ZIMBABWE: Has Anyone Hunted Elephant With Nyamazana Safaris?

Royal27

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I have booked a 14 days trophy bull elephant hunt with Wayne in april next year.
I will bring my Dakota 76 African in 416 Rigby loaded with 410 gr Woodleigh solid.
Now start the fun part of the preparation for the hunt. Paperwork, looking for air tickets, planning, reading about shooting placements (books from Kevin Robertson) and shooting practise. I hope the next 12 month go fast..

I high recommend Charlton's Hunting the African Elephant. The section on shot placement is outstanding, and humbling. Since it's video, you not only get to watch where the bullet hits, bad shot or good, but I also found myself watching the hunters. Some I wanted to emulate, and some I learned other lessons from. :)

http://www.safaripress.com/dvds/hunting-the-african-elephant.html
 

Dakota76

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Royal27: Thanks!
 

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I unfortunately did not get to hunt with Wayne, but I know him personally and can recommend him for a successful hunt.
 

WCC

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I had the pleasure of taking my father to Africa last June, our first experience with overseas hunting. I elected Nyamazana Safaris and Mr. Van Den Bergh based on an article I had encountered in a CZ magazine some years prior. In the article, CZ's journalist described an ethical, fair-chase hunt of a wild elephant, with less emphasis on trophy size than on the quality of the pursuit and the ethics of the hunt.

When I finally got around to exploring my options, Nyamazana's advertisements ("truly wild animals") helped to confirm my original choice, and in correspondence, Mr. Van Den Bergh offered a number of options, and was not abashed to champion hunt venues where the "trophy quality" might be regarded as inferior, but the game hunted could be guaranteed to be truly wild and the property ethically managed. Chief among these options he put forward Bubiana Conservancy (owned and operated by Drummond Ranching), saying that the elephant would not necessarily be of the scale found in greater public lands, and that the buffalo hunting would be extremely difficult, but that the property, privacy, and experience were second to none.

I elected ultimately to hunt with Wayne Van Den Bergh, on Bubiana Conservancy. I can speak with absolute positivity about all aspects of the experience.

Mr. Van Den Bergh is a target-oriented hunter. Given the objective of finding you a trophy-quality animal on a difficult property (and Bubiana, especially that year, and that month, was in many ways a beautiful nightmare), he will pursue it doggedly and professionally. He has been around the block more than once (and has paid some dues to his chosen profession). If he seems gruff or taciturn at times, it is not to be taken personally; he is simply working a dangerous problem, from a stand-point devoid of any illusions about anyone's mortality. Be clear about the product you would like to get for your money (be it the pursuit of a Big Five trophy, or a casual bird hunt, or a photo opportunity), and he will strive to the utmost of his abilities and those of his crew to provide that product within the bounds of survival.

We were successful in hunting the bull elephant--almost immediately, by happenstance, as a tremendous old bull traversed the Bubiana property within our first few days there, and Wayne and his trackers were able to track him down and catch up to him only hours before he would have reached the property boundary. Our first encounter with this old bull--for he busted us early in the day, necessitating that we let him go, fall back, and track him again for several hours more--remains one of the profound experiences of my life. (I say this as one who has not lived a sheltered existence.) It's a memory that begs for poetry beyond the scope of this post. Suffice to say that we eventually took him. We caught up to him again in the heat of the late afternoon. Wayne identified a particular tree from a distance, venturing that the elephant would be napping in its shade and maneuvering us silently to its downwind side before approaching. His theory (born of long experience, no doubt) bore out to the letter, and I found myself in position for a transcranial brain shot, perfectly broadside. The shot was taken with a .375 H&H bolt action rifle, using express iron sights, if that tells you anything about the distances involved. We never again saw sign on Bubiana of a bull of that scale.

