ZAMBIA: Takeri Reserve Zambia September 2021

Birdy

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Hunt report - Takeri Reserve Zambia @spike.t

September 7-17, 2021

PHs - Billy Miller with help from Kelvin and Chris (first week), Tom Wilkins with help from John (second week), obviously plus a lot of assistance, BS and general humor from Mike Taylor (@spike.t)

Animals hunted - Sable, Kafue Lechwe, Defassa Waterbuck, Bushbuck, Reedbuck, Puku and Blue Duiker

Rifle and ammo - Blaser R8 300WM, Barnes 180 gr TTSX (sorry Mike)

Hello all. I am usually reluctant to post much online given the general ‘trolling climate’ but having had such a great experience at Takeri, here goes.

First off, the travel. I left home on September 5 for an overnight in Washington DC. We are very fortunate in having a COVID lab in the local airport with a 40 minute turnaround for a PCR test, so no drama there. Checked in with Ethiopian Airlines on September 6 to Addis, then onto Ndola. The long haul flight was fine in business, it was an older plane but very comfortable and I managed to get some sleep thanks to Dr Ambien. The firearms check in Addis was a bit of a fire drill as I only had about one hour between flight due a delay leaving DC. In any case, they held the Ndola flight for me, taking me to the plane in my own bus which was a first. The local staff in Addis were great.

The return flights were uneventful once we got my gun checked in at Ndola. I would not recommend flying through Ndola with guns unless you have a lot of time and patience. Yes, it is closer to Takeri than Lusaka, but apparently they don’t get many (any?) hunters through that airport as they really had no clue about how to handle firearms. Thanks to Mike and a significant amount of patience, we eventually figured it out. Rest of the return was fine. In fact the only issue I had was the final leg from Chicago to home as American forgot to load my gun case. Ironic that you can travel half way round the world with no issues and good ol’ AA can’t get two bags on a 45 minute commuter flight, even when checked in a good two hours early!

Logistics out of the way, now let’s get to Takeri and go hunt!

Day 1
Nice slow start to the day with breakfast and off the to the shooting range. Two shots and zero confirmed. We start touring around Takeri in Mike’s cruiser as Billy (PH) wasn’t due to show up until later that morning. Within an hour or two we spot a herd of 20-30 Kafue Lechwe out in the distance. They hadn’t seen us, so we parked up and put on a stalk. Hiding behind an anthill (a common theme) we got close enough for a shot. Well, that was my worst shot of the trip. Low on the front leg and off he went. In the next hour or two I certainly got to know the Takeri terrain as Earnest (Mike’s scout and tracker) and I tracked and bumped this Lechwe several times. Finally, we bumped him within shooting range and connected as he ran away again.

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By now if was early afternoon and heating up, so we loaded the Lechwe up and started heading back for a late lunch. About half way back to the house we were turned onto the dam road and just below us, literally 30 yards away, was a small herd of Puku with a massive old male. Yeah, neither Mike nor I really wanted to shoot that close to the cruiser without putting on a stalk, but it was too good an opportunity to miss. Pull the trigger and ‘click’. Damn it, did I forget to load, work the bolt and try again, ‘click’, try again ‘click’. Several WTFs later and Mr Puku decides to depart. I believe by then Mike was doubled over with laughter, given his love of Blasers. Field stripped the rifle down to check the firing pin, spring, trigger mechanism, etc. No obvious damage, test fired and it went bang, WTF again! Definitely time to head back.

Off we go to the house, and not 10 minutes later we see a herd of Sable, including a beautiful, old, black bull. I really love hunting old, mature, ‘scarred up‘ trophies. I even make a point of not measuring any of my animals (although I know Billy and Tom did). We bail out of the cruiser and again use the brush and anthills to get close. At this point I think I see Mike shake his head - not sure if it is because we have seen three great trophies in the first day or because he thinks my gun won’t work. Anyway, I get the green light and make a decent shot. A few yards and he is down. Two of my main target species down on first day! Billy shows up right as we are deciding how the heck we are going to load the sable on Mike’s cruiser which already has the Lechwe in the bed. immediately the BS starts …..Where have you been all day, Who needs a PH, We will be done in a couple of days, glad you could show up eventually, etc, etc. My photos don’t do this bull justice - first day, too excited, not paying attention, etc. Mike can post better ones if he has them from Billy.

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By now it is around 430pm so we call it a day, back to the skinning shed, then a few beers and lunch/dinner combo.

