ZAMBIA: Bangweulu & Tondwa Two Short Meat Hunts


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Jan 20, 2012
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Bangweulu hunt for a couple of Black Lechwe

Thought I would try upload this report before I get back to town, if I cant get the pics on now, I will put them up when I get better network signal.

I spent most of Thursday getting all my shit together in bits and pieces throughout the day whilst pretending to work and try get some stuff done, my mind is not with it though and I can pretty much only think about the weekend.
I am looking forward to my first trip in to Bangweulu and first Black Lechwe hunt.

Friday is an early start, we’re in the car and ready to roll by 04:00, the car is pretty loaded, I’m taking two of my employees with me, Lewis who has been here for longer than I have and Monday (yep, that’s his name) is a decent hard worker.
There is almost no space, so Monday tells me he would rather sit on top of all the luggage at the back. Fine by me. Lewis thinks this is hilarious as according to him and in his words, “He has obviously never travelled with you before bwana!” :D

We leave Nsumbu and deal with 165km of dirt road, it’s not too bad, most of it has been graded, but it still takes 3 ½ hours to get to Mporokoso where the tar starts, well mostly tar!
From here on, its pretty leisurely driving, just eating up the km’s until we get to Kasama, I refuel and send Lewis into Shoprite to buy potatoes, tomatoes, onions and butter.
We get back on the road, its now 10:30 and we have done 365km. Next stop is Mpika, about 220km.
We get to Mpika and pass through at about 13:00, got 70km to go to the turnoff to Lavushi Manda National Park. Takes about an hour as I have a little run in with the traffic cops outside of Mpika. :mad:
They make us repack the car so Monday can sit inside instead of on the back!
We hit the dirt and Monday promptly asks to stop so he can go sit at the back again!

From the turnoff, its about 67km to Chiundaponde, then we start looking for the DNPW office, take a wrong road, luckily there aren’t many to choose from… I just happened to take the wrong one!
We find the office and head in to do the necessary paperwork, which is usually about a 5min process… 45mins later I walk our rather frustrated. We pick up the scout who joins Monday on the back of the car and decide that I need to engage Dakar Rally mode if we are going to make it to campsite before dark… its another 45km to go from the entry gate and there is no holding back, well on this road there is only so much you can do…
We eventually roll into camp at 17:30! I’m pretty tired and damn hungry too!
I find out there are other hunters in camp, well not great, but what the hell I’m just glad to be here.
We set up camp pretty quickly and I get started on some food. I cook for everyone as its easier to prepare one big meal, steak stew and rice. Monday makes rice… this is proper Kaputa rice, produced up near the lake, first clean it, by that I mean pick out the stones and bits of husk etc., then wash it, then fry it in oil, then add water to boil it! Yeah, first time I’ve seen rice done like this… well, it worked and was pretty good!

The other hunters roll into camp and I see it’s a couple of mates from Kitwe, guys I’ve known since I was about 5, they also only got in that afternoon.
We have a few beers, talk a bit and then I head off to bed.

Saturday morning, I’m up at sparrows, getting my gear out, rifle sorted car packed so we can head out, we are out of camp before 06:00 and I head to find a place to check my rifle.
Trying out some new Norma 200gr Oryx ammo and quite keen to see their performance on game.
Find a tree, mark out 150m with the gps, take a steady rest and bang, dead on target. I’m feeling good, my scout and his helper are chuffed to see a good hit, we are ready to go.
So we start out across the big Bangweulu flats. I have my eyes wide open, looking and taking in this place. Its vast, and very, very dry. I was not expecting this.
In any case, we start driving to look for lechwe, this takes us about 1 ½ hours! There is so little water that the lechwe are very far away from the camps. We eventually find some lechwe and we look over them and I put in a stalk, there is no cover here chaps, so you do the best you can with what you have, one bonus is there are a lot of weir’s made by local fishermen that trap water and fish when the place floods, these provide a bit of cover, however the bloody fishermen cruising around on bicycles and doing their own work doesn’t go down well on the first blown stalk, or the second.

I tell the scout that if these f***ing people run off in the direction of the lechwe next stalk, something will die, and I don’t care if it’s not a lechwe.
Scout looks at me and in a glance decides best not mess with the bwana, he is pissed off!
we hop out for another stalk a bit later on and lo and behold, more fishermen.
quick as a flash, scout is out and runs up to them and tells them just to sit down until we leave. Well, whatever he said worked… :whistle:;)(y)

The wind is blowing a gale here, I’m not usually comfortable in crosswinds as most of my hunting is done in thicker bush, but anyway, take it as it comes
The herd doesn’t settle though, and as I’m on a meat hunt, trophy isn’t most important so I take the last buck as he stops quartering towards me a bit facing right
I did misjudge the wind though, I put the crosshairs about 50cm in front of his chest and a touch high to compensate for the distance, 290m as per gps after the shot, but the shot hits him far back, through the middle of the stomach and out breaking his back leg. I put another into him giving more lead through the chest and lungs, breaking his front leg this time.
We walk up and he needs a finisher to get it done quick so one through the head.

