TANZANIA: Splitting a Full Bag In Tanzania

Scott CWO

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Hunted
Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Mozambique x3, Tanzania and CAR. Tajikistan, Canada, Mexico, AK, WY, NM, SD, CO, UT, AZ, NV
Planning
Several years ago, I booked a lion hunt in Zimbabwe in the Save Valley Conservancy after hunting plains game there in 2012 but due to past USFWS lion import issues and other safaris getting in the way, I have not made it there for lion, yet. In the meantime, I have done several other safaris including a great trip to Massailand in Tanzania for the unique endemic plains game species found there. Even though I really enjoyed all my trips to Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Botswana and Zambia, I really liked Tanzania, as did my wife. After our hunt in Massailand in 2017, we toured Serengeti National Park. Seeing a few big black-maned lions in the Serengeti really got my blood boiling for a nice lion! The thousands of wildebeest, topi, Thomson’s gazelle and Robert’s gazelle were fun to see as well.

I began thinking that perhaps I should do a lion safari in Tanzania that would also allow me to hunt for more of the unique endemic plains game species found in Tanzania - species such as Thomson’s gazelle, Robert’s gazelle, Eastern white-bearded wildebeest and topi. The giant East African impala also intrigued me. Admittedly, I love hunting most of the different plains game species found in Africa, although I’m not that intrigued by the Tiny 10. I just like what I like and am not a collector of one of everything.

I had heard of good lions coming from the Maswa North Game Reserve that borders Serengeti National Park from some friends and clients that hunted there with Mike Fell and Bushman Safari Trackers Ltd. I spoke with Mike and became more intrigued. Maswa North is also known for large leopards and big elephants. It’s a special place where big lions, big leopards and big elephants all converge. Mike’s clients have taken huge 180+ pound leopards as well as 100+ pound elephants the past few years. The lion quota is two per year and success is high.

While guiding a client/friend, Jim, on a successful hunt for a big brown bear in Alaska in May of 2021, I shared my desire to hunt Maswa North. Jim has hunted with me a couple times in Colorado and he is a renowned international fisherman, holding a few line class world records. He is a very successful real estate investor but hadn’t done very much international hunting, until recently. I played a significant part in changing that! I have convinced him to start spending some more money before he’s too old to enjoy it and I’ve since helped him book hunts for brown bear, polar bear, Zimbabwe for leopard and Cameroon for bongo. I shared details of the safaris available in Maswa North with him during our bear hunt in Alaska and he became very interested.

I was already booked for elephant in Botswana in 2021 so I mentioned that if he wanted to go to Tanzania in 2023 with me and split a full bag, that he could hunt the elephant (if I was successful in Botswana) and I would hunt the lion and leopard. We would both hunt buffalo and plains game as well. Jim had a leopard hunt booked in Zimbabwe in 2022 but didn’t connect so I later agreed to let him also hunt the leopard in Tanzania. I wanted him to get a leopard and I already have a leopard from Mozambique.

Not long after the brown bear hunt in May of 2021 in Alaska, we came to an agreement about splitting the price of the full bag hunt and a second license in Tanzania so that we could hunt together. We contacted Mike Fell and booked for early November 2023 during the wildebeest and zebra migration through Maswa North. The migration normally runs October through late December and although Maswa North has a healthy population of resident lions, more lions show up during the migration.

My wife, Wendy, and Jim’s wife, Cindy, also decided to go for the first fourteen days of the twenty-one day safari. Jim and I were to stay for the entire twenty-one days.

The Area
Maswa North GR is outlined in red on the pictured map. Serengeti NP is to the east. Maswa is approximately 1,000 square kilometers in size and gets narrower in the northern part of the reserve. The terrain is best described as acacia woodlands with some open savannas mixed in with a few rivers here and there. It is not far from Lake Victoria. The short rains usually start in late November but it can rain about anytime, partially due to the proximity of Lake Victoria. It is a fairly wet area when compared to many other areas in Eastern and Southern Africa.

The comfortable camp is located on the eastern side and adjacent to the Duma River and Mamarene River. Being a game reserve, settlements are not allowed but the occasional poacher is caught and cattle herders illegally graze their cattle along the western boundary of the reserve at times. Game reserves function as an important buffer between communities/settlers and national parks.



