cape

After a long day and a half of travel, we all agreed to sleep in on the first day at the lodge. Jeff and I awoke at around 10:00 local time. We headed to the range and fired a few rounds to make sure the rifles were still good. Fortunately, the padded travel cases did their job and the sights were on. Then it was off into the bush . . .


Apparently, it has been raining off and on recently and everything was lush and green. The trees have all their leaves and haven’t started to drop even though it’s now fall here. This will make hunting a bit difficult.

We start the day cruising the various dirt roads looking for Cape Buffalo tracks. We spy some and began a stalk. There are four of us who are armed. Jeff has his custom rifle in .375 Ruger, Jacques has a .375 H&H, Eli has his .460 Weatherby mag, and I have RF’s .500 S&W lever gun.

While watching the wind swirl, we constantly change directions while making our way towards a water hole. After a mile or so, we come up dry. The dung is fresh, the tracks are fresh, but we came up stale.

We hop back up on the Land Cruiser and start driving to another area. I’m not sure how far we had to go, but we never make it there. All of a sudden the truck lurches to a stop, and there, about 10 yards into the bush, are two very large Cape Buffalo. One is very old with the tips of his horns blunted from fighting and rubbing them down, the other is quite a bit younger but with a spectacular curl to his horns. True “dugga boys.”  The air is thick with the smell of buffalo.

capes

Eli, our professional hunter/guide, is very excited. Jeff is excited. Me, I’m wishing I had a crew-served weapon.

We dismount the truck as the bulls trot off and disappear like ghosts. The now-still air smells peculiar. It’s either my fear I’m smelling or buffalo sweat.

We begin our stalk in the direction the bulls trotted off. After about a quarter of a mile, we spot them again, just as they grunt and trot off once more. At this point we realize they have circled around and are now stalking us. We are retrace our steps, and just as we begin to smell my fear — I mean the buffalo sweat — they break and trot off again.

After about a half hour of stalking I realize there is sweat dripping from my brow. The air has become stiflingly still and humid. Then we smell the smell again. I can barely make out the back of a buff in the bush. I can’t tell which direction he’s facing though. Apparently, they can also smell or hear us.

The eight minute standoff with the four of us pointing rifles in their direction is tiring. One or both of them have stamped their feet and grunted at us, a sure sign of an imminent charge. Then we hear them as their tremendous bodies trot off, registering seismic activity at roughly 3.0 on the Richter scale.

ph

We decide to wait 10-15 minutes to see if the buffs will calm down at all as we have clearly agitated them beyond their standard pissed off state. We decide to start walking in an arc to keep the wind in our favor, keeping in mind that they are stalking us. Again.

They are about 50 yards off, staring at us through a long open space. The lead old bull decides he doesn’t like what he sees and starts a kind of fast walk straight towards Jeff and me. We are shoulder-to-shoulder and I’m trying to mind meld with Jeff to make him shoot that Black Death in the face before he makes it another yard.

That familiar feeling of my bowels starting to loosen is back. But I’m comforted by the three additional hard-hitting rifles that are poised to deliver a wall of lead. As time slows down I’m mentally calculating the amount of foot-pounds this angry beast is going to absorb at any moment. We already agreed though, that unless Cyncerus caffer was posing a serious imminent fear of death upon us, Jeff would be the solo shooter.

At about the 40-yard point of closure, the buff decided to exit, stage right. Just as his left shoulder becomes visible, Jeff delivers the first shot. The hit is solid, right in the pump house.

As the now really pissed off buff runs one way and the next, trying to find the object of his displeasure, he brings his left shoulder to bare for Jeff to deliver another 300 grains of screaming DGX fury. Jeff is a solid marksman and delivers quite well. As the buff takes another hit to the heart and lungs, his noggin starts to nosedive.

In slow motion, we watch as his head dips, it looks like someone upended a 5-gallon bucket of blood. It pours out of the buff’s nose and mouth. His head and horns make contact with the ground and he does a somersault. As soon as he hits the ground, he’s up and running again. He presents a quartering away shot and Jeff delivers another blow. This time to the right rear of his chest. It doesn’t seem to phase the bucking buff.

As Jeff is racking the bolt again, I’m beginning to relax. I may just live to tell this tale. As the buff is now running away, I tell him give it a “Texas heart shot.” Jeff’s gun made the loudest “click” noise I think either of us have ever heard.

Training kicked in and I take a step forward, holding the Spike Driver at aim point and advise Jeff he may want to reload. We hear crashing in the bush and pause to listen for the death bellow of the magnificent warrior.

All we hear are a few odd grunts. Crap, does this mean the old boy wants round number four? As we are all looking at each other and scanning the scrub for any 1600 pound death machines, we finally hear it. A long bellow that prompts sadness and elation at the same time. The Buffalo is done. Maybe….

