By Stuart Ward, February 2022


Hello and welcome to Africa.
Jeannette and I are greeted warmly with smiles.
Zambia is a very pleasant breezy cool in early June. 
The air is rich with earthy mopane smoke aromas.
It’s that back woods campfire smell, only different and deeper, calling your hunter’s heart to the ancient past.


Kicking off from Lusaka.

Hi-Ho!  Today we journey off on a special hunting safari first conceived at SCI Reno 2019.  After many SCI conventions and missed schedules, we were finally able to connect the dots.  You see, Sylvia’s passion for safari and Zambia really lit the fire for Jeannette and I.   So, eschewing the standard single base camp system established for years, PH Derick and Sylvia van Staden (Derick van Staden Safaris) have arranged a Hemingway Green Hills adventure exploring by diesel Toyota LandCruiser a variety of game terrain, river crossings and camps across thousands of wilderness square miles.   It is “simply not done this way old boy” since the early years.  But with a goal set to hunt and fish, we with double rifles, shot guns and rods in hand, they drew a ranging course through Zambia’s West Petauke GMA, then onto the Kafue Flats and that is where we will go.  We shall see!

Safari couple enjoying the scenery and short pot-hole rest break at Talabuku pass.

Sylvia and Jeannette buying fresh squash and sweet potatoes on the way in.

Luangwa River Camp

Back in the bush again.  We are safely into camp on the Luangwa River arriving late in the afternoon after purchasing vegetables along the way.   The full staff and crew cheerfully welcomed us.  It was a bit of a home-coming for PH Derick and Sylvia as they have many, many happy memories here, long before the new camp was rebuilt after the floods.  And that new camp would be on the other flooded side!  The two-man muscle powered pontoon proved stable enough, just watch your step on precarious not quite PE stamped “post and beam” docks.  Nicely the raft is “Bristol” ready, fitted out with “partial” expanded 

metal deck cover, which only lays there, sort of, not welded.  You stand precariously outside the vehicle as you definitely don’t want to be inside should an upset occur.  The grate’s real purpose is to keep crocs from exploding up from the abyss and pulling the odd hapless voyager through the open bottom for an easy squealing snack!


Not good for repeat business.

It only took 4 straight days of travel to reach this Capstick heaven on earth.

The West Petauke hunting block encompasses a million largely uninhabited acres; excepting the neighborhood elephants, lions, hippo and leopards.  They are our friendly jungle mates.  But should you step the wrong way watch out!  The .470 Nitro Express is our bed partner, duly loaded with 500 grains of expanding mayhem of course.

“Good morning, Bwana”.  That is your daily wake-up greeting from the staff outside your grass thatch chalet.  “Good morning, thank-you” in courteous reply.  You’d have been laying there awake listening to the myriad chorus of bird calls in the waking dawn.  They compete in harmonious synchronized waves.

Hippo Encounter


And it is a good day to be alive!  Yesterday the unexpected challenge was met, everyone retained all their fingers, toes and is among the living.  Our PH Derick thought it would be a good idea to check the newly redecorated river for ~8 miles downstream of camp for hippo by canoe so we would know where to set up a blind for ambush…safely from land.  The girls were invited on our surprise canoe scouting trip down the river.


Knowing Jeannette and not wanting to risk it I declined for her.  It was a correct assumption.  Derick had not done this previously with a client, and both of us I suspect being a little naive, departed on our lark adventure.  The hippo had other plans as we were now on their aquatic turf and invading their “refuge”.   Their safe haven.  Their nursery-space.  Get the picture?  What happened I have never read in a magazine or book nor seen in film as this was to be no typical sniper hunt from the bush.

The normal hippo posture, safe distance and just keeping a watchful eye.

No life preserves or flotation devices were available.  I guess the point is moot with the Luangwa being one of the most hippo and croc infested rivers in Africa.  They’re not gonna find’ya.  Besides water wings just makes you a “bob the apple” snack toy.  Silently sliding along, occasional raucous Meyer’s parrot calls are interjected by Grey go-away bird taunts.  Just me literally riding shotgun at the bow, PH Derick in the middle, Sylvester and Kennedy as pole men at the back.  They did have a wooden shovel in case paddling was needed.  In the rush for adventure the drinking water was forgotten in camp for the day’s voyage.  Your mouth gets a wee bit dry when face to face with hippos. 

