In Case You Book Any Convention Hunts Just in case you booked any hunts at any up coming Conventions, you might wonder what to do next and where to start as most African and New Zealand or Australian hunts will be taken during our summer and the North American hunts next fall. If you are taking any hunt to take yet this year, you are sure to go in the next 6 or 7 months, but if you booked for the next year, then you have much more time to think all these things through. First of all, what are you going to hunt? Perhaps Cape Buffalo or any of the Big “5”. If hunting plains game, these hunts are often include Kudu, Gemsbok, Wart Hogs, Wildebeest, Impala, and Blesbok etc. If you bought a North American or New Zealand hunt, are you hunting Deer or Antelope size species, or Elk, Moose or Stags which are much bigger? Now if you should be going to Australia, they have some mighty big Buffalo over there. So do you need to run right out and buy a new rifle and scope? NO, let’s just take a look at what you REALLY might really need. Let’s get the Big Stuff out of the way first. If you are fortunate enough to get to hunt Elephant, Rhino, Cape Buffalo, or Lion, you certainly need a large rifle of the legal minimum of a 375 H&H in most countries, but preferably a 416 Remington or Rigby, or even the 458 Win or Lott is certainly applicable. Federal Cartridge has several fine choices in ammo using Trophy Bonded Bear Claws, Barnes TSX and Nosler Partitions. They also have Sledge Hammer Solids in the heavy calibers. Remington has Swift A-Frames and Winchester now the new XP-3. Most folks don’t have a 458 Win or 416 Rem in their closet for a, “just in case hunt”, so you really may need to go and buy one. Which one? Ah, I’m not touching that one as there are plenty out of the box rifles that will do just fine on up to custom guns costing many thousands of dollars. It’s up to you and your budget. You do not need a “Large” rifle for Leopard. What you need for Leopard is a rifle that you can shoot very well and hit a patch of Leopard the size of a tennis ball every time. A great many Leopards have been taken with the 270 and 30-06 class rifles, so there is no need for a “big” gun for them. The same thing goes for every other animal you will hunt, be it in Africa or anywhere else in the world. NOTHING BEATS FIRST SHOT BULLET PLACEMENT. So now on to that new rifle you think you need. Unless you are going to need to acquire a 458 or 416, odds are that you have a 30-06, 7mm Mag, 300 Mag or even a 338 Mag in the gun cabinet somewhere. So pick the one you like and take it. It doesn’t matter if you are hunting African Plains Game, or any one of the North American Elk, Moose or Caribou, these calibers will work just fine. There is no reason that they will not work well for New Zealand Stags too. It does not matter if you buy factory ammo, or reload you own, choose the heavier weights of bullets available for any given caliber. An example would be in the 30-06 or 300 Magnums, to use at least a 180 gr. or 200 gr. bullets rather than the 150 gr. loads that you have been shooting Deer with. In the 7mm Magnums, use only 160 gr. or 175 gr. bullets, and relegate the 140 gr. or 150 gr. for Deer & Antelope. As you can see, I am really trying to give this the K. I. S. S. treatment. Now go out and practice, practice, and practice some more and this does not mean shoot off the bench either. Use your 22 cal for a while and get used to shooting offhand, leaning against a tree, sitting and kneeling or off sticks. When you decide on what gun and ammo you are taking, take the time to RUN EVERY ROUND THROUGH YOUR GUN. Don’t take it for granted that even your nice new factory ammo will function in your gun. What if you have that one odd shell? Just recently, I had a 375 H&H that had a buggered rim and would not go under the extractor. Had I not taken time to run it through my gun, guess when it would have shown up? Oh well, I’m worth more dead than alive anyway. I have a “Survey of African Hunters”, that you really should read. Also another one to read called the Profile of the First Time African Hunter and the next is the Profile of the Second Time African Hunter. It is amazing how smart the first timer has gotten, after his first trip, and how he will do it differently the next time around. Also get your self a copy of “The Perfect Shot” by Kevin Robertson, or “Shot Placement” by African Hunter Magazine. These really show you where the vitals are on African game. If you are going out of the USA, it is imperative that you get a US Customs form 4457 for your guns. Then study in detail what is involved with taking your guns to what ever country you are going. It used to be really simple, but since 9/11 things have gotten much tougher, especially if going to South Africa or Canada. If you want a really in-depth reading, write and ask for my free booklet called Going to Africa the First Time. I have several more articles I will be happy to e-mail you too. So enjoy the process of getting ready to go, it is at least half the fun, and most of the work.