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The Often Discussed Question of Back Up Shots

This is a discussion on The Often Discussed Question of Back Up Shots within the Hunting Africa forums, part of the HUNT AFRICA category; I know this question comes up all of the time, and I am sorry for those long time members who ...

  1. #1
    Cleathorn is offline AH Senior Member
    Oct 2009

    Member of SCI; NRA; Niagara Sportsmen Club

    Hunted Most of US, Canada, South America, New Zealand, Australia; South Africa, Zimbabwe

    Default The Often Discussed Question of Back Up Shots

    I know this question comes up all of the time, and I am sorry for those long time members who have to address it again, but I hope that you will use your knowledge to help a first time dangerous game hunter.

    The issue is obvisouly the back up shot.

    On leopards its not an issue - I have to make the double shoulder shot count.

    On everything else, some guidence is requested. First, I know rnough to have this discussion with the PH's well ahead of going into the field hunting. Personally, I want to kill my own trophies, I think we all do. But sometimes they do not just drop where they are standing - in fact, rarely will they do that.

    I believe in shooting an animal on its feet, even if mortally wounded, however many times it takes to quicken the death of the animal. By way of example, last night I shot a whitetail with my bow for the freezer. Broadside shot and these new bows shoot so fast and with such razor shape braodheads, the arrow passed straight through and I know from the way it responded, that the deer did not know it was hit. I could see the mortal wound but she was still standing. She walked about 20 paces straight away from me and looked back, giving me about a 5 degree angle. I slipped another arrow in from just in front of the hind ham and it penetrated all the way through the diagram into the lungs and expired in 10 paces.

    On something like an elephant, which I will take with a side on high heart lung shot, I know the elephant will not go down. I will fire again and as many times as I can get shots off to assure a clean and quick kill.

    As far as instructions to my PH, what I would like to say is "watch the shot and see if it makes a lethal impact, if it does, hold the back up shots unless you feel we are at risk of loosing the animal." For an elephant, if I make the heart/lung shot, I would like to see the PH make that back up shot, if I have not already done it, in the rear hip joint, front knuckle, or other debilitating location. I would really like to make the lethal shots inthe vital to make the harvest "mine."

    Same on Cape Buffalo's.

    If however the PH is watching and for any of the many reasons possible, he sees that the shot is not in the right place, there can be no question but to place a shot into the vitals.

    Anything like a charge while tracking is a no brainer.

    So, I guess what I am really asking for is what is the responsible 'minimum' amount of back up I should ask for from my PH. Anything that involves saftey is no question. But I watch these shows on TV and often see the hunter fire and its an almost simultaneous double tap, the second shot coming from the PH.

    Is it OK to request some restraint from the PH? I absolutly do not want to loose an animal, but I do not want to break that trigger once and have my hunting support staff open up on the animal while I stand there wondering who is doing what to me trophy. I actually have a friend who was on a Buf hunt and prepared for the shot but just as the Buf moved into the shooting lane, he decided it was not what he wanted and did not take the shot. Because they knew is would be clearing te opening quickly, it had to be a quick shot. He did not shoot and was stunned to hear a blast (incidentally it was from behind his ears and he nearly shot the PH for defening him with the muzzle blast from a .458 mag) from his PH. The PH actually shot before he did. Same thing happened again on the track. I would be really upset about that.

    I would really like to comfortabale saying is, just back me up if you see me make a less than perfect shot or we are in a situation where, based on the shot or shots, you feel we are at risk of loosing the animal. If you can, focus your shots on debilitating locations and allow me to take the killing shots, including more than 1 insurance shot on each of the animals to be harvested.

    Am I being reasonable? Thoughts and suggestions greatly appeciated.

  2. #2
    BryceM is offline AH Veteran
    Aug 2009

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    I haven't played this game yet, but personally, I'd only like to see a PH take an insurance shot if mine was poorly placed or if the situation was looking to turn into a rodeo. I don't suspect a PH would put a bullet into a critter before me except in a dangerous situation, but if he did, I'd have a real hard time paying a trophy fee for that animal.