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Travel
On all my prior trips to Africa, I used Gracy Travel and worked with Debbie Gracy and Shawn without any problems. This time, I decided to try another popular agency after hearing good things. Unfortunately, this turned out to be a mistake. Nine months prior to the trip, the new agency booked us on business class from Denver to Dallas on American Airlines and business class from Dallas to Doha to Kilimanjaro (Arusha) on Qatar. My wife was really looking forward to the QSuites on the Dallas to Doha flight. She had not experienced the QSuites yet but I had in 2021 to Botswana and 2022 to Zambia. Unfortunately in April, Qatar decided to start subcontracting some of the flights from Doha to Arusha and back to Oman Airlines. Our new agency didn’t realize that this could cause problems with firearm transport and didn’t look into it.

After submitting our firearm information to Qatar a while before the trip, the agency received approval from Qatar for our firearms but not from Oman. There was some kind of a disconnect between Qatar and Oman about firearms. The agency still had not secured approval from Oman despite trying with the trip quickly approaching. With only a few days remaining before the trip, we were told to either leave our firearms at home or switch airlines! However, our hunting licenses were already issued in Tanzania and the firearms we wanted to use were already listed on the hunting licenses! Due to this and also wanting to use our own firearms, we had to switch to United Airlines from Denver to Chicago and Ethiopian Airlines from Chicago to Addis Ababa to Arusha. We were not happy and were even less happy after I called Debbie Gracy. Debbie told me that she had immediately known that the Qatar decision in April to subcontract some flights to Oman would cause firearms problems so she jumped on it and made special arrangements for Gracy clients with Qatar and Oman. Our new agency had not done this fix for us and didn’t even realize it was a needed fix. Debbie politely chastised me for switching agencies and I learned a valuable lesson. Debbie Gracy is on top of things and has been for decades. I also learned that Gracy handles far more trips for hunters going to Tanzania and other open concession area countries. Our agency had not run into this problem yet, even late in the safari season. I guess they are a budget agency that mainly books trips to South Africa. This lesson cost us hundreds of dollars in cancellation fees, increased late notice fares, much worry, and the loss of the QSuites we were all counting on. Ethiopian wasn’t terrible but definitely not up to Qatar standards as far as seats, comfort, food and service. I will use Gracy Travel from now on. Better than coach for sleeping but definitely not the QSuite!
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Very much looking forward to the rest of the trip. Sounds like a great adventure
 
First Week
Upon arrival at Kilimanjaro International Airport near Arusha on November 6th, Bushman’s meet and greet guy, Raheem, helped us through Customs and firearm clearance. While in the airport, Mike texted me on WhatsApp and said we should delay the charter flight to camp for a couple hours to let the airstrip at camp dry out a bit as it had been raining earlier that morning. So, we went to a restaurant near the airport for a drink to kill some time. After a few hours, we were given the go ahead to do the charter flight so we boarded the Cessna Caravan and took off.

The flight to camp was uneventful and flying over the Serengeti was glorious! It had been raining from time to time and everything was starting to green up. I spotted several herds of animals from the plane.

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Once we reached the dirt airstrip, we could see mud and the pilot did a flyby to take a look before circling back and landing. The landing was a bit greasy and I think we were all relieved once the plane stopped! The plane got quite muddy, as you can see in the picture.

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After meeting everyone and getting settled in to our thatch covered tents, we had dinner and drinks at the dining area before heading to bed for some much needed rest. Lions were heard roaring periodically throughout the night and this continued throughout the safari.

The next morning after breakfast, we went and shot the guns. I brought my Whitworth Interarms Mauser 375 H&H Mag with a Leupold VX6 2x-12 scope with CDS dial zeroed for 100 yards with 300 grain Swift A-Frame bullets for lion and PG and my AHR semi-custom CZ550 458 Lott with a Leupold VXR 2x-7 scope zeroed for 100 yards with 500 grain TTSX Barnes bullets for buffalo. I also brought some solids for the Lott and a Leica Tempus holographic sight in case it was needed for elephant.

Immediately after checking the firearms, we started hunting. It wasn’t long before we came across a small group of Thomson’s gazelle and a big male was with the group. Mike, the tracker Matteo and I stalked up to 225 yards and I dropped the gazelle through both shoulders with one shot. On the board and only 8:30am! Such a beautiful antelope! We skinned him for a full body mount.

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this is going to be an amazing adventure! Looking forward to the next installments. Thanks already for sharing @Scott CWO !
 
What a wonderful adventure you were able to experience. After the travel issues were sorted you seem to have gotten your safari off to quite the start. Looking forward to reading about the rest of your adventure. Appreciate you sharing with us.
 
