Member's Hunt: Out of an African Blind

posted on March 11, 2023
MH Stacy Buffalo Lead

By Stacy McCloud, Greeley, Colo.

Africa always ends with a story: This one is mine. 

September 25, 2022, dropped at a blind with my tracker, Eric, we crawled into our 5-by-7 tomb swallowed by the earth. I sat looking out beyond the peephole of the sweltering hotbox. My last three Africa hunts, the blue wildebeest had eluded me. The welcomed African summer breeze whistled a leafy song through the trees. The melody cooled my sticky body. I imagined the feeling of the breeze whipping through my sweat-soaked hair, instantly drying it, ending the unrelenting stream of salty liquid trickling from the base of my scalp, down my shoulder blades and shamelessly parading between my cheeks. I wipe the sweat that has been building off my nose.

I love African blinds. The closest thing to a true-to-life “Jurassic Park” experience. Every noise and darting shadow could be a female pig overseeing offspring chasing each other through mud while scaring off the Triceratops peacefully enjoying a drink, or a venomous snake slithering through the slit of the blind window.

We got the call. The Cape buffalo we’d been searching for had been spotted. They’re coming to rescue us from our sunbaked oven. Yesterday I saw a picture of the old prince of the African plains who no longer runs with the herd; every day he lumbers is a gift and torture. His body and hide told stories of a lifetime of fierceness.

In an African blind, clothing is optional. I appreciate some clothing: a tank top, my light Sitka jacket, shorts, boots. In my bag is water, fruit, ChapStick, a flashlight, a book, sudoku, a notebook, a pen and my Maven rangefinder. By my side is my Mathews Triax bow, release and my Ted Nugent Zebra arrows—filled with sugar for extra punch in case of a buffalo.

My trusty Frye boots—broken in perfectly after two decades of living as full as this boot inhabitant could afford to dream—I’d forgotten in Colorado. I found myself hunting 2 miles up a mountain wearing Old Gringo dancing boots with absolutely no trek, built for the slide of the dance floor. Straight from Billy Bob’s in Fort Worth to Pongola, South Africa. Ridiculous.

My first walk and stalk, my dance with this old bull, and Cap’n Jack Sparrow would’ve stumbled more gracefully. With each step I took, I did the “electric slide” half a step backward. My stomach was flipping, my heart racing.

 Early summer, late morning, dancing boots. The smell of defeat was leaking from my pores, and I had no water to wash away the impure thoughts of quitting. I was parched, my tongue glued to the roof of my mouth, I couldn’t form the words, “I quit.” My tongue had no freedom. My husband saw the defeat in my eyes. I wanted to cry, but my eyes refused to extinguish the pain of this hunt by relinquishing tears. I was an overused rag wrung of moisture, weave weakened, dry and tattered.

 My PH Falahke’s arm shot up, signaling an immediate stop, sending me and my boots into another backward cha-cha. I reached out to grab a tree, stabbing myself with a thorn, but caught enough branches to prevent my descent down the mountainside into the watery abyss. I pictured myself flailing yard sale-style down the mountain; legs, arms, hair, broken ego and Ray Bans landing in the awaiting crocodile-infested sarcophagus below.

 Dazed and dehydrated, I held my ground and turned my attention to the great bull laying with another under the only shade capable of engulfing both bodies. Falahke spoke great English, and though my Zulu was limited to “I am Stacy,” rarely had we experienced a communication hiccup.

With lots of hand gesturing, faint whispering and defeatist grunting, we tried to find a kill shot. Like an elephant, I tiptoed around, looking for a clearing. I found my shot. It wasn’t perfect, but it was all I had—a perfect 40-yard backward shot I might as well have taken upside down in this overgrown vegetation. Praying my arrow would pierce his heart from above, I raised my bow to draw, and I couldn’t pull it back! My muscles were screaming, fighting each other. My second draw attempt worthier a comic applause. Is this a joke? Is this how it ends?

Bow drawn, arm relaxed, sight lined up. Breathe. Exhale. Don’t forget follow through. Release. The beast was hit! Stunned, the buffalo spun around to find the offender, and starting his death dance, he charged. Four shots fired, two from my husband’s Remington 700 .375 H&H, two from my PH’s rifle. The beast was down, one arrow buried in his lung along with four bullets. He lived a life worth living, a death worth writing about.

Do you have an exciting, unusual or humorous hunting experience to share? 
Send your story (800 words or less) to [email protected] or to American Hunter, Dept. MH, 11250 Waples Mill Road, Fairfax, VA, 22030-9400. Please include your NRA ID number. Good quality photos are welcome. Make sure you have permission to use the material. Authors will not be paid, and manuscripts and photos will not be returned. All material becomes the property of NRA.


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