ZAMBIA: Lion Safari With Strang Middleton

JES Adventures

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Day 4

We were up at 4 this morning and headed out to Chipuka Plain in search of buffalo. There was sign of a big group of buffalo on the plains last night so we went to that area at sunrise. As the huge, red ball of fire rose in the East, the plans were coming to life. We saw several groups of Impala, Cookson’s Wildebeast and Elephant. It has been so nice to see multiple groups of Elephant throughout the area. I was somewhat skeptical about the quantity of game that would be here as compared to twenty four years ago but I have been pleasantly surprised.

The tracker Jason tapped on the roof and stopped the vehicle to point out a large stretch of dust in the air about a mile in the distance. This would be a herd of buffalo so we got the wind and circled back around to ease into them. Once we spotted the group and got off the cruiser we walked about a quarter mile and got within 300 yards of the herd. It was a massive group that stretch out over 250 yards across the front of us, slowing feeding in the cool morning air. Lots of cows, calves and young bulls but we scanned the herd in search of the herd bulls. Strang spotted a bull and got me onto him for a look. He was wide with deep curls and had a massive, muscular body – he was impressive.

Unfortunately the wind changed and they picked up our scent and went on full alert. The two biggest bulls were at the far right, one was the bull we had identified and the other a younger bull but impressive for sure.

Strang said we should back off and leave them for this evening so they will settle down and feed again.

Our next task was to check the two baits on the plains. The trackers back at camp would go and check the river baits so we will get a full report later today. As we approached the first bait, it didn’t appear much had been eaten since yesterday.

Strang pulled the card from the game camera and popped it in the computer. Of course the Hyena were back but the two lioness did not come to feed again. An Elephant came by to check out the bait and the trackers found a fresh Leopard track as well as a fresh Lion track nearby but no pics on the camera.

We carried on to the second bait and as we approached we could see the grass skirt was gone. Strang said “probably leopard”. The game camera pics showed a massive, old Lioness and a pair of Leopard. The male Leopard was impressive, with a large head, neck and shoulders. The Lioness was one of the largest I have ever seen. No male Lion yet but lots of activity on the baits so we are optimistic.

Back to camp by 10 this morning we had a full breakfast then a siesta. The trackers reported no activity on the river baits but some fishermen told the trackers they heard Lions roaring last night so Strang wants to move one of the baits.

After a nice nap, we headed to move the bait at 2PM. It took us the better part of the evening to get the bait loaded, moved and set up at the new location. It is a great setup with the Luangwa River behind us and the spot has a great look and I look forward to checking the bait in tomorrow.

It was too late to head back to Chipuka Plain for the Buffalo this evening so we will make a plan tomorrow. Back to camp for sunset and a couple of beers, I finally had a chance to catch up on my journal.

A shower, dinner and a nightcap we were down early for a 4AM wakeup.
14C9B222-4C0A-472B-8A99-A870BF38E9B3.jpeg
 

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Day 4

We were up at 4 this morning and headed out to Chipuka Plain in search of buffalo. There was sign of a big group of buffalo on the plains last night so we went to that area at sunrise. As the huge, red ball of fire rose in the East, the plans were coming to life. We saw several groups of Impala, Cookson’s Wildebeast and Elephant. It has been so nice to see multiple groups of Elephant throughout the area. I was somewhat skeptical about the quantity of game that would be here as compared to twenty four years ago but I have been pleasantly surprised.

The tracker Jason tapped on the roof and stopped the vehicle to point out a large stretch of dust in the air about a mile in the distance. This would be a herd of buffalo so we got the wind and circled back around to ease into them. Once we spotted the group and got off the cruiser we walked about a quarter mile and got within 300 yards of the herd. It was a massive group that stretch out over 250 yards across the front of us, slowing feeding in the cool morning air. Lots of cows, calves and young bulls but we scanned the herd in search of the herd bulls. Strang spotted a bull and got me onto him for a look. He was wide with deep curls and had a massive, muscular body – he was impressive.

