Complete first timer hunter questions

Arni's

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Hello there,

I have been thinking on doing my hunting licence and, as I spoke about that project with my wife shortly before my birthday, she offered me a hunting trip (rifle) for me to have a better grasp to what hunting is. The initial idea was to get a red stag in our surrounding (Europe), but we quickly faced the issue that countries there would require a hunting license, which would go against her idea of a "trial" hunt.
Many African countries on the other hand do not require foreign hunters to posses a hunting licence at home to hunt on their land, and came up as another option. Very different environment, very different game, but the prospect of a safari, seeing African wildlife up close, makes it very exciting.
Ex-military (though never engaged), I have been trained to shoot and do this as a hobby. I also read that I should definitely train from a stick, which I will most definitely do. I have however at this point no regular access to higher caliber such as .416, though have already shot several very high energy rounds. My idea would be to rent the rifle at the outfitter.
Do to an accident which ground me for quite some time, my physic is not the best anymore. I'm of course working on it, but I won't be able to do a full day march up and down the alps in the near future.
My wife would join me in that experience as an observer, and the total budget shouldn't go over 15k$, with a maximum of 10 days durations, flight to and out of Africa included.
With that information in mind, I'm asking myself several questions.
  • Is there animals that I should most definitely avoid as a first hunt?
    That can be either because that would be completely irresponsible danger wise without experience (such as I don't know, a croc, a cheetah, a buffalo or a wild hog, ...), way to difficult to catch for a novice despite the presence of a PH (such as some specific antelope, the cheetah from before, a honey badger.. ), physically not doable given my description or any other reason.

  • From the other point of view, is there an animal I should absolutely be considering as a beginner?

  • How long and how many animal is a good idea to book ?
    My initial thought was one animal, but the expanse of the trip and the time at disposition could warrant more. Nevertheless, I don't want the experience to be rushed, I want it to reflect what hunting is or should be, and if one animal takes several days to hunt, so be it. Also, while a good success rate is desired, the objective isn't to tour a zoo shooting animals in their cages.

  • My thought were for this first hunt to rent the rifle from outfitter, anything I should be paying special attention to?
  • Gratuities: I was about to ask, but then found and read this very good article: https://www.africahunting.com/threads/tipping-guide.183/
  • I do not drive, is that generally ok or more of an issue?
  • Taxidermy: is it better to leave a local taxidermist do the job, or try and find one at home? If local, what amount should I budget for this?
    How much do you usually spend for a shoulder mount including packing & shipping to EU ?
Is there any first time hunter classical mistake I should be aware of?

Thanks!
 

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I'll take a stab at a few of your questions...

Africa is great for a beginner hunter. Our first trip to South Africa was my wife's first hunting experience and she took 4 animals, to include a sable. Key is just to let your outfitter know you're a beginner. They will adjust to you and ensure you're successful (same from a fitness perspective. In RSA, they can make the hunt as easy or challenging as you like).

Plains game is always a great place to start, but if you're interested in DG, I say go for it. Just keep in mind that DG cost more. With your budget, you can probably hunt 8-10 PG, flights, etc.

Best bet might be to choose 1 or 2 species you're really interested in and then see what else presents itself while you're there.

Borrowing a rifle is usually no problem, I've done it on 3 separate hunts. Just find out how much they want to charge- sometime you can convince them to just do a flat fee for your complete trip.

7-10 days is easily affordable in RSA within your budget. We've averaged about 1 animal per day of hunting in RSA. Some days you get none, some days you get lucky and get 2.

Not driving is not a problem and probably prefered in Africa. Your outfitter will usually pick you up from the airport and drive you everywhere you need to go.

Taxidermy- lots of threads on whether to do it at home or in Africa. Right now, with shipping costs very high, its probably cheaper to get everything shipped home and done there. Getting it shipped out of Africa is usually done by volume, which can get expensive quick with multiple trophies. Euro mounts are the exception, those are cheap and don't take up extra space, so you can do those in Africa.

