ZIMBABWE: Martin Pieters Safaris Tuskless Elephant Hunt

LivingTheDream

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All just wanted to give a brief review as I finally have wifi. I got my tuskless and had an amazing adventure. My hunt had it all and I will never forget the experience. I can't say enough positive things about Martin Pieters safaris and will give the full report once I get on my laptop.

IMG_20160828_105519553.jpg
 
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BRICKBURN

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billc

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That is great to hear.

I really did not think you would let not being able to use your laptop be a excuse to keep us all waiting. LOL Man goes to Zim and then keeps the story and pictures to himself. :whistle:;)
I am looking forward to hearing it all though.
 

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Good stuff, congrats!
 

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Congrats and looking forward to reading the report!
 

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Outstanding LTD, looking forward to the full report!
 

LivingTheDream

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Alright here it goes there is a lot to tell:

Leaving the US driving to the airport I actually see the Air Ethiopian Plane coming into Dulles, which I thought was pretty cool. The Air Ethiopian staff were great and checking the rifle was not a problem. Get on the plan was super dreading the 13 hour flight in economy only to find out the seat next to me was open so I had plenty of room after all! Hooray. A transfer in Ethiopia and I was in Harare. This is where the first mishap happen. I was there, my luggage was there but my rifle was not. After getting all of the paperwork filled out and Zim authorities holding my ammo till my rifle arrived I was at the Jessamy guest house where the people could not have been friendly. Other then no gun, so far so gun. Spoke with my PH and a plan was in place, we would wait to see if my rifle arrived tomorrow or I could borrow a gun from him. The next morning and after calling everyone and anyone that would talk to me at Harare and Ethiopian Airlines, come to find out my rifle never left Dulles and I am convinced an Anti works in their baggage department as this is the second time in as many trips that this has happened. My PH picks me up and off we go to Harare airport where I was assured that my rifle should be there. I get there and go through a pretty confusing process to get to the lost baggage area and as I round a corner there is rifle on the carousel.

Grab my gun and off to customs, which was another experience, there was a guy trying to bring 28 computers in pieces through, another guy bringing clothes, and a Chinese man who was having it out with 3 workers on what he is allowed to bring. Either way an hour later I was up and I was the first one of the group to make it through. Pay the storage fee for my ammo and we are off to camp. The trip to camp was uneventful and the PH and myself told hunting stories and party stories and discussed the upcoming hunt. Either way I was really pumped up and after dinner was ready for sleep knowing 5:15 was going to come pretty early.

Day 1
5:15 came and I was up and ready, after putting on skin so soft sunscreen and bug lotion, loading the cull belt and grabbing the gun we on the bakkie and off in search of elephant. The plan was to go to some of the inter villages and see if elephants had harassed them during the night. This is two birds with one stone approach as it keeps the community happy and I might get my elephant. About 6:15 to 6:30 we get tracks in the road, and they are fresh. Load up and off we go. And we start walking. We are moving at a pretty good speed because it is pretty open. We slow down as we come to the first ridge as the tracks were pretty fresh, but soon it is clear that they are moving pretty much single file through the open area as they have some place they want to go. We cover this ground pretty quickly, and the thing I learned is elephants love going up and down hills. I mean they love it, up and then down and up and then down. This went on for about 2 hours, it is hard to gain ground on them when they are moving like that but I was told we were definitely gaining ground. Finally we start to come to thick stuff, down in the valley, I am really excited as we slow down, looking I am sure they are there in the thick stuff. but nope just passing through. We go through a river bed and this seems even thicker, and we are starting to see buffalo sign as well. I am on full sensory overload and this pretty much just shows that I am rookie, everyone is pretty calm and moving at a pretty good pace, hit and open spot and we are moving. Then there is some real thick stuff. the elephant droppings are "hot" I am told and we slow way down in the thick stuff, testing the wind before each step. I am having to focus on every step to make sure I don't break a branch and to be as quietly a possible. We are almost crawling through this stuff because it is so thick. Suddenly the tracker looks up and points and says we are close. The PH looks and says don't move, he is investigating and we have just crawled right into the herd with a young male not 10 yards away, all I can see is a foot. Apparently there are two females there that we can see but no tuskless. We are sitting completely still and without notice the first elephants starts to crash through the brush and this cause the rest of the herd to start to move. At 10 yards when that herd starts to move, you start to freak out, I mean branches are breaking and I am standing there wide eyed thinking the brush is going to erupt and we have no where to run. However, they ran the other way. One funny point is a Sand Grouse came running by during the commotion as I guess he decided he didn't want anything to do with elephant either. We took a quick break and laugh about how close we were it was 11:15 and we had covered about 18 to 20km so far.

