ZIMBABWE: Back From Zimbabwe Buffalo Hunt with Touch Africa Safaris, Story & Pics

Ardent

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I just returned from an absolutely fantastic time with Touch Africa Safaris of Zimbabwe, with my PH Jon Collett. Four months back or so, I posted here looking for a deal a young guy could afford to make a dream come true, and I was referred to Terry Wagner of Worldwide Hunting. Being a complete novice to Africa and having a million +1 questions, I found Terry extremely accommodating, he set me up with Touch Africa and the rest is history.

My travel to Zim was uneventful, traveled through Frankfurt, on from there to Johannesburg, then on from there to Bulawayo Zimbabwe. Jon is there to meet you at the airport, we grabbed some groceries in Bulawayo, and a couple cold beverages, then hit the road for the conservancy, some 3 1/2 hours south or so. It was refreshing being "off the grid", email is kindly possible through satellite at their house, but little else is there to spoil the experience. The accommodations are beautiful, individual tents with canvas walls, thatch roofs, and stonework footings, kept sharp and proper by the staff. You get to hear all the sounds, all night... leopards grunting, hyenas calling, and a bunch of sounds I could never describe.

Food... oh dear, it is a cut above, all "real" food, the meat being all game, and the day we caught fish we had Bream for dinner the next. Also, they made a delicious Francolin pie after a day of bird shooting, so you're eating what you're shooting. The lodge is the same, though open with a view from a massive granite bluff over the conservancy, in all its splendor. Here you eat dinner, and enjoy your cold beverages, usually in company with the extremely kind Collett family, at the very least with Jon and good conversation.

Hunting, well I was very pleased to find my Buffalo a tough case. We spent four days tracking, getting right up on them, and then the wind would shift, or they'd catch a hint, and boom they'd thunder off into the jess. It's an awe inspiring experience, being on the ground and seeing a herd of Buffalo flush and stampede through the bush. The terrain in the conservancy is surreal, full of various habitats, and granite hills that jut out of the bush. We'd climb the hills, spot game, and move down to track them. Jon was fantastic, and understood my happiness in being on foot, so we did a good deal of walking and climbing hills, an experience I'll never forget and made my heart glow just in itself. This is a truly beautiful place. You see an unbelievable assortment of game, from towering Giraffe to stampeding Wildebeest, there's no doubt where you are.

Jon was also very understanding of my wishes for the hunt, as I ran a very limited budget. Buffalo was number one, and beyond that, they engaged me in anything they needed culled for meat. This let me shoot numerous Impala, and on my last day, an old Blue Wildebeest bull. Jon took me out on their resevoir bass and bream fishing, and the fishing is fantastic. However, one of my favorite activities was wing shooting in the mornings and evenings, there are so many Francolin and Guinea Fowl it's never dull. The two of us would ride the back of the landcruiser, and when birds were spotted, tap the roof to stop and jump out and flush them. We had a good time trying to keep our "averages" up on the birds, and I quickly expended all my shells shooting the various Francolin species, and a couple Guinea Fowl for good measure (my favorite, fun, big birds to hunt).

Now, for the Buffalo, took him at very close range in thick bush, he presented a tough shot, mostly obscured by scrub when we finally got the upper hand on some. We crawled in, and Jon asked if I felt comfortable with the shot, I nodded, and he set up the sticks and gave me a quick bit of advice. As Jon mentioned after while we talked about it, iron sights are perfect for this type of hunting, as your sight plane is not 2" above the bore. You can see clear as day that your bore has a clear path as well, not just your sight. At the shot, the bull dropped, and Jon encouraged me to put two more rounds into him for insurance. He death bellowed twice, and on our careful approach, we found him stone dead. Hand shakes all round, relief, and a great deal of happiness. I used 300gr Barnes TSX's over 63grs of H4895, which performed admirably (on an Impala as well).

