ZIMBABWE: May 2017 Hunt With Mbalabala Safaris

cpr0312

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Well I just got back home yesterday from a 15 day journey to Zimbabwe and back! What a great time in a new country! lots of new friends made and beautiful places seen! The long journey home has me exhausted as many of you know the feeling. I'll do my best to stay on top of the report as I have lots of catching up to do with work, so this report will be a work in process for a while.

I left for the airport in Charlotte, NC on Friday morning May 12th at 4:30 to begin the journey to JFK then onto JNB and finally Bulawayo. I arrived at 12:15 Saturday afternoon the 13th in Bulawayo with a normal trip in the books with no delays or any other problems other than the time it takes to get there! After clearing customs in a surprisingly short amount of time, I was met by Lin Stanton, owner/outfitter of @Mbalabala Safaris and we were off to grab some lunch before our 3 hour drive southeast to the ranch where we would be pursuing leopard. The ranch is named Mashura, about 45 minutes on the other side of West Nicholson. Its a working cattle ranch on about 26,000 acres. We got there about 5 pm in just enough time for me to get a lay of the land, see some critters, meet the staff, and have a beer before dark. Grabbed a shower, sat by the fire, had a nice dinner then off to bed for a early start checking the baits that had been hanging.

Here are a few shots from camp the first night.


To be continued...
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CAustin

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About time you told us all about it Charles!
 

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Well I just got back home yesterday from a 15 day journey to Zimbabwe and back! What a great time in a new country! lots of new friends made and beautiful places seen! The long journey home has me exhausted as many of you know the feeling. I'll do my best to stay on top of the report as I have lots of catching up to do with work, so this report will be a work in process for a while.

I left for the airport in Charlotte, NC on Friday morning May 12th at 4:30 to begin the journey to JFK then onto JNB and finally Bulawayo. I arrived at 12:15 Saturday afternoon the 13th in Bulawayo with a normal trip in the books with no delays or any other problems other than the time it takes to get there! After clearing customs in a surprisingly short amount of time, I was met by Lin Stanton, owner/outfitter of @Mbalabala Safaris and we were off to grab some lunch before our 3 hour drive southeast to the ranch where we would be pursuing leopard. The ranch is named Mashura, about 45 minutes on the other side of West Nicholson. Its a working cattle ranch on about 26,000 acres. We got there about 5 pm in just enough time for me to get a lay of the land, see some critters, meet the staff, and have a beer before dark. Grabbed a shower, sat by the fire, had a nice dinner then off to bed for a early start checking the baits that had been hanging.

Here are a few shots from camp the first night.


To be continued...
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Awesome Reedy!!
 

cpr0312

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Day 1 (May 14th)

Nice morning as they all turned out to be, about 52 degrees with a beautiful sunrise by the campfire. The days all turned out really nice as well about 75 every day with no humidity and clear sun. This was a true (in my eyes) remote bush camp. Even Lin could only get cell service in 1 or 2 places on the ranch and occasionally enough service for a whatsapp. With this day being mothers day, Lin graciously let me use his phone to call and wish my mom a happy mothers day!

A few pics of the camp and my chalet. They were all open aired, with a bathroom chalet, as well as a cook one and a eating one. No power in camp other than setting it up off the truck battery every night. I did have lights in my room, as well as the bathroom, we also had a flushing toilet and hot water for showers.
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And as you can see, along with the food we were covered with beverages as well. Not pictured but probably most important is the bottled water, which I consumed a lot of.
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After breakfast it on to checking the 8 baits that were hanging, 6 zebra baits and 2 impala. Along the way we see giraffe, impala, waterbuck, zebra, and a warthog. 1 of the baits had been hit, most likely by a female based on the size of the tracks. Lin had a trail camera up but it was gone. There were scratch marks on the tree by where the camera was hanging, so maybe the leopard clawed it off and then hyenas drug it away. There were also hyena track by the tree. We searched for the camera for 1 hour with no luck. The trackers even dug up the den where the hyena tracks led to but no luck.

