Judging Cape Buffalo

Discussion in 'Judging Trophies' started by Buff, Mar 1, 2009.

  1. DLS

    DLS AH Member

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    Here are a couple more buffalo to judge. Ernest Dyason of Spear Safaris has previously asked me to post these on another African hunting website, so I know he's fine with me posting them on here. What do you all think of these two buffalo they took earlier this season.
     

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  2. enysse

    enysse AH Ambassador

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    DLS, those are all beautiful cape buffalo's. It gets a guy or gal to dreaming of hunt Africa for them!
     
  3. Shallom

    Shallom AH Enthusiast

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    Very good Buff Photos... Some Kilombero Karacters will soon be posted. Wild Ones!
     
  4. lio

    lio AH Senior Member

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    What a Wonderfull subject, what a wonderfull post. Many thanks to all of you, it is like the Buffalo bible over here. It is very interessting.

    I will do my first Caffer Caffer buffalo hunting trip in 8 days now and I can't tell you how huge the information are in just one page of answer. Many thanks to all of you.

    I have already visited Benin, Burkina, Cameroun, Zimbabwe and S.A for the buffalo hunt but it was with my rifle and I've never get a chance. Now I return back to the bush (Selous) with a lot of information and I am proud and happy to be a new member of the AfricaHunting.com "community". Chears.
    Lionel.
     
  5. lio

    lio AH Senior Member

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    Sorry in Benin, Burkina etc etc it was with my bow and this is perhaps the reason of my failure... Anyway I will use a rifle in 8 days but in the same ethical aspect than with my bow...
     
  6. Shallom

    Shallom AH Enthusiast

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    Judging Cape Buffalo

    [​IMG]
    01. Old Trophy Dugga Boy!

    These Cape Buffalo below are not 'young' bulls, the reason I judged them as immature is due to the fact that they would most likely not be shooters on a Buffalo safari. On the close-up photo, it may appear that they have hard bosses, but they are actually just beginning to form a rough layer at the top. If you were to press your thumb on these bosses (where they meet together), you will find that the top crust will move down upon pressure, meaning that the bottom of the bosses is yet to fully form.

    [​IMG]
    02. These two Cape Buffalo were found dead in Mountain Zebra
    National Park (South Africa) after apparently battling and their
    horns became interlocked.
    Excerpt from a post in the AfricaHunting
    Forum, to read the full thread click here.


    [​IMG]
    03. Close up of the two Cape Buffalo.

    Further evidence is from the facial features. There is no typical wear and tear on the ridge of the nose and the 'tear-path' from the eyes. The facial hair is very intact which is not a rule, but very common among old bulls. Furthermore, you will note that the horns are still angling backwards (also not a rule but common of younger bulls) plus they have 'flick-back' tips which suggest little wearing down. On the close-up, the bull facing left is the older of the two and may in some places qualify as a last day bull, but it is not an appropriate bull to take down. Even though they are alone, it does not mean that they are old bachelor bulls. Buffaloes also enjoy young bachelorhood and then rejoin a herd when they are ready to fight for breeding rights.

    Indeed, it is impossible to judge when a wild Buffalo has 'peaked' or is in 'decline', but we all depend on the tell-tale signs. I have seen some really old bulls still hand around the herds and even sniff a cow or two and have seen very young bulls hand around with old dugga boys - there is no fixed rule to these habits. But in the case of the two candidates on the photo above, they would deserve a second and third glance maybe, but if the area has Buffalo, then they are to be left alone for a future date.

    In reference to the 'seam of the bosses coming together', that is another misconception that many hunters have. The distance between one boss and the other is very much a genetic quality and cannot be used entirely as an age indicator. It is the HARDENING of the bosses and COMPLETE formation of the bosses according to the genes of that particular bull that safely establish whether a bull is mature or not. They could be close together or up to six inches apart. A few photos here below to illustrate various boss genetics - one meets at the seam, another is 2" apart and the other 3" apart - but they are all as old a bull as you could hope for.

    [​IMG]
    04. Trophy Buffalo.

    [​IMG]
    05. Trophy Buffalo.

    [​IMG]
    06. Old Trophy Dugga Boy!

    I admire hunters who seek exceptional trophies and encourage the practice, but in my book, a young animal, unless harvested for special reasons, is no exceptional trophy. Stay true to ethical hunting and let the young ones develop to their full potential while keeping the population sustainable. Judge your hunting before your potential trophy.

    Using Rowland Ward Methods Of Measurement for horns of African Buffalo (Method 12) does require taking the spread measurement from horn to horn into account. Using Safari Club International Methods Of Measurement for horns of African Buffalo (Method 4) does also require taking the spread measurement into account.