In the evening of my last day, Jon spotted a Blue Wildebeest, and we came up behind a thicket on a small rise. He asked me to shoot the Wildebeest, and we had a perfect natural blind, maybe a 90 yard shot from a tree I rested against. At the shot, with a Federal 270gr factory soft point, the Wildebeest bolted as if unharmed. My heart sank! We went up to where he was shot, and found blood spatter, and tracked him a good ways into the bush to find him stone dead, double lunged. TOUGH animals over here. What a perfect cap to the trip... I tipped the most I could, which is modest given my means, as they had provided such a fantastic experience for me in the past ten days. I couldn't recommend more highly. Jon would do his utmost to make sure you were having a good time, even bending my itinerary from hunting so I could head off with him to see Rhino, something I wanted to see very badly. He also took me up to an ancient cave on the conservancy, with pottery shards and cave art. It was more than just a hunt for me, it was an all around experience.

So, in summary, great people, great meals, great hunting area, and great game. All made for an amazing experience, a trip of a lifetime. Don't be afraid of Zimbabwe, the news fear mongers, I felt much better there than South Africa, for instance. It's a beautiful place, and relaxed. Be sure to give Terry a shout if you're like me, and not a wealthy old fart, they just might be able to set you up with your dream.

Advice;

-Bring leather footwear, and gaiters. Runners get terribly full of splinter-like seeds that work right through any venting in the shoes, quite uncomfortable, and often, painful. Footwear takes a beating, and you'll do a lot of walking. If you're out of shape, you're going to miss 75% of the experience in my opinion. Some of the scrambles climbing the granite hills and bluffs were short spurts of climbing, not hiking. You'd miss the most beautiful views by passing on those climbs and walks between due to physical limitations. Also, bring sage-green hunting clothes, as tan will make you stand out quite badly. I had to make due with what I already owned, as this trip stretched my budget to max, and I'm sure I was ill-toned colour wise for the conditions. Even wore a bad-at-home-for-ungulate-hunting faded blue hat, as even a new hat was pushing it budget wise.

Pics:

Soaking it Up...

Young Breeding Bull, Massive. Won't be hunted for many, many years til he's well passed on his genes. I liked the Jon's conservation and management concerns, big bulls won't fall til very old.

My First African Game Animal, Impala.

Blue Wildebeest.

Footwear Takes a Beating.
Fishing.

Wing Shooting.

Last But Not Least, My Buffalo.

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swampdonkey

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Great story and nice buff.Glad you were able to do this trip at your age and being in good phyiscal condition.The first trip is always the best and is used as the standard to judge others by.You will figure out a way to go back.I know of nobody that went just once.
 

Ardent

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Indeed, I have no doubt I'll be back, just a question of when. My wife's already keen after seeing the photos, so it's a good start.
 

wagnerwwh

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Thanks Angus for the great write up and story. I only wish I could have been there to experience it with you. Thanks also for your compliments regarding the level of service you recieved from the time you booked you hunt until your hunt was completed. You are right on when you say that the Collett's are very special people and look after very detail.

I have been booking their hunts for almost 20 years and they never fail to deliver. Thanks again and look forward to sending you back to Africa someday.
 

AfricaHunting.com

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Angus, Really enjoyed reading about your hunt and first time experience in Africa, you did very well and I think that it is great that you took advantage of your time there to experience a variety of things. Your advices are well put and I hope that you will get to make use of them on your next trip to Africa! Thanks for taking the time to do this hunt report/story.
 

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Angus,

Congrats on your first African safari, seems you really had a wonderful time taking these remarkable trophies, well detailed trip article and the advice.
Great Hunting !!!! the African Hunt Bug , I am sure has bitten you hard.

Monish
 

daggaboyblog

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Congratulations Ardent!

Great to hear you enjoyed such great success - I remember reading your post when you were looking for a hunt around Christmas.

Beautiful buffalo - makes me want to go back tomorrow!

Reading your report I can recall the thorns and itches and long hot walks. Up close with buffalo, pounding of hooves as they got the upper hand on you! And the smell of fire and animals and fresh dung. The crisp smell of dawn and dusk, and that cold air that would settle on your neck and shoulders as you powered back to camp just on dusk - that exciting nervousness as you crossed lion tracks, and the way goose bumps shot up when a guinea fowl would run through the bush and you grip onto your rifle! An awesome experience for you; would have loved to hear your story around a fire in Zim with a coffee and our guns and bloodied shorts after a good day out hunting!

Well done!
 

Thunder head

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Thats what i am talking about. Sounds like an ideal buffalo hunting experience. Congradulations

Man 2012 seems an awful long way away right now!
 

