HUNTING THE NILE CROCODILE IN AFRICA

Crocodile Shot on the Zambezi River in Zimbabwe

Nile Crocodile hunted on the Zambezi River in Zimbabwe

Nile crocodiles are found in almost all of the large rivers of Africa. It is advisable to stay out of the water and away from riverbanks in areas where Nile crocodiles are known to occur as they are known to take human prey from time to time. When Nile Crocodiles hatch, they are about a foot long and grow rapidly in the early stages of their lives. In the first six years of their life they grow about 10 inches per year, after which the growth rate slows down quite a bit. Nile crocodiles can reach a length of about 15 feet or more and they have a life expectancy between 75 to 100 years of age. Nile crocodiles usually weigh between 490 to 1,200 pounds, with exceptionally large males that can weigh to up to 2,000 pounds or more.

The 375 Holland & Holland Magnum loaded with 300 grain soft points will be a good choice for hunting the Nile Crocodile. This rifle is open sighted but a good scope of at least 4 x magnification will be advised.

The 375 H&H Magnum loaded with 300 grain soft points will be a good choice for hunting the Nile Crocodile. This rifle is open sighted but a good scope of at least 4 x magnification will be advised.

Nile crocodiles are extremely cautious animals and it is difficult to stalk them on foot to get within shooting distance. When the hunting Nile Crocodile you will experience that they are hard to kill and you will have to make sure that your first shot is carefully placed in order to anchor him so that he cannot retreat back into the water. If a Nile crocodile manages to retreat back into the water, the trophy will almost certainly be lost. When hunting the Nile crocodile there are only 2 types of shots that are effective in anchoring this animal. The first being a well-placed shot to the brain. The brain shot is a tricky option as a Nile crocodile’s brain is about the size of a golf ball. If you should miss the brain the Nile crocodile may appear to be dead, but it will in fact just be stunned. A stunned Nile crocodile will suddenly come back to life and retreat back into the water and the trophy will be lost forever. I prefer clients use a shot to the spinal column just behind the head when the hunting Nile crocodile. A spinal shot will incapacitate a Nile crocodile allowing you to put in a second shot to the brain to make sure of the kill.

The best way to hunt the Nile crocodile is to ambush it from a blind and to take your shot from a solid rest in a prone position. Nile crocodiles tend to be territorial and they like to come out of the water during the day to sun themselves. Once we have located the drag marks on a river bank where a large Nile crocodile comes out to lie in the sun, we set up a blind from where we can ambush him when he comes out of the water.
Nile crocodiles are very tough reptiles and they are hard to kill. The hide of a Nile crocodile is extremely tough and the skull is made of very thick bone. To penetrate the skull and get to the brain you will need to use a fairly powerful rifle. I believe any rifle capable of shooting a 250 – 300 grain bullet between 2,250 to 3000 feet per second equipped with a good telescope of a least 4 x power will be a good choice for hunting the Nile crocodile. Good caliber choices for hunting the Nile crocodile are calibers like the 35 Whelen, 338 Winchester Magnum, 9.3 x 62 Mauser and the 375 H&H. The old time professional crocodile hunters in Zambia during the 1950’s preferred the 9.3 x 62 Mauser and it is just as good an option now, as it was 60 years ago. Heavier calibers like the 404 Jeffrey, various 416 Rigby and the 458 Lott will work very well for hunting the Nile crocodile, but they have severe recoil when fired from a prone position and I will thus advise that you use nothing larger than a 375 H&H. When choosing your bullet get the best quality soft points with controlled expansion you can afford. I like the Barnes X range as well as the Triple Shock but Swift A Frame and Nosler Partition bullets will also be effective for hunting the Nile Crocodile.

Nile crocodiles are extremely weary and cautious animals with keen eyesight and a good sense of smell, so it will not be an easy hunt. But if you do manage to bag a large trophy it will prove to be a memorable and rewarding hunt.

 

Hunting the big five in Southern Africa Part 4 – Buffalo

This Buffalo was hunted in the Matetsi area in Zimbabwe

This Buffalo was hunted in the Matetsi area in Zimbabwe

The Cape Buffalo is usually the animal that most hunters start of with when they begin their quest to hunt Africa’s Big Five. This however does not mean in the least that the Cape Buffalo is the easiest or least dangerous of the dangerous game animals to bag as a trophy. In my personal opinion the Cape Buffalo is right up there with African  Elephant as one of the most dangerous game animals to hunt anywhere in the world. They are notoriously cunning and will do their utmost to ambush and kill you if they know you are following them. They won’t hesitate to charge if wounded or cornered and when they charge they are extremely hard to stop. All of Africa’s big five are challenging to hunt, but the Cape Buffalo does not carry the nick name Black Death for no reason, they are ill tempered aggressive and deceptively fast. It is no wonder that Robert Ruark remarked that buffalo look at you as if you owe them money. A large bull is nothing other than a hulking mass of muscle overflowing with testosterone and if you invade his space he will not hesitate to kill you.