Unfortunately the wind changed and they picked up our scent and went on full alert. The two biggest bulls were at the far right, one was the bull we had identified and the other a younger bull but impressive for sure.

Strang said we should back off and leave them for this evening so they will settle down and feed again.

Our next task was to check the two baits on the plains. The trackers back at camp would go and check the river baits so we will get a full report later today. As we approached the first bait, it didn’t appear much had been eaten since yesterday.

Strang pulled the card from the game camera and popped it in the computer. Of course the Hyena were back but the two lioness did not come to feed again. An Elephant came by to check out the bait and the trackers found a fresh Leopard track as well as a fresh Lion track nearby but no pics on the camera.

We carried on to the second bait and as we approached we could see the grass skirt was gone. Strang said “probably leopard”. The game camera pics showed a massive, old Lioness and a pair of Leopard. The male Leopard was impressive, with a large head, neck and shoulders. The Lioness was one of the largest I have ever seen. No male Lion yet but lots of activity on the baits so we are optimistic.

Back to camp by 10 this morning we had a full breakfast then a siesta. The trackers reported no activity on the river baits but some fishermen told the trackers they heard Lions roaring last night so Strang wants to move one of the baits.

After a nice nap, we headed to move the bait at 2PM. It took us the better part of the evening to get the bait loaded, moved and set up at the new location. It is a great setup with the Luangwa River behind us and the spot has a great look and I look forward to checking the bait in tomorrow.

It was too late to head back to Chipuka Plain for the Buffalo this evening so we will make a plan tomorrow. Back to camp for sunset and a couple of beers, I finally had a chance to catch up on my journal.

A shower, dinner and a nightcap we were down early for a 4AM wakeup.
View attachment 370039
Best of luck to you and the Mrs.! That picture looks nicer then where I am sitting in town!
 

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Sounds exciting with all that activity so far! Looking forward to the next installment!
 

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An amazing adventure in the making!!!
 

JES Adventures

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Day 5

I was awaken by Hyena late in the night and the next thing I knew the generator started and the lights came on. Paul brought coffee to the tent and Debra and I prepared for the day. We were out of camp a little after 4:30 and when we arrived Chipuka Plain we quickly found the Buffalo. Unfortunately they were too far past us and headed back into the park so we gave them a wide berth and will make a plan for tomorrow. We carried on around the plain seeing lots of Elephant, Impala and Wildebeast. Big groups of Guinea Fowl made me wish I had a shotgun and my German Shorthair along for the trip. On to the baits for the morning update and the first bait showed three Hyena and no Lion. The two Lioness have never returned to the bait which is odd. We speculate that the Hyena may have run them off the bait. Also, the Buffalo herd passed close by so maybe they followed them.

The second bait was hit by Hyena as well but our pair of Leopard returned for their evening feed. The game camera showed that the Hyena and Leopard rotated in and out of the bait all night. Back to camp for an update from the trackers checking the river baits. We spotted Bushbuck, Kudu, Grysbok and Impala on the ride back to camp.

Shortly after we arrived the trackers showed up and reported no hits to the baits. Well, that’s cat hunting – hurry up and wait!

We will have a nice breakfast and enjoy the cool morning then go in search of a Crocodile.

As the cool morning transitioned to midday heat, the Croc’s started moving onto the sandbanks to sun themselves. There was a nice 10 footer basking in the sun so we made our way down the high bank to get set for a shot. As we moved into position, the Croc wasn’t having any of that business and slipped back into the water. We watched for a while and Strang said “they see us here, we need to back out and let them settle down”.

Before we retreated a better shooting location was found by a big tree that would block our approach. It took about a half hour and the Crocodile were all relaxed again and a nice 10 footer moved onto the sandbar. We made our way down to the tree and looked to get a shot but the angle was bad. Strang called me to come around the tree and sit down to take the shot. I had the rifle up on my knee’s and leaning into the tree while Strang coached me on the location to shoot on the neck. As the ought six barked the Crocodile was immediately paralyzed and only moved his head and jaw, the body was dead from the head back. Strang told me to put another round in behind the shoulder and then in the lungs. The Croc was down and I am finally going to get the boots I have been wanting for, for years!

