ZIMBABWE: Buffalo Hunt In Dande With CMS June 2024


AH senior member
Jun 27, 2017
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North of England and Scotland
Hunting reports
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British Deer Society, British Association of Shooting & Conservation
South Africa
I hunted a buffalo bull on a seven day hunt with Charlton McCallum Safaris (CMS) last month, late June 2024.

It was my first time in Zimbabwe having only hunted PG in South Africa before twice. I have, however visited other southern African countries for holidays and work. I travelled with two great friends, one is @supine on here - who lives in North West of England and is a fellow deerstalker. He was after tuskless elephant (he’s braver than me!) and the other a UK/European based sporting agent friend; Ollie Hill from Sybarite Sporting who organized it for us. @supine was hunting with PH Gareth Lecluse, first class guy.

We flew with Qatar Airlines from Manchester, England via Doha (two hour stop and change) and then via Lusaka (one hour stop, stayed on the plane) to Harare. We spent the night in the highly recommended Amanzi Lodge. Fantastic rooms, food, service, pool and gardens.

We were collected by CMS driver Lesley at Amanzi and drove seven hours North to the camp. We were in a Toyota Prado and were grateful of the height and tyres for some sections, the roads were of varying degrees of repair with the exception of the new road to the (Chinese built..) new parliament building that they are readying for a big convention.

We arrived in time to have a shot at the target. As we are both UK based we sadly could not bring our rifles. I don’t have a DG rifle (as yet) my only African rifle is a Sako 85 in 30:06 bought partly for use on PG. My pal has beautiful Trevor Proctor rifles in .375 H&H and .458 Lott so it was a shame they had to stay behind. My camp rifle was a .375 Winchester Model 70 with a Leupold 1-4x scope.

We were in Dande North staying in Matombo camp, a stunning setting on a cliff a 100 feet above the Zambezi river. The area looks over Zambia across the river and Mozambique is just a few clicks to the east. For a spot for a sundowner it’s hard to beat anywhere in the world.

view from camp at dusk.jpg

My PH was David Mann who qualified last year but had spent a five year apprenticeship with CMS including a lot of time with Buzz Charlton on elephant hunts. He was first class, I could not praise him enough, a very old head on young shoulders. Dave has a fantastic, very experienced team of trackers (Tkki and Zee) driver Graymore and was assisted by a great young apprentice Daniel Norman.

Dande is hard hunting as the bush is pretty thick, even in the dry season, we’d typically be up at 4 or 4.30am and by 5 or 5.30 were on the road and drive the roads until we’d cut some tracks with dugga boys amongst. We’d then follow the herd (in fact from a single animal to a herd of 80 odd) from anything up to seven hours. It was often the case of stepping in the PH’s footsteps as he slowly moved the noisy deep leaf litter away with his foot. When we did get into a herd we very rarely saw all of an animal, just a flicking ear or tail.

supine with gareth lecluse.jpg

We saw more than one herd of buffalo every day and got into them often but they either busted us or there was no clear shot in the jess or bush.

On day six we got lucky, not long after leaving camp at dawn (6am ish) we spotted a mixed herd with two dugga boys in from the road (they never do that here!) We drove on then stalked back down the road, they heard us crunching along the gravel and took off at 40 yards, as usual we just heard them ‘whoosh’ and saw bushes sway.

We tracked the herd for about an hour and a half seeing a magnificent large hyena at 50 yds en route. At about 7.30am David could see them, they had done their usual trick of standing on the edge of some thick vegetation and waiting to see if we were humans or lions! We were pinned down…….he suggested we backed out and came around on to some higher, more open ground to get a better look down onto them.

It turns out that this proved to be the perfect ‘ambush’ technique he’d been talking about for the past five days but the buff had not played ball….until now. Suddenly David said ‘I can see them’ as they had made their way up the hill and were amongst some lower bush, only three feet high. He set the (quad) sticks up and I got the .375 on them ready, he said he’d let me know which one to go for when they appeared in a ten foot gap in the bush about 45 yards away and then, quickly; ‘the first one’ as he’d seen the boss of a dugga boy at the front of the herd (they are, apparently, usually at the back.)

