Editor’s Note: What would you do if there only was a bow and an arrow between you and possibly the hunt of a lifetime. Last week, Pat Reeve told us about filming his wife Nicole when she was 5-feet away from a monstrous water buffalo named Houdini for their TV show “Driven with Pat and Nicole” on the Outdoor Channel. Today we wanted to hear Nicole’s side of the story.
Pat already had taken his water buffalo in New Zealand. For 3 days, I had hunted for the “Houdini” water buffalo bull and was unsuccessful. This big buffalo was huge, he was old, and he vanished every time we saw him. We were hunting with George Stewart of Leithen Valley Outfitters in New Zealand. The water buffalo hide is really tough. To penetrate that hide, Pat asked Lumenok to build us some really-heavy arrows. With broadheads attached, they weighed 1,000 grains. When we got the arrows, Pat could make his arrows fly straight, because he shot a 90-pound Mathew’s Monster bow, but I only was pulling 55 pounds. My heavy arrow wasn’t flying straight at all. Finally, Pat cranked my bow up to about 75 pounds. I lifted weights and tried and tried as hard as I could to pull that bow. But I only weigh 110 pounds. Pat decided if I was going to shoot a water buffalo with this arrow and this bow, our guide George would to have to break the bow over for me before the shot. The bow has 80-percent let-off, so I knew I could hold, aim and shoot the bow, once the cams turned over. We explained the problem to our guide, and he said he could make it happen.
We made five unsuccessful stalks on water buffalo. We would get close, the wind would change, and the buffalo would run off, or we would get in close, and the water buffalo would spot us. Everything on the hunt seemed to be going against me. I hunted for 8 days and never got a shot. The first day Pat hunted, he took a beautiful bull with his bow. Because I was filming Pat, I was as excited as he was. I had only one more day (the last day of the hunt) to try and take my buffalo. George suggested we try and take the Houdini bull that he really wanted me to take. Even though we’d already had several encounters with this big old bull, I never had had an opportunity to shoot.
Finally we found the Houdini bull sitting under a shade tree in the middle of the day. George said, “For the correct wind, we need to circle around the bull, get down in the river and stalk him from the river.” We had seen crocodiles only 200-yards upstream. I looked at George and said, “You’ve got to be kidding.” George looked me straight in the eye and asked, “Nicole, do you want to shoot this bull, or not?” When we circled around and got in the river, the water was murky. If there was a crocodile in the river, and he wanted me for dinner, I never would see him until he attacked. We went a few hundred yards in thigh-deep water.
When George peeped over the bank of the river to try and spot the buffalo, he laid his backup gun against the bank. George barely got his eyes above the bank when he turned and said, “Oh, my gosh. He’s coming. Get ready.” George quickly got to me and helped me get my bow to full draw, just as I saw the tip of the bull’s nose above us. I knew he wouldn’t be able to see us until he was broadside from us on the trail. In an instant, the big bull was 5-yards from us and looking straight at us. I settled my pin right behind the bull’s front shoulder and released the arrow. When the bull whirled away from us, George looked at the bank and said, “Oh, my backup gun is on the bank.” If the bull had charged, we would’ve had no way to put the bull down. We looked over the bank and saw that the bull had gone down 60-yards from where I’d shot him.
That is when the maximum adrenaline rush hit me. I have jumped out of an airplane and stalked a male lion, but I’ve never had a bigger adrenaline rush than after I saw that bull down and realized what could have happened, what might have happened, and what didn’t happen. The bull was a record-class bull for Safari Club International. He was definitely the largest bull ever taken by a lady with a bow. To remember how long and hard we had hunted, how many times the Houdini bull had escaped us, how many hours I put in practicing with my bow, all those emotions hit me at the same time. This was a hunt of a lifetime.