and a culture of bribes all make for a less than pleasant experience. We finally collected all of our luggage and headed to the guest house Cam secured for us. This is the same house where some of his gear was stored.

The rifles were in pretty bad shape. One would not work, the bolt and chamber had too much rust to close the bolt. There was a Model 70 Winchester in a .416 Remington that I was able to make work after disassembly of the bolt and a good thorough cleaning. It fed well and dry fired fine. There was a 1.25-4X Swarovski scope with proper mounts for the rifle. The downside for me was the rifle was right‐handed (I am left‐handed), it had a muzzle brake, the barrel was rather long, the stock short (I am 6’‐3” tall) and the scope was mounted a little far back. The second rifle was a Mauser in .375 H&H Magnum with iron sights. I liked the sights, the barrel was a proper length, and although it was right handed it fit me fairly well. After a good cleaning it still would not feed. I asked Cam if the rifle was some type of conversion from another caliber. He said it was a .458 Winchester and had been re‐barreled. I am not a gunsmith, but neither was the person who re‐barreled that rifle. I ended up filing about 0.100” off of each round and they fed really well. So now we had two working rifles, plenty of ammunition, and a shotgun that worked well enough.

A very poorly re-barreled .375 H&H Magnum the author used on his safari.

That evening, Cam negotiated the services of a truck and driver to take us from Impfondo to Mimpoutou. Early the next morning Sarah, who works with the mission hospital, visited us. She wanted to make certain that Cam and I were prepared for the trip physically and spiritually. The driver showed up one hour late, but that was right on time in terms of African time. We drove to town to gather the last of the supplies and food for the trip. Things like condensed milk and freshly baked bread were purchased, along with machetes, a shovel to dig the vehicle out of a muddy hole if needed, a live chicken that we carried all the way to the Pygmy village before we ate it, and other supplies. Then for some unknown reason, the driver poured about 20 liters of tomato juice in the fuel tank of the Cruiser. It seems that everything is carried in yellow 20 liter plastic cans, including diesel, petrol, water, cooking oil, and obviously tomato juice. The driver thought he was pouring fuel into the tank. The tank was drained and flushed. Amazingly other than losing an hour or two we had no further problems.

No need for refrigeration if your meat is still alive

Finally, we headed out of Impfondo. The roads were, for the most part, not too bad and the ferry crossings went well. It was amazing to watch a dugout canoe with a 35 Yamaha outboard push a barge approximately 25’ by 70’ down a river. Our next stop was the town of Enyelle. While in Enyelle we visited the mayor, the police station, and immigration. Enyelle is more or less a district within the Doungou district. The communist mindset still exists in the country. They want to track your movements and consider everybody an enemy of the state. Up to this point, I took very few pictures. Cam warned me I would be considered a spy for doing so. The first three stops went well. The final authority from which we needed approval was the game warden. Our licenses were in order, but he would not stamp them. Cam argued and then it became a heated argument. We left without our licenses and passports and went to a store for something cold to drink. About an hour later the game warden arrived with all of our paperwork ready to go. He was now Cam’s friend. I am sure it required the special handshake with about 20,000 francs folded inside, but we were on our way again. We departed Enyelle and drove several more hours before reaching our final vehicle destination at the Bantu village of Mimpoutou. Cam knew the chief of the village and had equipment stored with the chief. We sorted gear one final time and met up with Daniel, Cam’s main tracker. All arrangements for dugouts, paddlers, porters, and local trackers were made with the chief. That night I fell to sleep listening to an authentic African party in the village. During the journey it was fun watching Cam negotiate, argue, and cajole his way through all of the checkpoints, airports, and contracts with truck drivers. He enjoyed that part of the experience and was extremely good at it.

There is a bakery near my home called LeJeune’s that makes the best “French” bread around, especially when eaten with gumbo. The author found “French” bread just like LeJeune’s all over the Congo. Here the author and Cam enjoy some bread, made even better with condensed milk.

We left Mimpoutou in dugout canoes, which they call pirogues, just like back home. The ride was a great experience. I love being on the water. We received the full treatment including singing and hitting trees with the ends of the paddle to make an extremely deep drum sound. When we arrived at the drop off point we unloaded the pirogue and started moving gear to drier ground. This is where Cam began to have some issues. The first several hundred yards was extremely tough to walk, mostly because it was water and logs. I told him at that point if we needed to go back to Mimpoutou for a couple of days it would not be an issue. His response was I could go back but he was going hunting. I had the porters bring a small pirogue. Cam got in that boat and they pulled him to dry ground. I headed to camp with the porters and a couple of guys stayed with Cam so he could take his time heading to the village. We arrived at the B’aka Pygmy village about 2 hours later. We ate lunch and began to setup camp for our one night stay. I sighted in the rifles and promptly cut my head with the scope on the .416 Remington with about fifty Pygmies watching. Thankfully, it was not too bad. With the rifles sighted in we decided to check on Cam. Earlier we sent two trackers with water and they reported he was making good progress. When Danielle and I left camp we found him maybe 300 yards down the trail. With us all in camp we settled in and ate dinner, which was the chicken we bought in Impfondo and fresh pineapples we picked up along the way. Cam slept for a couple of hours and then we went over a game plan for the next two weeks.

