Scrub Bull Hunting In The Northern Territory
Matt Graham’s the owner / operator of Hunt Australia, the premiere hunting operation in Australia for over 30 years.
What’s a scrub bull? Isn’t it just a feral cow?
Essentially, yes it is a feral domestic cow. Scrub bulls or ‘scrubbers’ as they are locally known by hunters are the escaped domestic cattle of many generations, living in the remote Northern Territory (NT) bushland. When the first pioneers arrived in what is now the NT, in the 1840’s, they walked shorthorn cattle overland from Queensland and South Australia. In those early days cattle stations (ranches) did not have boundary fences and the cattle were basically left to run wild and only mustered once a year on horseback. To Aussie hunters, scrubbers are a prized dangerous game trophy… to the traveling US hunter they are a curiosity.
How big do they get? What about horn size?
A big scrubber can top 800kgs (1750lbs). Typical horn length in a true scrubber is up to 20 inches but the bigger, old hybrid bulls can grow much longer. As you a general rule it is best to shoot them adequately, before you measure them.
How do you hunt them?
Most hunting for scrub bulls is spot and stalk from a vehicle, as we have to cover vast distances to find them. Final stalk is on foot of course and if they are with a herd it is a tricky hunt as both the cows and bulls are very wary. A scrub bull is a formidable target and known to charge at close quarters. Check out my mate and fellow PH Peter Mayall mixing it up on You Tube with a cranky scrubber. Pete is on the right with his trusty .470 Merkel double.
Is it a difficult hunt?
It can be as difficult as you make it Gayne. DSC member Bruce Keller once told me that “Prior Preparation Prevents P_ss Poor Performance.” The 6-P’s applied to bovine hunting is the key to success. You did the hard work locating an animal that is unaware of you, if you go in like the proverbial bull-at-a-gate there is a fair chance you will come out empty-handed or perhaps with a size-12 scrubber chasing you around a tree. With conditions in your favour, sit back and plan a low careful stalk with your guide, using all available cover and with time on your side to get within shooting range. At Hunt Australia we conduct a lot of ‘alternate method’ hunts – so close stalking is our game.
What the Northern Territory area like?
We have a few different safari areas in the NT where we can hunt scrub bulls. The main property is a forest savannah with valleys broken by long rocky mesas or ‘jump-ups’ as they are known. It is really interesting country and there could a scrubber, buffalo or wild hog around any turn. Each early dry season the landowners burn certain areas to create fresh green ‘pick’ and to make fire breaks and reduce weeds…. scrubbers are attracted to that burnt country like cow-plop to your boot heel.
What’s your favorite thing about the Dallas Safari Club?
That’s easy Gayne…. The best thing about Dallas Safari Club, for me is the organisation of the annual convention. I think convention time comes with mixed emotions for we in the Southern Hemisphere – we can’t wait to come and talk hunting but then most of us have to leave our loved ones at home right in the middle of our summer holidays… it sure is hard to get on that plane. That negative is quickly overturned when we arrive at the convention and are greeted by those fabulous, smiling, helpful DSC volunteers. I love Texas and I love the reception at the DSC convention!!
You might also be interested to see my own scrubber clip.