SOUTH AFRICA: Cape Buffalo Hunt With Safari Co. Africa

Mtn_Infantry

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I've been a little slow to post the second hunt report from my last trip. Sorry to James & Welsh of Safari Co Africa, but here it goes.

A few days before leaving for my hunt with Diekie Muller I stumbled across @Safari Co. Africa and their Cape Buffalo Hunt special. Contacted Jennifer @TRAVEL EXPRESS to inquire about change fees on our tickets thinking it'd be a lot cheaper to switch tickets then try to book a return trip for later in the year AND it'd be easier to convince my bosses of the extra time off. Spoke to my dad who was a little hesitant at first but then said what the hell we're already there. A few WhatsApp messages back and forth and the deal was finalized the day before we departed. Biggest challenge was wiring the deposit money since the deal was put together over the weekend. I actually had to request that while in RSA.

25 June
James and Welsh arrive at Afton House mid afternoon to pick myself and my father up. We bid farewell and safe travels to my friend and his father as they returned home and we left to continue hunting. The drive from Johannesburg to the Vredefort Dome in the Free State was relatively short. Scenery was a lot different than the drive north to Limpopo. Got some great history lessons and information from James and Welsh regarding Africa. Since the trip was so last minute, my father and I would be staying at a farm house on the property that was completely solar for the first few days, then moving to the lodge. We found the farm house extremely comfortable and welcoming, despite several apologies from Welsh about it not being the lodge. Not one for 5 Star service, and being there to hunt we found this more than enough and would stay there again in a heartbeat. We drove the property briefly before enjoying a nice fire that afternoon/evening, a few beers and some great talks with James who would be my PH. We also met William who was another PH and was guiding some of the other hunters in camp. That night we'd fall asleep to the sounds of the lions on the property.

26 June
We all woke up, drove out the the range bright and early to confirm zero on my rifle. Took a poke at 100 yards then a couple quick shots at 40 yards. James was a firm believer in Buffalo Hunting is meant to be up close and personal and insisted we shoot a few quick off-hand shots. He reiterated that he would have his rifle but he didn't believe in a back-up shot unless absolutely necessary. This hunt was to be predominantly done on foot and as such my dad hung back due to his health. After confirming zero James, myself and our tracker (Peteras) dropped my dad off at the house and departed on foot to an area where they knew the buffalo like to hang out. We were looking for 2 specific bulls that they knew weren't with the herd and one of whom like to stay away from several of the other old bulls and hangout mostly alone. One bull was described as being broken on his left side (loner) and the other was describes as being broomed off on both sides and normally hanging around with another 2-3 old bulls. That morning we got on some buffalo tracks pretty early and were following them when we got busted by a herd of zebras. This would become a common theme with me almost coming to hate zebras. After this we logged some miles following the pair of buffalo tracks never catching up to them. Around 11 we decided to break off the trail since the tracks were heading for water and head back to the house for some brunch. We saw numerous Impala, Blesbok, Blue Wildebeest, Gemsbok, several Kudu, and a bunch of Sable

At the house we met Scott and Mary who were our cooks for the entire hunt. They also happened to be William's parents. An excellent breakfast, a short nap and some catch-up for work and we were back after them. James decided that afternoon we'd start by walking a different area and see if we could come across any buffalo sign. We got down in the bottoms finding a bunch of sign but none of the bulls we were after. As we got back to the bakkie we drove a little ways to where they thought the buffalo might be. As we rounded a corner, I quickly spotted a buffalo. We drove a little further, got out and realized we'd located a herd of about 75. We watched them from 200 yards or so when James suggested we get a practice stalk in. Off we went. Goal was to get to under 40 yards. We made it to about 65 with all the eyes before a couple of the cows started to spook and the herd ran off. With it still being early in the evening we headed back to the house and grabbed my dad. Together we all went for a ride to see what else we could find. At one point we also got off letting my dad stay with the vehicle so we could checkout a thick area they knew buffalo like to hide in. No dice we headed back towards the water hole where we'd lost the tracks earlier in the morning. Here Peteras, James and myself got off the bakkie and hiked up to a high point to do a little glassing. We also instructed my father to drive the bakkie down the only road and take a left at the only 2 turns he could, and pick us up at sunset near a large stone marker in a couple hours.

