Animals Seen: elephant, buffalo, hippo, crocodile, kudu, zebra, eland impala, grysbok, waterbuck, warthog, baboon, Bushbuck and probably several others that I forgot to mention.
Flights: Ethiopian Airlines from Europe to Johannesburg via Addis. SA Airlink from Johannesburg to Harare.
I stumbled upon a cancelation hunt for a buffalo, advertised here on AR, and even though it was quite short notice it fit my calendar and after a few messages back and forth with Buzz Charlton of CM Safaris it was all set and as luck would have it I could also take an elephant bull at an exaggerated trophy fee if I came across one I liked. I had hunted with CMS once before so I felt sure the experience would be a pleasant one. To minimize the risk of potential problems getting there and back with my rifle I contacted Gracy Travel and they handled all my reservations and the required paperwork for me. A small premium pricewise but it turned out to be more than worth it as the assistance I got during my transit through Johannesburg airport made things as smooth as butter, even on my way home when the entire airport was hit by a power cut just as I landed and most other passengers were left with a lot of questions and no answers trying to navigate the process of finding their luggage and finding their way through the airport to connecting flights etc.
The Hunt I do not possess the literary skill to compose an in depth and pleasant read covering all the details of my hunt. Suffice to say it was indeed the most intense and gratifying hunting experience I have had the pleasure of having and I highly doubt I will have one quite on par with it ever again. The elephant bull being the absolute highlight for me.
Nyakasanga is a large hunting concession without any villages, cattle or signs of things man made apart from a few dirt roads and some camps along the Zambezi River. We saw lots of game animals every day, plains game as well as buffalo, elephant and even lions on a few occasions. As some of you already know Buzz’s trackers, Criton and Nyati, are true magicians when it comes to following animal tracks. We found the buffalo I eventually shot after tracking him for more than two hours. We started following a single buffalo track crossing the road. It turned out this lone dagga boy had then followed a large herd of buffalo, his tracks on top of the tracks of maybe 100 other buffalo, on ground covered with leaves and grass. Criton and Nyati managed to stay on his track and locate were his tracks eventually left the tracks of the herd enabling us to then find him resting on his own by a pan of water where I managed to make a shot that put an end to that amazing hunt. Seeing these two brilliant men track is definitely one of the real high lights of my safari.
My elephant was also taken after a long and absolutely fantastic tracking job by the crew. Situation dictated that the initial shot on the ele had to be a body shot so he did not go down immediately but took off running and when we started to track him again, not seeing much blood, that eerie feeling of uncertainty whether the shoots were good or not was kept in check only by the knowledge that Criton and Nyati were indeed capable of tracking this bull for days if need be. I was sure we would eventually find him and be able to finish what I had started. It how ever turned out the elephant bull had only traveled a few hundred yards and he was very sick when we came up to him again. A few more shots quickly put him on the ground. I think most people find elephant hunting to be an emotional experience and I can assure you that the hours spent following, engaging and finally once again catching up to my elephant and end the hunt successfully was more of an emotional roller-coaster than I can even begin to explain. I might add that my Waterbuck too was hunted by tracking. We also tracked a Kudu bull for a few hours, through thick brush, but were unable to see him as he probably could hear us approaching and he then slowly kept walking away from us. No trophy taken but unforgettable memories and a great hunting experience non the less.
Summary I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of my hunt in Nyakasanga. The tented camp on the bank of the Zambezi River was great and so was the food and all the camp staff. Like I said earlier, this is a remote and wild area. I had elephants right outside my tent several nights, eating from the trees in camp. Some mornings there were tracks of lion paws in the sand in front of my tent entrance and we also had leopards right in camp most night. I had the pleasure to be accompanied on my hunt by not only Buzz and his fantastic team, Criton, Nyati and Eddie, but also by learner hunter David Mann. David filmed my hunt for me and I will be forever grateful for the memories he captured for me that way. David and I also shared the experience of being charged by a buffalo cow as we sat by our dead buffalo bull waiting for the rest of the team to cut a recovery road to get the buffalo out of the bush. We both ran hard to get out of harms way and fortunately the buffalo cow did not follow through with her charge. It turned out she had most likely been attacked by a lion a bit earlier, we saw tracks of a lion following the herd of buffalo we tracked our buffalo bull trough, and she was bleeding from her back and side.
I think the fact that I highly recommend hunting with CMS is already obvious but if a potential client wants more of my input, I’ll try to answer any questions.
English is not my first language and to make things worse I am also dyslectic. So please forgive me for butchering the language. I hope you can understand most of what I wanted to share. I’ll try to add some pictures below.
Posts: 90 | Location: Sweden | Registered: 03 March 2008
Regarding Nyakasanga vs Dande, I think Nyakasanga is more of a wilderness area and my impression is that game animal of all species are more abundant there than in Dande but Dande still offers great, hard hunting at a more affordable price. (Don’t take my word for it as I have never hunted Dande but I hunted the neighboring Chewore concession 10 years ago.)
I agree that the picture of Eddie by the buffalo indeed captures his happy, smiling sole in a nice way. The rifle he holds is Buzz’s Heym 88B 500 NE.
Posts: 90 | Location: Sweden | Registered: 03 March 2008
Adding my congratulations to comments already made and thanks for a very informative and enjoyable report. I love hunting Zim and CMS provides a fine experience. Hoping, hoping to get back there again sometime.
Hunting.... it's not everything, it's the only thing.
Posts: 1463 | Location: New Zealand's North Island | Registered: 13 November 2014