SOUTH AFRICA: Buffalo Rodeo In The Kalahari

TOBY458

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As I write this, it is 4:06 AM EST in Georgia, USA. You could say I am a bit Jet Lagged. I returned from the Kalahari yesterday, and even though the flight home offered very little sleep, somehow I'm still not sleepy.
Part of the reason for my unrest is a scenario that keeps playing in my head. The scenario of a wounded Cape Buffalo, a jammed rifle, and my PH yelling "SHOOT!!! SHOOT!!!!" But let's back up a bit.

The sixth day, of my seven day hunt, started like the previous five days, with a 7am breakfast, and a 7:30 departure. This day was to be my first day hunting Cape Buffalo during this particular hunt.
We started by driving about the 12,000 acre preserve in a Toyota Land Cruiser, looking for Buffalo spoor. For awhile it seemed the buffalo knew we were in pursuit, and didn't care to play along with our game. For not only can they run, they can hide as well. It's amazing how something so big and black, can seemingly dissapear, behind a drought choked thorn bush. However, after a few more trips around the block, the buffalo finally decided to play along, and the chase was on.

We spotted a small heard of Buffalo. A mixture of both hard and soft bossed bulls. And soon we heard the sound of brush breaking, and saw a huge cloud of sand dust, as the heard thundered off into the distance. This was to be a reoccurring theme, due to the swirling wind that brought the dreaded scent of humans to their nostrils.
A hard, fast walk on the spoor, behind my PH and his tracker, soon brought us close to the heard again, but alas, the wind changed and we were off again!
This little cat and mouse game continued for what seems like several hours, until finally we closed in, undetected, from the downwind side. If the wind would just behave, I would get my opportunity...

We lined ourselves up, watching a long, narrow opening in the brush, in anticipation for the heard to cross. This would take several minutes, that seemed like an eternity.
One soft bull, then another, then another, crossed the path. Still we could hear more coming. With my 375 H&H on the sticks, I was ready for action. I was loaded with 300 grain Barnes TSX bullets, so I knew I had enough gun in hand to take care of business, but a small voice in my head kept questioning why I chose to leave my 416 back at camp.
Then finally a large, hard bossed bull stepped out in a cloud of dust, while only giving me a quick, glaring stair, before turning and offering me a very steep angling shot at his vitals. In hind sight I wish I had held my shot, but in a split second decision, I fired.
Dust flew off the side of the bull's huge ribcage, about halfway up his body, and midway back of his chest, angling forward into his lung. And the word "lung" not "lungs" is where the rodeo began.

Soon another PH showed up for what would be a 6 mile tracking excursion, filled with buffalo blood, thorns, my blood, more thorns, sometimes anger, sometimes pure exhilaration, and the eminent thought of either losing my buffalo, or losing my life. For this was no longer just a story in the pages of a Ruark book, I was really on the track of a wounded Cape Buffalo, in the thick bush of Africa. I was alive. My dream had became reality. But there was work to do...

The tracks and blood trail seemed to go on forever. How could an animal lose so much blood and keep going? Sometimes circling us, keeping only a small, brush filled distance between him and us. Still we pushed ahead. Then finally, we caught a glimpse of black, and heard the thundering of hooves once again. He was alone, not able to keep up with his compadres, but still somehow full of life.
Would we ever catch up to him? Off we go again.
A couple more miles and the song remains the same. More blood, more sweat, and more fear. Fear of losing an animal that I wounded, and fear of him enacting his revenge on us. Either was unacceptable in my mind.