Day 2
Billy is ready to go with his team (Kelvin and Chris) so we switch over to his cruiser and hit the trails. After a couple of walks and drives, we spot a Bushbuck male. Off we go into the thick brush. ‘Eagle eye Earnest’ does a great spotting job, seeing the Bushbuck hiding in the thick stuff. On the sticks and, yes, there is a small ‘window of opportunity’. Billy says ‘shoot him on the white diamond on his chest’, yes sir will do. I think the shot was half an inch off but bushbuck down. Really, really pleased with this old guy. Smiles all around as I didn’t know Mike’s bushbuck were this good.

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After a trip to the skinning shed and lunch, off we go again. From the back of the cruiser, we (well, being honest Billy and Earnest) spot a wounded warthog in the distance. Looked like she had been caught in a poachers snare and got away but without her foot. She was really struggling so Mike said to put her out of her misery. I tried, but it took a couple of shots! First shot looked good and she dropped, only to get up and run! She went down after a second shot connected. We called it a day and retired to the bar.

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Day 3
Now we are in our routine. Up at 5am, quick breakfast and off we go. We drive, we stop and walk, we repeat. I really like this style of hunting as we are not just pounding the roads all day. With Mike, Billy and Eagle eye Earnest, we see plenty. Now we are looking for Reedbuck and Waterbuck. We see plenty of Waterbuck but not the right one, so we pass. We see fleeting glimpses of Reedbuck as they get up from their anthill hiding places and rocket away. Seeing animals is not the problem, putting on stalk on them is. Anyway, we keep trying and a while later I hear Billy say ‘how about a second Bushbuck - this one is even bigger and older than the last one’. One look through the binos and the answer was ‘yes’! Short stalk and I have my second Bushbuck, a beautiful old boy.

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After lunch we resume the hunt for Reedbuck - seeing either immature males or females mostly - and Waterbuck - just not the right one. Back to the house for beers, sundowners and yet another sumptuous dinner.

DAY 4
Repeat of day 3 - the search for a good Reedbuck or Waterbuck. After putting a few animals in the salt, we are all being super selective and I am loving it. Riding on the back of the cruiser through this wonderful place, walking through the thick stuff, spotting animals, enjoying the company, etc, etc. No shooting today, but very enjoyable.

Day 5
Back to the Reedbuck/Waterbuck search. Finally Billy sees a good Reedbuck and says we have to shoot it. Okay then, let’s go. We sneak around the anthills again and get on the sticks. He didn’t give us a great shooting window but I managed a decent frontal shot and down he goes. Until we approached I don’t think any of us knew exactly how good this Reedbuck was. Wow, very old and very tall, by far in way the best we had seen.

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After lunch we hit the road again, this is Billy’s last day before Tom arrives, so he is on a mission. We looked at many, many good Waterbuck, but either Billy, Mike or shake our heads to those that we get a look at. We are getting way too picky but we have plenty of time left. I also tell Billy and Mike that Waterbuck is a bit of a nemesis of mine. It is the only animal on three trips to Africa that I wanted and didn’t bring home - two safaris without even seeing a good trophy and one that I shot at and didn’t recover after three days of tracking.

We spend all afternoon looking at Waterbuck. Finally the cruiser stops and Billy is picking up the sticks and off we go. A good stalk and we all get a decent look at the Waterbuck. Yes, we all agree this is the one. So, guess what, Mr Blaser goes ‘click’, ‘click’, ‘click’. Billy can’t believe it as he only just heard about the day one debacle, Mike is trying not to laugh (not trying very hard actually). This Waterbuck is far enough away, and we are pretty well hidden, so I sit down and strip the bolt, firing pin and trigger mechanisms multiple times in an effort to get this ****ing rifle to fire! Finally the Waterbuck exits the comedy show and we walk away. I am now seriously considering using Mike’s rifle. I cleaned the firing mechanism after day 1 and do the same again in the field now. Guess what, test shot works. Ahhhh, FFS!!! We drive off, all of us a bit fed up at missing a great opportunity. We drive what is probably less than 15 minutes and there is the same Waterbuck looking at us. Probably the easiest shot of the week as we all pile off the cruiser and I get on the sticks. Miracle, the rifle fires and Waterbuck down.

