The main focus of this safari was going to be a Cape buffalo hunted spot & stalk with a bow. No hides, no tree stands, no water holes, and no food sources... Open ground, cutting tracks and stalking in... Not that I am against any of the aforementioned methods, but that is not how I wanted to attempt my buffalo hunt. I entered this hunt completely aware that my chances of success would be small, but for me, trying to take one any other way would not have been the same challenge or reward. Here's the short version....
Like most safaris, this hunt began a couple of years prior in the planning. Although I have been fortunate enough to have visited and hunted many places in Africa, I have never had the opportunity to hunt anything other than plainsgame and the smaller predators. Although I have always had dangerous game ambitions, I unfortunately also had a plainsgame budget. I was not likely that I would ever get to chase one of my dreams of hunting Black Death with a bow & arrow. Thanks to lots of sacrificing, saving, and extra overtime shifts at work, my wife and I were able to put some money aside and seriously consider making this hunt a reality. That, along with the very gracious opportunity provided to us by my "South African boss" and great friend Hannes Els, we were finally able to put things together.
Hannes recommended that in order for us to have the maximum opportunity to attempt this hunt the way I wanted to do it, we would need to dedicate at least 10 full days... I elected for 12... He suggested April or May so we would still have lots of fresh grazing grasses and lots of green cover for stalking. The dominant strategy would be to catch the buffalo grazing with their heads down early in the morning before they bed up for the day or late afternoon as they graze before sunset. A grazing, relaxed buffalo would be much more approachable than buffalo bedded or on alert. The problem is that the thick cover that would provide us with the concealment that we needed does the exact same thing for the buffalo. One of the most remarkable observations I made during this experience was that for an animal the size of a Cape buffalo, they have an uncanny ability to disappear in this dense bush. When they are found grazing and relaxed, they can often be heard a hundred yards away beating the bush with their huge bodies and hard bosses making quite a ruckus. In this mode, they are anything but stealthy. However, they can amazingly disappear silently especially when they think that they are being hunted.
The basic plan for each day was to begin at sunrise, and slowly cruise the roads looking for fresh spoor and pursue accordingly. After the first 4-5 days, we had several encounters and got as close as 20 yards on a couple occasions. Each time, something would be just not right for a shot, or the wind would swirl and the buffalo would bust us. My early concerns over getting a clear shot in this thick cover were realizing to be all too true. More than once, I could see a head, a boss, or a or a hind quarter, but not the vital open shoulder that I needed. The animals would either be obscured by grass, bush or both.
Cut to the chase.... On the morning of Day 7, I finally got my shot! By that evening, my Cape buffalo was in the salt. I cannot begin to express the range of emotion I felt at this point..... Elation, relief, accomplishment, mental exhaustion..... Never before have I experienced such an emotional roller coaster of highs and lows on the same hunt. Needless to say, I have a new and very profound respect for Cape buffalo. It was truly a team effort, and I cannot say enough about the skill and professionalism of the team that made this hunt possible. Hannes Els, and his staff are collectively the most impressive individuals that I have ever hunted with. There are very few African outfitters that have the qualifications, experience, and skill to pursue dangerous game with a bow. Hannes Els is one of them.... This buffalo was my first, and likely my last of the Big 5. It was an incredible experience in so many ways, and a memory that we will all share for the rest of our lives. My heartfelt thanks to everyone on the team that made this possible for me.
The same concession where we were hunting buffalo also had an excessive population of giraffes. Hannes wanted a few of the oldest, non-producing females off. He asked Lisa if she wanted to try and take one. You don't have to ask her twice!
She really wanted to try and take this animal with her bow. The PHs Otto and Drian were skeptical of her chances of getting close enough for a bow shot spot & stalk. Not to mention that she needed to preferably take a frontal shot for her bow to ethically be effective on such a large, heavy-hided animal.
The awesome thing about the PHs at Limcroma is that they are up for any challenge if you are... After several unsuccessful stalks, she got lucky on the final stalk of the day. This big female's curiosity got the best of her and Lisa got a 30 yard shot right between the shoulder blades. The massive female dropped within a few hundred yards.
Anyway, she got it done this time. She got a shot on a very nice small-spotted genet cat. Now we have a matching pair..
On my final evening, I got a shot at this old female cull. She was scarred up and skinny. Not making baby warthogs anymore, she would be tasty on the braai, and her ivory would make a fine towel hook.
