Discussion in 'Hunting Reports Africa' started by Edge, Dec 27, 2018.
Been looking forward to this!!!
Looking good! Big tom should be on cam tomorrow!
Day 4 – Morning - 17 October
I’m splitting Day 4 events up into two parts:
Up at 0445, a quick breakfast and out the door by 0530. Truck reads 22C/71F, going to be a scorcher today. We start the day out by checking baits and head to the “lake bait” first, sure enough, the leopard had come back that evening and fed heavily. You will also notice the bait has turned very dark and is decomposing. This is the third day since the Zebra was shot with afternoon temps hitting 100F +.
Big chunk from bait missing:
We download the photos from the SD card to Wayne’s phone and start reviewing the pictures. This is why I’ve come to Drummond Ranch, CHUI!
Chui pic 1:
Chui pic 2:
Chui pic 3:
The question is, “is he old enough to shoot”? Pics 1 and 2 show a cat that is missing some tell-tale signs of an older cat. Neck is still a bit thin without a dewlap, the ears seem a bit large on the skull, the body isn’t chunky and looks like it needs to fill out more. Then we look at a picture 3 for example, looks like a good cat, showing some dewlap, ears appear to be smaller and looks heavier and this picture was hours later.
Are there two different cats hitting the same bait or is it the same cat? We compare spots and it’s the same cat. There is some doubt in Wayne’s mind if he’s old enough.
I explained the consequences of shooting a young cat in the Day 2 post, possible loss of quota the following year. We adjust the camera at a slightly different angle and press on with checking the other seven baits.
At the next bait we also have a leopard that has come to feed but the trackers say it is a female, this was a bait we had also put up yesterday.
The third bait we check is the “log across the dry creek bed” that we set up yesterday with our improvised green leafy tree. This bait was also hit, with a good chunk of the zebra quarter eaten. From the large impressions in the sand, it could be a good cat. Another camera was set up to try and get some pictures.
We re-dress the bait with the green branches the cat has knocked loose and smooth out the sand around the bait site.
The sand doesn’t reveal a definitive track, just indentations, and we search the dirt road just a hundred yards away for any sign and locate a good clear track!
The stick in the center is approximately 10cm long (couldn’t find the exact length in my notes, so going from memory here). The shaved portion was the length of the pad from a giant cat taken earlier in the year, it may have been the cat @Wm Martens took with Wayne. The total length of the spoor was good but the pad portion may be a bit short. Hopefully the camera will give us a clue tomorrow, if the cat returns as he had fed heavily during the night.
It’s 0720 and three for three on baits today! We head to the fourth bait and run into the other PH and biologist. They showed us some pictures of leopard they had taken on the ranch, nothing like more leopard pictures to keep the excitement level high! The local scout, Sunday, was also there assisting them. It was great seeing Sunday again as he was the local game scout assisting us when we were there in July.
On our way again to the fourth bait, a female Vervet monkey runs across the road in front of us and drops her young baby. The scouts jump out and are able to capture the young one, attachment point for the umbilical still fresh. Wayne and guys believe he's about a week old. I wished the little guy luck and sent him on his way up the rockpile where his mother was hiding out.
We press on to the fourth bait but no visitors. We pile back into the truck and head to the fifth bait but don’t make it more than a couple hundred yards when Wayne stops and asks me if I want to shoot a giraffe. The trackers have spotted a young giraffe missing a portion of its hind leg. Wayne calls into headquarters and they give us the ok to dispatch the giraffe.
I climb up onto the back of the truck and unzip the Model 70 375 H&H from its case, verify I have a Peregrine soft in the chamber as we turn around and head back to the spot where the trackers had spotted the giraffe. I’m glad I studied Kevin Robertson’s, The Perfect Shot II, knew the spinal cord just below the head would be a great spot to anchor the giraffe to make recovery of the meat easier. We locate the giraffe about 75 yards away, it hasn’t gone far from the initial sighting. It turns and looks back at us, I place the red firedot reticle on the center of the neck and take the shot. Placement is perfect and the 300 gr copper bullet smashes through the neck vertebra and exits, quickly ending the suffering. It appears as though a poacher’s snare had caught around the lower leg joint above the hoof and sliced completely through.