We were not successful in hunting the Cape Buffalo, though we pursued it--and by "it," I mean a specific, trophy-class, wily, nimble, stealthy, cruel individual--for a total of 14 days. The underbrush was thick and green, even in mid June, owing to unusually prolific rainfall during the preceding Summer and Autumn. Being few in number, these buffs did not mill about the watering holes, waiting for someone else to get shot, but kept to the thickest of the thick thorn brush, and each day migrated on the highest, most treacherous passes over the kopjes, along stony paths one would have thought more suited to a mountain goat. Ten kilometers climbing up and down steep slopes through tunnels of thorns was our daily exercise for two weeks, every now and again stopping to ensure that a shadow ahead was not the monster lying in wait for us. More than once we were within thirty yards of the buffalo, it running past us at full tilt, and we could see nothing more than the shaking of the trees. In its entirety it was an experience out of "Jurassic Park"--except velociraptors have the decency to kill you because they're hungry, rather than out of sheer spite.

I have never felt closer to death than during that hunt, with the possible exception of certain low-light night formation events in the -60. Eventually the risks could not be mitigated, and we let the buffalo go. I call that animal the Beast of Bubiana.

We are contemplating our rematch.

Multiple plains game were taken as trophies of opportunity while scouting for buffalo sign during that 14 day pursuit of the Beast, including a Greater Kudu, a Waterbuk, a pair of baboons--Shooting a vital zone the size of a softball at 200 yards at a 30-degree up angle off a shooting stick is an interesting challenge. Climbing up the cliff-face upon which the baboon's corpse has become lodged is also an interesting challenge, but worthwhile because you never know what you may find atop a kopje. Bubiana abounds with uncatalogued archaeological sites. But I digress. If you wish to hunt for plains game, Bubiana is a paradise of Kudu, Impala, Waterbuk, etc. That is Bubiana's stock and trade moreso than Big 5 trophies. Taking trophies of opportunity while hunting a buff is all well and good, but it does not give one the experience of pursuing and tracking in a dedicated manner these incredible antelope, who truly deserve a hunt all their own. Consider your objectives carefully--or schedule two months worth of hunts.

We also delighted in goose and dove hunting on those days when it was not feasible for us to pursue bigger game, and took a host of birds for the table, including what may have been the only authentic Cajun gumbo ever cooked in Zimbabwe. (We brought the necessary spices and file with us, but managed to acquire the rest locally. Egyptian goose and bush pig sausage gumbo, scratch. Eat that.)

Speaking now to the service of Wayne's crew and the people of Drummond Ranch, we were nothing but thrilled. Sam and Cowboy (Wayne's trackers), and Sunday (Drummond's tracker assigned to us), all demonstrated excellent skill and dedication. Wayne's personal cook, Jonathan, never failed to astound us. If you have never broken your fast on sauteed kudu liver, poached eggs, and crepes, under a luxurious dining tent on the banks of a river in the middle of a Matabeleland wilderness... consider giving it a try sometime.

The "bush camp" was an obscene luxury. To each of us a private tent, queen bed, clean sheets and plenty of warm blankets, a dresser, solar-charged electric lights, a hot shower, a flushing toilet. A few yards' walk to the dining tent on the sandy beach by a bend in the river. And not another human settlement for miles in any direction. By night, hyenas and leopards calling, and various creatures splashing across the river. Morning and evening, geese on the water, and eagles hunting along the forested banks, and a warm fire by which to sit and watch the sun set. (If there's one place where leopards are not endangered, it is a well-managed game ranch. One cannot walk a quarter mile of Bubiana's roads without tripping over leopard tracks.)

The Drummonds consider their part in the trophy hunting complex to be essentially hospitality--in the sense of the hospitality industry. They run Bubiana as a luxury hotel with its own game preserve, or a game preserve with its own luxury hotel. Five stars; would stay again. And to be clear, their lodge is also quite nice; but the bush camp is an experience without equal.

I wish also at this point to express our thanks to the Drummond family for their personal hospitality, and what a pleasure it was to make their acquaintance and share with them a big, piping pot of gumbo, along with Jonathan's French bread and grilled dove breast appetizers.

All in all, a very positive experience, and one we would repeat, albeit (given the option) with a bit less imminence of death. Perhaps later in the season, for that rematch against the Beast of Bubiana.

Principal lessons learned:

First, be clear in your expectations and desires. The PH is trying to work for you, but if your agenda does not align with the typical trophy-seeking client, you must communicate that. Mr. Van Den Bergh is your man for a more old-fashioned, less "commercial" style of hunting.

