Bow hunt Cape Buffalo Ideal Bow Hunting Set up. Trophy Cape Buffalo

If you are an avid bow hunter seeking an exhilarating and challenging adventure, bow hunting Cape Buffalo should be at the top of your bucket list. The sheer size, strength, and aggressiveness of these big animals make them a prime target for those seeking the ultimate bow hunt in South Africa.

In order to ensure a successful and ethical hunt, it is crucial to have the right equipment and bow setup. A well-equipped bow, along with proper accessories and techniques, can greatly increase your chances of successfully taking down a Buffalo safely and effectively. In this article, we will delve into the essential components of a bow setup for bow hunting Cape Buffalo, providing you with valuable insights and recommendations.

The Ideal Bow for Cape Buffalo Bowhunting

Choosing the right bow is the foundation of a successful Cape Buffalo hunt. While personal preferences may vary, there are certain factors to consider to maximize your chances of success. Here are the key features to look for in a bow:

Draw Weight:

Cape Buffalo are a formidable challenge, so it is essential to have a bow with sufficient draw weight to penetrate their tough hide and muscles and reach the heart and lungs. The recommendation has always been a minimum draw weight of 80 to 90 pounds. In recent years technology has increase to the point where a modern 75 pound draw weight bow puts out the same kinetic energy. Check your numbers with the setup you intend to use. To hunt Buffalo you are legally required to have a minimum of 80 foot pounds of energy. Manufacturers like Bowtech, Hoyt and Mathews all have premium products that will get the job done and prove to be reliable and durable.

Draw Length:

Select a bow with an adjustable draw length to ensure a comfortable fit and proper form. This will enhance your accuracy and shooting consistency throughout the hunt. The hunters fortunate to have a longer draw length obviously have a distinct advantage when it comes to kinetic energy and can shoot a slightly lower draw weight.

Axle-to-Axle Length:

Axle to axle length is very much a personal preference but as a broad recommendation bows of approximately 31 to 35 inches are ideal. This length provides better stability and forgiveness, which is crucial when drawing against an immense Cape Buffalo. Try a few different lengths to find out what works best for you, remember it is all about forgiveness and stability.


Choose a bow with higher rated speed to increase your chances of delivering an effective shot. Look for bows with an IBO (International Bowhunting Organization) speed rating of at least 330 feet per second (fps). Hunters with shorter draw lengths can benefit from a slightly faster bow, but do not sacrifice forgiveness for speed.


Assess the noise level of the bow when you release an arrow. Since you will be shooting a significantly heavier arrow most bows will be fairly quiet anyway. There are a number of accessories that can be added to reduce the noise level if it becomes necessary. A quiet bow is preferable to avoid alarming the Cape Buffalo, increasing your chances of a successful shot. Cape Buffalo are not known as string jumpers so this is not critically important.

Best bow hunting set up for Cape Buffalo
Best bow and arrow setup for bow hunting Cape Buffalo

Arrows and Broad heads for and African Bow Hunting Safari

While the bow is the primary tool, arrows and broad heads play a crucial role in penetrating the Cape Buffalo’s robust body. Here are some considerations when selecting arrows and broadhead for this challenging archery hunt:

Arrow Weight: Choose heavy arrows weighing at a minimum total arrow weight of 750 to 850 grains (gr). The additional weight is needed for penetrating the Cape buffalo’s thick hide and muscles, increasing the chances of a lethal shot. If you don’t get the necessary penetration you are not going to reach the vital organs.

Arrow Spine: Most bows with the draw weight required for Buff will need arrows in the 250 spine range. Depending on the broad head you choose you may need to vary this up or down to achieve perfect tune and arrow flight. Choose stronger arrows with a stiffer spine to handle the immense energy transfer from the bow and provide optimal accuracy and penetration. Manufacturers like Easton, Grizzly Stik and Victory Archery all make a great arrow shaft.

Broad heads:

This is the business end of your setup and needs careful consideration. Only a best quality fixed-blade broad head will get the job done. Chose a broad head that is manufactured from a single piece of steel, has 2 cutting surfaces, (single bevel) and is strong and resilient, Iron Will, GrizzlyStik and German kinetics are good examples of what you are looking for. These examples are highly recommended due to their superior penetration and ability to withstand the buffalo’s tough anatomy.


Ensure your broad heads are razor-sharp to achieve deep penetration and create lethal wounds. Your broad heads should be sharp enough to shave and cut paper.

Archery Accessories

In addition to the bow and arrows, certain accessories can greatly enhance your bow hunting experience for Buffalo. Here are some essential accessories:


Invest in a high-quality sight with multiple pins for precise aiming at various distances. Consider a sight with robust construction to withstand the harsh conditions of air travel and a buffalo hunt.


A stabilizer helps in balancing the bow, reducing hand shock, and minimizing noise. Choose a stabilizer designed for hunting to maximize its effectiveness.

Arrow Rest:

Opt for a durable and reliable arrow rest that securely holds your arrow until the moment of release, ensuring optimal accuracy and consistency. Consider a reliable drop away type arrow rest, something like the products manufactured by Hamskeaarchery, the Trinity Hunter Pro or Epsilon series are durable easy to tune and work well.

Release Aid:

Using a release aid provides a more controlled and consistent release, improving accuracy and reducing the risk of torque. Make sure to pack a spare release aid for your African hunting safari in case you misplace or have a malfunction with you primary release aid.

