Oct/Nov 2010 Hunt with Pelandaba Safaris
Outfitter: Pelandaba Safaris, Aubrey Kent
Location: Sengwe 1 Hunting Area, Southeast, Zimbabwe (near RSA, Zim, Moz borders)
Dates: Oct 26-Nov 2, 2010
PH-Ishumael Tshabalala; Trackers-Bob, Rebson, Machissa
Game Hunted: Buffalo, Bush Buck, Water Buck, Hyena
Game seen: Elephant, genet, African Wild Cat, leopard, lion, hyena, waterbuck doe, bushbuck doe, nyala, kudu, eland, impala
Rifle/Ammo: Winchester M70, .375 H&H, Federal TSX and Barnes Banded Solids
This hunt was taken at the last moment when Aubrey Kent of Pelandaba Safaris posted a “remaining quota on buffalo” hunt at a price I couldn’t refuse. I certainly hadn’t planned on hunting buff this year or next, but when a mutual friend suggested taking a look at the offer, I had to snap it up. I’m glad I did.
I took care of all travel arrangements, as usual, and had no issues what so ever. No issues checking my rifle at LAX and no issues at ATL. Flight went off on time and I arrive in JNB nearly an hour early. Upon entering the general meeting area I scanned the crowd for a sign with my name on it and, not seeing one, continued around the corner to the new SAPS room. Just as I was entering it, Aubrey burst thru the door (he being a 6’5” former rugby player, that’s the way they come through doors) and yelled “DAVE!”. There were 2 other rifles on the bench which were processed through by the time mine came. I showed them it was unloaded, they checked the S/N, I signed my name, and off we went with permit in-hand. Total elapsed time in SAPS less than 15 minutes.
We drove to Aubrey’s father-in-law’s farm a couple of hours north of Joburg where we downed a couple of Wimpy’s double cheeseburgers, and hit the sack. The next morning, after a slight side trip, we were off to Zim. Yes, we drove and I didn’t mind a bit. It’s not only a good way to get to know who you’re going to be spending the next 10 days with, but I love seeing the countryside and the towns. We stopped in Messina to pick up produce and eggs, some propane, and to get a flat spare repaired. Then we were off to the RSA border with Zimbabwe at Beitbridge. RSA immigration wasn’t too bad, maybe 20-30 minutes
The Zim border at Beitbridge has to be experienced. It may not be Africa at its most “African”, but compared to South Africa, Beitbridge is like going back in time to the 1950’s (or ‘60’s at best) - the smells, the heat, the beaurocracy, the carbon paper, the run-down everything . After going to 3 different windows for immigration we crossed the street to get “3rd party auto insurance”, and we were off. Total elapsed time- about 60-75 minutes. The remaining 3-1/2 hr drive to camp was fairly uneventful, with the exception of the weather taking a significant turn to the cooler and cloudier during the last hour before getting to camp.
The camp was great and Aubrey is still improving it. For details, go to: Camp Gallery
Those of you who have hunted buffalo know how challenging it can be – this was one of those kinds of hunts. We would leave camp some mornings at 3:30AM trying to ambush the buff on their way back across the Limpopo River into Krueger National Park without success. We tracked them through acacias and cat-claw thorns leaving a trail of flesh behind only to have them break 15 feet away from us before we knew they were there. We would just watch forlornly as the brush parted and small trees fell as they ran away. We’d track them through the bush for hours only to confront elephant after elephant after elephant without getting a glimpse. We hunted them in the sun and heat (only one day above 90°F). We hunted them in the wind and rain (we’re having fun now, huh?). Then, on the 5th day we picked up the spoor of 3 bulls who’d been at a water hole. So, off we went (again). The track was very fresh and we hoped to be able to jump them in an hour or so. After tracking them for about 30 minutes we saw a fever tree where one of the bulls had vented a little frustration. And, just past that, we started to come to the edge of a clearing – a chest-high plain of grass about a mile and a half across. Ishumael started to climb an ant hill to canvas the clearing before we entered it, and just as he was about to put his last step on top of the ant hill, he fell flat and scuttled back down the back side of it and I knew we were on them.
As I scanned the top of the grass ahead of us I could see two large grey-black backs about 30 yards ahead of us. As I got into position on the sticks, one of the bulls took two quick steps to the left out of the grass exposing all but his hind quarters. Ishumael whispered “That one” and I pulled the trigger. He fell like a one-ton sack of potatoes and started to bellow– which, I have to admit, dismayed me. I certainly hadn’t expected that! As the bull fell Aubrey fired his .458 WinMag providing an (unneeded) anchoring shot, but we had agreed beforehand that that would be our plan. We each put one more insurance shot into him.
He measured just at 42”, my personal best. We didn’t score him but you can see by the deep curls and massive boss, he’s a beauty, I don’t mind saying.
The next 2 days we continued our hunt for the elusive waterbuck and bushbuck and hyena without success. But, as far as I’m concerned, the hunt was successful. I could not have been more pleased the way things turned out. One thing I especially liked about hunting in Zim versus hunting in the Selous – in the Selous I swear EVERYTHING is up hill. In Zim, the walking wasn’t so bad.