Updated: Jul 20, 2020
"It seems that there is general agreement around camp fires among PHs and dangerous game control officers that a wounded Cape buffalo is the most dangerous animal to go after"
Ron Thomson, a highly experienced professional hunter and author disagrees and explains in detail that an alive and well, healthy buffalo being pursued and pursued and pursued by a hunter has no match for cunning and dedication to remove his pursuers from society. I humbly agree with him, and do so with nowhere, not by a long shot of even having one percent of his experience. Ron is one of those men in South Africa who has killed more elephant and Cape buffalo than Bell and Selous combined. He agrees that a wounded buffalo often just keeps on running away, not wishing to be hurt again. Also it is weakened, and very likely will only attack when it does not have the strength to run away anymore. Not so with a good and healthy, un-wounded, clear brained, thinking beast. Like me, Ron is against an inexperienced client facing a buffalo head on. Many hunters who did their first ever shot for the brain on a buffalo “died before sundown” in Ron’s words.
Client with a double .470 NE. Yellow circles: missed the brain at 30 yards (left), and again at 15 (right). Even a big double needs accurate shooting into the brain.
Then the PH killed it at 7 yards (the red circle).
Patience for a side-on heart shot is a virtue (in fact on every Africa animal patience to wait for the perfect heart shot is imperative).
Be patient and wait
With buffalo that patience to pass up an iffy shot can mean a lot of walking - as forum member frhunter13 can attest to. Passing up a too long shot, or when the heart is not in the clear is to be commended every time. BUT: passing up on a shot also means that at least one buffalo in the group had seen the hunter(s), alerted the others with a snort, and took the lead in leaving. They WILL know if they are being followed and may cover an appreciable distance of land. Clever tracking may allow you another approach but with even lesser success for a clear shot because they will be wary now. The tracker will take up the spoor and it becomes a follow-up from behind. This annoys the leader and they will go into denser bush which is both good and bad for the hunter: distance will now be 50 yards when you spot them, and not 70. If you do not get to kill it here your closer presence into their discomfort zone will annoy them even more and they will go into even denser bush. Ron Thomson says if you missed this second opportunity and they run off again, and your lust for buffalo liver that night is big and you press on to get them again you now have on your hands the most dangerous animal on earth. A perfectly healthy group of Cape buffalo bulls, each one knowing that a band of hated humans is on their tails. Their collective temperament has by now changed from being wary to being bad tempered.
Having been disturbed twice and still being pressed they will go into denser bush and may or may not lie down to rest, because they get even more tired and thirsty than you. Some may lie down to rest their legs, but one of them will not – and all of them will be pissed off. Spook them again and they will run again – but one of them this time will not will peel off to one side. Now they WILL travel down wind, forcing you to follow them with the wind from behind you. The attacker may or may not be the old, big daggha boy you are after: whichever one it is, he will double back and stand or even lie down in a dense patch of bush yards from your line of approach, his legs tucked under his body, ready for an astonishingly fast start. He will erupt from the bush from right at your side. You will have time to pull the trigger once. Unlike elephant and lion a Cape buffalo does not do a mock charge ever. If there was any possibility that you could have missed the brain in a frontal shot under the calm conditions of a first encounter there is no possibility that you will hit the brain at this moment.
There will always be those who find some humor in every hazard: