ZAMBIA: Kantanta Safaris - 10 Days In The Luangwa Valley

A continued grand adventure. I made the mistake of reading the latest Tuesday morning US time. So, I try to limit my toasts until 5 pm. I will send one your way later today!
Day 3 CONT...
The main camp is fabulous and inviting. The chalets are well built and very roomy with both full time electricity and hot water. The grounds are kept very clean and the laundry is done/delivered daily. The view from the main area looks out over the Luangwa River and you see Puku and bushbuck daily.
After settling in and a little nap I was summoned to take a look at a nice bushbuck that had followed some females out to the river for a midday drink. I’ve not seen colors like this bushbuck had, he was outstanding. Valerio handed me his 270 and Diva hurried me along behind as we took a path through the brushy bottom towards the bushbuck. We made our way through the “spiky bushes” and had just about reached an opening view to the waters edge when Diva suddenly put the sticks up and pointed ahead. Valerio said “there he is!” also pointing to the dense wall of spiky bushes 40 yards ahead. Completely dumbfounded I asked Valerio “where ?!” - I could see nothing but a wall of green ! I had barely recognized the shadow inside the thick green vegetation when the bushbuck bolted. I honestly didn’t feel like I’d had time to take a shot if I’d seen him straight away when they did as the whole thing went down in 1.2 seconds. I just felt like it was incredible to have the quality of game right there in the back door so to speak.
A bit later we took a drive around. It yielded more bushbuck, elephant, baboons by the dozen, impala, kudu, roan, warthogs, and tons of guinea fowl (that I ended up missing with the 17 HMR several times- and not surprisingly being fired from my position of collecting guinea fowl for dinner). Another delicious dinner capped off the day. Tomorrow’s plan included a lazy start and a croc blind !


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Day 4...
Not a need to wake up early as the day was planned to set the buff rib cage for croc. After a late breakfast the men went out to the sandbar and rebuilt the blind that was there previously. The buff rib cage and some extra “goodies” rode out to the sandbar on the hunting car. While Valerio, James, and I arranged our setting order the men attached the huge carcass to a preset log well buried in the sand and the “Herbs de Enticement” mixture was poured into the water a tad upstream. And so the wait began. I was more nervous about this sit than only other part of my hunt. The brain shot on a croc requires 1 MOG (minute of golf ball) and I’m lucky to exhibit
1 MOB (minute of basketball). Plus I just really wanted a croc ! No self induced pressure here.. nada. It didn’t take very long at all to start seeing nose holes and eyeballs appearing in the channel. The small crocs started nibbling a little and Valerio had told me it takes the bigger ones a bit longer to be convinced that this is indeed a free buffet. The bad thing turned out to be the uninvited vultures. They simply wrecked the party. And they brought dates along - marabou storks. Seeing these things in a book is bad enough but getting a bino full in real time makes you shake your head. The fact that these birds mate with one another is a true testament that they don’t give a damn what they breed with. They are plain ugly (to be nice about it). The additional ring of a dozen plus circling vultures overhead quickened our decision to throw in the towel. We picked up everything and headed back to camp. It was almost lunchtime anyway. Chef Pascal had prepared for us a marvelous quiche! What a treat this was - and again I made a total pig out of myself. An after lunch nap and a 3:30 wakeup found us headed downriver to locate another section of deep river. We parked, the men offloaded all the items, and we walked down the river bank about a half mile until we came to suitable water. It was getting later than we expected and everyone hurried to ready the setup. Valerio chose to build the blind on a super high spot (top of the river bank) that towered above the bait roughly 25 to 30 feet and was about 40 yards away. While assembling the blind they set me in a chair and my shooting hole was custom placed due to the drastic angle. As before we didn’t have to wait long for crocs to start feeding. I was crossed fingers for a decent croc to show before darkness came -this was basically a one shot deal since we had only 1 buff rib cage to work with. Maybe 25 minutes in and a respectable male showed up. Valerio pointed out his big teeth, darker green coloration, and that he was considerably larger framed than the others. All I needed to do was make a decision first and a good shot second. It was a Green Light. The target croc had death rolled a huge chunk off of the carcass and swam out and upstream to swallow it whole. It took him a few tries and Valerio had already expressed concern that we may have missed our chance. BUT HERE HE COMES - back to the bait and on the correct side too! He laid his head almost straight towards us as it came out of the water. There was only a few seconds before my crosshairs found “between the eyes” and the rifle went off. Immediately chambering another round I saw the crocs body in the water sideways not even a quiver to him , with neither head nor tail visible. Valerio instructed to shoot him in the shoulder which I swiftly did. Done deal - I had my croc!! We shuffled down the steep grade to check it all out. The recovery was underway and as I looked back up the embankment villagers were appearing from nowhere. They were curious to see what had possibly been getting their fish from the nets. After pictures the men tied the croc up to the cruiser, now around to the top of the high point where we were sitting, drove forward slowly pulling him up....except in the last 2 feet the rope popped. A quick re-tie and mission accomplished. All loaded up we headed for camp - it had been a good day. I was starving but first the now traditional gin&tonic celebration and then another magnificent dinner.