Second, consider not flying into Bulawayo if you can help it. Victoria Falls is some hours' drive away, and will cost you more in terms of ground transport if you are bound Bulawayo way, but it's a much nicer and friendlier airport. The downside is that if your bags are delayed, getting them from Victoria Falls will be nigh impossible. These are the challenges of traveling in Africa.

Third, if you are hunting down Bulawayo way, and Wayne encourages you to take a night in town (to ensure you have everything you need and do some last-minute shopping), and he recommends one Hornung Park Lodge, trust that this is good advice.

Fourth, if you have arthritis of the spine, ride in the cab of the Land Cruiser, not up on the bench, especially when Mr. Van Den Bergh is driving.

This is all that comes to mind, for now.
 

whitetail

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Fantastic pics and congrats on your hunting experience with Wayne (saw Cowboy and Sam in the photos as well- great guys)!!... Was wondering if you were using a professional camera or were those pics taken with a phone (they turned out incredible and the focus on some of them was fantastic)? Good friend of mine will be back chasing Mr. Spots with Wayne and his crew in a couple weeks- we weren't able to close the deal a year ago last March- I, unfortunately, can't join in the hunt this year.
 

WCC

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These were taken with a ten year old consumer-grade Canon EOS, with a few exceptions (mostly the panos) which were taken with an iPhone 7. The dirty secret of professional photographers is that making photos look artistic only takes a couple of tricks: First, use long (telephoto) lenses to take pictures of things that are nearby, and short (wide-angle) lenses to take pictures of things that are far away (especially scenery). Second, make sure whatever you're taking a picture of is off to one side rather than center-frame. (Use manual focus to keep the subject in focus.) Bam. Your ordinary photos are now high art, fit for serious discussion on public radio. Oh, and of course, 90% of your photos must end up on the cutting room floor, rejected in a fit of extremely artistic alcohol-fueled self-loathing. "Trash!" you must shout. "They're all trash! I'll never take another photograph!" Be sure to do this in the presence of concerned friends who understand your inner demons.

But this is off the OP's topic. The upshot is, Africa is amazing to see, and Bubiana is a particular gem, and Wayne Van Den Bergh is in tight with the Drummonds, so he can get you there.

Also, yes, Sam, Cowboy, and Jonathan are good men, and strong assets to Mr. Van Den Bergh's team.
 

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The more I read about Wayne’s operation the more I want to hunt with him. Knowing myself it will happen in the near future.
 

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I had the pleasure of taking my father to Africa last June, our first experience with overseas hunting. I elected Nyamazana Safaris and Mr. Van Den Bergh based on an article I had encountered in a CZ magazine some years prior. In the article, CZ's journalist described an ethical, fair-chase hunt of a wild elephant, with less emphasis on trophy size than on the quality of the pursuit and the ethics of the hunt.

When I finally got around to exploring my options, Nyamazana's advertisements ("truly wild animals") helped to confirm my original choice, and in correspondence, Mr. Van Den Bergh offered a number of options, and was not abashed to champion hunt venues where the "trophy quality" might be regarded as inferior, but the game hunted could be guaranteed to be truly wild and the property ethically managed. Chief among these options he put forward Bubiana Conservancy (owned and operated by Drummond Ranching), saying that the elephant would not necessarily be of the scale found in greater public lands, and that the buffalo hunting would be extremely difficult, but that the property, privacy, and experience were second to none.

I elected ultimately to hunt with Wayne Van Den Bergh, on Bubiana Conservancy. I can speak with absolute positivity about all aspects of the experience.

Mr. Van Den Bergh is a target-oriented hunter. Given the objective of finding you a trophy-quality animal on a difficult property (and Bubiana, especially that year, and that month, was in many ways a beautiful nightmare), he will pursue it doggedly and professionally. He has been around the block more than once (and has paid some dues to his chosen profession). If he seems gruff or taciturn at times, it is not to be taken personally; he is simply working a dangerous problem, from a stand-point devoid of any illusions about anyone's mortality. Be clear about the product you would like to get for your money (be it the pursuit of a Big Five trophy, or a casual bird hunt, or a photo opportunity), and he will strive to the utmost of his abilities and those of his crew to provide that product within the bounds of survival.

