4 June 11
Greetings from Africa!
I’m in Africa right now, teaching and hunting. I have wonderful friends over here who entertain me shamelessly!
After two frustrating days unsuccessfully trying to get a shot at a Fallow Deer on a nearby farm (Fallow Deer, native to the UK, have thrived nearly everywhere they’ve been exported, including Africa), today I finally connected with a nice Springbuck at another farm. He was a fifty-pound male with mature horns. He’ll make very acceptable trophy!
I used a borrowed 300 H&H Winchester bolt-gun equipped with a 3X12 Leupold scope.
However, my performance was less than stellar!
We were hunting in heavy fog, when my PH spotted the animal standing slightly above us on a ridge. Range was 90m, but it was difficult to judge, as I could only see a silhouette, and I didn’t know how large the animal was.
I had a broadside shot and was firing from a rest. When the shot broke, it looked good to me, and I could hear the round hit him solidly. However, no dead Springbuck was anywhere to be found!
We finally located him a half-hour later, fatally hit, but still on his feet. A second shot brought him down for good.
My first round, intended for the point of the shoulder, hit too high. It damaged the spine, but obviously not sufficiently to get him off his feet. African animals are tough!
One important lesson I relearned today:
Be in a position to see where the animal goes after he is hit, just in case he doesn’t go down straightaway. My animal turned and dropped out of sight an instant after being struck, making a follow-up shot impossible, and subsequently making it difficult to figure out where he went.
We’ll be hunting again tomorrow and next week. I trust I’ll be doing better.
Anyone who claims he has never muffed a shot hasn’t hunted enough. I try to balance deliberate speed with an appropriate degree of accuracy, in an effort to achieve the best result. I don’t like chasing wounded animals, nor do I like watching the window close before I get a shot.
Today, my call fell short of topnotch. So, I log the lesson, face to the front, and go at it again tomorrow!
6 June 11
Goose Hunting in Africa:
We went goose-hunting this evening at a local farm. First time I’ve ever waterfowl hunted here!
African geese (actually “Egyptian” geese) are slightly smaller than Canadian geese, but sound similar and fly in similar groups. They have brown wings with white flashes, and a light brown body.
Local farmers hate them, as they unceremoniously extract carefully-planted wheat seedlings and gobble them up. So, farmers were delighted to have us come out and engage a few as they flew into land at a pond.
In a half-hour’s time, I shot at fourteen, from a blind. Some were too far away, and I should have let them go. I’m accustomed to shooting upland birds like pheasant and chukker partridge, but I haven’t done much waterfowl hunting- until today!
I was using a borrowed 20-ga over/under with #3 shot. Once again, African geese are tough! I could hear my pellets hitting some of them, but they refused to fold-up and come down. I did collect two, which I hit solidly, at fifteen meters. Catching them with the edge of your pattern will not bring them down, as I painfully discovered!
Once again, nothing in Africa dies of old age, nor dies without a fight!
What a place to be!
7 June 11
Today, I hunted and killed a Bontebuck at a local farm in the Western Cape.
Bontebuck are rare here and rarely hunted, I was able to hunt this one through a special arrangement. Mine is in the record book! They closely resemble Blesbuck. Coloring is different (lighter, and Bontebuck have a while rump). Government is trying to protect them from genetic oblivion, so they are only found in specific places.
I was equipped with the same 300 H&H Winchester bolt-gun I use on the Springbuck two days ago. We got to within sixty meters. We had to get that close, because we were hunting in a fierce wind. It was the windiest I’ve ever tried to hunt in. Reminded me of WY!
The wind made it difficult to hold my rifle steady. We were downwind of the animals, and the gusts and noise as the wind rushed through the trees confused them and made it possible for us to get close. So, it represented a disadvantage for both of us!
My shot was aimed at, and hit, the point of the shoulder. I had to wait patiently for a broadside presentation. Through and through. The animal instantly collapsed where he stood. Classic example of “flaccid paralysis.”
