Buffalo Hunting Tale
This is the tale of a Buffalo hunt I was on in the South Luangwa area of Zambia; I hope you find it interesting.
We had been pressing a small herd of Buffalo for a couple of days and finally came on them in a small grove in the early afternoon, where they were lying up. The hunting party was me, the PH, three trackers and the Goverment Game Scout.
The PH and I crawled as close as we could, looking for a nice Buffalo. We got to to about 60 yards. We found what looked like a good bull lying in the shade among several others. We sat down and waited for them to start moving again. It was uncomfortably hot and we baked for a couple of hours. Sweat rolled off me. I glugged bottles of water.
Eventually, the herd started shuffling off and our Buffalo got to its feet; it was a big old bull with 40 inch horns. It turned broadside. I sighted my gun one third up the body, towards the back edge of the front leg. I could see old scars on its hide. The PH said, "Shoot it!"
I shot. I was carrying a Blaser 375 H&H, with hand-loaded 300 grain Woodleigh RN. The Buffalo reared up and the herd exploded around it.
I was confident that it was a good shot although I would have preferred to have got in a second one. We talked among ouselves for a few minutes, then walked towards where the Buffalo had been. The trackers found a blood trail. We followed it, cautiously. We were both loaded with solids. The PH was carrying a 416 Rigby. My scope was turned down to the minimum.
After we walked about 100 yards, we saw the Buffalo standing and swaying, flanked by two young bulls. We stopped, the three of them were about 50 yards away. The two young bulls saw us and stamped and snorted. I thought they were going to run at us. Then the big Buffalo fell over. The young ones snorted for a bit more then turned and ran off. There was no death bellow. We waited 10 minutes, then approached slowly, from behind. The trackers and the Game Scout stayed back.
When we were about 10 yards away, we stopped. I said, "I think I should shoot it in the spine."
It was a mistake to speak. The Buffalo's head came up, he looked over his shoulder, saw us, came to its feet, swung round and charged.
There was no time. I brought my rifle up, sighted on its nose and pulled the trigger. As I did so, it lowered its head, to hook me I suppose, and my bullet glanced off its boss and into the neck (as I found later). The PH fired a half second later but my shot had knocked the Buffalo down and slightly to one side so the PH's bullet grazed down the side of its face as it fell.
The PH shouted to me to shoot it in the spine. I ran down its flank and shot it from about 4 feet. It still didn't die, just lay there gnashing its teeth. I shot it in the back of the brain from a few inches. The first shot was a good one, a killing shot, but that was a tough Buffalo that didn't want to die.
I learnt three lessons from that escapade: -
1. Wait for the PH to finish judging the situation. He'll shake me by the hand when he's happy.
2. Keep my mouth shut when approaching a downed animal
3. Take a bigger gun when going after Buffalo. The 375 H&H will do the job, but when that Buffalo came for me I was wishing I had something a lot bigger.
The first of the attached photos shows the Buffalo. It was an old bull, with a scarred hide and good horns. You can see the nicely-placed entry wound of the initial shot on the left. You can also see the graze on the right hand side of the face, in line with the eye.
In the second photo, in the middle of the left boss towards the back, you can see the groove of the bullet that skidded off.
I like Buffalo hunting. It's extremely challenging. It's dangerous. It's hard work. For me it's the best part of an African safari.
I would be interested to hear any Buffalo hunting stories that people have.