Leopard/Buffalo Hunt with Martin Pieters Safaris and Shaun Buffee
Where to start? I guess this trip began when our hunt with Neil Duckworth ended in September of 2010. Immediately after our return I contacted Martin Pieters about a leopard and buffalo hunt in the Omay area of Zimbabwe for early season 2011. A couple of quick emails and we were set with the exception of a few details. My only stipulation was that Shaun Buffee would be our PH. I shared a camp with Shaun in 2009 and spent time with him in Dallas in 2010. To say Shaun enjoys hunting leopard is a colossal understatement. It was his enthusiasm that convinced me to hunt leopard.
Shaun, Katherine, and I hammered out the details at the 2011 DSC convention. We decided to fly in to Victoria Falls and spend a couple of days sightseeing and then charter to the Chifudze camp in the Omay south area. We would then hunt leopard, buffalo, and possibly a kudu for fifteen days. After that we would drive back to Bulawayo and spend a couple of days with Martin and his family.
Our first small problem was I knew nothing about Victoria Falls. After a couple of PMs, emails, and phone calls with JudgeG (A buddy from another forum) I knew enough to start a tour service at the Falls. His advice was invaluable. We used the services of Russell Caldecott as recommended by the Judge.
Shawn at Gracy Travel handled the airline tickets, SAPs gun permits, and booking Africa Sky for our overnight stay in Joberg.
As per Shaun’s recommendation I brought a 300 Winchester Magnum for leopard loaded with 180 grain Partitions. As always my 470 Krieghoff double loaded with Cutting Edge Solids and North Fork Cup Points and my CZ 550 375 H&H with North Fork softs along with Cutting Edge solids made the trip. We also brought the 7 by 57 for Kudu. Three animals to be hunted and four rifles, we were well armed.
We left the day before Easter and the Delta flight was not full. We had an empty seat in our row and it was nice to have the extra room. The trip was uneventful and the luggage arrived. Africa Sky was nice as it was our previous stays. We visited with a hunter that was returning from a leopard hunt on Cawston with Shaun.
Upon arrival at Victoria Falls, Russell’s man Zwe met us at the airport. We stayed at the Victoria Falls Hotel and over the next two days did the normal tourist things. We walked along the Falls, had lunch at the Safari Lodge, took the helicopter flight over the Falls, and of course enjoyed the “Booze Cruise” one evening. I have to admit that JudgeG is famous in Victoria Falls, the mere mention of his name brings instant respect. There is even a goat named after him. Zwe was a pleasure to be with and he took good care of us.
There was plenty of water at Victoria Falls. It is truly an impressive sight.
On Wednesday we bid farewell to Zwe and Victoria Falls and boarded a 210 bound for Omay South. Shaun and his tracker Bhekkie met us at the airstrip and we then drove to camp. That afternoon we sighted in the rifles and drove a small area checking for buffalo tracks. Our plans were to shoot a buffalo as quick as possible for leopard bait and start hunting leopard.
Thursday morning we were awake bright and early ready to hunt buffalo which happens to be one of my favorite activities, ever!! After riding many kilometers and walking several more we were unable to find any fresh buffalo tracks. We did find one cobra. It is amazing how high a tracker can jump. That evening we walked down the Chifudze River from the camp. We found some fresh buffalo tracks going in to the park and two sets of lion tracks. Shaun and I decided not to sit on the river as it was becoming late and let the buffalo cross back on our side unmolested. We saw a python with a bad attitude on the way back to camp. While we did not see much it was great to be back hunting in Africa.
Beats being in the office!!!
Friday, April 29th we left our camp at first light on foot. It was the first time I ever started a day of hunting in Africa without riding in a Land Cruiser. Within a kilometer of the camp we saw the two lions. Luckily they ran in to the park and left us alone. We continued for several more kilometers and found the buffalo tracks crossing in to the Omay. We followed the tracks in some of the thickest and tallest grass you would want to deal with. It is very green at this time of the year. After several kilometers we were able to find the herd. We worked our way around and climbed a small hill to give us the ability to see the herd. As they started crossing a clearing at about 75 yards, Shaun saw a very old mud covered bull in the herd. He whistled and the bull turned towards us. A shot from the 375 in the shoulder with him quartering towards me was all it took, but I backed it up with a solid on a raking shot. We waited a couple of minutes and heard the death bellow close by. It was now raining very hard and I was worried the blood would be washed away. I grabbed my double and we started the follow up. Fortunately it was dead about a hundred yards from where I shot it. We now had bait, but more important we had a fine old bull; it was the buffalo trophy I was looking for on this hunt.
Shaun Buffee and me
I would say he is pretty well worn on the tips.
Nice old bull
I am not sure if we were hunting buffalo or bongo.
More to come......