Triple Bull Hunt

Cape Buffalo Trifecta
55
; .

This is the bull Tank saw Sundles shoot at 25 yards — up close and personal!
Here’s the whole gang ready to disassemble the bull.

Tim Sundles, head honcho of Buffalo Bore Ammunition, has supplied test ammo to me for years while patiently answering all the questions from my prying mind. He is indeed knowledgeable, thinking of things never considered by most handloaders.

Here is “Mr. Marvelous”, the Buffalo Bore Preserve chef, serving
the crew bone marrow bone from Tank’s bull. Nothing goes to waste in Africa!

The Great Escape

A few years ago, Sundles purchased a 15,000-acre ranch on the Eastern Cape of South Africa. The ranch consists of lush, green, steep mountains and rolling savannahs — a dead ringer for Hemingway’s Green Hills of Africa. As a game preserve, it holds over 27 different species of animal including Cape buffalo, Buffalo Bore’s logo. The main house was built in 1897 and is a scaled down version of the original British Embassy in South Africa. It was used as a field hospital during the Boer War of 1899–1902.

Sundles invited me for a field-testing cull hunt using Buffalo Bore Ammunition. We’d be culling certain species to balance the herd to improve health and trophy potential. Culling prevents animals eating themselves out of existence. By maintaining meticulous records, managers can calculate how many animals can be maintained without stressing the environment should drought, or other unforeseeable circumstances present itself.

On the cull list was Cape buffalo. Oh, boy! I’ve always dreamed of killing a Cape buffalo with a .45-70 lever gun and now would be my chance. Sundles recommended his 380-grain monolithic solid load (8DG) for the job. My Model 1895 Ruger/Marlin SBL liked the load, shooting under an inch when scoped while I could hold 1–1.5″ at 100 yards with peep sights. I practiced for three months prior the hunt with my Skinner Sights-sighted Marlin SBL. This keeps the gun slim, trim and handy. The results paid o

;
.

Tim Sundles trying to herd off the young bull goring the
dead lead bull as a show of dominance. It was a touchy
matter getting this close to a ton of enraged sirloin!

Buffalo

The property was originally a sheep farm consisting of a bowl-shaped mountain range with a series of crisscrossing roads down in the thick, brushy savannah. An old, abandoned hunting camp consisting of stone buildings in various states of disrepair was a known hangout for the Cape buffalo. Walking the roads was a favored method of hunting the buff.

You never know what critter you’ll bump while in Africa. Hopefully, it would be a shootable buffalo! Rounding a bend, there he was at just over a hundred yards. Dropping his head as he spotted us, the bull looked down his nose. The contempt was obvious.
He wasn’t scared — he was annoyed. Sundles examined his horns through binoculars. The bull was hard-bossed and heavy, but not trophy-status wide. For me, he was perfect.The bull continued walking toward us, stopping near a tree. Facing-off, he started assaulting a two-foot diameter tree with massive horns, hooking the tree, trying to uproot it.

He wasn’t raking the tree — he was molesting it! Mud was flying from his rear hooves, his muscled haunches flexing in unison with each coordinated shove and twist of his powerful neck. Bark ripped free. It was an amazing demonstration of raw power I’ll never forget.

;
.

Author Robert Ruark said Cape Buffalo “look at you like you
owe them money.” Tank agrees, considering the expression
on this bull’s face just before he shot it!

Tick-Tock

Tim suggested it might be a good time to shoot, as these posturing assaults are usually followed by a charge. Thumbing the hammer back on the ’95, I sighted the Buffalo through the Skinner rear peep. The white-line front sight settled tight behind the crease of the bull’s near shoulder just before the .45-70 spoke.

The bull lurched at impact, his front hooves lifting 18″ to 20″ off the ground. I had no idea a ton of muscle and bone could jump so high! Hard hit by the 380-grain monolithic solid, the bull wheeled to his right and ran through a thorny acacia bush. I felt like a gallon of adrenaline had just dumped into my bloodstream.

We waited for two minutes for the music every Cape buffalo hunter strives to experience — the death bawl. This stubborn beast let out not one, but six long bellows. Was he trying to lure us into an ambush? Not buying it, we waited a few more minutes to start the follow-up. Dead Cape buffalo and “unloaded” guns are two of the deadliest things known to mankind. Keeping this in mind, we proceeded cautiously.

