by NRA Staff - Thursday, May 19, 2011
American Rifleman Managing Editor Aaron Carter had the rare fortune to hunt Africa with the Nosler 48 TGR loaded with Nosler ammunition last year. For this hunter, words can barely describe all the sights, sounds, emotions, customs, people, and occurrences that one encounters while hunting, even visiting, the Dark Continent. Follow along with his African experiences.
My first African animal: a representative blesbok. Despite their size, being comparable to whitetail in certain regions of the U.S., blesbok are tough animals. This specimen was taken with a handloaded 180-gr. Nosler Ballistic Tip at about 50-60 yds. The terminal performance was incredible. The blesbok is a must-have for first-timers on safari. From l. to r.: Professional Hunter Hanno van Rensburg of Authentic African Adventures, the author, and tracker, Stephen. It was incredible to watch Stephen follow-up animals, especially a specific animal in a herd.
Several PHs have told me essentially the same thing: Seldom does one shot keep a blue wildebeest down. They are easily one of the toughest African plains game species. Hanno was surprised when the 180-gr. AccuBond from a .300 WSM did just that at 125 yds. The bullet entered at the tip of the left front shoulder and stopped against the hide behind opposite shoulder, causing extensive damage to the vitals in the process. It was yet another example of just how tough the AccuBond is.
In the parched landscape of the Limpopo, water sources, such as this small pond, are vital to all game animals. These spot make good ambush sites. That doesn't make it a sure bet, though, as with so many predators (even in the water), the animals are always alert. Here an impala drinks before disappearing back into the brush.
Don't forget the smaller species. Before arriving I had little intention of hunting the smaller animals, but upon seeing them in the field, I quickly found the desire to pursue them. They are very wary, making them challenging animals to hunt. This is a representative steenbok; on my second safari I took the current No. 18 SCI steenbok.
This especially large gemsbok nearly gave us the slip, as it had done numerous hunters on previous safaris. PH Hanno van Rensburg knew the general area the bull stayed, and while working through the bull bolted. Fortunately, I managed to shoulder the rifle and quickly deliver an AccuBond through the thicket on the bull, which was angling very sharply away from us. Although aiming for the small pocket behind the right front shoulder, the bullet impacted about an inch left, entering the front of the right hind quarter and traversing the entire chest cavity before coming to rest after penetrating the heart. Talk about penetration! In such circumstances, "premium" bullets are essentially an insurance policy.
I took my 54-inch kudu in a most unusual way. In fact, we weren't even hunting at the time. On Shelanti Game Ranch there's an elevated lookout point called "Pride Rock," which enables viewing of mile upon mile of the Limpopo's brushy terrain. The Shelanti PH, Calvin, my PH, Hanno, tracker, Stephen, our driver, and I were admiring the view, and especially the large groups of giraffes, when Hanno spotted the past-prime bull foraging below us. The Bushnell 10X 42 mm 1600 ARC binocular ranged it at 305 yds. By the time I retrieved the rifle from the vehicle the bull was shrouded by brush and heading to our left, so we moved along a ridgeline until finding a suitable point to set up. When the bull stepped into the opening, it was 265 yds. away. The Bushnell revealed the holdover, and taking into account the wind, my Nosler Model 48 Trophy Grade Rifle in .300 WSM delivered the 180-gr. AccuBond, which penetrated both shoulders and exited. It ran less than 20 yds. before succumbing. By the way, it was the first and last animal taken from "Pride Rock," which is now reserved for sightseeing and photos.
When hunting the Limpopo, taking a shotgun along is a good idea, as there's a good variety of feathered quarry for the wingshooting enthusiast. Although I didn't bring a shotgun, my PH had one (and shells) for me to use. In the waning light one evening I had an opportunity to pursue wild guinea fowl, fast-flying birds that proved very sporting. They also served part of the main course of dinner the following evening.
A must-have specimen on anyone's first safari, this was the smaller of the two impala I killed. At less than 60 yds. the shot was close; however, the Limpopo's incessant vegetation reiterated a previously learned lesson: bullets deflect of course when impacting brush. Although only a single twig was visible through the scope, upon firing Professional Hunter Hanno van Rensburg, as well as our tracker, Stephen, saw the limb fall. The bullet struck low, requiring a quick follow-up.
The result of a week-long safari: The animals include a kudu, two impala, a steenbok, a duiker, a blue wildebeest, a blesbok, and a gemsbok. With the exception of the blesbok, which was shot with a 180-gr. Nosler Ballistic Tip, all the other animals pictured here were taken with the 180-gr. AccuBond. The rifle used was a Nosler Model 48 Trophy Grade in .300 WSM, topped with a Leupold VX-7. The combination proved ideal for the one-gun safari, especially on the larger animals such as kudu, gemsbok and blue wildebeest. Although the larger animals all fell to one shot, dropping the latter in-place is almost unheard of. The recovered bullet from the wildebeest was "picture perfect" with regard to expansion and weight retention.
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