The next morning we decided that Cam would hunt around the Pygmy village and rest for a couple of days. I left him the .416 Remington with the scope and we divided our gear. I bid Cam farewell and with 8 porters, a cook, and two trackers I headed in to the rainforest with a .375 H&H that I shot one time, a pump shotgun that worked as a single shot, no backup, and no PH; to hunt game I had never seen in an area new to me. What could possibly go wrong? This was the seventh day of my adventure and I had experienced many things, both good and bad. It was like stepping back in time at this point. I should also mention my good camera broke and my iPhone backup camera stayed fogged, so picture quality will not be too good going forward.

The author’s bedroom for one night, and thankfully only for one night

This day began the first day of twelve that I was the “Great White Hunter” (note a little sarcasm) in the jungles of the Congo without adult supervision. I will talk you through a typical day. I awoke around 5:00 AM. Cam warned me the staff was a little hard to motivate in the mornings. I would wake up Daniel first. He is Cam’s tracker from Cameroon and has worked with Cam for years, but he still likes to sleep late. Then the cook and Issa, the Bantu tracker, are awaken. I gave a cup full of filtered water to the cook for boiling. I made my oatmeal and instant coffee and added condensed milk. After that, I would drink close to a quart of water to start the day. Next is what I considered the scariest part of every day, going to the toilette. I used my headlight and flashlight to make certain there were no Gaboon vipers ready to bite my white rear end. We would leave camp at first light and head to the nearest bai (savannah). Each day I carried at least two quarts of water, a flashlight, GPS, small first aid kit, and my cell phone (camera) in my backpack. Issa carried a backpack with two more quarts of water, more first aid supplies, my lunch, and a satellite phone. At times we were three to four hours from camp and two to three days from a road; we had to be prepared. Most mornings we would either cross a small stream, walk down a small stream, or cross a wet muddy area. My feet stayed wet or at least damp the entire time. Typically, we would set up camp about 45 minutes to an hour from the bai so as not to disturb the game. We would hunt the forest and bai for buffalo until mid to late morning. During midday we would either move camp, hunt duiker in the forest, or every once in a while take a break. For lunch I packed either Spam or chicken in a can, Nutter Butter cookies, Payday candy bars, trail mix, etc. Spam and cheese crackers make a very nice meal. We would then hunt again until dark. Some of the walks in the rainforest at night were interesting. The Pygmies ability to navigate the forest at night was amazing. We would become lost from time to time and would rely on the GPS for direction to the camp. I always had my GPS even though at times it would not function due to the canopy and clouds. After arriving at camp I would filter water the cook boiled for the next day. It took several days to make the cook understand to boil the water early and let it cool, but we finally got that system working. I would eat either something we killed that day or a freeze dried dinner. Water was heated for a bath/shower, and no matter how tired I was, I bathed every night. After that I crawled in the hammock, cleaned my feet, liberally applied Gold Bond, put antibiotics on any cuts, and would write notes from the day. Not once did I get in the hammock dirty. I ate one or two Pepto Bismol tablets everyday as per Cam’s advice. Throughout the trip I was never sick, never had a blister, never struggled sleeping, and adapted to the wet hot climate with no issues. I really think it is hotter back home in Louisiana. The good hygiene during the hunt helped keep me healthy. Being in shape, backpacking prior to the hunt, testing gear, and following Cam’s “Cheat Sheet” all helped make the hunt more enjoyable. Cam told me when we left the village that I was more prepared than anybody he hunted with in the past. That was about the best compliment I could have received from him.

Issa, the author’s Bantu tracker. Dealing with him was a little problematic.

This is an unedited note from one of my days in the forest.

