Last year Freddy and Kelly Chesney hunted with me on their first African Hunt. You will recall the story in the Bowhunter of the wife that shot a magnificent Sable and Kudu bull with equipment that Archers Edge had to bring in a hurry because the airline lost theirs.
This year Freddy was back and he was on a mission to hunt a big Buffalo. He was an utmost gentleman of average height and average built. The man that got out of the transport company’s vehicle was a lot different. He gained about 10kg in muscle, had a warrior look in his eyes and his hand shake was like a vice. The only thing that stayed the same was his mannerism. Still the great gentleman that I came to know and respect.
He smiled as he saw me give him the “once over” and told me that he did not sit and enjoy the “lazy life” the past year. He put all his effort and attention into getting in shape both physically and mentally for this hunt. Now that is a client that does his homework.
His setup was perfect. Bowtech Insanity at 82lb with a 28,5” draw. His arrows were Easton Dangerous Game 250’s with 180gr German Kinetic broad heads for a total weight of 920gr. – I love it when a client listen to good advice and disregard the rubbish.
Early in the morning we started looking for fresh sign after checking that the bow behaved after the long travel. We found tracks of mixed groups with lots of cows and young and decided to ignore them as we wanted some “Dagga boys”. Our property is just short of 6 000ha with some heavy “Sekelbos” thickets where Buffalo just love to spend time in. It is a big area and the Buffalo behave likewise as they are not bred in camps and later released like on so many farms in South Africa. These are wild and it takes time, skill, patience and some luck to find them and to hunt them.
We did get close to one group of three late in the afternoon but I decided against hunting them as I was looking for a really big one that I knew of. They do not get big because they are stupid.
We finally found him around lunch time on the 3rd day. He was with a small group of others. They were having a siesta chewing the cud in an impenetrable thicket. Not only was it suicide to sneak up on them but there would be not shot as there were too many branches and twigs in the way. The plan was to send my tracker up-wind of them so that they just get his wind and hopefully they will move out of the thicket and not go too far as it was warm. We could then follow them and keep them in sight and hopefully we could either ambush them or sneak up on the big bull.
For once Mr Murphy forgot to tag along as they did get up and started to move and just as they cleared the thicket into some scrub savannah we got an opportunity to sneak in.
We came to within 20y of the big bull and Freddy got the shakes. He was vibrating like a Jack Russell Terrier that saw a rat. The adrenalin had him in a good grip and it took all my effort to calm him down without spooking the buffalo. The excitement on his face told me everything. He was loving it to be in and amongst them.
After a long time of slow moving and trying to keep below the swirling wind the opportunity finally presented itself. Freddy drew back and the arrow flew. The last I saw was the red feathers disappearing completely into the buffalo’s shoulder about one third up from the brisket. They all exploded and we hugged a Sweet thorn tree so as not to get trampled by stampeding feet.
That was one of the best shots I’ve ever seen on buffalo and within two minutes we heard the bellow. Only about half the buffalo I ever hunted with a bow gave the “death below”. This was one of those. It was with great relieve that we went closer still very alert as it often happens that his buddies are still around and they can pose a real threat.
We slowly came onto him from his blind side and Freddy gave him another arrow just to make sure he was truly down. The buffalo never moved and the time for joy came upon us. Freddy could not stop touching and stroking this beautiful animal. He loved every second of the whole hunt. “We must be completely crazy” he kept saying over and over.
During the rest of the safari Freddy again shot a beautiful Sable as well as another great Kudu and lots of Pigs. He must have Spanish blood in him because he cannot leave Warthogs alone.
In my career as a Professional hunter of 30 years, I have met and guided tons of great clients. Many of them have my deepest respect for their attitude and ethics. Very few of them became friends. Only two or three became more than friends, Freddy Chesney is one of them.