ZIMBABWE: Bubye Valley Conservancy 2018

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Hmmmm...I think I might start taking my Epi Pen with me when I go to Africa! I’m cautious, but not afraid of snakes or DG, but wasps, killer bees and hornets can do me in pretty quickly!
Very enjoyable report! Your little lady seems pretty strong IMO!
 

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Another great story/report Hank. You may have underestimated the wife though. With old stylish hotels, fine restaurants, river cruise dinners and a little adventure thrown in, she may be wanting to tag along on your future African hunts. Who knows what will be next......her own Highland Stalker???? Whatever your/her hunting future holds, keep us all advised!
 

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Who knows what will be next......her own Highland Stalker????

My wife thinks a Highland Stalker is a Scot creeping around on Ben Lomond. I'd like to keep it that way!

Day 3 – Friday

There are a lot of giraffe in the BVC, or at least on our block. A lot. On a normal day we would see no less than 20 – 25, and often more. We once counted 18 in one spot. Some of those were large, dark bulls, and I decided I needed some nice hide for gun bags. This was not a thought which I shared with my wife, since she believes giraffes are special animals . . .

We drove for a time, and then went up a hill to see if we could spot anything. Nothing. So we got back into the truck, and within about a kilometre, we saw a perfect old bull by the side of the road. We stopped, and before my wife could ask what we were after, Dean and I headed into the bushes. Within a few minutes the bull stopped to look back, and I took a high neck shot at about 100 yards. And for the first time (in about 4 attempts), I missed it. The giraffe spun around but I had managed to reload quickly and got one into the chest. I had asked Dean to back me up if I messed up the neck shot, so with only one eye fully functional, he put one into a hip going away.

The giraffe still managed to make it some hundreds of yards, but once I heard a tracker say “down”, I slowed down and took it breath. It was only 8.30, and it was well over 85 degrees already. Sure enough, the giraffe was down, but one more shot put an end to the business. This was my first shot with the .375, and I assumed it was me . . . but by the end of the hunt began to think it might be the scope.

My wife wasn’t very happy with this, but she was interested in touching the huge head. But she refused to be included in any pictures. Having said that, I explained things to her, the number of giraffes on the place, the need to give them value, and I can say that I suffered no long term consequences, although if I'd taken another, the result might have been different!

Given the heat, we wanted to get the skin off and in the salt as soon as possible, so began the skinning job right away while we sent one of the trackers to the skinning shed to bring more manpower as well as more equipment. Within a few trips and a couple of hours we were done. We decided to rest up before lunch, since it had gotten really quite hot (over 100 degrees) and nothing much seemed to be moving anyway.

DSC01897.jpg


Day 4 - Saturday

We had a very windy night, and today looked to be much cooler than the last couple of days. Unfortunately, the wind kept howling, and we weren’t optimistic about animals coming out to play. Even so, we headed out by 5.30 am, with my wife in the cab due to the cold. I refused to be intimidated and wore shorts anyway (a call I came to regret!).

DSC01970.jpg

Guess which one of these people is the smart one?

Sure enough, there were no animals out, and even the ubiquitous impala, zebra and giraffe seemed to be in hiding. We put up the other half of the zebra as hyena bait, realizing of course that it was much more likely to attract lion . . .

In the late afternoon we did see a large herd of buffalo – it was difficult to count, but there could easily have been in excess of 60. We didn’t see any old wrecks which was what I was looking for though, so we just enjoyed seeing them move past us.

DSC01927.jpg


DSC01931.jpg
 

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Thanks for the laughs this morning.I needed that.
 

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My wife thinks a Highland Stalker is a Scot creeping around on Ben Lomond. I'd like to keep it that way!

Day 3 – Friday

There are a lot of giraffe in the BVC, or at least on our block. A lot. On a normal day we would see no less than 20 – 25, and often more. We once counted 18 in one spot. Some of those were large, dark bulls, and I decided I needed some nice hide for gun bags. This was not a thought which I shared with my wife, since she believes giraffes are special animals . . .

We drove for a time, and then went up a hill to see if we could spot anything. Nothing. So we got back into the truck, and within about a kilometre, we saw a perfect old bull by the side of the road. We stopped, and before my wife could ask what we were after, Dean and I headed into the bushes. Within a few minutes the bull stopped to look back, and I took a high neck shot at about 100 yards. And for the first time (in about 4 attempts), I missed it. The giraffe spun around but I had managed to reload quickly and got one into the chest. I had asked Dean to back me up if I messed up the neck shot, so with only one eye fully functional, he put one into a hip going away.