We were successful in hunting the bull elephant--almost immediately, by happenstance, as a tremendous old bull traversed the Bubiana property within our first few days there, and Wayne and his trackers were able to track him down and catch up to him only hours before he would have reached the property boundary. Our first encounter with this old bull--for he busted us early in the day, necessitating that we let him go, fall back, and track him again for several hours more--remains one of the profound experiences of my life. (I say this as one who has not lived a sheltered existence.) It's a memory that begs for poetry beyond the scope of this post. Suffice to say that we eventually took him. We caught up to him again in the heat of the late afternoon. Wayne identified a particular tree from a distance, venturing that the elephant would be napping in its shade and maneuvering us silently to its downwind side before approaching. His theory (born of long experience, no doubt) bore out to the letter, and I found myself in position for a transcranial brain shot, perfectly broadside. The shot was taken with a .375 H&H bolt action rifle, using express iron sights, if that tells you anything about the distances involved. We never again saw sign on Bubiana of a bull of that scale.

We were not successful in hunting the Cape Buffalo, though we pursued it--and by "it," I mean a specific, trophy-class, wily, nimble, stealthy, cruel individual--for a total of 14 days. The underbrush was thick and green, even in mid June, owing to unusually prolific rainfall during the preceding Summer and Autumn. Being few in number, these buffs did not mill about the watering holes, waiting for someone else to get shot, but kept to the thickest of the thick thorn brush, and each day migrated on the highest, most treacherous passes over the kopjes, along stony paths one would have thought more suited to a mountain goat. Ten kilometers climbing up and down steep slopes through tunnels of thorns was our daily exercise for two weeks, every now and again stopping to ensure that a shadow ahead was not the monster lying in wait for us. More than once we were within thirty yards of the buffalo, it running past us at full tilt, and we could see nothing more than the shaking of the trees. In its entirety it was an experience out of "Jurassic Park"--except velociraptors have the decency to kill you because they're hungry, rather than out of sheer spite.

I have never felt closer to death than during that hunt, with the possible exception of certain low-light night formation events in the -60. Eventually the risks could not be mitigated, and we let the buffalo go. I call that animal the Beast of Bubiana.

We are contemplating our rematch.

Multiple plains game were taken as trophies of opportunity while scouting for buffalo sign during that 14 day pursuit of the Beast, including a Greater Kudu, a Waterbuk, a pair of baboons--Shooting a vital zone the size of a softball at 200 yards at a 30-degree up angle off a shooting stick is an interesting challenge. Climbing up the cliff-face upon which the baboon's corpse has become lodged is also an interesting challenge, but worthwhile because you never know what you may find atop a kopje. Bubiana abounds with uncatalogued archaeological sites. But I digress. If you wish to hunt for plains game, Bubiana is a paradise of Kudu, Impala, Waterbuk, etc. That is Bubiana's stock and trade moreso than Big 5 trophies. Taking trophies of opportunity while hunting a buff is all well and good, but it does not give one the experience of pursuing and tracking in a dedicated manner these incredible antelope, who truly deserve a hunt all their own. Consider your objectives carefully--or schedule two months worth of hunts.

We also delighted in goose and dove hunting on those days when it was not feasible for us to pursue bigger game, and took a host of birds for the table, including what may have been the only authentic Cajun gumbo ever cooked in Zimbabwe. (We brought the necessary spices and file with us, but managed to acquire the rest locally. Egyptian goose and bush pig sausage gumbo, scratch. Eat that.)

Speaking now to the service of Wayne's crew and the people of Drummond Ranch, we were nothing but thrilled. Sam and Cowboy (Wayne's trackers), and Sunday (Drummond's tracker assigned to us), all demonstrated excellent skill and dedication. Wayne's personal cook, Jonathan, never failed to astound us. If you have never broken your fast on sauteed kudu liver, poached eggs, and crepes, under a luxurious dining tent on the banks of a river in the middle of a Matabeleland wilderness... consider giving it a try sometime.