We mark the area with toilet tissue for the skinning crew to come out and retrieve the giraffe and head back towards the skinning shed where there is wi-fi. Wayne wants to send the leopard pictures into a Zimbabwe leopard expert for his opinion. We are able to get the pictures out via Whatsapp and have a discussion with him. Verdict, he’s on fence if this is a four year old cat and we should probably pass. I’ll tell you I had mixed emotions. The leopard looked good to me and from all the leopard trophy pictures out there on the net, he wouldn’t have been the smallest by far! But I understand the importance of conservation, but maybe a little dejected. There are still 10 days left to hunt, we would keep looking.
We have more baits to check and its only getting hotter out, 0930 and already climbing past 30c/86F.
Part 2 of Day 4 will follow in another post, I need to go load some ammo and get off the computer for a while!
"the log across the creek" track seems to be a big tom! Sand is not easy but a track of 8cm and bigger will be a nice tom.
WOW, three cats feeding is great going, shows a healthy population.
Good luck and keep posting! feels like we are there!
Just out of curiosity, how far is the closest water to the bait?
Good to hear you are enjoying the tale! This area has a very good leopard population, as you will read in an upcoming post we actually had a fourth bait hit but we were now focusing in on the dry creek Tom since the lake Tom was just a bit too young.
The closest water point was probably 300 meters away, maybe less. Wayne knows cats and many of our baits were near water points, probably more so since this was mid October and it was hot. Most of the natural water holes had dried up.
Great stuff! Wayne indeed knows his cats and the importance of water not too far off is most important in those temperatures.
We have before resorted to "adding" artificial water to keep a cat on bait.
You need to speed up the report the anticipation is killing me!!!
Day 4 – Part 2 - 17 October
And the rest of the story for day 4...
We leave the gated and fenced farming area and head towards the remaining leopard baits that needed checked today. We were approaching a “T” in the road where we would turn right to check the rest of the leopard baits and there were two elephants across the T road but were facing away, about 125 yards away! This area has a couple of water points and was the same area I had shot my Hyena in July. Wayne scrambled to fish out the binoculars while I stepped out of the truck to get a shot with the iphone, I can see tusks on both of the elephants.
This area is not known for big ivory, Wayne had seen a few older bulls around this year but most were short and thick and my expectations were set along those lines. We had seen a lot of elephant sign the first couple of days and we discussed tracking bulls through the bush like we had chased these crazy buffalo around in July. But it’s hunting and you never know what will appear around the next corner!
Time now is 9:47am.
My heart skipped a beat and I felt a rush of adrenalin, the tusk on the larger of the two elephants, the one on the left, looks long! I’m a little murky on the exact conversation and actions but it went along these lines. As I turned to my right to look at Wayne, he looked at me through the cab. He asks, are you ready, I know this isn’t a long tracking job through the bush…I’m ready I respond…body shot he asks? I respond, no, side or frontal brain shot, prefer frontal. I’ve got the 375H&H in my hands at this point, removing the 300 gr Peregrine Bushmaster and topping off with a Federal Woodleigh Hydro Solid. Verified three in the magazine, all solids, as I slip the extractor over the fourth solid and into the chamber.
I tell Wayne, if the bull doesn’t go down immediately from the brain shot then fill him full of holes. I do not want to chase a wounded elephant through the bush.
The leopard survey crew has pulled up along side us and they have a front row seat. I believe the PH tells me good luck as we leave the truck and advance towards the two bulls, I was focused. The elephants are now aware of us and start moving from left to right, paralleling the intersecting road. We begin paralleling them on the near side of the road, probably 30 yards or so, Sam sets the sticks and I’m on them as the bulls hesitate and look at us but resume their walk. We continue paralleling them for another 15 yards and set up the sticks again as they walk behind a screen of mopane trees, I have the crosshairs in front of the big bull’s ear, no shot through the trees. The big bull steps out, turns to face us and raises his head high. Wayne probably gives the verbal to take him but I as I write this, I don’t recall exactly what was said, everything was happening quickly and I was in the zone.
