Back from the Zambezi Pics

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Jan 28, 2003

About a year ago my old College buddy Pat called me as he was interested in a buffalo hunt. I set him up along with several other friends and myself to hunt the Dande north in Zimbabwe a vast and wild stretch of Africa that is truly a slice of the old and an experience to be savored for years to come. I’ll do my best to immortalize it a bit here. H&Hhunter July 26th 2004.

This was the first morning of what was to be a productive and exciting hunt in the Rift Valley of Zimbabwe just south of the Zambezi River. We had be driving on the truck for several hours when I happened to glance to the right and along the hill side some 500 meters off the black rocks I’d been dully gazing at between the trees suddenly materialized into the familiar and readily recognizable form that they were.

Nyati!!! The word came from my mouth with an explosive and excited toneation. The trackers all looked at me in surprise and disbelief as if I’d just said Dinosaur!! They had not seen the Buff yet and were not used to the mere hunters seeing game before they did.

The Land cruiser stopped in a cloud of dust and binoculars were unleashed. The hill side above the spring held some 100 or so buffalo on it. I had decided that since this was Pats first trip to Africa that he would have first crack at buffalo.

We disembarked and hastily planned a stalk. Pat and PH Lance Nesbitt formulated an approach and soon we were circling down wind on this large herd of buffalo. About half way up the long slope to where the main body of buffalo were Lance placed Renee in my Care and instructed us to follow at about 50 Yards or so as the group was too large to stalk into with so many alert prying eyes watching for danger in this large herd.

I took Renee in tow and found a high spot in which we could observe the stalk. To make a long story short Pat and Lance skillfully stalked into the periphery of the herd and singled out a nice old bull. After about an hour of cat and mouse pat was able to stick a 500gr Woodliegh soft into this bull. The buff was quartering away and Pat hit him perfectly on the first shot nearly knocking him over with his Winchester Mod 70 in .458Lott. The bull started to run and Pat stuck him twice more once through the heart /lungs and the final shot spined the old bull ending his mortal worries. It turns out this bull, the first of trip was just at 40" wide with solids tops and a good sweep. Not bad for a first bull....Way to go Pat!

A great first day and some fine hunting and shooting. The only thing that was a bit amiss was on skinning the bull we found Pat's first bullet a 500 gr Woodliegh soft, had come uncorked after hitting a rib on the entrance and nearly broke in two. NOT the kind of performance one would expect from a Woodliegh.
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Most of you probably don’t know this and I hate admit it. But Warthogs have been my nemesis. The gray ghost never gave me any trouble and I was able to put one in the record book with a bow less than a year ago. Nyala just fall from the woods into my sights like Jack rabbits in spring. Buff, every time I turn around. But I’ll be damned if I could kill a male warthog in the last five years and multiple trips to the dark continent. The best I’d been able to do was one little under nourished female that I stuck with an arrow mainly out of spite last summer. The Warthog has been as elusive to me as a trophy sasquatch.

Well by golly I broke the spell this time and did it up right….

Not much to tell here really we were driving back to camp when Cindisou the tracker looked at me and grunted out the word “N’giri†Shona for warthog and pointed to a spot in the brush I was just able to make out the south end of a northerly headed hog disappearing into the brush. I slapped the roof of the truck grabbed my trusty old .375 and with sweaty palms and shortened breath headed into the Jesse to do battle with ole N’giri MANO Y MANO.

N’giri had run into a thicket of thorns and thought he was invisible in fact if he didn’t have so much bone hanging out of his face we wouldn’t have spotted him at all. The white tusk gave it away and I shot him on the point of the shoulder at about 60 yards with a 270gr X bullet. At the shot the hog ran off into the tall grass and vanished. Everyone said I hit him good. After several minutes of searching we hadn’t found ole N’giri and I was starting to have doubts about my shooting. I went to the spot where the pig was standing and could find no blood at all.

It was to my great relief when Lance whooped and announced that “You just shot MR. Pig buddy†. He had found the hog in the long grass not 50 yards from the shot. The reason that Mr. Pig wasn’t bleeding was that he literally had no heart left to pump the blood and had done his death charge on adrenaline only. I couldn’t help myself and immediately started singing “Akuna Matata†on the short recovery back to the truck. That is one hell of a nice Warthog even if I do say so myself!!!
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As much as I'd love to recount this wonderfull hunt to you all I wasn't there so I'll just give you the down and dirty.

