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Rifle Hunting in Southern Africa:

Rifle hunting is by far the most popular method employed in South Africa. The question of which caliber is best and which rifle to bring on safari can be a topic of endless discussion. Experienced hunters and Professional Hunters alike will surely have their favorites and are more than willing to discuss their preferences. The right rifle will in many instances largely depend on the trophies you are interested in taking.

 

The "Old Timers" are still "locking horns" over the pros and cons of the .375 H&H versus the 9.3x62mm and that debate is sure to go on until the last Impala is skinned and in the salt. One bottom line here; if it is dangerous game that you have come to hunt, the .375 caliber is the minimum prescribed by law in most African countries. For the average hunter coming to Africa for plains game, bring a rifle that you are completely familiar with and comfortable shooting. In other words, your favorite "white tail deer" rifle with the right bullets will within reason be adequate for most anything on the plains. As a guide, while lesser calibers will suffice on the smaller antelope, the .270 Winchester should be considered the minimum for most medium sized plains game species.

With the proper premium grade bullets and good shot placement, the .270 is fully capable of taking many of the larger plains dwellers. In addition to the .270, the rifle calibers most often brought to Africa by clients include (in no particular order): the various 7mm's to include the 7mm Mag, 7mm Ultra Mag, and even the 7x57mm Mauser; the 30-06 Springfield is extremely popular and has long been a favorite of hunters around the globe. The 300 Win Mag is an excellent all around choice especially if your safari will take you to areas where long shots may be necessary. If larger and tougher game like Eland, Roan, or Zebra, to name a few are on the menu, think about the .338 Winchester Magnum, a favorite of North American Moose and Grizzly hunters. The above-mentioned calibers are merely examples and should in no way be construed as recommendations. BRING A RIFLE THAT YOU SHOOT WELL AND ARE THOROUGHLY FAMILIAR AND COMFORTABLE WITH !

A word about bullets: As a general rule, premium quality, heavy for caliber bullets are your best choice. Many fine bullets are on the market today; the Nosler Partition, the Swift A-Frame, Woodleigh Weldcore, Barnes X & Triple Shock, and the South African Rhino just to name a few. Many of these fine bullets are available in factory-loaded ammunition and can also be hand-loaded if you possess those skills. African game seems to be a bit tougher than game found elsewhere in the world. Perhaps this is due to evolution and the extensive predation to which they are subjected so don't "skimp" on ammunition.

If you take nothing else away from this discussion; READ AND BELIEVE THIS !.. You can bring the finest rifles to Africa in just the right caliber, with the perfectly matched heavy for caliber premium quality bullets and all will be for nothing if your shots are not placed correctly!!! "SHOT PLACEMENT" is the most important single aspect of any discussion regarding hunting with a rifle. Put in its most simple terms: "It's not what you shoot him with, but where you shoot him that matters the most.. !!!" A badly placed shot with even the largest of rifles and the finest bullets available will result at best in a very long day of tracking and at worst a lost trophy. The lose of a fine trophy can be a big disappointment but in case you haven't heard, if you make it bleed, you pay for it. Enough about that.

Your Professional Hunter will guide you in this matter, trust his judgment and do your best to put your shot where he recommends. If you are unsure, or not comfortable with the shot don't take it. You can stack the odds in your favor here by doing a bit of homework. An excellent book called the "Perfect Shot", written by Kevin Robertson, a veterinarian and professional hunter, is available. It details shot placement on just about every species of African game that you might encounter. And by all means, go to the rifle range and practice. Sight-in your rifle at the desired distance, usually between 100 and 150 yards using a solid bench rest. Once your rifle is "on target" get off the bench and shoot from the shooting sticks, off hand, sitting, kneeling and the various other positions, which might be presented during the hunt. Even the most experienced shooter needs to hone his skills with the rifle. Ammunition is cheap compared to the cost of the Safari, so practice, practice, practice

To paraphrase one of my personal heroes: "Shoot straight and always use enough gun !" Wishing you clear skies and good hunting!

WAG

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