Water Buffalo's and broken bows! (long but funny)

Thumper

New member
Joined
Dec 15, 2000
Messages
339
Location
Aksai, Kazakhstan via Covington Louisiana
I realize that by talking about titles and nicknames, this is an odd way to start any hunting story, much less one about an Asian water buffalo hunt. But I have to start here to explain how a quest for a specific species can lead to gaining additional titles and nicknames. Some people are born to be given a nickname of some type during their lifetime. To me it does not seem odd that I have been stereotyped in that category. After all sometimes we bring the titles upon ourselves by our unusual actions or features. When I was a child, my grandfather called me wheel, because I rolled on the floor head over heels all the time. As I grew into a teenager through my 20's, my boxing coach christened me with the title "Thumper". a few years ago, a fellow chapter member( Marvin POOH BEAR Oliver) dubbed me "The Milkman", from a nice little trick and bit of bear hunting advice in Alberta.
Yes Mr. POOH BEAR, a few others and I know how you gained that one,but I promise I will not talk about "Winnie" and of how that came to be. At least he can make a toilet cover with that cape

But I give him credit for the milk advice!

2 years ago, I gained the nick name of "Bubba." Not because I am from the south or have a lot of country boy in me, but at the end of this story you will see how some of us gain these sometimes unwanted titles.

As I mentioned, this is a story about an very eventful and amusing hunt. I can honestly say that this is the first time I have written a hunting story that ended without a trophy on the ground. But after thinking about how much of an education I have gained from this quest, (Not to mention frustration and broken gear), I figured I would share it with you. Sit back and enjoy.

As a lot of us do during the off season, we start checking into next seasons hunt. I was talking to some of our Australian employees about hunting and mentioned that I was amazed at the size feral Buffalo in the northern parts of Australia. They were happy to share hunting stories and bring back a few photos. As the majority of them are now limited to hunting due to new gun laws and with the closure of land they could once access. It seems that the only possible way to pursue the Asian feral water buffalo species Bubulis Bubalas down under is through an outfitter. When checking into this, I was surprised to find that the cost were around 4 to 5 thousand US for a water buffalo hunt down under.


Call me a cheap skate, but I could not justify paying that to hunt a species that I see almost every time I travel to the Thailand/Malaysian boarder. But after seeing the pictures of what our Australian employees would refer to as "One of me Mates buffs he took in the bush" I was now a determined man with a mission!

After inquiring about the water buffalos on the Thailand and Malaysian boarder, I was surprised to find that the majority were indeed feral animals, that are rounded up, and sent to market to be sold as meat.
No wonder the hamburgers here taste different, all this time I thought it was monkey or dog


Our personnel coordinator, Khun Komson told me that since the induction of modern farming implements, many buffalos were allowed to roam freely and over the past 10 years the feral herds have increased to the point that annual round ups are held to gather the herds roaming freely through the jungles and marshes of Southern Thailand. My interest were now at a peak! Hunting for water buffalo in Thailand, no guides, little cost and a chance to take one that would possibly make the record books.

When I asked Komson if he knew of anyone who hunted them in the Jungle, he was happy not only to tell me, but made formal introductions to his brother in law. (Formal introductions in Thailand are considered as bringing a bottle of local whiskey to ones home and drinking this rot gut during the visit) His method was stalking the bush with an antique looking .357 magnum pistol. From the many sets of huge horns and skulls, I could see that it had worked for him. As I am precluded from keeping a firearm in my home in Thailand, I relayed to him that I intended to use my bow and have a back up shooter.

From his expression and the comments spoken in Thai to Komson, I am certain his response could be translated as "Where did you find this crazy American?" We agreed that we would go ahead the next weekend when I returned from an offshore visit. This was it, I was on my way, but as there are no taxidermist in Thailand, my next step was to check with the USF&W regarding CITIES permits.

I was surprised to find that the Asian species Bubulis Bubalas, is not a CITIES species and is importable . Although it took several e-mail's , faxes and phone calls, I can give the USF&W credit for sending me a letter stating that the Bubulis Bubalas, is not classified under CITIES. They did however inform me that I would need to discuss importation of the cape and horns with the USDA. The USDA requires that I declare the trophy, provide a certificate of fumigation from a veterinarian and a letter from local authorities stating where it was taken and that the species was indeed Bubulis Bubalas. At first this seemed easy enough, but I had to explain this to our personnel coordinator to assist me with obtaining such. This was ten times harder than explaining the case to the USF&W and USDA combined. The idea of permits and the name Bubulis Bubalas, was too far beyond comprehension. "Why is it bubba bubba, and why you need permit" was the question that I must of explained at least fifty times. I decided that I would go ahead with the hunt as planned and have my secretary work out the details later. The Southern Thai's have a certain mentality that classifies anything out of their norm as humorous. I can't began to explain the looks, comments and laughs I received when I started to inquire what the Thai's called "a game"

After my offshore visit, I was met by Khun Komson at the heliport. The bad news was that his brother in law had taken a job on a merchant ship and would be gone for 6 months. The good news was that he had left his 357 with Komson and definitely wanted him to take me on my hunt. I was sure that his brother in law was still laughing about this crazy American planning to shoot a water buffalo with a bow . Maybe he took the merchant job to stay away from what could have been a bad situation.

