Crocodile bow hunt

Discussion in 'Bowhunting Africa' started by Fritz Rabe, May 19, 2012.

  1. Fritz Rabe

    Fritz Rabe AH Veteran

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    THE FIRST CROCODILE

    1996 was a strange year to me. Sitting under cover waiting for the first sign to appear on the surface of the water like a fisherman watching his float. It was early in the morning. The bush was alive with bird chatter and a few animals have already come down to quench their thirst. The insects were starting as I watched an Ant Lion trapping a tiny insect that fell in to the funnel he so carefully prepared in order to have a meal. I felt like the Ant Lion. Waiting for our animal to appear.

    The winter cold had a good grip on my body. We were all shaking and hugged our legs to get some sort of heat going. If we wanted to stay undetected from our quarry, we had to stay put. He would have to show himself in order to warm his cold blooded body.

    Pieter, my fellow PH and long time friend bumped me and pointed off to the left with his chin. He was there. No more than 40 yards from us, scanning the area to make sure that it is safe for him to come up onto the sand for some warmth. It felt like an hour before he slowly emerged like a ghost. He was a big Croc for this area. I judged him at no less that 13 and a half feet, maybe even 14 feet. He went to his favourite spot and made himself comfortable to soak up the sun that tried hard to drive away the winter cold.

    (Damn) is all I thought when I saw that his left front leg was squarely in the way of where the arrow had to hit in order to find the heart and lungs. We had to wait some more for him to move the leg as we could not move to a better place with him no more than 30 yards away now.

    Yawan, my Spanish client and long time friend looked at me with a frown. I just shrugged and whispered that we had to wait some more as there was no shot. It is like watching cement dry or grass grow. The tension we all felt was replaced by irritation as time just seemed to stand still. The Ant Lion has finished his breakfast and I saw him moving under the sand to get ready for his next victim. The Croc closed his eyes as if to go to sleep. (Move your leg!) I kept thinking so as to will him to obey my thoughts. I don't believe in telepathy anymore. Or it does not work on a Crocodile.

    We were here because Yawan wanted a Croc. He wanted it with a bow and at the time it sounded like fun. We have hunted them before with a rifle but that is completely different to doing it with a bow and arrow. Since he converted to bow hunting, my live became stressful because Yawan just loves dangerous game hunting. I for one have never tried bow hunting a Croc and I did not know anyone in Africa that has done it successfully either that could give me some advice. This was going to be a big learning curve for all of us.

    His setup was fine. A custom made Hoyt Smoke at 90lb wit a 31 inch draw and a 980gr arrow with a 210gr Steel Force two blade cut on impact broad head made for an ideal Big Game combination. We have hunted many Elephant, Buffalo and Hippo with it and it did the job every time. So how can a lowly overgrown Lizard be any problem? Little did we know what was waiting for us?

    Four hours later found us sitting in the same spot still looking at Mr. Croc. He did not move. He only opened his eyes once when an African Jacana landed behind him on a large Lilly pad. (This sucks) I kept thinking.
    Pieter started giggling like a girl and we both looked at him thinking that he went nuts. (What's so funny?) I asked him in a soft whisper. (Have you ever been charged by a Croc?) He wanted to know. (No, why?) I did not know what he was getting at. (We each have our .416 rifles at the ready.) He replied. That just cracked me up and tears were rolling down my face as I tried to keep the laughter in and not scare the Croc away. He had a point there. I know of many locals that were taken by Croc but I have never heard of someone been charged by one.

    (Don't worry. I値l protect both of you) Yawan said after he wiped the tears from his eyes. The waiting started to make us lose concentration and we had to be alert so as not to do it all over again. Most people think that a Croc lying basking in the sun is an easy adversary. They could not be more wrong. They are highly tuned to their surroundings and have very acute senses. The slightest noise could make him spin around and disappear into the river again and we would not see him again for a few days.

