Discussion in 'Hunting Reports Africa' started by Edge, Dec 27, 2018.
Congrats, a great cat !
Superb!! Great team effort and a excellent leopard!!
Very nice ele and tom, congrats!!
Wow, what a great story. Started reading and could not stop. I am looking forward to more of your adventure.
Very nice Leopard and Ele! Congrats to you and the whole team. I had a hunter miss 2 different cats on one safari couple years back. The crew and ph do alot of the ground work, but isnt worth a damn if the client misses his opportunity.
Not just the “nads” also body size .. got to look at shape of head / compare the cat to size of bait / branch or tree trunk anything to help judge the cats size and age ..
Team effort always
Congratulations on an amazing Tom. Well done. Really enjoying your report.
Guys if anyone wants to call me here in the USA for the next 3 weeks I am contactable on (347) 558-3705 . I will be at SCI and DSC .. all the best Wayne
Day 7 – 20 October
Feeling a wee bit groggy this morning. By the time we dropped the leopard off at the skinning shed, drove back to the lodge, ate a bit of dinner and had a drink or three celebrating a great week of hunting with Wayne it was rather late. Sometime after 2am before my head hit the pillow!
We had a late start to the morning but a great breakfast at 8am. Eggs, sausage, grits and toast washed down with coffee, that’s the proper way to start a day. We headed back to the leopard blind to collect up all the gear we had left behind the night before and hatched a plan for the afternoon. We will take the zebra and leopard innards to the big lake and fish for barbel, better known to some of us as catfish!
The hot weather had returned and we waited until late afternoon to begin fishing. The guys hauled down a drum of innards and good man Sam spread it out as we baited our hooks with some liver.
The sun was hot reflecting off the water and the smell was, well, stinky! Wayne had talked about there being a BIG crocodile in the lake and we all kept casting our eyes across the water. We soaked our lines for about an hour, just a couple of small fresh water crabs to keep us amused. Wayne announces we have company and we see the big croc cruise from the main lake into our quiet bay.
I’m not one to judge crocs but from Wayne’s discussion with the guys and their reactions it must be something special. Wayne thought he would easily go 14 feet, probably more. We grabbed our gear and retreated away from the water, no need to have one of us as dinner! We climbed back up the hill where we had parked the truck and waited to see if the croc would haul out onto the rock we had used as our base for fishing but he was too smart. Of course, the sun was low on the horizon and now the barbel were hitting our bait!
We headed back to the lodge and spooked a warthog at one of the water points and gave chase. The strong wind was swirling and we never had another look at him let alone a shot opportunity. The forecast was for some rain over night, perfect for our new plan!
Getting out early and checking water points looking for fresh buffalo tracks in the morning!
Day 8 – 21 October
Rough night sleeping as the wind was howling and you can hear water dripping outside. Tossed and turned listening to mother nature, 4:45 am and the alarm goes off. Pull on some warmer clothes and step outside my room to be greeted by a cold misting rain as I headed to the main lodge to meet Wayne at 5am for coffee. We wanted to get an early start on our quest to find some fresh tracks and had the cooks prepare us a cool box with breakfast sandwiches. We scrapped the plan as the rain was coming down even harder now.
8am and it's still raining and I estimate the gusts hitting 40mph! We finally pushed around 1pm, found buffalo spoor late and followed until it was too late to see.
Leaden skies as we scan the area for buffalo.
The cold and rain didn’t stop the cold blooded creatures as we stumbled across another terrapin attempting to lay her eggs and a leopard tortoise.
How do you close out the cold windy day? How about a warm cozy fire, freshly roasted peanuts and a nice glass of red! Only one thing missing this trip, Mrs Edge!
What will tomorrow have in store for us?
What a fantastic story. Thanks for taking the time to share it us.
I've been out filling the freezer with venison, now back to the story!
Day 9 – 22 October
Wind picked up again and howled all night, cool and a little damp. Up early to meet Wayne for coffee as we were again packing our breakfast sandwiches in the cool box. Plan is to cover as much ground driving the roads and checking water points for buffalo spoor. If it is fresh spoor we would follow and see if we can get the jump on the buffalo. We weren’t out driving for long and the guys say they see buffalo up ahead to the right in a thorn thicket. Game on, what a lucky break! Check the rifle and verify there is a Peregrine soft in the chamber followed by the Hydro’s.
We give them a few minutes to settle down and set off towards them, its still very early and with overcast heavy clouds the bush is very drab and dark. We make our approach and there they are, deep in the thorn thicket, hard to make out but you can see dark shapes. They didn’t stick around long and took off.
For those who haven’t heard a buffalo herd depart the area in a hurry, the heavy hooves pounding the ground sounds like thunder. It turns out this was a group of 10-12 buffalo, I look forward to the day to hear a herd of 50 or more thunder off.
We give them some time to settle down and the guys pick up the spoor, even I can follow the kicked up moist earth of running buffalo. The wind swirls and again hear them take off and catch a glimpse of dark shapes crashing through the bush, gone again. Another break to give them time to settle down and we start tracking again, doing large circles, climbing the rock hills to see if we can catch a glimpse and ever mindful of the wind.