We celebrated the Croc with a beer and some sandwiches for lunch. The temperature is in the upper 90’s so we will relax in the shade until late afternoon. The plan is to head back to Chipuka Plain at 3 o’clock and look for Zebra and Impala.

Out to the plain by 4 and the Buffalo herd had already gotten in front of us so chose not to bump them so they would stay in the area. We backed out and spent the balance of the day in search of Zebra but our efforts were fruitless. A gorgeous sunset and a two beer ride back to camp and we called it a day.

After a cool shower, another great meal we topped the night off with a cigar, whiskey and good conversation. Up tomorrow at 4, back to the Chipuka Plain in search of Buffalo and Lion.

BTW - I have forgotten to mention that when we arrived I recognized my waiter Paul from 24 years ago! He knew me as well and it just proves that memories are made on every Safari that last a lifetime.
 

JES Adventures

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Congrats on the croc! Looking forward to the next installment!
 

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Glad to hear about the good numbers of elephant and buffalo. There have been some good bull elephants taken in some of the Luangwa GMA’s this year.
 

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Day 1

We had a comfortable night at the airport Marriott at Dulles and headed to check in with Ethiopian Airways about 9AM.

After hitting duty free for some spirits we boarded the plane for our long flight to Addis. Barring anything unusual we will be in Lusaka Monday afternoon. Ethiopian Airways were very efficient at Check in and we took our seats in business class and had a sip of champagne.

View attachment 369401
Nice!
 

Philip Glass

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Day 5

I was awaken by Hyena late in the night and the next thing I knew the generator started and the lights came on. Paul brought coffee to the tent and Debra and I prepared for the day. We were out of camp a little after 4:30 and when we arrived Chipuka Plain we quickly found the Buffalo. Unfortunately they were too far past us and headed back into the park so we gave them a wide berth and will make a plan for tomorrow. We carried on around the plain seeing lots of Elephant, Impala and Wildebeast. Big groups of Guinea Fowl made me wish I had a shotgun and my German Shorthair along for the trip. On to the baits for the morning update and the first bait showed three Hyena and no Lion. The two Lioness have never returned to the bait which is odd. We speculate that the Hyena may have run them off the bait. Also, the Buffalo herd passed close by so maybe they followed them.

The second bait was hit by Hyena as well but our pair of Leopard returned for their evening feed. The game camera showed that the Hyena and Leopard rotated in and out of the bait all night. Back to camp for an update from the trackers checking the river baits. We spotted Bushbuck, Kudu, Grysbok and Impala on the ride back to camp.

Shortly after we arrived the trackers showed up and reported no hits to the baits. Well, that’s cat hunting – hurry up and wait!

We will have a nice breakfast and enjoy the cool morning then go in search of a Crocodile.

As the cool morning transitioned to midday heat, the Croc’s started moving onto the sandbanks to sun themselves. There was a nice 10 footer basking in the sun so we made our way down the high bank to get set for a shot. As we moved into position, the Croc wasn’t having any of that business and slipped back into the water. We watched for a while and Strang said “they see us here, we need to back out and let them settle down”.

Before we retreated a better shooting location was found by a big tree that would block our approach. It took about a half hour and the Crocodile were all relaxed again and a nice 10 footer moved onto the sandbar. We made our way down to the tree and looked to get a shot but the angle was bad. Strang called me to come around the tree and sit down to take the shot. I had the rifle up on my knee’s and leaning into the tree while Strang coached me on the location to shoot on the neck. As the ought six barked the Crocodile was immediately paralyzed and only moved his head and jaw, the body was dead from the head back. Strang told me to put another round in behind the shoulder and then in the lungs. The Croc was down and I am finally going to get the boots I have been wanting for, for years!

