Editor's Note: Steve Scott of Norman is an attorney, former college professor, and producer and host of several nationally-syndicated outdoor programs, including Safari Hunter's Journal & Steve Scott's Outdoor Guide on KSBI-Channel 52 on Saturdays.
The herd was big, maybe 200 animals.
It was evening now, and they were beginning to stir after bedding through the heat of the African day. The air so close to this many animals was pungent, reminiscent of an Oklahoma cattle sale barn.
But this wasn't Oklahoma, and this herd only resembled cattle in a distant-cousin kind of way. These were cape buffalo, the most aggressive and dangerous of Africa's famed Big Five. And as the herd began moving our direction from 40 meters, we knew it was time to back out before it was too late.
This African safari actually began two years earlier with Johan Hermann Safaris in South Africa. Though South Africa is not known as a dangerous game country, Hermann's vast concessions on tribal lands had not been hunted in decades, producing a number of exceptional cape buffalo.
On my first trip with JHS, there had been a mix-up, resulting in the harvest of a mature bull with unremarkable horns. JHS had produced several bulls in excess of 42 inches, so Johan graciously invited me back to give a trophy bull another try.
But on this second safari, the hunt seemed doomed before it started.
During dinner on the first night, Hermann received a radio call that his father-in-law had passed away unexpectedly. Understandably, Johan needed to be with his family, but arranging transport back home would take a day, which gave us about 12 hours of daylight to find a big bull.
Having flown 10,000 miles to hunt buffalo, we decided to give our one day safari a try, but we both knew the odds of finding a worthy bull were long.
Early next morning, we checked several water holes looking for tracks. Buffalo must water daily, typically before sunrise, then feeding toward cover where they bed in whatever shade they find.