ZAMBIA: Buffalo & Sable Hunt With Balla Balla Safaris

Discussion in 'Hunting Reports Africa' started by RolandtheHeadless, Jul 18, 2016.

  1. RolandtheHeadless

    RolandtheHeadless AH Veteran

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2015
    Messages:
    204
    Likes Received:
    186
    After my great hunt with Karoo Wild Safaris in South Africa (see my separate thread), my wife and I flew to Livingston, Zambia, and hunted with Balla Balla Safaris from June 13-21. It was a great hunt too! I took a buffalo, sable, puku, common duiker, and impala.

    I kept a journal of both hunts, and have already posted the hunting stories with Karoo Wild. Here I'll post the buffalo and sable stories I have from hunting with Balla Balla.

    Buffalo Banquet

    6-15-16 – We got up at 5:30 am to begin the buffalo hunt. Charles, the cook, woke us by saying, “Morning, morning.” He said that every morning to awaken us, and in a day or so we adopted that expression too, saying, “morning, morning” when we first saw each other. My wife and I said it to each other before we got out of bed. Even Shawn Bird (PH) and Etienne (Assistant PH) started doing it; or maybe they’d been doing it all along and it just took a while for me to notice it.

    After a quick snack of toast and coffee, we loaded onto the bakkie, a converted Toyota Landcruiser with just driver and front passenger seats inside the cab, a truck bed in the rear, and an open bench seat just behind the cab. Dene Bird (Zambian PH, required for dangerous game) was driving, my wife in the passenger seat, Shawn, Etienne, and I in the top seat, and the tracker Abraham standing in the back end. It was cold. I hunched my shoulders and stuffed my hands into my jacket pockets as we drove. We drove around from waterhole to waterhole looking for fresh tracks or dung. Each time we stopped I was grateful for the respite from the wind of the bakkie’s movement, and I hoped we could get down and walk soon. I was cold in my thin pile jacket, but I was determined not to show it in front of a bunch of Africans who had probably never seen natural ice in their lifetimes.

    Abraham and Dene checked every waterhole we passed, but found nothing made more recently than the previous night. “They’ve probably gone miles since then,” Dene said to me, as he climbed back into the bakkie.

    Around nine o’clock Abraham found fresh spoor made that morning. We all got out and began following the tracks and piles of fresh wet dung, Abraham leading the way. Dene was carrying a .458 Winchester Magnum, and Etienne a .470, both of them as back up for me on the buffalo. It seemed a bit unfair to the buffalo, but my wife was along, and I didn’t mind the additional arms. Shawn was armed with a video-camera.

    We traveled through mixed miombo woodlands, large trees separated as if in a park, with scattered stands of acacia and other thornbush, with dead, dried grass in the low spots where we mostly walked. I stumbled repeatedly as we went. The dried mud in the low ground was uneven and rough with the footprints of buffalo that were left in the rainy season and since baked as hard as concrete in the African sun. The buffalo had left their tracks on every piece of ground except where there was dense bush and under the trees.

    “In the rainy season, this ground was underwater,” Dene said.

    We followed the buffalo this way and that, walking a couple of miles over the hard ankle-twisting ground. The sun was climbing up the sky and beating me on the head and neck. My feet and ankles were killing me by the time we came up on the buffalo at about 11:30. Abraham and Dene crouched and crept forward, the latter motioning for me to follow. At first, I couldn’t see a damn thing. Eventually I caught sight of the herd, their black forms as still as shadows and legs like the trunks of small trees. The wind was swirling around, and I felt its cooling touch on the back of my neck. The wind moved back to quartering away, but it was too late. The buffalo spooked, their hooves thundering away on the hard ground, raising a cloud of dust.

    We circled to get downwind and come at the buffalo from their flank, but the wind swirled and gave us away. The buffalo thundered off again. This happened twice more, locating the buffalo, coming in from the flank, and the wind or some false movement betraying us each time. In the end Dene and the tracker somehow knew the herd was in a thicket beyond a clearing.

    “Over there.” Dene pointed to the thicket, where I saw nothing but shadows. Then an oxpecker bird fluttered up from one of the shadows and betrayed the buffalo to me. Another movement, the flicking of a long black tail, and other tails, and the trunk-like legs; and my eyes followed them up to the dark shapes I knew must be the bodies of buffalo. I could see them now, standing out from the shadows.

    Dene motioned the rest of the group to stay behind a large termite mound, and he and I moved forward, crouching low. I couldn’t imagine how I would ever get a shot at one of these animals, in the thicket as they were, to get a shot clear of the others, so you didn’t have to worry about wounding a second buffalo. Before I could see any of them clearly, the nearest buffalo began peeling off, and then the whole herd was thundering away. I looked at Dene and he shrugged, checked his watch. I figured he was about to call it quits for the morning.

