In the blistering heat of a Mozambique swamp, a hunter stalks a wary herd of Cape buffalo–with a handgun.
The following was published originally in the May/June 2010 issue of Sports Afield.
I was snaking my way through the papyrus in my best belly-crawl when I suddenly remembered that cobras also favor the thick, reedy stalks for their hunting grounds. Fortunately, I was beyond caring.
We were well into the twelfth hour of hunting on a blisteringly hot day northwest of the Marromeu Buffalo Reserve in central coastal Mozambique. It was a Cape buffalo hunt with a revolver, and I was fully outfitted with my trusty Ruger Super Redhawk in .454 Casull, loaded with 325-grain Barnes Busters.
It had taken four solid days to get where we were, and although this was not the longest time I’d spent hunting for buffalo, it was certainly the toughest. We were the last hunt of the season, so these animals were already wary and keen-eyed. It was the cusp of the rainy season, so vegetation was relatively low and dry, making us easier to see and hear. Last but not least, it was hot–between 100 and 115 degrees, with the raging humidity that accompanies the start of the rains. Zambeze Delta Safari PH Craigh Hamman and tracker Johny were used to it but the rest of our team-Ken Jorgensen, my hunting pal from Ruger and rifle backup, cameraman John MacGillivray, and me-all became dehydrated, or worse, during the first few days of the hunt.
In Zambeze Delta Safari’s 1.5-million-acre concession known as Coutada 11, buffalo are hunted in either the thick suni forest (named for the small antelope that thrives there), or the vast floodplain. Because I wanted to get close (I figured 20 to 30 yards was my optimum range) we first tried the forest.
Full of hanging vines covered in thorns of all shapes and sizes, as well as deadfalls obstructing every step, the forest offered the best concealment. We managed to stalk to within 35 yards of a nice 40-inch bull and his little group, but he was young, so after a great stalk and a good look, we left him to grow up some. In our other attempts, though, the animals led us deep into denser and denser foliage, and, with the dead leaves carpeting the ground (a little like trying to stalk across a floor of Doritos), hunting became extremely difficult. These conditions allowed even the most oblivious of buffalo to keep us in check. Continue reading