I found out that Komson knew the hunting area well, but this would be his first buffalo hunt. He had shot the pistol several times and felt confident that he would be able to back me up in the event of an emergency. We headed to a rental center where we rented a old willis jeep left over from the Vietnam war era and headed back to the office to load the equipment and camping gear. Hopefully this would be a quick two day hunt as his brother in law assured him that the herds had not been rounded up yet and they would be roaming the open plains and marshes on the edge of the jungle hills. This seemed positive and I figured we would pack for 3 days just in case I wanted to be selective.
(Yea, right)

During the four hour drive on the jungle roads, I mentioned that the bow would not drop the buffalo and it would require good arrow placement on my part and a follow up to the downed animal. In broken English Komson, replied "Don't worry Mr. Mark, if Bubba run you I shoot him in head , sister husband say to hit between the eyes and he die"

This boosted my confidence a little, but as this was new to both of us I still had some reservations as the bow looked smaller every time I looked at it. Oh well I have a .357 as back up. I love theses famous last words. After parking the Jeep and setting camp, we stalked into the jungle tothe bluffs overlooking the plains to start glassing. This was starting to seem more like the hunting I was used to. After about four hours of stalking and glassing, we found a herd of 20 or more buffalo's. I was impressed with the massive horn size, but one particular bull had a non-typical set that curled back and under , he was indeed unique and was what I decided would be my pick. I told Komson that we would stalk around the herd by walking inside of the jungle and try to cut them off. After we got ahead of the herd, we would wait for them to get into bow range and I would take the shot. I cautioned him, if anything goes wrong, shoot. Thinking back I now recall a nervous response of "Ok Mr. Mark, I shoot".

We were successful in our stalk and hid in the thick marsh brush about 20 yards from the trail that the herd was headed. Or so I thought. The longer we waited, the buffaloes started to change their course moving further away from our ambush spot into the open flats and old deserted rice paddies. The only way to get a shot would be to try to ease up to the herd using the old dikes of the rice paddies as cover. It seemed that Komson and I were gaining some ground and I would stop to check the distance of the odd horned bull.

As we got within 100 yards of the herd, it was evident that they were aware of our presence. The paddy dikes were worn down and could no longer serve as our cover. More than once I considered taking the pistol and attempting a crawl up and shoot method, but I was not going to "lose face" and remained determined to use my bow.

It seemed that the herd maintained a distance of fifty yards and a bow shot was impossible. I started to consider giving in and starting the next day. As that thought crossed my mind, what I thought was a change of fortune presented itself. To my surprise a nice horned buffalo cut out of the herd and headed back to our direction at a 45 degree angle. This was a shooter and as big as the ones I saw in the photographs from Australia. As it came closer, I readied my bow, and told Komson to get ready, if the buffalo charged after my shot, start shooting!.

The buffalo passed within 45 yards and as I started to come to a full draw, the buffalo turned directly facing me eye to eye. At that same instance, I heard a bellow to my left and turned to see a buffalo calf laying in the mud less than 10 yards from where we were standing.

It seemed that this shooter buffalo was a cow and had returned to claim her lingering offspring. She had no intentions of letting us get closer to her calf and let out a bellow that raised the hairs on my neck. She then started to swing her massive horns from side to side as if she was attempting to scratch her back. I knew this was not the case and told Komson to back away slowly from her and the calf and hand me the pistol.

I later found out that he thought I had said back away and run with the pistol. As that is exactly what he proceeded to do . With his actions, the buffalo made a direct line towards me. I proceeded to follow Komson, but he had probably set a new time record crossing open pasture and had made it to the thicket. As I crossed the opposite side of the rice paddy, I fell face first in three feet of water and hit a hard bottom. In doing so, my quiver broke off and I lost my arrows. At the time I did not notice that the top cam to my bow had also cracked. As I attempted to hold on to my bow and get to my feet I could see the cow closing the distance. Let me tell you holding a useless bow, with no arrows and attempting to out run a water buffalo across a water filled rice paddy is completely futile. As I reached the opposite side of the water, I turned to see the cow stop and return her attention to her bellowing calf. She had clearly made her point.

Even though I was out of danger, I made a fast return to the camp site. Upon my return, I noticed Komson was finishing removing his water soaked clothing. I could not help but to be a little angry to say the least. I am sure the readers would not care for me to repeat what I said, but I can assure some of the words i used are probably new to English profanity!

I started to remove my garb and noticed that not only had I lost my arrows, but had lost my wife's new camera, a great set of binoculars, my skinning knife and somehow ruined a pair of underwear. I assure you it was not from the mud! Upon further inspection, I noticed the broken cam and frayed bow string. The hunt was over. Not only had I not achieved what I set forth to accomplish but I lost more than just equipment, my pride. No comments about the underwear!

After we literally threw our gear into the jeep, we headed back to Songkhla. It was a quite drive and kept my anger in check. I was supposed to have back up and if I would have had the pistol andif I would have saw the calf and a hundred more what ifs crossed my mind along with the short comments crossed my lips.