Rained last night, never heard it. I awoke with all of my things under cover. Hunted in AM. Saw bimba (yellowback) today. I almost had a shot but it was a bit too rushed for the distance offhand. We broke camp with rain threatening. We walked less than two miles straight line but it was much further and took two hours. Very angry jungle. Arrived at the new site set up hammock, built table and gun rack. Settled in and it started raining. No hunting for a little while. Trying to dry my feet. They have been wet all day again. Got in to some ants today. They bit me on my neck and arms. Good water at this camp. I have been communicating with the cook a little more. Good guy and speaks a little English. Trying to make him be a little more sanitary. I have been joking with the Pygmies. Not sure if they are laughing at me or with me. I tried to get one to put a bottle on his head so I could sight in the rifle. Another time I tried to have one carry me because I was tired. I lashed some limbs together with paracord for a base for my chair. Daniel did one set with vines. The vines worked much better. He did the second set with vines also. Now I can sit in my chair. They also washed my Tyvek tarp. Much nicer camp. Hopefully we hunt later today. Left camp at 3 and hunted buffalo, returned in the dark through thick jungle. We only stopped once in over 4 1/2 hours. I am tired. Feet still good. Huge savannah maybe 25,000 acres. Looks like areas in Zim. Grass averages two feet tall, sandy soil, and trees like scrub mopane. It is almost surreal to walk out of the jungle in to the bai. It is absolutely stunning. Grass is just right. Hopefully we are on buffalo tomorrow. Talked to Katherine tonight. Have not missed a single night. Hope to continue the streak. I finally caught up on water intake. Urinated multiple times today and had saliva to chew food. Ate sausage and pasta freeze dried. It was good. I added more Seasonall for the salt.

A typical camp in the rainforest

We set up camp after about an 8 hour walk into the forest. We hunted a small bai that afternoon and observed some relatively fresh buffalo signs. At dusk we saw a yellowback duiker but were not able to move close enough for a shot. The next morning we hunted the same bai but made a decision to move camp during the day. After moving the camp, Daniel told me he was sick. Through his broken English he told me he had typhoid. At this point I was becoming a little concerned. Cam was in the village, Daniel’s English was notas good as I had hoped, and now he is telling me he has typhoid.

I left camp with the Bantu tracker Issa and a couple of the Pygmies, without Daniel. We hunted in the forest for duiker. After several unsuccessful attempts to call duiker we moved in to the new bai. This one was much larger than the first one, the grass was the right height, and we had the wind in out face. Again we saw signs that were a day or so old, but no buffalo. Later in the afternoon we were back in the forest and I could see the bai. I told Issa I wanted to go to the bai, which was difficult because he did not speak English. Finally we understood each other. The reason I wanted to go was to call home. The satellite phone would not work in the forest. Anyway, I made my call and we decided to make another hunt while in the savannah before sunset. Within 10 minutes we came across a Forest Sitatunga. The Pygmy tracker and I crept within about 75 yards of it. The only thing I could see was the head. I ended up braining it offhand with the iron sighted rifle. It dropped in its tracks. The trackers were excited to have meat, but I was unsure how good the sitatunga really was. They definitely wanted me to shoot it, but for them it is all nyama, just meat; trophy size was not important to them. This realization would come up again later in the hunt.

The author’s unexpected sitatunga. The sitatunga or marshbuck is a swamp-dwelling medium-sized antelope found throughout central Africa, centering on the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The DR Congo is a much larger country found to the east of the Republic of Congo.

So now I am not only a little frazzled for the reasons I mentioned earlier, but also very excited to have taken a Forest Sitatunga, and I am unsure if it is a good trophy. Daniel came and met us. That was only the third Forest Sitatunga taken on any of his safaris. He assured me it was “bon” and “gros.” I was still a little unsure so I did the logical thing and called a fellow hunter on the sat phone to see what constituted a good sitatunga. He texted me with the SCI measurements and it appears that I did indeed shoot a decent specimen. I had no idea I would have a realistic chance at a sitatunga. We spoke about building a machan and even saw some tracks, but with an iron sighted rifle it was going to be a stretch to hunt a mostly nocturnal animal. I guess being a little lucky and spending all day in the field paid off.

We returned to camp and I set up my hammock. I grilled onions and garlic with the sitatunga backstrap. It was excellent. The day was long, hot, and humid but well worth the effort we put into hunting. I also sat down with Daniel and showed him the calendar on my phone and asked him when he contracted typhoid. It turned out it was the previous year and he claimed to be suffering lingering effects. I then felt a little better about contracting typhoid.

That evening something occurred to me. I was on my own safari, in the middle of the rainforest, without backup, hunting like the great explorers did years ago. A quiet calm came over me and I really began to enjoy the hunt.

