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Father-Son Hunt with CMS - Leopard, Croc & Sable
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Outfitter: Charlton and McCallum Safaris
Area: Dande North (Ward 1)
PH: Rich Tabor
Camera: Justin Drainer
Dates: 01-14 July, 2016
Rifle: .375 H&H
Bullets: Barnes TSX and Northfork PP

It was an easy decision to book with CMS following our 2014 safari. As a family we lacked a leopard and a croc to complete the Dangerous 7, so we decided to attempt it along the Zambezi River with Rich and Justin. Since we would be in an area with sable, we booked that as well but considered it the lowest priority and lowest likelihood. Buzz and Myles set us up for Matombo camp, which we had visited in 2014 and vowed then to return. We looked forward to the sights and sounds of the river.

This time we tried Emirates through Dubai at the recommendation of Mr. Jines, bypassing Johannesburg. If Zimbabwe is your destination, I can certainly recommend this route – especially from places such as Houston and Dallas where your first leg goes directly to Dubai and avoids domestic connections. The service was good and there was no drama with the firearm transit authorization, even with me having Hunter, a minor, carrying ammunition as well. The only issue we had was they wanted to weigh our ammunition in Houston. Mine was 4.8 KG, but he wanted it placed on the same scale the luggage gets weighed on. When I took my boxes out of the case and placed them on the scale, it showed 5.4 KG. After a short argument, he placed the boxes on the next scale and it showed 4.5 KG. He weighed Hunter’s ammo on the second scale and pronounced us good.

Since it’s a long layover in Dubai, Emirates puts you up in a hotel. We grabbed a shower and hit the Dubai Mall and its aquarium and took some photos of the Burj Khalifa. Hit the bed, but at 04:30 we were both wide awake again and Hunter said he was hungry. Fortunately for him it was Ramadan and the breakfast buffet opened early.

Buzz met us in Harare and took us to the Amanzi Lodge. After a quick shower, we joined Buzz and Richard Harland for dinner. It’s always a pleasure spending time with Richard. He could easily dominate any conversation with the experiences he’s had, but he never does. Unfortunately Brita was not feeling well at all, so we didn’t get to meet her. I did, however, get to collect my third painting by her.

Quick flight into Pedza the next morning, and Hunter shot the .375 at their range. Two shots, both in the bullseye, so we bagged the rifle and headed for Matombo. The view was as beautiful as I remembered, and the grunts of the hippos and cries of the fish eagles where welcomed sounds.

It didn’t take us too long to decide a hippo would be the quickest way to solve our bait needs for the safari, so we soon found ourselves barefoot and crawling through hippo tunnels and wading across shallow sand flats. We eventually closed in on a small pod and Hunter made a perfect side brain shot. A couple Zambians started shouting “Hallo” from across the river. We ignored them, so they paddled across, fighting the current, to where we were waiting. All the conversations were in Shona, so I caught none of it (Justin says he’ll provide subtitles in the video), but evidently they claimed we hailed them across to help. Our council scout, after some reportedly derogatory comments, sent them back across the river. They later returned to the location where we were pulling out the hippo and cutting it up, this time with a third person who I assume was their negotiator. He didn’t make any more progress with the council scout than the original two.

The hippo was towed to the fishing lodge upstream of the camp and pulled up the boat ramp. We now had over 8 very large baits for leopard and croc hunting, and after Hunter threw a small piece back to the river gods, we had the makings of my favorite meal while on safari – hippo tail. We also retained a huge slab of backstrap for biltong.

The next day was dedicated to baiting. Even though I have never leopard hunted before, the first bait site seemed like the perfect location. We drove and cut our way a significant distance up a river bed until it became too rocky to continue. Several elephant paths crossed the area, and within a short distance from the tree there was still some surface water. Sable, buffalo and multiple other tracks were present, as well as leopard tracks. A downwind location for a blind, in the rocks above the bait tree, was available 60 yards away. It just seemed right, and a hippo leg was dedicated to this spot. We set 5 baits this day. Rough but beautiful country along the edge of the mountains.

The next day we set two more baits closer to the Zambezi, then checked the 5 set the previous day. The game camera caught pictures of a male leopard feeding on our first bait site, the one that “felt right”. A full ½ of the second bait had been eaten by a young male lion who climbed a considerable tree to get to the hippo leg. We cut the remainder down and took it with us. The third bait, another hippo leg, was completely eaten by some lionesses. Apparently they didn’t get the memo either that lions don’t climb. Baits 4 and 5 had not been hit.