We bleed him and load him on the vehicle and head off to camp. The dust and wind is absolutely shocking here!

Not sure how hard the wind was blowing, but I certainly won’t be doing that again, pissed off that I made a bad shot, but shouldn’t have taken the shot with that wind.
Too late now, get into camp and start processing. Debone the carcass and load it in ice… or what’s left of it!
We have an ice plant at the factory and I loaded up with 2 big cooler boxes of ice, I usually get over 5days worth of ice, but for some reason there is only about half the ice left and the rest has melted!
Not good. I will not be able to stay until Monday as planned at this rate.

I decide to head out in the afternoon and look for another lechwe, if I find a goodie, I will take it, otherwise Sunday morning we will hunt early and leave my guys in camp to pack everything.

The afternoon is a bit better, I still have the long drive to get to where we are hunting but find some decent herds of lechwe and get a couple of stalks in.
Eventually get in to about 160m of a herd, they don’t know that I am there and I get a good rest of an old fisherman’s weir.
The big male doesn’t stop walking though, these animals seem to graze and walk all the time.
I take my time and keep moving with them and eventually the big male gives me a shot with no other animals behind him. He is angling away from me so I put a bullet behind his front leg. He leaps up and runs about 30m and collapses. Good hit, happy with that. :)
You can see the exit point on the one pic.
The tracker that’s with me is overjoyed, and starts running as I shot, I had to shout at him to stop and relax. Twit!

Bangweulu Black Lechwe.jpg

We walk up while Lewis brings my car round, we find the place he was standing when I shot and there is heaps of blood all over the place and all along the line he ran, even @bluey would’ve been able to follow this trail!
I don’t think he will measure out very high, I actually still haven’t measured him, but as an indication he is decent and looked like one of the better ones I had seen all day.
He is in good condition, I got the skinner in camp to do a full cape and got them to boil the skull so I will see how they come out later.

Got him cut and quartered and in the ice. We are definitely going to have to leave tomorrow. Its unfortunate as I had hoped to have a full day to see different areas, I wanted to go look for the tsessebe, Sitatunga and Ele’s that were around. No chance though. I guess I will have to make another trip out here again sometime soon!!!
We did see a couple of Side Striped Jackal on the way back in that night though and heard hyena the night before.

Not a total waste and a decent hunt, albeit very short.

Sunday I took it easy and pack up, don’t mind driving the last bit back to the Lake at night as it is slow going anyway.
Get close to Kasama and Craig calls me to tell me he has just broken down on his way from Kasama to the lake… with his wife and 2month old baby… in the Toyota Prado I had just sold them… OH F**K :mad:
I refuel again and go to find them, pull out the toolbox and get to work trying to figure out what happened. We pull the intake off, intercooler and valve cover as I thought it may be a stuck valve causing the knock.
I decide that Craig must leave the car there and I will send my mechanic from town to have a look at it, in the meantime Craig organizes a tow truck to take it back to Ndola.
My guys have so far stripped it, found the issue and we are rebuilding the motor… so much for my gun fund from the sale of the Prado… bugger!

The rest of the drive is uneventful except for Lewis cracking jokes at all the police checkpoints when they ask me stupid questions and I give them the run around!!!
Their favourite questions are “Where from?” and “Where to?” and this inevitable leads to me giving them something in the complete opposite direction we are going! :whistle::p
Gotta have some fun at their expense, otherwise its only painful… :D

We get back in at about 23:30 and unload the meat and bags. Time for bed!:sleep:

Tondwa hunt for Bushbuck and Puku

4 days later and we are packing the car again… yep… two hunts two weekends… might’ve forgot to tell the missus… best tell her quickly that I will be out of phone range for the next 4 days… :D

Well, that went better than expected… something must be up!

Anyway, car is loaded and heavier than before as we are carting 150l of water and 1 extra person. Josh is joining us on this hunt as he works for Craig and has done some good work and put in long hours at the lodge whilst Craig and Elise have been away with the new pikinin.
It’s a short 35km ride from house to DNPW gate to pay gma fees and all the rest, somehow this takes long… as I keep forgetting time means little in the bush…:mad:
another few km and we are seeing signs. We head straight into camp and find another group of hunters in our usual spot, bugger… we head off about 0.5km along the floodplain and find a decent spot to camp, it’s a little more open than usual.
It turns out to be pretty decent, find a big tree to hang up my solar shower, set up tents under the branches of some other trees and the staff find their own little spot too.

