ZIMBABWE: My Excellent Adventure In Dande North With Charlton McCallum Safaris

Doug3006

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I’m sitting on the dining deck at Pedza Pasi camp having just finished packing up for my return home. The bush plane arrives in a couple of hours so I have time to start my hunt report. My friend Jeff505 and I spent the last 12 days chasing Buffalo and Sable in the beautiful Zambezi Valley. I’ll let Jeff tell his stories separately and he has some great ones to tell!

Before I get started with the story, I thought some background might help anyone who is about to make the trip to Dande or maybe considering a Safari here.

United from St. Louis to Houston. The aircraft was a mid-sized commuter flown by a partner. I paid for first class since there were no baggage fees. The price difference between coach and first was not much if you add the coach class baggage fees. However, I was pissed when I saw the seats in first class (tiny even for a regular coach seat) and near total lack of carry on overhead space.

We flew Emirates business class from Houston to Dubai. Super efficient check in. They had our firearms paperwork in hand and a supervisor walked us to TSA, waited for them to check our guns, and then he delivered them to the Emirates baggage handlers. No fuss at all. Shawn at Gracey Travel took care of the details for us. I can’t stress enough how simple things are when you use a company like Gracey or TWG.

Covid tests dealt us a fit! Getting results back within 48 hours of departure is really tough when you are traveling mid week. That means you have to take the test over the weekend and pray that you get the results back before you leave. The testing labs warn you that weekends may delay your results. Jeff‘s test hadn‘t been emailed to him by the time he arrived in Houston. So he had to pay $250 bucks for a rapid PCR test in Houston. They have a lab in Terminal E. Of course he got his results emailed to him just a bit after shelling out for the test in the airport!

The aircraft was a newer 777 with the better “pod” layout. Very comfortable seats that fold flat. I had no problem getting a full 8 hours of sleep.

We overnighted in Dubai at the airport hotel. It was fine for a 15 hour layover. A good hotel, but kinda dated. The price was $200 a night which would have been highway robbery if the hotel wasn’t right in the middle of concourse B. Location, location, location. We hit the business class lounge for a few free Heinekens then off to bed.

We had breakfast in the lounge the next morning. Nothing like free Mimosas to start your day!

The flight from Dubai to Harare was 9 hours, a couple of hours of which were spent offloading and reloading in Lusaka, Zambia. The plane was an older 777 but still very nice.

CMS had a government employee meet us at the end of the jet way when we landed in Harare. We handed him the stack of papers that CMS had given us to complete ahead of time. He walked us through customs and gun clearance in about 30 minutes. Buzz Charlton met us outside the terminal and drove us to the Amanzi Lodge. What a nice place! Great restaurant too! Another restless night, breakfast in the morning and then back to the airport for the 45 minute bush plane flight to Pedza Pasi airstrip.

Our PHs (Allan Shearing and Dean Kendall) met us at the strip with Jack, an hunter from Texas who had just wrapped up his Buffalo hunt. Jack was highly complementary about the whole experience and promised us we would have a great time. That was nice to hear.

I’d be hunting with Dean as my PH. We got settled in and then checked the zero on my rifles. I brought 2 Kimber Caprivis. One in 458 Lott for Buffalo and another in 375 H&H for Sable and anything else. They shot where I was aiming so we were good to go.

Pedza Pasi camp is beautiful and comfortable. I’ll send pictures when I get to where there’s more bandwidth.

That takes care of the preliminarie. The hunt report will follow soon.

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buck wild

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In for this one! Did Emirates not but you up for the overnight layover on the Emirates Connect service? Ours was all taken care of plus a dinner voucher.
 

PARA45

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Yay, another hunt report. :A Thumbs Up::E Dancing::E Dancing:
 

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I’m really looking forward to reading your report. I hope you have it done by evening of the 18th though. I’ll be flying out morning of 19th.
 

thriller

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Looking forward to it!
 

Tanks

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In for this one! Did Emirates not but you up for the overnight layover on the Emirates Connect service? Ours was all taken care of plus a dinner voucher.
They do for the Imperial Hotel (part of Marriot) 10 minutes out of airport. You have to clear immigration and then get back in and go through security. No PCR checks.

