ZIMBABWE: Elephant, Leopard, Cape Buffalo & Plains Game with Nyamazana Safaris


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Apr 1, 2016
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Between dreams and reality
Hunting reports
PA, OH, NM, ND, AL, FL, MD; EC/KZN/MP South Africa, Zimbabwe x 2, Mozambique
Safari operator: Nyamazana Safaris @Nyamazana Safaris

Area: Zimbabwe, Bubiana Conservancy – Drummond Ranch

PH: Wayne Van Den Bergh along with Sam, Cowboy and the local scout Dumasen

Flight Reservations: @Travel Express - Lori Spears

Gun Clearance: @riflepermits.com

Dip & Pack: Chipitani Safaris, Andy Hunter out of Harare

Taxidermy: @The Artistry of Wildlife

Tusk reproductions by TCI in Bulawayo

Dates of Hunt: 14 – 27 October 2018


#1. Colt Light Rifle in 30-06 with handloaded 165gr Peregrine plainsmaster bullets topped with Zeiss Diavari FL 2.5-10x 50 with illuminated #60 reticle.

#2. Mod 70 Alaskan 375 H&H using 300 gr Peregrine Bushmaster “softs” and 300gr Federal Premium Woodleigh Hydro’s topped with Leupold VX-6 2-12x42 with firedot duplex.

Fishing Rod(s):

#1. Fenwick HMG Casting Travel Rods (two) with Shimano Chronarch CI4+ casting reels, one loaded with Braid and the other with 12lb mono.

#2. Fenwick HMG Spinning Rod with Diawa Lexa 2500 (12 lb mono) and also an older Penn 4500 (18Lb).

These rods come in 3 sections with two different tips, a medium and a medium-heavy as well as a nice travel case. You can fit three rods in one travel case and my checked bag was long enough to accommodate the rod case.

Rifle Case: Pelican Storm 3300

If you want to skip the story and see a few of the pictures from this hunt, go to https://www.africahunting.com/threads/incredible-hunt-offer-available-for-leopard-buffalo-elephant-hippo-crocodile-plains-game-2018.44906/

I will be posting additional pictures on this thread as I retell the hunt. If you are bored and want something to read, then join me as I tell about the adventure. I will apologize up front for the lack of quality pictures, my wife wasn’t with me this trip and she’s usually toting a big lens.


A little background and thought process before I jump into the hunt report as it all ties together. My wife and I, along with @AfricanEclipse and his better half had returned from a great hunt with @Nyamazana Safaris in late July, detailed here https://www.africahunting.com/threads/zimbabwe-2018-cast-blast-x2-with-nyamazana-safaris.44690/

After squaring up the final tally with Wayne on the last morning before departing Drummond Ranch, I put down a deposit for a leopard hunt to take place in 2020. I had put in many many hours of research sifting through leopard hunting reports taking place in Zimbabwe and Namibia on various forums dating back to the 2000’s. One area stood out, the Drummond Ranch. There was enough positive information that I was sure we had a very good chance of taking a leopard. Plains game hunting the area for ten glorious days, seeing leopard sign and probing Wayne with leopard hunting questions for at least nine of those ten days gave me the utmost confidence to put down a deposit before we left!

Yes, a leopard hunt in this area is going to cost in the range of $26-30,000. I would rather pay more for a high success rate hunt versus a cheaper hunt with much lower success. When I say high success, I’m talking close to 100%. You read and hear the frustrating reports of hunters going two, three and even more times before they are successful bagging Chui. In many instances, these hunts are advertised at much lower cost, some with higher trophy fees and lower daily rates. Why the lower cost, because the success rate is also much lower with a higher trophy fee. You add up the costs of two or more “cheaper” hunts and you exceed the cost of a high success rate hunt.

I don’t fight fair, wanted to limit the amount of lady-luck needed in a high success rate area and was willing to pay the price. I was extremely confident I would be coming home with a leopard in 2020! My wife and I were looking forward to returning to the Drummond Ranch and the spectacular scenery and abundant free ranging wildlife.

