Caribou Gear

General (long) letter from new boy in South Africa

Bush Baby

New member
Jul 1, 2001
South Africa
Hi to you all,

My name is Mark Gilmore and I am from South Africa, I am also relatively new to the Internet and this site in particular. I was referred to this site by JJ, who thought you might be interested. I have been hunting in Zimbabwe and South Africa for about 20 odd years. And have started a small hunting operation here, offering very affordable rates for non-record book trophies, animals are representative of their species, but may be an inch or two short of making ‘the book’, is there a demand for this type of hunting – e-mail me at [email protected]
As things are a bit different over here, I have taken the liberty of including a section of a posting put up at another discussion room, in response to their questions, for anyone interested.
I’m not going to pretend to know it all, so I’ll comment on what I have had experience with. I may well be preaching to the converted, so to speak – there seems to be some well experienced people in this forum – but here it is for what it’s worth.

In S.A. there is no crown/state land available for public hunting, The private ranches/farms here in South Africa vary a lot in size from small 600 ha (1480 acres) places to 10000ha (25400 acres) and even more, if I were to pick an ‘average’ size I think 3000 ha (7400 acres) would not be too far out. Most ranches are now ‘virgin’ bush again, gone are the internal fences and fields and the animals truly wild again. (However most still don’t trust each other enough to take down the boundary fences !) Still 3000 ha of ground in the bushveld is a lot to cover – on foot – and would take 5-6 days to explore all the hills and valleys properly. Normal practice is to leave camp by vehicle and go to a selected area, because the bush is thick, I would move slowly – move, stop, watch/listen, move - (I think in the states it’s called still hunting) through the area looking for sign or animals. I’m guessing, but I would say we cover about 40-60ha (100-150 acres) an hour. Game in the ‘bushveld’ will go from the Duiker (40 lbs) up to Eland (1400 – 1750 lbs). Typical animals that are hunted will be Duiker, Warthog, Impala, Bushbuck, Hartebeest, Blue Wildebeest, Zebra, Kudu and maybe Nyala, Blesbok, Gemsbok, Waterbuck and Eland. Suitable calibers (except for Eland) will be anything in the 7x57 Mauser class or heavier, within a given caliber - heavier bullets are the preferred choice. In the bushveld ranges are short – 150 meters/yards is a longish shot – most will come at 40-80 meters/yards, this is whispering, dry mouth, heart pumping, up close and personal hunting – and my favorite type.

Some popular calibers here for bushveld hunting are; 6x45 (100gr bullets at 2400 fps), 6,5 Swede, 7x57, .303 Brit., 308 Win, 30-06 (favorite), 8x57 and the 9.3x62. The 243 win and 270 are also common – for those who don’t mind a lot of blood shot meat. And a far too big a group of fools who use the .223 Rem., despite the volumes that have been written about it’s unsuitability, and high wounding/low recovery percentages of headshots.
Because the bushveld is thick, and you can walk past a downed animal without seeing it – from as close as 10 meters/yards – I always like to have a good exit wound that will bleed, it makes follow up and recovery far more certain. This is where – within a given caliber - heavier bullets have the advantage.
For Kudu and Wildebeest class animals including Eland, I use a local caliber ‘338 Sabi’, similar to the wildcat .338-06 improved and the .318 Westly Richards, and load it in fact to duplicate the .318WR, a 250gr Hornady round nose (S.D=. 313) at 2370 fps, the penetration of this load must be seen to be believed. The only recovered bullet drove more than 40 inches and weighed 178grs (71%), after breaking a shoulder first ! The great John Taylor believed such a combination would be acceptable – not ideal – for picked shots on Buffalo and in FMJ form could, and was used for Elephant in a pinch!……………..I rest my case.

We don’t have varmint shooting in the same sense as they do in the States, there is some varmint shooting of Rock Dassie’s – a small rock dwelling animal that live in colonies, and is about the size of a large rabbit, it’s closest living relative is the Elephant ! Also a few people shoot crows, geese and doves/pigeons, these animals and the Dassie are the domain of the .222/.223 and the shotgun.
There are quite a few – myself included – who shoot bigger vermin in the shape of Jackals, Caracal (African version of the Lynx), Porcupine, Baboons and Bush Pigs. Depending on the area, these animals are real pests to ‘traditional’ farmers and sometimes game ranchers too, in some instances they beg for someone to come and knock the numbers back, you understand it‘s a tough job, ……… but someone’s got to do it !! A lot of it is done at night from a blind using callers/baits and spotlights. Flat shooting numbers are the business here, other than Bush Pigs, the hot .22’s, .243’s and 25-06 are good medicine, 12 gauge slugs at 10-20 yards are good for pigs – they are tough, dangerous and too damn close. (Following a wounded pig into the thick stuff at night with a torch, needs a really BIG pair – not for the faint hearted, or those with small ones – I’ve seen a pig disemboweling/cutting up dogs, they were no match at all – my pair are just medium !) One day I will get my ideal pig gun – a 12 gauge side by side with the barrels cut back to about 22 inches, express sights and loaded with slugs – a poor man’s double!
Suitable calibers for Baboon will be almost any flat shooting one, from the hot .22's all the up to the .300 mags. Baboons almost always have a sentry posted on some vantage point, who believe me has far better eyes than you or me, if you see him he, he's far away. Normally you only hear his warning bark. So unless you stumble onto them by accident you will be hiding, over looking a field - a bit like beanfield shooting I guess. Your first shot and if your lucky your second will be at stationary animals thereafter all will be
Another way I have used successfully is to sit in the maize itself, but only if they normally come from a known direction and time, and wait till you hear them in the maize (they make a lot of noise breaking down the maize) then you move towards the sound VERY CAREFULLY, this way you literally bump into them. A 12 ga. Pump or semi auto shotgun with AAA shot, is the business here, and once the first shot is fired (a shot in the midst of them seems to disorientate them) it's everyone for themselves. Baboons going every which way, barking, running, people going every which way after them, barking, running, maize breaking, dust flying - HECTIC - 20 or 30 sec’s later it’s all over, and you are shaking like a leaf. Bumping into a big adult male baboon two steps away tends to quicken the heart beat a bit. Kids can take all the drugs they want, but they will never get a rush like that, I wish the younger generations would know this – if you want a high, adrenalin is the natural drug - I hope my two boys will.
However if the Baboons don’t come – which is more often than I care to admit – believe me nothing is quite as boring as being surrounded by maize/corn one foot away from your face ! An exercise in patience – kids should learn that too !
This can be very dangerous so we only use two (three max.) shooters who you know very well and trust won't shoot you by mistake, come to think of it it's not very clever and we must have been lucky. Perhaps one shooter in the maize and two outside waiting for them to break out is more sensible? Anyway I don’t do much of this anymore – getting old, or sensible ?
Being shall we say, ’financially challenged’ Bush pigs and Baboons were my Lions and Buffalo. Everyone say………aaaah shame !