    [​IMG]
    07. outside spread of horn 40 inch (101.60 cm)

    [​IMG]
    08. outside spread of horn 41 inch (104.14 cm)

    [​IMG]
    09. outside spread of horn 42 inch (106.68 cm)

    [​IMG]
    10. outside spread of horn 43 inch ( 109.22 cm)

    [​IMG]
    11. outside spread of horn 44 inch (111.76 cm)

    [​IMG]
    12. outside spread of horn 49 inch (124.46 cm)

    [​IMG]
    13. A young Buffalo calf. Still too early to even tell the sex,
    though the thickness of the horn growth suggests it may be a
    male. This is the future of the herd. A healthy percentage of
    calves within a herd is a sign of sustainability. They are the ones
    who learn about the territories and grazing systems that will
    keep the herd in the same area for years to come. Herds are
    led by lead-cows who are usually of old age, bold and wise in
    their survival skills. Calves spend their first few years learning
    about the heard hierarchy, movement patterns, seasons,
    predators and watering & grazing locations.

    [​IMG]
    14. A young Buffalo… could well be a young cow too. No signs
    of boss development and very slim features.

    [​IMG]
    15. A very young bull. Probably between 4-5 years at the most.
    Leave it alone. At such an age, it is difficult to assess the
    potential of his trophy as it still has a lot of room for
    development. He will still push out more to gain spread and the
    bosses are not fully formed so there is no telling the drop and
    curl. Even his ears and skull are still growing so you cannot even
    judge his spread using the ear-scale. But he is most likely a
    34 inch (86.36 cm) spread now and in a few years could attain
    a spread of + 40 inch (101.60 cm).

    [​IMG]
    16. Very young bull with hardly a boss to be detected. Has a
    number of years to grow still. Already showing good potential,
    but there is no telling for sure until the boss hardens and then
    the extent of the dimensions can be judged.

    [​IMG]
    17. Here is a bull that appears mature but is actually positioned
    very deceptively. He is heading to maturity but still needs some
    time. His penis sheath is still not fully developed and you can
    see that his horns still have a very notable ‘flick-back’ which is
    also a sign of immaturity. His head is also a give-away in terms
    of being a little small and the neck is more slender in
    comparison to most old bulls. Very difficult to judge the boss
    from this angle and requires the bull to turn and stare at you for
    a good assessment.

    [​IMG]
    18. Here is a Buffalo bull with awesome genes. He has heavy
    structure with a little bit of everything – boss / drop / curl /
    spread. But he is not ready to be taken yet. The hair in between
    his bosses suggest that he still has a few genes to spread
    before retirement and it is an ethical hunters future to allow him
    that privilege. This bull would score very high on the SCI system
    of measurement, but putting him to the tape for that reason is
    contributing to the negative aspect of hunting. SCI does not
    condone hunting of younger game, it is the hunter who makes
    the decision to exploit and manipulate a system for his/her
    personal agendas. The genes of this particular bull are needed
    to have a good trophy future. If he were to have poor genes,
    he may well be taken depending on the hunting circumstances
    at hand.

    [​IMG]
    19. A fine bull by any standards. Even though recently matured
    into a solid boss bull, ready to be taken. Some outfitters,
    knowing the quality in their area would pass on this bull due to
    his good genes and possibility of still being a reproductive bull.
    On many occasions, bulls such as this one will leave a herd
    during the dry season or non-productive period of the cows to
    live as a Dagga Boy, but may well re-join a herd when the
    pickings are good and spread his genes. He is a + 40 inch
    (101.60 cm) bull and his trophy will most likely wear-down from
    now on. The spread will not recede but the tips will and the horns
    will smoothen.

    [​IMG]
    20. Here is a bull with special genes. He has gained spread by
    sacrificing drop and curl. Due to his extraordinary structure, his
    bosses are fully formed, but his facial features, structure and
    the fact that he is hanging out with a cow, suggests that he is
    very much a breeding bull. He has a spread of well over 40 inch
    (101.60 cm) and can be taken as is – but the fact is, given a
    year, he will harden his horn structure and make a much better
    harvest. This is surely a non-typical Buffalo though. What he
    has gained in spread, he has lost in drop and curl.

    [​IMG]
    21. Here is a bull that is a classic trophy to any Buffalo hunter.
    He is big, bold & old. The bosses are huge and solid, the drop is
    exceptional, the curl is more than you could ever ask for in a
    bull this old. Evidence of his genes are right behind him – the
    young bull has exactly the same features as him. Bulls of his
    stature are what make Buffalo hunting such a special
    experience. It is a surprise that he is still with the herd and by
    taking him out, you are probably having a positive influence on
    the herd by allowing a younger bull to have better reproductive
    impact.

