You guys had a hell of a hunt. Have the two of you already started planning your next one?
Tim and Cody,
Firstly, thank you for your very kind words, and Dave Hackney, thanks for recommending me to these special people.
We did indeed have a special time, but it could not have been this successful if you two had not put in the time and effort that you did, practising your shooting and working out your various loads. Dave and I just did what we love most and you guys were the best company.
We all have special memories that will last a lifetime, and speaking for Dave too, we miss you.
Really looking forward to seeing you both in Dallas - Dave and I will be in booth #4340.
knowThere are many reasons hunting the BVC is special. Certainly the quality of the animals. The size of the hunting camps (~100,000 acres each). The quality of the PHs and camp staff.
But one feature that benefitted me personally was the great spirit of cooperation that is fostered between the various PHs.
It was very common for the Pros to radio info to other Pros that could help them with their hunts. And often times, permission was granted to "trespass" on on another's concession, in order to gain access to favorable opportunities.
So day 6 found us in Dyers, the camp just to the east of Nengo. We got onto some good, fresh Dagga Boy tracks at about 0700 and everyone was uber focused...after all, I had eggs for breakfast.
By 0900 we had made contact with the herd. They seemed to be quite spread out. As we glassed the several bulls in front of us and found no shooters, we would back out, swing in from a bit different angle and once again try to see some new bulls.
Several times we would be moving in and have to freeze as some stealth bull would be hiding from view until we were close. One bull in particular gave us the death stare for what had to be 90 seconds. It was FOREVER.
I was certain this bull had made us, and was about to take the entire herd to Botswana. Instead, he eventually went back to grazing, only to lie down for some rest, about 50 yards from us.
The wind was less than steady, so we had to be careful. And the bulls were periodically getting up, moving a bit, then lying back down. Several times we got "pinned" and literally sat in one spot for nearly an hour without moving.
We played this game straight through to about 1500. At that time, the wind seemed to shift a bit and get more steady, so John figured it was time for us to make a big swing to our left, then back into the herd. This was to be out last attempt of the day to penetrate into a previously unseen section of the herd, where we hoped the big boys were hanging out.
So we got our stiff bodies back vertical (man, that felt good!) and moved a total of about 400 yards out, over and back in.
During the course of this movement, we twice got pinned down by bulls. Both times we were stared down to the point we were sure we were busted. But no...it was almost as if the bulls were under a delusion. Invariably, they went back to feeding and we continued our stalk.
In the end, this was the move that made our day! Suddenly, we were in position to see a number of large bulls.
One was a jet-black stud, but had just a hint of softness left in his boss - a great trophy for someone else to get later!
There were several large-bodied bulls 60+ yards deep into the bush, to far for a shot, but we could see enough to tell they were large and likely old.
Jet-black decided to start grazing into what was now our scent trail. The wind was blowing our scent on a line that he would likely cross soon, but none of the other bulls were moving into our line of fire.
Just about the time I'm thinking we need to move, Jet-black turns and gives us the stink-eye...for like 30 seconds. Once again, I am certain we've been had. He is less than 40 yards away and there is very little cover between us. Lovemore and Jessie are 100 yards behind us and it is just John, Isaac and myself...but I found myself wishing the three of us could get a lot smaller than we were.
Finally, just like every other time this day, Jet-black eventually decided we were not a threat, and he went back to grazing. Unfortunately, he continued to move toward our scent trail. In deer hunting, we always say "he may hear you three times and see you twice...but he'll only smell you once"!
I was about to bust, just knowing this guy was going to be the spoiler. Suddenly, one of those old, pale bulls cleared some very heavy bush and was moving right to left, quartering slightly to us. He was not in a clear lane, as there was a thorn bush between us. Fortunately, he was immediately behind the bush.
John put up the sticks and I got on them as quickly as I dared move. I got the bull in my scope and glanced over the stock to the right, to check on Jet-black. He was still moving toward our scent trail.
The target bull was still moving to our left, but had not yet cleared the bush.
John had given me the green light to shoot when I was comfortable with a shot...and my computer was running at warp speed trying to assess the options.
Just as I decided I could take this guy, and needed to now before Jet-black blew this up, John started to whisper "don't shoot, don't shoot". But he was too late.
I took up the last ounces on the trigger and sent a 550gr ball of lead and copper through the bush and into the bull.
The bull swapped ends and did the classic helo blade move with the leg that was attached to a clearly broken shoulder. I reloaded and got the bull in my scope and asked John if I should shoot again. By the time we made eye and ear contact with each other, all was quiet and nothing was moving in sight.
At that point I sheepishly asked John "did you say 'don't shoot'"?
He said that yes, he did...but he was non-committal and realized that he was feeling a bit concerned about the bush.
The next words came out of my mouth without really thinking....and I regretted saying them as soon as they came out. I said "don't worry, we've got this guy. I got a good hit on him".
Words I now hoped I would not regret saying!
I topped up the Dakota, turned the scope down to 1 power, and we walked to where the bull was standing when I shot. As we walked around the bush I looked up and could see the bull lying on the ground, motionless.
I must have looked like I was ready to explode with celebration, because John immediately said to me (in a stern, fatherly voice) "No celebrating yet. We must make sure he is dead". Oh yeah....this ain't over yet.
We walked up carefully, John got me in exactly the spot he wanted me, and had me put two more 550gr softs into the bull.
As I knelt down and put my hands on the bull's boss, I felt a knot of emotion in my chest. Much like I feel right now, as I type this.
This was the culmination of a 50 year dream. 50 years since first reading about Cape Buffalo turning victims into smudges of hair-pudding. And instead of being turned-off, I was turned-on.
I was sad that it was over. I was thrilled that we, as a team, had succeeded. I was happy for John. I was happy for Isaac and Lovemore and Gift. A true cacophony of emotions, and I was not certain which emotion would prevail.
In the end, we were all smiles for sure! And the smile got even brighter when I heard that Cody and Dave were so close they heard the shot and were on the way to celebrate with us!
What a reunion in the bush we had. The entirety of the two teams together, joyful in the aftermath of the successful hunt.
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You know, reading these reports saddens me no end. I hunted the BVC in 2013 and am reliving the experience reading these reports. I can’t manage the walking now or I’d be booking my trip in the morning.
There is a style to the writing here that generates excitement, anxiety, joy, and envy that is wonderful. Incredibly well written, thanks for going to the trouble to post in such detail. I always tell guys, “The photos of your trophy’s are wonderful but I want to hear, in detail, all about the taking of the animal.” You have done just that in aces.
When I hunted the BVC, we went bass fishing one day and caught several, although none were 9-10#. Caught a couple in the 3-5# range using black and chartreuse 6” worms. Weird, catching bass with waterbuck and impala watching you fish.
Tim & Cody, only six days ago I was hunting in SA, so this has been my first chance to read your story which I have greatly enjoyed, sharing a hunt with a good friend doubles the enjoyment.
Congrats to both of you for a great experience