ZIMBABWE: Bliksem!

Discussion in 'Hunting Reports Africa' started by WAB, Oct 22, 2017.

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  1. WAB

    WAB AH Enthusiast

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    My buddy Bruce (cbvanb) and I recently returned from safari in Zimbabwe with our wives. Due to my crazy schedule, I don't post much in AH, but as chance would have it we ran into Royal (royal27) at the guest house in Bulawayo. Royal has shamed me into jotting down some notes. I hope they are of interest!

    I have spent most of my adult life in Wyoming and Alaska. In addition, I have become addicted to Africa and this trip was my 5th safari for Cape Buffalo. All that to say that yes, I have been charged by grizzlies, followed up wounded buff, and had a few other hair raising incidents. However, aspects of this safari set a new bar! So here goes:

    After a great night at our guest house in Bulawayo, we were off on a seven hour drive to Savuli Ranch in the Save conservancy. Although relatively uneventful, the drive just heightened our excitement at being back on safari. The Save did not disappoint, and Savuli is a very special corner of the Save. Beautiful rivers, rocky koppies, mopane forest and thick bush, truly Africa at its finest. The Savuli has a special place in my heart, right there with the upper Luangwa Valley of Zambia and the Kalahari desert in Northern Botswana.

    Savuli camp is in a beautiful spot on a dry (other than the odd pool) riverbed. Immediately across the riverbed is a rocky koppie. Every night, without fail, a leopard would work his way up the riverbed, sawing regularly. When he got to camp he would go quiet. About fifteen minutes later he would saw again up on the koppie immediately beneath the resident baboon troop roosting in the trees for the night. Now I know baboons are supposed to be smart, but somehow or other this guy killed a baboon every night. I speculated that he scared them so badly, they threw one of the weaker ones out of the trees. In any case, he is a well fed leopard!

    One night the lions were roaring so close to camp the sound was echoing off the koppie. I report this in good faith as I was sleeping so soundly I missed the show!

    The first day of our hunt dawned and Bruce was into buffalo immediately, and as luck would have it, connected on a nice bull within the first hour. The kill was relatively uneventful as buffalo go, and they were back in camp for lunch somewhat disappointed at the quick conclusion to their adventure.

    I was faced with a tough decision at last light of the first day. We were on a group of dugga boys and I was staring down the barrel at a very good bull. Perhaps I should have held off, but the .458 Lott went off, almost of its own accord, and the game was on! The bull was mortally hit but we felt the need to push him due to the lack of remaining daylight. He turned for us twice, offering no shot the first time. However, the second time he turned to wait for us I was able to see enough shadow through the brush to make a pretty good guess at the location of his heart. The 500 grain solid hit and he was off again. Twice hit with mortal shots, he turned again to face us after only 30 yards and fell, finally overcome by the fact that his heart was shredded and his lungs totally compromised.

    Unable to get a vehicle in that night, we piled him with whitethorn branches to keep off the hyena and lion and left him for the night. Despite my misgivings, he was intact and recovered uneventfully the next morning.

    Bruce elected to shoot a second buffalo given the short duration of his hunt for the first. Early the second day they got on a large herd that had at least two 40"+ bulls. They worked the herd all of that day and could have taken the lessor of the two bulls, but his PH felt that they should wait and try for the herd bull. The third day of the safari they worked the herd all day. Finally, near the end of the day they got their opportunity on the herd bull and took the shot. With light failing, they were forced to leave the bull for the night. If any of you has spent the evening thinking about a shot on a wounded buff and wondering what the morning would bring, you know exactly what Bruce was going through. I've been there, it makes for a long night!

    The next morning we loaded rifles, left unnecessary equipment, and got on the trail. Bruce is an excellent and experienced shot, but as we followed the trail it became obvious that this was not a well hit buffalo. We followed the blood until it petered out and then we continued on the track of the herd that the old bull was trying to keep up with. Suddenly and without warning the bull jumped up at the base of a baobab tree 30 yards in front of us! The bull, caught as much by surprise as we were, spun and ran without giving us the chance for a shot. At this point I realized two things; one, we now had fresh tracks and would certainly be able to run this bull to ground, two, he now knew we were on his trail and would almost certainly seek an opportunity to come for us!

