ZIMBABWE: Of Cigars, Leopards & Cape Buffalo

Mort Hill

Gold supporter
AH elite
Joined
Jun 4, 2017
Messages
1,380
Reaction score
2,782
Location
Brentwood, TN
Media
117
Hunting reports
Africa
2
Member of
Life Member SCI, Director-Music City SCI Chapter, NWTF, NRA
Hunted
SA, Zambia, Tanzania
EXCELLENT! How many cigars were sacrificed over this cat ? :D

183 over the whole trip. I chewed up one cigar in the blind, but smoked a couple of mighty fine cubans the night of the success. Since I wasn’t gettin up early the next morning, I stayed up late and opted for several cigars and a rerun on bush tv.
 

Mort Hill

Gold supporter
AH elite
Joined
Jun 4, 2017
Messages
1,380
Reaction score
2,782
Location
Brentwood, TN
Media
117
Hunting reports
Africa
2
Member of
Life Member SCI, Director-Music City SCI Chapter, NWTF, NRA
Hunted
SA, Zambia, Tanzania
Wonderfully written! Thank you so much for sharing it and doing it so well. I took my leopard at night as well, and the bush at night is a very different, special place.

It is amazing to me the sounds that envelope the night in Africa. Everything sounds like an elephant coming, except an elephant. I was completely surprised how something that big could move so quietly and so close. I am no expert, but Brent, our other PH, told me that when the elephant puts its foot down, the footpad is actually cupped. Thus any twigs or sticks actually under the foot are silenced when they snap. Makes sense to me but could be complete hyjinx on his part.
 

BnC 04

Gold supporter
AH elite
Joined
Jan 30, 2011
Messages
1,182
Reaction score
1,440
Location
Tennessee
Media
64
Hunting reports
Africa
2
USA/Canada
3
Member of
DSC, RMEF, DU, NWTF, NRA
Hunted
Canada/Europe/Africa/14 US States
Outstanding Mort, big congrats!
 

cls

AH elite
Joined
Jan 27, 2014
Messages
1,920
Reaction score
1,407
Location
Alberta, Canada
Media
65
Hunting reports
Africa
3
Member of
SCI, AHEIA
Hunted
Canada(AB, BC, SASK, NWT)), USA (WY, MN, TX), South Africa (Limpopo and Eastern Cape), Zambia
Great cat, great story telling. thanks.
 

Mort Hill

Gold supporter
AH elite
Joined
Jun 4, 2017
Messages
1,380
Reaction score
2,782
Location
Brentwood, TN
Media
117
Hunting reports
Africa
2
Member of
Life Member SCI, Director-Music City SCI Chapter, NWTF, NRA
Hunted
SA, Zambia, Tanzania
Day ? - Do We Really Care Now

With the leopard and buff in the salt, things suddenly seem different. Less urgency. Less tunnel vision. I suddenly focus on the greater safari. Like the staff.

Phillip is our waiter. He is a pleasant man and he always greets me as he comes back and forth to the dining pavilion. One morning I told Phillip I wanted to buy his hat. If he wouldn’t sell, I guess a picture would have to do. He just laughed and posed for the picture.
IMG_3641.JPG


I also went to check out Lucia, our cook. We sat and talk about cooking. What she could do with just the rudimentary of accessories was amazing. Fresh bread every day, wonder casseroles, fabulous stews and grilled meats. I found her at the kitchen, or what I guess we would call the kitchen.
L1040889.jpg

L1040888.jpg


We start the morning late and go looking for eland and a dark stink bull giraffe. We keep this agenda up for four or five days without success. I am still enjoying seeing other game. The impalas are in rut. Loud grunting and roaring around every corner. I have taken five so far for bait, but there is just something I love about impala. We see more elephant, baboons, blue wildebeest(although not are on quota at Arda), young kudu. Big Mike has gone to the sister property Humani where because of a cancellation, he is able to harvest a beautiful kudu, and a nice nyala. I will head there in a day or so for my blue wildebeest. I have only shot some for bait in South Africa, so really want a nice one to bring home.

The dark giraffe and eland are my nemesis this trip. If we see giraffe, as soon as we get out or off the truck, they bolt. Nothing quite so certain as the sound of a giraffe running.

The eland prove just as elusive. One day as we approach a very large open dry pan, we suddenly stop. This where we have seen eland before. Sure enough, several hundred yards ahead just before you enter the pan, we see a mixture of zebra, and the single body of an eland. We know it will be a tough stalk with the zebra mixed in, but we have to try.

