The Cape Buffalo Encounter

When my friend suggested we go to Africa back in 2015 to hunt plains game I barely blinked before I answered, YES! This was going to be an epic journey with a few close friends on a bow only hunt on the dark continent.  But what would we hunt? I wasn’t familiar with all of the species of plains game and how we were going to hunt them. Will we hunt from a blind, a tree stand like I am used to or will we be spot and stalk hunting these unfamiliar creatures? So many questions to be answered. We prepared for this hunt in every way possible. I bought a shot placement guide for African plains game online so I could study them and be as prepared as I could once we arrived. Through my studies I found that all of the vitals in the plains game animals are slightly forward from what we are accustomed to in the states. This is going to take a lot of focus and clear mind to make sure we are taking ethical shots with each animal. As if there wasn’t enough pressure traveling halfway across the world to hunt!

July of 2015, we arrive at our destination at Stanley Petierse Safaris in the Limpopo Valley of South Africa. This place was incredible and far exceeded my expectations. We were quickly greeted on the drive in by a herd of blue wildebeests running directly across our path. I was in awe. This was my first sighting of a plains game animal. The blue wildebeest was also one of the animals on my list for this hunt. They were huge and breathtaking. It still seemed unreal that in the morning I would be on my first African bow hunt.

Day one on our hunt we go to a spot where we were hoping to encounter an Impala. We sit in a blind similar to one we would hunt out of in the states. This particular blind was made of cinder block and sheet metal. It also had a one way viewing window so you could watch the animals near the watering hole. Tons of guinea’s, vervet monkey’s and warthogs crowded the watering hole as I see something coming from my right that caught my eye, it was a herd of cape buffalo. I took a step back to alert the PH (professional hunter) that was guiding me about the incoming buffalo. He told me not to worry but my heart still raced. This blind was no match for an angry buffalo. The herd of a dozen or so came into drink and were quickly on their way. I felt a tremendous sense of relief as they left our area. I was still concerned about bumping into the herd on our way out with only a bow in hand to defend ourselves. We unfortunately never encountered the Impala we were hoping for but we decided to switch it up for the evening hunt and go to a new blind in a different area. That evening as we sat in what the Africans call a pit blind we waited patiently for a blue wildebeest this time. A pit blind sits halfway underground. The windows start almost at ground level. It’s a far cry from what I’m used to. This particular blind is about 5 feet wide and 7 feet deep. It’s made of stone with an aluminum roof on a wood frame. As we sit comfortably awaiting one of my target animals to come in we hear some rustling outside. We finally get a visual of the disturbance and it is a lone cape buffalo and he is eerily curious about our blind. He’s getting closer and louder. Next, we hear a loud shrieking sound as the buffalo thrashes his mighty horns against the aluminum roof of our tiny hut. He now seems like the big bad wolf that just might blow our house down. I tense up immediately. The sound is that of nails on a chalkboard. He continues to investigate the hut circling it and thrashing the roof repeatedly with his horns. As he completes his circle of our hut he stops in front of the tiny staircase that leads inside. There stands a tiny wooden door that was the only thing standing between us and the rogue buffalo. Boom! The buffalo reached his head over the stairwell and swung it sideways ramming his horns into the door knocking out the piece of material that was covering the small window to keep light out. Like the movie Jurassic Park when T-Rex finds the people hiding under their vehicles, the buffalo slowly leans his head forward and puts his eyeball right up to that little window to find me shivering against the wall. I was sure we were about to die or I was going to be forced to shoot this buffalo with a bow in self-defense. Luckily, while this was happening my friend was in viewing distance of our pit blind and could see what was going on. She quickly called the ranch owners for backup letting them know about the buffalo. Within minutes (what seemed like an hour) the ranch owner arrived to save the day. He tries running the buffalo off with his truck. He’s driving it in circles but the buffalo refuses to leave. I see him throwing large rocks in his direction but nothing works. Now we are told we need to get to the truck. The only thing standing between me and this two-thousand pound killing machine is a truck but it is my only escape. We quickly open the door and I sprint up the stairs to getaway. As I jump inside the truck and close my door the angry buffalo charges the truck on the opposite side and rams us right on the driver side wheel well. He hits us with such force and gets his horn under the truck that he actually lifts us up off the ground as he lets us know why he is one of the Big 5 game animals in Africa. I screamed with sheer excitement. It was the rush of a lifetime! How incredible it was to witness and be apart of this kind of experience. In the end we were able to return to that same pit blind where I took my first African plains game, the blue wildebeest. It was amazing to see these herd animals come in so close and really understand their behaviors. Hunting herd animals is such a different experience than what I am accustomed to. They stay close together and you really have to pay attention to your surroundings, the other animals that are there with them and particularly the target animal. It is easy to get confused on which animal is which as their distinctions from one to the next is barely visible. I’ll never forget my wildebeest as I was able to execute a perfect shot dropping him within 20 yards of where I shot him. But then, there was the recovery. Don’t think I hadn’t forgot about the buffalo that tried to tear the roof off of the pit blind earlier. Luckily, he never came back! The rest of the week went really smooth and I stayed highly aware of my surroundings. This was truly the experience of a lifetime!

Tips For Purchasing A New Compound Bow – #GetSerious #GetHoyt

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Recently I decided to upgrade my compound bow after nearly a year of going back and forth on what I should get.  The best advice I can give you is to go to a professional.  Find a local archery shop that you have researched and comes highly recommended.  There are a lot of people who can provide you with information regarding archery but you need a highly trained professional to make sure that you make the right purchase.

