Hunting Tanzania... Kilombero Kronicles 8; New Friends.
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01-03-2010, 10:18 AM #1
Hunting Tanzania... Kilombero Kronicles 8; New Friends.
One of the best reward for the kind of work that i do, is the number and variety of people that i get to meet and the resulting friendships that are beyond all barriers and borders. Some are a one-time interaction and some are life-long! People from all walks of life give me the privilege of being their host for a few days and this has made me a much better, more knowledgeable person. Every year i make new friends and every year i either visit old friends or have them revisit me and share days and evenings in each others company, doing what we enjoy most and contributing to what is a common passion - Safari Life!
Our hunting community is a small yet endless world. There are always new people to meet, new places to venture and new experiences to be had. The last hunt of the 2009 season brought a new couple with their guests from NY. Tom has hunted in Tanzania over 16 times and it is amazing that neither of us knew about the other all this time. We both had a common friend who passed on a few years back, but somehow never crossed paths until now. The idea was to get Tom on-board so that he has somewhere to send his buddies for big game hunting and for him to join in the hunts when his work allows it. He has done this for a number of Outfitters in Tanzania and has had a mixed bag of impressions but thought he had seen it all and there could not be any better out there...
The two couples were happy to report that everything was beyond their expectations and Tom was surprised to learn that we even hunted on foot and were very careful not to take younger animals. I, on the other hand was surprised to learn the opposite from his past experiences. But i guess people have different priorities and agendas. It was to be a 10-Day Safari for buffalo, but things went so well that we wrapped up in a week and my new friends went back home early to prepare for Christmas and family time.
It was mid December and it was HOT! Now these guys are well traveled and have been to some hot places, including deserts, but they had never before experienced the kind of heat that the Kilombero Valley can generate during the months of December/January. The reading of 42C does not do justice to what it actually feels like. Hunting is limited to a few hours early morning and the last couple of hours in the late afternoon. If you are caught out there in between, it is torture for those who are not used to it. As Jack put it one afternoon, "we are going to die!". There are no trees in the valley and the wind at this time of the year feels like a heater vent. The trick is lots of water and getting the job done as early as possible. Getting the job done has never been a problem. During the hottest months, you also have great buffalo hunting. They are visible, always around water and always tired and angry. Heat, water & grazing shortage, ticks all over their nut sacks, hunted by lions and hunters... how would you feel?
Tom had hunted the Moyowosi in the past and was accustomed to similar habitat, but Jack was not a young boy anymore at 75 and was finding the going tough. The only indication of this was by his heavy breathing but he did not give any other signs, being the tough guy from NY. He did the work, sweated it out, butt-crawled, shuffled on hands and knees, crossed rivers and even fell over a couple of times, but he stuck with it. At one point there was blood on the trail before even taking a shot at the buffalo we were hunting -it was from Jack's knees! The man is tough alright! I doubt there are many 75 year old boys that can keep up with Jack. "So I'm saying to myself, what the hell am I doin out here chasin cows in the long grass?" and that was Jack's idea of buffalo hunting. Nevertheless, a great guy!
After a couple of days checking out the herds and a few dugga boys, we felt there needed to be blood on the ground so we picked out a nice Puku that was among dozens of other young bucks. A shot without permission through the gut and a second shot with permission through the shoulder got us a beautiful Puku and some tasty meat for camp. The following day we ran into a herd at first light and they were bedded down at 6am right in the middle of a very big opening. Assuming that there was not going to be something of exceptional interest, we drove right up to them and when they stood about 200 meters away staring at the cruiser, we saw a very old, wide bull with the herd. Totally unexpected! I felt like an idiot, but let them trot away into the long grass and continued with our original plan of trying to spot dugga boys. The morning presented us a couple of good dugga boys but we just could not get to within shooting range and some plovers and a group of Puku spoiled the hunt for us. The two bulls trotted away not knowing where we were, but knowing for sure that there was trouble around. They got away.
