Monday 30 March 2020



After all the customary pictures were take the two trackers left Devan and I, to organise the transportation of the buffalo back to the skinning shed and refrigerated storage.  They were to walk back to the truck, then drive to the farm where extra manpower and a tractor could be obtained.  Devan and I now just sat and talked, I related my story from twenty one years ago, I had shot my first bull kudu and in a similar set of circumstances I was left on a hill side with my trophy, while the PH and the tracker organised the extraction of the animal.  I sat alone next to my kudu, and my emotions were running high, it was my first trip to Africa and possibly my last, this one being partly funded by the compensation from the handing in of my hand guns after the government ban.  I did not know if I had just fulfilled the high point of my hunting carrier, I though about my family and friends and the influence that they had all imparted on me over the years, and a lump formed in my throat.  A second later tears ran down my face, the moment, the setting, the significance and the over whelming feeling of respect for the animal were for a few moments too much.

It was while I was telling this story to Devan, that the lump suddenly returned to my throat, I did have someone to talk to this time, and while I was trying to explain to Devan, that had my father been alive, he would have been the first person I would have wanted to have told about this hunt, again those tears ran down my face.  He was a cantankerous old fool at times, but cant we all be,  but he was also Dad, the man who taught me how to shoot and fish.  I make no apologies' for getting a little emotional after shooting my first kudu and my first buffalo, I am not a cold blooded killer, I love to hunt and will continue to do so, for as long as I can, and if my emotions catch up with me again on another hillside, then so be it.    

   Transporting the buffalo.

The tractor and three extra men turned up after about an hour and a half, and the buffalo was rolled onto the fork's of a front end loader, then held in place with ratchet straps.  Devan and I made our way back to the truck with Pololo and enjoyed a cool drink, before setting off back to the skinning shed at the farm.  The tractor made good time and  on arrival the buffalo was prepared to be hung up for skinning.  With three skinners working together it didn't take long to remove hide, the first bullet fired was recovered from under the skin of the opposite shoulder, it was a 300 grain Rhino bullet, that I weighed on my return home to find it still had a retained weight of 264 grains.

Rhino 300 grain bullet, after passing through a buffalo.

Devan and I were invited for lunch with our hosts, we had a lovely meal and a cool drink, before making the two and a half hour journey back to just outside of Fort Beaufort.  It had been a day that I would never forget, a lifetimes ambition had been realised.  That evening we had a few drinks, but due to the early start and the strenuous day I found myself falling asleep, so soon after finishing my evening meal, I called it a day and retired to my bed, as tomorrow was another day.

Saturday 28 March 2020



As we continued our descent a new plan was formulated, we would climb the hill side above the thicket, this would hopefully give us a chance to see the buffalo with out us having to enter the very thick bush, but like all best laid plans they came to nothing, as the buffalo had other ideas.  When we were still half a mile from the thicket the buffalo could be seen exiting the thicket, putting more distance and more altitude between them and us.  As the buffalo were on the move we drove to the corner of the thicket which was where the buffalo had entered, the thicket was roughly square and we were at the bottom left hand corner, the buffalo had been seen exiting the top right hand corner.  Rather than try and push through the thick tangle of thorn bushes we opted to walk around the thicket in a clockwise direction.  The hill was steep and it wasn't long before I was puffing and blowing, but at least we did not have to contend with the mud.  

The buffalo after leaving the thicket.

The ground was strewn with rocks, from the size of your fist to the size of a hundred weight sack of potatoes, needles to say this was not a silent aproach, but the buffalo were still a long way off.  We carried on climbing, weaving our way round the many thorn bushes and large rocks, our tacker moved ahead of us a little way while I stopped to catch my breath and rest my weary legs.  A minute later he signalled we should move to him quickly.  Devan, Pololo and I moved as stealth fully as possible up to the tracker, Devan looked through his binoculars and told me the buffalo were coming our way.  The sticks were deployed and I got ready, Devan whispered to me that the buffalo were going to emerge from the right, as at this point I had not seen them.  We were positioned behind a large acacia tree on the edge of a shallow gully.  The gully was about fifty yards wide with the opposite side being slightly higher than ours.

