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Awkwesane Man Takes African Safari

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AKWESASNE - Stuart E. White recounted the moment a lion approached him on a Tanzanian safari.

“I swear that thing was 10-foot tall when he was coming our way,” Mr. White said.

Mr. White lived to tell the tale; the lion did not. It joins a stuffed warthog, cape buffalo, baboon and other animals from Mr. White’s 2006 Tanzania hunting expedition on display in his Akwesasne garage.

A collection of hunting trophies is more meaningful when others can see them too, Mr. White said.

“If nobody sees it, what good is it?” he asked.

With that in mind, he is lending his collection next month to the Massena Rod & Gun Club’s 29th annual Sportsmen’s Expo, April 14 and 15 at the Massena Arena. Like past years, the expo will feature camping and outdoor collectibles, guns, knives and hunting trophies. But this year’s theme will be “Africa Comes to Massena,” and feature Mr. White’s collection. Mr. White will be on hand to tell stories and answer questions about his expedition.

The expo has never featured a collection quite like this one in three decades, Mr. Hurd said.

“We try to give something back to Massena,” Mr. Hurd said. “You don’t see something like this every day of the week.”

Mr. White, 70, first dreamed of going on an African safari as a boy when he read childhood adventure magazines. He did not start to hunt, however, until he was in his 40s, and finally had his chance to go on the three-week trip six years ago.

When he first arrived in Arusha, Tanzania, he knew he wasn’t in Akwesasne anymore.

“They had monkies all over the place, on the roof, on the ground, outside,” Mr. White said. “They knew enough not to come inside.”

Mr. White eventually flew into “the bush” where he spent the duration of his trip. The lodging included flush toilets, showers and a king or queen size bed - not what he expected.

“You can’t get any more comfortable in the bush like that,” he said.

But luxury doesn’t equate security on a safari. Hippopotamus and jackals roamed nearby.

“When you hear all these critters at night, especially hippos ... and you look at that thin little tent and that hippo wants to come in, it’s got your full attention,” he said. “The first night you’re pretty nervous, then it doesn’t bother you.”

Mr. White spent long days under the African sun hunting. Two nights in a row, he had an encounter with a lion.

In order to attract a lion, the hunting crew had to hang a rotting hind quarter of a hippopotamus from a tree as bait.

“That thing was ripe,” Mr. White said. “Oh my God, it stunk so much.”

The first of the two nights, the lion walked right past the bait and toward Mr. White and his hunting companion.

Mr. White did not have his rifle ready to go when the lion approached.

“I said to myself, ‘This ain’t good,’” he said. “If he charges, he charges ... He’s the king of the jungle.”

But Mr. White kept his cool, and the lion eventually turned around again.

The next evening, the same lion went right for the bait, and Mr. White shot and killed him. A celebration ensued when he returned to the Tanzanian camp.

“Boy, they were all there, jumping up and down. You were the hero then,” he said. “It lasts for about 15 minutes.”

By the end of the trip, Mr. White had also added a baboon, antelope and cape buffalo to his collection.

The animal hides and skulls took years to be transported back to the U.S. and reconstructed, Mr. White said. He looked at his collection last week and reminisced.

“I could have got quite a few more of those horned critters,” he said, as he stared at the animal skulls mounted on the wall. “I really wanted to get a leopard.”

He looks forward to sharing his stories at next month’s expo with the community. The event will run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, April 14 and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, April 15.

“You’ve done something not a lot of people have done. That’s pretty cool,” he said. “It’s just a heck of an experience. You’ll never forget it.”

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