We slowly make our way into the thorn bushes. As Jeff and Eli approach, they see an ear twitch. We wait. The next few minutes seemed like an hour. We walk forward and Jeff pokes the back of its head with the end of his barrel and there is no movement. Success.

trophy

It takes about an hour to get the beast loaded into the back of the Land Cruiser. My gosh, I’ve upped my estimate of his live weight from 1,600 lbs. to more like 1,800. This thing is huge. To rap your knuckles on his horn bosses is akin to knocking on a rough finished concrete door. I wonder if someone has looked into body armor made of cape buff horn.

Stay tuned for Sable, Kudu, Gemsbock, and a few others. I love this country.

36 Responses to Tom in Oregon (in South Africa): The Hunt for Black Death

  1. Are you sure you didn’t just shoot someone’s Black Angus? You know what we do with rustlers down here in Texas?

  2. “That familiar feeling of my bowels starting to loosen is back.”

    Imodium. Don’t leave home (or go any place with different water…) without it…

    🙂

    Have fun, I’m jealous as hell…

  3. I see no reason to kill a defenseless animal unless you are going to use every bit of that animal to its fullest.

    Hopefully that is what is happening.

      • Darn. I was hoping that the cape ground those hunters into a splotch of mashed meat and rotting bones. Oh well, maybe next time. We can only hope for a better outcome.

        • Wow. How physcotic does a person have to be to wish death on a human being for engaging in a legal activity .

        • I hope for better trolling in the future. This was a poor effort, and I’m convinced an actual buffalo could improve upon the method.

    • See the horns on the Cape Buffalo in the top pic?

      That’s no defenseless animal. They are not pleasant critters.

      A Cape Buffalo is likely one of the animals most likely to kill *you* in Africa.

      • tween cape buffalo and Hippo, plenty of tourists get killed. They don’t give a crap if you got a rifle or a camera, all get the same punishment.

    • Several years back, a friend of mine took down a cape buffalo that was terrorizing a village. If memory serves, they reduced the cost of the tag by 50% (at least). As far as making use of the animal… by the time the local dispatched of the carcass, the only thing left WAS the hide. If I remember correctly, the quote from my buddy was “after they were done, freaking CSI wouldn’t have known there’d been an animal killed there…”

    • Sigh. The hunters pay very big bucks, which makes it worth while for the locals to protect the animals from poachers. The money spent by the hunters help the local economy, the meat from the Buffalo goes to the locals.

      And the Cape Buffalo is only behind the hippo in the number of humans they kill every year.

      And if you eat meat, some one kills what you eat in the store or restaurant. And if your a vegitarian? I’m sorry for you; Hmmm, Moist Brisket.

    • Maybe. With dangerous game you shoot until the animal stops. It’s part hunting and part self defense. Cape Buffalo can grind you into a crunchy pudding if you aren’t careful.

  4. South Africa? Cape Buffalo? Here the PETA people been telling me you’re off to Madagascar to finish exterminating an endangered species. I want my 5 bucks back from them lying sacks of…… 🙂

    • But you didn’t tell us where the “click” came from! Did Jeff think he had another BB? DID Jeff have another BB and it misfired? Whassup?

    • Capstick’s line is one the classics. Every since I read it I’ve been trying to master the look that leaves my debtor thinking, “that guy looked at me like he was a cape buffalo deciding on what’s for lunch.”

      • I’d have to do some digging, but I recall a humorous Capstick line about about several PHs being “lionized,” and the underlying meaning had nothing to do with admired or revered.

  5. Tom,

    I want you to know that I thoroughly enjoyed your story while sipping a 12 year old scotch. Layla the weimaraner is my fuzzy grey witness (who incidentally tried to steal some of my liquid amber campfire – that dog will drink scotch if I’m not careful).

    If you return to the states with any desire to do a domestic Bison hunt, let me know. We may have WI swamp whitetail hunt available as well.

    Thanks for the great story, and good hunting.
    Cheers,
    Aaron.

    • “– that dog will drink scotch if I’m not careful”

      I once had an Old English Sheepdog that loved beer.

      Back in my hard drinking ‘daze’ I thought it was really cool having a dog for a drinking buddy.

      🙂

  6. Good writting Tom. RF I hope your jealous of the adventure your rifle is having without you! I’m excited about my May turkey tag. Previously hunted angry 500lb pigs couldn’t imagine 4x the size.

  7. Hemingway/London with a bit of Hunter S mixed in, great story telling, Tom.

    BTW- where the heck is Tom in those pics? Is that your son?
    I got the impression you were an old(er) fart-w-g, Tom in Oregon…

    • Yup, I think he was the photographer in all these. No sight of a tremendously awesome mustache anywhere.

      • Yes. I was snapping photos in this event.
        Now I know why some guys get hooked on hunting Buff.
        It really changes the senses.
        Having a blast here!

  8. I love these stories. I live vicariously through you, as I doubt this is ever something I’d prioritize. I love to read about it though.

  9. That old Buffalo’s time had come, better to be dispatched by gun shot than later torn apart by lions. Lived a long life, went out with fight still in him and made way for younger bull to contribute to health of the herd. That is nature’s way…..
    Enjoyed the article very much!

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