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African gear report

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  • African gear report

    Some of my pre-trip choices worked out better than expected ... and some not so much.

  • #2
    There was quite a bit of discussion about the binoculars I chose: 8x21 Steiners. They didn’t really work out that well but unfortunately given my screwed up eyes, they had to make do. My 3x9 Nikon scope actually worked better, and my PH had no qualms about me scoping for game as long as I wasn’t waving the barrel in anyone’s face. It was always guaranteed no one else was in the area but us so no potential for pointing the gun at someone in the field. And of course my hand was always nowhere near the trigger guard. The belt holster for the binocs worked out very well except that it was a bit floppy (nylon fabric) and sometimes not easy to reholster. An open top leather one would work better I think. With a short flap on top to keep dust out. Nothing buckled down.

    I made excellent choices for clothing. My camo fleece jacket was usually just warm enough for the cool mornings but twice I did add fleece vest underneath. The Red Head lycra and spandex hunting shirts I bought in Minneapolis back in May (and reviewed on here) were marvellous. Never got sweaty and surprisingly tough. I figured those lightweight things would get eaten alive by the acacia but they came through just fine. But then again I am quite experienced at slipping through brush. Too bad those shirts have been discontinued. I brought Wrangler green jeans (now also discontinued ... sigh!) and Dickeys green canvas dungarees. Never wore the heavier Dickeys pants. They probably would have worked better with the thorns but they’re a bit too warm for that kind of work. Again, I never had any issues with thorns tearing the jeans (though I did find a nasty wound on my right calf when I got home). No shorts! My PH wore them one day because his associates were teasing him. Enough of that BS! Shorts and gaitors are just a style show thing. A signature clothing item for PHs that, according to him, don’t make sense ... especially that time of year. I wore my short brimmed crushable cowboy hat on the plane there and back and one or two nights around the lodge. Not stupid enough to wear it in the field! My goose hunting baseball cap served me just fine. It has LED lights in the brim but we never were out after dark. A camo cap with the safari logo was part of the deal and I just now discovered it is actually large enough to fit my head! Wow! Very hard to find these days. I will definitely be wearing it a lot. The Red Head Goretex hiking boots I bought in May were kinda over the top. Soles were already getting thin before I left but still enough left to do the job (barely). A lighter boot with canvas panels would have worked much better. All leather was a bit too warm for South African drought conditions. I took glomitts and leather gloves but never needed them. Some mornings were cool but not that cold. I brought both prescription sunglasses and shooting glasses but I wore my clear glasses almost entirely. One exception was the buffalo hunt when I forgot to change out of my sunglasses before leaving the rig. As much of the hunt was late in the day and looking into setting sun, it probably worked out best that I did forget. Every day was bright and clear so no need for shooting glasses.

    We transported the guns in my partner’s two Kalispel gun cases (one of them sold under Cabelas name). They worked very well. Very tough cases. Gary managed to stuff his shooting sticks inside his case with two rifles ... and still closed it! Yep, they are tough cases! He also supplied both plastic locking ammo boxes. Unfortunately the baggage apes broke off the lock loop on his during the return trip. Only one airline wanted them locked. Air Canada required that they be concealed in other check baggage but South African Airways wanted them shipped separately and locked.

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    Everything else was supplied by the safari outfit. My PH uses the front-and-back style shooting sticks that can cradle the gun at fore end and just behind the pistol grip. Or they can be snapped forward to become simply an extended bipod. For the longer shots the full monty worked well but if the animal was moving even a bit, the rear cradle was a handicap. One animal required discarding the sticks altogether ... and in a hurry. Had to shoot it on the fly ... or get run over!
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    PH drove a diesel smallish four door Toyota pickup with an elevated double seat rack in the back. An electric winch was mounted on the top front of the rack. Quite the outfit. The trackers always rode in the back seat or up top while we were hunting. Up top they were in a better position to spot game. Having all the cars on the wrong side of the road sure took some getting used to!
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    Picked up a compact foreign power converter just before leaving and it worked flawlessly. Only forty bucks Canadian. A good investment for the future. Unfortunately my cell phone didn’t work over there but that was okay. I could reach out to home via my laptop to see how my late pregnancy daughter was doing. Significant time change of course. I think I could have figured out the problem with the phone but it wasn’t important. I picked up a couple of loadable debit cards at the bank before leaving, one in British pounds for Heathrow layover (11 hours!) and one in US dollars. Should have read the fine print. The US dollars one would not allow more than $2100 put onto or removed from the card per day. Produced an awkward moment when I couldn’t pay my safari bill with it on the last day. Fortunately my usual VISA handled it okay (though it beat me up changing that much money). Not sure what the limit is on that thing as I only rarely use it for online purchases or airline bookings. But it worked. Whew! The safari owner was a good sport about it all but I was pulling my hair out. He’s a great guy and his wife is a peach.

    I packed a change of clothes, documents, book, and toiletries in my carry-on Browning backpack. Never wore the pack one day in the field. Totally unnecessary. The cartridge wallet my buddy gave me worked fine but it never carried anything but 165 Nosler partitions. The 190 Hornady grouped differently and they are no good for distance. And except for one rather exciting exception, everything was distance shooting. I followed Happy’s advice and put binocs and cartridge wallet on another belt that was easily removed or shifted around without dropping my pants. Next time I will bring along the belt looped water bottle holder someone gave me years ago. My PH carried our water in his pants cargo pockets. And yes, I did drink plenty of water in those dry conditions. Usually one small bottle per morning/afternoon hunts and a Coke at lunch. That was enough.
    Last edited by Ontario Honker Hunter; 09-03-2019, 08:13 AM.