Within three weeks of returning from our Cast and Blast adventure, Wayne posted a cancellation hunt at a significantly reduced daily rate:


There was no way I could go back so soon, or was there? Stars aligned with work, finances (since this hunt was severely discounted and I was able to apply the 2020 deposit) and my ever-understanding wife gave me the go ahead without her coming along. I would be back in Zimbabwe on the Drummond Ranch in two months!

The discounted hunt also included the opportunity for another chance at the few wily buffalo that lived in the area, an elephant that was on quota, hippo and croc. We had chased some of these buffalo during the first hunt and they would out-walk us (never stopping even after 10 – 12 miles), out-smarted us and wore us into the dirt day after day. I was looking forward to a buffalo rematch and was warming to the idea of an elephant. I had never given elephant hunting much thought as I never imagined I would hunt one, how things can quickly change.


Two months to go, I don’t have any softs for my 375 H&H. I carried Federal 300 gr Hydro’s on the first hunt but never fired a shot as the 30-06 was a killing machine and I never had a good chance at a buffalo. My 30-06 load from the previous trip was spectacular and is documented here (https://www.africahunting.com/threads/peregrine-165-gr-30-06-load-development.42317/). I would also be using the 30-06 for the leopard.

For this trip, I wanted some softs as I wasn’t going to take a 375 to Africa twice without killing something, that wouldn’t be right! I also wanted a back-up to the 30-06, you never know what can happen and take a rifle out of commission. I HATE paying for factory ammo and decided to try and work a load up for the Peregrine 300 grain Bushmasters. I detailed the path I took in this thread:


I had trouble finding consistency but figured out just a few days before leaving that my scope bases had worked loose! It was no wonder some of the loads weren’t repeatable, loc-tite solved the problem. I did work up a good load that shot well and was close to the factory Hydro’s POI, the final confirmation at the range just a few days before the next obstacle reared its head, Hurricane Michael.

I live on the Florida Gulf Coast and the small tropical storm that turned into major Hurricane Michael was headed straight at us! Landfall was projected between Pensacola and the Big Bend region on Wednesday the 10th of October, the day before I was to depart from Pensacola to catch the Delta non-stop out of Atlanta on Thursday the 11th of Oct.

By Tuesday afternoon I had the storm curtains up on the house, boat tied down, bags all packed and now it was time to sit and watch where the storm would end up coming ashore.

Rifles, extra scope and fishing reels ready to go:

IMG_2280 (2).jpg

Storm shutters in place:

IMG_2274 (2).jpg

Radar image of storm:


I had purchased AIG travel insurance through Lori @Travel Express and was thankful I had the policy. At this point, I can hardly sleep. I’m awake by 2am Wednesday intensely studying the 15-minute radar updates looking for some sign of weakening or path deviation. At 4 am Michael is still coming straight North, bearing down on the coast and I was worried. The storm hadn’t yet turned to the Northeast as the hurricane models had predicted. I texted my good friend @jacques smith , who lives to the east and is closer to the storm’s path, he had decided to evacuate before the local bridges were shut down by high winds. The storm ended up turning a few hours later and spared us but inflicted massive damage just 70 miles to the east, devastating the Panama City and Mexico Beach areas as well as many small communities well north of the coast.

What else could go wrong? I ended up breaking a piece of my tooth off Wednesday evening! A visit to the Dentist early Thursday morning and he was able to patch me up. The Delta app showed the 1330 flight to Atlanta was still on time so the wife and I headed to Pensacola. The airport was operating and even though Hurricane Michael’s path had taken it just south of the Atlanta area, my flights arrived and departed on schedule.

Back in Africa

The past two trips to Johannesburg, my wife and I stayed at the AfricaSky Guesthouse and utilized the firearms clearance service they offered. This trip, being by myself, I decided to stay at the airport City Lodge and used @riflepermits.com to clear my rifles and assist at the airport. No issues and prompt and courteous service from Anna who met me on my arrival to JNB and departure to Bulawayo the following day.

