The bad news just keeps on coming from
Zimbabwe, with one reporter after another predicting food shortages
and political conflict. Indeed, as the season there winds down, it
is too early to know whether the country will be huntable next year.
However, amidst all the gloom, here at The Hunting Report we
continue to receive positive Hunt Reports from returning
subscribers, as witness the following report from subscriber Dick
Vander Yacht, who just took a 76 x 64-pound elephant in the Ngamo
Forest, along with a fine kudu and some other animals. His
letter-length report on the hunt is must reading. Congratulations,
Dick Vander Yacht! - Don Causey, President/Publisher.
PS: We've posted a photo of Dick Vander Yacht's jumbo in the
Trophy Of The Month section of our web site.
PSS: We'll soon have an update on 2003 hunting prospects in
Zimbabwe. Stay tuned!
Big Elephant In Zimbabwe
Hunt Report by Dick Vander Yacht
My son Dale and I just returned from a 15-day elephant, buffalo,
and leopard safari in Zimbabwe. Hunt dates are October 2 - 16,
This hunt was booked last March to replace a hunt canceled in
Zimbabwe in 2000. We had contacted your office for reports on the
political situation, called Safari Club, State Department and the
South African outfitter. All seemed OK as we made final preparation.
Then the Trade Center bombing and we almost canceled again.
We flew from New York to Johannesburg, South Africa via South
African Air. No problems of any kind except tight airport security.
Our PH, Claude Kleynhans of Mafigeni Safaris, Letsitele, South
Africa met us at Joburg airport where we spent the night at City
Lodge. Nice place, lots of hunters staying over, shuttle direct to
and from airport.
Next morning we flew to Victoria Falls and met by Ashley Pearson
of Brookland Hunting Safaris in Harare. Ash Pearson is a charter
pilot as well as a PH who worked with Claude during our hunt. We
flew with Ash to Hwange airport, once the pride of Zimbabwe. The
airstrip is four miles long. There was not one plane large or small
on the field, only three cars in the parking lot and the terminal
was empty. Nearby Hwange Safari Lodge - 292 units - only 8 were
Apprentice PH Andre Thaler of Brookland met us and transported us
via land cruiser to a hunting camp in Ngamo Forest Conservancy about
an hours drive south. Very nice camp, cement block cabins with
thatched roof and all facilities. Open bar and food served in open
dining hall. All meals were good.
Day 1 - Sighted our rifles - Drove to waterholes - Mainly
Day 2 - Early AM - Dale shot large sable. Very heavy horns - Saw
an old bull elephant with broken tusks. Watched him roll in the mud.
Dry fired a few rounds for practice.
Day 3 - Found fresh bull elephant tracks at waterhole early AM.
Animals were traveling east. Forest is cut into four or five square
mile blocks by fire guard roads. We drove around two blocks. Bulls
went into third block but we could not find tracks leading out.
Immediately spotted two small bulls - 20 - 30# near road. 9:00AM
began tracking other bulls, 10:30AM - two miles into hush Claude
spoiled two bulls sleeping under a tree. Large one was facing us and
looked to be over 45#. We worked into position 40 yards away. I shot
.416 Remington from sticks. Brain shot - bull dropped. Both PH were
amazed at size of ivory - Estimated in field at 55 to 60#. Official
government scale weight - 76# x 64# 73 inches and 65 inches x 19
1/4-inch girth. My first elephant hunt collected a real Jumbo after
a 90-minute stalk. Not bad for a man heading for his 71st
The Ngamo camp had been booked for 10 days - 1 elephant, 1
buffalo and 2 sable. That night we were advised the buffalo and
remaining sable had been canceled by forestry officials. No reason
given. We packed up early next AM and flew to a private camp owned
by Brookland Hunting Safari in the Savi River Land Conservancy 200
miles south of Harare. This is an area of one million acres
privately owned and managed strictly for wildlife. It is an old
cattle ranch. All interior fences have been removed. A perimeter
fence exists only to keep buffo from moving into nearby cattle
ranches. We could hunt or drive all day without seeing a fence. Real
wild country - No human habitation but several wire snares were
found while hunting.
Dale's objective was buffalo and leopard. I was now an observer
basically but wanted to hunt plains game if I could find something
better than what I had. On the third morning Dale shot a real nice
old Cape buffalo bull. That was the last buffalo on this years ranch
We each shot several bait impala and each a large zebra stallion.
Dale spent seven nights in leopard blinds without success. Female
leopards arrived each night plus civet cats and bush pigs. One torn
leopard arrived about 10:00 PM as they were leaving the blind but
did not have time for a shot. Leopard PH Paul Welloch knows his job
but Dale did not get his cat.
During the interim I shot a management kudu with 52-inch horns -
he looked kind of sick - no trophy fee. Then I shot a 55-inch kudu
for trophy, a 23-inch impala ram and a baboon. Here you can shoot
all the baboons you want without trophy fee.
This ranch is overrun with kudu and impala. It has a large
population of zebra, blue wildebeest, eland and wart hog. The full
conservancy has a population of 1,800 elephants but hunting is not
allowed at this time. We saw elephant, giraffe and packs of wild
dogs every day plus a few bushbuck, steenbok and duiker. The bush
abounds with game and is a great place to hunt. Camp facilities and
food are very good. Wild game on table every day.
We had a certain amount of apprehension about this hunt but found
our fears were totally unfounded. There was no fuel shortage, no
squatters, no war veterans, no trouble at the airport other than
tight security and intensive exam of carry on luggage. We were
treated with courtesy by airport staff and government officials.
Ashley Pearson is a very good bush pilot and a good PH. This is my
third hunt with PH Claude Kleynhans and Dale's second. In my
estimation he is one of the best PH's in Africa. He is a licensed PH
in South Africa and Tanzania and books hunts in Zimbabwe with a
Zimbabwe PH due to Zimbabwe Government regulations. (011 2783 280
3558 or 01102715 345 1637).
Major problem on this hunt was the time of year. It was HOT! 95
degrees most days, sometimes over 100, the last day 114. Too hot to
hunt, too hot to nap. If I book another hunt it would be in May,
June or July, never again in October. We had a great time - great
camp staff and PH - food was excellent - all movement from point to
point accompanied by Zimbabwe residents. We came home tired but
pleased we went.
In advance of the hunt both PH felt confident that despite my age
I could get an elephant from 40 to 50 pounds. Both were amazed at
the size of my bull. In Harare we visited the Zimbabwe Professional
Hunters office to file a report. My 76-pounder was the largest
registered so far in 2001. If a larger bull has been taken it had
not yet been registered.
A 25,000 acre controlled burn in a neighboring block got out of
control and burned 100,000 acres coming within two miles of our
camp. Several members of the camp staff spent two days fighting
fire. Four workers from that block were killed. There may be trouble
someplace in Zimbabwe but where we hunted it was the same as hunting
here at home. I would not hesitate to go again.
We arrived back in the USA at Atlanta and missed our connecting
flight due to inspection and clearance time. Please advise your
subscribers that because of tight airport security, US Immigration,
Customs and Department of Agriculture inspection, at least three
hours should be allowed for connecting flights. Thanks for your past
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