Our canoe, loading the minimal hunting gear, 2 guns and a camera.

Bon voyage time….as it generally happens, hippo keep a discrete distance.  They move, maneuver and dive.  They don’t know you.  They don’t trust you.  They don’t want to be near you.  But once in a while you meet one who’s happy to greet you personally.  That was this day.  After many miles of floating, pushing off sand bars by our men in the water and sighting some good specimens for our intended land hunt a particular hippo decided it didn’t like our aftershave.  We spotted it a long way off.  The hippo had us in its beady eyed sight as well.  It stayed planted in the middle of the current seam facing us upriver.  Bopping, waiting, gauging its attack, the hippo was patiently timing our arrival!  Hippo pods to the right and crocs to left, the conveyor belt of rippling liquid swept us forward on a collision course.

Being Bwana, this was my gig with no backup from behind.  PH Derick was not holding his famed 1910 Rigby .470.  It sat neatly ready beside him as there was no shot opportunity as backup.  Besides, as a rule PH’s don’t fare well explaining to the Magistrate how the former Bwana had his hair parted in the crown of their head!


PH Derick did do a fine job as stand-in videographer capturing the Hippo Encounter moment.  That hippo was at whisker close shave distance from the bow and a perilous shot from a rocking boat.  Lined up, no time to think, “If he gets any closer than that” distance and immediately squeeeezing the left barrel rear trigger, I heard no sound other than the hippo slow rolling under.  You will need to see the feature film for the finish.  Just try putting your cheek on that stock!  I am not ashamed of the video captured tension in my jaw and shaking hand afterwards.


Now that my friend, is (delete long beeep) hunting!

Ill intentions and still closing the distance as there is no stopping the Luangwa current.  This hippo was purposely, malevolently waiting our arrival and the next head bob surfacing would have been right in my end of the canoe.

Above the bulging eye sockets are large bumps on each side of the snout.  Those are where the ivory canine tusks thrust up.  Large bumps are what we looked for.

What a challenge.  Admittedly photos show the single shot was 1” low and 1” point of aim right.   Note the head was tipped slightly.  Hummph, nitpickers.  PH Derick wants to add this Disney thrill ride as the only way to hunt hippo in the future.  I told him afterwards he put a lot of faith in my shooting ability.  I, for the first-time hunting and holding any double rifle just the day before, had only taken 4 practice shots with the open sighted Krieghoff .470 Nitro Express.  Hitting the tree 4 times I was declared ready to go.  Good thing I hunted squirrels with a baling wired iron sight .22LR almost half a century ago among the southern Oregon oaks.  Its worthwhile practice, small target and all.  Maybe next time I’ll tell him about my misses first.


That’s how you recover a hippo- team work.  As it was dusk, two scouts stood guard over the hippo throughout the night by camp-fire, against crocs, lions and such.

The Great Rift

Enjoyable day spent touring the glory of the African bush today including hot springs and one of the worlds grandest Baobab trees.  Having seen more than a few, this one is immense.  Only stuck and winched out once.  The Luangwa River flows through Africa’s great rift valley and terminates at the mighty Zambezi.  Its headwaters are at the intersection of Zambia, Malawi and Tanzania.  The hot springs are evidence from the Jurassic epoch forward of tectonic upheaval close to the surface.  Wonder what it would be like to hunt the great lizards of the past?


Bwana needs a bigger gun came the answer.

Jeannette and Sylvia relaxed in camp today while the boys hunted.  So onward Ho!…the bush is very dense and the game easily hidden.  There are many fleeting glimpses and rare opportunities in the leafy shadow.  Open plains shots in danbos or karunga are rare here.  You are sneaking quietly and slowly through vines, creepers and thorns.  Our prey’s cunning wiles on the simian chase increases the challenge.  Finding a baboon is not so hard as lesser troop members scamper and climb in chaotic screaming confusion.   Particularly since they find you first.  Catching the big dog arrogantly strutting about is the thing.  And today they won several times as we retreated to barking insults and obscene baboon gestures.  We did hear a troop explode as a leopard caught and devoured her morsel.  How a female?  PH Derick heard her call.  There was utter pandemonium and then silence.  Cats prefer dining in peace.