Kilimanjaro

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Angus.. I received the pic of your bull a few days back from Terry. Made me smile from ear to ear... wonderful bull!
I am going on this hunt with Jon (through Terry) in Oct with one of my best friends. I am looking forward to this trip as much as any I've ever done.
I have buff, hyena, and klipspringer on the menu with the possibility of maybe adding a non trophy elephant or a trophy sable should we stumble into one. My bud is on his 1st trip and he is looking forward to taking a big kudu, impala, widebeast, etc. If we can get a day or two of francolin/guinea shooting, all the better! I enjoy that as much as anything.

Thanks for the report and it made my wait till Oct 7th that much harder!
Congrats!!

I'm off to Africa in 7 days.. I hope to have a great report for you guys in the next few weeks.
 

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Congratulations Bwana - glad to hear you had a wonderful first experience... well done to yourself and everyone who made it possible.
 

ndbwhnter

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Congrats on a great buffalo, thanks for posting the story.

nd
 

Ardent

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Thanks for all the kind comments guys, and Scotty, you'll be floored, and I have no qualms saying that as there's no doubt. Truly a fantastic experience with the Colletts, and the hunting is good and challenging, especially for us at the time as it was so wet and there was water everywhere, the animals didn't congregate at water holes. The bush was also thick and lush, making it necessary to get very close to see what we were looking at, a fantastic time.
 

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Thanks for the great hunting report. Glad to hear your first safari was excellent and you took the game you were after. I am sure you are already planning your return trip.
 

sestoppelman

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I'm a newbie here but have 5 trips to Africa under my belt and enjoyed the story of your hunt very much. Hunted Limpopo July 2009 with Bosbok Safaris and had a great time. Taken two buff previously so I know how it feels. Will do it again for sure!
 

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Great buff and great story Ardent. You have started down the slippery slope in a big way.
 

Kilimanjaro

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Angus

Yep, I am def. looking forward to this hunt this Oct!! I hope to find a good bull like yours.. Hard bossed with good hooks. I'm hoping to get in CLOSE and take my bull with my .470NE DR.. the closer, the better!

What caliber/gun did you use on the hunt?

What were the numbers of animals you saw? As in numbers of huntable bull buff, plains game species, etc?? On the plainsgame spectrum, I am hoping to take a klipspringer and MAYBE a sable bull, if a shooter bull is seen.. My buddy is hoping to take a kudu, impala, and warthog (maybe a wildebeest too).. Did ya see any elephant on the Bubiana while there? Hear any hyena while there? They're on my menu as well.

Congrats again on the great hunt! I'm just trying to get a feel of how the place is..
 

cataractjack

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Loved the story and the pics!
I am considering a buff hunt in Zim next year.
What was the cost of the hunt? How large was the management buffalo?
 

wagnerwwh

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Great hunting for the buffalo and plains game with Touch Africa Safaris. The management buffalo hunt is 10 days and the cost including the trophy fee is $7000.00 . The management buffalo are going to run 33"-36". The one that Angus took with us was right at 36". Take a look at our website or give me a call. Thanks
 

Ardent

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Sorry Scotty, took me so long to get to you, and you'll be with Jon by now!

As I'm sure you're seeing, lots and lots of buff, and all game, really. Sable will be tough, didn't see them, but did see a MASSIVE kudu, in Jon's words, "that's every hunter's dream right there..." Alas, wasn't in my budget. Hopefully it will be for you! I anxiously await your report, not that I want your hunt to go quickly...!

Angus

Yep, I am def. looking forward to this hunt this Oct!! I hope to find a good bull like yours.. Hard bossed with good hooks. I'm hoping to get in CLOSE and take my bull with my .470NE DR.. the closer, the better!

What caliber/gun did you use on the hunt?

What were the numbers of animals you saw? As in numbers of huntable bull buff, plains game species, etc?? On the plainsgame spectrum, I am hoping to take a klipspringer and MAYBE a sable bull, if a shooter bull is seen.. My buddy is hoping to take a kudu, impala, and warthog (maybe a wildebeest too).. Did ya see any elephant on the Bubiana while there? Hear any hyena while there? They're on my menu as well.

Congrats again on the great hunt! I'm just trying to get a feel of how the place is..
 

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