All good, time to head out and see what we can find.
We head a long way back where we came from to check the rifles, my 300wm is still dead on, after all the bumping around, I’m impressed. (y)
pull out the 22Hornet and its bang on too, I let Josh have a couple of shots with each and he is pretty wayward with the 300, but accurate enough with the 22. (y)

We drive on and look for the water holes in the thickets, I’m looking for a bushbuck and a puku… Anyone that’s been up to Tondwa will tell you that the Puku are easy, they are everywhere…
Bushbuck however are a tricky bunch. We do some stalking and I quickly find out that the scout we picked up is a little sluggish and under the weather, I thought it may just be that he was off duty and is now back in the bush. Turns out he was drunk. This didn’t get any better and he snuck off in the evening to his mate at the other hunters camp and got totally legless. He couldn’t find the way into his tent, so Lewis took away his AK and kept it with him in his tent. Needless to say this little shithead got the full treatment from me the next day and was sent packing on Sunday!

We don’t see any bushbuck, but I see loads of tracks and while walking through the thickets see sable tracks and pretty fresh buff tracks.

We head out after about 2 hours and decide to go look for some spurwing and guineafowl for the pot.
We get a couple and head back to camp, get a decent fire going and make some braai chicken and chips with chili baked beans… hoovered that and had a couple of beers, then off to bed.
Saturday morning, I’m up at 04:00 to get the fire going and make some tea… without milk because somehow managed to not pack in more milk after the last weekend! And milk wasn’t the only thing I forgot…
We do a quick drive to look for cell signal and try get hold of Craig, who is coming out later today.
I don’t get any signal on my fancy shmancy iPhone, but Lewis gets signal on his El Cheapo dodgy dual sim phone… how the F that happens? He sends a text and we hope they got it. No more delays, off to look for bushbuck.
Much of the same, drive, walk, look… no bushbuck. See fresh sable and buff tracks again.
I try remember to tell Josh not to walk to far from the car. I have the 416rigby in the car, but he’s not getting his hands on that while I’m not around.

Later in the afternoon, Craig arrives so we head out, he has Warthog and duiker on licence. We do a bit of a walk and come up on a big pig, so I tell him to take it, its only about 60m away. Puts a round from his 300 through its brain. Done deal. Walk up to it, the scout heads back to tell Lewis to drive the car round. As we get closer, I look at Craig and said its one of the bigger pigs I’ve seen here. Lots of meat. Takes a full 4 guys to lift it and I had to get on the back of the hilux to pick it up far enough to get it on the vehicle. We head on back to camp to skin and cut him up. Well, I drank beer while Craig and the others skinned and cut J

Some beers later I decide to have a shower and hit the sack.

It’s an early rise on Sunday, 04:00 again, I try get josh and Craig up, but their starter motors seem to be a little worse for wear this morning. Craig eventually rises and asks for something for his headache, which I have, and some coffee, which I don’t have… bugger!

We head out to look scout a couple of new areas and find them, some amazing spots that I have not been to and are not often hunted.
We have seen eland and sable each day, today we get up close to a young sable bull, he has half turned black and has some decent horns, definitely going to be a goodie in a couple of years.
We are up to about 50m from him when he finally decides he’s had enough and thunders off.
This little place is up on plateau, so it’s a bit cooler and there are a lot of tracks here. No roads up here so its got to be done by foot.
Love it

Later on we head back down do some serious bushwhacking, my poor car will be needing a respray after all this…

Craig has bought a licence for a puku and a warthog on behalf of the chief, so we will probably do another day trip in her in a couple of weeks for the warthog. In the meantime, we find a decent puku and I put in a quick stalk whilst being watched very carefully by a couple of big blue eland from a rather safe (for them) distance. The wind is from the side and I have a few anthills between me and the puku, he stands broadside and put a perfect placement through both lungs, he doesn’t go more than 50m and he is down. Get him back to camp and dressed out and Craig decides to pack up and head back to Nsumbu.

I head back out for bushbuck… this time we walk quite a bit more and also sit in a hide. We see a female bushbuck, puku, warthog, common duiker, blue duiker and reedbuck at this water hole but no bushbuck.