    [​IMG]
    22. Another dream Buffalo. He is mean looking, heavily bossed
    with a lot of drop and curl and although lacking in spread, will
    make a fine trophy for any Buffalo hunter! This is the kind of
    old battered bull that you want to get face-to-face with and
    test your nerves on. Note the angle on this particular photo
    though – you shoot behind the shoulder and you are in trouble.
    At this angle you need to put your shot almost on the front half
    of the shoulder (a third up the body) in order to penetrate both
    lungs and do damage to the boiler room.

    [​IMG]
    23. The reason there are many factors to consider when judging
    gender, age and trophy of an animal is clear on this photo. This
    is an old bull with a fully developed body, fully formed horns
    with solid bosses, a deep drop & curl and worn-down tips. Not a
    gifted bull in terms of spread and dimensions, but if you were
    ever in doubt about its’ gender and age, look between his legs!!!
    That pair has probably brushed every bush he has walked over
    and banged against every obstacle in his path. The reason they
    are so full is probably because none of the cows want any more
    of this old warrior – do him a favor and take him as a trophy.
    He is a fine old bull who is past his prime.


    [​IMG]
    24. Remember the bull three seasons ago – well if left to grow
    older, this is what he may look like. This bull would measure in
    the high 40’s inch (101.60 cm) and is a great trophy by any
    standards. He has worn down his tips to knobs and smoothened
    the surface all along his horns. A rare, unique and special
    trophy to have. There would not be much debate about bagging
    this old boy.

    [​IMG]
    25. This is a typical Dugga Boy! Solid head and worn down horn
    features with not much of a spread. But when you are hunting
    Buffalo, age should always be the priority. Just behind him is
    one with a wider spread and on such occasions comes the
    temptation for a Double Dugga Delight. Shoot well and be quick
    at it.

    [​IMG]
    26. Now here is a Buff who really wants his money back and you
    can tell that you are not the only one he has dealt with recently.
    This Buffalo may still get very close to 40 inch (101.60 cm)
    despite the broken off horn. He has great character and will
    stand-out in any trophy room. Very old and besides the broken
    horn, has everything – drop, curl, boss and spread. An
    exceptional trophy.


    Hunting any wild game is a thrill and adventure. But there is something about the Cape Buffalo that just stands out and makes it a unique experience. It is not a hunt above the rest, as all dangerous game hunts are special, but the Buffalo is game that a real hunter never tires of pursuing and no two hunts for this great animal are the same. The fact that it is a species that is in abundance also adds to the experience, knowing you can meet the challenge again and again. Lion / Leopard / Elephant / Rhino are mostly once in a lifetime hunts, but the Buffalo is a lifelong hunt. Even getting lucky with a 50" trophy will not exhaust your thirst for another Buffalo hunt. Buffalo hunting is an incurable fever. Karibu Tanzania.
     
  7. AfricaHunting.com

    AfricaHunting.com FOUNDER AH Ambassador

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    Thank you so much Ryan for putting this together and sharing your knowledge with us, very informative.

    Lionel, make sure to let us know about your Buff when you get back and lets see some pictures too! Glad you are enjoying the site.
     
  8. Billy Stewart

    Billy Stewart AH Senior Member

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    Ryan excellent post i really enjoyed that!! I learned so much from your post,the pics to go along with the descriptions was really helpful. I have never hunted Africa but of the big five i think the buffalo is the one that really does it for me
    oh how i would love to hunt one up close and personnel a big double gun on a big old bull now thats Africa to me!! :D:nailbiter:
     
  9. Shallom

    Shallom AH Enthusiast

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    Billy,
    glad the post has been helpful and enjoyable. We share the same sentiment on buffalo hunting - it is unlike anything else. Africa awaits...
     
  10. AFRICAN INDABA

    AFRICAN INDABA CONTRIBUTOR AH Enthusiast

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    Trophy Scoring and The African Buffalo

    Trophy Scoring and The African Buffalo
    by Gerhard R Damm

    Regular readers of African Indaba may remember the articles of Kevin Robertson and Winston Taylor in last year’s number 3 issue of African Indaba. Craig Boddington also discussed measuring systems favoring the shooting of pre-prime bulls and disturbing herd structure with a selection of highly experienced African professional hunters in his now well-distributed DVD “Boddington on Buffalo 2”. Tanzanian PH Rainer Josch took up the topic in his recent DVD “Mountain Buffalo” (see review in this issue). Rowland Ward’s initiative regarding a revision of the scoring system for African Buffalo got the attention of buffalo hunters everywhere and many positive comments and suggestions have been received.

    The question certainly is not “who has the better scoring system” but rather “how can we modify the present scoring methods so that the buffalo herds in Africa maintain a healthy population structure, allowing us and future generations of hunters to sustainably harvest mature trophy buffalo bulls”. As a second objective we need to create scientifically meaningful statistical evidence concerning this harvest.