Took photo of really large leopard print in the mud.  None taken of the male lion prints in the road.  To keep tsetse flies away they have a novel method of burning elephant dung in a can wired and hung on the back rack of the battlewagon “Iron Maiden”.


We all fished later for tigers, a savage toothed monster as well as vundu, a large catfish from the pontoon.  You may have seen this on River Monsters with Jeremy Wade.

Bouncing back from fishing on the track to camp a trophy class 60lb a side Jumbo ghosted into the jungle.  Of course, a minute later a big bull kudu was just standing with his lady in the wide open five minutes from camp just at dark.  No gun.  That’s hunting.


It is very late or early at 3am, as the satellites align the flights are rebooked straight through, ha technology….you be the judge of this itinerary: Zambia-Zimbabwe-Ethiopia-Ireland-WA DC-CHI-PDX.  Good thing we rented our weapons.  I had sprinted in the dark by torchlight over to PH Derick’s chalet to retrieve the credit card from the safe.  “Thank-you Derick”…”No problem Bwana”.  Oops, the .470NE double is in the tent….a leopard is grunting a raspy cough right behind the perimeter grass fence ten feet from me in my skivvies, now tight under our bedsheets baboons alarm bark from the trees.  He’s after’em.  Then CRASH!  I forgot to mention the elephant bulls knocking down palms all around us for the fruit as well.  Its night terrors for light sleepers.

The Boer Trek

The Boer Trek was a famous historical event when the Dutch refused to live under British rule, fought and bitterly left South Africa northward and westward.  Hey we Americans couldn’t live with them either and kicked the Brits out too!  PH Derick and Sylvia are Dutch descendants, Afrikaans.  So, today’s trip is officially the Boer Trek from the Luangwa in the great rift valley and through the Muchinga Mts Escarpment to the Lunsemfwa river and Lukusashi river camp.  It was sixty miles in 8.5 hours at 7.5mph.  There were 69 named crossings not counting side feeders.  Officially the final crossing counts were: Ilinda 5, Miyaeye 19, Nyonga 29, Misaka 14, Noname 2.  The watershed summit was 2700 feet by GPS.  There is no road or track.  Not virgin fresh but fully overgrown.  Many years had passed since anyone had come this way.  It took 6 weeks for the advance crew working from each direction to cut the trace with pangas, a locally crafted machete tool.  The two sides were now re-joined.

And we are still in the same massive hunting block.  For comparison, West Petauke GMA is bigger by one hundred thousand acres than Olympic N.P., and bigger than the following by a quarter million acres each- Yosemite N.P., North Cascades N.P. or Rhode Island!  Take your pick.  The scenery from the escarpment summit where we lunched was stupendous.  The surrounding area forest had been burned as the road crew wanted to improve the view for us!  Thoughtful.  That low gap in the distance was 2 hours from Luangwa camp and we are at the summit 2 hours from that gap.  There were still 4.5 hours to go down to Lukusashi

The Muchinga Mts are heavy with quartz.  There were boulders half as big as cars.  The best white quartz rock was at the escarpment summit.  Dear God don’t let them find gold here.

Fun along the way included a young bull elephant, full size fun mind you, with 12” tusks flushing out of the bush absolutely right next to my open door, off the fender at speed darting across wild eyed and missing the front bumper by mere feet.  He almost made a fine hood ornament.  As the saying goes, he was just trying to meet his buddies like the chicken that crossed the road.  No warning, just flushed like fowl.  Luckily no harm, no foul.  It can happen that fast in the African bush.


FYI- That is precisely why PH Derick drives the Iron Maiden with no windshield and his Rigby loaded pointed ahead.  He has had to shoot charging elephant boarders as there isn’t room in the passenger seat!



The crossings each had their own challenges.  Jeannette and Sylvia opted to wait on the other side for the Ilinda2 crossing.  The video would make a good Toyota and BF Goodrich ad.  Next up the crew had a rough go making a climb out of one of the crossings.  It took the Iron Maiden 4 tries on her 16ply tires.  The Boer Trek was made without a winch used by either rig.  “Muddie but no stuckie”.  PH Derick related a story from the 1990’s when Sylvia’s brother broke a drive shaft half way through the escarpment and finished the route driving backwards with one rearview mirror!   Men were men back in the day, eh.