Regarding cost in general, if you're doing a PG hunt, shoulder mounts for all, expect shipping and taxidermy to be equal or a little less than your safari cost. Average shoulder mount costs range $800-1750.

Hope that helps. I'm sure others will chime in with their thoughts.
 

Arni's

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...

Plains game is always a great place to start, but if you're interested in DG, I say go for it. Just keep in mind that DG cost more. With your budget, you can probably hunt 8-10 PG, flights, etc.

....

Regarding cost in general, if you're doing a PG hunt, shoulder mounts for all, expect shipping and taxidermy to be equal or a little less than your safari cost. Average shoulder mount costs range $800-1750.

Hope that helps. I'm sure others will chime in with their thoughts.
Thanks for this answer. A question regarding my budget and what you said on 8-10 PG and the taxidermy cost: does that count that, including taxidermy, the total cost is still 15k or goes up to 30k ?
 

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I don’t think central Namibia can be beat for a first hunt. Kudu, gemsbok, blue wildebeest, springbuck, and many others. Very large ranches and low hunting pressure. Namibia is very safe to travel to and has a very small human population compared to other countries. Prices are also very reasonable too. South Africa would be a close second, but I think there are more opportunities to pick the wrong hunting operation in that country if you don’t know what you’re looking for. No need for a 416, for plains game they will likely rent you a 30-06 rifle that’s more than sufficient. With your budget, I would focus on hunting and just have a couple quality euro mounts done in Africa. I don’t know what taxidermy quality you have available locally so if you want shoulder mounts done you would need to decide for yourself which location is better. Every outfitter will pick you up at airport so driving is no issue.

It’s really unfortunate it’s not easier for you to hunt in Europe. There is nothing I enjoy hunting more than your roe bucks. I’ve done several quality hunts, all very well managed areas and knowledgeable hunting organizations/guides. I just have to send my USA hunting license which is very easy to get here, almost a right for us as long as you follow the law.
 

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Thanks for this answer. A question regarding my budget and what you said on 8-10 PG and the taxidermy cost: does that count that, including taxidermy, the total cost is still 15k or goes up to 30k ?
So just ball park figures, each PG animal is between $700-$1500 unless you're going for something exotic. Shoulder mounts are the same. So if you get 8 PG animals ($8k), and shoulder mount them all ($8k), you're looking at $16k without shipping and without flights to/from.

You could do fewer animals, also a mix of shoulder and euro mounts (euros cost like $150).

If you want to shoot a bunch of animals, a great option is to do a cull hunt (where you don't keep the trophies) with 1 or 2 trophies added on (maybe a kudu and a zebra or something like that). This would keep your taxidermy costs lower and allow you to hunt more animals.

Cull hunts are usually very affordable. I've hunted with @Umlilo Safaris and they usually offer cull hunts too. Cull hunts can sometimes be as cheap as $2-3000, although I'm not sure of pricing right now.
 

Arni's

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I don’t think central Namibia can be beat for a first hunt. Kudu, gemsbok, blue wildebeest, springbuck, and many others. Very large ranches and low hunting pressure. Namibia is very safe to travel to and has a very small human population compared to other countries. Prices are also very reasonable too. South Africa would be a close second, but I think there are more opportunities to pick the wrong hunting operation in that country if you don’t know what you’re looking for. No need for a 416, for plains game they will likely rent you a 30-06 rifle that’s more than sufficient. With your budget, I would focus on hunting and just have a couple quality euro mounts done in Africa. I don’t know what taxidermy quality you have available locally so if you want shoulder mounts done you would need to decide for yourself which location is better. Every outfitter will pick you up at airport so driving is no issue.

It’s really unfortunate it’s not easier for you to hunt in Europe. There is nothing I enjoy hunting more than your roe bucks. I’ve done several quality hunts, all very well managed areas and knowledgeable hunting organizations/guides. I just have to send my USA hunting license which is very easy to get here, almost a right for us as long as you follow the law.
Thanks for the tips as well.
Yeah, getting a hunting license here can take several years then needs to be maintained. Hence my wife's idea.
 

