We like to think that this is the real hunting of Africa - what we all grew up with here. The abundance of and variety of non dangerous game is what makes Africa unique. Some of them do live on the open plains but most are bush dwellers. As much as The Big Five is touted as the epitome of African hunting we believe the sheer variety of our non dangerous Savannah game is what "Hunting Africa" really is about.
Look at the list of what South African meat and trophy hunters have available as a matter of course:
Red and grey duiker. Springbok. Blesbok. Bontebok. Impala. Bushbuck. Grey rhebok. Reedbuck. Mountain reedbuck (or "Rooi-ribbok", related to the reedbuck). Red hartebeest. Tsessebe (the fastest ungulate in Africa). Zebra. Black wildebeest. Blue wildebeest. Nyala. Kudu. Gemsbok. Roan. Sable. Waterbuck. Eland (The heaviest antelope on earth). Warthog. Bushpig.
Twenty four different species excluding the nine species of small antelope like the duikers and steenbok! Where else on earth can you hunt that but in Southern Africa? And be sure - each one of them will present its own unique challenge to your and our skills.
The forever-issue that USA hunters debate on forums and around the camp fire is: "Which calibre is best for Africa?"
And the immediate answer must be: The 30-06. Period.
But: do bring that .30 calibre magazine rifle which is not too heavy to carry and which you shoot well - meaning that one with which you can consistently shoot accurately (4") off-hand up to 100 yards, and from make-shift rests hit a 4" target out to two hundred yards.
Experience has shown that the heavier bullets in the .30 calibres work better in Africa - and not necessarily the speediest. If you arrive with a 30-06 / .308W and 180 gr bullets, or .280 Rem / 7x57mm Mauser / 7mm-08 with bullets in the 175-160 gr range your outfitter will be impressed and no doubt you'll be able to impress us with the way you shoot them. You'll have ample time to zero the scopes.
Do you shoot any of the modern .300 "Ultra" Magnums? Our honest opinion? Their penetration ability is bad due to bullet failure on big game shoulders at the closer than 200 yard ranges your guide will get you to; they also seem to be difficult to shoot accurately by many hunters. Even so, if that is your rifle of choice and you can shoot it accurately, be our guest and bring it - but then only with the heaviest premium bullets it can manage and come impress us with accurate heart shots.
If you prefer the .300 Winchester Magnum it is still advisable to use the heaviest, best constructed bullets available for the calibre. Rather than high velocity and "flat shooting" think more in terms of the penetrating performance at 100 - 200 yards by a slower, heavy, strong bullet through tough skin and into thick muscle and very strong shoulder bone. the 200 gr .308" Interbond (or even the Interlock series at these weights) have all proven themselves. Sight your rifle 2" high at 100 yards with the flat base heavies. Out to 250 yards there is not .5 MOA trajectory difference between these and the sleek SST or Nosler Accubonds (by the way, please do not bring these two to Africa as they fail on the shoulder of big game).
With real good reason we caution against using any "ballistic tip" bullets. Your guide will get you to closer than 200 yards of your difficult objectives and often as close as 70-100 yards. Accurate placing of a heavy bullet into the heart is what will get you your game. As a kind reference: keep in mind that simply because of their ability to penetrate so well and kill cleanly at all normal hunting distances the 30-06 and .308W (180 gr), and .303 Brit (174 -215 gr), and 7x57, 7x64 (160-175gr) have been in regular use in Africa since their inception - and still are the locally preferred majority one-shot killers every day.
Game in South Africa belongs to the land owner on whose property it is at any time. The cost is on the shooter's debit the moment a hit is observed by the PH, guide or tracker. Every effort will be made to find any wounded game, and no further hunting by that party proceeds until the wounded animal has been found and killed. The PH / guide will also carry a rifle and at his sole discretion he may dispatch a poorly shot, wounded animal should the hunter fail to make a follow up shot when necessary.
Please keep in mind that the hunting style here is NOT the Colorado doctrine to ¨keep on shooting until you can put your foot on the animal's neck". A fatally wounded animal often dashes off for 50-60 yards before dying, and a wounded animal will not show any indication of being hit with follow-up shots, unless it is into the brain. After a good shot is called by the hunter we typically call a few minutes break, sit down and relax and then go to the exact position the animal had been standing, and then follow up from there.
