Africa with a Sharps

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Brent
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Africa with a Sharps

Post by Brent » Fri Aug 04, 2006 8:42 am

I can't believe how little activity there is on this hunting forum, so I'm going to post the results of my trip to Namibia here in hopes of sparking a little more interest. I just got back a couple of days ago so I'm still piecing together my stories, but I'll put a summary here.

First, I loaded my .45-100 (2.6") cases with Goex Cartridge grade black powder. It is a rather specialized load using heavy compression (0.5"). That is followed by a wax paper wad, then 0.3" of SPG bullet lube, and a 0.6" card wad and finally a 535 gr paper patched bullet swaged from 40:1 alloy. For those of you familiar with Dave Corbin's terminology, it would be a .443" LSWC 1e FN CB, that is patched to .453 using Bienfang Graphics 360 paper, and then taper crimped lightly.

On the first evening we stalked an oryx that we had spooked. It was an old solo bull and I told Claude I'd like to hunt an animal like that. He asked me "why not that one? Let's go!" and we did. We stalked him for quite a while, and I sort of figured he was long gone. But suddenly, Claude froze and then slowly set the shooting sticks. I couldn't see the animal from my position but as I leaned forward to put my rifle on the sticks, I could see the back end of the bull facing to my left. By leaning forward far enough, I could put the crosswires on the bottom of his shoulder which was about about 50 yds away. I knew I needed to be about 4" low since my sights were set for 100 yds so I held just about even with the black belly line along his side.

It would have been a perfect shot except I somehow managed to shoot through two 1.5" invisible cat-claw acacia trees. I cannot figure out how that happened. Consequently, the bullet hit just above the sternum at the back of the chest cavity, passed through the diaphram, tip of liver, and into the stomach. It took a lot of tracking (over 2 km) but we got him in the end (with a little help and a good shot by my hunting partner, Mark). Unfortunately, the bullet was not recovered, but it appears to have hit him sideways judging from the bullet hole. The bull was very old and badly scarred and wounded by other bulls.

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The next day, the shooting was a bit better. I shot a good warthog at about 98 yds. The bullet entered the point of the right shoulder and exited out the left flank, just ahead of the rear leg. He ran maybe 75-80 yds spouting a huge blood stream and died in midstride. We had a lot of fun at this waterhole watching lots of smaller warthogs, hartebeests, bat eared foxes, red mongooses, an aardwolf, and a whole bunch of the brightest blue, red, yellow and green birds you can imagine. Definitely, plan an evening at a waterhole with a camera if not a rifle.

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In the last few minutes of the last day that we hunted this particular farm, I also took a hartebeest right at 200 yds with a broadside shot through the top of the heart. He went maybe 30 yds and toppled over. The bullet passed through and made a really nice exit hole as with the warthog suggesting good bullet expansion. The light was fading fast and he fell on the shady side of the hill so the lighting for the photos was not very good.

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We moved to a new location to hunt eland. The first night there, we stalked a group of 11 animals for just under 3 hrs. In that time we closed from 250 to 60 yds but could not find a clear shot on a good bull. There may not have even been a good bull in the bunch, but it sure was a fun stalk and I'd have settled for a lesser bull for that reason. In the end, some waffling air currents finally tripped us up and they blew town. When eland decide to leave a place, they do it with gusto and put an immediate end to any ideas about following.

On the next day, we found a pile of fresh pellets and tracks and started out stalking them down a ridge and then over a low saddle into another drainage. The brush was fairly tight. Not so much that it was hard to walk through, but visibility was fairly limited to 25 to about 75 yrs most of the time. Nonetheless, Claude and I agreed that my sights should be setfor 200 yds because we expected to see this group climbing out of the bottom on an opposite ridge at some point. Shots of 150 to a bit over 200 seemed most probable.

However, best laid plans sometimes go amuck. Coming down from the saddle we are spotted by baboons somewhere way up ahead. They start barking - maybe a kilometer or so away. They are mighty spooky critters since everyone but us shoots at them regularly. Normally, this is not be a good sign, but we press on and suddenly Claude freezes and then very slowly plants the crosssticks. We are standing in a wide open bare spot at least 10 yds from anything like cover, but there is no time to move because the group, 4 bulls, have doubled back on us. Apparently, they hear the baboons and have reversed course, not realizing that the trouble lies behind them. They are almost on top of us in thicker bush below and quartering to the left. Only one bull at a time is visible as they pop in and out of holes in the shrubbery. I edge up to the sticks and get the rifle up, cocked, and set. I start to fumble with the sight to knock it down to 100 yds, but Claude hissed at me to stop. I'm risking too much movement.

