2013 Cape Buffalo

By Kevin Yaeger

June 9, 2013

Tuesday, May 14, 2013: We got an early start at an area called the Land between 2 Rivers. We saw 2 very brave Cape Buffalo at first light, but neither were over about 36”. We saw 2 groups of Buffalo cows. The highlight of the days was seeing a BLACK Rhino at 64 yards as certified by my Swarovski range finder. We quickly left the Rhino as we found out later that he had a very bad temper. The Rhino had recently killed another male Rhino and killed a horse. Africa allows 1 Black Rhino tag per year. The last Black Rhino tag at auction brought $250,000. Daphnie prepared Eland for dinner with a very nice Merlot. It was superb.

Wednesday: The Buffalo hunting is challenging because of the dense cover in the tall reeds. We saw a group well before daylight, but there were no bulls. Then we saw a group of cows and calves as they went in the tall reeds. These reeds are 12-15’ high. The buffalo come out at night, but in the morning they head for the tall reeds for the day. These reeds line the rivers for miles and are often 200-300 yards wide. About 9am we spotted and stalked a group of about 10 in a small opening. There was a respectable bull at 106 yards. This was well beyond my comfort zone with the 505, but it was my first opportunity in 3 days. The bull was broadside, but had a calf behind it until it disappeared in the reeds. I had the safety off and was squeezing the trigger. We did see another group of 4 at last light. Christo thought the bull was over 40”, but had a soft boss. It was too far for me to shoot. We will try again tomorrow. We had pork ribs and Blesbuck fillet for dinner. It was excellent.

Thursday: We got up at 4:40am to go to the Buffalo area. We arrived before daylight and let Bram out to watch a valley. Christo, Warren and I went to the Orange River to watch for 2 Buffalo that we saw the night before. We found nothing but got a call from Bram that he had spotted a herd of 22 cows, calves and bulls. They were heading west down the river bottom through the tall reeds. It was amazing that we could see 22 Cape Buffalo on the river bank and 10 seconds later, there was no sign of them. Christo, the tracker and I made a big circle to intercept the herd. Just as we were going to meet the herd head on, a Hartebeest spooked the herd back in the very tall reeds. There were islands of reeds and then patches of white sand. When the herd went behind a patch of reeds we would run to get closer. As we peeked around the 12-15 foot reeds, Christo spotted the herd in front of us. It was the perfect storm. Christo had put us in the ideal spot. Cedric placed the shooting sticks and I shot the bull squarely in the front shoulder. The shot with the 505 Gibbs was about 90 yards. My biggest concern was making a good shot placement. The bull gave a good reaction from the shot and both trackers thought it looked good. 4 days of tough luck had changed very quickly. We could hear the herd crashing through the reeds for several hundred yards. Toward the river in the very thick jungle we heard a death bellow and then another. Christo made us wait 10 minutes before proceeding. Even though we were confident the bull was dead, walking through a tunnel of reeds tracking a bleeding bull in the early daylight was exhilarating. The trackers led the way without a rifle following the blood listening for the tender crack of a breaking reed signaling a charge. It looks exciting on Sunday morning TV, but when it’s you walking shoulder to shoulder with your PH, it gets pretty real. Christo packed a beautiful Krieghoff side by side in 470 Nitro Express. I remember thinking my last meal may have been toast with peanut butter. There was much relief when Cedric spotted the bull curled up, but facing us as we approached in his house of reeds.

We loaded the bull on the Land Cruiser after several photographs and high fives. My bull weighed 685 kilograms (1507#) on the slaughter house scales and was 40” wide with deep heavy curls. The 525 grain Hornady bullet weighed 414 grains after traveling though the left shoulder, both lungs and then the right shoulder. It was just under the skin on the opposite side. It was great to have Warren along to enjoy my trophy. We posed for pictures just as we have with many Howard county Whitetails over the years.

Christos’ relentless pursuit paid off after I had given up hope of seeing “Black Death in the tall grass.”

Tim toasted our success and we enjoyed several glasses of wine after another one of Daphne’s delicious dinners.

We returned to our chalet to find it was on fire! Each night the maid would start a fire in our room to knock the chill off. A log rolled out of the fireplace and caught a box of wood on fire. It burned right up to Warren’s gun case. Christo and Warren wrestled the burning box out the door and we opened all the windows. The smoke soon cleared out and we were lucky we had tile floors.

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