Our Australian buffalo hunt couldn’t have been more successful. Il Ling and I used the 350 gr. Barnes TSX bullets, in .375 H&H, to take eight head of buffalo and one Australian Wild Ox.
We were hunting with Simon Kyle-Little, of Australian Big Game Safaris, on the Walker River, in Eastern Arnhem Land. This area is all tribal land, some 12 million acres of it, and Simon’s concession is 2 million acres. And, on those 2 million acres, the only fence is the one around the camp garden. Our hunting companions were Dr. Dean Taylor, Vee Miller, and Doug Miller.
Asian buffalo, bantang, and wild ox, were all brought to northern Australia about 1830. At this time, there were forts being established and the idea was that these animals would feed the soldiers. However, a few years later, the forts were abandoned and the various bovine were released to fend for themselves. The animals have run wild ever since.
Our specific load for the Barnes 350 gr. TSX bullet consisted of Remington cases and enough Ramshot Big Game powder to drive the bullets to 2300fps. This proved to be a very accurate load on paper and very comfortable to shoot. As our hunt proved, there is absolutely no need to drive the 350 gr. TSX bullet any faster. The .375 H&H does not have to pound you to give good results.
During our hunt, we took buffalo at distances from 12 yards to 272 yards (a one-shot kill). The Barnes bullets that we recovered showed good expansion with all of the petals intact. However, as you can imagine, several of our shots gave full penetration and the bullets were not recovered. In these cases, however, the exit wound clearly showed that the bullets had expanded.
The biggest adventure that I had on this hunt was collecting an Australian Wild Ox. These animals are the original short-horned European cattle that have run wild in Australia since the 1830s. They are quite a bit spookier than the Asian buffalo and the big bulls prefer to stay in the really heavy timber, either in the swamps, or along the wooded ridges. Usually, when you see a wild ox, you are looking at his rump and he is leaving. In spookiness, I would compare them to whitetail deer.
In other parts of Australia ranchers will have wild cattle, inside their fenced pastures, and improperly call them wild ox. Nothing could be further from the truth. These are merely scrub cattle of all different colors. The true Australian Wild Ox is red in color and found in only the most remote areas. The SCI recognizes the Wild Ox only when it is red in color and taken in remote areas, specifically not on ranches.
At any rate, I took my Wild Ox in the heaviest brush of the coastal swamp region. When I first saw him, he looked like a red freight train moving across a small opening in the brush. I shot him on the point of the left shoulder at @ 20 yds, and broke that shoulder and leg. As he spun and thrashed, I was able to move in closer and shoot him in the right shoulder at @ 12 yards. Simon came in to about seven yards and spined him with his BRNO .375 (the spine shot was not needed, but we had no way of knowing that at the time). This big bull was every bit of 2,000 pounds and had a massive set of horns. Altogether, a great trophy!
I can’t recommend Simon Kyle-Little enough. He has been guiding Australian hunts for 28 years. He runs a clean, efficient hunting camp and he knows his game. Based upon the client’s physical condition and desire, Simon can do a spot & stalk hunt or the more strenuous, day-long hunts into heavy brush. Naturally, the heavy brush is where the big bulls are going to be found.
Simon’s wife, Elspeth, is a past master at getting all of the client’s permits and documents in proper order. Two of our hunting companions wrote down the serial numbers of their rifles in the wrong sequence. This usually results in the rifles being confiscated. However, in both cases, Elspeth was able to get the mistake corrected and the guns returned to the hunters in time for their hunts. More importantly, Simon & Elspeth conduct their hunts in a pleasant, honest manner that makes you want to go ahead and book another hunt right away. Check out their web site at www.australianbiggamesafaris.com.au.
My story on this buffalo hunt will appear in the NRA’s American Hunter magazine. I’ll also write up the Wild Ox hunt separately, and you can expect it to appear in another magazine.
See ya down the road…..