21 June 2013During the past three of so years I’ve shared some most interesting hunting adventures with my favorite hunting partner, Tim Fallon. Tim and I’ve shared hunts from Alaska to Kyrgyzstan. Our most recent hunt, thankfully turned out far different from a couple of others. I’ll tell you about those some other times...but right now let’s head toward Benin, Africa..... To say it was hot would have been a horrible understatement! Sweat, not perspiration, poured off of my forehead, dropping onto my glasses and into my eyes. I reached down and pulled my Ruger red neckerchief from around my neck, rolled it up and tied it around my head. One problem solved, but there was nothing I could do about the heat, simply just endure it. I looked over at Tim Fallon, my hunting partner, and Blake Barnett, my cameraman/producer, both were snickering. “So now it’s Willy Whitetail, right?” commented Blake. Tim broke out into full laughter.... I not sure our PH, Ximo (pronounced “Cheemo”), fully understood our continual banter and kidding, but he was catching on fast! I could have cared less about their comments, because with the bandana around my head and across my forehead, no longer was sweat dropping into my eyes. About that time the Nissan hunting rig we were riding on came to a halt. I looked back and Ximo, who was talking to his trackers. A few moments later he said, “Fresh buffalo tracks, one of the is pretty big, probably a mature bull. Grab your gear guys, we’re going to follow spoor. We’ll do our best to catch up with them.” Tim and I both quickly grabbed our Ruger .375 Ruger rifles, topped with Zeiss scopes and made certain the magazine was stoked full of Hornady 300-grain DGX and DGS, in that order. Soft point first shot and solid second shot. I grabbed some extra ammo, of both and stuck them into my pocket, in addition to those I carried on my belt. Last thing I wanted was to run out of ammo in a “sticky situation”. I noticed Tim doing the same. Thankfully we both were using the same caliber and ammo. “We’ll be carrying several containers of water, but better get a good, long drink before we leave,” reminded Ximo in somewhat of a Spanish accent. The day before we had gone on quite a hike following what we thought might be the same herd we were about to again go after. That walk had gone for probably six or seven miles. Three different times we got close enough to get a good look at some of the buffalo in the herd of about 20 or so. The first time we got reasonably close the wind had been in our faces. By trailing through the tall grass, well above our heads, some which had not been burned during the massive burnings that had been done in the area of Safari Chelet’s concession a couple of months earlier, we cut the distance to within about 40 yards of the herd. Glassing the herd through our Zeiss binos (Tim carrying a RF, and Ximo and me both carrying HDs) we spotted the bull we were after, one with long horns and great bosses. Problem was he was on the backside of the herd shielded by several cows. We were just about to make a move to try to get either side of the herd, when for no apparent reason they stampeded off, away from us.... We were about to follow them, when again for no reason that we could determine, they ran right back toward us. We could hear them coming our way. They stopped about 50 or so yards away and started feeding again. Through the scattered brush and trees we could see them making their way toward us. I quickly set up my BOG Gear shooting sticks complete with the new Wide Body rest, positioned the .375 Ruger there and pointed it at the oncoming buffalo. A young bull fed to within 25 yards of us. Back behind him was the bulk of the herd and again on the backside of the herd was the bull we were after. We expected any moment for the bull we were after to step clear from behind the wall of cows. He did not! Finally the herd fed toward our extreme left. When they did the wind was suddenly at our back and blowing toward them. Within a milli-second of doing so, we were smelled and the herd took off at a run.... It was nearly dark by the time we got back to our vehicle. It had been a long hard hunting day. But thankfully that morning Tim had caught up with a gorgeous roan antelope, which Blake filmed for my “DSC’s TRAILING THE HUNTER’S MOON”, 2014 shows. After a long, warm night, we were back in the bush at first light. This day we got onto the same herd a couple of times. We picked up their tracks early in the morning and followed them for quite some distance. They remained ahead of us always moving into the wind. Once we caught a glimpse of them, but just as we did the fickle wind shifted from in our face to at our backs. Immediately the buffalo smelled us and took off at a run. Oh well! We walked to the nearest road about three miles away, where Ximo called for the vehicle. About thirty minutes later we were on board and driving to an area where the head tracker, Sulamon, thought the herd might be headed. Several miles later of driving roads we found where the herd had crossed. Again we got on their trail and followed them for about two miles before the wind switched and we were smelled. “So much for that herd, we’ll look for them again tomorrow...” said Ximo. “Let’s go find another herd or other animals”. More miles down the dusty roads the trackers spotted a lion track, but quickly pronounced it to be at least a day old and made far too long ago to follow. When we arrived in camp Tim learned a lion was still on permit, and he proclaimed he would like to shoot one should the opportunity occur. After spotting lion tracks we again found buffalo tracks. The trackers took a closer look at the tracks, and poked