Another hour has gone by as we see the direction of travel and try and circle to cut the distance. We come down off some rocks and enter an open area and see an Impala dart across the other side. Next there is a big dark shape standing there, I’m guessing 200 yards. I get on the sticks and it’s a bull but he doesn’t wait long and is gone. He looked massive with a large hump over his front shoulders, black as coal and with a wide set of horns. We pick up the track and cross into another hunting block as rain begins to pelt us. We push on tracking the spoor the remainder of the day, cutting across another hunting block. The rain being replaced by patchy blue skies and rising temperatures. We make a plan, the buff are heading between two large rock ridges. Our best chance may be to get in the truck and circle around to the other side of the hunting block where the corridor they are moving through opens back up into a flat plain filled with thorns.
Looking back to the corridors between the rocky hills.
We execute the maneuver and cut across the block but the buff have already come and gone and cross over into the next block. We keep pursuing, relentless, we are going to catch them! The sun is getting low in the sky and we find where the had stopped and milled about before running off. The spoor telling the story.
We weren’t far from where we parked the truck on our end-around maneuver. Wayne believes they heard or smelled us when we parked to head into the corridor for the intercept, except they had passed through hours before and had circled back around to the water point we had parked near. We covered 16 miles walking and stalking these beasts.
One long tired and dirty day comes to a close, but we have five more days to chase these buggers!
Day 10 - 23 October
Out early again this morning, weather is quite chilly and wind is blowing at a good clip. We begin the drive searching the water points for sign of buffalo and run across buffalo spoor. How fresh was it?
Let’s hunt smarter not harder! We decide to circle the hunting block the spoor had gone into to see if they were still there or had already crossed over into the next block. We didn’t see where they had crossed over and started on the spoor from the water point. We hunt slowly through the thick cover, thinking they may have bedded down after being pushed so hard the day before.
Of course they didn’t, the buff had crossed the hunting block and out the other side, our tire tracks over the spoor. We hadn’t seen the tracks in the poor morning light and had just covered four hard kilometers, still untold hours behind. A short break and we get on the spoor again and it looks as if we are gaining on them from the freshness of the buffalo pies as we crossed through another hunting block into an area with hard ground and rock making tracking very difficult. We take a break and grab a quick bite to eat and the trackers search hard and find the spoor again, we hadn’t been far behind!
As we had enjoyed our snack and a quick breather, the buffalo hit another water point and were refueled! Now they also knew they were being followed and proceeded to stay downwind of us. As we tried to circle and cut the distance, they did the same, circling around and waiting for the switching winds to tell them where we were. We did have a bit of excitement as we were walking through some thick grassy areas with some mopane trees when a ruckus in front of us got our hearts beating as a big civet decided we were close enough to his hiding spot in a tree top that an elephant had pushed over. I had already taken two civet the trip in July so this guy was safe!
We tracked the buff through another block and it had grown hot, very hot. The trackers were having trouble following through the thick dry grass and hard ground as we entered another area full of thorn thickets. Very fresh buffalo dung and running spoor. They had winded us before we were even close enough to hear them thunder off. Knowing they wouldn’t stop again for many hours we called it a day after covering 11 miles. We needed to catch a break with these buffalo, they were out smarting us and were certainly in better shape than we were!
We headed back to the skinning shed where Sam and Cowboy worked on releasing the elephant tusks from the skull. All the cool weather we were having wasn’t helping with rotting out the tusks! Still not coming out today.
The leopard skull had been cleaned and boiled, the teeth showing some wear. We made the right choice in passing up the first Tom.
Will we catch a break with the buffalo tomorrow?
Day 11 – 24 October
Wayne and I had discussed changing up our plan of attack the night before, we aren’t able to close the distance on this small herd of buffalo. Too many eyes and ears and well educated after the past few days. We had noticed an old lone bull track when we were tracking eland the second day so our new plan was to find this lone bull and have a look at him. We felt we had a much better chance of getting close enough to get a shot without all the additional eyes and ears. This was also in the same general area a bull had been seen at one of the water points. With a new plan hatched, we head to this area early in the morning.
We drop Cowboy and Dumasen off on an old track with instructions to poke around the back country in this area to see if they can find any fresh sign of him. If they did, they would radio back to us as we would continue looking for any fresh spoor on the roads.
We round the bend and continue on not more than half a mile, I hear Wayne say buffalo! I had been scanning out the passenger window and hadn’t seen the buff cross the road. Sam says he can see them and we slowly reverse back down the road leaving Sam to keep an eye on the herd. We head back towards Cowboy and reach him on the radio, they hadn’t gotten very far as we had left them just minutes before.
We head back towards Sam and stop short of where we initially reversed after seeing the buffalo. Sam comes out of the bush, he had climbed a tree and was watching them while we were gone. He had a direction they were heading so we quickly and quietly made our way into the bush paralleling where the buff were last seen. It was the herd we had been chasing the past few days!
