ZIMBABWE: Hunting The BVC In Zimbabwe For Buffalo, John Sharp Safaris Exceeding Expectations

tarbe

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This next day proved to be rather interesting, on several fronts!

Remember the great instructions Dave gave all of us, regarding that group of bulls he and Cody saw?

Well, due to some serious misunderstanding between the two teams of trackers, my guys were convinced the bulls were at least a half a mile further on down the line than Dave indicated.

When we took the track, we were moving kinda fast...as in "these bulls have moved out and we got some ground to cover".

Well folks, we didn't go 200 yards from the Cruiser and I was in the back of the line hissing for everyone to stop. It took two hisses...nobody expects the guy in the back to be seeing the Buffalo first!

But there they were...about as surprised to see us as we were to see them!

How embarrassing for everyone, human and bovine alike.

After 10 seconds of awkward staring, the Buffalo stormed off as if they'd seen Rosie O'Donnell and Michael Moore deciding on what's for lunch.

Pretty much no one said a word. We knew we had blown a great opportunity. We were all like the guy in the Southwest Airlines commercial who "wants to get away".

I really debated about just leaving this episode out of the report...it was not a proud moment for any of us. But stuff happens. What matters is, do we learn from the stuff and improve? Do we redouble our efforts to redeem ourselves?

I can say without question that we were all a lot more careful after that little blunder!

We loaded up in the Cruiser and went back to looking for Buffalo.

With Cody's Buff in the salt, we decided to move to the north a bit and try our luck at some of the water holes that were giving them good tracks to follow.

We found some promising opportunities in the late morning and made a plan for after lunch.
 

tarbe

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Early afternoon found us tracking a group of about 8 old bulls.

Wind was favorable, weather was great, and we knew there were bulls at the end of the tracks. We were anxious to put our morning blunder behind us and get back to work.

We tracked these bulls for about an hour, with the usual episodes of Zebra and Giraffe getting in the way and causing us to have to leave the track to swing wide.

After about 90 minutes we made contact with the herd. And we were close...it was so thick that even at 30 yards a shot would have been very tough. But John's face and demeanor told the story...no shooters - at least none that were in view.

But there were more bulls in the group, so we let them move off and we took the track again, hoping for a better look at the other bulls.

After another 30 - 40 minutes, we were all hunkered down single file. Isaac in front, then John, then Lovemore and lastly myself. It was one of those situations where you were close, but not able to see if there is a shooter in the group. We backed out a bit and swung wide to come in from another angle, to get a better look.

As we patiently waited for a better view, I heard a twig snap behind me. I carefully craned my stiff old body around to scan. I saw nothing.

30 seconds later, another twig snaps! Something is back there and I have to look again. Nothing? Nothing!

Back to the Buffalo. You guessed it, a third snap. I pivot around and what do I see? An enormous Bull Elephant in full view, broadside, at max 40 yards. :eek:

I reach forward and tug on Lovemore's sleeve. My eyes are wide and I am pointing behind me. When he turns his head around, his eyes rivaled mine!

Lovemore immediately taps Johns shoulder. John looks back and in one motion opens his Rigby, pulls the soft out of the right barrel and drops in a second solid.

We are all looking at each other with grins that basically said "can you believe this"?

And as quickly as that bull came into our lives, he left.

How does a 5 ton animal sneak up on someone who is in hunting mode? I have no idea. I think he popped up out of a hole! :)
 

IdaRam

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Just goes to show blunders WILL happen, no matter who you are. Something to laugh about and provide fodder for some good natured ribbing. Always better to have the Pros make a little boo boo first! :whistle: Cuz damn sure you and me are going to make a blunder before the hunt is over! As long as safety is not jeopardized it’s just another great memory and part of why we do what we do, right? Perfection is so boring! :ROFLMAO:
Loving the tag team report! Keep it coming.
 

tarbe

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So now our attention is back where it needs to be, on the Buffalo.

Not more than a few minutes after the Bull Elephant departed, the silence is shattered by gunfire.