at the freshly left droppings. Again we were on the trail, this time of another herd. We walked about two or so hours before we finally caught up with them, but all cows and calves. So ended the day.... In visiting with Ximo on the way “home”, I learned he sometimes uses a black umbrella to hide behind when stalking buffalo. The black to them appears to be another buffalo. I told him about the Stalking Shield I was helping Nature Blind develop and bring to market. He mentioned the next time I came to Africa to hunt with him, which will likely be to hunt buffalo and eland in the Cameroon in the spring of 2015, to be sure to bring one of the shields with me.. I told him I would! That night Tim and talked about some of the shooting we had done on the FTW’s SAAM ranges (www.ftwoutfitters.com) with our .375 Rugers. Even though we had shot out to 500 yards, there was likely only very few area in Benin where we might be shooting farther than 100 yards and mostly likely considerably less. Up to that point of the hunt Tim had shot two animals, a gorgeous harnessed bushbuck, while we were on the trail of a huge-footed dugga boy, but after we determined it had crossed the river into the national park where we could not hunt and a huge roan antelope. They had been shot at 50 to 60 yards. Both I should add, dropped in their tracks! Still it was good to know that if presented with a longer shot at plains game both Tim and I felt comfortable at taking such shots at long range. As stated near the beginning of this epistle, we were on our third day of tracking a particular herd which we felt assured contained at least one really good western savannah buffalo bull. The tracks lead us through a variety of “country and terrain”. Some of it tall grass, grass reaching to eight feet and taller in height; across open savannah which had been burned earlier; through densely vegetated creek bottoms; and close to feeding elephants. We even walked across an ancient village site, obviously inhabited long before metal had been introduced into that part of Africa. Several times we felt close to the herd but couldn’t see any of the buffalo. Finally we spotted them feeding near a long strip of unburned brush. Quickly we checked the wind, it was in our favor. If we hurried we might be able to cut off the herd before it disappeared into a dense creek bottom. We took off at a fast trot, all the while “playing the wind” and watching the herd. A few minutes later we reached our destination ahead of where we hoped the herd could be seen. The buffalo were not far behind us. No sooner had we stopped than we again spotted them. If nothing screwed things up this time, they would come by us less than 50 yards. I quickly set up my shooting sticks, chambered a 300-grain DSX and made certain I had two DGS (solids) underneath. The buffalo came into view. I looked at Ximo, he shook his head to indicate there was not a bull among them. Just then I saw Sulamon tap Ximo’s shoulder and point to another three buffalo coming into view. Immediately I heard Ximo whisper in my direction. “The one with mud on his head and body. Soon as he gives you a shot, take him!” I steadied the Ruger on my sticks... Just then a cow which had all but walked past us turned and walked back covering “my” bull. I waited, the bull I was after quartering toward us. When she finally passed, I again brought the Zeiss crosshairs to bear so the bullet would take him through the top of his heart, doing great damage elsewhere as well. I took a quick breath let it all out and gently tugged at the trigger. At the shot the bull bucked forward. I quickly bolted in a second round and shot as he started to run, then bolted in a third round and waited for him to turn to our left to follow the departing cows. As he did I shot him a third time. He again faltered and I thought he was about to go down, but he didn’t. Moving forward where I could keep an eye on my bull and the rest of the buffalo I shoved three more rounds into the magazine, chambered another round and brought the crosshairs to bear on the now obviously about to go down buffalo and shot him again. He was down! Before anyone says anything about shooting an animal after the first and obvious fatal shot numerous times, let me state....I’m a firm believer of continuing to put shots into an animal, particularly potentially dangerous game, until he goes down and then be ready to shoot him again, even though he is down. Too often I see a hunter on TV fire a shot then admire their shot. To do so is anything but smart in my book, or even ethical! As the shooter it’s up to that individual to put the animal he or she is shooting as quickly and humanely as possible, while also being “protective” of those who are accompanying him or her. Standing at his side I admired his horns, and sizable body. Although not quite as large as other buffalo I’d seen in southern Africa, I guessed he would probably weight close to 800 pounds. Also his horn configuration was different from Cape buffalo I had shot in the past. Still he was a most handsome buffalo and I know The Wildlife Gallery will do a mount that will long help me recall every minute detail of our hunt in Benin. Benin is a rather specialized hunting destination, and if you’d like more information about hunting with Safari Chelet, please contact: www.theglobalsportsman.com. ______________________________________________________________________ “DSC’s Trailing the Hunter’s Moon” owned and hosted by Larry Weishuhn debuts the first week of July, 2013 on Sportsman Channel. The show airs on Monday at 2:00 pm, Friday at 5:30 pm and Saturday mornings at 8:30 am Central time. If you can’t watch at those times be sure DVR it!