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Tanzania 2006--No Elephant this year!
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Tanzania 2006

We just returned from our 21 day Tanzania safari with Tanzania Big Game Safaris. We were primarily hunting for a bull elephant for my husband, whom some of you might remember I mentioned here before that he is losing his vision to macular degeneration. Since I took my elephant in 2004 with Johan Calitz in Botswana, my husband was to be the shooter on this safari. I would be ready as back up if necessary. Tanzania restrictions require minimums of 1.7 meters in length (about 5 feet) or 35 pounds of ivory… Although we had a fantastic safari, disappointedly and surprisingly, we did not even find one elephant above those minimums during 21 days of hard hunting. Some looked pretty close, but according to our PH, Webby Kapaliswa, who remained optimistic and hard working, they weren’t good enough. That’s hunting I remind myself!!!! Whine…whine…whine!

Our battery of weapons included for my husband his custom .416 Rem. on model 70 action built by Brockman with a Zeiss 3.5 x 10 x 40 Leupold scope. I took Thelma; my trusty .375 H&H Pre 64 built by Robar with a Swarovski 3 x 9 x 36 scope. Paul, my husband’s best friend, took his new Montana Rifle Co.-.416 Rem. H&H. We all used Federal Trophy Bonded Bear Claw and/or Sledgehammers as the situation required.

We departed Arusha via a four hour air charter to begin our safari in the Mwambesi Camp on the Tanzania side of the Ruvuma River bordering Mozambique. The airstrip and village were about 45 minutes from camp, and since we were the first clients in the area this year, we frequently encountered bush fences funneling to snares which we regularly tore down. After 12 days of seeing only cows, calves and immature bulls, we decided to relocate to K5 concession in the Selous. In both concessions my husband and his PH accompanied by either Paul or me followed every track that looked promising, only to find a bull below the legal limits. My husband uses the aid of a walking stick to forge and feel his way through thickets and korongos. He never complained or tired of the hours of fruitless tracking, (can’t say the same for me). He is still my hero after 38 years of marriage. He left camp at 6:30 AM and a couple of mornings at 3:00 AM and never returned to camp before 8:00 PM. (This really eliminated our Sundowner time, for sure.)

Raoul Ramoni, TBGS owner, had recommended at the time we booked the hunt that our chances for a big bull would be better later in the season, but our dates of August 15 through September 6 fit our schedule. We should have listened to Raoul, but I never dreamed we wouldn’t even see a legal bull. Because of my husband’s vision problems we knew we wouldn’t be picky. We just wanted him to have an opportunity while he can still see enough to shoot, albeit with me or in this case his best friend, standing behind him to help guide the muzzle of his rifle to the target. After that, with a good scope, he can “do the deadly deedâ€.

During the first ten days in Mwambesi we also had the excellent services of Orlando Cardoso as an additional PH. Mwambesi is definitely not an area to book for buffalo, we were warned that very few are seen or taken from the area, but both Paul and I took respectable buffalo. Paul and Orlando tracked a herd for two days and many blistered miles before Paul took what I call a “Helmet Head†bull with a 16†boss. I was really lucky with my buffalo bull, as Orlando and I just happened to bump a secretive herd while we were headed back to camp. After a 30 minutes stalk, he was down. It did take us over 3 hours to load him into the Land Cruiser though.

Similar to what I found in Mozambique last year, there were ample Roosevelt sable, one of which I connected. We saw Lichtenstein hartebeest, Greater kudu, common waterbuck and bushbuck daily, but not in big numbers or impressive trophy quality. Impala and hippo were sparse. I video taped 2 young lions and a lioness on two consecutive afternoons. I spent 3 consecutive sessions in a leopard blind very near camp, but the leopard we had on bait was smaller than what I have taken in the past, so I just enjoyed the dinner show which included hyenas. And, of course we had many other exciting moments and adventure packed days with elephants and other critters that always make a safari memorable.

Once we moved to the Selous we knew the limited days remaining of our safari would also be a pressure factor. There was no need for any extra gun fire while trying to find an elephant in this sensitive area. We ignored herds of buffalo, plentiful plains game or baiting cats or crocs. However, when we were down to the final few days before safari’s end my husband, with the help of Paul, elected to disturb the calm and took a hippo on dry land, off hand at less than 25 yards. They both proudly reminded me that this was a much more difficult feat than the hippo I had taken in 2001 from the water. We were all ecstatic, and at this point, an elephant couldn’t have made any one of us more thrilled. Even though we continued a dedicated hunt for elephant through the morning of the day we flew out from camp, as targets of opportunity, Paul collected an excellent impala and warthog and I took a beautiful Nyasaland wildebeest.

I may have been slightly disheartened about not finding an elephant for my husband, but as always, the worst day hunting in Africa is better than doing anything else or being anywhere else. And an elephant is a great excuse to go back. The camps, staff and attention to detail from Tanzania Big Game Safaris were excellent.

Location of Mwambesi concession (southern Tanzania, on the border with Mozambique).