We took the boat out while Dube, Norest and Teddias set the remainder of the second bait at a new location. Saw a handful of crocs, 11' the largest, a herd of cow elephants, and several hippo out of the water. Using slices of the hippo heart for bait, we started drift fishing back. I managed to hook a vundu on the edge of the Zambian island upstream of the camp. After almost spooling me, it hung me up in the roots and reeds on the edge of the channel. I eventually decided it had won, so I pointed the rod at it and pulled with the intent of breaking the line (50 lb braid). Somehow it came free and the fight resumed. Rich got his hand in its mouth and latched its lower jaw, landing it. He guessed it passed the 50 lb mark. After a few photos, I patted it on the head and returned it to the Zambezi.

Checking, setting and moving baits continued. In a short period of time we had 2 males and 2 females feeding, all at different locations. We also took down a rotten lion bait for another party and set it for crocodile. We had seen a truly monster crocodile on the Zambian island, 15 ft class, and as we were setting the rotten lion bait, another large male surfaced a few yards away. It’s pretty unnerving when a head that size appears so close to where you have been wading.

On day 6, as we were making our bait rounds, we saw a herd of zebra. They ran down into a ravine, but there were also some horned animals running with them. We continued on to the head of the ravine. The truck was parked and we started down the opposite ridge with the hopes of either intercepting the zebra as they crossed this ridge, or seeing them if they traveled down the ravine into the valley below. As we progressed down the ridge, the horned followers became known – a herd of sable bulls! The stalk took on a new sense of urgency, but as we closed the distance, the zebra spooked and bolted. The sable followed their lead, but the last one, a mature bull, hesitated and looked back. Rich already had Hunter on the sticks, and Hunter dropped him in his tracks. The bull never regained his feet, and the celebration commenced. We were taking pictures of the trophy I had the least amount of confidence in taking.

Day 7 found us at bait site 1, the one that “felt right”, downloading the game camera. The male had not fed the night before, but had fed from 07:00 – 09:00 that morning. We were reviewing pictures at 09:45, and suspected he wasn’t far away. Tracks indicated another male may have interrupted the previous night’s activities. Rich decided it was time to build a blind, and in a short period of time a very impressive blind was constructed above the bait, nestled into the boulders, while Hunter helped clear shooting lanes to the tree. We went down river and had lunch and a nap, then walked back in at 15:30 and sat quietly in the blind.

Everything became extremely quiet around 17:45, then a baboon starting yelling upriver near the water source. Both Rich and Justin knew he was on his way. He passed below us on an elephant trail, then came into the tree from our left. He sat near the base for several minutes, then finally jumped up onto the branch. By now it was around 18:20 and Rich had Hunter get ready, then he shined a light on him. Hunter couldn't find him in the scope at first with the light, but he finally did. The cat looked the opposite way at his shadow in the river bed, then started eating again. Rich told Hunter to take him when he stood up. Hunter fired and the cat jumped 30+ ft from the tree. We could hear him breathing hard 3-4 times from the same place, then silence. It took a bit to find him, very well camouflaged in the grass, but he was dead 20 yards from the tree. The celebration commenced, as did the photos. The singing and beating of the drum started as we drove back into camp. What a fortunate leopard hunt, the first night we sat in a blind. What a great shot, top of the heart and both lungs. This marked the completion of the Big 5 for us as a family.

Day 8 started just a bit later, with the intent of taking down the rest of the baits. Before we reached the first bait to be taken down, however, the guys spotted a decent kudu bull still hoping for a receptive female in a small group of cows. Rich got Hunter set up on the sticks on a ridge overlooking the river bottom they were in. The bull walked through a small opening around 150 yards away, and Hunter dropped him as he walked. The bait run was suspended and we hauled him back to camp. My other favorite meal while on safari – kudu tenderloin.

Crocodile then became the sole focus, and we searched and baited from the Zambian island to the convergence of the Luangwa River. The conditions were not ideal, windy and cloudy every day, but we continued to see decent crocs and they demolished our baits despite the cooler temps. Finally, on day 12, we saw a decent male we had first seen on day 8 in a favorable location to stalk and shoot. Rich estimated the male to be between 12 and 13 ft. He got Hunter set up prone, but the croc was quartering towards him with its mouth open and the lower portion of its neck in the water. We waited, but because of the risk of a local fisherman disturbing the croc, Rich described this difficult brain shot. Hunter clicked the safety off and took the shot. The croc’s nose buried into the mud and his tail started swinging side-to-side, moving him forward. Hunter placed his second shot through the onside shoulder, and the bullet obviously broke the spine because all tail movement immediately ceased. Rich had him put another through the heart-lungs, then run up and hit him one more time. The croc measured 12.58’ … Rich’s ability to judge crocs is quite impressive. The Dangerous 7 was now complete!