The giraffe still managed to make it some hundreds of yards, but once I heard a tracker say “down”, I slowed down and took it breath. It was only 8.30, and it was well over 85 degrees already. Sure enough, the giraffe was down, but one more shot put an end to the business. This was my first shot with the .375, and I assumed it was me . . . but by the end of the hunt began to think it might be the scope.

My wife wasn’t very happy with this, but she was interested in touching the huge head. But she refused to be included in any pictures. Having said that, I explained things to her, the number of giraffes on the place, the need to give them value, and I can say that I suffered no long term consequences, although if I'd taken another, the result might have been different!

Given the heat, we wanted to get the skin off and in the salt as soon as possible, so began the skinning job right away while we sent one of the trackers to the skinning shed to bring more manpower as well as more equipment. Within a few trips and a couple of hours we were done. We decided to rest up before lunch, since it had gotten really quite hot (over 100 degrees) and nothing much seemed to be moving anyway.

View attachment 254855

Day 4 - Saturday

We had a very windy night, and today looked to be much cooler than the last couple of days. Unfortunately, the wind kept howling, and we weren’t optimistic about animals coming out to play. Even so, we headed out by 5.30 am, with my wife in the cab due to the cold. I refused to be intimidated and wore shorts anyway (a call I came to regret!).

View attachment 254856
Guess which one of these people is the smart one?

Sure enough, there were no animals out, and even the ubiquitous impala, zebra and giraffe seemed to be in hiding. We put up the other half of the zebra as hyena bait, realizing of course that it was much more likely to attract lion . . .

In the late afternoon we did see a large herd of buffalo – it was difficult to count, but there could easily have been in excess of 60. We didn’t see any old wrecks which was what I was looking for though, so we just enjoyed seeing them move past us.

View attachment 254854

View attachment 254857
I like how they are all staring toward you. When I finally had a shot at my buff cow last summer, the whole herd of 30-40 were staring at the tracker, PH and myself also!
 

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Good report, thanks! I have always gotten along well with the Colletts. Jonathan certainly goes out of his way to help when needed and keeps his "areas of responsibility" at the BVC running smoothly. The BVC is a treasure and hope it remains viable. Was there a few years ago and again earlier this year and during recent trip saw some absolute bruiser dagga boys.... wasn't hunting them though. No run-ins with bees but the pepper ticks were well represented!!! :)
 

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Hank2211

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No run-ins with bees but the pepper ticks were well represented!!! :)

Having had an issue with tick bite fever in the past, I was on the lookout. I didn't see any pepper ticks (but then, you rarely do). Some animals were clearly more impacted by ticks than others - the zebra seemed pretty clean, but the giraffe had quite a number. This is the lowveld though, so you do need to check yourself after every day!

Now, to paraphrase Jim Shockey, "back to our story."

Day 5 - Sunday

It was still unseasonably cold today, but this time, I wore more layers, and my long pants (for the first time).

The animals were still hiding from the wind, but we did come across a pair of young male lions resting and trying to get what little sun there was, not 40 yards from the road. Unlike the lioness, these were completely unaffected by our presence, and so we spent some time getting pictures and just enjoying seeing such magnificent animals in the wild. I reminded my wife that if we’d been on a photo safari, our driver would have broadcast the location far and wide and other trucks would already be driving up, while we had this all to ourselves.

DSC01964.jpg


Our camp is very close to the gravel airstrip where we had sighted in the rifles. A day or two after we arrived, some planes were parked on the runway. Apparently they had flown down from Harare to wingshoot. There is an abundance, to the point of oversupply, of guinea fowl, francolin and doves here (as well as Egyptian geese, but I’m not sure they can be shot), so I expect the shooting could be pretty good. In any event, we noticed as we were returning to camp for lunch that there were more than a few vultures flying over the airstrip. We decided to take a look, and found that some predator, likely a lion from the teeth marks on the face, had killed a blue wildebeest very near camp and dragged it across the runway. The animal was under a bush, and there were already vultures eating away. We decided to tie the wildebeest to a tree with a chain and use it an another hyena bait.

