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Free-Ranging Bushbuck
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Contributors to this thread:
Spiral Horn 28-Mar-20
TEXASWOODS5 28-Mar-20
Spiral Horn 28-Mar-20
TEXASWOODS5 28-Mar-20
altitude sick 28-Mar-20
billc 29-Mar-20
bowbender77 29-Mar-20
Ambush 30-Mar-20
Dale06 30-Mar-20
Zebrakiller 31-Mar-20
Zebrakiller 31-Mar-20
Zebrakiller 31-Mar-20
AZ~Rich 31-Mar-20
Ambush 31-Mar-20
Spiral Horn 31-Mar-20
Bake 01-Apr-20
Bake 01-Apr-20
AZ~Rich 01-Apr-20
Spiral Horn 01-Apr-20
AZ~Rich 03-Apr-20
Spiral Horn 03-Apr-20
bowbender77 03-Apr-20
strictly Bow 04-Apr-20
AZ~Rich 06-Apr-20
From: Spiral Horn
28-Mar-20

Spiral Horn's embedded Photo
My first bushbuck taken many years ago on the banks of the Limpopo River north of Alldays RSA
Spiral Horn's embedded Photo
My first bushbuck taken many years ago on the banks of the Limpopo River north of Alldays RSA
Spot-and-stalk bowhunting for free-ranging bushbuck has long been one of my favorite African treats. So, whenever I’m near the Limpopo, Luangwa, tributaries of the mighty Zambezi, or anywhere else they roam, it’s a safe bet that they’ll be on the menu. They are no “slam-dunk” and sometimes take too much time to close the deal.

Hunted them in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and Zambia.

So far I’ve taken Limpopo, Cape and Chobe. My favorite bushbuck hunts were on the Limpopo in RSA and tributaries of the Zambezi in Mozambique (unsuccessfully). Both are classic but very huntable bushbuck terrain with enough density of wild critters to make it doable but very challenging.

So, what was your favorite bushbuck hunt?

From: TEXASWOODS5
28-Mar-20
So when you say free range i guess that means not on a big fenced place? How many places can you hunt this way? Do you still need a outfitter or just know someone?

From: Spiral Horn
28-Mar-20
Was looking for a discussion about spot and stalk bowhunting for bushbuck vs a debate over what constitutes free-range hunting in Africa.

But since Jascha brought it up, let’s examine countries I’ve hunted, all require PH/guide:

Zimbabwe = Conservancy and Campfire areas open to Bowhunting are free-range. Zambia = Game Management Areas in Kafue and Luangwa are free range. Mozambique = Hunting Concessions are free range South Africa = My hunts there happened decades ago so things may be different today. In the Northern Province (now Limpopo) I hunted along the banks of the Limpopo River. I don’t remember any game fences where we hunted and the very low riverbed as the longest property boundary. Think that qualifies as fair chase.

Now, the Cape likely doesn’t qualify as fair chase. Most areas there are fully encased by game fences. I hunted Blaauwkrantz, which is a monstrous property. But even P&Y acknowledges there are some areas of Africa that cannot completely comply with the P&Y definition of fair chase, but even they applaud efforts to bring bowhunting opportunity to these areas. In my experience it’s not a “Turkey Shoot” to take a bushbuck via spot and stalk on these properties either.

All that being said, What are your most memorable spot and stalk bowhunts for Bushbuck?

From: TEXASWOODS5
28-Mar-20
Good info,Sorry I couldn't add to your thread with personal experience since I've never been to Africa. Sounds like a blast though.

28-Mar-20
Believe it or not They are actually quite dangerous when wounded.

From: billc
29-Mar-20
of all the area in SA the east cape has the most unfenced or say low fence hunting there is. A lot of east cape is 4ft fence holding sheep in but bushbuck is one animal that no fences really keeps in they will crawl under or go through it any place they can find.

All because is it unfenced that does not mean it is not owned by someone so anyone from over here is just not hunting because they want to. You will need a ph unless a resident over there or someone who trust you a whole lot and then all keep quiet as it would be not legal to hunt on your own.

From: bowbender77
29-Mar-20
As for the free range question on bushbuck, I can tell you that in some areas of the Limpopo river that they can cross the river at many points between South Africa and Botswana at will. If that's not free range then I don't know what is. I hunted them for 5 days last year on the Limpopo river valley and I can tell you that they are a tough archery target. It is also true that they are dangerous when wounded. The bushbuck is one animal that a PH will not track with his dog for that very reason.

From: Ambush
30-Mar-20
I think the Limpopo bushbuck is one of the most beautiful animals in RSA. I've only been there once and I had a few chances on a couple nice bucks but couldn't clinch it. One of my only regrets about the trip.