Yes, I’ve been waiting for this report.

The concept of a hunting concession as a buffer between human settlements/cattle and a National park is one other nations should adopt.

Man, I would not want to be in that travel agents shoes when you got ahold of them.
 
Great start!! Looking forward to the remainder.
 
Thanks for the report! Sounds like a great trip. Keep ‘em coming!
 
You, my friend, are always good for an amazing adventure!
 
I made the mistake of leaving Gracy travel, that was a big & very expensive mistake.

Lon
 
Excited for the rest of the adventure! Glad you made it it safe and hope you had the time of your lives!
 
Keep it rolling! We're all looking forward to more!
 
Debbie managed to fix my Qatar/Airlink problem back in October on a flight that I book myself, but still had issues that were resolved on the ground (mainly that Qatar & Airlink computers cannot connect and everything has to be done over the phone) . I am not much for using an agent, but it seems with Qatar you need one if any flight is on another airlines metal. If I need to ever use an agent it will be Gracy Travel.

I am looking at Tanzania for either 2025 or 26. Looking forward to the rest of your story.
 
Travel
On all my prior trips to Africa, I used Gracy Travel and worked with Debbie Gracy and Shawn without any problems. This time, I decided to try another popular agency after hearing good things. Unfortunately, this turned out to be a mistake. Nine months prior to the trip, the new agency booked us on business class from Denver to Dallas on American Airlines and business class from Dallas to Doha to Kilimanjaro (Arusha) on Qatar. My wife was really looking forward to the QSuites on the Dallas to Doha flight. She had not experienced the QSuites yet but I had in 2021 to Botswana and 2022 to Zambia. Unfortunately in April, Qatar decided to start subcontracting some of the flights from Doha to Arusha and back to Oman Airlines. Our new agency didn’t realize that this could cause problems with firearm transport and didn’t look into it.

After submitting our firearm information to Qatar a while before the trip, the agency received approval from Qatar for our firearms but not from Oman. There was some kind of a disconnect between Qatar and Oman about firearms. The agency still had not secured approval from Oman despite trying with the trip quickly approaching. With only a few days remaining before the trip, we were told to either leave our firearms at home or switch airlines! However, our hunting licenses were already issued in Tanzania and the firearms we wanted to use were already listed on the hunting licenses! Due to this and also wanting to use our own firearms, we had to switch to United Airlines from Denver to Chicago and Ethiopian Airlines from Chicago to Addis Ababa to Arusha. We were not happy and were even less happy after I called Debbie Gracy. Debbie told me that she had immediately known that the Qatar decision in April to subcontract some flights to Oman would cause firearms problems so she jumped on it and made special arrangements for Gracy clients with Qatar and Oman. Our new agency had not done this fix for us and didn’t even realize it was a needed fix. Debbie politely chastised me for switching agencies and I learned a valuable lesson. Debbie Gracy is on top of things and has been for decades. I also learned that Gracy handles far more trips for hunters going to Tanzania and other open concession area countries. Our agency had not run into this problem yet, even late in the safari season. I guess they are a budget agency that mainly books trips to South Africa. This lesson cost us hundreds of dollars in cancellation fees, increased late notice fares, much worry, and the loss of the QSuites we were all counting on. Ethiopian wasn’t terrible but definitely not up to Qatar standards as far as seats, comfort, food and service. I will use Gracy Travel from now on. Better than coach for sleeping but definitely not the QSuite!
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I would be careful screwing up that lady's travel. I looks to me like you clearly may have married far above your station. :unsure:
 
I would be careful screwing up that lady's travel. I looks to me like you clearly may have married far above your station. :unsure:
Miss Wendy says thank you for the compliment! I have definitely married far above my station but I make a point every day to tell her what a lucky woman she is! So far, this psychology is working so I’m rolling with it!:E Rofl:
 
Looking forward to the rest of the report!
 
Good beginning of the hunt and the report. Looking forward to the rest of the story. Thank you for sharing!
 

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jgraco33 wrote on 85lc's profile.
Is your 22HP still available? If so have the original case?
tacklers wrote on ianevans's profile.
Hi Ian, I'm contemplating my first outing, leaving UK via Dubai to Africa, taking rifles as you did.

I presume it went okay for you, would you have done anything differently? Cheers, Richard East Sussex
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Are you still looking for a 375 H&H?
 
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