Buffalo! I see them the same time as Geraldo and we tap, tap, tap the cab. I see a couple cows and a calf. They don’t run. Just slowly walk to the left into the BTE. Manuel gets out and climbs up with us and raises his binoculars. We see them come out the other side and head up the hill. No bull, just three cows and the calf. That’s what I get for dreaming. But, hey, it was close.
Buffalo! Nipito and Geraldo see them before me. Tap, tap, tap. These are moving left to right as they cross. Looks like about 7 or 8 of them to me. Again, they don’t run, just continue to walk, meandering through the light brush. Manuel gets out, looks through the binoculars for a few moments. Turns to me. “There’s a good looking bull in there. I can’t see his front, but from the back. He’s not an old bull. Do you want go after him?” “Yes, let’s check him out.”
If you look closely in the middle of these two pictures you can see the buffalo. I took these from the top of the truck while Manuel was determining if there was a bull in there or not.
I can’t believe it. After all these days, I still may have a chance at a bull. I climb down, Ann gets out of the cab. She looks at me and says “Go for it!” Can I have someone that supports me more than that? No. So, off we go. As in previous days Nipito in the lead with the sticks, followed by Geraldo, then Manuel with his rifle, I’m next with the rifle loaded and un-cocked, then Ann and lastly Jacinto. We start the stalk.
After about ¼ mile we slow. The guys see the buffalo ahead and the brush is a bit thicker here. After another 10 minutes, Manuel motions for Geraldo, Ann and Jacinto to stay back. The three of us head forward about another five minutes and get within a 100 yards. Most of the buffalo have bedded but one is still standing. Manuel and Nipito try to find the bull. It’s bedded.
No, not now. This can’t be happening. My hear rate is around 2,000,000 bps. I’ll never be able to hold the rifle still no matter how close we get. I cannot take a shot feeling like this. I try breathing, try relaxing my shoulders – nothing works. Then, I look ahead. Manuel’s tag from his pants is showing. I start to giggle. What a silly thing to observe. The giggle almost becomes an out and out chuckle. Oops. Can’t do that the buffalo will hear me.
Then I realize it. I’ve actually started to relax. I pause. This is the first moment the entire safari I’ve felt this relaxed and truly enjoying the experience. What’s been wrong with me? Life is a joy. The Lord wants us to be happy and joyful people. I start singing to myself – Mary Poppins songs. Yup. Spoon Full of Sugar, I Love to Laugh, Supercali…., Chim Chimney, etc. My heart rate disappears. I don’t even notice my heart rate.
We’re now about 50 – 60 yards from the buffalo. Nipito and Manuel step over a fallen tree. While singing to myself, I’ve at least been concentrating on placing my toe, foot, and heel exactly in the same spot as Manuel. We stand here a few minutes and then Manuel sits down on the tree facing the buffalo. I sit down next to him facing the opposite direction. He turns to me “Would you like some coffee?” I just smile and shake my head. I relax even more. We sit there for 2 or 3 minutes. Nipito taps Manuel. The bull has stood up.
We stand up. Manuel grabs the sticks and motions for me to follow. We step to our right and slightly forward about three steps. The sticks go up. I cock the rifle and gently lay it on the sticks. Manuel whispers to me “He’s mature but a little soft. Similar to the one you already have. You can shoot him if you want to.” I find my eye relief and the bull is slightly quartering left to right towards us. I find the knee of the right front leg with the crosshairs. I slowly raise the sight and find the shoulder. No hesitation. I squeeze. It feels good but the buffalo all run off.
I look at Manuel. “Did you hear a thwack?” “No, I had my ears plugged.” He asks Nipito. “No, I had my ears plugged.” Geraldo, Jacinto and Ann are walking towards us. Nipito speaks to them, “Yes they heard the hit.” Manuel “No one could miss that close!” Smiles and pats me on the shoulder.
We find the spot. No blood. Then, about 20 yards on, we see one spot. Then another five feet and there’s good blood. The track is on through the thinning woods. We go about 300 yards and Geraldo stops us. Manuel says he heard something. Geraldo has the binoculars and motions to Manuel. He looks through them and sees the bull lying down with the other buffalo with it. He and I move up to about 100 yards out and I shoot him again. He starts to get up and Manuel plants him. The other buffalo finally run off and we approach. I’ve got my buffalo! Wow. He’s not the old dagga boy but I wouldn’t trade him for another.
Hand shakes for the guys and big hug from Ann. We did it. This was truly a team effort. Why am I so blessed? I don’t know but I try to remember to thank the Lord every day for the life I live.
As the guys look at the bull, we see he’s a bit soft in the middle and a bit in front. But his tips are worn down. The trackers are talking among themselves and tell Manuel they think he’s producing less testosterone – not sure why they think that. Manuel tells me they call them plains bulls on this side of the property because of the terrain. They don’t grow as well because the grass isn’t as good as on the east side.
We take pictures and then the guys cut branches to cover him.
We’re no longer going to the river. It’s back to camp for lunch, take care of tips for the guys and then Manuel, Ann, Nelsa and I will head to Lichinga for dinner and overnight at the Girassol hotel. Our flight leaves late morning the next day but it’s better to get there tonight.
We make up envelopes for the trackers, cooks, skinners, tent/laundry and receive them in the dining room. We brought some children’s clothes along and some more hard candies. We make four piles of those for the three trackers and driver.
I still can’t believe we got my buffalo in this way. It’s a memory which I hope never fades. It will take at least 12 months for the crate to get to the U.S. That’s good because it gives me time to save up for the taxidermy bill with Dennis. Oh, and Ann has already told me that the Sable shoulder mount and Zebra flat skin go in her office. And, I have to buy her a new pink office chair to go with them. Hey, if that’s what it takes to have more trophies in the house I’m good with it.
@Neale Believe me, I was tempted to stop at "Then 400 yards later..."
But, the kid in me, wanted to finish and tell the whole story! Thanks for coming along for the ride. It will probably 2018 before I have taxidermy photos to share. The great thing about that is I'll go back to my photos and this thread and get to relive it again.
What a great way to calm down. Focus on something else so as not to feel the stress. I often repeat to myself during a stalk to squeeze the trigger.. If I think too hard I can get the shakes too. Its an adrenaline rush and just part of the hunt. Nice write up. Good pics and trophies. Well done sir. Bruce
Greetings all! I've been a hunter for 50 years, but only now planning a trip to Africa. I was fortunate and successfully bid on a couple hunts for plains game in SA later this year and next. Also a rare Native Texas (5th generation) and USMC Vet. Hunt safe y'all!