From: Dale06
30-Mar-20
If I ever go back to Africa, Bushbuck is first on my list. Congrats on a nice one!

From: Zebrakiller
31-Mar-20

Zebrakiller's Link
my tree stand setup

From: Zebrakiller
31-Mar-20
End result 1 of my all time favorite hunts

From: Zebrakiller
31-Mar-20

Zebrakiller's embedded Photo
Zebrakiller's embedded Photo

From: AZ~Rich
31-Mar-20

AZ~Rich's embedded Photo
Limpopo Bushbuck 2014
AZ~Rich's embedded Photo
Limpopo Bushbuck 2014
AZ~Rich's embedded Photo
Limpopo Bushbuck lifesize
AZ~Rich's embedded Photo
Limpopo Bushbuck lifesize
Stalking a Bushbuck ram on foot is not a high percentage hunt by any measure. It started for me on my first hunt there as I really wanted to have one of those handsome antelope. However it soon became clear that I needed to devote most of my hunting focus on this alone. We hunted the thickets along the Limpopo for quite a stretch of properties and saw many. I learned a lot about them on the second hunt where I spent the better part of 10 days pursuing them in their favorite habitat which was the thickest, nastiest tangle of riparian vegetation. We put on some drives as well which were really crazy. Whole family units would come flying past me at mach one. I had one Uwe run right over my foot as she sped past. Most shots were taken with too much vegetation in between for comfort. I also learned that this is one of the few antelope species that is allowed to be hunted at night since that is when they are most active. I had to learn and practice to shoot in the dark with illuminated pins and spot lights. Not real easy for a old set of eyes wearing glasses. There were plenty of rams that were seen but few ever presented a give-me opportunity, plus I was only interested in taking a nice representative old ram. It became an obsession for me you could say and I was totally focused on arrowing a bushbuck on the next two hunts in SA. It finally happened on my fourth hunt after stalking about 30 days total along the Limpopo plus three other rivers. I had missed several shots mostly from unseen vines or branches which made me even more crazy to finalize the deal. When I hunted with Limcroma my PH and I had spent the past 8 days focused on a few big bushbuck with no luck and two unsuccessful shots (both in the dark). He ended up driving me to another river area two hours from camp where we spotted numerous bushbuck running back into the thickets along the roads. We sat in a popup and passed on a medium sized ram at an easy 20 yds until dark. After looking for their very Red eye refections in the thickets we finally spotted a mature ram slinking back into the deeper thickets. This was the one for sure and I went into some kind of instinctual mindset, ignoring all that the PH was telling me except when he whispered 52 yds. I was already at full draw following the ram as he angled away and knew he was going to cross a small opening quartering away. I don't remember going through any shot sequence but just did what I used to do shooting moving squirrels or rabbits as a kid. The green LED nock stopped solidly and I could see the glow from it vibrating way up into the foliage of the trees as he moved off. We watched the glow bounce off the jungle for another 50 yds then it stopped right where he fell. I was so elated I could hardly contain myself. If I was rifle hunting I would have had my "nice" ram in the first ten minutes of the first morning we started hunting them years before. So yes, bushbuck are special to me and it took four safaris to get mine. I know I wanted to mount him myself as a lifesize in the exact position he was when I shot, angling away and looking back over his shoulder. He taped around 16" in length if I recall. I will always treasure the memories of that quest and all the crazy things that happened on each hunt for them. A very cool and elusive quarry IMO.

From: Ambush
31-Mar-20
Ax-Rich that is a gorgeous mount!! Add couple of white spots on his flank and he would be my perfect bushbuck.

From: Spiral Horn
31-Mar-20
Great mount and story Rich. Yep, bushbuck bowhunting is fraught with disappointment, but when the deal finally closes it’s pretty sweet! Have no doubt that I have more “brush in the way” and “draws without firing” on bushbuck than any other critter. Not to mention, if one of them barks, let’s just call it a day. My favorite African critter to spot-and-stalk Bowhunt.

From: Bake
01-Apr-20

Bake's embedded Photo
Bake's embedded Photo
I hunted them in the Eastern Cape in 2016. Hunted a property managed by Crusader Safaris near Cowie. Spent some time trying with the bow, and had a stalk and heard the dreaded bark. Had an immature male walk right into us one day and could have killed him easily but chose to take his picture instead. The pictures were taken in cover, but he walked right across a small clearing at 15 yards. Pretty neat to watch.