    Both proved true, the bull waited for us another three times. In each instance lead flew true and he did not press his attack. After the third volley of lead flew into the bush, the bull finally ran out of blood, adrenaline and hatred, a worthy adversary indeed!

    At this point the buffalo hunt turned into a plains game hunt and you would think that the adventure would have tamed somewhat. Nothing could be further from the truth! I hope that Bruce tags on to this post as this is his story! A couple of days after the buffalo adventure Bruce and his wife, PH (Terry) and trackers were tracking a wildebeest. With light failing, they decided to head for the cruiser. Without warning a cow elephant came on a full charge. Terry attempted to kill the elephant at point blank range and his gun misfired. He fell into a small depression and the cow came down on top of him in an attempt to spear and crush him. To hear him tell it, he expected each spear to end his life as the tusk was going into the ground between his arm and torso. He was saved from being crushed by the lip of the gully, as the cow attempted to crush him, her forehead hit the edge of the gully and stopped the thrust. The cow then turned and went for Bruce and Pam, who were somewhat separated from Terry. They dove behind a mopane but the cow kept coming for them. As she rounded the mopane, Bruce held out his .375 one handed, placing the barrel on her forehead and fired. Amazingly, the 300 grain soft killed her on the spot. Terry was bruised and badly shaken up, but otherwise unhurt. To say that they were lucky is an understatement.

    The rest of the hunt was rather tame by comparison, but resulted in some excellent plains game trophies. Which brings me to the title of this post. I have a passion for the 7x57 mauser. I know many of you are probably snickering right now because it just won't do what your 300 blitzkrieg will do. However, I believe in the little gun and have a tremendous amount of confidence in it. The 7x57 I brought on this trip is a limited run M-70 Super Grade (controlled round feed) that came off the US production line shortly before it shut down. I loaded it with 175 grain Swift A-Frames at 2300 fps. To make a long story short, this little rifle accounted for: 1 jackal, 1 baboon, 1 bushbuck, 1 wildebeest and 2 zebra with 6 shots. Yes that's right, 6 for 6. My buddy Frans (one of our PH's), was so impressed that he insisted the rifle have a name. I said alright, name it in Afrikaans, to which he replied 'Bliksem'. 'Bliksem' means struck by lightning, or more colloquially, to 'Bliksem' someone is to beat them up. Anyway, it seemed appropo, so the rifle is now 'Bliksem'. An interesting side note, a good friend of mine is a shooting instructor at Holland and Holland in London. His son is an engraver of note with H&H and Rigby. The bottom metal and other furniture of that rifle is now with his son being appropriately engraved, incorporating its new name in a banner on the floorplate.

    You will note in the photos that we believe in heavy rifles for buffalo. The first pic is my buff with my custom M-70 in .458 Lott. The second pic is Bruce's second buff with his custom CZ in .458 Lott. The third pic is the two Lotts and a .450 Ackley. Three doses of very serious medicine indeed, but the right tool for buffalo if you can handle it.

    On a second note, Bruce's experience dramatically demonstrates the wisdom of carrying enough gun in dangerous game country. I have too often wandered off after a bushbuck or some other critter with nothing heavier than a 7x57. Going forward, although I will continue to hunt with my 7x57, I can assure you that someone in the party will be armed with a .375 with solids up the pipe at a minimum.

    Postcript: I highly recommend the Savuli if you are up for a true African adventure. If you have flexibility, they have quota remaining and are offering a tremendous deal to fill it out. Contact me via AH if you have interest. DSC_7465.jpg DSC_7589.JPG DSC_7601.jpg DSC_7676.JPG
     

  2. CAustin

    CAustin AH ENABLER BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Ambassador

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    Beautiful rifles and wonderful buff!
     
    edward likes this.

