Chewore South Buffalo and Tuskless
Date: Sept 15-27
Outfitter: Roger Whittall Safaris
PH: Butch Coaton
Location: Chewore South
Travel Agent: Travel with Guns Seve Turner
Rifles: Win Mod 70 400H&H, Gibbs 4503 1/4 NE.
Ammo: 400H&H CEB#13 400gr Solids 370gr NC. 450NE CEB#13 480gr Solids 450gr NC.
Species taken Buffalo and Tuskless.
Species Seen: Elephants,Kudu,Waterbuck, Impala,Zebra,Warthog,Duiker,Grysbuck,Bushbuck,
Klipspringer,Baboons,Vervets,Mongoose,various squirrels and more than enough birds to keep us busy.
Eighteen months is a long time to wait for a trip planned. But, it gives one time much to my wife's dismay to go over every detail more than once, guns, ammo, gear etc. Every cow seen in a pasture turns into a Buffalo and shot over and over. Horses grow trunks, approaches made and shots fired and mental images of dumping rounds and quickly reloading. God help me if I lived near a Zoo the PC police would have locked me up and thrown away the key. But the biggest help over the last eighteen months has been you the AR community, most have been patient with my questions, learning to rummage thru old posts have hopefully kept them to a minimum. To that I thank you.
Working with Steve Turner was easy and he was more than patient answering all of my questions. We flew to JFK the day before our 11:30am departure on SAA to Joberg this made for an easy morning and no concerns about delayed flights. SAA's Airbus 340 seat configuration is 2-4-2 so sitting on the outside was very comfortable and at 6'1" I found plenty of leg room. Our itinerary was to fly to Joberg drop off our guns and duffles with Henry of Travels with Guns continue on to Cape Town with our carry on's for a few days to shake the jet lag then back to Joberg grab our gear and off to Harare to start our hunt. Unfortunately on our arrival in Joberg no Henry, so much for eighteen months of planning, fortunately Adele of African Permits took pity on us and stepped in to the void. We got thru SAPs and off to Cape Town. I purchased an international phone card at the Joberg airport and things were worked out with Steve. Two days later found us in the Visa entry line at Harare with me catching the women writing the wrong date on my Visa, thanks AR.
Butch Coaton met us at baggage gathered our gear and we were in Zimbabwe. The SAA flight from JFK to JBN is a great flight in that it gets into JBN at 8:30 am which gives one plenty of time to get thru SAPs and make most midday departures.
We spent the night at the Whittall's and the next morning we were off for a 6hr drive to Chewore South and Chifuti's Chenge Camp
Butch my wife and I in the front and two trackers in the back.
Our arrival was greeted by camp manager Sandy Schultz and her husband Gary along with the staff singing and dancing to the accompany of drums. Sandy and her staff run a spectacular camp at Chenge and it quickly became home for the days we were there.
Day 1 temps 54*f-102*f and a steady easterly breeze found us chasing Buffalo, At 8:30am we picked up tracks at a spring of a herd that had watered there that morning and off we went, they led us up a knoll empty of trees and shrubs then down the other side and into the Jess, an hour later found us catching up to the herd. Butch spotted a group of bulls at the herd's edge gathered up the sticks and we left the trackers. Our first approach found us sliding down a bank of a small wash then crawling up the other side on hands and knees to find two bulls sparing not 30 yrds away with the help of a steady wind Butch was able to shadow these bulls and a few others, though none of the bulls were shootable up went the sticks and each bull was seen through the scope and shot numerous times as they walked by. This exercise was extremely helpful as it took the edge off for the rest of the hunt. I must add that even though these bull were all sporting soft bosses there were some impressive head gear with one Butch estimated in the mid 40's.
Lunch found us at an empty Mauna Angwe camp, a short nap and we were at the herd again.
The afternoon found us back in the same herd with the help of the same steady easterly winds we played cat and mouse in the Jess as the herd worked it's way toward the spring we started at in the morning. Following these animals through the Jess is an interesting exercise, a foot here a nose there never a whole animal in the end as they approached the edge of the Jess Butch had us briskly walk towards the herd this broke them up and gave us a look at a few more bulls in the fading light.
