ZAMBIA: 2018 Luangwa To Livingstone With Strang Middleton

MikeNC

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Congrats on a great buffalo, your story and pictures brought back some great memories of my hunt in Zambia. Have really enjoyed reading your hunt report.
Thank you!!
 

MikeNC

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There is one light hiker I’ve found with a softer, more flexible sole. It’s the Merrell Chameleon. I use them around the farm and will take them as backup to my Russell’s this year. We are hunting for a full month so changing up shoes will likely be necessary.

I had Merrell Chamelons in my hand at the local Cabelas tried them on and then debated and wanted to get them as a back up pair, but before I left I could not find them in my size. They felt great when I wore them in the store and I think ill still grab a pair at somepoint.
 

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Day 3: Continued

We go to a new spot on the river and put up a new blind for corcs and sit, but nothing comes in big enough so we return to camp for dinner.

Here are a few pics of the blind build.

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( Hippo Tracks )
 

MikeNC

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Hunting Day: 4

New Croc Blind

We started off the day, as usual, with breakfast, and then we went out looking for a bushbuck for Charles. We ran across quite a few females and young males, along with one ram who had a few years to grow still. We looked for Puku and Water Hogs as well, but no luck on either of those. We had seen only sows or young warthogs, so I knew my chances on a good male were slim. That's why they call it hunting, I guess, so we continued to keep our eyes open for the rest of the time in the valley. The Luangwa valley is full of elephants and we made sure to give them plenty of room while we were out looking for game.
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( Elephants remind you just how small you really are )

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( Great care was taken to give plenty of space to cows with calves)
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We went back to one of the croc blinds and put out some fresh bait, but no big shooters showed up. There were two big crocs spotted on the way to the blind in the river, and one of the camp staff had spotted one in the opposite direction from camp over the past day or two. We hatched a plan to make a new blind on a bluff overlooking a sandbar where the two bigger guys had been spotted then headed back in around 5:30 pm. The blind was positioned so that Charles and Strang would need to sneak up through the woods a bit and walk to it. Two holes were constructed, one for viewing and one for shooting. They needed to sneak in and take the shot once the sun came up and the big guys began sunning themselves! But, for now, we returned to camp for dinner and a few drinks.

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( Fishermen working their nets )

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( It was common to see fishing camps along the river)

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( Good Kudu bull across the river from Camp with a cow and two calves )

 

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That was a nice kudu we saw!!
 

MikeNC

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Hunting Day:5

Puku for Mike & Crocodile for Charles

The morning was calling for Puku, so we headed back to the plains that we had hunted earlier for the buffalo. We spotted a ram with a few ewes. Strang told me to take the shot as he was a good ram, so I settled the crosshairs of "Margot" and pulled the trigger. I could tell that he was hit because he was running with his head low and was digging into the ground. He didn’t go far, and I was elated to have redeemed myself for missing that first Puku earlier in the trip. A good Puku ram was high on my list when planning this trip to Zambia as they are not only native to this part of Africa, but something about them just says Zambia to me. It was a great feeling to kneel down and run my hands over the horns and through the coat. The ram’s horns were not as long as the one I had missed, but he was older and the horns were heavier. I was glad that I had taken an old mature ram.
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We returned to camp to drop off the Puku and headed to the blind that was constructed the previous day to see if we can get on one of those big crocs for Charles. We stopped the truck about 1000 yards away on the road that runs along the river.
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We saw two good crocs laying on the sandbar just as we hoped they would be. Strang and Charles ease off the truck, and I passed him "Margot", and wished him good shooting. * Disclaimer * I am going to include a few photos taken of his crocodile hunt so if you want to read his account first here is the link!

https://www.africahunting.com/threads/zambia-2018-hunt-with-strang-middleton-in-2-different-areas-of-
the-country.44770/



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(The Croc in the same spot we found him earlier the 300 Grain Swift A-Frame once again did the job)

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(The trackers moving through the river to retrieve the croc, while other crocs lay in the sun on the river bank.)

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Once it is deemed safe to handle the croc the process of attaching ropes to secure the animal for the return trip to the bank begins.

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The walk back to the bank begins as they pull the croc behind them.
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Its another day at the office and as the trackers get closer you can hear them kidding and teasing each other.
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Once the crocodile is on the bank its time to inspect this leftover relic of a time when Dinosaurs walked the earth.
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As with the hippo hunt, I was glad to be a part of this adventure and lay my hands on another iconic animal of Africa.
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Thanks again! The rest of the report is coming soon!
 
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BRICKBURN

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Keep it coming. The perspective of a hunting observer is great.
 

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Day 6: Travel Day

Travel to Strang's Farm

The sixth day was bittersweet. We had collected good heads of the top animals on our list for the valley, so that left us with some flexibility in our schedule. After talking it over, we decided to leave the valley a few days early to give us more time to hunt for plains game as well as an extra day at Victoria Falls. The evening of our last night, Charles and I stood down at the edge of the bank overlooking the river and talked about the experiences we had already had, and almost as if on cue, a cow and calf elephant came down to drink in the river.

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I had wanted to hunt the Luangwa for so long after reading Death in the Long Grass, and it was an experience that I don't think I will ever be able to accurately capture in words. I went to sleep at night to the sounds of hippos in the river and spent my days hunting while dodging the ever-present herds of elephants. I had not watched television or listened to the radio, and outside of the limited amount of social media I used (we did have wifi ... yea, I know, right!), I had little contact with the outside world. I looked around my chalet that final night and thought of how comfortable it had become and how I would miss it. However, it was time to move on to the next part of the adventure.


