ZIMBABWE: Nyamazana Elephant Hunt - Happy Birthday To Me!

Royal27

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This hunt was my 50th birthday present to myself, and from my loving and understanding wife.


Hunting Elephant....

I dreamed of it as a small boy. I never thought it would happen, but I dreamed of it.

The McMillan trophy room.... This was a large part of my dream.

https://www.africahunting.com/threads/bill-mcmillan-98-day-1947-safari.39684/

Seeing those 100 plus pound tusks as a small boy. Thinking that I wished I could do it, to be the hunter of elephant. Well, the dream of a 100lber is almost certainly dead for me, but the dream of hunting elephant isn't. It's happening. It's become real.

Here is one irony of my story. USFWS with their misguided "wisdom" helped to turn my dream to reality. They banned the importation of ivory from Zimbabwe and sadly many hunters support the ban by refusing to hunt unless they can bring a trinket home. Anti-hunting and politicians don't make the ban successful, hunters (collectors) do. I know this isn't always a popular opinion, but it's a fact. Call it what it is. Hunting isn't banned, but conservation still loses.

The import ban is bad for elephants. Period. For me though selfishly, it's good. It allowed me to go on a hunt I wouldn't have been able to afford under "normal" circumstances. It allowed me to live a dream and hunt elephant in a relatively remote place. I'd much rather have that experience than the trinket. Trinkets can be taken away, or destroyed, or lost. No one can take my experience away though, not for as long as I live.

This was not a good year for me to go to Zimbabwe. I had moved to Texas. My wife is still adjusting to the move. And I promised her a trip of her choosing next, unless a great offer on an elephant came up. I don't think she thought I'd find one. But then Wayne made a post and before long I had a hunt booked. I've known people that I trust like @Wheels whom have hunted with Wayne so there wasn't much research. I also knew going in that this was probably not going to be a classic tracking hunt and I am OK with that. I found the thought of shooting an elephant at night to be thrilling as well.

So in prep I did a lot of shooting and chose a North Fork 500 grain flat point solid for my bullet. I wanted a premium bullet and one that would have the same POI as a soft point, so matching NF bullets made sense. My .458 Lott shoots them better than I can. After hundreds of rounds and who knows how much dry fire practice I felt ready. I also studied the shot placement as much as possible and watched Charlton's shot placement tutorial over 20 times. That video is a must. Not only for shot placement but you can tell which hunters prepared and which ones didn't.I found it very humbling.

Flights were booked through Gracy Travel. After my hunt last year when my flight had to turn around and come back to Atlanta and I was delayed for two days I decided to go back to Gracy. I used a travel agent to assist when there are issues, and last year felt as if I was told "here is the number, good luck getting rebooked and let us know how it turns out" by the agent I used. It was stressful and it took me two full days to get back out. @buddy48 booked with Gracy and he was out in a day and they handled everything.I decided right then that I'd use Gracy for the next trip.

I wonder what the odds are of having a flight from Atlanta to Johannesburg take off, turn around after a couple of hours and then ultimately being cancelled two years in a row? Probably about the same as being struck by lightning would be my guess. Well guess what? Lightning struck! Mechanical issues in the form of an oil leak and after three hours we turned around. Ugh!!!!!! Here though, is where technology comes in.

I quickly used the internet to purchase access for whatsapp amd put out a blast to friends to call Gracy for me and get started sorting this. Thanks to @PHOENIX PHIL and @gizmo for helping out. To make a long story short , I was rebooked on the next day flight, hotel rebooked, and SAA flights rebooked, without having to lift a finger other than talking to Gracy. That's why I pay a travel agent and that's why they will have my business in the future.

So 24 hours later we take off again at last!

All is good now. I mean lightning doesn't strike the same place twice, much less three times, right??? Wrong.... Three hours in and we get the same dreaded announcement. We are on the same plane, and have the same oil leak, and the same result. After 12 hours in flight from Atlanta, I'm still in Atlanta..... This time they at least get us a new plane and scramble to find a crew. We take off just before 4 am, for the same flight that started at 6 pm the evening before, that was a 24 hour delay from the original departure time. What a mess! Rumor is that Delta will be reimbursing cost of ticket and when I get home that is what I will ask for if it hasn't already been offered. Their issues have now officially cost me hunting time, as well as money.

I've lost faith in Delta. It isn't the problems you have its now you react to them. Both this year and last Delta reacted poorly. For the next trip I will be looking at other airlines, even if they are more expensive. I may still fly Delta, but not if there are other reasonable options.

Luckily, the rest of the trip was uneventful. Rifles arrived and transit permits were obtained. I did use Gracy's concierge service, but did not have permits pre-approved. I prefilled the SAPS 520 form and it only added maybe 15 minutes. I do believe in using some type of service as insurance, but don't see a real advantage in pre-approval. Just make sure you have all of the required paperwork! I was in the hotel room for 3.5 hours and even got two hours of sleep. Bruce from Gracy got me again the next morning and check in was easy and the flight on time.

Now on to Zimbabwe...

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Royal27

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Day One

20170916_115543.jpg

Wayne picked me up at the airport with the plan to go straight to the hunting area (Umgoza RDC) and bypass camp. Elephants had even in the area last night and had watered. Wayne didn't know anything other than that as all elephants are "biig ones" to the locals. Customs was slow but painless. I've been to Zim three times and have found this to be the case every time. They did check my cash this time as i had heard they would. I did run into @freightliner as we were getting off of the plane, but we only got to talk for a few seconds before being separated at customs.