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I’m going in June with my son, an hour outside of Port Elizabeth. 10 plain game animals on the list for about 6800$. You have to add flights, insurance, taxidermy, tip and transfers fees if you have to stay in a hotel. I’m at 20 k so far without taxidermist and shipping fees. I joined this site because everyone here is awesome about sharing. There are forums for everything here. Welcome to the site. I did start planning my trip over a year ago.
 

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I think the main thing for a first hunt is don't overcomplicate it. Perhaps go for just four animals and really savour the experience. A zebra is always good because the skin is so beautiful and relatively inexpensive to tan. Have fun looking at the different areas, just see what appeals to you. Then research an outfitters operating there, you can get some references from this site. Talk directly to them too, they are very helpful. Finally, make your choice and get excited about your upcoming hunt!
As to areas, South Africa is a good start and relatively inexpensive. The outfitters will have everything off pat, from picking you up to taxidermy. I would say stick to PG for a first hunt, then do your buffalo as a dedicated hunt in the future so you can really relish that different experience. For that you could consider Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana, Mozambique, Tanzania, Namibia. South Africa has great buffalo hunting too, but variety is the spice of life.
 

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hi arni

welcome welcome welcome

any questions or queries feel free to ask

pm sent

kind regards
 

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A 10-day safari in South Africa for 6 plains game (3 large and 3 small) including day fees will cost you around 6K with an observer fee of $125 a day your hunting cost is around $7125. With shipping included our taxidermy averaged out to $1400 a mount so that’s $8400 for you 6 animals. That brings you total to $15,525 but that excludes airfare, VAT, Tip, side trips to national parks and most importantly the extra animals you take above and beyond what’s in your package. If you have work done in Africa the Taxidermist will ask for 50% up front and probably will offer you a 10% discount if you pay for everything upfront. All this happens on the day you leave Africa, so in the morning you pay your outfitter 6K for the balance of your hunt and in the afternoon you pay 4-8K to the taxidermist, bringing your one day total to 10-14K. So how do you reduce the cost? Simple reduce the cost of your Taxidermy. I would recommend Euro mounts for around $150 per mount you'll still have to pay for shipping, but that cost won’t break the bank. if you go with shoulder mounts, I recommend having the work done in your home country. It will take at least 6 month to get your skins and horns out of Africa and another 6 - 12 months for your Taxidermist to finish your work, that give you 12-18 months to rebuild your finances before you have to pay for your taxidermy.

As for location and types of game I would recommend the Limpopo province of South Africa to hunt warthog, blesbok, impala, wildebeest, gemsbok and kudu. The Limpopo is fairly flat, and most shots are under 150 yards. I recommend starting with the smaller animals first to lessen the effect of “African Buck Fever”

A Zebra rug is also a classic trophy you may want to consider, and you could substitute your gemsbok for a zebra. Just be warned a proper felt backed, edged zebra rug cost about $1200.

Many of the outfitters here on AH offer first time safari packages at very reasonable rates and my even wave the observer fee. Most of these hunts aren’t 10 days long, maybe 7-8 days but that helps to lower the final cost without taking away from the African experience.

I’ll leave you with one warning, hunting Africa is not a once in a lifetime event, you’ll be planning your second safari on your flight home. I used to dream of hunting Elk and Bear in the Western USA now I dream about my 3rd trip to Africa.

Good Luck and enjoy the planning process.
 

Arni's

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Thanks everyone. The Zebra seems to come back pretty oft, and while it isn't something I had initially considered, it is indeed attractive. Thanks about the mention of the price of a proper rug Lambart, with the mention of "pretty cheap" I initially imagined it would be about 200-500$
It also helps a lot to read about the timeframe we're speaking about regarding taxidermy, and that can indeed split the cost in very interesting ways.
 

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Everything has been mentioned before so her is my 2 cents worth.

I would suggest Limpopo or North West Province in South Africa as you don't have to worry about connecting domestic flights which saves time and money. The terrain is mostly flat and as it is bushveld and not open plains you don't have to worry about being super fit to chase long distances and up and down mountains.