We celebrated the Croc with a beer and some sandwiches for lunch. The temperature is in the upper 90’s so we will relax in the shade until late afternoon. The plan is to head back to Chipuka Plain at 3 o’clock and look for Zebra and Impala.

Out to the plain by 4 and the Buffalo herd had already gotten in front of us so chose not to bump them so they would stay in the area. We backed out and spent the balance of the day in search of Zebra but our efforts were fruitless. A gorgeous sunset and a two beer ride back to camp and we called it a day.

After a cool shower, another great meal we topped the night off with a cigar, whiskey and good conversation. Up tomorrow at 4, back to the Chipuka Plain in search of Buffalo and Lion.

BTW - I have forgotten to mention that when we arrived I recognized my waiter Paul from 24 years ago! He knew me as well and it just proves that memories are made on every Safari that last a lifetime.
Now that’s pretty cool!
 

Scott CWO

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Good luck John and Ms!!
 

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Day 5

I was awaken by Hyena late in the night and the next thing I knew the generator started and the lights came on. Paul brought coffee to the tent and Debra and I prepared for the day. We were out of camp a little after 4:30 and when we arrived Chipuka Plain we quickly found the Buffalo. Unfortunately they were too far past us and headed back into the park so we gave them a wide berth and will make a plan for tomorrow. We carried on around the plain seeing lots of Elephant, Impala and Wildebeast. Big groups of Guinea Fowl made me wish I had a shotgun and my German Shorthair along for the trip. On to the baits for the morning update and the first bait showed three Hyena and no Lion. The two Lioness have never returned to the bait which is odd. We speculate that the Hyena may have run them off the bait. Also, the Buffalo herd passed close by so maybe they followed them.

The second bait was hit by Hyena as well but our pair of Leopard returned for their evening feed. The game camera showed that the Hyena and Leopard rotated in and out of the bait all night. Back to camp for an update from the trackers checking the river baits. We spotted Bushbuck, Kudu, Grysbok and Impala on the ride back to camp.

Shortly after we arrived the trackers showed up and reported no hits to the baits. Well, that’s cat hunting – hurry up and wait!

We will have a nice breakfast and enjoy the cool morning then go in search of a Crocodile.

As the cool morning transitioned to midday heat, the Croc’s started moving onto the sandbanks to sun themselves. There was a nice 10 footer basking in the sun so we made our way down the high bank to get set for a shot. As we moved into position, the Croc wasn’t having any of that business and slipped back into the water. We watched for a while and Strang said “they see us here, we need to back out and let them settle down”.

Before we retreated a better shooting location was found by a big tree that would block our approach. It took about a half hour and the Crocodile were all relaxed again and a nice 10 footer moved onto the sandbar. We made our way down to the tree and looked to get a shot but the angle was bad. Strang called me to come around the tree and sit down to take the shot. I had the rifle up on my knee’s and leaning into the tree while Strang coached me on the location to shoot on the neck. As the ought six barked the Crocodile was immediately paralyzed and only moved his head and jaw, the body was dead from the head back. Strang told me to put another round in behind the shoulder and then in the lungs. The Croc was down and I am finally going to get the boots I have been wanting for, for years!

We celebrated the Croc with a beer and some sandwiches for lunch. The temperature is in the upper 90’s so we will relax in the shade until late afternoon. The plan is to head back to Chipuka Plain at 3 o’clock and look for Zebra and Impala.

Out to the plain by 4 and the Buffalo herd had already gotten in front of us so chose not to bump them so they would stay in the area. We backed out and spent the balance of the day in search of Zebra but our efforts were fruitless. A gorgeous sunset and a two beer ride back to camp and we called it a day.

After a cool shower, another great meal we topped the night off with a cigar, whiskey and good conversation. Up tomorrow at 4, back to the Chipuka Plain in search of Buffalo and Lion.

