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Tim Herald-Back from Africa, Part 2

August 18, 2010 by  
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Buffalo and bull elephants are just part of Tim’s hunting adventures over in Zimbabwe. Read about the the first 3 days of his epic hunt…filmed for Nosler’s Magnum TV show on The Outdoor Channel.

The Trip: My good friend Steve Love was the captain of the Delta flight from Atlanta to Joburg, and it was great to catch up. Steve and I have hunted around the US a bit together, and went to NZ once, but we don’t get to see each other nearly enough, and he is a top notch guy. I always feel good when I know he is in command of the big 777.

As stated before, my long time friends, Lee Britt and Skip Nantz were going along. Tom Jensen had to cancel out only 5 days prior to leaving. I hated that for him. This was to be Lee and Skip’s first DG hunts, and they were hunting buffalo and general PG, and Skip also had a sable add on. I knew this would be a great group to share camp with.

I got to meet Carl (SevenMagLtd) and his group of about ten folks before we boarded, and they were a great bunch of people. I know they were going to have a fun trip. They were shooting whatever they really liked, and no pressure. What a fun way to hunt for 10 days!

Captain Steve put me up in the cockpit to snap a photo before we taxied out to send to my wife. I am sure that made her feel all warm and fuzzy to see me behind the stick when I e-mailed it to her. The Delta flight from Atlanta to Joburg was fine; good food, very good service, not rough and pretty well on time. I got some sleep, Lee got a LOT of sleep, and we were ready to transfer to Zimbabwe.

Got to Harare, and none of the 3 of us got our guns. Myles picked us up at the airport, but we had the bad news for him. He did tell me that a good male leopard was feeding on my pre-baits, so I knew I wouldn’t sleep much that night. We were overnighting in Harare and went to the airport the next day and hoped that we would get our guns then, but NO. What to do?…We chartered on into Dande on a very nice Navajo around noon with no guns. Isn’t that great, you spend 2-3 months working with your guns and loads, and then that is all taken away due to airline incompetence. Isn’t traveling to hunt grand? What do you do? You shoot the camp guns and go on. No one could tell us where our bags/guns actually were despite numerous calls from the sat phone…very frustrating.

Skip and Lee were lucky. The 2 guns they were bringing matched the 2 guns they could use in camp. I was not so lucky, but Buzz did have guns for me. I told him that the first day, I would like to take it easy and hope our guns showed, so we decided to check leopard baits, maybe shoot more bait, and look around a little for Buff. I told my two partners in camp to shoot me some bait on their first day as well. Writing this in real time, so we will see how it goes.

Day 1: Well, since I am trying to write this as much as possible on the fly, “real time”, I guess there will be mood swings. When I went to bed last night, I was mad at the world. No one on either continent could give me any answers on my guns’ whereabouts, so I started off the day with that hanging over my head.

We decided, since no guns, we would concentrate on hanging baits, checking what was out, and if something came along, I would shoot with a camp gun. 10 minutes out of camp, we saw where a huge herd of buffalo had crossed the road, so we radioed Rich and Skip, told them about it, and continued on our way. So we checked some baits, had two hits by females, and we did a bit of switching around.

About 10:00AM, we saw a lot of vultures circling, and Buzz decided we should check it out. He guessed a lion kill, but you never know. As we made our way across a deep drainage, we found where a female leopard had her lair in some rocks. We continued on, and as we closed in on the target area, Buzz threw up the sticks, and told me there was a hyena below. It was mixed grass and woodlands, and I found the hyena at around 60 yards almost broadside. As I adjusted my grip on the rifle/sticks, it turned and looked at me, so I knew it would bolt any time. I centered the crosshair and touched the trigger, and all I saw were paws in the air.

On the shot, 3 other hyenas and a female leopard took off. When we walked down to find the hyena, there was a cow kudu half eaten, but no hyena. I was somewhat shocked, but then massive amounts of blood were there, and the hyena was 15 yards away dead with a nice shoulder shot. It wasn’t a huge hyena, but any hyena at 10:30 AM is a good one, and I was quite pleased.

We found out Skip had killed a nice buff out of the group we put them on, and we headed back to camp for lunch and to pick up more bait. I won’t spoil Skip’s story, but he killed a very nice 40” buff with very good drops. It is a beauty.

We spent the afternoon hanging new baits and the 3 trail cams I brought along, and leopard tracks were everywhere. At 4:30 we got a radio transmit from camp to announce the guns had been flown in my Myles’ father-in-law, and I felt the weight of the world was lifted off my shoulders.

We ended in a beautiful river bottom with our last bait hung, and a cold Castle on the way back to camp. We mildly celebrated Skip’s first buff that night before dinner, and we all made game plans for the next day. We are going to hunt buff in an open area that Buzz thought might give us a chance at some good video, if we could find buff there tomorrow. This was a very productive and enjoyable first day. I now have 8 leopard baits up and 2 guns in my chalet! Life is grand.

Day 2: Started the day at the range checking guns. Both were on, so we set off for the valley on the far side of the concession that Buzz felt we should try for buff as it is the most open place in Dande, and it would be good for video footage. As we got into the general area, we spotted a herd of elephant from the road, so we went over to do an approach and check for a tuskless. We walked up to about 30 yards of the 6, but all had teeth, so we departed.