The "bush camp" was an obscene luxury. To each of us a private tent, queen bed, clean sheets and plenty of warm blankets, a dresser, solar-charged electric lights, a hot shower, a flushing toilet. A few yards' walk to the dining tent on the sandy beach by a bend in the river. And not another human settlement for miles in any direction. By night, hyenas and leopards calling, and various creatures splashing across the river. Morning and evening, geese on the water, and eagles hunting along the forested banks, and a warm fire by which to sit and watch the sun set. (If there's one place where leopards are not endangered, it is a well-managed game ranch. One cannot walk a quarter mile of Bubiana's roads without tripping over leopard tracks.)

The Drummonds consider their part in the trophy hunting complex to be essentially hospitality--in the sense of the hospitality industry. They run Bubiana as a luxury hotel with its own game preserve, or a game preserve with its own luxury hotel. Five stars; would stay again. And to be clear, their lodge is also quite nice; but the bush camp is an experience without equal.

I wish also at this point to express our thanks to the Drummond family for their personal hospitality, and what a pleasure it was to make their acquaintance and share with them a big, piping pot of gumbo, along with Jonathan's French bread and grilled dove breast appetizers.

All in all, a very positive experience, and one we would repeat, albeit (given the option) with a bit less imminence of death. Perhaps later in the season, for that rematch against the Beast of Bubiana.

Principal lessons learned:

First, be clear in your expectations and desires. The PH is trying to work for you, but if your agenda does not align with the typical trophy-seeking client, you must communicate that. Mr. Van Den Bergh is your man for a more old-fashioned, less "commercial" style of hunting.

Second, consider not flying into Bulawayo if you can help it. Victoria Falls is some hours' drive away, and will cost you more in terms of ground transport if you are bound Bulawayo way, but it's a much nicer and friendlier airport. The downside is that if your bags are delayed, getting them from Victoria Falls will be nigh impossible. These are the challenges of traveling in Africa.

Third, if you are hunting down Bulawayo way, and Wayne encourages you to take a night in town (to ensure you have everything you need and do some last-minute shopping), and he recommends one Hornung Park Lodge, trust that this is good advice.

Fourth, if you have arthritis of the spine, ride in the cab of the Land Cruiser, not up on the bench, especially when Mr. Van Den Bergh is driving.

This is all that comes to mind, for now.

@WCC - after reading this write-up I may have to take a sleep aid tonight.

75 days and will be in Bubiana with Wayne...the Beast, if we can find him, is on the menu so to speak!

Thank you for sharing
 

WCC

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Bring good binoculars. Not for far viewing, but for examining the details of nearby shadows. Consider a low-power QD scope on your buff gun as well. If foliage is thick, the scope may aid you in picking out the shape of the animal through the clutter. Take that extra moment to make sure and aim true. Consider eye protection if crawling through the brush, so you don’t get stabbed in the eye like I did. A small solar charger and something like the Streamlight rechargeable LED lantern does not go amiss if you’re at the bush camp.
 

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Bring good binoculars. Not for far viewing, but for examining the details of nearby shadows. Consider a low-power QD scope on your buff gun as well. If foliage is thick, the scope may aid you in picking out the shape of the animal through the clutter. Take that extra moment to make sure and aim true. Consider eye protection if crawling through the brush, so you don’t get stabbed in the eye like I did. A small solar charger and something like the Streamlight rechargeable LED lantern does not go amiss if you’re at the bush camp.

Appreciate the heads up on the binos, have a Zeiss 8x42 HT that is exceptional. Have a 2-12 x 42 on the 375 H&H so have the low end covered well. It is in detachable mounts but I cant see the front sight anymore.

I sent Wayne a note about the electrical power that may/may not be available. The lodge burned down late last December and I'm guessing we are staying in the "bush camp", which is fine by me!

I had my wife read your post as she will be accompanying me again...she said she may want to sleep with a gun!

Edge
 

WCC

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The most dangerous thing I encountered in the bushcamp was a single scorpion I found in my shower one night. And my father found their equivalent of the black widow spider under his toilet. But those were the only two arthropod issues we had in the entire three weeks. In the dead of winter, there's no significant spider/scorpion/snake/etc. activity to speak of. The gravest threat she will in all likelihood encounter in the bushcamp is the seductive grasp of warm blankets and a soft mattress before dawn on a cold morning. Fortunately, you will have access to a hot shower to help escape the bed's clutches. And a restaurant-quality hot breakfast, if Jonathan is cooking.
 