It was a short safari and I was battling the dreaded target panic. The last day we were going to devote to bushbuck stalking, but knowing their dangerous propensities when wounded, and giving my poor bow shooting, I chose to take a rifle that day. And still had a hairy follow up. Shot my ram with a .338 at about 80 yards, and still had a difficult track in thick mountainous cover. The dog found him easily, and he was dead fortunately. But it was the thickest cover I've ever seen. I'm not sure we'd have found him without the dog. And had he been alive and chosen to fight, it could have been bad.

Still one of my favorite trophies from Africa.

From: Bake
01-Apr-20
I would LOVE to go back to the Eastern Cape and spend all my trip at Cowie stalking warthogs and bushbuck with the bow. Really cool terrain, and I think it would be doable with the bow there given the relief. If you found one in the right place

From: AZ~Rich
01-Apr-20
I also would like to experience some more spot and stalk bushbuck hunting. There are nine subspecies. In SA you have just two; the Limpopo and the Cape. The Chobe and Harnessed are really neat looking and have prominent spotting. My Limpopo ram had just a few rather faint flank spots but that didn't really matter. I was told the older rams tend to lose their prominence of spots as they age but I cannot be certain that is true. I did see quite a bit of color variation within populations of Limpopo with some being quite dark and others a lighter brown. White neck bands and spotting also seemed to vary. Another story: The largest ram I ever encountered was on one of my Limpopo River hunts where a friend of mine was with me with his long bow. He was hunting the riparian strip only because a 58-60" Kudu had swam across from Botswana and was hanging in this thicket. A drive was put on in hopes of him getting this Kudu. Well as luck would have it that Kudu walked past me three times at under 10 yds but I did not shoot hoping he would give my friend the opportunity. He ended up smashing through the dilapidated State fence never to be seen again. Meanwhile the huge 17+" bushbuck that I was specifically hunting for days tried sneaking past my friend who promptly shot it while it was moving steadily through the thicket. I heard this big splash and thought it was a hippo. I ran down to a place on the water where I could view from and there is this monster bushbuck swimming across the 100 yds of the Limpopo which was partially dammed a 1/2 mile downstream. It managed to make it to the other side and slowly climbed up the steep bank with much effort. There it stood under the shade for quite a while before eventually disappearing in the grasses. I quickly learned that my friend shot it a bit far back. The PH was obviously concerned since it was now in Botswana with no way to get it. I was a little heartbroken since a bushbuck was not really something my friend wanted to take, whereas I was devoting my entire hunt to just that. Crazy things were about to happen as the PH knew of a small dingy boat that was at big water tank five miles away. We all went to load it and bring it back to the river. He sent two of his native trackers who could not swim over in the dingy with makeshift paddles. It was a sight to see as both were freaking out; worried about the numerous hippos which were cruising up and down the river. They were cussing and frantically splashing their way across while our PH laughed uncontrollably. After some time they could not pick up the trail and gave up a couple hours later. The property owner in Botswana was contacted and it was not until several days later that they found it, (completely eaten of course). My friend did eventually get the horns w/partial skull, but I kept thinking how twisted this ended up being. Should have shot the huge Kudu but I was being considerate of my friend, plus I had one on the wall at home.

From: Spiral Horn
01-Apr-20

Spiral Horn's embedded Photo
Chobe Bushbuck taken in Zambia
Spiral Horn's embedded Photo
Chobe Bushbuck taken in Zambia

From: AZ~Rich
03-Apr-20

AZ~Rich's embedded Photo
Young Limpopo ram coming into blind water
AZ~Rich's embedded Photo
Young Limpopo ram coming into blind water
That's a real fine Chobe ram Ken! I think spot and stalk for Bushbuck could easily be likened to stalking a mature whitetail buck in his living room. Plus, down along the rivers it is virtually a jungle. When I was trying to negotiate the thick catclaw-like vines and tough underbrush I felt like a fly caught in a spider's web, which is not an easy thing to quickly escape out of if you happen to bump into one of the sleeping hippos that frequently hung out in those tangles. They could easily crash right through all of it to nail you as you became entrapped in vines. I also found shed skins of very large pythons which do occasionally catch and eat bushbuck. One such python (a 16 footer) on the property I hunted had swallowed a nice ram a few months before and was found dead with the ram's horns protruding from its flank. Secretive and reclusive during the day bushbuck generally holed-up in the deep shadows and hidden pockets within these riverside jungles much like a bongo. We tried to intercept them at dawn and dusk as they made their way to and from the large agricultural fields where they were during the night feeding. I do remember well their loud barking as several of the other spiral horns also give as an alarm. Very effective at clearing all the bushbuck from an area in seconds. Some are taken by bowhunters at water holes or baits out of a blind as they will travel away from their thick river areas to get food an water, but hunting on foot in their hideouts is another whole level of difficulty. I hunted one property where the owner was breeding many antelope species and feeders were present to enhance their survival. They routinely saw this very large bushbuck ram which would come from his river hideout over a mile away every evening right at dark to feed with the others. He somehow was sneaking in and out of the farmer's property fence. This ram was super cautious and very hard to get a shot on and I finally missed my only opportunity as my arrow hit a strand of barbwire wire while he walked on the other side of that pasture fence after dark. It was the last time we saw that ram! They're such a cool quarry for sure.