BTW - I have forgotten to mention that when we arrived I recognized my waiter Paul from 24 years ago! He knew me as well and it just proves that memories are made on every Safari that last a lifetime.

Ahhh....chipuka plain and chasing buffalo.... :E Big Grin: :D Beers:
 

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Nice croc! Good shooting and congrats
Bruce
 

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Day 1

We had a comfortable night at the airport Marriott at Dulles and headed to check in with Ethiopian Airways about 9AM.

After hitting duty free for some spirits we boarded the plane for our long flight to Addis. Barring anything unusual we will be in Lusaka Monday afternoon. Ethiopian Airways were very efficient at Check in and we took our seats in business class and had a sip of champagne.

View attachment 369401
stupid question im sure,is the lion exportable?
 

JES Adventures

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Day 6

The same drill, up at 4 but moving slow today. The nighttime temperature didn’t become bearable until late in the night, so I tossed and turned for several hours. The drive to the Plain was cool as the temperature had dropped to 72. We arrived on the plain about 5:15 and began our search for Buffalo. As we moved about the Plain, we saw all of the plains game species and many, many Elephant. The trackers saw a large cloud of dust in the horizon and this was no doubt our buffalo. We moved along slowly until the herd was located and their general direction of travel confirmed. Strang drove back behind a bit, circled downwind and we offloaded and started the walk. The wind was good for the moment and we made our way to an ambush point. The Buffalo herd was massive, 400 animals strong stretching across the Plain. The plan was working perfectly, and the beginning of the group was now passing 35-100 yards in front of us. It was an incredible experience to be right there, tucked in some bush this close to the herd. All at once, a bull calf about 40 yards in front of us threw his head up and looked our way. The wind had switched, and it was game on. They went into high alert and the herd jumped and broke. Strang motioned me to come behind him and quickly we rounded the bush to check more of the herd. There was a big bull on the left and I was up on the sticks as he ran away amongst some cows. We were hoping he would stop and turn to look at us but not today, he carried on and the herd thundered away. Strang said “we’ll leave them for the day, come back this evening and try again”.

Since we are the only Safari of the season, there is little meat in camp for the staff, so I decided to take an Impala today. We looked for a nice, mature ram out on the Plain but did not connect. Strang said we would go along the river near camp as there are several groups in the area. It didn’t take long before a suitable male was found, and I took a shot with the 06. Being careful not to damage too much meat, I shot just behind the shoulder and the ram ran a bit. After a finisher he was loaded up and the camp staff ecstatic.


It is hot today, well into the 90’s by 10AM so we took it easy and tried to stay cool which is becoming a challenge. After breakfast and a siesta, we sat in the lounge overlooking the Luangwa River spotting the occasional Bushbuck, Impala, Elephant or Waterbuck coming down to drink. It is an amazing place with tons of wildlife in the area this time of year as things are drying up. There will be a massive change in a few weeks once the rains come. All of the burned areas will explode with new growth and the game will scatter back out once again.

We departed camp today at 3:30 and by 4:30 we were on Chipuka Plain and had found the Buffalo herd. The wind was steady, so we moved through the tall grass to get into position to view the herd and hopefully pick out a suitable bull. The herd didn’t move as we had hoped so we had to changed our location several times. As the sun dipped low into the horizon, the herd fed steadily moving into the wind. Time was slipping away, and we attempted to close the gap but got busted by an old cow and the herd bumped forward. Back to the land cruiser for a much-welcomed cold beer and the steady breeze from riding on the back I pondered the day. Cat hunting always presents unique challenges for the hunter and the main thing is to remain optimistic. The next morning can bring news of a big male feeding on one of the baits and in an instant the game is on.
 

JES Adventures

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Day 7

I woke refreshed today, slept well and am looking forward to chasing buffalo. While I sipped my coffee, I keep running through my mind how my Lion Safari went 24 years ago. Some things are vivid, with more details coming back to me these past few days. I can still see the Lion, standing under the bait in my mind’s eye. A lot of data has passed through my brain since then but when some memories are made, I guess they are for a lifetime.