After I had committed to this hunt in mid-August, I studied the AfricanHunting.com Elephant Shot Placement topic over and over. I also read some of the other members elephant hunts and the mention of a great shot placement DVD Video by Charlton McCallum Safaris, HUNTING THE AFRICAN ELEPHANT THE COMPLETE GUIDE. I ordered it from Safari Press and watched it numerous times, an excellent resource for a first-time elephant hunter, although I will watch it again before heading back over to Africa. I highly recommend this video for anyone going to Africa that may be hunting where elephants may be present, you never know.
As some of you elephant hunters know, but others may not be aware, the angle of the bullet path to the brain changes quite significantly depending upon how the elephant is holding his head. Down in a charge, straight ahead or lifted up, head held high. In the case of an elephant with his head high, the bullet path is much lower than you would think and you need to aim low in this case. Even if you don’t hit the brain, the bullet path will impact the spine.
As the bull raises his head, the words come back to me, aim lower on the trunk. The firedot crosshair is exactly where I believe it should be and I squeeze the trigger sending the 300gr Hydro. The bull immediately goes down and over onto his right side. I don’t see any movement but bullets are cheap. I’ve already ejected a spent round, step a few paces to my left and tell Wayne I’m going to hit him again. He concurs as I squeeze off another shot into his forehead, and jack in another round. No movement from the shot impact or afterwards.
Time is now 9:53am, 6 minutes have elapsed from when we first sighted the bulls, grabbed our gear, made the approach and downed the bull.
We step onto the dirt road and walk across, Cowboy smiling and congratulating me as I hold out my hand and show him the shakes in my hand. As we approach the bull I am in awe, what a magnificent animal and give thanks. We are standing there looking at him and hear a rumble, Wayne says we need to shoot him again and says shoot here and puts his finger on his forehead and steps back. I immediately pull up and shoot where he was pointing. No movement but Wayne’s tells me “I want you to shoot that spot but from this angle, you may have hit the tusk”. He has moved to the right and points the angle he wants me to take, I reposition and put another solid into the skull. Still no movement and not another sound. Bullets are cheap.
This bull will provide the money needed for the anti-poaching patrols for the area to keep these magnificent animals safe as well as all the other animals on this absolute gem of a property. His meat will provide for many hungry mouths that seldom have protein.
The younger bull that was accompanying this one kept circling the area and wouldn’t leave, cheeky bugger. Wayne had to go round-up some help and gave me specific instructions not to shoot the youngster and departed. Without a vehicle around the youngster became bolder and I couldn’t let my guard down and I had made sure I had topped off the magazine with solids. Cheeky would approach us, getting within 60 yards, stomping and flaring his ears. We would drive him off by banging a shovel on the rocks, yelling and waving our arms at him. This went on for 5-10 minutes and then he disappeared and all was quiet. We had finally driven him off.
It was very hot standing out in the African Sun and there wasn’t any cover to hide under, where was a pod mahogany tree when you needed one? I hadn’t really had a chance to study the bull up close as I was keeping guard, circling the downed bull as Cowboy, Sam and Dumasen started working on cleaning up the blood and repositioning the trunk. With no sign of the younger bull, I began inspecting the bull. Touching the ivory and looking at the grain running though it, feeling the suppleness of the edge of the ear and checking out the huge cracked feet.
Cowboy starts yelling towards the road and I look up to see the young bull on the other side, he had circled around, crossed two roads and had come up through some very thick brush without a sound! There was no hesitation as I moved around the downed bull and put myself in front of the youngster with my rifle at the ready and yelling at him to back down. Cowboy came up beside me banging the shovel on rocks and also yelling and he reminded me not to shoot the youngster! Cheeky backed down and returned to the bush trumpeting at us, circled around and crossed the road. We could hear him breaking brush but couldn’t see him.