Out of the brush and off to cut the track. We had a good idea where they went as one had trumpeted in the background. We soon cut the track and off we went, through a riverbed and into some grass, we had barely gone a mile and 1/2 and the game scout snaps his fingers and points, sure enough there they were, we try to get hidden and avoid the wind but they decided to rest in place that was down wind of their tracks, soon enough branches are breaking and they are gone. Head to the river to let them relax. Usually Elephants feed into the wind, however after our break they were walking with the wind behind them, I guess to alert them if we were on their track. Clever. So after an hour or this, we take a long break and the PH decided to get go the truck when we crossed a road. This would let things settle down some more. It was about 2 oclock and at 3:15 he was back with the truck a quick refuel and we were off and we were pressing to catch up. They had crossed over our tracks from early and were headed back into the wind. With the wind in our face we were almost running to catch them. They were going through river beds and through fields that were burnt. I love the burnt fields because even I could track and elephant though that. We were practical running because apparently the droppings were "hot" and they looked hot and I had no desire to touch them to find out. They led us through a thorn push patch were was not fun especially at the pace we were going. Finally that wonderful sound of branches breaking, it was 5:35 and we slowly started to play the wind to get in front and wait for them to pass. We had river bed to give us some protection but the whole thing came unraveled when 5 elephants had broke from the group and already crossed the river. With ears flapping they ran back to the rest, and then there was silence. A few stomach growls and we backed out, the sun setting and we were off the truck. The driver had pulled around so we were only 2 kms away. So even though we didn't get an elephant I don't think we could have hunted harder, we covered 35 to 40kms. It was a great first day, and I got to see my first wild elephant, but a how shower felt good, and I was ready for some sleep.
 

edward

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ok,wake up and finish the story.
 

LivingTheDream

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Day 2

So I had an option to hunt Buffalo after I got my tuskless but this was to be a bonus and not a focus on the hunt. But the circumstances sometimes dictate otherwise.

Up at 5:15 quick breakfast and we off again, but this time to try a slightly different area. As we are driving and after only 10 minutes there are buffalo about 60 yards off the road. Load off the soft points and off we go. Obviously with the truck stopped the spooked but didn't go far. We soon caught up to them but they seemed jumpy. Come to find out about 15 minutes after we left the car a lioness came out on the road following the buffalo as well. We for a few minutes we have cape buffalo 100 yards ahead and a lioness 200 yards behind, that's a rock and a hard place. The buff saw us and off they went. We tracked for about an 1/2 hour and through a river and around some rocks. They started to circle around and head to the road, a car went past, which is truly lucky as not many cars go down this road. But they pushed them right to us. Hiding behind the rocks they were right on the other side. Trying to get into position but the herd of 30 had a lot of eyes including one paranoid cow. We just needed the buff to take a few more steps and I would have a 30 yard broad side shot at a great bull, I am getting ready, finger on the tang safety when, snort and off they go, damn! Not that far, I am watching the bull he is only 60 yards but right in the middle and has his ass facing me. Off they go up the hill and we start to follow, something spooks them and here they come running back to us. At 80 yards they see us and though I am on the sticks there is no way I can get a shot at the bull. I don't even see the bull due to the herd being around it. This time no more playing around and really take off and I mean really take off. It was about 8:30 and we started tracking, and we walk, and we walk and we walk. About 10:15 while slowing working our way up a hill, we catch movement on a open flat, we duck down test the wind and damn it is blowing right to them. Everyone knows what happens next, off they go, and we track and we track. We are getting close to the parks border and we stop by the road, while sitting there we look over and at 100 yards there is that cow staring our way. They spook but thank goodness run in a different direction then the park, 100 yards and they were home free. We walk away wanted them to relax and to not push them to the park and get to the truck to check from some elephant sign. No fresh sign eat a quick lunch and back on the track at 2:15. We track and catch up to them but the herd as split. We are crawling and circling trying to find the bull, we get pinned down by 4 cows that were only 60yards away, the good news is that I was in a comfortable place and go to just sit there and watch as the cows slowly ate and walked around. After a they felt a ease, we backed out and started on the rest of the herd. We saw 3 more but because we were having to move so quietly and patiently we just ran out of time, and had to back out. It was a cool day and a pretty fun one getting to be so close to buffalo so many times. Back to lodge to get dinner and some sleep.

I will post some more tomorrow, but I am getting pretty tired hopefully this is a pretty good taste of what is to come.
 

LivingTheDream

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@edward Fine I will write some more.

Day 3 is a short one.

So I didn't sleep any after day 2 because I got sick. I mean sick, up all night sick. 5:00 came way too early and I couldn't eat breakfast. I tried to drink a little water but I didn;t want to lose a hunting day. So we are off and after a 45 minute ride, we catch a track. The PH says they don't go far usually when they get into this area, great, so we are off and moving at a slow pace. We are going up a hill (did I mentioned elephants like hills) and I just can't do it, I am feeling hot and I am not even sweating, I am pretty dehydrated. I apologize to the group but off to the truck we go. The PH wants to check one more spot to see if they moved into the area. Off we go and I just sit in the truck take a short nap and they check this little valley. Nothing and the PH says he is never coming back here. These are famous last words. We head back to camp and I get some medicine and some rest. I finally get to see camp in the daytime and I starting to feel better by that night. I eat some food but I am pretty much shot, off to bed so I am fully prepared for Day 4.
 

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Great start to your adventure. Looking forward to the rest of it. Bruce
 

jasyblood

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Great start! This is a hunt that I'm seriously thinking about doing in the near future so I'm really looking forward to hearing the rest of the story and any advice you can give!
 

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Really enjoying your report. Looking forward to more.
 

cpr0312

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Thanks for sharing, look forward to more!
 

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Arrrrg. I can't take the suspense. Awesome start and I soooooo want to do one of these one day.
 

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I soooooo want to do one of these one day.

Got to guide a lot of goofballs on dove hunts to equal an elephant hunt don't ya.:D
 

gizmo

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Got to guide a lot of goofballs on dove hunts to equal an elephant hunt don't ya.:D
No kiddin that's a looooot of dove hunts. And goof balls
 

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@Wheels if you know a lot of goof balls that want to hunt Texas a lot. Then send them my way ;)
 

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