    Communication is probably key here. Still, at the end of the day the PH is the one on the hook for everone's safety. Most of them probaby have families or at the very least plans for the next week. Tracking wounded DG into the bush probably isn't on their top 10 list of things to do.

    A hunter who has demonstrated poor marksmanship or poor judgement is probably going to have a hard time talking the PH out of anything. That's just my two bits though.....

  3. #3
    BETO's Avatar
    BETO is offline AH Senior Member
    Jun 2009

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    I have hunted buffalo in complicated places, and have seen it all, when a friend or client makes a bad shot on a buffalo I usually do I make a trip to the animal does not go away (if a customer I want him to take the animal) in case of attack then I do not hesitate to shoot as many times as necessary, and as a rule leave a wounded animal is a serious mistake, local residents and other hunters can seriously hurt in an encounter with this animal.

    I believe that a PH can never shoot an animal before the client, this is only justifiable in case of danger, other than that the shot is unacceptable and the customer should not pay for that animal!

    sorry my bad English

  4. #4
    DLS is offline AH Member
    Oct 2009
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    I think the way you do this is to communicate with your PH when booking the hunt. If you're hunting dangerous game, be fully prepared for your PH to shoot at his discretion, not to fit your desire to kill your own animal. Their responsibility is to ensure everyone gets home safe, and in one piece. Don't get hung up on the "I gotta kill it myself" syndrome. If you do your job, in 99% of cases, you will do all the shooting.

    I haven't taken nearly as many dangerous game as some on here, but I have shot 2 elephants, 1 lion, 2 leopards and 6 buffalo, so I have a bit of experience in this area. Of the animals I listed above, my PH also shot 1 of the elephants and 1 of the buffalo. In both cases, our lives were seriously endangered. The elephant bull charged us, and we both shot him at about 9 or 10 yards, I had no problem with that whatsoever, even though my PH apologized for having to shoot to make sure we didn't get flattened. On the buffalo, we were charged by a cow from very short range, and our shots were, literally, at less than 5 feet. My PH was nearly gored as he shot from the hip, hitting the buffalo in the face. After we made sure that nobody was injured, we began tracking her in thick bush. There was no question at that point that we were both shooting anytime we spotted her. Over the course of the next half hour or so, we each shot her numerous times, nobody got hurt, and that's what matters.

    Unless an animal is charging, I do not think that a PH has any business shooting before the client. If the animal has already been shot, a responsible PH will shoot as he feels is appropriate. A reasonable client realizes that, and accepts it as part of doing things the right way. Dangerous game are a whole different set of rules.

  5. #5
    Ray Atkinson's Avatar
    Ray Atkinson is offline AH Enthusiast
    Mar 2009

    Member of SCI Dallas

    Hunted RSA, Botswana, CAR, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Mozambique, Kenya way back when, and a few others that I can't remember.


    Common sense and if one does not understand that be he a PH or a hunter, then he probably should stay home and play checkers at the local bar....

  6. #6
    Karamojo Bill's Avatar
    Karamojo Bill is offline AH Senior Member
    Jan 2009

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    Exclamation shot colaberation

    As my Ph was MASHED by a cape buff with poor attitude & a lead injection before I got to RSA..... I'd say shoot right after I did. I had another Ph that I grew to love but my origional PH was wacked hard..... Nobody deserves that due to someone's big ego.
    Karamojo Bill When I leave this world, I want to come skidding through the Pearly Gates & hear God say, "Whoa, boy! That was a heck of a ride!"

