Hunting Mbogo – The Cape Buffalo Part 1
“Andrew how are you, all good, Great I will see you tomorrow morning first thing”
That was the last telephone conversation Andrew and I had before he arrived on our Hoedspruit Concession to hunt his first ever buffalo. Andrew and his wife Adele arrived early Thursday morning greeted by the two Cheetah Brothers on their way into camp lying leisurely in the middle of the road digesting the Impala meal they had the night before.
We arrived at camp and got them both settled and ready for the day ahead. After a revitalising breakfast we headed to the shooting range and sighted the rifles.
Day one started with tracks of a huge buffalo herd passing the shooting range the night before. This already had us excited for what lay ahead. We had lunch that day talking about how we could not find 1 fresh track worth while spending some time on and drew out our plans in the gravel surrounding last nights camp fire. The buffalo was not moving; if they aren’t moving we wont get fresh tracks crossing the roads.
The Lion male was also looking for buffalo as we saw some fresh tracks in the road. This makes you realise that you can quickly become the hunted.
Not finding fresh tracks makes it increasingly difficult but it was only day one. We couldn’t believe our luck, whilst driving I spotted something shinny on my right around 200yards away in the middle of a thicket the sun glared off the tip of a bull buffalo horn.
I stopped and glassed the area, sure as day follows the night, there they were. I could only see one set of horns, and then another and another, slowly the scene unfolded through my binoculars. In the middle of that thicket lay a herd of at least 60-70 buffalo. The heat of the day drove them to the shade for a cool afternoon siesta.
My heart started beating in my throat, this is what I live for. We circled to get the wind in our favour then started the stalk. Blind-sided by the thick bush I walked on instinct and soon caught up to them. They positioned themselves in the best spot possible for them of course.
Trying to get into position on a cow I spotted on the far side they noticed something was off and got up and moved away from the spot, we followed, they had us stumped, the bush was so thick that we could hardly see 15 yards in front of us, I couldn’t tell what section of the herd we were looking at, the middle or the tail end.
We sat down and the wind turned forcing the buffalo to act on instinct and put some daylight in-between them and their pursuers.
We circled and managed to get them crossing the road in front of us. I unfortunately couldn’t get Andrew a clear shot and I called it a day at 5 o’Clock. He had by then spent almost 4 hours looking at buffalo constantly and his nerves settled down a bit.
That night was memorable as we sat discussing the day’s events and what was to come.
Next morning the Barometric Pressure dropped and there was once again no buffalo in sight. We found them in a thicker portion of savannah and now it seemed we had 3 herds combine but scattered over a radius of 300 yards. There were small groups of buffalo everywhere. We found ourselves in the middle of that herd. You could not breathe without 20 sets of eyes glaring in your direction. I had the sticks on a cow a few times but it was not to be.
We returned for lunch to discuss our strategy for the late afternoon session. There were to be no afternoon siesta today. I had to get Andrew to at least draw a bead on a decent old buffalo cow.
We headed out in the direction where we left them that morning and stumbled upon a group drinking not far from camp. I spotted a good old dry cow and this was our chance. We moved around the water getting the wind in our favour and waited for them to clear the area. They left that area in a single line giving us our best chance yet.
The old cow crossed the road and I gave a deep grunt, she didn’t stop I followed with an even deeper grunt then a shout. Eventually she stopped and looked our way. We were standing in the shade of a big acacia tree with some back cover. I shifted Andrew into position and told him to place the shot on the shoulder. The 375 Mussgrave with a 270 gr Peregrine VRG3 Bushmaster cracked and the shot connected with a deep thud, the sound of bullet hitting flesh.
She gave a little bellow as the bullet hit her and then se was gone. There was no opportunity for the second or third shot so we waited for around 8-10min which felt like forever.
As we walked up the cow was down but not dead as we would have hoped. Andrew put in 2 insurance shots and we walked up to her. As we got close she lifted her head and I wanted Andrew to finish this off so I had him place a bullet exactly where it mattered.
The death bellow followed short after and gave the entire party chills as we were only 10 yards from the fallen cow.
To be Continued in Part 2…
PH, Bernard de Lange