It’s a year later and the immensity of the adventure of my first trip to Africa is still nearly overwhelming. The culture, wildlife, the tradition of the Safari and the hunt offer more than enough story line. Continue reading And Then There Was Africa
While Rowland Ward is known primarily as a publisher of record books, he also published some big game hunting books. Most of them were good and today many of them are scarce. Cotton’s book about the Eastern Sudan is most interesting, especially the first edition published with a large foldout map. While many think of this area for large elephants, it also has many lions. These provided sport for Mr. Cotton. Continue reading Armchair Safari – Sport In The Eastern Sudan
At age 75 I thought my doctor’s suggestion for an angiogram didn’t make sense just because of a slight shortness of breath when walking briskly. However, the test results showed I was in immediate need for what turned out to be triple bypass surgery, and the next day I found myself a cardio bypass patient.
A lifelong dream of an African safari seemed remote and, as I lay in my hospital bed, my family and recovery were on my mind, not Africa. Heart surgery is a life changing experience, both physically and emotionally.
In a few weeks, I joined a group in a cardio rehab program at a local gym. One morning I overheard the words “African safari” and immediately introduced myself to a fellow rehab patient who was showing his photos of a safari he went on two years prior. One thing led to another and as I quizzed my new found friend, Doug Blood, I told him how I had wanted to hunt in Africa since I was a teen and didn’t see that a possibility now.
We discussed a trip during the next few weeks at the gym, over lunch, and dinner and Doug said he would go again if I would. Doug had taken a Cape buffalo and kudu and wanted to add a plains game hunt. Tino Erasmus, the PH and owner of TG Safaris in the Limpopo province of South Africa was to visit in March for his annual trip to the States, and we all agreed to meet and discuss a possible hunt. Doug’s previous safari was with TG Safaris and he was impressed and satisfied, so any other outfitter was not even considered. I liked Tino from the start, and felt comfortable talking with him and discussing my health issue and concerns.
After talking it over with my wife, JoEllen, she urged me to go. Her words were something like, “Look, you aren’t getting any younger, you survived heart surgery, and I think you should go.” A safari was no minor expense; however, we discussed that as well and agreed it was not an issue.
As for my heath concern, after talking it over with my cardiologist, he said: “Have a great time. I want to see the pictures.” I did, however, purchase a trip cancellation policy through SCI’s travel protection plan as well as a Global Rescue policy. Neither was necessary, but well worth the peace of mind they afforded. South Africa is a long way from home.
I finally made up my mind and said to Doug, “OK. Let’s go hunting.” Since he had been on safari, he knew the ropes and what was involved. That made it much easier, riding on Doug’s experience.
We booked the trip with TG Safaris for a seven-day hunt in July of this year. I wanted to take a greater kudu, gemsbok, impala, warthog and wildebeest. My daughter, Amy, asked that I get her a zebra rug, so that was added to the list.
As for the rifle, five years ago I purchased a custom Winchester Model 70 in .300 Winchester Magnum caliber with the hope of an eventual African hunt. I mated it with a Zeiss 3-9X scope, not knowing it would actually make it to the Dark Continent. I settled on 180-grain Nosler Partition Federal Premium ammo for the hunt, since it was highly recommended and consistently grouped well under an inch at 100 yards. Sighted in 1.6 inches high put it on the money at 200 yards. A ton of practice off the unfamiliar shooting sticks gave me the confidence I needed, as well as getting used to the stiff recoil of the magnum.
Our other daughter, Jenny, a critical care physician in Washington State, asked if she could join us because she wanted to see and experience Africa. Of course I was elated that she wanted to come, knowing deep down that her real purpose was to watch over her dad!
The long flight from Rochester, New York, to Washington/Dulles to Dakar to J’Berg was not nearly as bad as I feared. I suspect the thought of my long-anticipated safari had a lot to do with that. An overnight accommodation at a meet and greet guesthouse in J’Berg allowed us to get a good meal and restful night sleep. The next day, we boarded a short flight to Pietersburg where we were met and driven the final leg to the Sand River Hills ranch.
Upon arrival at the ranch and meeting Amanda, Tino’s wife, Arno, my PH, JJ, another PH, and the staff, we settled in, sighted-in the rifles and prepared for the next day’s hunt. After an excellent dinner that included gemsbok, we hit the sack for tomorrow’s hunt. It is hard to describe my feelings and thoughts as I lay in bed. There I was in Africa. Tomorrow we would hunt. After 60 years, a dream was being realized.
Our hunt was successful in all ways and Doug and I took the game we sought. The last shot I took was on a slow-moving warthog at 210 yards. The Model 70, Federal ammunition and practice combined for one-shot kills on all the game.
Dr. Jenny had a terrific time joining me on the hunts and enjoying camp life. Tino said it was nice having a doctor in camp and Jenny did tend to a serious infected tick bite Doug received.
