TANZANIA: My First Safari With Bullet Safaris In Tanzania

BobT

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First I want to apologize for taking so long to get this report going!

As long as I can remember I have had a keen interest in hunting and guns. From the time I started reading I read everything I could get my hands on about hunting especially hunting in Africa. I was fortunate to grow up when I did, I got to follow Jack O'Connor, Warren Page and Elmer Keith on safari and see the wonderful trophies they brought back. There was a television show back then called The American Sportsman that aired a lot of hunting and fishing episodes that further fueled the fire. Alas, Africa seemed as far away as the moon to me but I told myself some day I would get there. Life intervened for the next 50 years or so and while I never forgot about Africa it was tucked away in the one of these days file. About four years ago I realized I wasn't getting any younger, the kids are all grown up and it was as good a time as any to take the plunge. I started doing serious research and landed here, after that things started taking shape rapidly. I was initially thinking about plains game in South Africa but when I asked my wife if she would like to go she had no interest so then things changed. I e-mailed information requests to several different outfits one of which was Bullet Safaris, I was intrigued that the contact phone number shared my area code. After initial contact with Nathan it was all down hill. So.......

Early in the morning on August the 14th. I carried my stuff to the truck , did a final check to make sure I had everything and the wife and I headed for Lambert International airport.

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It was threatening rain so I put all my stuff in the back seat. A little over 2 hours later I was at the airport saying goodbye to my wonderful wife Janet. The adventure had begun! I met up with my son-in-law in Atlanta, we grabbed a bite to eat and headed for the gate. Fast forward an uneventful 30 hours or so and we landed at Kilimanjaro International Airport. I'll insert a little tip here, get in the visa line quickly! After clearing immigration we were met by a lovely young lady who said her name was Jaquie, she already had our bags and gun cases in tow and we headed to clear the rifles, the lady who checked our guns and ammo was quick and very friendly. We loaded up in a van and headed for Arusha. The worst part so far was standing in the visa line. An hour or so later we were checked into the Destination 3 Degrees hotel. A shower and a call to let Janet know I made it okay and I hit the sack.
 
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IdaRam

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I can’t wait to read the rest of this report :)
 

BRICKBURN

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gillettehunter

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Shootist43

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BobT, I have a feeling that your story is going to resonate with a lot of folks. One question, have you started planning your return trip?
 

BobT

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Day one "in country"-
The hotel was really nicer than I expected, the shower was a bit tricky to master but the room was clean and comfortable.




We had added a day to the front end just in case something got lost or held up, that didn't happen so we had a day to kill. Nathan had set us up with a van and driver (Frank) to show us around Arusha. The first stop was the Cultural Heritage Center, what a wonderful place, they had all sorts of local art, and thousands of antiques, I could have spent a week there I think and by the way, it's all for sale.


We also made a visit to the Maasai market, interesting but more of a used car lot atmosphere. We headed back to the hotel for a late lunch and a frosty adult beverage.
 

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BobT

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The following morning we packed up early and headed for the local airport, after getting through security we were shown to a waiting area, there was another hunter sharing our charter in, he would be hunting another camp for leopard. I forgot to mention that the Destination 3 Degrees was owned by Hilary Daffi, who would also be Danny's PH. Hilary hitched a ride into the bush with us also.

After a couple of hours in a Cessna 208 we landed on a dirt runway, my first bush landing. There was a small crowd there to meet us including a few familiar faces. We got the plane unloaded, reloaded and said goodbye to the departees.


I met my PH, Crispin Mayandika as well as our trackers and game scouts. We got all our stuff loaded into the trucks and said our goodbyes to the guys heading to Masimba camp and we headed out to M'finiki camp. We had a drive of about three hours through the bush, part way through we stopped for a quick lunch break then back aboard and off we went. I will say here that while I knew there were mountains in Tanzania I really didn't expect to see any let alone hunt in them, but there they were, big as life! Our camp was nestled in the head of a wide and fairly steep valley with a beautiful view. The camp staff was there to greet us with glasses of cold cider and nice cool damp towels.