Animal selection: I would not hunt any dangerous game as a first timer. Plus it is WAY more expensive. Stick to about 4-6 animals such as Impala, Blesbok, Blue Wildebeest, Kudu / Zebra. Baring in mind that both kudu and Zebra may require a little more of a long day in the field and kudu also love more hilly terrain. A Warthog is also a nice animal to take purely for variety sake but sometimes one just doesn't get them (wily little buggers if they are under pressure)

Hiring a rifle is a good option so don't worry about that and the driving, that is all taken care of. Try and practice as much as possible with a suitable rifle (off shooting sticks) before you arrive. No good practising with a .22LR and then have to shoot a .308 or .30-06 on your hunt.

Check out the outfitters on this site in the area you intend to hunt, they will answer all your questions, and even many you never thought to ask!! They will also work out the best package for your budget as well as advise you on dip n ship option versus complete taxidermy in SA. I would suggest dip n ship to Europe as shipping costs are very high at the moment. And as mentioned this is a long process so you have time to build up your finances and then decide if you have the money for shoulder mount or euro mount etc.

Mistakes first timers make... buying brand new boots to hunt in and don't wear them in before arrival! Not practising enough with a rifle. Not being fit enough for the game they are hunting. Add on expenses such tipping etc. Not realising that if you wound and don't recover you still pay for the animal. But probably the biggest mistake is not taking the time to enjoy the experience and not taking enough photos!

Speak to the outfitters they will answer it all.
 

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What if you are really not interested in taking a trophy home? Can I assume that nothing goes to waste with the Plains game?
That is a personal choice. The meat wont go to waste, dont worry ! It will feed the camp and the remaining will feed those close by. Alot of hunters that have their bucket list of trophies full, wont bring them home.
 

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  • Is there animals that I should most definitely avoid as a first hunt?
    Not really, although - I presume, DG hunting I would not reccomend for a begginer. Secondly, not all hunts are guranteed success. So, my suggestion is to go for most common species of PG - plains game, available in single hunting area - to avoid travel by car and loosing the time

  • From the other point of view, is there an animal I should absolutely be considering as a beginner?Warthog, impala, springbok, zebra, kudu, blesbock - basically some of top ten from khomas.
  • How long and how many animal is a good idea to book ?
    4-6 animals, in 7 to 10 days. If you plan 1.5 days per one animal, you will not be wrong.
  • My thought were for this first hunt to rent the rifle from outfitter, anything I should be paying special attention to? You will check that rifle, on arrival, and outfitter will give you proper caliber, and reliable rifle, a working tool. just check in advance the caliber, if you are sensitive to recoil.
  • Gratuities: I was about to ask, but then found and read this very good article: https://www.africahunting.com/threads/tipping-guide.183/ This thread from very useful one, became a thread of cultural differences, and really inconclusive. Basically, what I have learmed there is there is American tipping culture, and european (non) tipping culture. In order to avoid imbarasment check with outfitter what is expected tipping. You can also go with outfitter who has most of european (german, asutrian clients) and does not expect tipping. Good way to get first hand info is to go to Salzburg, Austria - on hunting show/fair. Some of oufitters and hunting agents will be there, you can discuss all this details with them. Link: https://www.tradefairdates.com/Die-Hohe-Jagd-Fischerei-M4907/Salzburg.html
  • I do not drive, is that generally ok or more of an issue?They will drive you. For safari this is not an issue, but it is an issue in daily groceries shopping at home. Suggest to get the license
  • Taxidermy: is it better to leave a local taxidermist do the job, or try and find one at home? If local, what amount should I budget for this? I did in my country. It is more economic solution. But some people did locally, and some are happy, some are not happy, and some got trophies damaged. My suggestion, do it in your country. Budget for taxidermy 30% of safary overall costs. I tried for my first safari to get prices in local taxidermy shops, but generally they dont reply to emails. Generally, my opnion is that taxidermy and shipping costs are impossible to predict, and it is the weakest link in entire safari operation, and budget planning.

