NAMIBIA: Buffalo Hunt in the Caprivi

Discussion in 'Hunting Reports' started by ikeda, Sep 15, 2009.

  1. ikeda

    ikeda AH Veteran

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    This past August I hunted Cape Buffalo with Vaughan Fulton Classic Safaris. I would never go back to this outfitter. Frankly I am sick of talking about the details, but suffice it to say, during 6 days of hunting we walked and drove all over Salambala conservancy and the only thing we saw was domestic cattle, people and dogs. I could have done as well back home in Texas. I was not hunting with Mr Fulton or even one of his full time employees. The PH he had hired to hunt me had never even set foot on the conservancy. The only guidance he got from Fulton was "hunt those trees directly behind the camp"!
    I got the distinct impression that I was there solely to provide more daily rates for Mr. Fulton. If I did not see a Buffalo then "thats hunting!" The food was also of very marginal quality and the camp organization was very poor. Anyone who books a hunt with this fellow should consider themselves forewarned.
     
  2. enysse

    enysse AH Ambassador

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    Thanks for the warning! I'm sorry to hear your safari trip didn't go as planned. Again thank you for the warning!
     
  3. Skyline

    Skyline AH Fanatic

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    I am sorry to hear that you are less than happy with your buffalo hunt in the Caprivi ikeda. It is every ones greatest fear, booking a hunt and having it turn out to be a disaster. I have read a lot of other hunt reports about Vaughn Fulton that were the exact opposite and highly recommended hunting with his outfit.

    Now I don't personally know the man and have never hunted with him, but it disturbs me that this is your first post on AH............am I to assume that you are posting this warning on what ever forums you can find that are related to hunting in Africa?

    Did you discuss your concerns with Mr. Fulton to see if there was anything he could do to address them? I gather that you are 'sick' of talking about the issues but to be honest I can't place a whole lot of stock in a post like this unless you are going to spell it all out. I see the internet being used as a judge/jury/executioner all too often and I personally would like to know a few more details before I am going to pass judgment on someone based on a single post on the internet with few details.
     
  4. Spiral Horn Safaris

    Spiral Horn Safaris SPONSOR AH Fanatic

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    Wow this is very disturbing.

    I personally don't know the Outfit either and will defiantly not pass judgment on the matter unless there are a lot more details of the hunt. It is one thing to warn people about an Outfit but I would like to know the whole story before you can judge.

    Hunting is difficult and there are a lot of factors to remember whilst planning a hunt nature is the one thing that we cannot control. Not seeing a Buff is very bad and should not happen especially if you are in Botswana on a Buff hunt please be so kind as to give us some more info on the hunt.

    I am very sorry to hear that things did not go as planned it is never good when something like this happens.:thinking:
     
  5. Andries

    Andries AH Member

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    ikeda,
    I agree with Kelly. Give us some more details on the HUNT. Most importantly who was your Ph? What was wrong with the food? I am living full time in the Kavango (on the Okavango rivier) in a camp, so I know what is reasonable to expect, I will give you my impression on things.
    Did you phone some references?
    Did you see some buffalo tracks, and did your Ph follow up?
    This sounds like the Ph was putting all the blame on Vaughn.
    I know this kind of behavior, as I have been hunting for a while, so I have seen it before.
    Let us know!
    Andries
     
  6. Shallom

    Shallom AH Enthusiast

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    Ikeda,
    very concerning report indeed and we would all like to know more about your negative experience. Nobody deserves bad treatment in today's industry, but there are also some factors that may contribute to the lack of hunting success, but not seeing a single buffalo over six days in the caprivi is NOT what one would expect. Looking forward to a detailed report on your experience. Best regards,
     
  7. Ray Atkinson

    Ray Atkinson AH Enthusiast

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    I don't know Fulton personally, but he does have a good reputation with SCI and I have talked to a number of people that really liked his hunts???? I don't know but perhaps this economy has hit him too hard and he is trying to survive at you expense?? who knows.

    This sort of thing can happen sometimes..I know that I sent 15 Buffalo hunters on 7 day hunts to a certain area one year and a son/father pair did not get a buffalo..The father got an opertunity on one big bull late in the evening, but was using an iron sighted 45-70 M-95 Win. and couldn't see his sights..The son didn't get on a shootable bull, those that followed him all shot huge bulls. It just happens.

