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

Neil Molendyk

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congratulations, thanks for sharing with us who can only dream, Happy New Year
 

Lee M

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Great report. Happy 2019 to all!
 

IdaRam

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A wonderful adventure so far and you are doing a great job of sharing it with us! I am enjoying every moment, so thank you.
Huge congrats and well done on the ele! Beautiful bull.
 

neckdeep

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Thank for posting your report, takes a lots of time to load the photo's and proof read, I still have 15 day Mozambique hunt from September to report, I am not doing very good on getting it posted.

Is the Drummond Ranch part of the area that Wayne Grant talks about in his book Into the Thorn's?
 

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Anxiously awaiting more!!! Such a great hunt report so far!!!!
 

Edge

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Happy New Years everyone, hang in there, I should have Day 5 up within a few hours.

@neckdeep

Thank for posting your report, takes a lots of time to load the photo's and proof read, I still have 15 day Mozambique hunt from September to report, I am not doing very good on getting it posted.

Is the Drummond Ranch part of the area that Wayne Grant talks about in his book Into the Thorn's?

Perfect day to get started on the Mozambique report, hoping to hunt there within the next few years. :)

I don't believe I've read "Into the Thorns", will have to see if I can track a copy down.

Edge
 

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Day 5 – 18 October

The previous night’s beautiful sunset wasn’t wrong, the weather had changed dramatically, from a humid 33C/91F degrees at 7pm last night to 15C/59F at 0530 this morning. Blustery winds, rain and heavy mist all morning, quite any ugly start to the day. It's mother nature and not much you can do about it!

Ugly morning.jpg

After some breakfast, a couple cups of coffee and the rain not letting up, we delayed our departure from the lodge. N0 need to get the guys in the back drenched. By 0800 it had let up enough so we pressed on to start checking the baits, dropping off Cowboy at the skinning shed to help with burying the elephant head to rot out the tusks, skinning out of the ears and portioning out the large pieces of elephant.

Cowboy burying head.jpg


ele meat (2).jpg

The lead skinner also handed me a Woodleigh Hydro that they were able to find. I don’t know the exact weight of the 300 gr solid before firing and I’m not about to break down one of the factory loads, still has 295.5 grains remaining. Impressive performance from the Woodleigh Hydrostatically stabilized bullet.

Hydro 2.jpeg


Hydro 1.jpeg


The other question in our minds, what did this weather front do to the feeding patterns of the leopards we have on bait? We checked the closest baits first without any hits and worked our way around and stopped at the dry creek bed with the logs across. Anticipation was high. Did the leopard return last night, did we catch him on camera, was he mature enough?

We walk up the wet coarse sand of the creek bed towards the bait, water droplets dripping from the branches overhead, we round corner and see the green branches down on the ground!

bait is hit.jpg


Ok, a leopard had fed, did we catch a glimpse of him on camera? We all huddle around Wayne as he begins downloading the SD card to his iPhone, come on, come on, download will ya! There are pics!

Wayne shows us the pics as we are like a bunch of school boys crowding around the kid who found his Dad’s Playboy magazine! Wow!!!

cat pic 1.PNG


Cat Pic 2.PNG

Feeding

cat feeding.PNG


Big thick body!

big body.PNG


We evaluate the pics and go through the checklist:

Male – check

Dewlap, massive neck and shoulders– check

Thick stocky body – check

Ears on side of head and appear small – check


Wayne turns to me, “we are going to kill this cat”! This cat is obviously bigger and older than the other cat we have on camera. We evaluate the bait situation, he has eaten most of the Zebra quarter and the remainder is covered in maggots, with goo and more maggots dripping on the ground. Do we sit on what’s left of the bait tonight or do we hang something fresh? We all agree we need a fresh bait hanging.

Evaluating the situation; it’s getting to be mid-morning and we don’t want to be building a blind until early afternoon, the light, listening gear and cushions are back at the lodge and we still need to find a bait. Too much to do today, we don’t want to screw this up now. Wayne also wants to send the pics into the expert for his opinion but we are positive he is old enough.

We had seen very little sign of game this morning, animals seemed to be all laying low with the winds, rain and heavy mist. We climb back into the Toyota and head back towards the skinning shed and the spotty wi-fi to get the pics out for evaluation. Wayne and I discuss the bait, should we shoot an impala for bait or be consistent and shoot another Zebra. First, we need to find something to shoot!