We hunted the same savannah the next morning and moved camp again midday. The next savannah was huge. We tracked buffalo for a couple of days in this savannah. We saw fresh signs and tracked the buffalo for many hours and miles through the grass and into the forest and back into the grass. One day we made a huge figure eight. We tried hunting very early, we stayed in the savannah until dark and walked back to the camp for over an hour in the very dark jungle. We even sat on termite mounds through the day in hopes of seeing them midday. There was a full moon and it was very bright in the savannah. There are no lions in the area and I began to believe they were feeding at night. Also it was hard to tell how old dung was; there is so much humidity it looks fresher than it really is. Hunting buffalo on foot is hard, but it is also FUN.

Walking through the rainforest is a very wet ordeal.

During this time we saw a troop of chimpanzees, several yellowback duiker, numerous birds, and insect life. One animal I did not see was a snake. Two weeks in the rainforest and not a single snake. Late one afternoon we saw a bimba (yellowback duiker) and we were able to get close enough for a shot. At about 50 yards I shot it through the neck with the .375 H&H and it went down. Again Daniel was not hunting with us; he was back at camp. It turned out to be a smaller yellowback. I had multiple opportunities to kill another, but did not feel right about shooting a second animal on a CITES II list. I also missed a red duiker with the shotgun. The trackers thought I could not miss with the rifle, but the shotgun was “pas bon.”

Another unedited note:

Started out a little late 6:50. It was cool this morning and I did not want to get out of bed. I had a hard time waking up Daniel. He is still not feeling well. We took a long walk through the forest and then into the savannah. Did not stop until 11 and only for ten minutes. Stopped again at 1:35 until 3:00. By that time we walked 11.5 miles. We chased a buffalo across the savannah back in the forest back in the savannah back in the forest and back in the savannah. We never did catch up with him. We actually crossed our tracks once. I was able to call Katherine at around 3:00 when we stopped for a break. The cook cannot seem to grasp the idea of boiling water early and letting it cool down. I hope Daniel got his point across. I ate chili tonight. It was ok. The lunch meals are working out nicely. Having fun. It is demanding and challenging. It is lonely at times with no other English conversationalists around. I think my sitatunga is pretty good. I will measure it tomorrow. I will also reorganize when we move camps. It is interesting living out of three drums. Saw another yellowback duiker. It is the third one. It was good tracking the buffalo. Saw tracks and dung. The savannah weather was beautiful today. My feet actually dried out. I changed socks at 3:00 and they were still dry this evening. Thank God for small wonders. No rain today.

The author’s yellow-backed duiker. Yellow-backed duikers are the most widely-distributed of all duikers. They are found mainly in Central and Western Africa, ranging from Senegal and Gambia on the western coast, through to the Democratic Republic of the Congo to western Uganda; their distribution continues southward into Rwanda, Burundi, and most of Zambia.[

Everything was going well with the hunt, so I guess it was time for a little strife. We were in a new area in the afternoon looking for buffalo tracks. The open area was long and narrow with plenty of twists and turns. Daniel and I were in the front with Issa and two B’aka trackers about 75 yards behind us. All of a sudden they came running towards us and then I heard something in the forest about 50 yards away. Suddenly two buffalo ran out of the forest. It was very chaotic with the trackers becoming very excited. At least one was a bull. As I picked up the rifle it turned from broadside to a very tough angle. I fired one shot. Everything became very quiet and I did not move my feet. After about a minute I looked in the edge of the forest very carefully and saw nothing. We then found blood and began tracking. We followed the blood until dark. At that point we returned to camp. I was very disappointed with myself. I should have been more patient and not fired what was, at best, a marginal shot. However, I remained very calm and cautious on the buffalo follow up, not wanting to follow up one mistake with a worse mistake. The follow up was probably one of the most intense things I have ever done. The next morning we picked up the tracks again and followed them until we lost them. We looked the rest of the day but found nothing. It was a low point in the hunt.

We moved camps to the last bai. It was a long and arduous move through some very angry jungle. We met a group of Pygmies that told us Cam went back to the Bantu village and that he was OK. They also told us there was an accident at the village and a woman was killed. One of the porters wailed and cried for about an hour. None of the other Pygmies tried to comfort him. I suppose different cultures mourn in different ways. We finally set‐up camp. It was a terrible camp full of ants. We made our way to the savannah walking in a small creek. There we encountered a pygmy crocodile. When we finally arrived at the savannah the grass was extremely tall. We could find no tracks and no place to hunt. It was an awful disappointment. We packed up camp and headed back to the area I shot the buffalo. Along the way we hunted duiker. It was interesting to watch the Pygmy trackers call duiker. I finally connected with a red duiker. Fresh meat again. Everybody was happy. We heard gorillas but were unable to see them.

