So for my birthday i decided to take some close friends and my parents down to Hoedspruit for a hunting weekend as i could not think of a better way to spend this day than to be hunting.
We arrived on the farm on Thursday afternoon and quickly discussed who would be hunting the next day. We had three Buffalo Cows left on our tags for this year so we all agreed that i would shoot one and that my father and Jono’s father would shoot the other two. So we settled in for the night with high hopes for the next morning.
Friday morning we got up early to leave the camp at 6 o’clock so that we could head down to the shooting range to sight in our rifles. My Dad used my .375 H&H Winchester loaded with 300gr Pregrine VRG-3 Bushmasters, needless to say he put the bullet in the middle of the target so i was happy that he and the gun was good to go. Clive (Jono’s Dad) shot his .375 H&H Sauer also loaded with the same Peregrine combination, the shot was true and we could not fault anything the ballies did.
We headed out to where we thought the buffalo were going to be and started driving on all the main roads to see if we could find fresh spoor crossing the road. The reserve is 5000 HA big so to find the buffalo is quite a challenge on its own. We found a herd of about 50 buffalo at a drinking hole and now you could see everyones faces light up with excitement. We studied the herd carefully looking for the old dry cows (cows that don’t breed anymore) and agreed that there were more than one cow in the herd that we could hunt. It was time for breakfast so we headed back to the camp to fill our bellies before our stalk would start.
After breakfast we headed out to the same location that we last spotted the animals and decided to take their spoor from there. We didn’t need to walk far before we spotted the herd busy grazing. We started our stalk and was within shooting range after about 30 minutes. I quickly set up the shooting sticks for my dad and he rested the .375H&H on them. I looked through the herd to see if i could spot the same cows we identified earlier and there was one standing in the middle of some young bulls. I showed my dad which animal to aim on and told him that he could take the shot as soon as the bull behind her moved out of the way. The bull stepped to the side and the cow was now standing perfectly broadside with no obstructions, i gave him the thumbs up and a second later the .375 roared and the bullet went crashing into the side of the shoulder exactly where i wanted the bullet. The Buffalo cow jumped into the air with stiff front legs and started running away, it only managed about 15 meters before it dropped to the ground and rolled over. The death bellow was short lived before the rest of the heard returned to surround the downed buffalo. It was truly an amazing experience to guide my own father on a buffalo hunt.
At this stage Clive and Jono were still in the hunting vehicle as we were trying to keep the hunting group small. We called them on the radio and told them to come to our position as the heard was still standing in the area and that we could try and get the second buffalo cow from the same herd. Jono and Clive arrived at our location and i gave him the shooting sticks to get his dad onto the herd again. Clive was quickly in a good shooting position and Jono was picking out the buffalo cow. he picked another old cow to the right of the herd and the shot went off. The cow had the same stiff leg reaction as the first cow and we knew it was a good shot. She went down within 20 meters and also gave her final death bellow. at this stage the two cows were laying about 20 meters apart and the entire heard came back to inspect the bodies of the two dead cows.
We gave it a some time but the herd didn’t move off into the bush as they usually do, so we had to chase the herd off of the two cows. This is a hair raising experience as you never know if one of the old bulls might turn back and come for you. Eventually the herd was off far enough for us to start the photo session and to load the two buffalo’s
Saturday morning could not arrive quick enough, today it was my turn to try and take down a buffalo on my birthday. My weapon of choice was my Sabatti Double Rifle chambered in a .450 Nitro Express with 480gr VRG-3 Peregrine Bushmasters. We headed out at 6 o’clock to drive the main roads yet again to find fresh spoor crossing the road. We did not find any fresh spoor that morning and we headed back to camp for breakfast. After breakfast we headed out again and found two groups of buffalo at the dam closest to the camp. We sat there looking at the herd for about an hour waiting for them to move off into the bush so that we could follow them on foot but they seemed to enjoy the cool mud and water so much that they didn’t move off at all. We drove out again looking for the other herds and could not find any but we had some great sightings of lion, elephant, rhino and hippo.
After lunch we headed off into the bush again to where we last spotted the buffalo heard and started working the area again to find fresh spoor. After about a hour we drove into a group of buffalo that just crossed the road, we drove past them and assessed the herd to plan our approach. We drove about 500 meters away and started stalking towards the buffalo, we could hear allot of them around us but at this stage we could not spot one as the bush was pretty thick. We walked into the direction where we heard a buffalo calling but when we got there she was already on her way. We decided to turn back and to once again approach the heard and wait for them to cross our shooting path. We found ourselves in a nice open space where i could easily take the shot but the buffalo turned path and was not heading in our direction anymore, we had to stalk closer with very little cover if we wanted to get a shot. We identified a tree in the middle of the clearing which we would be able to have a good view from so we slowly stalked up to that tree and sat down for a while. There were six buffalo around us, four of them to our left and two right in front of us about 90 meters away.
After carefully assessing the situation we decided to move into the two directly in front of us as the one cow was sleeping and was not as aware as the rest. We remained in the seated position and pulled ourselves over the ground closer and closer to the sleeping cow, we stopped about 50 meters from her and then we noticed another cow walking out on our left. This cow spotted us and looked straight at us, i quickly set up the shooting sticks in a seated position and aimed at the cow, she moved a pace or two then she looked back at us again standing facing us. I aimed in between the two front legs and slowly squeezed the trigger, the shot went off with a loud thump and i could see the bullet hit her exactly where i was aiming, she reared into the air with her front feet and swung around uncomfortably before disappearing behind a bush. I quickly reloaded my rifle and then heard the death bellow not even 20 seconds after shooting the shot, she was down! The adrenaline rushed through my body and it was now hard to control my breathing and excitement. The heard once again surrounded my cow and we had to make allot of noise to get them to move off.
There she was laying no further than 8 meters from where i put the 480gr .450 N.E bullet into her chest.
A big shout out to my girlfriend Jessica Joseph for being on my side the entire hunt, crawling through the dirt and being absolutely quiet. Your the best!
PH, Petrus Geldenhuys