The following story and hippo hunting video was written and submitted by our client Mark B. See the video at the bottom of this post.
I had a successful Plains Game Safari booked by JD African Safaris in May 2016. I harvested a Gemsbuck, Blue Wildebeest, Kudu, Zebra, Warthog, Impala and a Blesbuck. Afterwards I mentioned I may be interested in a Cape buffalo hunt in 2017. I think it was late September or early October that JD African Safaris contacted me about a Cape buffalo hunt deal but I would have to go on it before the end of 2016. It was a very good price and I accepted even though I had wanted to go next year and it will be hot as it would be summertime in South Africa.
In late November 2016 I boarded a flight from Atlanta to Johannesburg and booked hotel there for the night. It was a 15 hour flight. The next day my PH, Clint Mattheus, his good friend Etienne and myself left for the hunting lodge about 5 hours away. This package deal was for a different client but he had unexpectedly passed away. My safari included a Cape Buffalo Bull, a Cape Buffalo Cow, a Giraffe and three plains game animals.
While traveling to the lodge I was offered a chance to harvest a problem Hippopotamus. JD African Safaris told me this was a possibility before leaving the states but I had tentatively turned it down as my funds were beginning to run low. Clint’s cell phone rang and they were asking if I was interested in the Hippo hunt. I told them I wanted to think about it. About 30 minutes later Clint’s phone rang again. Does he want the hunt? Clint told me I had to decide then. He said it would be for today only (actually this evening only) and they would need to secure the necessary permits. I said OK, let’s do it.
I unpacked all my things after arriving at the lodge. We had to leave right away as the problem Hippo location was about a 2.5 hour drive. Before leaving on my safari I studied the anatomy of the animals on my list in the book “The Perfect Shot II” for proper shot placement. I did include the Hippo just in case.
We arrived at the rural but somewhat residential location and the Hippo was already in the farmers field eating. This Hippo was coming off Kruger National Park in the evening and munching on their crop and even coming up to the house. We met two Kruger Officials there to witness the hunt. It was still daylight and the Kruger Official said he wanted to wait till dusk so we could get a closer shot.
In our group was my PH Clint, Etienne, the local PH Hannes Nel and his son Brendan shooting the video and the two Kruger Officials.
Waiting for dusk to arrive, Clint, Etienne, Hannes and the Kruger Official came up to me one at a time and reminded me to make sure I make a good first shot. Hannes told me they would try to let me shoot twice before the others would help bring it down. All of that talk made me somewhat nervous. There was no good direction for this Hippo to go after the shot, especially my direction!
We started the stalk and arrived at a respectable distance for the shot, about 70 yards. Hannes was telling me to shoot for the brain but my old eyes couldn’t see the Hippos ears anymore as the light was fading fast. I was then told to shoot a solid into the shoulder to bring it down and then a soft into the vitals.
I got on the sticks and was at the ready. I watched the Hippo move around in the field eating the crops. The crops were tall enough to where I couldn’t see its legs and I had a hard time picking out the shoulder. The whole side of the Hippo was pretty smooth so if the Hippo didn’t move its leg I couldn’t tell where to place the shot.
To my left the Kruger Official had a suppressed .416 Taylor shouldered, to my right Clint had a shouldered .458 Magnum. I was in the middle with a .375 H&H Magnum shooting hand loaded 350 Gr. North Fork Bullets.
The Hippo moved to a spot where the crops were a little lower and I was able to see its shoulder. My .375 roared and the Hippo dropped but was still wallowing around. I quickly placed another round in the vitals and it would not get up again. Hanes said that was his first time he had a Hippo drop and stay down after a shoulder shot.
Wow, that was quite a rush. I was glad I could bring it down without anyone else having to shoot.
After taking pictures, the head and shoulders skin was removed for mounting and the rest of the nearly 3000 pound Hippo was left to the farmer.
My safari begins the next day. Not a bad day before the start of my safari.
– Mark B.