Thanks for reading! This is my first article and if it is well received, I’ll write another one about the Masailand hunt. Please watch the movie – it’s really fun, and if you want your own hunt filmed, contact me directly: ASM

Tanzania – it is a word that sends chills down a hunter’s spine like no other. But I mean good chills, not the “Oh man, it’s gonna bite me” chills! Add words like Selous and Masailand, and you have every African hunter listening.

A long-term client and friend booked my company, African Sun Productions, to film his 28-day Tanzanian hunt. We started planning during the 2019 DSC Convention but 18 months down the line Covid lockdown regulations were trying to pull the handbrake on our plans. However, hunters are resilient and we nevertheless managed to put the plan together.
Gregory Morris made his way from Michigan to Dar-es-Salaam via Amsterdam; I had to complete heaps op paperwork to get cleared for a repatriation flight out of South Africa; and Jaco Oosthuizen, owner and operator of Game Trackers Africa, had quite a drive from Namibia through Zambia to Tanzania. We all made it work, and man, it was worth it!
Greg and I got on a charter flight from the Tanzanian capital and made our way to the wilderness. The Selous is a 50 000 km² (19 000 m²) nature reserve and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. All human entry is controlled by the Wildlife Division of the Tanzanian Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism. Most of the reserve is set aside for game hunting through a number of privately-leased hunting concessions, and we were heading to one of these – a huge unfenced, unspoiled, untouched hunter’s paradise. When I say free-roaming, it will be the only time you hear “free”. Tanzania is expensive to hunt, with the bulk of all income going back to these special areas, protected by the highly efficient Tanzanian Wildlife Authority.

We arrived to find our temporary professional hunter, Paul, with a towel around his head and a big black beard. I know it’s not very PC to put it like that, but this rag-head turned out to be a very nice guy, a true gentleman with a great sense of humour. He soon became a good friend and by the time Jaco arrived a few days later, we were sorry to see him leave.
Being the first group of the season meant that not all the roads were open and old grass had not been burnt yet. Doing this takes time but in the process some plains-game animals did fall into some coarse salt. There were southern impala, Niassa wildebeest, Bohm’s zebra and Lichtenstein’s hartebeest – Greg’s nemesis from the previous year. Greg had issues with his .300 but when he shot the .375, the skinner had work to do.
Our main targets were simba and mbogo – lion and buffalo. During the first 10 days of Greg’s 33-day hunt (he added an additional five days since we planned to go to Masailand), we had several lion bait sites set up. Each day we would check them and on day 10, close to the furthest bait site, our little Masai tracker, Loman, spotted two daggaboys (buffalo) feeding in very tall grass.
We worked our way around them. The wind was perfect and we set up an ambush. The leading bull got to within 40 yards of us, still grazing. A bush made him turn broadside, giving Greg the perfect angle. The .375 barked and the bull reacted like a well-hit buffalo should. He hunched up and started running, straight towards us. Greg didn’t have a clear second shot but Jaco took two steps sideways and aimed his .416. At that moment the old bull dropped his head, and Jaco’s shot went high but he was already aiming down his barrels, finger on the second trigger. Luckily the bull stopped 20 yards away behind some cover, head down. We waited. The situation made me think of a teenager about to hook up with an older woman: the trophy is right there, obscured by bush, and if no one shot prematurely everything would be just fine. Looking to my left I saw Greg reloaded and on point, next to him our game scout, wide-eyed but with his rifle in his shoulder, and to my right Jaco was ready with his double. We waited a minute or two … and then suddenly the bull dropped in his tracks! The heart and both lungs had been hit with that first shot.

We had sufficient bait set up in trees for lion and all that was left for us to do was to survive the 40+ Celcius heat and the relentless tsetse flies, and to shoot enough plains game to keep the bait refreshed. Thanks to this procedure I got to go home with beautiful zebra and wildebeest skins. Thanks, Greg!
On the morning of day 15 we drove past one of the bait sites which, from 60 yards away, looked untouched. The trackers went down towards the bait while we took out our breakfast sandwiches. As Greg took the first bite, the tranquil morning erupted into chaos! A male lion had been sleeping in the riverbed next to the bait, and the trackers spooked him. With a loud, angry growl he ran up the opposite bank and stood his ground. On our side you just saw sandwiches flying as hunter and guide scrambled for rifles. I grabbed my weapon of choice, my trusty video camera, ready to film whatever happened next. It really could have gone either way at that stage, with trackers all over the place (they didn’t stand their ground, believe it or not).
We headed down towards the lion, and from opposite banks scrutinised one another. He was a big old male, definitely over the age we were looking for. We stood for 20 minutes just observing him and confirming his age. He had two options: the first was to disappear into the dappled shade, or he could return to the bait. He opted for the latter. With two quick growls, he let us know he was there to stay. Luckily for us he opened his left side, and Greg made a perfect shot right on the shoulder. The lion took off, climbing over a fallen stump and then headed up the hill towards thicker bush. Two shots followed but neither connected. A hundred yards further and he was down!

We made our way towards the lion, keeping a wary eye on him. He was definitely down, and the celebrations started with Jaco shouting the first loud “Kabubi-Kabubi!” This is the traditional celebration chant when one has successfully hunted either of the big cats or an elephant. With our cat in the back, we headed first to fly camp to collect our things. Then, with the crew chanting “Kabubi-Kabubi!”, we left on a three-hour drive back to main camp, where the festivities would continue!
With the excitement of the lion hunt behind us, we left camp the next morning, new goals pushing us onward. Greg did not want to go out of his way to hunt for a leopard but if the opportunity presented itself, he would definitely take it. First, we needed bait. Some of the lion bait still had good meat on them and, after a change in location and finding perfect trees, we soon had a few leopard bait sites ready. The fun part was to make sure we have enough meat ready to refresh the bait as needed. Greg harvested another beautiful buffalo, a wildebeest and a few other species.

One afternoon while heading in the direction of the camp, with the sun about to set, Jaco spotted a big warthog running towards the road. Thomas, the driver, stopped quickly. Greg grabbed his rifle and with Jaco in the lead, we made a quick stalk. Usually these big warthog won’t stop but this one made the mistake of stopping and looking at us. Jaco threw open the shooting sticks, higher than usual. Greg got on them but had to stand on his toes to get a shot! Adjusting the sticks might have wasted that second Greg needed. It worked out. Greg pulled the trigger and the pig dropped in its tracks. The celebration was almost as big as the one we had with the lion!
Over the next few days Greg and Jaco sat in blinds waiting for the elusive leopard to appear but each time they left empty handed. Greg didn’t mind – he would be back the next year. Once Africa grips hold of you, it doesn’t let go!
It was time to head to the next destination, Masailand. The charter flight came right on time and we loaded up. Jaco, Greg and I were joined by the two Masai trackers, Loman and Baracka. We were heading to their neck of the woods and needed their expertise.