    [​IMG]
    1. Mature bull with solid boss (Spread 36 inches; Boss 14 inches ‐
    observe the relatively narrow boss gap)


    In order to achieve the objective Rowland Ward works closely together with the CIC International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation and a number of highly qualified scientists in the field. The general consensus so far points towards harvesting bulls which have passed their prime and are not “needed” as breeding bulls in the herds anymore, respectively have been ejected from the herd. These bulls – usually over ten years of age – have not only passed on their genes, but are also harder to hunt. Moreover the trophy of such a bull sports usually a fully hardened boss with only a small gap between the horn bases. The CIC, Rowland Ward and many other international hunting associations consider that giving more weight to a well developed boss will encourage hunters to hunt older bulls. I don’t want to omit, however, that average boss width varies considerably in regional phenotypes and hunters should also assess the gap between the left and right boss.

    I was rather astonished to read in SCI’s Safari Times about a “comparison of the SCI method with one of its competitors” [sic] and furthermore that an evaluation of the trophies in the SCI record book has shown that the trophy quality resp. boss measurements did not show any significant variation over the past decades. It is more than peculiar that one tries to prove the correctness of a scoring system by simply creating average statistical values from within this very system. That you shouldn’t do this is one of the first lessons students hear when they read Statistics.

    Kevin Robertson commented recently again the current high ranking bulls in the SCI book – (in particular nos 1, 3, 10 and 17). None of these bulls had a hard boss – so he pointedly asked “I am not too sure how you measure something which is not there”. Robertson and a good number of other buffalo experts suggest that none of these bulls is older than 7 years, and they have been killed long before having had a chance to breed.

    [​IMG]
    2. After boiling and cleaning the skull of a young bull; cartilage
    dissolved and the boss gap is several inches wide
    (Spread 36 inches; Boss 13 + inches)


    [​IMG]
    3. Self-explaining - on the left the bull of photo 1, on the right
    the youngster of photo 2


    [​IMG]
    4. Mature bulls with hard boss and narrow gap and others who
    would have needed a few more years to be real trophies


    Once on the wall, these younger bulls make of course magnificent displays – since the soft boss, which virtually dis- solves during the boiling process, can be masterfully reconstructed to resemble a fully hardened one. Maybe some hunters have the trophies scored once they are reconstructed? I once again repeat that we need to reconsider the scoring methods for the African Buffalo – Rowland Ward has taken the initiative a year ago and the process, albeit not finished, has created the much needed awareness and public debate. This at least is one positive outcome and I am sure that at the end of this debate we will have a scoring method which does justice to the population dynamics of the African Buffalo.

    South African taxidermist Rodney Kretzschmar sent me a series of photographs which underline Robertson’s point – I have reproduced four here with Rodney’s kind permission.

    The trophy scoring issue is, however, not limited to the African Buffalo – this was the clear outcome of the workshops and meetings during the General Assembly of the CIC in Marrakech end of April. Since I have been appointed as coordinator of the CIC Commission Exhibitions and Trophies at that meeting, I will tackle the task with this vision in mind:

    An innovative approach to trophy hunting, trophy evaluation and trophy monitoring will concentrate on scientifically viable trophy measurements focusing on methods which provide on one hand comprehensive and species-specific biological data and on the other hand the means to intelli- gently use and interpret these data to serve regionally and globally as key wildlife management tool, as indicator of sustainable trophy hunting practices and as a bridge for cooperation with the IUCN Sustainable Use Specialist and Species Specialist Groups.

    I said in my presentation in Marrakech that existing systems should not be changed for the sake of change, but also highlighted that every system needs to adapt to changing circumstances in order to remain relevant. Changes need to be based on one side on significant new knowledge about game, game populations, game genetics, zoogeography and the sociobiological importance of horns and antlers in terms of geometry, morphology etc, and on the other side on changing societal perceptions of hunting. Much of today’s knowledge as well as scientific statistical evaluation methods based on state-of-the-art information technology were not available 30 or 40 years ago.

    Many researchers have highlighted the influence that selective hunting may have on the population dynamics of game and non-game species. Yet it is common knowledge that data sourced from hunts are inherently biased. Hunters typically select a non-random subset of a game population usually based on anthropocentric perceptions nurtured by trophy scoring methods, thus making hunting the contrary of a random process. There is another constraint inherent with the trophies in the existing record books – in many cases only a relatively small percentage of the trophies taken are scored resp. are eventually entered. This may have consequences for the correct interpretation of hunting and trophy data. We therefore also need to adopt corrective measures for bias introduced in this way, and we need to encourage all hunters to have all their trophies scored.