Not long after, as we were getting ready to head out after lunch, one of the planes went to take off, but as the pilot went down to the end of the runway, he passed by the vultures. . . and apparently decided that he didn’t want to take off with a hundred large vultures 20 feet from where he would pass on his roll. Being the good Samaritans that we were, we drove back to the wildebeest and kept the vultures away long enough for him to takeoff without incident.

We had a good afternoon after that. Karma, I expect. Even though the wind was still blowing, and it was still cool, we came across a lone blue wildebeest, an old male. Unfortunately, as was so often the case, he seemed to have allied himself with a giraffe and a small herd of zebra. We gave chase anyway.

DSC01881.jpg

Can I thread a bullet through here to get to the wildebeest? Dean suggested I not try.

Maybe it was the wind, maybe it was the overcast sky, but the zebra didn’t seem as skittish as usual, and the giraffe had likely heard that I’d already shot one, so he had no particular fear either. It took some time, and some chasing, but eventually, I got a clear shot at the wildebeest, without anything in front or behind. He ran about 40 yards and fell down, dead. A lovely skin, which will make great shotgun bags.

DSC01976.jpg


Within minutes of the shot, three game scouts came out of the bushes. They had heard the shot, and had come to investigate. I should have mentioned that our game scout radioed in every time we took a shot to let headquarters know where the shot had been, to avoid just this situation. Evidently, these scouts were close enough that they got to where we were before the call came over the radio to say it was OK. I was in one sense happy to see them there – this is well trained anti-poaching. On the other hand, I like to shoot knowing there isn’t someone lurking in the bushes. I was told not to worry about that . . .

By the time we began to lose light, we were some distance from the camp. Dean decided we should slowly wend our way back, spotlighting as we went, to see what we might find. So he rigged up his spotlight, and I got on the back of the truck. I told Luxon, the tracker who was standing behind me, that I was going to use a .22 WMR (borrowed from Jonathan Collett) for anything except impisi. If we saw an impisi, I would quickly hand him the .22 and grab the .300. So far, so good.

We began spotlighting, with Elias, our other tracker, holding the spotlight. Within about 10 minutes, I saw some eyes and quickly whispered “impisi” and handed the .22 back to Luxon. I then went to grab the .300, but Elias was standing in the way, and I struggled to get it out . . . the best laid plans. I finally did get it out, and actually took a shot. Unfortunately, Elias kept shining the light where the hyena had been, not where it had gone.

We jumped out, and Dean told Elias at this point to stay on the back and hold the light where I had shot. We took a flashlight and got there quickly – it was no more than 60 yards away – and luckily found a spotted hyena, dead, within about 5 yards of where I’d shot. A great way to start a night hunt! Unfortunately, I haven't got picture . . . I need to get it from Dean. But trust me, this was the largest hyena ever seen by mortal man. Well, maybe not, but it was nice to get it anyway!

That was about all we saw by the time we got back to camp though. No hyena at our landing strip wildebeest either. It was a little surprising not to see any other nocturnal animal – I was really hoping for a wildcat – but perhaps the lions kept the animals in the thick stuff at night. In any event, a good day.

Day 6 – Monday

We were up at 4.30 again – the weather was supposed to turn hot again – and on the road well before 6. The animals had come out of hiding, which made for a nice change after the last two days.

We came upon a small group of about 4 dugga boys, and decided to follow them. Once we all got kitted up for what could be a long morning, we began to follow the tracks. We didn’t think the buffalo had seen us, but they seemed to alternate between running and walking. It quickly became apparent why – there were lion tracks on top of the (fresh) dugga boy tracks. But the lions seemed content to harass rather than actually try to bring one down, and eventually, based on the tracks, broke off the engagement.

After two hours of tracking, we were about to call it a day, but decided to give it a bit longer. Within ten minutes, we found them feeding in thick cover. Dean, Elias and I moved forward slowly and carefully, trying to get a look at the six of them (they had picked up two more along the way). We eventually decided on one which was non-trophy size, but still had horns. Now, if he would only get away from a tree which was covering his vitals . . .

I was on the sticks for some time when Dean whispered that another buffalo had seen us and was staring straight at us. We both froze, but it was coming on mid-day, and the wind had begun to swirl. They must have got a whiff of us, because they suddenly left the area, crashing through the thick bush. No shot. We had plans to come back in the afternoon, but the scout mentioned that they had run into an adjacent block. So that put an end to that plan for the day.

