ZIMBABWE: Buffalo Hunt in Dande South With HHK

Jumbo

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I have just come back from a 7 day hunt for buffalo in HHK’s Dande South concession. This was a long planned and anticipated hunt as one would expect on a hunt of this cost.
I had my father along as an observer and I have to say we had a great time in the bush. The camp we stayed at was the fly camp, which is set on the Angwa River. A more spectacular setting would be hard to find. (In my opinion much prettier than the main camp) The camp accommodation is basic safari tents with an ensuite bathroom. The other camp areas are simple but comfy and we loved the proximity of the bush this feel allowed!
The food was simple but fine and certainly well enjoyed after a hard day of hunting. Bezil, the cook, did wonders with a basic kitchen and the fresh bread was brilliant!
I feel very lucky to have been allocated York Mare as my PH. York is in his 2nd season with a full licence. York is energetic, professional, a great hunter and an all-round great guy to spend a week in the bush with!
Now to the hunting. The concession is really beautiful and vast, with us covering in excess of 120km’s by car per day in addition to between 6 or 8 hours of walking. The concession has a bit of everything, riverine jess, hills (that feel like mountains when you slogging through them) and some nice plains, open and heavily mopani’d.
We hunted hard, 12-14hrs per day out of camp, and apart from day 1 saw buff every day. I estimate we saw between 300-350 buff during the week in various herds. So there are definitely buffalo on the ground. The only problem we had was that we only saw 3 mature bulls in all that time. Two were in a herd, which we saw in the Angwa River, but they crossed straight into a neighbouring concession never to be seen again. The 3rd bull was the only one to present us any opportunity and he did that twice!
The first opportunity was a bizarre one, where we had left a herd to pick them up again in the afternoon when the wind settled. We had walked up a road and stopped to wait for the cruiser. We had put all our kit down and rifles against a tree, when one of the trackers gave the “Nyathi” call. We looked up to see a beautiful bull running through open Mopani across from us at about 80m. we grabbed guns and trotted a couple of paces down the road to open a shooting gap, when York gave a call (made a noise like a baby buff) and the bull pulled up to listen at about 50m. I set up on the sticks only to see him turn towards us and start trotting closer through the Mopani. Surprised doesn’t describe the look on my face.
It was only as he faced us that we then saw he only had one horn, whilst the other was broken off near the base of the curl. The horn he did have was great though, with a deep curl and nice hard boss! He pulled up at about 25m and stood face on; a perfect frontal shot could have been taken. But for my first buff I want a mature representative bull with two horns and a hard boss. So I declined. He again offered me a shot later in the week – that’s how hard we hunted!
Overall the experience was great and I had a fantastic time with York and my Dad. I do however have to say that I think the area has been overhunted for buff. This would go for surrounding concessions as well as they mostly all hunt the same herds which move between the areas.
HHK has 18 bulls on permit still for the 2014 season. This concerns me, as apart from the 3 bulls we saw in 7 days of hard hunting we only saw 2 to 3 year old soft bulls. This means they will start shooting these most likely, bringing the sustainability of the area into question. (I say this as even if we missed 5 more hard bulls – hell make it even 10 – what will they hunt next year?)
I am very glad I did my first buff hunt in the Zambezi valley, but it is now out of my system. I cannot recommend anyone to hunt that area for buff, certainly not because of the operator/camp or hunter, but purely because of the quota management that has and is taking place by National Parks.
I strongly urge anyone booking for buff in Zim to do even more research than I did. (I thought I had asked all the right questions etc.)
 

Foxi

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Hallo Jumbo ,
interesting article.Thank you.
My opinion: Good old bulls are nowhere numerous.But only young bulls to see is a disappointment.
And I belive ,the population is generally overhunted.
Every DG hunter will shot buffs.
Now you have the rich russian hunter ,the indians,asians and all the other nations, who had played no roll twenty years ago in safari industry.
And the hunting aera is going on always smaller ,every month in Africa.
In 15 years we can forget it.

But sometimes it could be ensorcelled with the buff.
This Eastern,a good friend of mine ,was in Luangwa NP/Zambia, three days (by car) and did not see a tail from a buff.
But you are right ,when you mean, a NP in the neighborhood is a good reserve for hunting.
No guarantee,but the protection there, against pochery and deplition is hopefuller .
Hope, its going better with my hunt there next week.
Foxi
(apologise my english)
 
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PeteG

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hi marc,
sorry to hear you did not get onto a shooter.
i would be worried if that many buff are issued on quota without seeing substantial numbers in the area.
 

Jumbo

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That is my concern Pete, seems Nat Parks is nuts with quota!

quite disappointing, but was still a lot of fun!

I see they opening up the hunting again, so maybe try my luck local soon!
 

PeteG

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That is my concern Pete, seems Nat Parks is nuts with quota!

quite disappointing, but was still a lot of fun!