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Nice croc love it.
Congrats and thanks for sharing!
Excellent Safari story! This brings back found memories of my trip to Zambia for Lion, Buff, Puku, Cookson’s, and lastly Giant Croc. What a great adventure and I’m sure everyone joins me in congratulating your exploits so far.

Day 5...
Now that my 2 main animals we in the salt it was time to see what else Africa wanted to give me. Bushbuck was a very strong 3rd - not sure what it is about these guys but they get a lot of my attention. We drove a bit around and saw some good bushbuck and made some good stalks but they didn’t pan out for one reason or another. We decided to check a wet semi-swampy area that Valerio said always held game especially warthog. And was he right. The stalk in was from a road and we had to be on all 4’s most of the way. There were at least 20 pigs in this wet green patch along with a half dozen impala. Valerio found a really good boar in the group and was very descriptive about which one it was. Of course the pig made it to the back of the field, about 150 yards, before I was able to get clear of all the little trees in the way. He was walking right to left when I shot. I saw him bolt at the same time I saw the dirt fly up behind him. Figuring I shot through I watched as he made it to the woods edge and disappear. I looked at Valerio and he shook his head and said “shot over him”. Well hell. Back to the hunting car dejected I went. Not truly dejected but you know how it feels to miss. Not much later in the morning did the men spot a good bushbuck ram in some thick cover about 100 yards away. Off the truck and sticks went up in seconds. The morning sun was behind him making him look somewhat fuzzy but I could certainly distinguish those horns - he was a beauty! He was standing when I put the rifle on the sticks but I had to double check with Valerio about his position. At this hesitation on my part he turned and started walking. I picked him in the scope and determined where his chest must be in relation to his head. I sent one. He bolted with no reaction to the bullet. No way....yes way, I missed again. But there was a nice hole in a tree. What a day so far with lots of bushbuck and a great Porkchop only to let everyone down with bad shooting!!! It was just a scratch kind of day.
Day 5 a bit .....
Nice lizard, congrats !
Day 5 (CONT)....
After missing the bushbuck we continued to slow ride in the thick stuff searching for another good ram. Tracker Diva, positioned behind me on the left side of the cruiser, all of a sudden loudly says “snake!”. I spun around quickly to see him pointing at the roads edge - a black mamba ! Apparently resting at the base of a large tree it took all of its 8 to 9 feet around the back side - where it instantly raised up about 4 feet off of the ground ! Talk about intimidating ! This was my first ever sighting and I knew they could rise up half of their body length but I DID NOT know that they could hit warp factor 1 WHILE they were raised up ! It made it to a low branched tree and proceeded to climb. Meanwhile I was asking Valerio for shotgun that he didn’t have on the truck. I could see part of the glistening snake on a branch as we exited the cruiser with rifle in hand. The men were encircling the tree (at distance!!) trying to see its’ head. As we danced around and around the small tree it climbed higher and stretched itself up and onto the branches of a much taller tree with a very dense canopy. The men spotted its head and Valerio took my 416 and tried to shoot it but missed. The snake vanished in the thick vines and branches. We all got back on the truck and once I found out that mambas are very territorial, I proclaimed it a shame to not be able to hunt bushbuck again in that particular block ! We could (and would be happy to) find bushbuck elsewhere. I’ll be completely honest here - I felt like I had seen the Grime Reaper. It was a new level for me. With a big rifle you can shoot your way out of about anything but if face to face with a mamba the odds are seriously against you. We took it to camp directly after that.
After lunch and a nap we tore off to a new-to-me area to have a look around. Valerio told me this area was great for kudu and it also has some kakuli activity was well. At the end of the day no more shots had been fired but to recap the drive we saw quite a few kudu bulls with several in the mid-50” plus range that were stunning. Tomorrow is indeed another day - and we have a buff track to find!
Day 2 (cont)....the remainder of the day was eventful with sightings of impala, some bushbuck (always seeing bushbuck), and duiker (running everywhere). We checked 3 leopard baits and the men covered one with branches to vulture-proof it. There was one water hole close by that was actually a small quicksand pit- yikes! Ain’t nobody got time for that !
View attachment 497320 No animals were harmed in the making of this second day on safari. One superb , and I mean superb, impala ram crossed ahead of us that afternoon but that wasn’t my mindset at the time, as I was more focused on finding a cooperative bushbuck. The well spent day ended with a drink around the fire pit and another incredible dinner by Chef Pascal. I’ve never gained weight on a Safari before but I could tell that was going to change this go round.View attachment 497321View attachment 497322