    Change within an existing scoring method does not mean that comparability with past trophy data will disappear. Intelligent database design will assist in safeguarding continuity. It also does not mean that we will have to use complicated formulas in field assessment – a mature trophy will always catch your eye; don’t worry about points and ranking whilst hunting – savor the moment, enjoy the hunt, and go for these old bulls!
     
  11. Ray Atkinson

    Ray Atkinson AH Enthusiast

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    I see a trend today that sickens me to no end and that is the shooting of huge bulls that are not in their prime and its sanctioned by so called PHs..They only see size when they look at a bull..those young bulls get their full growth of horn by 3 years old.. and only then do they begin their journey to becomming a true warrior of the flood plains and develope into a "real" trophy bull..

    If they have hair in the horn let them grow...I see so many air heads showing pictures of thie immature big bulls on the internet with stupid grins on their ignorant faces..

    This is the first post wherein I have stated how I feel on the subject but I feel it needs to stop and the only way it will stop is to shame those that do it..I know its their dollar, but hey its my opinnion...

    I would much rather shoot a broken horned old warrior with tail eaten off and scars on his face with tattered ears than a 60 inch 3 year old bull who has horns as smooth as a babies butt and needs to have the hair shaved from between his horns or as one a-hole at SCI told me, Hey my taxidermist put a hell of a boss on him! oh Lord, save me from this type...

    I will add to this in all fairness, that some bulls do need to be shot young as thats the best they will ever get, but eat them, don't brag on them

    There! I said it and I feel better about it..I waited too too long.
     
  12. safari hunter

    safari hunter AH Veteran

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    :thumb::thumb::thumb: You go Ray! Right on.

    We as hunters get to decide what a great trophy is for us and we don't have to succumb to the idea that it is all about inches and outdoing each other for the ego sake. We need to put it out there that this trend is unacceptable that a truly great trophy is not measurable but found in the character of a great old bull. Now I feel better too!
     
  13. AFRICAN INDABA

    AFRICAN INDABA CONTRIBUTOR AH Enthusiast

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    Age Development Of The African Buffalo: The Myth Of The Closed Boss

    Age Development Of The African Buffalo: The Myth Of The Closed Boss
    by Ronnie Rowland

    Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in German in "Erongo Verzeichnis für afrikanisches Jagdwild", No. 1/2011, published and edited by Kai-Uwe Denker (for more details see www.erongo-recordbook.com). Peter Flack assisted with translating the article into English.

    Lions are enemy number one for the African buffalo. Even large, mature bulls are not invulnerable, when facing a pride of lions. This is the principal reason that hardly an African buffalo dies of old age; deaths during epidemics and severe drought excepted. In southern Africa and under natural conditions, buffalo rarely reach their allotted life span of 18 to 20 years.

    Young bulls attain sexual maturity at the tender age of three; however, superiority in dominance and rutting battles is rarely achieved before bulls reach seven or eight years old.

    Their reproductive "prime time" and the zenith of their reproductive activity is not reached before the ninth year and lasts generally until bulls reach their twelfth year. Once past 12, bulls become solitary or join small groups of similarly aged colleagues; they may occasionally, and, possibly as protective move against predators, join up with a breeding herd.

    It is, therefore, reasonable to divide buffalo bulls into three age groups when discussing age related characteristics such as the bull's headgear: those under eight years are clustered in group 1, followed by group 2, the prime bulls between nine and 12 years and, last but not least, those which are 13 years and older are in group 3.

    Those of you who hunt buffalo bulls for trophies should take note that bulls under 10 years have probably not yet achieved their full potential and, most importantly, have had little opportunity to pass on their genes. For a trophy hunter, bulls start to become interesting once they reach 10 years and, in particular, once they pass 13 years of age.

    The hallmark of the African buffalo bull is its massive boss, on average between 33 and 35 cm (13 to 14 inches) wide although superior bulls may occasionally boast bosses of up to 45 cm (18 inches).

    The boss is an important factor when field-assessing the age of a potential trophy buffalo and the intrinsic value of its head gear as a trophy for the hunter. In bulls younger than eight years old, the boss has not fully developed yet, meaning that there are still areas of softer tissue, especially at the frontal edges of the boss above the eyes and between the horns. This softer tissue is called "green" in hunters’ lingo. Such bulls usually show a band of dark hair between the two horns. Green horn tissue can be distinguished from the fully hardened horn tissue by its color; the softer or green tissue is whitish-grey, whereas the hard horn of older growth is much darker.

    When field-assessing a buffalo bull, young bulls show prominent, light silver-greyish front corners on the boss. The horn tips of these bulls are sharp and unworn; the coat is usually blackish. Viewed laterally, the bridge of the nose is long, thin and straight and spots of whitish, hairless areas on the face are absent.