While glassing we saw a bunch of different animals. James knew I wanted a Kudu, but was being pretty particular in wanting something unique or something exceptional. He was told they had a rather unique bull on the property (he hadn't seen him) that was over 50" but his spread was A LOT wider than his length and it made him stand out. As someone who enjoys western hunting and has learned the value of letting your optics work for you we utilized this for maybe 45 minutes or so until the heat of the day burned off and the animals we were glassing started moving. This also let James and I talk a bunch and I think he became a little more comfortable with me as we were quickly able to walk each other onto different animals. After 45 minutes or so we began our walk towards the water hole with the wind in our face. We encountered numerous animals including a really good Blue Wildebeest. I'd just shot one with Diekie, and really wanted to get onto the buffalo before chasing anything else. At about 20 yards, James again let me know he was extremely good and would easily make RW. I opted to pass since we had less than an hour of light and were pretty close to the waterhole. Now we bring on the zebras who start spooking and busting us. Luckily we were within view of the waterhole and could confirm there were no buffalo present and the only tracks were older than this evening.

As it's now pretty dark the 3 of us walk to the stone marker to meet my father. We wait about 20 minutes with him not showing. William happens to be leaving the lodge house, heading towards his house when he encounters us. We head back to the farmhouse thinking maybe he went there. As we're driving James asks me if my dad is "the type to freak out". I kinda laugh and say no but he's the type who doesn't listen well. We get back to the farm house and he's not there. James and I crack a beer, Welsh walks in, has a mild panic attack and sets out to find him. Turns out my dad took the turns, went a few hundred yards, saw a windmill he didn't recognize and turned around to head back to where he dropped us off. Kicker was the directions given to him VERY SPECIFICALLY stated when you see the windmill keep going you're almost to the rock pile in the road. Oh well, Welsh finds him parked, watching all the animals listening to some lions off in the distance. He gets back claiming he wasn't lost, because he didn't know where he was going and you cant get lost if you don't know where you were going. He also lets us know he was having a ball seeing all the different animals that he can't identify. We have some delicious steaks grilled over an open fire, a few more beers and all sit around talking for a while. William comes back and lets us know he just saw the broomed off bull a 1/4 mile from camp with a few others (near where we spooked the big herd earlier in the afternoon). We end the day in what becomes the least amount of walking James and I would do on any of our hunts with just under 16,000 steps logged according to my pedometer.

27 June
We wake hopeful from seeing the herd of buffalo yesterday that we'll get into the bulls again. We immediately head to a waterhole near where we saw the big herd yesterday, thinking with them pushed off and William seeing one of the bulls the night before close by they might still be there. We get to the waterhole notice a buffalo track and start to head off when Peteras says there's a big bull coming into the water hole. We all get low and sprint to the bow blind 20 yards behind us. The wind isn't ideal and the bull likely saw us running, but freezes about 70 yards away. We watch him for maybe 20 minutes, unable to determine if he's one of the bulls because he's tucked in some brush and none of us can get a view of his horn tips to see if one is broken or they're broomed off. He finally moves off and we're trying to flank him so we can get the wind in our favor and get a better view. We determine he's not the broomed off bull getting a couple good views of his right horn but never able to see his left. He heads into a thicket near a large herd of wildebeest which makes our stalk all that much harder. Some of the wildebeest move off and we're able to close the distance. He's moved and is now in a different thicket, closer to us and we get within 20-25 yards of him not knowing he's there. Peteras freezes and says there's a bull right in front of us. Issue is the bull is positioned where we can't see his left side again. Not sure if the wind swirls or what but he spooks BUT gives us a great look at his left side and James says it's the broken bull. We again start flanking him and maybe 35 minutes later we're back on him. We stalk to maybe 50 yards where he's again holed up in some thick stuff. Peteras stops, James confirms it's him. I'm behind the two of them, it's extremely thick and at this point I haven't been able to spot the bull because of them both in front of me. James tells me to come forward he's maybe 50 yards in front of us in a big thicket pointing through a narrow gap in the bushes. I see something big and black, grab my binos to confirm it's the bull and figure out what direction he's facing. I realize he's standing facing the left, slightly quartering away but looking back right at us. I put my binos back into my harness and start to bring the rifle up when he hauls ass. James, Peteras and myself all sprint after him. We burn the next 2.5 hours chasing his tracks and him trying to get back on him but never can make it happen.