    I hunted for 5 days one time in the Selous and did not see a buffalo, nor any sign..On day 6 we got up on a large outcrop and saw probably 2000 buffalo scattered in one huge Vuga..They had all left the bush and gone into the high grass..This happened to me again, the exact circumstances, a few years later..

    On another occasion I hunted a great area and because of poaching or drought or whatever the buffalo had moved out totally..I did not see a bull for 8 days, then finally got on a small herd of wild dagga boys and got one of them and he charged and so did his buddy..I think the lions had worked that area over pretty good and the buff were mad as hell...

    Also if you hunt in an area like the Masai Steepe, your buffalo hunting can be chicken or guts and feathers..If you get a little rain the buff come out of the park, and you will probably kill the bull of a lifetime, if they don't come out then your lucky to see any buffalo or the best you can expect to see is one or two but again they will be trophy quality IMO...There are a lot of tribal folks in there and lots of cattle..Is that where you were? it sounds like it to me.

    You say thats hunting, well in fact it is, the only way one could guarantee a animal is to hunt folks behind high fences.

    As to the food etc. there is no excuse for that..I think you would be better off discussing this with Mr. Fulton as opposed to airing it on the internet, as you won't get any satisfaction here I'm sure...He might be willing to make it right, to take you again for no charge or give you some refund..

    Also the bad thing about this sort of thing is we don't have both sides of the story and that always bothers me. I am not saying your wrong, just that I always want to hear both sides before I make a judgment.
     
  8. ikeda

    ikeda AH Veteran

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    Well guys I don't mean to be rude but I don't really care if if anyone wants to pass judgement on the PH without a lot more details, or place a whole lot of stock in my report. It was what it was. Like I said, if you book a hunt with this guy, I hope you have success, but don't say you were not warned. I am 57 years old and have been hunting since I was 12. This was the fourth hunt I have been on in Namibia and I KNOW what I should reasonably expect.

    My PH was not the problem, in fact he was a very pleasant hard working guy who was placed in a very uncomfortable and embarrassing situation by Fulton. He handled it all in a very professional manner. Also, the last time I corresponded with him, two days ago, he still had not been paid by Fulton.

    The problem was no Buffalo and overbooking on the part of Classic Safaris. We walked and drove all over the Salalmbala conservancy and saw NO tracks, NO shit, and NO Buffalo! (except in Botswana). This was after Mr. Fulton e-mailed me on June 5, 2009 saying..."the buffalo are in the area and we have high hopes for a good season"! By "in the area" did he mean across the river in Botswana?

    We also spent one day in the Kasika Conservancy (after a three hour drive to get there). After picking up the game ranger, every place we wanted to hunt was met with the response...we cannot hunt over there, so and so is hunting there. There were 4 PH's and 6 hunters hunting in the same general area! Definitely not safe and possibly not legal.

    Then Mr. Fulton essentially told me the lack of success was due to not following directions and lack of perseverance on our part. Hell, if I want to hear crap like that I would have stayed home with the wife!

    As for food... one evening, dinner consisted of one chicken (genea fowl? ) for seven grown men. Enough said.
    I will be sending in a formal complaint to NAPHA about this hunt.
     
  9. Safari Chick

    Safari Chick AH Veteran

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    ikeda,

    I, for one, think it is important to let others know if you have had an extremely unfavorable experience. I personally would do my own research if I were considering this outfit and try to remain open minded, if I had just read one persons' account. However if I were to come across several bad reviews that would definitely influence my decision to use that outfitter. And you should not be condemned if you are the first to report about them. ikeda was just sharing with us his own personal experience, just as we are happy to read about when some of us have a great safari we must also be open to the fact that some of us don't... The same way that I would not book with an outfitter because I read one good review, I would not eliminate the possibility of hunting with an outfitter with one not so stellar review. But as I already said, if I were to read many good reviews about an outfitter I would still do my own research.

    Hell, I am pretty bold, if I came across one bad review when I was researching an outfitter I would not hesitate to ask him directly about the incident and would be very interested to hear how they would respond. You can tell a lot about someone or a business by how they respond to a difficult situation or to a bad review. Perhaps their response would even influence me in the positive sense based upon what they said or had done to try to remedy the situation or whatever. I am smart enough, just as I know many hunters are, to know that there are good and bad outfitters, there are good and bad hunts (which do not necessarily reflect badly upon the outfitter or the hunter) and there are also good and bad hunters.

    I personally wish that their were more people who would post reviews, good bad or in between! Thank you ikeda!
     