The 375 Holland and Hollandis the legal minimum caliber in most African countries for hunting buffalo or other dangerous game. The new 375 Ruger and the 375 Weatherby are also accepted by authorities and will both be adequate choices when hunting Cape Buffalo. The old adage of “use enough gun” is especially relevant when hunting dangerous game and when it comes to hunting buffalo bigger is always better provided you can shoot the caliber accurately and handle the recoil. Good choices for hunting buffalo are 404 Jeffrey, 416 Rigby/Remington/Ruger and the 458 Lott. The larger calibers come with the disadvantage that they have quite a bit more recoil than the 375 H&H. I suggest that you only use the bigger bore rifles if you can handle the increased recoil and you can consistently shoot it accurately. The bigger calibers give you a bit more peace of mind when following a wounded buffalo, but any one of the various 375′s loaded with premium grade bullets like Barnes X or Swift A Frames of a weight of at least 300 grains will be more than adequate for hunting buffalo. Always take along soft and solid ammunition when hunting buffalo. It is recommended that a good monolithic solid is the best choice of bullet when facing a charge.  It is suggested that the first round loaded should be a good soft-point bullet but that you have monolithic solids loaded in the magazine for follow up shots if necessary. If you are using a scope ensure that both the soft’s and solids are of the same weight and that they zero at the same ranges.

Buffalo can be found all over Africa, with various countries including South Africa offering buffalo hunting packages. Buffalo hunting in South Africa invariably takes place on private hunting farms that have been fenced. These farms are however usually large tracts of land and it still makes for highly challenging hunts. The advantages of hunting buffalo in South Africa on fenced reserves is that you will be able to locate and hunt your buffalo in fewer days than if you were hunting open tracts of land elsewhere in Africa, also it is easier to locate the larger trophy bulls as most game farmers know exactly how many animals they have, where they are and how big the bulls are. Buffalo hunts in South Africa are usually shorter in duration than elsewhere and you should be able to bag a good representative buffalo in 3 to 5 days maximum. Genesis is currently offering a 3 day Buffalo Hunting package in South Africa a mere 2 1/2 hours drive from Johannesburg airport.

Another Buffalo hunted in the Matetsi area Zimbawe

Another Buffalo hunted in the Matetsi area Zimbawe

Genesis also offer buffalo hunts in Zimbabwe and the concessions where we hunt are in the Matetsi area as well as areas adjacent to the Hwange National Park. These hunting areas have open borders with the national parks and animals move freely between these areas. If you are looking to do a Buffalo Hunt in areas that are not fenced and still have the vast open and wild feel of the Africa of old, Zimbabwe is just the place for you. Genesis offers a 7 Day all inclusive Buffalo hunt in Zimbabwe with prices stating from USD 11,995 per hunter.

Family Hunting Safaris – Introducing your Children to Hunting

Should we teach our children to hunt and if so at what age should we introduce them to hunting?

A memorable moment for a father and son, it was this lad's first animal hunted.

A memorable moment for a father and son, it was this lad’s first animal hunted.

I had a recent inquiry from an potential client from Saudi Arabia, who wanted to come on an family hunting safari and introduce his 7 year old boy and 12 year old daughter to hunting. He mentioned that he was an avid hunter who had hunted 3 of the big five before but that the main aim of his planned trip was to introduce his children to hunting. To him it was not important if he hunted any game while here, but he felt that it was time his children started hunting.This commitment from a father to introduce and educate his children about hunting forced me to think hard and seriously about the future of hunting and if the next generation will share our passion for wildlife and the great outdoors.

Mighty hunters! The fashions, cellphones and computer games are a distant memory for these youngsters.

Mighty hunters! The fashions, cellphones and computer games are a distant memory for these youngsters.

In today’s so called civilized society, teaching a child to shoot and hunt is a difficult and contentious issue to say the least! The values and views promoted by the media, celebrities, political parties and entertainment industry are vehemently anti hunting. Civilian firearms ownership, hunting and the old world values and traditions associated with our pioneer ancestors who left Europe in pursuit of freedom, are all negatively viewed by today’s new – moralistic and humanistic society.The mass media and their financial backers are openly biased against hunting and civilian gun ownership. The public is constantly bombarded with their anti gun/hunting agenda. Hunters and firearms enthusiasts are constantly portrayed as bloodthirsty subversives who pose a threat to peace and stability. Responsible parents who spend quality time in the outdoors with their kids hunting and shooting are demonized and accused of training their children to be murderers. Ironically absent parents who allow their children to spend hours upon hours watching violent movies and video games instead of spending time with them, are not considered at fault.

This young lady proved to be the best shot of all the children to the boys obvious dismay.

This young lady proved to be the best shot of all the children to the boys obvious dismay.

We live in a world where the truly wild places are fast disappearing. Children in our ever more urbanized society are spending more and more time indoors watching television or playing with computers. Everything in the 21st century is artificial and dominated by technology. Our future generations are being brainwashed and conditioned into being a mindless slaves addicted to everything artificial and dare I say superficial. Many of today’s children do not know where the milk they drink or meat they eat come from. Children and unfortunately some naive adults believe that meat magically grows in polystyrene packets in the supermarket fridge and that nothing has to die in order for them to enjoy a burger.