A minute later the first buffalo came into view, it was a cow flanked by a bull, behind them was another cow and behind her were a mixture of bulls, cows and calves.  Devan whispered shoot number three, we had already discussed this, young calves didn't count, so there was no question as to which animal I was to shoot.  I aimed at number three but she did not offer me an immediate shot, so I waited a few seconds, then the bull that had been flanking the lead cow stopped and number three walked behind him, number one however was now clear, and Devan said shoot number one, she was almost on the edge of the gully when she stopped, I held steady and shot for the centre of the left shoulder, she hunched up and brought her left front leg up sharply.  She now ran about ten yards and the rest of the heard gathered round her, I chambered another round and waited for a clear shot, the buffalo were stood with their noses in the air, when suddenly they must have smelt blood, because they turned on their heels and ran.  The cow was the last to move, and as a clear shot presented its self I fired again, and two seconds later she was down.  I chambered another round and stayed on the sticks, but it was not required, after five minutes we approached.  The first shot had been perfectly placed and the follow up shot had also finished up in the chest, a raking shot as the animal quartered away from me.  From the first shot until she went down was no more than twenty seconds, twenty seconds I will never forget.



The two trackers now made their way back to the truck, and after a quick chat with Devan, he gave me the nod, this was it, we were on.  I took my rifle from it's case and loaded three rounds into the magazine and the fourth into the breach of the rifle, before carefully closing the bolt.  Devan was to carry a .458 Win mag as a back up and Pololo carried the shooting sticks.  We now started walking up the hill to where the trackers had spotted the buffalo, the hill was steep and I was soon winded, this was made worse by the sticky clay that clung to our boots, making every step even more of an effort.  Having reached the vantage point we now glasses the thickly vegetated hill side, the buffalo were still there, most of them were lying down in the deep shade of the acacia thorn trees, a mixed heard of bulls, cows and calves.  Initially I could see twelve individuals, but as I widened my search area it became apparent that there we many more, both to the right and left of the group in the picture.  Devan spoke to the trackers and then explained to me that the buffalo could not be in a worse area, for both hunting and extraction.  The thick bush meant we would be right on top of the buffalo before we could get a shot, ten yards or less, and with so many buffalo hidden from view, this was just too dangerous.

Another discussion ensued between Devan and the trackers and a plan was formulated, it was decided to try and move the buffalo to a better area, this was of course up to the buffalo, but just about anywhere else would be better than this.  The local tracker now set off to work his way around to the up wind side of the buffalo, thus giving them his sent, we hoped this would be enough to get them moving.  Twenty minutes later the buffalo suddenly looked agitated, they were now all on their feet with their noses in the air searching for the unseen threat.  Then as if a single collective decision had been made they started moving, the main group moved off to the left, down hill, as they moved more and more buffalo became visible as they were flushed from cover.  They all dropped into a donga that ran down from the hill and onto a more open area, the dense vegetation made it impossible to see the buffalo but the sound of the hooves on the hard ground betrayed their location.  After several minutes the buffalo could be seen exiting the donga and walking across the more open ground, they were headed towards a thick area of bush at the base of another hill, we watched the heard as one by one they disappeared into the thicket, now more than a mile away.

The buffalo to the right of the main group had not chosen to follow them, instead they had moved off to the right, up hill, and into some very dense bush.  This had brought them a little closer to us, so we now moved further along the track, in an attempt to see them, but the vegetation was just too thick, only the occasional movement could be seen as areas of light turned black and then back to light as the buffalo milled around under the trees.  It was apparent from the amount of tracks and the way the edge of the road was trampled down, we were standing in the middle of a regularly used buffalo high way, we decided to back off and move to the high side of the road, just in case any buffalo came our way.  As the tracker worked his way back to us the buffalo caught his wind again and started to move off, this time they followed the same route as the rest of the heard, entering the donga a little higher up the hill, they following it all the way down, then made a beeline for the same patch of thorn bush.  The only buffalo that did not move as far as we could see was an old cow with a calf, she was quite adjatated and could be seen moving through the thorn bushes below us, as if searching for us.

Looking back to where we first saw the buffalo, just to right of centre, the track also visible just above the centre of the picture.

We made our way back to the truck, unloaded our rifles and started our descent, if I though the climb up was a little hairy, reversing back down was considerably more so, both Devan and I gave a sigh of relief when we reached a wider section of road that allowed us to turn the truck around.