August 2013. Tanzania Buffalo and Maasailand Safari with Bullet Safaris / Professional Hunter Nathan Askew / Client Robert Blum and wife.
After a night in a hotel arranged by Bullet Safari, and followed by a 4 hour drive from Arusha in a Land Cruiser with a driver and Professional Hunter Nathan Askew, my wife, Jane and I arrived at our hunting camp in Maasai Land area of Tanzania near dusk as the African landscape was turning from dusty yellow to the pink and red colors of a gorgeous sunset. 15 or so members of the camp staff lined up to welcome us with greeting us with smiles and the traditional Swahili greeting of “Jambo” together with washcloths and a warm water basin to clean the African dust from our faces. This was my first African hunt. I had chosen Nathan Askew as my PH, and as my hunt unfolded, came to understand that I had made an excellent choice.
My plan for the hunt had started several years earlier. I wanted an open range hunt with a tented hunting camp set in a traditional manner. I met Nathan at the Safari Club International Exposition in Las Vegas Nevada.. I interviewed quite a number of outfitters, eliminating the “bookers” (those who booked hunts but farmed them out to others, as well as eliminating those outfitters who conducted hunts out of game ranches. That narrowed the field and I ultimately identified Bullet Safari and Nathan Askew as one of the better Outfitters who also met my criteria. I spoke with Nathan and found out that he was one of the few American Operators in Tanzania (Nathan is very unique in the fact that he is an American that is fully trained and licensed as a Professional Hunter in Africa with 15 years of Dangerous Game Hunting experience with clients in remote areas).
Once I had settled on my outfitter, the logistics were easy. Nathan recommended flights into Amsterdam, followed by a second flight to Arusha, as well as suggesting a travel agent to handle the paperwork for my rifle while transiting Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam.
After landing in Arusha, we were met by Mr. Kalisti who worked for Nathan and handled the paperwork for the hunt and importation of my Dakota .416 Rigby and ammunition. It was clear to me that the airport personnel both knew and liked Kalisti. A few years later I was very pleased to find that Kalisti had been elected Mayor of Arusha (it is clear that Nathan has great friends, workers and connections in Tanzania!).
Our hunting camp was at the base of a granite outcrop that rose several hundred feet behind us. In the opposite direction, we looked down on the savannah landscape with acacia, Mopani, candelabra trees, and the occasional baobab that broke up the savannah grassland. The air smelled of wood smoke from the dinner fire and the bird sounds were interspersed with the sounds of staff working about the camp.
Our hunting camp itself was beautiful. A large round open-air grass roofed eating pavilion dominated the camp. The sleeping area consisted of large green sidewall tents that were covered and roofed with grass mats. The screened tents zipped tightly to exclude African insects and other critters. Two elevated barrels provided hot and cold water to each tent, an elegant solution for showers. A flush toilet completed the bathroom area on the pad behind the tent.
During the day, we would cross paths with the many herds of Zebra, Wildebeest and Grants Gazelle as well as the Maasai cattle herders, wearing bright shukas and carrying spears as they followed grazing herds of cattle. At night, the African sky came alive with stars, constellations and meteorites. The air cooled down rapidly after dark and after dinner and relaxation around the fire, the beds felt perfect with crisp clean sheets and warm blankets. I went to sleep to the “whoop whoop” call of nearby hyenas. What a place!
Our camp staff consisted of a cook, an assistant cook/waiter, skinner, night watchman, tent boy, and laborers. The hunting staff consisted of Nathan, a head tracker and his assistant tracker, a Maasai tracker, and government game scout.
I hunted with a Dakota .416 Rigby with Leupold 30 mm 1.5x5 scope; loaded with 400 gr. Barnes TSX soft points and 400 gr. Barnes banded solids. I carried a pair of Nikon Monarch 5 8x binoculars with a binocular harness that took the weight off my neck. I also carried a small camera on my belt and a camelback full of water.
I learned a new lesson about boots while there. When it comes to boots, there is tough, and there is African tough. After ruining a pair of US hiking boots, with nylon mesh panels, I came to understand that nothing beats leather for the punishment inflicted by African thorns. In two weeks, my hiking boots were ready for retirement. All leather hiking boots over wool socks are much preferred.
This was my first African safari. I had come to Tanzania intending on hunting cape buffalo as my primary target, with zebra, wildebeest and Impala as secondary species. The hunt consisted of inspecting watering holes, and tracking buffalo on foot. The ground was hard and I was very impressed with the tracker’s abilities to find buffalo sign in the hard soil and grass. I shot all of the animals that I wanted – taking a huge old Dagga Boy Buffalo via a great hunt and follow up – it was an experience I will not soon forget. I was more than happy with every aspect of this safari.
I couldn’t have asked for a better hunting experience. Nathan worked very hard to get game in front of us. He knows his profession and is driven to provide the best hunting experience possible. In addition to that, the food was absolutely first rate. His cooking staff provided wonderful meals, including fresh bread using a wood fire and a sheet metal oven box. The cook was a great craftsman.
The hunt was exciting, productive, the Country beautiful, and the service absolutely first rate. I couldn’t have had a better experience.
This was hunting and wild Africa at it’s finest with Nathan Askew and Bullet Safaris.
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