Arrival in Bulawayo

No issues with ticketing or my flight to Bulawayo on 13 October (unlike the first trip) and Lori was able to snag me a seat up front on the flight. I noticed a gentleman and his daughter (at least I think it was) sitting across the aisle from me and he was reading one of Kevin Robertson’s books, easily pegged him as a hunter, possibly Spanish. Upon touchdown in Bulawayo, I texted Wayne that I had arrived and he responded he would meet me at 1pm, about an hour to get through all the red tape was about right. I was the first one off the plane and into the receiving area. I had most of the required forms pre-filled upon arrival and was the first person in line, had my Visa in short order, through the gun inspection and out the door in record time. I texted Wayne again and told him “you owe me beers”, I was 25 minutes ahead of schedule! To be fair, Wayne jammed in this cancellation hunt between a family vacation and his next hunt as he had just gotten back home from Europe 12 hours before I arrived and was prepping as quickly as he could for this hunt.

After exiting the secure area, I was greeted by another PH and his wife thinking I may have been their client and chuckled no, they are still in there filling out all the government forms. We chatted for a few minutes until Wayne showed up and we headed back to his house to finish up some final packing and preparations for the leopard hunt. It was hot in Bulawayo, very hot. We arrived at Drummond that evening and with the light fading decided we would get settled and check the rifles in the morning. We enjoyed a good meal with a few cold beverages as it was mid 90’s. Back in my room, I readied my kit, dropped the mosquito nets and climbed into bed thinking how surreal it was that I was back at Drummond Ranch so soon. It was still very warm and humid but a good breeze had kicked up billowing out the curtains as I fell asleep.

Day 1

The winds the previous evening brought in a significant change in the weather, rain. This was like a repeat of the first trip in July when we experienced rain for the first couple of days.

Wind, rain and mist as we wait out mother nature:

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We delayed our departure from the lodge, another cup of coffee it is, until the rain subsided to a mist and proceeded to shoot the rifles. The 30-06 was exactly where we left it from the first trip in July while I adjusted the 375 H&H down a few clicks, the softs and solids printing close together about an inch and half high. Perfect!

Second order of the day, we need leopard bait! I had already made up my mind that we were going to use Zebra for bait and as many as it took to get our cat. Wayne and I had previously discussed leopard hunting in October as it could be very hot and only big baits would last more than a day. Oh, and leopard just love Zebra!!! We drove for a bit looking for Zebra but didn’t see much game of any species until later in the morning as the rain and mist slowed. I donned my rain jacket and jumped up into the high seat, just a few sprinkles every now and then. We spotted some Zebra and they ran off, a stallion stopping and looking back but I couldn’t find a path for the bullet to get through the branches and he was a good 200 yards away. We drove around the corner from them, dismounted and cut back into the bush trying to sneak up on them but they had disappeared. We tracked them for 20 minutes or so until we heard and then saw giraffe galloping through the bush in front of us, no way we would sneak up to a Zebra herd with the giraffe sentries hanging around.

Back to the truck and our search for Zebra continued. We broke out into an open area and spotted a group of Zebra off to our right, a good way out. One stopped and looked at us with no foal around, fair game. I was given the green light to shoot as I steadied the crosshairs and adjusted my impact point up and slightly over as the Zebra wasn’t exactly broadside. This was a long shot and I know my bullet is dead on at 200 yards. I squeezed and let fly and could see the Zebra spin and gallop off over the crest of the hill. The shot felt good and the trackers confirmed it was a good hit. The walk to where the Zebra was standing was much further than I had thought, turning back to look at the Toyota and it was small, I was glad I had adjusted my aim up a bit. The Zebra ran off slightly over the rise and we could see where she had stumbled in the wet earth. I’m guessing the shot was closer to 225 yards as the bullet entered through the front leg and into the heart area without exiting. It was an easy recovery as there was little underbrush and we have our first four baits.

Old gray mare being loaded:

IMG_2329 (2).jpg

After loading up the Zebra, we set course for the skinning shed with myself and the 3 trackers in the back of the bakkie. Not five minutes later a small herd of Zebra is tearing through the brush to the left of the truck. Wayne slows and Sam tells me to take the Stallion, another shot from the 30-06 and 165gr Peregrines and I can see the impact on the hide. We dismount and follow the spoor and the beautiful stallion is down. Shot was at the top of the chevron and punched clean through the stallion at approximately 100 yards.