Bow Setup Considerations for Penetration

While having the right equipment is essential, proper bow setup is equally critical for bow hunting Buff. Consider the following factors when setting up your bow:

Draw Length and Weight:

Consult with a professional bow technician to ensure your draw length and draw weight are properly adjusted according to your physique and shooting style.


Proper bow tuning is crucial for consistent arrow flight. Make sure your bow is paper-tuned and shoot through paper to detect any inconsistencies that need adjustment.


Regular practice is essential to master your bow and build shooting muscle and confidence in your set-up before embarking on a Buffalo hunt. Focus on shooting from various positions and distances to simulate real hunting scenarios.

Physical Conditioning:

Bowhunting Cape Buffalo can be physically demanding, requiring stamina, agility, and strength. Engage in regular physical exercise and develop your shooting muscles to ensure peak performance during the hunt.

Safety and Ethical Considerations

When bow hunting Cape Buffalo, safety and ethical considerations should always be a top priority. Here are some important guidelines to follow:

Hunting Outfitter and Professional Hunter:

Familiarize yourself with the local regulations, permits, and hunting restrictions for Buffalo hunting to ensure compliance. You will need to book your hunt through a good hunting outfitter who employs Professional Hunters who are licensed and qualified to hunt dangerous game. Not all Ph’s are qualified and certified for Dangerous game hunting.

Shot Placement:

It is crucial to take ethical shots that result in a quick and humane kill. Aim for vital organs, such as the heart or lungs, to ensure a clean kill and minimize suffering. Study the anatomies of the animals you intend to hunt and make sure you know the correct shot placement to bring the animal down quickly. A wounded Cape Buffalo is an extremely dangerous proposition and could result in somebody in the group getting seriously injured or killed. Buffalo are known as “Black Death” for good reason.

Shot Timing:

Choose the right moment to take your shot. Wait for the Buffalo to be in a relaxed broadside position or when their vitals are exposed for a higher chance of a lethal shot.

Backup Plan:

Always have a backup plan and avoid dangerous situations wherever possible. Buffalo are resilient animals, so it is essential to have trained professional guides and trackers to ensure a successful and safe hunt. Although the idea is to kill the Buffalo with your bow, the Professional hunter will be forced to shoot and kill the animal if it is wounded to ensure the safety of those involved in the Safari.

Respect Nature:

Maintain a deep respect for nature and the animals you hunt. Practice leave-no-trace principles and contribute to conservation efforts to preserve this magnificent species for future generations of bow hunters.

In conclusion, bow hunting Cape Buffalo is an extraordinary adventure that requires careful preparation and the right bow setup. By selecting a suitable bow, arrows, and broad heads, along with essential accessories and proper bow setup, you can embark on a thrilling and ethical hunt for one of the most challenging big game animals in Africa. Remember to prioritize safety, ethics, and conservation throughout the entire experience, ensuring a memorable and rewarding bow hunting journey.

FAQ’s Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Cape Buffalo?

A Cape Buffalo, also known as African Buffalo or Syncerus caffer, is one of the most sought-after big game animals for hunting. It is a large, powerful, and unpredictable animal known for its strength, tenacity and aggression.

Can I bow hunt Buffalo?

Yes, bow hunting Buffalo is possible, but it is considered one of the most challenging hunting experiences. It requires a skilled archer, proper equipment, and careful shot placement.

What is the recommended bow setup for hunting Buffalo?

The recommended bow setup for hunting African Buffalo includes a high draw weight bow (80-90 lbs), heavy arrows (900-1000+ grains), and durable broadheads specifically designed for big game hunting.

Why is arrow weight important for hunting Buffalo?

Arrow weight is important for hunting Buffalo because it determines the kinetic energy and penetration of the arrow. Heavier arrows are better able to penetrate the tough hide and bone structure of the Buffalo.

What are the recommended broadheads for hunting Buffalo?

The recommended broadheads for hunting Buffalo are those with a solid construction, strong penetration capabilities. Examples include the German Kinetics, GrizzlyStik Maasai, and the Iron Will.

What is the best shot placement for Buffalo?

The best shot placement for Buffalo is a broadside or quartering away shot. Aim for the vitals, right behind the front leg, to maximize the chance of a quick and ethical kill.

What should I consider when choosing an outfitter for bow hunting Buffalo?

When choosing an outfitter for bow hunting Buffalo, consider their experience with dangerous game, their knowledge of the local area, their success rates, and the quality of accommodations and services they provide.

Can I hunt Buffalo with a recurve bow?

Yes, it is possible to hunt Buffalo with a recurve bow, but it requires even more skill and accuracy due to the heavy draw weight and shorter effective range of recurve bows compared to compound bows.

What is the best time of year to bow hunt Buffalo?

The best time of year to bow hunt Buffalo can vary depending on the location, but generally, the dry season (April to October)

Adrian Anderson has been a Licensed Professional Hunter and Hunting Outfitter for 32 years

Adrian Anderson first obtained his Professional Hunters license in 1991. He is a Big Five and Dangerous Game licensed Professional Hunter and Hunting Outfitter. He has a tremendous love for wildlife and the African bush and enjoys sharing his knowledge with the hunting clients that he guides. Guiding hunters in Africa’s wild places is a passion and seeing them succeed with their goals brings satisfaction. With knowledge of the Safari industry built up over 32 years he is well qualified to give guidance to his hunting clients.