Hunting Tanzania... Kilombero Kronicles 3; Success Story
This is a discussion on Hunting Tanzania... Kilombero Kronicles 3; Success Story within the Hunting Africa forums, part of the HUNT AFRICA category; Fresh back from another outing to the Kilombero Valley. Operations have settled down and everyone is back in the groove ...
08-06-2009, 01:40 AM #1
Hunting Tanzania... Kilombero Kronicles 3; Success Story
Fresh back from another outing to the Kilombero Valley. Operations have settled down and everyone is back in the groove of things. As with riding a bike, the skill never leaves you, but you can expect a few wobbles after a long spell away. The first safari had it's few moments where staff and hunters showed a few rusty joints, but everything is oiled and functioning perfectly again.
Wild Footprints was host to a couple from the USA and the fine character of the guests showed in the hunting results. In hunting wild lands, nothing pays off like an open mind, optimistic attitude, willingness to work and enjoyment of nature and the hunting opportunity at hand. Dreams were realized and friends were made. The hunt could not have gone any better than it did. Photos of the bag attached. We got everything on license except a bushpig, which we did not hunt. Remove the concept of fenced and man-managed areas when you are dealing with Tanzanian Hunting. These are animals in wild places and with a daily role in the theater of life and death as dictated by mother nature.
With the hunt going so well, we got a chance to hang out some leopard baits and of the three baits set-up, all three were hit. Signs of two good Toms & we are yet to bait our five other locations which should have at least another two big Toms in them. The lion situation is not so great but we are yet to carry-out an in depth investigation in preparation for our October lion safari. Lion numbers are down in the Kilombero due to encroachment and poisoning by Cattle Herders, but we hope the government will make a stand and evict all offenders from the area, so that the Kilombero can slowly return to its' former glory as the densest lion populated area in the world.
Elephants are definitely finding refuge in the Kilombero and it seems that the Riverside Forest has been established as a permanent home now. They usually pass through on their migratory movements, but this time they have decided to stay and we look forward to being able to show you a few good bulls in the near future. The buffalo are as always - thriving! Puku are at an al-time low, but that only means they are down from 60,000 to 15,000 which is still sustainable for an area of 4,000 square kilometers. With the new stand by the government and continued efforts by Wild Footprints, we hope to secure the Kilombero Valley for the long term and maintain it as one of the finest dangerous game hunting grounds in Tanzania.
Interesting sightings on the last safari include; red/blue/bush duikers who all decided to cross the road out of camp and announce their presence at different times during the safari. Bushbuck, elephant, waterbuck, reedbuck, blue & vervet monkeys. Hartebeest, impala, buffalo, puku, zebra, warthog, baboon and mongoose are abundant. All the signs are positive and with a long break until the next safari, we are working hard on all the negative signs. Thanks to the hunters who are still supporting our efforts to keep wild places wild. Reports on all on-going field projects will be shared soon.
That's the summary for now, but more will follow. I hope you are all having a great hunting season wherever you are. Enjoy the privilege. Cheers Folks.
08-06-2009, 03:19 AM #2
- Member of SCI Northeast Wisconsin Chapter, NRA, Local Sportsmen's Club
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Sounds like things are going well for you Ryan. Thanks for posting this. I always enjoy reading your stuff.
08-06-2009, 04:06 AM #3
Thanks for the post Ryan. It is a good thing for hunters and wildlife that operators like Wild Footprints and dedicated individuals such as yourself, are out there and fighting the good fight.Skyline Adventures
08-06-2009, 03:23 PM #4
Always a pleasure to read about your adventures. Thanks Ryan.
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08-07-2009, 07:45 AM #5
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Thanks Ryan, that was a very enjoyable post. Glad things went so well.There is only one degree of dead . . . there are many degrees of wounded
08-07-2009, 09:49 AM #6
Thought i should share a little more detail on the actual hunt with you guys... The Puku was a stressful affair as it always is. Believe me when i say this hunt is TOUGH! Imagine having to pick an exceptional trophy from a minimum of 500 sightings a day. I suppose it is more stressful for the guest hunter as there is always the feeling that the next one is bigger than the previous. Over the years, I have learned to just watch them casually until something stands out and grabs my attention without a doubt - in which case, you are looking at a Puku 18 inches or more. So there we were, passing what was probably the 1,213th puku and this loner in a small opening way out in the distance stood out for us. I told Max that i had spotted his puku, but we were on the trail of buffalo so we hardly slowed down. The buffalo did not cooperate, so on the way back, we stopped the car and made an approach to this isolated opening with the wind in our favor and lots of cover to get to within 80 meters. He was bedded down and had no idea what was about to hit him. Well, he took the Barnes X quartering to and did not manage to get up from his seated position. An old battle scared puku he was. He did go 19 inches and Max pulled off a great shot - which became a habit throughout the safari. Gun used was a .375 H&H Mag in Remington Model 700. Worked beautifully with 300g Barnes X.