I see they opening up the hunting again, so maybe try my luck local soon!

yeah, might still have a chance...
Thor has a good offer going, buff, hippo, croc down at Munyamadzi
That would blood the 470 nicely!!!
 

gillettehunter

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Thanks for the honest report. Sounds like you gave it a great try..... If the old ones aren't there then nothing you can do will change the outcome... Bruce
 

bassasdaindia

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hi Jumbo

what are the right questions that need to be asked ?
 

Jumbo

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Geupard, I did speak with the PH, who seemed concerned about it. I have emailed the outfitter with the report and some additional comments and await his response. I was actually in contact with a neighboring outfitter this morning and have made the same comments to him. He hasn't replied yet, but I will let you know when him and I have spoken again.

Bassasdaindia, the questions are easy, getting the right guys to answer them is tough. Enquire about trophy quality and numbers in the area considered. I have made contact with some Taxidermists in Zim who have been great in assisting with info of what they see. However the guys you need to get info from are the PH's in the concessions. Only if you have a relationship with someone who doesn't have a vested interest in selling you a hunt in a specific area are you likely to get an honest meaningful answer.

While hunting I had extensive chats with the PH about areas and learned a lot.

At this stage my plan for my next hunt will most likely be the Malapati area in the lowveld.

Hope that helps.
 

Bobpuckett

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Jumbo that really sucks sorry you was not able to get on to a good one but glad you had a good time anyhow. and it never gets out of your system that monster hard boss bull is always in our dreams even if we never get him.
 

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Yeah Bobpuckett, thanks, it was great!

As for a monster bull, we all dream but I'm a simple dreamer. Just a hard boss reasonable size bull;)

Next time!
 

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Jumbo,

You have a great attitude considering the situation.

Thanks for sharing your observations about the hunt.

Just curious......were you pressured to take a soft boss or were they steering you away from one.

All the best on your next hunt.
 

blackdog001blackdog001

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I don't know if you booked it through an agent but if you did, I'd daggone sure have a "conversation" with him. It is his job to know availability and quality of the game for the outfitters he represents.

You have a great attitude, but you were obviously in an area that lacked the bull you were looking for.
 

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Hey Wheels, Blackdog001,

Thanks guys, I always hunt for the experience and pulling the trigger is secondary. But yeah, I did want a bull.

To answer first question, the PH was VERY professional and didn't push for anything but finding a true hard bossed bull. He respected my desire and upheld strong ethics! A real gentleman PH who understand real hunting!

As regards the outfitter/agent, well I booked direct as live here, but did have comms with HHK management. Graham is a stand up guy, who stands by his hunting area. He has offered me to come back at no charge except a trophy fee to hunt a bull later this year. (Not sure I will have time, but a real option!)

Hunting is hunting and I am sure if I went back and the stars aligned I would get a nice bull, but I also believe that in a very short time there will not be shooters left.

Time will tell what happens, but HHK are a good outfit, with great PH's maybe just be more clear/ forceful about understanding the area you are offered. (Dande has so much Ele movement I can only believe it to be a fun place to chase ele! So because of a buff situation it shouldn't eliminate an entire area.)

I do however think national parks need to step up management intelligence so quotas are more intelligently allocated.
 

Wheels

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Hey Wheels, Blackdog001,

Thanks guys, I always hunt for the experience and pulling the trigger is secondary. But yeah, I did want a bull.

To answer first question, the PH was VERY professional and didn't push for anything but finding a true hard bossed bull. He respected my desire and upheld strong ethics! A real gentleman PH who understand real hunting!

As regards the outfitter/agent, well I booked direct as live here, but did have comms with HHK management. Graham is a stand up guy, who stands by his hunting area. He has offered me to come back at no charge except a trophy fee to hunt a bull later this year. (Not sure I will have time, but a real option!)

Hunting is hunting and I am sure if I went back and the stars aligned I would get a nice bull, but I also believe that in a very short time there will not be shooters left.

Time will tell what happens, but HHK are a good outfit, with great PH's maybe just be more clear/ forceful about understanding the area you are offered. (Dande has so much Ele movement I can only believe it to be a fun place to chase ele! So because of a buff situation it shouldn't eliminate an entire area.)

I do however think national parks need to step up management intelligence so quotas are more intelligently allocated.

It's good to know they didn't pressure you and they offered you the opportunity to come back at no charge. That certainly shows professionalism from their side.

Hope you have the chance to take off later this year and get an old warrior.

All the best.
 

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Hope you can get back out and hunt.
Perhaps rain will move the Buffalo around and you'll get a chance at something decent that moves in.

Good luck.
 

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hey marc when did graham say you can go? because if you cant make it i will put myself out :( and head down and shoot it for you.......;):LOL::LOL:

The world is a better place with you in it!(y) I can't imagine the sacrifice you are willing to make to hunt a buff for your fellow man.......I am only sad that I didn't offer my generosity first!:(
 

Jumbo

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You guys are Clowns! spikeT .......hmmmmm

I will certainly be looking for a gap to get there! Just not sure I am going to find the time...........but hell I am going to try!
 

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