After we settled in we met back at the "mess" for another meal, and a get acquainted session. Hilary and Crispin gave us the low down on what to expect, we took a look at our licenses and made sure every thing was in order. The next order of business was to check the rifles,

after a shot off the bench and a shot off the sticks we were satisfied that the guns were fine and we were ready to hunt. A short walk back to camp, a hot shower and fantastic meal then off to the "patio" for sundowners. Tomorrow we start hunting!
 

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BRICKBURN

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Ridgewalker

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This is an awesome first trip to Africa!
 

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MT Griz

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BobT--- great start. Looking forward to the rest of the story! :P Elmer Fudd:
 

BobT

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One of the desires I have had since I was a child was to wake up in a tent and hear a lion roaring, the childhood dream was realized my first morning in camp with not one but two lions roaring in the valley below camp, what a sound! The camp generators were fired up around 5 every morning, I was usually already up and dressed. I have always been a morning person and it was no different here, I would sit and listen to the night sounds transform into day sounds and watch the sunrise.

This was the view every morning from my "front porch". I would wander up to the mess and be greeted with a hot cup of coffee and a plate of fresh fruit, it was bacon and eggs the first morning but after that I ate porridge with butter and honey, Crispin was a big porridge fan and got me on the bandwagon pretty quick. After a fine meal we loaded up and hit the road, I was glad I brought a light jacket, stocking hat and a thin pair of leather gloves for the early morning rides, it was never really cold but brisk low 50s temperatures. I was officially on safari!

Just a short way out of camp we stopped and the trackers hopped out and walked up the road a bit, Martin, the head tracker said something to Crispin in Swahili. It turns out that a herd of buffalo had passed sometime the night before but the tracks were deemed too old to follow and off we went to look for more. We started seeing game almost immediately,Hartebeest and Zebra were everywhere it seemed, we also saw a lot of Giraffe, Roan and a few Eland.


Occasionally we would stop and check tracks but we didn't find anything fresh enough to follow. We attempted a few stalks on Zebra and Hartebeest but were never able to close the deal, either the wind would swirl or a Giraffe would bust us, once we even almost stepped on a Duiker and he took off like a rocket and spooked a heard of Zebra we were after. Late in the afternoon we found a couple of Oribi rams hanging out together, a quick stalk put us within shooting range, Crispin whispered "shoot the one on the right" I nestled into the sticks and lined up on the one on the right one, just as I started my squeeze I heard "no, not that one, the one on the right" now I was confused, after a hurried conversation it turned out I was aiming at the correct animal after all. I was getting pretty rattled by this time and to make a long story short I shot just over his back :( this was to be my last miss. Shortly after we watched the rams head out for Zambia we called it a day and headed back to a hot shower and another fantastic meal. Danny had a bit better luck than I but that is another story!
 

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tarbe

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Great start Bob. Looking forward to the rest.

Edit: Just noticed your location...my wife and I have our retirement place in Ozark County...we get up there as often as possible.
 

BobT

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Day 2 started pretty early for me, I awoke to some small creature squealing in anguish just outside my tent. I heard the sounds of a brief struggle and then silence again. I had seen some feline looking tracks on the path when we arrived and a chat with one of the trackers confirmed that there was a Genet hanging around camp. He was a frequent visitor but I never got to see him. The day got underway pretty much like the previous day, a great breakfast and off we go, another beautiful morning!

We took a little different route than the day before, instead of dropping directly off into the valley we stayed a bit higher, not 15 minutes out of camp Martin called a halt, he said something to Crispin and they hopped off the truck along with the other 2 trackers. They walked a hundred yards or so out into a grassy area, just a couple of minutes later they all headed back to the truck. I could tell they were excited and soon enough Crispin was explaining they had found where a good sized herd of buffalo had been within the last hour or so, jackets came off and packs were loaded with bottles of water . We all headed out into the grass in single file behind the trackers.