The Muchinga Mts Escarpment “trace” was a low gear four-wheel drive scramble pitching down river and creek embankments, over boulders and through hand cleared wilderness.  Driving the Iron Maiden, Alex earned great status having successfully run the gauntlet for the first time.  Very few have made this trek and even fewer driven it.  No Dakar prize money, just tribal fame and glory, with the usual winning driver “perks”.


A little story about PH Derick.  In 2008 there were two man-eating lions creating havoc on the Luangwa River near our camp.  Two lions killed and ate a local village city councilor (sneaking out at night to visit a girlfriend, never-mind his wife) and also nearly killed a 13yr old boy sleeping by a campfire but failed when the parents threw fire brands, then yet another attack on a fisherman who was saved by his buddies.  PH Derick and a Zim PH, brought in to assist sorting out the issue, set a bait near where the boy was dragged screaming into the bush.  Turns out the marauders were two females.  Man eating lionesses.  Kind of reminds me of some….any-who….they readily came for the bait, at night of course.

Quiet please, lights on, ACTION!  The Zim guy forgot to load and his firearm spued a sickening “click”.  PH Derick cranked up and drilled one, killing it.  Helter-skelter snarling roars, the Zim PH quickly loaded, followed up and nailed the other.  Ahh such is the comfortable bush life.


Final note.  PH Derick related how he came across a 3’ deep by 6’ wide trench running for miles deep in the Muchinga Mts.  He asked his local crew if it was for irrigation.  No Bwana, that be slave route.  Solemn thought that.

Lukusashi River Camp

The Boer Trek pounded our stamina through continuous jostling and banging away on rocks, holes and logs; so with gritted teeth we pulled in relieved to a staff greeting at Lukusashi camp.  As you might imagine, Jeannette is pleased with the picturesque riverside camp nestled in a shady grove.

But it was COLD in camp this morning, about 5C.  A foggy mist rose from the water as Carmine bee-eaters flicked through the tendrils.  The sunshine warmed us up quickly though as PH Derick and I fished until midday via canoe.  The only thing moving or biting were the crocs, not even the pesky tsetse.  After lunch at camp, we went hunting.  Our goal was Kudu, Impala, Baboon and Pumba.  Many stalks, sightings and suitable specimens located…and we did find two of our quarries in a position to be hunted.  Ended with a huge baboon and very old impala ram.

Peaceful Lukusashi Camp setting.

 Dawn on the Lukusashi river.

Keeping a watchful eye for the gut pile stealing twelve-foot crocodile while fishing.

The big male dawg was spotted across a semi-dry river bed in the final slanting sun rays of the day.  The baboon was a tricky proposition as he was jumping, straining high to reach ripe fruit and landing behind a screen of purple, yellow and white flowers dotting river edge vegetation.  As he bounced up and down for fruit at 150 yards, I commented to PH Derick, 7mm rifle on the sticks, “Umm, I can’t make that shot.”  The reply was “Neither can I”!  Ha-ha what fun.  Finally, he strutted free of the brush in a tiny gap and he was truly drilled.  KA-BOOM.  Baboon troop chaos, howling screams and as the king is dead, they unceremoniously scrambled for cover.


The old impala ram gave a spirted run to no avail after a heart shot.  Also harvested two more impala on the camp quota for the scouts and staff.  They are quite pleased having triple meat to eat.  The baboon guts will be used for chumming tigers and vundu in the river.  We will all go fishing after a morning kudu hunt.  The impala was especially tasty served with a fine South Africa red.  It is 10pm and I can see my breath…chilling down after sweating today.


Jeannette and Sylvia enjoyed camp again while PH Derick and I hunted Kudu and Pumba.  Chased kudu through the thorn thickets without success.  Sunshine blazing hot at mid-day.  Jeez I’m tired.  PH Derick eyes me as I drift off seated under a tree.  He retreats to get the Iron 

Maiden.  Caught up with Pumba right at dark.  It goes from light to dark in 15 minutes.  Less than a 10yard shot with the silenced 7mm.  Death dash and done.  That warthog is as fine as you can ever hope for.  He sports a full blond flowing mane head to tail, the Fabio of hogs.  The staff was giddy with joy as they love eating warthog.  High fives all around.