In a split second the bull stepped into the gap and David let out bellow to stop him, he obliged and looked at us and I quickly put in a shot on the shoulder. The bull reared up a bit and span round then ran away, a cow ran in front of him so no time for a second shot. It was 08.05am, we had been out from camp for just over two hours. We got lucky (I hoped) but we had earnt it.

My adrenaline was pumping. I had dreamt of this experience for some 35 years. Stories from my late grandfather (who lived in Uganda before the Second World War and spent some of the war with KARs) and devouring his books by fellow Scots - the likes of ‘Karamojo’ Bell, J Hunter and Gordon-Cumming had led to the desire since childhood.

David said ‘it looked like he reacted well.’ I couldn’t tell to be honest after the recoil but I thought I saw him buck a bit through the scope. He added ‘now we will wait 30 or 40 minutes.’ After about just a couple of minutes (that felt like hours..) we slowly and carefully moved to the edge of the hill to the shot site. The first wave of relief came when the trackers found some lung blood and Daniel passed me a leaf with a good splash on. We then heard some strangled bellowing. The PH said ‘it’s not a death bellow’ but he is clearly struggling.’ We waited more then saw the herd across the valley in some cover at about 200 yards, as they took off David said ‘none of them are lagging behind which is good.’ We waited some more then very slowly moved in, rifles at the ready. Suddenly David pointed down to the bottom of the donga and there was the bull lying still, eyes closed 15 yards away. On his instruction I put in the insurance shot through the front of the shoulder but he never moved, clearly dead from the first shot. The feeling was firstly one of immense relief that I hadn’t made a mess of it and wounded the animal and then great joy in succeeding in landing my first buff.

As we climbed down the slope David and Daniel said ‘he’s a proper old bull with a really hard boss. Perfect, just what we were after.’ Brilliant I thought. Handshakes all round. I was over the moon. The size of him up close was impressive, he was losing hair, scarred and looked old to me.

The animal has fresh, bloody scars on his body and the guys said the noise he was making was probably when another bull was attacking him with his horns. Apparently this is common when a herd bull is dying.

I was exhausted mentally and Dave, Daniel and I sat down by the bull, admiring him and waiting whilst the rest of team cut a track through the bush to get the Hilux in from the road over a kilometer away. They appeared in just 20 minutes with Graymore at the wheel and the Trackers in front on foot, mopane handled axes whirling. The Hilux is fitted with winches front and back and the front winch made short work of dragging him out on a sheet from the steep sided donga, impressive.

We then took the obligatory photos, one of the whole team here: PH David Mann, Apprentice Daniel Norman, trackers Tikki and Ze, driver Graymore and our game scouts, one from the Parks & Wildlife (who is also an Apprentice PH) and one from the Communal Lands.

team with bull.jpg

shot placement.jpg

The shot placement, a little far forward but did the job.

A turnaround and they backed the bakkie up and David made two shallow parallel cuts in the bulls rear end skin and attached the winch from the back, my God their hide is tough! Tikki cut a 12 foot tree as a pole and with three of us each side of it we winched and lifted the bull in

We dropped the bull off at the skinning shed and it was fascinating to see the guys swift, skilful work. By midday we were having lunch back at the camp and I had a couple of hours relaxing by the pool with my binos looking at the hippos and crocs in the Zambezi, ain’t life grand?!

By 4 the bull was jointed and I asked to join them to see the meat distributed to the local villagers. This was very important to me to see the end to end gains sustainable use wildlife conservation can bring. After calling in on one of the communal administrators he hopped on the back of the truck and we took the meat to a village of the Vadoma tribe. Due to the severe drought most of the locals had suffered near 100% crop loss so the protein was greatly welcomed. The PHs felt sorry for the skinny village dogs with their puppies so they got a few titbits.

food for the vadoma.jpg

Back at the camp Daniel brought me the bullet they had recovered. The 300 grain Swift A frame performed perfectly. I went through both lungs and lodged against the far shoulder. The guys there love the Swift A frame, we struggle to get them in the UK sadly. Their second choice of bullet is the Barnes TSX also in 300 grain.

bullet recovered 1.jpg
bullet recovered 2.jpg

I am bringing the skull home as it is a lovely example of an old bull (they tell me) my first buff and we now have a new, Labour government and they have, I’m afraid promised to push the Trophy Import Bill through, so nonsensical. Idiotic, myopic neo-colonialism.

