By Buzz Nady
This whole thing started in September 2021. I was at Afton, Richard Lendrum’s lodge in Joburg. Richard was promoting a raffle in The African Hunting Gazette magazine, and the grand prize was a SSB Rigby Rifle in .416 Rigby! A proper buffalo rifle! I took a ticket and headed back to the States to start harvesting with my two sons on our farms, not giving a thought to the raffle. I never win.
The first week of November I got a call from Richard.
“I suppose you called to say I didn’t win the rifle,” I laughed.
“Just the opposite,” said Richard, “you did win the rifle!” I was ecstatic, to say the least. After paperwork and emails back and forth with Maria Gil of Rigby in London, my rifle was shipped to their importer in Texas and then to my gun dealer in my hometown of Nevada, Iowa.
What a rifle! I immediately started planning a buffalo hunt with Pete Barnard, owner of Pete Barnard Safaris in Harare, Zimbabwe. Pete and I have been friends for over a quarter century, and he was the guy I wanted to hunt with. Plans were made for September 2023, and practicing with my Rigby started immediately at the range on my farm. Eighteen months and 150 rounds later I felt ready and was on my way to Zimbabwe.
I spent a couple days with Pete and his family just to relax, and then with Pete, Manager and Manuel we headed about 390 km to a beautiful camp in the Gache Gache area in the Zambezi valley and met the camp owner Corris Ferreria. We had a couple of beers as we watched a herd of elephant across the river, drinking. The whole camp is run on solar power converted to 12V with great staff of cooks, house cleaners and skinners to take care of us. Had a great meal that first night, took my Malaron, and was off to bed.
Day one began with Pete, me, and the team – Manager, Manu and Cry the trackers, Koda and Ragoon the game scouts. We sighted in the rifles and went looking for buffalo. Leaving camp we saw lion, some impala and elephant, and after finding a good set of Dagga Boy tracks, we set out on foot to track him. Ran into some elephant and decided to go around them and pick up the buffalo tracks on the other side! En route, we found a beautiful old bushbuck. Without hesitation, I got on the sticks with my .416 Rigby and got him.
Suddenly the bush erupted. Some elephants close by did not like the shot, and they did not like us there. Game on! Pete was hollering, “Run, run,” as he stood his ground between my trackers and me to make sure everyone was safe, and out of harm’s way. After the dust settled, we went and collected my bushbuck. Picked up the buffalo tracks again and looking down I saw a bunch of elephant hair, and I handed it to Manager. He is talented in using it to make bracelets. On our way back to camp, we saw more impala and a nice herd of about 35 eland, all females with little ones. On the banks of the Gache Gache River that flows into Lake Kariba, quite close to the lake, we saw a few small pods of hippo and decided to take a walkabout and get a closer look. Got to within 50 meters of one group but decided not to take the shot. We did need a hippo for bait for crocodile but wanted to take care of the bushbuck first.
We were up at 5 a.m. had some breakfast and coffee and took off looking for buffalo tracks. Found a nice set to follow, but after being busted twice we finally got up to the buffalo only to have the wind start playing games with us, so decided to give up the tracks and look for hippo for crocodile bait. Mid-morning the hippo started coming out of the Gache Gache River to sun themselves. Finally, a big bull clambered onto an island and after careful examination with the binoculars, Pete said it was the one we wanted. I put a good heart-lung shot on the hippo and got a second shot into him as he went into the water. He came up and we worked our way around and I finished him with a side brain shot in the water. The massive hippo sank, came up, and I could see I had hit his brain. When he went back under the water and stayed there, we decided to go have lunch and wait for him to bloat and float to the surface.
We went back out after lunch looking for the hippo and did not find it and spent the rest of the afternoon searching. Gave up, and on the way back to camp that evening we saw a herd of approximately 350 to 400 buffalo on the plains down by Lake Kariba. Topped off the day with an excellent dinner and beverages.
started out with everyone looking for the hippo. Thoughts of not sure of what happened to bullet performance raced through my mind. After lunch, we set out looking for buffalo. We found a herd of about 100 buffalo but just couldn’t get in position. Too many eyes and ears watching us. We did get within about 100 yards a few times but then the wind would change or swirl around. We decided to run back and look one more time for the hippo on the way back to camp. No hippo!
started early. We went back to find a couple of Dagga Boys we’d seen earlier, and we found them. They don’t get old by being stupid. They winded us as the wind would change often. Busted! Off they’d go. After stalking buffalo all morning, we saw lots of nice crocodiles and after lunch we collected Corris’s Bruno .30-06 for crocodile.
We went to shoot the Bruno, but it just didn’t fit me. It just didn’t feel right, but Pete’s .375 was perfect, and we headed to Croc Central on the Gache Gache. Some local native fishermen had moved in to where we wanted to look for crocs. Plenty of crocs there, but they had all gone into the water because of the natives fishing, so we went instead to find our two Dagga Boys.
Manu and Cry cut the tracks of the two nyati, and it was game on. Because of the brush, Pete wanted me to load a solid .400-gr Woodleigh. After several attempts, we decided to give the bulls a half-hour break and let them calm down, which paid off. The day was getting late, and this would be our last chance. The third time we found them, they spotted us again as they have sharp eyes and a keen sense of smell. I got on the sticks as they were walking away.
My bull presented a shot at a hundred meters, broadside. I let the Woodleigh fly, hitting its mark on his shoulder. The bull jumped and took off. Pete could tell by the sound that the bull was hit well. We ran, catching up to the bull, and I let a 400-gr Barnes TSX fly, hitting the bull just behind the shoulder again. We ran after him. He stopped again and I put a second TSX Into his shoulder. Bull down! We got up to him and I put one more soft into him just for insurance and good measure. I had my bull! It was close to sundown. Picture time with Pete and my team!
