Bowhunting Buffalo

Discussion in 'Articles' started by Fritz Rabe, Sep 12, 2012.

  1. Fritz Rabe

    Fritz Rabe AH Veteran

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


    Buffalo is arguably the most dreamed of animal in Africa. Few hunters never have the urge to take on this member of the Big-5 be it with rifle or bow. There is a certain stigma to buffalo that make it a quest for most hunters. This may come from the old East Africa days of the Great Safari where tales of angry buffalo bore down on you to be stopped at your feet by a big double rifle were captured in books. Writers like Ruark, Hemingway, Capstick and Wilbur Smith all had the knack of really bringing out the bad in every buffalo.

    To bow hunt a buffalo is not a new thing. It actually dates back to before fire arms were used. The outcome of those hunts will always be speculated upon because none of the ancient tribes were known for their ability to capture an every day event in their literacy.

    Today, it is totally different. Everything we do has to be recorded or captured in some way. The equipment we use has changed and so did the reason to hunt buffalo.

    By going after buffalo with a bow today is a big decision. It is also an expensive decision or can be. To maximize your success you need to prepare well and in advance. This is where the six æ’¤,s in life really come into play. Proper Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance.

    How do you plan for this type of hunt? You start off by doing research on the area that offers the best bow hunting. Not all areas are good for hunting buffalo with a bow even if they have excellent success with a rifle. If the hunt is booked through an Outfitter that has a proven track record of bow hunting, he will know the limitations and requirements of such a hunt.

    You do not want an area with too much cover or too much dry matter on the ground as you have to get inside 40y of a buffalo to have any chance of success. 30y is better and 20y is best. This is extremely difficult if you are walking on potato crisps. To long grass is also a huge problem even though buffalo love it. It will deflect even a heavy arrow and that will influence shot placement and penetration too much.

    You will need a good PH that knows bow hunting inside and out. There is a huge difference in the way that a hunt is conducted between bow hunting and rifle hunting for buffalo. If the area that you decide on does not have a PH that knows bow hunting or is at least a bow hunter himself take one with you as an adviser. The few dollars extra might just save you a truckload full at the end.

    Any dangerous game bow hunting PH will know that you need a lot of momentum in your arrow when taking on the heavies. You do not need KE. You need a proper cut on impact broad head of premium design. He will also know that the best shot is perfectly broadside followed by a full frontal. A quartering away shot is not advisable as the ribs of a nice bull will overlap and that may cause the broad head to glance of and change direction after impact.

    You will also need to know that the reaction of a buffalo that is shot with an arrow and the rest of the herd (if there were others) differs a lot from one that was shot with a rifle. The main reason is the absence of noise. I have seen many buffalo that was shot broadside with an arrow that caught a fright and ran off for a short distance just to stop and look around in amazement because the rest did not panic as much. This has to do with the absence of noise.

    If it was shot full frontal it will spin around and head South in a hurry because the chances are 100% that it was looking at you curiously and lifted its head so as to see you better. That action will open the whole chest for a perfect shot. I have also found out that the full frontal shot is the most effective if done correctly.

    Only about 50 percent of the buffalo that was hunted with a bow ever gave a death bellow. I do not know why.

    Very few Buffalo that was wounded with an arrow and never knew that a human was nearby actually become aggressive. They all just want to go into cover and lie down. When spooked, they always bolt instead of charge. After such a bolt they know the game but so does the hunter. He will know now that the element of surprise is lost and then the rules change.

    You will also spot a wounded Buffalo (with an arrow that did not detect a human as the reason for being wounded) at the back of the herd zigzagging here and there and most often with one or two other bulls following him or trying to fight with him if he was a dominant bull. All of this behavior is different to one that was wounded with a rifle.

    This is just some of the things that makes bow hunting them so enjoyable. You never stop learning no matter how many you have hunted.

    Next time Leopard.
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 1, 2016

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