ZIMBABWE: SOUTH AFRICA: NAMIBIA: An Epic Retirement Party!

CAustin

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Congrats on the buff and thanks for sharing the story.
 
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Wheels

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Congratulations to Sue on a great buff. The 9.3 sounds like the perfect rifle for her.
 
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WAB

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The recovery was another testament to Len's experience and capability. His equipment was well designed and maintained. The staff worked together like a well oiled team, and we were quickly on the road to the skinning shed.

We took it relatively easy that afternoon, scouting for buffalo, but to be honest, we all needed a bit of a rest. The evening meal was a celebration of a hunt well done and anticipation of the hunt to come.

Day 5 found us once again on buffalo early. We put in a lot of miles but just could not close the deal. The wind swirled at the wrong time, the buffalo zigged when we were convinced they would zag, and the mopane flies put in a particularly energetic day. However, it was a day in the Zambezi Valley of which there are far too few in a lifetime!

We cut very fresh tracks at a waterhole early the next morning. After about 3 miles the trackers had to loop multiple times on a rocky ridge as the buffalo had made a sharp turn. It soon became clear that they were on their way back to the waterhole they had left that morning. This was extremely unusual as they typically only drink every day and a half to two days. We pressed as quickly as we could to try to intercept them before they got there. In an interesting twist, they walked right past the parked cruiser! The closer we got to the water the faster their pace. Apparently they had developed a powerful thirst in a few hours! As a result the best we could do was arrive at the same time. Len set up the sticks overlooking the approach from an elevated position. Our target bull walked into the shooting lane facing us at about 100 yards and put his head down. Len felt that he would offer a broadside shot shortly. I was quite confident in the shot provided and Len, a little uneasily, gave me the OK if I was certain of the shot. I put the crosshairs in the middle of his neck and shot down through the spine into the heart and lungs. The shot was perfect and the bull went down as if struck by lightning. Later investigation revealed a severed spine and serious damage to the heart and lungs. Len told me later that a scope sighted Lott or comparable caliber is the only rifle that he would have ok'd that shot with. As he described it, the Lott is a tank and simply won't be stopped.
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Another display of capability and efficiency resulted in our second bull arriving at the skinning shed. I should note that this was the morning of day 6. In the hunt to this point we had walked 62 miles tracking and stalking buffalo. According to my app we had done as many as 260 flights of stairs per day equivalent in the hills of the Zambezi Valley. I have killed bigger buffalo but I don't believe that I have ever had a better hunt.

We decided to drive out to spare Sue a repeat of the 206 flight. That required shortening our hunt to nine days, which left us three days in the valley before departure. We decided to look for eland, kudu and zebra. In hindsight I wish I had opted for a second buffalo, but that is just more reason to go back!

If I had any thought that the hunt would become less strenuous it was quickly dispelled! We ended up covering in excess of 100 miles in the nine days of hunting. We took off on cross country jaunts to check waterholes, glass from elevated positions, and just generally enjoy the valley. We also drove to the camp on the Zambezi River and took the opportunity to take a boat ride. When we go back I will prepare seriously for some tiger fishing! At one point we had an opportunity to stalk a +41" sable. I know many of you will think me odd, but I really just enjoyed seeing it. Honestly, if I was going to spend that much on a trophy fee it would have been a second buffalo or a tuskless cow.

Following are some photos of the balance of our time in the valley.
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This was a little nerve racking, lion had just killed this baby elephant. We didn't know if we would stumble into an angry momma or a protective lion, but either way we were on full alert!

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Looking at a group of 4 eland bulls trying to put some years on them. No matter how hard we tried they did not age in front of our eyes!

The drive out was great and much more enjoyable for Sue. We had a picnic lunch alongside the road and arrived in Harare in time to get settled in and go out for a great dinner. Although there were riots downtown, our visit to Harare was very pleasant. We stayed at a very nice guest house.

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Wheels

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Great buff for you too!

Enjoying your report.
 
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K-man

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Congrats on a great trip and fine animals! Thanks for posting the hunt
 
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WAB

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I mentioned at the start of this post that the buffalo hunt was bookended by plainsgame hunts in Limpopo and Namibia. For me, buffalo is always the main event if they are on the menu so that is where the story began. However, that is in no way meant to belittle the other hunts. They were both fantastic hunts with outstanding operators, so let's go back to the beginning...

Nyala has been at the top of Sue's list since she first saw them. Things never seemed to come together for her to harvest one, the tags were either all gone or the opportunity simply did not materialize. Imagine our surprise to have a hunt come up at our local SCI dinner auction for an all inclusive hunt for two hunters and two Nyala with Numzaan Safaris in Limpopo Province, RSA. I didn't plan on bidding as these are pretty pricey hunts but the bidding stalled at $1,100. I put my hand up and we suddenly had purchased the hunt for $1,200. Too good to be true usually is, but not always, and in this case we were on the plus side of the ledger! The ranch was quite large and very rugged. It is the property of a Swiss billionaire and we were staying in his lodge on a Rocky Hilltop. The lodge comes complete with an executive chef who could easily headline at a Michelin star restaurant. Our suite was larger than our first house and opened onto a beautiful view over the valley and a terraced pool. If all we did was relax and enjoy the lodge this was an amazing deal!
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The lodge from below.

