ZIMBABWE: My buffalo hunt with SSG

Discussion in 'Hunting Reports' started by jduckhunter, Jul 24, 2013.

  1. jduckhunter

    jduckhunter AH Veteran

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    My daughter Stacey, my son George and myself recently spent 10 days hunting with Nixon and the boys at SSG Safari's Malapati concession in southern Zim. The main characters in this report will be myself, my daughter Stacey, my son George our ph Ishumael, our tracker Samuel and our game scout M ( I will identify him only as M because I don't know how to spell his real name and he didn't play much of a part in the hunt anyway. Half the time he was missing and when he was around he was busy with his cell phone texting someone). Oh and I don't want to leave out Angelene our camp caretaker, server, cook, and official wake up call person. Every day she would knock on our door and announce that it was " good morning time". What a way to start the day we would keep the light off until she knocked just to here her say "it's good morning time".

    Day 1 we got up at 5:00 had a good breakfast and climbed into the cruiser to see if we could find some fresh buff tracks crossing the road somewhere. Buff tracks were a little scarce since for the last couple of days 2 prides of lions had been hunting in the area. It was nice to sit around the fire at night and listen to them but they were not helping our cause very much. But we did manage to find a fresh track and follow it for several hours, only to have the stalk blown by the ever changing breeze. A little disappointing at first but we would learn to take it in stride over the next couple of days. It was decided to head back for lunch and a short nap to help shake off the jet lag, but things rarely go according to plan, and on our way back we bumped into a pretty nice Impala. With a little encouragement from Ishumael and others the next thing I know Stacey is putting my 375 Ruger on the sticks. Although she had never shot my rifle before she had no trouble in knocking him down. The 300 grain Woodleigh soft did the trick handily. So back to camp we go to put our first animal in the salt. So after lunch and a nap we were back out looking for tracks and found two sets of buff tracks heading into the bush. We set out following them and did so until dark, never catching up to them. So back to camp for a nice hot shower, fire time and dinner, or so we thought. The plan would have worked out perfectly had we been told that the hot water valve was on the right instead of on the left like we are accustomed to. We were told to leave the water run for a while, as it takes several minutes for the hot water to flow through the pipes, but after what seemed like forever we gave up and took cold showers. At least we got the sweat of the day off, unfortunately it was replaced by goose bumps, which were quickly gotten rid of by the wonderful camp fire burning on the patio. A little fire time, a wonderful dinner of buffalo roast and fresh veggies, a little more fire time with some hot tea spiked with brandy ( I don't drink much) a great conversation about Obama's recent visit to Africa ( what a joke) and soon it was time for bed. I don't even remember my head hitting the pillow I had a great nights sleep.

    Day 2 thru 4 went pretty much the same as day 1 with a lot of walking and a lot of blown stalks. We did manage to get within 20 yards or so of a buff on day 2 but never could see him in the thick bush, when he decided to make his exit it got real exciting until we realized he was going out the back door. The real high lights of those days were the delicous dinners especially the fresh Impala steaks complements of my daughter.

    Day 5 got better since the lions moved off further into the park and were causing the buffs to cross the river onto our side. More on that tomorrow I'm going to bed now, my clock is still messed up.
     
  2. PHOENIX PHIL

    PHOENIX PHIL AH Legend

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    Well.....you certainly know how to set someone up and just leave them hanging there on the cliff! Looking forward to the rest.
     
  3. Bobpuckett

    Bobpuckett GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    Well... Sounds good so far lets loosen the rope thats got us hanging.;)
     
  4. Wheels

    Wheels GOLD SUPPORTER AH Elite

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    So the hot water is like the vehicles.....on the wrong side. Thanks for the update. Hope you have a big buff by the time you get back to the report.
     
