Bushbuck Hunting –Hunter's True Experiences

Bushbuck hunting in South Africa. Two true experiences as told by Graeme Geldart , Professional Hunter and Outfitter and owner of Mkhamba Safaris , a South African hunting safari company.

As a Professional Hunter in South Africa, one is often asked which of our plains game animals is the most difficult to hunt. My answer is that they are all as difficult as each other when hunted on foot using fair chase walk and stalk methods.

When Cape Bushbuck hunting, there are two methods you can use: The Opportunity Hunt and The Sit and Wait Hunt.

The Sit and Wait Hunt

The sit and wait method of Bushbuck hunting involves sitting at a vantage point, where the Bushbuck will break cover to graze on the edges of thickets. The time of the day that this usually occurs is in the early morning, when they are coming out to sun themselves and warm up, once the sun has risen; or at last light, when they are on the move to their feeding grounds, especially where Bushbuck exist on stock farms with plenty of green grass and pastures.

In certain parts of the Southern Drakensberg Mountains where I was raised, the Bushbuck generally follow a pattern of coming out of the dense bush that they hide in, to graze on the lush green pastures, just before sunset, at last light.

On this day, we decided to dedicate the afternoon to bagging ourselves a Bushbuck trophy, and so….

My client and I began our Bushbuck hunting vigil at around 15h45, and we got into a really good position. We could see a large area of bush leading onto the lush grass, where we were hidden, and the wind direction was in our favour.

We settled in for a long wait. Suddenly a commotion from above, we look up in time to see a Falcon chasing a Dove, a few seconds into the aerial chase there is a puff of feathers and a victorious Falcon emerges, flying off with his bounty.

A cracking of twigs from the bush area has our attention snapping back to our task on hand, waiting and ready; steadying our breathing, we see a head and legs appear. With a shake of my head I convey to my client, not a Bushbuck, and we relax, watching a few dainty Reedbuck making their way onto the green pasture to graze.

The sun is going down, and the shadows are lengthening, making visibility difficult, leaving a dappled mottled appearance on the ground, perfect camouflage for a Bushbuck, I am thinking, Then suddenly out of the corner of my eye, movement to the Right.

I swivel, pinning down the movement with my binoculars. There at last, a male and female Bushbuck, the male still too young, NOT a shooter – DAMN – Adrenaline still coursing through our veins, and another male appears!! Not our day it seems, also a youngster!

What are the chances now of us seeing a third male? Despair starts to set in with the fast fading light, perhaps we will need to return and try again. I signal my client that we have only two minutes of light left – When unbelievably out into the clearing, steps a large Bushbuck male about 190 yards away. In seconds I glass him, find him to be a good trophy and instruct my client in no uncertain terms – “Shoot him, and shoot him now!” My client obliges...

As the crack of the rifle shot booms, the Bushbuck leaps six foot into the air, and takes off with great speed in the fading light, right back into the dense bush! Bushbuck are extremely dangerous animals when wounded, so we have to be sure where he would be. I tell the client to stay where he is so he can mark the spot for me where the Bushbuck had been standing. I run down the slope, pick up the blood trail immediately and follow it. There he is, only ten feet into the bush, lying stone dead, a perfect heart shot.

BushbuckI step back out and call to the client, by the time he reaches the Bushbuck and I, it is dark, the kind of pitch-black darkness you can only get out in the bush. I leave the client to admire his trophy and fetch the pick up truck. You can’t take photographs in the dark, so with the aid of the vehicles lights, we took photos, and take photos we did, what a magnificent trophy!!

The Opportunity Hunt

Most of the time a hunter gets to experience Bushbuck hunting on a, “take your chances when you get them” – Opportunity Hunt - basis. This has personally happened to me a lot. We will be on a stalk for another animal and a Cape Bushbuck gets up in front of you – you either hesitate or take your chance!

While out hunting on a typical warm, African afternoon, we spot a group of Nyala, in a slight clearing well over a mile away, with a very good bull in the herd. A challenging stalk begins, through thick, thorny bush on very steep terrain. Creeping along, staying downwind of the animals, keeping our heads down out of the way of the vicious thorns, and with our eyes peeled on the ground for dry twigs and branches that we may step on, alerting our quarry of our presence.

We use the bush as our cover; in places it is so thick that we cannot see an arms length away ourselves. Finally we get to where the Nyala were …… to where they are no longer!!! They too are now in the dense bush, no longer visible.

With the sounds of the bush all around us, but no sounds of large antelope browsing, disappointed, we turn and start to walk back towards the main trail. We push through a thick bush area and as we approach a clearing, a really nice, and very startled Cape Bushbuck jumps up in front of us.

We stop, still hidden by the thick bush. I set up the shooting sticks, both of us trying to regulate our breathing, and tell my client to ready himself. The Bushbuck runs 50 yards or so, and stops, hesitating to cross a game trail. SHOOT NOW I silently shout in my head…..

BushbuckThe client steadily takes aim, squeezes the trigger and a rifle boom splits the air. A happy client makes a clean shot, and earns himself a really nice trophy.

Bushbuck Hunting

Bushbuck is just one of the African, big game hunting experiences you can have with Mkhamba Safaris. Enquire Now for availability and pricelists.