We break for lunch, discuss the morning's events and I'm pumped and full of energy. I try to take a nap but can't sleep and around 1:30/2 James tells me lets go. We take my dad in the truck with us and drive out that way trying to get the wind right. See some Red Hartebeest which are starting to grow on me. We get down to where we think the bull is and hunt around without turning up any fresh sign or sights of him or any other buffalo. Peteras and James talk about how this is his preferred areas and they don't think we've pushed him out but want to checkout a few other areas and see if we can turn up the other bull we're looking for that we have yet to see. We drop my dad off as we plan on doing a bunch more walking. Later that evening we encounter some rhinos on the property, which is pretty cool. All told I've now seen 4 of the Big 5 on this trip. We log over 23,000 steps today

28 June
We wake-up early and head to the main road so we can get our Covid tests done (72 hours out), return to the farmhouse to get ready to move to the lodge. The other hunters have departed and they have a couple days before the next group. Before heading there we run back to where we last saw the buffalo in the truck (with my dad) and checkout several of the waterholes and a dam in the area trying to find his tracks or some sign he's still here and we didn't spook him. There's one small bow hole we drive past several times without checking out because it's somewhat open and close to the farm house. As we're leaving to head to a different area, we stop at is just in case and find a lone buf track. It's extremely fresh so James and myself bail off while Peteras takes my dad to the farm house. The bull is headed right to the farm house so we follow and link up with Peteras. We stay on this track and follow him all the way across the property, back towards the water hole we went to on day 1. I'm told we're right on him several times, only to have zebras bust us. We stay on his track but bull doesn't stop at the water hole he keeps going past it before we lose it. It's around 11 and James radios William to come grab us since we've basically crossed the entire property following this bull and are a ways from the farm house or truck. We run back to the farm house, quickly load-up our stuff and move into an extremely nice guest lodge. Scott and Mary again cook us a great brunch, my dad jokes about how he's going to fly her to the states so he can always eat this good. There's a waterhole that they do not hunt over right in front of the lodge, where they also put food down. We see several buffalo come in mid day for water as well as numerous Kudu, Nyala, Impala, Eland, and other animals. My dad spends a bunch of time here watching them and taking pictures.

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We're told there's some sign of another buffalo back by where we found this mornings bull. Having lost the tracks of the bull we were on earlier and not knowing for sure if it's the broken horned one we head to the other side. We spend most of the evening over there without crossing a single buffalo or finding any super fresh sign. We see a pile of sable though. We then decide to hop in the truck and drive towards where the tracks were heading and another waterhole a little further away. As we get to that waterhole we encounter 3 Rhinos around it.

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We keep our distance from the Rhinos and keep looking for buffalo sign. We get onto a couple good eland but with limited time we don't delay on something else. We end-up encountering 2 more herds of buffalo. One has a really good bull in the group, but he's not the one we're looking for. William is out looking for buffalo on another area of the property, and Christian (another PH/mechanic) has also come to the property before the next group. The night before the steering went out on one of the Land Rovers. After fixing this Christian decides to checkout a 3rd area of the property but doesn't turn up either bull. My dad an Welsh head out to the side of the property the lions are on, as we keep checking out the buffalo we're finding hoping to find one of the two bulls we're looking for. We turn up neither and head back to the lodge at dark.

