November 16 to 29 Martin Pieters Safaris Omay North Communal Area Camp : UME PH : Lindon Stanton Fellow Hunter: Katherine, my wife Rifle : Krieghoff 470 Nitro with North Fork Solids and CEB NonCons And 375 H&H with 260 Grain Partitions Followed by time in Bulawayo, Nehimba Lodge in Hwange, and Victoria Falls. Early in the year I told myself there would be no trip to Africa this year. There were just too many things happening at work and my personal life to travel this year. By October Africa was calling, actually screaming for me to visit. Reading the hunting reports on AR did not help. I called Martin Pieters for available dates then contacted Steve Turner and I was set to leave in less than two weeks. Then two days later Katherine decides she wanted to go. Another phone call to Steve and he took care of the second ticket. I flew on airline miles; Steve took care of that with no issue. I was in pretty decent shape; I had been riding a bike and walking. Katherine works out almost every day, so we were both ready for the Omay in November. I shot my 470 double and 375 as much as possible and worked on some new loads with the CEB NonCons. Steve helped with the gun permits and we were set to go. The flight was Delta. The extended leg room seat was very nice for me. The flight was fine, slept a good part of the way. One note, I do not ever expect much from airline food, but this was the worse I ever had. Not a big deal, but it was terrible. We overnighted at Africa Sky and it was very good as usual. They are upgrading the facilities and it will be even nicer when finished. Lindon Stanton was our PH and met us at the airport. The next day we drove to Omay North. Arriving in the Omay we were greeted by 100 degree plus temperatures. It was hot at night also. We used Chilly Pads and battery powered fans at night. It made a huge difference. The first day we were on the tracks of two buffalo early in the Della Valley. We followed them for several hours walking out of the valley. We eventually worked our way within 25 yards of them. Both were a little soft. One was beautiful. Lindon estimated it at 41" and it had a deep drop. With a little luck it will breed with many cows this year and pass on those genes. So we crossed back in the valley and continued our search. We checked a couple of springs and actually found two new ones Lindon had not been to before. By mid-afternoon the temperature was well over 100 degrees. The barrels on my double were so hot you could barely touch them. We finally made it back to the vehicle. For the first time on a safari I asked for help carrying my rifle. We had been walking uphill and I was burnt out. For the last 300 meters or so, Lindon carried my double. We ate lunch at around 4:00 and took a break. We tracked a herd and found them before dark. We could not see any decent bulls so we headed back to the truck and the two hour drive back to the Ume camp. We walked well over 20 kilometers that day and it all seemed to be uphill. The next morning Katherine developed a migraine, probably triggered from partial dehydration from the previous day. She was unable to hunt the next two days. Lindon and I headed out at the usual 5:00am. This was my third trip to the Omay. I always looked at the hills or mountains as we call them in Louisiana and wondered if they really hunted them. Lindon found the tallest one and we climbed to the top to look for buffalo. Before you mountain guys laugh at me, remember I am a flatlander and it was hot, even for a Louisiana boy. There were several nice springs and we ended tracking a small herd but no shooters. Day three was pretty much a repeat of the day before. We were seeing buffalo everyday but no shooters. The next day Katherine rejoined us so we took it a little easy. We spent the morning in the Tiger Bay jesse. We saw a couple of buffalo herds but never got a good look. The wind was swirling and it is hard to see in the jesse. We did see several elephant herds but no tuskless. That afternoon we move to an area near Bumi Hills. We tracked two bulls for nearly five hours and ran out of daylight. We walked back to the truck in the dark. The next day was a repeat of the first three days. We were tracking and seeing buffalo but no shooters. I was having lots of fun seeing new areas, buffalo, plains game, and just being in Africa. The Della Valley is a great area to hunt. The Thanksgiving Day buffalo: Thanksgiving Day was day six of the hunt. That morning Lindon and I headed back to Della. We checked a spring and walked back to the road with no luck. We then decided to drive to Secret Valley, about an hour away. We ate lunch and took a break. At around 1:00 we struck out toward a spring. We found tracks that appeared to be fresh but it rained lightly that morning. After a couple of hours of tracking we were on fresh tracks made after the rain. We finally caught up with the buffalo at the top of the hill. During the course of tracking we covered around 12 kilometers and gained over 1100 feet in elevation. We were moving in for a shot and I felt a puff of wind on my back. About 5 seconds later the buffalo ran. We bumped them two more times and either they saw, heard, or smelled us. We caught up to them a fourth time less than two hours before dark. Lindon and I made the final stalk on our own. We crawled flat on our stomachs to a fallen tree approximately 75 yards from the best buffalo. It was lying down with the last twenty yards of the shot through trees. After making certain which was the correct one I stood up and fired one shot offhand at the bull with