  7. #7
    Big5 is offline AH Enthusiast
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    Quote Originally Posted by DLS View Post
    If the animal has already been shot, a responsible PH will shoot as he feels is appropriate. A reasonable client realizes that, and accepts it as part of doing things the right way.
    . . . that about sums it up for me.
    There is only one degree of dead . . . there are many degrees of wounded

  8. #8
    Calhoun is offline AH Enthusiast
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    .... Those are some great responses to a touchy subject! I have never hunted Dangerous game but I think a back up shot is an insurance policy for me. If the animal didn't go down lets get some more lead into it so a bad situation doesn't develop! I'd prefer to be alive than have my ego bruised a little, & a good taxidermist can fix 1 more hole much easier than I can heal!
    ... The Ph I have hunted with said he can't even sleep the night before hunting Buffalo as more than once the client shot a poor shot & ran like hell to the truck & left him with the dangerous job of finishing off the Irate critter! I watched a TV show a week or 2 ago on Elephant hunting & after the clients first shot he stood there as the PH shot 2 shots & chased him into the brush & finished him off. The hunter was breathing so hard or was so damned scared he looked like he was going to have a heart attack! That could & may happen alot & who knows it could be any of us in the right situation.
    .. I think communication is the main thing before the hunt & by no means should a PH ever fire the first shot unless it's life or death!!

  9. #9
    Indy is offline New Member
    May 2009
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    What does it matter that I have hunted the first elephant I ever saw outside a zoo, or that the Cape Buffalo, from 30 yards, really does look at you like you owe him money? I told my PH to fire backup shots until the animals were down. For we could later see if his shots were necessary, and if not, what did it matter that he'd fired them?

    But he didn't fire. There is no question that I would go on the follow up. Here I was, with light fast fading, following a skinny black guy and a Rhodesian guy through the bush where there was a drop of what looked like muscle blood every 20 or 30 feet, wondering what I, a fat overweight suburban guy, was doing risking my life following the most dangerous animal in the world. And then a second shot, a Texas heart shot from 30 yards. The tracker rushed up with the shooting sticks, which I knocked aside. The second shot not the slightest effect. Then me realizing there was one more shot in the rifle, Another shot and the buff dropped.

    Reload and spine him, shouted the PH redundantly. So I did. Twice. Five shots. One TSX and four North Fork solids.

    So it was that everyone may suggest something. I am allowed to express my opinion, especially after a similar experience with Elephant.

    Nda kavimba Njove.

    My neighbors think I'm crazy.

    So it is that I can't get worked up over whether or not the PH fires after I do, except I urge you to work this out in advance. I can't get very worked up about bolt or double, or PF vs. CRF, or even cartridge selection. What I do get worked up about is I just hired a personal fitness trainer. Because you hunt Ele and Buff with your feet.

  10. #10
    Bushwack's Avatar
    Bushwack is offline AH Enthusiast
    Aug 2009

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    I like your reply and 2nd that idea....
    Bushwack Safaris - South Africa
    Mobile: +27 82 773 4099

  11. #11
    ctulpa's Avatar
    ctulpa is offline AH Member
    Dec 2009

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    Default back up shots

    It is very important for the hunter and PH to have good communication on this topic before heading out into the field. Some hunters don't mind if the PH shoots their animals, others want to shoot their own animals and don't appreciate the PH shooting them too.

    For me, it is my safari and the PH is there to assist in guiding and making sure the camp and equipment are running properly. He is also there to help keep it safe and legal.

    When dangerous game hunting, most good PH's that I know will not shoot your animal for you. It is your safari and they want you to enjoy what you are there paying to do.

    The thrill of danger, of getting close to dangerous game, the chance that it might get actually get you first, is what drives us to this part of the sport. If you can't handle that, then why are you hunting dangerous game? In that case you should stay with plains game and have some fun with that.
    If you are just going to pay the PH to shoot your animals while you sit in the car... why are you even there?? Go on a photographic safari, you will have more fun.

    Obviously if there is a charge and it is life threatening, the PH has every right to protect himself and his client.

