Hunting in Uganda "Big Horns"
Big Kob in Uganda
Vanity, thy name is not woman. Undue pride is all too often found in a set of record book horns. Just as a vane woman carries an exaggerated sense of her own beauty, making her ugly with self-importance, so too can a whopping big pair of horns give a hunter an inflated sense of accomplishment.
I know whereof I speak— from experience. On my recent safari to Uganda last month, I fired blindly into the air and what turned out to be the new world record Ugandan kob stumbled into my bullet. According to the trophy record book of Safari Club International, it beats the old world record set in 1982 by a full inch.
I take precious little credit for this superb trophy because, first of all, I was being guided by a professional hunter, a talented and hard working PH, only 26-years-old, named Angus Forsyth. Angus knew the area and Angus helped judge the trophy.
Kob by the score in Uganda
Secondly, and most importantly, I was hunting in the newly opened Kabwoya Wildlife Reserve on the shores of Lake Albert in central Uganda. Bruce Martin, a South African expatriate, set about restoring Kabwoya to the game-rich wonder it once was seven years ago in 2003. He began with precisely 30 kob and nurtured the herd with pervasive anti-poaching patrols and allowing the area’s rich long grasses to flourish, giving the kob plenty of protein-rich feed. He burned the old dry grass judiciously to let fresh green shoots sprout forth.
By the time I hunted Kabwoya in December, 2010, the 30 kob had grown to 6,500 as determined by a scientific game count conducted by the Uganda Wildlife Authority from the air.
As luck would have it, I’d finished hunting in the Ssese Islands much earlier than anticipated and had moved to Kabwoya to start hunting Uganda kob, Nile bushbuck, Ugandan bush duiker and the outsized warthog that the area is known for. Bruce was away on business, but we kept him informed of our early move and he asked if we wouldn’t mind waiting until he would return in two days as he knew of a “very wide kob” that he wanted to personally show me.
Big Kob in Uganda
Big Kob in Uganda
Those two days turned into three as Bruce was delayed. This leisure time proved more than just beneficial for Angus and my suntans— it produced the new world record kob. During the interlude, I went hunting with my Canon D5 Mk II and a 400mm telephoto lens. The kob had only been photographed by tourists for the past six years. Hunting only began in 200i9, a year before, and only about 14 or 15 hunters had shot one— and never from a vehicle. Consequently, the kob were tame as puppies when seen from the photographic safari car.
(Shooting from a vehicle is never, ever, acceptable, but in a case like this, it’s beyond unethical. It would be unspeakably disgusting. But I digress…)
We saw literally dozens of decent “shooters,” kob in the 22 inch class. We saw a few that might push 23, and then all of a sudden I spotted this incredibly wide ram that sure looked to me like he would hit the magic mark of 24 inches. Back when legendary PH Brian Herne hunted in Uganda, he reckoned a 24 inch kob was a “superb” trophy, according to his beautifully written classic, “Uganda Safaris” (1975, Winchester Press).
Reading Brian Herne by campfire
I immediately shot the ram sideways, frontally, scratching his butt with his horns, looking over his shoulder, every which way— all with my Canon. We continued to peruse the vast sprawling herds of kob for the remaining time until Bruce finally pitched up, but we never saw another kob that came close to what Angus took to calling “the big one.”
We showed Bruce the pictures on my Macbook Air, and he whistled impressively. “That’s a jolly nice kob, to be sure, but I’d still like to show you the wide one,” Bruce remarked in his crisp British-African accent.
Record Kob in Uganda
The next day we sallied forth with my Winchester Model 70 in .375 H&H, a bit too much gun for kob, but this was a one-gun safari and there’s none better for everything from Nile buffalo to duiker than Holland’s glorious magnum. We drove the entire area where the kob liked to feed, the big wide open grassy plains, and never found Bruce’s wide one. He called it a morning and spun the wheel of the Land Rover to head for his sumptuous lodge on the shores of Lake Albert.
Winchester Model 70 in .375 H&H and the Schmidt & Bender Flashdot reticle that's become my favorite new African optic.
We took a dip in the swimming pool, cooled off and ate a light lunch. We relaxed until 3:30 and then headed out again. Bruce wanted to keep looking for “the wide one,” but I asked if he wouldn’t mind letting us show him “the big one” as, I said, “It really is the one I think I’d like to shoot.”
Record Kob in Uganda
Bruce saw him and was even more impressed than he had been from the photos.
“Do you think he’ll go 24?” I asked.
Bruce squinted into his binocular. “Hmmmm,” he murmured.
