ZIMBABWE: Leopard & Buffalo With Mbalabala Safaris

stug

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Sounds like a fantastic hunt. It would have been awesome to see all the leopard in the daytime.
 

Timbo

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Nicely done! Down with one shot. Looks like another lovely, lovely, trophy. Great stuff!

(I'm thinking I'd better get myself up there soon - Chewore did you say? Hmmm. Good opportunities for buffalo! :))
 

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A great hunt that you will remember as long as you have breath.

Congratulations!

Tim
 

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Thanks! This is certainly a hunt that I will remember. And writing this report is helping me to remember all the details.

Timbo, Chewore South certainly had plenty of Buffalo. Like Pierre said at some point of the hunt, there is no problem to be on Buffalo every day. And that certainly proved to be true. Chewore had been hunted cautiously (with low quota) during past few years and next year there should be even more good quality trophies. The operator will however change (current operator lost bidding process for next 5 years) so at the time when I left it remained unclear whether Mbalabala can arrange hunts there next year. If they can, I can certainly recommend to hunt there with them. Maybe Lin can comment what's the deal with Chewore next year.

And for the report, we still have a couple of days to go. :sneaky:
 

Timbo

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Thanks! This is certainly a hunt that I will remember. And writing this report is helping me to remember all the details.

Timbo, Chewore South certainly had plenty of Buffalo. Like Pierre said at some point of the hunt, there is no problem to be on Buffalo every day. And that certainly proved to be true. Chewore had been hunted cautiously (with low quota) during past few years and next year there should be even more good quality trophies. The operator will however change (current operator lost bidding process for next 5 years) so at the time when I left it remained unclear whether Mbalabala can arrange hunts there next year. If they can, I can certainly recommend to hunt there with them. Maybe Lin can comment what's the deal with Chewore next year.

And for the report, we still have a couple of days to go. :sneaky:
Thanks for the advice Riksa. I've met (but not hunted with) Lin a few years back. So I might discuss it with him.

Thanks too, for writing such an absorbing article!! Easy and flowing style that puts us all there right with you - thank God we weren't though! Can you imagine the spectacle of all of us trailing behind you through all that bundu!! :ROFLMAO: (Sorry, my sense of humour does tend towards the Montypythonesque!!) - so keep it coming as, like all of us, I'm enjoying the read!!

Cheers!
 
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geoff rath

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Thanks for the report; your words flow so well that we have become part of your hunt. My hair is standing on end, and the creepies are crawling up my spine.congratulations, both to yourself, and Pierre.
 

enysse

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Congrats on the cape buffalo, it was a hard earned trophy! Very nice eland!!!!!!!!!!!!! This is a hunt of a few lifetimes, great animals!
 

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Tuesday 31.10 (Day 12)

We left the camp a little later as we needed to get a tractor to the bull. We also saw a nice bushbuck male on the way out of the camp. Today we also had a .22WMR in the bakkie and on the way to the Buffalo I got a chance to take a shot on a Guinea Fowl. The Guinea Fowl became the first catch for today.

Luckily the dead Buffalo had not been found by Hyenas or Vultures. We had a large team to skin the Buffalo and cut it into pieces and carry it to the tractor that was waiting some 400 meters away. When the bull was cut we could also see that the bullet had actually hit the heart. We found the bullet lodged into the front of the ribcage. Finally I had managed to get a good shot on a Buffalo. Recovering the bull took the whole morning so we went back to the camp for lunch.

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Afternoon we focused on setting up a really smelly blood trail to our Hyena bait + putting additional meat there. There was plenty of tracks around the bait so it was clear that there was a lot of activity. After the bait had been prepared for early morning walk in the blind, we went after Kudu and Bushbuck. We had a nice walk on a riverbed but had no luck in finding our game. Still it was a nice walk.
 

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Hi all
Firstly I would like to say thank you to Riksa for publishing such an informative article. I am negotiating with the new concession holder of chewore south to buy a portion of his quota. I hoping to know in the next week or so will let you all know when I do.

