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Tony Denison's Elephant Hunt

By Tony Denison

Early in October Tony Denison returned to Africa for an elephant hunt, again with Nhoro Safaris.  He hunted with his PH’s Gordon Stark and Phillip Reed.  Tony hunted with his Ruger 77 in 458.  The load he used was 75 grains of accurate 2230 and a Barnes solid 450 grain with a speed of 2263 fps.  The hunt was made in the Chirisa Safari area in Zimbabwe.  Three or four days into the hunt the trackers found three nice bull tracks.  They picked them up early, at daylight, and jumped them around 8 o’clock.  We then returned to the truck, to give the elephants a chance to calm down.  At about 10:30 AM they all went back, to where they had left the elephants and the trackers went to work again.  After walking all afternoon, in 100 degree weather, the trackers finally heard the elephants around 4:30 PM.  Their entire group had to circle around the animals to keep the wind in their favor and finally saw them just before 5 o’clock. 

They were hunting in very heavy Mopani bush, so to get a clear shot they had to get very, very close.  They had gone about 10 yards, trying to get a clear brain shot, when one of the elephants lifted his trunk and was aware that something was not quite right.  The group had discussed what they would do in case of different scenarios, but they were sure, due to the density of the bush, that they would only get one shot.  So if they could not get a shot in the brain, or heart and lung, or a spine shot, they would have to let the animals go.  The elephant wheeled so the only shot Tony had was to the spine.  The animal dropped immediately into a sitting position.  He then walked around the elephant and put two rounds into the brain.

Looking at his watch, it was just 5 o’clock.  They checked their GPS and saw they were about 5 miles from the truck, so they decided not to try to get any photos that day because it was already getting dark.  They got out to the truck when it was pitch black and drove back to camp.

  They were up at 4:30 AM the next morning, had breakfast and started back to where the truck was parked the night before.  They brought with them seven additional skinners, because they had to cut a road into the elephant five miles.  They got to the elephant at about 3:30 in the afternoon.  They cleared the area in order to take photos and then the skinners started their long task.  The group got back to camp at 9:30 that night.  That ended a fantastic and successful elephant hunt.

The next day Tony decided to shoot a big Kudu, if they could find one.  Although they saw plenty, they did not find one in the 55+ inch range.  So they passed those up.Tony had planned after the hunt to visit Victoria Falls.  So the next day Tony and Gordon left camp and drove six hours to the falls.  They had a very nice lunch at the Victoria Falls Inn and then called it a day.  The following day they walked up to the head of the falls where there is a large bronze statue of Dr Stanley Livingston.  They proceeded on, taking photos along the way, for approximately a mile.  They spent the rest of the day touring the Victoria Falls area.

The next day Gordon Stark introduced Toney to a friend of his in Botswana.  He gave them a personal tour through Chobi National Park by car and boat.  The following day Tony had to get back to Bulawayo for his flight home.  What a fantastic way to finish a safari!  He is looking forward to the next one.

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