That is how a dream was realized, and a 77-year-old cardio patient discovered that Africa was not out of the question. As I admired my first trophy, the zebra, I became overwhelmed for the moment seemed impossible two years ago. I can’t imagine the possibility of a few years from now wishing I had gone on safari and not having done it. Some dreams are meant to be realized.
Incidentally, I recently purchased a Mauser rifle in 9.3×64 caliber for the next trip in two years. The Africa experience is too wonderful to only experience once. I hear there is a dagga boy Cape buffalo waiting for me and I don’t intend to disappoint it.– Ron Martino
By Jörg Rodenbeck
Jörg Rodenbeck is an international member from Wilhelmshaven, Germany.
I like the idea of asking our fellow hunters what they like and use. My pet rifle is the first rifle I bought after acquiring my hunting license–a Sauer 202 in .300 Weatherby Magnum with a Zeiss 2.5-10x 48mm scope. This rifle was very accurate right out of the box and shot (and is still shooting) sub-minute-of-angle groups with Norma 180-grain PPC (Vulcan) factory ammo. It’s my favorite because it has so many “firsts”–first rifle, first hunt, first red stag, first wild boar, first kudu, first moose and so on.
This rifle was with me on 30 hunting trips on three continents and never let me down. From 1993 until today, I’ve shot roughly 300 game animals with it and the confidence in this rifle really improves my shooting. With its detachable stock, it’s easy to transport.
I have 15 African safaris under my belt and the 16th was scheduled for August. Over the past 12 years, I took more than 30 species of African game from dik dik to elephant and used a couple of different rifles for those tasks. I always take two rifles to Africa, but my battery changed over time and it depends on the area and the game as to which battery I take.
On my first buffalo hunt, I used a .375 H&H for the big stuff, but to my mind this caliber is overestimated and has not the stopping power I want from a “dangerous game” rifle. So I went to the German custom gunsmith K.H. Ritterbusch and ordered a .416 Rigby rifle with a Magnum Mauser action, equipped with a 1.5 -6 X 42mm Swarovski scope (detachable mount) and open sights. This rifle is a joy to shoot, very accurate with Romey ammo and 410-grain Woodleigh Bullets (20mm group at 100m) and all I want from a DG-rifle.
My second Rifle for the first four safaris was my pet rifle, but I realized that in areas with thick bushes, the .300 Weatherby is not the best choice. So I switched to the following batteries.
Battery For Dangerous Game
I use the.416 Rigby as mentioned above. Also, I use a .338 Winchester Magnum Winchester Model 70 rifle with classic receiver; 24-inch fluted Shilen barrel, Jewell trigger and JRS laminated stock, with Swarovski 3-12 X 50mm scope. For all the different plains game I may shoot on DG safari for bait or as a trophy, including leopard, eland or sable, I find this caliber to be very, very versatile, hard hitting and accurate.
On plains game safaris in open country like parts of Namibia, the Kalahari and so on, where I may have to shoot at distances of 300 yards or more, I like a flat-shooting rifle. So my Number One for this kind of hunting is my .300 Weatherby Magnum pet rifle. For the “little ones” like duiker, dik-dik, steenbok or small cats like caracal and for jackals, my second rifle is a Sauer 202 Outback in .243 Winchester with a Zeiss 3-9x42mm scope.
Battery For Plains Game In Bush-Country
When I hunt plains game in bushy country like Zulu-Natal, I prefer the .338 Winchester Magnum as the first rifle and the .243Winchester as the second.
Ammunition and bullets are a never-ending discussion, and everybody seems to have his pet brand and pet loads. But since I have hunted on three continents and have shot about 500 game animals, I’ll try to explain my point of view.
I use factory ammunition as well as handloads, depending on which rifle I am using.
In recent years, I have become a fan of the bonded-core or welded-core bullets. Those bullets usually deliver good penetration, have good weight retention and leave a good blood trail to follow. With the .416 Rigby, I use the Romey factory load with 410-grain Woodleigh welded core bullet for buffalo and lion. For elephant and hippo, I use the Romey factory load with 410-grain Woodleigh FMJ bullet. With the .300 Weatherby Magnum, I prefer the 180-grain Norma PPC load for longer shots, and the 180-grain Norma ORYX (bonded core) load for closer shots.
With the .338 Winchester Magnum, I prefer the 215-grain Sierra Game King on lighter game like red stag, fallow deer or hartebeest. On larger game like eland, kudu, sable, boars and bears, I prefer the 250-grain Swift A-Frame.
With the .243 Winchester, I use 105-grain RWS factory soft-points, and with the .30-‘06, I use the 180-grain Norma ORYX or 180-grain Norma PPC loads, depending on the hunting circumstances. “Waidmannsheil!” (good hunting)