In the afternoon we tracked eland for some time, until they too caught wind of us.

Later that afternoon at about 5 pm we had taken a turn down a new road, or what at first appeared to be a road. After a half hour of struggling, Dean gave up and said we had to go back the way we came. We hadn’t seen much game on this new stretch of non-road, so I had no problem with heading back. Some 20 minutes later, as we were driving into the sun, we saw a vague shape in the road some hundreds of yards away, but it was hard to tell what it was. Dean stopped and looked through his binos, and said “Shit! Brown hyena!” He quickly got moving, but the animal had begun to move off to the right. After some 400 yards, Dean came to a smooth but very rapid stop and said to me “he’s over there in the grass . . . get out and take him.”

I quickly got out, grabbed my rifle, and tried to get a shot, but from ground level, I couldn’t see the hyena in the long grass. I tried stepping up on the back of the vehicle, but couldn’t get a good angle on it. I tried though, hunched over, holding the rifle at a funny angle, one leg on the ground . . . and took a shot, but it was more in desperation that anything else. A clean miss, and an enormous disappointment. While I’ve previously shot brown hyena (I have a full mount in my basement), a brown hyena in daylight is a rarity.

Tonight we decided to go out after dinner to spotlight, hoping that by going out later we might see more animals. Once again, we saw something early on – a porcupine (which pleased my wife, but did nothing for me – we have a full mount of one already (this is becoming an issue!)), but nothing thereafter, over a span of two hours (unless you count two rabbits and a mouse. Which I don’t).
 

tarbe

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I wonder how many hunters have seen both a spotted and a brown, on the same safari?

It can't be very many!

Wow!
 

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I wonder how many hunters have seen both a spotted and a brown, on the same safari?

It can't be very many!

Wow!
But it would have been even better if the hunter had gotten both on the same hunt!
 

tarbe

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But it would have been even better if the hunter had gotten both on the same hunt!

Hopefully you chased him to Nengo and he'll decide to lay low there for about 10 months. :)
 

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You didn't happen to put a Lo-Jack on them for me, did you? ;)
Guaranteed some odd thoughts crossed my mind at the time! Saw several small groups and singles scattered around. They can be found most everywhere on BVC of course. The best was one individual in a group of 4 that were in a really thick bottom area in Fimbiri near the Malagani fence. He looked like an old gnarly version with broomed tips of the 40+ prime bull pictured in Mazunga's website gallery. Some of the others were in a couple of areas north-northeast of the Mazunga gate IIRC.
 

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Guaranteed some odd thoughts crossed my mind at the time! Saw several small groups and singles scattered around. They can be found most everywhere on BVC of course. The best was one individual in a group of 4 that were in a really thick bottom area in Fimbiri near the Malagani fence. He looked like an old gnarly version with broomed tips of the 40+ prime bull pictured in Mazunga's website gallery. Some of the others were in a couple of areas north-northeast of the Mazunga gate IIRC.
You won't need the lo-jack! There was no shortage of buff on Lamulas, and I'm told it's pretty much the same elsewhere. It's actually harder finding an old non-trophy buffalo than it is finding a trophy buff! If I'd been happy with a trophy, I could have taken one within the first few days, I think.
 

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Day 7 - Tuesday

Once again, it looked to be a hot day, so it was up at 4.30 and out the door by 5.30. In looking at my wife’s diary for the day, she’s written “ANIMAL BONANZA”, like that, but in red ink. We have a different definition of animal bonanza, but I was pleased that she got to see as many animals as she did. Early this morning we watched a cow elephant (alone) feeding placidly, unconcerned by our presence. We got a few hundred yards from two black rhinos, who likely couldn’t see us, but eventually got our wind and took off (my first real sighting of black rhino as well). One had been de-horned, but the other had not. We also saw a herd of buffalo (with no scruffy bulls). Three of the big five in the first two hours.

DSC02071.jpg


Add to the list three caracal (likely a mother and young), a number of steenbok (they are everywhere here), two jackals, and the usual zebra, giraffe and impala, and you get an idea why it was a bonanza. A good morning for game watching.

