Our Friends in the Field

Hey All, Just a quick overview of my safari season with some trophy photo’s and a few of the more interesting times. First safari this year was with Jeremy and Emily Rieger from Texas, we were based on Sango out of the main lodge (Ingwe). Jeremy was out for leopard, buffalo and plains game. This was Emily’s first safari (1st of many) Jeremy has been out on a number of safaris prior to this trip.This is Jeremy’s Hog; a real monster at 16” - awesome trophy Jeremy. This guy gave us a little bit of a run around but after about 45 min of tracking we managed to get up onto him and Jeremy made a fine shot on the old guy. Buff 40”; Also a great stalk, the hunt ended in a little bit of a shoot out. This old guy was a lone dagga boy. We crawled to about 35yards and had to wait for him to stand up as he was lying up in some really thick bush – this lone ranger was really switched on and knew the plan all too well. Jeremy made a good shot and all ended well.Jeremy’s main trophy - an awesome 7” Tom. Once again Jeremy made a great shot. Our 6th night in the blind Jeremy took the shot – the leopard ran about 40 yards and was piled up. The night prior to this we had an elephant bull find our blind particularly appetizing but a flash light in the eyes changed his dinner plans for that evening.Lunch under a huge old Nyala berry on the banks of the Masize river!!A great end to a great trip, sundowners on the Makore river. Congratulations a on your recent marriage Jeremy and Emily. Many thanks for a fantastic hunt. My 2nd trip was a short 5 day trip with Maria Jacobson from Sweden for plains game on Arda Maria with a fine 17” bushbuck. Well done Maria what an awesome trophy. Arda with Manuel Del Valle and his son both all the way from Mexico. We were on the look out for leopard, Buffalo and plains game.Manuel shot this fine male on night 10, he measured 7’4” and weighed 150lbs. Manuel with his buffalo. We followed this old boy for 3 days after he was wounded, all ended well on the 3rd morning. An excellent trophy and well worth the fight. An awesome eland of 37”, three zebra and several impala finished off the hunt for Manuel. His son managed to bag a giraffe, Kudu and a baboon. Immediately following on from Manuel saw the arrival of Stephen Matterson from the UK.Stephen’s first trophy was a fine bush buck ram of 14 1/2” - shot in the rain; most unseasonable for July.Monster bushpig 6” boar, Steve made a great shot at about 6 yards right between the eyes. There were a few moments of confusion as initially Steve was looking for a warthog and wondered why he was peering down at a bushpig – no more confusion once the measurements were confirmed!Really fine Waterbuck bull 31 ½” - good one Steve. We managed to get a warthog and couple of impala to finish off the hunt. All the way from Pennsylvania brought arrived Sal Checho. He was out for leopard, unfortunately Sal got sick within the first few days which worked in favour of the Leopard. This didn’t stop us from taking a few for the bag.Sal with one of his Zebra baitsThis is the one that got away, a really awesome cat. He’ll be that much bigger next season. The next trip was 10 days with long standing clients and good friends, Jean and Mary Simmler from France. They travel to Zimbabwe every year to hunt warthog and a 60” kudu. They also just love to be in the bush, another big attraction for them. Jean Louis with a fine old hog, again shot in the rain, something about this season and the rain. Sal please note the beard; I sported that for about another 2 weeks before I got tired of the thing. Jean and Mary enjoying lunch on the banks of the Turgwe River on Humani Ranch. September brough Robert Doyle from Eire Pennsylvania. This was Rob’s first trip to Africa. He came for buffalo, leopard and plains game.Rob with his awesome 44’’ bull. This buffalo also gave us a little bit of a run around. We shot it right on last light, Rob made a really great shot but some how missed the vitals ( I will explain that one ), so we left the bull for the night after watching him in the herd until it was pitch black. We were back on his trail at first light. He was left by the herd but an old dagga boy had come through in the night and taken this bull with him, as we arrived we heard ox peckers but we were not too sure if it was him as they were way off to our left. As it turned out he had moved around in the night and that was exactly where had moved to. After about an hour we got up to the two bulls in some thick scrub Mopane - the wind was a little squirrelly and off they went on first scent of us - we followed them until all day and caught a glimpse of him