Spanning kilometers abundant with birds, reptiles and lush green flora, the Northern Territory's swamps, floodplains and coastal flats are also home to the premier big game animal on the Australian continent, Water Buffalo.
Huge wide tracks of land, still out of reach, lay hidden in Australia's Northern Territory, where we're venturing in search of the bulls of the far north.
You can imagine the planning and preparation that goes before a hunt like this. All the gear, research, mental and physical conditioning and practising to ensure when our feet hit the hot sand, we're ready.
After days , weeks, months back to back over the last few years living and guiding safaris in the NT, this bush has become familiar. There's a comfort and confidence in knowing the land, constantly learning the animals patterns, behaviour and most intriguing to me, their body language. A skill that is so valuable to successful bowhunting, even more so when the animal you pursue is dangerous.
Bowhunting water buffalo is an exciting and adventurous hunt.
This year again found me solo on the plains. Comfortably alone with my trusted bow in hand in search for a buffalo bull. The evening's wind was holding its course from off the ocean as I kept pushing on. The flat warn out rubber soles of my hunting shoes fell softly, step by step onto the bare ground.
It was now the 11th hour. It would not be long until the burning orange sun would melt over the horizon. The last of the big salt pans lay just ahead and before I broke through the timberline, I could see buffalo feeding and moving. From the edge of cover I glassed several buffalo but one stood out as a mature bull. The problem that faced me was that he was way out in the open, not a tree within 400m... The "Suicide Stalk"
Thoughts flooded my head as I weighed up the situation... "no cover"..."there is no outrunning a bull in the open"...."no back-up" ! But there was one feeling, not thought, that stood out.. This is what you live for..Risk it!
I headed in. At 100m out another bull entered the scene, a young bull that had been making its way towards the bull I was focussed on. The big boy’s body language changed and I could see he was not interested in having the young bull anywhere near his turf. With his attention focussed on the young bull I realised how to capitalise on the situation, I made ground fast until I reached the only real cover there was, a small 3’ high Palm, the only thing above knee height for hundreds of meters in every direction. I nocked an arrow to the string and let out a loud Buffalo call, the big bull was about 60m away now and with only a momentary break in his stride he turned and started towards me to investigate. Tucked sitting behind thePalm I used my draw to pull him up, once I judged him to be within 25m. He stopped, then slowly raised his head, stretching out his neck to look past this pitch black noise.
When the arrow disappeared into the centre of his chest, the VPA broadhead cutting a channel for the yellow nock to disappear into. The Gold Tip arrow was gone in a burst of bright red blood.
He dropped his head as he wheeled around and away, unsure of what had just happened. Running 40m he stopped to re-asses, movement from the young bull once again drew his attention as I remained motionless. Straight away his back legs buckled but he regained his composure for every second he could, ready, standing to fight the blackness that closed in on him, a will to live that I felt and honoured when I lay my bow down beside him, it was over in seconds. A Monarch of the plains.