Wayne and I head to the skinning shed while the trackers clear a short path for the bakkie and we snap a few photos. I’m going to shoulder mount this guy and also saved the back skin.

Couple pics of the dark stallion:

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We unload the second Zebra and head towards the lodge for lunch while we await the skinners to skin and cut up the Zebra quarters for baits. We drive into a crossing area where there are multiple water points and a couple of Eland bulls begin to trot away. I ask if he’s a good one and the answer is yes. I swing in front of the eland bull and follow him in the crosshairs and surprise myself with a shot.

We check for blood and sure enough, there are drops and we start following. About 150 yards in, Cowboy and I find a branch with a lot of blood and what looks like pink lung material. I’m thinking he’s not too far away. We finally run into him about 2 hours later, Wayne is able to get a shot off but didn’t appear to connect and the eland disappears. We continue following until he crosses the property boundary but have to wait an hour or so until we are able to get a game scout from the other property and continue following the blood and spoor for many more miles, bumping the eland once again.

Neither Wayne nor I could see him let alone get another shot into him. It’s getting very late and the eland crosses back into the Drummond property. We mark the spoor and walk another couple clicks until we reach Sam on the radio to come fetch us.

Exhausted and kicking myself for making such a piss poor shot decision. I’m thinking I hit him high in the top of maybe only one lung. Most of the blood spoor is on the opposite side of the body from the initial shot so there was a complete pass through. Wayne is staying positive and believes leaving him rest overnight without pushing him will help, hopefully find him down or very sick in the morning. Not a great way to start off the Safari.
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Great write up and a great tale so far!!
This looks like a great tale, keep it going!
Hey Edge- great start to your hunt! I love the stallion you took. Thick black lines- just like I like them.

I’m really excited to follow you on this hunt!
Great start! Looking forward to more :A Popcorn:
Congrats on the zebra, enjoyed the report so far! Look forward to the nest installment.
Keep it rolling, sounds like a great story coming on
:A Popcorn::D Beer Bottle: Looks like the start of a proper adventure.
Great start to your report! Looking forward to hearing the rest.
Great report so far! I'm looking forward to reading the rest.
Great tale so far. Well done on the Zebra. I've trailed wounded eland myself. Not a lot of fun....
Day 2 – 15 October

I didn’t sleep well, the eland bothering me and the weather had warmed back up yesterday after the rain cleared and it was warm and humid that night. At 1:30am I awoke to thunder in the distance and around 3:30am I hear rain falling, this is not going to help following the spoor.

On the way to the area we had left the night before, we ran across a good sized elephant track on the road, definitely worth a follow-up if we didn’t have an eland to find and eight baits to put out for Chui before they rotted into a stinking mess. We found where the eland had crossed the old airstrip and began following again, the muscles were a bit stiff from 12 miles of tracking the day before. We tracked him through a thorn thicket hoping to find where he had laid down or showed some sign of slowing, nothing but a spoor winding its way through the thicket heading in a general direction. Even though it had rained, the trackers were able follow along at a decent pace.

We crossed the main road and back into the main hunting area of the ranch, taking us steadily down an old two track through the bush. Elephant tracks on top of his told us another tale, we were well behind the eland. The trackers continued to find drops of dried blood on the brown leaves, amazing eyes those guys possess, pointing them out to me. We found where he had walked into a small herd of eland which made sorting out the spoor very difficult. The guys did find a small area where the eland must have stood for some time during the night, with dried blood on quite a few of the bushes and surrounding grass.

We spend a good bit of the morning sorting out the spoor, finding blood low on the ground where a hoof had moved aside a branch or the body brushed up against one of the thorn bushes reaching out to halt your progress but it was slow going.

It was getting hot, mid 90’s, and closing in on the noon hour. We took a breather under some sparse shade and Wayne pointed out Mopani seeds, and no, they don’t taste like peanut butter!

