And if any of you wish to add your hunting story, please go ahead too.
Well, my first lion was actually a lioness.
We were hunting in Chete, Zimbabwe.
Driving back to camp for lunch one day, we came across a very big lioness, carrying half a warthog in her mouth.
She ran into the bush.
We decided to go to camp and have lunch, and come back in the afternoon and look for her.
It was summertime, and hardly any shade. Roy said he knew where she would go, to a boabab tree a few miles away.
We had lunch, and left early to see if we can find her.
It was quite windy, and we got to the boabab tree where we thought she might end in the shade.
Sure enough, there she was, lying down in the shade.
There was a log lying between us and her, and only her backside and tail were visible to us.
Roy said we might have to wait until she wakes up.
I asked how long, and got "when it gets cooler" as an answer.
I said how about we wake her up?
Roy said he had no idea what she might do, or where she might go if we disturbed her sleep.
We decided to take the chance and wake her up.
I got ready on the shooting sticks, and Roy threw a rock to the right of her.
The instant the rock hit the ground, she jumped up, looking in that direction.
I fired a shot at her, she started jumping around and growling.
I fired another shot, and she dropped.
When we got to her, we found that she had killed a squirrel, and its make was up in the tree looking down.
I stayed by the lioness, while Roy and the crew went to fitch the car.
Just before sun down, they came on foot.
There was no way they could get the truck to where we were.
We skinned her and carried the skin out.
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We all have stories.
As a learner PH in the Zim system, back in the mid 1980's, I was asked to prebait for an upcoming lion hunt. My emotions at this request was unquestionable excitement, probably borne of the fact my brand new, second hand, refurbished Browning A bolt, chambered in 375, needed christening, and man oh man, was I ready !!
It was a beastly hot day, Matetsi Unit 2, and I knew exactly where to find the buffalo; and I was right, they were not far from water.
I left the vehicle, heading off with my tracker, the wind, the sun and the scrub Mopani all in my favour. In no time at all I was in position to take an old female; just perfect at 30 yards. Loaded with Swift A frames I let her have one, I let have the second, and then a third. By now the smallish herd had taken off, leaving heavy dust behind, which, when settled, revealed a buffalo cow, standing pretty much exactly where I had shot her.
"Shit, these things are tough!", is what I recall saying to myself, but no worries, I gave her another, then another and yet another. "Holy fuck!!!" She still hadn't moved. With each shot I crept closer and closer, thinking to myself "Shoot in the brain, she will drop!" I did, but still she stood. I could almost stroke her; I was that close.
Son of a bitch. She was dead, and God alone knows when she died, for I had no clue. She has 'fallen' and wedged herself against a somewhat sturdy Mopani stump, which was stabbing into her ribs, preventing her from falling over.
I felt a real tosser, but love telling the story around a fire, somewhat embellished now I fear, thanks to that mighty fine amber liquid the Scots so cleverly distilled.
Had this happen to me with an eland a few years ago in Tanzania.
We followed them, them caught up with them below us in a valley which was quite bushy.
Saw the bull passing a small clearing, and I fired a shot at him.
They ran off.
We found a few drops of blood, that is it.
We followed the tracks slowly, then saw him standing across a valley on the other side.
Alan put the shooting sticks up, and I let him have another one.
Did not even move!
I fired another shot!
Did not move!
Alan started laughing.
“He is dead!”
When we got to him, he was actually sitting, dead.
My two deadly shots were a couple of inches apart on his shoulders.
Because we could only see part of him, we thought he was standing!
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Hey, Deads dead, right?
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A rather funny (and I should say embarrassing) experience was when I hunted for Bushbuck with Uncle Joe from New York State many years ago. There was this Bushbuck I had been seeing in the same general place on the riverside of our ranch for weeks before Uncle Joe arrived, and Uncle Joe and I decided to pursue him.
I had seen this Bushbuck many times before and had a clear idea of where to look for him and what he looked like. We started hunting for him in the late afternoons over the next couple of days and saw him several times but he always saw us first and bolted away before Uncle Joe could get a shot.
