When we showed up at Clover Creek Ranch located just outside of Madras, Oregon, we were not sure what to expect. My wife and I are not what you would consider “die hard” big game hunters but we have killed a few deer and elk in our day and even an American Bison, but nothing exceptionally exciting or anything to brag about.
I always look at my buddies that hunt like they are a little crazy when they talk about packing out 1000 pound animals for miles on their back. I did that once…
As I recall, I was told back then that I hadn’t truly lived until I shot an elk and then packed it out of the deepest, darkest, canyon you can imagine. While crawling out on all fours with 200lbs strapped on my back, I decided that if that was life, I truly didn’t want to live anymore…So when Greg Henes with The Hunting Broker told me that these guys did it all and I just had to squeeze the trigger…Well that sounded pretty good to me.
Our adventure began at Clover Creek Ranch when Jim Brown was putting the finishing touches on replacing the radiator to his jeep. When asked what the problem was, he held up the old radiator with a smile and showed me a large hole. At first I thought maybe it was from a branch or something but he admitted that it was from one of the buffalo that didn’t take kindly to his presence the day before. I was instantly intrigued.
The ranch is quite large by my standards. I believe they said it was 5000 acres and it does have a high fence around it. When I went through the gates heading into the hunting area, I was instantly reminded of Jurassic Park. There were all sorts of smaller animals running around and again I thought back to Jurassic Park thinking, “These are the “nice” animals.”
It took us a while to find one of the herds of buffalo and when we did, I was surprised at how elusive these animals were. Being warned ahead of time that they are aggressive and will charge (thinking of the hole in the radiator again), it was a little unnerving to be playing cat and mouse with these large, thick skinned animals.
When we found one that I thought would look good on the wall, we worked to get into position. I had brought my trusty 1950-ish Remington model 721 chambered in a 300H&H. I carried custom loaded ammunition using a 200gr. Barnes, TSX solid copper bullet that I had used to bring down other large game with no problem. My wife was bringing up the rear filming what she could while we were trying to position for a shot.
When we closed up to about 70 yards, we had a nice buffalo looking at us and I was instructed to shoot her between the eyes. The herd had spotted us and were getting agitated and you could tell by their body language that they did not like us there and were debating on what to do about it.
Taking a standing shot, I squeezed off a round when I had my crosshairs on the mark and down she went. Thinking that this was the same outcome in the past when I shot something with my 300, I was not surprised…. However, when she stood up a few seconds later and walked away, that was a surprise!
We worked our way over to where the herd had been standing and shadowed them looking for the one I had shot. We could not tell which one had been hit. None of the animals were acting wounded and we could not find any drops of blood.
Keeping the trees between us and them, we continued our search until they disappeared for the rest of the day. Despite looking for them on horseback and by jeep, they had completely disappeared into the juniper trees on this large ranch. Further discussion had led our guide, Jim, to believe that perhaps I had missed all together. I knew better…..
My wife had never shot a 4 legged animal before so we ended up turning our sights to a pig hunt since the buffalo had gone missing. We ended the first day with her taking a nice 150lb hog using her .270 Ruger with 150 grain soft tip bullets. It was her first kill and she was excited but all I could think of was that buffalo. It has ruined a one shot killing streak that my 300H&H had going for me and now it was PERSONAL…
The following day we re-entered the gates and Jim’s wife Adrina was helping us look for the herd once again. This time she was on an ATV and I was beginning to wonder if we would be able to find these massive animals that had eluded us the previous day. To my delight, her voice came across the radio that she had the herd in her sights on a ridge across from her position. Jim knew right where they were and we headed way up to the upper stretches of the property.
We walked out on a bluff overlooking a bench and we saw the herd once more. Despite us wearing camo and being as stealthy as possible, the wind was not in our favor and they spotted us pretty quickly. While we were glassing through the herd, Jim pointed out the one I had shot yesterday. When I asked how he knew, he said to look between her eyes. Low and behold, there was a white patch of fur missing and it looked like the bullet had just skipped off her forehead. No doubt, I had hit EXACTLY where I was told to aim.
As we began walking down off the bluff toward the herd, we found ourselves in another cat and mouse game but this time, the trees were 6’ tall at best and none of them would be worth climbing in an emergency. Jim was very cautious and did not like the situation at all. We found ourselves within 40 yards of the herd but with the number of small trees, you would come around one tree and see one looking at you with a pretty evil stare which is rather unnerving.
The entire time in this area, our guide was completely on edge and kept pointing out the dangerous situation we were in. When I looked back to see where my film crew was, she was already half way back up the ridge out of harm’s way and heading to the jeep fast. At least she was filming from a distance!
After about 10 minutes of this, Jim decided to retreat back up the ridge and follow them into safer surroundings. Once they had crossed into an adjacent opening, we were finally close enough to potentially get a shot. I informed Jim that I would like to take a body shot this time and he gave the go ahead.
The first shot was a bit low, but the second shot I really focused my aim and put one in the boiler room. She fell down but was still alive and making a lot of noise as she was really in a bad mood now. The herd had surrounded her and took up defensive positions so our guide took the jeep and ran them off best he could. I remember wondering if he was going to need another new radiator?
The wounded buffalo was still alive and the herd would only go about 30 yards from her. Through the body actions of the lead cow, it looked like they were going to charge so Jim instructed me to shoot our buffalo in the head which I did at the range of about 6’…It took 3 more shots to the head to put her down once and for all. All in all, I had shot her 6 times with my 300H&H.
Upon further inspection of the animal, we found that the bullet from the first day had entered between the skin and the skull, travelled upward about 10” and exited out the back of her crown with no penetration other than to go under the skin.
Everyone, these are very tough animals! I am not a professional hunter but I have shot an American Bison before and it was a heck of a lot easier to kill than this animal. After being through this exciting hunt, I better understand what the draw is for thick skinned dangerous game like the Water Buffalo I shot and the Cape Buffalo people travel to Africa for. It is a real adrenalin rush knowing that the animal just might try and fight back and if it does, you could be in a world of hurt or dead.
I should mention that Jim’s typical backup gun is an AK-47 style shotgun chambered for 12 gauge slugs and a large capacity magazine. You don’t carry that kind of knock down power elk hunting that is for sure.
The thing about Clover Creek Ranch for me was this. They are less than 3 hours from Portland and our hunt was done in a 48 hour time span. I didn’t have to travel half way around the globe and spend thousands of dollars. Once the game was down, they handled all of the skinning and quartering. They have a walk in freezer to hang your meat as well. The buffalo weighted about 600lbs on the hook quartered when we dropped it off for processing and we can’t wait to start cooking up the steaks.
Special thanks to Greg and The Hunting Broker for recommending Clover Creek Ranch as well as Jim and Adrina Brown at Clover Creek for all of their efforts! ~ Royal and LaDonna Stearns ~
We are so glad you had such an awesome experience! Can’t wait to have you back! ~CCR Team~
Clover Creek Ranch is located just 90 minutes from Portland, Oregon. If you would like to book an exotic hunt and have the time of your life please call Shon Webb at 360-606-5428. He is also available via email at email@example.com. We harvest Bison, Yak, Water Buffalo, Exotic Sheep, Exotic Goat and Hog year round in Central Oregon of the Pacific Northwest United States.
We are the premier destination for Bison and Exotic game in the Northwest!