Jack Brittingham's World of Hunting Adventure

What Hunting Dreams Are Made Of

Jack Brittingham's 2003 African Hunt

Field Report #4 - July 9, 2003

The Buffalo Hunt

We just finished a very exciting buffalo hunt that resulted in the taking of a bull buffalo that was as old as I've ever seen.

After several hours of walking through some of the most interesting country I have ever hunted, and seeing a variety of game (including one large solo buffalo bull that came busting out of a thicket shortly after we passed), we were able to locate two old bulls late in the day. Our first sighting of the bulls was at about 200 yards, and we could see one of the bulls had a nice spread. The area in which we were hunting at this point was recently burned, so ground cover was limited. There was a good deal of brush between us making a shot impossible and horn judging quite difficult. The only option, as the two bulls seemed already to be aware of our presence, was to begin crawling on our stomachs to get a better look. At about 150 yards we could see the bull on the right carried horns that were wider than any we had seen in a week of hunting.

Cape Buffalo - Click to enlargeThe bulls were steadily staring in our direction so, at this point, Doug and the tracker stayed back as Michael Viljoen and I continued to crawl forward. I was able to belly crawl to 100 yards before the bulls began to get nervous. This was to be my second buffalo from this area, which would end my buffalo hunting from this camp. As he looked at me, trying to decide what I was, I tried to determine how wide his horns were in relation to his ears. I had been told that the ears, in a relaxed position were 32 to 34 inches. this bull had at least eight inches sticking out on each side of his ears, meaning he should be at least 48 inches wide.

I could see his boss was not exceptional, but with this kind of spread, and one more buffalo on my license, I decided I would be crazy to pass him given the number of buffalo we had seen so far. I lined up my scope just left of center of his chest from a prone position, tried to find the most open path for the bullet, and let fly. The huge bull rocked back as the 300 grain Remington Safari Grade slammed into him. He recovered and began to run to my left. By then I was on my feet and hit him again, solidly about a foot behind his shoulder. Within thirty yards he faltered, stood momentarily, and crashed to the ground.

We advanced to within fifty yards of the downed bull and this is when things really began to get interesting. His companion had stopped and looked back to see what was happening. At that moment the old bull gave his death bellow which changed the whole demeanor of the fleeing bull. He reversed course and returned to within 20 yards of the downed bull, putting him about 80 yards from us. He would look from us to the downed bull and shake his head. After the third head toss he came forward about 7 to 10 yards. We readied our guns for what we thought would be a definite charge. After a good bit of yelling at the bull, discretion on his part prevailed and he began a slow but steady retreat until he was out of sight.

What Robert Ruark wrote so many years ago is definitely true: when a cape buffalo looks at you, he looks at you as if you owe him money ... lots of money! The whole hunt beginning with the magnificent scenery of a series of rock kopjies, and ending with the taking of the bull was one I will not soon forget.

Cape Buffalo - Click to enlargeUpon examining the bull we found an array of scars ranging from a healed would on his lower front leg that proved he had survived a poachers snare, to a multitude of scars on his neck, shoulders and flanks that seemed to indicate many fierce battles with both other buffalo bulls as well as a number of lion attacks. In measuring the spread on the horns we came up with 42 3/4 inches; well less than our estimate. This discrepancy was accounted for when I drew two lines in the dirt which corresponded with the width of his ears, and then taped the distance at 27.5 inches. From now on, I will use 28 inches as the benchmark for determining overall spread.

Regardless of the measurement I am thrilled to have had an opportunity to experience a hunt for such an old, scarred, bruiser of a bull. The moments of anticipation which occurred after he was down, waiting to see what decision his partner would make were priceless, and a snippet of time I will always remember.

Best of all, we have a happy camp staff as they are well supplied in meat. and in the next camp on the Ugalla River I have another opportunity to hunt this amazing creature!

My hunting partner, Ray Murski, continues to search for a buffalo of his liking. He came close tonight, but at the last minute the bulls got scent of the hunters when it began to switch back and forth. Leopard remains at the top of his list and prospects are getting better everyday. Time is still on his side with many days left before we change camps.

I hope all of you are well, and I will continue to update you on the progress of our hunt. I should also say that Michael Viljoen got excellent video of the buffalo hunt!

Jack Brittingham

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