ZIMBABWE: FANTASTIC Zimbabwe Double Buffalo At Shangani Safaris

Discussion in 'Hunting Africa' started by C.W. Richter, Aug 25, 2017.

  1. C.W. Richter

    C.W. Richter AH Member

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    Although I’ve been religiously following the forums on Africahunting.com for quite some time, the impetus to finally sign up was to relate the following, very good Safari experience that exceeded our (already high) expectations! My Son and I booked a combined Buffalo and Plains Game hunt via Carl Knight of Take Aim Safaris in the RSA and It was my wish to hunt with famed PH Lloyd Yeatman who operates Shangani Safaris in Zimbabwe. (I had seen Lloyd’s team in action in videos and television programs produced by other professional hunters over the years, and was highly impressed by he and his team’s skillful big game results. His name is additionally featured alongside an impressive number of big game records, and he has also helped to mentor and train other PHs. He has hunted with “the little guy” as well as royalty, but luckily both are treated equally well both in camp and in the field.) I had hunted in Zimbabwe 10 years ago, and as a result of that experience, fell in love with its wild places. My prior PH of 10 years ago had since retired, but he both knew and recommended Lloyd for continued safaris in Zim.

    As opposed to the preconceived notions that hunters from abroad may share (mainly conjured up by the media), Zimbabwe is, in reality, quite a safe and healthy place to visit. Sure, it has its on-going economic challenges, but the dollars brought in by safaris represents just one avenue to help remedy that. Many life-size Big 5 mounts welcome you in the airport lobby in Harare, a reminder of just how important the safari-tourism business is to all in the country (#3 next to agriculture and other natural resources, I am told). The Zimbabwe Tourism Authority has representatives available at every port of entry, to assist hunters with effortlessly obtaining necessary visas and rifle/ammunition import permits, should you have any last-minute questions or issues. Clearing customs in Zimbabwe is exceptionally quick and painless (comparable to that of flying into the very hunter-friendly State of Texas in the US). Ask your PH, and they will provide you with the simple protocol to follow and short forms that can be completed in advance of your visit. Representatives of Shangani will assist you at the airport in ensuring an exceptionally smooth arrival and departure with all of your gear.

    The drive from the airport to camp would be considered a bit of a cultural expedition for most. Once out of the city and suburbs, you will pass by large high plains farming operations, then through the high, very scenic rocky Zaka mountains, and finally down into the more thickly vegetated and wooded riverine lowveld country of Zimbabwe. I jokingly referred to camp as “the bottom of the Earth,” as, to reach it, one must drive across the length of a 75-mile long continuously downhill road. The end result, as well as the changing scenery along the way, make the journey well more than just worth it. It is still paying dividends, as you will read below…

    Shangani operates several concessions in the region, each suited toward specific big and plains game species that reside in each area, dependent upon time of year, and occurrence of cover, water and food sources. Our safari took place at Shangani’s southeastern Zimbabwe lowveld concession, situated high atop one bank of the Mkwasine River. This area is perfectly situated across the river from the famed Save conservancy, contains a number of habitats from riverine bush to open savannah, mopane forest, and additional thick brushy stream corridors leading from nearby sugar cane plantations into the main river. This brand new tented camp is fully outfitted, very scenic, comfortable, clean, green and self-sustaining via use of solar, wood fires, and judicious use of propane in the kitchen area when not cooking on the handmade brick braai. It is exceptionally well planned, no doubt the result of Lloyd’s drawing from several decades of experience at many different camps. The Mkwasine river camp also includes a nicely appointed, brand new safari vehicle fleet. Several cooks are employed to provide excellent food and drink at any time of day or night. Local Shangani trackers and skinners are an integral part of the operation, famed for their excellence in the field. All members of the Shangani team are among the nicest, friendliest, most helpful and hard-working people in the world! Lloyd recommended the Mkwasine area in late summer, as an abundance of water was keeping the buffalo herds (and elephants, lion, leopoard and hippo too!) content in the vicinity at this time.