Proud as punch, definately not a Rowland Ward contender but to this chap it might as well have been a Cape Buffalo with a 40 inch spread

Proud as punch, definately not a Rowland Ward contender but to this chap it might as well have been a Cape Buffalo with a 40 inch spread

Hunting is but one of the battlegrounds in this total war against our views and culture. Unfortunately we are losing this battle as the next generation is not being educated by us the parents about hunting and its role in conservation.

Because of our busy work schedules and the fact that hunting has become an expensive pastime, many adults leave their children at home when they go hunting. I suppose that we feel that our time to unwind is precious and hunting is too expensive to waste on children who might be too young to understand or appreciate the experience.

At least they now know that meat does not magically appear on supermarket shelves.

At least they now know that meat does not magically appear on supermarket shelves.

The problem is that if we don’t take the responsibility to spend time with our children in the great outdoors and if we don’t teach them about the safe responsible use of firearms and hunting who will? It is our responsibility because the schools are not going to do it for us.

Ourselves and our parents before us had the privilege to grow up in more sane times. In the 1950′s, 60′s 70′s as well as the greater part of the 1980′s very few adults if any in the less urbanized areas,  would have thought it inappropriate to see a boy with a 22 rifle or air rifle strapped to the handle bars of his bicycle pedaling through town on his way to the woods. Children in rural areas had the freedom to hunt small game and spend time in nature. If this should happen today, the parents would end up in jail and the children in a foster home or worse. It is ironic that in today’s so called civilized anti gun and anti hunting society we have far more teen pregnancies, crime, depravity, suicides and violent murders among children than we had back in the days when kids were allowed to go into the woods with a rifle on their own.

When I grew up in the 1980′s hunting and guns were part of our lives and cultural fabric. Almost every household had a few guns. We were familiar with guns and respected them, we never heard of school shootings and shooting accidents were rare and far in-between. I myself grew up in an urban environment, but most of my friends lived in homes who owned at least 1 or more rifles or shotguns for hunting purposes. Most of my friends dads hunted and at a young age many of us had already accompanied our fathers and uncles on a hunt. We did not necessarily get to shoot anything bigger than a Guinea Fowl or Rabbit while on the hunt but at least we were along for the ride. We had the privilege to be educated by elders whom we respected, that hunting was not about the act of killing something but that hunting was about the responsible harvesting of natures bounty. Our dads and grand dads taught us that we should never kill more game than we needed and that we should always leave enough so that we could hunt again next season. We were severely reprimanded and punished if we killed something just for the sake of killing. We were taught the safe use of firearms, never to shoot at anything if you weren’t sure what was behind it and never point a gun loaded or unloaded at anything we did not intend to destroy. We always honored the game killed by eating it and nothing was ever wasted.

As a professional hunter I get to deal with clients from many different countries with different cultures and hunting traditions. Most hunters regardless of where they are from however share the love of nature and hunting as a common denominator. My experience is that the ages of hunting clients from all over the world seem to be getting older and older. Most clients and inquiries I deal with, fall in the 35 – 55 years of age group. It seems that fewer and fewer young people are interested in hunting and that there is a noticeable decline in hunters aged between 18 – 35. The uninformed view hunting as a preserve of a few rich blood thirsty elitists. The adult critics of hunting will be very hard (I feel impossible) to convert to our way of thinking. The battleground for the future of hunting lies with the youth. Children are not stupid and they can think for themselves. If our children are passionate about hunting they will influence their friends to have a positive view about hunting. Even children whose parents are anti hunting will be susceptible to view hunting in a more positive light or even to become hunters themselves, if they have friends who share their views of hunting and regale exciting tales of spending time in the bush hunting with their fathers and uncles.

Thinking back on the past hunting season, I have been blessed with some excellent hunts including hunts for Lion and Buffalo. I had some super clients who I believe left South Africa not only as satisfied clients but also as friends. But to the most memorable and satisfying hunt was a hunt with local clients who brought their kids hunting for the first time.

The fathers were also not seasoned hunters and it only transpired during the hunt that it was a first hunt for more than one of them as well. I have to be honest it was not an easy hunt and we spent many frustrating hours doing our best to get them within range of game only to have them not take the shot. We spent hours looking for a wounded Kudu which thankfully we found and dispatched. This is the type of hunt most cynical old professional hunters like me should dread. It was frustratingly hard work with very little financial return, but I ended up enjoying it just as much as the clients. The enthusiasm of the children and the dads must have rubbed off on us at some stage after we finished joking about everything including their socks being made of camouflage and complaining about how unfair it was that such expensive and state of the art rifles and scopes should be wasted on city boys.

The Kudu Bull spoken about in the text.

The Kudu Bull spoken about in the text.

The enthusiasm for hunting from this group however was infectious. To see someone who spends hours practicing on the shooting range and dreaming about hunting finally get his first Kudu was great. The smile on his face and the pride on his daughters faces made the experience special and transformed a city slicker into a hardcore hunter yearning for more.

When this party arrived on the farm our first impression was that these youngsters from the city were out of place and that they would absolutely not enjoy hunting. After spending a first day riding around on the back of the hunting vehicle watching their dads hunt I could see them getting bored and we decided that we would concentrate on hunting with the children the next day. The fathers understood and gladly took the back seat while we initiated these youngsters into the culture of hunting. The children surprised everybody when it was their turn to hunt. Everybody except one of the girls bagged a springbok and although she was very disappointed, she vowed she would be back next year. The springboks were small and definitely not trophy quality but to each and everyone of these kids it was a special occasion. Posing with their trophies I saw more passion and enthusiasm for hunting than one sees in the face of many a hunter who has done it all. Those springbok will linger on in their memories for many years to come, as the day that they broke free from the confines of the modern world and got back to their roots.