Other than bow hunters, shooting from a blind or stand in open country or in the bushveld is not practiced here. Maybe it should be, for those who can’t or don’t care for walking, it is preferable to shooting from the vehicle. Something for me to think about.
However with the advent of smaller and faster bows even bow hunters are now practicing walk and stalk.
There is also long distance non-vermin hunting to be had in conditions varying from semi-desert, grass/scrub plains to mountains. Typically the game found here would include, Springbok, Blesbok, Mountain and Southern Reedbuck, Vaal Rhebuck, Gemsbok, Black Wildebeest, Kudu and perhaps Zebra and Eland. Shots are generally long ones (250 plus), so depending on the target species popular calibers are the .243 Win, .270Win, 7x64, the various 7mm and .300 magnums and the .338 mags. Unfortunately a fair bit of this type of hunting is Toyota stalking (shooting from the vehicle), some land owners insist on it, probably because of low stalking/shooting skill levels and it more or less guarantees the income from an animal. It puts me off a lot, granted the area’s concerned can be huge - 20 000 ha (approx. 50 000 acres) and bigger, so go ahead and find the game in a vehicle, especially if time is a concern – when isn’t it – but the stalk and shot should be on foot. My feelings anyway.

There are many other calibres that will be suitable for hunting here that are not mentioned as being popular, they aren’t popular because of various reasons –the heritage of the country (British and German calibres), action types, available bullet weights and of course sanctions. Some of these would include, 6mm Rem, 250 Savage(120gr), 257 Roberts(120gr), 260 Rem(140-160gr)7-08 Rem(150-170gr),280 Rem, 30-30 Win/30-40 Krag (170-200gr), 358 Win(225-250gr), 35 Whelen(250gr), 45-70 Gov’t.
Anyway that was more than I intended to write – just got a bit carried away – hope it was of interest, I look forward to hearing from some of you.
Mark, glad you took my advice and came over here. Your post is a classic bit of advice and I'm happy you shared it with us. This Africa site is not very busy right now but with the quality of the people here now it will only be a short time before others find out what's here and they will joing in as well.jj
Thanks for all the advice guys!! I have always wanted to hunt in's a dream of mine every since I read Green Hills of Africa. My wife and I have agreed to go on a safari for our tenth anniversary, so that may be my first chance to go to Africa.

In reading Hemmingway I was to suprised to hear that his wife went after lion with a 6.5 and he was backing her up with a 30.06!!! I guess by today's standards that seems a little on the light side, but it worked for them. It must be noted though, that the PH was covering them with a .577.

About how much should one expect to spend on a hunt and how long to you suggest that they go??
Mark, let me be the first South African to welcome you to this site, there are a few South Africans around.

TO JJ: I am not sure whether or not to include you, but from the looks of it, you could easily pass as a South African.
ABS, baie dankie, ek in suid Africa woon twee -drie maand per jaar. Miskien ek is 'n bietjie Afrikaaner nou, wat se jy?

1_pointer, go to my web site and see what we have for our group Safari's. We have a couples group every year or every other year depending upon the people who choose to go. This works well for the guys who wish to hunt and the ladies who as a group want to see the area, shop, and tour a little bit. My wife works with me and goes each year. She does prefer to be on the hunts but can easily take the other ladies shopping to the villages or sight seeing.jj
Would you mind posting the address for your site, I'd love to check it out. Thanks in advance.
Bush Baby... Thanx for posting.... WELCOME to the Africa "MOOSE" style :D :D This is my board and I would love to see the Africa section grow. I especially like pictures... ABS has shared many in the Past and JJhack has shared some too, Riaan (If you know him) drops his hat in her e as well as a few other people. There are a few of us planning to head that way soon but haven't tied anything down yet.. It seems like the days keep slipping by... One day We will !!!!

Anyways, Welcome to Moosies. Glad ya found your way here. We won't hold it against you that JJhack told you about us
J/K !! :cool:
Hey Moosie
Thanks for the welcome, this seems like a friendly site. I won't post much - not many short posts I mean. I prefer to write a post in word then cut and paste to the board, but they tend to be longer ones, I don't get onto the Internet every day, so it's easier for me that way (time you understand).
Anyway this is a great site - I have 'things' in my head that must come out.
Cheers, Bush Baby

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