On Edge 

Walking to the same acacia bush the bull ran through, we crossed a dry creek bed and saw blood going up the opposite bank on a large, flat rock. Sundles was at the lead, his trusty custom peep-sighted Wiebe .500 Jeffery bolt gun at the ready.

The bulls always watch their backtrail, positioning themselves to the side of the trail for attack — and this is exactly where we found my bull. Ten feet from the creek bank, head facing us in a flanking position, the bull was waiting in ambush. Unfortunately for him, he simply ran out of time.

;
.

These aren’t bullet wounds. They are some of the holes Bull #2
received when gored by the younger herd bull. Imagine being
on the receiving end after a failed shot …

A Known Instigator

My bull was well-known to the preserve’s Professional Hunter (PH)/Farm Manager Chris Jonker. Jonker summed it up nicely in broken English/Afrikaans dialect, “This bull had ‘angerment’ issues.” I couldn’t agree more!

Sundles agreed, noting “This was a particularly aggressive bull. He charged the moving farm tractor a few months back, hooking and flattening the rear tire with his horns.” He’s also chased some of the workers, including Jonker, several other times.” Yes, this bull definitely had “angerment” issues but he’s no longer a liability.

Sundles’ Turn

While driving through a particularly thick section of hillside, we spotted a lone bull five feet from the road. He crossed the road and disappeared in the bush on the other side. Sundles examined him with his binoculars and determined the bull was another good candidate for culling.

We drove past him and parked several hundred yards away. We started carefully backtracking, peeking through the brush, looking for him. Nearing where the bull was last seen, Sundles froze after spotting him bedded down only 25 yards away. As Sundles shouldered his .500, the bull stood. After a short stare-down, the rifle exploded as 570 grains of Barnes TSX bullet flew into the bull’s neck. He made it 25 yards and collapsed.

;
.

The second bull Sundles shot with his custom .500 Jeffery as
Tank watched. The carcass of this bull was rolled and gored for
over 70 yards by another bull wanting to take over the herd.

Hog Hunt Bull

You never know what’s around the next corner when hunting in Africa. This is why you must carry a gun large enough for not only what you’re hunting, but large enough for what you may stumble onto. This was the case on my last day of hunting.

I really wanted a large, gnarly warthog boar and the abandoned hunting camp was a hot spot for warthogs — and Cape buffalo. The two species both frequented the same wet, moist, thickly-brushed terrain. The buffalo also use the wary warthogs as warning devices.

Our plan was to park and walk the hunting camp road, hoping to sneak and peak as we walked the trail. Cape buffalo was the farthest from our mind. Hell, we hadn’t seen any in days. We should have thought differently.

We bumped a bachelor herd of buff just off the road 20 minutes later. Most of the herd blew out of the area but one bull continued ahead of us. Knowing lone bulls like to ambush when followed, we continued more cautiously, checking left and right of the road for any waiting surprises.

The road track eventually narrowed to a natural pinch-point. Tim suggested we cut through an open field to improve our sight distance as we headed back to the truck. As we reached the field, there was the buffalo herd.

Sundles spotted a tight-bossed bull with narrow horns. Although his horns were narrow, he was the heaviest in the bunch and obviously the lead bull.

When the buffalo was around 100 yards, Sundles’ Jeffery spoke again. Hard-hit, the bull stumbled and fell after 25 yards. Now the real show started as a younger bull with wide horns started attacking the downed bull. Some say bulls do this to help the downed bull get up. This wasn’t the case!

The young bull took all his frustration out on the downed bull. He flipped the 2,000-lb. carcass like a hamburger and gored him repeatedly. The young bull was definitely pissed and eventually rolled the corpse over 70 yards into a ditch. Sundles and I eventually left to get the truck.

When we returned, the bull was in the pond getting a cool drink. When he saw us, he returned and started goring the downed bull again. Now Sundles was getting pissed, as the downed bull’s cape was getting ruined. Fortunately, after a tense standoff, the bull was eventually persuaded to leave with the truck and tractor/wagon full of workers.

It was the greatest show of pure power I ever saw, even better than my bull assaulting the tree. Cape buffalo are interesting beasts, to say the least. I’m ruined, completely hooked on buff now. Deer hunting just won’t seem quite the same.

Every time I visit Africa, a small part of me is left behind and I feel something is missing each time I return home. Those who have been there know what I mean. Nothing is ever the same.

Subscribe To GUNS Magazine

Purchase A PDF Download Of The GUNS Magazine February 2024 Issue Now!

;
.