After several hours and a great stalk Lynette was able to place a shot on this gerogeous bull at less than 10 yards. She hit him with her .375H&H and killed the bull with one shot sending a 350Gr Woodleigh protected point through the top of huis heart.

This was Lynettes first buffalo and I think we should all congratulate her on a stupendous job, fine shooting Lynette. And since you live in Africa remember these words...

"Greg please come and hunt with me."


Good job and your english is fantastic So "Forget about it"

(Sorry guys inside joke, oh and shes married to 320Lb South African who's light rifle is a .500 Jeffery and rugby is his "fun" sport so don't even ask..)
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This was Renee's first impala and her second ever animal hunted. This was Renee's first hunt and she killed everythuing she shot with one bullet. I guess Pat is as a good an instructor as he is a rifleman.
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This was the first animal Renee ever put cross hairs on. Akuna Matata..

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The elephant.

I did not come to Zimbabwe with the express desire to hunt an elephant. The situation is this thus however. There is a huge over population of elephant in many regions of Africa at the moment. Countries such as Zimbabwe do not have the resources to take care of the problem..Read “cullingâ€. So by taking a non trophy elephant you are helping with the population problem. Supplying needed revenue into the local economies by a paying a trophy fee, by giving the carcass to the local villages or in this case 4 local villages. The natives keep the meat for food the skin for leather and are allowed to sell all kinds of products from the bone and hair. Not one ounce of any of the animals shot on this trip went to waste, everything was recovered and the elephant is an extra bonus due to the income derived from the various products.

In any case ,

We did not start the day off with elephant in mind and I had stated that I wouldn’t shoot any elephant unless it was old dry and tuskless. A total write off as a trophy and tuskless elephants are generally aggressive towards other elephants and people. It was explained to me that the chances of finding just such an elephant were slim at best. Kind of like finding a 70lb tusker. They are around but not real common.

The day started off chasing buffalo. After several stalks without success we found ourselves many miles from the nearest road and it was decided to send a tracker back to the truck while we took a “shortcut’ to the next nearest road about 5 KM to the north. The short cut turned out to be a hell hike through some of Africa’s steepest and thorniest country side. After several hours and lots of blood loss we found ourselves on the road waiting for the land cruiser and the much anticipated lunch box.

The land cruiser finally crawled up the long track and found us standing in the shade of a large old Mahogany tree. The driver was excitedly motioning Dean Kendal to come and speak with him. A long and animated conversation took place in a smattering of Shona and Intabelle. The only thing I was able to pick up was the repeated word N’zou, Shona for elephant.

After the conversation Dean turned to my and recounted that Witness the tracker had spotted several elephant down the road about 2 km and that there was an ancient tuskless cow with them and that we should really go and have a look. I agreed and down the road we went.

After arriving at the place of the last visual contact we left the truck and went looking for spoor with the idea of cutting wind on the elephant and sneaking into the herd from down wind and trying to pick out this old cow. It didn’t work out that way.

About 500 meters into the hike I noticed that the large gray thing that I had been looking at was an elephants rump when the tail swished. I quickly gathered Dean and pointed to the large pachyderm not 80 yards from us and directly down wind. Dean turned to me with a look of disgust and said “We’re buggered they’ve got out windâ€. We decided to circle anyway just see if the reports of this dry old cow were accurate. .Several hundred meters later we watched a gray back moving through the trees and for just a brief moment were able to make out the hollowed temples of an ancient old elephant and as reported she was a tuskless a genetic deformity that for some reason is relatively common to this region.

While the wind was wrong and elephants were already aware of a presence we decided to just circle to a large termite hill and try to get a visual on the herd to ascertain the number and direction of travel for a latter date.

Just as we came around to the termite hill we noticed a young bull probably around 14 years old or so standing in a thicket of thorn. We froze and waited as the elephant was definitely nervous but it couldn’t make out where the danger was. Dean leaned over and whispered “If they charge stay on my me and run like hellâ€.

