Mathews Inc.'s Live Bowhunting Adventure

Day 4

Join Pat Lefemine in the Limpopo Province of South Africa for a traditional spot and stalk Buffalo Bowhunt

day 1

day 2

day 3

day 4

day 5

day 6

day 7

day 8

day 9

day 10

day 11

day 12

day 13

Discuss this hunt

If you haven't figured it out by now, Buffalo hunting in South Africa is as difficult and challenging as any other area in Africa. I’ve seen the videos where some idiot walks up to a bull in RSA and skewers it. The South Africans I am hunting with have seen them too. They insist that something must be amiss, either the buffalo had been domesticated or something fishy was going on. Because this hunt, like last years’ is like stalking pronghorns on dry oak leaves – only in this case, the pronghorns can turn you into salsa. Ok, enough of my rant. It’s all I can write about tonight because we started up on the track of 2 bulls at 6:30AM and tracked straight through till 4:30PM. We heard them crashing off but never actually saw them. They were always a step ahead of us.

This clump of mud started us on an all-day track.

Watch the day's progression in this Video (3 minutes, 10mb)

There are a lot of experienced buffalo hunters who think what I am doing (stalking buffalo on foot using the classic African tracking method) is stupid with a bow. I realize it is far more challenging and not conducive to bowhunting, but I am hopeful. If the right combination of things can fall into place, I’m confident I can kill one. With the exception of the first days' fluke, we've not had those conditions.

But we are starting to wonder whether on days like today we are wasting our time with this method. There was no wind (what little there was, was swirling) and with the dried leaves covering the ground we might as well had cow-bells around our neck. These animals are wide-awake and completely wild. So we’re thinking about trying alternate methods if today's conditions continue to persist. While I have my heart set on killing a good bull through stalking, I have no problem hunting a waterhole or setting up an ambush. I prefer not to go the alfalfa route.

I haven't given up. Today was just a bad day. I’m confident that I can kill a buffalo on foot on his terms. We just need the weather to cooperate and so far it has not.

We got back into the truck around 5:00 PM and swung by a water source called the "big dam". The area has Hippo's in it and that was my first time seeing a Hippo. They are a formidable creature and are considered the most deadly of the Big 6.

The Hippo's were aggravated at our presence.

Watch the Hippo Video shot on Day 4 (1 minute, 2mb)

We left that area as it was getting quite dark. On the way back to the lodge Coleman yelled "Buffel" which is Afrikaans for Buffalo. There they were feeding out into a pasture - a small herd about 10 strong. They paid little attention to us. Jimmy then drove right up to them and they barely moved. It would have been a chip shot - 30 yards broadside to a nice bull but of course, I never picked up my bow. It's no wonder so many people kill their buffalo from a truck. They are obviously used to them, especially when it is getting dark. It's so difficult for me to comprehend how these animals can be so conditioned to the vehicles yet so wired as soon as you step out of it. Our whitetails would not let you do this back home.

After a long frustrating day, this was the last thing we wanted to see...

Watch this Buffalo Video shot on Day 4 (3mb)

They eventually moved off and we headed back to camp. It was good to see buffalo even though it was nearly black out and from the truck.

I am exhausted to the point where I have no appetite and all I want to do was climb in bed and sleep for 12 hours. I’m calling it quits early and hope that tomorrow brings a better report.

Ways to Bowhunt Buffalo

There are a lot of ways to kill a buffalo with a bow. Some are legal and some are not. I am laying them out for educational purposes.

Tracking/Stalking - The hardest method. Also the most dangerous. This involves cutting a track, typically near a waterhole or across a dirt road, and then carefully following the spoor. It involves a Tracker, Professional Hunter, and the bowhunter. On wild buffalo this is a low percentage technique. Unlike an African antelope, elk, deer, or some other soft-skinned, medium sized game. Shot placement and angle are ultra-critical on a buffalo. In reality, a quartering away shot is basically out of the question. The animal should be broadside and preferably with one leg forward. This further complicates the situation and dramatically reduces your shot options. Couple that with the fact that buffalo are largely nocturnal so you are stalking them in their bed. There are typically more than one buffalo around - further decreasing your chances. Wind has to be perfect, you have to be totally silent, and you can't let them see the slightest movement - or it is over, fast. I compare this method to stalking whitetails on dry oak leaves back home in the fall. It can be done, but it's extremely difficult.

Waterholes - if you get a buffalo at the waterhole you have a great chance of killing him. He does not come in as nervous as a baboon or a big kudu, and he will give you lots of time for a shot. The challenge comes with getting them at the waterhole during shooting hours. Most buffalo drink at night. So you have a 10-20% chance of catching one during the day. Not good odds. So your expensive hunt can be burned up waiting for an animal that never shows up. But if he does, your odds are excellent of making a clean shot.

Baiting - This is the most effective method and it is legal. Personal, ethical considerations aside, if you want to collect a Buffalo with a bow, this is the best way to do it. The PH will begin putting out alfalfa prior to your arrival and the buffalo in the area become conditioned to it. The PHs I've spoken with give this a very high probability for success - around 80-90% that you will have a shot. And like the waterhole you will have time to pick out a great shot angle and perhaps even get it on film. The problem with baiting becomes a personal matter. Many hunters consider buffalo the ultimate trophy and hunting them like any other plains game animal is not what many bowhunters are looking for. However given the difficulty involved with the prior two methods, and the problems with getting a clean shot via stalking, this is the preferred method by most African Professional Hunters for a bowhunter.




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Next - Day 5

Our Professional Hunters for this safari is: Madiakgama Safaris
P.O. Box 138
Republic of South Africa
International Phone: 011-27-82-684222

USA Agent - Jeff Frey
Bowhunters Select Outfitters

[email protected]

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