I thought the format of your report was really great. It was mega informative with suspense built in. Wow! Do you write professionally in any way? Thanks again.
Thank you for the great report. Did you get a chance to eat any of the steaks? How do they compare with beef? This bull looks massive to me. You said he was a bit “soft”. How can you tell this on your pictures? How can you tell in the field? This definitety was the hunt of a lifetime. Congratulations!
Edge, that was one hell of a hunt. Nice trophies all the way around. Your next one is going to have to "go some" to beat it. Or are you going to be and observer while your wife hunts?
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.
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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.
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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!
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A few photos for the album, maybe some day we will be able to import the ivory.
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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!
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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.
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