08-07-2009, 10:27 AM #7
The safari started out at Catfish Camp which is our main dangerous game area and the goal was to get a puku and a buffalo within the first three days and move to Riverside Camp where we would pursue plains game and the second buffalo.
For the first two days we worked buffalo every morning and every afternoon, but they never cleared the long grass. In some cases, we were within five yards of them but did not know whether there was a bull on there or not! When i say long grass, you can imagine all you like, but the reality of it will still take your courage away. Second morning we sighted two birds who gave away the location of two dagga boys in the long grass not too far from camp. We almost went right into them when they decided to spook away and only then we realized there was just two bulls of which one was a shooter. They cleared one opening and gave us only a split second before vanishing and turning into two needles in a 1000 square kilometer haystack. The afternoon was very exciting in that we were surrounded by a herd of about 100 buffalo. The big bulls never came into the open and we could have taken two younger ones that ventured to within 20 yards of us. At last light we left them to be pursued the following morning.
The morning involved running around the long grass with just glimpses of the overgrown black rabbits. The afternoon was our lucky moment. We almost drove into the herd as they were crossing an opening we least expected them to be in. Luckily for us, they did not detect us and the only cow that did, turned and walked away in the opposite direction from the herd. A quick scan from the top of the truck gave us an indication of the terrain ahead and we quickly set off to cut off the herd before it cleared an open patch ahead to our right.
We did not realize just how big the herd was... they were scattered all over the open ground and an approach would be risky as there were too many eyes watching in all directions. With the light fading and knowledge that the next opening was at least another kilometer away, we knew this had to be our only likely chance. Just as the thought of seeking the old bull was initiated, he walked out from a group in the middle of the opening and started sniffing the air. He stood a good 6-8 inches above all the rest.
Max was oriented to pick him out and it was not difficult as he stood out clearly and had the typical extra coating of dried mud all over him. To the front of the herd was an even older bull but with less of a spread and also at least 200 meters away. The first bull would offer the only shooting opportunity and we set up to take it. Max did very well to calm himself down and wait for when the bull was in the clear and offered a clear broadside shot - he dropped in his tracks and we both looked at each other in awe. I had told him that the .375 might give us some sport and was not my first choice for dangerous game.
The bull was down and the herd set off in clouds of dust and grunts. It was immediately obvious that the bull was pinned down by a high shoulder shot as he was kicking furiously but unable to get up. We walked to him and Max put another shot into him from 15 yards through the boiler room. This seemed to just enrage him further and his blood-shot eyes turned to face us and made it very clear that if he could, he would have us both hanging on the spread of his horns. Another shot was given into the boiler room again, but the adrenalin had kicked in and this bull was not going to die for us. It took another shot from point blank and an entire 15 minutes for the bull to finally take his last breath! That was enough proof for Max that he should bring a .416 on his next outing. He believed it without a doubt and over the next few days was converted to accepting the .375 as the best gun for Africa and the .416 as the best gun for African Dangerous Game.
The buffalo was a long pursued dream for Max and it was a special moment to have realized it. He did his job very well and we were spared any unnecessary drama. The buff went just below 39 inches and over the next few days we passed up two shooters in the hope of getting something bigger or better, but it never happened. There will be many to choose from on the next safari. The 'humping rabbits' remains unused in action.
08-09-2009, 10:15 AM #8
The plan having gone like clockwork the first three days, we set off from Catfish Camp and drove the four hours to Riverside Camp. The roads get smoother, but the tsetse flies get thicker. The two camps are two habitat extremes, with the in-between being the more expected miombo woodland and rolling valleys. From the tall grass of the Catfish floodplain, you are hosted at Riverside by the dense riverine forest. Both are beautiful settings and have lots to offer.
The Nyasaland Wildebeest is undoubtedly the most beautiful of the gnu's. It is usually on everyones wish-list. The reality is that we average only two bulls a year out of our area and this usually happens only around September/October and possibly November. So from the start, I made this clear to Max and neither of us had hopes of bagging a wildebeest on this safari. Our first day out hunting at Riverside and we see a herd of impala that bounds away into the woods...
We get off the truck and my tracker and I already know what the herd is thinking and how we are going to deal with it. The wind is as we want it and we start our trek in a different direction to where the impala seemingly headed. After half a kilometer, the pace slows down and the senses are fine tuned. We see movement ahead and Heblon (my tracker) informs that it is Hartebeest. I give him the greenlight for the beest as a priority. A hundred meters ahead there is an opening with a couple of water holes and we know we may have a chance at either impala or hartebeest there. Very slowly we move into position at the edge of the opening and just like we imagined - the impala walk into the opening from the right. The hartebeest are straight ahead at the other edge of the opening. Suddenly we spook a pair of zebra to our left that we never saw and they run right across the opening and stop at the other end. We move forward hoping to get a slim chance at impala when at the waterhole there is a wildebeest staring right at us! I get buck fever and put up the sticks asking Max to shoot. He asks "shoot what?" Then i realise he has not seen what i am looking at. "Right in front of us, wildebeest, shoot! Get him Max, get him!" The shot rings and the wildebeest drops instantly. What a great moment and awesome surprise. What we least expected happened and now it seemed almost easy! A truly beautiful trophy and another high shoulder shot that dropped the animal in his tracks. Well done Max. Cheers for now.