One afternoon as we rounded a bend in the track I saw the Bushbuck under a tree – exactly where he usually hung out and I told Uncle Joe to take the shot – which he did without hesitation but the Bushbuck didn’t move. Uncle Joe rechambered and fired another round with the same result – the Bushbuck remained standing…
When Uncle Joe fired the third round and the Bushbuck still hadn't moved my tracker dryly remarked: “I think you are shooting at a stick.”
Upon closer inspection it turned out that my tracker was right. The tree stump that Uncle Joe had been shooting at had three holes in it – beautiful grouping! The shadows caused by the sun shining through the leaves on a tree stump at that time of day and a prominent branch that had the distinct shape of a Bushbuck horn had the exact appearance of the Bushbuck we were looking for. We laughed all the way back to camp…
We had a friend with us who was from Germany.
He wanted to shoot an impala.
One morning we went to a waterhole, which is down in a valley, overlooked from some rocks with a large fig tree.
We got to the fig tree, and saw the impala feeding down at the green grass.
My friend got a bit nervous, fired a few shots before he managed to hit the impala.
During all this time, the rest of the herd was running all over the place.
We had some stage blood, and thought this is a perfect opportunity to play a trick on our poor, long suffering professional hunter, Roy.
And as we all normally are at the receiving end of his non stop tongue lashing, everyone is more than happy to oblige to pay him back!
I gave the stage blood to Alan, and asked him to put a few drops on the tracks of the herd as they left the area.
We found our dead impala.
I continued walking further on the tracks of the herd, and sure enough, saw some blood.
I said "Hey Roy, there is blood here"
"What do you mean blood there, this one died here. He never got that far"
"Well, with all that war Klaus was enjoying he might have hit another one. I did not see any more males, did you?"
"NO! That is all we need! He wounded a female, and we have no more left on quota!"
"True! Bloody useless Kraut! Shooting one of my impalas anyway!"
Roy was working himself into a lather, and we all were enjoying every minutes of it!
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Never let the truth get in the way of a good story Bwana! I love this one when you tell it for sure!
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At The Rifa Education Camp near Chirundu I was tasked with shooting an impala for the school in camp to dissect etc etc. So off I go with my son who was 6 at the time, the Parks Ranger, and a teacher from the school who came along as he had never experienced hunting before.
We drove a few KMs from the camp, parked the vehicle under a tree and off we went in search of impala. We couldn’t have walked more than 500m and started a stalk on a herd. The rest of the party stayed behind whilst I crept forward. I had a shrub of some kind between myself and the ram I planned on taking. I managed to shuffle on my butt and get into a prone position under this shrub and line up the shot. I fired at the shoulder and down he dropped like the preverbal sack of potatoes.
Everyone in the party comes forward, the usual congratulations go around and I arrogantly say to the teacher that this hunting game is easy - impala down and the sun is hardly up.....
We all walk over to the impala which was about 100m away and stand around having a look. The shot was a bit high but it’s down, the parks ranger wants to cut the impala throat but I say no need. IT’S DEAD.
Well, with that the thing starts moving around and tries to get up, I remember trying to stand on its horns to pin it down, but it struggles free and runs off as if nothing had happened. I load a round into the rifle but by then it’s too late and its high tailing it out of the area. We try track it for few hours, but there is no blood spoor, nothing of any kind to follow.
We return to camp with much laughter on the back of the truck and a very red faced "hunter" in the front.
We guessed the bullet must have passed between the vitals in the chest and the spine, but was close enough to the spine to knock it out for a few minutes…..