    Just then a bull separated itself from the group and trotted into the clearing, fifty yards away. “Get ready,” Dene said, and set up the sticks.

    Alaska’s Inupiat Eskimos are said to believe that you don’t really hunt an animal down, don’t conquer it in the Western tradition. You don’t take it to hang on your wall. Instead, if you are worthy, the animal gives itself to you. This buffalo was giving itself to me.

    I still didn’t trust the sticks, and found a tree clear of underbrush and braced my rifle against it. My rest felt rock-solid and I tracked the bull at 2x in my scope, holding on his shoulder, where you want to shoot a buffalo to break him down.

    “Wait ‘till he stops,” Dene whispered. But the buffalo didn’t stop, looked ready to break into a run and turn back to the main herd at any moment. I wanted to shoot.

    “Shoot him, if you ca—“

    Dene’s final words were drowned by the boom of my .416 Remington Magnum. The bull flinched, its leg stuck out at an odd angle, and the animal began to run. I worked the bolt and fired again at the same place. The buffalo dropped to his knees. Side-by-side, Dene and I approached the bull from an angle. The buffalo turned its front-end around, saw us, and struggled to get his feet under him to come at us. You could see the intended charge in the bull’s eyes; he had the will, but not the strength left.

    “Be careful of his horns,” Dene said.

    The buffalo was turned back, glaring fixedly at us, and you could see him dreaming of sticking the horn in and tossing us, each of us, then goring and stomping us into the ground.

    “Reload,” Dene reminded me. “Shoot him again, right up the arse.”

    I fumbled two rounds into the rifle and worked the bolt. I was shooting off-hand now, none too steadily, and my shot missed the tail-pipe and went into one enormous hindquarter. The buffalo rolled on to its side, but still struggled to rise. We were facing the bull’s belly now, less than ten yards away, and Dene told me to shoot it right between the front legs. Boom!

    “Again,” Dene said. I reloaded again. Boom!

    “Damn,” I said. “These animals can really soak up the lead.”

    But with my last shot the buffalo’s head dropped and he let out his death bellow. The rest of our hunting group collected behind us, and we all inspected the kill. My buffalo was an old warrior. On his right hindquarter and flank were three long thin scars, which Dene said had come from fighting lions years before.

    “Your first shot was perfect, it broke his front shoulder, perfect. And the second too, I think,” Dene said.

    “Wow, he’s big. Bigger than any moose.” A moose had longer legs, but everything else about the buffalo, from his ears to his huge barrel-shaped body, and on down to his hooves, was larger.

    “A real dagga boy,” Dene said. “He was hanging around the edge of the herd.”

    “What made him walk in front of my rifle like that?”

    Dene shrugged. “Maybe he got curious to see what we were. And to take care of us, whatever we were.”

    “It’s almost like he just gave himself to me,” I said.

    We couldn’t set up for photos because there weren’t enough of us to roll the bull over onto his belly. Dene decided to go for the bakkie. He took a look at Abraham, and the tracker pointed with his straight arm in one direction, and the two of them were off. Before the tracker had pointed I didn’t have a clue which way was back to the truck.

    The sun was getting to me, and I felt empty and tired, so I found a tree in the shade and just sat there while we waited. I knew it would be a while. They would have to walk for more than a mile, by the straight line, then find their way by truck to the kill site through thick trees and rough terrain.

    Imagine my surprise when Dene and Abraham appeared less than an hour later, not only by themselves, with the vehicle, but also with a truckload of game scouts and camp assistants standing in the back end of the bakkie. Together they rolled over the buffalo so we could take pictures, then all nine of them, plus Etienne, tried to lift the bull into the bakkie. Their problem was that most of them couldn’t get enough grip to lift. One of them used a machete to cut down a small tree and he whittled it into a three-inch-diameter pole. They levered the pole under the buffalo’s hindquarters and, with much effort, and counts of 1-2-3, they managed to lift that end of the buffalo into the bakkie. From there it was a matter of pulling and lifting the massive forequarters into the bed. I couldn’t believe it would fit, but it did. The springs sagged, but the Landcruiser held not only the buffalo, but also the original hunting party, with the rest of the men being left to walk back to camp.

