Free range buffalo with Roche Safaris Started inFebruary 2017 at the Harrisburg Sportsman Show where I booked my hunt With Roche Safaris. From Philadelphia on Lufthansa Airlines left Friday eveningn7/13/18 to Frankfort and then arrived in Johannesburg Sunday morning 8:30. Meet at the exit of the airport by Ansu (the wife of the owner/operator of the safari company Roche Du Preez). It was a four-hour ride to the farm/lodge where after unloading the luggage my wife showered and I went to shoot the PH’s rifle that I was going to hunt with. The rifle was a Remington 700LH but I shoot right handed, in 375 H&H 300 gr bullets and a 2x6 power scope. I had no problems shooting the left-handed gun from bench, sticks or freehand. That night after showering we had a nice dinner, discussed our hunt, sat at the fire for a short period and went to bed. We were supposed to meet in the morning for coffee and rusks at 6:00 AM. DAY 1 OF THE HUNT: I could not sleep so I was up at 4:30 walking around the remainder of the fire and plugged the coffee in. The tracker and PH showed up and then my wife at 6:00. The PH, my wife and I got in the truck with the tracker and skinner in the back and we where on our way by 6:30. Got to the conservancy a couple minutes past 7 AM. The conservancy was 70,000 acres and adjacent to Kruger National Park with a 5-foot fence separating them. You can see where the fence is mended or pushed over by the elephants or buffalo as I was informed of by the guides from the conservancy. When we drove through the entrance gate of the conservancy 3 additional guides from the conservancy jumped in the back of the truck along with the PH and I hopping in the seats in the bed of the truck. I ask the guides and PH when will we start to hunt and I was told the buffalo can be anywhere and that we started the hunt. After about an hour we observe a small herd with small bulls, cows and calf, just seeing these animals and the body size of them got my heart beating. Traveling the roads in the conservancy was very slow not just looking for any buffalo but the roads where in bad condition, they remind of the quad paths of home but worst condition. Around 10:30 we see a herd of 30-35 all sexes and sizes of buffalo. The PH says that there are 2 shooters in the herd. We drive past the herd at least a half mile and start walking up a hill just a little and then going back the way we came. The terrain is not what I thought it would be, very hilly to mountainous with dead grass as high as my head in spots. Our team on this first stalk consisted of, in the following order: Roche (PH), myself, tracker, 2 guides from conservancy and then my wife. The team got within approximately 35 yds to the closest buffalo when the PH put up the sticks said to me there is the buffalo to shot. I put the bull in my scope and all I could see was its butt and horns, for it was directly away from me. Waiting for the bull to turn sideways I am thinking to myself this is just like the shows that I’ve been watching for years. All I can hear is the grunts coming from the herd, we are so close that my wife gets nervous and has to leave for she thinks they are going to turn and come after us. She leaves with one of the conservancy guides while I am still on the sticks waiting, when all of the sudden the herd walks straight away from us and disappear into the brush. We circle to the left and climb part of the hill trying to cut them off but no buffalo. We continue to climb up to the next ledge what I would call it at home when we spot the buffalo. Setting up on the edge of a rock pile with me laying flat on the rocks angling uphill 2 cows and a calf come into view and lay down. Waiting for the rest of the herd to come into view which they never do; Roche maneuvers himself to a new viewpoint to see the rest of the herd go up and over another part of the mountain. Roche decides that is time to give up on this herd and return to the vehicle and have lunch. My wife at this time described the anxiety she experienced being so close to the buffalo and then I tell her about my excitement having the bull in my scope and then watch it walk away. After lunch we traveled another couple mile when we spotted another small herd of around 15 buffalo which was close to us. This herd only had one small bull with the rest cows and calves. It was decided to hunt our way back to the main entrance and continue the hunt the next day. This drive out took us 2 hours and was dark when we got to the gate. We got back to the lodge at around 7:30 PM ate supper and went to bed, with setting the meeting time in the morning for 6:00 AM, again. DAY 2 OF THE HUNT: Excited from the first day experiences I got up again at 4:30 AM thinking that I want to get back to hunting buffalo. Got to conservancy almost the same time and the PH decided to return to the same area as we left the evening before but we hunted another way to it. We think the first buffalo we saw was the last herd with the small bull from the afternoon the day before. One of the conservancy guides said to check a ravine area not for from where we just saw the herd for he has seen buffalo feeding in that area before. The guide and PH worked their way over to the ravine with me and the tracker following them. The tracker helped me by carrying my gun for I could not see the ground which was covered by rocks and the grass was as tall as my chest and I had to walk with my cane concentrating on walking without falling. I was almost up to the guide and the PH who was looking through his binoculars when I was signaled that there was a shooter in the herd. I get to the PH and we crawl to a pile of rocks and set up laying on the rocks and the herd starts to come into view level with us on the other side of the ravine around 100 yds (PH binos have a rangefinder in them.) A couple of cows and calves first came into view followed by a bull which gets me very excited, it’s huge. I say to Roche that I see the bull and he informs me that I see a soft boss bull and the one that we want to shot is almost in view, amazing what a foot or two changes your view. Roche says here comes the bull and then I see him walking broadside in the brush. I’m waiting for him to come into a clearing which is his body length in front of him when he lays down behind rocks and trees. The rest of the herd keeps feeding with a couple laying down, the soft bull is still broadside and in a clearing at the 100 yd mark. I then feel the wind come from behind me toward the herd and a second later they all run back the way they came. I did not feel bad for I thought of how many times I seen this on the buffalo hunting shows and I am part of this wild natural area. We go back to the truck which took ~ 45 minutes and tried to circle around the herd. Got to a T in the road and turned right hoping that is the way the herd