This is the way I like to take animals. No chasing wounded game! The buck I killed had been isolated from the rest of the herd, likely unceremoniously jettisoned by a younger male.
I merely “retired him early!”
11 June 11
… and the “not-so-perfect” shot!
We’re been hunting Fallow Deer on a local farm for several days. Thursday, I finally got an opportunity to take a large stag. It was late in the afternoon. Range was just over two-hundred meters, broadside, but I had a solid rest for the rifle, and I was pretty confident I could make the shot. We had been stalking him for several hours!
He was in the company of five females (it’s “fall” down here), so I had to track him until I could get a clear shot. I had my finger in contact with the trigger, waiting for the window to open just a crack!
It never did! He disappeared into the bush, never to reappear.
We hunted in the same place again on Friday, and never saw another male, despite all the best efforts of my PH (Professional Hunter)
Maybe I should have pushed it and let the shot go before I would normally be comfortable. It is hard to know what “might have been.” It was my call, and that is the way the dice landed.
When hunting, particularly in Africa, there are no guarantees!
Eland hunting on Monday!
14 June 11
Yesterday, I shot a large Eland on a farm in Western Cape. Eland are the largest antelope in Africa, dwarfing Springbuck, even Blue Wildebeest.
Again, I used the same, borrowed, 300H&H Rifle. Range was 150m, but this healthy herd contained over one-hundred animals, and it takes some time to locate, and then chance upon a clear shot at, the individual you want. The one I wanted was the number-two male in the herd!
The normal ratio of adult males to females in most herds of African antelope is 1:20. Ratios skewing far from that formula make for an unstable and unhealthy population. So, there is always an excess of adult males, which must be culled through hunting, or culled naturally through disease and injury.
We had a long stalk, on foot, and a long wait for a unobstructed shot.
My first shot, broadside, was on the point of the shoulder, but slightly high. I heard it hit solidly, and fully expected to see the animal crumple as I recovered from recoil and bolted-in another round.
No such luck! The big bull just shook it off and kept moving.
Twenty minutes later we caught up with him once more. He was at the rear of the herd, trying, with progressively deteriorating success, to keep up.
My second shot (100m, broadside once more) was four inches below the first. Again, I heard a solid impact. Clearly hurt, he still managed to stay on his feet and keep moving. Five seconds later, my third shot hit him, four inches directly in front of the second.
He tried valiantly to stay upright, but couldn’t, finally collapsing, and expiring shortly thereafter.
These are magnificent beasts! Many casually absorb more shots than just three. Once again, I was thrilled, thankful, and humbled, for the honor and privilege to be able to hunt them in their natural home.
It was a great day!
17 June 11
I’m now back in CONUS, and I can report on the situation in South Africa, where I’ve spent the past two weeks.
It’s been several years since I was last there, and I can truly say that the violent crime situation, and the general “livability” of the Country have measurably improved! The government, like most, is still incompetent and indifferent, of course, and it is still largely controlled by the blatantly racist ANC.
But, violent crime is down, particularly the infamous farm murders, and it strikes me that everyone, regardless of ethnicity, is genuinely trying to appreciate each other. Capitalism, despite relentless efforts to stamp it out completely, still compels diverse people to work together, in their mutual best interests.
South Africans are currently doing motor-tours of Angola, of all places. It is encouraged by both nations, and apparently, no hard feelings on either side! Central and West African nations are now regularly running ads on Sky News (British) and CNN (International Version) encouraging investment and tourism.
Landscape that used to be literally covered with litter and garbage (by the square mile!), is now mostly cleaned up. The Word Cup Soccer Matches, hosted by South Africa last year, were predicted to be characterized by widespread violence and violent victimization of visitors. None of that ever happened! The event was well run, well coordinated, and surprisingly free of violence. Perhaps Canada could take a lesson, eh?