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Since the string theme has a bent towards dead is not dead, last year in Zim we followed at a jog three old Dhaka boys we d scared for some three km when we snuck up to them in hip high grass at about 20 yds against an embankment. The oldest was perfectly square on. I shot two quick .577 NE at the heart, the second slightly angled. Another of the buffalo, perhaps because of the echo, ran upto us at
5-7 yds, saw us with me trying to reload,
decided this was not a place to hang out, and ran off. The shot bull ran maybe at most 20 yds to some trees and stood there. We followed to 15 yds. My PH said “shoot him again”. I shoot another two. He says “you are missing,
shoot again!” Hey I love shooting my .577, who
am I to argue! I shoot two more and he doesn’t flinch! We go closer. He s come to rest against a bent over tree that s propping him up. I like keeping the heart bones from all my buffalos. The skinners took it out and the heart was a minced meat sac of blood in the heart sac with multiple holes - couldn’t count them! No bone to be found from the totally destroyed heart. And no other obvious bullet tracks. When it s dead it might be dead, even if you don’t think so, or the reverse. I saw a US deer hunter killed a deer “dead” but the when he walked up to it, it jumped up and killed him. Not sure how true, but deer kill about 30 people a year in USA, mostly car accidents. A friends nephew was killed when a deer jumped in through a passenger window and kicked him to death when it got stuck. Bizarre and sad.
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Saaed, since I went off subject and the request was for an old hunting story, I tell about my first buffalo from many years ago in Zimbabwe.
We d spent the morning crawling on our knees and leopard crawling around a herd of buffalo after following warm tracks. In itself memorable and fun like looking close up at antlion burrows, other entomology at sand level, except thorns in my hands and knees. A cow spotted us from about 30 yards and they were off to trees for a rest, so we decided to head back to camp in the midday sun. Driving along the dirt track, two old Dhaka boys ran out at the Landcruiser at full speed. What s this about? our PH, a very experienced PH with many years of hunting buffalo, now about 600 buffalo, had never seen this before or as of last year, never again.
We managed to get past them, drove some distance, jumped out, and ran back to a big termite hill with a shepherds tree on it. The two had backtracked to about 40 yards from the hill, smelling and looking for us, or so it seemed. My PH said “shoot” I said “there’s a bush in the way” he said again “shoot”, his fingers in his ears. I could see the upper shoulder where I thought I had a gap. Time stood still. I was shooting directly east. I had tunnel vision. I heard everything around me super clear and everything neuroxed as I shot a .375 TSX. The buffalo took a step forward and I shot again at the heart, now exposed.
The buffalo ran to the left, the PH and tracker ran to the right through an opening, and kept running. We, my friend and the other older tracker, were slower and followed them as fast as we could. Suddenly the older tracker screams “boss, boss!” And I look back, and with my tunnel vision, I d run by the buffalo on its haunches at 10 paces, now about 15 behind us at 120 degrees or so, partially hidden by some tuffs of grass. It jumps, up and I clearly saw blood in its nose. Coming for us ala mode of MS, Saeed s favorite PH , choosing how to die?? No, it ran more or less parallel to our run, and my friend and I shot it in the rear, two shots, 4” apart, near the anus. In ran through a hedge of bush and gave a bellow. We catch up, and it’s sitting on its haunches. By then the PH had turned back with the other tracker. I was out of rounds in the 375 and he passed me his .470 double and with a shot in its spine it was down, about 130 -150 yards from the first shot. What a relief! With the rich fragrance of the buffalo, the emotion of my first buffalo, I gently stroked his mopane bark covered green and brown stained horns, a beautiful set.
My PH said “good shooting”. I couldn’t have been more satisfied. In Nguni (like Zulu, Xhosa, Ndebele) buffalo are called Nyati and the old bulls Dhaka boys for the mud on them, namely uDhaka, but in English Dagga. Note, to Eg Zulu speakers, dagga is marijuana! Every now and again a heat crazed Dhaka boy in the midday sun, becomes aggressive, partly because they ve chosen to go to drink when others are resting. These are Tsotsies, from the name for young gangsters in townships.
