Just back from hunting buffalo in the Zambezi valley.

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Staff member
Jan 28, 2003
Well guys I just got back from Zimbabwe and South Africa where I spent the better part of May. From the get go I am going to tell you that this wasn’t one of the best hunts that I’ve been on in Africa. It all started with two broken rifles and some very tough hunting conditions. The day before I was to leave I took my .470 NE out for a final shake down and sight verification. When I got to the range the my right trigger was DEAD! Believe it or not the main spring on the right barrel had snapped and the gun was now effectively a single shot left barreled rifle. After some consternation and a bit of fancy foot work I determined that the double rifle was staying home on this trip as there was no way to fix it without a serious delay. That hurt guys, this rifle was the primary reason I booked the trip. Oh well stuff happens on to plan B!

No worries I just happen to have a perfectly good .458Lott sitting in the safe. I rushed home grabbed the rifle and hastily returned to the range. At the range the rifle was shooting clovers at 50 yards and functioning like a true hero of the bush after about 25 or 30 rounds of pure fun I determined that the Lott would do. So I packed her up and headed to the airport early the next morning.

In any case I arrived in South Africa slightly worse for the wear after the 30 hours of travel. I slept the night and awoke the next morning excited to take the rifles out for a spin and check them for function. Jaco took me to a friends farm and I proudly unpacked my shiny high speed .458 lott. A custom rifle to boot, what could possibly go wrong with this fine piece of operating machinery?

The first shot cut the bull in half, dead center. I gazed down the sights with pride at my prowess with an iron sighted heavy rifle. At that moment I was the finest shooter in all of Southern Africa holding the best shooting .458 Bore rifle in all of the world.

With cool smugness I announced to the gathering crowd that I would now put another round through the same hole just so that I could verify zero. I flicked the empty round and tried to feed the next one in the magazine. The round slipped the feed rails stove piped. With my ears turning red from embarrassment I quickly cleared the jam and chambered another round.

With great concentration and steely eyed skill I gently squeezed the trigger . The rifle went CLICK instead of BANG like it was supposed to! Hmm I commented. “must be a bad primer”, the next one went bang. The next one miss fed, and the next one went click, as did the rest. The Lott was dead, an evil spirit had entered her soul while in the belly of the airplane. I don’t yet know what went wrong but it was something bad!

Here is a photo journal and a summary of my trip I hope that you enjoy it.

With good friends Jaco and Lynette in South Africa. While there I had the privilege of watching a rugby tournament where I got to meet several of the future South African Springboks. These are some tough kids and they all had a great time playing rugby. Here is Wikus and his friend, these boys know how to put some "smack down" on!

After several days of messing around in town we were able to get away and travel to to near Kimberley and spend several days out on a friend of Jacos game farm. Here I was fortunate enough to be able to look at some very fine buffalo bulls. How is this for a mac daddy buff bull. NO you can’t shoot him he is for viewing pleasure only!

While on the farm I was asked if I like to cull an old oryx from the herd. He was fully mature and as you can see had very limited genetic potential as his horns were very short. After a 500 yard belly crawling/ crouched stalk we were able to close the distance to just about 200 yards. I had to wait for several minutes until he was clear. I hit him on the shoulder facing on to me with a 300gr Rhino. He ran at the shot and disappeared into some thick brush. The bullet had taken off the top of the heart and he didn’t go far. The picture shows the exit wound. The good old .375 strikes again. This rifle and I have a long term love affair I’ve killed hundreds and hundreds of head of game with this rifle and she’s never let me down and even though she is getting worn and battered she still shoots half inch groups all day long with anything I put in her. Old reliable!

After 6 days in South Africa I boarded the SA flight to Zimabawe. The first day of the hunt was spent collecting game scouts and generally getting ready for the hunt. Here is Sindisou or tracker and his family in the village of Keneymba. I hunted with Sindi back in 2004 when we had our horrible charge incident with a wounded buffalo. Sindi is a first class tracker and first class gentlemen. I consider him a friend. I love this picture of him standing proud with his new wife and beautiful family.

By day two I started to realize that the hunting conditions were going to be very tough. It had been a very rainy year and the jess bush was as thick as it had been in years. Here is a view of some of the country we were to hunt. The Zambezi is wild Africa and I find the countryside alluring. Especially knowing that it is filled with all kinds of mega fauna. It puts a tingle in my spine just looking at this country and knowing that soon I’ll be walking it with a rifle in hand.

The whitest legs in Africa! Enough said.

A poster form the latest election in Zim. The Zanu Pf is the current ruling party in Zim.