    The purpose of our hunt was for my son to experience the natural wonders of Zim, starting off with plains game endemic to the area. Over the course of 7 days, we saw duiker, grysbok, bushbuck, herds of impala, waterbuck, kudu, eland, zebra, giraffe, and even red riverine bushpigs. My son was able to collect both an outstanding waterbuck and Livingstone’s Eland. PH Lloyd never saw such a wide waterbuck and booking agent Carl remarked on “the largest eland he had ever seen taken from the area.” Both easily exceed RW minimum scores. Although my son additionally saw small bands of kudu, including several exceptional bulls, he was never presented with a good shot within range of his .375. A nice bushbuck was also collected along the river early one morning while tracking dagga boys. I had an opportunity to collect a massive red riverine bushpig, but decided to pass on it as we were after buffalo (I am now regretting that, as we never caught up with that particular Inyati-(Shangani for Buffalo). Targets of opportunity must be taken as they are presented to you!

    Buffalo were very plentiful in the area, and that’s what I had come for. On the very first morning, while drinking delicious Zimbabwean coffee in the braai area overlooking the river, we could see a herd of one-hundred or so drinking from the flowing, clear water of the Mkwasine as they slowly made their way across. A stalk would have been in order if not for the fact that we hadn’t checked the sight-in of our rifles (which is done on a plantation approximately 10 miles out of camp, as not to spook any game.) As it turns out, my son’s .375 was dead on at the range, but my .416 was slightly off, no doubt from the “tender-loving care” it received from the many baggage handlers enroute!

    They say, in elephant hunting, you’ll walk a mile for every inch of ivory collected, and I fully believe the same adage applies to buffalo horns; We walked approximately 40 miles in 4 days, and had seen several different herds, and a number of different groups of large (40”+) dagga boys, ranging from lone old bulls to 4-5 bulls off doing their own thing back away from the herds. The only shot opportunities presented thus far were not ideal (either too quickly or too much brush in-between). Then, shortly after sunrise on the 5th day, we caught up with a herd that was headed into the river for a drink…We quietly stalked into a position where we could survey most of the herd, and immediately noticed an elderly bull, in the lead, staring us down on the far edge of the river. Lloyd instructed me to take him, so one well-placed high heart/lung shot from my trusty .416 sent the herd running, leaving the old boy standing rather unsteadily in the back. Although it was not entirely necessary, the insurance was paid and a follow-up solid sent transversely through the entire body of the bull dropped him and all 4 legs were in the air. I had gotten my first southern African buffalo and couldn’t be happier! Although my buffalo (~38”) was very nice with a heavy, old, battered boss and very in-need of a hair transplant, at the shot, we witnessed the riverine brush come alive with many additional buffalo, including several that appeared to be in the 40”-<50” range. They scattered and took off for the security of the more forested areas.

    On the very last day of the hunt, with less than a half-hour until sunset, we noticed the tail bull in a small herd of dagga boys, heading down into the tall grass that lines both sides of the river where they prefer to cross. We made a quick plan, stalked into range, and my son executed a perfect frontal brain shot on an even nicer, lower mileage bull with his .375. (~40”)

    Although it seemed to be the icing on the cake for the most exceptional safari ever, what happened at dinner that night was at least a comparable treat. We saw a pride of lions roaring and hunting outside of camp and running up and down the river bed below. One was an exceptionally large bodied, big-maned male. Lloyd noted that there are limited lions on quota. They undoubtedly reside in the Save conservancy located on the opposite side of the river from Shangani’s camp, but were on the prowl due to the large number of buffalo in the area.