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I had the pleasure of taking my father to Africa last June, our first experience with overseas hunting. I elected Nyamazana Safaris and Mr. Van Den Bergh based on an article I had encountered in a CZ magazine some years prior. In the article, CZ's journalist described an ethical, fair-chase hunt of a wild elephant, with less emphasis on trophy size than on the quality of the pursuit and the ethics of the hunt.

When I finally got around to exploring my options, Nyamazana's advertisements ("truly wild animals") helped to confirm my original choice, and in correspondence, Mr. Van Den Bergh offered a number of options, and was not abashed to champion hunt venues where the "trophy quality" might be regarded as inferior, but the game hunted could be guaranteed to be truly wild and the property ethically managed. Chief among these options he put forward Bubiana Conservancy (owned and operated by Drummond Ranching), saying that the elephant would not necessarily be of the scale found in greater public lands, and that the buffalo hunting would be extremely difficult, but that the property, privacy, and experience were second to none.

I elected ultimately to hunt with Wayne Van Den Bergh, on Bubiana Conservancy. I can speak with absolute positivity about all aspects of the experience.

Mr. Van Den Bergh is a target-oriented hunter. Given the objective of finding you a trophy-quality animal on a difficult property (and Bubiana, especially that year, and that month, was in many ways a beautiful nightmare), he will pursue it doggedly and professionally. He has been around the block more than once (and has paid some dues to his chosen profession). If he seems gruff or taciturn at times, it is not to be taken personally; he is simply working a dangerous problem, from a stand-point devoid of any illusions about anyone's mortality. Be clear about the product you would like to get for your money (be it the pursuit of a Big Five trophy, or a casual bird hunt, or a photo opportunity), and he will strive to the utmost of his abilities and those of his crew to provide that product within the bounds of survival.

We were successful in hunting the bull elephant--almost immediately, by happenstance, as a tremendous old bull traversed the Bubiana property within our first few days there, and Wayne and his trackers were able to track him down and catch up to him only hours before he would have reached the property boundary. Our first encounter with this old bull--for he busted us early in the day, necessitating that we let him go, fall back, and track him again for several hours more--remains one of the profound experiences of my life. (I say this as one who has not lived a sheltered existence.) It's a memory that begs for poetry beyond the scope of this post. Suffice to say that we eventually took him. We caught up to him again in the heat of the late afternoon. Wayne identified a particular tree from a distance, venturing that the elephant would be napping in its shade and maneuvering us silently to its downwind side before approaching. His theory (born of long experience, no doubt) bore out to the letter, and I found myself in position for a transcranial brain shot, perfectly broadside. The shot was taken with a .375 H&H bolt action rifle, using express iron sights, if that tells you anything about the distances involved. We never again saw sign on Bubiana of a bull of that scale.

We were not successful in hunting the Cape Buffalo, though we pursued it--and by "it," I mean a specific, trophy-class, wily, nimble, stealthy, cruel individual--for a total of 14 days. The underbrush was thick and green, even in mid June, owing to unusually prolific rainfall during the preceding Summer and Autumn. Being few in number, these buffs did not mill about the watering holes, waiting for someone else to get shot, but kept to the thickest of the thick thorn brush, and each day migrated on the highest, most treacherous passes over the kopjes, along stony paths one would have thought more suited to a mountain goat. Ten kilometers climbing up and down steep slopes through tunnels of thorns was our daily exercise for two weeks, every now and again stopping to ensure that a shadow ahead was not the monster lying in wait for us. More than once we were within thirty yards of the buffalo, it running past us at full tilt, and we could see nothing more than the shaking of the trees. In its entirety it was an experience out of "Jurassic Park"--except velociraptors have the decency to kill you because they're hungry, rather than out of sheer spite.

I have never felt closer to death than during that hunt, with the possible exception of certain low-light night formation events in the -60. Eventually the risks could not be mitigated, and we let the buffalo go. I call that animal the Beast of Bubiana.

We are contemplating our rematch.

