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Day 8

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

During the night the rain pounded with howling wind and absolutely breathtaking lightning and thunder. This was good for tracking. We headed back to the Bluegum trees and before long found the Buffalo’s track where he had exited that area during the night. Jimmy and Simone drove around the 10 acres to make sure he did not come back in from a different direction. He did not. Then Jimmy had a great idea, he wanted to back-track the buffalo to his bed. It reminded me of back tracking whitetails back home in the snow and that information is always valuable to determine travel patterns and bedding areas. For the first time we entered the bluegum thicket and tracked the buffalo to his bed. Jimmy looked at me and said – “Do you know where we are? We are right next to where you and Jacques were situated last night!” I needed to see it for myself so we walked toward the clearing and no more than 5-10 yards to the North was the tree I was leaning against. I was within spitting distance of the buffalo the entire time and neither of us ever knew it. Had he been aggressive, it would have been curtains.

We drove back to the camp to have brunch earlier than normal. It was going to be a big push today as we prepared to track him till he was dead or sundown – whichever comes first.

At 10:00 we took up the track and in order to save time, Simone would drive dirt roads which would likely intersect the buffalo’s route. This worked perfectly. We tracked him for hours until we lost his trail in a swampy meadow where he apparently fed all night long. We drove up the canyon road and by some unbelievable feat; Jacques caught a glimpse of a single fresh buffalo track a mile from where we last found him in the field. I am still in awe of their ability to spot these things but I’m catching on. As we headed up to the top plateau above the canyon, it was “Moi” who happened to spot the next track. They were all quite impressed with that spot even though it was fairly obvious. The reality of ‘low-expectations,’ I guess.

We took a low road where the buffalo should have crossed but never found a single track. Jacques and Simone were convinced; the bull was bedded on that plateau somewhere. So we headed back to my track (the last one seen), gathered our gear and took up the trail. It took an hour to follow but it was quite fresh and that made it easier. Suddenly Jacques snapped his finger and we stopped dead. He pointed ahead of him, and then Simone got excited. Our ghost was bedded in front of us. I could not believe it. We have been hunting him for days on end and all we’d seen has been a quick glimpse on the first day, and his tracks for every day thereafter. Here he was bedded down. Or was he?

All we could see through the trees was his huge black body 80 yards through the trees. But upon closer inspection my worst fear was confirmed. He was on his feet and staring at us. We were busted. We stood there for a few minutes and bedded down again. He was either too big to care, or didn’t know what brought him to his feet in the first place. We dropped back and discussed strategy.

The wind absolutely sucked. It changed direction three times during our approach. Jacques and I were in agreement. We would take the most favorable wind direction and do a huge circle around the bull to get the wind, and then come at him from the back. Forty-Five minutes later we were closing in, but it didn’t work. Either he saw us, or the wind gave us away. He ran off in that characteristic lumbering gait only the cape buffalo possess. We wasted no time and started tracking him again. But this time the bull was waiting for us in the trees – facing us. And that was the first time I got a good look at him – same with everyone else. The bull is huge. Well over 40 inches we estimated and that could be comparable to maybe a 170 inch whitetail – only about 10x the weight and 1000x the danger. It was really the first time I’d seen one of these animals close. They are awesome creatures worthy of respect. I can see why so many people want to hunt them; they are one of Africa’s top trophy animals.

The bull stared at us for a few moments then busted away. Unlike the lion, you don’t keep pushing a buffalo. We talked next-steps for 10 minutes and a mini-debate occurred in Afrikaans (native language). Jacques is in favor of tracking this bull. Jimmy and Linda in favor of backing off and giving him some breathing room and letting him bed down again. The trackers and me sat it out. It wasn’t anything bad, a simple discussion on strategy born out of frustration. This was by far the closest we had come in days and each day we seem to make just a little more progress. But still, it was a difficult.

We started to learn more about this bull. He was what they call an old dugga boy - a very old bull that has been kicked out of the herd by the younger studs. The rest of the herd was gone. Years ago they had been captured and moved off of this huge ranch by the landowner who grew tired of the problems associated with buffalo. But they could never catch two bulls. This one, and another mature, but smaller bull. A hunter tried to hunt this big bull, but he could never find him. They shot the smaller bull instead and this bull has remained here alone ever since. He is occasionally seen by the owner and by his hand, (Big) Simone (not to be confused with our Simone (Little) Simone, who is a tracker with Madiakgama). But he is very elusive and moves mostly at night. As Big Simone said; “to kill that bull with any weapon would be a great accomplishment. To kill him with a bow is impossible.”

I disagree. We are getting closer every day. Our biggest fear is if he goes back to those bluegums and stays put. He may also very well be totally nocturnal already which complicates everything. This may be a lot harder than we realize but it’s still early.

As any good safari outfit will want you to be successful, Linda and Jimmy did provide me with another option. There was a big herd an hours’ drive from where we are right now. The property is a bit smaller so my odds are better. They also have decent buffalo, but apparently not as big as this bull here. I want to hunt this bull. He’s intriguing me more every day and Jacques and I are starting to get a little obsessed with hunting him. I also want him on my terms. Spotting and stalking. Only two animals have ever had me single-focused like this. One was a huge bull elk and the other was a PY whitetail in Massachusetts. Other than that, I usually hunt many different animals – what I call “representative species” and am satisfied with that. This bull may be the third – we’ll see what happens tomorrow. As he continues to elude us, the game becomes more intense. It’s like a giant chess match unfolding across the Veldt. And size is not as big a factor as you’d think. There is simply a mystique about him and his story, which I like. So does Jacques. It’s almost like Big Simone is the Oracle and asks us; “Are you the One?” Neo here thinks so.. Ha! (Wish I looked like Neo).

 

 

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Next - Day 9


Our Professional Hunters for this safari is: Madiakgama Safaris
P.O. Box 138
VRYBURG
8600
Republic of South Africa
International Phone: 011-27-82-684222

USA Agent - Jeff Frey
Bowhunters Select Outfitters

717-261-5951
Email:
[email protected]



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