After a very dangerous trip to CAR for Bongo in June 2016 and not to be deterred, I headed back to Africa in July of 2017. This time I headed to a much safer destination - Tanzania. My wife, Wendy joined me for this safari. I arranged a 14-day safari with a 21-day license with Nathan Askew and his partners to hunt in the Maasailand East Open Area. I have always been very intrigued by the Maasailand gazelles and other unique plains game species found in Tanzania. Although I have taken a Leopard and three Buffalo from Mozambique on past safaris and have a Lion hunt scheduled for 2019 in Zim, for some reason I prefer hunting for plains game for the pure enjoyment of the vast variety of the larger species of plains game. I have an affinity for the spiral-horned antelopes, other antelopes, and gazelles. I am not a big fan of the pygmy antelopes, although I took a very big (relatively speaking of course) Suni in Coutada 9 in Moz with Mokore Safaris a while back. I am not a collector of all species and I just like what I like. Although dangerous game hunting is fun, I prefer serious plains game hunting/tracking over driving around checking on baits.
On this safari, my interest was Grant's Gazelle, Thompson's Gazelle, Lesser Kudu, Gerenuk, Fringe-eared Oryx, and Patterson's Eland. If a 40"+ Buffalo happened along, well he might be in danger as well.
Wendy and I flew from Denver to Minneapolis to Amsterdam to Arusha. I must say that I am not a fan of KLM food but everything else was just fine. Nathan is friends with Hillary Daffi and for our night in Arusha, we stayed at Hillary's Destination 3 Degrees Hotel. It was very nice, clean, comfortable and recommended. The next day, we departed by Toyota to the Naiburmut Camp in the Masai East OA concession, about a half-day drive from Arusha. Upon arrival, we were very pleased with the camp and staff and that continued throughout the trip. Our PH, Paul Horsley, also proved to be superb and good company. Paul is a native Tanzanian and has guided all over Tanazania with Nathan and other operators.
There was another hunter in camp, Woody T. It always amazes me how small the world really is sometimes - Woody and I both discovered that we attended Colorado State University for the same four years but never met until we met in Tanzania. Talk about a small world! What are the chances? Anyway, the first morning Wendy and I headed out early with Paul while Woody and a friend left with their PH.
We immediately had good luck and took a nice Grant's Gazelle about mid morning. My shot was a bit hurried and I hit him a little farther back than I would have preferred but he only went about 30 paces.
I also could have taken a large White-bearded Wildebeest but having taken a Nyassa Wildebeest in Mozambique and a Blue Wildebeest in Zim on previous trips, I chose to pass as I am saving space in my trophy room for other species.
After driving back to camp with the Grant's Gazelle and eating a late lunch, we headed out for the afternoon hunt. Just before sunset, we spotted a large, lone Fringe-eared Oryx. After a stalk, I was able to take a well-placed shot. He was a tough bugger and ran into a nearby thicket and bedded down. We quietly snuck up and I finished him even though he wasn't going anywhere. As a guide myself, one of my pet peeves is a hunter that won't immediately follow up with another shot even if an animal is mortally wounded. In 26 years of guiding, I have seen animals that I was sure were going to pass quickly suddenly come to life and try to get away. Bullets are cheap insurance! We returned back to camp to learn that Woody had not scored yet but I assured Woody that his luck would change.
On day two and three, Woody's luck changed and he took some animals. I turned down lots of Zebra, Impala, and Coke's Hartebeest while trying for Lesser Kudu, Eland, Gerenuk and another large Grant's Gazelle to no avail. I only saw female Gerenuk and boy were they spooky! A few Lesser Kudu and Eland evaded me on stalks. Unbelievably, I never saw a Thompson's Gazelle on the whole trip and perhaps we should have made arrangements to hunt the next-door concession for one of them for a day or two. However, a treat Wendy and I really enjoyed was seeing three different Cheetahs in one day! We later saw another Cheetah as well.
On the morning of day four, we mainly searched for Gerenuk and again all we saw were females. Gerenuk were proving to be very tough to hunt. We were glassing and driving a lot of miles and we even were looking around by the other empty camp in the huge concession. Later that day towards evening, we rounded a corner in the road and we spotted a few Lesser Kudu males that had fed out of the heavy cover they usually prefer. Paul and I dashed out of the Cruiser and tried to intercept them on foot as they bolted. I was able to get off a quick shot at the largest male just as he ran into some thick cover. We all saw his back legs do a mule kick after the bullet impact - a sure sign of a hit. We snuck up and found him stone dead 20 yards inside the thicket! He was a very good trophy! I was elated! We carried the kudu out into the open for some good pictures.
Day 5 found us looking for Buffalo and Patterson's Eland. I turned down an old dugga boy but he just wasn't as wide as I wanted. Later, we spotted an old blue/black bull Eland, another bull, and some cows a long distance away. Paul, a couple Trackers, and I went on a long hike to cut the distance and circle the herd. We got under 100 yards of the milling herd but the older bull never gave us a shot. Eventually, they sensed our presence and moved off. We followed but we ended up bumping them. In the ensuing confusion and partly due to my bad hearing, I shot what I thought was the older dark bull as he stepped quartering away through a small
gap in the cover. After a short tracking job, we found that I had mistakenly shot the younger bull that lacked some of the heavy dark forehead hair of an older bull. It was completely my own fault but the bull was actually quite large and I am definitely mounting him and am happy to do so!