On the way back we tracked the herd with the wide bull in it. A few kilometers into it, we saw where they were bedded. On approaching, they shuffled and started casually moving towards a korongo where there was some water. We kept with them until we sighted the big bull and moved in. Most of the herd had already made it into the long grass and into the korongo but the big bull along with a couple other younger bulls were at the back and slowly grazing towards the rest of the herd. We walked right up to them as they had their backs to us and set-up about 50 meters from them. Getting a shot was the challenge. The big bull was obvious to see with horns sticking out both ends of his body and lots of mud all over him. Just as he was turning to look behind him, he took a .416 Remington behind the shoulder and there was buffalo running in and out of the korongo, luckily in the opposite direction. He was hit alright, but there was no blood where he had been shot and for the next 50 meters.
Then we were in the korongo and it was not exactly open country. Tom had his .470 Double and I had my "Humping Rabbits". This is the stuff doubles were built for. Hebron, my tracker, picked out the splayed hooves and we moved on inch by inch. A few steps further we saw blood. It was lung blood and it was being sprayed from the nose. Now it was THICK and we were into tight tunnels of matete reeds. I told Tom to be ready and we had Jack fourth in line after Hebron, myself and Tom. We moved slowly forward knowing that if the buff was waiting in ambush there was only one shot at stopping him. After what seemed like an hour, but was actually probably just a minute, Hebron stopped and pointed to the thickest patch of reeds right in front of us. It was too close to speak and he pointed again suggesting that the buffalo was in there. He started gesturing in a rhythm, indicating that he could hear him breathing. We could see nothing and the buffalo was apparently just five meters in front of us. I moved forward with Hebron and he bent down pointing more animatedly through a gap in the reeds. It was the buff and he was facing away. I pointed for Jack to move next to us and asked him to shoot. He shot twice and the buff moved forward away from sight and i knew he was trying to turn and come at us. I told Tom that he had to take a shot when we next saw him and two steps further we saw him almost fully turned and Tom let him have both barrels. This turned him away again, but he was still not dead. We moved around and got to see the rage in his eyes before asking Jack to put a final killing shot into him from a yard away. Just like hunting cows!
It was the best of Jacks buffalo and he had about four or five in the bag already from his previous hunts elsewhere. It was a happy camp and the drinks flowed more smoothly than normal that evening. For the second buffalo, Jack got ahead of himself and decided that he wanted something wider than what he already got. So i says to myself, "here we go again..."
By this point of the season, we have a pretty good idea of whats out there and we knew that it was hopeless trying to find something wider. So we decided to push into new territory and look for surprises. We saw some real nice buffalo over the next two days, but nothing wide enough, until after hours of being beaten by the sun and trekking through korongo's, Jack said he has learned that buffalo are not about the width, but trusted us to get him a bull that was exceptional. We reached a river we could not cross due to rains in the highlands the previous night, but could see a herd of buffalo on the other side. Among them was a group of three bulls who were bedded away from the main herd and even from a distance of over a kilometer, there was visible horn and boss. We had to have a closer look. So off we went and got Jack to walk a plank over a korongo and this is where he scrapped off his knees and learned to butt-crawl. We got into position and sure enough one of the bulls was outstanding. Not even Jack questioned any of our moves to set him up. The bull saw us and stood up - he took one into the chest and another one as he was running off, then he disappeared into the dust cloud caused by the herd. Seems we were in for some more action.
The herd ran and stopped and we tried to pick-out the bull but could not see it. Hebron pointed out a patch of green grass in front which suggested a depression and we slowly moved forward expecting to find him dead. We found him, but he was not dead. He was laying broadside with his head down and i could see the blood from both nostrils. As i moved in, i asked Jack to shoot him again, but there was a delay and the bull stood up with a step in our direction (still no shot!). I was ready for an all-out charge and had him in my sights. Then he turned and was trying to get away, but still no shot from Jack and Tom and I were both shouting at him to shoot... we did the next best thing - raised our guns and shot at the bull. It was just an instinctive reaction and both our barrels unknowingly went off at the same time. The bull did a full flip over his head and landed dead! Tom and I looked at each other and asked, "did you shoot?" We both answered "yes". He took one angling into his body from the belly through the vitals and another through the back of his head and exiting through his right boss. Another cow hunt complete!
I made new friends on that safari and suspect that I have a new hunting buddy who uses the same caliber as mine and tends to shoot at the same time as me. The "Humping Rabbits" has competition!
I am a proud owner of a Krieghoff .470 NE aka "Humping Rabbits"Ryan Shallom (CEO)
Great story i always look forward to your post they are always very informative and entertaining thanks!
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