Mozambique Búfalo! By Vance Squires
In October 2017, I got an offer for an all-inclusive hunt for free-range Cape buffalo in Mozambique. The old-fashioned, one-on-one, track, stalk and hunt in the bush.
I had originally met Roche and his wife Ansu in 2017 at an outdoor show in Harrisburg, and had booked a September 2018 plains and buffalo hunt and photo safari with Roche Safaris in South Africa for my wife and I. I hoped to hunt kudu, gemsbok, impala and nyala, followed by a photo safari through the Kruger National Park. Then out of the blue, Roche offered me an end-of-the-year, 2017, all-inclusive hunt in Mozambique with all permits! I had just enough time for him to apply, and I could still make a 10-day hunt before the season closed on 30 November. I was already on vacation for the deer season, and everything just fell into place. We had all kinds of plans and relatives coming in for Thanksgiving, but my wife said that I couldn’t pass up this opportunity, and to go…
Am I lucky or what! She knew that Cape buffalo was on my bucket list, but I never expected a free-range hunt was in my future. All I had to do was get from Pittsburgh to JFK airport in New York.
Fast forward to Mozambique: We started hunting at daybreak, but didn’t see any bull tracks that we could follow. The next couple of days we jumped buffalo in the thick thorny bush two mornings in a row, and walked up on a herd just before dark on the second evening, but could not get on a good bull before dark. Talk about excitement! We paralleled those buffalo in the bush at 50 yards for 30 minutes and set up for a shot several times. It was almost dark, before a huge cow decided to spook the herd. That old adage that a buffalo looks at you like you owe it money is the truth.
I got my buffalo on the third evening (the day before Thanksgiving) using a Ruger guide gun in .375 Ruger, shooting hand loads using 300-grain Swift A Frame bullets and Hornady factory solids. The first shot at 36 yards put him down, and we ran up and I put two more in him to make sure he stayed down. My PH said that the bull would probably be close to 1.2 ton in weight. What a monster! His horns taped 44½ inches across and he had 14½ inch-wide bosses. The next day Roche told me that with him I had killed the biggest buffalo in 10 years, and his wife said it was the highlight of his career. In the three days that I hunted we tracked and hiked a total of 24 miles in 90+F degree heat. (32+C)
All the meat was donated to a couple of villages, the camp staff, and the guards and village at the Mozambique border. No meat is allowed to be exported, and my Cape buffalo hide and horns would only be exported after a few months of quarantine, a process they call dip and ship, to be sure all possible diseases were eradicated.
We stayed in Mozambique and explored the countryside for another three days, visited several villages, and saw a zebra that thought he was a donkey! The day after I shot the buffalo, Roche had wanted to explore some new territory for leopard and crocodiles. We drove for about two hours through the back country to another farm along a river. We found a caretaker, and as our trackers were translating the Portuguese conversation, a zebra came out of the bush about 100 meters from us. Roche asked if we would be allowed to take it. The caretaker said no, that the owner liked this zebra which had started hanging around his donkeys. Suddenly three donkeys appeared, and started in our direction. In just a few minutes the donkeys and zebra were within 20 meters of the truck, completely unafraid, and I got some great pictures. Zebra was not on my list, but I was glad for the opportunity just to see one.
After our Mozambique visit we returned to Roche’s lodge in South Africa where he has a great staff that wait on you hand and foot and are always eager to please. Roche took me to Kruger National park on a photo safari. It’s got to be the world’s best natural zoo, and we saw almost everything, from rhino to warthogs right next to the vehicle, but no big cats.
Other than some squirrel hunting, I gave up my deer season that year, but it was worth it. How can you compare a deer hunt with a buffalo?
Vance grew up in the farm country of western Pennsylvania about 35 miles northwest of Pittsburgh. He was taught how to hunt, trap and fish by his father, Harwood Squires who grew up on farms in central West Virginia. Vance actually started hunting when he was 12 years old, and shot his first whitetail buck when at 16. He and his wife of 42 years now live in Chester, West Virginia. Vance has hunted and fished in Quebec and Ontario, Canada, hunted in Newfoundland Canada for woodland caribou and moose, and in some of the western states for deer, elk, and pronghorn antelope.He has a life membership in the NRA as well as belonging to other sportsmen organizations, and is the leading instructor for Hunter Education for his county.