Author’s note: Bill Epeards of Goshen, Ohio, has traveled the world and taken some legendary animals on some unbelievable hunts. A member of the PSE and Mossy Oak Pro Staffs, he works with Jimmy Houston Outdoors and is a member of a world-champion archery target team. “I shot competition archery for a lot of years, but I got away from it,” Epeards reports. “Then I got with some other older fellows, and today we shoot the senior class of the Bowhunter Division of the IBO. We won the national championship for two consecutive years – 2008 and 2009 – came in second in 2010 and won 2011 and 2012.” Epeards also guides and hunts in the United States. This week Epeards shares with us some of his most memorable bow hunts.
Question: One of the most dangerous of African game animals is the Cape buffalo. Tell us about your bow hunt for this animal.
Epeards: I was hunting in Zimbabwe. We’d stalked a herd of buffalo, but the wind changed and spooked the herd. My outfitter said, “for the rest of the afternoon, let’s go sit in a blind at the water hole, and see if any buffalo come there. We often see buffalo and sable at this waterhole.” When we got to the water hole and set up, we hadn’t been in our blind for more than 20 minutes before a herd of Cape buffalo showed up. I was shooting my same PSE X-Force bow that I’d taken the elephant with, only I had a different set of limbs on it and a draw weight set at 90 pounds. I was shooting a PSE Black Mamba arrow with a New Archery Products Razorbak broadhead. The buffalo turned and presented a shoulder shot, and my X-Force delivered. The shot was only 33 yards. One of the real thrills of this hunt was that there were about 35 buffalo in the herd. I didn’t know what would happen once I took the shot. The buffalo might fold up right on the spot, but that usually didn’t happen. The buffalo might run off after taking the arrow, which was what mine did, the buffalo could charge, and/or the whole herd could charge.
Epeards: I’m a police officer, and when I go into a dangerous situation, I get into a zone. I don’t get shaken up or nervous when I’m in a dangerous situation. But after the problem has been solved, or the shot has been taken, then I get all wound up, somewhat nervous and sometimes even shake some, because the adrenaline is really pumping. One of the advantages of shooting a bow once you’ve practiced enough and taken enough animals is when you’re in a position to take a shot, your total focus has to be on the spot you want to put your pin on, holding steady and making a clean release. There’s not any thought about what’s happened before or what may happen after. You just have to be in that zone to make that really good shot and not worry or think about anything, until the arrow is released and hits the target, or in this case, the buffalo. I was filming this hunt for Jimmy Houston Outdoors and for my own use in the hunting seminars I conduct all over the country – about 40 seminars a year at different sports shows. I play these videos when I do my dangerous game seminars.
Epeards: He was a big, mature buffalo with big bosses (the bases of the horns). This hunt was great, exciting and one of those hunts of a lifetime.
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Images courtesy John Phillips