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on buffalo and elephant with great satisfaction. In Africa one can never be sure what lies around the corner, or what hides in the long grass, and if you are carrying a .375 Magnum you can handle anything from Thomson's Gazelle to elephant. The one drawback of the .375 Magnum is that the general run of bullets made for it leaves something to be desired. The softs, both American and British, do not appear to be strong enough to cope with the tough skinned game animals of Africa, and I think that the velocity is too high for the standard bullets. Solids are, on the whole, better, and the Winchester Full Patch as good as are available. »
The other rifles in this category fail to measure up to the .375 Magnum and lack its versatility. The 9.3x62 is very pleasant, but lacks the power and the versatility. The 10.75 mm. lias poor sectional density and though good for African buffalo, is inadequate on elephant. The .404 covers the bigger animals better than the .375 Magnum but, not having varying bullet weights, doesn't handle the smaller stuff.
The great advantage of my battery is that it can be bought piecemeal by the thrifty sportsman. If one can only rise to one rifle, the .375 Magnum is the obvious allpurpose weapon. If, however, one can afford two weapons, then the .30-06 and the .458 Winchester magnum are indicated. These cover all game types until the .375 Magnum is added. These considerations are also of importance to travellers by air subject to a rigid baggage weight restriclion.
To complete the battery 1 have a 12 bore shotgun and a Winchester Mod. 72 .22 rim fire rifle. The former varies the menu, and the latter does the same with less noise and expense, and provides limitless "plinking" fun—a grand companion.
But the .458 is the one I must rely on for the biggest game of all—the elephant. Although lacking somehow the glamour of the lion, so-called "King of Beasts," and without the cussedness of the rhino ol' the murderous vindictiveness of the African buffalo, tracking the elephant is an art distinct from any other form of hunting. It holds an ex-hiliration not experienced when on the track of other game.
An elephant is an animal of tremendous vitality. Apart from the danger element, which is always present because of the short ranges at which the beasts are shot, a poorly placed shot can easily cause loss of a valuable trophy. Furthermore, on the grounds of humanity, the beast itself is entitled to a quick and painless death. Elephants should always be shot from close range to ensure perfect accuracy.
Shots used on elephant can be roughly classified as either brain or body hits. Of these, let us first consider the brain shot, which is the most instantly deadly. The skull of an elephant is composed of a network of shock-absorbing air-filled cells, which offer considerable resistance to bullets and rule out the possibility of hydraulic shock. The brain, which is about the size of a shoe box and vaguely sausage-shaped, lies lengthwise in the centre of the skull and close-range shots must be varied to obtain the correct angle of elevation.
The brain lies roughly horizontally between the eye and the ear orifice. It starts at the ear orifice and reaches forward almost half way to the eye. When aiming, visualize the position of the brain and line up the sights accordingly, having regard to range and position from which one is firing. Although best taken at right angles, the side brain shot is available through a fairly wide angle to the expert.
The frontal brain shot is regarded with suspicion by some hunters, but this can only be because of their experiences with rifles of inadequate penetration, as it is an uncomplicated shot. Naturally, considerably more penetration and accuracy is required lhan for the side shot. The cardinal point to remember is that the tendency is to shoot loo high on the forehead. The bullet then passes harmlessly well above the brain and the elephant will not be put down. An elephant charging, with its ears spread out, is an awe inspiring sight. Better advice would be to shoot low rather than high, for I here is always the possibility that a heavy bullet might press through and break the neck.
When hit in the brain the elephant simply collapses in his tracks. If stationary at the lime, he will fall with his legs tucked up underneath him: if he was on the move, his momentum will usually cause him to topple over, usually away from the hunter. It sometimes happens that a heavy bullet close to the brain causes concussion and the elephant drops as if dead, but this is a deception. Frequently a beast is momentarily brought to its knees, but will recover and make off with remarkable alacrity. It is the "dead" elephant that should be treated with suspicion. Often one has dropped, been photographed, and had its tail cut off, when upon the hunter's return some while later the elephant has vanished—with a headache and minus fly swish. The experienced hunter will watch carefully for the tell-tale quiver of the rear leg, and put in an insurance shot if there is any doubt. The heart, of course, continues beating for ten or fifteen minutes after death.
The body shots allow a greater latitude of error. These shots are usually side body shots. The lungs are about four feet long and half as wide, and lie just behind the front legs, reaching down to about a foot from the bottom of the body line. An elephant shot in the lungs should only run about a mile, but I have known one that only lasted 150 yards and another that went 15 miles.
The heart is about 18 inches long and lies very low down in the chest and half behind the leg bone. An upper heart shot, or one which severs the aorta, should bring the animal down within 100 yards, and a lower heart shot within about half a mile.
A spinal shot immobilizes the animal. It is usually taken from the rear (just above where the tail is connected to the body) or from above. It is not to be recommended from the side because of the difficulties in locating the spine.
A shot of which I have no personal experience is the so-called shoulder shot. It has never attained much popularity with hunters but has ils advocates in writers Norman Smith and John Taylor. The idea is to break shoulder bones and thus to immobilize animals and at the same time to shatter vital internal organs in the chest cavity. The idea is to aim for the "point" or socket of the shoulder. A heavy and slow moving bullet is required.
From the front, when the elephant's head is raised, as in eating from a tree, it is possible to use the chest, heart or lung shot.
It will be appreciated that with all except the brain and spine shots the elephant is still able to carry on for a while and perhaps to pulverize the hunter if it so desires: elephants are usually shot well under 50 yards. It is for this reason that most of us try for the brain shot whenever it is possible.
At present there seems no fear of our quarry becoming extinct, or in short supply. Although, at the turn of the century, upwards of 25,000 elephants were shot annually, the protection afforded them since has given them adequate opportunity for recovery. It is unlikely that a pair of sportsmen today could shoot four tons of ivory in two years (1898-9) or, to quote another party about the same time, pay £800 duty on their ivory. The fact that control officers shoot more and more elephant every year and that some complain the elephants are scarcely "holding their own" are signs of the times. There would appear to be a quarter of a million or more elephants roaming about in Africa today. Another factor which is not generally known is that control officers of the various game departments shoot very many more lhan sportsmen, about one to seven or eight. This doesn't prevent the Game Departments concerned from raising I he license cost regularly!
Though I appear to have wandered somewhat from elephants and elephant rifles, I hope that I have managed to broaden the reader's knowledge of African hunting. I have tried to show how, with a very modest outlay, one can acquire a splendid and versatile battery of rifles for all beasts from the smallest size, to the elephant. UM
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