30 Oct 13

Yesterday, at a private preserve in the Midwest, I shot and killed an 1,800-pound Water Buffalo!

I used a borrowed Ruger bolt-gun in 416 Ruger caliber. Big rifle, and it functioned flawlessly! Express sights (iron). Hornady DGX (soft-point) ammunition. 400gr bullets! Stated muzzle velocity is 2,400 f/s, and they performed as advertised! Recovered bullets were fully expanded, with plenty left in the rear to push them through. Terminal performance could hardly have been better. However, none exited!

The Buffalo absorbed seven of them! I fired eight. One hit a tree that suddenly jumped between me and him! Ranges were 60-100m

He finally went down after twenty minutes and multiple impacts. All solid hits!

My image of a Water Buffalo had been that of a lethargic beast, half-submerged on a muddy riverbank. Not this one. My quarry was effortlessly running and jumping around like a Gazelle! It took some time after we first spotted him to even get into a position to make a shot. I had to turn-down the first two opportunities, as I was not comfortable with my calculated hit-probability.

When I finally got my chance, he was stationary in profile, and I held steady on the shoulder. When my shot broke, I knew it was a good, solid hit. Range was 75m.

In recoil, I bolted-in the next round, of course confident it would not be necessary. How wrong I was! He started ambling away, displaying little discomfort.

I was probably thinking this would play-out the same way it did during my encounter with a Cape Buffalo in South Africa two years ago. During that adventure, shooting a borrowed 458 Winchester bolt-gun and Cor-Bon Barnes solids, my first round brought him right down. That, however, is not typical, and I was just lucky. I seemed to have forgotten!

This bad-boy brought me back to reality!

We rushed down to where he had been, and I was still confident that we would find him down or going down. However, as the boy-genius confidently waited for polite applause, we noticed that our buffalo was only not down but was still running, with nary a limp!

So, the now crest-fallen boy-genius chased him for the next twenty minutes. I hit him six more times, from the side and from the front, all good strikes. Simultaneously, my guide also hit him solidly twice (338 WM), and the beast was no more impressed with his hits than he had been with mine!

After what seemed like an eternity, he finally went down.

When safe to approach, we carefully counted multiple entrance wounds, but could find no exits.

When you shoot, expecting a particular result, and that result is not immediately observed, the first frightening thought that rushes through your mind is that you missed! I had to force myself to reject that myth, as I saw my front sight clearly when my rounds broke, and I knew (at least intellectually) that I was hitting him.

Running the rifle is only part of the hunter’s modus operandi. Your mind has to remain in firm control of your body and your emotions. You have to spin your OODA Loop fast, continually sizing-up the situation, making decisions, and acting quickly, precisely, and aggressively.

An adventure like this is real, unbuffered, frightening, dangerous, and one-way. I only wish I could do it more often!

“At least once, everyone should have to run for his life, so he will know that eggs don’t come from stores, that safety does not come from police, and that ‘news’ is not something that happens to other people.”

Robert Heinlein