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ZIMBABWE: Elephant and Leopard hunt with Jacques Spamer of Hartzview and Quinn Kloppers of Threeways Safaris

This is a discussion on ZIMBABWE: Elephant and Leopard hunt with Jacques Spamer of Hartzview and Quinn Kloppers of Threeways Safaris within the Hunting Reports & Reviews forums, part of the HUNT AFRICA category; Last year I decided that I wanted to try to get the Big 5, so I asked Jacques Spamer of ...

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    Default ZIMBABWE: Elephant and Leopard hunt with Jacques Spamer of Hartzview and Quinn Kloppers of Threeways Safaris

    Last year I decided that I wanted to try to get the Big 5, so I asked Jacques Spamer of Hartzview to help me determine the best place to go to hunt Elephant and Leopard. I got my Black Maned Lion in 2011, and my Cape Buffalo in 2012...so Elephant and Leopard were next. After several e-mails were exchanged, he narrowed the field to a few possibilities...but he said the best might be in Zimbabwe with Threeways Safaris. He said they had one Leopard permit left, so I needed to decide soon if I wanted to go there. In addition, he said there was excellent Elephant hunting there. I decided that was the place to go...so I sent a deposit and started planning the hunt. I decided to only bring one rifle for the hunt: my .416 Ruger Hawkeye Alaskan with a Trijicon scope. I worked up a load for Barnes 350 TSX bullet and figured that, along with the 400 DGS would be sufficient for almost any game we would encounter.

    My wife and I left Reno on the 14th of September this year for Africa. We chose Delta Airlines this year instead of United/ South African Airlines. A much smoother trip with more time between flights. (Thanks Cliffy) We arrived at Johannesburg on the evening of the 15th. After clearing the airport, we went to Africa Sky Guest House for the night. A wonderful place to stay!

    The next morning we went to the airport and boarded a plane to Polokwane (Pietersburg), South Africa. We arrived after a short flight, along with photographer Scott Jurgins of Hannes Pienaar Productions. We were met there by Quinn Kloppers of Threeways Safaris. A little later, we were joined by Jacques Spamer of Hartzview Safaris, and we were on our way to Zimbabwe by vehicle. We crossed the border at Beitbridge (a story in itself!) and proceeded to Threeways base camp.IMG_7638.jpg

    The camp is beautiful and was everything one could hope for. After a short stay, we proceeded to the area we were going to hunt: Mateke Mountain!

    Must take a short break, then I will continue!

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    We arrived at the Mateke Mountain camp a few hours later. The camp is located high in the mountains, and is truly a great camp! The quarters were excellent, and the area is what I hoped it would be. This is the Africa I was hoping to see. Attachment 23322Attachment 23323Attachment 23324

    After moving our gear to our quarters, I took the rifle to the sighting in area and fired a couple of rounds. The rifle shot exactly where it should have. The Pelican case survived another cross Atlantic crossing!

    We then took a trip around the area we would be hunting. We immediately spotted a small herd (about a dozen) of Cape Buffalo, several warthogs, and lots of tracks. The area has a variety of game!!!

    We returned about 1800, then we had dinner. Quinn said we should start early, so we planned to be up at 5 AM and be ready to hunt. We had a very relaxed evening prior to retiring, and talked with Quinn about his area. He hunts an area of about 2 MILLION acres. We were going to hunt the high area...the low area will be hunted later in the year!

    The area is really spectacular!Attachment 23327Attachment 23328Attachment 23329

    The next morning, Sept. 18th, we started the hunt.

    The first order of the day would be to get a Zebra for Leopard bait. We spotted a herd shortly, and I loaded one of my TSX cartridges for the shot. Here would be the test. The old stallion dropped in his tracks. Now we have to start setting baits.Attachment 23330Attachment 23331

    A little later in the morning, we spotted an Impala ram at about 125 yards. Again, the TSX was dead on target!Attachment 23332

    A short time later we spotted a Grysbok. Jacques said this is one of the hardest "tiny ten" to harvest, so I loaded a DGS into the rifle. He finally gave me a good angle, and he dropped to a single shot through the heart! Attachment 23333

    A short time later, a Klipspringer was spotted. Another DGS and another "tiny ten" animal was taken.Attachment 23335 The first day!!! What a hunting area! We spent the rest of the day checking for Leopard tracks and Elephant tracks. We spotted several Leopard tracks...but Quinn said he believed they were females. We also checked many places for new Elephant tracks. The spoor was everywhere!!!

    I will continue a little later!

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    That is one great start to a trip.This is going to be one of those good reports I have a feeling.

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    Later in the afternoon we drug the roads to provide a good view of any new tracks. After that, we continued to check the baits for signs of Leopard.

