Looking at the horns, you can see the male has a huge lump or boss. It looks like he is wearing a helmet. The female on the other hand, has horns which slope nicely and no big boss like her male counterpart. A mature male will generally be larger with a thicker neck than compared with a mature female.
The African buffalo is one of the most successful grazers in Africa. It lives in swamps and floodplains, as well as mopane grasslands and forests of the major mountains of Africa. This buffalo prefers a habitat with dense cover, such as reeds and thickets, but can also be found in open woodland. While not particularly demanding with regard to habitat, they require water daily, so depend on perennial sources of water. Like the plains zebra, the buffalo can live on tall, coarse grasses. Herds of buffalo mow down grasses and make way for more selective grazers.
The basic herds are surrounded by sub herds of subordinate males, high-ranking males and females, and old or invalid animals. The young males keep their distance from the dominant bull, which is recognizable by the thickness of his horns. During the dry season, males split from the herd and form bachelor groups. Two types of bachelor herds occur: ones made of males aged four to seven years and those of males 12 years or older.
One of the "big five" African game, it is known as "the Black Death" or "Widow Maker", and is widely regarded as a very dangerous animal. According to some estimates, it gores and kills over 200 people every year. Buffaloes are sometimes reported to kill more people in Africa than any other animal, although the same claim is also made of hippos and crocodiles. Buffaloes are notorious among big-game hunters as very dangerous animals, with wounded animals ambushing and attacking pursuers.
Buffaloes weigh 1,100 to 2,200 lb, with males normally larger than females, reaching the upper weight range. The horns form fully when the animal reaches the age of five or six years but the bosses do not become "hard" till 8 to 9 years old. In cows, the horns are, on average, 10–20% smaller, and they do not have a boss.
The African buffalo are frequently preyed upon by lions. African buffalo are known to rush to the defence of another herd member if it is under attack from a predator. In a large group, they are also able to ward off a pride of preying lions. The African buffalo is a member of the Big Five animals in South Africa.
Shot Placement for Buffalo Hunting
Your buffalo trophy should have an average shoulder height of around 65 inches, weigh about 1400 pounds and have a horn length of approximately 36 – 40 inches. The Safari Club International score for a cape buffalo is 100. This is done by measuring the length along the outside of the horn curl from tip to tip, plus the straight-line width measurement of both bosses for a combined total score in inches.
A 375-calibre rifle is the minimum legal requirement to hunt a buffalo. Buffalo are now wide spread across the Eastern Cape. Buffalo hunting in South Africa is in high fenced areas. The size of the area varies widely. If you want true free-range buffalo you will need to hunt in countries like Zimbabwe, Mozambique or Tanzania. However, the trade-off is that buffalo hunting in South Africa is substantially cheaper on an all-in basis. The day rates in countries like Zimbabwe are expensive and dramatically increase the cost of the overall hunt. The day rates reflect the taxes and fees to be paid to government. In most cases the land is not private and the animals owned ultimately by the government. This differs in South Africa as most land is privately owned including the game.
Buffalo hunting in South Africa is still tremendously exciting. This is especially the case in thickly wooded areas, where the buffalo have learned to be very wary of and avoid humans. As with most African animals shot placement should always be in the bottom third of the shoulder. With a well-placed shot, a rifle of .375 caliber is adequate for the Cape Buffalo. Nick Bowker Hunting has available a 375 and ammunition for hunters not wishing to go through the red tape of having to bring a rifle to South Africa. The rifle and ammunition is included free of charge in your package.
Buffalo vital organs for shot placement
Robert Ruak famously wrote, "When coming face to face with a buffalo, he will look at you as if you owe him money"... enough said. Probably the number one desired African trophy for international hunters from around the world. Dangerous animals to hunt: A wounded buffalo may circle back, wait for the hunter along its track and charge without warning. Loud death bellows are the best sign of a dying buffalo, but not all will give this bellow.
With age, one will find old solitary bulls move off from the herd; these bulls are called "Dagga boys" due to their enjoyment of regular mud baths, leaving caked mud on their backs giving the appearance of dried cement ("Dagga"). These bulls are the most challenging and fun to hunt and may from time to time form small "Dagga" groups. The trophy quality in a buffalo lies with its base, a hard rough and solid boss is the number one sign of a great trophy. At times, these old bulls won't carry a spread beyond 30 inches but that should never deter the hunter.
Buffalo Trophy taken with Nick Bowker. Your Professional Hunter and Outfitter