    Suddenly his leg moved forward. Slowly he opened up the area over his ribs. We stood up and I thought that he would hear all our joints crack after all the sitting in one position. I pointed the spot out to Yawan and he knew exactly where to aim for. The Hoyt came to full draw and the arrow was ready to deliver its message to the heart. At the shot, the Croc flew around and hit the water with a huge splash scaring the birds and everything else to death.

    Now what? Both Pieter and I have done many Croc hunts with a rifle and you do not want a Croc back in the water after the shot. They do not float like Hippo after an hour and by the time they do everything will be rotten and wasted. We discussed the shot and were confident that the arrow found the mark and went through the heart and lungs as we saw the broad head enter and exit at the right place.

    After an hour and a half we decided that it was time to recover this Lizard. Someone had to go in and find him to tie a rope around his legs. Yawan is the client so it cannot be him. Pieter still had a loaded gun in his hands and he is a deadly shot, so I was not going to order him to do it. Drawing straws would also not work because Pieter is a well known cheat. We decided to go together with Yawan acting as guard with a rifle. He would shoot into the water at anything that looks like a tree trunk, stick or what ever he decides.

    Let me tell you that I have dived and spear-fished with Sharks around me and I have been around dangerous game my whole life and it never bothered me. But when that brown water closed over my head I felt sick. This is no way to make a living. It took us nearly 15 minutes to locate him. Pieter found him on a flat rock under some reeds. We roped him and pulled him out with the vehicle. He measured 13,9 foot from the tip of his nose to the tip of his tail. This was a big Croc.

    [​IMG]

    It was also the last one I would ever hunt in this manner. The arrow did do its job and the broad head cut a huge hole through the lungs but, the heart was still pumping when we took him out of the water. You could feel it under his skin. He was dead but his heart did not know it yet. There had to be a safer way to do this. It was just not worth the risk with so many things that could go wrong. We never even thought that a cold blooded animal would be so different to the normal mammals that we regularly hunted.

    It was a great hunt and we were very happy with the outcome and Yawan was overjoyed. Pieter and I made a great team and we would do many more dangerous game bow hunts together. It is just that I would not do a Croc in this manner again. Once was enough.

    Fritz Rabe
    Fritz Rabe Bow Hunting/Askari Adventures
     
  2. spike.t

    spike.t GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    had me laughing at the thought of you 2 in muddy water blindly trying to find a croc, that even though hopefully dead is still capable of biting!!:laughing::thumb:
     
  3. Fritz Rabe

    Fritz Rabe AH Veteran

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    Do not laugh! Wisdom is not wasted on the youth. Stupidity is. :bonk:
     
  4. spike.t

    spike.t GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    still laughing to myself!!!
     
  5. Fritz Rabe

    Fritz Rabe AH Veteran

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    Many people were laughing when they heard this. I was not laughing at the time. Luckily wisdom comes with age and I am wise now. Still a few years to go to qualify for genius.:confused:
     
  6. Nyati

    Nyati AH Legend

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    Incredible ! I would never do a thing like that.
     
  7. spike.t

    spike.t GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    fritz i just cant get the vision out of my head, of the 2 of you feeling around underwater blindly hoping not to get bitten! cheered my day up no end. ;)
     
  8. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR GOLD BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    Swimming for Crocs!!!
    Definitely Youthful thinking entering into this scenario.
    Fritz you were nuts and I will wait to see if that diagnosis is of a longer term nature.
     
  9. Wolverine67

    Wolverine67 AH Fanatic

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    Amazing story! I would rather face a raging buff many times before entering that water, thats for sure.
    Got me thinking. Could this be done with an oversized bowfishing equipment?
    A strong line attached to the arrow could at least make the location of the carcass easier?
     
  10. Stretch

    Stretch AH Fanatic

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    I'd say once is enough! You either have some really big balls or maybe a little unbalanced.

    At any rate it was a very good read.
     