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We head back to celebrate a very lucky day. On the way back two Blue Duiker run across the trail but no shot opportunity. Billy is heading out early next morning and Tom Wilkins arrives in the middle of the night after getting lost trying to find Takeri in the dark after a 14 hour drive. Sounds like he visited every farm and village in the Copperbelt except Takeri that night.

Day 6 and 7
Tom, plus John, arrive to find a very satisfied and laid back hunter. He have 5 days left to find a Puku and a Blue Duiker. I felt a bit bad for Tom, as we spent the next two days looking for Puku and passing on multiple good animals because I really want to shoot ‘Click’ as Mike named him - the Puku we saw on day 1. Our routine is up early and walk the roads trying to see a Blue Duiker for an hour or two. We, well Earnest and Tom, see a few, I hear them at least, but no shot opportunities. Then we pile on the back of the cruiser and go looking for ‘click’ until late in the day when we walk for Duiker again. We don’t see ‘click’. We do see another great Puku which I shoot at and I miss cleanly. Honestly no idea why, as it was an relatively easy shot but maybe it was meant to be.

Day 8
Same routine, walk for Duiker for an hour or so then back on the cruiser/going for bush walks. We had briefly seen a Puku two days ago that had either broken or misshaped horn on one side. We didn’t see him for long, so none of us (even Earnest or Tom) could tell what his problem has. Driving along the river road we spot him again. We have time to get the binos on him this time and his left horn is both broken and ‘bent’ backwards. Mike says leave him and yes he looks healthy, so we start driving off. Something tells me to shoot this animal. I tell Mike I like the look of him and would like to take him and maybe shoot another more typical Puku if we find ‘click’ again. So off we go. One shot and he is down. Once we get close we see that he must have got his left horn stuck in a snare when he was young and it ground into the base and skin. Tom and Mike think that is what caused the deformed horn, I just think he looks great!

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It is early, so we drop my Puku at the skinning shed and head back out. Earnest eventually sees another Puku male in the thick stuff and we take off on a stalk. Tom - who didn’t see ‘click’ on day one - sizes him up and says he is the best we have seen. We get to approx 200 yards and are stuck. No more anthills to hide behind and he is watching us with a few trees between him and us. I get on the sticks and yes, there is a shot opportunity. Frontal chest shot and he is down. As we approach I am pretty sure this is ‘click’ and when Mike walks up a little later, he confirms it. Yes!!

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The afternoon finds us walking the forest roads looking for our final trophy, Blue Duiker. Tom, Earnest and I walk the roads for a hour or two. Mike follows up in the cruiser, Earnest sees Duiker, Tom sees Duiker, I don’t. We bump a Duiker couple who take off without a shot opportunity, we hear several more in the brush. We start heading back to the cruiser as it is getting late. Earnest spots two Duiker, Tom confirms and the sticks go up. I see trees, brush, anything but Duiker. Tom patiently directs me to the target and I have a shot but only of the rear half. We have been debating all week how bad the damage will be with the 300WM and now is the time to see. Blue Duiker down. This is a neat, beautiful little animal, very elusive. Mike is very pleased as he retains his 100% record of clients shooting Duiker with a rifle, no shotgun, no bait, no blind.

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So, we head to the house with all the trophies in the salt. Yes, Billy got the most animals, but Tom got three in one day, including the elusive Blue Duiker. I would say PH honors are pretty even!

Day 9
Back to Ndola for a COVID test - very simple thanks to PeteG’s recommendation and Mike’s organization. We met the guy at the airport clinic for the brain matter sample and the results would be available 24 hours later. He also did a rapid test right there which was negative and removed any concerns, so we agreed we would just pick up the PCR test results on Friday morning before flying out. We picked up Louise, Mike’s much better half, met up with PeteG and his father (also Pete) and all had a very enjoyable lunch at the Ndola golf club, changed some dollars to Kwacha for staff tips, and headed back to Takeri. Having been an itinerant expat in west Africa and Eastern Europe earlier in my life I have always really enjoyed the experience of just driving through other countries and seeing everyday life and this was no exception. Nice relaxing day.

Day 10
Mike had an Eland bull arriving today, from a game capture, to join his lonely females, so watching that was a good way to pass the morning. After a leisurely lunch we all spent a couple of hours drinking beer and fishing at the dam as the sun went down. Picking up a spinning rod is alien to me (I love fly fishing!) so I guess I now know how Mike felt holding my plastic monstrosity of a Blaser as I got on and off the cruiser all week! In any case, after trying to not fish for a while, I couldn’t resist reeling in a nice barbel. We also converted John, Tom’s helper, to a fisherman that day as well.

