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Zimbabwe’s Perfectly Shot Dangerous Game
Price: EUR 41,33
DVD, 2 hours 50min
Marc Watts brings his outgoing personality to the African big-game hunting scene while hunting in Zimbabwe with PH Andrew Dawson. They hunt from three camps in the Zambezi Valley for a full-bag safari that includes waterbuck, kudu, grysbok, leopard, hippo, croc, hyena, warthog, sable, and four buffalo. The first part of the two-week safari is a hunt along the Chewore River in the lower Zambezi Valley, then the party moves to the main camp along the Zambezi River, and the last stop is in the Doma area for plains game.

The entire production is professionally done and the footage is well captured. The feel is that of a TV show, with relatively short segments of the hunt framed between “sidebars” that include tips, comments, and flashbacks to Marc’s other safaris. Marc Watts is a former CNN reporter, and this explains the look and feel of the production. Some of the sidebars are sponsored, with unobtrusive icons briefly appearing on the screen. Considering the cost of a truly good production, these benign sponsorships are acceptable, but we would not be doing our job if we did not mention them.

The title “Fire and Ice” refers to the phlegmatic character of Andrew Dawson versus the go-get-it-now approach of Marc Watts. Dawson gives his usual understated professional performance that we have seen on other DVDs. Watts is his usual self, full of confidence and predicting his trademark one-shot kills with his .375 bolt action and .416-500 double rifle. An especially interesting aspect of this DVD is that Marc gives the viewer a background on the main trackers of the safari, people often overlooked and yet so vital and without whom a safari like this is impossible.

The safari starts with an appearance by Craig Boddington, who is at the end of his own safari and helps Marc Watts get some leopard bait and camp meat by shooting a cow buffalo on the run with Marc’s double rifle. On the same day, Marc shoots a tremendous waterbuck and a greater kudu. As the safari continues, Marc uses his double rifle to shoot an old buffalo bull that walked back on its track straight into the hunters. The next day he shoots a really big bull with his .375 bolt-action in thick brush. It should be noted that getting good, clear footage is much more difficult in Zimbabwe than in East Africa, but the cameraman does a good job despite the brush. A Sharpe grysbok is shot and it seems to give the trackers more pleasure than the larger game. Leopard bait has been hanging all this time, and finally a good tom works a bait and the waiting game in the blind begins. But the leopard will not come during shooting light, and it’s not until PH Andrew Dawson makes a radical change in tactics that the leopard comes to bag. (No night shooting!)

On day ten, the safari arrives at the Zambezi River camp and bags a good warthog, then takes to the river in a boat for croc and hippo. We were pleasantly surprised that in the main camp there was a copy of The Perfect Shot by Kevin Robertson, which the hunters used to discuss where to shoot a hippo. However, the shot at the hippo does make a dent in the reputation of “One Shot Watts” or “Bwana Moja,” as he likes to call himself. Also from this camp, Marc tries for a both a cow and bull buffalo but doesn’t get a shot. Finally it is off to Doma, where he tries for a sable and is eventually successful. The party tries for bushbuck and another hippo on land, but has no luck in those departments.

This a very different safari movie: It’s broken up in short segments and is fast-paced and radically different from the travelogue format of most hunting DVDs. The footage is very good, and so are the graphics, music, and sound. The viewer gets a recap of all kill shots, which some people like and some do not. The recaps are well done and include reflective comments by the PH, hunter, and commentator. This DVD has the look and feel of a TV show, albeit a long one with side comments and flashbacks instead of commercial interruptions. In other DVD reviews we have stated that the era of the one-safari hunting movie has come to an end for those who want a top-notch, well-paced production. Marc Watts and his team have proven that there are exceptions to that rule.

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