    Middle-aged bulls – those between eight and 12 years old – show an increasing hardening of the boss which eventually also reaches the lower boss corners above the eyes. The entire horn structure now becomes a dark almost black color, apart from residue remaining from the bull horning vegetation or mud. In this age group the boss gradually obtains a massive vaulted shape of rugose and rough horn material, similar in appearance to old tree bark.

    Horn tips star to appear worn caused by the frequent horning of vegetation and mud. The coat becomes more greyish; white, hairless spots appear on the faces of these bulls, in particular below the boss and around the eyes and mouth. The face appears shorter and develops a distinct Roman nose.

    The bulls now reach the zenith of both body size and mass. Two other indicators that a buffalo bull belongs to this age group are the brownish-grey bulges of hardening horn material which protrudes from below the boss and the hairless space between the horns.

    It is in this middle-aged phase that the bulls become so called Dagga Boys It is also important to realize that these Dagga Boys are the prime breeding bulls in southern Africa. They are mainly found in bachelor groups and join the breeding herds for a short time only either as a protective move or when rutting.

    The final phase of horn development in buffalo bulls starts around their 12th to 13th year. The boss is now fully hardened down to the lowest corners, the horn tips are roundish and show abrasions or breaks. The previously rugose and rough boss surfaces increasingly show more and more smooth and polished areas caused by continuous horning.

    The whitish, hairless spots on the face become larger and the skin below the boss and in the gap between the horns hardens and appears similar to old, dried-out leather. Body size begins to diminish and the hip bones start to show. The coat appears shaggier with larger hairless areas, making old and healed scars from fighting and predator attacks clearly visible. The leathery area around the anus indicates that the digestive processes are deteriorating.

    An important sign of this age group is the continuous broadening of the gap between the horns. Where the myth of the closed boss came from is uncertain. Regardless, the wide spread view that old, mature buffalo bulls must have closed bosses, e. g. without or with only a minimal gap between the two horns is, in my opinion, false. The myth of the closed boss should be laid to rest. It is a fiction and nothing but a made up tale.

    Some more food for thought in this connection: In my opinion, closed bosses are, on the one hand, probably the result of genetics and, on the other hand, a distinct sign of a development phase in bulls in the eight to 12 year age bracket. In southern Africa this is rather the exception than the rule. In general, the majority of buffalo bulls show a hairless gap of leathery skin between the horns which become broader with age due to loss of horn material here due to wear and tear. Therefore, a bull with a closed boss is possibly mature but not necessarily old.

    My conclusion: The older the buffalo bull, the broader the gap between the horns. Therefore, hunters should not be disappointed if they harvest a bull which does not show a closed boss. Quite the contrary, hunters should be elated when they harvest a bull with a good, leathery gap between fully hardened horns.
     
  14. AFRICAN INDABA

    AFRICAN INDABA CONTRIBUTOR AH Enthusiast

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    Scoring The Horns Of The African Buffalo

    Scoring The Horns Of The African Buffalo
    by Kai-Uwe Denker

    Editor's Note: It appears that the present scoring methods induce hunters to taking bulls which are yet to achieve their prime. The shooting of these buffalo bulls is far from desirable as the goal should be those which are at the threshold of crossing into, or are already in, post-prime status. Consequently, many buffalo bulls are harvested before they have achieved dominant breeding status or, worse still, even before they have participated in the breeding process. Yet nothing definitive came from earlier proposals and criticism (see Kevin Robertson, Winston Taylor, Craig Boddington) and the scoring methods remain by-and-large the same and thus the harvesting of sub-prime bulls has continued. It is therefore encouraging to see a group of highly experienced professional hunters led by Kai-Uwe Denker suggesting an alternative measuring method which takes into account what the previous authors mentioned. African Indaba is proud to have permission to be the first to publish their proposals in English. The original German article appeared in 'Erongo Verzeichnis fur afrikanisches Jagdwild', No. 1/2011, published and edited by Kai-Uwe Denker (for more details see www.erongo-recordbook.com). Peter Flack assisted with the translation.

    In April 2010, the trophy working group, consisting of Kai-Uwe Denker, Gerhard Liedtke, Ronnie Rowland and Ernst-Ludwig Cramer, engaged in a number of lengthy discussions. They finally developed what they consider to be the most objective way of measuring bovine horns, stating that this method focuses on tangible horn growth and not on measuring air as is the case where the length of both horns is measured from tip to tip with the gap between the bosses being included. As such, the most appropriate way was considered to be the sum of the length of the longest horn plus the width of the bosses. The conclusions led to the following proposal:

    1. The length of both horns and the width of both bosses are measured and recorded on the score sheet.

    2. The width of each boss is measured at the widest point, at right angles to the skull axis, following the natural curvature of the horn material, from the lower edge of horn material at the front to the lower edge of horn material at the back.

