Respect for Nyati
We were after Nyati. Yawan, my client and longtime friend was going to shoot a real big buffalo bull. Jaco, my son of 13 years and helper on many hunts went along to help with the camp, cooking, washing and skinning. There was no space for a (tag along) on my hunts. If you came along, you worked. Jaco was used to this. He had to start at the bottom and work his way up if he wanted to experience the joy of Big-game hunting.
We were in the Northwest province on a huge game farm that had a big bull available. The hunting proved to be difficult as the buff was wary and we would only walk-and-stalk. The fact that he was a loner also added to our troubles.
On the morning of the third day we found him grazing in some real thick bush next to a river. The stalk was easy as we had a good wind and the grass was still wet from the dew. 30 meters from the bull and we could not get a clear shot at any of the vitals, the bush was just too thick.
Jaco was back in camp doing the dishes, cleaning the rooms and preparing lunch. He wanted desperately to be with me on the actual hunt as only a young, full of energy and adventure, boy could be. I on the other hand was under very strict instructions from my wife as to taking young boys on buffalo hunts. If something happened to him I would be in for a very painful and slow death. Little did we know how things would turn out for him.
We had to get closer. 20 meters from our bull and there was still no hope to get an arrow past all the twigs and sticks. We followed him until we came to a clearing that gave us a chance. 25 meters said the rangefinder and Yawan brought the 90-pound Hoyt Viper to full draw. He touched the release and a 980gr ACC 371 with a 6.3 PC shaft inside tipped by a 210 gr Steelforce broad head flew at 225 fps at the buffalo.
(S**T! I did not follow through) grunted Yawan as the bull exploded into the bush. The arrow hit him about 6 inches behind the lungs. The arrow went in up to the fletches but I knew that at best it just touched the liver. This was not the hunt I was hoping for.
8 hours later we took up the speckled blood spoor after we had lunch and planned the follow up. A shot like that was always trouble with any animal. You had to give the arrow lots of time to do it,s job. This indicated that it was a solid gut shot. Jaco came along to drop us off with the truck as I taught him to drive since the age of 8. He had to wait at a cut-line ahead to radio us if he sees anything big, black and angry.
We were on the spoor for a short while when Jaco called and said that the buffalo came into the road and is no more than 30 meters from him looking back on its trail. I so wished that I gave him my 375 H&H to take with, then he could put a bullet into the buff from the safety of the truck and put an end to its pain. The priority of the hunt has changed now. My sole purpose was to put it down as it is my responsibility towards the animal and all the laborers working on the reserve. As it was we could only get there as fast as we could.
Yawan have hunted too much and shot many Buffalo with me. He knew the score and would expect nothing less. He told me to do what I have to do in order to get that Buff down.
There was no chance for a second arrow as the bull stood inside a thorn bush that covered every inch of him. I had to end his pain with my trusty old 416. I was really grateful that my son stood next to me when I put him down. Yawan blamed himself for fouling up the biggest most beautiful buff we ever hunted. I told him that if you never wound an animal you never learn from the mistakes. He thought about it and replied that maybe we can all learn not to forget the basics when the adrenalin is pumping.
Jaco later told me that he totally understand why hunters have such respect for a wounded buffalo. He was with the bull for a long time and saw the hatred in its eyes. He also realized how cunning they are when they have to be. (I shall never take them for granted again) he said to me that night at the fire.
I am so fortunate that my son could be on my shoulder for a lot more hunts to follow. He has done many of the Big 6 bow hunts with me and he now even puts his 2c worth off advice when there is some problem to solve. I hope he has learned from our mistakes.