The trip to Chipuka Plain in the early hours of the morning more uneventful than usual. About halfway to the Plain we encountered a very large pack of Wild Dogs in the road. They barked and yipped as us when we stopped. Their numbers must be increasing across Africa as I have seen them now on several Safaris in multiple countries in recent years. We carried on, the morning ride has become the highlight of my day as the temperatures are in the low to mid 70’s and the sky crystal clear. It gives me time to think, to be thankful and prayerful that I am truly Blessed to be in this wild place once again.

At 5:15, barely a kilometer from the Park boundary and we bumped 3 Dugga Boy’s. We rounded a corner and there they were 100 yards in front of us feeding. Of course, they raised their heads to look but as we reversed out, they continued their slow feeding, heading towards the Park.

Strang said “let’s go have a look” and we hopped off and were around the side of them with the wind right in 10 minutes. As they fed through some patches of bush on the edge of a forest, we got a good look at the bulls. Nothing in the bunch over 38" so we were back to the landcruiser and carried on looking for the big herd.

Strang detoured by the bait and found it had been completely taken so we discussed the plan for the day. We will hunt for Buffalo now while it is cool, and they are up feeding as need bait. As we approached a long line of trees in the Plain, I could see Buffalo ahead, so I tapped the roof and Strang stopped. He got out and we glassed the group, they were about a ¼ mile away and feeding steady. The sun has just risen so we made our way around then started the approach.

We walked down through some Mopane scrub and within minutes spotted the herd. This was a big herd spread out for 400+ yards in front and moving our direction – This was going to be perfect! As the Buffalo kept moving and feeding, they were passing within 75-150 yards in front of us. We glassed fervently for a big bull and I found one very handsome trophy but Strang confirmed he was not big enough. As they got closer, the wind stopped then brushed the back of my neck and within seconds they were alert. One old cow switched on to us and snorted and started the group moving away. The buffalo hunt was over for today, so we went to check the other bait then make our way back to camp. The baits are getting smelly and now with one missing we have decided to hunt a Hippo today to freshen everything up.

While cruising through the Plain, we saw a small group of Livingstone Eland, multiple groups of Impala, Wildebeast and some Puku. The occasional pair or trio of Oribi would bounce off into the distance and of course, multiple family groups of Elephants.

Back at camp, Strang ordered up a full breakfast and told the crew to get prepared for a Hippo. After a traditional breakfast of fried eggs, bacon, sausage, tomato, beans and toast we set out to search the pools along the Luangwa. The sun was high, and the thermometer showed 100 degrees. Within minutes we found a pod of Hippo and walked down to the river to glass them. Debra has been discussing shot placement with Strang so she will be prepared when the time comes. We set up and started glassing but identifying the bull became difficult. They were popping up and down like whack-a-mole which even made it harder. Strang made the call to move on and we were all happy as the heat was intense on the sand. He drove us up the river and we backed into a shady spot under an acacia tree and glassed another pod. After a half hour Strang said “Stuff it’ let’s go to the big pool in the bend of the river”. We got there and immediately spotted a bull off to the side of the main pod and everyone concurred that it is a bull. There was a nice shaded tree where Strang set up Debra with the shooting sticks and a chair. The trackers and scout went down river to find a place we can hoist up the Hippo after the harvest since we are on the high bank. A good location was found so the plan was made and about to be set into motion.