Back to camp at 12 for lunch and a siesta, then back to hunting at 2:30. Lin wants to hang a few more baits so we set out for impala. I am using Lin's Winchester M70 in .375 H&H. Sweet shooting gun! We get on a group of impala and stalk for about 45 minutes, but they get into some really tall grass and we lose them. We end up stalking to about 50 yards and then get blown at and grunted at, oh well. On the way back to camp we get on a lone ram, stalk him for a few, and I take him at 100 yards chest on. A few quick pics then off to get him hung up.

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Dinner and off to bed as the jet lag is strong!
 
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CAustin

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Nice Impala there Charles! Now get on with the story!!
 

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Excellent stuff so far, looking forward to the rest!
 

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Great so far, understand the jet lag and the pile of stuff at work problem. Patiently waiting the rest of the story so to speak:whistle:
 

Jfet

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billc

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looks like a very nice bush camp. Ready for more report anytime. :whistle:
 

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Work schmurk, get on with it! :)
 

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Charles,

Great report so far! Glad to hear the flights went well and clearing through Bulawayo was good. That was my experience too and I feel like fellow AH members should have no concerns with going to Zim. Your hunt location, 45 south of West Nicholson, is in the same general area as the Bubye Valley Conservancy where I hunted. The southern portion of Zim really does offer some great areas to hunt.

Looking forward to more of your report!

Dave
 

cpr0312

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@375 Ruger Fan ,

The property actually bordered on 1 side the Bubiana conservancy not far from the Bube
 

cpr0312

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Monday May 15th (Day 2)

I want to go back to the first afternoon we arrived in camp and mention that we had to stop in West Nicolson to pick up our game scout/ranger from Zim parks. I tried to document as much as possible on this trip. Here is a pic of Lin finalizing all the paperwork with the station manger. We picked up our ranger (Molly) and went on to camp.

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Now onto day 2....

It was cool that morning, after breakfast of bacon and eggs we set out at 6:45 to check the baits. We see a troop of baboons about 10 am. There are quite a few baboons in the area as you can hear them from camp every night and morning. We get done checking the baits and one with a camera shows us a genet had fed but no cats on any other baits. About 10:30 we spot some impala and stalk into position as we would like to hang more baits. We get to within about 100 yards and I get a broadside shot, squeeze the M70 trigger and down he goes. The trackers field prep him and we go to hang him in a new location.

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After lunch we take a drive a little further out to ask a native villager if he had seen any cat activity as he has cattle and donkeys. He had a calf go missing 2 days prior and had not found it yet. He also says that he heard leopard calling the previous night. There are tracks of a male cat nearby so we decide to move one of the baits to this area. Here are a few pics of the village and area.

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To end the afternoon we climb up to a high point on one of the rock outcroppings and it provided some amazing views.

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BRICKBURN

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Just my kind of report.


Paperwork? You need paperwork to hunt in Zimbabwe!?
Glad it was squared away properly. :A Thumbs Up:
 

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And the plot thickens! Very exciting! A Tom hiding somewhere!
 

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I so excited for this report. Seems awesome so far! Nice Impalas!
 

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cpr0312

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Tuesday May 16th (Day 3)

Up about 5:30, another nice cool morning. Coffee by the campfire, breakfast, and off to check baits by 7:00

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A view from the campfire looking at the water in the dam.

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We set out to check the now 1o baits we had going. Only one had been hit and it looked like another female so we put up a camera at that bait site. We also find a big male's tracks over top of our tire tracks from the previous day, so we decide to go after another impala to hang in the area. We dont have any luck the rest of the day. In the afternoon we finally spot some kudu, a younger bull with 3 cows. This gets me excited as there are some nice kudu in the area and its on my list. Back at it again tomorrow. Another nice dinner of roast pork, potatoes, steamed veggies and dessert. The camp cook Roman did a fine job with all the meals. I wish I had a camera capable of taking in the African nights, as many of you know what the skies look like at night. I sat and enjoyed the millions of stars each nigh to go along with all the birds, baboons, and other wildlife noises at night. Saw a shooting star this evening as well, always a treat and just adds to the enjoyment of God's handiwork!
 

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