    Jacques had asked me in late 2012 if I wanted to have hounds to hunt the Leopard. I told him that I had hunted with hounds as a boy for mountain lion, bear, and racoons...and that YES, I would like to have the hounds. He arranged to have Theunis Botha Big Game Hounds available for the hunt. Every evening the baits would be checked and, if male Leopard tracks were seen, they would try to find the Leopard. This is NOT as easy as it sounds! The area has LARGE rocky areas which are extremely hazardous to travel...without the added excitement of a ticked off leopard to be concerned about. This went on EVERY evening! (By the way, my wife really liked the hounds. They are very well trained, but they are also HUGE! )

    On the morning of the 19th, we checked for tracks. Several Elephants had traveled through the area during the night. The full moon was working against us...but we had faith that conditions would improve. We spotted several Nyala, giraffes, and a couple Cape Buffalo while we were checking the area. This area is certainly populated with nice sized animals! While we were checking the area out, Quinn said he thought he knew where some of the Elephants were going, and that we should go to a waterhole to watch for them. We could not shoot one there, but it would be a good indication of how many were moving. We loaded up and moved to the area. We got off the rig and walked back from the waterhole and next to some large boulders. About 1740, two bull Elephants came out of the bush...VERY quietly and were proceeding to cross in front of us. Then they caught our scent from when we got out of the rig. They turned to their left and started walking directly towards us. Quinn finally scared them away at about thirty yards. I thought one of them looked pretty good, but he said "They're just little ones...only about 20 pounders!" They darn well looked big to me!Attachment 23336Attachment 23337Attachment 23338Attachment 23339

    He said they were probably only about 25 years old...we would look for 50 years old!

    We left at dark and headed back to camp for dinner. The evening check for Leopard showed some small female tracks...maybe tomorrow!

    Another break...sorry!

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    Reads like a great hunting report in the making. Looking forward to more.
    "TIME"........God's way of keeping everything from happening all at once.

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    September 20th. Spent most of the day checking baits and looked for tracks. Lots of activity in the area. Very hard to walk quietly while tracking...lots of dry leaves. Walked a lot and saw a lot of tracks...but no Elephants. Then, about 1/2 hour before dark, a HUGE bull Elephant crossed in front of us. WOW!! We tried to get to a point where we could get a shot, but finally lost him in the heavy bush. It is simply amazing how such a large animal can move so quickly and quietly! It certainly got the adrenalin pumping! Darkness ended our quest. The Leopard baits had been hit, but tracks indicated small animals.

    Several trail cameras checked...the Elephants are still moving during the full moon.

    September 21st. Checked for tracks, and the cameras in the morning. Weather looked like it was about to change. Nothing really new during the morning. Went out after lunch and immediately found tracks of a large bull. Footprint almost 22 inches long!Attachment 23340 We followed it into the bush, but finally lost the track. In the meantime, a cold front came upon us...so we headed back to the rig. The temperature dropped rapidly, and we went back to the camp. The wind came up, so the evening Leopard work was suspended for the night. We did get some rain during the night, and no full moon...so we were looking forward to the next day. Perhaps the weather would change the habits of the Elephants!

    September 22nd. Weather still not very good. It was decided that we wait and see what the afternoon will bring. By the afternoon, the weather was still not very good. At dinner, Quinn came in. He had been in the bush all day looking for Elephant...and found out the general area they were in. He said we would head out in the morning to see what we could find. The bush was wet, and the ground was quiet...so expectations were high! Leopard baits still did not show any Male Leopard sign, but several had been hit. The weather may change their habits also! The weather was changing back, so tomorrow would be a good day!

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    September 23rd. Started out early and quickly came on 22" tracks. We entered the bush and the trackers took over. I am totally amazed how they can see and identify individual Elephant tracks in such terrain. We followed the tracks for a long time. Quinn and the trackers said it appeared that the large bull picked up another smaller bull. We kept on the tracks for a long distance...then...I saw the big bull almost 200 yards away in the heavy bush. Quinn watched it...and then said it appeared there were now seven to nine Elephant...they had joined with a herd of cows. As we watched, we could hear Elephant all around us. Lot of brush...and trees breaking. The cows meant we could not safely work our way to the bull...cows are NASTY when it come to people. We watched the bull, and it appeared he was starting to graze away from the cows. We started to move the same direction as he was, and slowly decrease the distance between us...at the same time making sure the wind was right...and that there were no cows in front of us! The hunt was on!! We kept moving slowly...and we heard him breaking trees as he slowly moved in the same general direction. Jacques and Quinn said they were going to try to get me into a position to make a side brain shot. We kept moving and finally found a spot where we thought he would cross close in front of us...about 20-25 yards was what they were trying to set up. Quinn asked if he and Jacques should back me up...did I mind. I said that was an excellent idea. I had no qualms about backup with an Elephant. Jacques said that he wanted me to tell him if I couldn't get the brain shot...then he would make a hip or other shot. Quinn said he would go for the spine. We were waiting and listening. The Elephant had about another 60 yards to go before he would break out across from me. We heard a LOUD crack of a tree...and there he was ...84 yards from me...and looking directly at me! So much for planning. I turned the rifle on him and put the dot where I felt I could make the frontal brain shot...and told Jacques where I was going to shoot...and he said to shoot...

    Oops...dinner time. Get back to you soon!

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    The sticks were set, and I squeezed the trigger...the Elephant's head went up and the hind quarters collapsed as the shots from Jacques and Quinn rang out. WOW! Just like the book said! I went up, and Jacques said to put an insurance shot through the heart. Quinn warned me that almost everyone gets quiet and stares awestruck when they shoot their first Elephant...he is right!

