ZIMBABWE: Amazing Zimbabwe Safari With JKO Hunting Safaris

Nyati

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Nice hippo, congrats !
 

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Days 9 and 10

Since the hippo was in the salt, next objective was croc. We went back to near where the hippo pod was from the previous day- they seem to like their spot. On the sandbar of the River are several crocs that we spot from our lookout point from the rocks. And one at the very end was likely near 15 feet. Unfortunately there was little room to get much closer than approximately 150 yards from him. So I tried butt crawling a lil closer with my backpack on so that I could use as a rest on a boulder. And this would have to be on my own without the PH because there wasn’t enough space by the rocks for him to be there with me. So after minutes of crawling I got into position.

This is where I need to digress and offer a lil teaching to those reading and have not hunted croc before. Croc are extremely smart creatures that use all kinds of senses to alert them of possible danger or threat (obviously they’re sight, smell and ears is utilized like other animals). They also use nearby birds that become agitated or fly away as well as the watchful eyes of the pod of hippos nearby that are on full alert but they also have a keen sense of vibration. All of these factors make it extremely difficult to get anywhere close to them.

Return to the story. So I was using my CZ .375 H&H with a Leopold 1.5-6 scope. In hindsight- completely wrong scope for this distance. But, and you can imagine this doesn’t end well, I can’t blame everything on the equipment- got to blame the shooter (me) as well. I was set up in a position that was entirely uncomfortable- half sitting, half standing and half crouched- if there’s any way to properly describe it lol. I used my backpack as a rest but that still wasn’t good enough. So I squeezed the trigger and must have jerked because the bullet landed clean in front of him in the sand. And at the blink of an eye- in the water he and the rest go. I was devastated. We looked at the footage- and thank goodness we had Chris filming because the game scout was witnessing this unfold- definite miss. So- if you wound an animal (free ranging)- you pay. And unfortunately for species that are shot at on or near the water- there is no real way to know if you missed or wounded one. Again- yet another reason to have a very seasoned professional cameraman with you videoing your hunt!!!!! So fortunately the game scout was able to review the footage as well and saw the outright miss so I didn’t have to pay for the animal. Went back to the boat and to say that a few F-bombs came out of my mouth is an understatement.... At this point, I’m not sure if I previously mentioned in the report that my scope on that rifle had been off twice. We had to keep going back to the range to make sure it was sighted in. The previous day it was off by 9 inches (low). Ugh. I had no confidence whatsoever at this point with this scope. But I digress again...

We waited in the boat for a bit and had lunch we had brought with us trying to devise a new plan. We decided to wait a bit longer and head back up to the lookout to see if any crocs decided it was safe again to venture back out on the sandbar. Since it was about 1pm and warm out- some had. In fact, several had. We glassed for a long while undetected. There was another 15 footer at the turn of the river but there was no way to get to him under 200 yards. So nope. No way- not with my rifle and confidence. There was a couple that we thought we could butt crawl again to within 140 yards so we did. S.l.o.w.l.y.... We were again fortunate as there were another group of boulders out front that were about 110 yards from them. We got to them (finally) and eased up to look. The one I would go for was about 13 foot. This time, I used Jacques’s.416 Ruger with a nice Trijicon scope. I tried to inhale and exhale as slowly as I could. The pressure was most certainly on as we had watched them forever and trying not to blow our cover. Chris told me a great piece of advice that I had not ever heard put that way:” watch the animal die in your scope”. So I very slowly squeezed the trigger aiming just behind the smile. BOOM!! Blew the top of his skull (and brain off). Jacques tried an immediate backup shot with my rifle and cleanly shot over him. I ejected the bullet but couldn’t get another round loaded for some reason. So he handed me my rifle and I was able to put one more in the neck. This as it turns out wasn’t needed because I anchored him with the first (but with any water species- if possible try to make sure you put another shot in to make sure they don’t go under). Phew!!!!! Just wow... I now understand how folks have outright missed a leopard not even 40 yards from them while sitting with a great rest in a blind. When you have too much time sitting there watching the animal- your mind takes over and with all the added pressure (what if I miss, the cost of the animal and hunt, time away from work, etc) and a miss occurs. It happens. I guess this is why this lil smaller croc is soooo much sweeter for me. I had missed a bigger one earlier in the day but tried calming myself as best as I could and was able to make a proper shot when it counted the next time. So we took the boat around and drug him to shore all the while minding the other crocs- and no kidding- some came back out on the bank as we were taking pics. Chris had me do a fun photo as well.