Day 13 was spent taking a pontoon boat up the Zambezi well above The Gates, catching some bait fish, and then drifting and fishing for tigers on the way back. We had several runs, but the tigers are finicky in the cold water and kept dropping the bait. I managed to land one, as did Justin. Justin took possession of a drone when we arrived, and he quickly mastered this during our safari. The drone adds an entirely new perspective to the filming. On this particular day, while we were under a tree eating lunch next to the river, Justin was harassing some hippos which were out on the bank with the drone. He suddenly started shouting “No, No” and running towards us while bringing the drone down. A martial eagle had taken a very keen interest in the drone and was coming down fast. Once Justin recovered the drone and ducked under the tree, the eagle slowly regained altitude and moved on.

As was the case in 2014, this safari exceeded our every expectation. It was an unusual combination of targeted species, but it worked out very well. CMS runs a first class operation. Their staff are second to none, and their camps are well-maintained and very comfortable. I applaud and support their dedication and commitment to anti-poaching and wildlife protection. Rich again proved to be an outstanding PH and a perfect match for Hunter and myself, and Justin has taken his filming to the next level. It was a pleasure seeing Norest, Teddias and Dube in action again – masters of their trade. I miss being there already.

Jerry B, July 2016































































































JEB Katy, TX

Already I was beginning to fall into the African way of thinking: That if
you properly respect what you are after, and shoot it cleanly and on
the animal's terrain, if you imprison in your mind all the wonder of the
day from sky to smell to breeze to flowers—then you have not merely
killed an animal. You have lent immortality to a beast you have killed
because you loved him and wanted him forever so that you could always
recapture the day - Robert Ruark
 
Posts: 250 | Registered: 20 June 2012Reply With Quote
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Fantastic report and great trophies - way to go! Your camps bring back many memories of hunting out of Matombo and Mukanga years back with Gavin Rorke and Chifuti. It is just a great area, and you certainly made the most out of your hunt there.
 
Posts: 1362 | Location: Virginia | Registered: 29 September 2011Reply With Quote
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Wow, heckuva safari and that is a REALLY nice Valley cat!

Well done to you two and CMS continues to deliver.
 
Posts: 712 | Location: Helena, Montana | Registered: 28 October 2009Reply With Quote
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Great trip and trophies. Super photos. Thanks for sharing.
 
Posts: 3713 | Registered: 03 March 2005Reply With Quote
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Excellent report and trophies. CMS can really make it happen!
 
Posts: 2434 | Registered: 10 March 2006Reply With Quote
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Congrats to you both , and also the team at CMS as well!

Another great safari for you guys again in the Zambezi Valley

Matombo camp is my favourite of all in the Valley that I have stayed been to.

Nothing beats sundowners and a cigar looking out over the river delta!

Well done!!

Cheers

Nick
 
Posts: 647 | Location: EU | Registered: 05 September 2010Reply With Quote
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Excellent report and pictures.

Mike


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Posts: 6898 | Location: Cocoa Beach, Florida | Registered: 22 July 2010Reply With Quote
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Great report and trip.
Love the chaos & mayhem badge rotflmo
 
Posts: 217 | Location: South Africa | Registered: 12 November 2011Reply With Quote
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Very nice report. Sounds like a great hunt.


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Posts: 284 | Registered: 28 June 2011Reply With Quote
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fantastic. Huge congrats!


Good Hunting,

Tim Herald
Worldwide Trophy Adventures
tim@trophyadventures.com
 
Posts: 2711 | Location: Lexington, KY | Registered: 13 January 2005Reply With Quote
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Super photos and report. Nice to share it with your son.
 
Posts: 638 | Location: Idaho/Wyoming/South Dakota | Registered: 08 February 2006Reply With Quote
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Well done Jerry. Glad everything worked out well on the travel and your hunting results were clearly outstanding. tu2


Mike

"Living dangerously is twice blessed -- it blesses the moment with elation; it blesses the after-day with warm memories." ~Major P.J. Pretorius

"The man who declares that he is not afraid of elephants is either an ignoramus or a liar." ~Baron Bror von Blixen-Finecke

". . . when a man has shot an elephant his life is full." ~John Alfred Jordan

"Danger not only adds zest to all forms of sport, it also tends to sharpen the faculties and to bring into focus all that is to be seen and heard in a forest. Danger, which is understood, and which you are prepared to face, does not in any way distract from pleasure." ~Jim Corbett

". . . he wasn't aware of it then, by the time he left he had been infected by a disease known to many born outside the continent as the call of Africa -- an incurable disease indeed. ~ Peter Stiff

 
Posts: 15732 | Location: Texas | Registered: 03 January 2006Reply With Quote
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Well done! Your report and pics are wonderful! You all have to be very proud of the quality of your trophies!

Best regards, D. Nelson
 
Posts: 2182 | Registered: 17 July 2003Reply With Quote
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nhoro,

Absolutely top notch on everything. Great shooting, nice trophies, beautiful pix and a super write up. Big congrats to all.

Mark



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Posts: 10788 | Location: LAS VEGAS, NV USA | Registered: 04 August 2002Reply With Quote
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Great report and pictures. Love the safari shirt.