It was 10:30 when we began our walk through the valleys, and the terrain was quite hilly and rugged. It was an area where Buzz had had to shoot an elephant in self-defense a few weeks back, and he felt like we would run into something.

After about 2 hours, Criton (Buzz’s tracker) spotted a single elephant from a high vantage we had climbed, and it was in the direction we were going anyway, so we figured we would eventually give it a look. We caught up with its track about 30 minutes later, and Buzz said it was a small bull. Ten minutes later, we were looking at the bull at 40 yards, and it was a dandy (with small feet). Buzz and Criton both guessed it at 60-65 lbs on the right and about 55 on the left. We watched him for a long time, and it was a special thing to be that close to an animal that was so magnificent.

We decided to move around a bit to his front to get a better look, as our side view wasn’t the best for video. His long tusks went into the grass as he stood relaxed, and when he began throwing dust over his back, we made a move.

We got on top of a huge rock in front of him, undetected, and I turned on my point and shoot camera after asking Buzz if it was OK. There was a tone when it came on, and the bull’s ears immediately flared, and he began a charge. Buzz yelled at him a few times, and when he was at 15 yards and coming like a locomotive, Buzz loosed a warning shot. That turned him, and he crashed off to our right. What a rush! Not only did we get to see a spectacular bull up close, but we had the fairly well indescribable experience of a bull elephant charge. Wow, my day was certainly complete.

We continued to walk the hills, and we continued to see elephant. We ended up looking over 7 different groups, but only saw one tuskless, and it was subadult.

About 5:00pm, Buzz told me he would like to make one last push to a river pool to check for buffalo, and it was about a 30-minute walk if I was up for it. I said, “let’s roll”, so off we went. When we got close to the pool, we found fresh buff sign, then fresh lion tracks. The lions have really been hammering the buff in Dande this year and making things difficult. Within a minute or two of seeing the tracks, we spotted a big male lion with a very nice ginger main on the far bank. He watched us for about a minute or so, and then he just walked away.

We figured he was following the buff, and since he went the other way, we decided to make an attempt to catch the buff before dark. We hustled along the river, up the far bank and into some high grass. The herd seemed to be moving toward the hills, and we really moved quickly.

After 15-20 minutes, Criton halted us just as we crested a hill, and as we glassed, we could see buff everywhere. We scanned many, and then spotted abuot 10 bulls all together around 100 yards below us. We slipped in to about 70 yards and saw one VERY wide bull, but he was soft. I told Buzz I would like to be closer, so with the wind right, we used small bushes to shield us, and we slowly made our way to about 40 yards. Most of the bulls had their heads in the grass feeding and we couldn’t see their horns enough to judge them. I had told Buzz, I just wanted a completely hard- bossed bull, and I didn’t care about spread, etc. I am not going to mount another buff, so the experience is what it is all about.

Little by little, we could see a few of the bulls’ horns, and finally we both saw one toward the left of the group that was feeding facing us, and it was obvious he was completely hard. Buzz told me to take him, and I was about the shoot him through the neck that was down and straight on, when he looked up and turned to his right. I centered my crosshairs where the neck met the shoulder, and sent a 500 grain Nosler solid his way. The bull absolutely crumbled, and I must say, I was surprised that he went nowhere. The vast majority of buff run no matter where they are hit, and this bull didn’t take so much as a step. The bullet entered on his left, just at the junction of neck and shoulder, and went through to the opposite shoulder.

He was just what we thought, a good completely hard-bossed bull that was basically fused in the middle. He wasn’t overly wide and didn’t have a huge boss, but he was a great bull to us at the end of one of the most rewarding days of hunting of my life. He was also in an open setting for the video camera. We had walked for 7 straight hours, up and down countless rugged hills in an incredibly beautiful part of Africa, seen over 50 elephants, had an encounter and charge from a 60 pound plus bull, and killed a good quality Cape buff. Does hunting get much better than that? If it does, I haven’t experienced much of it.

We made our way back to camp tonight to find that Skip had shot a nice zebra and followed a huge sable in the morning, and Lee had played cat and mouse with 2 herds of buff in the jesse. We are all having a splendid time, and now with the buff in the salt, Buzz and I can concentrate on tuskless and Mr. Spots. 8 days left…

Day 3: Good day, but nothing in the salt. We looked at 40-50 more elephant, and a couple up close approaches, but no tuskless. We ended the day following a young bull down a dry river, going to a spring we wanted to check, and we finished the day watching him. Mid-day we hung a zebra leg in another spot Buzz has been wanting to try for a while. Lee killed a heck of a nice buff today, so we have all 3 taken our buffalo on the first 3 days of the hunt.

To be continued…

COMMENTS

One Response to “Tim Herald-Back from Africa, Part 2”

  1. swank says:

    Bloody Hell, 40 yards with a 500 grain? What the heck? He could’ve attacked a buffalo with a knife, IF he had the guts to hunt like the Bushmen. 500 grain? What’s he shooting at, a buffalo or a T-Rex? I detest canned type of hunting where bait is hung to attract animals? This is not hunting – more so, as the Hyena Tim Herald shot can’t even be eaten, so what’s the use then?

    P.S I personally hunt, but consider my hunting ethical and what I hunt I’m prepared to eat!

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