We dismount the vehicle quietly, and start our stalk. We must wait for the zebra to move on before we continue. It is mid-morning and getting warm. The slight breeze is swirling causing us difficulty. We move to intercept. They move. We cautiously pick up the pace. Damn zebra are pulling up the rear and acting as the vanguard. We circle. Now we hear the distinct “click” of the eland as they move deeper into the thick stuff. When I say thick, I mean dense thirn bush. The dreaded wait-a-bit thorn tears at my ears, my arms, my legs. Since I sweat so much, I like to always wear shorts, and a couple of Cabelas shirts I have cut the sleeves off of(aka Jeff Rann). I get kidded about this a lot, but Jeff probably does this to show off his physique. I do it to stay semi cool and Let the maximum amount of air poor over my fat body. We trail the clicking eland for an hour, only catching glimpses of a tail swish or a leg or two. About two hours in, we hear the distinct bellow of cape buffalo. They are on both sides of us and the eland have walked straight between the two groups. I am hot, bloody, and thirsty(like a lot of stalks, we thought this would either succeed or fail in short order, so no water). Suddenly, part of the herd of buffalo move into a small opening as we are attempting to circumvent. Here I am, in mid stride through a gap in the thorns, looking eye to eye with two buff cows at 20 yards. Who’s gonna blink? Fat boy does as I back through the thorn bush and shoulder my rifle. The cows throw themselves sideways back from whence they came and we hear all the buff crashing off for safer territory. Stalk over. Eland gone. And now just the 45 min walk through the nasty stuff to try and get back to the land cruiser. I lick my wounds. My disdain for the eland is only reinforced by the three hour assault on my body and character. I promise to have the last word.
 

Mort Hill

Gold supporter
AH elite
Joined
Jun 4, 2017
Messages
1,380
Reaction score
2,782
Location
Brentwood, TN
Media
117
Hunting reports
Africa
2
Member of
Life Member SCI, Director-Music City SCI Chapter, NWTF, NRA
Hunted
SA, Zambia, Tanzania
Are those like biscuits or rolls that she’s cooking? I got hungry as soon as I saw them.

She cooked rolls, loaves of pumpkin bread, everything. This was my go-to pull apart roll with butter and honey. Fork shown for size.
IMG_3785.JPG
 

Nhoro

AH enthusiast
Joined
Sep 16, 2014
Messages
467
Reaction score
606
Media
26
Mort I loved your report. Next time you should stop by and share a cigar and a little whisky before you catch your flight out.
 

Mort Hill

Gold supporter
AH elite
Joined
Jun 4, 2017
Messages
1,380
Reaction score
2,782
Location
Brentwood, TN
Media
117
Hunting reports
Africa
2
Member of
Life Member SCI, Director-Music City SCI Chapter, NWTF, NRA
Hunted
SA, Zambia, Tanzania
Day - Again Who Cares

Getting towards the end of our 16 days, and still no wildebeest, Eland or Black Giraffe. Oh we have seen the giraffe several times. Either too late in the day to allow for the recovery and skinning operation(a five hour ordeal), or he gets the one up on us and is gone into the bush.

On this morning, I decide we will head up to Humani, the sister property, about an hour away. Mike was up the day before and took a nice wildebeest, so I figure now is as good a time as any. Pete’s land cruiser only has seats for two, and Big Mike has decided to go with us and let Brent check baits and look for any sign of Big Mike’s lion.

It is a very cold morning, so I tell Big Mike to ride in the front and I will ride on back and smoke cigars. Ummm, big mistake. I bundle up with all I brought and we head out. By the time we arrive, I am a cigarcicle. I have pulled my beanie down over my face, pulled my neck gaiter up to my nose, and left a little slit to puff cigars. My hands are numb. My legs are permanently frozen bent. Who was that dumb ass from Tennessee saying “its not cold, I’ll be fine!” Oh yeah, that was me, El Gordo.