A picture that I think captures the true village life in rural Africa. Just a woman and her daughter walking home with some millet.

More village photos. Happy children always make for a good photo!

After 3 futile days we were able to finally track into a herd and make a contact with some good bulls. Unfortunately the one I killed wasn’t one of them. This is a bit of a long story but if you’ll stick with me I’ll try and do it justice.

We had picked up a good looking spoor at about 0900 and decided to follow. The track took us through some rugged country past the spring where these buffalo had watered the night before. After about 3 hours of tracking we made visual contact with the buffalo just as they were heading into the thick stuff to take a nap after having a drink at another spring called Anzou (the elephant). Initially we thought we were in business with a very wide deeply swept bull but after looking him over decided that his boss was still to soft indicating that he was a young bull and not of trophy quality.

We stayed with the buffalo which consisted of a herd of about 100 animals until they retired to the thick jess and bedded for the afternoon heat. We also retired to the shade of an ancient red mahogany tree and spent the heat of the afternoon napping in the shade. At about 1700 the buff started to move and we decided to follow but ran out of daylight before we could work in for a closer look and possibly a shot.

We decided to stay the night out in the bush and slept under the red mahogany tree for the night. Before daylight the next morning we awoke boiled some water for tea and biscuits and took the track we’d left the day before.

After about 45 minutes of tracking we caught the herd milling in a valley and set up to have a look. We almost immediately found a nice old bull and decided to try for a shot. Twice we were busted and bumped the herd . On the third try we got into the herd and were able to watch them as they started to lay down for a mid morning nap.

Now the waiting game began. We sat and waited and watched for about an hour . We were able to look at many buff including one old warrior with a broken horn . I turned him down as I didn’t want to shoot a one horned bull even if he was an old gangster.

Finally the wind shifted and the herd caught our sent and started to trot off. We followed and caught them one more time but the buff were growing weary of us and decided to go.

Now here is where the confusion happened. We charged the herd running into the buffalo and confusing them. This often makes the old bulls stop and have a look. Picture if you can 100 buffalo running in all directions some of them mere yards away. There is thick dust in the air and buff mawing and grunting and slamming into each other . I think general mayhem is the best description. It’s also could also be described as the fog of "war" as this is a similar situation in that there is a lot of movement, visibility is limited and the confusion level is high.

I am trying to keep up with Lance my PH when I come around a small clump of brush lance is trying to set up his shooting sticks and is pointing and saying “ that’s him shoot!” I ask once are you sure that’s him he replies yes. I can not see the buffaloes head as it is behind a bush. The bull isn’t 20 yards away. I completely disregard the shooting sticks as I often do (I hate shooting sticks they just get in the way most of the time). My familiar old .375 comes to the eye and when the cross hairs are on the right spot I slap the trigger sending a 300 gr Barnes TSX into the bulls shoulder and he’s gone disappearing into the brush just that fast.

Lance asks me where I hit him and I tell him just perfect on the shoulder. He then tells me that it wasn’t the same bull. The one we were after had a stump for tail, this one had a full tail. I say whoops.

In about 10 seconds we hear the bull cough and give the death bellow. The bullet has taken the bull perfectly penetrating just behind the on shoulder getting both lungs and the vessels over the top of the heart and stopping in the off shoulder. He’s gone less than 20 yards and died. This is a very quick kill on a buffalo bull. He never knew what hit him.

As we approach the bull my enthusiasm quickly turns to disappointment as I soon realize that the bull I killed was the one horned old warrior. I tried to maintain a good attitude as what was done was done there isn’t taking back a bullet. As hard as I tried to not show my disappointment I am sure it was impossible for me to fake it and the mood soon turned gloomy. I had traveled half way around the world
And saved for 4 years for this hunt and worked my butt off to arrange the time off. This hunt was gift to myself for my 40th birthday which had occurred several days before. I’ve never experienced a let down like I did when I walked up to that poor old dead buffalo bull. Maybe I saw a bit of my future lying there on the ground that day in Northern Zimbabwe a crumpled up broken old man who was a victim of the circumstances and died for no other reason than he was standing in the wrong place with his head down.

I have to admit that this was pretty much the end of the safari for me on a physiological level, there was no recovery from this mistake. I should have packed up and headed home but I stuck it out for the next 6 days half heartedly going through the motions. The hunt was over for me on an emotional level that I’ve never experienced before on any hunt. I am usually very enthusiastic no matter what. Quite simply this crushed me and I am still not 100% sure why.