I did a ride-along with the Metro Capetown Police one afternoon, and I was reminded of any large American city. Crowded, bustling, energetic! Everyone is on the move, and are mostly too busy to think about racism.
I have many good friends there, and they are upbeat about their future compared with past years and outwardly proud to be South Africans.
I first started going to South Africa in 1998. The situation there now is the best I’ve seen.
17 June 11
Closer to Home!
This is from a friend in the international security business:
“… just got back from a security detail in Ciudad Juarez.
Guns there are in the hands exclusively of the most violent, while genuinely good people are prohibited from possessing them. And, when BHO claims to worry about ‘militarizing the border,’ he needn’t. It is already the most militarized border in this Hemisphere. Only the USA is (voluntarily) unrepresented!
Driving in from El Paso, travelers are greeted by a barrage of signs, in English and Spanish, warning that firearms are prohibited, and stiff prison sentences will be imposed upon any who dare try to have some means of self-protection. But, in this region where violent death exceeds levels in Kabul and Baghdad combined, one can only wonder who are obeying this no-gun rule!
Legal ownership of guns in Mexico, by normal citizens, is nearly impossible. However, everywhere you turn, police and military troops are armed to the teeth. Meanwhile, equally well-armed cartel members, in contemptuous defiance of government and the law, create fake military road blocks in an effort to steal SUVs, trucks, and other vehicles, always (you guessed it!) at gunpoint.
Military personnel, thanks to HK’s transparent magazines, obviously carry fully-charged magazines, unlike our own military who, when deployed to aid civil authority, carry empty guns. I’m not sure what they think they’re going to learn from us!
Cartel violence is now expanding into Reynosa and Monterrey.
I continue to warn prospective travelers to avoid all border areas, indeed avoid the entire country!”
Comment: Blundering, incompetent, dishonest governments, on both sides of the border, make this terrible situation more-or-less permanent. The safety and welfare of good and decent citizens is positively the last thing either government apparently ever worries about!
As individuals, all of us need to understand that we are the only ones who care about the future of this civilization. The shrewd, pro-active, suspicious, and well-prepared might live to see it.
Few of the rest have much chance!
20 June 11
I counsel my young and energetic students, as a “general rule,” to be always “too accurate, rather than too fast.” That is, they are advised to ever-error in the direction of being excessively accurate, rather than inordinately fast.
However, I also encourage them, during training, to “push the envelope” in an effort to see how fast they can really be. Knowing how fast you can run your trigger, and still get desired results, is a judgement that only comes from experience, mostly negative experience. Put another way, you need to fail regularly (in training) if you want to really learn anything. Who “play it safe,” never risking missing a shot, will never know how fast they can go (while maintaining accuracy to an acceptable degree).
There was a time when we all carried six-shooters, and reloading, even with revolver speed-loaders, was a relatively tedious and slow task. We had to remind ourselves that every shot had to be effective. Rifles were similarly limited.
Today, our pistols are fourteen, fifteen, and sixteen-shooters, and reloading them is smooth and fast. Our rifles now have thirty-round magazines. With these magnificent technological improvements, many of us have become complacent and lazy, thinking all that firepower will somehow compensate for personal incompetence.
So, once again, here is the caveat:
Missing is triply disastrous:
1) It doesn’t stop the fight! The longer this fight goes on, the more hurt I’m going to get. When there must be a fight, the only kind that interests me is a short one! When my life is endangered, I want the threat(s) neutralized immediately. Missing fails utterly in that regard. In addition, missed shots will embolden your attacker(s). When they conclude (correctly), from your slovenly shooting, that you are personally incompetent, they may well press their attack, rather than voluntarily disengaging or surrendering.
2) It leaves me with one fewer round with which to solve my problem. Yes, I may have lots of rounds, assuming my gun(s) continues to function normally, but there may well be several individuals who all simultaneously represent lethal threats to me, and, accordingly, all must be neutralized quickly. I might just need all those rounds, every one. I can’t afford to miss, with any of them!
