Saturday, 28 March 2020

BUFFALO HUNT, PART 2

HUNTING BUFFALO IN THE EASTERN CAPE.


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.



 



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