Two Dangerous Game Hunts in the Save Valley Conservancy

Two Dangerous Game Hunts in the Save Valley Conservancy

We have two recent subscriber reports on two successful dangerous game hunts in the Save Valley Conservancy (SVC) in Zimbabwe this month. The first comes from Rick Carlson, who hunted leopard and buffalo in June with Phillip Smythe’s Ivory Trail Safaris (www.ivorytrailsafaris.com; 263-772-413-618) Carlson’s two adult sons also accompanied him, with one taking an eland and another a kudu. In addition to his report, Carlson also shared more on his hunt in a recent phone conversation.

He tells us, “We had no issue on this hunt, and operator Phillip Smythe (who was also my PH) and his excellent staff took care of everything. I took a very large trophy leopard on the first night sitting in the blind. All of the prep work turned out perfectly. I also got a very old, almost hairless trophy buffalo at last light after a long stalk in the thick mopane forest. This old, scarred up dugga boy was just what I been looking for. The bull was part of a large herd of some 200 head which was nervous and shifting with the wind.

“We hunted the Senuko Ranch, an excellent area with an abundance of trophy animals. It seemed to be a particularly good leopard area. I was impressed by how much information Smythe had gathered on the cats; he has collected years of trail camera photos and could often provide multiple photos of each leopard sorted by year. He has a quota of only two leopards there, and will only take old and large males.

“I wasn’t feeling that well the first few days after travel, but we all went ahead with hunting and set six baits, five of which were soon being hit by different leopards. A very old male leopard became our target, and he showed up at about 9:00 on my first night sitting. It can’t go much better than that.

“I had specifically mentioned to Smythe that I was interested in working buffalo in mopane forest as opposed to open savannah, and this was a perfect area. Most of the leaves were still on trees, so there was a lot of cover. We spent most of the day following a herd of about 50 animals and trying to get into position to take a particular bull. Finally he came out to the side in late afternoon. It had been a thrilling stalk.

“During the remainder of the trip, my sons both had time to take great trophies (one eland and one kudu) with Smythe. The kudu came on the last light of the last day of hunting. We also brought shotguns and spent a day out by a dam hunting doves and francolin, which was a nice change of pace. The only thing we couldn’t find that we wanted, of all things, was a good warthog.”

Rick Carlson with an old dugga boy

“Smythe is a perfectionist. He tailors your experience to your requests, with no surprises. His success percentage on leopards is very high, which was important to me as I was not sure I could afford to return again soon. ‘Big Cat Phil’ worked really hard to make sure we got top trophies, and I would hunt with him again any time. It’s not a bargain hunt, but it’s worth the money. Lodging and food were excellent, and it was nice to have a comfortable place to come back to at the end of the day. We saw a ton of animals, including elephant every day, huge numbers of giraffe, and a black rhino. My sons really got the full ‘National Geographic’ experience.”

For our second SVC hunt, we have a report from subscriber Harold Meyers on a tuskless cow elephant hunt booked with Graham Sales Safaris. Graham Sales accompanied Meyers on the hunt, along with a Zimbabwean PH.

Meyers tells us, “This was a 12-day hunt focused mostly on tuskless elephant. I have hunted with Graham Sales at least fifteen times, and he has a long relationship with partners in the SVC. The area we hunted had a great deal of elephant, and they are trying to weed out the tuskless animals.

“We actually got our first cow on the first day of hunting. We tracked a large herd and identified a suitable cow, but we couldn’t get a shot at her for awhile and had to move quite a ways. When she came to the outside I was able to get a shot.

“The SVC is all open, of course, so elephants move freely between concessions. We saw about 50 every day, but we just didn’t find another tuskless animal. We spent time hunting other animals for bait to try for a honey badger. We saw tracks, but no badger visited baits while I hunting. I did take a very large African wild cat that will be four or five in the record books, as well as a white-tailed mongoose. That was a lot of fun. We also had a leopard come in at one point.”

Meyers has been on a number of non-trophy hunts in Africa, including a cow Cape Buffalo hunt (see “This Cape Buffalo Cow Hunt in South Africa Offers Hair-Raising Excitement” in Database).

Harold Meyers with a tuskless cow elephant from the Save Valley Conservancy