The Hippo watched us, popping up and down, always looking directly at us and Strang wants Debra to take a side brain shot and not the frontal. After twenty minutes or so the bull came up quartering and stayed up for a while. Everyone watched him for movement in the right direction and Strang checked with Debra to be sure her setup was solid. She confirmed and shortly thereafter the bull rotated enough and Strang gave her the green light. She settled in and took her time, squeezed the trigger and the 375 went off and the bull was clearly hit in the head. He started to roll in the water and as he turned you could see blood coming from below his ear. The bull rolled several times, thrashing in the water only occasionally giving a vital target. Strang instructed Debra to shoot again which she did and the final shot which dispatched the bull was quartering away slightly right in the neck. The water instantly went calm and we knew the bull was finished. We celebrated the old bull with a beer and waited for him to gas up and float. The fisherman arrived within minutes for retrieval and after about 45 minutes the bull was located, and a rope tied to his leg. Three of them waded sometimes neck deep in this Croc infested river while pulling the Hippo up to the loading point. Fortunately, they got there unscathed, but we could see the Croc’s staging themselves up for a feed as they have no doubt smelled the blood carrying down river.

After the obligatory photo’s, the full was quartered and once the first half was up on the high bank, we took off to change the upriver bait. The original was quite ripe, and the trackers tied it with heavy wire to the base of the bait tree. This would no doubt be eaten by Hyena and the lot but we want the stench to keep on advertising the location so a Lion will show up.
IMG_2640.JPG


Back to the Hippo site we loaded up 2 more quarters and raced against the clock to get the baits changed before dark.

On our way back to camp we spotted a very large bodied Elephant on the opposite side of the river. He sported beautiful tusks, long and symmetrical with a classic curve. Strang put him at 50 pounds, I thought a little lighter but Strang commented that the size of the body is throwing off the perspective.

We dropped Debra off at camp a little before 5 and got the downriver bait changed by 5:15. Strang said “let’s make a run for the plain to replace that bait that was taken last night”. We got there at 5:44 and had the bait hunt and back in camp by 6:55. A welcomed shower, one highball and grilled Impala backstrap for dinner and I was done. Up again tomorrow, back to the Plain for Buffalo.
 

Safari1

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Day 7

I woke refreshed today, slept well and am looking forward to chasing buffalo. While I sipped my coffee, I keep running through my mind how my Lion Safari went 24 years ago. Some things are vivid, with more details coming back to me these past few days. I can still see the Lion, standing under the bait in my mind’s eye. A lot of data has passed through my brain since then but when some memories are made, I guess they are for a lifetime.

The trip to Chipuka Plain in the early hours of the morning more uneventful than usual. About halfway to the Plain we encountered a very large pack of Wild Dogs in the road. They barked and yipped as us when we stopped. Their numbers must be increasing across Africa as I have seen them now on several Safaris in multiple countries in recent years. We carried on, the morning ride has become the highlight of my day as the temperatures are in the low to mid 70’s and the sky crystal clear. It gives me time to think, to be thankful and prayerful that I am truly Blessed to be in this wild place once again.

At 5:15, barely a kilometer from the Park boundary and we bumped 3 Dugga Boy’s. We rounded a corner and there they were 100 yards in front of us feeding. Of course, they raised their heads to look but as we reversed out, they continued their slow feeding, heading towards the Park.

Strang said “let’s go have a look” and we hopped off and were around the side of them with the wind right in 10 minutes. As they fed through some patches of bush on the edge of a forest, we got a good look at the bulls. Nothing in the bunch over 38" so we were back to the landcruiser and carried on looking for the big herd.

Strang detoured by the bait and found it had been completely taken so we discussed the plan for the day. We will hunt for Buffalo now while it is cool, and they are up feeding as need bait. As we approached a long line of trees in the Plain, I could see Buffalo ahead, so I tapped the roof and Strang stopped. He got out and we glassed the group, they were about a ¼ mile away and feeding steady. The sun has just risen so we made our way around then started the approach.

We walked down through some Mopane scrub and within minutes spotted the herd. This was a big herd spread out for 400+ yards in front and moving our direction – This was going to be perfect! As the Buffalo kept moving and feeding, they were passing within 75-150 yards in front of us. We glassed fervently for a big bull and I found one very handsome trophy but Strang confirmed he was not big enough. As they got closer, the wind stopped then brushed the back of my neck and within seconds they were alert. One old cow switched on to us and snorted and started the group moving away. The buffalo hunt was over for today, so we went to check the other bait then make our way back to camp. The baits are getting smelly and now with one missing we have decided to hunt a Hippo today to freshen everything up.