Lin
 

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Great report! Love old mates shirt carrying your buff head!

That shirt had nice attitude! Mbalabala should make that the official hunting shirt for all the guests :D
 

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Hi all
Firstly I would like to say thank you to Riksa for publishing such an informative article. I am negotiating with the new concession holder of chewore south to buy a portion of his quota. I hoping to know in the next week or so will let you all know when I do.

Lin
My pleasure! And the last days are still missing :sneaky:

Good luck with the negotiations! Keep us posted
 

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Wednesday 1.11 (Day 13)

We agreed that this would be our last full hunting day. In case we would have full hunting day on 2.11, we would need to leave very early on the following morning to catch my flight. As the hunt had been very successful I didn’t feel pressure to get any additional game. So we made arrangements to leave one day before original plan and stay the last night before my flight in Harare. That meant that we had 1 full hunting day left and 1 additional morning for the Hyena (if needed).

We left the camp at 4:00AM. After a short drive we stopped the bakkie, took our shoes off and started the ~500 meter walk to the blind. We arrived the blind just when raising sun started to give additional light to surroundings. We could hear that there was activity at the bait, but when we reached the blind and Pierre took a look, he couldn’t see any Hyenas. Where did they go?

We sat quietly and a moment later Pierre looked again. He glassed through his looking hole (mine was still blocked with some grass) and said that he could see a Hyena at the bait. I would need to take the shot from his looking hole. I slowly stood up and set the rifle on the hole. I looked through my scope and scanned the surroundings but couldn’t find the Hyena. Pierre took a look with his binoculars again and could still see the Hyena in the riverbed but then it left. We waited a while and listened. Then Pierre decided to walk to the riverbed and see if any of the Hyenas would be bedded there. When moving out of the blind we could clearly hear movement from the direction of the bait. It sounded like at least 2 Hyenas would have moved to different directions, up the riverbank on the opposite side. We could find nothing from the riverbed so we just waited for the bakkie to come and pick us up. Then we went for breakfast.

I had had my opportunity to shoot the Hyena but I wasn’t ready for it. I had the scope at 6x power and in retrospect that was simply too much. The distance was only 35-40 meters and right magnification would have been 3 or max 4. That meant that we had one evening and one morning to get our Hyena. Well, at least we knew that Hyena were there, but they were clearly not waiting for sunrise to give an easy shot for me.

After breakfast we drove around looking for Kudu, Impala or Bushbuck. Close to Chewore airstrip we found a group of Impalas. We went after them and Pierre glassed the group. There was a good ram there. They were moving towards an opening so we crawled towards the opening to get prepared for a shot. Then one of the Impalas barked and that group was gone. They got our wind.

Rest of the morning we spent driving in Maura riverbed. Saw some crocs and overall it was nice ride with some beautiful views. But besides 3 Guinea Fowls we didn’t get anything. Riverbed also showed an amazing amount of elephant tracks. Additionally in one pool we found some 10 crocs.
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Afternoon we left the camp to search Bushbuck or Kudu. We found a Bushbuck shortly after we had left the camp. One of the trackers spotted it when I was still putting my sunblock on and enjoying the thought of my last bakkie ride for the trip. We continued to drive just long enough for the Bushbuck to continue feeding and then the stalk was on. Pierre was still wearing his flipflops and I had fresh sunblock all over me so rifle felt more slippery than usual. We made a jolly group of hunters. But after the Bushbuck we went.

After a short walk Pierre spotted the Bushbuck some 80 meters from us and we continued stalking. He was in a thick bush (like a proper Bushbuck should be). We quietly continued to walk the road but when we came closer the Bushbuck was nowhere to be seen. Suddenly we spotted him on the other side of the road. Road made a turn and the buck had crossed the road and was now only 30-40 meters from us in an opening. The sticks went up and Pierre glassed the buck to see whether it was a shooter. Pierre checked him and immediately said shoot. The buck was feeding so it’s head was down. I waited for the buck to lift its’ head to make sure I don’t shoot the horns. When it raised its’ head the shot went off and the bushbuck was down. What a beautiful animal!