    Attachment 23341Attachment 23342Attachment 23343

    I cannot even come close to telling you how overwhelming it is to walk up to a Bull Elephant. I am still having a hard time believing that I actually had done something I had only dreamed about.

    The trackers headed for camp to get Marleen (my wife) and a crew to start the work on the Elephant. Pictures were taken, and then we just sat there and took in the scene.

    Attachment 23344Attachment 23345Attachment 23346Attachment 23347

    Quinn then showed me the crack on the back foot. This was the sign the trackers followed the last few days to guarantee they got the right Elephant. I could barely make out a track in the bush...but they were able to identify this particular Elephant. Amazing!

    Attachment 23348Attachment 23349

    All that was left was the tail cutting ceremony...then we headed back to camp. the hard part of the work would be the next day!

    Attachment 23350

    The evening checking of the baits showed that several baits had been hit. Apparently the weather change was doing it's job. An evening toast with Amarula at the camp. WOW...I got an Elephant!

    My bullet entered and went through the skull, then through the brain, then into the neck...where it was recovered. Jacques was through the shoulder, and Quinn's through the spine. Everything went almost as planned! (Except for frontal shot instead of side brain shot.)

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    Great start Geoff, been looking forward to this report. Hopefully someone can help with the pictures, as I only see the very first.
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    September 24th. It amazes me to see how fast the locals and crew can skin and render an Elephant. The locals cut up the Elephant in a VERY short period of time, and the meat was hauled off. The tusks were removed and the nerve removed from each tusk. The left tusk weighed 58 pounds and the right weighed 51 pounds. Both are unofficial. I was told they will be officially weighed, measured, stamped, and registered by the time they get home.

    We took a small amount of the Elephant to replace bait as the Leopards were becoming very active.

    We spent over half the day as the Elephant was rendered...almost none of the animal was wasted, as the meat is very important to the people. Only two Elephants would be taken from Mateke Mountain this year. Others will be taken from the low ground.

    We headed back to camp...I had a feeling that night might be the one! We ate, and then went to bed early...just in case.

    Later that evening I was headed to the bush. A Male Leopard was being chased!

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    Hi Phil, Did you try double clicking on the attachment number? It works on my end, but I will figure something out if it does not.

    Geoff

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    Quote Originally Posted by GSTONE View Post
    Hi Phil, Did you try double clicking on the attachment number? It works on my end, but I will figure something out if it does not.

    Geoff
    I did click on them, it goes to a page saying "Invalid Attachment"
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    Not sure why the pictures did not go through. They are now posted on My Gallery Please let me know if that works. Just click on my photos on thread start.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GSTONE View Post
    Not sure why the pictures did not go through. They are now posted on My Gallery Please let me know if that works. Just click on my photos on thread start.
    Yep, seeing them in your gallery. Nice ele and loving the Klippy and Grysbok!
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    We took off to the position that the Leopard was jumped and started towards the area we could hear the dogs baying. The Leopard was moving in and out of rocks and covering a lot of ground. Every time it seemed the dogs got close, away he went. He finally treed...but then we had to be sure it was a male. He finally turned around, and Quinn said it was a male. I was on a rock and needed extra balance, but I finally saw the spot on the Leopard I was looking to hit. I squeezed and the TSX was on its way. The procedure was to turn the lights off at the shot because a wounded Leopard will attack those with lights first...but the shot was true and he hit the ground dead. The bullet went through his heart...and the heart and lung were outside the body on the opposite side. WOW...an Elephant on the 23rd and a Leopard on the 25th!!! The picture is with the others on "View GSTONES photos." What a fantastic hunt!

    We left the Mateke Camp on the 27th and headed back to the main camp. We wanted to get back across the Zimbabwe border before Saturday, so we headed out. It would have been really slow to cross on Saturday. We drove through and spent the night at Pietersburg, and then headed back to Johannesburg and Africa Sky Guest House after saying good bye to Quinn. We subsequently left for the US and arrived on the first of October.

    Every year it seems to be better and better. I highly recommend hunting with Quinn and Threeways. Getting a Leopard AND an Elephant was unbelievable. His camps, crew, and his hard work will always be a fond memory. If you get the chance...GO!!!!

    My good friend Jacques Spamer proved again that he is a complete professional, and a great resource. Next year he will help me complete my Big 5...in four years and at age 68 by next year's hunt! I consider him a good friend, and I also highly recommend him. Scott Jurgins filled in for Hannes Pienaar for the filming and pictures. Nice job Scott...I hope to see Hannes or you again next year.

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    Thanks for sharing your hunting safari and great pictures with all of us!

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    Thanks for the entertaining hunt report, I'm glad you had a good time and successful hunt!

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    Congrats for a great hunt !

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    Glad you had a great hunt. Thanks for letting us share in the experience.
    "TIME"........God's way of keeping everything from happening all at once.

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    Gstone Awesome hunt! Thanks for sharing went to your gallery to see the pics awesome trophies, maybe J can fix them later. Looking forward to next years report.
    Enjoy life now -- it has an expiration date.

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