    3. To measure the length of each horn, a carpenter's square is placed in the gap between the horns so that the inner horizontal edge touches the lower edge of horn material. The starting point for the length measurement is the intersection of the 45˚ angle with horn material. The measuring line starts at this point, follows the lower edge of horn material to the outer edge of the horn curve and, from there follows the line of the curvature to the tip.

    4. Boss width and length of the longer horn are added.

    5. The next step is the determination of the approximate age in order to determine the multiplication factor.

    a. Multiplication factor 0.0 i. e. buffalo bulls of less than 8 years of age which show an incompletely hardened boss will not be ranked;

    b. Multiplication factor 1.0 for mature bulls in the age group 8 to 10 years, which have a completely hardened boss, but where the boss still shows vigorous live cell growth;

    c. Multiplication factor 1.1 for prime bulls in the age group of 10 to 13 years old, which show distinct signs of cell aging, like deep corrugations and a rugose surface on the boss as well as the start of horn surface deterioration such as the flaking of smaller horn sections, apart from a completely hardened boss;

    d. Multiplication factor 1.12 for post-prime bulls estimated to have exceeded 13 years of age where there is an observable shrinkage process of horn material between the bosses with a corresponding wider gap covered by thick, horny and hairless leather skin, as well as conspicuous flaking of horn material over the surface of the bosses.
     
  15. AFRICAN INDABA

    AFRICAN INDABA CONTRIBUTOR AH Enthusiast

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    Call For A Debate - Scoring The Horns Of The African Buffalo

    Call For A Debate - Scoring The Horns Of The African Buffalo

    Gerhard R Damm:
    Ronnie Rowland's and Kai-Uwe Denker's articles should serve to re-open the debate about hunting as management tool for buffalo again. We have already lost far too much time since Kevin Robertson and Winston Taylor wrote their articles in 2007. I have discussed the presentations of Ronnie Rowland and Kai-Uwe Denker with African Indaba contributor Peter Flack at length over the telephone and he has penned down his comments below. Both of us consider it important that the readers of African Indaba, especially the large crowd of passionate buffalo hunters, share their views on this critical issue. We also need to hear comments and views from professional hunters, taxidermists and trophy measurers. You can all contribute towards finding a practical and most importantly ecologically sustainable solution.

    Buffalo hunting in African bush and savannah is one of the last great hunting adventures. The tense and adrenalin pushing hours of tracking without knowing what will happen when tracker and tracked meet, the search for an old buffalo warrior who has survived many seasons, lion attacks, hunters' and poachers', the old bush ghost who has spread his genes as nature demands, and the final meeting make up an adventures for many campfire nights. It's the search, the hunt and the pure excitement which make buffalo hunting so addictive. I firmly believe that most of those who have been bitten by the bug will accord highest honors to an old thirty-eight incher after an honest hunt. I am not talking about the future stories of 50 inchers from South Africa's intensive breeding operation, although I am unfortunately certain that we will be regaled with wild buffalo hunts from South Africa. Let's just hope that they don't forget to remove the ear tags from the poor beast before posing for the photo!

    Peter Flack's Comments:
    I hold Messrs Denker, Liedtke and Rowland in high regard and have read their proposals carefully. While I think they make a most useful contribution to the debate, with the greatest of respect, it might not take us all the way to the goal many of us share with these gentlemen, namely, the design of a measuring system which will both be adopted by the major trophy record books (a requisite, I believe, if the system is to become accepted by amateur hunters) and, at the same time, have the effect of persuading hunters to stop shooting buffaloes before they have past their breeding age and concentrate on those that have. My concerns are the following, namely:

    1. The proposed system is open to abuse when it comes to judging the age of buffaloes as there is a subjective element to this.

    2. A number of inexperienced hunters and official measurers, no matter how hard they try to be accurate and objective, will simply lack the knowledge to be able to judge age correctly.

    3. Even official measurers with the requisite experience will find it difficult to verify age, firstly, because there is the necessary 30 day drying out period and, secondly, they will not usually have the opportunity to see the animal in the field and photographs are often inadequate.

    4. In which case, what does an official measurer do refuse to register the trophy or register one that has been inaccurately scored (as opposed to inaccurately measured) because the age and, therefore, the multiplier, has been incorrectly determined?

    5. A way around this, however, may be to say that no multiplier will be applied to the measurements unless it can be demonstrated by means of photographs submitted to a measuring panel of at least three official measurers (of which the majority view will prevail) that the buffalo falls into one of the three multiplier categories.

    The proposed system adds to the burden of judging trophies accurately and, while many amateur hunters may have a good idea of what a buffalo with a 38 inch spread may look like, there are not many, myself included, who would know what a, say 110 inch, buffalo would look like after its horn and boss lengths have been multiplied by 1.12 which may, in turn, lead to resistance to change.