We hunted for six days on this ranch and a very large ranch about 45 minutes away. Sue was able to fulfill her dream of harvesting a beautiful nyala bull. We took some other plains game, all of extremely high quality. We were careful to manage the trophy fees closely as some of the fees seemed quite high. However, other animals, notably those we took, were priced appropriately. The hunting was good and we put some miles in, particularly on Sue's hartebeest!
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Sue's nyala dream fulfilled!


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Surprisingly, I was allowed to take the second nyala and use her 9.3 to do it!

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My first truly large impala. These beautiful animals are surprisingly difficult and fun to stalk!

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A truly outstanding red hartebeest. What an interesting animal!

Sue also took an ancient warthog, this picture of which refuses to load. I joked that she kicked his cane out and from under him and shot him on the ground. She did not seem amused, but I got a chuckle out of my joke :)

In closing, I would rate Numzaan very highly and feel that the hunt we were on would be an excellent introduction to Africa, or as we were doing it, a great add to another safari. The ranch we stayed on had animals of incredible quality in rough terrain requiring some serious hunting. This is not a put and take operation, the harvest is very carefully managed to maintain quality and sustainability. In fact this ranch was not hunted at all until very recently. This is likely made possible by the fact that hunting is just one source of income and the owners do not appear to view the ranch as a profit center.
 

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Every animal you took was a very fine specimen! The PHes did a great job of getting you on some excellent trophies!
 
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WAB

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The final leg of our trip takes us back to the local SCI dinner/auction. Another African plainsgame hunt was on the board, an 8 day safari, inclusive of 6 trophy fees, with Justus Brits of AfriHunt Safaris in the mountains of Northern Namibia near Etosha Park. The closest town was Otavi, just on the news for the gunfight with a rhino poacher. This hunt had no bidders at all! I finally put my hand up to open at $500 and that is where it stayed. The oddest thing was that these two hunts were on either side of a high fence whitetail hunt in Indiana that sold for $5,000! There's no explaining some folks!

I checked some references on Justus, including a report on AH, all seemed great. I contacted him and invited him to stay with us during his travels in the USA
, which he was able to do. We hit it off immediately and my concerns over the 'too good to be true' factor were alleviated.

In order to simplify travel, I almost always spend a night at Africa Sky guest house in Johannesburg between flights. This trip was no exception with stays at Africa Sky on our arrival in Africa, between the Limpopo and Zimbabwe hunts, and between the Zimbabwe and Namibia hunts. This takes tremendous pressure off the travel, not to mention that Queen, Leoni, Gibson, Willard and the rest of the Africa Sky staff make us feel like family. So, after a great dinner and restful night, we were back on a South African Air flight bound for Namibia. I should mention that our son Ben joined us for this leg of the trip which was outstanding! He thought that last years trip to Botswana was his once in a lifetime hunt in Africa, little did he know that he would be back almost exactly one year later!

Arrival and processing in Windhoek was the smoothest such experience that I have had in Africa. These folks appreciate hunters and make you feel welcome!

Justus was waiting for us and we were quickly on the road to his farm. It was a bit of a trek, about six hours with stops. Farm was a bit of a misnomer, this place is huge and Justus has access to many surrounding areas totaling on the order of a million acres. Basically, if we could see it, we could hunt it.

I gave Ben my allotment of package tags and told Justus that Ben and Sue were the priority but I would take a good eland if the opportunity arose. This is not ranch hunting like South Africa. The border fences between ranches are typically not game fences and the animals move freely throughout the country. Justus has exceptional trackers, in fact, his tracker from his elephant hunting days works on the farm and is pressed into duty for the more difficult assignments. Ben's gemsbok was one such after the first shot went somewhat awry. The tracking took us through miles of thick bush but ultimately ended successfully.

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A beautiful black wildebeest. These were fascinating animals to hunt, very wary and prone to disappearing in a cloud of dust.

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Sue made a wonderful shot on this absolutely outstanding springbok.

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Sue has regretted her decision to do a european and flatskin on the oryx from Botswana last year. This fellow paid the price for that decision as he will be mounted on a pedestal. We watched the stalk, which went for at least a mile, from the top of a water tank.

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A sociable weaver bird nest.

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A last minute gift, Ben's red hartebeest is remarkably similar in size and configuration to Sue's.

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Justus wanted this one horned eland taken out of the herd. He is not really the age class to shoot, but the one horned rascals are dangerous in the rut, frequently injuring or killing bulls with two horns. This was a cull shot not a serious stalk. Interesting, the shot was 300 yards off the sticks with the 9.3x62. I am VERY impressed with the 9.3!

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Another fantastic African Sunset!

Following the hunt we made a trip to the skeleton coast, spending two nights in Swokomund and visiting Walvis Bay. Ben and I had an absolutely outstanding 4 wheeler trip into the Namib desert, highly recommended if you find yourself in the area!

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375 Ruger Fan

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@WAB : I am nearing retirement and you've got me thinking............................
 

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Wheels

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You put three fun hunts back to back.

