Editor’s Note: Pat Reeve and Nicole Jones’ TV show, Driven with Pat and Nicole, airs on the Outdoor Channel Tuesday nights at 8:00 pm and Friday nights at 10:00 pm EST. For the last 3 years, this husband- and-wife duo has won a Golden Moose Award for excellence in TV production from the Outdoor Channel. “Driven” features big-game hunting around the world, but its main focus has been whitetails. Pat and Nicole wear the Mossy Oak Treestand and Break-Up Infinity camo patterns.
After hunting water buffalo in Australia, I wanted to hunt cape buffaloes with my bow. More people are killed by Cape buffaloes than any other dangerous-game animal in Africa. I wanted to take this buffalo with my Mathews Monster bow with 90-pounds of draw length. I was using a Lumenok lighted arrow with a Muzzy 225-grain stainless-steel Phantom broadhead. Our guide was Frikkie du Toit of Frikkie du Toit Safaris out of North West Province, South Africa. Frikkie has been on more lion hunts than almost-any outfitter in Africa and has the scars to prove it. The plan was for me to hunt a cape buffalo and for Nicole to hunt a lion with her bow. She didn’t want to bait the lion; she wanted to stalk it. I thought she was crazy. The bad news was, she wanted me to film it. She always was getting me into some sort of near-death experience. The good news was, if I was filming Nicole, she would be between me and the lion, and I could outrun her (grin). But that’s another story for tomorrow. The property we planned to hunt was right on South Africa’s border with Botswana, which was off-limits for lion hunting, although numbers of lions lived there.
We spent the first day shooting plains animals to get comfortable hunting and shooting in Africa. Nichole shot a blesbuck, and I shot a zebra and a water buck. On the first day of the hunt, Frikkie explained, “These cape buffaloes move in herds. We have to find a herd, pick out a shootable bull and then get close enough for you to get a bow shot without being seen or smelled.” After a half-hour ride, we located a herd of buffaloes hanging out near a river system. We saw a few nice bulls, but Frikkie said they weren’t big enough. We hadn’t seen any of the size of buffaloes we were hoping to take. We were driving along a path and spotted another herd. Frikkie told us this was the herd he’d been looking for and said, “I know they’re going toward the water. So, we have to get ahead of them. I’ve got a blind set-up next to the water tank.” We barely reached the blind and got set-up to video, before I spotted a herd of cape buffaloes. Smaller bulls and females were in the herd, and a big bull was in the back that stopped at about 35 yards. He was further away than I had hoped, but I knew I had to take that shot. I didn’t have enough time to range him, so I hit him low. I thought the arrow had landed around his heart. Blood was coming out, and I could see that half my arrow was inside the bull. The bull ran away from us. Frikkie told us to catch-up to him, so we could put another arrow in him.
When we got to the spot where I’d shot the buffalo, blood was everywhere, so the trail was easy to follow. We were walking at a fast gait with our tracker in front of us. Nicole was videoing the recovery. Next, I heard Nichole say, “Whoa, whoa, whoa.” She saw the buffalo in front of us, about 75-yards away, standing still with his head away from us and acting sick. We side-stepped to get a better look at him. He apparently heard us and looked around as if nothing had happened to him. I went to full draw, and Frikkie had his gun up. I told Frikkie not to shoot, so I could take him with my bow. Frikkie asked me if I could make that shot, and I told him I could. It was a good gut shot. I was confident that I’d gotten this bull, but the sun already had set, and our area was becoming dark. We could tell by the bull’s tracks that he was making a circle. “We’re in a dangerous situation,” Frikkie announced. ”When a bull starts circling, he’s setting the hunters up, so he can charge. We need to back out of here and come back in the morning to get the bull.” We hustled out of the bush that night, and I hardly slept at all.
I was praying that I would find that real trophy cape buffalo. I had two arrows in this bull, and he should go down rather quickly. We had African trackers, who are the best trackers in the world. These trackers probably could track a mouse in the desert. We tracked the bull for about 500-yards before we lost the track, although the trackers found part of my arrow. We spread out and tried to locate him. The brush was so thick, we knew we might have to step on the buffalo to find him. Frikkie said, “Let’s go back to camp. The man who owns this property has an airplane. Maybe we can fly over the land and locate the buffalo.” We met with the landowner, went up in the plane and made a grid flight over the area, but we still couldn’t find the buffalo. The landowner told us he knew of a guy who had a helicopter. Luckily, the helicopter pilot was home, and he helped us look for the buffalo. Because he had a lot of fuel on-board the helicopter, Frikkie went, and I stayed on the ground to save room. Frikkie and the helicopter pilot flew for an hour and still couldn’t locate the buffalo. Since they’d burned-up so much fuel, the helicopter pilot told us he’d take me up too, but he didn’t think we’d be able to spot the buffalo. Nicole stayed on the ground with the trackers. We flew 3 or 4 miles at a time and then turned around to fly right on the edge of the path we’d just taken. On the second grid pass we made, I spotted a group of warthogs coming out of the brush. When I looked closely at the warthogs, I also saw the buffalo. We turned around and found the buffalo dead in the shade. I couldn’t believe how big he was. When we cleaned the buffalo, I saw that the first arrow had nicked his heart, and the other arrow was in his gut. I finally understood just how tough these animals were. That buffalo walked and never laid down until he died. This was an unbelievable, unforgettable hunt of a lifetime.
Nicole Jones’ Water Buffalo Bull