Kim Lockhart came all the way from Canada with his lovely wife Jackie and their daughter Alisha. They were on their first ten day hunt in Africa. The two ladies were after all sorts of plains game while Kim wanted a Buffalo real bad. They were all experienced bow hunters as they have all hunted Bear, Moose, Elk and Deer back home.
I wanted Kim to get used to Africa by first hunting some plains game. He understood my advice and took to it with pride and joy. After a few days and a few remarkable trophies, I decided that he was ready for Buff. We stalked them every day so as to prepare him for the day he has to shoot. This was not always easy as the Buffalo were not tame at all and kept moving or stayed in the thick Sickle-bush.
D-day found us following the tracks of four bulls walking through an open area in single file. We found these fresh tracks a few hours after lunch and had to hurry if we were going to catch up with them. I could not push Kim to fast as the weather was warm and I had to check his water intake. I did not need a dehydrated client at the moment of action.
These four bulls were heading in the rough direction of a big dam. There was also a salt lick there and I thought that we might be lucky if we tried to intercept them. Kim agreed with the plan and we cut straight to the dam as the buffalo were walking in a big arch, or so I hoped.
We came upon the dam and hardly took a few sips from our almost empty water bottles when my tracker pointed to some dust in the bush. It was the buffalo. We beat them by two or three minutes. There was no way to approach them when they emerged from the thicket and went into the water. It was open for 150y around the water.
We laid down behind cover to see how things played out. The buff came straight to the water and as is custom to buffalo, they walked all the way into the water to get to the clean and cool drink. They splashed and rolled around in the mud after they quenched their thirst. I knew that they would go for the salt now and urged Kim to follow me.
Close to the salt lick there was an old hide that was falling apart as it was never used. I scurried to get some branches and cover in place. We did not wait long before they came dragging their feet and kicking up a lot of dust. This was only the second time in my career that I guided a client for buffalo and using a blind. I like this idea as the client can concentrate on his shot and not worry about other things.
Kim’s setup was fine. He was using a Bowtech Insanity set at 78lb with a 28” draw. Easton FMJ arrows and 200gr Samurai single bevel broadheads from Alaska Bowhunting for a total weight of 815gr.
He only had three broadheads and used one for practice. I gave him some German Kinetic 210gr heads just as a back-up and he had three arrows equipped with them.
The bull we wanted came in slowly and after a long wait he finally turned broadside. He was less than 10y away. Kim touched his release and the arrow flew to a spot one third up on the front leg. On the shot the bull spun around and head-butted the one standing next to him. He probably thought that that bull stabbed him or something. The bad part was that the arrow only penetrated about 15”.
Kim had a second arrow ready and the moment a gap presented he released it as well. This arrow performed even worse. It may be that the bull was tensed up or that his muscles were tight but the arrow only went in about 8” in the centre of the shoulder.
This made all the buff run off towards the dam again. Things were going wrong in a big way and very fast. As the four bulls ran, I grabbed Kim and ran with him towards the dam wall. There we had elevation and cover from where we could see what evolved as the light was also fading and night was upon us.
For some reason the wounded Buffalo walked right underneath us where we stood on the dam wall. I was contemplating shooting it with the rifle to end it all as that it my responsibility as a PH but my gut told me to wait just a bit.
I had Kim nock a third arrow and tried to keep him calm as the bull came in range. At 20y and slightly quartering away the arrow flew to a spot high behind the shoulder. With a loud “thwack!” I heard the GK break a rib and penetrate full into the bull. He fell as if hit by lightning and thrashed around before he came to his feet again. This pushed the arrow shaft out about half way. I saw that it was a great shot and that the broad head found the heart and big arteries above it. I quickly took my small camera and snapped a photo.
The bull stood for a minute and then fell down for the last time. The well-known “death bellow” never came. He just lied down and with a last sigh it was all over. All the action took less than five minutes from the first arrow to where he was down. It felt like a day.
I was mad as hell. I was furious! Why did the first two arrows not penetrate? I have hunted and guided many buffalo hunts and never had a problem like that. Not twice on the same animal. I stood to one side and boiled inside without showing it. Kim was silent and stood at the buffalo stroking it. I left him alone. This was his hunt and his bull. He needed time to appreciate what he had done and for everything to sink in.
The photos had to be taken in the dark and the joy came as Kim’s wife and daughter joined us at the skinning shed. They were all talking, laughing and smiling at the same time. I was happy for them all.
As soon as the clients were sorted in camp I was back at the skinning shed. I had all my skinners work fast as I wanted those broad heads and I wanted to see what damage they did and what caused the lack of penetration. Both of the Samurai broad heads were broken at the tip. The one more than the other one and both looked like a serrated knife blade.
I could not understand what caused it as they never encountered more than ribs. The GK for that matter could be screwed back on an arrow and be ready for another hunt. I just cannot explain it. If the arrows were not stabilised completely because of the close distance of the first two shots it still should not be the reason as I have shot many heavy animals in similar encounters with no problem. The only difference was that I was using Steel-force or GK heads.
I would like to hear from other hunters if they had similar experiences regarding heavy game and broad heads that failed.
Fritz Rabe Fritz Rabe Bow Hunting and Melorani Safaris