  • How much do you usually spend for a shoulder mount including packing & shipping to EU ? My experience, average 30-35 eur per kg for shipping. But this is very relative.
Is there any first time hunter classical mistake I should be aware of?
Considering your questions, I dont think you will be lost.
Focus on most important thing, accurate shot from the sticks, standing position. Dont miss. The rest will be smooth. Go to Salzburgh, Austria for that hunting show. You wont be sorry.
 

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Ike85123

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  • Is there animals that I should most definitely avoid as a first hunt?
    Not really, although - I presume, DG hunting I would not reccomend for a begginer. Secondly, not all hunts are guranteed success. So, my suggestion is to go for most common species of PG - plains game, available in single hunting area - to avoid travel by car and loosing the time

  • From the other point of view, is there an animal I should absolutely be considering as a beginner?Warthog, impala, springbok, zebra, kudu, blesbock - basically some of top ten from khomas.
  • How long and how many animal is a good idea to book ?
    4-6 animals, in 7 to 10 days. If you plan 1.5 days per one animal, you will not be wrong.
  • My thought were for this first hunt to rent the rifle from outfitter, anything I should be paying special attention to? You will check that rifle, on arrival, and outfitter will give you proper caliber, and reliable rifle, a working tool. just check in advance the caliber, if you are sensitive to recoil.
  • Gratuities: I was about to ask, but then found and read this very good article: https://www.africahunting.com/threads/tipping-guide.183/ This thread from very useful one, became a thread of cultural differences, and really inconclusive. Basically, what I have learmed there is there is American tipping culture, and european (non) tipping culture. In order to avoid imbarasment check with outfitter what is expected tipping. You can also go with outfitter who has most of european (german, asutrian clients) and does not expect tipping. Good way to get first hand info is to go to Salzburg, Austria - on hunting show/fair. Some of oufitters and hunting agents will be there, you can discuss all this details with them. Link: https://www.tradefairdates.com/Die-Hohe-Jagd-Fischerei-M4907/Salzburg.html
  • I do not drive, is that generally ok or more of an issue?They will drive you. For safari this is not an issue, but it is an issue in daily groceries shopping at home. Suggest to get the license
  • Taxidermy: is it better to leave a local taxidermist do the job, or try and find one at home? If local, what amount should I budget for this? I did in my country. It is more economic solution. But some people did locally, and some are happy, some are not happy, and some got trophies damaged. My suggestion, do it in your country. Budget for taxidermy 30% of safary overall costs. I tried for my first safari to get prices in local taxidermy shops, but generally they dont reply to emails. Generally, my opnion is that taxidermy and shipping costs are impossible to predict, and it is the weakest link in entire safari operation, and budget planning.

  • How much do you usually spend for a shoulder mount including packing & shipping to EU ? My experience, average 30-35 eur per kg for shipping. But this is very relative.
Is there any first time hunter classical mistake I should be aware of?
Considering your questions, I dont think you will be lost.
Focus on most important thing, accurate shot from the sticks, standing position. Dont miss. The rest will be smooth. Go to Salzburgh, Austria for that hunting show. You wont be sorry.
A great response to all questions asked ! Nothing to add, except as a left hander ? If that is your case, ask if they rent left handed rifles.
 

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A 10-day safari in South Africa for 6 plains game (3 large and 3 small) including day fees will cost you around 6K with an observer fee of $125 a day your hunting cost is around $7125. With shipping included our taxidermy averaged out to $1400 a mount so that’s $8400 for you 6 animals. That brings you total to $15,525 but that excludes airfare, VAT, Tip, side trips to national parks and most importantly the extra animals you take above and beyond what’s in your package. If you have work done in Africa the Taxidermist will ask for 50% up front and probably will offer you a 10% discount if you pay for everything upfront. All this happens on the day you leave Africa, so in the morning you pay your outfitter 6K for the balance of your hunt and in the afternoon you pay 4-8K to the taxidermist, bringing your one day total to 10-14K. So how do you reduce the cost? Simple reduce the cost of your Taxidermy. I would recommend Euro mounts for around $150 per mount you'll still have to pay for shipping, but that cost won’t break the bank. if you go with shoulder mounts, I recommend having the work done in your home country. It will take at least 6 month to get your skins and horns out of Africa and another 6 - 12 months for your Taxidermist to finish your work, that give you 12-18 months to rebuild your finances before you have to pay for your taxidermy.