Claude tries to figure out which bull is best. The second and fourth are highest on his list but he is struggling to make the final decision. The fourth is older so his horns are a bit shorter and more worn. He is not a real old bull, so it isn't clear thtat his age and character is better than the somewhat younger, longer bull that is number 2. Meanwhile the eland are edgy and pausing only briefly as they moved passed. Then, just as #2 stops in an opening before he disappears for the last time, somehow Claude and I decide that he is the one, and I take a shot just before he steps behind a bush.

The range is only about 50 yds. At that distance, I know I have to hold under 12", but holding low is, w/o a doubt, the hardest thing for me to do. I have spined two elk, an antelope, and probably several deer because I can't seem to force myself to hold low when I need to. But on this trip, it worked. The shot goes in just behind the left foreleg, centering the heart and then stops under the skin at the base of the neck on the right side. The 535 gr bullet does not expand for some reason, and it loses only 4.6 grs. The lack of expansion bothers me a lot, but the animal makes about 5 steps and dies no more than 20 yds from where he was shot. So it all works out well in the end (for us - the eland may think otherwise).

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The next day, we moved to another farm to chase springbok. They were very edgy, skittish animals here. It turns out that much hunting at this place comes after being chased by trucks. As a result, stalking was tough and there was very little cover. Shots were likely to be long, but that evening, Mark shot a nice springbok, so the next day, our last day of hunting is pretty much all mine. As it turned out, I really needed it.

In the morning we froze in a waterhole blind where the temperature was about 20 degrees F. We saw nothing but birds for our troubles. By late morning we were stalking again. We didn't have cross sticks. Somehow they had been left behind. Mark has shot his off of Claude's shoulder, but Claude is too short to make that comfortable for me, and it just isn't steady enough for my slow shooting style anyway. I tried once on a really nice ram at 240 yds or so, but missed completely. We chased that ram for a long long time and I got another shot at him at what I thought was 200 yds. This time, I sat down and used Mark's 25-06 as a monopod. That wasn't very steady either, but it was a bit better. Unfortunately, the ram was probably less than 150 yds off and in my hurry to try sitting with Mark's rifle, I didn't spend enough time looking over the distance. So, once again, I shot way high.

It was getting late by then, and I wasn't really worried if I did not get a ram in the end. But Claude as determined. Mark and I grinned at each other and wondered whose survival as most at risk - the springbok at risk from my rifle, or us at risk from the "forced march" :). Either way, it was going to be fun though. The weather was perfect even if my shooting wasn't, and before long we found another ram, a bit smaller to be sure, but good enough for the time and place. By now, I had found a decent stick in a ravine to use for support. I figured that if I used it in combination with Mark's rifle, I'd have cross sticks to shoot from while sitting. And, that is something I'm totally comfortable with.

The ram was 235 yds out and uphill and almost directly facing us, but we cut off about another 20 yds so I held about 3" high on the side of his neck as he turned just slightly I touched off the shot. For the longest time, nothing happened. All of us thought I had clean missed again! But then he suddenly staggered and that lovely "whop" of a bullet hitting home reached us.

That bullet hit where intended and stopped under the belly skin on the opposite side. It was very well mangled and mushroomed and weighed only 372 gr. The difference between this bullet and the eland bullet are hard for me to explain. But both worked. He wasn't a huge animal, but we sure worked for him.

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If anyone is considering a bp cartridge rifle for a hunt, they certainly work, but you really need to work on your sight settings, and hold over/unders. You cannot always expect to have time to adjust sights to the given range so memorizing these for 1 or two settings is critical. Not really a big deal you might think, but it can be hard to remember when the animal is on top of you and things are happening fast.

And spend some time familiarizing your PH with your rifle, it's trajectory, how the sights work and can be changed and reset, and so forth. It might take him a while to catch on to how these things work.

We hunted with Claude Thorburn, and he is quite interested in seeing a few more folks hunting with these rifles in Namibia. I highly recommend him as a PH. He knocked himself out making arrangements and ensuring that everything went smoothly. He is an all around great guy in my book, so I highly recommend him and he is now quite familiar with our favored sort of artillery.

We bummed around Namibia for another week checking out sand dunes and spending a couple days fishing on the coast (also arranged by Claude). This is not the best time of year for fishing (esp for the sharks we wanted to catch and release), but it was a hell of a lot of fun.

Brent

The obligatory sunset photo from a top the dunes at Gobebeb Research Station.

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Ironramrod
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Post by Ironramrod » Fri Aug 04, 2006 9:09 am

Brent,

Thanks for the report on your Africa trip; sounds like a good hunt to me. Looks like your loads and rifle performed very well for you, too. Do you happen to have any muzzle velocity data for those loads? How do you like the add-on pistol grip on your rifle? That is the first one of those I've seen in use.

BTW that is an outstanding cap, too.