Another view of the old warrior

I fired a grand total of one shot at game and that shot killed both the buffalo and my spirit. I didn’t have the opportunity to shoot at anything else the entire hunt. Here is an abandoned house out in the bush hat I thought was neat.


On day 5 or 6 we had to take Sindi to a local clinic because he had a severe case of tonsillitis. I took a picture of the health information poster on the wall. I expect all of you to take notice and pay attention. This could happen to you.

In closing I just want to say that while the hunting conditions were tough there was no lack of hard work on the part of the hunters or any of the staff. We hunted hard every day. The camps were all very nice in fact top notch as is always the case in this area. Between the thick bush and the full moon we just were having a very hard time getting into any game. In fact we saw very little game to speak of other than buffalo. Which we saw nearly every day.

The mistake that was made on the buffalo was an honest one and could happen to anybody. I don’t lay blame or fault on the PH the staff or the outfitter.

That’s my story

I hope that I didn’t bring you down to much but I told it the way I saw it.

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Well, tho the buff wasn't the one you wanted, you still made a trip to an exotic place the likes of which most of us can only dream, saw good friends, made kids smile (which likely made you smile), and have shared a great story & lesson with us all. I'd be right proud of the "old Warrior" & his end was far more befitting a battle-scarred veteran than being pulled-down by a pride of lions when he became too feeble to defend himself. Sounds like a worthy trophy to me. Occasionally, the Boss does something that reminds us we are human . . . not a darn thing wrong with receiving such reminders . . . makes us better, IMHO. You're right about the white legs, however . . . you folks in Colorado need less snow & more sun . . . thanks for sharing.
And here I am in central Ohio getting excited about starting groundhog hunting next week. And, to add insult to injury, I will soon hit 62 so stop your whining and savor the experiences you have.

Seriously, great story, nice pictures, and sincere appreciation for the value of game and hunting. Things happen for a reason and perhaps next time you go the bull you didn't get will be the Macdaddy bull of all time. Here is hoping you get that chance soon.
I'm 60 & got highly excited this morning when I finally zapped the crow that's been raiding the song bird nests out back . . . the black devil finally made a mistake (or I finally didn't make one, which is more likely the case). 'Chuck hunting next week, then my annual gopher safari back home in Montana after that.
Great story and photographs of your trip. I enjoyed reading and seeing it all.
Hey on that ol' broken horn bull could you get a horn prostesus for him? It was still a good hunt and a good shot under all the circumstances you describe.

I kinda of understand what you mean about your favorite rifle. I go through that with my old Spencer carbine 56-50. It shoots 3" MOA, a 350gr, 52cal at 1050 FPS MV. Then my 1881 Marlin 45-70 with double set triggers shoots 1.5 MOA a 330gr bullet at 1580 FPS MV. I just found out the Oryx hunt I drew is a one day deal and you shoot at the first one they tell you to. My heart was set on stalking close and getting one with The Spencer or not at all. I go to White Sands Missle Base 14 June. So reluctantly I got the Kliengunther k-15 30-06 out
and it is clover leafing 180 grainers in the bull at 200 yards. I will have both guns ready, incas a oppurtunity arises. You cannot take pictures on the WSMR though.

Thanks for the story of Africa, most of us won't be getting there so you are doing good.
Great adventure AND a very good telling of the story. Thanks!

I'd consider and old, smart, bush-wise one horned bull a real trophy. The 'trophy' is in the story, not in the beauty of the mount on the wall.

Thanks for the post, I appreciated the emotion and frankness of it.
I am not a hunter but I can appreciate the disappointment. You got a trough now, but there are peaks ahead.
Another member of our team that needs to be mentioned is our game scout Aron. Aron has decided to dedicate his life to the game department as a game scout. His duties include anti poaching, game scout and hunter protection and problem animal control and multitude of other game ranger duties. He is a very capable proud young man and I was privileged to be able to share our time together. At his tender young age he's already been involved in multiple "contacts" with armed poachers. I wish him the best in his chosen career field.
I was privileged

From what I know of you from this board, H&H, I'd be inclined to say that both of you were privileged, albeit in different ways. Aron appears to be a fine young man & I also wish him well in his endeavors and commend him for his efforts. I'm sure that he walked away from his time spent with you some better & wiser.
HH, I wonder if maybe you see a bit of your own mortality in the buff that you mistakenly dropped? It's not hard to get depressed when you turn 40, and realize your life is about 50% done.

Thank you H&H for sharing your trip with us all.
Sorry it didn't go as well as you had hoped. I guess all I can offer is that just about any hunt is better than none at all.
Thanks again.
By looking , his AK has a milled receiver. WOnder if its Russian or Chinese made?