That evening the sundowner over the Zambezi tasted better than ever. The food was amazing all week and that night we had the buffalo heart in strips and some liver and onion morsels, delicious.

bull skull.jpg

an old bull with hard bosses and a nice shape, he measured 37.5", when we first saw him we all had a guess and David guessed closest, he said '37 to 38 inches' - a hell of an estimation, hats off to him!

For my last day of my 7 days 'hunting' I was going to accompany @supine on his tuskless hunt or look for a nice male duiker but, to be honest I was drained so opted to have a lie in (until 6am!) and a day on the river fishing in one of the camp boats. I’m not a big fisherman but it was an excuse to see some beautiful scenery and amazing animals upstream. We caught some Butter Barble and Catfish (which the Trackers were grateful to have for their supper) and had a couple of exciting takes from Tigerfish but the line snapped or they bit through the (wire!) trace. The guys said the water was too cold this tie of year for good Tiger, Vundu or Tilapia. It’s usually a top spot for Tigers. That night we had the traditional last night braai (barbecue) and my buffalo in steaks that were delicious.


The following day we packed up ready to tip the amazing staff and head back by car to Harare, the seven and a half hours felt longer and more bumpy than on the way in, we should have flown probably!

In all it was an amazing experience, unbelievable, I assumed I would love it but it exceeded my expectations and I can’t wait to return, an expensive habit! I can’t praise the team and the outfitters CMS enough, I’ll hunt with them again as soon as I can afford it!

Thanks for reading to the end, Nick


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Great report and thanks for sharing! Congrats on a great hunt!
Congrats and thanks for sharing!
Congratulations! Dande is certainly a special area and the view from Matombo is second to none!
Congratulations on taking a fine buffalo! Dande is a special place.
Great story, thanks for taking us along in it. Congratulations on a very nice bull!
Definitely a proper buffalo and hunt. Congrats on a wonderful adventure and thanks for sharing it with us.
A great write up Nick
Well done, congratulations. Thanks for the right up. The description of the emotions on shooting your first buffalo was bang on.
Fantastic story, Nick. Congratulations on a great bull and a tough hunt. I've jealously watched so many CMS videos on YouTube, I can almost hear your footsteps in the dry leaves...

Thanks for the mental escape; I long to get there someday.

Ed Z
Met David in 2021 when hunting with CMS and that young man will be a terrific PH. So glad to see he finished his license.

Matambo is nice for the river view alone.

Congratulations on a fine bull.Good stuff.
Well done. Thanks for sharing your adventure with us.
Congrats for a proper buff and a great experience :D Cheers:
Met David in 2021 when hunting with CMS and that young man will be a terrific PH. So glad to see he finished his license.

Matambo is nice for the river view alone.

Congratulations on a fine bull.Good stuff.
He's a star in the making for sure
Great report and well written. Congratulations on your buffalo and experience.
Congratulations. I like your writing style, very straightforward and easy to read. The swift A frames are amazing bullets but unfortunately extremely hard to come by in US now too. I’ll be going hunting with CMS next week.
Thanks for your hunt story Nick. A very enjoyable read indeed. I am very reminded of my own journey into my first buff hunt. It's one thing to read up on others hunts beforehand, quite another thing to actually get there, rifle in hand, hunting and taking buff yourself.
All hunting is great but somehow hunting buff in the Zim bush falls into a special category all of its own.
Like you I want to hunt them as often as I can. The only impediment is lack of funds enabling me to hunt as often as I think I should.
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Great writeup. It instantly took me back to my first (and only) buff. It was also not so far from the Zambezi, but upstream a ways. I was warned to not start buffalo hunting, as everything after that would be less enjoyable. I'm not sure that's entirely true, but I have developed a curious desire to do it again. ;)

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