The good old 22 LR remains the most useful caliber to train children or novices marksmanship and firearm safety.

The good old 22 LR remains the most useful caliber to train children or novices marksmanship and firearm safety.

If we want to see our children share the same interest and passion for nature and hunting that we do, it is our duty and responsibility to take them along and allow them to share in our memories. It isn’t necessary to force a child to hunt, the choice should remain their own. Certain children are more mature at a younger age than others and will take to hunting more naturally. Don’t pressure your son/daughter to shoot an animal, children will tell you when they are ready to do so and if they want to. All you have to do is to take them along hunting with you and spend some quality time on the shooting range practicing marksmanship. The memories from time spent hunting and shooting with their parents will last them a lifetime. The time you spend with parents and siblings in the bush, listening to the birds singing, the distant call of a jackal, the sound of a crackling fire under a starry African sky, those are the memories that last far longer than the size of any trophy.

Genesis African Safaris has some excellent family hunting safari packages in Malaria free areas like the Western Cape available for 2013 and 2014. Please feel free to contact us and book a family hunt with memories that will last you and your children for a lifetime.

Hunting the Big Five in Southern Africa Part 3 – Leopard

LeopardAlthough the Leopard is the smallest of the Big Five it is not to be underestimated. The Leopard is arguably the most dangerous of the Big Five to track when wounded. The Leopard is also one of the animals most likely to charge a hunter when wounded. Leopards are widely distributed across the Africa and a mature male weighs on average between 120 and 180 pounds, males as large as 200 pounds are not uncommon. Females are smaller and usually weigh between 70 to 130 pounds. Leopards are extremely powerful and they can drag large prey weighing easily as much as their own weight, up into trees to protect it from the larger predators like Lions.

When hunting Leopards always remember that they are strongly territorial and very efficient killers. Leopards have superb eyesight and hearing so when tracking a wounded leopard into the bush do it with the utmost of caution and respect. This animal is a master hunter and beware that this expert of stealth and camouflage does not turn the tables on you and that you end up the one being hunted.

375 H&H & 12 Gauge Shotgun

When following a wounded Leopard things can get dangerous and turn deadly very quickly. A lot of African professional hunters prefer to use a shotgun loaded with heavy buckshot for this task. A pump action shotgun like the Maverick 88 pictured here or a good double that can take 3″ shells will serve you well in this regard. Remember that buckshot on Leopards will only be effective at short range. When following a wounded leopard it is advisable that least 1 member of the party is armed with a large caliber rifle to back up the hunter armed with the shotgun. The rifle will also come in very handy if an opportunity of dispatching the leopard at a longer range presents itself. The 375 H&H pictured here is a ideal rifle for such a task, built on a Mauser 98 action with a controlled feed and quality open sights, she points like a shotgun and allows for quick shooting at a fast moving target. A 375 H&H with premium quality soft point bullets is an excellent choice for hunting “Old Spots”

Baiting is used when hunting Leopard. Usually an Impala carcass is hung from a tree branch within view from a blind to ambush a Leopard. With Leopards being nocturnal it is difficult to get an opportunity for a shot during daylight hours. In most African countries Leopard may only be hunted during daylight hours, which complicates matters but ads to the excitement and challenge of the hunt.

Leopards aren’t as big as the other members of the big five and have been successfully hunted with an assortment of calibers. The 303 British is most probably the one caliber in Africa that has killed the most leopards. It is not that the 303 is the best caliber for cats but Farmers in Africa were limited for choice of arms and ammunition and they used anything they had on hand. Military surplus Lee Enfield 303′s and ammunition were readily available and it worked well enough. The minimum effective caliber for Leopard would be any 30 caliber rifle in the class of the 308, 30 06, 303 and the various 300 Magnums. A 30 caliber loaded with good quality 180 to 200 grain bullets like Barnes X would be a adequate option but in my opinion not ideal. Providing that you can handle the recoil and shoot it accurately any rifle in 338 Win Mag, 9.3 x 62 Mauser, 9.3 x 64 Brenneke, 375 H&H Magnum or any of the larger calibers like the 404 Jeffrey and 458 Lott will be a good choice for hunting “old spots”. I personally prefer the 9.3 x 62 with 286 grain bullets or the venerable 375 H&H Magnum loaded with 300 grain soft points, but if you prefer to use something larger and you can put the bullet where you aimed, feel free to do so. Remember there is no such thing as too much gun when hunting the African Big Five.

When wounded the Leopard is a ferocious adversary. You will need to be at the top of your game to avoid death or serious injury when a wounded leopards charges. There are various opinions as to what type of gun to use when following a wounded Leopard. Many African  Professional hunters swear by a Shotgun loaded with heavy buckshot, others say that a Shotgun is not a good choice and that a heavy caliber center fire rifle is what is needed. I believe that a double barrel Shotgun loaded with the heaviest buckshot available is a good choice for dense bush with little visibility, but it is advisable that at least one of the hunting party following the cat should have a large caliber rifle on hand. Please remember that you should never use a shotgun on a wounded Lion, buckshot has been proven to be useless against Lion and using a shotgun on a wounded lion can be a potentially fatal mistake.