Ravuma River at the Mwambesi Camp

Mwambesi Tent

Mwambesi Dining

The three of us in the Selous

Kilimbero River in the Selous

Selous Tent

Selous Dining

Chartering out of the Selous
Posts: 2269 | Registered: 17 July 2003Reply With Quote
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While your husband might have been unlucky finding an elephant, he is blessed in the wife and best friend department.
Posts: 497 | Location: Edgewood, Texas | Registered: 31 July 2006Reply With Quote
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Too bad about him not getting his elephant, but I really like that buffalo. Looks like the boss is just an huge mass, no gap in the middle.
Posts: 3143 | Location: Duluth, GA | Registered: 30 September 2005Reply With Quote
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Being shut out on elephant in Tanzania is unfortunately quite common. If it's any consolation, the same thing has certainly happened to me! I'm sorry to hear that it also happened to you and your husband.

But, like you two, I wasn't too disappointed. It just gave me a reason (as if I needed one) to go back. I think the Tanzanian elephant policy is a good one that will pay big dividends in the long run, as long as they keep the poaching under control.

And in your case, I know that those buff and that hippo stalked and shot on land provided some spice! Those are some nice animals, and I particularly like your husband's old buff.

If your husband has his heart set on an elephant, I can highly recommend Vaughan Fulton's camp in the Caprivi Strip in Namibia. I killed my bull there last year, and it's as close to a sure thing for the finding of a big, trophy bull that I know of, outside of Botswana.

Next time! thumb


Wilderness is my cathedral, and hunting is my prayer.
Posts: 13153 | Location: New England | Registered: 06 June 2003Reply With Quote
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I am sorry to hear you were unable to connect. I'd echo the comment above about a prize for a wife and hunting companion. Kudude
Posts: 1473 | Location: Tallahassee, Florida | Registered: 04 January 2005Reply With Quote
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Thank you for the kind words!!!

The Buffalo with the solid boss is my husband's best friend, Paul's first buffalo ever. This was his very first trip to Africa and he did very, very well!!!

Best regards, D. Nelson
Posts: 2269 | Registered: 17 July 2003Reply With Quote
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D, it is great to hear about your hunt...I still remember your bull from Botswana..
A great time in Africa is to me just being there... Great trophies..super hippo..


Michael Podwika... DRSS bigbores and hunting " MAKE THE SHOT " 450#2 Famars
Posts: 6766 | Location: Wyoming, Pa. USA | Registered: 17 April 2003Reply With Quote
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Although no luck on your Jumbo, you certainly were in one of the best areas in Africa to bag the big one.
Posts: 5886 | Location: Sydney,Australia  | Registered: 03 July 2005Reply With Quote
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Very good report and great pictures !!
With more women like you this world would be perfect Big Grin

Posts: 3085 | Location: Uruguay - South America | Registered: 10 December 2001Reply With Quote
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Wonderful report, Darin, nice buff! There's always next year for that trophy Jumbo!


Posts: 18661 | Location: The LOST Nation | Registered: 27 March 2001Reply With Quote
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Sorry about the ele but it sounds like you guys worked hard and had an incredible adventure, regardless. Congratulations on some fine trophies... those buffalo look like real old warriors! Good hunting.

On the plains of hesitation lie the bleached bones of ten thousand, who on the dawn of victory lay down their weary heads resting, and there resting, died.

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings - nor lose the common touch...
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!
- Rudyard Kipling

Life grows grim without senseless indulgence.
Posts: 7423 | Location: Victoria, Texas | Registered: 30 March 2003Reply With Quote
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Two very nice buffalo make for a sucessful hunt. Hunting in Tanzania for hard working hunters as yourselves is a joy. I always enjoyed the Selous. Hunting elephant is a little tougher in Tanzania and early-on in my 21 day hunt, I put it as an opportunity animal and concentrated on buff and cats, etc. If you go again and want to concentrate on Elephant, you might check on Botwana and Zimbabwe. You would be amazed at the elephant hunts offered.
Congratulations on a great hunt!

Posts: 495 | Location: USA | Registered: 25 December 2003Reply With Quote
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I was lucky enough to be able to accompany Bob & Darin on this trip.

Bob is 14 years my senior and had to use a staff to walk/forge his way and I struggled to keep up with him. Bob is a stud, never grumbled about the walking and was always ready to do it some more.

We stalked a nice single old buffalo bull within about 20 - 25 yards and Bob got on him and declined the shot becouse a tracker was down on the ground between him and the buffalo.

When we stalked the Hippo (Darin - Bob's was on dry land Big Grin ) and got close. Bob got on the hippo as it turned to walk away, not aware of our presence, and Bob spined him.

When Bob dropped the Hippo Darin said she could hear me yelling and laughing all the way back to the hunting car.

Posts: 63 | Registered: 27 January 2003Reply With Quote
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More photos added to the original post.
Posts: 5338 | Location: A Texan in the Missouri Ozarks | Registered: 02 February 2001Reply With Quote
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Well done Darin.

Posts: 473 | Location: San Antonio, Texas & Tanzania | Registered: 20 November 2003Reply With Quote
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Great report and photos, congratulations!!!!


"The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page."
Posts: 9171 | Location: Chicago | Registered: 23 July 2003Reply With Quote
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