What happened with the Blesbok
by Roger Cox (RAC)
I had originally planned to shoot a warthog with my 500 Linebaugh. The load I use in my gun is a 420 grain LBT LFN GC with 24 grains of 2400 and a Winchester Large Pistol Primer. The bullet alloy is pure wheelweight and is air cooled. With Hornady brass, I was getting a velocity around 1100 fps if you can believe my 10 year old chronograph. Right before my trip, it was giving erratic readings especially shooting my 45-70.
Anyhow, this is the load I use and it shoots pretty well in my gun. I killed a doe with it last fall. For my trip I bought some Starline brass. Being slightly anal, I cast up a bunch of bullets and carefully picked out the best so as to have around a 100 that were within +, - 1 grain.
I practiced with the Hornady brass loads and sighted my gun in for 50 yards. Before my hunt I took out some of the Starline loads and sighted in the revolver. Interestingly enough, it shot about 5 to 6 inches high at 50 yards so I adjusted the sights accordingly. If I understand correctly, in a revolver a slower bullet will shoot higher than an identical bullet that is faster. The slower bullet is in the barrel longer and the muzzle is pointed higher above the line of sight when the bullet exits the barrel. Recoil seemed about the same but I thought that was significant change in point of impact. As my chrono is on its last legs I did not bother to check the velocity.
After we arrived in South Africa we sighted in our guns at the hunting ranch. My Linebaugh shot very slightly low at 50 yards but nothing out of the ordinary as I was using a rest aim hold of the truck cab instead of braced and shooting freehand. I did not change the sights.
After a very successful hunt in which I killed a wildebeest, warthog, waterbuck, and a bushbuck, my handgun was feeling left out. As I have mentioned earlier, I wanted to kill a warthog with it but they were not plentiful where we were hunting.
Blesbok, however, were plentiful and at $350, not all that expensive. Weight wise, they can go up to 190 pounds and have a heavier bone structure than a whitetail.
This was to be the last day of my hunt. As we rode around on the ranch, we spotted a nice
blesbok. Anthony, my PH, Jacob the tracker, and I left the truck to start a stalk. Also, as the way it goes in Africa, we saw a very nice waterbuck. It took me 4 days of hard hunting to shoot a waterbuck and now that I did not want one I had an easy chance at another. We saw a nice wildebeest and I almost abandoned my hunt for
blesbok. As it turned out, it was a good thing that they were on to us; blowing and snorting.
After an exciting stalk and crawling within 35 yards I was able to get a clear shot. I put the sights on the blesbok’s left shoulder and squeezed the trigger. At the shot he jumped into the air and ran off. The shot looked good but when we walked over the rise we could see him about 150 yards off. It was definite he had a broken shoulder but was blowing at us and not acting like he was hit bad. Before we could do anything he ran off.
We walked back to get the truck and give him time to lie down. From his actions, I was having a bad feeling. We got back and Jacob showed me how good an African tracker can be. We found no blood at the sight of the shot but he was able to show me a tiny drop on a blade of grass approx 300 yards away. We trailed him for at least a mile before we caught up with him. At this time I had my 45-70 with me. We caught a glimpse of the blesbok but he was gone before I could bring my gun up. Anthony grabbed the rifle from me and took off running. He was able to get a shot off but missed.
At this point I was running behind Anthony huffing and puffing. We lost the track and spent the next 45 minutes or so looking for it. By this time I knew we would never see this blesbok again. We broke for lunch and would come back in the afternoon.
Back at the camp we had a big discussion about cast bullets and penetration. Anthony thought it did not penetrate the shoulder. He knew that it was shot on the shoulder and not the leg because of the way he favored the shoulder when it ran. Jacob said he saw the bullet hit right in the middle of the shoulder.
Paco, J.J. and I believed that it penetrated but was probably a high glancing shot. I was sick because of the botched shot and knew I would always wonder what happened.
Around 3:00 pm we loaded everybody up and headed out again. This time we took Anthony’s girlfriend Natasha, Jacob, and another tracker. We dropped the two trackers off close to where we jumped him and waited by the truck. They had radios and could keep us posted on their progress. While we were waiting, Jacob radioed that they had found the track again and we drove ahead of them to another trail. It was like deer hunting with dogs in Louisiana. Anthony faced front and I faced to the rear of the truck waiting for him to get flushed out into the open by the trackers. They sighted him several times but at last he turned and went into the other direction. Anthony took his rifle and followed the trackers into the bush. After a few minutes he radioed to Natasha to drive back to the original place where we had dropped off the trackers.
I was in the back of the truck and Natasha was standing on the ground. We heard a noise and a fawn impala stepped out of the bush. A few minutes later she heard something running (her ears are better than mine) and we see the blesbok running as fast as he can across our path. I threw up my levergun and fired three quick shots before he disappeared. About this time Anthony, Jacob and the other tracker came out of the bush and we walked over to where he had crossed. I was worried that I had missed and blew my only chance to get him. When we got to his trail the trackers pointed down and there was a blood trial even I could have followed. The trackers started shaking my hands and congratulating me. We found him piled up 25 yards away. I was surprised I did not see him fall. I was so relieved and happy that I picked up Jacob and hugged him.
When we got him to the skinning rack we were able to find out the performance of the bullets. There was a big hole behind his left shoulder where I had hit him with the ABW 405 grain SP. He had a smaller hole where the 500 Linebaugh had hit him on the shoulder. It had been a good shot. The bullet had destroyed the bones in the shoulder but it had turned and not gone through any vitals. The bullet was in the skin on the off side very low and weighed 315 grains.