Leopards are listed as CITIES animals and this means that a CITIES permit is required to export a Leopard trophy. A limited amount of CITIES tags are issued each year. South Africa and Namibia offer good quality Leopard hunts. Genesis African Safaris has a outfitter in Namibia, who has 2 CITIES Leopard permits available for 2014 contact us for further information.

 

 

Hunting the Big Five in South Africa Part 2 – Lions

Kalahari Leeu Junie 2013Hunting Lions have become a hugely controversial activity of late. Lions and Lion hunting has been a hotly discussed topic recently. There has been concerted attempts to stop Lion hunting by animal rights groups, who petitioned the United States Fish & Wildlife Services to list the African Lion on the endangered species list. Animal rights and environmental groups want  to have Lion hunting banned. These groups argued their standpoint that Lion hunting should be banned from an emotional standpoint as the scientific evidence definitely did not support their arguments regarding Safari hunting endangering wild Lion populations.

With 32000 Lions across Africa and vast areas still suitable for Lion habitation, Lions are not yet endangered and Safari hunting is not the reason why they are under threat. Lions are under threat in some areas all due to factors emanating from human overpopulation. Safari hunting and Safari Club International plays a big part in funding lion conservation. But with public sentiment and politics playing a huge role in this decision by US Fish & Wildlife Services, chances are quite good that Lions can be listed as endangered. This will effectively close the importation of all Lion trophies to the USA and will close the entire Lion hunting industry to US clients.  If this happens the chances are that the European Union will follow the US example and this will have a serious financial impact on the Lion hunting industry and breeders of Lions in South Africa.

Unfortunately I believe that if these groups succeed in listing Lions as endangered, Lions will really become endangered. Local communities will have no financial incentive to protect predators that will come into conflict with their livestock and settlements. Also with no money generated by hunting Lions to fund anti poaching programs Lion poaching will increase due to the huge demand for Lion bones and body parts in the far east.

This listing will also affect the South African Lion breeding industry as US Fish & Wildlife Services specifically stated that they would make no differentiation between wild and captive bred Lions. With a decision by US Fish & Wildlife Services expected early in 2014 the long term future of the Lion hunting industry and the sustainable breeding of Lions are uncertain to say the least.

You get 2 types of Lion hunts in South Africa. Wild Lions usually close to the Kruger area and South Africa’s northern borders. These wild Lion hunts are determined by a limited amount of permits issued each year and are considerably more expensive than hunts on captive bred Lions. Captive bred Lions are regularly hunted in the North West Province of South Africa. This industry is very well regulated and outfitters have to adhere to strict regulations regarding these hunts.  Canned Lion hunting practices in South Africa have been curtailed by new regulations regarding Lion hunting. The Lion hunting industry has adapted and is a highly profitable venture. At this stage hunting captive bred Lions in the North West Province is the most affordable and effective way of bagging a representative Lion trophy. With the animals released into large enclosures some as big as 5000 hectares it can make for an highly exciting walk and stalk hunt. The risks involved are the same as hunting wild Lions as these animals are definitely not tame.

The future of Lion hunting in Africa and the breeding of Lions to be hunted in South Africa is quite uncertain at this stage. If the US decide to ban importation of Lion trophies it will have a huge affect on the industry. Lion hunting outfitters will be forced to look at new markets to sell their product. The future of Lion hunting it seems lies with clients from emerging hunting markets like  Russia, China, Indonesia and the Middle East.

If you are interested in hunting Lions, you have to decide if you want to hunt captive bred Lions or not. It is a decision each potential Lion hunter has to make on his own.

 

 

Hunting the Big Five in South Africa Part 1 – permits & areas for Elephant Hunting

Zim Elephant  - WebI have recently had quite a few requests for clients wanting to hunt more then one member of the big five on a single South African hunting safari. What I realized is that many potential hunting clients especially from emerging markets like Russia and the Middle East do not  realize what the factors are that influence hunting the Big Five in South Africa.

If for instance a client wanted to hunt a Lion, Buffalo and Elephant in a single safari, he/she would most likely have to travel between various hunting areas. This might entail traveling  hours by road or private charter flights as these areas might be vast distances apart.

Permits for hunting dangerous game species like Lion, Leopard and Elephant are very limited and need to be arranged well in advance of the hunt. The amount of dangerous game animals that are allowed to be hunted each year are strictly regulated in regards to the amount of permits issued for each species. For this reason I have decided to do a short series on hunting areas and regulations for big five animals in South Africa, starting with Elephant hunting in South Africa, in part 1.

Permits for Elephant hunting in South Africa are issued, for areas where the the department of Nature Conservation has deemed that animal densities allow for a number of Elephant to be culled.