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Back to the house, dinner, drinks and packing ready to head out the next morning.

Day 11
Tom and John headed home while Mike and Louise drove me to Ndola airport. No drama with the COVID test, a little drama with the rifle check (see above) but, overall, no problem getting home, apart from American not loading my rifle on the last leg - it arrived on the next flight a few hours later.

Accommodation was great - safari tents, which I love, plus Mike has a very nice ‘ranch style’ house for dining and drinks. What can I say about the food, other than fantastic. Chef Ronald conjured up great meats, fish frys and sides all week. The running joke was that I was having to adjust my belt a notch every couple of days.

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To sum up, I can’t stress enough how good the overall quality of Mike’s animals are. Yes, he is known for big, beautiful Sable, but I have to say I have not seen much better Bushbuck or Reedbuck, which was a great bonus. Every animal we shot was a great, mature specimen and we were often spoiled for choice. As I said earlier, I don’t hunt for trophy size so I can’t report on measurements. Mike can opine if he wants, but my view is you will be more than happy with the trophy quality at Takeri.

I can highly recommend this place for a quality, authentic plains game hunt. I have been to Namibia three times and picked Zambia and Takeri for my next, and maybe last, dedicated plains game hunt due to the unique animals available to hunt. It was a quality experience all round - great PHs, food, accommodation and hospitality. Takeri is very special as it only books a couple of hunts a year and emphasizes an authentic, quality experience - the total opposite of low price and high volume hunts. The wholly positive reviews here on AH back that up and I would encourage anyone looking for a real quality hunting experience to look at Mike’s 2022 offers and make contact with him here or on WhatsApp.
 
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BnC 04

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Excellent report and big congrats on your successful trip!
Looking forward to visiting @spike.t. and Takeri in the near future.
 

Vanguard2279

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I really enjoyed your hunt report. Takeri is a pretty special place and absolutely worth hunting on. Mike and Billy made my hunt amazing.
Thanks for sharing about the female warthog. Mike told me a lot about his issues with poachers. I'm really glad to hear that he found an Eland bull for his lonely females.
Did you ever figure out what was happening with your Blaser? Mike's disdain for them almost makes me want to buy for my next trip to Takeri. Is it possible that your magazine wasn't fully seated and needed an Immediate Action drill (slap-rack-shoot if necessary)?
Thanks for posting.
 

Bullthrower338

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Appreciate the report, very well done! Sorry you feel the need to cover your face up but I understand how some have to worry about the PC of hunting. It’s a shame that we can’t all just love what we do without the worry of the anti hunting pricks trying to ruin lives! FK’em and feed em fish heads!
 

spike.t

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Thank you @Birdy for your great hunt report...it was a pleasure having you come visit and hunt with us....and to meet another great AH member...loved how you were more interested in old character animals as opposed to inches...still got them as well though...thanks again.....
 

gillettehunter

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Some nice mature animals. O'd say you had a great hunt. I really enjoyed my hunt there. It's a wonderful place to hunt.
Bruce
 

Red Leg

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Outstanding! It is indeed a special place.
 

cls

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Congratulations on a successful safari. Well done and thanks for your report.
 

cpr0312

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Congrats and thanks for sharing! Looks like a great time! That bushbusk :love::love:!!
 

375 Ruger Fan

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@Birdy thanks for the report. Another excellent hunt at Mikes's ( @spike.t ) place. You took some wonderful trophies for sure.
 

VertigoBE

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Waidmannsheil @Birdy ! some excellent hunting and animals taken ! Thanks for sharing with us :)
 

Randy F

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Thank you for sharing a great report and congratulations on your success. Outstanding animals.
 

buck wild

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very nice
 

Nyati

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Congrats, a great hunt with very good trophies !
 

BRICKBURN

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Well done.
Congratulations all around.
 

spike.t

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spike.t

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spike.t

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Reminder for next year..or can make a plan for your own package..or just come and hunt and see what grab your fancy..

 

Tally-Ho HUNTING SAFARIS

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Those bushbuck are amazing like seriously!!!
 

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NTH wrote on Rick HOlbert's profile.
Nice “meeting” you Rick. I made my first trip to S. Africa this year through Kuche Safaris. We had an incredible time. What outfitter do you use? Neal
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