It was then off to Wayne's house house to pick up supplies, grab the game scout and off to camp. The drive to camp was uneventful although it's always fun to see what someone may put in the back of a truck!

20170916_142839.jpg


The camp is rough, but comfortable, which I personally like. I enjoy getting away from some of the creature comforts of home and not hearing the TV blaring or the air conditioner running. There is solar lighting and that's it. Shower is through a barrel that fire heated water is poured into and the sink is cold water only. My wife thinks I'm crazy for enjoying this type of place, but I truly do. It certainly isn't for everyone.

DSC01610.JPG


Now for the hunt. We went to the place where elephants had watered the previous several nights and found tracks crossing the road on the way in. It truly hit me at that moment. I was hunting elephant! After getting to the watering hole it appeared there had been ten or so elephants there the night before. Wayne was feeling good about this and a local believed they were coming in around 9 PM. So now it was time to wait for dark to come.
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Remember when you were a kid and you'd go out into the woods after dark and you'd hear noises and wonder what it was going bump in the night? That's what it felt like. The difference being that this time I was hoping that each noise truly was something big and dangerous. It's what I'd come for. Just being out on a moonless night listening more than looking for elephant was thrilling. Wayne had night vision, but I didn't, adding to the thrill. I'd be shooting in torch light after Wayne assessed using his night vision. Three seconds max is the time Wayne told me to expect once the lights went on. I'm not sure at this point if that's a really short period of time, or an eternity. The elephants didn't come back to drink on this night, so we I will have to wait to find out.

We quit after 11 and with over an hour back to camp Wayne suggested we just stay to make it easier to check the roads in the morning. That was fine by me. Sleeping under the stars in the ground in Zimbabwe can now be checked off the bucket list. As can being woken up at 430 am by what sounded like hundred of roosters crowing from the little villages in the distance. It was both noisy and peaceful all at the same time.
 

Ridgewalker

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Royal27 you are one tenacious guy! I don't know that I would have stuck it out like you.
 

Royal27

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Royal27 you are one tenacious guy! I don't know that I would have stuck it out like you.

Ironically this year was less of a delay than last year, which was a full 48 hour delay, even though just one flight. Delta just handled both incidences poorly.

This year I even got booted out of my aisle seat that I'd paid for on the second flight. Was just told tough luck, the system had done it and nothing they could do. I got it back on the third flight, but they handled poorly.
 

Ragman

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Three times in a row? You've got to be kidding! I'd love to hunt with you, but maybe I wouldn't want to fly with you!!! ;) Best of luck getting your elephant....when you hear things going bump in the night, show them that you bump back!
 

tarbe

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Been waiting for this, buddy.

So glad you are back, and with stories to tell!
 

Royal27

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Three times in a row? You've got to be kidding! I'd love to hunt with you, but maybe I wouldn't want to fly with you!!! ;)

This seems to be the consensus for people I've told the story to already, and for people who were on the flight! LOL
 

BRICKBURN

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With all those take offs and landings the plane was well practiced..
With all the crap luck out of the way with the plane this should be good.
 

jasyblood

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What unbelievably bad luck with the flights...never heard of such!!! Glad you finally made it to Zim safely and looking forward to hearing about the rest of the hunt!
 

gillettehunter

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Waiting for the rest of the story..... Sounds like an epic trip. Too bad about Delta. What a bunch of bums...
Bruce
 

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This seems to be the consensus for people I've told the story to already, and for people who were on the flight! LOL

I can probably beat you to DSC if we left our respective homes at the same time, as many times as you have to turn around.:D

Been looking forward to reading all about this. Can't wait for the rest.(y)
 

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Royal,
I have the same luck at you do with Delta, I gave them up a long time ago after many issues!
 

Royal27

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There were many ZFC locations located conveniently near the hunting areas. You can find fast food restaurants anywhere in the world it appears! I mean they really were fast, and ran like hell! ;)


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One of the largest ZFC locations in the country.

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Front counter

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ZFC location manager
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ZFC location with drive thru

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For those that like variety to the ZFC menu

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Notice the empty parking lot. ZFC locations obviously rule in Zimbabwe. Perhaps because KFC is only in Bulawayo, far away from the hunting areas?

20170924_172256.jpg
 
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cpr0312

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Alright! Good start, waiting for more ....:A Popcorn:

And wow, you that is some luck with the flights:confused:
 
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PHOENIX PHIL

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There were many ZFC locations located conveniently near the hunting areas. You can find fast food restaurants anywhere in the world it appears! I mean they really were fast, and ran like hell! ;)


View attachment 204076
One of the largest ZFC locations in the country.

View attachment 204065

Front counter

View attachment 204066

ZFC location manager
View attachment 204078

ZFC location with drive thru

View attachment 204077

For those that like variety to the ZFC menu

View attachment 204081

View attachment 204072

Notice the empty parking lot. ZFC locations obviously rule in Zimbabwe. Perhaps because KFC is only in Bulawayo, far away from the hunting areas?

View attachment 204073

But does ZFC offer extra crispy?

Enough of that crap......

 
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Royal27

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But does ZFC offer extra crispy?

Enough of that crap......


They do offer extra crispy. Just take the original recipe and throw it in the fire a little longer.

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Ridgewalker

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Royal27 did you detour through Colorado and pick up some of that funny weed on your crazy flight?
 

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Love it so far brother, keep it coming. I know what happens but you still got me on the edge of my seat.
 

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