ZIMBABWE: NYAMAZANA SAFARIS Elephant Hunt June 2022

cknwax

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Several days ago I posted a leopard hunt and promised I would give a report on my elephant hunt with Wayne Van Den Bergh, owner of @NYAMAZANA SAFARIS.

After a day of rest we got up and started hunting elephant.

Day 1 - Got up early and headed to the concession. I could tell things were going to be different that day because there was extra excitement in the air. I remember Wayne clapping his hands, rubbing them together with a big smile of his face saying "we are hunting elephant today". When we got to the concession we immediately came upon elephant tracks crossing the road. In looking at the tracks it was determined it was a herd of cows, calves, and young bulls so we passed and kept looking. After about an hour we picked up the track of a lone bull and followed it for about an hour before it walked off our concession. After about an hour we came across the track of a large bull and followed it through the thick bush for about two hours until it also walked off the concession. At that point we decided to call it a day and went back to camp for a nice dinner.

Day 2 - We got to the concession early that morning and immediately found the tracks of two bull elephants crossing the road so we unloaded and started tracking. Due to the heavy rains the bush was extremely thick, the grass was extremely high, and the thorns extremely sharp. We tracked these two bulls for two hours through the thick bush and we just could not get close to them. The dung we saw was fresh but never warm and the branches where they were eating were always wilted. It seemed we were always an hour and a half to two hours behind them. They never stopped moving. Around 3:00 PM Wayne decided we would call it a day because he was afraid it would get dark on us in the bush. At this point the trackers told Wayne they felt like we were getting close and should keep going. Reluctantly Wayne said we would keep going and we baled off into the bush after these two bulls. We walked for about an hour and a half through very thick bush and it was clear we were not getting any closer. These two bulls just kept going. At that point Wayne sent the tracker and the skinner to retrieve the bakkie and we agreed to meet them at a rendezvous point at a crossroad. After about 30 minutes walking it got very dark and we spent the next 45 minutes walking down a pitch black road in the wilds of Zimbabwe. We reached the rendezvous point before the bakkie and at this point it was getting pretty cold. The tracker and the scout built a fire for us to sit by and stay warm. I can remember looking up at the stars while by the fire and thinking how lucky I was to be there. The bakkie finally came and we headed back to camp for another nice dinner and a couple of glasses of brandy.

Day 3 - Up early and to the concession and we immediately came upon the tracks of the two bulls. The trackers wanted to follow the bulls at this point but Wayne said we were going to go up the road and see if they crossed the road into another area. He seems to have a sixth sense sometimes. His reasoning was if they crossed again this would save us an hour to an hour and a half of tracking time and sure enough they had crossed the road. Wayne’s intuition was right and it would prove critical later in the day. We started tracking these bulls through thick brush, high grass, and the constant grabbing of the wait a bit bushes. After two hours of following these two bulls through the thick brush they came out into a dry riverbed. We followed the tracks through thick sand for a mile and my legs felt like jello. After a mile the elephants crossed to the opposite side into the thick bush and I could feel we were getting a little closer. After about a quarter of a mile the dung was fresher and warm and the branches were crisp. We walked another three hundred yards and Wayne motioned for me to get closer and he told me to stay near him, we were getting close to the elephants. After about another 100 yards we stopped and listened and we could hear a sound and we felt like it was the elephants. We crept slowly trying not to break any branches or step on any twigs and as we got closer the sound got louder. At that point we determined what we heard was the elephants sleeping and they were snoring very loudly! We slowly crept closer and closer until we were about 40 yards away and could see them sleeping in the bush. The bush was so thick there was no opportunity for a shot so we crept closer and closer until we got about 25 yards from them. What I could see was the elephant on my left was on his side sound asleep and as I looked at the one on my right it stood up. At this point we could see the one to my left was clearly the larger elephant and the one we would target. At this point we still did not have a shot because the bush was so thick and we crept within 15 yards of them. So, we have one elephant asleep on the ground and one standing up looking around at about 15 yards. Wayne whispered to me, I am going to holler and when the bigger elephant gets up you shoot him but be aware of the other one as it could charge. He asked me if I was ready, I said I was, he let out a loud yell, and nothing happened. He let out a second loud yell and once again nothing happened. On the third loud yell all hell broke loose. The smaller elephant came toward us and stopped at about 10 yards in front of us. At that point I turned to see the bigger elephant getting up. I aimed my 404 Jeffrey at his shoulder and squeezed the trigger. By the time I reloaded the elephant was moving away from me so I aimed for his backbone and shot again. It all happened so fast I just stood there huffing, puffing and shaking. After a few minutes we slowly moved to the area where the elephants had been laying. The bush where they had been laying was mashed down as it would be with any nine ton beast laying on it. The trail where they fled looked like someone had driven a Mac truck through the bush. Our tracker climbed a dead tree and looked around and said he could see no evidence of an elephant. When he climbed down we waited a few minutes and then started down the trail where they fled and after walking about 50 yards the tracker and I saw an elephant move off into the bush to the right. At that point we backed up, got in a group, and talked about what we had just seen and Wayne asked which elephant we thought it was and we both replied we didn’t know. After about 5 minutes we headed back up the trail where we had last seen the elephant move into the bush. When we got about 20 yards from where we had last seen him, over to the right there was an elephant on it’s side and we cautiously approached it. When we got within 10 yards of it Wayne told me to aim for his chest and put another bullet in him, and when I did all hell broke loose again as the other elephant must have been watching the whole thing. He started running back and forth in the bush around us and Wayne told me to go get behind a big tree which I did. Wayne, the trackers, and the scout all yelled, threw stones, whistled, threw branches, and after about five minutes the elephant left. As we approached the dead elephant I was amazed at the size of this magnificent creature. After giving thanks to the man above we took lots of pictures and decided to leave it as it was getting late in the day and we would not have time to skin it before dark. On the way back to camp we stopped by the scout camp and told the two scouts we had an elephant down and to get the word out anyone that would help us build a road to the elephant could share in the meat. Since we were in the middle of nowhere and had seen very few people for the last couple of days I didn’t expect to see many people show up. We went back to camp, had a nice dinner, several brandys, smoked a Cohiba, and called it a night.