Day 3....
Not an early rise day (but 4:30 is still early enough!) since we were going to take a leisurely ride to check out some water sources and we had already planned to move to the main camp after lunch. We checked a super water source first that was in a small ravine but only found Roan tracks there. It was pretty steep in and out and that may have deterred the heavier buff. We drove on and found some buff tracks - we decided to take them up since they were leading to a good pool of water fairly close by. It was a beautifully dense spring fed “creek bottom” setting. Good water scattered through this low spot with buff tracks, leopard tracks, and lion tracks - if you could only sit there for a full day what you could see! We left that bottom and were almost (as in 10 yards) back to the road when Valerio got punctured by a big thorn just below his knee. It was a straight-in 90 degree poke that fortunately didn’t leave any pieces inside of the wound. A quick makeshift sock bandage and Valerio had the bleeding under control. It was a hole about the size of a regular school pencil and about 1/2 inch deep- Puncture wounds are nobodies friend. The boss made it on the cruiser and tally ho we were off again. Valerio decided we should ride over and check on the previously poisoned water hole that was emptied the morning before. It would be interesting to see if that lion had been back, hoping it was on the trail cam that we had set up. Parking about 300 yards out we walked briskly but cautiously in, the trackers watching ahead with vigilance. Breaking the 150 yard mark we knew the water clean out was successful-one of the men spotted the seven Kudu bulls near the water hole. There was one good shooter bull and the rest weren’t bad at all but a little young still (The one thing I lacked was a Kudu on license. Valerio had applied twice but to no avail- it was the only kink in my hunt). There were some impala spotted at the same time the Kudu started moving about. We were binos up when Timmy, and his iconic quick snapping fingers, pointed yelling quietly “Zebra!!”. Sure enough in the distance behind the impala we picked up the all-but-invisible Grant’s zebra milling about. We moved up a bit quickly and the sticks went up. Valerio and I spotted the best one and the waiting game was on. Scattered mopani trees littered the distance between us, the zebra were moving around slowly and unaware. Two of the four walked left to right and a decent opening was in their path. The targeted one stopped short and turned away, but a few seconds later retraced those steps, back on track. I got on the rifle firm and brought the crosshairs left to meet the slow steady walker. The recoil raised me off of the sticks. I chambered another round as I watched the zebra bolt towards us and then turning again, running parallel from left to right, spotting the more than obvious hit being in the chest just above the elbow. Getting back on the sticks I pulled slightly in front and at the crack of the shot the zebra tumbled. Celebration time again and Valerio seemed to be less conscious of his injury as we made our way forward. After pictures I asked Timmy to show me where the zebra was standing so I could pace off the distance. Finding it I asked Timmy to go locate the spent brass cases and stand there. As I got closer to him I noticed something in my path I couldn’t believe- it was a baseball sized mopani
tree that had a bullet hole through it. The 135 yard shot had gone through the center of the tree a mere 30 yards from my gun barrel. I had wondered why my first shot had hit about 4 inches lower than I thought it should’ve. Now I know why. View attachment 497327View attachment 497330It’s hard to believe but the shot was still through the heart (the atrium actually, upon examination at the skinning shed that afternoon). Loaded up and headed towards camp, I was looking forward to a refreshing shower and lunch (which consisted of buff fillets and vegetables !)
Everyone packed the wagons full and after lunch made the one hour journey to the main camp. And what a beautiful camp this was !! Amazing !! Ok now I was feeling spoiled.
Have we all done that with a tree before? I know I have!
I've missed my share too when in Mozambique. It makes the successful ones even sweeter.
Day 6 ...
It was another 4AM morning - we wanted to head to a part of the concession we hadn’t been to yet where Valerio had seen a pair of old boy tracks earlier in the season. After a small breakfast we rolled out just after decent light. It was in a good kudu area and, even though I had none on license, I wanted to get binos on a good one anyhow. We didn’t drive for long and the trackers Timmy and Diva somehow spotted a few grains of sand that to them formed a buff track (still unsure of how they see some of these tracks). It was sure enough- a lone bull apparently. Valerio said “let’s go”. I handed him my 416 and I toted the double. The overall setting here was mostly open area, with a good amount of steep ditches and ravines, and scattered small trees with some waist high broom straw in the mix as well.