After a short eternity the young bull started to meander around and relax that is when the old cow came out from behind the mahogany thicket she had been standing in. Dean looked at her and turned to me and said “we should really try and take this ele†I agreed and we started a stalk with swirling winds and little or no cover. When we approached the 40 yard mark the cow became aware of our position and slapped her ears making a bull whip like cracking noise she then lifted her trunk pinned her ears back and started shifting her weight back and forth and side to side. The body language of a highly irritated elephant. Dean pointed to his temple and whispered when she turns take her with a side brain shot we can’t get any closer.

When she finally turned sideways the .470 double smoothly came to my shoulder the safety slid off with a dull click and the front bead rested just in front of the old cows ear along the hollowed out temple of her skull. I squeezed the back trigger and watched a puff of dust erupt from the old cows head. At the shot she sat down and started to roll over but caught her self before she completly lost her balance. Dean immediately pumped two shots into her shoulder and I let her have the right barrel into the shoulder as well. I opened the action and slammed two fresh 500 gr solids into the breeches and slammed the action shut . The rifle once again returned to my shoulder the front sight once again found the slot just forward of the ear. I fired and the elephants trunk flew up into the air and her hind leg went out straight as she collapsed to the ground a classic reaction to the side brain shot. All of this shooting had taken place in the period of less than 3 seconds. Dean hollered to “reload†if they come run like hell and don’t shoot unless you have to. We waited for several minutes with rifles at the ready the young bull made a perfunctory attempt to charge but decided that escape was the best option. May times when shooting an elephant out of a herd they will group charge and try to hunt down the trouble makers. To my great relief today wasn’t one of those days

My first shot had gone slightly low knocking the elephant out the procedure is that if the elephant doesn’t fall to the brain shot your next shot should go to the shoulder and that is what we did.

In any case the hunt was exciting and we had just got lucky that the elephants hadn’t left the area we think that the wind was swirling around enough that the elephants couldn’t pin out position. After the dust settled we approached this giant old matriarch a sullen quiet overcame our small party as we all reflected on the life of this elephant who was probably 20 years the senior to anyone in our small party. After saying a few words Dean got on the radio and called the camp to tell them to gather a recovery crew. We had a long day ahead of us and we spent it helping recover the elephant.

It’ll be a long time if ever before I ever shoot another elephant.
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I would just like to write a brief synopsis of Pat’s Kudu. But first let me tell you a little about Pat. Pat is a shooters shooter. He is an expert with a pistol a shotgun and while he doesn’t claim rifleman status he leaves 99.9% of all rifle men I know in the dust. He works a bolt so fast and hard you’d think that the gun he shoots is gas operated I’m not kidding. Pat can flat out put the hurting on anything he shoots at. Everything he killed on this trip was done so cleanly and without undue fuss muss or trouble.

On Pat’s kudu we started the day hunting buffalo in a place known locally as the amphitheater. It’s glorious deep shear rock formation that bottom out into a dry river bed and a an oasis of lush green vegetation that holds elephant and buffalo along with bushbuck, kudu, leopard, lion and various other flora and fauna. After a bit of a rough unmarked track we came to amphitheater and spread out for lunch Pat and Apprentice hunter Dirk had seen a tremendous impala on the way in and immediately decided to give it a go. Grabbing rifles and a canteen the small hunting party headed into the field while I climbed to ridge of amphitheater and laid my weary bones against a covenant rock and rested in the shade while occasionally glassing the lush Jesse below. Soon my eyes picked up the movement of several large gray forms that finally turned into a large family of elephants peacefully browsing the trees below.

A little later I awoke to the sound of a gun shot. It was Lance trying to signal Pat’s hunting party they’d been gone over 2 hours. After awhile the hunting party returned and there was an animated conversation about finding a nice bull kudu that had given them the slip. We ate lunch and took an afternoon hike looking for buffalo bulls. At one point we cut tracks and began bird-dogging a couple of old dagga boys Pat decided that he and Dirk would continue on their quest for the monster impala or the kudu. It turns out that we chased the buffalo in a wide circle and at one point we jumped a herd of impala with a nice ram in it. Lance picked up his radio to call Dirk. When he finished his transmission we heard a voice in the brush not 50 yards from us who reply I can hear you just fine did you really see me impala? We’d walked right into Pat’s stalk and pushed his ram away.

We decided to send a tracker to the truck while we waited on a ridge line to see if we could pick up the impala. 20 minutes into the wait Power Man one of our Shona trackers excitedly motioned Pat to his side a pointed out a nice bull kudu in the valley below.

