With the release of 'Jurassic World', the fourth in a series of movies inspired by the Michael Crichton novels, dinosaur hunting is the topic du jour among the serious hunters. While grizzly bears and the African Big Five get most hunters very excited, nothing gets my blood pumping like hunting dinosaurs.
The now-famous internet photograph of esteemed film director Steven Spielberg, posing next to a record-book trophy Triceratops, has caused quite a stir. Here at American Hunter, Executive Editor Adam Heggenstaller and I ended up in a friendly, if mildly heated, debate about the proper rifles for hunting the numerous species of “terrible lizard," and the required ammunition for such a job.
While I value Mr. Heggenstaller as both a friend and a colleague, his opinion on this matter is not only wrong minded, but can be downright dangerous. You see, Mr. Heggenstaller subscribes to the W.D.M. Bell school of thought: a small bullet, if placed correctly, will dispatch even the largest sauropod. I come more from the Elmer Keith point-of-view, in that one needs the largest projectile that he or she can handle, especially in the case of stopping a charge from an Allosaurus, or Tyrannosaur. Even a Velociraptor can “soak up the lead,” and as most hunters know, you do not want to wound them.
While Adam (a fine hunter in own right) is a cool shot, his “.22 Magnum in the eyeball” theory doesn’t hold water. I prefer the heaviest bores, and the idea of a dinosaur safari outfitted with a vehicle sporting a crew-serve weapon, such as a belt-fed .50 BMG, isn’t over-the-top. For a personal firearm, I have chosen a custom .577 Tyrannosaur, made by Mesozoic Arms. While the rifle is cumbersome to carry – weighing in at an even 14 pounds—it possesses the power level that will handle everything from the heavily armored Stegosaurs, to the behemoth Diplodocus, and is excellent for stopping a charge from the short-armed ‘meatosauri.’ Pushing a 750-grain monometal solid at 2,460 fps, this cartridge is aptly named, as the 10,000 ft.-lbs of muzzle energy will keep you in one piece and out of the Rex’s jaws.
While doing dino-reconnaissance in an area of Zimbabwe last month, I carried a Heym Express in .404 Jeffery, until that is, I found my first set of Allosaur tracks at the waterhole. I quickly exchanged the fine safari gun for the .577, and although we met some resistance from some anti-dino-hunting groups, the ‘recky’ revealed quite a healthy population of Allosauri in the Dete Valley, so many in fact that addition licenses have been put on quota. “You just don’t realize how many are here until you look for the tracks”, stated Lt. Vaughn B. Murungu, noted Allosaur Professional Hunter and guide. “The place is lousy with them. Cheeky fellows, eh?”
In an interview with Mr. Ralph Steinherr, whose claim to fame is sharing a cold beer at The Flying Monkey in Key West with a former-janitor on the set of the original “Jurassic Park” movie, a man who would only be identified as ‘Hucky’, there were problems while hunting the Velociraptors with heavy charges of 00-Buck from a 12 gauge.
Mr. Steinherr quotes Hucky as relating: “That Muldoon fella was a boob. *hiccup* Everybody knows ya don’t hunt (expletive deleted) Raptors with buckshot, and I don’t care if it was a SPAS-12. The guy in the film was supposed to live. They had to rewrite the (expletive deleted) script because he got eaten. *hiccup* You buyin’ another beer?”
I feel that any good heavyweight Nitro-Express cartridge, from the .470 NE and upward, when loaded with the modern monometal solids, will make a good dinosaur rifle, providing you spend enough time at the range to become proficient with it. I feel that using single shot rifles are asking for trouble, and prefer a bolt-action at least, or better yet a double-rifle. If you’re planning a dino-safari on a budget, look to the CZ550 Safari Magnum in .500 Jeffery, or the Montana Rifle Company’s Model 1999 in .505 Gibbs. And for God’s sake, don’t wear one of those Aussie hats that button up on one side: you’ll end up suffering the same fate as Robert Muldoon.
Editor's note: That's probably not a velociraptor leg to the right. We can dream, though.