  5. EDD

    EDD AH Veteran

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    :nice:
    Dont sleep too long now..,..!!!!
    :popcorn:
     
  6. BnC 04

    BnC 04 TITANIUM SUPPORTER SILVER SUPPORTER AH Enthusiast

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    Sleep??? No No you have a thread to complete and pictures to post!:D
    Looking forward to hearing about the remainder of your trip.
     
  7. gillettehunter

    gillettehunter AH Fanatic

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    I feel like a kid whining about going to bed. Do I hafta wait? Looking forward to the rest of the report. Bruce
     
  8. Buff-Buster

    Buff-Buster GOLD SUPPORTER AH Fanatic

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    Aren't you up yet???? We're waiting...lol
     
  9. jduckhunter

    jduckhunter AH Veteran

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    So day 5 started like all the other days with a knock and "it's good morning time" and
    for breakfast, oatmeal. I hate oatmeal, it just doesn't sit well with me and my stomach
    growls all morning, you should have seen some of the looks I got from Ishumael and Samuel when
    we were on a silent stalk and my belly wouldn't stop protesting. Oh well, it was the usual
    routine, stalk for hours and get busted by the wind or a stray herd of zebras. I'm beginning
    not to like zebras so much anymore. Anyway around 11:30 we stopped along the road to eat a
    quick snack before heading back to camp for lunch and along comes Nixon, turns out he was
    looking for us since nobody was answering thier cell phones. He wanted to tell us about a herd
    of buffalo that crossed the river that morning at about 8:30. So a quick plan was made and we
    were off. Here's where things got a little interesting. We located the spot where the buffs
    entered the bush, but drove right past it. Ok I figure they know what they are doing so I
    don't say a word. We drove almost out of the concession to the park road and stopped, the boys
    started to unload everything off the cruiser, so I asked Ishumael what the deal was and he
    told me that our apprentice guide who happens to be Nixon's son wants to take the truck to
    the store to pick up a few things. The look I gave him must have spoken volumes, because he
    starts explaining to me that the store is only a few kilometers up the road and they wouldn't
    be gone for too long and we needed to let the buffalo rest so we could catch them. WTF, not
    wanting to rock the boat I just left it go and after an hour and a half they were back with
    the truck and we were off. So about 2:30 we started our stalk, or death march, as my kids called
    it. We were urged to keep moving so that we could catch the herd before dark (really!). My son
    set his GPS at the truck and monitored our progress and at a steady 3 mph pace I swear that was
    all uphill we caught up to the herd at 4:50. Upon catching them Samuel and Ishumael started
    to reverse crab crawl toward them for a better look and to get me closer for a good shot.
    I crawled up to Ishumael as fast as I could and told him that I don't crawl anymore, arthritis and
    other issues just make it pretty tough. I told him that I could shoot from here if we could locate a
    good bull. Well there was a bull bedded right in front of us in the opening but he was
    facing away from us. We spent about 20 minutes looking him and the rest of the herd over, and I just knew
    that the wind was going to shift or something else unforeseen was going to happen. All of a
    sudden my son who is sitting behind me sits up straight and looks downhill at a 90 degree angle
    from the herd,and he whispers to me that there is a buffalo coming up from below us. At this point
    I think that I should tell you that with my hearing I could maybe hear a buff if it ran over me
    but that's about it. About that time Ishumael starts looking downhill as well, there he is
    standing right there broadside at about 75 yards, with his head right behind a tree. Are you