We soon got lined out on the track and within thirty minutes or so could see the tail end of the herd a couple of hundred yards ahead. For some reason the animals we could see started to trot away from us, it turned out we were not the only hunters behind them! We waited until they were out of sight then sprinted to our right across a small opening into the treeline. We took off up the hill at a fairly quick pace all the time hooking to our right. I soon realized that the entire herd was headed our way and would have to pass between us and a steep hill side about 75 or 80 yards distant. The lead animals were just coming even with us and the entire bunch took off running, making quite a racket and raising a thick cloud of dust, we fell right in behind them. After a couple hundred yards the herd settled down and spread out a little, we started to ease up toward the center of the group when one of the trackers whispered "Simba" and pointed down, there was a lion track on top of the buffalo tracks. We changed course a bit and came up from the back of the herd, we ended up playing cat and mouse with this bunch for several hours, always watching the wind and looking over the bulls. At times we were within 15 yards or so of the closest animals and I don't think we were ever more than 100 yards from them. We were on the buffalo well before 7 am and stayed with them until nearly 2 pm, I had turned my GPS on at the truck and we had covered nearly 17 miles. We finally caught the entire group in an open area they were crossing toward some heavier timber. We were walking straight at them when an old cow noticed us and here they came, running straight at us. They finally stopped about 30 yards out and we had a staring match for what seemed like a long time. I guess they decided we were of no consequence and went about their business, we could see them quite well now and in the entire bunch there were 3 hard bossed bulls, nice looking bulls but just not old enough. There were some fantastic young bulls in the group of well over 200 animals. We had just decided there was nothing to shoot when a dozen or so animals split off the front of the herd and headed into the timber creating a gap between them and the rest of the herd, through this gap came a Reedbuck with a couple of lady friends. Crispin put the sticks up and said shoot the second one, I did, he spun a small half circle and dropped. At my shot the entire mass of buffalo stampeded, right over the top of my Reedbuck! I looked at Crispin and said "they are stepping on my Reedbuck" nothing we could do but watch. When the dust cleared we walked up to my first African animal and not a single hoof had touched him!

Up to this point I had been so excited being in and out of the buffalo for so long that I didn't realize I was really dehydrated, I had not drunk nearly enough water. It was past lunch time anyway so Crispin called the truck in and we had a much needed rest. I really didn't feel like eating but I think I drank 6 or 7 bottles of water. I took a short nap, had just a little bit of lunch and was ready to go again.

The next couple of hours were spent trying to get up close to a Zebra with no luck, we had turned back toward camp when we (the trackers) spotted some tracks in the road ahead of us, they hopped down and confirmed the tracks of 4 big buffalo. The tracks went right down the road for perhaps a mile so we just followed them. They abruptly turned off into a grassy valley and it was a repeat of earlier, grab some water, the rifles and go. I don't think we had gone much more than a quarter of a mile when the wind swirled and we bumped the bulls, I should mention that the grass was well over our heads and we didn't actually see the bulls until they gained a bit of elevation and cleared the grass across from us, there were 4 of them and they were all big, I was already looking at the biggest one when the sticks went up, I got on them quickly and confirmed that I was looking at the best one. I didn't have a good view of his shoulder from my position so I shifted a step or two right and settled the crosshairs, the distance looked a little far but I was rock solid and comfortable so I took the shot, the bull kicked out his right foreleg and ran 5 or 6 yards and stopped his buddies covered him for just a few seconds then took off so I shot him twice more and reloaded. I shot him a couple more times and he just stood there and took it, like a punch drunk heavy weight, out on his feet. I knew I was hitting him where I should and finally he went straight down, we walked up from behind and eased around beside him and I gave him one more. He was a wonderful old bull with a broken boss, Lion scars from on end to the other and a fresh chunk bitten out of his rear end a truly magnificent animal!

What a day!
 

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