Gracey travel has been giving people misinformation in regards to PCR checks to get back into the airport so people have been paying out of pocket for the airport hotel instead of using the Emirates voucher.

The only PCR check was at the gate and of course at Zimbabwe.
 

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Oh boy! Another report!
 

Tra3

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Reading with interest!
Please add photos of the seemingly mundane things, they really add perspective to the adventure.
 

Doug3006

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In for this one! Did Emirates not but you up for the overnight layover on the Emirates Connect service? Ours was all taken care of plus a dinner voucher.
No they didn’t. The hotel night was on us.
 

Doug3006

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I’m sitting in my room at the Amanzi Lodge in Harare. Planning on doing some souvenir shopping later then off the the airport for the long March home.

I’m really a fan of the Amani Lodge. Nice rooms..beautiful grounds..great food and the staff are very friendly. Yesterday evening, a doctor came to the hotel and did the Covid test for me and Jeff. Then he brought the results back later yesterday evening. Super friendly doctor. Cost is $80 US. What a difference from the nightmare we had in the states trying to get our Covid test done in a timely manner!

Heres a picture of the grounds at the lodge.

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Doug3006

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On day one of the hunt, Dean Kendall and I headed out to a more remote area south of Camp to reconnoiter. Dean wanted to focus on Buffalo first then switch over to Sable once we had the Buffalo in the salt. Dean said we’d look for an old dugga boy that was no longer with a herd. The area we would focus on was a bit of a hike….45 minutes to an hour drive each day. As such, Dean was sure it hadn’t seen much hunting pressure.

We looked for tracks at a number of water holes (pans) all of which were supported by boreholes drilled by CMS. They are great stewards of the resources. Drilling and maintaining them has to be expensive, but it is a game changer for the wildlife. We followed up on tracks several times, but really just to get a sense of what was in the area as opposed to seriously trying to get a shot.

Dean‘s trackers are Teddy, Leonard and Charles, who was also our driver. These guys are simply incredible! The conditions were tough. Hard ground, lots of fallen leaves, tall grass. Still they were able to find tracks, age them an follow them. Sorcery. Great guys too.

We came across elephants nearly every day. We saw this one next to dry river on day one or two …..can’t remember which.

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Doug3006

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Here are some pictures of the Pedza Pasi camp. Jeff and I loved it. Pedza Pasi means down and done. There’s an old military airstrip nearby. The told us that when it was operating during the war, pilots would radio “Pedza Pasi….down and done…when they landed. The phrase also applies to what we wanted to do to the Buffalo and Sable!

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Doug3006

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Day 2 was a repeat of day 1. Scour the pans for tracks and do a few probing stalks. The bush was greener than I had anticipated. The had 2 seasons worth of rain this past rainy season. The even had a steady 2 days of rain a couple of weeks before we arrived. Unheard of! Some scenery.

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Doug3006

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On day 3 we returned to the same general area and followed some tracks for an hour to no avail. Dean decided to take a look at a spring he knew of. As we were pulling out of this particular valley, Teddy the tracker said he’d like to follow up another trail to see if he could find any tracks while we would go check out the spring. Teddy and Leonard bailed out and took a radio with them.

We hadn’t gone 500 yards when Teddy radioed us and said to get back there. When we arrived Teddy said he had spotted a lone dugga boy that was old and beautiful. I joked…”old and beautiful like me?” He looked me in the eye and said, “better.” We broke up.

Then Teddy led us to the most magnificent site I’ve seen in my hunting career. This was a super bull and he was standing perfectly broadside at 40 yards. All Dean said was “shoot him now please.” I shot the 458 Lott and he dropped in his tracks and immediately started his death bellow. A couple of insurance shots and then the celebration started.

This is a bull of my lifetime for sure. Super old. Just shy of 44 inches wide. Large bosses. Broomed tips. Everything I ever wanted….more than I dreamed actually. Dean and Allan Shearing said he’s the biggest taken this year and right up there with the best they’ve taken in the Dande when you consider age and measurements.

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Absolutely stunning bull!!!!

Congrats!!!!
 

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