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THE BEST OF TIMES/THE WORST OF TIMES....Part 2
By Paco

When Chris Troski the professional hunter and owner of TROSKI SAFARIS notified me that no game animals or game birds could be taken with a 22 rimfire firearm I was disappointed. In the past in Africa I had extensively hunted very edible birds with 22 RFs. But not in South Africa. (In those long forgotten days I was in Rhodesia.) I was going to take my CZ 452 with the 24 inch barrel topped with a small but extremely clear BSA Sweet 17 3x9 scope. I have always used centerfire scopes on 22 RFs; 22 RF scopes for me are worthless. But this particular scope is excellent, it has a range/bullet/drop indicator that really works.

This little rimfire rifle is exceptionally accurate, especially with several brands of high speed, 40 grain lead loads. With the bullet noses reformed in the ACUíRZR tool to the cup point shape, they are very deadly and deep penetrating in animals up to 7 or 8 pounds, including heavy birds... And I was almost tasting the very tasty Frankolin that I knew to be in the area we were to hunt. Plus I figured Chris knew of a number of other edible birds that were part of that district. But unfortunately South African law prohibits the use of 22RFs on game animals and birds, though you can shoot vermin with them.

So I had to make a choice of taking a 22 Hornet or some other small centerfire caliber rifle. The centerfire 22s could certainly be loaded down to the levels that would have been superb for birds. But if I had to bring a centerfire then why not make it one that was still small but could do double duty. Like taking larger game animals up to the 100 pound level or so. That left a number of excellent choices but also some problems... the first restriction I put on my choice was it had to be a leveraction. That eliminated all bolt action calibers, that are not chambered in leverguns.

One of the great choices would have been the 7.62x39 round, but it is only in bolt actions. My 35 Remington in the Marlin levergun was certainly in the running, as was the 30-30, but I have been there, and done that before. I also discounted all my very fine wildcat rounds like the 30/357 on the 92 action.

The 357 magnum in a leveraction was certainly thought over a number of times, as was the 32-20, and some of the other handgun cartridges. But the limitation on the number of guns I could take into the country was three... so that forced my thinking to be more restrictive also.....

Since I was bringing the 44 Magnum Winchester Model 94 Pac/rifle, I steered away from the rest of the handgun rounds. And since I have done a tremendous amount of work with the 32-20 over the past half century plus. I know itís potential in strong handguns and rifles is beyond what most folks realize. And in the end when time was short to get gun permits, the idea of the 32-20 seemed better and better, so it came along on the long trip to the Dark Continent.....

I figured if I took the 32-20 it could be used for birds with mild handloads. And for medium size game with heavy loads. Using Cast Performance's exceptionally fine cast 100 grain 32 caliber, flat nose bullet, I loaded a batch over 4 grains of Bullseye for 1010 fps which would knock a good size small animal down cleanly, but yet not tear up a whole lot of meat. I decided to leave my Browning 92 in 32-20 at home, but take the little Marlin Cowboy 32-20 with the octagon 20 inch barrel, with me......

Using Hornadyís 100 grain jacketed H.P. over 15 grains of 2400 gave me the excellent load I have used for years on coyotes and such. At close to 2100 fps from the Marlin it is a killer load out to 150 yards easily.... And the 100 grain jacketed soft nose 30 Carbine bullet (bumped from .308 to .311), over the same powder charge and near the same velocity, have taken deer sized animals and feral pigs in the past. The 32-20 was ready......

I brought a varmint caller with me.... I figured they are rarely used in Africa, and that it would be fun some night to try and see what would show up. And we did try one on our way out of the hunting concession one night just for grins. It was Rogerís call, mine was back at the compound. We stopped and I blew on it for a few minutes... a number of sets of eyes appeared in the brush off the side of the road, they shined bright in the red lens light of my flashlight. But with the hunting car right there, nothing was going to really show itself.... Besides the hunting car driver never heard a varmint call before and it scared her. We never did get a chance to really try it.... it showed promise so Iíll bring it back next year.

Right after that we hunted hard for days to find a trophy warthog I wanted. Chris tried very hard for me, to no avail. The grass was much too high from an unexpected rainy week before we got there. All I ever really saw was waves in the grass or a female with babies.... But Roger and John scored on two nice ones.... thatís the luck of the hunter.