    kidding me what else can go wrong, I'm thinking to myself. Well after what seemed like an
    eternity he (actually it was probably less then a minute)took a step forward and Ishumael
    hissed "kill that one". Well, boys and girls I went into auto-pilot mode. I remember bringing
    the gun up to my shoulder and looking for his shoulder through the scope which is set on 2.5 power,
    but all I can see is trees where his shoulder should have been. Ok, move the scope forward
    locate the neck, try to remember your buff anatomy lesson, raise it up a little bit more, go for
    the spine, BOOM! Well honestly I thought he might go right down but that didn't happen, instead
    he starts down on his front end, recovers, rears up and turns downhill. I had another round
    in the chamber by the time he headed off but could not see him for all the dust he kicked up.
    Man that was exciting. Ishumael is yelling about a great shot, but Samuel's attention is on the
    herd which is on it's collective feet and facing our way. In the confusion following my silence
    breaking shot they thought about running toward us, but stopped after a few yards. Lucky for
    us, after a few tense moments they decided on a downhill path. Well that was some extra excitement
    that I didn't need. So back to my buff, after the herd was gone and things got quiet again
    Samuel looks at Ishumael and says "he's dying". Which made me feel great but it made Ishumael
    take off downhill after the buff like he was shot out of a cannon, damn, that man can run.
    Some how my son got in between Ishumael and me, a situation that was promptly corrected with
    only a few choice words. I caught up to Ishumael just as he was about to deliver the coup de grace
    to the buff which had run about 150 yards and doubled back to hide under a tree next to a
    termite mound. A perfect ambush position, only thing is he had lost so much blood that he could
    not get to his feet. So I tugged at Ishumael's elbow and told him that I got this and I
    started blasting away at the buffs shoulder with my 300 gr solids, rocking the buff with every
    blast, after three shots Samuel decided to go and tug on the bulls tail, WOW, he didn't like
    that and left him know it. After Samuel cleared the area I left him have another solid and
    must have hit something important because at that shot he stiffened his whole body rolled
    over on his back thrust his horns into the ground and stared directly at me from about 20 feet
    away. I will remember that stare for as long as I live, it was a stare that just said I'm
    going to die and I want to take you with me. After a few long seconds he left out his death
    bellow and all was peaceful once more. You talk about having to take a moment. I have shot
    a lot of things in my time but nothing hit me as hard as this one. I didn't know if I wanted to
    laugh or cry. My kids say that I have changed in the last few years since having several
    surgeries and not being given good odds of recovery. I don't think I've changed I just deal
    with death a little differently now thats all. Anyway the postmortem showed that the 300 gr.
    Woodleigh soft that I hit him with first did it's job, destroying his windpipe and cutting some
    major artery and exiting the other side, leaving a blood trail a blind man could follow. By
    the looks of things the 4 300 gr. Hornady solids that I pumped into him were just to hasten the
    inevitable, but better safe then sorry and everything ended well. Just as a side note the
    Hornady solids that I recovered after passing through both shoulders and stopping under the
    off side hide look like I could buff them up a bit and use them over, but I probably won't.
    Wow, that's alot of writing for me for one day, I'll try to continue the story tomorrow.
    Good night guys. Oh I almost forgot to finish the part about my sons GPS, after the buffalo was
    down he checked it and it said that we walked 7.6 miles since leaving the truck. What an afternoon!
     