    We ate buffalo tenderloins for dinner, and afterward, while I was smoking a Cuban Partagas cigar and having a quiet talk with my wife and studying on what was so special about the Southern Cross, we heard some distant singing. Soon we saw the headlights of the bakkie approaching and the singing grew louder. Women’s voices mostly, and drumbeats. Singing in an unfamiliar tongue. The inhabitants of the fishing village, members of the Siyakabiya tribe, had come to celebrate the killing of the buffalo, the women in their colorful dresses and wraps, one with a baby on her back. While the men beat on drums or danced in place, the women and children sang and danced in a circle behind a fire built up by the slough. The million frog chorus from the slough played in the background. The first song had a repeating verse, “(Something) (something) poro-poro.” Dene said that poro-poro meant bullet, and they were singing “the bullet has won.”

    Afterwards the villagers lined up for the candy we handed out. Shawn said they got sugar so seldom it was a real treat for them. We announced the candy was for the kids, but the adults lined up too, and we had enough to give to everyone, so we did, placing a piece of the wrapped candy into each pair of cupped hands of the celebrants. We had enough candy in the bag left for a second round, so handed them out until it was gone.

    My wife was moved by the display of happiness and celebration, as was I. These were people who barely had a pot to piss into, yet they were full of happiness and good will. Their example reflected poorly on all the disgruntled, disaffected people back in the US, of whatever race, who on average probably threw away enough food to feed a family of these Siyakabiya for a day. I told Shawn I hoped they would get a share of buffalo meat, and he assured me they would.

    BuffDSC_0214.jpg buff3DSC_0203.jpg
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 18, 2016
    Sheriff, enysse, Velo Dog and 13 others like this.

  2. cpr0312

    cpr0312 AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2011
    Messages:
    7,369
    Video/Photo:
    254
    Likes Received:
    5,746
    Location:
    North Carolina
    Member of:
    NRA Life Member
    Hunted:
    US (All over), New Zealand, South Africa(Northern Cape, Northwest), Zimbabwe
    Congrats on your safari and thanks for sharing!
     

  3. LivingTheDream

    LivingTheDream AH Elite

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2015
    Messages:
    1,929
    Video/Photo:
    13
    Likes Received:
    2,396
    Congratulations! Great story and it sounds like you had a great hunt.
     

  4. Ridge Top Ranch

    Ridge Top Ranch AH Enthusiast

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2014
    Messages:
    296
    Video/Photo:
    4
    Likes Received:
    454
    Location:
    Kansas City, MO USA
    Member of:
    SCI, NRA
    Hunted:
    U.S. Zimbabwe, South Africa, Northwest & Limpopo
    Sounds like a great hunt. Nice buff.
     

  5. bassasdaindia

    bassasdaindia AH Elite

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2012
    Messages:
    1,268
    Video/Photo:
    15
    Likes Received:
    726
    Congrats on a nice buffalo .
     

  6. PLM

    PLM AH Enthusiast

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2014
    Messages:
    286
    Video/Photo:
    17
    Likes Received:
    235
    Location:
    East Texas
    Member of:
    NRA, TSRA
    Great report. Love that gnarly boss on that old bull.
     

  7. PHOENIX PHIL

    PHOENIX PHIL AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2009
    Messages:
    8,237
    Video/Photo:
    31
    Likes Received:
    5,893
    Member of:
    SCI
    Hunted:
    USA, S. Africa
    Very nice!
     

  8. Pheroze

    Pheroze AH ENABLER BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Legend

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2013
    Messages:
    3,211
    Video/Photo:
    28
    Likes Received:
    2,951
    Location:
    Ontario
    Member of:
    OFAH, DSC
    Hunted:
    South Africa, Canada, USA
    What a great report, thanks! The celebration must have been a real high point of your trip!
     

  9. gillettehunter

    gillettehunter AH ENABLER AH Legend

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2009
    Messages:
    2,874
    Video/Photo:
    46
    Likes Received:
    2,147
    Hunted:
    Namibia, Kyrgyzstan(2) South Africa(2) New Zealand
    Nicely done. Good looking buffalo and a good hunt to get him. Congrats. Bruce
     

  10. JES Adventures

    JES Adventures AH Fanatic

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2015
    Messages:
    532
    Video/Photo:
    89
    Likes Received:
    1,006
    Location:
    Texas
    Member of:
    Life Member of DSC, NRA and SCI
    Hunted:
    Botswana, Cameroon, CAR, Ethiopia, Namibia, RSA, Tanzania, Uganda, Zimbabwe and Zambia. US, Canada, Arctic, Mexico, Argentina, Spain, Portugal, U.K., Romania, Tadjikistan, Nepal, China, Australia and New Zealand
    Congratulations on a great safari and wonderful report, we were in just a couple days after you - sorry we didn't meet.

    Dendro is a special place, I am so happy my wife got to hunt buffalo there as well. She had a very nice hunt and like you said it's amazing how big bodied those bulls are in the Kafue.