We arrive and immediately slow to hunting speed on the two track. I glance to the right as our local tracker we picked up taps on the roof and starts pointing. I see a magnificent kudu. I have several already mounted, but Pete jumps out and says this one is a dandy if I want him. I pause for a nanosecond and climb off the truck. This is when I really feel, how should I say this, frozen and non-limber I am. With a truckload of guys as an audience I follow Pete into the bush. Not 50 yds into the stalk I drag a foot which hangs on a vine. TIIIIIMMMMBEEERRRR! I start the slow fall of a face plant. I chuck my rifle to the side, as my firearms training has taught me to do, and land with full force flat on the ground. I look up, and verbatim from Pete “ For fuck’s sake, what happened?”

It was pretty clear Pete, walking in front, intent on the kudu, thought I was just making noise. When he turned around, the look on his face said it all. He’s had a heartattack. He’s fallen and broke a leg. He’s having a stroke. Well, I stood up with great effort and proclaimed the stalk over with that much noise. Of course, the whole truck had seen my swan dive, and were just waiting to find out I was OK before the jokes started.

We drove on and say several other animals, and even put a failed stalk on a wildebeest at a water hole but were busted by impala.

Shortly thereafter, I mean a couple of minutes, Big Mike looks over and says”There is your wildebeest”. Sure nough, there about 100 yds from the round stands a lone bull looking at us like “what you guys doing?”

I climb down, move to the sticks Pete has set up, take aim for frontal quartering shot, and let him have a load. The bull bucks, runs 30-40 yards and is down. Like a lot of my other animals he is a fine old bull. We take pictures, load up, and head to the skinning shed.
IMG_3694.JPG

IMG_3685.JPG

Of course, Pete, with Big Mike, photo bomb my camera, again.
IMG_3687.JPG


After dropping off the wildebeest, we take a stroll through Humani camp. It is beautifully situated on a hill over looking the river.
IMG_3706.JPG

We head back to Arda, past a couple of local villages and return for lunch and a couple hours of hunting with no success. A nice evening none the less with the fire and a cigar, and memories of a great old wildebeest spotted by one of Africa’s great white trackers, Big Mike.
IMG_3797.JPG

IMG_3795.JPG
 

Mort Hill

Gold supporter
AH elite
Joined
Jun 4, 2017
Messages
1,380
Reaction score
2,782
Location
Brentwood, TN
Media
117
Hunting reports
Africa
2
Member of
Life Member SCI, Director-Music City SCI Chapter, NWTF, NRA
Hunted
SA, Zambia, Tanzania
The Final Days - Chapter 1

Fresh back from Humani and glad to have gotten my wildebeest, it is time to get serious about this eland and giraffe.

No more Mr. Nice Guy. If its miles I have to trudge, so be it. If it dark-thirty and the giraffe shows his bony little head, too bad Mr Skinner. It’s time to put up, or shut up.

We continue to drive then known areas where giraffe have been spotted, the acacia groves and thickets, and the heavy jess where the eland tracks have been seen.

So driving down the main road, I hear the familiar tap-tap, and Pete stops. Warthog. I have only seen a couple the entire trip so we bail out to pursue. A lengthy stalk produces nothing. As we are walking back to the truck, Pete rounds a large thorn bush before and gasps as he tries to set up sticks. Apparently we had crossed paths with Mr and Mrs Warthog, and as they ran away all Pete could say was he was a monster. As this is late in the afternoon, we will try and sit by a nearby waterhole tomorrow to see if he comes to drink.

We are nearing the end of the day, and it is just about 45 min to dark. As we turn off of on of the two tracks back on to the main track, we come to a quick halt. There in the road, not 20 yards in front of us, is the big dark stink bull we have looked for for almost a week. Pete looks at me. I say it is too late. Pete says we may never get an opportunity like this again. I think about the poor guys having to work late into the night. I pledge to Pete we will get the work done and stay with them. As I open the door and grab the rifle, the bull slides into the bush so all that is showing is about the top half of his neck. He is about 30 yards off the track. I get my rest on the hood of the cruiser. Pete urgently says, don’t shoot my aerial, and don’t crack my windshield. I am far enough out on the hood to know I am safe, but still look for good measure.