Moving camp

We spent a couple of days in the area looking for the wounded buffalo but never found another sign of it. We did see gorilla tracks and a treestand Cam had built on a previous trip. We decided to head to the next bai thinking the buffalo may have made his way there. It rained on us nearly the whole way and Daniel and Issa began arguing as to where we would set up camp. This was not their first disagreement and all Daniel would tell me was Issa was a bad man. I tried to mediate and explain what I wanted since it was my hunt but when dealing with three people and three languages it is very difficult to get my point across. We did end up at a good site, but the porters had a long haul for water. We hunted hard for a couple of more days, but never saw buffalo again.

We began to make our way back to the Pygmy village stopping at the first area we hunted. There we saw three Pygmies. They told us Cam had left the Baka village but was not doing well. This was the last day of my hunt. I was finally able to contact Rebecca in Impfondo to check on Cam. His health took a turn for the worse in either the Pygmy village or the Bantu village. A Catholic priest brought him to the missionary hospital in Impfondo. They stabilized him for two days. When I spoke to Rebecca they were loading him on a medivac bound for South Africa. I then realized Cam had my passport and all of my money. They were able to find those items plus money to pay all the porters, trackers, etc.

Daniel, Rebecca, and I made a plan for us to go back to Impfondo. Rebecca sent a driver with one of her workers named Serge. Serge was a life saver. He was level headed, smart, and spoke English very well. The next morning we walked back to the Pygmy village covering almost 12 miles by 10:30. About an hour from the village we found the head of a red duiker that was killed by a leopard. We then canoed to the Bantu village. Several hours later the truck arrived. During the course of the day I spoke to Cam’s wife and she told me Cam had passed away. Soon after Serge arrived he handed me a handwritten letter from Rebecca. In the letter she told me Cam had passed away after he arrived in South Africa. I then had the difficult task of telling Daniel. We were able to square all accounts with the chief, trackers, paddlers, porters,

A village chief, Cam, and Danielle

etc. Daniel was a huge help in these matters as he understood who needed to be paid what. Without him and Serge I may still be in the Bantu village. We loaded all of Cam’s gear and headed to Enyelle where we spent the night in what I would now term as a very interesting hotel. The next morning we went to Immigration, the Mayors’ house, and to see the game warden. Serge and Daniel handled all affairs in a very efficient manner. After a couple of stops for manioc, bread, biscuits, and drinks we left for Impfondo.

While at the ferry crossing, Serge fished for tiger fish. He hooked four in a very short period of time but his tackle was very inadequate. I am sending him what he needs, from one fisherman to another, but also in thanks of the help he gave me.

I spoke to Daniel about Cam. He worked with Cam for twenty or so years and looked up to Cam as a Father. I did my best to comfort him, but different cultures view death and mourning differently.

We cleaned the gear, rifles and shotgun. After that everything was inventoried and stored. It was a sad day. I worked with Daniel and Patrick to pay all of the trophy fees and to obtain the CITES permit to export the yellowback duiker. Everything was stamped and appears to be in order. Hopefully Daniel will be able to ship the trophies soon.

Afterthoughts

The trip in its entirety was a great experience. It required patience and understanding of a different culture. I never felt my safety was in jeopardy, although on more than one occasion I was not comfortable. The heat and humidity were not as bad as I expected. Being from south Louisiana made it a little easier to acclimate to the weather conditions in the forest. Towards the end of the trip I began to find some days quite pleasant. I would go back under the right circumstances on a self‐guided hunt in that area again; well at least I would possibly go. The only disappointment was seeing just two buffalo. There is increased hunting pressure in the area from the local population. The one regret was firing a shot at the buffalo. I should have been more patient. While pride may not always be a good thing, I was proud to have kept up with the porters and trackers every day. At times it was grueling; I lost over 15 pounds in two weeks. This was the first time I used a satellite phone on safari. My family was somewhat concerned about this trip. I talked to my wife each night to assure her everything was fine, even if it was not. For some reason I felt the phone call to check the sitatunga trophy size detracted a little from the hunt; I don’t really know why. I guess I should have been a little better prepared to judge animals that I had never hunted.

Epilogue

Portions of this report were difficult to write. There has been a side of me that feels had I not gone on the trip, Cam have survived longer. I know Cam wanted to hunt in the rainforest again and see his friends one more time. I hope in some small way my being there helped to facilitate that. He spoke of returning in August and hunting on camel back in Pakistan later this year. He was full of life even as his life came to a close. I also know Cam would have never taken a client to the Republic of Congo without believing his own health was good enough to complete the entire trip. He would not have jeopardized a client’s well being. Our hunting community is diminished with his loss. Many times in the rainforest I would think when I see Cam I need to ask him what this is, or what made that sound, or why this happened. That knowledge is lost forever. I would also like to thank Dr. Harvey, his wife Rebecca, and the staff of the Pioneer Christian Hospital for taking care of Cam both physically and spiritually the days he was in Impfondo. Also thank you to Erica who flew to South Africa with Cam as a patient advocate. He was with caring friends those last days.