And it wasn't the single shot of a careful hunter...possibly followed a minute later by a finisher.

It was, as best we could recall, 11 shots. 11 shots of very rapid fire.

Isaac, John and I all thought the exact same thing. AK47. We have all three heard AK fire. They do not sound anything like a 450 NE or a Lott.

All of these rounds sounded like an AK. To me, it sounded like two guys firing AKs in an undisciplined manner...spray and pray.

Isaac's first word to John after the shots was "Poachers".

The shots sounded like they came from about 600 yards on the other side of the Buffalo.

The Buffalo became very nervous!

Shame on me, but now I am thinking to myself that I might actually get an unintended assist on a Buffalo!

After about 15 seconds, the Buffalo broke and started running our way through the Mopani. Before any sort of ID could be made, they veered to our right and ran behind an old termite mound and disappeared.

The next hour or so was spent calling in to HQ by way of Gift in the Cruiser, trying to convince them that we did not hear hunters with double rifles, but AK47.

We ended up at a water hole watching a helo drop in for a chat. Brian, the new head of Anti-Poaching (and a fellow who is making a definite impression on the poachers!) disembarked and ran over to review the situation with John.

We checked a few more water holes to fill in our database with intel and as the sun set, made our way back to camp after an interesting day 5!
 

tarbe

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Up to this point in the hunt, I had been eating...ahem....Granola for breakfast.

Cody, Dave and John were basically shaming me for my food choice...but I wasn't going to give in to those bullies! :)

Until someone mentioned how "Cody has bacon and eggs every morning, and he has a stud buffalo in the salt".

Hmmmm. Maybe I need to rethink this Granola crap?

So late evening of Day 5, when Tongi comes to get the menu for Breakfast on day 6, I break down and order 3 scrambled eggs, bacon and toast.

What the heck? It's just breakfast and we were having fun with it. But....you never know....
 

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Lucky you have apparently pretty fair hearing Tim, were it me standing there, that ele would have been in my back pocket before I heard a dang thing!!:eek: Funny stuff that!:ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO: That bacon and eggs will surely change your luck.;)
 

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Cody congratulations on a great hunt and a great buffalo. That is true adventure.(y)(y)(y)
 

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I’m pretty sure that eating granola is a sure fire way to cause yourself misfortune before a hunt along with a few other things such as painting your fingernails, drinking wine coolers or listening to anything by the artist formerly known as prince. One thing this breakfast choice discussion did was open the opportunity for a joke that never gets old. I asked Dave if he knew what a man with a 12” penis eats for breakfast? Why no he answered
“Well, I usually have bacon and eggs”
I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity up and I really got a kick out of making John shake his head and laugh!
We load up and I tell Dave that today is the day Tim will kill a Buffalo!
We are really just cruising today looking for nothing in particular, I have taken my two main animals, I am happy and content but certainly open to an opportunity should the good lord offer up say an exceptional Kudu. Warthog, impala always interest me too.
We start setting baits for Hyena also, thanks Tim for the donation of the Zebra. I really enjoyed and learned a lot about baiting on this trip. It was so cool to get the SD cards out of the cameras every morning and see all of the visitors that showed for a meal throughout the night!
We found an Impala that looked nice, I have been wanting a flatskin and a euro so we decided to let the Winchester out of its case and have a go. We circled around in front of them and got on the sticks as the herd funneled through a nice little shooting lane about 100 yards out. After about 40 ewes and smaller rams came through ours came out and stopped.
Slightly quartering at the shot, he ran about 20 yards before he ran out of steam. Such a lovely little animal, I believe I will never get tired of watching them, or obviously shooting them because I have shot at least one every time I’ve been over.
230446F5-C1A2-44D7-B15E-6985E2102EFC.jpeg

The bullet was not recovered on this guy, passing through the far shoulder and exiting. I was not surprised though. I do love me some A-Frames though. And sorry Phil, the next impala is the one you are waiting for! Lol
We drop him at the skinning shed and go hang another bait. While we are doing that, the sound of Gift, John’s Driver/Tracker delivers some much anticipated news!!! We are excited and anxiously wait for an all clear so we can go to Tim’s location to celebrate with them!
 