Turned out the first bullet hit a branch and tumbled but still made a longitudinal bullet entry hole, went through both upper lungs but did not exit the chest. The second made perfect round hole in the heart. Sadly, the horns burnt up in the mysterious warehouse fire with multiple trophies in Bulawayo. But I still have the heart bone and photos! I ve shot quite a few buffalo since then, all neuroxed, and many happy memories, but the first was special!
It was pouring with rain for a couple of days.
We were stuck in camp.
Then the rains stopped, but no way to go in the truck.
We got bogged down right by the camp.
We decided to hunting on foot.
A few kilometers out of camp, we saw some impala feeding in a clearing.
We wanted to put a leopard bait, and gave some fresh meat fir camp too.
I crept forward toward a small tree, the impalas were about 200 yards away.
I rested my rifle on a branch.
The rifle slipped down just as I pulled the trigger.
We could see the bullet hitting about 50 meters before them.
Laughter all around.
One could miss by a few inches, or even feet.
But 50 meters!
We went to look.
On the way, I mentioned to Roy and Alan that the bullet hit the ground in perfect direction to the impala. Just imagine if the ricochet hit him.
Found where the bullets landed, and took off.
Further on we saw where the impalas took off running.
“Damu” said one of the trackers, blood!
We followed the blood fir a few yards, and were rewarded with the sight of the dead impala!
Imagine the chance of this happening!
The trackers thought my bullets have magic!
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I'll add a bit here of a hippo hunt. Actually I shot two on this trip but the first one is an interesting story.
All of us have read of John Taylor stating an elephant if shot in the head, but missing the brain with a .600, would be knocked out for half an hour and a .577 in the same situation perhaps 20 minutes of the elephant being knocked out cold. Many have disputed this and many find fault with much of Taylor’s writings.
In 2013 I was hippo hunting with Barry Styles in Southeast Zimbabwe and my rifle of choice for that hunt was my John Wilkes .600 double. Completed in April of 1914 with 26-inch barrels and weighing 16 pounds.
55 yards away near the beach in a foot of water stood a lone bull. Later we found out he was blind thereby the reason he was separated from the other hippos in the water. He was facing me, standing very still. Of course he could not see me but we did not know that until we examined him after he was dead. I aimed for the brain in a frontal shot and the hippos’s legs folded up under him and he dropped straight down. Congratulations were in order as an instant one shot to the brain kill.
As we were discussing how to retrieve him, about 10 minutes later, the hippo came to life, moving slowly at first and regaining his feet. WTF? As he turned I gave him a neck shot and he again dropped and was still. Sure enough a few minutes after the shot he began to rise. Two shots to the lungs finished him for good. What happened?
The first shot missed the brains by 2-3 inches and indeed knocked him out proving Taylor was correct in his theory. And for the second shot? This shot to the neck broke off one of the vertebrae’s bone flanges or “wings” as I have heard them called in the past. Again he was down and out due to shock to the spine but the shot was not fatal.
Of course, the two following lung shots ended his career for good. Poor old bastard, he was covered with scars due to attacks from other healthy bulls. He was blind—both eyes a glassy white color—and he lived alone to avoid attacks by his peers.
PS. Very sad and sorry Barry is gone. I only met him that one time but he was a gentleman, with a nice family, and a true Zimbabwe sportsman.
Cal Pappas, Willow, Alaska
1999 Namibia, Botswana, Zambia--vacation
2002 South Africa
2003 South Africa
2005 South Africa
2013 South Africa
2018 South Africa
2019 South Africa
2019 Zimbabwe vacation
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I mentioned MS, Mark Sullivan, and neither Saeed or Cal, the most outspoken commentators on him, and not a whisper! Must be CoV is making everybody more considerate, forgiving, and singing from the same song score sheet!
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As you speak of Impala Saeed, reminds me of another strange day. Aaron Neilson will attest to this, as it was his first trip to Africa.
We needed leopard bait, and as is usually the case, a leisurely afternoon drive would invariably offer up an opportunity or two. It did.
Ahead of us, in the road, two male Impala were discussing the sharing of a harem no doubt, although it soon degenerated into a full on headbutting contest. You will know the simplicities in getting as near as possible to a pair of jousting Impala males; we simply do not exist to them.