In remembrance of Cam Greig, one of the last true adventurers

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LSA Endorsements for 2023 Elections

ELECTIONS

OCTOBER 14, 2023

Early Voting September 30, 2023 to October 7, 2023

The Louisiana Shooting Association is proud to endorse the following candidates for their steadfast support of the right to keep and bear arms:

Senate District 9 – Senator Cameron Henry for re-election

Senate District 10 – Senator Kirk Talbot for re-election

Senate District 12 – Senator Beth Mizell for re-election

Senate District 13 – Representative Valarie Hodges for election to the Senate

Senate District 17 – Senator Caleb Kleinpeter for re-election

Senate District 19 – Representative Gregory Miller for election to the Senate

Senate District 22 – Representative Blake Miguez for election to the Senate

Senate District 25 – Senator Mark Abraham for re-election

Senate District 31 – Representative Alan Seabaugh for election to the Senate

House District 01 – Representative Danny McCormick for re-election

House District 09 – Representative Dodie Horton for re-election

House District 20 – Representative Neil Riser for re-election

House District 21 – Representative C. Travis Johnson for re-election

House District 31 – Representative Jonathan Goudeau for re-election

House District 39 – Representative Julie Emerson for re-election

House District 88 – Representative Kathy Edmonston for re-election

The foregoing candidates have earned the Louisiana Shooting Association’s endorsement through their continued support of the 2nd Amendment with their voting records and their willingness to sponsor legislation upholding the right to keep and bear arms.

In addition to the above incumbents, the Louisiana Shooting Association is pleased to endorse the following candidates:

State Representative for House District 76 – Stephanie Berault

State Representative for House District 92 – Mike Sigur

State Representative for House District 94 – Charles Marsala

We look forward to working with Stephanie and Charles on future legislation such as Constitutional Carry, which both have pledged to support.

Please get out and vote on October 14, 2023 for candidates who have demonstrated a willingness to protect your rights.

 

Hunters for the Hungry Program

Video: Glock Switches and Gun Laws

LSA Director-at-Large and professional firearms instructor Barret Kendrick delivers an outstanding description of why gun control laws have completely failed with Glock switches and why “common sense” gun laws are not needed and simply don’t work.

Watch the 5 min 42 sec video here.

SB212 is a BAD BILL! Take Action Now!

SB212 Is a BAD BILL

ACTION REQUIRED!

The Senate Committee on Judiciary C will hear SB212 by Sen. Royce Duplessis (D, New Orleans) tomorrow. This bill is a so called “Red Flag” bill. If this bill becomes law, your Civil Rights will be violated without due process and your property can and will be seized. This is a BAD BILL!

Please attend the hearing tomorrow, May 2, 2023, at 10:00 AM in Room F if possible.

Also, TODAY, send a copy of the following email to Chairman Franklin Foli lodging your opposition to SB212.

To: sjudc@legis.la.gov

Subject: Opposition to SB212

Dear Chairman Foli,

I strongly OPPOSE Sen. Royce Dupliessis’ bill, SB212 on the grounds that if it were to become law, it would violate the Civil Rights of Citizens without due process. In addition, it would result of the seizure of personal property from law abiding Citizens.

Sincerely,
[Insert your name]
[Insert your mailing address]

Does Federal Ruling in Minnesota Portend Similar Results in Louisiana Case?

A federal judge in Minnesota on Friday struck down a state restriction limiting handgun carry permits to those over age 21, in a case brought by the Second Amendment Foundation, Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus, Firearms Policy Coalition and three young adults, Austin Dye, Axel Anderson and Kristin Worth, the latter for whom the case is named. The case is known as Worth v. Harrington. At the core of the case was the Second Amendment guidelines handed down in last year’s Supreme Court Bruen ruling.

In her decision, U.S. District Judge Katherine Menendez wrote, “The Supreme Court’s recent decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Ass’n v. Bruen…compels the conclusion that Minnesota’s permitting age restriction is unconstitutional, and Plaintiffs are entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”

Later in her 50-page ruling, Judge Menendez observes, “(T)he Court concludes that the text of the Second Amendment includes within the right to keep and bear arms 18-to-20-year-olds, and therefore, the Second Amendment ‘presumptively guarantees [Plaintiffs’] right to ‘bear’ arms in public for self-defense.’”