Early that morning on our sixth day, we arose around 3 am, packed all the gear into the truck, and started the long drive out. Strang told us that once you do one overland trip into the valley, you learn why most guys charter in if they can afford it. Since that was not an option, and we just took all the bumps, dips, rough patches, and dry stream crosses as part of the adventure. The trip out of the valley proved to be worth all the jarring bumps as we got several wildlife treats. We came upon a pack of wild dogs, not too long after we started our trip out of the valley. They surrounded the truck on three sides, and we just watched them run and play in the headlight beams. Strang made the comment that they were young, and it was a real treat to get to see them, especially since it was something so unexpected.

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Our next surprise was when we came upon some tracks in the road, and Strang stated that they looked like good buffalo tracks, so we should keep an eye out. As we came around a curve in the road, we saw something walking. No, it was not the buffalo we thought we may see, but a lioness! We saw more lions and realized we were the middle of a pride of lions that were hunting a herd of impala. Apparently, we interrupted the hunt! We had hoped to see a lion or leopard on the hunt, but aside from a few tracks and hearing a leopard one night, we had not seen any cats. Now, here we were, not just seeing them from afar, but among them! With their impala hunt interrupted, they turned their attention to a herd of zebra.
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( Hard to see, but there is a lion in this picture)

We moved on so they could do their thing and continued our trip to the airport. We did have another elephant in the road and a hippo that didn't want to budge, but you don't rush a hippo!
We arrived at the airport in Mfuwe, and while we were really the only ones at the airport, it still took a while and some serious tipping to check in with the files and ammo! At this point in the game, I really began to understand the expression T.I.A (THIS IS AFRICA). Guns and ammo cleared, we make it to the terminal and waited for our flight to Lusaka!

From the time we left the Lusaka airport, stopped for lunch and groceries and arrived at Strang's family farm, it had taken about seven hours. It felt great to get to our chalet, grab a hot shower, and get to the house for some dinner and beers. Strang had told us about the homemade pizzas his wife makes, and I was eager to try one! They were fantastic and a great way to end a long day of travel.

The report from Strang's coming soon!
 
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BRICKBURN

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Nothing like night time to bring out the predators.
Neat encounters.
 

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Nothing like night time to bring out the predators.
Neat encounters.
It really was the cherry on top of the experince to leave the valley and not only see the dogs, but the lion hunt as well.
It was a dream come true experince!
 

MikeNC

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Hunting Day: 7

Impala for Mike and Hartebeest for Charles

We got a later start than usual so we could catch up on some sleep and rest from the long day of travel. Strang's ranch was at a higher elevation than where we had been in the valley, and it was a lot cooler. Our first morning of hunting was in the low 40's. The property looked like a postcard in every direction with the mixtures of open grassland, thick brush, and rolling hills. His family has owned the property since the 1940s. It’s cool that he had all of his family living so closely together, but still had plenty of ground between all the families.
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( My accommodations during our time at Strang's )
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My objectives for this hunt were Impala, Crawshay's zebra, and Liechtenstein's Hartebeest. Charles was interested in Sable, Impala, Bushbuck, Liechtenstein's Hartebeest, and Puku. Not far from camp, we ran into a large group of impala, and I got into position to make the shot. I steadied the crosshairs and squeezed the trigger. The impala ram took the hit but ran off. We were on the edge of a wooded area and the ram ran into the thick stuff. My heart sank. I knew I made a good shot, as I had a solid rest. Strang told me not to worry because his dogs would find him. He turned Rigby and Blue, his two tracking dogs, loose with his two trackers following closely behind. I again told Strang that I made a solid hit, and he reassured me that his dogs would find him. I waited, and finally, we heard the sound of the dogs. He looked at me and said, “Hear that? They got him.” It wasn’t long until the two trackers came out carrying the ram.

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A wave of relief washed over me, and after some handshakes, we set him up for some pictures. He took a good hit with the .375H&H and went farther than any of my other animals did that I shot. It just goes to show that African animals are tough. He was a fine, mature ram and will make a good mount. I gave the dogs a thank you pat on the head as well for a job well done!

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(I recently learned that Rigby has passed away. Rigby is pictured here as we often found him waiting outside one of our doors to make sure he didn't miss a hunt! It was an honor to hunt with such a special dog!)

We loaded up the Impala and continued our trek through the property. We soon spotted a herd of hartebeest bulls, and we got off the truck to plan a stalk. I had brought a Remington 700 with me on this trip in 30.06 along with my CZ550 and had yet to use it, so Charles asked to use the 30.06 to try and take his hartebeest! Strang, Charles, and I headed out on a stalk for the hartebeest because there were several bulls. I brought "Margot" along just in case it was possible for me to get a shot at a bull. I will conclude here for those who wish to read Charles’s report.

We headed back to the lodge for lunch and to rest a bit then went back out about 2:30. We saw plenty of game but didn’t seal the deal on anything else. A good sable bull was spotted, but the wind was not in our favor for Charles to make a stalk.

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After we returned to camp for showers, we had a great dinner of beef stroganoff, cheesy potatoes, creamy cauliflower, and Melva pudding with real ice cream. I came to understand why Charles likes the Melva pudding so much. More from Strang's to follow
 

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Keep it coming. The perspective of a hunting observer is great.

I'm enjoying the perspective and I was there! And enjoying reviewing Mike's hunt through his eyes and thinking about me looking on!
 

MikeNC

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I'm enjoying the perspective and I was there! And enjoying reviewing Mike's hunt through his eyes and thinking about me looking on!
I am trying my best to capture the magic of each day, but you know as well as I do that no words can really do Africa justice!
 

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Zambia sounds absolutely grand from what Charles and you have written! Wonderful adventure!
 

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Great report! Thanks for sharing your adventure with us. :A Popcorn:
 

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