But not a great morning for shooting. I took a shot at a zebra at about 10 am, and missed it completely. I told Dean I wanted to check the scope – not because I thought there was anything wrong, but because I wanted to show myself that there was nothing wrong. We found a small hill, got about 100 yards away, and put an empty coke can up. One shot, one dead coke can. I know I can do this, so why does it happen that I mess up from time to time? Consistency is the goal, at least so long as it is consistently on.

As we drove back to camp for lunch, we came upon an interesting setup. Three scouts who were spending the week in the bush had moved into a dis-used water tank. I cannot even imagine what it must be like to have three guys in this thing with the tarp over the top! On the other hand, given the lions everywhere . . .

DSC02151.jpg


In the afternoon we stopped to check on our wildebeest by the airstrip. Hyena had indeed been there – the head and the chain which tied the carcass to the tree were missing! Tracking the chain wasn’t that hard . . . follow the drag mark! We found it a few hundred yards away – hyena must have decided it wasn’t tasty enough to warrant the effort!

We did go out spotlighting again tonight. I got a very nice common genet – no pictures because I’d left my camera at camp. Dean has some and as soon as he gets to his camera, I will post a picture of the genet. My wife was quite taken by the bush babies which were in many of the trees. I guess with the big eyes, they can be considered cute . . .

Day 8 – Wednesday

The weather changed again overnight. By morning the wind was back to howling, and the temperatures were in the mid-sixties which, combined with the wind, felt quite cold! And of course, little game was out.

We did see some zebra, and with the wind, they couldn’t smell us, and frankly might have had trouble hearing us. That gave us the edge we needed to bring down the second zebra of the hunt. This one was nice enough to fall over close to a road, and quickly at that, which made things much easier. No picture; seen one, you've seen them all! This one was a stallion though.

That afternoon we did see – or I should say the scout saw – a [bird] sitting on its eggs a few feet off the road not far from a natural waterhole. The bird was very well camouflaged – even from 10 feet away, it was virtually impossible to see. It closed its eyes – the kid’s trick – if I can’t see you, you can’t see me! I’d have thought that nesting on the ground would be a poor survival strategy, but it takes all kinds. The male and female take turns sitting on the eggs for up to 48 hours at a time, so we determined to check again in two day’s time.

DSC02033.jpg


Virtually at last light we came across an unusual sight for the week. A lone wildebeest bull walking slowly across from us. Again, with the wind he might not have heard the truck. We stopped about 100 yards from him, and I got out. The stalk was likely not more than 40 yards, when I took what I thought was a good shot, but he had absolutely no reaction. In fact, he looked up at us after a moment, and then began to walk away. Dean said “you missed – hit him again.” Well, I did miss with the second, rushed, shot, but as it rang out, he looked at us again, and fell over dead. Dean said “you missed him, but he’s dead?” “Likely died of surprise” was my response. He had not gone 20 yards from the first shot.

DSC02056.jpg
 
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"You won't need the lo-jack! There was no shortage of buff on Lamulas, and I'm told it's pretty much the same elsewhere. It's actually harder finding an old non-trophy buffalo than it is finding a trophy buff! If I'd been happy with a trophy, I could have taken one within the first few days, I think. "

That's a good thing, I am booked the last ten days of July 2019 for a non-trophy Buff, added a few days for wingshooting. I don't know what camp. Taking my 13 year son, I can't wait to get back to Africa and I just got home from Mozambique 3 week's ago!!
 

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Day 9 – Thursday

Thursday was still cool, windy and overcast. An interesting start to the day. Dean and I were having breakfast, while waiting for my wife to join us. While we were eating, two bats were flying above our heads (it was still dark out at 5 am). When my wife came into the dining room, she got a few yards in before seeing Benji and Bob (as I’d named them). She shrieked and ran from the room. The waiter and cook came to see what the fuss was about. Once Dean explained, they expressed some wonder that she seemed to find being charged by a lioness exciting but was afraid of bats. North Americans. What can you do.

Once my wife had her coffee on the porch, we headed out to see what might be lurking in this bad weather. We quickly found a couple of bull elephants munching their way through the morning, at a distance of less than 100 yards. These elephants were not at all disturbed by our presence. If they’d been shot at, it wasn’t recently. I found this behaviour different from that of virtually every elephant I saw in Benin, for example, where if they saw or smelled you, you had to be ready to beat a hasty retreat since they appeared to be uniformly bad tempered. That bad temper, of course, comes mainly from shooting out of herds, whether by hunters or more likely, poachers.