I wish I could give you the details of the stalk and the kill but I remained on the hill only to hear a gun shot followed by a soggy thwack about an hour latter. Pat had made an excellent shot on the bull in a narrow shooting lane in low light placing a 180gr Nosler right through the boiler room. It was no surprise to any of us as this what you expect when Pat is the trigger man.
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One huge old Bao Bab this tree is probably pushing 4000 years old. Stop and think about that guys!

The tiny little dude at the bottom is me.

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Pats second buff.

We started the morning off high on the ridges and cut tracks about 08:30. We also cut lion tracks over the buffalo tracks so the chances of finding the herd we’re not looking good. In any case we persisted and one point actually pushed a lioness out of the brush ahead of us. A little farther up the way we jumped three lion cubs out of an old warthog den. We we’re not the only hunters on this stalk.

Just after bumping the lion cubs we located the a herd of about 70 or 80 buffalo. We stalked into the herd and spotted a grand looking bull who had about 45 inches of spread a deep sweep and back turns that were right off the cover of Manly Buffalo Magazine. Unfortunately this bull was only about 8 years old and still soft on top so I let him go and continued to look for another acceptable bull.

We waited until the sun was high and buffalo started to lay down in the shade for their midday nap. This afforded us the opportunity to sneak around and look the herd over carefully. I found one more really nice buff with solid bosses and good sweeps but he didn’t have spread I was looking for so passed on him. After looking for another 20 minutes or so I decided to let pat have a look and brought him up from the rear.

He decided that he’d like to have a crack at the bull. We waited probably another 30 minutes or so until some other buff cleared the way and presented Pat with a clear shot. Pat hit the buff with his first shot and the bull just laid down obviously spinned. We thought. Pat stood up and started walking to the buff and the buff started to stand up as well. Pat put another bullet into the buffs shoulders this time a 500gr Barnes solid killing the bull instantly.

On closer inspection we found that Pat’s first shot a 500Gr Woodliegh soft point had hit the spine ruptured and made a hard left turn up the line of the bone merely shocking the buff but not killing him. This was the second Woodliegh soft pint failure in as many shots. I was disappointed as I’ve had good luck with Woodlieghs in the past.

On this kill we left the entrails and a some meat for the lions as we’d messed up their daily hunt. We felt that the offering was a fair exchange for them allowing us to hunt in their territory..
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Nice Impala taken in the thick Jesse.

Not much to talk about here other than all I had to shoot at was a patch of neck in the thick brush. But as usual I fumbled my way through it and brought this nice ram down with a 180gr nosler to the neck.

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Last day buff and very nearly the last day of my short young life.

I’ll start this off by telling you the end first. After it was all over and we settled down to a easy heart rate of 150 or so and my hands had gone from steady to adrenaline let off shakes extraordinaire. My Ph looked at me with a distant gaze and simply stated “in 12 years of professional hunting I’ve only had two serious buffalo charges and they’ve both been in the last two week and in both cases if the client hadn’t had a double someone would have got killedâ€. He then looked at the ground and said “that’s as close as I’ve come, we damn near got sorted“.

The statement didn’t need to be made for my sake I was well aware of just how close we’d come to meeting the great PH in the sky. Sometimes in buffalo hunting or in any kind of dangerous game hunting things happen and they happen so fast that you only have time to react or your gonna get hurt or killed real bad. This was one of those rare yet not unheard of situations. Just the day before we’d been talking about what a horrible year it has been for accidents just last month Niki Atcheson got nailed by a buff not 20 miles from this concession she was very near killed and still recovering in the hospital. Last week a client was charged and killed while buffalo hunting with another outfit in Africa (I am not at liberty to say who or where as the official reports are not yet finished.) And a famous PH from Botswana was nailed and crippled up severely three weeks ago in the Okavango delta. It’s been a bad year for buff hunters.

