Summit Treestands's Live Bowhunting Adventure

Day 13

Join Pat Lefemine in the Northwest, and Limpopo Provinces of South Africa for a Buffalo and Lion Bowhunt

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Discuss this hunt

It started out as the worst day yet, then it turned into the best, then the worst again. I can’t believe what happened today.

We hit the roads early and got confused. I think we're trying too hard and we've been pushing way too much. Our group is edgy and we're having lots of false starts. For 5 hours we tried to sort out the track but between eland, old tracks and new tracks it was hard to pin him down. We called it at noon and headed back to Nico’s home for lunch. As we were driving through the mountains a horn caught my eye and I said –" look!" It was him, bedded down in a perfect position behind a thick clump of trees. This is what we were waiting for. This place is thousands of acres and I just happened to notice one horn sticking out of one bush. What were the odds? The best part? He never saw us. This is what we've been waiting for.

We backed up the truck till we were out of sight. Jacques and I took off our shoes and put on a 2nd, heavy pair of wool sock. We moved so slowly toward the bedded bull that it took us 30 minutes to go 70 yards. We got to the clump and then spent a few minutes figuring out just how he was situated. He was just 15 yards away, but we couldn’t see any part of him. This bull did not get old by being stupid, he picks out the thickest 'crap' imaginable and then nestles into it.

Jacques glassed the area carefully. He eventually determined that he was bedded facing into the wind. Perfect! We would approach him downwind from the sun and that would put us directly to his back. With painfully slow steps we inched closer. To give you some idea of how slowly we moved, it took us 45 minutes to do a ¼ circle around that clump of trees. When a breeze picked up, we moved. If the wind gusted, we took 2 steps instead of our normal 2 inches. I was in the lead, Jacques was behind me with the camera and his .416.

The bull is 6 yards from the camera. Watch the video to see if you were right...

I turned the corner and inched my way behind the huge bull. His horns looked bigger than I had thought from the photos, his head is so massive that you can’t imagine how enormous these animals are. I already had my arrow nocked and my release on the string. I motioned to Jacques that I was going to shoot. The heart was pounding and all senses were alive. This was it. The close-range scenario I dreamed of.

The bull was oblivious to me. At this point I was just 5 yards away.

I had the dream shot. I had a perfect hole into the vitals of the great bull. I made eye contact with Jacques and told him to roll the camera from where he was standing. I couldn't take a chance of him moving closer - I was going to shoot - right now. The hell with the camera.

Jacques had no line of sight to the bull. He began to move. That was bad. I tried to get his attention and tell him to stop! I could see the bull - and I could see Jacques. Jacques was watching his foot placement and moving closer. He had no idea that the bull had moved his head to check his downwind. I motioned to Jacques to freeze. He didn’t see me. I motioned again but he wasn't paying attention. He kept moving. The bull caught the movement and locked on. This was going to fall apart. I made the decision to draw. Too late. Before I could do anything the bull exploded out of that thicket. I drew my bow anyway. He ran 25 yards - I was at full draw but branches obstructed his vitals. It didn't matter, he only stopped for 2 seconds before turning and disappearing into the brush.

We were both very upset. Nobody’s fault, just bad luck.

What started shortly before noon was over at 1:25 PM. It was a hell of a stalk. We were so close today that it made both of us sick to think about it. This was the first shot opportunity I have had on this bull since we started hunting him. He has been unbelievably difficult to stalk however we consistently find him every day. He has a definitive pattern in two main areas, the mountain areas where we were today, and the famous bluegums. That setup was what I have been waiting for.

Anyone who tells you cape buffalo hunting is easy is either hunting immature animals or some tame bulls on a game ranch. This is fast becoming my most challenging hunt. I have never spent so much emotional capital, physical energy and concentration on one single animal. This is intense. And time is running out.

How do we keep finding this bull?

If someone had told me that we would be stalking the same bull every day for over a week I’d cry foul. But there is a magic formula that a good PH and Tracking crew use like clockwork. Farms and ranches in Africa have dirt roads everywhere. They are not similar to our dirt roads in the US, they are largely made up of fine sand.

When we know a bull has been last spotted in a particular area they drag tires behind the ranch vehicle to “bush track” the roads clean. The next morning, like clockwork, we go back to the area we last saw the bull and then begin painstakingly narrowing down sections between the roads.

If the bull cross the road which separates section A from section B, they will immediately inspect every inch of road which separates B from C. If they find the track crossing into C, they move on to D, and so on. If there is no track, they will check the roads that run parallel to the direction. It takes us hours to narrow down the section. Once there we take up the track and walk him down until we either bump him or see him first. We have been 100% on finding him, but following up the track in these thickets give him all the advantage.

It is like watching an artist at work. Jacques is an exceptional tracker, so is Big and Little Simone. I am starting to pick up his track as well, but only when it’s obvious. The three of them work as a team. Sometimes they disagree on a track. Eland tracks look very similar in soft sand, but there are differences in hard sand or mud. This is reminiscent of old Africa where the trackers use traditional knowledge and deductive reasoning to figure out where a particular animal is located. Because this is the only buffalo left at this farm, it is much easier. If there were 50 buffalo here there would be no way to single him out.








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Next - Day 14

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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