“I think he will,” I ventured.
“He’s definitely the biggest we’ve seen,” Angus allowed. “And we’ve seen most all of them.”
“I think he just might make it,” Bruce finally pronounced.
“Then let’s get out of here and we’ll come back on foot,” I said excitedly.
We followed the old Kenya rule of driving a 500 meters away whereupon Angus and I rolled out of the moving Land Rover like acrobats while Bruce continued chugging along in the smoke-belching Land Rover.
Landie in East Madi, Uganda
We laid flat in the grass for two or three minutes and then crawled to a nearby clump of bushes. We peeked through the brush and saw… nothing.
Mr. Big had obviously ambled off, around the corner of another clump of brush. We tested the wind and had to circle hunched over like arthritic old ladies, low-walking to gain a better angle. What should have been a dead-easy stalk turned into a 45 minute game of “now you see me, now you don’t.”
Record Kob in Uganda
We finally crawled to a hollowed out dry clump of bush and, scratchy branches tearing at us, we slithered inside the bush. There was Mr. Big in a group of kob about 80 yards away, but it was maddeningly frustrating because just as he would clear one female, a youngster would step in front of him. Finally he started walking away. I tracked him with what has quickly become my favorite African optic, a Flashdot 1.1-4x riflescope from Schmidt & Bender with the #2 illuminated dot reticle.
I squeezed the trigger at the very moment a young ram butted the Big Boy, spooking him.
“He jumped just as you shot!” Angus said as the herd dashed off in a hurry. A clean miss.
Crap. Now what?
We waited 15 minutes and then slowly crawled to another bush about 60 yards away in the direction the herd had run. By now my heart was drumming with the shot of adrenalin that follows a missed shot— disappointment mixed with self-recrimination and doubt. Luckily, because our shot had come from a bush (we were completely inside the bush), the herd hadn’t run far. We easily spotted “the big one” and this time the .375 did it’s job.
I normally don’t whip out a tape measure in the field— it’s so uncouth— but this kob was obviously a monster and I just had to know. Would he stretch to that magic 24 inches?
Bruce did the honors. As the tape slid past 21 inches, I immediately could see what was coming.
“He’s gonna make it! He’s gonna go 24!” I blurted out excitedly.
Bruce stretched the tape to the end exclaimed like a new father shouting “it’s a boy!” but instead he yelled, “Twenty-five! Twenty-five!”
We man-hugged. Angus and me and then Bruce and me and then Godfrey the tracker and me. We still had no idea that we’d killed the new world record but we certainly knew that when Brian Herne says a 24-inch kob is “superb,” one of 25 on the dot must be a whopper.
It was only later at the lodge that I went to Bruce’s computer, got on the Internet and logged on to Safari Club’s excellent online record book. It was then we let out a great chorus of yips and yells from everyone at the bar that, yes, it was a new world record of 65 6/8 points (or inches).
We all toasted the day with icy cold Nile Lagers and saluted the great kob that lay in the skinning shed in the salt.
And what did I feel like? Exhilarated to be sure, happy as punch without a doubt, but most importantly I felt the best feeling of all, and it had nothing to do with my “prowess” as a hunter. I felt like I was part of a team and that we killed a great kob— not me, we.
The record belongs to Bruce, to Angus, to Godfrey and in a small measure to the nimrod who squeezed the trigger.
World record Kob hunted in Uganda. Note that it is a "pending" score until an SCI Master Measurer certifies the score after the mandatory 60 day drying out period. It beats the previous record (set in 1982 in Sudan) by a full inch, so I'm not worried about any minor shrinkage.
For more information about the best hunting in Uganda, contact Bruce Martin at Lake Albert Safari Lodge - Kabwoya Game Reserve, Western Uganda
or through booking agent Steve Kobrine at Steve Kobrine Safaris
Here are more photos from hunting in Uganda...
AH cap by fire
Ssese Island Sitatunga hunted in Uganda
Big bodied Warthog hunted in Uganda. Check out the body size on this warthog. It must be 200 kilos. The warthog around Lake Albert are by far the biggest (in body) I've ever seen.
Holding Ugandan bush duiker
Me with Puff Adder in Uganda
Murchison wide wet spots Uganda
Me with some kids in Uganda
Bugala happy kid in orange, Uganda
Fish on head, Uganda
Boy eats ants from cup
Cattle in pickup, Uganda
Bugala Education Is Wealth Tshirt, Uganda
Safari Hotel in Uganda
Gray hooded Kingfisher on berry branch in Uganda
Sunset on Lake Albert Uganda