The next day we tried going after a huge sable that the other group had seen previously but the weather had changed and terrible wind the night before and cooler temps caused the animals to hunker down. No worries- I had got what I came for this 40th birthday safari celebration. The 10th morning we decided to head on back to Sijirra camp by boat after we went out for a stroll in the bakkie to no avail. The water was definitely bumpy with the wind. This way @cpr0312 could definitely make his plane flight the next day and we all could use more time in Vic Falls. So that will be in the next and final part of my thread- adventures in Vic Falls so stay tuned. Again, for more details of the safari that I don’t really want to share openly on the forum, please PM and I can provide more info (to say this safari was a success is an understatement). Until then- cheers!
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johnnyblues

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Great hippo. On my hit list! Congratulations
 

whitetail

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Great hippo. On my hit list! Congratulations

Thank you Johnny!!! It was a perfect stalk and set up- and a difficult shot. But I was set up on the sticks well and was able to place the shot where it needed to be
 

enysse

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Congrats, thanks for the hunt report! Great pictures!!!
 

cls

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Congrats, looks and sounds like you had a great time. Thanks for the report.
 

whitetail

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Days 11 and 12- Little Gorges, Vic Falls (and Bungee Jumping)

The ride back to Vic Falls was nice- really is a somewhat mountainous region in some areas. Got to the Little Gorges luxury camp that sits about 25 minutes outside of the Falls. This place is absolutely AMAZING!!!!!! I can not speak more highly of it!!!!!!! If you want great views outside of the typical stays in Vic Falls, this place is a MUST!!!! Included in your stay is 3 adventures in which you will certainly save money. I chose as part of my package a sundowner cruise on the Zambezi, tour of the Falls as well as possible zip line over the Gorge if time permitted. Also included are all meals (wonderful), drinks as well as transportation. It is well worth it! Chris’s father helped build the place and what an incredible job he did! He’s also quite the cool guy to hang out with. So we went and hung out in Vic Falls- had a couple drinks at the bar in the Victoria Falls hotel (Livingstone’s bar) right before the sundowner cruise.

The cruise was awesome- beautiful sunset! If you haven’t done a cruise on the Zambezi- it’s a must do also.

Went back and had a fine dinner and of course, drinks. At this point my anxiety was elevated at what I was to try and attempt the following morning- bungee jumping off the bridge at the Falls that connects Zimbabwe and Zambia. My son’s only souvenir request this trip over was video footage of me jumping. Oh my... Chris’s sister was with her husband, Martin Pieters (who obviously owns and operates as well as PH of Martin Pieters Safaris) was staying at the Gorges as well. Their good friend from New Zealand (but who is originally from Zim) was with them and upon talking with her at dinner had never jumped before. So it ended up being a situation of “if you jump, I’ll jump” kinda thing. I said “ladies first” (being the gentleman I am lol) and she said she’d do it. So there was no turning back now!!!

To say I had a few butterflies in my stomach on the drive to the bridge is an understatement. And of course, the guys were certainly teasing me and putting all kinds of bad thoughts in my head about accidental bungee cord malfunctions, etc. She went first as she said she would- so I couldn’t chicken out. It was by far the most terrifying thing I’ve ever done but I did it (and I’ve done some pretty stupid s$&@ in my day lol)!!!!!

After the jump we met back up with Martin and the gang at the Three Monkeys restaurant and bar in Vic Falls and had lunch as well as several much deserved Castle Lites (and tequila). Martin owns the restaurant so we were treated most proper. Also caught the Springboks rugby match on the TV in which they won.

