Cape Buffalo

It's rare that a hunter is faced with a buffalo charge, but it can happen, and you must be ready.

By Craig Boddington

Robert Ruark had it right. The Cape buffalo does look at you like you “owe him money.” He is a magnificent animal, always tough and sometimes incredibly brave, and he has a fearsome reputation. The reality, however, is that facing a determined charge is not a normal end to most buffalo hunts. Hunting in the 1950s and early 1960s, when bag limits were much higher than today, Ruark shot a lot of buffalo. I believe there is a passage where he stated that he had taken more than a hundred, and in the period he hunted in I don’t question the number. Although badly mauled by a leopard (in India, not in Africa), I don’t recall Ruark relating a first-person account of a genuine close call with a buffalo.

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Is the .375 or the .416 a better choice for African buffalo?

By Craig Boddington

My buddy Zack Aultman had just shot a nice buffalo on the edge of the herd, and followed up his first shot perfectly. We didn’t have to worry about that one but, as sometimes happens, the herd stood, milling uncertainly. Amid the two or three hundred buffalo were several more good bulls, so I replaced Zack on the sticks and we started sorting through them. Some that had beautifully shaped horns were still too young, but after a few seconds we found a beautiful bull a bit right of the herd’s center. Although surrounded by other buffalo he was on our edge of the herd, so we focused on him. When he turned broadside I held a third up into the chest, near the center of the shoulder, and squeezed the trigger.

The hit sounded good and the reaction looked good, but he was immediately covered up in the press. There was no chance for a second shot, but as the herd stampeded we could see him losing ground. Just as he came clear he started to wobble, and then pitched forward, nose first.

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Sports Afield Oldest and Ugliest Buffalo Contest Official Rules

 

1) ELIGIBILITY: Any hunter who takes a Cape or Southern buffalo in Africa in a legal and fair-chase manner during the 2014 hunting season is eligible to enter. Employees, officers, and directors (and their immediate family/household members) of the Sponsor and any of its parent companies, affiliates, subsidiaries, advertising and promotion agencies, are not eligible.

2) DEADLINE: Any buffalo taken through December 31, 2014, in a legal hunting season in Africa may be entered. To be eligible, entries must comply with these official rules and be received by 1 January 2015.

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Each of these bovines presents a unique hunting challenge.

By Craig Boddington

The Cape buffalo of Africa is genus and species Syncerus caffer; and the water buffalo, native to Asia, is Bos bubalus. We call them both “buffalo” (as we do the American bison, which is yet another genus and species), which is confusing. The Cape buffalo is a signature African animal, but for some reason, many people refer to Cape buffalo as “water buffalo.” While this mistake is common and adds to the confusion, for totally unknown reasons I have never heard anyone refer to a water buffalo as a “Cape buffalo.”

As hunters, I think it’s important to understand that water buffalo and Cape buffalo are significantly different animals. In biological terms, they are not as close as white-tailed deer and mule deer (which do share the same genus), and thus might be considered as disparate as sheep and goats or even elk and mule deer. They do have similarities. Both are cloven-hoofed ungulates; both are primarily grazers.

 

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Try out a variety of dangerous game rifles and learn how to stop a charge at this unique shooting clinic.


by Diana Rupp

All I could see of the large Cape buffalo was its face, horns, and chest as it started toward me from the edge of the trees, coming at a steady clip. I readied the double rifle and settled the open sights between its nostrils, just as the professional hunter had instructed.

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