right on dark. This time we were about 400 yards from him so no shot; the night got the better of us again. First light found us back on his tracks but sadly after about 3 hours he either joined up with a herd or a herd covered his tracks and that was the last we saw of him. Then out of the blue I get a call from Courtney who works on Hammond telling me that he had shot our bull. He had found this bull at a water hole looking a little sick one evening. So first light found him on the bulls trail to have a good look at him, and before he knew it the bull was charging, luckily it ended in Courtney’s favour with the bull down. Now for the great shot, apparently the bullet entered right behind the right front shoulder and was under the skin on the other side right behind the left shoulder, no idea how that happens. Rob I hope you don’t mind - I had you photo shopped into this picture.A magnificent old Eland bull which we nicknamed “stumpy and the crew”, quite odd how he broomed both his horns off to be almost identical. Glassing, great views and a fun climb. Along with his other trophies Rob managed to shoot this 16” bush buck, wildebeest, bushpig, zebra and a bunch of impala. The leopard gave us quite a run around and as luck would have it, the last night we did have 4 males on bait; Rob decided he wanted to enjoy the last evening in camp and have something to come back for which is a superb idea. Great hunt Rob! One of the cats that Rob and I had on bait.Rob’s buff skull, not too sure you’ve seen this Rob!! After a brief trip home to see my family (Justine almost due to have our second child) I returned to Arda for buffalo with Bo Ermborg from Sweden. Bo’s 41” dagga boy shot at 9 yards in the reeds, it all got a little exciting at the end – I will save that story for the camp fire. Bo also took a great bushbuck and a wildebeest. All went according to plan and I was able to be home for the arrival of Oscar’s little sister, Georgia Lily, born on 27th September. Our little Girl!! Georgia was three days old and I left for the next hunt which was with Larry Shores from Florida. This is Larry and my third hunt together so I feel it’s safe to say he is a good friend. We hunted on Sango from the tented camp. Larry was out for a 15 day elephant, buffalo, leopard and plains game huntLarry and me with his fine 36” bull sporting 17 ½” bosses. It looks like we were a little warm here – no surprises there with temperatures reaching 42 degrees Celsius some days. We had one bull at about 10 yards trying to figure out what we were - no pressure to shoot Larry! Larry and the leopard…wow what a story. This great cat came in at 7’4” with a 17” skull. He was an old male on old territory and he gave us a rather exciting run around. He had a snare on his left leg that had healed you will notice the swollen wrist in the photo. Half of his right paw was missing also from a more recent snare. We checked our bait at 4pm and saw that a huge male had fed so we decided to sit. We literally threw up a few branches and sat on the ground with no real gun rest. We had completed building our blind by 4.30pm and the old boy arrived a mere 30 minutes later – at this point I would like to add that this was in the Save River, we hung our bait in the thick Save Riverine bush. I have concluded that there is a fine line between bravery and stupidity though I am still not too sure if it was brave or stupid to put a bait in that stuff. The cat was at a slight angle and Larry shot him right on the shoulder, the bullet exited right in the centre of his chest missing his vitals. We followed the cat until it was dark and then decided to pull out and return to camp. After dinner we gathered all the necessary gear and were back on his tracks by 8 pm. The old boy had moved into extremely thick riverine bush. At some points we had to crawl down a maze of pig tunnels with ambush site everywhere. I was literally parting the bushes with the barrel of my shotgun with Larry right behind me as there was no room to go side by side. You can imagine the slight discomfort when armed with only a 12 guage we discovered elephant feeding about 20 yards from us. Fortunately the wind was on our side and we were not noticed. I might add that Larry had a beat up old Mossberg borrowed from one of the game scouts, not too sure which was braver of him; carrying the shotgun or following the leopard. After about 3 hours of tracking under the above mentioned conditions the cat moved off into a reed bed taking our visibility from two feet to zero. We ended up bumping him at one stage at about 6 feet, all we saw was the reeds move as he took off. Needless to say our heart