Hunting Buffalo in South Africa

Cape Buffalo at Clearwater Safaris

There are a few things to remember when hunting a Buffalo in South Africa. We have put together the best advice, whether you are using a Rifle or Bow. You will also find information on shot placement and background information on this incredible animal.

Buffalo Characteristics

Name:  Cape Buffalo (Syncerus caffer)

Weight (Female) : 750kg

Weight (Male):  800kg

Shoulder Height:  140cm (Male) 132cm (Female)

Mating Season:  April & May

Bow Hunting Buffalo in South Africa

Equipment information

A minimum arrow weight: minimum of 750 grain

Draw weight: Minimum draw mass of 80 pounds, minimum kinetic energy of 80ft/lb

Broadheads: Minimum of 880 – 900 grains (gr) to 125 grains (gr)

The shaft of the arrow should be thinner than the ferrule of the broadhead.

A fixed blade 2-blade broad head with bleeders

Do not use mechanical broadheads on these extremely tough animals.

The broadhead should be a fixed 2-blade cut-on-impact type with a minimum of 1,2″ cutting edge.

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Rifle Hunting Buffalo in South Africa

Equipment information

With a well-placed shot, a rifle of .375 caliber is adequate for the Cape buffalo. However, a shot from the various 40 calibers provides a much more immediate and noticeable effect. 

Shot placement

The average expected bow shooting distance when hunting Cape buffalo is 35 – 40 yards on a walk-and-stalk-hunt and 20 – 25 yards when still hunting from a blind.

On a broadside shot, it is recommended to place the arrow right behind the shoulder, about one-third of the way up from the bottom of the chest to the top of the back. This shot will result in a high heart/lung shot leading to the Cape buffalo expiring in the least amount of time.

Quartering to shots is not recommended due to the very heavy brisket area and the sheer depth of the chest.

On a quartering away shot care should be taken not to attempt to have the arrow penetrate through too much stomach content. The shot on a Cape buffalo can be placed by bisecting the angle formed by the front feet into a position slightly less than one-third of the way up from the bottom of the brisket to the top of the back.

Once the shot was taken, allow enough time to make sure that the Buffalo is indeed dead.

Cape Buffalo Information

The African buffalo is not an ancestor of domestic cattle and is only distantly related to other larger bovines. Its unpredictable temperament means that the African buffalo has never been domesticated, unlike its Asian counterpart, the water buffalo. African buffaloes have few predators aside from lions and large crocodiles. As a member of the big five game, the Cape buffalo is a sought-after trophy in hunting.

African buffaloes mate and give birth only during the rainy seasons. Birth peak takes place early in the season, while mating peaks later. A bull closely guards a cow that comes into heat, while keeping other bulls at bay.[16][24] This is difficult, as cows are quite evasive and attract many males to the scene. By the time a cow is in full estrus, only the most dominant bull in the herd/subherd is there.[16]

The Cape Buffalo is considered by some to be the most dangerous of all of the Big Five. While he seems docile enough when viewed undisturbed in the herd, when agitated or wounded this bovine can be extremely aggressive, vindictive, and cunning.

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