We had cut tracks from two massive footed old dugga boys at about 07:00. And had a visual contact with them shortly afterward. It had just been a brief glimpse but we liked what we’d seen. The tracking process began in some of the nastiest thickest thorn and jesse I’d ever seen. After an hour or so we regained visual contact with the two buffalo and proceeded to stalk them in the thick stuff. One foot at a time scraping dead leaves out of the way before stepping trying to muffle the layer of cornflake like dry leaves which covered the ground. We were almost into position to take a shot when one of the buff spooked and they both thundered off into the Jesse snorting and crashing branches as they went. Their spoor indicated that they’d only run for some 100 yards or so then settled back into a comfortable walk and soon after proceeded to browse on the plentiful trees and vines in the area.

Another hour and we once again had caught up to the buffalo, they’d settled into a nice thick patch of mixed thorn and vine and trees that was all but impenetrable to a man much less so with any stealth.

There was however one option that presented itself. A dry river bed circumnavigated the nasty Jesse and allowed us to silently run past the buffalo and get in front of them. We did so and were able to climb up the side of a mud embankment giving us a height and vision advantage. Now all we had to do was wait. The minutes turned into what seemed like hours before Cindisou the Matabelle tracker spotted the first gray shape start to materialize out of the tangled jungle below. First an ear then a leg then a set of bosses finally a whole buffalo. But it was not the right one we were waiting for a grizzled old warrior we’d seen earlier in the day. As the first buffalo faded past and disappeared Lance leaned over and whispered “when your boy comes he’ll cross right where the other one did if he gives you a shot take it and mind the brush we don’t need a wounded buff in this hell hole.†I looked into the now vacant spot my only shot was through a lane about 4 feet around and about 100 yards or so down into the flat.

Soon another gray shape started to materialize, he stood with just his head exposed for a long time then finally stepped into the clearing giving me a hard quartering on shot to the shoulder. My .470NE was already in position and I had a solid and steady rest on my knees. Before I shot Lance said if he doesn’t go down give him the other barrel quickly we don’t want trouble in here.

The front sight rested in the shallow V of the rear sight I took a deep breath and let it half out steady as a rock squeezed the rear trigger. Even in the recoil I could see that the 500Gr Barnes x had struck pay dirt, with a puff of dust and a thwack the buff hunched up hard and charged into the thicket ahead I was just able to give him the second barrel as he was disappearing into the Jesse he was quartering hard away. The 500gr solid hit him just at the last rib and raked into his lungs stopping in under the skin of the neck on the off side.

Lance looked up at me and said "it looked good lets give him some time and we’ll go collect him". We sat for approximately 20 minutes.We could hear the buffalo standing and breathing heavily not 50 yards from his original position but the thickness of the foliage keep us from seeing him he was obviously hit hard and and the wound mortal.

The next thing I remember is walking into the Jesse two solids in the spout and two in my left hand rifle shouldered walking very slowly very cautiously every nerve ending is alive all of your senses are magnified 10 fold. I’ve experienced this feeling before with buffalo but this was very intense and it’s very fresh in my mind as it happened only 4 days ago. Suddenly to our right we hear the bull crashing around and we turned just in time to see his dim shape through the brush he’s laying down. Good news we think we turn to close the gap on him. At about 15 yards lance is just able to make out the bulls head. He says he got a shot I tell him to take it. I’m thinking that we need to end this before it gets serious I’ve long lost my desire to be the sole shooter on dangerous game in a situation like this you’re playing for keeps. Diamonds are forever but back up shots save lives.

At the shot the bull snorts a vicious low bellow from his gut and he’s coming fast and furious. Both lance and I shoot simultaneously hitting the bull square in the chest with over 10,000ftlbs of combined energy and .940†of combined diameter, 1000grs of .470 bullets strike the bull square in the chest. It has no apparent affect on the bull he doesn't even flinch. Lance drops off to my right with an empty gun. I charge to my left And remember clearly hearing the ejectors from lances double ping open. The bull is just clearing the Thorn bush that has separated a direct line from him to us I wait his as front half clears the brush, at that moment the bull is ducking his head preparing to toss me I see where the shoulder and neck meet and snap off my right barrel. The bull collapses into a heap my second barrel has broken the bulls spine at the junction of the shoulder and the neck. I continue my left dodge and reload on the dash pinging two empties over my right arm and dunking two more solids into the smoking breeches. The bull is struggling to get up lance is requesting for me to "shoot him again" For a moment I mezmorized at the sight and smell and sound and the extreme proximity of the bull. I calmly raised the big double and send a final solid through his neck behind the ear. The bulls head settles into the ground and he releases his last breath .