To those of you that know me from this forum, you also know that I have the privilege of representing Limcroma here as one of their USA based representatives. The main reason I became involved in representing Limcroma is precisely because I was so impressed with the great efforts they make to exceed the expectations of their guests. No effort is spared and no detail is left unattended to ensure that each and every guest has a very personal experience while in camp. The Limcroma folks are family to Lisa and myself. But, each guest that visits is made to feel like family. When hunting at Limcroma, you will be spoiled! Prepare yourself to gain 10 pounds from the fantastic cooking of Marcel and Thespina. Each and every PH at Limcroma is a consummate host and ambassador for African hospitality. You will be treated like royalty and hunt some of the finest trophy animals on the most beautiful properties in southern Africa. Whether you are planning a first-time safari for the family or planning your next addition to the Big 5, I can't imagine a finer host than Hannes Els or a better place than Limcroma.
The PHs would not let her take a broadside shot. I learned that giraffe have inedible thick hides especially on their sides. Heavier than the Cape buffalo if you can believe it.... I would guess it was 1/2" thick when they were skinning it out. It's also heavy and tough like tanned leather.... A frontal shot between the shoulder blades is the sweet spot according to them.
Tell us about your bow/arrow set up for the buff.
What was your bow and arrow setup for this hunt? Poundage, arrow, broadhead etc... Congratulation to both of you on an truly amazing adventure! Africa has always called my name, but my wallet just can't reach that far.
Thank you for sharing!
Bow: Diamond Black Ice. 72lbs. @ 29" draw. Arrow shaft: Grizzlystik 175 Black Momentum w/blazer vanes. Broadhead: Bishop Archery 315 grain Bridgeport 41L40 Tool steel... (They make a version in harder steel, but I can't imagine needing it. There was not a mark on it when retrieved from the carcass). *Also added a nocturnal lighted nock.
Total arrow weight with broadhead and nocturnal nock was 975 grains.
Congrats on another great hunt hunt Dan and Lisa! Your buff is especially awesome. Can you give a few details on your shot/shots placement, distance, the stalk, etc., on the buff? Did you guys stay in the new lodge, or the old one. We loved the character of the old lodge during our stay. Not sure if I want to show this to Teresa. She will start pestering me about when we are going again!
"On the morning of Day 7, I finally got my shot! By that evening, my Cape buffalo was in the salt." Would you mind sharing the details about what happened in-between the shot and the recovery?
PECO, your last name is Eland and you don't want to go to Africa and shoot one?!?!
Thanks Chief 419, I thought we did pretty good on the tigers ..... By their standards, we did exceptionally well. I was fly fishing, and apparently the only client who has ever had any kind of success with the fly rod at this lodge. The guides there are pretty much all bait and lures which can work well, but I was out-fishing them 10 to 1 on this trip. I can't say if it was luck, or just that they take the fly that much better over anything else. Kobus and the rest of the guides felt it was the presentation of the fly that looked extremely natural that was the key....
I fished with one of Kobus' other lodge guides for a few sessions so Kobus could fish with his sons. This guide who was a native Namibian who grew up on the Zambezi, was memorized with the fly rod. At first he was very skeptical, but I started smashing fish out of the gate, and he quickly became a believer.... What impressed me was how quickly he picked up on boat position and the casting angle I needed. He did a great job in keeping the boat positioned perfectly for me.
The only thing I had to teach him was to keep the fishing area a secret in the future. Apparently, he told a few of his guide buddies that we were into fish, and the next day we had guide boats from 3 different lodges up river fishing all around us. We were still stroking fish on the fly and these other guys would float the same exact stretch without a bite. Some of them just quit fishing and floated just outside of us to watch. . Their clients would clap and cheer when we landed a fish. It was pretty crazy and a lot of fun.
I fished a total of 4 full days and overall, I would say that I got 20-30 bites a day from tigers of all sizes. I would get 5-10 bites from really good fish, and maybe land half of those...? Up until this trip, I thought a tarpon was the hardest fish to hook, but a tiger fish beats them by a mile. I would bend the rod solid on these fish and they would scream off peeling line and get airborne almost immediately. Lots of them jump off. If you can survive the first jump, you have a pretty good shot of landing them. They are awesome game fish, and I hope to get to return to do it again soon... If anybody is hunting the area of the Caprivi in Namibia, or you want to add a few days of tiger fishing to your safari anywhere in Africa, shoot me a PM and I will be glad to put you in touch with Kobus.
It was all catch and release at the lodge where we stayed, so I couldn't say.... The natives do eat them and they say that they are good. There are catfish and several bream species that are all supposed to be excellent to eat, but we didn't try any this trip.
Thanks Dave, Otto looks so young there...lol... He has grown another foot and finally grew a real beard since then. Yes, he is a very talented PH and highly requested. I would hunt with him anytime.
Yes he is.... Henno is a great guy and even better hunter. He is always one of our most requested PHs each season.