Multiple plains game were taken as trophies of opportunity while scouting for buffalo sign during that 14 day pursuit of the Beast, including a Greater Kudu, a Waterbuk, a pair of baboons--Shooting a vital zone the size of a softball at 200 yards at a 30-degree up angle off a shooting stick is an interesting challenge. Climbing up the cliff-face upon which the baboon's corpse has become lodged is also an interesting challenge, but worthwhile because you never know what you may find atop a kopje. Bubiana abounds with uncatalogued archaeological sites. But I digress. If you wish to hunt for plains game, Bubiana is a paradise of Kudu, Impala, Waterbuk, etc. That is Bubiana's stock and trade moreso than Big 5 trophies. Taking trophies of opportunity while hunting a buff is all well and good, but it does not give one the experience of pursuing and tracking in a dedicated manner these incredible antelope, who truly deserve a hunt all their own. Consider your objectives carefully--or schedule two months worth of hunts.

We also delighted in goose and dove hunting on those days when it was not feasible for us to pursue bigger game, and took a host of birds for the table, including what may have been the only authentic Cajun gumbo ever cooked in Zimbabwe. (We brought the necessary spices and file with us, but managed to acquire the rest locally. Egyptian goose and bush pig sausage gumbo, scratch. Eat that.)

Speaking now to the service of Wayne's crew and the people of Drummond Ranch, we were nothing but thrilled. Sam and Cowboy (Wayne's trackers), and Sunday (Drummond's tracker assigned to us), all demonstrated excellent skill and dedication. Wayne's personal cook, Jonathan, never failed to astound us. If you have never broken your fast on sauteed kudu liver, poached eggs, and crepes, under a luxurious dining tent on the banks of a river in the middle of a Matabeleland wilderness... consider giving it a try sometime.

The "bush camp" was an obscene luxury. To each of us a private tent, queen bed, clean sheets and plenty of warm blankets, a dresser, solar-charged electric lights, a hot shower, a flushing toilet. A few yards' walk to the dining tent on the sandy beach by a bend in the river. And not another human settlement for miles in any direction. By night, hyenas and leopards calling, and various creatures splashing across the river. Morning and evening, geese on the water, and eagles hunting along the forested banks, and a warm fire by which to sit and watch the sun set. (If there's one place where leopards are not endangered, it is a well-managed game ranch. One cannot walk a quarter mile of Bubiana's roads without tripping over leopard tracks.)

The Drummonds consider their part in the trophy hunting complex to be essentially hospitality--in the sense of the hospitality industry. They run Bubiana as a luxury hotel with its own game preserve, or a game preserve with its own luxury hotel. Five stars; would stay again. And to be clear, their lodge is also quite nice; but the bush camp is an experience without equal.

I wish also at this point to express our thanks to the Drummond family for their personal hospitality, and what a pleasure it was to make their acquaintance and share with them a big, piping pot of gumbo, along with Jonathan's French bread and grilled dove breast appetizers.

All in all, a very positive experience, and one we would repeat, albeit (given the option) with a bit less imminence of death. Perhaps later in the season, for that rematch against the Beast of Bubiana.

Principal lessons learned:

First, be clear in your expectations and desires. The PH is trying to work for you, but if your agenda does not align with the typical trophy-seeking client, you must communicate that. Mr. Van Den Bergh is your man for a more old-fashioned, less "commercial" style of hunting.

Second, consider not flying into Bulawayo if you can help it. Victoria Falls is some hours' drive away, and will cost you more in terms of ground transport if you are bound Bulawayo way, but it's a much nicer and friendlier airport. The downside is that if your bags are delayed, getting them from Victoria Falls will be nigh impossible. These are the challenges of traveling in Africa.

Third, if you are hunting down Bulawayo way, and Wayne encourages you to take a night in town (to ensure you have everything you need and do some last-minute shopping), and he recommends one Hornung Park Lodge, trust that this is good advice.

Fourth, if you have arthritis of the spine, ride in the cab of the Land Cruiser, not up on the bench, especially when Mr. Van Den Bergh is driving.

This is all that comes to mind, for now.
let me know when your first book comes out,your writing is quite eloquent.
 

Edge

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The Hyenas and Leopards sounding off, animals splashing through the river, being in a “tent” and me playing up The Beast might have added to the “I’m sleeping with a gun” :A Camping:

She also appreciated the photog tips you provided earlier.
 

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