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After taking the pictures and taking the Bushbuck back to the camp we headed to the area manager’s office to get some paperwork completed. The paperwork was completed just on time so that we could get to sit in the blind before dark.

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We walked to the blind again from quite far away and then waited patiently for things to settle down and darkness to come. The less I could see, the more I was expecting to hear some noises from the bait. Pierre was glassing the bait every now and then and I was sitting silently on my cushion. And then it came to the bait. Unfortunately it was in this case a Jackal and nothing else came. So we called it a night and returned to the camp for some food and drinks.


Thursday 2.11 (Day 14)

We left the camp again around 4:00AM and repeated the silent walk to the blind. This time my scope was correctly adjusted to low power. We stopped for a while to wait for the sun start to light the surroundings. Wind was whirling a little so we didn’t want to get to the blind too early and take risk that Hyenas would smell us.

Once we arrived to the blind, we could hear that the Hyenas were at the bait. It was still too dark to see anything, but we could hear their sounds. Then a little more far away came a gnarl of some kind and we could hear the Hyenas to leave the bait. The sound acted like a warning call and after the Hyenas left the surroundings fell silent. It was still dark so we continued waiting.

Then there was a sound from the bait. We could clearly hear something feeding at the bait. My heartrate went up. There was definitely enough light to take a shot. Pierre stood up and took a look through his viewing hole. He glassed a while and then slowly bent closer to me and whispered that there was a female Leopard at the bait :) It had waited the Hyenas to leave and was now feeding on the meat. I slowly stood up and made sure my safety was on. Then I slowly put the rifle through the viewing hole and took aim to the Leopard. It was nice to view the Leopard through the scope without any rush. The cat was feeding and didn’t have any idea that we were there. I viewed the cat for a few minutes and then we silently left the blind and walked back to the bakkie. No Hyena, but another nice hunting experience. And Leopard number 5 in daylight.

We returned to camp, had breakfast and packed our things for the ride back to Harare. Then it was time for farewells and hitting the road to return to my wife and daughter. Nice feeling, although there was also plenty of sadness to leave. Just like you need to have after a good safari.

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Zambesi valley
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Closing words:

The hunt was everything I hoped for and more. I didn’t hope to shoot so poorly on the Buffalos, but in the end everything went well. Return to home went well although gun transfer in Addis Ababa airport was still weird. This time the Finnish gun permit was accepted as paperwork to process the gun. In Harare I stayed in York Lodge and that was very nice place for the last night in Zimbabwe.

I can warmly recommend Mbalabala Safaris if you want to get a genuine hunting safari. Everything was as agreed and there were no surprises. I hope Lin can get a deal to continue hunting in Chewore also next year. I certainly enjoyed hunting there and I hope other’s to have same great experiences I had.

Thank you Pierre, Lin, Davey, Furunga, Nomore, Bernie, Tristan, Because, Joe, Bhibo, Shepard, Chamu, Goodwin, Frank, Lucas, Chengeta, John, Chance, Ephert, Artwell and Courage!!! What a privilege I had to hunt with you!
 

geoff rath

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what a great hunt, and wonderfully written. I strongly suspect a return to Mbalabala is in your future. Thank you.
 

Riksa

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Thanks Geoff! And yes, I hope to return. First I have some saving to do, but if everything goes well, maybe there is an Elephant or Lion in the cards in a few years time. Meanwhile I will keep on dreaming.
 

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Beautiful bushbuck! Congrats on an amazing safari!!
 

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Thank you riksa for the exciting report and excellent pictures! It was great to get to relive your grand safari!
Unfortunately now I need to add the same to my bucket list(y)!
 

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Well done on all fronts! Most enjoyable read.
Thanks for sharing your hunt with us.
 

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