    Good Hunting - John Ed
     

  11. Clayton

    Clayton AH Fanatic

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2016
    Messages:
    844
    Likes Received:
    680
    Location:
    SW Louisiana, USA
    Member of:
    NRA: Patriot Life Endowment Member, 2nd Amendment Foundation: Life Member LA Shooting Association: Life Member, Gun Owners of America: Annual Member SW LA Rifle & Pistol Club: Annual Member
    Congratulations all round. You and your wife had a great time and collected nice trophies.
     

  12. Nyati

    Nyati AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2011
    Messages:
    6,611
    Video/Photo:
    78
    Likes Received:
    1,940
    Location:
    Madrid, Spain
    Member of:
    RFEC, RFETO
    Hunted:
    Spain, Finland, RSA ( KwaZulu Natal, Limpopo, North West, Northern Cape, Free State ).
    Congrats on a great hunt, very nice buff.

    Thanks for sharing !
     

  13. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN AH ENABLER SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR LIFETIME TITANIUM BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2010
    Messages:
    20,967
    Video/Photo:
    415
    Likes Received:
    13,209
    Hunted:
    Namibia, South Africa, Botswana, Mozambique, Canada, USA, Mexico
    Twisted ankles, sore knees, aching feet and cooking yourself. Sounds like the basics of a great hunt! :)

    Congratulations on a nice Buffalo.
     

  14. Wheels

    Wheels AH ENABLER AH Legend

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2012
    Messages:
    4,735
    Video/Photo:
    78
    Likes Received:
    4,741
    Hunted:
    Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Zimbabwe
    Congratulatons. Thanks for the report.
     

  15. johnnyblues

    johnnyblues AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2013
    Messages:
    5,936
    Video/Photo:
    95
    Likes Received:
    5,034
    Location:
    Seaford NY
    Hunted:
    USA, ALASKA Canada, New Zealand, Mexico Africa.
    Congrats.
     

  16. Neale

    Neale AH Enthusiast

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2015
    Messages:
    399
    Video/Photo:
    100
    Likes Received:
    407
    Location:
    Cape York, Queensland Australia
    Member of:
    SSAA
    Hunted:
    Australia, South Africa ( Eastern Cape, Free State, Limpopo,KwaZulu Natal )
    Another great report that keeps me wanting more. Great Buff. Any new revelations about the Southern Cross yet. Bet you miss it.
     

  17. Velo Dog

    Velo Dog AH ENABLER GOLD SUPPORTER SILVER SUPPORTER AH Legend

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2014
    Messages:
    2,841
    Video/Photo:
    58
    Likes Received:
    3,975
    Location:
    Anchorage
    Member of:
    NRA Life Member.
    Hunted:
    South Africa 3 times, Namibia 2 times, USA - most western states including Alaska and Hawaii.
    Jim,

    Outstanding account (as usual).
    I do look forward to buying you a cold one and hearing all the details.
    Finally have my serious tap/kegerator up and running (no more mini kegs with weak, leaky gasket, etc).
    Look for a text from me with photo of same.
    Anyhow until that glorious day of your safari re-telling in person, I bid you welcome back home to the greatest state and thank you for the EXCELLENT posts here in the "Hunting Reports" section.

    Cheers,
    Paul.
     

  18. CAustin

    CAustin AH ENABLER BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Ambassador

    Joined:
    May 7, 2013
    Messages:
    12,624
    Video/Photo:
    190
    Likes Received:
    8,810
    Member of:
    Courtney Hunting Club, NRA Life Member, SCI Kansas City Chapter
    Hunted:
    South Africa, KwaZulu Natal, Kalahari, Northwest, Limpopo, Gauteng, APNR Kruger Area. USA Georgia, South Carolina, Arkansas, New Mexico, North Carolina and Texas
    A nice Cape buffalo. I like his bosses!
     

  19. enysse

    enysse AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2009
    Messages:
    10,928
    Video/Photo:
    104
    Likes Received:
    3,236
    Member of:
    Northeast Wisconsin SCI chapter, Lifetime member of NRA,RMEF
    Hunted:
    Namibia, South Africa (East Cape, Guateng and Limpopo)
    Congrats, nice old warrior for a cape buffalo!
     

  20. Foxi

    Foxi AH Elite

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2012
    Messages:
    1,114
    Video/Photo:
    82
    Likes Received:
    1,642
    Location:
    Germany
    Hunted:
    Canada, USA,Austria,Turkey,Tschech Rep.,Poland,Hungary,Serbia,Denmark,Namibia and England(England is wonderful) Romania,Luangwa-,Gwayi- + Save River.Horseback-tours in South Africa and Botswana.
    (y)(y)(y)

    Foxi
     

Share This Page

 
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice