ZIMBABWE: Hunting Elephant Near Hwange With Mbalabala Safaris

Medicine

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My name is Medicine. I’m a 2005 Winchester Model 70 Safari Express in .416 Remington Magnum and I’m a $1450.00 certified damn elephant killing machine. Now I know what you’re thinking - two things actually: you’re thinking 1) you’re not actually a rifle; you’re a person and 2) you can’t be an elephant killing machine because the last of the New Haven guns are all pieces of crap. Perhaps you’re correct on one of the above – I suppose one out of two ain’t bad; however, if you think the last of the New Haven guns are not among the finest Winchesters ever produced then I can assure you that your belief is based on fallacious information. Oh, I know what you’ve read – the machines were outdated – we were sloppily put together – we all have tool marks – the current Portugal productions are the finest rifles Winchester has ever built due to the modern, state of the art, CNC machines – blah – blah – blah. I’ll let you in on a secret -two actually - the big name gun writer who wrote that article was paid $30,000.00 to write it and my current owner, call him Ishmael, has tasked me with writing this report, free of charge, due to certain political climates and to maintain himself, hopefully, some degree of anonymity.

How I became among the chattels of Ishmael is rather a curious lot; however, I know you are here for the report so I promise to only touch the high points. My previous owner was a cigarette smoking cowboy who, when leaked insider information about production ceasing circa 2005, went to Scheels of all places and bought every Winchester Model 70 they had. There were lots of us - 100's actually. So, there I was, locked in his safe, for 15 years. You see, that’s about how long it took for BACA to convince all of you we were crap and that’s why the cowboy decided to offload all of us – because we didn’t appreciate in value like he had projected – like we should have for you see the employees knew their jobs were ending and that’s why they got together and vowed to go out on top – to produce the finest damn Winchesters that had ever been produced and I am one of them.

After two stints on gunbroker I was finally bought for the starting bid and that’s when I was shipped 7/8’s across the country to Ishmael and although he had no African mounts on his walls, he would occasionally point me at his buffalo painting and once, he even held me on the couch while he watched Buzz Charton’s first elephant hunting DVD. It was at this point that I knew everything was going to be alright and it was not long after this that a Pelican case came in the mail from Midway USA and while being traced by a sharpie, I knew my chance to hunt elephant in Africa was imminent.

Ishmael booked @Mbalabala Safaris ’ non-trophy elephant special as advertised on this very forum and after vast training of four months including the loss of 20 pounds and the sweat from his back rusting the metal on my magazine floorplate, we set sail at 600 mph for the wilds of Africa via a Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
 
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VertigoBE

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Hilarious start to your adventure Ishmael ! Love the writing style. :)

I trust you applied a bit of oil to Medicine's magazine floorplate!
 

PARA45

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Medicine

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I suppose I should tell you a little more about Ishmael. I mentioned he had no African mounts in his home and this is true; however, in his study, there is a pair of tusks that I suspect might be fake and once, when he sighted me in he took me to a place – a sort of cabin in the woods where there was a buffalo skull and the framed print of Michael Sieve’s “Ivory Hunter”. This intrigued me as did the collection of elephant hunting titles on his bookcase. Nearly every night, with a glass of wine, he would grab one to thumb through almost like he was looking for something in particular. Sometimes but not often a lady would enter the study and talk about perhaps buying a new car or a new kitchen or even having another baby. Ishmael would listen intently and always give a response; however, I suspect oftentimes his responses were based on economics.

While being sighted in I started to think perhaps there might be more to Ishmael than the one who leaves the house every morning in cap toe shoes and a silk neck tie – almost like before he was domesticated he was an adventurer of some sorts as he seems very comfortable with me although after our first three shots I caught him bitching – something about a three position safety – damn hard trigger - $30 worth of bullets. I also suspect his shoulder was a little sore the next day although he said nothing.
 

Aaron N

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Also, before we get too far into this report and my expectations grow, do any members know if there have ever been reports of white elephants?!
 

Medicine

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And then it happened. Early one morning the baby-wanting lady drove Ishmael and me to the airport where they quietly said their goodbyes as boarding was called. Ishmael and I were separated and wouldn’t see one another again until Johannesburg so I really can’t comment much on his flights. I can only tell you that Ishmael didn’t seem too concerned about me upon landing in Johannesburg as he was crazy focused on finding the COVID testing facility. Once that was completed he returned for me and we overnighted there in a hotel room only to be separated again the next morning as we were prepped for the short flight to Bulawayo.

