- Dec 15, 2000
The jungles that border Thailand and Burma,are more renouned as the home for opium growing and boarder smugglers than it is for hunting. This area called "The Golden Triangle," has been the main topic of many articals and books discussing the Asian Drug trade.
Being a person who looks for new challenges and outdoor adventures,I was initally drawn to this area to experience the beauty surronding one of the worlds largest rain forrest. I had mentioned hunting to several of the local Thai's living in Bangkok, and it was pretty clear that hunting was not a sport here, but a primary means of sustance to the hill tribe people. After talking to some of our National employees about going into this area, I finally met up with someone who shared my love of the outdoors and the persuit of wild game. This new found hunting partner, Mr.Lek Kittapun works as a well production engineer for one of the oil companies in Thailand, but grew up in a remote village in the boarder area.
With the end of the monsoon season, we decided to pack up our gear and head back to the rain forrest for four days of hunting and fishing.
For an expateriate living in a third world country, you are usally deprived of owning firearms. Fortunately I have been lucky enough import my bow and to become aquainted with locals that own firearms and they are willing to lease them to you for a very small price. As long as you bring the cartridges.
In starting the trip, I really did not know what to expect. We left Bangkok on friday afternoon, and drove through the heavy weekend traffic leaving the city for a six hour drive to the boarder. Arriving at Lek's family home we were greeted by his younger brother who had arranged a four wheel drive and guide to accompany us on our hunt. As each of us were excited about getting up in the rain forrest, we decided to leave and set up camp in the moutains that night. As we ascended the moutains on a one lane semi improved road, the guide shined the hillsides to determine what slopes the animals were feeding on. This was supposed to give us an idea of where we should set up for the mornings hunt.
After what seemed like hours of driving we pulled into an open area on the mountainside and set camp. After a few hours of sleep, I woke up feeling as if I was in a dream. Looking out over the valleys at the sun rise, was a sight that can only be defined as tranquil. I must admit after seeing how high up we were and looking back at the thin trail of a road we had ascended, I was slightly dazed. One mistake and rolling off would leave you falling severel hundered feet to be forever lost in the deep jungle. We proceded to the top to the moutain to a check point between the Thai and Burmeise boarders. Behind us we could see a company of combat ready Thai army troops. Although fighting in along the boarder is common,it is not considered as a combat zone. We parked the rental 4X4 and leased three mules to cross over the boarder in to Burma. Well, to be honest, we only were able to proceed after slipping the boarder guard about 5 bucks each. With our normal camping gear we had a 375 H&H, 2 Remington Shotguns and a colt 357 phython. This was more fire power than we had hoped we would need. After we crossed the boarder we met with a local hunter whos trophy room was filled with game skulls of cats, Sambar, barking deer, and three huge Salidang. Although considered as an endangered species,these members of worlds largest buffalo can be frequently spotted in the higher moutain ranges.
After riding 4 hours along a valley between three hills we decided to hunt the bottoms. Entering bottoms sounds like normal hunting, on the contrary! Head high brush growing out of muskeg swamp, accompanied by the fear of a 12 foot cobra popping up at any time increased the stress.
We decided that we would hunt a hill top where we had noticed sambar feeding the night before. Climbing the mud soaked hill in 101 to 110 degree temps really was a work out. The guide and my hunting comrad decided to continue to the top of the hill, while I decided to stay on one of the game trails that lead between the two mountains.
I finally found a high bluff looking over two well worn game trails and decided this would be my hunting spot. As darkness approached, I was starting to consider heading back to the base camp earlier, as I had no intentions of searching my way around a jungle at night. I realised that my companions would have to pass my area when returning, so I decided I would wait a while longer. About a half hour before losing all shooting light, I heard a slight noise coming up the trail. The thought that the sound may have came from my hunting comrads was not as realistic as the thoughttbat maybe the sound could be coming from a rogue tiger! As I focused my attentionin the direction of the sound, a slight hint of a dark flick appeared. Upon first seeing this deer, I was almost convinced I was looking at a small spike whitetail deer. It may not have been a trophy animal to anyone else and was rather small in my book, But I would later find out that this was indeed a trophy. After seeing the goat shaped horns, I decided that I would take the shot. I raised the remington pump and with the roar of the shot my first Barking deer hit the ground like a sack of rocks.
The work then began, I had to carry the 75 pound animal 2 miles down this slick moutain back to the second base camp.Of course I could have feild dressed it, but for obvious reasons it is not wise to walk through the jungle with the smell of fresh blood surronding you.
The above was the second deer I took on the second afternoon of hunting. The hunt and the kill were almost identical,with the exception of being 3 miles away from the base camp.I can tell you walking up hillsides in 110 degree weather, chest deep in thick brush growing out of the mud sure made this one of the hardest types of hunting I have ever done. The primary hazards of this hunt is not the many cobras or the high risk potential of catching malaria, but the possibility of running into a trip fall or left over land mine from one of the boarder conflicts. I guess If you love to hunt as I do, the risk is worth it.
Even though the weather was very hot, it was nice to sit by a camp fire and dry out the wetness of the rain forrest. Besides using a camp fire as a means to dry sweat and rain soaked garb, its primary purpose is to keep away the millions of malaria carring mosquitos. This makes you look forward to a shower almost more than the next days hunt. After three days of this type hunting, besides loosing 10 pounds and gaining a body oder that would scare away a vulture, it was nice to visit the local waterfall for a shower. I can honestly say that it is extreamly exhausting hunting under these conditions, but I will definately be back.
I was able to fly over the area we hunted on the boarder. Fortunately the pilot of the twin otter was very cooperative, and not only took some shots of the moutains from the ****pit,but we were able to talk him into flying close to the top of the mountains. We were fortunate enough to get a quick glimps of a Salidang, but could not get a picture in time. Being the largest member of the buffalo famaly,the Salidang is one of the most reclusive animals in the jungle. It is only fair to mention that thay are also noted for having the same temperment as a Cape Buffalo.I soon hope to find out if this holds true.
I was very fortunate to have a super trophy from one of the worlds most reclusive and rare jungle deer! Too bad I did not have a good taxidermist, as it would have made a super mount!
IF YA CAN'T RUN WITH THE BIG DAWGS, KEEP YOUR ARSE ON THE PORCH
[This message has been edited by Thumper (edited 01-13-2001).]