  11. Cliffy

    Cliffy AH Elite

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    Holy Cow! Bravery is wasted on the youthful. No way, No how would I do that. How do they say it?
    Fritz you got a pair of big ones! Bow fishing equipment with a line a float - now that's the way to do it.
    Great story and very well written.
     
  12. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR GOLD BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    Saw a video of this exact method. Arrow with Line attached with a reel paying out line with a float attached.
    The Croc dove and you watched the float make its way down the river.
    Not a perfect method. Reeling in a Croc?

    Someone still had to be crazy enough to go in the water to retrieve it!!!
     
  13. Wolverine67

    Wolverine67 AH Fanatic

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    I guess not perfect, but if you want to use the bow...I would think its impossible to anchor a croc wirh an arrow anyway. If you can locate it before entering the water, you minimize the time spent in water. If the croc is only wounded.....well its lost anyway. If your lucky you may be able to locate the floater further downstream the next day or so. I know this metode are used on beaver in Finland. The beaver also sink when shot. Of course he want eat you trying to recover it....:biggrin2:
     
  14. Fritz Rabe

    Fritz Rabe AH Veteran

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    Let me just rectify a few things.
    That was the first and only time I hunted a croc in that way. Today I do use a float depending on the situation. If it is a river with no reeds then we just shoot it with a normal broad head into the lungs halfway between the front and back legs. The croc will dive but re-surface fast and crawl out onto the bank soon. There he will either die or you get a second arrow into him.
    If it is a dam or lake like in Caborra Bassa then I use two setups. One is a normal 40 - 50lb bow fishing rig with 250lb dacron line attached to a float. Hunting them at night in this manner works best. Use a boat and shoot the croc in the water at close range.
    Change to a heavy setup with good quality broadheads. Locate the float and position the boat above the croc. Wait for him to come up for air. As soon as the line goes slack, you know that he is coming up.

    The client then draws and aim for the brain shot and as soon as his head shows he shoots. The problem is that if the brain is not hit, the croc goes beserk and you have to gaff him to get him into the boat. If not and he dies and is deep under water then you hook him with dacron line and heavy hooks and bring him to the surface.
    It is easier to do than to explain.

    When I started Dangerous Game bow hunting there were no knowledge about how to do things in Africa and we had to make our own plans and learn as we went along.

    The place where the above hunt took place was where there was a small pool in a shallow river deep into the dry season and we were 90% sure that this big croc was the only one in the pool.

    I have great trackers that have been with me for many years but when ever we hunt Hippo and croc with a bow they all develop a sudden case of Malaria or they have to attend a family emergency.
     
  15. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR GOLD BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    I figured this was a method from the good old days before the knowledge you've gained.


    So your trackers still have more sense than you. :)
     
  16. Fritz Rabe

    Fritz Rabe AH Veteran

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    They all have an inborn fear of water. None of them can swim because they all grew up in Hippo and croc infested waters and after the first croc hunt the are even less interested in learning to swim.

    I have grown a few brain cells since then. My late father always told me:
    You get an old hunter and you get an arrogant hunter. You never get an old, arrogant hunter.

    Today I like to see myself as an old hunter although my trackers might dispute this sometimes but not to often.
     
  17. Stretch

    Stretch AH Fanatic

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    Fritz - You live an interesting life. Many of us (myself included) are in awe of your excursions. The adventures that you partake in are peppered with exhilaration. I am glad that you have taken the time to share these experiences with all of us. You are living a hunters dream.

    As far as being considered an old hunter... We all become more practical with seasoning.
     
  18. Bobpuckett

    Bobpuckett GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    Great Read Fritz love the story. Reminds me of these Alligator hunts I keep putting in for here in Alabama get this you have to have a hold of the Alligator before you can kill it, they don't want you to kill one to small.
     
  19. 35bore

    35bore AH Elite

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    Another great read,, with a touch of comedic relief. Well done Fritz.
     
  20. Norwegianwoods

    Norwegianwoods SILVER SUPPORTER AH Elite

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    Thanks for sharing another great hunting story with us Fritz!
     

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