“Judge Menendez’s ruling is a huge victory for young adults and their right to keep and bear arms,” said SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb. “Furthermore, her decision underscores the importance of last year’s Supreme Court ruling in the Bruen case, which rightfully did away with the so-called ‘balancing test’ that invariably weighed in favor of government interests over individual rights. Judge Menendez has firmly established that young adults are entitled to all the rights protected by the Constitution.”

“Today’s decision confirms what we already knew to be true, that 18-20 year-olds possess the same right to bear arms for self-defense as those over the age of 21,” added SAF Executive Director Adam Kraut. “We are pleased that the court has enjoined the state of Minnesota from infringing on the rights of young adults. SAF will continue to work in the courts to vindicate the rights of all Americans.”

The Louisiana Shooting Association, the SAF, and the Firearms Policy Coalition filed a federal lawsuit on November 6, 2020 challenging federal law that prevents young adults from purchasing and owning handguns.

The suit was filed on behalf of two private citizens, Caleb Reese and Joseph Granich, both in the affected age group. The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana. The case is known as Reese v. BATF.

“One mission of the Louisiana Shooting Association is to protect Americans’ right to keep and bear arms which necessarily includes their ability to acquire firearms,” said Dan Zelenka, Louisiana Shooting Association’s president. “Handguns are the firearm of choice for self-defense as well as for many types of sport shooting disciplines. Nothing in the Constitution would subject adults under the age of 21 to different rights and protections under the Second Amendment as adults over the age of 21. On behalf of our members who are currently banned under federal law, as well as our younger members who will soon be in that banned age group, the Louisiana Shooting Association is proud to be a part of this effort to stop the federal government from enforcing its unconstitutional ban.”

Although Judge Menendez’s ruling does not bear on the Western District of Louisiana, it demonstrates the importantance of the Bruen decisions on protecting our Civil Rights guaranteed under the Second Amendment, and may portend a positive finding in Reese v. BATF.

2023 Legislative Session

Although the 2023 Legislative session is a “fiscal session,” legislators may file bills that could affect your Civil Rights protected by the Second Amendment. Here is a list of bills that we will be monitoring throughout this session.

Following each bill is the LSA’s position: SUPPORT, NEUTRAL, or OPPOSE.

  • HB38 NEUTRAL (Joe Stagni, R, Kenner) Provides relative to the carrying of concealed firearms by qualified retired law enforcement officers
  • Failed to pass: HB96 OPPOSE (Polly Thomas, R, Metairie) UPDATE: Firearm provisions were removed, but HB96 failed passage in the House on a vote of yeas 34, nays 54.  Provides relative to penalties and responsive verdicts for negligent homicide (LSA contends that to be acceptable the author would need to remove the enhanced penalties for negligence with a firearm.)
  • HB131 SUPPORT (Danny McCormick, R, Oil City) Provides relative to the concealed carrying of firearms (Constitutional Carry bill)
  • HB175 OPPOSE (Delisha Boyd, D, New Orleans) Prohibits carrying firearms into hospitals and mental health facilities (This bill would make unacceptable changes to existing law that LSA recently supported)
  • HB234 SUPPORT (Bryan Fontenot, R, Thibodaux) Provides relative to to the concealed carrying of firearms (LSA initially opposed this bill; however, the author amended the bill at LSA’s request and is now acceptable to support)
  • HB247 SUPPORT (Mandie Landry, D, New Orleans) Establishes a tax credit for purchases of firearm safety devices
  • HB284 SUPPORT (Joseph Marino, I, Gretna) Provides relative to the crime of possession of a firearm by a person convicted of certain felonies
  • HB299 NEUTRAL (Danny McCormick, R, Oil City) Provides relative to enforcement of federal firearm laws
  • HB318 OPPOSE (Larry Selders, D, Baton Rouge) Provides relative to automatic weapons (Bill fails to provide safeguards for legally registered machine guns)
  • HB331 SUPPORT (Dewith Carrier, R, Oakdale) UPDATE: Reported favorably  in Committee on Administration on Criminal Justice yeas 9, nay 0, abstain 1 and sent to the House for consideration. Provides relative to automatic weapons (Bill updates Louisiana law to comply with federal law and provides safeguards for legally registered machine guns)
  • HB446 SUPPORT (Blake Miguez, R, New Iberia) Provides relative to online handgun education course curriculum
  • HB464 NEUTRAL (Bryan Fontenot, R, Thibodaux) Provides relative to possession of a firearm by a felon
  • HB536 OPPOSE (Jonathan Goudeau, R, Lafayette) Provides relative to the illegal possession of stolen firearms
  • SB56 SUPPORT (Stewart Cathey, R, Monroe) UPDATE: Passed by the Senate on a vote of 22 yeas and 11 nays. Sent to the House for consideration. Reinstates the Second Amendment sales tax holiday
  • SB130 NEUTRAL (Jay Morris, R, West Monroe) UPDATE: Passed by a vote of 28 yeas and 0 nays in the Senate; ordered re-engrossed and sent to the House. Authorizes retired law enforcement officers and retired elected law enforcement department heads to carry concealed firearms if POST certified at the time of retirement
  • SB158 NEUTRAL (Eddie Lambert, R, Gonzales) Provides for the protection of schools (Bill has to many requirements for LSA support)
  • SB165 OPPOSE (Jimmy Harris, D, New Orleans) Prohibits the possession of an unidentifiable firearm (This is already illegal)
  • SB212 OPPOSE (Royce Duplessis, D, New Orleans) Provides for the seizure of firearms from persons who pose a risk of imminent injury to self or others (“Red Flag” bill; LSA wholesale opposes the removal of Civil Rights without due process) UPDATE: The bill was also opposed by the DA’s Association; the author voluntarily deferred the bill, but note the bill may by presented again at the Committee on Judiciary C
  • SB216 OPPOSE (Gary Carter, D, New Orleans) Provides for liability for damages caused by a firearm stolen from a vehicle and used in the commission of a felony