Afterwards we went back to the Gorges to clean up for dinner and more drinks as well as taking plenty of pics of the Gorge. Jacques took @cpr0312 to the airport as he had to fly back home.

Got up the next morning and took a tour of the Falls prior to our departure back to JoBurg and my long journey home. What incredible beauty that pics can’t truly capture. I’m an oil painter also and got plenty of photographic ideas.

There was a lil snafu at the airport at OR Tambo trying to get checked in to Qatar Airways but it got worked out. There was only a 1 hour layover in Doha which made time of the essence before boarding for the 14 hour flight back to Chicago. Upon my arrival home at my hometown airport, I was glad that all my luggage and rifle case made it.

This was by far my best safari to date and gained valuable experience in my growth as a hunter. I want to extend my utmost applause to Jacques Spamer of JKO Safaris as well as Chris Esterhuizen of Jongosi Media productions. If anyone reading this wants more info about them about potential booking, please don’t hesitate to contact me. Also I want to thank @cpr0312 for joining me on a proper free range Zimbabwe safari- couldn’t have been a better belated 40th birthday adventure for the both of us!!!

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Ridgewalker

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An absolutely grand adventure! Thanks for the report, great photographs and sharing your adventure!
 

AZDAVE

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Thank you for sharing your adventure! The hippo and croc hunts require a very accurate shot placement. The ability to clearly critique your miss is very humbling but also valuable for learning and making adjustments to your hunting skills. Good job.

The sunsets are spectacular

on a side note in the last couple years I have had 4 leupold scopes fail, one on a bear hunt in alaska, and several at the range to the point I only trust their high end scopes (after very thorough testing) , all the others I have changed out.
 

whitetail

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Thank you for sharing your adventure! The hippo and croc hunts require a very accurate shot placement. The ability to clearly critique your miss is very humbling but also valuable for learning and making adjustments to your hunting skills. Good job.

The sunsets are spectacular

on a side note in the last couple years I have had 4 leupold scopes fail, one on a bear hunt in alaska, and several at the range to the point I only trust their high end scopes (after very thorough testing) , all the others I have changed out.

It most certainly is a learning experience when you make a mistake and you know it. I believe that still happens to even the most seasoned of hunters and if doesn't, they may need to get a new hobby because it's the learning from your mistakes, making the adjustments and then finally making the right shot and getting the animal you're after that much more meaningful and special!!!... I've already notified the owner of the sporting goods store (it's locally owned and operated- very professional owner and employees) about my dissatisfaction with the Leuopold scope. I think I'll use its warranty and try to exchange it for a higher powered Trijicon scope that will be much more useful in the coming safaris. Leopard will most likely be high up there on the list next and not sure if the .375 will be used- possibly my .300 WSM or even my .308 X-Bolt (which is a tack driver and could likely still be used on leopard since it's so thin skinned).
 

whitetail

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Unfortunately I can't seem to upload the actual footage of the bungee jump for some reason because it is wicked awesome!!!(y)
 

cpr0312

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Unfortunately I can't seem to upload the actual footage of the bungee jump for some reason because it is wicked awesome!!!(y)

Cant wait to see the footage, hate I had to get the airport before viewing it!
 

Edge

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Thanks for taking us along and sharing the pics, looks like a great place to hunt/visit!
 

Ironhorse375

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Awesome account of a great adventure. How was the cruise portion of your trip? The side trip looks fantastic.
Good shooting!
Sending you a PM for more details.
 

whitetail

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Awesome account of a great adventure. How was the cruise portion of your trip? The side trip looks fantastic.
Good shooting!
Sending you a PM for more details.

Thank you!! It was for sure my best safari to date!!! I had always been so close to Vic Falls on previous trips over but couldn’t make it there- highly recommend if able to do so! The sundowner cruise was incredible- beautiful scenery, animals in and near the water (and of course- a few drinks to relax with).

I’ll be able to share a lil more of the successful trip via PM!
 

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