For those animals which had come out, the wind once again seemed to play in our favour. Jackals are usually very difficult to get during the day, since they are very wary and almost never let you get close enough or stand still for long enough to get a decent shot, unless they’re responding to a call and haven’t seen you. We’d seen lots of jackals during the week, but today, we saw one before he saw (or heard) us. And that was his downfall. Not a big target at a couple of hundred yards, but if you have a good rest, it can work very nicely.

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We didn’t see any signs of buffalo today, but began to see more zebra and giraffes as the weather began to slowly improve. I’d shot my quota of both, which likely why we were seeing them.

In the afternoon we passed by our ground-nesting bird from two days before, and he or she was still there, still immobile, but eyes open this time. We left it in peace. From a vantage point overlooking a natural water hole we saw a new sight for me – two honey badgers a couple of hundred yards away on a mission. Not sure where they were going, but they were going with purpose. I’ve seen them at night, but not during the day. We later saw three bat eared foxes, again an unusual sight during the day. I am beginning to think that these unusual daytime sightings may be related to the number of lions about.

Day 10 - Friday

Our last day of hunting, and the weather had again turned, but while it was still cool-ish, the sky was blue and the wind had calmed. A perfect day to track buffalo. Not that we had much choice - we were leaving tomorrow!

While we hadn’t been as focused on buffalo as we would have been if this had been my first buffalo hunt, we had paid attention to the comings and goings of the herds, and had determined where smaller groups of dugga boys seemed to hang about. The lions seemed to be a factor with the buffalo as well. Rather than drinking at night, as buffalo usually do, the buffalo here seemed to drink in the late afternoon, perhaps to avoid the lions which hung around waterholes at night. As a result, the usual strategy of finding fresh tracks by a waterhole and following them could be an exercise in futility – by the time we got there –even at 6.30 or 7 am, the tracks were likely almost 12 hours old.

So our plan was to drive the roads where we had seen dugga boys, and look for fresh tracks. For some reason, Dean kept repeating “last day buffalo” as if it was a magical saying.

After a half hour of driving, and finding no fresh tracks, I was enjoying the sunshine when we heard the loud rap on the roof of the truck. Dean stopped quickly, and Elias whispered that there were buffalo about 400 yards ahead. We couldn’t see them from the cab, so Dean climbed onto the back, and quickly came down, saying there were 6 buffalo feeding slowly through a vlei in front of us. They weren’t aware of us, and the wind was in our favour. Fortunately, they couldn’t see any activity on the ground either, so we had some time to get ready. Dean had his eyes on some trees a few hundred yards in front of us, so we (the whole troop!) hunched down and quietly moved over to the trees.

From those trees I got my first glimpse of the buffalo, and while they were in fact feeding, the grass in the low lying vlei was so high that at times we couldn’t see all of the buffalo, and at other times, we could only see their backs. I ranged them with my binos and told Dean they were about 100 yards . . . “yes, too far” was his reply. The only cover between us and the vlei was a couple of trees about 40 yards in front of us. Dean grabbed the sticks and his rifle from Elias and told everyone else to stay hidden behind the trees.

Dean told me to walk directly behind him, and we began to move slowly towards the last remaining cover (if you could call it that). The buffalo were still unaware of our presence, but every once in a while, a head would lift up and look around. At one point Dean whispered “freeze . . . don’t move a muscle” and I could see one looking straight at us. After what seemed like 10 minutes but was likely closer to one, the head went back down and the feeding resumed. Whew. We finally made it to the two trees, still undetected. If they looked up and in our direction though, and if we were moving, they would spot us without a doubt. Dean slowly set up the sticks while looking for any sign of a head coming up. He told me to focus on one which was far lighter than the others. But he did say not to shoot it – he still wanted to judge the horns properly. Not a problem, since there were two in the same general spot, and with the tall grass, it would have been next to impossible to get a clean shot. While I was trying to keep the lighter buffalo in my sights, Dean seemed to be scanning the other animals.