    But a wounded animal running the opposite direction is not life threatening. You now have to follow up that animal and finish what you started. Again now is the time to have more communication with your PH. Are you going to let him shoot your wounded animal or is he only to shoot in a charge??
    For me, following up dangerous game is part of the thrill of dangerous game hunting. Even after a good shot, the animal can sometimes go quite a distance and can give you some really good adrenaline time on follow up.

    Let's keep the dangerous game hunting to those that want to hunt dangerous game. The others can have a lot of fun hunting plains game. There is nothing wrong with that and I have many hunting friends that want nothing to do with dangerous game.

    A double tap without the hunters approval is wrong! And PH's doing that need to stop. I know several that do it and they think it is cool to be able to get in their shots as they don't get to hunt much for themselves. PH's should not use a paying safari hunter to get their personal shooting time in. If they want to shoot an elephant or buffalo, then buy a safari themselves and hunt.

    I understand the dilemma caused by a high paying safari hunter that can't do the job in the field. You need good communication and if that hunter wants a double tap, then that is his choice and he should be happy with that.

    Make sure the PH is in your photos as both of you killed it. By the way, who do you claim as the hunter??

    I am not going to win any points with this post with a lot of the PH's I know, but they already know my opinion on this.

    The other posts here where they have properly communicated with their PH as to how much interference they will allow on shots from the PH are the proper way to handle this topic.

    I have been is bad situations on dangerous game in thick cover and the understanding that if the animal is spotted by the PH, he is to put another round into it. Then when following up in more open area, communication again that I am to shoot only.

    I have also been backup on other safaris on dangerous game with the understanding that I won't shoot unless it is life threatening.

    If the PH is not willing to let you shoot your own safari, then use a different PH. But please discuss this at time of booking and not wait until you are 15 yards from a trophy bull elephant and you are looking down your rifle into the hollow of the skull for the brain shot.

    Some may say it is egotistical to want to shoot the safari yourself. My opinion is : If it is my safari and my tag, then I shoot. If I am an observer on the PH's safari and his tag, then he shoots. Either way, we know the shooter puts his tag on it and not the other way around.
    Cliff Tulpa

  12. #12
    safari hunter's Avatar
    safari hunter is offline AH Veteran
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    ctulpa, great post! You could not have put it better and I share your opinion a 100%. I started a thread about this topic, What is With Trigger Happy PHs, but I am no where near as eloquent as you are.

    I was raised to live and hunt by this basic rule you finish what you started.

  13. #13
    Cleathorn is offline AH Senior Member
    Oct 2009

    Member of SCI; NRA; Niagara Sportsmen Club

    Hunted Most of US, Canada, South America, New Zealand, Australia; South Africa, Zimbabwe


    Quote Originally Posted by safari hunter View Post
    ctulpa, great post! You could not have put it better and I share your opinion a 100%. I started a thread about this topic, What is With Trigger Happy PHs, but I am no where near as eloquent as you are.

    I was raised to live and hunt by this basic rule you finish what you started.
    That you both for the support I was looking for. I think that even a PH with a DG license must understand that the client is looking for the added element of the dangerous game experience. No doubt, if the charge in on then shoot. But make sure that you have told me to shoot first.

    Unless we are close to a concession boundary (like a Park) and are at risk of loosing the trophy, I want to kill my own animals. I am pretty confident in my shooting, I practice a lot and I have some nerves to back it up. True, this will be my first dangerous game hunt. But I have ben shot at and stabbed before and held up to that, so I think I can keep my nerves under control for the shot.

    I looked at the video clip from safari hunter and I would be very upset about that. There was no reason for anyone but the client to be shooting. That elephant was hit, there was able time for back up shots and good targets to debilitate the animal and make a clean quick kill.

    I agree that the client should put an insurance shot or 2 into the spine, but I see no reason for the PH to ever do that.

    Thanks again for the good information. What I was really looking for was information about "custom and practice" in the safari industry and my ability to ask my PH to save some ammo for the next guy - unless something is headed towards us, which changes the game for everyone.

    Thanks again guys.

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