We left the lodge in the early hours for the drive to the concession in order to arrive at daylight.During the drive to the concession Patrick (The Outfitter) enthralled me with tales of past hunts and how a local experienced Professional Hunter had recently been killed by a Cape Buffalo! Very reassuring!!
To say I was nervous would be something of an understatement!
We arrived at the concession, which is adjacent to the Kruger National Park, and met up with two P.H. & a tracker for the hunt.
Having drunk a cup of coffee with these guys I told them that if the buffalo was poorly shot or started to charge to feel free to shoot and not wait for me!
They reassured me that they would be right behind me and if it did charge to stand my ground! There was quite a bit of firepower which did give me some reassurance. I had my double .375H&H, One PH had a .416 & two had .458 magnums loaded with solids.
They then told me that cows were more dangerous than bulls which I found less reassuring!
We climbed up into the “Buckie” (Open top 4X4) and headed out looking for sign.
As we drove along they would be spotting sign and turning this way and that as we travelled on & on through the bush.
Suddenly they stopped.
There! look two cows!
I looked but but did not see! I picked up my binoculars and scanned the bush - nothing then all of a sudden there they were standing looking at us.
That is when you realise what is meant by Dangerous Game! These things are huge and look at you as if you owe them money!
We turned off the road to approach them from down wind and started to stalk through the bush.
I was following the PH who kept us moving through and pointing to the buffalo which were invisible to me. A quick glance through the binoculars revealed a glimpse of horn or a swish of a tail!.
The bush does’t seem so thick but these things just disappear from sight amongst it!
We stalked close but the wind shifted and they were away!
We followed more spoor through the bush for quite a way the P.H. informing me that it must have been the rear of the herd. They decided that we had little chance of catching them and made our way back to the buckie for a well deserved drink!
Even early in the morning my shirt was soaked by perspiration!.
We set off again in the 4X4 and saw all sorts of game including some large Wildebeest but no buffalo.
Then we turned around a bend and a huge herd was crossing the road! My heart rate sky rocketed! these were all bulls, massive, angry looking and around 6o metres away!.
Then amongst them they spotted a cow!.
We got down and moved quietly into the bush in order to spot the cow and hopefully take the shot. I cannot put into words what I was feeling I was terrified! You see these things on the TV or even in a zoo & they look like big cattle.
Stand 50 metres away from an animal weighing a tonne that sees you as a threat and you have a whole new perspective!.
There must have been around 50 animals and the PH was pointing out the cow that I was to shoot. He set up the sticks and said take the one on the left! I confirmed the animal sighted up along the front leg, half ay up the body and pulled the trigger.
the roar of the .375 shattered the silence and the cow just twitched and staggered I couldn’t fire the second barrel as the bulls had moved around and blocked the shot! the PH started shouting as we moved around and closer!!
The bulls moved a few metres away giving me a clear shot of the cow that was standing swaying.
I gave her both barrels and she collapsed but was still alive! I reloaded twice giving both barrels each time to ensure that she posed no threat as she gave her last death bellow
We made our way up to the beast and when everyone started to shake my hand I realised two things - I had shot my first Cape Buffalo and my hands were shaking like leaves!
That was one of the most exciting episodes in my life to date and was both terrifying and exhilarating.
I had been warned that it was addictive and now I can see why!.
If you have ever had the slightest hint of a wish to hunt Big Game, wish no more. Sell the car,do whatever it takes but get down here and do it!