Hunting for Inches
There is always a hunt during the season that stands out for special reasons and will be referred-to for years to come due to its' unique circumstances. This season this hunt was with a guest who was on his first dangerous game hunt and his first venture to Tanzania. Great guy. Very likable and good company.
Old Buffalo Warrior in Kilombero, Tanzania - there is absolutely nothing wrong with this buffalo. He is in fact a true warrior and will add character and class to any trophy room. He is the one who will raise the questions and start the discussions. That is a BUFF!
The common misconception made by many hunters who first venture to Africa on hunts in South Africa and Namibia is that hunting conditions and management are the same in the rest of Africa. In some cases there may be similarities, but in most cases, countries such as Tanzania are a whole different game. You never know what you are going to get and have little control over what will present itself as a hunting opportunity over the course of your safari. Just the way that nature intended it and how most wilderness hunters like it.
But there is always the question of 'expectations' of which there is nothing wrong, as long as it is within realistic parameters. When on a 10-Day hunt for nothing but buffalo, in a place where you see hundreds of buffalo on a daily basis, do not make the mistake of mentioning the size of trophy that you want. Further still, do not compare a trophy you are yet to collect, to someone else's and express that you want something bigger. As much as the PH and hunting team will want to fulfill your desires, the hunting Gods are more likely to put you to the test and laugh at you. This is what happened...
Personally I hate hunting for inches. Especially when you have an option for two buffalo on license, in an area with an 18-year 100% success record and a reputation for producing exceptional buffalo. No world records, but above average bulls and hunted as they should be - on foot, in their natural habitat and taken old. Unfortunately the measure of the buffalo we were to produce was uttered on the first day. Throughout the safari we came-up few inches short. It was settled that we take a good representative and this we did to the relief of the whole hunting team. We saw bulls on this safari that we have never seen before and the number of dugga boys we came across on a daily basis is like never before in our 18 years of hunting the Kilombero. One morning we saw a combined total of 18 bulls that were all trophies. I had to call the inches on them and an estimate is an estimate, so i always call it an inch less than what i think it is. We passed-up some dream bulls that day!
We hunted hard and saw more buffalo than most people see over ten safaris to Africa. Half way through the safari we saw something special in a herd & again it was an inch short and we had maneuvered to within 70 meters of him only to let him off. You have to imagine how frustrating this can be to the hunting team. My trackers could not understand the reason for passing up some of the bulls even though we have hunted for size many times prior. This particular safari exposed bulls to us that I would have shot myself in a heartbeat. Heavy bosses, deep drop, sweeping curls, hooked tips - we saw it all and had nothing. Nevertheless, we stuck to our agenda and on our last morning of the hunt...
On a river run, just an hour after leaving camp, as we navigated the bouncy track in and out of 'korongos', we woke up two grand dugga boys laying just on the other side of a korongo. The one we saw first was nothing to excite, but when his friend stood up - all i was saying was "shoot him, the one on the right, shoot him". By the time the cartridge was chambered, the scope cover removed and the magnification fiddled with... the two old boys turned and cantered away without stopping as we stared in disbelief at his horns sticking out on either side of his body and laboriously moving up and down as his head strained to carry the weight above his eye level. It was a beautiful sight. It was also what we were looking for and a chance lost. The bulls made their way across the river and there was no way after them as they kept running as far as we could see. I guess that's how he got that big!
It was our last hunting day and we knew that it is highly unlikely to get another chance at such a grand trophy. But it was settled that we get one bigger than the first and that afternoon, we did exactly that. Two fine buff, but so many inches wasted! Enjoy the hunt my friends, don't let inches take away from an experience unmeasurable.
Attached are some old warriors - even though one of them has both his horns broken off, there is absolutely nothing wrong with this buffalo. He is in fact a true warrior and will add character and class to any trophy room. He is the one who will raise the questions and start the discussions. That is a BUFF!
Old Buffalo Warrior in Kilombero, Tanzania