ZIMBABWE: My Buffalo Hunt With ZimAfrica Wildlife Safaris


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Jun 24, 2009
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Aberdeen, South Dakota
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Zimbabwe, New Zealand, Canada (Ontario,British Columbia,Manitoba), USA (Colorado,Montana,Wyoming,Texas,South Dakota), Africa(Limpopo,NW Province, East Cape, Kwazulu Natal,) Namibia x3,
This hunt was booked through Jeff Martinell, dba: Big Game Consultant, Inc. Hunt is with ZimAfrica Wildlife Safaris, Zimbabwe.

Six days before leaving the US, we get a e-mail from Rebecca owner of ZimAfrica Safari wanting us to change our flights from Victoria Falls North Camp to Bulawayo South Camp, or it is a 6 hour drive to south camp, no explanation why.

We contacted booking agent Jeff of the request, his only reply was, "Not my doings". NEVER offered to check into it and get back to us, why? This is where things went "SOUTH". We checked with our travel agents to change the itinerary's, nothing but a mess and spendy. We replied back to Rebecca that we can not make the change on such short notice unless she is willing to pay all the expenses. Never heard back from her so we kept our original flights to Vic Falls and will wait to find what the reason is when we arrive.

Now the report.

Monday August 18th, 2014
I arrived at Sioux Falls airport for New York LaGuardia. Right off the bat I get a scare from the ticket agent thinking I can not take my firearm into New York. I mention I never had a problem before. Upon further inquires, it was now OK to bring in. The problem was a year ago, but now that Bloomberg's gone, so is the ban.

I am off to Victoria Falls Zimbabwe, Hwange National Park, Matesi Unit's, for a group 3x1 Cape Buffalo hunt with two other hunters. At $8,000 each, 7 day hunt, I can afford this, but not the $15,000-$16,000 hunts.

Tuesday August 19th,
I met up with my other two hunters at JFK, Mike and Ryan from North Carolina. I met Mike in 2010 at the Afton Guest House. Mike was also doing a 10 day hunt with Cruisers Safari in the Limpopo Province. We became friends and wanted to share camp again some day.

Wednesday August 20th,
Flight to Joburg went well, no passenger beside me, just long. Immigration line was very very long. Lots of Chinese, I mean LOTS!
Joburg employee found us, apparently looking for us and moved us to the front of the line or we would of missed our connecting flight. It ended up our flight to Victoria Falls was delayed due to mechanical problems, they had to pull another plane out of the hanger. Couple hours delay. Full plane to Vic Falls.

The immigration lines were long in Vic Falls for Visas. Again a employee found us and moved us to a short line. Gun permit was easy, everyone wants a tip!

PH Franswa meet us at the airport and off to North Camp of ZimAfrica Safaris. Thought we where driving 6 hours to South Camp, since we did not change the flights? I guess back to the original plan. We sighted in our rifles and all three were right on.

Another hunter, Brian from Virginia was in camp, he hunted a non-exportable Ele with his bow. 18-20 pounder. He did a broadside lung shot and tracked for a couple ours, then at 9 yards, a straight on charging brain shot. We accompanied Brian, PH, Tracker and skinner to skinning shed and they chopped opened the skull to find the broadhead. Perfect brain shot, broadhead in the center of the brain and perfect shape.

Our Buffalo permits are to be ready in the Matesi Unit 5 office by 10:00 am Thursday.

Thursday August 21st,
First day of our hunt. Up at 6:15, quick breakfast and off for the 2 1/2 hour drive on shit roads to hunting area. Permits are to be ready by 10.

Two single cab bakke's so one hunter usually rode in the back of the truck. Cold long ride. PH Rusty was a maniac driver, my apprentice PH driver not much better, good thing they kept the bakke between the ditches or someone would of been killed. Mike told Rusty he wanted to get back to camp in one piece, he slowed down some, but the next day it was the same.

Going to be a hot day.

We had to sign in at the park entrance each day at the cost of $80.00. Then to the Park Office of Matesi 5 for the permits. Of course, the permits are not ready. Never did get the permits, day one lost of hunting.

