Deep in the guts of most men is buried the involuntary response to the hunter’s horn, a prickle of the nape hairs, an acceleration of the pulse, an atavistic memory of his fathers, who killed first with stone, and then with club, and then with spear, and then with bow, and then with gun, and finally with formulae. — Horn of the Hunter, Robert Ruark
If the horn of the hunter has ever elevated the heart, got you out of bed at 4 am with one leap, made the palms just a bit sweaty, the heartbeat faster, the coffee smell like a living thing, and the anticipation of that big unknown define what it is to be really alive — then you will understand Robert Ruark’s famous quote above. If it is your first Buffalo hunt, then it is all of this and more, IN CAPITAL LETTERS.
I was recently the guest of Andrew Pringle’s Crusader Safaris / Jacques Louw and team, at the Balule. In the interests of brevity, I will keep this note short. But some perspective and backdrop IS important. As I alluded to above, this was my first Buffalo hunt. A goal and dream I have looked forward to and felt I had possibly earned, after two decades of plains game hunting. This is the ultimate test. The anticipation and apprehension were very real for me.
Were I to be as established, creative or experienced an author as Mr Roark; I could not have scripted my hunt and the whole experience any better. A spotless camp, incredible food, a roaring fire and professional but relaxed demeanour of all the whole team — the setup is fantastic. This is the veld and the environment where you want to hunt Buffalo!
But the real deal is when you are on foot, tracking spoor, and you’re in the hands of the people around you, seeking that incredible animal. I have hunted with Rad Robertson of Crusader Safari’s before, and he is without a doubt one of the finest, if not the finest Buffalo hunt PH around. His absolute unwavering commitment to do everything the right way, safely, and to make sure it would only be a perfectly suitable specimen, is an example to all and defines ethical hunting — the hard, but right way.
His comrade in arms on this hunt, Jacques, is a white bushman and a completely astounding spoor wizard, not to mention a khaki-clad encyclopaedia of bushveld lore and knowledge, that he graciously, broadly and freely shared. As a team, they have an almost sixth sense or understanding of where to be, what to do, and how best to approach each and every possible situation.
In the end, I got my Buffalo — and to my great relief and pride, acquitted myself professionally when the moment came. You are as good as your team though…The result was a wonderful old Bull, after few long hard days of pursuit on foot, much good and bad luck, a lot of lessons learned, and a deep appreciation of the privilege of the free-range Buffalo Hunt experience.
This note is a small token of my thanks and appreciation, but I think it is important to acknowledge excellence, passion and unique skills when one has the great good fortune to experience them. In your camp, staff and in particular Jacques, you are blessed with the best of the bunch.
Thank you – it was a pinnacle life experience. One I shall always remember and cherish.