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  10. Bobpuckett

    Bobpuckett GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    Great story and Awesome Buff! WTF is right about that young man going to the store if you truely did need to let the herd rest then all of you go to the store, hell it would have given you something different to look at while the herd was resting. But I'm glad it worked out for you. Awesome!
     
  11. Wheels

    Wheels GOLD SUPPORTER AH Elite

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    Congratulations! Glad you got your buff. Look forward to hearing the rest of the story.
     
  12. messmate

    messmate AH Veteran

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    Great buff and a good write up...the ruger & woodleigh are a good combination and I've used much the same .
    When's the next installment?
     
  13. jduckhunter

    jduckhunter AH Veteran

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    Day 6 More oatmeal, then off to cut a road to my buff, take pictures, skin him, quarter
    him and load him in the truck and drop him off back at camp. Well there goes the morning,
    but I didn't mind, my son on the other hand was chomping at the bit to go out after a buff
    for himself. Who could blame him. We did go out after lunch but had kind of an uneventful
    afternoon.

    Day 7 This day will haunt me for a long time. The morning followed the same routine that
    we had grown accustomed to, find tracks follow them for a long time and have something blow
    it for you. But in the afternoon we were back on the tracks of the herd, hoping to find a
    shooter bull. When we caught up to them and the boys started to crawl around for a better
    look I told Stacey that we would just stay put. We were in a wooded section next to the more
    open area where the buffs were hanging out. I told her that we would hang out until M comes
    along and he could lead us back to the truck or the road where we could wait for the boys.
    Yeah that plan didn't work out so well, M was a no show, the sun was setting, we had buffs
    on 2 sides of us and Stacey was getting antsy. We moved a little closer to a big tree that
    offered a little comfort and peace of mind for both of us. Suddenly Stacey says dad there
    are buffs coming this way and pointed toward the clearing. I took a look, they were not buffs
    but 2 nyalas moving towards us at a slight angle. The lead bull was the biggest nyala I have
    ever seen. They moved along seemingly in no hurry just feeding as they went. The big one
    gave me a lot of time to look him over at under 50 yards I'm guessing his horns approached
    30" with long ivory tips, his coat was dark chestnut, it almost appeared black, his long mane
    reached from stem to stern. I don't know what else you could ask for in a nyala, but my
    problem was where were the boys, what were they doing, stalking a bull, if so and I shot
    that would ruin that. I had the crosshairs on him several times and Stacey was holding her
    ears shut anticipating the shot, but in the end I just couldn't do it, I just watched him
    walk away. Better safe then sorry I told myself. DAMN! Well the sun set and no sign of anybody,
    then Stacey says she hears someone whistling, so I whistled back and Ishumael yells something
    in Shona, what the hell? So I whistle some more and he keeps yelling, we decided to just
    start walking in the direction of the yelling, and eventually came across the boys. I asked
    Ishumael why the hell he was yelling in Shona, he said that he figured M was with us and
    was yelling instructions to him. It turns out that M was sitting in the truck with the
    apprentice ph, while Stacey and I were sitting in the bush in the dark, lovely! Anyway it
    was one of those bonding experiences that you don't soon forget. I'm not complaining mind you
    I'm just stating the facts. Did I mention that nyala was high on my wish list. Ever since
    that little experience every time I close my eyes I see that big bull.

    Day 8 had a couple of dark spots in it, but one very bright spot as well. More on that later.
     
  14. RickB

    RickB AH Fanatic

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    So far so good!! All things that will forever be burned in your memory!! I love the Ruger! When I go back to Africa, that will be the gun I us.! Cant wait for the rest of the story!
     
  15. bluey

    bluey GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    great write up jduck hunter
    I really liked the way explained the taking of your awesome bull mate , it felt like we were sitting right there with you .
     
  16. gillettehunter

    gillettehunter AH Fanatic

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    Starting to wonder a little about your hunting team. Leaving you out there alone...... Going to the store and leaving you. Doesn't make a lot of sense to me. Bruce
     
  17. jduckhunter

    jduckhunter AH Veteran

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    I know it sounds bad but I really liked the ph and the tracker was great the other characters in the party left a little bit to be desired.
     
