For five decades, capable bushman Terry Halse has been travelling through the Top End securing buffalo meat for the pet-meat industry.

Story By David Hancock

Buffalo have attracted the adventurous to the Top End for more than 100 years – from early hide gatherers who shot from horseback to musterers with four-wheel-drive bull catchers and helicopters; in country where there were few laws, their exploits generated colourful tales. Terry Halse and his crew who hunted, shot and butchered wild buffalo and cattle for overseas game and pet-meat markets, then the local pet-meat industry, made a significant contribution to Top End frontier mythology.
Now, with the prospect of a modern abattoir near Darwin and the export price of buffalo well below cattle, Terry believes the future for bushmen like himself is limited. “Work as a pet meater is probably one of the only jobs left pertaining to the buffalo industry that hasn’t changed from when I first got into the job 39 years ago,” he says. “It is still basically the same as the early days when people shot from horses or on foot.”
Terry operates Howard Springs Pet Meat Supplies from his property 30 kilometres south of Darwin. As well as working by himself, he employs teams of men who go bush to cull feral swamp buffalo and cattle. The animals are shot and boned out in the field and the meat brought back to Howard Springs in chillers, often from remote areas in Arnhem Land and the Gulf of Carpentaria.

This story excerpt is from Issue #90

Outback Magazine: Aug/Sept 2013