My PH turned to me and asked if I was still alright, after several miles of hard, fast walking. I mentioned that a drink of water would be nice, but other than that, I was no worse for wear. He agreed, and called for a truck to meet us on the road we were about to cross in the next half mile or so. With the water, the truck brought a savior. A savior of what would become one of the most memorable days of my life. "Ruger" was the savior's name. A small terrier, with the heart of a Lion and the courage of a Hyena. My PH attached a leash to his collar, and we were on the trail again.
Once we regained the spoor, Ruger was set free.
A very small time later, we heard the yipping of the bayed terrier, and the chase began. As we got closer, I readied my rifle, PH Johan readied his CZ 458 Lott, and my other PH, Seun, checked the chambers of his Merkel 470 double.
We were well armed. At least that's what I thought.... For it would turn out that only they were well armed.
As we approached the wounded buffalo, my sweating palms were wrapped tightly around the stock of my Sako 85 Kodiak, 375 H&H rifle. Once the bull was spotted behind a curtain of thorn bushes, I could only see the outline of his massive body. But the devil is in the details. I could see the blood in his nostrils, but not his head. I could see his whole body, but not his shoulder. Seun and Johan yelled out SHOOT HIM! So I did. The bull showed only a small interest in my deflected shot to his brisket, so I re......
DAMNIT!!!! MY RIFLE IS JAMMED!!!!
I was aware of the fact that this Sako rifle had done this very same thing on a previous buffalo hunt in Australia, but I thought I would remember to take the needed precautions to prevent it from happening again. The empty 375 H&H case had hit the turret of the Leupold scope and fell back into the loading port of the rifle. Not knowing what had happened, I slammed the bolt forward, causing the empty shell casing to lodge itself tightly against the loaded cartridge in the action.
Now we had a wounded buffalo in front of us. A small terrier doing his best to keep him at bay, and both of my PH's screaming SHOOT!!! SHOOT!!!
But...I could not shoot. All I could do was cuss. Cuss myself for not following my own instincts. Cuss the questionable shot I took to begin this whole affair. Cuss this God Damned rifle for letting me down. Cuss the fact that my PH was going to have to kill this buffalo for me. Then the inevitable happened... The 470 Merkel sent a 500 grain solid through the bull's massive boss.
My hunt was over.
Lesson learned.....

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BnC 04

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Good to hear all turned out ok in the end Toby.
 

Edge

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Thanks for sharing, all came through unscathed which is the most important thing and a grand old buff is down.

Is the rifle wrapped around a tree or up for sale yet?
 

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Congrats on the buff and thanks for sharing this experience!
 

cagkt3

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Glad everyone came out ok. That's a nice buff sir!
 

BRICKBURN

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Congratulations on your Buffalo.

Sometimes :A Shit: happens.
 

ActionBob

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Thanks for the write-up. Glad no one was hurt. Sorry it went down like that but it surely is memorable.
 

Shootist43

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"Phew" that was quite a story. Phil said that it would be, so I knew something was coming down the pike. Does this mean that there is going to be a Double in your future? One that you will keep this time? I'm glad everything worked out for all concerned. Do you have a better photo of where the PH put the shot that dropped the Buff?
 

buck wild

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quite a ride!
 

TOBY458

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"Phew" that was quite a story. Phil said that it would be, so I knew something was coming down the pike. Does this mean that there is going to be a Double in your future? One that you will keep this time? I'm glad everything worked out for all concerned. Do you have a better photo of where the PH put the shot that dropped the Buff?
Not sure about a double. Just wish I had taken my 416 with the detachable mounts. Would've been much more reassuring in the thick brush. The hole the 470 made was so small you had to to really look for it. The boss just kind of closed up around it.
 

Jeff75

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Nice buff and thanks for sharing the details. Double is not in my budget, but removable mounts sure are.
 

cls

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Wow, All's well that ends well. Not so sure I would be sleeping that well either. Congrats on the buffalo and thanks for the report. Hopefully we all can learn something from your experience.
 

gillettehunter

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It's great you got him. Bummer about the rifle jamming. It's a hunt that you will remember. Congrats
Bruce
 

Shootist43

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How about the details surrounding the lioness "with a bad attitude." Dittos on the QR scope mounts leaving you with irons for up close and personal!!
 

Aaron N

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Great story with a great outcome!

Deep down, everyone here wants their turn facing down an angry, charging mass of solid muscle!
 

meigsbucks

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Welcome home. Nice old buff. Too bad your rifle jammed but the outcome was good.
Sounds like you and Ridgewalker had a great hunt.
 

Nyati

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Toby, you may not have fired the final shot, but, in my book, you worked so hard for it that you still earned that trophy.

Congrats, a very nice buff :D Cheers:
 

IvW

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Thanks for the report.

That's why we don't use Sako or Ruger as back-up rifles....

You just managed to squeeze the shot in there, another 4 inches back could have been a much longer follow up, never take an initial shot quartering away on the left side of a buffalo.

It is amazing how far they can go when only one lung is hit!

Glad things worked out in the end. Congratulations.
 

LivingTheDream

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Glad everyone is ok. Hell of a story. Sucks the rifle jammed, talk about worse nightmare scenario. Hell of a buff. Congratulations.
 

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