There is a large croc trying to get into the skinning shed where the baboon corpse lies in state.  Slivers of yellow light slip through gaps in the grass siding.  The mood in there has a gory death dirge tinge and he doesn’t quite smell like aromatic incense.  They don’t put Pumba in there as they fear the croc stealing their meal.


For several nights lion have been calling back and forth across the river…..

UUUaaamPHH, UUUaaamPHH, UUUaaamPHH, UUUaaamPHH! 


This is my Africa!

Close Call

Good morning, sort of.  The kitchen staff work diligently to prepare and serve game and garden fare.  Breakfast was omelets with cheese, tomato and green onion, papaya fruit with Nescafe and orange juice.  But I can’t eat.


After returning with Pumba last night, I stumbled from the Iron Maiden and was flattened with an extreme high fever, uncontrollable violent shaking and dropped immediately into bed.  Started double dose antibiotics and ibuprofen.  Missed sundowners and dinner.  Burning fever until midnight followed by bed soaking sweats.  Sticking a foot or hand out would bring an icy shock of cold and quivering shakes.  By morning back to 90%, well maybe.  PH Derick was ready to Evac me.  Dodged a bullet there as Africa strikes in her return uncompromising fashion.  Must stay on medication.  It has travelled to all the joints, very stiff.  Carry on.


Back on Track

Things happen for a reason, so you appreciate them all the more.  We have spent 26 days in the African field on three safaris pursuing her grand prize- the Greater Southern Kudu.  They are the size of an elk or horse for comparison.  A bull over 50” of horn is considered a real trophy.  PH Derick and I spotted and stalked mostly cows, as there is usually a bull hanging about as they are rutting.  This day we had nothing for breakfast, taking a water bottle for a quick hunt.  Several busted attempts later due to the high numbers of impala and kudu cows (too many eyes) we found ourselves dry, hot, hungry and trying to get a bead on a lurking bull in the riverine shadows.


While searching, seeking, peeking to pick out the bull in the leafy murk I found the big guy sneaking away from the cows 35 yards out headed right, nose down low, horns tipped back not quite at a trot.  Branches, earth, leaves and the escaping bull all were black silhouettes against the bright sun dappled river highlighted beyond our little now or never world.   Silent “hsssss, he’s coming this way”!  With black-on-black zippo for 6X fixed scope cross hairs, a snap booming .375H&H Magnum shot shook the overhead leaves off and they fluttered down like a tickertape parade.  I felt good.


I hadn’t asked PH Derick (to my left), but having always hunted alone and killed seven bull elk without ever taking a shot over 70 yards on thickly forested Washington and Oregon public land, it was my element and time.  The bull went crashing away in a dramatic loop without offering a follow-up shot.  The one shot proved true after tracking the faint, almost dainty prints and splattered blood spoor quite some distance away from the river.  Kennedy and I found him in the hard-pan mopane scrub.  The crimson earth told the tale.  Bled out he had crashed into heavy brush, breaking limbs then reared up over backward and collapsed.  What a beautiful beast.


Final score:

Left horn       57-1/2” w 10” bases

Right horn     56-3/4” w 10-1/2” bases

Chevron striped muzzle, chalk stripe suit with a tosseled mane and shaggy beard, the Greater Southern Kudu is a formattable adversary as with his head tipped forward for fighting, he can look straight down the barrel of both his horn curls to be sure of his deadly aim and skewer you.

You can nearly pass a grapefruit down those curls.  He is a huge lifetime prize.


With full curls for the girls and flared horn tips, this boy is old, as his tips are the color of amber, a fossilized tree resin turned to precious stone.


Ah the sundowner.  A couple of gin & tonics and your memory goes bushy.  OK maybe a lot of gin & tonics as the crew had to organize a midnight re-supply run via motorcycle tag team.  That was a feat!  Well done boys, thank-you.