I made the neck shot on a giraffe a few years ago, and feel good about taking the shot. Pete has always had his hunters do a heart/lung, and has never seen a neck shot. He is somewhat skeptical. I find the head and neck int scope, come down about 3-4 ft, and center on the neck. As the shot rings out, the giraffe collapses behind the brush. Before Pete can get out of the truck I run to the giraffe, and put a finisher in the vitals for good measure. I hear the boys yelling and laughing. It apparently was a good show for them. He is beautiful, and my plan is fora full skin to make into a rug for my cigar smoking screened in porch.
IMG_3720.JPG
IMG_3730.JPG
IMG_3731.JPG

Now the work begins. The boys start the arduous process of skinning this behemoth. I am of no help, so I build a fire, as Pete goes to get help from the skinning shed, and the tractor and trailer we will use to get the meat, hide and carcass back to the shed.
I decide somewhere in the process, cigar in hand, that a fresh grilled piece of giraffe would be a fitting tribute to this old boy. So with fire built, I get manager to lop me off a piece of meat, make a skewer out of green mopani branch, and start a cooking.
IMG_3733.JPG
IMG_3735.JPG
IMG_3736.JPG
IMG_3734.JPG

As I bite into my hunk of giraffe, I realize I have made a dire mistake. The meat is shoe leather tough, greasy as a drain trap, and stinks to boot. I casually discard the hunk of meat on the ground for Jess the terrier to eat. Pete returns and brings a clam shell grill as the boys want to have some meat for dinner. I think about saying something, then remember these are the same guys who carried one of our week old leopard baits back to camp from the tree as we were dropping baits so they could eat. Needless to say we grilled meat for them most of the night. The tractor showed up with about 5 guys and the front quarters, neck, head, rear quarters, ribs, entrails and skin were all loaded up. We headed back to camp as they were packing up to head back to the skinning shed for a feast of grilled giraffe a’la Mort.

Tomorrow we will try for eland early and late, and sit for the big warthog during the heat of the day.
 

Randy F

Silver supporter
AH elite
Joined
Apr 27, 2020
Messages
1,217
Reaction score
3,157
Location
Wisconsin
Media
34
Articles
3
Hunting reports
Africa
1
Hunted
US and South Africa
Incredible! Congratulations on that beautiful giraffe!
 

BourbonTrail

AH enthusiast
Joined
Jan 25, 2021
Messages
475
Reaction score
917
Media
1
Hunted
USA (AZ, KY, MO, NM, VA)
That’s a fabulous giraffe, will make a grand rug for cigar sessions!
 

Uncle Sauce

Bronze supporter
AH elite
Joined
Sep 12, 2019
Messages
1,196
Reaction score
2,820
Location
N. Idaho
Media
34
Hunting reports
Africa
1
Member of
GOA, RMGO, FRGC, SCI, DSC
Hunted
SA: Eastern Cape, US: CO, ID, MT, NY, OR, VA, WA, WY
Helluva a good trip Mort!
 

PARA45

AH legend
Joined
Jun 15, 2010
Messages
2,475
Reaction score
4,806
Media
53
Articles
3
Hunting reports
Africa
1
USA/Canada
2
Member of
NRA LIFE MEMBER
Hunted
South Africa, Nicaragua, FL, CA, SD, GA, SC, CO
Man what a beautiful old bull, I love how dark he is. Good going, and not a dull moment on this trip. :)
 

cpr0312

AH ambassador
Joined
Jul 21, 2011
Messages
10,524
Reaction score
15,253
Location
North Carolina
Media
355
Articles
1
Hunting reports
Africa
7
USA/Canada
1
Australia/NZ
1
Member of
NRA Life Member
Hunted
US (All over), New Zealand, South Africa(Northern Cape, Eastern Cape, Northwest), Zimbabwe, Zambia
Wow that's a super dark giraffe, congrats!!
 

Forum statistics

Threads
38,638
Messages
746,794
Members
70,584
Latest member
reviewmayruabat
 

 

 

Latest profile posts

eballo wrote on doubleboy's profile.
Is the Parker still for sale?
hunt 65 wrote on Bullthrower338's profile.
You ever sell the Hyme 458 Lott?
Bob Nelson 35Whelen wrote on jwp475's profile.
@jwp475
If you need help with your Whelen loads please PM me
Bob
xausa wrote on Challer's profile.
I don't know where you're located, but I'd be happy to let you try out my Krieghoff. I'm located in West Tennessee and the local gun club has a skeet layout and is located not far from my farm. We're about five miles from the Kentucky state line and about 100 miles west of Nashville.
I just joined today, I live in Louisiana. I joined mostly because of all of the 35 Whelen discussion as I am now very interested In the 35 Whelen. I have an 1885 Highwall that J.E.S.S. rebored to 35 Whelen

Also own 338s 375 and both a 416 rem and Rigby
 
Top