2023 LSA Board of Director Election Results

Each year at our Annual Meeting of Members in February, one third of the Directors are elected to our Board. From those elected Directors, the Board selects the Officers of the Corporation in an open forum.

This year, the Annual Meeting of Members was held at Cabela’s in Gonzales on Sunday, March 5. The results of the election are shown below.

List of Officers and Directors

President: Daniel E. Zelenka, II (2025)
Vice-President: Everett Baudean (2025)
Secretary: CPT Paul Prokop, USCG Ret. (2024)
Treasurer: Jay D. Hunt, III (2024)
Director-at-Large: Barret Kendrick (2025)

Directors:
Paul Angrisano (2025)
Ron Duplessis (2024)
Clifford Grout (2026)
Ronald “Buck” Kliebert (2024)
John K. Laws, III (2025)
Joseph “Jay” Meynier (2026)
John Overton (2026)
CPT George Petras, USCG, Ret. (2026)
Dave Ramey (2026)
Dwayne Vidrine (2024)

Alternate Directors
1st Alternate: Bruce A. Lemmert (2024)
2nd Alternate: Chris Thayer (2024)

SAF and LSA File Brief in Challenge of Handgun Sales Ban to Young Adults

The Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) and the Louisiana Shooting Association, Inc (LSA) along with our partners in a federal lawsuit challenging the prohibition of handgun sales to young adults have filed an appellant’s brief with the U.S.  Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans. The case is known as Reese v. ATF.

Joining SAF and the LSA are the Firearms Policy Coalition and two private citizens, Emily Naquin and Caleb Reese, for whom the case is known. They are represented by attorneys David H. Thompson, Peter A. Patterson and William V. Bergstrom at Cooper & Kirk; George J. Armbruster, III at Armbruster & Associates; Joseph Greenlee, FPC Action Foundation; John W. Dillon at the Dillon Law Group; Raymond M. DiGuiseppe, DiGuiseppe Law Firm and Adam Kraut at SAF.

Defendants are the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, its director, Steven Dettelbach and U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland.

At issue is the ban on licensed handgun sales to law-abiding 18-to-20-year-old adults, because this prohibition is at odds with the Second Amendment, SAF, LSA, and our partners contend.

“At the time the Second Amendment was adopted,” noted SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb, “there were no restrictions on the rights of 18-to-20-year-olds to keep and bear arms because of their age. Indeed, people in that age group, because as Americans they were in the civilian militia, were actually required to acquire firearms.

“Young adults over age 18,” he added, “can exercise other constitutional rights. They can vote, get married, enter into contracts, start businesses, run for office, join the military where they may fight and die for their country, but they can’t legally buy a handgun because of existing laws.”

“There is no historical regulation from any relevant time period that supports this handgun ban for young adults,” said SAF Executive Director Adam Kraut, a practicing attorney representing the group in this case. “Under last year’s Bruen ruling, the appeals court must review this case by determining whether the plain text of the Second Amendment covers the conduct prohibited by the handgun ban. We think the lower court erred in its initial ruling because there is no historical evidence of any such ban for people in the 18-to-20-year age group.”