Hunting Buffalo can be hair raising even for the most experience hunter. Cape Buffalo are bad tempered at the best of times. I have hunted my fair share of buffalo with clients and this experience will stick with me forever.
One late winter’s afternoon, we were sitting watching a valley for a mature old Buffalo bull, when I got a call from a neighbouring concession. The farmer asked me “By any chance do you have a hunter in camp looking for a Buffalo bull? We are having a problem with a bull that is chasing and killing everything in its sights”
I turned to my 72yr old client and mentioned what was happening and the farmer needed this bull shot. He was a bit apprehensive but said “now’s a good time to die if ever let’s try”
I called the farmer back and I arranged for us to go there the next day and see if we could find this grumpy Buffalo Bull. At 4am the next morning, I started to get everything ready and make sure my client was awake; I was met by him sitting drinking his 3rd cup of coffee looking slightly anxious. By 4:30am we were on the road in the dark, there was a great silence in the car; I think we both so anxious words escaped us.
We arrive at the concession just before 6am and we are met by the manager, who gives us an idea where the bull was last seen, but says “don’t worry the bull will find you” This was a first for me in my hunting career, I was not the hunter but the prey. So we start to set off, the sun was starting to rise, the ground turning white and mist was rolling, this is not ideal especially with a extremely grumpy Buffalo around, but there was nothing we could do.
Not far from where we set off we find tracks, not one but at least a herd of 15, we followed for a couple hundred metres, they roughly a day old, so we went back to the truck and carried on to a highpoint waiting for the mist to lift.We waited an hour for the mist to clear, and from looking at mist that was like pea soup to all of a sudden looking at a herd of Buffalo. We both saw them at the same time and as I glanced to see if this was the trouble making bull, the entire herd starting moving towards us. The problem bull was the leader; he was coming with speed and with intentions, straight in our direction.
We moved back to get ourselves into a good position for the battle. We managed to position ourselves on an old dry dam wall as to channel the bull straight at us. This plan worked to well, the herd starting coming straight at us with the problem bull leading them all. I had made a mark on the wall and told my client at that point he must shoot, well the Buffalo approached that point quicker than expected , 30 yards, 25 yards, 20 yards BANG!!!! First shot went followed by my trusty Jack Russell terrier “Pups” (yes I know it’s a strange name but was easier her to call pups when she was in training than her real name “rain”).
The bull was still coming, and then stopped by the dog. I shouted “SHOOT SHOOT SHOOT” BANG! The second shot, BANG! The bull was getting slower and slower with a dog at his front barking madly. Down he goes, but there is no time to celebrate, we still have the problem of the rest of the herd, by this time the herd is 15 yards away and still coming. I turned and looked at my client and said “move with speed” Myself and another PH stood our ground and waited for the client to get to a safe distance, my dog realised there was a problem and for no reason ran straight into the herd and diverted their attention from us to her incisive barking and gave us the chance to get out safely.
This was the not the first time and certainly not the last time I owe my life and my client’s life to my Jack Russell.
– Garth Lee