    Having said this, if North American hunting guides and their clients can apply almost equally complicated measuring systems to wild sheep and goats, which are smaller and usually shot at far greater distances than buffaloes, then there is no reason why African PHs and amateur hunters alike cannot learn to do the same over time to bovines here if the spirit is willing. And it should be. The goal is such an important and worthy one.
     
  16. Ole Bally

    Ole Bally AH Enthusiast

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    A good Cape Buff may be the one with a hard boss and great measurements, but a great one is the one that when he's on your wall or in your photo album is the one that send shivers down your spine when you recall and reminisce those final moments of a truly memorable hunt with the adrenaline pounding through your system, the smell of the dung, piss and dust clogging your nostrils. The thumping of your heart and that little weakness in the bowels as you get ready to squeeze the trigger from your ambush vantage and he turns his head toward you, the look in his eye clear..you owe me money! The size of him is a bonus but small horns will kill just as dead! That's the great one! To change a phrase from Jock of the Bushveld a bit...it's not the size of the Buff in the fight..it's the size of the fight in the buff! that makes them so addictive to hunt!
     
  17. Diamondhitch

    Diamondhitch AH Legend

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    Scoring Cape Buffalo

    I just read the proposed scoring changes article on African Indaba as well as the commentary article acompanying it. While I have never scored or placed my hands on a Cape Buffalo, I have a few thoughts having scored and judged many sheep for myself as well as clients. I am interested in what others think.

    First of all a quick bit on NA scoring of horned animals. the system is quite simple and once you know how to identify certain charicteristics a very close rough score pops into your head almost instantly and can be fine tuned quite close in most cases if time allows. The Lenght of both horns is measured then added to the circumference of the bases as well as the 1st, 2nd and 3rd quarter circumferences of each horn. While that sound difficult it is actually very simple with minimal practice. When feild scoring the quarter locations are not actually calculated they are simply estimated by eye and can be amazingly accurately done at a glance to those experienced at it.

    The advantage is this - older animals usualy wear or break the tips from their horns. Younger animals are more apt to have similar length horns with bases marginally smaller than a real old ram. The R&W system would rank these animals similar in score despite the obvious huge potential difference in actual size. By taking mass measurements at each quarter the overall size of the animal is more accurately reflected giving the older animal a big advantage score wise.

    An interesting fact is that if an old ram is for example 40" on both horns and he brooms 4" off of each horn, by this system his score does not drop by 8" but actually remains nearly the same as if he had broomed nothing. This is due to the fact that the mass measurements are now taken closer to the base and are correspondingly larger making up for the lost length measurement. I have wondered how well this system would work on Eland which are notorious for extreme wear as they age, maybe this method would put those old blue bulls, that are so desired as trophies, back on even ground with the younger long horned bulls?

    But this post is about Cape buffalo so here are my thoughts for a simple system of measurement that would give those old duggaboys credit for being old and worn, thereby placing value on the bulls age without the confusing hard to calculate multiplication factors being considered (which I beleive would fail simply based on lack of simplicity). Measure the length of each horn from the center of the boss to the tip of the horn following the grain of the horn on its top edge. Calculate quarters based on the length of the longest horn. Add the length of both horns to the width of the bosses and the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th quarter circumferences to calculate total score. If the 1st quarter lands on the boss then it would be taken at the closest place to the boss taht a full circumference can be taken.

    After harvesting and scoring a few animals PHs as with NA guides would be able to "see" score of a head at a glance. Actual feild tests would obviously have to be done but I beleive that this system would have great merit and would certainly do those old worn down animals far more justice than R&W or SCI does currently.

    Comments or thoughts?
     
  18. Diamondhitch

    Diamondhitch AH Legend

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  19. observe

    observe CONTRIBUTOR AH Fanatic

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    boss.jpg 52'.jpg

    very goog advice and photo's from all
    help me out please
    both these 2 buffalo are very good representatives
    the one got a big boss with 'shorter' horns and the other one deep curving horns [52'] with a smaller boss
    both are trophy bulls
    which one is the 'better' one [just hypothetically speaking]
    seems to me most hunters- if given a choice,- 'prefer' a big boss over the horn length??
     
  20. andriesdeklerk

    andriesdeklerk AH Veteran

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    I am flying to Mos on Sunday the 9 of Sept. I can only hope for a nice buff. The PH asked me what I looked for. I replied that I would love one better than my 40" but any old dagga boy will do. It is the hunt I am after and not so much the inches or score. I shot one buff and can't wait for the second and I am very sure there will be another in the near future. The real excitement of buff hunting doesn't lay in its score or spread!
     

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