On post mortem we found that both of my first two shots crossed the boiler room but both passed behind the heart . We recovered my first bullet a 500gr X in the opposite flank just forward of the hind quarter. His lungs looked like Swiss cheese. 25 minutes later he still had enough stuff left to very nearly end all of our troubles. At Lances first shot the bullet had deflected on some sticks and had pierced the bulls ear and burned his neck with a graze. (The raised welt is clearly visable in the picture below.)That set the bull into motion. Lances second shot and my first were about an inche apart and both struck the bull in the middle of the chest to low to hit the spine and my final shot broke the bulls back putting him down.

On closer inspection we found that this old dugga boy was no stranger to mortal combat with man, his left eye was missing and the socket was long healed over he also had an old scar just below the eye and his molars had been shot out the wound was most likely an old musket ball from a poacher in the distant past. But the funny thing is minus the charge I had a very similar experience with a an old bull that we dug a musket ball out of in Tanzania three years ago.

Later in the evening lance and I sat around the camp fire and discussed the days events . He simply shook his head and said some times these damn things seem bloody bullet proof. I have to agree.


I JUST NOTICED SOMETHING VERY INTRESTING ON THIS PICTURE...!!You can clearly see the long raised welt up the side of the bulls neck just above the "finisher bullet hole" bot look at the ear out towards the tip that is the bullet hole from Lances first shot through the brush. Notice the outline of the hole the bullet hit prefectly sideways (Straight up and down)!!!

Watch them sticks boys and girls they do bad things to bullets..
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The boy's.....I love this picture!!

From left to right

Power Man, Kuda, Cindisou, and Malloy
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Riley thank you for that constructive and friendy comment I look forward to answering you fully but I'm busy right now.

Just by the way have you ever heard of CAMPFIRE I'd guess from your ignorant post that you haven't..
Communal Area Management Programme For Indigenous Resources? I thought it was a conservation and education effort. Apologies if I 'offended' you.

Since you are so well versed in the CAMPFIRE program could you please explain to all these nice HUNTERS who pays for this program and where those funds are derived...And could you also explain who performs the CONSERVATION portion of that acronym or do you not understand the importance of hunting in conservation?

No offense taken I am not one who is looking to find offense at every oportunity. I do not consider myself a victim.

But please tell me and all the other HUNTERS here what waste you are speaking of?
What an exciting safari that you've had H&H!


You've been busy supporting hunting and the ecology and the economy and indigenous peoples at your own expense...and you derived a little pleasure/sport from it.

I would like to bow hunt some impala someday...maybe someday if I hit the lottery...'til then I'll stick to duck hunting.

I think it's neat. Congrats and stay safe.


PS Thanks for posting the pics.
I'm not interested in arguing with you H&H. You posted some pictures of yourself with dead animals and invited comment. I expressed my opinion. That is all there is to it.

To argue one must have a coherant set of facts in which to pursue ones argument with. So no Riley you are not arguing with me I never considered it as such. I will be glad typ point out some facts about this whole process if you'd like.

If you'd just answer the questions presented you can find the facts for yourself. OR not.. Whatever..

Good bye Riley.

To the rest of you guys thanks for the comments it was a GREAT hunt.

Here goes for the unitiated on African hunting.

1. All of the meat hide horn ETC are used consumed not wasted.

2. The money derived from your daily fees as well as your trophy fees go directly back into the local econmy thre CAMPFIRe program is directly funded by hunting. The funds are used to build and supply schools housing medical facitlies ETC. Without hunting these people would have nothing in these areas. This is their bread and butter.

3. This is a hunting web sight if you don't like pictures of dead animals stay away.

Now that we've dipensed with the usual disclaimers lets get on with talking about hunting...:)
Exactly!What he said!
I love your warthog,those tusks look huge!
H&H?Maybe you've answered this before so I apologize in advance for being redundant.But.What are YOUR reasons for not wanting to shoot another elephant for a long time if ever?My reading on the subject has led me to believe that it's usually a combination of the elephants intellegence,social structure,& long life which becomes a barrier that some hunters won't cross.Money might be a factor too.
Please don't get the impression that I'm trying to bait you,in fact I confess to a bit of jealousy.It looks like you had a heck of a good time.:)
thank you,jeff w
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