As for location and types of game I would recommend the Limpopo province of South Africa to hunt warthog, blesbok, impala, wildebeest, gemsbok and kudu. The Limpopo is fairly flat, and most shots are under 150 yards. I recommend starting with the smaller animals first to lessen the effect of “African Buck Fever”

A Zebra rug is also a classic trophy you may want to consider, and you could substitute your gemsbok for a zebra. Just be warned a proper felt backed, edged zebra rug cost about $1200.

Many of the outfitters here on AH offer first time safari packages at very reasonable rates and my even wave the observer fee. Most of these hunts aren’t 10 days long, maybe 7-8 days but that helps to lower the final cost without taking away from the African experience.

I’ll leave you with one warning, hunting Africa is not a once in a lifetime event, you’ll be planning your second safari on your flight home. I used to dream of hunting Elk and Bear in the Western USA now I dream about my 3rd trip to Africa.

Good Luck and enjoy the planning process.
Thank you for this informative message. When initial plans start (I realize $amounts can vary) it’s difficult to find it broken down so clearly.
Planning made easier. Knowing this when you see an outfitter posting $3500- $7500 for a package, that there are other costs to budget for, helps so much.
Almost everyone can probably admit to seeing an advertised price for something like a car, or the latest phone or laptop and got really excited, then had the bubble burst when they see that the price has those extra costs in the fine print.
 

Ike85123

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Thank you for this informative message. When initial plans start (I realize $amounts can vary) it’s difficult to find it broken down so clearly.
Planning made easier. Knowing this when you see an outfitter posting $3500- $7500 for a package, that there are other costs to budget for, helps so much.
Almost everyone can probably admit to seeing an advertised price for something like a car, or the latest phone or laptop and got really excited, then had the bubble burst when they see that the price has those extra costs in the fine print.
Dont worry about the fine print from a reputable outfit ! It wont happen, the price is the price.
The only thing that will change the price is your desire, or a misplaced shot taking 2 animals.
Just talk to a reputable outfit. Dont worry about it !
 

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Another option for a first timer who will more than likely return, is to do a cull hunt. Go, shoot, and the taxidermy minefield and cost won't exist. Next trip, get serious, shop prices and then do the taxidermy.
The cull hunts are generally a lot less money and a good way to familiarize oneself with the AFrica experience.
 

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What if you are really not interested in taking a trophy home? Can I assume that nothing goes to waste with the Plains game?
This may have been answered already but my 2 cents. Do a combination trophy/cull hunt. The best of both worlds. You take a few trophies and get more trigger time at what should be reasonable rates for the cull animals.
 

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Cervus elaphus wrote on Bob Nelson 35Whelen's profile.
Hi Bob, how's things going in Wyong?. Down your way a couple of years back but haven't been in NSW since Ebor for the fishing. just getting over some nasty storms up here in Qld, seeing the sun for the first time in a few days. I'm going to NZ in the spring and hope to clean up a few buns while there and perhaps shake the spiders out of my old .303LE (currently owned by my BIL). Cheers Brian
A couple pictures of the sable i chased for miles in Mozambique, Coutada 9!! We finally caught up to him and I had the trophy of a lifetime. Mokore Safaris, Doug Duckworth PH
sable Coutada 9.JPG
sable 2 - Coutada 9.JPG
Safari Dave wrote on egrmpty507's profile.
Did you purchase your hunt at a US SCI fundraiser?
uplander01 wrote on colorado's profile.
Heard you may have load data for the 500 Jeffery,.....any info would be appreciated. Was thinking 535gr, but already had a response that the 570gr would be a better way to go, not sure why.
Rickmt wrote on Leica Sport Optics's profile.
will Leica Amplus 6-2.5x15x50 fit on a pro success Blaser with low mount?
 
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