Montana Buffalo at 13 below
My father is getting old. He is only 62 years young, but has had 5 heart attacks, resulting in stints and shunts being placed in his heart. When he told me that he wanted to see me take a buffalo (American Bison) before he dies, I was more than happy to oblige him, with one exception: I wanted to take it with my Mathews FX bow.
We arranged a fair chase hunt with a Native American guide in Northern Montana. The months leading up to the hunt were filled with practice, preparation, and stories from the guide. Our guide was timid about letting me use archery equipment after having another archer hit a buffalo that ran 7 miles before slowing to the point they could finish it with a rifle.
After a 13 hour road trip, we got to the hotel and met our guide. We went out the next morning and began to look for animals. By 9 am, I was stalking a family group of 20-30 animals. After belly-crawling to 33 yards, I found myself face to face with lots of animals, but no shot opportunities. Over the next two days, I made 7 stalks in weather with 25 mile per hour wind gusts and an average temperature of about 13 degrees below zero (F).
On the final day of our hunt, I was able to sneak into a herd of animals, and pick one out, but I had no cover to sneak any closer. The nearest buffalo was 53 yards away. I had been practicing with my Matthews bow out to 70 yards. I draw 69 pounds, and only shoot a 100 grain broadhead. I decided to take the shot.
My broadhead hit about 3 inches from where I had aimed, due to the wind, but still hit the buffalo’s massive lungs. The animal was quartering away, and my arrow went through the liver and diaphragm, nicking the near side lung, and ripping the far side lung. The broadhead came to rest just under the hide on the far side of the animal. This left my bright green fletch hanging out the near side. The buffalo jumped, and trotted about 20 yards in a circle, back into the herd.
My guide, not wanting a repeat of his 7 mile tracking job from months prior, wanted the animal finished with a rifle immediately. I convinced him that it takes a few moments for such a massive animal to fall after being hit, and he agreed to let me try for the animal again with my bow. The range was now 60 yards, and the buffalo was broadside. I drew and released, and my second arrow hit exactly where I aimed. The buffalo went about 70 yards, and laid down. While the second shot was not necessary, it made the guide feel better, so I took it.
I wouldn’t have trusted my once in a lifetime buffalo hunt to any other bow than my Mathews, especially in such extreme weather conditions.