Mopani seeds JPG.jpg

We called the trackers back to us on the radio and made a new plan. With it being so hot out, we needed to get some leopard baits hung but I didn’t want to give up on the eland. Wayne and Sam left to start hanging some baits and I went with Cowboy and Dumesen to continue tracking the eland. The spoor wasn’t getting any fresher and we traveled another mile or so before finally losing the track in some waist high dead grass, and it was very hot out now. Disappointed in losing my first African animal, we would watch for vultures and let the anti-poaching patrols know we had lost an eland.

Where we finally lost the spoor:

Scenery Cropped.jpg

We headed back to the road and called Wayne to come pick us up, about 3 hours had passed since we parted ways and they had been busy in the heat and had put up two leopard baits.

Scenery picture, Mopane trees have all shed their leaves and allowed much greater visibility than we were there in July. The large green trees are Pod Mahogany, one of the few trees that has leaves and provides some great shade from the hot African sun.

Scenery jpg.jpg

Did I mention it was hot out? For those wondering, 38C equates to 100F.

Temp Cropped.jpg

A quick trip back to the lodge for some lunch and we were back out again, need to get more baits hung. Found a great spot, I’ll call it the “Lake bait”, with a fresh leopard track on the road.

Leopard Track.jpg

We drove down the road a ways to turn around and ran into a PH who was accompanying a biologist who I believed worked for, or in conjunction with, Zim Parks. They were on Drummond Ranch to evaluate the leopard population and ultimately the quota.

Here is a great read in regards to the population studies and in support of the current CITES quota for Zimbabwe.


Notice on page 10, Figure 4. Initial Points System for Leopard Trophies, I've pasted below for lazy and/or old people :ROFLMAO:


Simply, Zim Parks has come up with a points system based upon trophy age of the Leopard to establish the following years quota. For example, if one of the quota Leopards shot is less than 3 years age, you would lose one of your quota. The only way to keep your current quota, or increase the quota in an area is by shooting leopard greater than 4 years of age.

So how do you age a Leopard before you whack it? There are a few things to look for but back to the story for now!

We chatted with them a few minutes about the leopards they had been seeing on the cameras before heading back to our location. They had already lost 3-4 cameras to poachers and would continue to be around another few days.

The most important part, proper bait location. Wayne hunted around in the bush for awhile and found a proper bait tree. The plan is to hide where I’m taking the photo, a large rock out of the way of the elephant trail directly below us and 40 yards from the bait.

Bait Tree.jpg

A picture of the “Ambush Rock”.

ambush rock.jpg

A Zebra quarter hung up in the tree with Sam beginning to cover up the bait with green brush to ward off vultures and direct sunlight. Remember that branch Sam is standing upon, you will see it again!

Sam covering zebra quarter.jpg

To say we were all excited about this spot was an understatement. Fresh leopard spoor, juicy hunk of Zebra and a fantastic ambush site! We hung one additional bait, the fourth for the day, in a different area as the shadows grew long.

bait 4 (2).jpg

Heading back to the lodge at 7pm and still 31C, 87F. A warm shower to rinse off the layers of sweat, dust and Zebra goo followed by a good dinner and some cold drinks. Four more baits to hang tomorrow as well as checking the four that we have put out today.


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Very handsome zebra with only a couple of shadow lines! Interesting!
Working to have Day 3 posted up sometime today, slow going to get these day by day reports written and pics loaded.

iPhone decided to use a new file format for pics, .HEIC. I believe other phones are also heading to this new format.

Windows doesn't support the .HEIC format unless you buy the codec to be able to view them on the computer. PITA! :E Pissed:

To complicate matters, AH won't upload the .HEIC photos and I have to convert them to JPEG before uploading. :A Bang Head:

There is a way to save photos on your iPhone to jpeg but they will take up more space and you won't be able to record video at the highest frame rates.

I'll stop my whining and get back to writing! :D Cheers:
Day 3 – 16 October

During a quiet warm night at Drummond you can hear grass being munched outside your window by Zebra, Waterbuck and other animals that come in to feed on the green watered lawn. No need for a tractor as the grass is perfectly manicured, naturally. One of the many great auditory memories from staying there and yes, I have gotten up and flashed my torch out the window for a look see!

