Big game bowhunting

Well this year we were at it again and as late August rolled around we packed the vehicle and headed north once again.

This time there were four of us, the team consisted of myself, my brother Scott Mitchell, Peter Robinson and Jamie Molloy.

The buff on the first property hunted were very flighty as the owner musters and sells the buffalo  but he said we could take one buff each.

Well, after a lot of missed opportunities due the buff being so flighty, but we finally spotted a small mob of bulls and as it was my turn, I wasted no time in slowly making my way towards the unsuspecting bovine.

After a long arduous stalk finally I was in to around 30 yards from the biggest bull in the mob. He was actually the biggest bull we had seen since arriving so I was definitely going to take the shot if he gave me the opportunity.

He was quartering away from me but way too tight to safely slip an arrow through those four inch wide ribs. Slowly he began to turn broadside and as I came to full draw he must have seen the slightest of movements as he then quickly quartered on to me staring directly at the motionless figure he had spotted.

This is not the ideal position to be shooting at a big dangerous bull especially when he is looking down his nose at you.

Putting the pin high and just around the shoulder area  I waited and as he turned again slightly I touched off the shot but he reacted to the sound and the arrow hit a little further back then where I had aimed. He ran, then stopped again quartering away at around 45yards and this time

I was ready, the arrow hitting mid rib and disappearing right up into his chest cavity. He made a short dash of around sixty yards and then crashed to the ground with a thud and lay still.

Even though my bull was down and out his mates weren’t ready to leave and they were starting to look very edgy and unpredictable. I stayed put and out of sight until the mob finally moved off as the last thing I wanted was a charging buff getting pay back for the demise of his mate.

Slowly walking over to my bull I was absolutely rapt to get such a good trophy on the deck, especially since they were so hard to stalk on this property.

Jamie and Scott turned up shortly,  took a few photos and we measured him at 87 6/8 Douglas Points which is record class under the ABA game classification; so I was very pleased with my trophy bull.

After five days hunting he was the only buff to fall to the bow, so after organising another place to hunt we set off to try our luck there.

Arriving at the new property we were pleasantly surprised to see a few nice buff on the way in to our camp, so things were certainly looking up.

First afternoon Jamie and Scott headed off while Pete and I did a bit of fishing in the nearby river. First cast of my lure was met with a solid strike and after a short fight out of the water came a very large turd swiper, (also known as the fork tail catfish.)

Every cast the turd swipers were all over the lure and it seemed that a barra or large sootie grunter would be hard to get here.

After a while and several different lures, I tried a soft plastic crayfish and this finally had the sooties interested and I promptly landed a couple of real quality fish before getting a snag and losing the only soft plastic we had between us. We finally managed a feed of nice sooties and one nice barra.  

Back at camp Jamie told us he had taken the big bull we had spotted on our way in and we all took turns of checking him out on the camera as he had left the horns there to be removed in the morning.

He was a great sweeping horned bull taken after a long stalk. Jamie was a happy boy that night and come first light we were up and at it again. It took quite some time to find the buff but finally we spotted a mob and Scotty headed in with his 70lb Mathew Drenlin.

Stalking along the creek bed out of sight Scotty surprised a lone bull out of a wallow and he in turn ran out of the creek and into the mob.

With an arrow on the string he waited behind some small bushes when two bulls came walking in to investigate what had spooked their mate. The larger of the two was at twenty yards looking down his nose right at Scotty when he released the heavy Easton shaft.

The arrow found its mark in the sweet spot between the two white lines on the bulls throat and disappeared completely into the big bodied bulls throat. He barely made 20 yards before blacking out and crashing into the burnt ground.

Scotty was over the moon to have taken his first bull buffalo with the bow and we set him up for the usual photo session and ran the tape over him. He was a younger bull with excellent long unbroken tips, scoring a very respectable 82 DP and Scotty was another happy hunter.

Riding the quads further on, Jamie Spotted more buff so it was Pete’s turn now.

I poked my head over the creek bank for a quick look and there rolling in his wallow was a whopper big bull only about 80 yards out.

With not much cover we waited for him to start rolling again and made some quick ground but as usual he decided to get up and slowly wander off out into the open burnt country.

Following closely behind, Pete almost went out of sight into the black stinky mud in the soak but we finally made it across and just as Pete made it to a large gum tree the big bull spotted his movements and decided to investigate whothis intruder was that had silently sneaked right into his personal space.

Well the next few minutes would have to be the most exciting and nerve racking moments in hunting that I have ever had, as I was stuck in the open with only my video camera to hide behind.