  10. Spiral Horn Safaris

    Spiral Horn Safaris SPONSOR AH Fanatic

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    ikeda thank you for posting the replay.

    I am very sorry to hear about all of this and I hope it does not happen to someone else in the future. I don't know the Caprivi as Andries gathered so I can't comment on the area but I know Zambia and if you want a truly wild hunting experience it would be the place to be but once again make sure you book with a good Outfitter.

    Hope you get what you deserve in the end of the day and good luck.
     
  11. Gloucester

    Gloucester AH Member

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    I'm with Safari Chick. We need a lot more reviews, particularly where the reviews are critical in nature.

    A look at most safari operators web sites will show a host of satisfied clients, providing glowing references on what a fantastic hunting experience they have had. It doesn't take a genius to work out that all the clients that would like to say what a crappy experience they have had are going to be kept hidden from view.

    So we, the paying hunters, are continually presented with a distorted picture of abundant gamefields, whereas the truth on too many occasions is that it is a hard slog to see anything and a lot harder to get a shot. It is only when we read the occasional story such as Ikeda's, that we get any sort of balance. There are plenty of good safari operations and a small number of truely excellent ones. On the other hand there is no shortage of poor operators and quite a few dreadful ones.

    Most forums (and the AH one is showing worrying signs of becoming one) are plagued by outfitters and agents using it as a medium to sell their wares, whilst defending the status quo.

    These calls to Ikeda for more details are unwarranted. When someone places a post that they have a fantastic hunting experience, they are not met with demands for verifiaction nor accused of being a stooge for an outfitter who is drumming up business. They are congratulated with the presumption that they are telling the truth. Yet when someone places a post, in good faith, that they have had a bad experience we have people casting immediate doubt and wanting another side of the story before they give their 'judgement'. What do they honestly expect the other side of the story to be? Is the outfitter going to say, "Yep, you caught me out. I'm just selling a load of bollocks for too much money. You'll be lucky to even see an animal. All I do is let people walk around in the sun for 10 days." No, the outfitter is going wheel out that tired old chestnut; "That's hunting," the catch-all excuse for poor performance, poor provision and poor value for money.

    I welcome an injection of someone's actual experience, good or bad, rather than the cloying perfection that is all too often presented.

    Well done Ikeda! If you were treated like that then give them hell and pursue your complaint to the end. Blow your trumpet loud. Best wishes and good luck.
     
  12. Skyline

    Skyline AH Fanatic

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    ikeda.............well your second post spelled out some of the problems you experienced and it certainly does sound disappointing and frustrating. Not what one would expect on a hunt in Namibia.

    It is a lot easier to understand a complaint when you have something to reference it by. One chicken for seven people would probably be fine if you were having chicken soup. On the other hand I have sat at tables with several hunters from different countries and backgrounds and found that while most of us thought the food being served was good but not spectacular, others found it severely lacking and yet others thought it was some of the fanciest fare they had ever eaten. All depends on who you are and where you come from.

    Not seeing a single buff has to be very disturbing. I do know people who have been on buff hunts that did not see a single buffalo for one reason or another, but were otherwise satisfied with their hunt and the effort put forth. I have been on a sable hunt in one of Zimbabwe's best areas and did not see a single mature bull...................so it can happen to anyone and that is indeed 'hunting'.

    It sounds like there were a lot more issues though than just the lack of buffalo. Andries is very familiar with that country and can perhaps comment further on the situation and your experience.

    Hopefully you will be able to work something out with Mr. Fulton, but the tone of your posts suggests it has already gone beyond that point.
     
  13. enysse

    enysse AH Ambassador

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    I appreciate everyone's responses to the forum's good or bad. I like to think us hunters are all one big family. We may have our disagreements but in the end we are supporting a good cause.

    "The Caprivi" is suppose to be the crown jewel of Namibia!! They charge a premium to hunt that area. I have read glowing reports of awesome elephant, hippo, sable, roan, leopard, crocodiles, monster springbok and good cape buffalo.

    This hunt report disturbs me...especially since the huge hunting concession auction that took years to happen in Namibia and now is done. Now that the concessions have been secured to the outfitters are people selling more hunts than the area can take?

    Is this like the leopard hunting in Namibia with dogs? A lot of unethical things where going on...like crossing property boundries and shooting it on another Ph's or landowners property.

    I love Namibia....I'll have to keep a eye on the situation.

    Everyone keep sending reports in....I like to hear things like...How was the Ph's hunting ability, quality of equipment, the trackers and skinners, accomodations, food and of course the animal quality.
     