While cruising through the Plain, we saw a small group of Livingstone Eland, multiple groups of Impala, Wildebeast and some Puku. The occasional pair or trio of Oribi would bounce off into the distance and of course, multiple family groups of Elephants.

Back at camp, Strang ordered up a full breakfast and told the crew to get prepared for a Hippo. After a traditional breakfast of fried eggs, bacon, sausage, tomato, beans and toast we set out to search the pools along the Luangwa. The sun was high, and the thermometer showed 100 degrees. Within minutes we found a pod of Hippo and walked down to the river to glass them. Debra has been discussing shot placement with Strang so she will be prepared when the time comes. We set up and started glassing but identifying the bull became difficult. They were popping up and down like whack-a-mole which even made it harder. Strang made the call to move on and we were all happy as the heat was intense on the sand. He drove us up the river and we backed into a shady spot under an acacia tree and glassed another pod. After a half hour Strang said “Stuff it’ let’s go to the big pool in the bend of the river”. We got there and immediately spotted a bull off to the side of the main pod and everyone concurred that it is a bull. There was a nice shaded tree where Strang set up Debra with the shooting sticks and a chair. The trackers and scout went down river to find a place we can hoist up the Hippo after the harvest since we are on the high bank. A good location was found so the plan was made and about to be set into motion.

The Hippo watched us, popping up and down, always looking directly at us and Strang wants Debra to take a side brain shot and not the frontal. After twenty minutes or so the bull came up quartering and stayed up for a while. Everyone watched him for movement in the right direction and Strang checked with Debra to be sure her setup was solid. She confirmed and shortly thereafter the bull rotated enough and Strang gave her the green light. She settled in and took her time, squeezed the trigger and the 375 went off and the bull was clearly hit in the head. He started to roll in the water and as he turned you could see blood coming from below his ear. The bull rolled several times, thrashing in the water only occasionally giving a vital target. Strang instructed Debra to shoot again which she did and the final shot which dispatched the bull was quartering away slightly right in the neck. The water instantly went calm and we knew the bull was finished. We celebrated the old bull with a beer and waited for him to gas up and float. The fisherman arrived within minutes for retrieval and after about 45 minutes the bull was located, and a rope tied to his leg. Three of them waded sometimes neck deep in this Croc infested river while pulling the Hippo up to the loading point. Fortunately, they got there unscathed, but we could see the Croc’s staging themselves up for a feed as they have no doubt smelled the blood carrying down river.

After the obligatory photo’s, the full was quartered and once the first half was up on the high bank, we took off to change the upriver bait. The original was quite ripe, and the trackers tied it with heavy wire to the base of the bait tree. This would no doubt be eaten by Hyena and the lot but we want the stench to keep on advertising the location so a Lion will show up.
View attachment 370430

Back to the Hippo site we loaded up 2 more quarters and raced against the clock to get the baits changed before dark.

On our way back to camp we spotted a very large bodied Elephant on the opposite side of the river. He sported beautiful tusks, long and symmetrical with a classic curve. Strang put him at 50 pounds, I thought a little lighter but Strang commented that the size of the body is throwing off the perspective.

We dropped Debra off at camp a little before 5 and got the downriver bait changed by 5:15. Strang said “let’s make a run for the plain to replace that bait that was taken last night”. We got there at 5:44 and had the bait hunt and back in camp by 6:55. A welcomed shower, one highball and grilled Impala backstrap for dinner and I was done. Up again tomorrow, back to the Plain for Buffalo.

Big Elephant
 

375 Ruger Fan

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Thoroughly enjoying your report so far, especially during the 2020 hunt report drought.
 

cpr0312

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Congrats to Debra on the hippo!
 

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