We hadn’t gone 100 yards when we came to a long black piece of granite rock, only 15 feet or so high but with sloping sides and relatively flat on top. We took a few steps up the side of the rock and Wayne spots the buffalo and begins glassing as the sticks are deployed. I’m up on them but can’t see as Wayne’s field of view is higher than mine through the scope. I whisper we need to get me higher up, the wooden sticks sliding on the side of the rock. There was a crack and small flat area the bottom of the sticks found suitable purchase as I now have the scope on the herd, they seem a pretty good distance away but don’t appear to have seen us.
The buffalo are in the deep shadows of a rock ridge but there is no way we are going to get closer, nothing but open rock between us and them! The scope is on 2 power, the firedot crosshair is lit and the field of view is good as I can see multiple buffalo.
Wayne talks me through the animals, “do you see the small bull that just walked behind the other buff?” Yes, “do you see the big bull facing to the right looking this way?” Yes, “shoot hi …” and before he’s finished the 300gr Peregrine is on the way and the buffalo turn and head behind a kopje and we lose sight of them as I rack in another round. “Did I hit him”, I ask? Yes, the guys said you hit him.
I open the bolt and verify I have a Woodleigh solid in the chamber, we have a few moments so I drop the floor plate and verify I have all solids and top off with a fourth solid. I’m ready. We make our way over this large black flat granite rock towards where the buffalo had been and Wayne asks me if I had seen the calf just below the bull. NO, I HADN’T!!!
I was so focused with placing the large red firedot in the center of the bulls shoulder I had tunnel vision. Bad thoughts quickly race through my head, what if I had shot low and hit the calf? This was a much longer shot than I had imagined taking. I reason to myself that even this far the bullet wouldn’t drop that much unless I gooned up the shot.
The guys begin sorting through the tracks to identify the bull track. They had all turned around and fled in the same direction. I believe Cowboy was the first to pick up his track, we were all on high alert as the buffalo had passed between a kopje and the rock ridge, an area no more than 50 yards across and getting thicker every step. We were all cautious, expecting a charge from any direction at any moment. The guys say there are a few drops of blood then Wayne finds a small piece of what looks like lung.
We slowly make our way forward another 50 yards and I grab Wayne’s shoulder and tell him I can hear the bulls raspy breathing, catch a split second image of dark shape moving in the thick jess along the rock ridge and we can hear branches breaking! Is he coming for us?
Guns are at the ready, and then it goes quiet. We are only a few yards from the rock ridge and climb up a few yards through the boulders. I can see the boss moving back and forth, Wayne tells me to shoot if I can. I don’t know if he’s standing swaying his head back and forth or is on the ground thrashing. I can’t distinguish the body from the thick bush, made even darker by the shadows of the rocky ridge and black boulders on the ground.
I put a hydro just below his boss, aiming for the center. Wayne has taken a few steps and is now slightly above me in the rocks and lets loose a solid from his 458 Lott.
I move a few steps higher and have a clearer view of the massive bull on his side in the bush, head still moving back and forth. My initial shot was above the eye, missing the brain. When we initially heard his breathing and breaking branches, I believe he had gone down. Wayne confirmed at his shot the bull was already down but I’m all for not taking any chances of his regaining his feet. bullets are cheap! From this vantage point it was no wonder I could only see his boss as he was down with his body shielded by the clumps of brush and boulders.
Wayne and I approach closer and he’s still thrashing a bit so I send a hydro down through his shoulders to hasten his death and he gives a bellow, he is ours before 7 am!
The Oxpecker doesn’t leave his side, not knowing his meal ticket has finally run out.
The guys clear away the thick bush and gives us a bit of room to take some pictures, the Win Mod 70 Alaskan 375 H&H nestled across the horns is one of my favorites, showing the length and width of the bosses, 42 inches wide by 16 inch deep. He’s not an old dagga boy and is still a bit soft but I’m proud of him. My next buffalo will be an old beat up dagga boy if I can pull it off!
Wayne and the guys worked so hard over so many weeks, between the July and October hunts, to get a chance at a buffalo of what’s left of the great buffalo herds and rhinos that once roamed Bubiana Conservancy before the poaching and land grab destroyed such a resource. We had succeeded, well done to the entire team @Nyamazana Safaris !
As we wait for a crew to arrive to haul him back to the skinning shed, I snapped a few other pictures:
In this side view, you can see where the Woodleigh Hydro had entered under the boss, exited the skull and entered the neck and on into the body.
How far was the shot? I went back from where the buffalo was standing to the point where the shot was taken, 175 long paces. The shot as the bullet flies was at least 160 yards, the velocity down to approximately 2050 fps. The initial shot was good, hitting the point of the shoulder, into the front of the chest cavity and lodged in the opposite shoulder.
Here’s two of the 300 grain Peregrine Bushmasters, one from a Zebra and the other from the buff’s offside shoulder. Unfortunately, the band saw found the one in the buff.
With the help of many hands we were able to load up the buff for the ride to the skinning shed.
Great perspective on the size of Nyati compared to the skinners.
What a morning! We head back to the lodge, grab some lunch, a cool box with Zambezi beers and do some bream fishing! Ahh, this is the life!
What a fantastic read, I feel like I was there with you, congratulations on all of your success's!!! Thank you for taking us along on your story.
Congrats on a nice buff!!
Very enjoyable, great writing and photos, thanks for sharing
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