We are up and out early to check the baits set out yesterday and to place the four additional baits today. Stopped at the skinning shed and picked up a couple of Zebra quarters and the skinner handed me the 165 grain Peregrine that came from the first Zebra.

The 165 gr Peregrine Plainsmaster’s, one from a Kudu from the first trip and the second from the Zebra. Both bullets encountered heavy bone but hung together well and penetrated. These are the only Peregrines recovered from two safaris.

165gr Side View.jpg

Top view of bullets:

165gr Peregrine top view.jpg

We check the first couple of baits and nothing happening and we move on to the “lake bait”. Anticipation is high and there is spoor again on the road. We walk in and sure enough, the green brush has been moved off the leg quarter and we have a cat feeding!

Lake Bait Fed upon.jpg

A game camera is set up to try and catch the dinner guest, hopefully he comes by again this evening for a photo op! We press on and set up the remainder of the baits during the day. It’s very hot, 39C/102F by 12:30. Wayne is using a secret sauce on the baits to try and keep them from rotting so quickly. The innards used for the scent drags and to cover our scent are more than ripe. Lesson learned, stay upwind!

One of the bait sites we set up was in a dry creek bed that has a log wired up across two trees used during previous hunts. There was one big problem with this site for October, the trees were devoid of leaves!

cross log.jpg

Improvisation was in order! We created a canopy of green above the bait as well as a good amount of green over the bait. Hopefully, our ingenuity will work and the cat will feel comfortable at the dinner table.

Cowboy applying secret sauce to Zebra quarter:

cowboy Magic.jpg

Sam putting the finishing touches on the new “Green Tree” after hoisting up and securely attaching the marinated Zebra quarter. Looking good!

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On the way back to the skinning shed, we were able to take a shortcut and cross the river for the first time this year. Always good fun chugging through the deep sand and water in a Toyota, especially when it’s not your vehicle!

Sam testing the water depth before we head across, good man.

Water Crossing.jpg

As we came through the gate of the high fence farming area where the skinning shed is located, we see a warthog out in the field. Warthogs and Baboons aren’t tolerated in the farm area as you can imagine the crop damage they can inflict. This warthog was acting funny as it didn’t run from us and we could see some dark spots on his side. I was able to dispatch him and it turned out there were deep abscesses on his side and belly, I won’t share those pics. Wounds possibly from the spear of a poacher. This is the second warthog I’ve taken here, both mercy kills. Warthog was proving to be my nemesis on three trips to Africa and I do like eating them, but not this one.

After setting out the remainder of the baits in the blistering heat of the day, we took a drive down one of the tracks in the late afternoon and encountered a lone bull elephant in the thick bush. We stopped the truck and I stepped out to try and snap a pic with my phone while Wayne checked him out with the binos.

Poor pic from the iphone, this isn’t some photo game park!

young bull.jpg

The young bull was a bit cheeky and didn’t care for us being there as I dove back into the truck and we pulled ahead to give him some space. We didn’t make it 50 yards and an elephant had pushed over a good sized tree across the road. Oh $hit! We were able to get the truck turned around, but apparently we had moved far enough away from the bull to be out of the danger zone, he crossed the road behind us and disappeared back into the thick jess.

Pic of bull crossing road:

crossing road.jpg

Back into the jess and quickly disappearing:


Dinner is a Zebra schnitzel and its delicious, I do like eating Zebra!

Zebra Schnitzel.jpg

Walking back to my room I spook a herd of Zebra from the lawn and I just smile!
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You are welcome to join our family at Blaauwkrantz in February. We have been hosting international hunters since 1978 and known to be the best kudu hunting in the world! we are based on our 100 000 acre ranch, an hours drive from the Port Elizabeth airport. Please email me on info@blaauwkrantz.com
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Good morning 7MAG. I have a NEW, never mounted, Leupold M8-4X Extended Eye Relief scope that I will sell you for $325 shipped to you. I was a Leupold rep for 12 years and this was always our preferred mounting for a lever gun, scout rifle style.
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is the 505 gibbs still for sell? Thanks!