This past summer I went on a fabulous bowhunting trip to South Africa, the goal being a big Cape buffalo bull and some plains game to round out the bag. But long before hopping the Big Bird for the tortuous 24-hour flight from Arizona to East London, decisions needed to be made about equipment.
The foundation of a successful and safe dangerous game bow hunt, whether it occurs in North America or abroad and irrespective of the professional you choose to help you, begins with your equipment. My professional hunter, Andrew Renton and U.S. booking agent Wade Derby of Crosshair Consulting recommended a minimum 80 lb. draw compound shooting an arrow of at least 750 grains, generating a minimum of 80 ft./lbs. of kinetic energy. In my research, both talking with those who have done this and a lot of reading, it was also noted that the K.E. level should be achieved in shooting the heaviest arrow that would tune and fly accurately with the bow. Translation: Momentum is more important than raw speed.
And so, in early February 2012, I made a trip to Salt Lake City to visit the offices and factories of sister companies Hoyt and Easton/Beman. At Easton, Gary Cornum and Shawn Monsen dialed me up with Full Metal Jacket Dangerous Game arrows. I shoot 28 ½-inch arrows, and the 250 size shafts weigh 17.2 grains/inch. By adding a 9 grain X Nock, 75 grain Brass X HIT Break Off insert, and four-inch fletches, total raw arrow weight is a tick over 600 grains. Since buffalo can only be hunted with a single forged, two-bladed broadhead that has its cutting edge beginning at the tip, I selected the 200-grain Muzzy Phantom SS two-blade heads with super-strong .040-inch resharpenable main blades. To those heads I added a couple of small aluminum collars stolen from some other heads to make them weigh in at about 214 grains. My total arrow weight was 816.2 grains.
Then I went across the street to Hoyt, where Pro Staff Coordinator Kevin Wilkey and Marketing Director Jeremy Eldridge set me up with a new Hoyt Carbon Element RKT with 80 lb. limbs and a Fuse UltraRest drop-away rest. We joked about the fact that I could not pull the 32-inch axle-to-axle bow with 6 ¾-inch brace height back at 80 lbs. (75 lbs.? I could do that!) and that I had to work myself into it, which I eventually did. Wilkey, who won the Gold Medal at the 2009 World Games in Kaohsiung, Taiwan – an event considered second only to the Olympic Games in terms of sporting level, and the premiere event for compound shooters worldwide, which occurs only every four years; you think he knows his stuff? – also tweaked the bow’s draw length and the length of my Fuse Clinch CFT release until everything was just right. I cannot stress how important this kind of personal bow fitting is.
At the end of the day, at 80 lbs. the bow launched those big shafts off at 216 fps, which produces an initial Kinetic Energy (K.E.) of 86.15 ft./lbs. The trajectory is such that when I set my sight pins I set them at 20, 30, 35, 40, 45, and 50 yards, knowing I would never shoot at a buff past 40 yards with the first arrow.
For plains game I took a 28-inch draw length 70 lb. Hoyt Carbon Element shooting Beman 340 ICS Hunter Pro carbon shafts fletched with New Archery Products’ QuikFletch Vanes and tipped with 125 grain Thunderheads. Total arrow weight is about 420 grains, and this bow sends the package out at about 270 fps and generates an initial K.E. value of 68.0 ft./lbs. It’s a great combination for plains game big and small, from large Cape Kudu to the diminutive Cape Bushbuck, and the set-up shoots flat enough to make it practical to take shots at extended range if need be. It’s also the same set-up I use for hunting anything that walks on the North American Continent.
Clothing for this trip was an array of Sitka Gear in GORE™ OPTIFADE™ Open Country. I wanted the clothing for its performance characteristics, but also to see if the pattern would keep me hidden from the super-sharp eyes of African game. It proved to be a wise selection.