The Firing Line Forums

Go Back   The Firing Line Forums > The Hide > The Hunt

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old August 13, 1999, 06:30 PM   #1
Al Thompson
Staff Alumnus
Join Date: May 2, 1999
Location: South Carolina
Posts: 3,611
Well Rich wanted a buff tale..

My first trip to Africa was a long one. In addition to the ranch hunt in SA, we drove to the upper part of Botswana for Buff and Zebra. The camp was just north of the Chobe National Park and along the banks of a small river.

My PH was an older fellow who was the proverbial Afrikanner covered in a layer of crust two inches thick. He guided a lot of European hunters and continually had problems out of them. (getting him to shoot their trophys, poor gun handling, no legs, etc., etc) I worked hard and earned his respect as I could shoot and could keep up with him on a walk. ( he was in his 60s and I was an active duty infantry officer - it was still not easy keeping up)

One of the things that he stressed when we hit Botswana was the ethics of using a hunting car in buff hunting. His words were "when we hit sign, we get out of the car and we walk them down". He really didn't like using the Toyota LR, but we simply had too many miles to cover. According to him, there were some PHs that would run a herd with the car for a mile or three and shoot a decent one when the herd stopped. He hated this idea.

The tactic we used was to drive along the river and watch for signs that a herd had watered that morning or evening.

The second day, we hit sign. The car was driven off the road and parked under a tree. The rifles were loaded and we set off at a fast pace. The herd sign was so easy to see, that we basically jogged down it.

After 20 or 30 minutes, we started getting close. You can smell the animals and it reminds you of a herd of cows. We made a brief sprint and sort of bored in from the side. His idea was to get set up in an ambush position and pop a good one. The middle of the herd started going by, grazing and moving like an express train leaving the station. Lots of dust and noise and horns and hair.

Poem (pronounced "poom") tapped my shoulder and pointed to one was was a bit back of the herd. He was flickering in and out of the shrubs, but was maybe 50 yards away. The dust was thick and the tension high when he said "shoot that one".......

I was carrying a Sako .375 H&H, 2x7 Burris scope and loaded with Winchester 300 grain FMJs. I would not call them solids. More on this later.

I had zeroed at 100 yards, so I knew I had to shoot a tad low. My plan was to hit the point of the shoulder with the first round and see what developed from there.

That plan fell through when my crosshairs settled on his chest, right behind the elbow in his front leg. Without even thinking about it, the rifle sort of jumped a bit and I realized that I had fired. When that thought hit me, I slammed the rest of the magazine into the bull, continuing, for some reason, to hit my original point of aim (behind the shoulder). The buff hunched up and froze for a few seconds.

Then he fell over and croaked. Poem was so non-plussed, he kept looking at me and at the buff with a raised eyebrow. We slowly approached the buff with the battery loaded, but he was ready for the butcher. He had taken four .375 rounds in a circle about 6 inches in diameter, right in the ticker I was pleased with my self, but I was also somewhat disappointed. Seemed a bit anti-climatic.

Later that afternoon, Poem looked at me and said " You have a couple of more days on your time table and I have another buff tag. That one you got was OK, but not great. Want another one?" Can you guess my answer?

The next day we popped a couple of Zebra and did some scouting. The day after, another herd was found.

The tactics were the same but the stalk into the herd resembled a 10k race. They were being harassed by a pride of lion and were not browsing - they had an agenda and were sticking to it. Almost three hours later, we got set up. I was in my favorite field shooting position, kneeling, and Poem was snuggled up beside me, his mouth inches from my left ear.

We were staring hard when the herd boss decided on a jog to the left - bringing his charges to with-in 15 to 20 yards of us. Poem kept wispering " Quiet! Not that one! Not that one - finally, THAT one". I popped this buff right on the point of the shoulder with the Sako. (target angle was about 10 o'clock) A split-second later, Poem's .458 roared and he yelled, "shoot him again"! I did! The buff fell, but started getting up. Poem shouted "Shoot!" and I hammered the buff behind the shoulder as with the first. The buff lay still and we sort of collected our thoughts and looked at one another.

The same approach was made to this buff as with the first. The difference was that this one decided to kick some ass and started getting up...... I shot him yet again and a few minutes later, stuck another in his ribs.

We backed off 20 or 30 yards and let him expire. I asked Poem what was different with this one. His thought was that the buff was already somewhat supercharged due to the lions. Poem was nervous when the herd moved in on us and had decided to pop my buff as insurance. He looked at me and said, "Al - he was just too close to take a chance with."

Poem had a lot of respect for buff - his statement was that 19 times out of 20, good bullets and good placement equaled no problems. The 20th time was very, very dangerous.

We reapproached the buff and Poem severed his spine with my knife. (insurance) We field dressed him and discovered that my 300 grainers had not broken the shoulder nor had they done anything more than break up, bend and rivet. Poem's PMP 500 grain solid had punched a hole from the left shoulder to exit the right ribcage. There was about an inch and a half between my .375 hole and his .458 hole. My 300 grainers in the ribs had deformed a bit, but made it though to the heart and lungs.