A few minutes later, here he comes again, 180 degrees from where we last saw him. Walking towards us, ears flared and trunk in the air. Cowboy starts banging the shovel as I again get in position with my rifle. Wayne pulls up in the truck, grabs my 30-06 and puts a shot over his head. No effect, none. Another shot and he finally turns away as we are all yelling at the bull and he walks back into the mopane trees and decides to just watch us.
Hard to see him back there, but he’s there!
A few photos for the album, maybe some day we will be able to import the ivory.
The farm workers arrive and begin the long process of skinning out the bull, this takes them many hours and is quite a feat. They pull up a tractor with a flat bed trailer and load up the meat for the skinning shed, taking a few trips. The young bull was still off in the bush watching us the entire time.
I had been standing out in the hot sun for a couple of hours now, the hottest day so far without any shade and needed a cold one! On the way to the lodge, we spotted a group of elephants under some mountain acacia trees which are holding their leaves, a good 200 yards from the truck. We watched for a few minutes as they fanned themselves with those big ears while keeping an eye on us. There was one very large bodied bull in the group with short but very heavy ivory, the iPhone pics are awful or I would post them.
We left them be and continued towards the lodge, had some lunch and I sat out on the porch thinking through what had transpired just a few short hours ago. Feeling refreshed, we headed back to check on the progress of boning out the elephant and decided we should go and check the remainder of the four leopard baits. As it turns out, another one of the baits had a leopard feeding on it the night before. That would make 4 of 8 baits with cats on them in only three days.
Finally, at the end of the evening, the workers still pulling off edible meat a spectacular sunset appeared. Oh, and the cheeky one was still in the bush keeping an eye on us!
I thought the sunset was a wonderful natural tribute to the magnificent elephant and also signified a change in the weather was imminent. I will never forget this day, my only regret was my wife not being here to experience it with me.
Wow, that happened pretty quick.
Wow what a rush!
Bullets are cheap and glad you used them up.
Congratz! What a great trophy. Out of curiosity, why did you not want to take the body shot?
Great stuff and a very nice bull indeed! It is always great when time is taken to ensure exactly where to shoot an elephant to hit the brain, makes it so much more satisfying when done.
Superb!, one shot, full frontal with a raised head! Great shooting and congratulations on taking your bull with the most classic shot of all!
Whats happening with the "log across the creek leopard"??......this is like sitting in the blind and not knowing if the cat is coming in or not....
love it. Thanks for taking us along!
Glad everyone is enjoying the adventure, it takes me 4-5 hours to put a days hunt together, select and edit pictures and uploadto the site.
Thank you, and a couple of reasons: I have a tremendous amount of respect for an elephant and I had made up in my mind that if I was going to hunt one, I wanted to end it quickly. Two, I was “only using a 375” and felt the most effective use of the mid-bore is a brain shot. Three, I’ve read many stories of body shot elephants going a long ways, even with multiple shots by the hunter and PH. I didn’t want any part of that scenario. Yes, there are stories of head shot elephants not properly done that also have been lost but I was confident in my shooting abilities and had done many hours of study on the brain shot. I felt that even if I didn’t take the elephant down on the first shot, I would be able to get at least one more shot into the body and knew Wayne would also be putting some .458 holes through him. That was a little long winded but hopefully explains my thought process.
We had just left the leopard bait, no more than an two hours before running into the elephant, patience sir! Yes, very satisfying to study and execute the planned shot.
I’ll work on Day 5 after work today, yes, I have to work as I used all my vacation time up on 24 days of Safari this year!
Hope everyone has a Happy New Year!
Wow!! Fantastic and congratulations on the ele!!
Well done !
Thanks for the effort.
We appreciate the effort to take us on your hunt as it is. Enjoying it very much. Congrats on the elephant.
Damn fine way to enter the BIG 5 club—congrats
Great looking bull. Congratulations.
Enjoying the read. You are doing a great job.
Separate names with a comma.