    As if the above wasn’t good enough, Lloyd’s wife Sabine is a professional grade photographer that quite surprisingly captures moments of the hunt and safari camp life that the hunter could never possibly duplicate in the heat of the chase. What a treat it was at the end of the hunt to be sent a package of photographs that help paint the picture of your entire Zimbabwean safari experience for you, your family, and friends to enjoy when you safely return home. In the spirit of my family full of teachers, we give Shangani an A+ for its hunting, but factoring in everything else (the truly unique new camp, staff, vehicles, local cuisine and drink,) Lloyd Yeatman will have to settle for an A+++++ instead. We WILL be back and his entire staff knows it!!!

    One final parting note…I have been in the real world long enough to know the many human personality types that linger out there. Some people apparently become unfairly irate on-line, even after they may have wronged the Safari operator behind the scenes (or wronged by a bad actor booking agent), and the readers unfortunately sometimes do not get the entire, fair and balanced story. As we say here in the States, what I relayed to you above is certifiably “The Truth, and Nothing but the Truth!” *That said, I did for a moment contemplate pilfering a six-pack of Zambezi beer just seconds before leaving camp...It's wrapped in a manner that might just stand up to the most robust of baggage handlers!

    -C.W. & A.W. Richter, Pocono Mtns., PA, USA


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    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 25, 2017
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  2. Wheels

    Wheels AH ENABLER AH Legend

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    Glad you had a great hunt. Thanks for sharing the story.

    Photos would add greatly if you can post them.
     
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  3. cpr0312

    cpr0312 AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

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    Welcome to AH!

    Thanks for sharing and yes please share many pics as well!
     
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  4. C.W. Richter

    C.W. Richter AH Member

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    Thanks, Gents. LOL When I composed v. 1 (the best story of our adventure that was my mistake....I hit "add media" and lost what I wrote, then I hit the add photo icon (with the same result,) so unfortunately what you're reading is a sad, 3rd-place version of what was originally composed. The forum is certainly not the worst, but it can probably be improved (from a user-friendliness standpoint.) From now on, I will compose any such treatise in a word processing program that can be saved and auto-saved at every turn and then cut/paste into the forums...
     

  5. C.W. Richter

    C.W. Richter AH Member

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    is there a africahunting.com tutorial? lol
     

  6. C.W. Richter

    C.W. Richter AH Member

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    I think I may have written too much and it slowed the works down....Only now does the upload quickly work!

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  7. C.W. Richter

    C.W. Richter AH Member

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  8. cpr0312

    cpr0312 AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

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    Nice looking waterbuck and eland!
     
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  9. C.W. Richter

    C.W. Richter AH Member

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  10. C.W. Richter

    C.W. Richter AH Member

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  11. C.W. Richter

    C.W. Richter AH Member

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  12. cpr0312

    cpr0312 AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

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    Nice buff too!!! (y)
     
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  13. C.W. Richter

    C.W. Richter AH Member

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  14. cpr0312

    cpr0312 AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

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    You both took some fine game! Congrats on this trip with son, some great memories made!
     
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  15. C.W. Richter

    C.W. Richter AH Member

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    With his concessions being along rivers between the Save and Gonarezhou N.P., and bounded by agriculture on the other sides, they will always be honey holes!
     

  16. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN AH ENABLER SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR LIFETIME TITANIUM BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    Anyone is invited to reply to the posters concerns at their leisure.

    Glad you enjoyed your hunt.

    As they also say "The proof is in the pudding". Pictures? :D
     

  17. PHOENIX PHIL

    PHOENIX PHIL AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

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    Nice report, congrats to you and your son!
     

  18. Neale

    Neale AH Enthusiast

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    Thanks for the report. I know what it is like to compose a story and then try and post and the computer has a hissy fit. I am glad you persisted as I enjoyed your story and pictures. That Buff your son took is a beauty and the shot placement is close to centre (y)
     
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  19. MMAL

    MMAL GOLD SUPPORTER AH Enthusiast

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    Great job and great hunt with your son. Thank you for the report.
     
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  20. LivingTheDream

    LivingTheDream AH Elite

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    Love the report, the Chobe bushbuck is on my list. Your son's buff is a beast!
     
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