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Burkina Faso With Browning Part II

Burkina Faso With Browning Part II

Sleeping for an hour after 16-hours continuous travel was a mistake, better to have stayed up, but we coffee’d up and got on the road. The hunting took the form of walked-up in the morning that would see us pushing across the bush with its rutted and iron hard ground, flushing birds like francolin, guinea fowl and others I did not recognise, some looking a bit like snipe, another like a turkey, as we went. In the afternoon we drove to waterholes for doves, which were plentiful, with the game being fast and furious. We each got a tracker who carried our kit and picked up for us.

One curious aspect of the trackers was they did not pick up live birds that had been shot. They seemed almost frightened to touch them, instead they all carried a small stick and killed the wounded by banging them repeatedly on the head. Guess it must be a local thing!

I’m not a big fan of heat but can cope, or so I thought, but the temperature was approaching 40° by 09.00 and it was hard work. Worst was the rutted ground, which seemed to have been ploughed, with the furrows too close together to walk easily, yet two were too far apart for a big stride. Adding to this was the tangle foot vegetation that was forever tripping us up.


That aside it was good fun with plenty of birds getting flushed, I shot my first francolin missing with the first round but connecting with the second and ended up getting three that morning. Then disaster stuck and I fell over and smacked the hell out of my left knee, so had to limp along for the rest of the trip. When we got back to the trucks there were coolers full of cold beer that never tasted so good!

Nice was the fact that all the birds we shot were turned into meals, which was most agreeable, in fact we eat very well over the whole time there. But for me as a part time shotgunner the afternoons were the best, as we were shooting doves.

This was different from the gruelling morning treks across the parched bush. We drove in a motley collection of 4x4s to the pools. Mainly Toyota Land Cruisers and a Mk 1 Range Rover, with the roof cut off – bet they never thought of that of that when it rolled off the production line at Solihull? With just rutted dirt tracks full of holes the journeys were memorable and the sweet/ sickly smell of petrol from leaky fuel lines was unforgettable. As were the driving skills of our trackers!


We came to a dried up stream bed about 4ft deep and wide, the driver took a run at it and literally smacked the front wheels onto the opposite bank and revved the balls of the engine to force the nose up. It worked every time as we had to cross that obstacle six times in all and the vehicles made it. Another time with four trackers on top the driver took a corner too hard and they all flew off, with one breaking an arm! We all stopped and much like a soldiers wicked sense of humour; all the unharmed trackers gathered round their wounded comrade and laughed; nothing changes!

Even out in the bush we would meet people walking day and night, equally kids dressed in freshly washed white shirts and grey shorts walking miles to the school, but all carrying their shoes in their hands to doubtless save wear and tear.


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At about 16.30 the doves started coming in to the water and that was when the fun started. The sky was black with them and I reckon I learned more about shotgunning that day than I ever had. OK I missed a lot, but soon discovered I shot best with my left eye closed and with some trial and error sorted out what worked for me. I recall the Maxus banging in my shoulder and the ease of which I could reload and my tracker running back to the vehicle for more ammo. I was in the zone!

It was here that I really started to appreciate one of the Maxus’ best features – the speed feed. When the gun empties the action locks open like any other semi. However, rather than having to drop a round into the ejection port and press the bolt release, you just push it into the magazine where the mechanism automatically feeds it. This means you can keep the gun up scanning for targets; this got me a lot more birds than if I had been using a conventional self-loader!

The next day we were back to the walked-up in the morning, with more of the same and me gamely limping along. I took more birds, all the time adding to my ability. Moving through the bush we encountered families in mud huts and rondovals, who lived by subsistence farming and little else, along with the ever present smell of slash & burn land clearance. One incident I will always remember was the crocodile!

Often the bush would clear into a partially dried out lake, one of the shooters was walking over a water-filled pool and decided to step on what looked like a log, only to discover he was on the back of a crocodile! He was terrified as was another not far away who just turned and ran, laugh… This is what I like about Africa, as things you have read about actually happen. I remember being in South Africa in 2005 and getting to hold a lion cub at a reserve. I had read that lions have a very distinctive smell and this baby had it too, you could just imagine that drifting down on the wind spooking the plains game. Or smelling it yourself in the long grass and wondering what might be coming!


On the point of wild life, on the way back we stopped at an elephant reserve and were sipping beer on the terrace watching these massive creatures in a lake, awesome. Driving back we saw more in the bush. One of our party, a Greek, got out of the truck and started walking towards an old bull with his camera clicking. I remember shouting at him to get back in, but he seemed oblivious of the danger, but the trackers got him back in one piece. Then a massive group of baboons by the side of the road, I have to say they are vicious and scary looking creatures. Though in all that time I did not see one antelope or similar.

At midday the governor of the province came to see us with his entourage for a meal. Truck loads of armed guards arrived first and I could see the locals were a little afraid. He turned up in a white, Toyota Land Cruiser with a personalised number plate that said Gouverneur (pimp my ride or what?). Til Cussman, the head of the trip, presented him with a Maxus, which he never let go of all the time he was there. It was an interesting meal…


In the afternoon my best ever on doves, I had been knocking them down with regularity and just as the light was failing I got a triple. I heard a piping noise and three of them flashed over my right shoulder. I must have been on auto pilot as I swung the gun and as cool as you like and dropped all of them one after the other. I don’t know who was more surprised me or the tracker. Then it was all over, with a big party with the locals that night and the option of having a lay in, which I took as my leg was still giving me gyp.

On the drive back two final adventures, the first was the Burkina Independence Day celebrations and we were in a big town with all the people in their finery with bands playing etc., which was great to see. Then on the road we came on a big lorry on its side that had hit a herd of cattle, some were dead others staggering around wounded or stunned. I reckon the dead and wounded ended up in the larder… Good old Browning they know how to lay on the entertainment! Finally we stopped at the same shanty town we had on the first night and sitting by the road sipped cold beers watching the life around us and being watched with equal interest.

Overall an excellent trip, good shooting, lots of targets, great people and some amazing experiences. The Maxus well – bloody great gun, reliable and easy to shoot, so much so I bought one a few months later and still use it today. Would I go again, definitely! My thanks to the Browning crew for including me in a real African adventure!

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