Enter Zimbabwe. Let the shit show begin. Ishmael’s advice: take lots of 5’s as everyone needs a little gift in their book. Once released into the custody of Matt Stanton who was waiting at the airport for us, I could finally see Ishmael start to relax. Of course, the icy cold beers might have had something to do with it; however, I am certain I detected the change in him prior to the beers being produced. The first six went down so smoothly that Matt called his sister-in-law, Kim, to procure six more – which she dutifully did and the new beers were then exchanged for two new iPhones that Ishmael had brought over, upon request, from the States.
 

Mort Hill

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Rock on with this report. Loving the literary style!
 

rinehart0050

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Great report so far Medicine! Looking forward to reading just how good of medicine you are!
 

Medicine

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I suppose I should have given Matt and Kim a more proper introduction. Please forgive me for being such a Savage. Matt is Lin’s brother and, himself, an extremely competent PH who is acting as apprentice on this trip due to the regular apprentice being out of commission from a broken arm sustained just prior to our arrival and Kim is Lin’s lovely and hard-working wife. After taking possession of the beers, we began the 4 hour Africa-time trek (7.5 hours real-time) to camp. Along the way, approximately every 20 miles or so, there were COVID checkpoints. This is where the police block the road and make certain everyone in the car is wearing a mask. We made it through the first 3-4 without any fanfare; however, the policemen soon caught on and began waiving us over. Typical stops went as follows:

“Are you carrying rifles?”

“Yes”

“Where are your papers?”

[Papers shown]

“American?”

“Yes”

“Show me the American dollars”

[Dollars shown]

“You are free to go”

The ride itself was quite an adventure. There were locals selling wet carrots all along the road and, oftentimes, we would have to stop and let herds of cattle traverse the highway. Matt showed Ishmael where a 100 pound plus tusker was taken some years ago by Tinie, Lin’s business partner. After what seemed like forever, we turned off the main highway and passed an enormous plant that Matt said was owned by the Chinese. Finally, after another hour or so, we crossed through the gates to camp. Enter Heaven on Earth.

Lin met us, hand extended, at the car. Ishmael had really only talked to Lin a handful of times, mostly by email. Pleasantries were exchanged, dinner was served and then talk got down to business. I should have told you that, although Ishmael booked the non-trophy special, it had been arranged that the hunt could be converted to a trophy animal – that is one with ivory in excess of 30 pounds per side – for an additional, previously agreed upon fee.

“Could we see a 60 pounder?”

“We could but it’s unlikely”

“What could I expect as far as size goes for a trophy animal?”

“If we see a 40-45 pounder then I would encourage you to take it”

It was at this point that I expect Ishmael made a decision – once again based on economics. That decision I expect was not to pay the additional fee for the extra 10-15 pounds but hold out for a really, old, big bodied bull preferably a single tusker or one broken up and then Lin dropped a bombshell on all of us. Said bombshell was:

“I can just about guarantee you an elephant in the morning”

“Do what?”

“Yes, we prescouted for your visit. Found a group of bulls. They are close”

“You’re serious?”

“Of course”

Decision time.

Ishmael then tells him that he didn’t fly all the way to Zimbabwe for guarantees. That he didn’t train as hard as he did to limit out on the first morning. That he was prepared to and expected to walk a mile for every pound of ivory he collected and that he appreciated the prescouting but that it just wasn’t the type hunting he wanted. That he wanted to work for his bull.

Point taken.

“Tomorrow we will walk”

“OK, great, don’t back me up”

“Do what?”

“Don’t back me up. I would rather lose $5,000.00 than to have you shoot my elephant”

“OK, I won’t”

“Could we see a buffalo while tracking?’

“We could, but not close. Three hours away. How do feel about camping?”

“As in in a tent, under the stars?”

“Yes, under mosquito nets?

“That’s what I came for” was Ishmael’s response and I witnessed a sly grin appear on his face that he tried to hide but I knew what he was thinking – that he was happy he was here and that he was happy he had drawn Lin for his PH. I could also tell he had consciously abstained from the available booze, save for a glass or two of wine, and had already begun the process of mentally preparing himself for the morning of my metamorphosis from Medicine the safe queen to Medicine the elephant hunter.
 
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VertigoBE

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I'm loving this style of writing, very refreshing. You are not perhaps a writer by trade or hobby?

Thanks for sharing and keep it coming! :A Popcorn:
 

ianevans

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excellent ,can't wait for the rest of the story
 

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