As they split up briefly, more to catch their breath I would think, Aaron took aim at the bigger bodied fellow, and squeezed off. Both Impala seemed oblivious to what had just happened, albeit for a millisecond or two, before both heading off in the same direction as if their duel was not yet complete.
We followed up, and honestly didn't walk more than 50 odd meters.
There were two Impala, laying motionless not far from one another.
One clearly had succumbed to being shot; the other, stone dead as well, didn't have a wound or any mark of any description to give reason for his death.
Who knows what killed the second Impala, fright, heart, internal wound.......we will never know.
Oh, and the bait was successful in harvesting Aaron a leopard (of sorts), although that's a whole different story.
I have the luck of hunting with a PH who does not know the words “good shot” or “well done”
No matter where I hit an animal, and he is stone dead in front of us, my shot would have too far back. Too far forward. This is not where you are supposed to hit him. And so on.
We were shooting impala for bait on our first day in Chete, Zimbabwe.
I have already shot 3, and then we saw a group run up the hillside across the river from us.
He said shot one more.
They kept running away.
The ran I wanted to shoot was facing away, answering the call of nature.
They were over 400 meters away - we measured it later.
I rest my rifle on a large rock, and fired.
He dropped in his place.
When we went to him, we found the bullet hit him in his backside, went all the way through his body and cane out at the junction of the neck and shoulder.
Roy took one look at him, and “your shot him too far back!”
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- well of course, goodness me, you ruined the steaks !!!
On my very first safari, in Zimbabwe, I shot an eland.
I started walking towards it, while Roy and my girlfriend walked back to get the car.
Suddenly, the eland got up, and started running!
I proceeded to put as many shots in him as I could.
He fell and was struggling, so I got another one in.
Roy said to my girls friend "Stupid boy! He will ruin the meat!"
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I think the most entertaining hunting stories often are the ones where you have done something totally silly.
Over 20 years ago we were hunting on the Luangwa river in Zambia. in that area there were a lot of elephant and many of them were quite cheeky. We had to run away from a couple and walk a big circle to avoid a cow with a calf several times so we were on ele alert.
One night we were coming back to camp in the appy's double cab Hilux. It was dark and we'd just had a encounter with a upset cow elephant. I was in the back with my arm out the window when an elephant right beside the car let out a screech that startled everybody. I quickly brought my arm in and rolled up the window. Like the window would protect me from an elephant. You can only imagine the ribbing I received throughout the rest of the safari for that.
One other time on the Luangwa we were riding through tall grass well above the car. We couldn't see a thing beyond the hood and the PH is tell us that on occasion you will bump a lion in the tall grass. Sure enough we bump a lioness who just walked in front of the vehicle for a few seconds.
During breakfast that same day the PH was telling us a hilarious story of how he burned down his tent one time. Seems he was putting on his jacket in the early morning and found a huge bird spider in the sleeve. In his haste to get the jacket off and dispose of the spider he knocked over the paraffin lamp and lit the tent on fire.
Back to the tall grass. Now I'm thinking about spiders that are as large as a small dog and lions that could be only an arm's length away when something alive comes in the window and lands on my neck. I quickly swipe at my neck and the offending beast lands on the floorboard where I crush it with my boot. I then realize that it was only a very small frog. The PH says "Oh! You've killed Kermit". I took some serious shit for that one too.
MARK H. YOUNG
MARK'S EXCLUSIVE ADVENTURES
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LAS VEGAS, NV 89166
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My mate Richard Bell Cross and I were driving towards camp on the main road and a vehicle hastily stopped us and desperately enquired if we had seen a leg as one of their party had lost it. We were initially horrified to hear of such an accident but it turned out it was a prosthesis and belonged to a chap named Cliff Bishop who at one time was an apprentice hunter.