Fishing Africa Style

We have fished several locations, including the treacherous Chipinda Rapids, a cavernous jagged jaws of a gorge on the Lukusashi river.  While fishing there a scenic spectacle unfolded as a lion killed and munched a kudu across from us in a thicket.  We listened as the “circle of life” song played out with the river din for chorus.  Vultures wheeled patiently above.


We did both finally score fishing on “the beach” above camp.  Having brought $100’s of dollars’ worth of fancy fishing gear the deal was sealed with baboon entrails chumming the water.  FYI- the croc broke into the skinning shed and made off with our impala gut pile last night.  All that was needed to fish was a big hook and large blob of fresh heart meat.  The bloodier the better.  Everything eats meat in Africa.  Genteel fly fishing it ain’t.  Both Jeannette and I landed good sized Burbot, kind of a croaking catfish…and a certain female someone caught the bigger one by a wide margin!

Glad he’s on that side of the river.


That is our 6’ fishing buddy across the river.

Meat and Greet

The local nSenga-Ambu tribe villagers provide all the camp staff, road crews, trackers and skinners for this safari adventure.  It is their industry.  Cash payments are made providing the only real income.  They do some subsistence farming.  There is no market but there is a medical clinic in a village on the tar road to Bangweulu swamp.  The only commercial “export” is woman hand dug, hand watered and handpicked cotton. The volume is absolutely pitiful for the effort. They also do most of the farming for food.  Christian is the headman of the local Lukusashi river village and is in charge of the hunting camp staff.  Part of his role is meat distribution to his local tribe.  The village consists of 32 families with grass huts, a central open pillared thatched pavilion and inhabits ~150 men, women and children.


The meat is divided in 32 equal shares for everyone to see.  They are quite happy with their unsophisticated rural lives.  Who can blame them?  No CNN or their self-worshipping miscreant misfits!

The Way Out

This morning we embarked on the final leg of our journey and made the Lukusashi river crossing into another huge hunting block via pontoon.  It is the only way out unless you want to re-cross the Muchinga Mts Escarpment and take the other pontoon back.  PH Derick welded this watercraft together with bush ingenuity.  The first crew truck, the Iron Maiden, was much heavier, more guys and toting a diesel generator on the back to boot.  Looked quite rollie-pollie on the plastic drums.  Our turn came and you can see we are out of the truck again with toes on the slim steel yellow tire track….the drums sink if you step on them.  They are held in place only by floating against the frame.  Jeannette has that same look when we first encountered a Cape buffalo at 25’ on safari one day one, maybe a little happier as we were leaving, headed out for the final hunt.

Four hours more of tsetse infested bush driving, lots of game and almost no people brought us to the tar road.  Two hours more and back in Lusaka for the night at a golf resort complete with wandering Impala.  This enabled our Covid test to be swabbed when the doctor came to the hotel on special request.  Better pass.  The hotel, while not quite the standard of the old and distinguished InterContinental or it’s Safari Bar, was acceptable.  They did grant, after careful consideration, the use of the Board Room for the medical procedure rather than the lobby.  The slap of “reality” brings into question the ontological status of our supposed modern civilization.  Just food for thought.


Kafue Flats

Tomorrow it is an early departure for the Kafue Flats GMA and its Blue Lagoon North Bank area.  This is another hunting block established especially for the management of the Kafue lechwe, where it is the only place to be found on earth.   As for the hunt, if a mature ram can’t be located quickly on the limited dry ground along the swampy river lakeshore, then it is into the leaking wood dugout canoes for us.  Hired fishermen would provide the power.  From there it is slow poling through reeds and small islands amongst the crocodiles.  Hmmm sounds fun.


Let’s see if there is a cherry for this cake.

Getting directions on the myriad of intertwined Kafue Flats dusty tracks.

Kafue Flats GMA Game Scout station, signing in and checking the year’s harvest log.

What a Day

Forget the valley girl puns, OMG!  This long hunting day entailed an early start well before first light, rutted blacktop on the roughest official road ever seen for 6 hours each way in and out, piles of billowing dust with sizzling sunshine before finally getting back after dark.  They don’t put that ugly part in the brochure!  This is a wet year which has the small islands still flooded on the Kafue Flats.  That meant no need for poling a canoe through reeds amongst the crocodiles as the Kafue lechwe were on the main shore.  Jeannette said “darn” no croc canoe ride.  Imagine that.

