A PH for the bow hunter - Elephant

Discussion in 'Bowhunting Africa' started by Fritz Rabe, Aug 23, 2012.

  1. Fritz Rabe

    Fritz Rabe AH Veteran

    May 7, 2012
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    Member of:
    PHASA, South African Bowhunting Association (SABA) Instructor, NSRI
    SA, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Namibia, Mozambique, Ethipoia, Cameroon, CAR, Tanzania, Canada, USA, Spain


    The elephant is the largest of the land mammals. Until 110 years ago very few rifle hunters could bring a big bull down with one shot because of inadequate bullets and/or fire arms. In bow hunting these monarchs today, we are where our ancestors with rifles were.
    To many of todays hunters going for elephant ends up putting it down with a bullet or make it look like a pin cushion because they are using the wrong setup or the Ph does not know what or how to advise the client.

    The no1 SCI elephant hunted by Robert Eastman in Angola in January of 1975 that weighed in at 137- and 133lb was shot with two arrows and died two days after. The elephant that the famous Fred Bear hunted in Mozambique in 1964 that had 40- and 41lb tusks ranks nr 3 and had four arrows in it and it also died two days later. He was guided by one of the great ph,s of yester year. Wally Johnson.

    The professional hunter that guides a client after the biggest land mammal on earth needs to know more about the anatomy, behaviour and movements of these great animals than the client or rifle PH. He needs to have exceptional knowledge of the bone structure and what is needed to go through it.

    When you do decide to go after one of these heavies, you better have a PH with you. And choose him carefully. He can turn it into the dream hunt of a lifetime or the most expensive nightmare.
    Where legal to hunt them you invariably have to use a local PH because of legalities. Find out beforehand if the PH that works for the outfitter has the necessary skills and knowledge for a BOW HUNT. If need be, take an extra one with. It might cost a few dollars more but it will pay up in spades in the end. Most PH,s know each other and if they are really professional they will get on just fine.

    It is the ph,s job to find and judge the animal and position you for the shot. This is where he needs to have a lot of bow hunting experience. With a rifle you can have a go at a jumbo up to 100m away if needs be and he can be obscured by brush so long as a small part of the vitals are clear. With a bow you have to be between 25 and 35 meters. Not to close otherwise the arrow will not be 100% stable in flight for optimum penetration. Not too far because you will lose too much momentum which will reduce the penetration yet again. There are no visible marks or spots on an animal of that size to aim at and most hunters whether with rifle or bow just shoot where he thinks the vitals are. The ph has to find the precise spot and be able to guide you onto it. All the client must do is worry about his shooting and nothing else. Luckily elephant are slow to string jump.

    There have been a few articles on the type of setup and equipment that must be used for this kind of hunting and we are not going into all that detail now. Any arrow of 1000gr+ doing minimum 210fps with a premium two-blade cut on impact broad head is what you want.

    Elephant are hunted with your feet! See to it that you are fit and can handle the extremely hot and humid climate where they are. It does not help if you can draw a 100lb bow in your back yard in perfect conditions and THINK you can do the same after 20km of walking, dehydrated and the adrenalin is pumping. The ph should know this and handle the situation according to your abilities. Most hunters read and talk to others to get as much info on an animal before they go after it. Why do so few ask the guys that make it their living to hunt these animals? Contact one of the ph,s that does it on a regular basis and let him give you the correct advice. He will not charge you a cent.

    One word of advice. No matter how many hunting DVD,s you looked at or how many books you read. Going after any dangerous animal will be something new to you and believe me, your feelings will be like you have never experienced. You will be dehydrated after the hunt, even in cold conditions. Your adrenaline will see to that. Expect it and you can manage it. Dont and you will make a mistake that can cost you a lot of money.

    Next time - Buffalo.



    Aug 5, 2010
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    Namibia, South Africa, Botswana, Mozambique, Canada, USA, Mexico
    I can attest to this. Although not on Elephant.

    If you want to practice before the trip I have the following practical recipe:

    1. Drink an entire pot of Espresso coffee and let it take effect. (coffee addicts adjust volume upward accordingly)
    2. Place a $20,000 bet on a single perfect shot (with someone who will actually take your money if you lose)
    3. Shoot at a slowly moving target butt while standing on a busy road with traffic going by.

    This is the best simulation I can conjure up.

    Controlling my excitement was the hardest part for me.

    All worth it though.

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