  14. Shallom

    Shallom AH Enthusiast

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    Ikeda... as we say in Tanzania - "pole sana" (very sorry). When guinea-fowl are also scarce in the area, that is a MAJOR sign of emptiness :( Like mentioned by enysse, the Caprivi is imagined to be a great area for wildlife and it is very concerning that there are areas there that could be decimated or marginal in terms of game - your post wil go a long way in people asking the right questions about booking the area from now on. Usually we associate success with a proven area - but what people do not realise is that there are some areas that lie on the fringes of famous concessions and are marketed as something that they are not. For a few years, someone here in Tanzania who worked with me in the Kilombero and built his reputation with me, eventually could not maintain our agreements and moved with another outfitter in the Selous - but at the entrance of that camp, he made a sign saying "Kilombero Camp" and got away with it for a while. Until of course, one of his clients actually contacted me and informed me that i am false advertising because my area has NO LIONS and it is not ethical to claim having some of the best lions in the world. Well, we straightened out the mis-understanding an needless to say, the culprit got a real backlash which has resulted in him getting rid of the sign board that read "Kilombero Camp". Some people are LOW!

    Nevertheless, as observers and by-standers, we always want to hear both sides of the story and would rather pursue resolution rather than outrage. Everyone is already rightfully warned about your experience - hopefully the responsible parties can do something to put things right. It is a real pity about your experience and something that I never like to hear about coming from Africa - at the end of the day, it is bad for the entire continent of Africa as a destination. I sympathize with your situation and wish it had turned out different. The only thing i can do - is suggest that you do not give up in your pursuit of buffalo. There are areas where you will see, follow and mix with more buffalo than you ever dreamed of. Karibu Tanzania!
     
  15. ikeda

    ikeda AH Veteran

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    Here is a quick update. I just talked to my PH on this hunt. He was finally paid by Fulton but only for six days of hunting. I however was charged for the full seven days of hunting. That Fulton is a real upstanding guy, eh.
     
  16. Highland

    Highland AH Member

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    A couple of questions...

    Sorry you had a bad hunt.

    Who did you book through and what did they offer?

    Were the other hunters in camp successful?
     
  17. Dox

    Dox AH Veteran

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    Very very sorry you had a bad hunt

    It is not nice to have a bad hunt after waiting for the day of the hunt to come.

    Dox
     
  18. Spiral Horn Safaris

    Spiral Horn Safaris SPONSOR AH Fanatic

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    Ikeda you have all my sympathy. Please do me a favor and don't let it become the only thing on your mind when you think of hunting. Get back on the horse just make sure it is a horse and not a donkey HA HA.:giveusahug:
     
  19. V. Fulton

    V. Fulton New Member

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    Members and other readers,

    A friend forwarded this thread to me, I apologise for a somewhat brief summary as I am sending this out of camp via cell phone coverage.
    I respectfully offer the following response;
    A few facts to consider,

    The Hunt
    On the morning that Ikeda left/was leaving camp, another hunter shot a Buffalo in Salambala Conservancy. This would have been the 7th morning of Ikeda’s 7 day hunt, he however chose to leave early. Furthermore the ph informed me that the sign showed that the buffalo had been in this area for at least two days. Also a large herd crossed from Botswana and were around the camp the evening prior to the buffalo being shot.
    In Ikeda’s defence there are no resident herds of Buffalo in Salambala only a few bulls. However there are large herds that come and go into the area throughout the year. Otherwise the game department or rather our Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) would not approve a quota one would think and hope.
    The Buffalo was shot in exactly “One” of the places that I suggested to Ikeda’s ph to work in. I suggested several other areas as well. Nevertheless, the evening before the buffalo was shot, the ph asked Ikeda’s ph if they would like to hunt there the following morning. Ikeda’s ph replied that no they did not as Ikeda was leaving the following morning. Ikeda it should be mentioned was not at dinner that evening and I was informed that he went to his tent at 5pm (17H00) already as he was not feeling well in fact his knees were bothering him is what I have been told.
    Ikeda’s claim that they walked and drove the whole of Salambala has had some contrasting words from our camp staff and the game scout. Ikeda and his ph were the last to leave camp in the mornings and were back in camp in times ranging from 09H00 to 11H00. Surely this cannot count as hunting or trying hard?
    It should also be noted that several months prior to Ikeda’s hunt he sent me an e-mail insisting that he wanted to hunt in Salambala. He did not ask for my opinion or input. I did not at that stage place concern over this as I would just keep quota for him in Kasika where there are resident buffalo, which I did. I also informed the ph that they should try hunt Salambala a few days (per Ikeda’s request) and then they could come to Kasika if all else fails.
    Kasika hunting is physically challenging 90% of the time, reason being flood plains and swampy area. Ikeda sent me an e-mail several weeks before his hunt and informed me that amongst other things he is 300lbs and has knee problems. I was concerned and hoped that he was successful in Salambala given the above. Nevertheless if need be I have put hunters on sleds to get them close to buffalo and make the final approach on foot. A ph must make a plan. So I still had Kasika and we shoot Buffalo every year in Salambala so my hopes were still positive.
    In reference to the one day that Ikeda went to Kasika as in his report, where they could not go anywhere as it was “full” of hunters, they did not discuss their plans with the other hunters. If the ph and Ikeda expressed a wish to go there, I know the plans would have been adjusted to accommodate everyone.