Permits for Elephant hunting in South Africa, especially in areas adjacent to the Kruger Park might be subject to a weight restriction on the ivory of the Elephant that is to be hunted. In some cases the weight limit might be 40 pounds per tusk, but it can vary from area to area and per permit issued. On an Elephant hunt with permit restrictions, a representative from the Parks Board who issued the permit will accompany the client and his professional hunter on the hunt. The Parks board official will be the responsible party for nominating the specific Elephant to be hunted by the client. If the ivory of the hunted Elephant is found to be heavier than the weight restriction after the hunt, the ivory will remain the clients property. The reason being that the representative of the department who issued the permit is the responsible person indicating which specific Elephant has to be shot durng the. If he judges wrongly the client and his Professional Hunter cannot be held responsible

Elephant hunting in South Africa mostly takes place in the provinces of Mpumalanga and Limpopo in private reserves adjacent to large National parks like the Kruger park and in areas bordering Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Botswana. Cities permits for Elephant are limited as to how many are issued each year for South Africa. And with the demand for Elephant permits exceeding the supply it means that Elephant hunting in South Africa can be an expensive hunt. 2013 prices vary between $30 000 US up to $40 000 US for an all inclusive Elephant hunt in South Africa.

I will be hunting 2 Lions with clients from Indonesia early June in the Kalahari desert, so please join me in part 2 where I will be discussing Lion Hunting in South Africa.

God Bless

 

Rifles, calibers & bullets suitable for an African hunting safari Part 4 – Dangerous Game Hunting

My client used a 375 Holland & Holland loaded with 300 grain Barnes X Bullets to take this Buffalo. Although the first shot was perfectly placed the Buffalo still needed 3 more shots from both the client and his PH to finally go down.  African Game especially the Big Five are tough use enough gun and best quality bullets.

My client used a rifle chambered in 375 Holland & Holland and loaded with 300 grain Barnes X Bullets to take this Buffalo. Although the first shot was perfectly placed the Buffalo still needed 3 more shots from both the client and his PH to finally go down. African Game especially the Big Five are tough use enough gun and best quality bullets.

For hunting dangerous game in South Africa the 375 Holland & Holland is the minimum caliber prescribed by law. The 375 Holland & Holland is also the minimum caliber required for dangerous game especially for Elephant and Buffalo in most other African countries. Zimbabwe however still allows the 9.3 x 62 Mauser and the 9.3 x 64 Brenneke to be legally used for Dangerous game hunting. The 375 Holland & Holland is the most widely used 375 but authorities will also allow the new 375 Ruger, the 375 Remington Ultra Magnum as well as the big boy among the 375’s the 375 Weatherby Magnum to be used on the Big Five. Please note do not even consider using a 375 Winchester on any of Africa’s Big Five, it is not only illegal but you might end up getting killed by your intended target.

If you are hunting Elephant and Buffalo I would recommend you use a bigger caliber like a 416 Rigby, 458 Lott or the 404 Jeffery provided you can handle the recoil and shoot it accurately.

I would advise against a first time hunter to Africa using a caliber like the 460 Weatherby Magnum or the 505 Gibbs, not because these calibers aren’t good for hunting the Big Five, but purely and simply because there are very few individuals who can shoot these calibers accurately without flinching. The recoil of the 460 Weatherby Magnum and the 505 Gibbs are substantial and very few people will want to put in the hours of practice from the bench required to become proficient with these rifles.

Always use the best premium quality bullets for hunting dangerous game in Africa. The African Big Five game animals are notoriously tough so please do not try to save money by using cheap ammunition, it can ruin a great safari and even cost you your life. When hunting dangerous game like Elephant use the best monolithic solids available. When hunting Buffalo  it is recommended that you use premium quality expanding bullets like Barnes X for body shots into the vitals, but if you have to follow a wounded Cape buffalo and risk facing a charge make sure you also have some good monolithic solids on hand.

So as far as your choice of rifles and calibers it’s up to you what you bring with, just make sure it is legal to use. Also make 100% sure that you can consistently shoot accurately with that particular rifle from shooting sticks and various field positions. Practice your shooting on the range and do some research on shot placement by reading or watching footage on shot placement. There are good books and videos available by Kevin Robertson, a veterinarian and professional hunter who has made a detailed study on this subject. Remember the more you practice your shooting skills the more rewarding your hunt will be.

 

Rifles, calibers & bullets suitable for an African hunting safari Part 3 – South African Bush – Veld

The Limpopo Bush-veld is situated in South Africa’s Northern areas bordering Zimbabwe and Botswana. In the Bush-Veld most of the hunting is done on a walk and stalk basis in areas with thick vegetation. Shots are mostly taken at shorter distances varying between 80 and a 150 meters.

Lee Enfield No 1 MK III kitted out with bandoleer just as my forefathers would have used it to hunt .

Lee Enfield No 1 MK III kitted out with bandoleer just as my forefathers would have used it to hunt .

Antelope hunting in these Bush-veld conditions are better suited to using a rifle that fires a slower heavier bullet instead of fast magnums. Fast bullets at short range run the risk of breaking up on animals or dense shrubbery and leaving a superficial wound without the required penetration to incapacitate your quarry. Even a well placed shot in the kill zone can still lead to the wounding and loss of a trophy or excessive carcass damage that can ruin the cape of a trophy animal.Rather leave your 7 mm Remington Magnum at home if you are just coming to hunt in the bush.

