Always on the search for new adventures in different locations I turned my attention to finding some good scrub bulls to hunt. This new area I had discovered required plenty of legwork.
In time I came across a small group of scrub cattle and glassed a couple of good bulls among them. I watched the pair lock horns and fight a little before I attempting to stalk within bow range. With little cover available the best I could manage was 40-50m from the group before spooking them. The spoor was easy to follow and I did so for the next few hours, bumping them several times before it became late and I turned back to leave them for another day.
That was a month earlier and I decided I would head out again. That pair of large-bodied black scrub bulls had been playing on my mind and I just had to go sort one out, except this time I would tip the odds in my favour and take my rifle.
I began looking in the area I had first stalked them. I found the familiar cloven prints meandering through the forest as the cattle fed their way along. Short-striding tracks in the soil with no real purpose or intent indicated animals at ease. When I came across warm, fresh dung I slowed up my pace. I had all day to hunt and there was no need to rush. I was on full alert with each step.
The rising temperature now influenced the breeze, which was trying to make its mind up what to do. My heart skipped a beat as the pungent smell of wild cattle swirled in the air.
As I glassed into the distance the roan colour of a cow showed between the trees and I began to make out others. I recognised a young light-coloured calf and knew I was onto the herd I was looking for.
The lightweight Lamellar EcoACTive Breeze pants was perfect for the climate but I was also glad of the reinforced protective knee patches as I began to crawl forward on hands and knees to maintain a low profile. Open habitat demands specific camouflage patterns that are designed for concealment and the Lamellar ContraCAM Fade was perfect for this hunt. I have used ContraCAM Fade for a lot of my northern hunting and it has certainly given me an edge at the business end of a stalk.
I eventually closed the distance and looked for the black bulls, but black was proving to be very good camouflage for this environment with all the dark tree trunks. It took 15 minutes to notice the flick of a horn directly in front of me and then I began to make out the shape of a bull lying down, screened by low-level cycads.
It was great to have identified my bull, but without a clean shot I had to edge forward. When I next saw him, he was standing, his head screened behind a tree trunk and the pathway to his vitals partially obscured. Not wanting to risk a shot without a clear gap, I slowly and silently moved into the open to the next available tree. The Australian camouflage pattern proved its value yet again as I was about 140m from him. He was broadside but I had to manoeuvre myself into a sitting position and get low enough to make a clear shot into his left shoulder.
My heart was racing as I knew how dangerous a wounded scrub bull could be and when I located him in the crosshairs the adrenalin was surging. Easing back on the trigger the silence was broken as 300 grains of bull medicine went on its way. A loud thump from the bullet strike was pleasing to the ear.
The small herd took off at high speed and the cloud of dust, leaves and sticks came floating back to the weathered soil. Sitting still and listening carefully, I could hear my bull had fallen behind the herd and was beginning to crash through trees. He came back into view and I watched him sway and topple over.
Walking up on him, I couldn’t believe my eyes when I found him standing up and starring me down at 45 metres. Generally the animals that run a short distance and fall over are the ones cleanly harvested and I couldn’t understand how he had gotten back up. He looked like he might charge but as I raised my rifle he turned away and began to walk off. I contemplated a Texas heart shot to finish him but as I stepped out from behind a tree he angled side on to look at me again, allowing me to place a bullet into his right shoulder.
The effect was immediate and down he went again. Hang on a minute! There were now two solid black scrub bulls down, almost side by side. This is the second one. This cranky old bull had stayed with his mate while the rest of the mob took off.
It’s on hunts like these that you value good, reliable gear. All the way from your optics and projectile selection and to your camouflage, you have to get it right every time you pursue dangerous game. On this hunt my efforts were handsomely rewarded with a pair of awesome skulls to clean up and mount, some meat for the freezer and I took the better of the two skins to lay out in the trophy room.
Scrub bulls present a unique challenge, are a worthy adversary and I will keep on hunting them from the open plains to the big timber whenever I get the opportunity.
Barry Seabrook runs Gunsmoke Adventures.