By Stefan Fouché
What is the most important piece of equipment you will use on your African safari to determine the success of the hunt? Will it be the calibre, the rifle itself or your optical equipment?
I am sure one can argue that all these are equally important to achieve a certain goal (taking your intended trophy swiftly and successfully), and rightly so. However, I think there is one specific piece of equipment that determines the level of accomplishment, and that is the bullet you use. It’s that small item that does all the work and must therefore be of top quality. In today’s world, where technology is developing faster than the consumers’ ability to keep up, we are spoilt for choice. There are numerous brands and ranges available on the market. This facilitates choosing the correct type of bullet for the intended application.
It’s important to keep in mind, however, that every bullet is designed to perform at its best at a certain velocity. It is no use torturing a softer lead bullet with extreme velocities – it will simply break up. Also, when choosing a monolithic type of bullet, you need to achieve the velocity prescribed by the manufacturer, otherwise it will not open up enough or even open up at all, leading to total bullet failure and compromising the success of your hunt.
The point where the bullet strikes the animal is of utmost importance. This is the deciding factor, the difference between success and failure. If your bullets are substandard, you put your whole safari at risk. Spending days tracking a wounded animal is hardly ideal, especially not for the animal. And in the case of a dangerous animal, you will be putting your own life, as well as that of your PH and tracker, at risk.
In this series of articles we will be showing what happened, with real bullets recovered from real animals after a hunt. We will put the facts on the table, give credit where it is due and also highlight mistakes, weak points and failures. This is what it is all about – where the Metal meets the Meat …
A Roosevelt sable shot by hunter Andrew from the USA. He hunted with PH Richard Kok of Mashambanzou Safaris in Mozambique. Andrew used a Reming-ton Sendero .300 Ultra Magnum loaded with Swift Scirocco bullets, travelling at 3 450 fps. The sable bull was standing at 170 yards, slightly quartering towards the hunters. The animal went down only 20 yards after the shot and the bullet was recovered in the opposite side in a rib.
A blue wildebeest hunted with PH Cloete Hepburn from Afri-Sun Safaris in the Kalahari region of South Africa. The client used a .375H&H rifle shooting 300 gr Swift A-Frames at 2 400 fps. The bull was hit broadside and the bullet was found in the opposite shoulder. It retained almost all of its original weight, weighing in at 96% after recovery.
Both bullets lost the lead core during penetration and both weighed less than 40% of the original 300 gr. Read the full story of this hunt on page 22 and please scan the QR code to watch the full movie of the hunt on our Africa’s Sportsman Channel.
South African client Coenie Meyer hunted this magnificent male lion with PH and owner of Warthog Safaris, Tienie Bamberger. He used his .375 Ruger in a Ruger African rifle, shooting hand-loaded ammunition – a 300 gr Nosler Partition at 2 400 fps was the bullet of choice. Both shots hit the lion on the shoulder and both penetrated the animal, passing through the vitals and stopping underneath the skin on the opposite side. The shots were taken from 18 yards.
The bullet was placed just behind the shoulder as the buffalo started to run and quartered away from the hunters. The bullet travelled perfectly through the top of the heart and was recovered under the skin of the front right shoulder. The bull ran 20 paces before he expired with the famous death bellow. The recovered bullet weighed 299,7 gr, as close to the original 300 gr as it gets.
Jacques van Rensburg shot this beautiful old buffalo at Chattaronga Safaris in the Limpopo Province of South Africa. He used a semi-custom Winchester Mod 70 Safari Express in .375H&H calibre, shooting hand-loaded 300 gr Barnes TSX bullets with a muzzle velocity of 2 580 fps. The buffalo bull started to run from a perfect broadside view at approximately 20 m away, and the shot had to be taken quickly.
South African hunter Deon Ceronie hunted this warthog with his .375H&H rifle, shooting 270 gr Barnes TSX bullets at 2 500 fps. He made a perfect frontal shot and found the bullet behind the rumen. The recovered bullet weighed 235,6 gr, or 87,3% of the original weight.