It begins to rain again as another wave moves through, finally the guys spot some Zebra back in the bush. Wayne and I climb out of the cab, grab the sticks and start a slow stalk in the blind, we can’t see the Zebra from ground level. We are heading up a slight grade in low thick bush but the wind is good. Wayne spots a Zebra ahead of us at the top of the rise but its too thick. We lose sight of them and work our way around in a loop keeping the wind in our favor. Wayne gets to the crest of the rise and spots a Zebra through the branches, only a head is visible. I’m crouched in a sitting position on the ground and he whispers to me if I want to take a head shot. I ask how far, 100 – 125 yards, I tell him no. I don’t want to be chasing a wounded Zebra if I botch the head shot. We begin sneaking forward slowly and now there is a herd of impala spread out 30 yards in front of us! Not good.

The wind is still in our faces and our approach has been very quiet as the ground debris is sopping wet. They haven’t spotted us but we must be very slow in our movements. The Zebra are beyond the impala, no way to get to them without us busting the impala. Wayne spots a narrow shooting lane to one of the Zebra, I slowly move up and put the 375 on the sticks. He whispers guidance to me and I find the small window to shoot through as the impala mill around in front of us feeding.

I have to literally shoot between the ears of impala facing away from us, above a log and between two twisted and broken trees. I’m steady on the sticks, put the red dot on the Zebra and squeeze. I lose sight of the Zebra at the shot and turn to Wayne and he’s smiling, “good shot man!”. The 300 grain Peregrine flattened the Zebra at the shot, no wonder I lost sight of it.

I stepped back to where the Impala was feeding and took a shot of the narrow shooting window.

Zebra stalk and shot.jpg

We weren’t too far from the fenced in farm area and left Sam and Dumasen to cut us a trail to the Zebra which was a couple of hundred yards from the road while we went back to send the pics off for evaluation. We received confirmation that it was indeed a proper cat and went back and retrieved the Zebra, giving instructions to the skinners to have it skinned and quartered by the time we returned from lunch.

Back to the bait site with a fresh Zebra quarter rubbed over with Wayne’s special marinade. Sam whacked off two-thirds of the existing rotten bait but left a small piece to continue spreading the lovely odor, hung the fresh quarter and covered the bait. We also repositioned the camera to the front of the bait, the direction from where I would take the shot. A few scrapes were placed on the tree holding the bait at 24 and 34 inches to gauge the height of the leopard on camera and as a reference point in the case of a different leopard appearing while we were waiting for this one to show, when we did decide to sit for him.

New bait hung:

new bait hung.jpg

We picked out a location where we will set up the blind, the guys scraping away the detritus to have a clean start in the morning. Ants were thick on the ground but Wayne explained with just bare ground they shouldn’t be a problem in the morning.

Wayne checking out the line of sight to the bait:

checking out the view from where we will set up the blind.jpg

Here’s the view to the bait site.

view from blind area.jpg

We didn’t want to do any chopping or clearing of the brush as we didn’t want to be making too much noise this late in the day as it was approaching 4:30pm. Left the area, scent dragging the roads once again.

We had also checked the remaining two baits that had leopard feeding, the female was still hitting and also the male that is still a bit too young along the lake. Apparently, the weather doesn’t bother hungry leopards!


A couple pics of the young Tom from the Lake bait, I thought these were interesting.

young tom reaching for bait.PNG



balancing act.PNG


The terrapins were out looking for a place to lay eggs, this one picked a nice soft spot but it was in the center of the two-track!

terrapin.jpg


On the way back to camp, spotted this bull elephant in the bush:


IMG_2862 (2).jpg

Scenery view, mountain acacia:


Mountain acacia.jpg

End of the day, glass of South African red beside the fire to take the damp chill out of the bones!


evening wine and fire.jpg

Until tomorrow, cheers!
:D Beers:
 

Hmaxwell

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Your story is great. Know exactly the emotions and anxiety you felt! Thanks for sharing!
 

BRICKBURN

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The ears in that last picture look pretty darn small to me.

Very cool to be feeding so many Leopards.
 

