Explora Buffalo

Stephen Barnes in the Outback

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Shooting|March 2022

With the objective set in 2016 to shoot 52 English 12bore gunmakers in my 60th year commencing December 2018, I'd decided to target Water Buffalo.

To start the project out with a bang (literally) I chose to hunt Water Buffalo with my Westley Richards Explora, 12 bore using 735gn custom bullets.

As with most hunts, they start with good planning & preparation to achieve the success one desires. My plan was to hunt with David A Lindner, described as 'Australia's dean of double rifle men'. Planning a visit to Dave's meant being prepared to be independent, so I set up a double mossie net over a double swag in the back of my Troopcarrier.

We also carried our own esky with drinks & food, small gas stove for cooking, first aid kit & toolbox. A visit to Dave's always has a social element so I took a rare '1st prize Adelaide 1887' hammered W. Cashmore for him to view, being a passionate collector of Cashmores.

Dave had never seen one of these but knew their history & related it to me, they were 19th - 20th century advertising for awards at exhibitions in Australia & New Zealand. There are 5 Cashmore advertisements in this series starting in 1887 and ending in 1905, but that's another story.

The trip over from Western Australia was pleasant having visited friends in Katherine on the way through. Upon arriving at Dave's camp it quickly became obvious the importance of setting up the mosquito net for protection, Australia's reserve airforce (mosquitos) was there in droves! The next morning was a slow start & I took the time to show Dave the hammered, W. Cashmore with 1st advert, which he enjoyed viewing over a cup of coffee.

I've learned much about fine guns by talking to Dave & sharing a passion for the hunt, he is the proud owner of 5 Cashmore 'Nitro Guns'.
Mid morning we got setup in Dave's ute to look for a meat Buffalo, this wasn't a trophy hunt, rather a species hunt for the 'English shotgun shoot' logbook.

Dave has experienced some poor performances with Paradox's & I knew the pressure was on for me to perform my job as hunter.
Whilst I've shot about 100 Water Buffalo over 40 or so years, none had been taken with a 12-bore paradox!
I even once shot 2 Water Buffalo with one shot with my 505 Gibbs in error, not knowing a yearling was behind the cow, 600gn bullet also exited second animal!

Knowing Vic Pedersen had shot quite a number of Water Buffalo's with paradox, this gave me some confidence to step up into this venture.
I fully realised if I FAILED to bag the Buffalo I'd be ragged mercilessly into the future (tall poppy syndrome is almost an Australian sport).

Hunting involved slowly driving down farm roads to the swamp edges where one will usually encounter the Water Buffalo. Because of range limitations we passed up on several towey animals that moved off into the bushland @ some range. Eventually along the Paperbark swamp edge a cow Water Buffalo broke into a short run to get ahead and then propped to look around at us.
Range was about 50 metres and I stepped out of the ute & aimed just over her back, fired & promptly MISSED! (the bullet went just where i aimed!!!!)

She ran a few more metres and propped to look again & I aimed high in the lungs & fired the 2nd barrel, upon which she lurched off.
It was immediately apparent she couldn't GALLOP, & after 20 metres started turning in disorientated circles & fell over. I went up near her reloading on the way and Dave turned on his pantomime of yelling "SHOOT her again"!!! Repeatedly!!!

The next shot I put through the side of the head & all movement stopped, instantly dead. It sounds like a while but in reality from 1st shot to 3rd shot was probably only about 10-15 seconds. The pressure was OFF & the cow Water Buffalo was dead for a successful hunt without following wounded animals spoor for kilometres.

Dave kindly took some photo's of me with the cow for the John Rigby diary I was planning on keeping for the shoot. Next came the harder work of boning out in the field, Dave did the marks on the hide where to cut to strip the skin off upside. Whilst he returned to camp to get help, I commenced skinning & had the top side skinned off by his return with help & my Chinese girlfriend, Abby. Removing the skin revealed the mushroomed projectile hard up against the skin on the far side with 100% penetration cross body, see photo.

We laid some leaf litter in the back & started to load meat cuts under Dave's command, he's the General in these events. He explained to me how to remove the tongue which he is partial to, so I cut under the chin to the throat and removed the tongue. Some of our mutual friends turned up by following our tracks & lent a hand to the meat transfer from carcass to the ute. Under General Dave's command the large 'foetus' was removed & deposited into ute to feed his semi-pet Dingoe's back near his camp.

We removed the kidney's, liver, heart, eye fillets & rib bones, leaving only the skin, gut bag & major bones with hooves for the scavengers.
Back @ Dave's camp we ferried the meat into freezers to chill it down ready to be delivered around the Gagadu tribe on the next charitable meat run.

I took the head to keep as a memento of this unique hunt & photographed it with Abby prior to burying at a friends block in Darwin.
I was elated to start the 60th year shoot on this successful note.

Published by Vintage Guns Ltd on

Shooting|March 2022

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