    The PH (professional hunter)
    On the second day of the hunt Ikeda’s ph suggested to me that they go hunt buffalo in the area where he is the full time registered ph. I rejected this based on
    Firstly; it was only the second day and
    Secondly; There was quota reserved in Kasika for Ikeda which costs us money
    Thirdly; the ph’s quote to me was almost $1000.00 more than what Ikeda was paying Classic Safaris for the whole hunt.
    Surely this places a question mark on ethics and even though the ph is freelancing he surely has a duty to represent the company that is paying him.
    Ikeda pre-paid his trophy fee, this was wired to him and he was to advise me as soon as the funds cleared, he obviously never did. I have paid the ph after I withheld his money till I thought the story was finalized. In my opinion the ph was unethical, left camp early on the morning of the 7th day and also working till 9 or 11 in the morning for the other 6 days surely does not justify full remuneration?

    Hunting areas (legality)
    Classic Safaris hunts in Salambala, Kasika and Impalila Island conservancies. According to legislations no more than 2 parties may hunt the same area. Kasika and Impalila immediately border one another and Salambala is approximately 35km away in a straight line. Self explanatory
    Due to the annual flooding of these areas we have a window of 5-6 months to fill our quota. We are not foolish ph’s have the responsibility to ensure where the other hunters are going and stay within the areas they stated that they would hunt. No rocket science.

    The Camp
    I apologise to Ikeda for not enough food on the evening Ikeda refers to. I asked my staff and they informed me that there was one evening that clients complained about a shortage of food. Why did Ikeda not mention this to me whilst here or even in subsequent e-mails. I can only apologise after the fact.
    It was however not Guinea fowl. Shalom
    In general we have not had many complaints about our food before, in fact it has been complimentary. I have taken steps to ensure this for the future and apologise again for the staff slacking.
    We have had 4 ladies in camp this year and all were happy with the accommodations and food. Our beds are hotel quality being 6ft 6inches long and ¾ wide and can be joined to make king size double beds, hardly cheap and sub-standard. We do not run a lodge, guest farm, guesthouse, game ranch or hunting ranch to which I suspect Ikeda is accustomed. We operate out of a tented camp and in conservancies/government concessions outfitters may not erect permanent structures. We offer en-suite toilet and shower facilities and linen is changed on a regular basis and laundry is daily.

    Closing
    I am sincerely sorry that Ikeda had an unsuccessful hunt.
    To forewarn people about Classic Safaris and me is pushing it. Each has his responsibilities and each must face up to his.
    People who have hunted with me and who know me know that I care and try my best for them.

    Respectfully,
    V. Fulton
     
  20. safari hunter

    safari hunter AH Veteran

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    Vaughan, Thanks for that respectful and really well put reply. I think that it is really important to hear both sides of a story before passing judgement, and this is a very good example of why I believe this.

    The internet is a double edged sword, it is a great resource for information sharing but one must always remain vigilant as to what we choose to believe.

    After reading your thorough response I come away with a very different impression as to what happened on this hunt. There is no doubt that ikeda was not satisfied with his hunt but certainly it seems that at least some of the responsibility for that is his own. It does not sound like he was in any physically condition to go on this hunt and it seems that his expectation were not in line with the type of hunt and accommodations that he chose.

    I think that it's important that you admitted and apologized for things that did go wrong on this hunt. Hell, I'm a business owner and know that s**t can go wrong and sometimes all you can do is admit it and apologize, that's life.
     

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