From: Spiral Horn
03-Apr-20
Thanks Rich, that was a great round-up.

I’d have to say you were very much on target with everything said about hunting Bushbuck on the Limpopo. They love the very dense brush and tangles, and only seem to come out right at dawn or dusk. Meticulously-slow stalking in areas known to hold good numbers is the only way I’ve been successful; and, it only works if you spot them before they become aware of you. Found Mozambique along the Zambezi tributaries very similar but with a few more crocs. Zambia was a completely different game - very dangerous along the Luangwa as there are very high densities of crocs, and especially hippos, plus very aggressive elephants and lions to deal with - so the Kafue area is more conducive to a quality Bowhunt. Tried for them in the Save Conservancy in Zimbabwe, but the introduction and protection of Wild Dogs in that region have really hammered them hard and a mature Bushbok is now a rare sight where they used to be plentiful. In South Africa the fawns are heavily predated by caracal, and in Zambia just about everything is born running for its life. Since I’ve been very lucky and accomplished most of my African hunting goals, I’ve changed my current hunting focus to mountain game. But if I do have another chance to head back to the “veld” it’s a safe bet that bushbuck will be on the menu. They’re just that much fun to chase with stick and string.

From: bowbender77
03-Apr-20

bowbender77's embedded Photo
bowbender77's embedded Photo
2019 Limpopo bushbuck. Very high strung quarry and a true African Bushveldt trophy.

From: strictly Bow
04-Apr-20

strictly Bow's embedded Photo
strictly Bow's embedded Photo
while hunting with Lincroma a couple years ago we saw, or should I say glimpsed some bushbuck running off thru brush when we drove to rive to photograph hippos. Next day I ask my guide if we could try stalking them along the river. Our technique was to walk in the bottom of draws that emptied into the river slowly and when terrian permitted slowly climb up to look around. as we were just cresting the bank edge my guide frooze and 15 yds in front was a small group of buchbuck feeding who had not seen us.he didnt move and I already had an arrow nocked. Finally I could see a hole i could get an arrow thru and drew very slowly. My guide had kneeled down very slowly and I shot over his back. After waiting a couple of hours we began to look for him. He was bedded, but head upright and looking at us from only a dozen yds away. Again I moved slowly until I could find a hole for my arrow in the thick underbrush . One shot behind the front leg , and it was over. While I took another half dozen larger, more impressive trophies on this hunt, this bushbuck is my favorite. My guide told me the only bushbucks their bowhunters had taken were from tree stands, and he was as excited as I was about our success on this spur of the moment, still hunt, on the ground.

From: AZ~Rich
06-Apr-20

AZ~Rich's embedded Photo
Wide stretch of Limpopo about 100yds across.
AZ~Rich's embedded Photo
Wide stretch of Limpopo about 100yds across.
AZ~Rich's embedded Photo
twilight : bushbuck time
AZ~Rich's embedded Photo
twilight : bushbuck time
AZ~Rich's embedded Photo
Very good ram sneaking along Limpopo caught on video still. Lower left
AZ~Rich's embedded Photo
Very good ram sneaking along Limpopo caught on video still. Lower left
I wish I had a photo of that 18+" bushbuck swimming across this wide stretch of the Limpopo. I was amazed at how fast that rascal covered the distance and after being shot no less. There are Crocs in this area as well as hippos which you could hear bellowing occasionally as they moved up or down the river. The property I was hunting was mostly agricultural but also had a private nine hole golf course which several hippos would come out to munch on during the night and early AM. The owner would have to drive them off with a vehicle for players to tee off. I had two miles of prime bushbuck jungle along the river to stalk. Amazing what all we had come flying out of that stuff when the trackers would put on a drive through it. The small red ewes and young ones would come flying first through very dense stuff like rabbits. They were literally a blur. Then you had to keep ready for the ram which generally followed them. They always provided a tough or impossible shot it seemed. There was an old four stranded barbwire fence that the Government had placed about 100 yds from the river bank which was no barrier to a speeding bushbuck ram. Amazingly, I watched one ram hit that fence at top speed and somehow it just flew right between the second and third strands without getting hung up even a little! I guess if you have to outmaneuver a quick leopard that is the norm.

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