Denny Stiner of Springfield, Illinois, had hunted in Southern Africa several times before. But this trip was different; he had extended his adventure with an excurions to the Congo. He was guided by professional hunter Tielman Neethling, who enlisted the help of pygmies for bongo, dwarf buffalo, and other creatures unique to Central Africa. It didn’t take long for the uniqueness of the Congo to present itself. The first morning in camp, Stiner emerged from his tent and came face to face with a huge gorilla. “We both just stared at each other for a long minute or two until I quietly alerted other camp members of its presence,” said Stiner, the excitement of the moment still ringing in his voice. “When camp staff arrived, the gorilla retreated about 20 feet into the thick vegetation and just sat there.”
One of the real treats of an exotic hunting location is seeing unique animals, and a fully grown gorilla has to rank at the top of the list. Ironically, the beast hung around camp for the next week, allowing Stiner to photograph it numerous times. Unexpected sightings and side trips can add greatly to any hunt. I once gave up a day on safari to visit the Pumba Wildlife Reserve in South Africa, where I saw a fantastic wild white lion; it was a fantastic experience. Even a trip out West can include a drive through Yellowstone National Park or Rocky Mountain National Park for fantastic scenery and live animal photography. It’s definitely worth the detour.
Incidentally, Stiner and Nessling saw so many gorillas on their safari that they plan to open a special viewing camp. For more information, contact Tielman or his wife Carin at congohuntingsafari.com/.