  18. jduckhunter

    jduckhunter AH Veteran

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    Day 8 Ok I've been struggling with how to report day 8, I don't like to admit that my body
    has limits but damn it, it does and on day 8 I reached those limits. The day started out ok,
    just about like all the other days, followed tracks for miles and hoofed back to the truck as
    fast as we could to start over. The bad part about today is I was trying to do it without
    my pain and anti-inflammatory meds. I quit taking them because of some other health issues
    I was having, not great. After the first stalk and walk back I was hurting pretty badly.
    I stayed at the cruiser for the next stalk, the boys were gone for about three hours, and
    when they got back I knew something was wrong. It turns out my son took a shot at a buffs
    shoulder through the fork of a tree at a distance he wasn't comfortable with and missed.
    I know and most of you guys know that it happens, but it takes a younger fellow a while to
    get over it and eventually he did, but not right away. I told him that from now on not to
    take shots that he's not comfortable with, you are the only one that can make that decision.
    The decision was made to head back to camp for lunch. So away we went with me riding up front
    with the apprentice ph. In the middle of an awkward conversation with me trying to understand
    him and he trying to understand me, the tracker taps on the roof of the cab and we came to an
    abrupt stop. Something was said in Shona and the junior ph points to a nyala standing in the
    bush to our left and not very far away. I had my Ruger #1 in 300 H&H up front with me so I
    grabbed that and the door handle at about the same time only to be grabbed by the junior ph
    who said don't get out, shoot from here. I protested a little never having shot anything from
    a vehicle. To which he replied that if I open that door I will never see that nyala again.
    Well after a few seconds of soul searching I agreed and found the nyala in my scope. He was
    standing in thick brush and the shoulder was well covered, so I went to the base of the neck,
    that looked pretty clear so I settled the cross hairs and fired. I couldn't beleive it when
    he took off running after that shot. He only went a short distance and stopped in a more clear
    area, this time I settled the scope low on the shoulder and he dropped at the shot. When I
    looked him over I could not believe where that first shot went. He was hit well behind the
    shoulder in the gut, I guess the neck area wasn't as clear as my scope led me to believe, I
    had it set on 4x. He was a good looking bull with about 24" horns, nice ivory tips, long full
    mane and just very pretty. After growing up in a state that doesn't even allow you to have a
    bullet in your gun in a vehicle period, it was and is hard for me to deal with shooting from
    one. But any way my 300 claimed its first trophy, this is the rifle that I told you guys
    about last fall, the one that I won on a twenty dollar raffle ticket. She shoots great and I
    think I'll be using her a lot more. We took the bull back to camp and had it skinned for a
    full mount, I can change my mind on the mount later but just to be on the safe side. After
    lunch and a short nap back out after a buff for my son. I stayed with the cruiser again not
    feeling all that great, and the boys took off on some fresh tracks. It was almost totally
    dark till they returned to the cruiser and not much was being said, sometimes as a dad you
    just have to know when to be quiet and I figured this was one of those times. The ride back
    to camp was painfully quiet, I mean no one was talking and I'm a guy that loves to talk.
    When we got back to the room my son filled me in, he had hit a big bull, they found a little
    blood but couldn't find him before darkness fell. Trying to keep everybodies spirits up, and
    regretting not being able to have been there to back him up was weighing heavily on me that
    night.

    Day 9 The next morning we resumed the search and only found a few drops of blood and then
    nothing but tracks leading back to the herd and across the river, he was gone. Back to camp
    for lunch and back out to start over, one quick unsuccessful stalk, and at 4:00 they started
    another, I was on the sat phone trying to explain the situation to my wife back home when
    all of a sudden it sounded like a war broke out. It was 4:15 and I was trying to count shots,
    it would get quiet for a moment and then start again. Finally the shooting stopped and I
    waited for about 30 minutes until the junior ph came back giving me the thumbs up. What a
    relief! With the little daylight that was left cut a road to the bull, took some pictures,
    got him loaded in the truck and headed back. I knew that my son was not happy with the young
    bull that he took but on day 9 of a 10 day hunt, I was ok with it.

    Day 10 The day was spent pretty much just sight seeing, picture taking and changing our
    first flat tire of the trip.
    That boys and girls was pretty much our trip. Did we have a good hunt? Yes, for sure!
    Did every thing go smoothly according to plan? No, but on hunting trips it seldom does.
    Would I go again? Hell yes! Will I go again? ASAP
     

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  19. Bobpuckett

    Bobpuckett GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    That was a great read thanks and Congrats to you and your son for a great hunt with awesome trophies and some fantastic pics.
     
  20. Wheels

    Wheels GOLD SUPPORTER AH Elite

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    Glad to hear that you guys had a good hunt. Thanks for sharing the pictures and reports, warts and all. Hunting with your kids is about as good as it gets.
     

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