Caprivi Elephant Part I
I have just returned from a fantastic hunt with Fulton Classic Safaris. I booked the hunt with Wendell at Hunters Quest International and travel was arranged with Meliza at Gracy Travel. I flew Delta to Frankfurt and Air Namibia on to Windhoek and then to Katima Mulilo. The gun permit process in Namibia is a breeze compared to other countries and I was quickly through the airport and headed for the hotel to get some rest. I stayed at the Onganga hotel while in Windhoek and could not have been more pleased with the room, service, and food.
Next I flew from Windhoek to Katima where I was picked up by my PH Fred Bezuidenhout. Fred is quite a character and a joy to hunt with. We arrived at Salambala in time to have lunch with Vaughan Fulton and his client who had just finished a successful elephant/buffalo hunt. After a delicious lunch Vaughan and his client headed for the airport and Fred and I drove out to check my rifle and have a look around. There was elephant sign virtually everywhere we went, and waterbuck, impala, and zebra all along the Chobe.
The camp setup is very nice as plains game is almost constantly in sight as it feeds and comes to water at the river. Some of the animals seen from camp (or at times in camp) include; waterbuck, zebra, impala, kudu, baboons, buffalo, sable, warthogs, and one morning 46 elephants. Bird life also abounded and there were geese, ducks, kingfishers, hornbills, storks, ibises, guineas’, and many others. Although not seen, we were serenaded by lions every night and a leopard on a couple of occasions.
The hunt I had booked was for a non-exportable bull elephant with tusks that were broken or less than 35 pounds. I never in my wildest of dreams thought that I would ever be able to afford a bull elephant hunt but this type of hunt made it possible. My permit was for the Kasika Conservancy which is about a two hour drive from the Salambala camp. The drive to Kasika can be an adventure in itself depending on the water levels. We followed the Chobe and had to drive through water at times crossing through different channels.
Once in Kasika I was amazed at the elephant sign that we encountered, especially in the villages that we passed through. Near the Chobe we saw hippo and at least 75 buffalo but all of the elephant tracks were headed into the areas with high grass and papyrus swamps. We stopped in an open spot and asked a villager that was building a corral if he had seen any elephant and he said that five had passed through yesterday evening. The villager indicated that the elephants were headed for the thick stuff so away we went.
Fred put his trackers on top of the truck as we drove into the long grass and it wasn’t long before there was a tap on the roof and the trackers said “elephants”. My heart went into overdrive and my hands began to sweat. Fred and I climbed to the top of the truck and began to glass them. Fred wanted to make sure there were no cows or calves before we moved in but there were only two bulls. Fred said these are not what we are looking for so I relaxed and even took a couple of pictures.
Fred was discussing the elephants with the trackers but I did not understand what was being said. Finally Fred said grab your gun and let’s get a closer look. I thought that he just wanted to see how I handled being close to an elephant so I was still pretty calm. We stalked in to about 30 yards when the wind began to change so Fred backed us out and we swung around and came in from the other direction. The wind held and we moved up to within 16 paces of the elephant.
Fred whispers, “Do you want to do a heart shot or a brain shot”? I responded with, “Are we going to shoot this elephant”? He just smiled and said yes. Without having time to get nervous I raised my rifle and put the right barrel in the side of his head and as he collapsed I put the left barrel in his heart. I quickly reloaded and put two more in his chest and while the trackers yelled at the other bull Fred pulled me up to the elephant and had me shoot him once more in the head. Even though the other bull did not seem inclined to leave the handshakes and back slapping began.
I was somewhat in shock still when I asked Fred what is the deal with this elephant? He told me that when he first saw him he was standing in a low spot and he thought that it was a small bull. He said it moved a little and he and the trackers realized it was much bigger than they thought but did not say it in English so I didn’t know what was going on. This elephant has beautiful ivory, not broken at all. After pulling them out of the skull they are 58”x 15.5” and 56” x 15.25” and I still can’t believe how beautiful.
I will have to break off hear but will continue the report and provide pictures as soon as possible. Adios for now. Jim
To read Caprivi Elephant Part II and to see some pictures of this hunt click here.
Hey hey, Congratulations!
Fred is definitely different, but a good hunter.
Glad you had a great hunt!
Hi Jaustin, Thanks for the hunting report! I glad you had a good time and shot a great elephant.
Jaustin, Thanks for sharing those special moments with us. I look forward to seeing the pictures. What is the weight of the tusks?
i was wondering the ivory weight as well