Explain To Me Cape Buffalo Horns

Discussion in 'Articles' started by postoak, Feb 8, 2018.

  1. postoak

    postoak BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Enthusiast

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    What is the boss? Is this just the portion of the horn directly attached to the head?

    What do people mean when they talk about a hard boss vs a soft boss (aren't the horns always hard)?

    I think I know that the two horns grow together as the buffalo ages. Do they just use the term soft boss to mean one where the two sides aren't touching each other yet?

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 9, 2018

  2. peras

    peras AH Legend

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    The boss is the part of the horns directly on top of the head, Depending on genetics they will not always grow together, some may have a small gap. From about 5 years old these bosses start hardening. Initially if you press your fingers on them , they will feel soft and have hair on top. When soft they look smooth with some hair on them and a greyish, blueish color.
    As the bull matures and gets sexually active these bosses becomes rock hard.
     
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  3. Tally-Ho Hunting Safaris

    Tally-Ho Hunting Safaris SPONSOR Since 2015 AH Fanatic

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    Hi Postoak
    The boss is the more rounded large part directly above the skull
    This forms part of most measurements too
    When bulls are young the boss is actually soft as it is still growing and forming quite rapidly
    Your last statement of the horns growing together is incorrect
    Some bulls the bosses never come together. I have hunted many bulls which were very old and the bosses had at least and inch or two even more between the bosses. Other come together it’s just genetics

    The issue with a soft boss bull is after the taxidermy process there won’t be much left of this soft material
    Older bulls have nice character on the bosses which adds to the trophy
     
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  4. postoak

    postoak BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Enthusiast

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    Ah, so the boss part of the horns is actually soft in young bulls. I never suspected that.
     
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  5. IvW

    IvW AH Elite

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    upload_2018-2-9_7-45-12.jpeg
    About 6 years old, he is getting there but still soft on the front and hair in between the bosses and tips still slightly above bosses.

    upload_2018-2-9_7-46-17.jpeg
    Impressive spread but still young and soft with tips above bosses.

    upload_2018-2-9_7-47-3.jpeg
    Soft bosses, tips above bosses and still young.

    [​IMG]
    Soft, horn tips still above bosses.

    upload_2018-2-9_7-49-16.jpeg
    Hard bosses, tips below bosses-trophy quality.

    upload_2018-2-9_7-50-6.jpeg
    Hard bossed bulls, one on the left has the tips a bit high still and probably the youngest of the three.

    [​IMG]
    Hard bossed old bull with tips low down.

    [​IMG]
    Ancient hard bossed "scrum cap" bull.

    [​IMG]
    Old hard bossed bull with gap between the bosses due to age.

    [​IMG]
    Hard bossed old bull with a gap between the bosses due to age.
     

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  6. Kowas Hunting Safaris

    Kowas Hunting Safaris SPONSOR Since 2017 AH Fanatic

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    Rock hard, solid Bosses on Cape Buffalo come with age... Dagga Boys of 11 years plus that are past breeding age make the best trophies.
    Page 19.1.JPG
     

  7. postoak

    postoak BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Enthusiast

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    In those photos IvW posted, how are you able to tell a boss is soft just by looking?
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2018

  8. CAustin

    CAustin AH ENABLER BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Ambassador

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    You can often see the hair still growing on them even at a distance.
     

  9. AfricaHunting.com

    AfricaHunting.com AH ENABLER FOUNDER AH Ambassador

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    Check out also this thread which has good information regarding this topic: Judging Cape Buffalo
     
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  10. IvW

    IvW AH Elite

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    Hair, no hard ridges(do not confuse this with a smooth worn down boss found on some very old bulls), the high tips are also a good indication of age. Long sharp tips with no wear also indicate a young bull.

    Hair loss is also evident on most old dagga boys, on the body as well as on the face.
     
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  11. Royal27

    Royal27 AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

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    Once you begin to learn and recognize you'll be amazed at how many trophy pics that you thought were of a great old bull are actually the buffalo equivalent of a 1.5 year old eight point whitetail. Lots of young bulls are shot... It pays to educate yourself!
     
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  12. KMG Hunting Safaris

    KMG Hunting Safaris AH ENABLER SPONSOR Since 2013 AH Legend

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    Rob, it is evident just from the appearance, and quick distinguishing between a hard, semi hard and soft bull comes with experience, so imperative to trust your experienced PH. Unless I misunderstood, I don't agree with what LvW said regarding the height of the tips. Sure, the tips of a Buff will drop with age, but it is not the sole distinguishing factor to age a Buff. The height of the tips has more to do with genes. Some Buffalo will never drop to bellow their bosses, no matter how old they are. I speak under correction, but I believe the Addo bloodline is known for that.
    A Buffalo will also harden from the outside, back, towards the inside front. So, it is possible for a Buffalo bull to look hard from the back, but still soft in the front.
    It always makes me more comfortable to see a Buff from the front, to be entirely sure, before taking the shot. If one does not have that luxury, and the Buff looks hard, at least from the side, the next thing you should be looking for is the Roman nose, which is only evident in older bulls, as well as the small dewlap that develops on these aged bulls.
     

  13. fourfive8

    fourfive8 AH Fanatic

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    Study the pics posted by IvW- excellent group for comparison. Unfortunately because of the scoring systems, the "shiny object" with Cape buffalo is the width. Get past that and really look at the boss, the mass of the horns and clues to age of the bull. It will become easy to tell the difference with just a glance. Get past the preoccupation with width!
     

  14. postoak

    postoak BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Enthusiast

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    Thanks Jerome, I actually used the search function before posting this question! The threads I found (like the one you site) all assumed a certain level of knowledge that I didn't have. I'm getting up to speed now, though. :)
     

  15. 375 Ruger Fan

    375 Ruger Fan AH ENABLER GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    Also applies to a lot of the old dagga boy hunters too........:whistle:
     
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  16. IvW

    IvW AH Elite

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    Marius, you are quite correct that tips higher than the bosses are not always an indicator of age, however most of the times if they are lower chances are that it it a old bull. As rightfully mentioned experience will lead you to know if it is a old bull or not and as mentioned best is always to have a frontal view to be able to determine hardness of boss, spread, drop etc.

    Again correct about Addo buffalo they seem to always have higher tipes.

    Below are all Addo buffalo

    upload_2018-2-9_22-0-40.jpeg

    upload_2018-2-9_22-1-3.jpeg

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    Prominent dewlap as mentioned by Marius

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Below is a young bull in the Serengeti

    [​IMG][​IMG]
    [​IMG][​IMG]

    Below old warhorse with smooth bosses and hair loss.

    [​IMG]

    Another old warhorse
    [​IMG]

    Massive spread but still soft(not Addo)
    [​IMG]
     

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    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 9, 2018

  17. KMG Hunting Safaris

    KMG Hunting Safaris AH ENABLER SPONSOR Since 2013 AH Legend

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  18. PHOENIX PHIL

    PHOENIX PHIL AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

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  19. KMG Hunting Safaris

    KMG Hunting Safaris AH ENABLER SPONSOR Since 2013 AH Legend

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    The day that I am out hunting, and find one like in the photo that I posted, is the day I will pull the trigger. Sadly, many hunters don't like them like that and ask for a full curl. Not that it is really a type of bull that you can go out looking for. They are not behind every bush.
     

  20. PHOENIX PHIL

    PHOENIX PHIL AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

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    Can't argue there, I would too without asking the PH!
     

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