Rasmus helped me locate a CZ 500 Magnum in .458 Win Mag, sold by Jaktdepotet in Norway for about 5 990 Norwegian Krone (€620). This was my very first big-bore rifle. It was a bit crude in the action, with several nuances of blueing, but I loved it. It was topped with a Leupold VX2 3-7×32 and duplex scope. I hunted with this rifle for a couple of years, along with my primary rifle for deer on longer ranges, a Remington 700 police sniper rifle, followed by a .338 Remington Ultra Magnum (RUM) in later years.
At this time I took over as CEO of the company, and was thus introduced to the firearms industry. The first time I held a big-bore double rifle was in 2010 when I visited the Krieghoff booth at IWA Outdoor trade show in Nuremberg, Germany. It was a beautiful .500 NE with side plates and Big Five engravings.
A year later I saw the most elegant double I had ever laid my eyes on. While on business in the UK south of London, I visited an antique gunshop filled with old shotguns and rifles. Among them was a Purdey & Sons .500 NE dating back to 1868. This rifle was made 30 years before my grandfather was born!
The rifle had open hammers, 30″ Damascus barrels and old English scroll engravings. It came with its original oak-and-leather case and a logbook with details of previous owners. I was amazed by the history of this rifle and its flawless finish. It was a masterpiece! It was priced at £12 500. Unfortunately I did not have the funds to purchase it, something I regret to this day.
During a 2011 meeting in Arendal, Norway, with Jakt & Friluft, there was a beautiful Krieghoff Big Five in .470 Nitro Express (non-ejector) with a moose engraving on one side of the action and a buffalo on the other side. I was sold on it and purchased it the next day, along with 20 rounds of .470 NE Norma PH.
I used this rifle for two years and shot about 220 rounds with it. I reloaded my own ammo, as I quickly realised this was a necessity if you planned on shooting these calibres frequently. One round of Norma PH would set you back about €20. I was very happy with it until Are Venemyr told me he had recently traded a Krieghoff Big Five in .500 NE (non-ejector) and I could have it at a good price. He sent it to me the next day and I could not bring myself to send it back. It was a more plain-looking rifle, but as the gunsmith at Jakt & Friluft told me, “Looking at those 0.5″ muzzle holes does something to you.” He was absolutely right! The deal was done and I was the proud owner of two Krieghoff rifles in two different calibres. That season I shot the .500 NE and my son the .470 NE.
During this period, I started watching a lot of hunting videos. It was fascinating seeing Mark Buchanan shooting buffalo after buffalo. I also watched Mbogo and Sudden Death by Mark Sullivan, whom I later met on one of my business trips to Africa.
At the IWA 2014 show in Nuremberg, GRS exhibited for the first time. On the last day of the show, I met Jerome of Verney Carron. He bought two of our GRS stocks for some trial rifles he was producing. He invited me over to his booth and I was in awe when stepping into it. Verney Carron produces the most beautiful rifles you can imagine. They are all made to your measurements and preference. As you know, I am a great fan of big classic rifles. I told Jerome I had one double and that I previously had owned two more. He shrugged his shoulders, telling me that what I needed was a tailor-made double, just like I wanted it.
I met up with Jerome again in 2014, when he attended the HuntEx show in South Africa. We discussed rifles again. This was my first time in Africa and I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to hunt after the show was over. But more about that later.
At HuntEx 2015, Mark Sullivan was promoting his books and videos at the Safari Outdoor booth. I had the privilege of talking to him during the show, as well as at the dinners and get-togethers that Safari Outdoor hosted thereafter. I have the utmost respect for Mark – he is a true gentleman and one of the most experienced Big Five PHs of this day and age.
Mark told me several stories about his favourite hunts, gear and rifles. Much to my surprise, he has a strong dislike for the Krieghoff Big Five rifles due to their cocking mechanisms; they are too hard to cock when the rifle is on the shoulder. This set me out on a different path. If Mark, with all his knowledge, was so convinced about this, there had to be some truth in it.
My Krieghoff 500 Big Five was waiting in the safe back home, and I knew I had to make some changes. Upon returning home, I decided to sell it and it took only five days to do so. When placing the advertisement on Finn.no (a Norwegian-type eBay), I noticed a Krieghoff Big Five with ejectors. Selling for a decent price, this rifle was only one year old, with 20 rounds through it. I bought it after a short bidding war with another bidder. The firearms licence was cleared by the police, and I received the rifle after 12 days.
It was a nice rifle (good wood, ejectors and original case), but there was one thing I could not stand – one of the engravings of a rhino did not look good at all. The rest of the rifle was nice but this ruined the whole rifle for me. I sold it after a week to the guy I was bidding against three weeks earlier.
My first African hunt took place in 2014 after the HuntEx show. My distributor, Inyathi Sporting Supplies, organised it at La Pumba Safaris in Limpopo Province. The PH was Benji Sutherland, who became a dear friend. Stefan Fouché of GAME & HUNT magazine also joined us on this hunt.
My calibre of choice was the .375 H&H in a CZ 550 Magnum, with a Brown GRS Safari stock and Zeiss 1-4×25 scope. For me this was the only way to start. The .375 H&H is a classic calibre. My first kill in Africa was a beautiful impala ram. It was just me and a tracker who set out on the track. It took us 35 minutes to find the two rams. They were grazing in an opening in the dense bushveld.
I was on the sticks at about 65 m but neither of the rams offered a good position for a shot. The closest one started moving towards an opening and I felt my heart starting to race. The adrenaline was pumping and from the tracker’s breathing, I could hear that he was just as excited. I finally had the ram in the crosshairs and squeezed off the round. I heard the boom but felt no recoil. The ram collapsed and did not move. The shot was perfectly placed and the 300 gr PBP bullet had destroyed the heart and lungs. The shoulder mount of this impala still graces the wall in our boardroom.
The second day, I shot a waterbuck and an oryx. These hunts were not as eventful as that of the impala. Both were about 45 m away and both walked 2 m before collapsing.
I have a tendency to shoot fast and accurately. I go into a bubble and I just focus on the task at hand. I do not feel recoil in the bubble, nothing distracts me. It’s just me and the PH.