Parts of Pete were visible to the bull from behind the tree and this was just enough to have him interested in investigating what he was.

With the camera rolling I was hoping my blackfoot camo would do its job as I was in full view of the bull, but he only had eyes for Pete and I’m sure his hands were sweaty when the bull pushed a tree out of the way aggressively with his horns and started doing that pissed-off sideways walk they do when they want to bash something.

Pete ranged the bull out at around 40 yards but when he was fiddling with his movable sight the bull came even closer I estimated the massive bull to be at around 30 yards when Pete drew back his Hoyt CRX.

Zooming in on the big bull, at the sound of the shot the unthinkable happened. The bull actually reacted that violently to the sound of the shot dropping his head and turning at the same time that the arrow hit him square in the head and harmlessly deflected off his beefy noggin.

Well if we weren’t shitting our pants beforehand, we near did for a few tense moments after that as the massive bull thundered off a few paces before walking straight back towards Pete again with that angry stare.

I was looking for trees when the bull finally decided that he wanted no part of what smacked him on the head and bolted much to our relief. If nothing else I had some great footage of Pete calling for the brown corduroy trousers.

Pete and I were telling the boys about our hunt when we spotted more buff further along the same soak and after another long stalk I was right in the middle of a large mob.

After watching for some time I could see there were no bulls in the mob but there was one big lone cow with very long horns. I thought about it for some time before finally deciding that I would take her if a nice clean shot was presented.

Well the big cow made my mind up for me coming right towards me then turning broadside at 25 yards. I was well concealed in a slight depression in the tall grass and coming to full draw I had to actually aim up at the buff as she stood above me.

The arrow took her cleanly through the middle of the crease and exited high on the offside for a complete pass through. The buff made it 40 yards before expiring and I was very happy with the quick, clean one arrow kill. She was a very good size cow and measured 80DP, just making trophy class.

It was a very successful day indeed with Jamie also taking a donkey with his 70lb Mathews Helium.

The following day was to be our last so we decided to try the other side of the river and explore some new country.

Spotting a huge big fig tree along one of the many dry creeks Scott and I both said, “That looks like a great spot for a bull to hide out,” and as soon as we got level Jamie and Pete quickly jumped off their quad as a big bodied bull walked out to see what the commotion was.

Pete’s first arrow deflected off a branch and sailed over the bulls back. He turned and trotted down into the dry creek and as he stopped Pete put a great shot right into his boiler room angling from mid ribs right up into his lungs.

The bull only travelled about 60 yards out into the open and although the first shot would have done the job, Pete put a couple of finishing shots into his bull to make sure the kill was a quick and clean as possible.

Finally Pete had his bull and we all breathed a sigh of relief as we thought he may have missed out. Luck just hadn’t been with him on his earlier attempts at taking a buff but his persistence had finally paid off and what a way for him the finish his trip.

We took some great shots of Pete with his prized bull and ran the tape over him. 80DP and a trophy class bull was the best 70th birthday present Pete could have asked for.

Riding along the dry creek beds we spotted several good boars with Jamie taking the first shot. His arrow clipped a twig on the way through and resulted in the first boar getting away with nothing more than a fright and a healthy respect for bowhunters.

The second boar we gave Jamie the shot again and this time he made no mistake, taking him out with a heart shot. His tusks were around the 23dpts mark.

The third boar, Scotty jumped off the quad with his bow and I kept riding. He stalked to the edge and smacked him with a good shot through the chest and after a quick follow up shot, Scotty had a hulk of a boar on the ground. He would’ve had to have weighed well over 120kg and had nice thick tusks.

We had travelled a long way and we planned to head back soon and call it a day when Jamie and I spotted a mob of buff with another great looking bull amongst them.

Dropping Jamie off, he sat in ambush as they fed up the creek towards him. At 30 yards Jamie made no mistake and smacked the bull with a perfect lung shot putting him down in under 80yards. He was another great trophy bull that scored 87 2/8 DP and going record class.

What a trip it had been with all four of us taking a good bull buffalo each, a couple of boars and even four donkeys with the bows. They are bloody hard to get close to as they get culled regularly up in the north, so they were another great achievement with the bow.

Packing up, I don’t think any of us were looking forward to the three days drive home, but I suppose that is all part of the adventure and now while sitting here writing this story, I cant wait till the next time I have to sit in the truck for three days with a bunch of stinky blokes if it means having a hunt of a lifetime like this.


This article was first published in the May 2014 issue of Sporting Shooter magazine.





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