A Season In The Selous

Bullet Safaris

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by Nathan Askew

Five days of driving, six boarder post, and one fairy crossing found me on the edge of the Selous Game Reserve in Tanzania. I traveled through Botswana (to avoid Zimbabwe’s creative election process) then across the Zambezi River and on through Zambia. I arrived in the south of Tanzania and then made a right turn towards Dar Es Salam. I experienced some typical African problems along the way with crooked police, unsure fuel supplies, and a bad radiator that I purchased from an inexperience ‘Ultimate 4x4’ company out of Pretoria.

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All of those problems melted away after registering with the Game department at the northern boarder of the Selous Game Reserve. ‘No Population Allowed’ this meant no villages, little to no poaching, and no people except us – Africa like it was before we tracked it up. Within seconds we found zebra, Giraffe, and a nice Black Mamba. Now I could focus on getting my clients the animals they wanted and the hunting experience they were looking for.

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A safari was already underway and I listened intently to what animals they had been encountering – lots of buffalo, several lions, elephant, and plains game. The camp was surrounded by hippos; Hyena and an occasional lion could be heard during the night. I started with scouting and walking the river beds in the area, as always the knowledge of the local tracker was most helpful. I traveled throughout the area and started to devise my game plan… drive this road, look for buffalo track here, hang leopard bait there, and so on. My first safari started in a week and I would be ready.

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The first safari started with unexpected buffalo hunt. We where going for a hippo the first morning so we would have an adequate supply of meat for the cats. Between our discussions on which hippo to shoot I got a radio call about 3 buffalo near the area where I left my vehicle. 3 buffalo is a great thing – because it’s rarely 2 cows and a young bull. I rushed the hunter back into the bush and we circled around the buffalo. I found what I expected, 3 old dagga boys. We crept close through a conveniently placed wash out beneath the sight of the nyati. I whispered to the hunter to stand up and shoot the lead bull. I set the shooting sticks as he stood up to take aim. The hunters remarks when he stood made it clear that the buffalo where closer that he expected! The shots went off and the lead bull was quickly passed by the other two. The first bullets hurt the bull badly; He would only make it a few more yards before a final neck shot sent him skidding to a dusty stop. What a rush.

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About a month later found us on the trail of buffalo again. It was the third day of another safari and we had been on Buffalo everyday. We just couldn’t find the bull we wanted. This morning was about the same as the others. We found fresh tracks about 8 o’clock, picked up our rifles and started walking. Two hours later we were inside the herd in tall green grass. We stayed with them until they descended a steep sided Karongo (dry river). We had a good view across the ditch so we set up for a 60 meter shot on a nice bull standing on the other side. The situation was perfect – the hunter was waiting for me to give the ok – I was waiting for the buffalo to turn broadside. Things appeared to be calm, the buffalo where feeding slowly and I had my gun against my hip as I peered through the binoculars. Suddenly the grass move on our side of the karongo and I immediately dropped my binoculars and shouldered my rifle – I knew it wasn’t a buffalo. I was aiming at something in the tall grass 15 meters to my left. By this time the hunter had taken his crosshairs away from the buffalo and was focused on the same chunk of grass. I expected the worse, a lioness hunting the buffalo was now interested in us. I was slightly relieved when a leopard jumped out of the grass towards us. It was a clear case of mistaken identity, but that didn’t slow my heart rate down a bit. The cat jumped up to identify us – I think he was using the noise of the feeding herd as cover for stalking smaller prey. Satisfied that we were not on the menu the leopard slowly moved past. We took a minute to calm down. Of course the buffalo had moved making a shot impossible, and nobody volunteered to chase the leopard out of the grass so we could continue after the buffalo. We waited. While continuing on the tracks of the herd we saw the leopard twice more and stumbled into a bull elephant. One of my best mornings in the Selous and not a shot was fired.
 
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Royal27

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About a month later found us on the trail of buffalo again. It was the third day of another safari and we had been on Buffalo everyday. We just couldn’t find the bull we wanted. This morning was about the same as the others. We found fresh tracks about 8 o’clock, picked up our rifles and started walking. Two hours later we were inside the herd in tall green grass. We stayed with them until they descended a steep sided Karongo (dry river). We had a good view across the ditch so we set up for a 60 meter shot on a nice bull standing on the other side. The situation was perfect – the hunter was waiting for me to give the ok – I was waiting for the buffalo to turn broadside. Things appeared to be calm, the buffalo where feeding slowly and I had my gun against my hip as I peered through the binoculars. Suddenly the grass move on our side of the karongo and I immediately dropped my binoculars and shouldered my rifle – I knew it wasn’t a buffalo. I was aiming at something in the tall grass 15 meters to my left. By this time the hunter had taken his crosshairs away from the buffalo and was focused on the same chunk of grass. I expected the worse, a lioness hunting the buffalo was now interested in us. I was slightly relieved when a leopard jumped out of the grass towards us. It was a clear case of mistaken identity, but that didn’t slow my heart rate down a bit. The cat jumped up to identify us – I think he was using the noise of the feeding herd as cover for stalking smaller prey. Satisfied that we were not on the menu the leopard slowly moved past. We took a minute to calm down. Of course the buffalo had moved making a shot impossible, and nobody volunteered to chase the leopard out of the grass so we could continue after the buffalo. We waited. While continuing on the tracks of the herd we saw the leopard twice more and stumbled into a bull elephant. One of my best mornings in the Selous and not a shot was fired.

If anyone reads this paragraph without their heart rate going up then I respectfully suggest they need to find a new website! wow....

What a morning!
 

Wheels

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Enjoying the photos and report. Certainly looking forward to more.

All the best.
 

Bullet Safaris

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If anyone reads this paragraph without their heart rate going up then I respectfully suggest they need to find a new website! wow....

What a morning!
Yep - it was one of those days when everything happened right in our face.
The Buffalo were all around us, the leopard jumped right in our lap and then the elephant bull was skirted at 40 steps.
My 'client' back then is now one of my best buddies and he reminds me frequently of how terrible it was that he did not buy the full license in TZ - that was a while back and he would have shot 3 of the big 5 in less than 10 days - you never know what's around the next bush out there!
 

Red Leg

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:Joyful: Just keep repelling those "boarders" and dodging those "fairies" !

Seriously, great story and photos - keep it coming.
 

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Simply a wonderful story Nathan. Please keep it coming.
 

Nyati

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That's certainly a surprise !
 

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Good morning to be alive.

Thanks.
 

bluey

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Nicely wrote,
Sounds like a magic life, you got yourself there."....
 

gillettehunter

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Great stories. Thanks for sharing. Nice pics and trophies. Bruce
 

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