went. Suddenly the PH and tracker motion they see the buffalo and get off truck quick for they are going to cross the road we are on. We get setup behind a big rock with the sticks going up and a moment later buffalo are walking @ 25 – 30 yds in front me broadside. As the buffalo come into the clearing I would have the scope in the area of the buffalo waiting for Roche to give me the okay to shoot. I was amazed at the size of the buffalo only to be told that the small herd was all cows or calves. Roche and the tracker look at each other trying to figure where the bull and the rest of the herd went. Back on the truck and return to the T on the road where we went right this time we went the other way (left at T.) We traveled on the road about a half mile when the tracker says that he sees horns in the grass at least 300 yds from us. Upon review the PH can see the bull that we put the stalk on and a plan was decided on for the herd was elevated to us at the base of a vertical cliff, with the wind to them and looking at us. We drove down the road about a half mile and got off then walk half a mile up the side of the mountain. When at that top we walked back the half mile to where we saw the herd using outcrops on the ledges as our markers. PH and tracker ahead of me the whole time with the steepness of the mountain so that they can get to the herd and keep track of it. The conservancy guide carried my gun for me while I used my cane the whole way, for this mountain was again covered with rocks and dead grass at times taller than me. We came to the rock outcrops that we used as a marker of the herds location and bellied crawled to the ledge of the cliff and we spotted the herd which was around 100 yds, the PHs binoculars had a rangefinder in them. Roche asked if I could see the buffalo and I couldn’t. The PH kept saying that they are right there, all I could see was the grass. I then saw dark spots in the grass move, cannot see full bodies from where I was positioned and couldn’t shoot. We moved over 10 feet and laid on the rocks with the gun resting on my coat, the herd was in view at a steep angle of about 65 degrees. We spotted the bull which was facing me very slightly quartering right almost head on under a tree and Roche says we have to shoot now. The PH said when the bull moves his head to my left shoot where his left ear was. The bull was under the trees and dark and hard to see when he moved. When the bull finally moved I shot and he started to run and Roche said that I hit him and could see the blood. I stood up and shot two more times at the running bull, which I was told that I shot over them and where misses. We were so high above the bull that I could see him the whole time and that he ran around 350 yds before stopping from the first shot. The team watched this bull just stand in place with 2 young bulls. This was the first time that I looked at his horns because I was concentrating on shot location and trusted Roche’s decision on the bull to shot. My bull body size was 1.5 times larger than the younger bulls. Patiently I waited for the bull to drop, yet he never did. The bull stood with his head down never moving. After 45 minutes it was decided that we would have to go after the bull still in the same spot never moving, the 2 young bulls where moving all around him. Almost the identical way when came up the hill to our original shooting spot we had to return the same way. This time the PH and tracker stayed with me moving really slow. We got within150 yds of the bull as close as we could, still looking down the hill. Roche placed the sticks up and immediately I put the bull on the scope only to find that the bull was facing away from me only exposing its rump. Roche instructed me to wait until the buffalo moves broadside, which was 20 minutes of him just standing still. When my bull moved broadside, I settled the 6X scope high on his right shoulder and shot, he buckled and then the PH shot which we agreed on. The bull turned and went just 10 yds and fell. I stayed on the sticks for a few more minutes, then walked to my bull. Roche congratulated me by shaking my hand and went to look at the size of the boss saying that they are large (he said probably 16 inches). I am just standing there absorbing everything that just happened and giving thanks. Again, he says about the size boss which I do not understand for I never saw a buffalo this close, all I ever read was how wide the horns are. After a little while my wife and the rest of the team associated with the hunt showed up and congrats again with all. We took our pictures and got the truck to the buffalo where he was loaded into the back of the truck by a winch. We went back to near the entrance of the conservancy which took 2 hours again to unload the buffalo for skinning and cutting up. The conservancy is in an area were hoof and mouth and bovine TB occurs, so the skull and hide had to remain at a shed at the conservancy for 30 days. The meat was given to the employees of the conservancy and local residents according to the permit for hunting the conservancy. All individuals were very appreciative of the meat. In the end all that remained was the content of the stomachs. After skinning and removal of the skull I observed the butchering of the carcass. We did not find any of the bullets but I was able to see where the bullets hit their target. My shot was low and back hitting the liver, my second was into the lungs. The last shot from the PH was a solid 300g and hit next to the neck and traveled through the whole bull and exiting the opposite hind quarter hitting the stomach on the way through. The PH said his shot did not hit much. By the time we got back to the lodge we ate and went to bed where I kept replaying the hunt in my mind. The next day I asked if my wife and I could just relax at the lodge and fish in the farm pond enjoying animals coming to the water. Three additional mornings the PH and I went hunting early for baboon but not to happen again (my third time hunting in South Africa). The rest of our time we were tourists visiting an elephant ride safari, Kruger Park where we saw the Big 5, Swazi Village and road trip on a scenic route with stops at various curios shopping. On day 11 my wife and I returned to Johannesburg to travel back to Philadelphia the way we came. Wife’s note: From an observer and wife perspective, Roche and Ansu DuPreez with Roche Safaris far exceeded my expectations of this safari/vacation. Both, Roche and Ansu saw to it that this was a most enjoyable vacation and safari on every level including but not limited to hunting, sightseeing, educating us, involving us with their family, meeting every need from soup to nuts (literally), and making this trip one for the memory book. I would highly recommend Roche Safaris to meet your safari, vacation and personal needs.