Another of our African hunts is now history and an excellent hunt it turned out to be. After a very dismal start with the New York black-out hitting the east coast the night before we left, it had to get better. With no planes being allowed to land in New York's JFK, we were routed to Atlanta about 2 hours out of New York. The Delta folks told us that over 600 planes had been routed to Atlanta and the international terminal was wall to wall people trying to get a plane to anywhere. We were stranded there overnight but managed to get out the next morning on the next South African Airlines jet heading to Johannesburg. After arriving, settling in and one days hunt under our belt I think 4 of my 6 guys were a bit intimidated by the spookiness of the African game and the ranges we had to shoot in. 200 yards was common and for a handgun that is not always easy. Hell, that's not always easy with a rifle, especially after running for a half mile or crawling for 700 yards and being out of breath and having the PH tell you, "there he is, on the right, shoot him". You are trying to jumpstart your heart, get your breath and calm down your puckered up ass all at the same time and still get in a shot in the 5 seconds allotted you. At dinner that night there were a few long sighs due to missed shots but as I told them, that's hunting. If every shot was a kill, they would call it killing, not hunting. As the days wore on the missed shots became fewer and the smiles replaced the frowns. We began to spot the game quicker and were able to judge the horns a bit better, although never better than the PH or the trackers. One thing I always stress to my guys is, when the PH says shoot a certain animal, never question him, just pull the trigger. You have to remember, when your name goes into the record book, so does his. So he wants you to get a good trophy animal, just as much as you do. Of the 36 animals the 6 hunters took, it looks like all but 2 of them will hit the record book. I spent a few hours at the skinning shed doing some preliminary scoring and it looks like there will be several animals that will be the new #1 in the world and maybe as many as 10 in the top 3 in the world. These are in the handgun book but almost half our animals were taken with rifles and the animals taken with rifles scored exceptionally well also. I will have the actual scores within a week and will post them on the next Gun Notes.
I think the main thing the guys learned in Africa is that African game is much much harder to put down than our game here in the states. Small animals the size of a Key deer or Coues Deer were taking 2 and 3 magnum rifle rounds to put down, even with a center chest shot. I personally have seen animals weighing 60 pounds max take a center chest shot, completely blowing the heart out of the chest cavity and into a bush behind the animal and the critter runs for a half mile. Situations like this happen time and time again in Africa. You may go to Africa with an ego as large as Cleveland but you'll come back mighty humbled and a much better hunter.
Our next hunt will probably be early next summer. I will be setting the actual date in the next month or two and start booking it around the first of the year.
A lot of items cropping up in the gun industry while I was away. S&W still having some problems with their new 500. The factory ammo is being reworked using large rifle primers and new data is in the new Hodgdon book although Hornady is still planning to use the magnum pistol primers in their ammo. There is a new 500 S&W loading coming. A 370 grain gas check LBT bullet that should do well. I like the lighter weight bullets over the heavy ones myself. This one should be a better balanced load. Hornady is still planning to put out the 500 Linebaugh brass and will have the new 500 Linebaugh dies out by the time you read this. Their dies are excellent, by the way. Hornady will also have the shell plates for the 500 Linebaugh available for their progressive presses.
I am still hearing rumors of a beefier model 92 rifle action coming out chambered for the 500 S&W. And not necessarily by Winchester. There are several other people out there manufacturing the model 92 action.
We have a new lever gun on the drawing board chambered in one of our new cartridges. It is based on the model 1894 Marlin. More on that a bit later.
For those of you shooting the new 17 HMR, ammo is becoming a bit more plentiful. At our gun shop it is fairly easy to order it now where it was tough a few months ago. CCI is working night and day cranking it out.
For you 32 freaks there may be a new revolver chambered in 32 H&R and 32-20 coming out. Still in the pre-production stages. More on this one next time.
Response to the new 223 WSSM and 243 WSSM cartridges has been very good. Mike Jordan of Winchester ammo showed us the cartridges at the celebrity Handgun Hunt last year. Very impressive looking although I haven't had a chance to shoot one. I had planned to chamber both of them in our Ultimate Encore when the ammo is readily available.
One thing I was very pleased with concerning our Africa hunt was the performance of our custom cartridges. All but one of our hunters took guns chambered in our GNR calibers and all performed flawlessly. Rick Sim used our 375 GNR #2 and the 338 GNR, both in the encore. Brian Doher took several animals with the 378 GNR in his encore, and the 300 GNR in a revolver. Larry Kovach, on his 3rd trip there, used the 41 GNR, and the 410 GNR. Keith Kallsen used our new Ultimate 410 prototype revolver in 410 GNR and I used my old standby 378 GNR encore barrel along with a revolver in 410 GNR and the prototype revolver in 510 GNR and another encore in 375 GNR #2. The bullets used in the various calibers performed very well also. Larry Kovach shot his large record book Hartebeest end to end, throat to bung hole with the 410 GNR, the bullet ending up under the skin of it's ass like a big wart. The 255 grain LBT could literally have been shot again. Only a very slight smear on the nose. The 350 grain LBT bullets used in the 510 GNR did just as well on the larger animals, plowing right thru. I shot 2 animals in the 800 pound range with it and only recovered one bullet, all of them blowing right thru. The bullet recovered was found on the ground by one of the trackers. All in all some very impressive results from the guns, the calibers and especially the FNGs, now officially FOGs.