my 470 Krieghoff. The buffalo never got up, as I shot it in the spine, near the front shoulder. I reloaded the one barrel and we moved forward about twenty yards and I put a second shot in it. We moved to within 20 yards and a final shot found its mark. Six hard days of hunting were now over with a nice buffalo on the ground. We cut the head off and hung it in a tree to keep it away from the hyenas. Since we crossed the Ndepe hill/mountain we were back in Della. It was an easy 3 kilometer walk back to the truck since the driver moved back to Della, arriving after dark. The next day we recovered the meat. It was a quick process with no problem getting help. After we were finished with the recovery, we headed to the Tiger Bay jesse. We saw elephants but no tuskless. Late that afternoon we rode the lakeshore in the boat. It was a relaxing way to end the day. This photo should settle the boot argument. One day eight we hunted elephant again. There were plenty of bulls and cows, but no tuskless. It is exciting to work through the herds in close proximity looking for a tuskless. Day nine the tuskless: We went back to the jesse on the ninth day. We were in elephant early. We soon spotted a tuskless moving in the jesse. Lindon said come quickly? We hurried through the jesse and stopped as the elephant turned and faced us at about 10 meters. At that moment it started to turn and run. I probably had a half a second to decide whether to shoot or not. The first shot from the 470 knocked her down. I put another in her immediately. I quickly reloaded as she stood up. I placed one more shot in her as she started to turn. The fourth shot was for the hip. She was angled to my right and I shot for the right hip, but shot inside of the hip. She collapsed after that shot, I believe the bullet hit the spine. One more shot in the spine between the front shoulders and it was over. For the first time in 5 hunts my PH fired a shot. When the elephant turned Lindon placed a shot in the body. We found the shot high in the body and behind the shoulder. I knew it would happen sooner or later. That is the second time I missed the brain but put the elephant down. This time the shot was too high. Hopefully I get it right next time. We rounded up some nearby villagers and recovered the meat. We took it easy the remainder of the day, except for Katherine sighting in my 375 H&H in the afternoon. We hunted buffalo the next day with no success. The next morning we crossed a big herd of buffalo. They were actually standing 50 meters from the road. Lindon continued driving for about 400 meters and stopped the cruiser. This was to be Katherine's buffalo. I thought it was going to be an easy stalk. Well 4 ï½½ hours and quite a few kilometers later we were finally ready for a shot. Katherine was shooting my CZ550 in 375 H&H. Lindon had her setup well. The rifle was in the sticks and she shot quickly hitting the cow facing us square in the chest. We went on the follow up on found her less than 100 meters away. Katherine shot her again (offhand with that 10 pound rifle) in the shoulder. It never took another step. She shot it once more for insurance. That was the oldest buffalo cow I have ever seen. She was scratched and clawed and had about three teeth left in her mouth, good cow to take out of the herd. Katherine was very excited, as was I; she really did a good job. The last day of our twelve day hunt was spent fishing tiger fish. We absolutely hammered them. Between the morning and afternoon we caught around 60 fish including some very nice hens. The next day we left the Omay and headed to Bulawayo. We spent several days in town attending the Hunter's Ball, visiting TCI's taxidermy and shipping facility, attended a braai, and just relaxed. All cleaned up, headed to the ball We then went to Hwange, specifically Nehimba Lodge owned and operated by Martin's wife Candy. It is absolutely first class. The lodge and food are extremely nice. The elephants are BIG in that part of the world. If you have the time, do yourself a favor and spend a few days at Nehimba. You can return home via Vic Falls, it is well worth the trip. Other notes: Lindon is a very good PH. We enjoyed the hunt with him and I would recommend him without reservation. We were away for 28 days total and it was still not enough. The first six days were the hardest hunting I have ever done. Between the heat, distance walked, and climbing up and down some pretty steep hills (mountains to a Louisiana boy) it took a toll on me. November-December is a good time to be in Zimbabwe. We did receive some rain but we saw the transition from the dry season. Trees were green or turning green. Grass was beginning to grow. We took time to observe the fauna and flora, particularly in Hwange. Martin and his family's knowledge of the plant and animal life is amazing. I am probably in a dangerous time in my hunting career. After five dangerous game safaris I have learned just enough to get me in trouble and believe I can shoot my way out of anything. The elephant proved me wrong, I still need to work on where to place that brain shot. I was happy with the shot on the buffalo. Offhand at 75 yards after walking, climbing, and crawling for hours was difficult. I remember picking up the rifle seeing the front sight on the shoulder and squeezing the trigger. It happened really fast and I do not even recall seeing the rear sight. The reload on the elephant was quick and clean. Katherine did a fine job and I was really proud of her and her buffalo. I am planning on skipping Africa in 2013, just like 2012?..