Report On A Water Buffalo Hunt In Florida


Published: September - 2001

We mentioned in a previous issue those unusual water buffalo hunts outfitter Joey O'Banon is offering in south Florida. The hunts, you'll recall, take place on a 3,000-acre high-fenced enclosure northwest of Ft. Lauderdale. The animals involved are what the outfitter calls river buffalo from India, swamp buffalo from Australia and some tan-colored, hybrid beasts he refers to as buffalipso.

Exactly what are these animals like, and how is the hunt for them conducted? It occurred to us that some Hunting Report subscribers might want to know, so we sent Managing Editor Barbara Crown over to take a look. Here are her impressions:

"The 3,000-acre enclosure where these hunts take place is located on a larger ranch of something like 4,000 acres. O'Bannon maintains about 150 head of water buffalo bulls on the property (no cows), which he likes to say are as mean-tempered and wary as any you will find in the wild. Indeed, the animals are wary. I know that because Joey and I made several stalks on bulls. Each time, when we approached a group of bulls, they spotted us ahead of time and either wandered, or bolted, out of gun range. I did not detect any aggression on the part of the animals, but observing their demeanor in the field, I believe Joey's story about a client being dangerously charged one day in thick brush and having to kill a bull in self defense.

"The key to this hunt's appeal is the habitat of the enclosure. There are some open palmetto prairies, but there are also dense hardwood hammocks clogged with rainforest-type undergrowth and pine forests, plus about 1,000 acres of marshland. There are plenty of hiding places on O'Bannon's property, and the older trophy bulls tend to pick the thickest spots. The hunting is conducted on foot, spotting and stalking through the hammocks, up sloughs and through patches of tangled cover to get on a trophy bull. O'Bannon uses a safari vehicle only to reach areas where bulls may be present. Spotting from the truck is OK, but O'Bannon........(continued)

 
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