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The ears in that last picture look pretty darn small to me.

Very cool to be feeding so many Leopards.

The “younger leopard” is not a kitten by any means, just not quite old enough. We had a ton of pics of him, you would look at one and say he’s good, the next one you would say maybe just a bit young. The expert that reviewed the pics had the same conclusions.

Good population of cats in this area, and will be a good one next year. One of the reasons the quota is sold out for 2019 and booking for 2020.
 

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Congrats, that elephant hunt was a great experience !
 

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Day 6 - Part 1 -19 October

Breakfast time is a bit later today as we don't want to arrive at the bait too early. Some coffee, another good hearty breakfast and we set off at a leisurely pace. Weather hasn’t lifted, another cool and damp morning. Arrive just before 7am at the dry wash, step out of the truck and almost soiled my boots!

What is this?

1 Cat Scat.jpg


A cat that has eaten too much Zebra! The trackers tell me he is marking his territory, stay away, this is my lunch ticket!

We head up the dry wash and sure enough, he has knocked many of the branches down and has fed heavily.

2 Chui is back.jpg

We pull the SD card out of the camera and the download process begins, of course time has slowed and we anxiously shift our feet back and forth as the pics transfer over to the phone. For reference, the slashes on the tree are 24 and 34 inches high. We have also re-positioned the camera to take pics from the direction of the blind we will build.

Big cat, this guy is much stockier and heavier than the one by the lake!

2a Side body.JPG


Tearing chunks from the bait, oinker!

2b take a bite.JPG


Savoring the fresh marinated Zebra, bon eppetit my Chui!

2c mouthfull.JPG


When did Chui arrive at the bait? We start looking at the timestamps, 8:40pm and he was back again, just a few hours ago at 5am! We look back to the night before and he had come in around 1:30am. No set pattern, we will wait all night if we have to, let’s build the blind!

Blind building process, as predicted, no sign of ants!

3 ants gone base for blind.jpg


Assembling the framework for the blind.

4 setting the framework.jpg


Begin assembly with vegetation from surrounding areas:

5 installing greens.jpg


Need more green branches!

6 another load of green branches.jpg


Making progress, three walls up looking from the blind to the bait site. Cowboy digging a hole to install door post.

7 view from inside, front and walls looking good.jpg


View from direction of bait site to blind, no way Chui is going to see us!

8 finished product view from bait site to blind (2).jpg


Almost finished, hauled in a heavy battery, installed the wires from the blind to the bait site, mounted the light and listening device and performed an operations check, good to go! I also had a secret weapon to bring to bare! My good friend Lumpy devised a portable wireless listening device so I could also hear the leopard come in to the bait, and leave them with Wayne if they work! We started with a basic set of requirements (provided by Wayne), analyzed design options vs cost, prototyped the preliminary design, performed verification testing and went forward with a final design and Lumpy delivered a final product within a few weeks! I am taking orders, anyone interested let me know (I can’t share pictures as we may go into production based upon feedback from AH)! Moving on…

Ground cloth, cushions, and blankets all set to go! Not really looking forward to snuggling with Wayne all evening, Chui better feed early!

8a where wayne and edge will snuggle all night.jpg


Installed the tri-pod and rifle, no grass or twigs in the line of sight! Marched off the distance and its 50 yards from blind to parallel logs.

9. rifle on tripod.jpg


We have completed the blind, installed the lights and gear and are out of the area by 9:20am. I tell Wayne I would like to verify my zero at 50 yards, we take the short-cut and ford the river and find a good spot to verify zero. Two shots and dead on, rifle and shooter are ready!

Time to relax the rest of the day! Good lunch of impala burgers and chips, warm shower and a fresh set of clothes. There is still time for a nap before we leave the camp at 3:30pm, good night!
 
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BRICKBURN

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All the tech set up and ready to go. ......
 

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That Write up ending was like a commercial on tv just before a good scene was going to happen. Lol. I’ll be sure to check back tomorrow.

I needed another couple of hours to finish out the report for the rest of the day but it was getting late and really needed to get some shut eye. I should be able to finish it tonight.
 

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This is like the to (be continued) show that never comes on! Suspense is one thing but torture is another.
 

Edge

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Good things come to those who have patience...like a leopard!:A Tease:
 

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