ZIMBABWE: Outstanding hunt with Wayne Jardine
First my apologies for my english, french being my first language.
A bit of background, I am Swiss, 49, in very good shape, hunting >5 months/year since I was 20, so have some experience. I have done most of North America trophies, hunted > 7 different european countries and this was my third african safari.
I travelled this time to Zimbabwe,with my Dad (78, also hunter), my son (13, hunter),daughter (12, hunter) and my girlfriend (undefined,non-hunter).
This hunt was booked through luxury hunts, Jeff Martinell.
The original booking was a 15 days elephant/buf package, to which I added a sable and buf hunt for my dad.
Price was extremely competitive (26 KUS and 11 KUS respectively). I was promised a big tusker and an old dugga boy.
The hunt was conducted near Hwange national park (adjacent), 100k + acres, close to a mining concession. Very remote, tough thick country, with the only drawback being close to the mine and seeing sometime the fumes of the coal burning power station. The place has not been hunted for 15 years, reason was that the owners (the mining company) investigated new potential mines there. They are now reactivating the wells to attract animals from the park and reopening bush roads. In our case, only part of it was reachable with jeeps and only one well was active. The camp was rustic but very comfortable, no issues with trucks or material. Very helpful and extremely nice staff, with an amazing cook. I was guided by Wayne, my dad with Dave Aymot. The kids and my girlfriend being split between the two.
On the PHs:
- Very, very good, hard working and knowledgeable. Excellent trackers. They went way over what we could expect and never gave up(even when we wanted to...)
On the game:
- Tons of elephant, really, sometime more than 100 per day. Few bufs, very old bulls, but they still had water in the park. The animals clearly come and go from there to there. Very few sable but huge,lots of leopard and very high quality plainsgame (kudu,giraffe,impalas, etc...). Lots of leopard.
On the hunt:
- Shot a very old buf second day (see pic), on an incredible full charge, shooting my last bullet when the buf was 15 feet from me (he died one yard from my feet). I guessed I gain respect from Wayne then..., who told me it was the first time in 35 years that he had a client that stood ground and did not flinch. Once in a lifetime experience!!!
- Shot an elephant 4th day: Not what I was hoping for (37 lbs) but he charged when we were close to estimate the trophy. We shot in self-defense and he then stumbled and ended into a croc (10+ feet) infested lake...
Recovery was, hum, interesting. But we got lucky and were able to get a 106 tons truck (!!!) from the mining company... which made a road in 10 min and lifted the elephant out of the water in another 10 min. I guess this does also qualify for another lifetime experience.
At Wayne proposal, we could have tried to ask for a new tag for elephant (clear self-defense shooting) but I thought it was honorable not to, and Wayne was in line with this. Note that I saw much bigger tuskers, so chances for 55+ there are very real.
- I chased a sable (huge, 44+) for days and days, saw him numerous time just outside the boundaries... aaaaarrrrgggghhhh....
-Shot one giraffe with my son (team effort), very old huge bull and a nice zebra, my daughter one nice impala (she passed a record kudu because she was not comfortable with the shot).
- My dad had trouble with his buf. Shooting this trophy was a life long dream for him and everybody was aware of this. The team went though incredible efforts to help him achieve that. I finally got successful (8th day) and shot what will probably be the number 1 (or at least top 3) buf in Zimbabwe this year: 41.5 spread and 17+ bosses (yes, you read well 17+!!!).
We had a lot of fun, including celebrating the Swiss national Day by cooking a raclette on the fire (we brought a cheese wheel with us)...
After a quick visit to the Falls, we then decided to move to Sondelani, a fenced 60'000 acres game preserve, to do plainsgame with the kids and chill out for the last days. Wayne stayed at the Hwange camp and we moved with Dave (great PH). 7hrs drive, loooooooong... Sondelani is very nice, bungalows, lots of game,just wished the cook followed...
There we focused on plainsgame for the kids,while I was on stand-by for a potential leopard (in a few days, almost impossible, but who knows).
My son shot a nice waterbuck
my daughter a nice kudu
and we placed four baits... Lucky enough, one was active after the first night and we set up the blind. Nothing the first night, apart being surrounded by a herd of buffalo (closest one was may be 5 feet from us, stamped would have been an interesting experience), left at 9 pm against the advice of Dave and discovered next day that the cat did in fact come later...
We placed a new bait with little hope, came back at 5 pm...and, surprise!!! At 7 the cat came... then left asap!!!! Patience was then recommended by dave and we waited. 45 minutes later, he was back, light on, shot, and dead before leaving the tree!!! Not a huge leopard but totally unexpected and way over my expectations...
Not done yet.
I did ask Wayne of the possibility for my son to shoot a buff. Three generations,one hunt, three buffs sounded nice. And he was able to manage a tag for my son. Again, little hopes, very tough hunting there, buffs are difficult to approach and it normally takes days and days of hard work to bag a nice bull. But when the gods are with you...
Two days before leaving, we spotted a small group of buffalos, got out of the jeep, stalked them, got close enough and my son was able to get with the 375 a clean heart shot!!!
It was just so amazing that we decided not to hunt the last day. What could be better?
Great PHs, extremely high potential area (as water wells are reinitiated game will come more and more), good setting and material. I will hunt again with Wayne and Dave. I understand why some people dislike Wayne, he goes by his own pace, has his character but if you gain his respect then be ready for the best!!!
Now if you are on the lazy side, prefer to be served and pampered and like to complain, well, it may not be the best place...
Please feel free to contact me if you need any information or have any questions.