I took the 44 magnum Winchester Pac/rifle model 94 to South Africa. I didnít even fool with handloads. A call to Randy Garrett brought two boxes of his very fine 310 grain Hammerhead 44 magnum loads. 100 of those beauties is more than enough. (www.garrettcatridges.com) Both his 44 Magnum ammo, and his 45-70 ammo, is some of the finest on the market. Even though I am an avid handloader, I try to keep a few boxes of both on hand. If you go to his web site you can view the game taken by hunters all over the world with his 44s and 45-70s. Also in the Leverguns.com article list there is one I wrote on Randy Garrett. He is a very fine man and a friend to the shooter/hunter.

I was going to take the 444 Winchester Black Shadow Big Bore 94, but at the last minute I was told I couldnít take two guns of the same caliber into South Africa... and the 444 was dropped. I would have dropped the 44 mag Pac/Rifle but the decision wasnít made by me. It was my fault because of my busy life style I waited too long and it was so late to get the permits. Air 2000 had to decide. Not knowing what a 444 was, they dropped that. Also I screwed around so much, I didnít get the 44 mag handgun registered and couldnít bring that. I found out late any handgun has to be registered at a minimum of 30 days before we leave. About two years ago the South African Police/Customs took over the importation permit process on guns..... Mother said if you canít say something nice....etc... so all Iíll say is ...get your U.S. Customs Declaration Forms on your guns as early as possible.

There is an organization that is a private South African Company called Air 2000. Chris Troski will get them in touch with you if you plan to go with us next year. You fax them all the paperwork and they process it for you thru the South African Police getting the permits for your guns to go into South Africa. It is a very convoluted process, better not try it yourself unless you have been thru it before. Air 2000 will meet you as you get off the plane from the States and guide you thru the whole experience of getting your baggage, your guns, and also act as an escort thru customs.... when you leave Africa they do it for you again... and for an extremely modest price. As the T.V. ad states.... "Donít Leave Home without Them!"

I had read all the paper work carefully. The South African Police give several choices on paperwork to show proof that you own the guns you want to bring in. One option is a U.S. Customs declaration form for each gun. There were also two other options listed, an American Police agency document stating you own them or bill of sale on each.

Since U.S. Customs is 51 miles from home in Tucson I decided to bring my police form.... the only problem was the serial numbers of the guns were not on the form. And South African Customs refused to let the guns in, they held them until I could get forms with the serial numbers or release them to me when I left Africa for home. Quick phone calls to the States... my daughter went down and had the local gun store make out copy bills of sale for the guns. I was told that was fine. When Air 2000 presented the Bill of sales for the guns, we were told the serial numbers were left off and Customs would not release the guns. So I wound up using John, Roger and J.J.ís guns... also Chris lent me his 30-06. A Bolt Action... ugh.

When I left Africa, I was given the fax copies of the Bill of Sales for my guns Customs was holding. THE SERIAL NUMBERS WERE ON THE FORMS! I questioned the Customs official and he told me the rules had changed, only U.S. Customs forms would be acceptable. Now I could get angry over all this, but it was really my fault for waiting too long to get the paperwork to Air 2000. A word to the wise.. Get all paper work to them at least 3 months before your departure date. So my worst of times was ...the very long plane ride and South African Customs...

The only thing you can do for the plane ride is take some sleeping pills with you... as for Customs, both U.S. and African.... do the paperwork early. Chris Troski was great all thru this. He tried his very best to help. And Air 2000 went so far as to tell us if they could get the guns out of Customs they would deliver them to us. That was a near 4 hour ride one way. So the only one to blame for this was good olíPaco.... and I had a very stern conversation with myself.  Also if you donít have a passport, it takes 6 weeks for the U.S. Government to process your request... you can go to a main post office, and they will handle it for you. But with that, plan ahead also....

The silver lining in all this was my use of J.J.ís new Ruger 480 Single Action, rebuilt by Hamilton Bowen, Rogerís 500 Linebough single action and Johnís 358 Browning Levergun. My first thoughts about the 480 Ruger was ...it was a short 475, so why bother. But after using it, I realized J.J. was right, the shorter case allowed longer bullets, and you could get as much velocity as you ever really wanted. And my shot on the gemsbok at near 150 yards went completely thru the animal... it hit two inches below the spine unfortunately. At 80 plus yards I shot him in the tail and broke his spine, that bullet exited out behind his ribs.... The 480 Ruger has plenty of power! And the gemsbok is a solid and tough animal... mine ran near three hundred pounds. It is a real trophy.

