Finally, after hunting antelopes in Africa many times, I wanted to fulfill the dream of a buffalo. In the selection were different countries, I decided in the end for South Africa, but it was important to me to experience the original type of hunting on the track, in which one stalks the buffaloes for several hours only on the basis of the found fresh track. This is the typical hunting style as it is also done in Zimbabwe and other famous buffalo countries.
Buffalo occurs in South Africa in almost every province, each province has its own character, and the landscape and the way the buffalo are approached varies accordingly. My hunt was to take place in KwaZuluNatal, which is located in southeastern South Africa. Since there is no direct flight connection to KZN is a 6-8h ride with the pickup from Johannesburg airport necessary to get into the camp. However, this should not detract from the anticipation and was used to already discuss the details of the hunt and to enjoy the scenery. The journey took us past various gold mines, coal mines and wood plantations to the green landscapes in KZN. Compared to other regions, KZN and the neighboring region of the Eastern Cape gets much more precipitation, so that the landscape here is longer green. Since I’m a fan of the African winter I usually drive to South Africa between July and September, so was the buffalo hunt. The big advantage of this time is that the grass is already dried and less water is available, so that on the one hand we find the game better and on the other hand, more wild visit the waterholes. Arrived in the camp was quickly moved into the spacious room after that it was also going on the gun control. On big game I lead my proven Blaser R93 in caliber 416 Rem Mag, this weapon has more reserve than the possible 375 H & H and is invariably allowed for all big game in Africa. Thanks to the simple disassembly and the quick assembly of the R93 we are in no time ready to give the test shot. In all my hunting trips I had never experienced that a gun had to be re-shot after the flight, the test shot is still mandatory, since during transport and the scope could be adjusted. In addition, the humidity, altitude and other factors abroad are different which may also affect the accuracy. After the test shoot again was not to complain about we went back to the lodge to end the day at the campfire.
While enjoying our beers and Savanna Dry by the fire, we already went through the hunting process. The next morning it should start early, we had about 1 hour drive direction Pongolastausee before us. This area has good buffalo stocks but is not easy to hunt as it is very hilly and populated with dense bush. After a relaxing hunt the next morning at 10:00 am local time we reached the Pongola reserve where we were supposed to hunt. First, the course was coordinated with the local rangers. They gave us first clues where buffaloes were spotted and we should find fresh tracks. Full of anticipation we started on the other side of the reserve. While driving we were already able to spot some wildebeests and impala herds, but then suddenly a supposedly thick branch lay exactly on the lane. We were amazed not bad when we got out to remove the branch, it was not wood what crossed our way, but a 3m long python. Due to the cold temperatures, the snake moved at a snail’s pace from one side to the other. After about 15 minutes, the show was over and the Python released the lane.
A short time later we came to the said area where the buffalos were seen the day before. As the car stopped and went on foot, two local trackers my professional hunter and me. Luckily for us at this point soft sand bottom, so that we could look well for the buffalo tracks and were also found. A quick review of the trackers with the PH showed that the tracks had to be 2-3 good buffaloes. From now on, it was cautious to stalk and follow the tracks. At the beginning this was relatively easy as the buffalos ran directly on the sandy track. A short time later, however, it went into the thorn bushes. From now on we had to work extremely hard for our buffalo, on the one hand alone was the stalking through the narrow bushes a torture on the other side of the beautiful sandy soil was now more and more of rocks and rubble replaced, so that the tracker more accurate did not have to look to lose the track. We followed the tracks for about 2.5h then suddenly stopped, then stopped all jerky. Next to us, we heard knots crack and a deep gasp, should we have caught our desired buffalo? Very carefully we stalked step by step. Meter by meter, we came closer to the sound without losing sight of the tracks. As they were in exactly the same direction we were sure to meet the buffalos shortly. A short time later, however, we were unfortunately disappointed, the noises were no Kaffir buffalo but a Streifengnuherde who have also made here in the dense scrub on foraging. We carefully wrapped the wildebeest around to rejoin our buffalo diet.
The further we stalked the thicker the bushes became. Almost unimaginable as massive game as the buffalo progresses through this dense shrubbery. The prow led us further up the mountain, getting steeper and we had already used up almost all our water supplies when we suddenly saw big black bodies through the undergrowth. These were too big for Wildebeest, so we were sure to have found our buffaloes. Quick check again the wind, as this came exactly from the buffaloes on us, we could very carefully stalk closer to the buffaloes. Now we could see that there were 2 buffaloes but still did not respond to how strong they are. Carefully we stalked through the thorn bushes, now there was adrenaline in the whole body, so that we no longer felt the stitches of the thorns. The buffaloes moved leisurely to about 50m in front of us through the bushes. At a shot but was not to think here, too many branches which would distract the bullet even with the large caliber. So we tried to get closer and hoped to find a more open area. Without warning, the buffaloes suddenly sprinted through the dense thorn bushes, but fortunately to a more open level. Thanks to the sprint, we had some distance between the buffaloes and us. Since we could still see them, we cautiously stalked the edge of the dense thorn bushes and wanted to look from there, whether on the one hand we can address the buffaloes and at best come to shoot. The stalking took some time, but finally we arrived at the edge of the slightly more open area. The buffalos are already on the other side of the area but still and the thorn bushes are clearly visible from our position. There are two old cops and we decide to kill the rights of the two of them.
Slowly, the tripod is set up and I push the Blaser on the pad. Due to the strenuous climb, I first have to get a bit calmer before we can get a shot. The professional hunter has measured the distance with 150m, this should not be a problem for the 416, even if it is not known as a shotgun cartridge right now. After a short period of calm in which the buffalo always pointed to us, I got ready on the tripod. The sheet firmly in the target spike, I wanted to wait until he turns wide to attach an ideal shot as possible. For several minutes, which felt like hours, we waited for the buffalo to turn. Then it was finally time for the buffaloes to leave and when the sheet is wide I let the ball fly and the buffalo stops immediately. The shot was perfect, but the buffalo did not go down immediately, so I shot another 416 Swift A-Frame on the sheet. After the second shot, the buffalo collapsed on the shot and remained in place. Exhausted from all the hardships we made after a strong Waidmannsheil wishes first a short break at our position from which we had shot.
Then we walked slowly towards our buffalo. To our astonishment, the 2nd buffalo was still there and did not want to be left by his killed companion. All shouting and shooting with the 9mm Para in the bottom brought nothing at first the buffalo stubbornly kept his position. We decided to get the car and find a way out, hoping that would bother the buffalo. And indeed, when the tracker hit the car, the buffalo had opted for the retreat, so that, as if without danger, they could make a swathe to the buffalo. As soon as we arrived at the buffalo, the helpers were streaming out of nowhere to help rescue the buffalo and bring it to the hunting car. Tired and exhausted but overjoyed about the hard-working buffalo we drove back to the camp where already the plentiful table with dinner was waiting. At the campfire we let the day pass again and decided to take the next days quieter. Over the next few days I was able to kill myself with a white-tailed gnome and my colleague, with whom I now hunted together, had specialized in spin horn antelopes such as Nyala and bushbuck, and was able to kill one of the desired species. After 5 days in South Africa I went back via Johannesburg to the homeland with the first representative of the Big five and it should not be the last for me.