3) When one of my rounds fails to hit something I wanted it to hit, by definition, it will hit something I didn’t want it to hit! “Sloppy shooting,” as manifested by missed shots, missed shots that went on downrange to cause unintended injury and property damage, are never dealt with kindly by investigators, nor prosecutors, nor juries. When one of your bullets ends up in an “unhappy place,” you’re the one who will have to explain how it got there. At that point, your “intent,” no matter how sincere, is largely irrelevant!
Competent Operators hit consistently. They know how fast they can hit, and go just that fast, but no faster.
“Shoot less. Kill more!”
26 June 11
“Categories,” from a friend and student:
“There are differing views on armed self-defense. Most are neither honest, nor honorable, but frequently articulated anyway. The following litany is an effort to put differing views into perspective:
1) Gun-Haters. These are the hyper-naive. While basking under the mantel of safety and freedom provided by better men than they, who are armed, they piously claim that they are personally too good and pure to ever touch a gun themselves. ‘Guns-bans will result in an end to violence,’ they foolishly claim. They conveniently never mention clubs, knives, hammers, screw drivers, and big, bad, hairy criminals who can physically dominate. We had a world without guns once. It was a good deal more violent than the one we enjoy today. How quickly they forget!
2) Sheep. Probably the biggest category. ‘Violence? What violence?” they cry. ‘Violence’ is something that happens to others. They willfully ignore what is going on around them, because they are permanently in denial of the facts of life. We call them VBCs (Victims, by Choice). They would rather die than be compelled to confront enlightenment. Unfortunately, many get their wish!
3) ‘Conscientious objectors’ A small number believe they must never defend themselves, nor resort to force in any form, because of fuzzy and confused religious ‘convictions.’ They can safely function in our society, at least for now, only because armed police are there to protect them.
4) Gun-Apologists. They own guns, but say stupidly naive things like, ‘I’ll never have to shoot anyone, because the sight of my gun will cause bad guys to run away!’, ‘I carry my pistol only when I go to the bad part of town (it’s never loaded anyway)’, and ‘I may shoot, but I don’t want to hurt anyone’ They consider shooting five rounds a year ‘training.’ This ‘logic’ would have you believe that when you pick up a violin, for the first time, you’re instantly ready for the concert hall.
5.) Competitors. This is the group that is all about shooting guns strictly for recreation and self-aggrandizement. They look upon their gun the same way they look upon a tennis racket or a golf club. It is purely a means for attaining a high score at some race or contest. They shoot a lot, but few even carry a gun, and the gun they do carry bears not the slightest resemblance to the one they compete with. They endlessly confer swaggering titles upon themselves. They can, at least, operate guns, but they give scant thought to any practical use to which a gun might have to be put.
6.) Consciously Incompetent. They have had training at the beginner/intermediate level. Then, a fog comes over them, and they come to the table no more. They think of training as an event, rather than a process. In their mind, they have all the skills they’ll ever need to get them through their next lethal encounter. They fail, at their peril, to consider the fact that these skills are all perishable.
7.) Consciously Competent. This is the group that has seen the light, acknowledged their weaknesses, and resolved to never be a hapless victim. They own and use guns for serious purposes. They train hard and regularly, and keep up on the latest equipment and trends. They understand the OODA Loop. However, they must still think their actions through. They are still at the mercy of their attention-span. However, from these ranks True Operators come.
8.) Unconsciously Competent. Operators! They have the ability to instantly react to threats, with flawless precision and without wasted parts, nor wasted motions. Their conscious mind is involved with strategy, while their unconscious mind seamlessly runs bodily motions. Everything and anything that they have at their disposal will be utilized to quickly and decisively conquer their foes. In the moment of need, they are never found wanting. This group continues to train and is always eager to enlighten. They stand ready to serve as required.”