Even though I carried it for a full day hunting warthog, I didnít get to shoot anything with Rogerís 500 Linebaugh... but I saw how it performed for Roger and it is impressive, as you can see from the photos in the African file. Roger also had a 45-70 Marlin that was highly customized. And it was sweet. It was the deadliest game killer of all the guns we had. It easily out performed the 375 Winchester Big Bore. (And there is no flies on that Winchester.) Of course it has to be taken into effect that Roger is one very accomplished game shot. For example he snap shot a nice warthog running across the narrow dirt road and nailed him. The big 440 gr. jacketed soft nose rolled the beast, who went down within 50 or so yards. I figure he had a fifth of a second to react, aim, and shoot... and he did it perfectly. Roger told me he practices snap shooting often on the property of his home. We all could take a lesson in that. African game is not as accommodating as U.S. game animals, they donít stand still very much. Being herd animals their interdependent instincts (symbiotic) are honed to a fine edge. Even a hint of danger and the whole herd is gone in an instant.

The first day hunting, I was using Johnís very nice Browning Leveraction Rifle (LAR) in .358... he had it loaded with 250 grain jacketed bullets. Now John and his lovely wife Pat had gotten to the hunting concession and Chris Troski a few days before we did...  John had taken a number of animals with his Browning and handloads, usually with one shot each. John is another very fine shot. The handloads worked wonderfully. So why the bullet I fired from the Browning into the Gemsbok (approximately 180 yards) didnít open but penciled thru, is a mystery.

Chris said he saw the hit, we left the hunting truck and confidently went to find my trophy. Chris, and friend of Chris, myself, J.J., and our tracker Abraham found the trail... but it turned into a 2 an half hour tracking adventure. Personally I enjoyed it, we jumped him three times. I had given the rifle to J.J. and he was kind enough to let me use his handgun, the .480 custom Ruger. Now I was in hog heaven. As I stated, we jumped the gemsbok the second time and I hit him above the back legs two inches below the spine at about 150 yards. I think this really slowed him down even though it wasnít a perfect shot.

We split up... Chris and his friend went one way.... J.J., our tracker Abraham and I went around the other way, circling where we suspected he would be. At 80 yards I spotted his rear end sticking out past some brush and trees. This time the .480/ 330 grain cast bullet at over 1300 fps broke the spine over the back legs just as he jumped forward. He piled up in front of Chris... who he had been watching as we came up behind him.

When we got to Chris and the downed Gemsbok, Chris warned me he was still alive. Those very long 38 to 40 inch horns were dangerous. So I shot him in the neck breaking the upper spine and lights out. The pictures of him and I are in the African pictures on the website. It was a great way to start our African adventure. And it got better everyday after that.

Time went by too soon. Chris and Charmain (the attractive lady in the photos) and all the staff were more than accommodating. The best way to describe them is to think of the best friends you ever hunted with... and the best hotel and services you ever had... that comes close but it was even better than that.

There were so many little things that made us comfortable... our hunting clothes were washed every day. Our individual Chalets were cleaned and beds made, everything straightened everyday. We would return after dark most days, shower and the cook fires would be burning.. Supper was always excellent..... In fact the meals were designed to not only taste wonderfully, but to give energy. Three kinds of breakfast to choose from and several kinds of lunch. I walked a good deal everyday, yet I gained 10 pounds... but enjoyed every bit of it. By the way African game meat has no wild taste.... there was a swimming pool, an open bar, sundowners, excellent conversation with wonderful people. Chris was always ready to give us any information we requested, to help in any way he could. The game animals harvested were totally prepared for the taxidermists. From the time the animal fell in the field to the turning it over to the taxidermist, everything necessary was taken care of for us.

If you are thinking of ever going to Africa, South Africa is the place. And if you go to South Africa, Chris Troski is the Professional you want to be with. To paraphrase Shakespear... Some men only dream of the adventures they so desperately want to play in.... and some men live the adventures that give them memories to dream in.... Life is too short not to live our dreams..... PACO

 

 

 

 

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