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I have roeen longing for the smell of the ironwood campfires, the endless mopane and acacia trees that look as if the countryside has been given a buzz cut. The sight of giraffe roaming among them with neck and head four feet higher than almost all of the trees. The feel of the red sandy soil as it seems to get onto and into everything. The taste of the wild game. blue wildebeast, eland, and impala, like the one I harvested on my last trip . . .


While I may get my share of hunting here at home and in nearby states, the lure of a far away land, where so many different languages are spoken has been occupying my sleeping and waking moments for over a year. Taunting me even more were the emails back and forth arranging the taxidermy and shipments from my last trip to South Africa.


Then the email teasers started, the phone calls taunting me with plans for an upcoming trip by a friend of mine from Del Rio, Texas. Hints of culling an out-of-control Impala herd from a helicopter with a suppressed .30-06. Tagging along to be backup on a Cape Buffalo hunt. Four days of fishing for monster tiger fish and a crocodile hunt in Mozambique.

Then I made the trip to the Safari Club International convention, meeting outfitters from all over the planet. I saw my new, old friends from the Republic of South Africa. The straw that broke the camelflage’s back…


The previous professional hunter, Eli van der Walt, who was our guide has opened up two new concession/hunting areas. One is in the Limpopo area of northern South Africa, and the other is a huge concession in central Mozambique. It has over 20 miles of the Zambezi River running through it. The crocs there haven’t been hunted in years.

After staying with me in between sportsman’s shows he was attending, Eli made me an offer I couldn’t turn down. As he left my house, Eli and I shook hands. I will be seeing him again on April 18th.
I’ve been glued to his web site every since in anticipation.

My mind has been in warp drive. First thoughts are rifle selection. I am dying to take RF’s .500 S&W Big Horn Armory lever gun. Here is my friend Larry, a 7-time African safari veteran, enjoying some recoil therapy with it last week.


I also want to take my trusty .375 H&H if I’m going to be backup on a Cape Buff expedition. Ruark’s admonishment, “use enough gun” rings in my ears. As the double rifle I’m buying won’t get here in time, the Sako will have to do. Besides, Eli carries a .460 Weatherby Mag.

As I write this a hunting buddy, Bill, has opted to come along. He carries a Blaser bolt gun in .416 Remington Mag. He’s hunted every continent but Asia. Now I’m feeling much better in case there is a repeat charge of ‘black death.’

Since I opted for the smaller plains game on the last trip, I’m going a for something a bit larger this time.
Kudu…hopefully over 55 inches horns And Gemsbok…I’d be tickled pink at 36 inch horns

While these plains game animals are on the larger size — 400-500 lbs. or better — the .500 S&W should be perfect. With the Winchester platinum tip 400 grain bullets, I’m holding under two inches with the now lock-tited iron sights. I’m also after baboon and maybe bushbuck. Yeah, the .500 should work fine.

All I need to do is head on up to the customs office at PDX to register them all on the form 4457. This allows the re-importation of the boomsticks. I have downloaded the South African version. It’s called a SAPS 520 form. This allows the temporary importation of allowed firearms into their country and export back out. Forms for rifles going into Mozambique are done upon arrival (no semi-automatic rifles allowed).

Next on the list was a check of immunizations required for Mozambique. According to the State Department and the CDC, nothing needed. They do say that a prophylactic dose of something for malaria is a good idea, though, so I’ve got the appointment scheduled with the doc to get a good supply of Doxycycline.

Next step, airline. I certainly won’t be going through London again. Nope, this time it’s a direct flight from Atlanta to Johannesburg. Ugh. 15 hours. Stay tuned. It’s gonna be epic!

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    • After a lot of reading, and having been on it a few times before, I chose the drug with the least amount of side effects. Doc agreed.

  1. Damn, Tom. My definition of adventure is going to a gun range to practice my Mozambique drill, while you’re actually going to Mozambique to drill Greater Kudu.

    • Hell yeah it is. Why not use the 500 lever gun on cape buffalo? I understand how tough they are but 440 grains of lead should do the trick.

      • It’s the uncertainty of the ‘should’ on doing the the trick that may influence that decision.

        Have you seen those vids on what that cape buffalo is capable of doing?


        • I have seen the videos. .375 h&h 300 grains at 2600 fps vs 440 grains at approx 1800 fps, It seems it would be like getting hit by an f150 at 55 mph rather than a semi truck at 35 miles an hour, both would be suitable to hunt dangerous game. I think the lever gives you 7 rounds vs the 3-5 in the bolt gun, but the bolt gun gives you the longer range…. IDK, whatever riifle Tom chooses I hope he has some fun, maybe he can use the .500 to harvest himself a croc and have a whole bunch of custom holsters made from the leather.

        • A quick, clean and humane 1 shot kill is what the ethical hunter seeks. We know that the .375 is capable of this goal. But as far as I know the .500 has never been used on anything like the buff.

          It may well be up to the job. But I’d want more proof than paper ballistics to risk it. And, much as I like them, the lever guns aren’t as sturdy or foolproof as a bolt gun. Something to consider against a large and very dangerous critter.

  2. I’ve been to Africa twice, once to the Masai Mara in Kenya and once to South Africa. Both were photo safaris. The thing I think most people don’t realize is that for the most part, there are no more huge untamed areas where animals migrate freely. Most of the continent is divided up into game reserves, parks, private land and such. Most game reserves, private reserves and parks are fenced in with miles upon miles of electric fence.
    I was completely unaware of this until I met with some conservation folks in Hoedspruit, South Africa.
    I think the average American has no concept of how Africa defies their notions of reality.
    It is really hard to explain but it is a little like thinking that Yellowstone is representative of wildlife in the US and of course we all know that is not reality.
    Still, the memories of Africa are some of the best of my life. Sitting in a Land Rover having a Sundowner (happy hour) while lions and their cubs roll out for the evening within 20 feet of you is magical. You just have to remember that generations of them are acclimated to viewing Land Rovers as neither prey nor predator. So, in that sense it is wild yet artificial. If you introduced hunting into the Mara, the animals behavior would change almost overnight.

    • Mostly correct. The area we are going to in the RSA is unfenced, so it will involve a lot of spot and stalk.

  3. .500 with 400gr bullet, that’s a lot of gun for plains game. I hunted twice in Namibia, once with a .300 winmag (too much recoil for me) and 2nd time with a .308. Perfect.Of course if the recoil doesn’t bother you then it’s the right gun.

    All guides I spoke with (regarding Plains Game, NOT dangerous game) same the mistake most American hunters make is bring to much gun and having issues with recoil. “Bring your favorite deer rifle” is what all the guides said.

      • I have no doubts on the gun, it seems like a great rifle. I was just sharing my experience, the guide I hunted with preferred lighter weight Barnes VOR TX bullets (he was adamant on Barnes) in “American deer hunting calibers” I was taking shots at 300+meters (esp. Baboons,they are too smart to let you get close) I imagine the drop on a 400gr bullet designed for big game would be very large. But hey, your safari, your choice.

        I do understand the authors longing to go back……..


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