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    • #3
      Thank you again for sharing.

      Comment


      • #4
        Can you select any single piece of your gear that you think:
        A) served you above and beyond
        and
        B) failed miserably

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by FirstBubba View Post
          Can you select any single piece of your gear that you think:
          A) served you above and beyond
          and
          B) failed miserably
          Above and beyond = the Red Head shirts and my PH's loaner CZ .375 H&H with Accubond bullets. One shot at a hundred yards and the buffalo took about five steps and fell over. Impressive. But admittedly some seriously good shot placement was equally impressive. Ouch! At my age arthritis makes it harder to slap oneself on the back.

          Failed miserably = 190 grain Hornady hand loads, though I never actually gave them a chance to fail. Lob loads are good for nothing in that distance shooting country except maybe close range warthogs and bush pigs but I wasn't really hunting them.
          Last edited by Ontario Honker Hunter; 09-03-2019, 12:39 PM.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by dewman View Post
            Thank you again for sharing.
            Thanks for the thanks. I enjoyed sharing.

            Comment


            • #7
              Good work Ontario! Pleased all went well and you are home safe and sound. I noted you are talking of next time already.

              Comment


              • #8
                all those animals plus crew was a large load for that little Toyota

                Comment


                • #9
                  I caught that “next time” remark as well. Cool.

                  Keep it coming, pictures as well.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Thanks OHH for taking the time to do this gear report. I'll apply some of that insight to hunting here in the Southeast.

                    For instance, having a hunting gear belt sounds like a great Idea! I use an extra belt in my job whenever visiting a papermill ... (H2S monitor, Escape mask, multi-tool, and flashlight). Thanks!

                    Would using monocular have been better on your trip?

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Did you come across other animals like lions, elephants, leopards, etc.?
                      Is this their end of winter season ?
                      What game did you eat ?
                      Sounds like you did some good shooting, especially with a borrowed gun. PH must have been pleased. I was a little worried about shooting with you eye problems and listening to the problems/questions you had getting ready.
                      How did your friend do ?
                      Enough questions for now.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by PigHunter View Post
                        Thanks OHH for taking the time to do this gear report. I'll apply some of that insight to hunting here in the Southeast.

                        For instance, having a hunting gear belt sounds like a great Idea! I use an extra belt in my job whenever visiting a papermill ... (H2S monitor, Escape mask, multi-tool, and flashlight). Thanks!

                        Would using monocular have been better on your trip?
                        Monocular would not have given much better view of things than my rifle scope on 9x. The problem with them is lack of field of vision that one gets with binoculars. I had a small spotting scope my partner lent me but it wasn't very portable. Field of vision was also very tight with that thing. The PH and tracker have much better eyes and equipment than I do. And they know what they're looking for. Just as well let them do their job.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by jhjimbo View Post
                          Did you come across other animals like lions, elephants, leopards, etc.?
                          Is this their end of winter season ?
                          What game did you eat ?
                          Sounds like you did some good shooting, especially with a borrowed gun. PH must have been pleased. I was a little worried about shooting with you eye problems and listening to the problems/questions you had getting ready.
                          How did your friend do ?
                          Enough questions for now.
                          I did very well shooting ... until it came time for the kudu. Borrowed gun worked well ... after a missed shot. The PH's .375 was certainly bang on though. After my buffalo went down I pointed to my left breast: "Shot her right there." And I did. Spotting things can be difficult for me but shooting with a scope is no problem.

                          My friend shot his buffalo bull (a real beaut!), sable, eland, and a very nice warthog boar. He also shot a couple of the small antelope species in the mountains. Mountain reedbuck and another one.

                          We had kudu tenderloins one night and some kind of venison meat pie the first day. Very tasty. The wives of two of the hunters were not wild about venison so we mostly were served domestic meat. I was fine with keeping the ladies happy. Food was great. They served us T-bone steaks the last night that were the size of turkey platters, no kidding. Those beef cows must have been big as boxcars.
                          Last edited by Ontario Honker Hunter; 09-04-2019, 07:41 AM.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Happy Myles View Post
                            all those animals plus crew was a large load for that little Toyota
                            The buffalo sure was a load for that rig. I have a couple photos of the crew loading it. She filled the entire back end.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by jhjimbo View Post
                              Did you come across other animals like lions, elephants, leopards, etc.?
                              Is this their end of winter season ?
                              What game did you eat ?
                              Sounds like you did some good shooting, especially with a borrowed gun. PH must have been pleased. I was a little worried about shooting with you eye problems and listening to the problems/questions you had getting ready.
                              How did your friend do ?
                              Enough questions for now.
                              Yes, this is winter down there heading into spring. No lions but we did hear a couple one afternoon when hunting kudu. They were in a pen at a roadside zoo not far away. Leopard are about but usually only seen at night. Only four tags let out for the whole country which is ridiculous. At one place I noticed the top two wires on the high game fences were electrified. PH explained that's for keeping leopards out (or in). The cats are one reason warthogs are such a nuisance. The hogs burrow under the fences and provide pathways for leopards and other predators (jackals, bush pigs, and caracal). Keep in mind that most of these ranches also raise some domestic livestock (sheep, cattle, and goats). No elephants in the area. I mentioned seeing rhinos and giraffes.

                              Comment

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