Four Paces from Death (part 05)

by david on November 30, 2012

For the next four days, we chased the buffalo through the thick stuff, occasionally catching glimpses but only getting on the shooting sticks once.  I missed that opportunity because a leafy branch blocked my view from where the sticks were set up.  Phil told me to shoot, but I could not see the buffalo clearly enough to take a shot.  By the time I decided to pick up the sticks and move them, it was too late.  I had been exposed for too long and that little bit of movement drew the buffalo’s attention to us.  He simply ducked his head and disappeared back into the bush.  On another occasion, the buffalo were bedded down in the mopane at the base of a small hill or koppie.  The wind was blowing in toward the buff and we had to hike around the koppie to get downwind.  We would make it around the koppie and start our stalk, only to be foiled by the Mopane leaves.  The buffalo went around the koppie into the wind to get away from whatever made the crunching noise.  We took off back around the koppie to try to head off the buffalo, only to discover that they had moved right back from where we spooked them.  I can only guess that since they did not wind us, and we did not pursue them, they did not spook too badly.  Since the next closest cover required them to go a good distance, they kept going back from where they started.  This forced us to go back around the koppie to stay downwind.  We walked back and forth around the kopje five times that day, to no avail.  In a final desperate move we even tried sneaking up and over the top.  After an hour of carefully and quietly picking our way up and over the top we set up and started looking for a suitable candidate to remove from the herd.  The buffalo had chosen cover well.  We could not see anything clearly, much less get a shot down through the thick cover.  Those four days were frustrating to the point of making a preacher say bad words.

The koppie where we played “ring around the rosy” with the cape buffalo.

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