Day 2 60*f-101*f steady east winds...Elephants.. Lots of them (well at least for a Vermont boy) we saw about 60 with the only tuskless on the other side of the Chewore river in the Dande concession. Our day started in the breaking light on a knoll with a name that translated into "hunt with your eyes" glassing for Eles
even though we found no tuskless we had numerous approaches giving us a chance to be comfortable around these magnificent animals and opportunities for my wife to shoot them through her camera
Day 3 57*f-104*f steady winds...
By 8:00 we were in the same herd hard in the Jess by the Angwa River and by 9:30 they were bedding down for the morning, we backed out and piled in the truck to drive and look. We had not gone far when the boys in the back spotted two Dagga Boys on a hill side, Butch kept the truck rolling and continued to drive around the corner and up towards the ridge where we came to a stop and kitted up. With the wind blowing steady in our faces we started our approach perhaps 30 minutes later we came to the ridge line that the Boys had seen the bulls and found fresh tracks. After a quiet discussion one of the trackers moved off to the right staying with the tracks and we stayed on the ridge. We had not moved more than 40 yards when the tracker with us froze and slowly pointed, perhaps 50 yards in front was one of the bulls laying down looking directly at us. Slowly the tracker with us lay down on his side and with a small 4' bush between us and the bull Butch slowly advanced with me on his heels, one step, two, maybe three and froze. His glasses slowly came up and he studied the bull for what seemed like ages. He started to move his sticks when the bull stood up looking hard at us. Butch whispered over his shoulder asking if I was comfortable shooting offhand. I shoot left handed and not wanting to break our outline I took a half a step laterally with my left foot leaned slightly out to the left raised my gun and pressed the trigger. The bush exploded I slammed another round into the chamber and started to swing on the bull as he was moving left to right I vaguely saw a second shape behind my bull and thought I heard Butch yell don't shoot as I was pressing the trigger for a second time. I pushed hard with my forward hand and the round went in front I cycled the action again only to feel the bolt stopping a third of the way forward a quick glance showed a jammed round I ripped out the round cycled the action and the noise stopped.
The pair ran down hill stopping 70 yards away my bull slowly went down while his mate lingered I topped of my magazine spun off my scope and handed it to my wife and followed Butch down the hill. At our approach the second bull ran and I put the assurance round into the downed bull's chest. As the sound from the final shot died we could see his mate standing on the next ridge outlined by the morning sky looking over his nose, ears, horns, shoulders one last look and he was gone.
Day 4 55*f-104*f steady winds...
A half hour after leaving the camp we see from the road elephants disappearing down a bank into the bush, Butch confirming with the trackers in the back that there was a big tuskless in the crowd, the approach began. We followed the cows down the hill into a wash that dumped into a small nearby river turned left and moved quickly up the wash then up the hill directly into the morning sun. The cows were moving to our left through a sparse combretum hillside and Butch confirmed that our cow was without a dependent, her utters dark and unused. I reached down and loosen the shells on my belt as we quickly closed the distance the cows moving down the backside of the hill towards the river bottom. The gods must have been smiling as our tuskless was favoring us, slowly falling to the rear and nearer too us than the others. At 15 to 20 yrds Butch whispered for me to step up and shoot, a few quick steps and she must have sensed my presence, she turned head on slightly down hill I raised my double as the bead settled on her forehead she turned to her left as if to step away I lowered my gun slightly to re-appraise my shot angle when she turned back to me. My double came up again and the right barrel went off, down went her hind quarter quickly followed by her front and I stepped forward to put in another round, when Butch hissed to back away as we moved back I slipped a fresh round into the right chamber.
Close to an hour later the recovery team showed, the matriarch along with the herd at first extremely agitated were still not quite sure what had happen were loosing interest quickly. Butch asked the camps two Appy's Mike and Kevin that arrived with the recovery team to move them along, they solved the problem by banging a stick on an old tree at the sound the cows slowly faded into the bush.
My favorite Gun Bearer
We finished our Safari with a few days on the Zambezi chasing Tigers and Bream at Chifuti's ShamaShanga camp. We returned to Chenge climbed a mountain, went on a few long morning walks spotting and stalking as we went and slowly shifted gears to prepared ourselves for the return home.
As I finish this hunt report I apologize if I have gotten too long winded, it is cold and rainy here in New England, there is a small fire burning on the hearth to take the edge off the damp, the smell of our Vermont hard maple burning is not reminiscent of the mopane smoke on the Chenge river, but if you look hard enough at the flame you can see a bit of Africa that you brought home with you.