While the girls stayed high and dry with the rig, we set off afoot and scouted out a number of herds, moving, milling, grazing.  The poo covered ground starts solidly enough and gradually changes to a gray/black muck which slowly goes from 1” to 6” deep.  It isn’t that Texas sticky gumbo, just a nice fine carbon colored poo goo.  It would make a fine lady’s facial mask.  But then the water starts appearing on top in large pools so now your deeper and soaked.  There are mini “islands” posing as termite mounds that the lechwe gather on like cattle.  We use these for strategic cover as dry glassing points and finally as a shooting rest.

Only One

The distance is long with herds keeping a 250yard initial safe zone, then they’re out to 450 yards.  That was after hazing rounds were dispensed just to make it interesting.  Bullets hit like little Yellowstone mud-pot geysers.  Yep, another miss.  PH Derick was sure it was the wind’s fault. 

A lot of glassing and waiting for movement revealed a very credible trophy.   The missed one would still have beat the government records book 29” average.  You can scan that book when you check in.  The Game Scout station records revealed this year’s best to date was 31-1/2”.  Anything over 30” is very good and that is why we missed.  “We” as in me, the gun and the wind.  I did learn later from a well-respected Zambian PH at the SCI convention his client’s 2021 best Kafue lechwe was 33”.


Then “the One” was spotted at the back.  You could almost see a halo and hear angels.  His horn tips waggled above the herd and when he came clear in view the bases were heavy, mucho grande!  Wrong lingual continent but you get the idea as even at what we thought was 400 yards we were tickled at the sight of him.   Oh, so sneaky now.  No, no range finder, just hunter guesstimation.   Ensuing mud, anthill islands, water wading and waiting for him to clear the lesser crowd multiple times took its toll.  He finally opened up at 350 yards and the 7mm trigger more carefully, gently applied.  THUNK is the returning sound of success.


He was down but not out.  Very sick and immobile.  Creeping forward two more termite heaps closed the gap to 200 yards.  We again had to wait as a young lechwe buck stood in the line of fire, forever.   The herd milled about their monarch, the blocking animal moved left and finally our trophy was given mercy and peace.

High Five as Borat says.  My Kafue lechwe is the largest PH Derick clients have ever shot.  The trophy measures by steel tape 34-1/2” x 33-3/4” with a pair of 8” bases.  This toad weighs around 300lbs, simply huge.  It is likely to be the best Kafue lechwe in Zambia this year.  We will have to wait to see what else gets harvested; but OMG!!!

Over an hour of mud hauling brought our “bull” back to dry land….he’s too big to be considered an ordinary “ram”.  We each traded off in pairs as there is no way but the hard way.  The game scout was useless, which is not normal.  Tip noted.  She still got a whole hind leg for her “effort” and then picked up the entrails as an extra “snack goodie”.  Mmmmm.  The guys kept the rest of the meat, heart, liver and stomach.  We lunched while trackers Stanley and Alec prepped the cape and meat.  They flushed the rumen out with pooey muddy Kafue Flats water for quality control.  More Mmmmm.  And the world worries about Covid.  These guys are nearly indestructible.  FYI- two trackers splitting that meat is a luxury.  It normally goes to the group and tribal village community.  Being a Government GMA, there is no community.  More High Fives.


Test results in very late, we are good to go.  For the record, I bagged a single Guinea fowl on the wing….don’t ask about misses.  And don’t ask the miss witnesses about misses as their silence wasn’t cheap 🙂


Full Circle

A journey in Swahili is Safari.  And Africa adventure is an experience as much as passage drawn through a portal.  The unknown stepped into, traversed with beating heart and spent breath, finishing with the mind’s eye silently replaying success in chronographic sunshine.  Time evaporates through a bit of mystery, very close to the Beginning and the End simultaneously; simply life’s Eternity.  It’s right there, there in the bush; the connection that is hunting and life.  I know I am lucky.

There are 12 ivory teeth in a hippo’s chompers.  About 8 inches of canine “tusk” sticks out of the lower gum, so your looking at about 2 feet of ivory.  This is the best value going for a “poor man’s” elephant hunt with less walking…..and just as exciting!