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@Bullthrower338 again great bull and great report! Still cant believe you passed up caribou to go hunt Africa! :whistle::A Outta: I'm jealous!:D Cheers:
And I passed to hunt grizzly, got my bear but still not sure I made the right choice;)
 

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Sounds like a blast of a time. I'm really enjoying the story. Keep it coming.
 

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There are many reasons hunting the BVC is special. Certainly the quality of the animals. The size of the hunting camps (~100,000 acres each). The quality of the PHs and camp staff.

But one feature that benefitted me personally was the great spirit of cooperation that is fostered between the various PHs.

It was very common for the Pros to radio info to other Pros that could help them with their hunts. And often times, permission was granted to "trespass" on on another's concession, in order to gain access to favorable opportunities.

So day 6 found us in Dyers, the camp just to the east of Nengo. We got onto some good, fresh Dagga Boy tracks at about 0700 and everyone was uber focused...after all, I had eggs for breakfast.

By 0900 we had made contact with the herd. They seemed to be quite spread out. As we glassed the several bulls in front of us and found no shooters, we would back out, swing in from a bit different angle and once again try to see some new bulls.

Several times we would be moving in and have to freeze as some stealth bull would be hiding from view until we were close. One bull in particular gave us the death stare for what had to be 90 seconds. It was FOREVER.

I was certain this bull had made us, and was about to take the entire herd to Botswana. Instead, he eventually went back to grazing, only to lie down for some rest, about 50 yards from us.

The wind was less than steady, so we had to be careful. And the bulls were periodically getting up, moving a bit, then lying back down. Several times we got "pinned" and literally sat in one spot for nearly an hour without moving.

We played this game straight through to about 1500. At that time, the wind seemed to shift a bit and get more steady, so John figured it was time for us to make a big swing to our left, then back into the herd. This was to be out last attempt of the day to penetrate into a previously unseen section of the herd, where we hoped the big boys were hanging out.

So we got our stiff bodies back vertical (man, that felt good!) and moved a total of about 400 yards out, over and back in.

During the course of this movement, we twice got pinned down by bulls. Both times we were stared down to the point we were sure we were busted. But no...it was almost as if the bulls were under a delusion. Invariably, they went back to feeding and we continued our stalk.

In the end, this was the move that made our day! Suddenly, we were in position to see a number of large bulls.

One was a jet-black stud, but had just a hint of softness left in his boss - a great trophy for someone else to get later!

There were several large-bodied bulls 60+ yards deep into the bush, to far for a shot, but we could see enough to tell they were large and likely old.

Jet-black decided to start grazing into what was now our scent trail. The wind was blowing our scent on a line that he would likely cross soon, but none of the other bulls were moving into our line of fire.

Just about the time I'm thinking we need to move, Jet-black turns and gives us the stink-eye...for like 30 seconds. Once again, I am certain we've been had. He is less than 40 yards away and there is very little cover between us. Lovemore and Jessie are 100 yards behind us and it is just John, Isaac and myself...but I found myself wishing the three of us could get a lot smaller than we were.

Finally, just like every other time this day, Jet-black eventually decided we were not a threat, and he went back to grazing. Unfortunately, he continued to move toward our scent trail. In deer hunting, we always say "he may hear you three times and see you twice...but he'll only smell you once"!

I was about to bust, just knowing this guy was going to be the spoiler. Suddenly, one of those old, pale bulls cleared some very heavy bush and was moving right to left, quartering slightly to us. He was not in a clear lane, as there was a thorn bush between us. Fortunately, he was immediately behind the bush.

John put up the sticks and I got on them as quickly as I dared move. I got the bull in my scope and glanced over the stock to the right, to check on Jet-black. He was still moving toward our scent trail.

The target bull was still moving to our left, but had not yet cleared the bush.

