You will have the time of your life! I hope you don't have to work QUITE as hard.This is my favorite report I have read so far. I am going for the first time next year and you have me fired up! You worked your butt off and persevered, absolutely earning that magnificent buffalo.
Thank you for taking time to share with us. It is appreciated.
Thanks for a great report. I enjoyed your detail and the suspense was very strong. Several questions: When you butchered the bull how had the bullet performed? You appeared to be hunting very steep terrain—what kind of boots did you use? How do you evaluate them? You mentioned working out—what was your regimen and what would you do for the next hunt? Again thanks for a great report. Your friend, Bria
I sure hope you guys can get off that big island soon! I have another "mate" who is trying to get back to South Africa as well.
We saw bull giraffes fighting when I was there in 2017, and it is quite the spectacle. Seeing it on TV or in video doesn't do it justice.Hunting Day 3 (Buffalo Day 1)
In the days leading up to this hunt Marius and I were in regular communication. He had shared we would be hunting a property he had only recently gained access to, and it was huge - 60,000 acres and believed to be occupied by approximately 600 buffalo. He acknowledged it would be a challenging area to cover but was cautiously optimistic that we would be able to take a nice bull. Entering the property we drove through grasses that were head-high and brush so thick we wondered how we would even stalk a buffalo if we found one there. Early in the day we spotted three cows and a lone bull across one of the valleys. After glassing it was determined that the bull was soft and we moved on.
We spent the day driving some of the roughest roads I have ever ridden on looking for tracks and stopping periodically to glass the huge canyons and mountainsides. Late that afternoon the trackers who were spotting from the back of the bakkie saw a bull that crossed the road ahead of us just as we crested a steep spot. There were equally steep and heavily brush-covered hillsides to the left and right and the bull had bounded down to our right and disappeared. We did some quick searching but concluded that even if we managed a shot, recovery in this area would be exceptionally difficult.
We left that evening never having seen the other 596 buffalo but looking forward to taking up the challenge again the next day. Despite the lack of buffalo sightings this property also provided the viewing of a large number of animals/species. The drive back to camp was after dark, and a genet crossed the road in front of us, illuminated in the headlights. It was the first I had seen in the wild.
Hunting Day 4 (Buffalo Day 2)
We returned to the same property and continued our search. Not long after arrival we took a walk to one of the known water holes to see what evidence it might provide. Before we could get to the water hole my daughter, who was walking behind me, tapped me on the shoulder. I turned to see her holding my 1.5-4x Leupold Dangerous Game Scope which had fallen off my rifle. My quick detach rings had detached a little too quickly.
We all just stood there with bewildered looks on our faces. I teased that we could see if the rings really did "return to zero" but Marius rightly insisted that we go somewhere and check. We backtracked, loaded back up in the bakkie and drove to a dry riverbed. We had stopped to pick up part of a warthog skull which our tracker then hung in a bush about fifty yards out. I struggled to differentiate skull from bush and my first shot was a clean miss. We then decided to travel all the way back to our entry point where a target could be set up. During the ride I determined that the release lever on the front ring had become too loose so I borrowed a screwdriver and tightened it down hard. After a couple more shots at a paper target we were pleased in that the scope had held very close to original zero.
The hunt continued after lunchtime. More driving the rough roads and bouncing around in the cab of the bakkie. Towards late afternoon one of the trackers spotted a large track which we began to follow on foot. The tracks led to a dam/water hole that held a huge buffalo bull. The bull was mud-covered; a picture-perfect setting. Marius and I had discussed on arrival day his criteria for a trophy buffalo - a hard boss (we agreed this was non-negotiable), then a nice shape to the horns, then good horn width. As we approached for a better look, Marius was in the lead with me closely behind.
From the edge of the vegetation that surrounded the water hole Marius had a clear view of the headgear, where I could only see the back three-quarters of the bull. Marius described the bull as "a tank" with rock-hard bosses, but with a less than desirable shape to its narrowly spaced horns. We took a few steps back and began our discussion about whether we should take the bull. The shot wouldn't have been more than fifty feet, but Marius wasn't sure we should take it. As Marius put it, "You will probably shoot one buffalo in your lifetime, right?" I confirmed this was likely the case. Marius then made sure he was clear on two points - this wasn't the trophy he wanted for me, and there was no guarantee we would get another chance like it this trip. We discussed how I would feel if we passed on this bull and no other opportunity came along. Of course I would be disappointed not to take one, but neither did I want to take the wrong one. I think his question was "What if we don't get another chance?" to which my daughter quickly replied "We'll come back!" - and I agreed with her strategy. Ultimately, we decided to leave the bull where we found him. He never even knew we were there, much less that we engaged in a conversation that nearly sealed his fate. It was the only buffalo we saw this day.
Marius could have easily convinced me to take the shot and immediately reduced the pressure on himself. I like to shoot monsters as much as the next guy but I don't hunt with a tape measure. The thrill of taking a big, mud-wallowing beast would probably overtake any immediate concern I might have about shape and width. This is where you need a trustworthy PH and the good sense to value his judgement.
Towards the end of our day, I saw one of the highlights of the trip. If you have ever seen two giraffe bulls fighting you know it is quite a sight. In this case, it seemed to be an unfair fight as one bull was much larger than the other. Despite the height difference both bulls were throwing haymakers - swinging their long necks and smashing their heads against each other. As we approached, the two quickly forgot their quarrel and focused all of their attention on us before galloping away.