Florida is not an important big-game hunting state by any means. Yes, there are some smallish whitetails around, some feral pigs to shoot and a couple of really good places to shoot a sika deer. Now, you can add water buffalo to that list. That's right, water buffalo - three subspecies of them, in fact, according to our source for this report. They are the giant-horned swamp buffalo that most hunters go to Australia for and the so-called river buffalo that is jet-black, looks and acts a bit like a Cape buffalo and hails from India. This latter buffalo is the one that can be found in a few areas of Argentina. The third subspecies of buffalo you can find in Florida is the so-called buffalipso that is every bit as big as his cousins and just as mean but buckskin-like in color. If all this subspecies talk sounds vague, that's because there is no consensus on the subject among record-book officials, who lump all water buffalo introduced into the US into a single category. At present there is no active move underway to change that policy either.
Be that as it may, outfitter Joe O'Bannon of J & R Outfitters is offering hunts for what he calls three separate subspecies of buffalo on a 4,000-acre ranch near Ft. Lauderdale. Moreover, he says he is gathering data on the huge differences between the three subspecies and plans to submit it to Safari Club International Record book officials soon. He says he is confident the water buffalo category will eventually be split. In the meantime, the hunts he offers for these animals run three days and include room and meals plus trophy fee for $4,000. He also offers a day-hunt for $3,450. If you want a non-trophy bull, the cost drops to $2,500 for a two-day hunt.
O'Bannon is a former rodeo cowboy turned outfitter, who knows how to stalk big game because he spends part of his summers each year conducting full-bag safaris in Tanzania. Water buffalo, of course, do not have the disposition of Cape buffalo, but........(continued)