Should you experience a need for it, locally manufactured ammunition will serve you well; it is plentiful in .375 H&H / .300 Winchester Mag. / 30-06 Sprg / .308 W / 7x64 Brenneke / 7mm Rem Mag / 7x57 Mauser / .270 W. The local PMP Group manufactures excellent ammunition with on-target performance right up there with the best in the world and arguably more accurate than most.
Dangerous Game Need a Special Mention
Cape buffalo, lion and leopard are our speciality in South Africa; elephant in Zimbabwe. And - for that special wild, old Africa hunt we have the best you can ask for: lion, leopard, Cape buffalo and sable in the far north of Mozambique, bordering Tanzania. Hunt in the true Robert Ruark, Harry Manners, Peter Capstick and Peter Flack style. It will be THE Africa experience you will never forget.
Big trophy buffalo bulls (40 inch spread and more) are becoming very scarce. We have concessions to areas where 36-40 inch bulls are available. Prices differ between these horn sizes.
To have a unique experience combine a Cape buffalo with a real trophy sized (meaning VERY BIG), very dark brown bull giraffe. Giraffe is not officially deemed "dangerous game", and indeed they will rather walk away from humans - but tourists who approached too close by car have paid dearly for such foolishness as a single kick from those powerful hind legs will render a vehicle's cooling system in pieces right there.
What calibre for dangerous game?
We advise our clients to bring their .375 H&H rifles to Africa because it has very manageable recoil which allows for sufficient practice to ensure perfect shot placement. Honestly, with well constructed bullets (S.A. made Peregrines, GS Custom, Rhino - and USA made Barnes, Swift A-Frame of 300 gr. the .375 H&H has the required performance to cleanly kill anything Africa has to offer, and its mild recoil allows the shooter to practice a lot and consistently put the bullet where it is supposed to go.
A heavier calibre which causes you to flinch and miss that vital spot is a real liability and not an asset; a hard kicking .458"+ will NOT do you any good if your shot placement is off the mark. Locally manufactured ammunition for the .375 H&H is plentiful and efficient. Also, to make us smile, your big bore will not have a muzzle brake so we shall not look foolish by needing to wear ear protection out in the bush. If you own a .416 Rigby and you can shoot it well you are talking my language!
We all are aware of the silliness the liberal media created around lion hunting in Zimbabwe, as well as the airlines' sudden announcements regarding not carrying lion trophies. The South African Professional Hunters' Association (SAPHA) already is in contact with airlines and we firmly believe there will soon be clarity - and that reality will prevail over emotion.
A lot of bad press has gone out regarding so called "canned" hunting of lion in South Africa. While there is no such thing as feed-lot style hunting like in Colorado and Texas, by law any landowner who has dangerous game on his property has to have S.A Bureau of Standards approved fencing around his property for the protection of neighbours' assets and safety. The system regulated itself to the following standards:
No lion will be hunted that have to be fed dead carcasses - they must have the ability to roam and hunt their own prey. By default this implies that the size of the property must be such that it carries sustainable numbers of big game. This leaves me with a proposal of two interesting choices for the lion hunter:
We can go lion hunting in the unfenced wilderness of Northern Mozambique or Zimbabwe where we will hunt for tracks of a big male, shoot two or three waterbuck, hartebeest or whatever as bait, leave these in strategic positions and check on them three times a day and go and assassinate our lion as has been done for visiting hunters the past 100 years in Africa. That is not called "canned hunting" by the way - and neither is assassinating fattened elk from a stand at their feeding troughs in Colorado or rotund deer at their maze and pellet dispensers in Texas, or beeffalo in their hay supplied meadows in Wyoming and Colorado.
Or we can go to a 100,000 - 300,000 acre property with 12' high fences, drop trackers at various places, walk ourselves around until we find the fresh tracks of a big male, load our rifles and start following them. Day old tracks would have been into wind but the wind may have swung around during the night. The lion will know that somewhere there is a boundary which blocks their retreat from the following humans. Once we get within 200 yards of them, no matter being down wind they will know they are being pushed and that somewhere they will not be able to retreat any further. The hunter who gets taken to private land WILL shoot his lion head-on. Face to face, because lion can be pushed for only so long and then then they turn on the pusher. Your shot will have to be from the one knee kneeling position to have the rifle down at his heart level if he is approaching. He may not charge before the 20 yard mark but he WILL have a keen interest in us. You will not stand for my bull terrier to approach you in this fashion - take it from me. That rifle with which you kill this lion at 20-30 yards you will never sell.