Cheers
Jim


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Posts: 6579 | Location: Alaska | Registered: 05 February 2008Reply With Quote
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Wow! Great trophies and pictures. Congrats on a super safari. Well done!
 
Posts: 1110 | Location: Colorado | Registered: 26 May 2010Reply With Quote
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Will echo the other comments, great hunt and well done report. Thanks for posting... and that was a damn big croc for such a little boat! Not sure I would have had the stones to hitch a ride with you guys.


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Posts: 6388 | Location: Victoria, Texas | Registered: 30 March 2003Reply With Quote
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Outstanding report! It looks like you had a blast.


Frank



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Posts: 11010 | Location: Bakersfield CA. USA | Registered: 30 December 2002Reply With Quote
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quote:
Originally posted by Frostbit:
Great report and pictures. Love the safari shirt.

Cheers
Jim


I assume the "Chaos & Mayhem" on the shirt is a spoof of the CMS logo?
 
Posts: 755 | Location: Chicago, IL | Registered: 02 May 2008Reply With Quote
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Jerry and Hunter- what a pleasure it was having you guys out again! Great report and great pics to go with your super safari!

Your little dvd from Justin is simply fantastic and really a trophy in its own right!

I LOVE the shirts Jerry! Please can I have one!!!!! Thanks again guys!!! Cheers Buzz

ps on a bright note Brita is out of hospital and recovering well.
 
Posts: 875 | Location: Zimbabwe | Registered: 22 June 2009Reply With Quote
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Very well done and your pics are outstanding, congrats!


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Every morning the Zebra wakes up knowing it must outrun the fastest Lion if it wants to stay alive. Every morning the Lion wakes up knowing it must outrun the slowest Zebra or it will starve. It makes no difference if you are a Zebra or a Lion; when the Sun comes up in Africa, you must wake up running......

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Posts: 6237 | Location: Tennessee | Registered: 18 December 2006Reply With Quote
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quote:
Originally posted by Bud Meadows:
quote:
Originally posted by Frostbit:
Great report and pictures. Love the safari shirt.

Cheers
Jim


I assume the "Chaos & Mayhem" on the shirt is a spoof of the CMS logo?


It is. The idea surfaced around the campfire in 2014. I won't name the one responsible! I brought 4 - our "team shirts" - but wearing them never coincided with a trophy pic. Regardless, we all had a good laugh - even Myles when he stopped by Matombo camp.

If I didn't respect them as much as I do, I wouldn't have gone to those lengths to add a bit of humor! I must say it took quite a bit of convincing to get the gal at TAG to do that stitch!


JEB Katy, TX

Already I was beginning to fall into the African way of thinking: That if
you properly respect what you are after, and shoot it cleanly and on
the animal's terrain, if you imprison in your mind all the wonder of the
day from sky to smell to breeze to flowers—then you have not merely
killed an animal. You have lent immortality to a beast you have killed
because you loved him and wanted him forever so that you could always
recapture the day - Robert Ruark
 
Posts: 250 | Registered: 20 June 2012Reply With Quote
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What a trip!
I was there last year at this time.
Brings back great memories
 
Posts: 654 | Location: Michigan USA | Registered: 27 September 2008Reply With Quote
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Excellent and you did very well on your chosen animals. Not many areas where you can take good quality trophies of Sable, Leopard and Croc.

Some nice pictures to boot.


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Posts: 7300 | Location: Zambia | Registered: 10 April 2009Reply With Quote
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Thanks for sharing ....


I wrote yesterday some more comments from my Samsung mobile. For some reason it does not get registered...

Anyhow - wonderful to read another father and son report hunting with CMS. I am longing back for sure and cannot wait until July next year for the Viking Safari. My son says he wants to join me meeting Rich again as he did in October 2014 Smiler

Counting the days...


Morten


The more I know, the less I wonder !
 
Posts: 852 | Location: Oslo area, Norway | Registered: 26 June 2013Reply With Quote
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Great narrative and great pics. Thanks so much for sharing. Made my day.
 
Posts: 138 | Location: Austin, Texas | Registered: 05 March 2010Reply With Quote
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Awesome Safari! Rich Tabor is the cat man!
Brings back lots of memoriesSmiler
 
Posts: 1102 | Location: Sinton, Texas | Registered: 08 November 2006Reply With Quote
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Posts: 8249 | Location: Oklahoma City - Thunder Up!!! | Registered: 12 February 2004Reply With Quote
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Well done to all, Always fun being on safari with Tabor,Tedias and Chuck Norest.... Super pics there Justin Smiler
 
Posts: 111 | Location: Zimbabwe | Registered: 19 June 2015Reply With Quote
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Great Safari and excellent pictures, thanks for sharing with us.


Ahmed Sultan
 
Posts: 705 | Registered: 29 June 2007Reply With Quote
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