08-09-2009, 09:41 PM #9
Ryan.......that is a beautiful bull!!!Skyline Adventures
08-12-2009, 10:34 AM #10
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That is a beautiful wildebeest! I got a tear in my eye...a wonderful trophy!
08-13-2009, 10:51 PM #11
On to the rest of the bag... i like hunters who allow everything on license to be an option. With the Buffalo, puku and wildebeest down, there was nothing of priority left for Max, but he is a hunter and was keen to explore all possibilities on license. We did just that...
Over the next couple of days we focused on buffalo and tried to see if we could get a real special one. After seeing so many on a daily basis, we figured it was bound to happen and even passed up two old bulls in two seperate shooting opportunities. We of course later regretted it, but we made the decision knowingly. After two days of lots of tsetse flies and getting a real feel of the entire area, we now knew exactly where the game movement was dense and where the grass was at its best after some early burn.
From here on, we walked our way through the bush at every hot spot and it paid off big time! The firsy success was with the impala. After a couple of failed stalks and three spooked trophies, we came to a very tiny burnt patch that at first seemed to have nothing in it, but on approaching the anthill in front of us, revealed an impala with two females grazing just behind a fallen tree. We took position on the anthill and watched the threesome for a long while before the male grazed closer to us and appeared in a gap of the fallen tree. It was a tough shot, but just 50 yards off and having perfected the high shoulder shot - we had another trophy drop in its tracks. The man can shoot!
The more we hunted zebra, the more we felt that it carried the jinx. After many stalks and three very close calls on a shot going off, we started thinking that it might not happen for us on the zebra. But we used the signs and knew of one group that seemed to enjoy a certain patch of grass and walked to the location. We started stalking before even knowing that they were there! Lucky we did, because just as we saw movement up ahead, we noticed that the stallion was away from the mares to the right of us. He saw us at the same time and walked away. We took a good look at his women and felt they were too beautiful to stay away from for too long, so we crept behind an anthill and waited. Sure enough, the stallion came back into view and was cautiosly covering the ground ahead to rejoin his babes. Soon as he picked us out, he stopped and turned full on. Not the best position for a shot, but Max can shoot and we took the opportunity. The stallion bucked and only took a couple of steps before stumbling to the ground. The nemesis was down.
We loaded him up and got greedy... being early still, we went to a valley not too far away where we saw four hartebeest females the previous morning. My tracker was wondering why we were doing the same stalk for the same females, but having found two extra bodies in the group, it paid off with a real nice hartebeest. Quartering on at 150 yards and the bull was down less than 100 meters from the point of impact.
Over the next couple of days, we set out a few leopard baits, checked out some buffalo with a strange experience of a herd of 78 buff out in an open valley grazing towards us but no shootable bull in it! Walked through the dense forect behind camp and had elephants cut short our plans. Saw bushbuck at a waterhole, saw waterbuck at another and red duiker at another and more buffalo at another... then we saw a group of very cheeky baboons and we decided to take the pompous old alpha male. He had other plans though... he led his troupe into the forest and never gave us a shot. But we knew where they were headed and we went around to the waterhole where some of the group were already drinking and lulling about in the open. He spotted us too early and we were not set up. But his number two was now showing up from the forest and we let him come to the water before we decided. He started beating up on a young fellow and that is when we decided to break up the fight. Amazingly, its the baboon that took three shots to die! Big Fangs were on display.
The warthog was just not cooperating. We had half chances at four good hogs but just not enough time to get the shot off. One had even walked right in front of our truck one morning and stood 20 yards away with his tusks gleaming in the sun way over his head. We were on our last afternoon of hunting and having noted that most of the waterholes in the forest had game, I felt that this would be our lucky bet. So we ventured to a waterhole that we had not visited since last year. One that we had shot a big leopard at. The approach was silent and slow. We could hear something making slight noises in the mud but could not see anything yet. Just at the edge of the waterhole opening, we saw what we had come for - old pumba! He was busy digging for roots and had no idea we were there. We crept into position and Max took his time in delivering another high shoulder special! It was a fitting end to a very successful and memorable safari. We carried the pig to the car which was about a kilometer away and started out to camp just at last light. The party at camp was awesome and the fruits of a great safari were displayed at the campfire. Max will be back... following wild footprints in Tanzania - Real Africa! Hope you have enjoyed a glimpse of our safari. The Kronicles will continue after a long economic break!
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