HH, I wonder if maybe you see a bit of your own mortality in the buff that you mistakenly dropped?

Dave, I hadn't put it in those exact terms but I am guessing it was definitely a factor. The thought of the last half and all of the people I've known who aren't with us anymore has been bouncing around in my head a bit lately.

At 40? I'm 60 & mine's just starting-up again . . .

That is good news. :)


By looking , his AK has a milled receiver. WOnder if its Russian or Chinese made?


The rifle had Cyrillic writing on it. But I don't know if that makes it Russian for sure.

I sat with Aron one afternoon and he showed me how to field strip the weapon and how to use the selector switch to go between safe, single fire, and automatic.

I asked to fire the weapon but he wouldn't allow it as he is accountable for each round fired while on duty.

Oh well it was worth a try!;)

To all others who've commented thank you very much! It means a lot to me that you enjoy my story.:)
Another photo.

Below is another game scout who has just returned form assisting in the shooting of a buffalo bull who had just gored a man in a farm field. He and an apprentice PH had tracked the animal into thick jess and dispatched it at near flash burn range.

The PH was shooting an original Holland and Holland .375H&H which had been passed down from his grand father to his dad to him.

The game scout was shooting this old sporterized Enfield in .303 British. Notice the hose clamp holding the forened together.

That was fun to read, sounds like an amazing adventure even thow it didnt turn out the way you thought it would.
Id like to hear more about the horrible charge incident with a wounded buffalo!! :what:
I went to Cali on vacation a few years back, we had a blast!
On the way back we had some very frustrating car problems, we were all yelling and fighting, it was a horrible end to a trip.
Now every time we talk about vacation or a trip we always bring it up, it wasnt fun at the time but we laugh and talk about it now as if was the highlight of the trip.
That is good news.

Thanks, H, but it's not good news, it's life . . . and life is what you make of it. May yours be long and with a new adventure at every turn. I've lost many friends . . . some in a far land long ago, some expected but bitterly-resented none-the-less, some whose end came as an utter surprise . . . it
happens . . . I carry the friendship, the smiles, the memories in my heart as I hope others someday will cherish those we generated together . . . but they aren't going to have to start packing those around for many a year if I have a say in the matter . . .

For what it's worth, I'd have the old one-horned warrior mounted . . . if that isn't possible, then enlarge the photo and display it in a prominent
place . . . the bull bears testimony to survival and of a life obviously lived to the fullest. As Garth Brooks said . . . "You can still smell the roses while you're running with them in your hand" . . . I doubt that you'll harvest a trophy more worthy than that one . . . it isn't about size or horns, it's about heart.

God Bless you . . .
Seems to me like you got a better trophy than most could hope for. The one horned trophy probably bears more personal meaning than wall value, which in my opinion is what trophies should be about. The story behind the trophy seems a lot more valuable than a typical trophy hunt.
I only know what I have read about dangerous game hunting - but, isn't a .303 at "flash burn range" a little dicey? I think it was a good thing the scout was with the professional hunter and his heavier caliber.

I have never been a trophy hunter in the sense of wall mounts but to me every animal I have ever killed and some I didn't are trophies in my mind - hell, some people say I am a legend in my own mind - but what do they know. One of my most vivid memories is the big - BIG - drake Mallard three of us missed with eight shots - auto, pump, O/U all emptied at the same duck - on an Illinois River slough one December morning. I mean, he looked like a Canada in a flock of Teal - at least that is my recollection. Whenever the three of us talk at some point it always comes back to "do you remember that Mallard drake . . .". He is a better trophy to me because he wasn't made into some kind of mount that morning.

Great story. Well enough written that I was transported to the locale and could see it for myself. As I read I felt as though I was standing over your shoulder and watching you fire! That's some good writing!

Re: the errant trophy, wow, there is something to be said for taking a sharp ol' warrior bull. That bull has seen some serious battle and has the trophy to show it, fights to the point of sheering a horn?! Serious battle. That you closed to 20 yards of that bull speaks of a skilled hunter.

For me, the hunt is the sum of the whole, not the single trigger pull and wall-hanger. You did well, and you have a story to forever share.

Thanks for the post.

That was fun to read, sounds like an amazing adventure even thow it didnt turn out the way you thought it would.
Id like to hear more about the horrible charge incident with a wounded buffalo!!


Here it is in my own words.

You can also read about it in the January issue of the African Hunter magazine as written by the PH Lance Nesbitt. The story is called a tale of two charges.

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