At long last, a lifelong dream fulfilled – hunting water buffalo in Australia. Four of us – Chris Dorsey, the head guy with Orion Multimedia, who produces Tecomate’s TV shows, David Shashy, Tecomate Pro Staffer, Larry Slatten, Orion partner and lead cameraman, and me – traveled over 30 hours to Darwin, Australia in the remote Northern Territory, better known as the Outback. We made the trek to hunt Australia’s massive water buffalo for VERSUS Dangerous Game TV series. What a trip it was! When the smoke cleared, we had six buffalo down and memories that will last a lifetime.
Australia is a great country. It reminds me of the U.S. 50 years ago, especially in the independent, self-reliant spirit of the Aussies. They are capable and willing to get the job done and face the hardships of a harsh land with enthusiasm and determination. The daunting logistics of the vast land don’t phase them. And let me tell you – the Northern Territory is a wild, remote part of the world. Our camp was five hours southeast of Darwin in the middle of the Outback wilderness. We were hunting with George Stewart of Leithen Valley Trophy Hunts (http://www.leithenvalley.com/australia/gallery/buffalo.html). George’s family owns 350,000 acre Conways Station (ranch in Australian) lying in the middle of millions of acres of Aboriginal lands. By any standard, this is wild, remote country. George said his nearest neighbor was 3½ hours away! It is the land of wallabies, kangaroo, crocodiles, snakes, and the most incredible bird life I’ve ever seen … and the biggest horned water buffalo available to hunters in the world!
This is a classic safari style hunt, using Land Cruisers to cover country looking for buffalo. Once they are spotted, the vehicle is abandoned and the hunt shifts to spot and stalk. In the course of a day, it’s not unusual to look over 50 or more bulls. These are big, cheeky animals, often weighting well over a ton. Generally, they are bigger than their cape buffalo cousins. While they certainly can turn on you, I do not consider them as inherently aggressive and dangerous as cape buffalo, possibly owing to the fact that they do not have lions constantly trying to eat them. Still, we heard plenty of stories of charges and maulings, and even one death, at the horns of one of these massive beasts. On several occasions, we had buffalo assume threat postures and advance with aggressive intent. When it comes to outright toughness, water buffalo need every bit as much pounding as cape buffalo to put them down. We were armed with .416s, and it took all that power to bring these thick muscled, heavy boned animals to the ground.
I shot my first buffalo at 30 yards as he advanced in full threat posture, head up and rocking his head from side to side. It took four 400-grain Barnes Triple Shock bullets to put him down for the count. When you walk up to one of these downed beasts, it’s hard to get your mind around the sheer size of these animals. Plus, these things pack serious horns, every bit as impressive as those of a cape buffalo. My second buffalo came after a wild chase that included lots of huffing and puffing and several fights between my buff and another cantankerous old bull. This was my favorite buff, the kind the Aussies call an “airplane bull” due to his flat, relatively straight wide-spreading horns. When I finally caught up to him when he wasn’t running or fighting, a single center-shoulder shot brought him to his knees after a mad 100-yard dash. It was actually Chris’ time to shoot, but since he already had a great “airplane bull” and it was my birthday, he offered the bull as a birthday present! What a present it was!
Occasionally, a good deed is paid back in spades. This was the case with Chris. On the last day of the hunt, he shot a behemoth, one of the biggest buffs in recent years, massive, wide and long! Perhaps the only bull taken in the last couple of years on Conways Station that could compare to Chris’ was the monster David Shashy took on his second day out! You’ll have to watch Dangerous Game to see all the excitement and learn the full stories, but I’ll close with this – hunting buffalo in Australia was one of the most enjoyable and memorable hunts of my career. What’s not to love about it – hunting with great guys in a wild remote place for big mean animals that you have to pound down with a rifle shooting a cartridge the size of a cigar! How can you beat that?
Posted by David Morris