Suddenly Dean whispered “Henry, I’ve found your buffalo”. I looked up, and he pointed out a black buffalo much farther to our right. He said that’s the one – "focus on him, and if you think you can get a shot, take him.” I stared through the scope nervously, since with the grass and another buffalo, I wasn’t sure I could get a decent shot, and I wasn’t about to guess where the bulk of his body was and shoot into the grass. Dean said “don’t worry . . . in a minute he’ll feed into a clear area” and sure enough, he did. I didn’t see the horns, but I trusted Dean, and as soon as the buffalo stepped out of the deep grass, I took the shot.

With a .375, you rarely see the impact of your shot due to the recoil, and this was no exception. I quickly reloaded, and looked for a second shot, but all of the buffalo were running . . . together. At this point they were about 40 yards from us, and all six were staring straight at as. Dean began to wave his arms, making a bunch of noise, but they still seemed a bit unsure. I was ready for a second shot, but couldn’t tell which one was mine. Suddenly Dean said “he’s wobbling” and then my favourite words, “he’s going down”. At that point, the other buffalo began to clear out of the vlei away from us.

We had now lost sight of my buffalo in the long grass, so we gave it a few minutes. My wife and the others came up to join us, but one of us were speaking yet. Dean whispered to them to stay out of the grass and wait for us to call them, and we began to walk slowly into the vlei.

I have followed up wounded buffalo before, and I can say that I far prefer it when you can see where you’re going, and more than a few feet in front of you. After a few minutes of very slow walking, I was a few yards to the left of Dean and motioned to him that I thought I could see the body of the buffalo through the grass, some 15 or so yards in front of us. Dean motioned for me to stop, and then slowly walked my way. He nodded, and we began to slowly swing around, getting closer, but from a different angle. As we got closer, it was clear that the buffalo was down, but also clear that he wasn’t dead. Dean motioned to me to put another into him, and with my scope already turned down, I knelt and gave him another through the lower body towards the spine. He took it, but didn’t appear to be prepared to give up the ghost.

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I have a strong preference for approaching wounded buffalo in slightly more open country.

We got a bit closer, and I whispered to Dean – “can you see the blood?” His response was yes – “you must have hit the jugular.” Blood was pumping out in volume and while the buffalo didn’t appear to be able to get up, he seemed quite angry about his situation, and was kicking and thrashing his head wildly, sending blood everywhere. Another shot (the third) quieted things down considerably, and at that point we breathed a sigh of relief, and waved to the others that they could come.

At this point blood was still pumping out, so he was clearly not dead, but he appeared to be immobile. I took a good look at him and I am astounded. He was virtually the scrum cap I was looking for! Both horns were broken off, not completely, but substantially. This was an old bull, with his boss beginning to disintegrate . . . He has old scars on his side and rear end, likely from lions. I couldn’t have asked for a better trophy!

By this time my wife was with us, and she moved towards the buffalo to take a closer look. I told her to be careful – he wasn’t dead yet, and blood was still pumping. I think she got a bit too close for the buff’s comfort, because he suddenly tried to get up, kicking his legs and thrashing his head, sending blood everywhere. My wife jumped back in sheer panic, and I lifted up the rifle, but it was pretty much a last gasp. This was a tough buffalo – he’d have lost most of his blood by that point, but still had the will to try to hurt those who had hurt him.

In the final analysis, it’s lucky counts as much as good. My shot was terrible – I’m not sure how I shot a foot forward of where I intended at 60 yards, but I did, and I was lucky to hit the jugular, or we might have been tracking buffalo for a long time. I also missed the giraffe neck with this rifle, so it may be that the scope wasn’t right, but the two shots we fired at the range seemed close enough, so I can’t really say that was the reason. Whatever, we got the job done, and no one got hurt, and I found my perfect buffalo!

DSC02099.jpg

This is my idea of a great buffalo trophy!

And so ended my hunt on the BVC. We had the buffalo at the skinning shed by 9 (he’d been on the ground at about 6.30 am), and spent the balance of the day just driving, looking at the animals, and being amazed at what hunting can support.

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sierraone

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Great report and great hunt!!!
 

Ridgewalker

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Thank you so much for sharing such an excellent time in Africa!
That old warrior Buffalo is truly one of a kind! All were great trophies, but he was something special!
 

PHOENIX PHIL

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As usual Hank, a great report! Love the buff portion!!
 

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Doc attached.
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Yes, I am interested in some A Frames to load, if they are the 300 grain or other that will work for Cape Buff. I need enough to work up a load and sight in, then carry over there
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