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For whatever reason wifi is down at the Lodge. I've got a couple things for work I need to send an my dad wants me to call my mom and let her know we're good. Welsh drives me to the farm house after dinner at night and we encounter another decent herd of buffalo, numbering around 40. We watch them in the headlights, never seeing any of the bulls we're after. I knock out my work pretty quick, call my mom and let her know I'm still alive and haven't used my dad as lion bait. Today we've walked around 21,000 steps

29 June
Last full day to hunt. James and I get up super early in the morning well before sunrise and meet Peteras. We immediately spot some buffalo across the valley which we determine are cows and young bulls. We're driving and notice 2 bulls 100 yards off the side of the road. We stop the truck, glass them through the binos and determine one of the two is the elusive broomed off bull. I quickly dismount the vehicle, grab my rifle, chamber a round. 'm waiting for James to call the shot as I've got a couple of perfect, under 100 yard broadside or frontal shots. James wants us to get closer. As the bulls head off into the brush James has us make our move. They're feeding towards an area they call buffalo camp (where we saw the herds yesterday) and the waterhole we lost the tracks near the day prior. We stay on these tracks until we lose them and head back for brunch around 1030/11. Not convinced the broken horned bull hasn't left the area, we head back over to the other side of the property where we encountered him. We're going to sit on a water hole for a couple hours mid-day then go back after these bulls. During this time Welsh, WIlliam, and Christian are also all out checking other waterholes for signs. Around 2:30 we get a radio call that Welsh has located a couple of bulls bedded across from the lodge up on the big hill. Peteras brings the bakkie to us, we load up and rush over there. Welsh lets us know that they're bedded and he didn't spot them until he was less than 20 yards from them. James and I start stalking in to see if our bull from the morning is one of these two since its around a 1/2 mile from where we lost the tracks and not a major direction change. We creep around a bush and there's a big bull bedded at maybe 15 yards. Neither James, myself, or William can see the other bull with it. They determine it's not the bull we're after so we back out and radio Welsh letting him know. He comes back over the radio asks how big the bull is, they describe him and he asks if I'd like him despite him not being the bull we're after for a small additional cost. Knowing it's the last day I agree. We creep back in, about 20 yards away James stops and runs me through what he thinks we should do. He says we'll side step out until he sees us and should get onto his feet when I'll have a chance to shoot and have a better view of the vitals because it can be tough if they're lying down, but if I have a solid double shoulder shot I can take it.

We creep in, start side stepping and we're now 10-12 yards from the bull (still bedded). He looks back at me and doesn't get up. I've got a good broadside shot at both shoulders as he's bedded, he's looking at me like I just woke him up from his nap. I decide to take the double shoulder shot. To which he stands but doesn't put 1 leg down. At the report of the rifle 2 other bulls bust out of the ticket. James and I are side stepping knowing there are other bulls there, trying to cut the angle so my next round doesn't have a chance of going through and hitting another bull. We're still up close in that 10 yard range. I put another shot onto him (again in the vitals). At this shot he spins around and starts running off. James grabs me and says lets go, we run around the edge of the big thicket and find him at maybe 30 yards from where we shot standing facing the right. You can tell he's hurting since he's got one leg up off the ground. The other bulls have given him some space but are still visible. I take a 3rd shot again hammering him in the vitals and both shoulders. He runs another 15 yards and freezes in some thick stuff. I hear James say something but can't make out what it is. I take a 4th shot (double shoulder and vitals again) which knocks him onto his side into the brush. He rolls around a bit as James and I are running up closing the distance. I've got 1 round left in the chamber of my .375, so I've flipped the floorplate of my M70 open and have just dropped 3 more rounds in. I'm not trying to fit a 4th because I don't want to mess with the order of them to make sure the floorplate closes. As we get to about 20 yards, James says he's not going anywhere, lets just give him some time to expire no need to hit him again, all my shots were on the money. We wait a bit and after 10 minutes he's not done so we move slightly to consider another shot. He lifts his head with almost no energy and tries feebly to get up. We can hear him gurgling on the blood in his lungs and James says lets give him some more time, it's just adrenaline now. Less than a minute later and he goes completely limp. Couple pokes with the stick, the "it's the dead ones that kill you" comment and we've ensured he's done. All told it's now 4:30 on the afternoon of my last hunt. Pictures and congratulations commence. My dad who's at camp has also now come to join us and is worried because of the number of shots he heard. First picture is where he expired. Wish I'd thought to clip that bush in front of him, but it was the initial picture on my phone.