Tracking wasn’t simple since the ground was very hard and there were more embedded rocks as well as leaves from the little trees. Valerio and I kept eyes up most all the time since it was so open. The track was very fresh as the droppings indicated. We would stop the trackers when we got close to a ravine so we could move ahead peering down cautiously. This bull was not lazy- he tackled steep drops and inclines without any hesitation. Twenty five to thirty minutes in, the terrain got tougher with the up-n-downs steeper and more frequent. There were larger areas of flat rock the bull walked on and straightening out the track took a bit longer. The bull walked up a hill and turned right, now walking along the top of this ridge. This put us silhouetted on the skyline so we moved easy and slow. To our left was was a long downslope that had the largest and most dense trees we had run into so far. We crept along this knife edge for a good 40 yards and suddenly Valerio said quietly “there he is” and slowly pointed across the tree littered ravine to the other hillside. The opposite slope was almost black dark and I could just make out the grey color of the bulls face. He was slightly below us in elevation and facing our direction (probably having heard our footsteps in the scattered leaves). Both Valerio and I were instantly on the binos. Because of the trees in this ravine it was hard for me to see horns through the multiple layers of treetops. Valerio had a better angle, saying it was a very good bull as he hurried to put up the sticks. He was worried the bull would sense us and he was anxious for me to get the shot in - but I couldn’t see well enough with the 4 power scope through the treetops where I was standing. The bull was also about 130 yards away which didn’t help. And so the dance began ! Valerio would move the sticks downhill a few steps and I would look through the scope - no shot - he would then move the sticks up hill a few steps- no shot. We did this at least 5 times ! Valerio was getting frustrated and at one point actually looked through the scope in disbelief. I’m certain the trackers thought Valerio was going to throw me down the hill ! Haha!! Finally the bull took a few steps downhill to the right and the turned left and stood almost broadside. This was the angle I was looking for BUT there was a one small vertical branch between us - my sight picture was very dark and I couldn’t tell if the bull’s shoulder was on the left side of that light colored branch or on the right side. Valerio told me to shoot on the left of the branch. So I did. The bull hit the ground at the crack of the rifle. Valerio let out a guttural roaring “yeeeees!!! - sounding much like a charging William Wallace from the Braveheart movie. Grabbing his Lott from Diva and me trading my 416 off to Timmy for my double we hurried down the hill. The bull was still down but twitching some definitely indicating there was still some life left in him. The terrain dictated the rapid and easiest approach which brought us in the not-so-favorable face to face position looking uphill at the downed buff. At 20 yards I dropped to one knee and gave a right and left barrel low into the frontal chest, then quickly ran up around and above and sent a solid thru the spine. The celebration began ! It indeed was a very nice buffalo with worn bosses and a huge body. After pictures the men went to get James and find a way to get the cruiser to this hell spot. Those land cruisers are some incredible vehicles. James made his way in and we (they) loaded up the bull. He then had the arduous task of backtracking , trying not to roll the cruiser! We of course walked behind most all the way out. What a great tracking job the men did. And once again from the time we left the vehicle to the time we were taking photos was less than 1 hour. Crazy stuff. After skinning I found that the 400 gr North Fork had gone through the top of the left shoulder blade and slammed against the inside of the right one halfway down. The last photo is of the 500 gr North Fork from the chest shot with the double.


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Well , the “last photo” ended up as the first photo ! Sorry everyone !
Beautiful bull! Congrats!!
Great bull properly hunted, congratulations!

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DLSJR wrote on Will Clark's profile.
You’ve got an interesting screen name. Will the Thrill provided lots of great times for me as a lifelong Giants fan. Even though I never met him, a number of buddies either duck hunted or shared a dugout with him. He’s a great guy according to those guys. Cool screen name and if that’s your real name, it’s a great one.
in-between all the bush fire, hunting and work on the hunting area its hard to find time for fishing as well
JOHNNY30 wrote on krish's profile.
is the 505 gibbs still for sell? Thanks!
William W. wrote on Grouser's profile.
I ran across a message from you a couple of years ago while I was going through old emails. I have arranged a second bison hunt in Nebraska in September 2024, about 6-years after the first, when my supply of bison meat was exhausted. My email is [redacted].
Labman wrote on Mully's profile.
If those Schells rings fare still available, I could use them. I'm willing to pay for the shipping.