Each year local hunters hunt anything from Warthog up to Eland with rifles chambered in 308 Winchester, 30 06 Springfield, 7 x 57 Mauser and the old war horse the 303 British. The 30 06 Springfield and the 308 Winchester are the most popular calibers used by local hunters according to ammunition sales in South Africa. These calibers are very versatile. With lighter bullets they can be used to hunt in open plains areas while the heavier bullets are suitable to be used in dense Bush. The 7 x 57 Mauser has always been a favorite among South African hunters and it is a good caliber for bush-veld hunting. With 175 grain bullets the 7 x 57 Mauser is deadly on small and medium sized game like Impala. The 303 British has most probably killed more game in Africa than any other caliber from the late 19th century when it was introduced, up to the present day. Loaded with 210 grain Woodleigh bullets it remains a  effective cartridge for hunting medium sized game in the South African Bush.

If you are going to hunt medium to large antelope in Bush – Veld areas, the 30 06 Springfield with good 180 to 200 grain bullets like Barnes X, or a 308 Winchester with 180 grain bullets will be well suited. If Eland is also on the menu, I will suggest you consider something with more clout than the 30 06 Springfield. The 9.3 x 62 Mauser loaded with 286 grain bullets is a wonderful choice as a bush veld rifle. It has been used with great effect on anything from the smallest game up to the big five. The 9.3 x 62 is no longer legal to use on Buffalo and Elephant in South Africa, so you will be limited to use it on antelope and other non dangerous game. The venerable 375 Holland & Holland is very versatile and you can hunt plains game as well as dangerous game like Lion, Buffalo and Elephant with this caliber. The 375 Holland & Holland will work best on antelope in dense bush when loaded with heavier bullets of 300 grains and more that allow for lower muzzle velocities. The 375 Holland & Holland loaded with solid bullets can also be used for body shots on small game like Duiker and Steenbuck without excessive damage to the trophy.

308 Winchester Rifle built on a Mauser 98 action. This rifle has a 21 inch barrel and is fitted with a fixed 4 x scope. It is well suited for hunting medium sized game in Bush - Veld conditions.

308 Winchester Rifle built on a Mauser 98 action. This rifle has a 21 inch barrel and is fitted with a fixed 4 x scope. It is well suited for hunting medium sized game in Bush – Veld conditions.

Whatever caliber you choose to bring on your African Hunting Safari is your personal choice. Just make sure you take into account the type of game you are going to hunt and the terrain where the hunt is going to take place before you make your decision. Don’t be afraid to ask your hunting outfitter or Professional hunter for his opinion and input regarding this issue. Lastly put in lots of practice at the shooting range with your chosen rifle before you come on your hunt. Make sure your rifle groups well and is accurate with the load and bullets you decide on. Remember to practice shooting from sticks and field positions. The more preparation you put into your hunt the more rewarding it will be.

Rifles, calibres & bullets suitable for an African Hunting Safari Part 2 – Namibian Plains Game

A Namibia farmers collection of working rifles, from left to right Savage 340C 22 Hornet, Musgrave 30 06 Springfield with supressor and Sako Finnbear 7mm Remington Magnum

For the rifle hunter Namibia is bound to test your skills as a marksman to the limit. Many areas are quite devoid of vegetation that makes stalking closer to your prey more difficult. This will mean that you might be required to take longer shots at game than you are used to. Namibian plains game animals are also notoriously tough and can take a lot of punishment, so excellent shot placement is vitally important.

As I said in part 1 of this series I am not going to argue the merits of why 1 calibre is better than another, everybody has their favourites and trying to convince someone why I believe another cartridge is better is unwise. To be honest a lot of these calibres are so close to each other performance wise, that arguing about why the 300 Weatherby Magnum is better than the 300 Winchester Magnum is a futile argument. We all know the Weatherby is a bit hotter than the 300 Winchester Magnum, but the reality is that a Kudu or Gemsbok shot with either of these 300′s will not be able to tell the difference and will be equally dead regardless of which of these calibres are used.

Cartridge comparison left to right; 264 Winchester Magnum 140gr. 308 Winchester 150gr. 22 Hornet 45gr and 22LR. All of these cartridges have their application they are suited for. The 264Win Mag will however be the best of the lot for plains game hunting in Namibia while the 308 is better suited to South African Bush Veld conditions. The 22′s are best not used on antelope species.

This why I will merely try and indicate what range of cartridges in my humble opinion are suited for what types of hunting in Namibia. Using the right calibre rifle for the right application is important provided the marksmen has done his job and placed the bullet in the vitals. If you have difficulty hitting the target with your 30 06 Springfield bringing a 460 Weatherby Magnum with you to Namibia will not magically turn you into a Marine Corps Sniper. The opposite is also true, just because you are an exceptional marksman and you have shot everything from prairie dogs to Grizzly Bears with your 243 Winchester, does not mean you should try and emulate that in Africa, rather use a calibre suited to the application it is required for.

So question remains what do you use on what in Namibia? What the locals use are usually a good indication of what works in a specific area. Gun laws in Namibia are not as friendly as in the USA and most locals don’t have the luxury of owning hundreds of rifles in different calibres, so they generally stick to tried and trusted equipment that has stood the test of time. Ask your PH what rifles he uses and owns and what he suggests you bring with.