  3. PHOENIX PHIL

    PHOENIX PHIL AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

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    Beautiful buffs and hardware and quite an adventure. My younger son hunted with a 7x57 and mere 140gr North Forks, his did the same. Made me wonder what my various .300's were for.

    Regarding the elephant charge:

    horyshet.jpg
     

  4. Red Leg

    Red Leg AH ENABLER LIFETIME BRONZE BENEFACTOR AH Legend

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    Dude - great adventure - thank goodness all came out well with elephant. Could just as easily been three casualties. Hope the PH has that rifle checked out. Love the rifle on the right! Former military and 65. Peeps have a special place in my heart - plus they are about the only "irons" that I can still use! And what is not to love about a 7x57.
     

  5. cpr0312

    cpr0312 AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

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    Nicely done! Some great bulls!
     
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  6. Royal27

    Royal27 AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

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    @WAB and @cbvanb ,

    It was great to meet you both and I hope to see you in Dallas! Visiting with you was a great way to end a safari!

    And what a story on the elephant....

    I was in the breakfast area before Bill and Bruce when this guy comes in and asks about them. At this point I haven't met them. Well, guy says if I see them to tell them he's going to the doctor and will be back when he can. Ok. I can do that. Well... The guy was Terry and he was going to doctor to have his ribs checked out from the elephant charge, but wanted to let the guys know first!

    Yeah... PHs are tough. Terry even made it back before I left and I got to talk to him a bit. To say that he and his family were blessed that day is an understatement.
     

  7. siml

    siml AH ENABLER AH Legend

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    That's one incredible safari. God must have had his hands on Terry, to survive an elephant on top of you can only be described as a miracle.
     
    Scott CWO, edward, tarbe and 5 others like this.

  8. gizmo

    gizmo AH ENABLER SPONSOR Since 2015 AH Ambassador

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  9. Wheels

    Wheels AH ENABLER AH Legend

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    Sounds like a great hunt.

    Super exciting elephant encounter.

    Thanks for the report.
     

  10. edward

    edward GOLD SUPPORTER AH Elite

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    OUTSTANDING!
     

  11. Neale

    Neale AH Enthusiast

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    Wow, what a hunt and it will be hard to beat that for any future safaris. Thankfully everyone came out OK.
     
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  12. Bullthrower338

    Bullthrower338 AH ENABLER SILVER SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    Absolutely amazing story, glad the cow got sorted out before y'all did!
    Thanks for a great report and gorgeous examples of wood and steel!
    Cheers,
    Cody
     

  13. ROCKET

    ROCKET AH Fanatic

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    Great bulls and fantastic hunt, plus the amazing elephant story.....the PH must to change the date of his Birthday for sure.....!!!!!
     
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  14. jacques smith

    jacques smith AH Fanatic

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    Mighty fine read, post any time your schedule allows. Best wishes to your PH
     

  15. Boela

    Boela AH Veteran

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    Only one word that can summarise that safari - Bliksem!
     

  16. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN AH ENABLER SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR LIFETIME TITANIUM BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    Everyone was fortunate on so many levels.
    Nice trophies.

    Thanks for sharing your adventure.

    Excellent guilt trip @Royal27
     

  17. Royal27

    Royal27 AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

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    Using guilt trip method to get these guys to AH dinner at DSC as well. Seems to be working. Perhaps public pressure will help too? :E Big Grin: :E Angel:
     

  18. Witold Krzyżanowski

    Witold Krzyżanowski AH ENABLER AH Legend

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    Nice rifles, excellent trophies. Congrats.
    Thanks for sharing.
    Witold
     

  19. Gsxrmike

    Gsxrmike AH Veteran

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    Thanks for sharing that incredible report and congrats on the very nice buffalo!
     

  20. jacques smith

    jacques smith AH Fanatic

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    Please tell me the powers that be understood so no problem or fees for the Zambezi lady with a very poor attitude
     

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