Great retirement party. Sounds like you may have to repeat it in November.;)

Thanks for the report. It was great.
 

WAB

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Thanks for all the kind comments guys! It was truly an epic hunt and it was fun to share it with you!

Funny you should mention that Wheels, there may actually be something in the works... I think I’m going to like this retirement stuff!!!
 

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What an amazing way for you and Sue to enjoy the start of your retirement. Such great trophies. Thank you for sharing.
 
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Congrats on your buff also! Couple of nice nyala as well!
 
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BeeMaa

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It's so important in these busy times to slow down and smell the roses...or hunt the Buffalo, Nyala, Eland....
Even better to do it with family.

Well written report, thanks for taking us along.
 

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I think I’m going to like this retirement stuff!!!
I have been fortunate to be healthy enough to enjoy my retirement. Hope you are the same.
Thanks so much for sharing such a grand retirement party!
 
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The recovery was another testament to Len's experience and capability. His equipment was well designed and maintained. The staff worked together like a well oiled team, and we were quickly on the road to the skinning shed.

We took it relatively easy that afternoon, scouting for buffalo, but to be honest, we all needed a bit of a rest. The evening meal was a celebration of a hunt well done and anticipation of the hunt to come.

Day 5 found us once again on buffalo early. We put in a lot of miles but just could not close the deal. The wind swirled at the wrong time, the buffalo zigged when we were convinced they would zag, and the mopane flies put in a particularly energetic day. However, it was a day in the Zambezi Valley of which there are far too few in a lifetime!

We cut very fresh tracks at a waterhole early the next morning. After about 3 miles the trackers had to loop multiple times on a rocky ridge as the buffalo had made a sharp turn. It soon became clear that they were on their way back to the waterhole they had left that morning. This was extremely unusual as they typically only drink every day and a half to two days. We pressed as quickly as we could to try to intercept them before they got there. In an interesting twist, they walked right past the parked cruiser! The closer we got to the water the faster their pace. Apparently they had developed a powerful thirst in a few hours! As a result the best we could do was arrive at the same time. Len set up the sticks overlooking the approach from an elevated position. Our target bull walked into the shooting lane facing us at about 100 yards and put his head down. Len felt that he would offer a broadside shot shortly. I was quite confident in the shot provided and Len, a little uneasily, gave me the OK if I was certain of the shot. I put the crosshairs in the middle of his neck and shot down through the spine into the heart and lungs. The shot was perfect and the bull went down as if struck by lightning. Later investigation revealed a severed spine and serious damage to the heart and lungs. Len told me later that a scope sighted Lott or comparable caliber is the only rifle that he would have ok'd that shot with. As he described it, the Lott is a tank and simply won't be stopped.View attachment 305768 View attachment 305770 View attachment 305771
Another display of capability and efficiency resulted in our second bull arriving at the skinning shed. I should note that this was the morning of day 6. In the hunt to this point we had walked 62 miles tracking and stalking buffalo. According to my app we had done as many as 260 flights of stairs per day equivalent in the hills of the Zambezi Valley. I have killed bigger buffalo but I don't believe that I have ever had a better hunt.

We decided to drive out to spare Sue a repeat of the 206 flight. That required shortening our hunt to nine days, which left us three days in the valley before departure. We decided to look for eland, kudu and zebra. In hindsight I wish I had opted for a second buffalo, but that is just more reason to go back!

If I had any thought that the hunt would become less strenuous it was quickly dispelled! We ended up covering in excess of 100 miles in the nine days of hunting. We took off on cross country jaunts to check waterholes, glass from elevated positions, and just generally enjoy the valley. We also drove to the camp on the Zambezi River and took the opportunity to take a boat ride. When we go back I will prepare seriously for some tiger fishing! At one point we had an opportunity to stalk a +41" sable. I know many of you will think me odd, but I really just enjoyed seeing it. Honestly, if I was going to spend that much on a trophy fee it would have been a second buffalo or a tuskless cow.

Following are some photos of the balance of our time in the valley.
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This was a little nerve racking, lion had just killed this baby elephant. We didn't know if we would stumble into an angry momma or a protective lion, but either way we were on full alert!

View attachment 305775
Looking at a group of 4 eland bulls trying to put some years on them. No matter how hard we tried they did not age in front of our eyes!

The drive out was great and much more enjoyable for Sue. We had a picnic lunch alongside the road and arrived in Harare in time to get settled in and go out for a great dinner. Although there were riots downtown, our visit to Harare was very pleasant. We stayed at a very nice guest house.

View attachment 305776 View attachment 305777
Looking at your dates we were probably just small bit up the river on Zambian side from you when you did your boat trip....could have had a beer mid river...:D Beers:
 
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WAB

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That would have been awesome! Perhaps you could have spared a couple of bottles of Mosi! I look for it everywhere but have never found it outside of Zambia.
 

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That would have been awesome! Perhaps you could have spared a couple of bottles of Mosi! I look for it everywhere but have never found it outside of Zambia.
One of the best beers I have ever had!!! Hoping to find it in Zim myself in a few weeks!
 
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Bullthrower338

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Great report, thank you!
 
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