Monday morning, we head out to Lake Kako to see what’s going on there, see a bunch of game, but very skittish today.
Get down to Kako and we cross the dambo which we have never been able to do at this time of year, that’s how dry everything is. We desperately need rain. We get across and have a drive into the thicker bush until we find the source of the river and lake at Kako. Pretty neat.
We start heading out so I tell Josh to walk over to one of the old machans that the guys use sometimes for Sitatunga and see what he can see. Give him the 22 in case there are any spurwing or guinea fowl.

He has a look around, sees some hippo and Sitatunga, but not much else.

We head out and in a very uneventful turn, find a rather daft Puku that seems to be quite happy to ignore us, but he is pretty meaty… so we go past and I jump out, take a quick walk behind the anthill, he notices me as I’m not moving very quietly and just look at me with his back turned at about 30m.
I decide to walk out to the side and he trots off to about 100m and turns a little, I angle a shot through the back of his ribs, through the lungs and out the front of his left leg. Good solid hit, he runs a few metres, but doesn’t last long at all. We walk up and he is done. He is a decent male, all on his own, no females with him and he has been eating well. (y)

I show Josh the trail of blood and bits of lung and he was pretty shocked at how much damage there was.
All good, head back to camp to do the usual and we pack him up in quarters in ice and have a couple of beers. We pack up camp in the afternoon and head back to Nsumbu. It takes about 2 hours to get back.

What we saw…
Bushbuck (f)
Common Duiker
Blue Duiker
I saw a jackal on FLIR one evening whilst in camp and playing around. We heard hyena 2 nights and we saw fresh buff tracks every day.
Pretty encouraging and Craig works very hard as the head honcho of Conservation Lake Tanganyika to keep the park and gma in good shape. All his hard works shows!

Just checked on my gps and its 30km from here to our campsite in a straight line.

Craig and I are already planning a day trip to try for the duiker and bushbuck and some birds… :D

All in all, not a trophy hunt like most are used to, but just neat being out in the bush at this time of year. Already planning next year’s hunts…

Hope it’s not too long, pics will follow as i am sure it will take a while with this internet link.

As a side note, on the ammo. The Norma 200gr Oryx factory ammo out of my old 300wm is pretty damn accurate and hits very hard. Really happy with it. Entry and exit holes were not massive and meat damage was minimal compared to some ammo I have used in years past. Internal damage is pretty good and effective.

I have used scirocco 2’s in Sako ammo, quite a bit of bruising, Norma Swift A-Frame’s get the thumbs up definitely, Sako super hammerheads quite a bit of bruising, standard PMP softs… not ever again, PRVI GROM and Partisan bullets… not ever again.
Next up will be some Peregrine plainsmasters to see how they do.
If I hadn’t bought the peregrines already, I would be stocking up on loads of the Norma Oryx.
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Bangweulu Plains -Very dry and dusty
Bangweulu Plains.jpg
Lake Kako before you descend through the trees to the plains.

Tondwa - Lake Kako.jpg
Machan at Kako
Tondwa Machan.jpg
Love hunting this type of bush

Almost home, the descent to Nsumbu with Lake Tanganyika in the background.
Nsumbu - Almost Home.jpg

Full Moon, this pic was taken at 22:11 on the 16th Nov. No flash used.
The deck over the water and fishermen lights in the background.
Its bright enough to walk around any time without a torch and see clearly where you are going
Nsumbu - Full moon.jpg
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love to see your pics from Zambia.
But your Machan.........
More dangerous as a wounded buffalo
Thanks, i need to improve on my camera skills...

The machan was not mine, one of the old PH's machans that looked like it hadnt been used for a while!
Thats why i sent young Josh up there instead of climbing it myself! :D
Great report!

Can only Zambian residents hunt there?

Look just as dry there as here in RSA.
Great report!

Can only Zambian residents hunt there?

Look just as dry there as here in RSA.

All the GMA's can be hunted by foreign clients with PH's.

Its very dry, for example, around the campsite I could see loads of Lechwe tracks and when I emailed a friend of mine who works at Bangweulu, he said that the entire area floods right past where the campsite is, so thats 25+km of flooded land! Shows how far back the water has receded from its maximum level.
@BRICKBURN did you add in the photo? If so, thanks.
I wasnt sure i would get the images to load so left them all to the end...
Stupid SADAC worth nothing!;) Wanted to go like you guys.

Do you buy licenses or does he PH have to do it?
Stupid SADAC worth nothing!;) Wanted to go like you guys.

Do you buy licenses or does he PH have to do it?
Ha Ha,
We buy direct from DNPW, non residents would have to go through a PH.
Very nice, thank you for sharing!
@BRICKBURN did you add in the photo? If so, thanks.
I wasnt sure i would get the images to load so left them all to the end...

Another internet pixie at AH got to it first. :)

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