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Together all of us (Welsh, James, William, Christian, Peteras, and myself all struggle to move the bull out from under the thicket into the open for some pictures. We clear out a bunch of the brush and get some photos from different angles. We also inspect all the shots. All 4 broke a shoulder and got vitals with 3 of the 3 breaking both shoulders. Only 1 shot (my 2nd) passed through. This was the only shot that didn't hit both shoulders and was with the Woodleigh Hydro Solids. The other 3 shots were all with 300gr TBBC's.

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They bring up a few more trackers and skinners with a front end loader to move the bull. We all head back to the house, crack a beer in celebration. William runs out to do something and crosses paths with the broken horned bull about a 1/2 mile from camp near where we lost the tracks a couple days earlier. He takes the picture below quickly on his camera. That night we all sit around the fire talking and having a good time. James mentions we've got a little time in the morning before we need to depart for the airport and asks if I want to sleep in, or we can take a drive. I let him know a hartebeest has grown on me especially after him saying how they have some good ones, so we plan on taking a drive rather than sleeping in. I also tell him since we haven't seen the really wide Kudu in 5 days we might as well try to turn him up. Today we close with almost 18,000 steps. We do a little rough math and figure if the average step was 2.5' we've logged at least 65 mile. I'm 6'2" so I'd guess that's likely on the low side.

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30 June
We get up normal time, load-up into the truck with my dad and start driving around looking for the really wide kudu. Peteras stays in today and William decides he wants to join us and will drive. We see several bulls and cows, some gemsbok, a bunch of blesbok, springbuck, impala, giraffes, and several other species of game. I mention to James, I'm almost tempted to go after a zebra out of spite since they kept busting our stalks, be we decide to go after a Hartebeest since they've got a bunch of good ones on the property, and they've grown on me. As we're driving around some more zebras spook the herd we're after. I joke about almost wanting to shoot a zebra out of spite for busting us several times a day. Finally we get on a decent herd of Hartebeest with a good shooter in the group. Let the .375 bark one more time with my dad there and take some pictures.

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We spend the rest of the last day driving around until about 11 when we break for brunch. We don't need to depart camp until about 2:30 so James and William again suggest we hop in the bakkie and keep looking for that Kudu. We drive around again until about 1:45/2 never crossing him but see a bunch of others bulls. Head back to the lodge to quickly shower, change, and pack before we depart for the drive back to OR Tambo. We say our goodbyes to everyone and it finally dawns on me that we're heading home.