Why the extra time spent in dissecting this one and not the first? One of us had to stay with the buff to keep the lions off of him and the other had a three hour walk to the Toyota. I stayed with my buff - and as I type these words, he is in a full shoulder mount five feet away. The remains of the 300 grain FMJ rounds are in my possibles box..

Hope you enjoyed it,


"Hear the voices in my head, swear to God it sounds like
they're snoring." -Harvey Danger, "Flagpole Sitta"

[This message has been edited by Gizmo99 (edited August 13, 1999).]

[This message has been edited by Gizmo99 (edited August 20, 1999).]
Al Thompson is offline  
Old August 14, 1999, 10:11 AM   #2
Rich Lucibella
Join Date: October 6, 1998
Location: South Florida
Posts: 10,206
Great recount. I truly enjoyed this. Thanks very much.
Rich Lucibella is offline  
Old August 15, 1999, 11:49 AM   #3
Staff Alumnus
Join Date: October 12, 1998
Location: Missouri
Posts: 1,986
I too enjoyed it. You write well. Feel as though I too was there amidst the dust and seeing the herd.
fal308 is offline  
Old August 16, 1999, 11:14 PM   #4
Long Path
Senior Member
Join Date: May 31, 1999
Location: N. Texas
Posts: 5,896
My father has a friend who went with his dad to hunt buff, and they practiced and practiced with their .416 Rigby and .458 before going. They had a good guide that took them to a good spot where some great bulls were, and each fired one shot to bring down their bulls at 40 and 50 yards,
respectively. They came back with their great mounts of magnificent buffs, and remarked that it was a bit of an anti-climax, shooting a perfect shot with a perfect load. It's that 20th bull that makes it all interesting.

What bullet do you now reccomend? Speer makes a Safari Solid with a tungsten core that ought to penetrate...

Long Path is offline  
Old August 19, 1999, 04:20 PM   #5
Art Eatman
Staff Lead
Join Date: November 13, 1998
Location: Terlingua, TX; Thomasville, GA
Posts: 24,166
Yeah, Giz, thanks for sharing!
Art Eatman is offline  
Old August 22, 1999, 08:58 PM   #6
Al Thompson
Staff Alumnus
Join Date: May 2, 1999
Location: South Carolina
Posts: 3,611
Bullets for the .375.. There were several failures on the hunt. I failed to get a good handle on what to take. My outfitter/booking agent (Robert Kern with the Hunter's Consortium) gave me good advice, but I didn't follow it. (He advised RWS ammo) The other failure (not mentioned in the story) was of the 270 grain softpoints. Killed well, but shredded on impact. The third failure (mentioned) was the FMJs advertised as solids.

The bottom line to me, (IAW Charles Askins Jr.'s remarks) is the need for 100 grains more weight. (minimum) The 416 (all) fits the bill. I played with a .458 for a while and had good luck with that. I was running 400 grain X-bullets at 2400 fps with no problems, so would consider that load acceptable. The rifle was a push feed M77 that had a bad habit of dropping the floorplate when fired. It found a new home.

On the flip side, Ross Seyfried (admire him greatly) recommends the .375 with good bullets. (Trophy Bonded/Swifts/X-bullets or the Speers) I don't disagree with his line of reasoning, but would feel better with a "4" something. His opinion is based on watching hunters shoot - mine is based on ME shooting. Recoil management is "doable" with the big guys for me.

I still have a .375 and think it's the berries for a medium rifle. Don't plan to be without one, but not for buff - not again.


"Hear the voices in my head, swear to God it sounds like
they're snoring." -Harvey Danger, "Flagpole Sitta"

Al Thompson is offline  
Old August 31, 1999, 12:38 AM   #7
Big Bunny
Senior Member
Join Date: August 9, 1999
Location: New South Wales - Australia
Posts: 605
A few of our people shoot big buff in NT on Abo reserves, as a Federal Government anti-bruselosis helicopter-shooting campaign has wiped them out on most public land.
I mentioned your saga to them.
Their reply was rather(characteristically aussie) blunt"Take enough gun when after those things".
I asked a bit more, and a few names tumbled out..."RWS-TIG,TUG,.416Rigby and the 375 was too -- small, but OK with a proper guide back-up - maybe".
This could be of some small help in future trips maybe ?
Really enjoyed the story...thanks.

***Big Bunny***
Big Bunny is offline  
Old August 31, 1999, 10:54 PM   #8
Al Thompson
Staff Alumnus
Join Date: May 2, 1999
Location: South Carolina
Posts: 3,611
I agree with your pals - something over .375 and at least 350 grains.


"Hear the voices in my head, swear to God it sounds like
they're snoring." -Harvey Danger, "Flagpole Sitta"

Al Thompson is offline  

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 01:47 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
This site and contents, including all posts, Copyright © 1998-2017 S.W.A.T. Magazine
Copyright Complaints: Please direct DMCA Takedown Notices to the registered agent:
Contact Us
Page generated in 0.14982 seconds with 9 queries