John had given me the green light to shoot when I was comfortable with a shot...and my computer was running at warp speed trying to assess the options.

Just as I decided I could take this guy, and needed to now before Jet-black blew this up, John started to whisper "don't shoot, don't shoot". But he was too late.

I took up the last ounces on the trigger and sent a 550gr ball of lead and copper through the bush and into the bull.

The bull swapped ends and did the classic helo blade move with the leg that was attached to a clearly broken shoulder. I reloaded and got the bull in my scope and asked John if I should shoot again. By the time we made eye and ear contact with each other, all was quiet and nothing was moving in sight.

At that point I sheepishly asked John "did you say 'don't shoot'"? :oops:

He said that yes, he did...but he was non-committal and realized that he was feeling a bit concerned about the bush.

The next words came out of my mouth without really thinking....and I regretted saying them as soon as they came out. I said "don't worry, we've got this guy. I got a good hit on him".

Words I now hoped I would not regret saying!

I topped up the Dakota, turned the scope down to 1 power, and we walked to where the bull was standing when I shot. As we walked around the bush I looked up and could see the bull lying on the ground, motionless.

I must have looked like I was ready to explode with celebration, because John immediately said to me (in a stern, fatherly voice) "No celebrating yet. We must make sure he is dead". Oh yeah....this ain't over yet.

We walked up carefully, John got me in exactly the spot he wanted me, and had me put two more 550gr softs into the bull.

As I knelt down and put my hands on the bull's boss, I felt a knot of emotion in my chest. Much like I feel right now, as I type this.

This was the culmination of a 50 year dream. 50 years since first reading about Cape Buffalo turning victims into smudges of hair-pudding. And instead of being turned-off, I was turned-on.

I was sad that it was over. I was thrilled that we, as a team, had succeeded. I was happy for John. I was happy for Isaac and Lovemore and Gift. A true cacophony of emotions, and I was not certain which emotion would prevail.

In the end, we were all smiles for sure! And the smile got even brighter when I heard that Cody and Dave were so close they heard the shot and were on the way to celebrate with us!

What a reunion in the bush we had. The entirety of the two teams together, joyful in the aftermath of the successful hunt.

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Ragman

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What a great hunt you guys are having! Cody, I'm really happy that you took Clayton's rifle...that's a special thing!
 

tarbe

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A comment about the wind on Day 6.

Recall we were nervously trying to get a shot in before Jet-black could make his way into our scent trail?

Well, immediately after my shot - and I mean immediately, the wind picked up to what had to be 25 mph and blew directly from where we were standing, toward where the bulk of the herd had been just a moment earlier.

The wind blew like this for just long enough for John and I to stop, look at each other with wide eyes, and essentially wonder aloud, what just happened?

I will let the reader decide. I tend to think it was an exclamation point put on a hunt that had been blessed from the get go.

Were there difficulties? Sure. But in the midst of great difficulty comes great blessing. We lived it and we felt it!
 

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Pretty awesome trip guys, grand bulls y'all got!
 

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A comment about the wind on Day 6.

Recall we were nervously trying to get a shot in before Jet-black could make his way into our scent trail?

Well, immediately after my shot - and I mean immediately, the wind picked up to what had to be 25 mph and blew directly from where we were standing, toward where the bulk of the herd had been just a moment earlier.

The wind blew like this for just long enough for John and I to stop, look at each other with wide eyes, and essentially wonder aloud, what just happened?

I will let the reader decide. I tend to think it was an exclamation point put on a hunt that had been blessed from the get go.

Were there difficulties? Sure. But in the midst of great difficulty comes great blessing. We lived it and we felt it!
As I told y’all at supper that night about the clouds lifting that day! Definitely an exclamation point to let you know just how small we really are in this game. So glad you got such a wonderful bull my friend!
 

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@tarbe Congrats on a beautiful Cape buffalo!!!
 

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And I passed to hunt grizzly, got my bear but still not sure I made the right choice;)
We wished you were with us also Bob, sure enjoy hunting with you my friend!
 

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