At the airport my dad and I have plenty of time to talk. We discuss the differences in both places I've hunted. He comments on how he liked the 2 different places and that extending was well worth it and seeing the differences. For someone who wasn't interested in going to Africa back in 2019 when the trip was first planned. I think he's hooked. Again without a shadow of a doubt I'd suggest anyone to hunt with James, Welsh and William @Safari Co. Africa. I had an amazing hunt and time with them and just need to figure out when/how I'm going to head back. I personally really enjoyed the walking style of hunting rather than being in a truck and then stalking when we'd find something. It let us get a lot deeper into areas and see plenty of game we'd have never seen from the roads or in a truck. It also let us get a lot closer to many of these animals since we were walking with the wind in our face. Would love to hunt some of their other concessions in Zimbabwe or Botswana and experience some of the other areas James has been able to guide or hunt in.
 

cpr0312

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Congrats on your hunt and thanks for sharing!
 

machinistbutler

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What awesome pictures! Thanks for sharing and what a beast of a Buffalo. 10 yards!! I can't imagine how exciting that would have been.


Craig
 

Mtn_Infantry

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What awesome pictures! Thanks for sharing and what a beast of a Buffalo. 10 yards!! I can't imagine how exciting that would have been.


Craig
I was in awe at the size (even bedded). Might have been a touch further and it seemed that close given the size but it was a rush. I just know, I was slinging lead as long as he was on his feet. It also has made me REALLY want to kill one with my bow
 

Safari Co. Africa

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Thanks for the report.

Usually outfitters don't comment on clients much but in this case, I would like to mention that Bill was the perfect client.

He came prepared and ready for a real hunt...we covered some ground, on foot, not in a vehicle. He kept the pace, never complained and remained positive.

Totally in tune with his surroundings. Fantastic knowledge of the wide variety of game that made it hard to believe that this was really his first trip to Africa.

Eagle eyes that easily spotted what I was seeing and on several occasions even more.

Intuitive tracking abilities and more than once assisted in picking up a lost track.

Most importantly, being so close to the buffalo, he remained impressively calm and focussed. Amidst the dust and running, his aim remained steady and pinpoint.

Clearly the kind of soldier the US would like to turn out. I will go into battle with you on any of the Big 5 and more. Thanks for making the hunt "easy" in that sense.
 

cls

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Well done, nice bull. Congratulations and thanks for posting
 

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Congrats, a great hunt and very nice buff !

Brought back memories of the last buff hunt in which I participated , where the buff was sound asleep, and we had to wake him up by throwing stones at him.

As he was on his feet, my friend shot him through the heart at 10/12 meters.
 

gillettehunter

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Sounds like you had a great hunt. Says a lot that they offered you this bull for a small upgrade when neither of the targeted ones were gotten into a shooting position. Good job extending your trip. I've done that a couple of times. Congrts
Bruce
 

Mtn_Infantry

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Sounds like you had a great hunt. Says a lot that they offered you this bull for a small upgrade when neither of the targeted ones were gotten into a shooting position. Good job extending your trip. I've done that a couple of times. Congrts
Bruce
Thanks Bruce,

Hope you enjoyed Alaska with the family.
 

Mtn_Infantry

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Thanks for the report.

Usually outfitters don't comment on clients much but in this case, I would like to mention that Bill was the perfect client.

He came prepared and ready for a real hunt...we covered some ground, on foot, not in a vehicle. He kept the pace, never complained and remained positive.

Totally in tune with his surroundings. Fantastic knowledge of the wide variety of game that made it hard to believe that this was really his first trip to Africa.

Eagle eyes that easily spotted what I was seeing and on several occasions even more.

Intuitive tracking abilities and more than once assisted in picking up a lost track.

Most importantly, being so close to the buffalo, he remained impressively calm and focussed. Amidst the dust and running, his aim remained steady and pinpoint.

Clearly the kind of soldier the US would like to turn out. I will go into battle with you on any of the Big 5 and more. Thanks for making the hunt "easy" in that sense.
Thank you James,

Really enjoyed the hunt and appreciate the compliments. Definitely want to get back and experience some of the fine bird hunting you were talking about and find a big Kudu.

Y'all have got my mind on Africa 24/7 and really made me consider trying to make that PH dream become a reality.
 

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I would like to delete my last post on the the thread where to hunt big cape buffalo. I haven't been to that area for a few years and it may be very different now. Not fair of me to post this.
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