Regards

Brent
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Post by Brent » Fri Aug 04, 2006 9:24 am

Hmmm, I seem to have cut something out somehow. Muzzle velocity was a very slow 1185 fps at 12 feet from the muzzle. But in this sort of load, it is the more accurate than faster loads like Swiss 1.5 fg so I went with it.

The BC for the bullet is also very low at a measured 0.275 average over the first 100 yds.

I carried a drop chart and sight settings for 0-400 yds with me. I memorized the drops on it. Claude called it my bible. I was never w/o out it.

http://www.public.iastate.edu/~jessie/P ... _Chart.pdf

As for the add on pistol grip, I can't live without it. I made that one from Desert Ironwood. Pistol grip stocks on Sharps rifles are too long in the grip to be much use for me, and the stocks don't have enough drop.

There are a few things I'd do differently next time, but this worked pretty well for me.

I am rather partial to that hat too.

Brent

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Post by Ranch 13 » Fri Aug 04, 2006 11:06 am

Good story Brent. Did you eat any of the meat, and if so how was it?

Brent
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Post by Brent » Fri Aug 04, 2006 11:14 am

I ate everything but the eland - which is supposed to be the best (it marbles like beef), but time did not work out.

Gembok is amazing when grilled rare as is Kudu. They beat North American ungulates and I'm pretty fond of those. But these were better. Warthog is just like the very finest porkchop you have ever had. Leaner, but the same flavor. Amazing stuff.

Every scrap of meat, hide, etc. is used by the landowners. There is no waste in Africa. I had been told this before I went, but to see the way this was handled sort of blew me away.

One thing I never thought I would ever say but I did - I ate too much meat! There is almost nothing but meat in Africa - at least for visitors. I craved a green vegetable by the time I left. My partner is still over there scoping out a field trip for students next year (including a little hunting if they want), and one condition he will probably make for the course is that any vegetarians must agree to compromise their food standards or stay home. It's not a political thing- it's just a fact of life. You're gonna eat more meat than you ever imagined or starve.

Brent

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Post by marlinman93 » Fri Aug 04, 2006 5:02 pm

Excellent report and pictures Brent! I thoroughly enjoyed them, and it may be as close as I ever get to Africa!

Kelley O. Roos
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Post by Kelley O. Roos » Fri Aug 04, 2006 5:02 pm

Brent,

Enjoyed the pictures and story. Only wish you had condensed the pictures a little, takes time to read when having to scroll back and forth :wink:

Kelley O.

Brent
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Post by Brent » Fri Aug 04, 2006 7:08 pm

Sorry about the picts Kelley, I changed their size in pixels to make them down load faster but the physical size doesn't seem to be changable. Not sure what I'm doing wrong, but I can't squeeze them down for this particular usage.

Brent

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Post by Kelley O. Roos » Fri Aug 04, 2006 8:49 pm

Brent,

Oh well, such is life. Waiting for more.

By the way, you get any money out of Goex :?: You wearing some advertising :lol: Outa be worth something :wink:

Kelley O.

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Post by Ranch 13 » Fri Aug 04, 2006 10:39 pm

Brent glad you got to try some of the meat. To bad tho with it being that good you can't bring at least a little of it home.
I'ld like to go someday after kudu and eland.

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Post by Jim Milner » Sat Aug 05, 2006 12:35 am

Brent,
I want to thank you for a very enjoyable vicarious trip to the dark continent. I enjoyed the hunt as well
Jim
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You are only as good as your last performance


C.Sharps Hiwall 40-65

saul
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Post by saul » Sun Aug 27, 2006 9:22 pm

Brent,
Looks like fun, thanks for the enjoyable post. If youre headed for the fall buffalo shoot in ackley bring the rest of your pic's. Im sure their more pic's an stories to tell. Hope to see ya their Steve.

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Post by Poison Slinger » Mon Sep 04, 2006 11:18 pm

Great story Brent...
Thanks for the post.

Rick Patton
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Africa

Post by crossfireoops » Wed Sep 06, 2006 6:58 am

Wonderful post Brent, thanks.

...........Curious, .....Any hassle travelling with loaded BP ammo?

GTC 8)

Brent
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Post by Brent » Wed Sep 06, 2006 7:17 am

Flying with BP is, contrary to popular myth, completely legal and hassle free IF it is in loaded cartridges of less than 11 lbs total weight (no one weighed my ammo however).

I have had the checked out by running all the way up the ladder in Washington DC via a friend of mine that is well connected.

In so far as the security people are concerned - ammo is ammo.

Also, there was no need for factory boxes or correctly headstamped cases. My rifle is a rebarreled .45-100 and has no caliber marks what so ever. My ammo was stretched .348 Win brass. Not a problem.

Brent

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