You can cut corners and try and save yourself money by buying online but trust me when I say you are doing yourself no favors at all.  Maybe up front you save a little but who is going to set your bow up when it arrives?  What is that going to cost you when you have to take it somewhere?  Who will set and determine your draw weight?  What poundage are you going to be shooting or do you even know?  Are you buying a bow that fits you?  Is it right for what you are wanting to do?  Is the warranty voided if you buy online?  Just a few things you need to consider before making that purchase.

Check out your local archery shop.  Speak to a professional.  Have them fit you for a bow so you know exactly what you need.  Find out about the latest equipment on the market.  Be informed and make a informed decision because this is a big purchase.  Another thing to consider is how serious you are about the sport.  Bows can range from $200 to $2000 or more depending on what you add or change out on your rig.  You can upgrade almost any aspect of your bow.  Are you wanting to get into the sport of archery or primarily going to use the bow for hunting?  These are all deciding factors on what bow might be right for you.

Personally I went with the Hoyt Charger Vixcen because I fell in love with it.  I loved everything about the bow from the way it felt in my hand to the way it looked.  This bow just met my needs for bow hunting with its incredible speed, accuracy and quietness.  In my case I changed out the stabilizer, sight and hand sling right from the get go.  More upgrades to come too!

I found a trusted professional that I go to for all of my archery needs.  They set up everything on my bow all the way down to fitting me for the proper arrows.  Safety can never be overlooked and having a professional on your side is always in your favor.

If you are looking to #getserious #gethoyt!  2014 Hoyt Charger Vixcen

U-Slide Bow Holder – Product Review

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So here is my latest purchase.  The U-Slide Bow Holder.  As you can see it serves several purposes.  Most archers and especially new archers will run into the issue of what to do with their bow when retrieving arrows.  Do you lean it against something trying to prop it up awkwardly risking that it falls over?  Stand it up on the cams?  Lay it on its side and risk moving the housing on your site.  There’s lots of scenarios for why I had to find a solution to this problem.

This is the best solution I have found for long and short term use that is easy to travel with and is fairly compact.  Let me explain.  The photo pictured in the article is me using the U-Slide as a bow stand.  This is great when slinging some arrows at home and you are going to be stationary for the most part.  You would use this same set up for ground blind hunting.  This is perfect for being in the seated position ready to slide your bow to the left or right depending on your set up with very little movement or sound.  

The second solution which could be more long term is fixing the U-Slide near your tree stand.  The U-Slide is adjustable to work with you whether you hunt the ground or from a tree.  This is a great solution for the hunter that’s always trying to find the perfect place to set the bow for those long hunts.  You can position the U-Slide to minimize your movement in the tree and maximize your potential of laying down your prey. 

If you find yourself running into these same problems I highly recommend that you check out U-Slide Bow Holder for yourself.  You can find them on Facebook @ http://www.facebook.com/uslide or visit their website at http://www.u-slide.com.  Tweet to U-Slide @USlideBowHolder

Teach Your Daughters to Hunt

My extremely proud father and sharp shooting brother!

Life is too short to not teach your daughters how to hunt.  This sport is no longer just for men and it’s having a resurgence of newcomers with the popularity of movies like the Hunger Games.  Young girls everywhere are seeing that archery is not only cool but in the movie it depicts a way of life that hunters live by. We are learning and teaching each other how to live off of the land and build a bond between people that hunters understand. Along with this also comes the respect you gain for our land and wildlife.

My dad instilled hunting in my family as far back as I can remember.  In 1975 my dad purchased a large plot of land in Southern Ohio.  He started to build his dream of constructing a hunting cabin to share with his family and friends.  So it began the story of what built our bond.  In early 1981 construction began and I was just a bun in the oven.  Flash forward a few years and my parents have grown their family to a total of five with a younger brother and sister for me.  We spent almost every weekend there for the next decade.

Growing up in the woods was something I will never forget and the memories I have are one of a kind.  Imaginations are stretched when you grow up playing in the great outdoors.  You learn about nature, animals, insects and the endless recreational activities that mother nature provides.  The things I would learn from my dad proved to me to be priceless.

The bond I have with my dad has never been greater.  The older I get the more I want to spend to time with him and my family.  Hunting together whenever we can is my favorite thing to do.  Nothing is guaranteed so spending as much time in the woods with him is what I thrive on.  My dad has taught me everything I know and continues to educate me through his experiences and knowledge.  The thrill of the hunt and watching me succeed makes him more proud now than taking his own trophy buck.  He has filled walls with mounts so watching me and my brother walk in his footsteps is his gratification. He knows he has passed down a family tradition that we will carry on with our own families.

The look on my dads face is priceless when he witnesses a hunting success.  Last year we were on a hunt in early January.  It was the day before his birthday to be exact.  Muzzle-loader season in Ohio and one of our favorite hunts together.  We had been tracking through a foot of snow for miles on end.  Finally we spotted a doe laying down next to a tree on the hillside about 150 yards uphill.  He asked if I wanted to take the shot.  He even offered up his back for stability as I was standing in snow up to my knees.  I wanted to show him that I could handle this on my own so I told him I had this. Took my stance and dialed in on my target with confidence and fired.  Smoke is all around me and I can’t see anything but I hear what sounds like laughter and someone hitting the lottery.  My dad screaming, “you got her sis, you smoked her good.  She didn’t even move from where she was laying.”  This was followed by a quick high five and a smile that lasted all day.  Happy birthday, Dad!  These are the days I live for and I think it’s safe to say he does too.

Please teach your daughters to hunt.  Take them with you.  Even if they aren’t ready to get involved in the hunt let them be there to tag along.  They can take it all in and learn what hunting is all about. Best of all they may find out that it is something that can turn into a real family bond.  My dad and I share something very special and it is the love for hunting and the great outdoors.