From my experiences in Namibia I have observed what some of the locals use and have come to the following conclusions. For most antelope species like Kudu, Springbuck and Impala I would say the 270 Winchester with good 130 grain bullets like Swift A Frames, Barnes X or Noslers would be the minimum calibre I would suggest as adequate. South African and Namibian hunters regularly use the 308 Winchester and 30 06 Springfield effectively to take Springbuck, Kudu and even Gemsbok in Namibia. These calibres work and have the credentials in combat to back it up. But just like the US military found in Afghanistan that they needed a cartridge with a flatter trajectory than the tried and trusted 308, for longer range sniping in Afghan conditions, the same logic applies to certain areas in Namibia.

Any of the various 300 Magnums with good quality 180 grain bullets will work well on all antelope encountered in Namibian conditions. The 7mm Remington Magnum and my personal favourite the 264 Winchester Magnums with 140 grain Barnes X bullets are also viable options. I love the 264 Winchester Magnum but that is just because it has been in the family for longer than we care to remember and it has never failed to bring home the venison. I will in no way try and convince anyone to rather use a 264 instead of a 7mm or 300 Magnum. In my opinion any of the Magnums from the 264 Winchester Magnum up to and including all of the various 300 Magnums will get the job done for hunting anything from Springbuck up to Gemsbok. If you have difficulty handling the recoil of the magnums, I suggest you rather bring a 30 06 Springfield with good quality 168 grain bullets.

If you have larger antelope like Eland on the menu a 338 Winchester Magnum or 338 Lappua Magnum with premium quality bullets between 220 grain and 250 grains will be an ideal choice, provided you can handle the recoil and shoot it accurately. The 375 Holland and Holland is extremely versatile round and with lighter 220 – 250gr. projectiles it can be effectively used for longer range shooting. With the lighter bullets a 375 will almost emulate the 300 Magnums trajectory. By switching to heavier bullets like the 300 grain Barnes X you can confidently hunt Buffalo as well. So if you are bringing only one rifle, a rifle in the class of the 375 Holland and Holland will be quite a good choice. Another cartridge that is ballistic wise very close to the 375 Holland and Holland is the 9.3 x 64 Brenneke which is also referred to as the German 375.

Something else to take into account is if the calibre rifle you are bringing is a popular calibre in Namibia and if ammunition for your rifle will be available locally. It can happen that your luggage with ammunition supply can get lost on route by the airlines and if that happens, it will be better to have a rifle that you will not have trouble getting ammunition for in Namibia.

Have fun deciding what calibre rifle or rifles you want to use on your African Hunting Safari, but don’t forget to prepare properly before getting on the plane. Get fit and practise a lot of long range shooting from sticks and field positions, get to know your rifles trajectory and its limitations. Marksmanship is still the most important factor in helping you bag your trophy.

***Join me in part 3 on what calibres are suited for hunting in the South African Bush-veld of Mpumalanga and Limpopo.

 

Rifles, calibres & bullets suitable for an African Hunting Safari Part 1

The choice of calibres, rifles and different bullet types are personal and discussions about this can lead to highly emotional arguments between the adherents of different calibres and brands. In this series of blogs I will not venture into arguing one calibres merit over another. I will merely try to point out what range of calibres are in my opinion best suited for different types of species and terrain when hunting in Southern Africa.

When it comes to guns, hunting and calibres there are millions of experts each with their own opinion as to what is the best. Unfortunately many of these experts base their arguments on their personal preferences as well as what they personally own and shoot. It does not help to try and argue the merits of the 243 Winchester against the qualities of a 30 06 Springfield, they were designed to do different jobs and although you can load a 30 06 with 125 grain bullets to get a flatter trajectory you cannot turn it into a true varmint rifle, just like a 243 cannot match a 30 06 loaded with 220 grain bullets for bush-veld hunting on species like Impala and Kudu.

When you decide on what rifles you want to use on your safari you need to take into account what species you are going to hunt and in which types of terrain most of the hunting will take place. If you are hunting plains game in Namibia where long shots in open terrain is the norm rather than exception, you need to choose a calibre that has a flat trajectory and sufficient killing power to down tough animals like Gemsbok and Kudu. If you will mostly be hunting in the Limpopo bush-veld in thick brush, with shots taken varying between 80 and 150 meters, a fast calibre like the 7mm Remington Magnum or the 264 Winchester Magnum which might work well in Namibia, will not necessarily be the best choice for the bush. With a fast calibre the projectile will have a greater risk of breaking up on bone at short distances leaving excessive carcass damage or worse superficial wounds and possibly wounded game.

Hunting in Africa is definitely not a one dimensional proposition and there is most certainly not an all-round rifle calibre that can do it all, not in North America and definitely not in Africa. Like Golf, where a 3 Wood and a putter have different uses and areas where they are used, the same applies to rifles and hunting.  If you are paying a huge amount of money for the trophy of a life time, use a rifle of a suitable calibre for the terrain and species you intend to hunt. Rather have your trophy in your trophy room and the pictures to prove it, than being left ruing the fact that your equipment was not up to standard.

***Follow me in part 2 for suggestions on what calibre rifles are suited to use on plains game in Namibia.