rates were raised a bit. As we chatted and moved forward further into the reeds there was a log which at the time looked like the cat so the log got all our attention and a good dose of buck shot. After much nervous laughter we continued on and bumped the cat, once again he was at our feet. I think the Mossberg nearly had its trigger straightened as it refused to fire - again the cat ran and I fired off a couple of shots at the moving reeds - I can only presume that some of the pellets hit the cat as it only went another 20 or 30 yards, which at the time seemed like miles especially in that thick stuff under those conditions. This time we were about 6 feet from him and again the Mossberg refused to fire, all I saw was spots and so shot - luckily I hit the right end and brought him down. Now that it was all over all that was left was the walk out. Well Larry awesome job; there are not too many people I would voluntarily go into that stuff with!!After a great four hour walk on the tracks of four bulls, Larry shot this fine 56lb elephant with a perfect frontal brain shot. Now this was a little bit of fun, Larry made an awesome shot with his .416 Remington at 185 yards off the top of a kopjie, this one and a half horned bull went straight down from a quartering on shot, however I thought the bull had 2 horns… The follow on trip found me returning to Sango with Ed Hutley and his family. Ed was out on a 10 day buffalo hunt.Francis with his fine 31” waterbuck, this is Francis’s first animal and what an awesome first animal.Ed with his 51” Kudu - this bull gave us a little bit of a run around as well.Great Wildebeest. Ed with his Dagga boy which was shot right on dark, we followed up the next day and after a small gun battle we brought him down, luckily we saw each other at the same time. Ed and Francis also managed to take a 36” Eland and a great old warthog. November found Bob Spencer returning to Zimbabwe for a ten day buffalo hunt with his friend Lester from Florida. We managed to shoot Bob’s buffalo, again, in the reeds at about 10yards right on dark, so needless to say I found myself once again on hands and knees accompanied by Bob all the way. This bull was quartering onto us and in the gloom we could not make out the angle, Bob requested that I back him up so we shot - off thundered 6 bulls… We followed for a bit and then decided to return in the morning. Once again first light found us crawling through the reeds, thank goodness his mates had left him in the night. When we arrived at the position from the previous night where we had last heard them, something was moving in the reeds. I climbed up a tree to try and get a good look - all I could see was reeds – reeds that were about 20 feet tall. The tunnels we found ourselves in were at least a little larger than the ones I had travelled on my prior search for the leopard. We removed shoes and proceeded toward the tunnels that were going in all directions. After about an hour in the tunnel we found him, all I could see was a bit of black and so decided to put a shot into the black to which the bull took offence. Luckily he was not too sure where we were. He thrashed around bellowing and beating up the place by which time Bob had joined me and we put down a little bit of lead. At one stage I crawled along the adjoining tunnel and was literally 6 feet from him but could see nothing. Anyway, once again all ended well. This is where we ended up finishing off Bob’s buff Glassing after a coffee break… Well maybe just enjoying the view. Bob managed to Shoot a few other animals with his new 400 H&H. Lester managed to bag this fine old wildebeest and an impala. Team Photo with Lester’s wildebeest - tough old guy. Amazing who you bump into in the middle of the bush. Will Parks and Thierry Labatt. My final hunt of 2012 was 16 days on Arda and Mahenye for buffalo, elephant, leopard and plains game. Returning clients and friends from Tennesee - Bo Carter and Monica Eldridge.Bo and Monica with Bo’s first 50lb bull shot at about 15yards. Monica with her first African animal and second animal ever. Monica made an awesome 80 yard shot at her 39” bull – and that is all it took, just one shot. Bo’s 41” buff Bo’s second elephant bull. Also about a 50lbs taken in Mahenye at about 30 yards. Once again enjoying the view. Bo shot in total 3 buff and 2 elephant. Sadly the rain chased us out of Arda. Great trophy’s I hope you enjoyed the recap on 2011’s safari season. Thank you all for coming out here and I sincerely hope that we will get to hunt together again soon. Wishing you all the very best for this next year. Best regards to you all Collen, Justine, Oscar and Georgia