This report covers some hunts done with PH Stuart Williams, owner of Tally Ho Hunting Safaris, along with some of the equipment used. The hunts were conducted on Stuart's property in Alldays. Limpopo, RSA.
R8. I equipped my wet weather rifle, a synthetic stock Blaser R8 with rubber grips, with a 25.5" semi weight barrel in 375 H&H. The R8 is an excellent travel rifle as it not only fits in a compact case, but one can also bring along an extra barrel. The second barrel for this trip was a 26" semi weight in 26 Nosler. The rifle performed flawlessly. The 375 was pleasant to shot recoil-wise even though I am less than 70 kilos (154 lbs). The blast isn't horrendous though I usually wore an MSA electronic headset, which was comfortable and worked effectively to hear normal noise while blocking the loud shot blasts.
Optic. The Blaser rings held a Leupold VX-6 3-18x scope with a firedot reticle. The conventional crosshairs are always visible and the red dot comes to life with a little movement. The optic performed as desired over the entire hunt in an environment with lots of fine dust.
Ammo. For the 375, I brought factory-loaded Hornady SuperPerfomance GMX in 250 grain. It's a copper alloy monolithic meant to compete with Barnes et. al. The ammo groups OK at around 1.5" if I am shooting well off the bench. With a 25.5" barrel, the velocity is beyond 2900 fps.
Shooting Sticks. Although I brought my own high-tech shooting stick, we used Tally Ho's vintage veld-built design for the hunts described here. Two dead limbs collected from the wild, held together with a simple bolt and topped with a salvaged piece of canvas. See image. My sticks were used while hunting other animals and were very effective, just less suitable for long walk & stalks.
Cape Eland. This animal has been high on my list, but I've never seen one on a previous hunt that met my criteria. On the first morning walk & stalk with Stuart, we caught a glimpse of what appeared to be a nice bull as we walked towards a water hole. What I wanted was an older bull with nice long horns that hadn't rubbed down. Previously, I had never seen a bull like that "on the hoof" though some in pictures and on walls. The first bull we glimpsed appeared to be exactly what I wanted though he was a little far away and amongst too much brush for a safe shot. We waited behind some trees to see if he would move. For what seemed like half an hour, the eland literally did not move except for an ear twitch and moving his head to scan around. The bull then suddenly disappeared. A minute or two later he appeared just 60 yards in front of us, facing us head-on. Stuart put up the sticks and recommended a shot to the center chest. I got off a quick shot causing the eland to spin 90°. He bolted off with blood spraying from his front chest. At Stuart's instructions to shoot again, I cycled the R8 in an instant without taking it from my shoulder. The Leupold firedot was prefect for the second shot on the running animal, functioning much like a "red dot" reflex sight. Shot two hit the bull in the right shoulder immediately dropping him to the ground. The eland was dead as we walked up and I was delighted with what I saw. Exactly what I was hoping for trophy-wise; he weighed 554 kg (1,219 lbs) before gralloching. The first image of two bullets together are what we recovered. The mushrooms were not as textbook as the next two animals. I suspect both hit heavy bone on their way into the bull's body.
Cape Buffalo. This was the top priority for this trip to RSA and I was looking for an older bull with hard bosses and at least 36" wide. As we were cruising around one morning, we caught a glint of horns. A good-sized herd of buffalo were off in the distance grazing in dense brush. We moved downwind and commenced a walk & stalk into a dense thicket of thorns moving slowly towards the herd. The herd continued to amble ahead. My main thoughts were about the multitude of ways this stalk could fail. We could make too much noise navigating the brush. The herd might move faster than we could keep up. There might never be a clear shot. A loerie bird might sound its alarm giving us away. Eventually, we found a position where we could see some of the herd. Stuart spotted a very nice bull, but they were still in dense brush, packed closely together and too far away. We stalked on, moving ahead of the herd, and reached a better vantage point. There was a small clearing less than 75 yards from where we set up. The herd reached the clearing still packed together. I set up on the sticks just in case an opportunity presented itself. Then, the big bull unexpectedly appeared broadside in the clearing without other buffalo packed around him. I aimed for the shoulder and fired. The buffalo spun around after the thwack of the bullet, bolting away from us. We lost sight of him and I worried whether the shot was placed well enough. The worries were unfounded as we found the dead bull lying on its side only 50 feet or so beyond where he was hit. My shot hit a little high though still sufficient to heavily damage the lungs as evidenced by a massive quantity of bright red blood coming from his mouth, nose and the entry wound. The 375 was zeroed to 200 yards and in the haste of getting a shot off, I failed to hold 1.5" low. I was delighted with the old bull as it met or exceeded my objectives. Width was 42" and weight was 740 kg ( 1,628 lbs) before gralloching. Also happy with the GMX performance. The second bullet image is the perfect mushroom recovered from the carcass.
Kudu. Always looking for a nice kudu, my taste is for a narrow spread and tight curls. We came across such an animal one morning and I decided to attempt a shot. Just over a hundred yards at a slightly lower elevation, the kudu bull was quartering towards me. The 375 GMX slammed just in front of the shoulder. Upon impact, the bull began to stumble first forward and then backwards before collapsing. The bullet had travelled across the kudu's body at 45 degrees and rested just under the skin on the opposite side. The third bullet image shows a mushroom almost as nice as the one recovered from the buffalo. The quartering, downhill shot may have caused some of the distortion seen.
Stuart Williams. This was my first hunt with Stuart and I immensely enjoyed the experience. He is incredibly knowledgeable about the animals and how to hunt them. He cares deeply about the property he owns and manages it carefully with an objective of sustaining and improving the resource. Beyond his qualities as a PH and outfitter, he was lots of fun to be with. He taught me several tricks on how to better operate my gear.
Tally Ho Lodge. This hunt was also my first visit to the Tally Ho property, owned by Stuart and his brother. I was quite impressed with the variety and quality of the game I saw. Stuart's staff was friendly and helpful. After arriving in camp from JNB, we immediately took the R8 to the shooting range which is nicer than some of the dedicated ranges I've been to. Both 100 and 200-yard targets were available. My chalet was well-outfitted and had a comfortable bed. The ceiling fan that hung from the thatched ceiling was a welcome accoutrement.
Tally Ho Food. The food was not just delicious, the Tally Ho chef accommodated my special diet. I love game meat and we ate lots of it. One standout item was a curry from a gemsbok taken. The curry had small marrow bones sawn from the gemsbok's shin. The marrow bones imparted a great flavor to the curry and were sized to allow for easy extraction of the succulent marrow. Minced meat from the kudu was made into babootie, a traditional Afrikaans dish. There was usually charcuterie as an appetizer every night, often including biltong and dry boerewors sausage made from the game taken. At my request, the chef made a superb liver pâté from the buffalo I shot. We had biltong made from the eland that was moister than most I’ve had; it reminded me of prosciutto, only better.
The equipment worked as expected. My experience with Stuart, his staff and his property was outstanding. I am grateful for all the effort by Stuart and the Tally Ho team to make these hunts special and memorable.