Buffalo Hunting Tale

Discussion in 'Hunting Africa' started by Gloucester, Mar 20, 2010.

  1. Gloucester

    Gloucester AH Member

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    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.
    [​IMG]

    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.
    [​IMG]

    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.

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  2. AfricaHunting.com

    AfricaHunting.com FOUNDER AH Ambassador

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    Gloucester, I really enjoyed your Buffalo hunting tale, thanks for sharing. Some lessons learned, memories full of adrenaline, a great ending and a trophy to be proud of.
  3. ndbwhnter

    ndbwhnter AH Enthusiast

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    Great story, thanks for sharing.

    nd
  4. Mike70560

    Mike70560 AH Fanatic

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    Beautiful buffalo, great story, we are always learning.
  5. daggaboyblog

    daggaboyblog AH Veteran

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    Dan's Zimbabwe Buffalo hunt

    Hey Gloucester - enjoyed reading about your experience in Zambia, and I appreciate the lessons learnt. Your three lessons are true; however on my recent buffalo hunt in Zimbabwe it all panned out a bit differently. So I’ll share my story ‘cause you’d like to hear it!

    We'd had a two encounters with buffalo in various concessions and I was beginning to frustrate my PH as I simply could not get a good enough look at a buffalo were I was happy to commit to the shot. The Mopani was just too thick and all I could see was a black smudge that might have been part of a buffalo.

    I got the speech from Hendrik, my PH on day 6 of a 12-day hunt: "from when we see the buffalo and the buffalo see us, you have 5 seconds to shoot. 5 seconds only. And if you cannot shoot the buffalo where you want to shoot him, then you shoot him where I tell you to shoot him." Harsh words...
    On day 7 we cut fresh spoor very early. We followed them up. I was hunting with tracker/skinner Tiger (real name Nyati), an old man from the local community called Chicere, our government scout BB, a young local fellow who knew the area like the back of his hand named Tanda, and my PH Hendrik.

    We came upon the buffalo at 11am and got to within 50 yards on our bellies; they were bedded in down in long grass under a tree. There was a dagga boy amongst them but there was no way of getting a shot from where we sat; by the time we made a plan, the wind turned and they were off...

    We left them till after lunch and picked up their spoor where they crossed a road. We left old Chicere behind and started after the spoor. 20 minutes into our stalk, Chicere, the half blind old man came stumbling though the bush whistling like some local bird. Tanda raced out to collect him, as it was clear that Chicere could not see us. Chicere had seen the buffalo.

    Everyone gathered around Chicere, squatting in a tight circle, as the old man jabbered in Shona and used a stick to explain the situation in the hard packed sandy soil. Without translation I realized that the herd had turned some time ago and was now actually behind us.

    We quickly turned and moved fast to catch up to the buffalo. Some 30 minutes passed and we came into a clearing about 60 yards across. Everyone was tense and we all took a deep breath at the same time as we spotted the herd on the other side of the small open flat.

    "The grey one!" hissed Hendrik, "Shoot the grey one!" the old bull was standing broadside looking to the left. I could only see his neck and his head was turned so that it was obscured by Mopani. I could feel the men around me willing me to shoot. The animals milled about nervously. I sweated and gripped the big Brno, waiting for an opportunity.

    And the opportunity came quickly. As one, the buffalo herd wheeled to the right and ran. I raised my rifle and as the dagga boy wheeled around, he exposed his grey rear for a split second. There was no thought process - the rifle boomed and the Mopani swallowed up the herd. I don’t recall “aiming” or making the decision to fire, it all just happened in half of a split second.

    The 500gr Woodleigh "soft" hit the bull an inch to the left of his anus, smashing his pelvis and tearing forward, lodging in his liver and causing massive haemorrhaging. His rear legs folded and the first thing I remember hearing since our encounter with the herd was that long mournful bellow.

    As the buffalo raised himself, I could hear "my team" calling out behind me "Shoot masonya, shoot!" I raced around the buffalo and fired at his nose. The 500gr Woodleigh "solid" hammered the bull to the ground, traveling along the length of his spine and lodging at the base of his neck.

    "He is blinking Dan, shoot him again" spoke Hendrik. I didn't argue, though I thought it was unnecessary. I put three shots into his shoulder, one of which passed through a large Mopani, deflecting to hit the dead bull a bit too far back.

    The men cheered and threw their arms around me. I couldn't believe what had just happened; it happened much quicker than it takes to read about it.

    And back to your three lessons, Gloucester:
    1. If I had listened to my PH all the time, I may have shot a much bigger animal through the ear on day 2 of the safari. But at 120 yards with only a good view of his ear and eye, I'm glad I didn't listen to him! However the 5-second rule did apply - you have to be quick in the thick stuff!
    2. While I might be able to keep my mouth shut, my PH and the rest of the team couldn't help but shout and cheer once the lead started to fly. And the first thing I heard from my Shona trackers when we made contact with buffalo was “shoot”. Rather distracting at times!
    3. And as far as guns go, my experience hunting scrub bull in Australia's arid mulga country meant that there was no way I would be hunting cape buffalo with anything other than my dangerous game rifle of some 16 years now, a Brno ZKK602 chambered for the .450 Ackley Magnum launching 500gr bullets at 2400fps.

    Can't beat big guns and can't beat big buffalo! Love them both!

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  6. Gloucester

    Gloucester AH Member

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    That is a great story, well written. I love tales like that. A 500 Woodleigh certainly gives the Buffalo an argument. Thanks for taking the time to put this down in print.
  7. 1Shot2Kills

    1Shot2Kills AH Senior Member

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    I love this story, very well written and very entertaining; great photos as well!
  8. monish

    monish AH Elite

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    Gloucester

    Amazing experience it must have had been !! great tale and lots of lessons learnt, next time have a .470 or a 500 double as the spare rifle for the charging buff, if at all a situation rises, but the 375 Mag is the Emperor .
    Thanks for sharing the adrenaline rush moments.

    Monish
  9. monish

    monish AH Elite

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    WOW! good hunting experience taking a big Dagga , yes you write truthfully big GUNS and big BUFFS can never let go the obsession. Great tale .

    Thanks

    Monish

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