Meanwhile, Woody had been getting most all of his species as well and was also having good luck. One day, we spotted some vultures and investigated. What we found was a Coke's Hartebeest that Woody had shot the evening before but did not recover. The animal was dead but still in good condition so we were able to salvage it for Woody. He was happy that we found it. On days 6 & 7, I continued to hunt for the elusive male Gerenuk and Thompson's Gazelle to no avail. Finally, on day 8, we located a male Gerenuk. After a quick shot at 200 yards
and pursuit, the Gerenuk got away. Man was I bummed! I couldn't believe I missed after so much hard work! I thought I hit the animal but we could find no blood and he stayed with the females as they escaped. On the bright side, we saw a pack of African Wild Dogs on the way back to camp. We also saw lots of other game but nothing still on my list. Zebra, Giraffe, Impala, Coke's Hartebeest and lots of Fringe-eared Oryx were seen daily.
On day 9, Woody got his Gerenuk and it was a nice one! He and his PH had found it near where I had missed mine the day before. We wondered if it was the same animal but we were not sure. On day 10, we left camp early and drove towards the Gerenuk area. Along the way while passing through an open savanna right at daybreak, we spotted several Coke's Hartebeest. I had seen lots of them during the hunt but they weren't on my list. Just for fun, we stopped to take a look. The animals were about 300 yards away. Paul said that one of the males was quite large and that I should consider taking him. I agreed that he was bigger than all the others we had seen so far so I decide to take him. The animal was quartering towards me so I put the crosshairs of the .338 Winchester Mag high on his shoulder and touched off a round. The animal immediately dropped and the Trackers cheered! Well, that was fun!
After pictures of the Coke's Hartebeest, we loaded up and continued driving towards the area where we were seeing most of the Gerenuk. Along the way, we stopped at the Masai anti-poaching camp to skin and butcher the hartebeest. Once that was done, we asked one of the Masai men to help us locate some Gerenuk. We slowly headed back through the area where I had taken the shot at a Gerenuk on day 8. Suddenly, we spotted a small group of Gerenuk and a bedded male was with them. We circled on foot and we kept the Masai man between us and the Gerenuk in an attempt to keep the herd from spooking. There wasn't much cover and we slowly cut the distance to about 375 yards. We could go no further and the wind was gusting. I tried to get steady on the sticks but I just couldn't settle in to the shot due to the wind and distance. I didn't want to miss this time. We slowly advanced a bit closer.
The herd started to get nervous and the male stood up. He was quartering towards me at 350 yards. It was now or never. I steadied myself as best I could and touched the trigger. The Gerenuk jumped and ran forward a little but then went down! He was a decent male specimen, not quite as big as the one Woody got but I was very happy with him after such a long search. Guess what? He had a previous bullet wound that barely clipped open the bottom of his abdomen. It was the same Gerenuk that I thought I missed on day 8! He was still with the females in the same area but was obviously bedded and a bit sick when we found him. Such a stroke of luck to find him a again.
By day 10, Nathan had returned to Arusha to meet other incoming hunters and to get ready for his safaris in Western Tanzania where he hunts Lion, Leopard, Sable, Roan, etc... Wendy and I texted him on our InReach satellite communication device and told him we were very happy with the safari, had taken all animals on my list, and that we wondered if we could leave camp a few days early to transfer to the Ngorogoro Crater and the Serengeti National Park for some sight-seeing and photography before we had to head back to the States. Nathan responded that he would make all the necessary arrangements and send a driver to get us on day 11. On day 10, we went out with our PH one last time to have a look around for another Grant's Gazelle as I was allowed to take two if I wanted. We saw several but passed on them all. Later, we ran across a large East African Impala in a big herd. Although I have taken several Impala on past trips and had passed many on this trip, I decided I liked this ram. One shot and he was down and I had taken my last animal on this great trip.
We left for the Serengeti the next day and spent three fun-filled days there and in the Crater. We saw numerous Lions, Leopard, Cheetah, Elelphant, Buffalo, Topi, etc... and thousands of Thompson's and Grant's Gazelles. Dang those Tommy's are pretty! I guess I will have to go back with Nathan someday for one of them, a Topi, Roan, etc...
Thanks to Nathan, Paul, Hillary, and everyone that made this trip so enjoyable. Wendy said it was her favorite African trip ever! We hope to go back someday. We were amazed at the volume of animals in the concession. Supposedly in "open areas" in Tanzania there are less animals than in most of the "game management areas" and national parks but we sure saw a lot of game and didn't have any trouble finding what we were looking for and then some!
I hope your hunting season has started off well. I am coming to Namibia for the 7th time in late April of 2022. I am bringing two friends who have never hunted outside of the USA. I have several questions, but before I write them all, I will wait to see if you receive this. Please give a shout................................best regards.........................Bill...............Idaho, USA