We loaded the bull and headed to camp.
We left camp around 7 a.m. and headed to Croc Central to look for my hippo and a nice crocodile. Didn’t see my hippo floating anywhere in the river and the crocs were out sunning themselves! We went back to camp, had lunch, and then headed out again. No hippo floating! I was getting concerned about what was going on with the hippo.
I knew I put a great shot right on the shoulder, and then the head shot as well. We spent the afternoon looking at different crocodiles and sizing them up. Nothing that really tripped our trigger, so we drove around trying to shoot a couple guinea fowl for supper. Only got one. Had supper and called it a day.
Pete, the trackers, game scouts and I headed out again looking for my hippo! With lots of native fishermen about, we were starting to wonder if maybe they had found it and cut it up and taken it. After searching many bays on the river, we felt it quite odd that the three pods of hippo had kind of disappeared. We hadn’t seen them since day two after I shot my hippo.
Back to the camp for lunch and a little nap afterwards, then loaded up and went looking for crocodile as they would be up on the banks sunning themselves at this time of the day. Pete found one he really liked, and we tried to put the sneak on him. Got to about 50 meters, and were just getting the sticks up, when he slithered into the water. He must’ve seen movement from one of us.
Pete decided it was time we put a blind up and use some buffalo remains from my buffalo for bait. Blind and bait were set for us to come back in the morning. Back to looking for guinea fowl on the way back to camp for supper. Got one guinea fowl with the .22 and gave it to the boys for their supper.
Had breakfast then went to check the crocodile bait. To our surprise, we saw a hippo out floating in the bay! Could this be my hippo? Corris’s staff showed up with the tractor, trailer and boat and got the hippo to the shore. Sure enough, the side-brain shot told the story – it was, in fact, my hippo!
I was excited and relieved all at the same time. One, I had my trophy and two, we had more crocodile bait. The guys built another blind 50 meters from the hippo and Pete and I went back to the blind we had built the day before, freshened it up with some hippo meat, and we got into the blind at about 11 a.m., each of us with a book to read.
We heard the splash in the water 30 minutes later and focused on the bait with our binoculars, as the crocs started coming in. By noon the crocodiles were stacked in there like cordwood. I couldn’t believe it. The feeding frenzy that was going on! Twelve-foot crocodiles, biting on the hippo, doing the death roll to tear a piece off and then gobble it down. After nearly three hours in the blind, Pete saw the croc we wanted, on the bait and eating. Through my little portal, I could see at least 20-25 crocodile around the bait. And I have no idea how many more were around outside my field of view.
Finally, our crocodile got into a position we liked, slightly quartering away from me. I was using Pete’s .375 H&H with a scope. I put the crosshairs just below the horn and a little bit to the left and squeezed. The crocodile dropped immediately. I quickly loaded another round and put one right behind his shoulder for insurance. I had my crocodile! Congratulations, handshakes and pictures followed. Back to camp to get the crocodile to the skinners. Coris put the tape on him and measured 13‘8”. What a crocodile and what a day in the blind watching them feed, death rolling, ripping meat off the hippo. Time for lunch. It was three in the afternoon.
We would go out in the evening just to look at the baits and see what kind of activity there was and try to find a couple of guinea fowl for supper. There’s nothing like a great bowl of guinea fowl soup! But I think the guinea fowl were on to us. They like to run and then fly at the sound of the Land Cruiser. But we did shoot two francolins – we’d see what the chef could do with those for tomorrow night’s dinner.
At dinner that night Corris mentioned he had a fellow PH who needed some bait for leopard, and asked if we would shoot four impala for him the next morning. Of course, I obliged and said I would be happy to help out.
Coffee and toast to start the day, then off to try to collect a few impala. Found a herd, and I shot one male from the group. Drove around for another couple hours, but nothing presented itself, so we headed back to camp. A cup of coffee, and we started getting things ready for fishing that afternoon. After lunch, we took a little nap as it was the hot time of the day. About 3 o’clock we loaded up the boat and headed down to the Gache Gache.
It was a slow afternoon on the river – we caught a few catfish and saw a few elephant on the bank. Very cool! Around the campfire and supper that night, Pete and I talked about looking for Sharpe’s Grysbok in the morning.
Got up early, had coffee and breakfast. It had cooled down nicely last evening and night, so it was good sleeping. Didn’t need my solar-powered fan. We loaded up the Cruiser and were headed to the bush by 5.30 looking for Sharpe’s Grysbok. Saw a female with a little one. They are nicknamed ‘greased lightning’ here because when you see him they’re gone immediately. On the way back to camp we saw a herd of probably 300 buffalo and 250 impala.
Pete got a call from his wife, Laura with a new mission for the kids: Picking up different kinds of dung or spoor for show and tell at school.
A short lunch nap and we were heading back to the river to fish. Barbels and squeakers were what we were catching. Back at the river, we encountered some fish poachers that Corris took care of. The lake and river were low as we made our way up the river. We encountered two pods of about 30 to 40 hippos each. What excitement that was! One young bull decided to show off his stuff to scare us away. Quite impressive when you have a two-and-a-half-ton of hippo coming at you.
Another beautiful sunset over the river and we headed back to camp for supper.
Breakfast was early. Corris asked if we would shoot two more impala, one for camp meat, and one for the game scouts. Of course! Pete and I and the trackers headed out to look for Sharpe’s grysbok. Didn’t see any, so back to camp for lunch.
I will have to look for grysbok the next time, as this was the last day of hunting, and we wanted to go fishing again in the afternoon… Looking for that elusive tigerfish!
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