Reality then struck me like a brick. All of my what ifs would not have amounted to anything. I now actually considered what had happened was for the better. You may wonder why after almost being ran down by 1500 pounds of hoof and horns, losing some gear that will not only be expensive to replace, but hard to get back to Thailand and embarrassed myself as well as my companion.

In short, if I would have shot that cow, I would had to kill the calf as well. I admit I was after the trophy and the meat would have been greatly received by the local children's home. This was a learning experience for me, an expensive one but a lesson that could have cost me more. I never realized that the feral water buffalo could have such a temperament. As I see farmers riding and plowing with the domesticated buffalos from time to time.

This did not deter me from planning for my second and third hunts. Even though I am not allowed to posses a firearm in my home in Thailand, I was able to purchase an older model 375 H&H through a connection. To remain in the limits of the law, I must leave it at his home and can not depart the country with it.

As operations have had me bouncing from Thailand, Burma, Singapore, Malaysia and Sumatra, I have only had two more limited 1 day hunts in the same area. Since my first trip to the area, the herds have been rounded up and the buffaloes have been scattered through the jungles, with the bigger bulls moving into the deep marsh areas. I saw about 11 buffalos scattered about, but they were all small and really not the class that I am after. On the third hunt a week ago, the monsoon rains have made the hunting area impossible to enter.

With the recent outbreaks of dengue fever and malaria, I have decided to await the dry season to return. I have learned a lot about this species and grown to respect them. They are not the cow like creatures I once thought them to be . I have read many articles about the Asian water buffalo and have found that they are temperamental and very protective. As with cape buffalo, they tend to protect themselves when they feel they are in danger.

Later when Komson's brother in law was told the story, he was not surprised. He had had the same event happen to him on more than one occasion. I guess that is why he considered me off my rocker when I told him I was using my bow.

In closing this story, I want to end were I started . Regarding nicknames. In Thailand as in the world over. Stories tend to spread. I honestly believe that they seem to grow faster here as the majority of our operations employee many locals from small townships and villages. After the first hunt , the story spread throughout the village of Songkhla like the plague. As the initial humor started with the Thai's trying to pronounce Bubulis Bubalas, and now believed thatthe Americans call the water buffalo, Bubba Bubba.

I soon became bubba. This became evident on the next offshore visit two weeks after the hunt. I was amused when the Thai National employees greeted me with "Hello Bubba", I guess the name is now permanent and many of the Thai Nationals could not tell you or would not know who Mark Boykin is, but they sure as hell know me as Bubba.

Looks like I have done it again , earned a new name. Hopefully we can earn that trophy Bubba Bubba to truly earn my given name after the end of the monsoons, when the big boys return to the flatlands. I promise to keep you updated on the situation.

As an update, I have been able to take 2 with a .375 H&H and finally 1 with the bow!

Thumper AKA BUBBA


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IF YA CAN'T RUN WITH THE BIG DAWGS, KEEP YOUR ARSE ON THE PORCH

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B

bcat

Guest
Thumper that story gets funnier every time I read it! I promise not to comment on the underwear!bcat

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If you aint the lead dog the scenery never changes
 
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Deacon

Guest
Hey Bubba, You have reminded me of a long forgotten story of my own days in the far east.
A buddy of mine and I were stationed at a chinese radar site on the island of Taiwan. One day in August we decided to take shotguns and go hunting some wild pigs that the locals had told us existed in the mountains.

We climbed and hunted all day, saw plenty of snakes (shotguns make a mess of them) but never saw so much as a pig track. That afternoon, fully disgusted and sweating worse than the pigs we were hunting we finally made our way down off the mountain to the edge of a flooded rice paddy. About 50 yards from us a small chinese boy was standing in the water about ankle deep. I should pause here to inform those of you who have never seen a rice paddy that they are liberally fertilized with human feces. I could tell you about following honey wagons on a hot day, but that's another story.

Anyhow, since it was blazing hot and the boy seemed to be pretty comfortable standing in the water, we decided to go wading as well. We sat down to remove our boots and luckily, my buddy got his off first. He took one step out into the water and - - disappeared!!
As I sat there open mouthed, he quickly reappeared splashing and cussing. It took him a while to get out of the paddy (I wasn't a whole lot of help) and as soon as he got out he began to strip as fast as he could. Smelled wonderful!! I was having trouble breathing because not only did he smell like a binjo,(that's an open sewer for those of you who only speak city) but it's really hard to breath when you're laughing so hard you can't catch your breath.

When I finally got so tired that I couldn't laugh anymore (this took a while 'cause he stood naked, covered with mud and still cussing), I looked up to see this small chinese boy slowly heading towards us standing firmly on the back of his pet water buffalo.

We found out later that the buffalo often submerge in the deep paddys to get away from the flies.

That's my water buffalo story and I guess the only thing that would make it fit this thread better is if I named my buddy "stinky" or something appropriate. The truth is that I was afraid to even look at him for a long time after that because I would have trouble breathing again!

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