Day 4 - Up early and at the concession by 8:00 AM. As we began to clear a road to the elephant people began showing up with their scotch carts. The scotch cart is a homemade two wheeled wagon pulled by two or three donkeys. As we got closer Wayne sent the skinners ahead to start working on the elephant. After about two hours the road was completed and there were about 35 - 40 people waiting to carve up the meat. When the skinners got the first two panels off they told the people to go ahead and start cutting up the meat. It turned out to be quite a celebration. As the men were carving the meat the women were stacking it in one large community pile. A fire was built, skewers were made, and elephant meat was roasted on the open flame. People were laughing, having a good time, and it turned into quite a little party. At the end of the day there was one hell of a pile of meat and it was really good to see none of the animal go to waste and everyone very happy to get meat. These people were truly grateful for the bounty they had received. When we left they were still carving on the elephant, having a great time and celebrating. It really made me feel good to know these people could really use this meat and none of the animal went to waste. After a great dinner, a couple of brandys and a Cohiba, I slept very well that night. Wayne and his team provided me with the ultimate experience that I will remember for a lifetime. With his help I was able to accomplish my dream of successfully hunting the Big 5 and the Dangerous 7. Life is good!

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Congrats and thanks for sharing!
 
Nice! I have a hunt with Wayne next June. What are were you hunting?
 
Thank you for this wonderful report. What a beauty of an elephant!! I phoned Wayne just last week trying to put an elephant hunt together with him next year!! I hope to hear back from him soon. After you took your elephant, did you hunt for other animals? Perhaps there were no other species to hunt, I had that happen after I took my last elephant up near Victoria Falls.
 
Well done! Thanks for sharing your story and pics!
 
Thank you for this wonderful report. What a beauty of an elephant!! I phoned Wayne just last week trying to put an elephant hunt together with him next year!! I hope to hear back from him soon. After you took your elephant, did you hunt for other animals? Perhaps there were no other species to hunt, I had that happen after I took my last elephant up near Victoria Falls.
We did hunt for other animals. I got a nice spotted hyena. We also hunted klipspringer and zebra but did not get one.
 
Congrats on your Ellie. Awesome that you got your Big 5 and the Dangerous 7. That's no small task.
 
Great story buddy! Thanks for posting it.
 
Well done, congratulations. Thanks for tge story of the hunt
 
Congratulations. Elephant hunting is a special. Appreciate hearing about it.
 
Well done! great experience and nice telling!
 
Congratulations on a great hunt. Thanks for sharing it with us.
 
Congratz on a fine elephant, thank you for sharing your experience with all of us. My faviorite [part was your reflection in the dark of the night on how lucky you were to be there, and really appreciate the total experience. There is something special about Africa that you just can't explain completely to someone that hasn't been there.
 
Excellent write up and thank you for sharing it with us. congrats on some great trophies!!
 
Waidmannsheil @cknwax ! Congratulations on this fine elephant and great adventure ! I cannot get enough, reading about elephant hunting!
 

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