The story goes the PH had asked Cliff to check baits with the client whilst he had to attend some communal business. Cliff was given strict instructions that under no circumstances should he be tempted to shoot a Lion in his absence. The PH returned to camp to find his apprentice whose leg had been bitten off and had to deal with a wounded Lion.
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Walter wanted to shoot a zebra.
Trouble was they were not very cooperative in this.
Driving along in Zimbabwe, we saw a herd of zebra, which were unaware of our presence.
Roy jumps out of the car, and gets Walter ready to shoot, by putting the shooting sticks up.
I am not making this up!
Roy "shoot the one clear on the left!"
Walter "Which left. Our left or their left?"
Roy "Our left! And be quick. They will stand there for hours!"
Walter "Saeed, do you aim for a black stripe or a white stripe?"
The zebras took off, and we were all rolling on the ground laughing.
As the hunt went on, we decided to help Walter get a zebra.
My wife, being a kind lady, brought along a zebra blanket.
Very real looking.
And she also brought some stage blood.
We went out one morning without Walter.
We made a frame from branches, and put the blanket on it, ready for Walter to shot.
In the afternoon, we took Walter with us and headed towards that waterhole.
We stopped about half a mile away, and walked to the water hole.
Walking there, I said to Walter "Sable, buffalo or eland, I shoot. Anything else, you shoot"
"Zebra, zebra, that is what I want. Phineas said he saw fresh tracks there"
Roy was walking ahead, and were following.
Suddenly, he stopped and dropped down to the ground.
He looked back, and mouthed ZEBRA!
I passed the rifle to Walter, and let him go ahead.
They stalked the zebra, and Roy put the shooting sticks up.
Walter got on the stick, and fired.
The zebra did not move!
Ry told him to shoot again.
By this time I was rolling on the ground.
Laughing so loud.
I ran to the zebra, and put blood on the bullet holes.
We loaded our zebra after taking photos.
Half an hour later, we saw zebra running in the forest.
Walter would have non of it.
So I jumped out and ran after them, shooting one.
As we were loading him into the truck, Walter gets his zebra blanket out, lays it flat on the ground, and sits on it.
Saying "Hahahaha! Mine is better. Ready for use. Not bloody and smelly like yours!
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This started about lion, so I'll return to it. We bumped a lone male lion. He voiced his displeasure at being disturbed and retreated. We decided to track him. We bumped him a couple of times and he was vocal but headed to some thick stuff, small surprise. At one point, the trackers were trying to sort out the sign. It was a bit tense.
I was standing next to a very large clump of brush. We'd been standing there for some time and all of a sudden there was a rustling in that clump of brush. A rabbit burst out and I swung on it. Almost put a .416 calibre hole in it. The trackers thought that was the most hilarious thing they'd ever seen.
After that situation calmed down, we got back on the track. Had the lion in my crossshairs, but couldn't be sure he was old enough so let him walk.
Caught all kinds of hell about the rabbit. It was funny looking back.
Lions tend to make one stay on his toes.
We were having problems with lions in Chete, Zimbabwe, as they were giving us the run around.
We put a hippo bait in a valley between tow high hills.
A nice male started feeding there.
We made a sort of a one wall hide on top of one of the hills, as our approach is from the other side.
Early morning, we arrived to find him feeding.
He was actually standing up on his hind legs feeding when I shot him.
He dropped down growling, and disappeared before I could put another one in.
He kept growling for about a minute, then it went all quiet.
Roy asked how I felt about my shot, and I told him I did not think there should be any problem.
We went down the hill part way, and tried to find if we could see him.
We went around to the other hill, and tried that too.
No luck either.
We saw lots of blood, but the area was very rocky, with large boulders and deep holes between them.
Not an ideal place to try to find a wounded lion.
Went back to our original hill, and walked down to where the bait was.
We wanted to see if we can follow blood trails.
Rifles ready, and walking and looking very slowly.
Philip said "he is here"
Philip was behind us, and here was a hole between the rocks, which Roy and me passed less than two meters away from a few minutes earlier.
Luckily, he was stone dead.
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