While hunting notorious Cape buffalo in Africa, ATA Board member Scott Shultz never anticipated the dangers he faced or the bizarre events that put him face to face with “Black Death.”
Scott Shultz has bowhunted Cape buffalo several times in Tanzania and South Africa, including hunts that earned him three Cape buffalo heads and memories to last a lifetime. But a recent hunt near Kimberley, South Africa, proved to be an entirely different adventure for the president/owner of Robinson Outdoors and member of the Archery Trade Association’s Board of Directors.
African buffalo, known as “Black Death” or “widowmakers,” are infamous for their dangerous and unpredictable behavior, especially when wounded.
“Big ol’ Cape buffalo, they have no weakness and they never cut you a break,” Shultz said. “With a bow, I knew an old hard-bossed bull would perhaps be the ultimate challenge. What I didn’t know was the bizarre turn of events that would put me face-to-face with Black Death.”
Shultz’s close encounter began soon after he and his guided hunting party spotted three Cape buffalo bedded in thick cover. They crawled toward the bulls to get a clear shot.
“As we closed to 200 yards, we could see the sun glinting off of a large curved horn in the heavy cover,” Shultz said. At 100 yards, the bulls were still bedded. We were on our hands and knees, slowly crawling ahead as quietly as possible. At 50 yards, trying to be extremely quiet, we were barely inching ahead when we saw the small cluster of camel-thorn trees shake. One of the bulls emerged from cover to stare straight at us. Unfortunately for me, I was caught in the bull’s full view and I froze in an awkward crawling position.”
While the other men in his party laid flat on the ground, blocked from the bull’s sight, Shultz was stuck in the crawling position for nearly an hour during this intense face-off. The bull eventually left, and Shultz soon got a shot opportunity. The one-time competitive archer ranged the bull at 44 yards to confirm the distance, drew and released.
“The blood-covered arrow told the bitter story,” Shultz said. “I had wounded a Cape buffalo. I had screwed up big-time, and I felt terrible. Now we had to track him down and finish the job.”
Therefore, Shultz traded his trusted bow and arrows for his guide’s rifle and fired a round at the bull. It gave chase, raging full-speed at the men as they raced away in their small pickup truck, barely staying ahead of the beast.
“My first shot hit him square in the chest at 60 yards. The wallop of the big bullet barely broke the stride of the now full-blown charging bull. I worked the bolt in a split-second and held on his heavy horn base as he neared the truck. I was on him good and I knew it, but waited an extra instant. Then at ten yards, as the buffalo took a slight stutter-step to leap up into the back of the truck, BOOM!”
The cigar-sized, .458 round dropped the beast and ended Shultz’s terrifying, hours-long hunt.
News page photo: hobgadlng, Flickr Creative Commons