ZIMBABWE: May 2017 Hunt With Mbalabala Safaris

cpr0312

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Sunday May 21st (Day 8)

After a restless night thinking about the zebra, we eat another good breakfast and set out by 6:45. I am cautiously optimistic that we will find it. We get to where we last left the zebra and drop the trackers off to check the block (roads) to see if they had crossed in the night while Lin and I went into the bush where we last left them. No tracks crossing the road so the trackers join us in the search. At about 9:00 Lin decides he and I will set out to check leopard baits and leave the trackers to follow the zebra. They have picked up the tracks heading towards water, so we hope the zebra will be still upright or somewhere nearby dead.

We get to our first bait and nothing, but on the way to the second bait Lin spots some poachers. He instructs me to drive the truck up the road for a bout 5 minutes, then turn around and slowly come back. He and the Zim parks ranger get off to pursue the poachers. Now this is the first time in my life I have ever driven on the "wrong" side of the vehicle. Lucky for me (and Lin) and can still remember how to drive a stick shift, but its a little awkward at first shifting with the left hand! Getting a little sidetracked from the poacher and zebra story here, I was like a kid again driving a stick shift in a newer vehicle, so much so that I had to document the fact that I was driving on the wrong side with a selfie, lol... So I can now check this item off the bucket list
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Back to the story, when I was driving the tracker radioed in and I answer. They found the zebra not far from where we were looking...what a relief. The best part is that he was not eaten on during the night so I could still have a full flat skin to work with.
I pick Lin and Molly back up and they had chased on some fish poachers. They ran off so fast they left some of the 2 liter bottles equipment and flip flops.

Now onto the zebra recovery, the stallion had a pretty neat coat. The picture angles of this pose were due to the fact this his legs were stiff and straight out, but I do like the poses.
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And one with the trackers Jobulane and Kouleku, they are the ones who found it!
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cpr0312

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Day 8 continued....

Back to camp for lunch and to the skinning shed with the zebra. I helped the guys unload and raise the zebra, and they could speak enough English for us to talk a bit.

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The afternoon would be spent checking the baits we hadn't made it to this morning and replacing some of the baits with the 6 new zebra baits. The guys worked real hard getting the zebra ready to hang, and then the actual process of replacing baits. I mean the guys worked hard, and I helped where I could with braking branches to cover the meat with, helping them raise the bait in the trees, etc..
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Some of the typical terrain on the ranch....
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We got done hanging baits about 5 and for the first time were back in camp before dark, so we enjoyed the sunset with a beer at the campfire!
 

PHOENIX PHIL

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Glad you found the zebra and it does have a nice coat.
 

cpr0312

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I've noticed that I have left a few things out of each day, so I want to add a few pics of camp and other goings on.

Kudu biltong curing....

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The cooks grill in camp.. he also had an in ground oven which for some reason I didn't take a pic of
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Oh yeah and did I mention it was wet??? This happened one day, but we quickly got it out using shovels and logs.
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cpr0312

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Monday May 22nd (Day 9)

The morning starts off with renewed hope for a leopard to feed on the fresh zebra bait. The first 3 baits have no activity. We come across a male and female track traveling together with sparks more hope! About 8:15 we come across that herd of eland again and we spot the bull and Lin and I look at each other and I say "lets go" and we quickly jump out of the truck in hot pursuit. We go after them and they disappear into the thick stuff, its amazing how animals like kudu and eland can just disappear. Lin knows where they are heading so we back off and don't push them. They will be going to bed down in some think stuff and get back up to feed about 4:00. so that's when we will take up the tracks.
We go check the remaining 8 baits but no hits, however we do find another male's tracks! I forgot to mention that we heard a leopard calling from camp this morning about 5:30!


We set out in the afternoon looking for the eland, before we go to where they were we go up on a high point on one of the rock outcroppings again for some magnificent views.
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cpr0312

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Day 9 continued...

We pick up the tracks of the eland about 3:30 and figure they crossed into the next block. Lin and the tackers followed them in and about 500 yards in there they were lying under some trees. We make a plan for a quiet stalk int position. Luckily the wind was in our favor. We get to about 150 yards and are not able to go any further with the cover we had between us and the eland. We butt crawl around for a while until Lin is happy with our position and shooting window when he finds the bull. We wait them out about 30 minutes and then they begin to feed. Lin spots the bull get up and starts chasing the cows, he quickly tells me to get on the sticks. He says the bull will be coming back right to left in the 5 yard shooting window I have. It happens very fast as I'm on the stick for 2 seconds and Lin says there he comes, that's him, take him. I acquire him very fast in the scope, breathe and squeeze..... the bull topples over instantly with his feet in the air!

Lin says do you see the feet, I say yes. If he gets back up shoot him, so I reload and wait for him to get up because surely the eland will not go down with only 1 round in him. He doesn't get up so we run down to him to finish him off. When we get there he is all but done and a few seconds later he's gone! Holy cow this thing is massive!!!!! His tuft of hair is so dark I cant believe it! What a blessing to take what the bush gives you for a second time! Lin and I share smiles, handshakes and a hug! He is a great trophy bull, blue dewlap, dark neck and tuft, worn down tips, I couldn't be happier with an eland!

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Then it was a process getting him on the truck. Digging holes for the back tires, and the wench and 4 grown men did all we could to get him loaded...

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cpr0312

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Here is a little brighter picture of him, as well as some pics from the skinning shed. Still cant believe how big this beast is!

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PHOENIX PHIL

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Awesome bull!
 

Brent in Az

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Sounds like a fun hunt, with some impressive Trophies. Good recovery on the Zebra.
 

siml

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Great eland bull. Sounds like a great time.
 

gizmo

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Ok I'm hooked. What an awesome trip so far and great story.
 

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Sweet bull. Congratulations.
 

jasyblood

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Awesome bull! Congratulations!!
 

cpr0312

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Thanks guys, I beyond happy with this eland bull!
 

Pheroze

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That is a very nice Eland! What cartridge are you using?
 

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This is a Leopard hunt alright...

Very nice spiral trophies.... Nice shooting on the Eland. Now you are ready for Lord Derby in the trees.
 

cpr0312

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Tuesday May 23rd (Day 10)

Staring to get down to crunch time on this leopard hunt as I have 12 days in country and then fly out on day 13 from Vic Falls. Again, we start the day with breakfast and then off to check baits. Today there are no new hits on the bait and no fresh tacks from last night. Starting to come to the realization that a leopard may not grace me with his presence on this trip but still staying positive. Lin and I discuss the options of what we need to do tomorrow. On the way back to camp we see waterbuck, klipspringer, and a vervet monkey. The afternoon is spent driving around looking for whatever the bush might give up, whether it be a duiker, warthog, impala, or klipspringer.

No luck so we call it an early evening, and on the way in we have a standoff with this waterbuck bull for 1-2 minutes. He just didn't want to let us past

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cpr0312

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That is a very nice Eland! What cartridge are you using?

Thanks @Pheroze !

To be honest I'm not sure of the exact cartridge as I was using a mish mash of rounds that Lin had on hand. It was most likely a Barnes X type. It also helped that he went down on 1 shot due to me hitting him in the neck/shoulder area where the spine is. The shot was a little off but it was quick and I'll take the "good miss" in this case!
 

cpr0312

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CAustin

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Great eland charles.
 

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