Friday August 22nd,
Up at 3 and leave at 4 and get to Park Office by 6:30. Now we had to wait for game scout. Finally got started at 8:00 am and it is still a hour drive to hunting area.

We found fresh buff spoor, but the buffs were in a photo only area for tourist. Not a good thing. Game Scout and Tracker tried to push the buff's out of the photo area, they crossed the road but soon turned back to the safe haven of the photo area.

We checked a water pan and salt pan but seen only Elephant, Baboons and Zebras. Lots of windshield time.

It is now 5:30pm and we are to be out of the hunt area by 6:00 when the park closes and we are over a hour into the area. The PH's drove like mad men for there are penalties for being late.

Saturday August 23rd,
We drove, drove and drove some more looking for buffalo. Never seen a one. We visited the area we found the buff on Friday, but they were still in the photo area, safe and sound. We never got out of the bakke and walked at all.

Hoping to get back to camp earlier so I could hunt Hyena at the skinning shed. I did not get to hunt the Hyena because they still had the bags hanging around the skinning shed that scares them away. Took the bags down with hopes to hunt Sunday evening.

We seen many lions this day and a pride of 6.

They are trying to move our hunt to Matesi Unit 1 because unit 5 has no promise. Apprentice PH Titous said if we get into unit 1 the fat lady will sing, that many buffalos. Titous has done many cull hunts in all of the Matesi Units so he knows them well.

Sunday August 24th,
Still in Unit 5, another day another flop. Not a single buffalo. Supposed to get our permits changed to Unit 4 for Monday. Resident buffalo here. Game Scout said they saw 1000 buffalo and lions made a kill.

Wayne, operational manager finally showed up in camp tonight. We had a discussion about the unorganized hunt, lost hunt time, permits and vehicle issues. I will not get into the "BULLSHIT" we were told here, but if anyone would like to PM me If you have serious thoughts of hunting with ZimAfrica or booking with Jeff, please do.

I did not get to hunt the Hyena at any time.

Monday August 25th,
Got an extra hour sleep, Unit 4 is a hour closer from camp. Arrived at Camp Lodge of Unit 4 for permits and Game Scout. As usual, permits are not ready. Waited until 9:30am for permits to be final. It is 2 hours drive into hunt area before we find buff spoor which is from the previous night. We followed the spoor forever in hilly country, got a good work out, the fun stuff. We then found good spoor from the morning.

We found the buffalo, but many elephants are between us. We are able to take pictures and video of he ele's, just awesome! We got winded and the ele's moved out.

PH Rusty, Mike and Ryan took off on the stalk. Ryan got off two shots but was unable to stop his buffalo. Not long after, Mike anchored a buff with one shot from his CZ550, 375H&H. PH , Ryan, Tracker and myself looked for blood of Ryan's buff but found nothing.

Sun was setting so PH decided to leave Mike's buff till morning. Strike one of the hunt!

Tuesday August 26th,
Two days left of our hunt.

Yup, your guess was right for leaving a buff in the bush overnight. A Hyena ate both shoulders and hind end out of the buff. His belly was so fat he could hardly run. Strike one for PH.

The buff was cut in half, loaded and took back to the camp skinning shed.

We are now off to find spoor of the previous day. I am first up then Ryan if he should get another chance. Finding the buff's we were able to cut in front of them and they feed at 40yds. The bull was behind the cows so I could not get a shot. They winded us and off to the races it was. We got ahead of them again, but they passed behind us. Now the Game Scout knew they were headed to the Dekka River for water. We hustled to the river just in front of the buffs. Rusty and I slid down the hill side on our butts to get into position for a shot. The cows cleared my bull at 125 meters, resting my Remington 700, 375 H&H on Rusty's shoulder, I let one fly. Rusty said I flinched and shot too far back. To me the shot was good. The bull and herd took off.

The herd run up the hill and stopped, a big bull stood wide open. Ryan had Mike's rifle and was able to anchor this bull.

Now we hurried up the hill to spot my bull, we had not gone far and the tracker points into some trees next to the river, my bull had only gone a very short distance. Facing away from us I put another shot into the bull and dropped him. Examining my first shot, it was perfect placement. These are just tough animals.

