This conversation took place in our hotel room during the SCI convention in Las Vegas, Nevada. Barrie Duckworth, Mrs Duckworth, my wife, my hunting partner and I had met, to put final touches to a safari that we had been talking about since 1993 and had postponed in 1994.
The original plan for 1994 was to hunt Cape buffalo and plains game at the Chewore Safari area in the Zambezi Valley. In addition I also wanted to try for leopard and perhaps a lioness. My partner was going for buffalo and plains game only. Now it was January 1995; we were ready to put the final plan together. Barrie explained immediately that he was not able to get a quota for lioness at Chewore. He said his company Zinyala Hunters Safari, of which he is one of the directors, had only four male lion on permit in the valley. These permits had already been booked by clients.
However, Barrie had another plan in mind. Looking at the map of Zimbabwe he suggested Wedza to hunt on Igava Farm for steenbuck, reedbuck and duiker, his Lowveld camp about 30km from Mokore (this is Barrie’s main camp near the Save Conservancy) for leopard and bushbuck, and after ten days, we would drive from South to North through Zimbabwe all the way to Matetsi to hunt a lioness. But in order to do all that, we must forgo our hunt for buffalo. It was not difficult for me to agree to the new approach, since I had taken a magnificent buffalo with Hunters Safari in 1988. My partner would also come to Igava Farm and then proceed to another area to hunt sable, kudu and eland. We would later meet at Matetsi and spend a few days at the Sizinda Photo Camp and sightsee at Victoria Falls. The plan was agreed to by all.
I mentioned to Barrie that in addition to my 7mm Mauser, I would bring my Mauser, a .416 Rem Mag for the lion hunt. He nodded his OK.
By the time we were on our way back home to Prescott, Arizona, I wished it would be July 11, the start of my 18-day safari. In Prescott, I discussed my choice of rifles with my good friend Steve Wickert, a gunsmith and barrelmaker in association with Wells Sport Store of Prescott. Steve said “Well, the 7mm Mauser is fine, but your .35 Whelen makes a bigger hole. Think about it!” That I did.
I have had no hunting experience with the .35, only target practice for which I had developed some loads. I have read a lot about the 9.3 x 62 Mauser and it’s good record in Africa. This helped to make up my mind. I shall take the .35 which is similar to the 9.3 x 62 Mauser. I settled on the following loads which were very accurate in my Ruger M-77 rifle.
250 grain Speer bullet in front of 54 grains of IMR 4320 and, 250 grain Nosler partition, also in front of 54 grains of IMR 4320. In addition I loaded some 250 grain Barnes solids, same powder, just in case. Chronographed velocity for all loads was 2,430 loads ft/sec average.