It was 1 hour walk for PH back to get his bakke and Titous was 2 hours back at skinning shed. We were out of water and tired, and I would not have it any other way!

Our buff hunt was done on day 6 of a 7 day hunt.

Wednesday August 27th,
We slept in this morning. Relaxed, packed. We are going into Vic Falls for lunch, see the Falls, Bungee jump, Gorge slide and settle the contract with Wayne.

Now here is strike two of the hunt! Mike mentions to Wayne while settling the contact that he needs a buff cape because PH left his buff in the bush over night and Hyena ate it. Wayne's response, you'll have to buy one. NOT the right answer! Supposedly PH is going to find Mike a cape?

Thursday August 28th,
Now for strike three of the hunt. While PH Rusty is loading the bakke for our return to Vic Falls for our flight back to Joburg, he walks all over my gun case!

We hurried through the open air market for a few things for the grandkids.

Checked in our rifles and waiting for our flight to leave.

When we arrive in Joburg, Mike and Ryan will head back to the US and I onto Kimberly, RSA, NWP for my Lioness, Sable, Copper Springbuck hunt. So stay tuned for this report too.

Glad you got your buff, but that should've been a better hunt. Looking forward to chapter 2!
Congrats! and I'm sorry all at the same time...
Sounds like a mess. Congrats on getting a buf. Bet you were starting to wonder a bit about that. Can't wait to hear about the rest of your hunt. Bruce
Thank you roger for your report.

I have never liked the long drives from camp to go hunting...
Thanks for reading. I need help posting articles and pictures so I drag my feet with this stuff. Many thanks go to Jerome for doing this for me.

This was my first bad African experience of my 7 hunts. It's not a matter of if, but when? When all the references check out, you book the hunt.

When personal issues are mixed with business, it is a "Recipe for Disaster", which we found out.
Congrats, I'm glad you guys got your cape buffalos.
Allways could be worse....at this point you have to be happy to had your Buff on the ground finally wich is a very good thing....Right or wrong you did it....!!!!!!

Now I guess that your boocking agent not gonna get good references from you and thats is what He deserves by far......!!!!!!

Congrats for your Buff, glad you got it.....and I wait for the rest of the hunt.......!!!!!!
Glad you "got er done". It sounds like you made the best out of a "not so good" situation. Congratulations!! Kevin
congrats on the hunt, sorry that the trip didn't go all as well as you had hoped.
You survived the frustrations… No one needs the BS.
Nice trophies.
Glad you got your buffalo. Even on a discounted hunt there is no reason not to have permits in hand and in general take care of the client needs.

I will say this, you are a braver man than me. There is no way I would do a two by one 7 day hunt for buffalo much less a three by one 7 day hunt. In that circumstance you and your buddies were extremely successful in taking three buffalo.
Glad you got your buffalo. …………... In that circumstance you and your buddies were extremely successful in taking three buffalo.

Without a doubt. Good to have one shot kills and hunting partners you trust.
Congrats on a fine buff Roger. I talked to Mr. Martinell and Rebecca a couple of years ago about a buff hunt for my son and I, I just didn't get that warm fuzzy feeling that I was looking for so I booked with another outfit. Now I'm glad that I did, glad that it all worked out for you but who needs the aggravation.
after many foul tasting hiccups , you guys burped succsess ,
they may not get the positive reports that sell more hunts , but they did come through .
right up until that bloke walked over your riffle case , I was thinking l could live with this hunt ........
but that archery ele hunt would've been the duck nuts.and a definite highlight to that fellas life.....
.and everything atleast comes across ethical and above board.
thanks for the good ,the bad and the ugly .
looking foreward the second leg of your adventure ,
Congratulations on your trophies @RogerHeintzman looking forward to hear how the NW hunt went.

Always think of the moment you shot your buffalo, the value of that moment will only become clear once it becomes a memory. Cherish it! ;)
Thanks for sharing the report.

It sounds like you made the best out of a less than perfect situation.

Congratulations on your buff.
Congrats for your buff, Roger !

Sorry about the rest of the experience.

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