Cody was all about the how (double rifle) and the where (big tract of old Africa).
Me, I was more about the who (no, not the British band!).
My first safari I hunted with a brand new guy...in fact, I was the first hunter he guided in the field. He did a fine job, and I was very satisfied with the hunt and the animals.
I thought for my next hunt...a DG hunt no less, I wanted to go with a seasoned pro.
For sure, there are dozens of PHs who fit the bill. But one day I was watching hunting videos on Youtube when I came across an Elephant hunt guided by a fellow named John Sharp.
Now, I'm no Elephant hunter, but I was really impressed watching John coach this hunter into position, get him on the sticks, reinforce the proper aiming point, etc.
At the shot the bull crumpled...but almost as quickly, was back on its feet and moving! The hunter clearly missed the brain and the rodeo was on!
What happened next really impressed me. John guided the hunter to several more shots on this now constantly moving bull, until the bull finally went down for good.
It struck me that during this whole episode, John's Rigby never left his shoulder. John's entire focus seemed to be getting this hunter into position, to kill his bull.
After seeing the shadow shooting and antics of some several other (infamous) hunters, this seeming dedication to doing everything possible to let the hunter take his own animals really impressed me.
This was back in 2015, and I was determined to meet this fellow John Sharp, and have a talk with him.
DSC 2016 found Kathy and I speaking with John at the BVC booth. I mentioned what I had seen in the video to John and his reply was essentially that if the PH cannot get the hunter in position to kill his own animal, the failure is on the PH.
Over the next two years John and I corresponded and met again at DSC in 2017 and 2018. It was at DSC 2018 that I sealed the deal and made my first deposit for a Cape Buffalo/PG hunt.
I was all set to get John booked for the first 10 days of August 2019 when a fellow Texan strolled in and dropped a check in John's lap for...you guessed it - the first 10 days of August 2019! I quickly wrote a check for the safari immediately after!
Just so you all don't think Cody has the corner on changing horses in mid-stream, or having rifle issues...
So, two years ago I buy a No 1 450-400 expressly for this buffalo hunt.
I have been hunting with No 1 rifles since 1975...so this platform is very familiar to me.
Over the next year, I put nearly 600 rounds through the rifle. I felt as though I was going to have no issues hunting Cape Buffalo with this rifle.
But...I am a bit of a rifle loon. I always want to try something new.
So I happen to be looking at Double Rifles (for the umpteenth time) and I saw a Searcy 470 that was absolutely gorgeous and I bought it!
I figured I would play with the rifle and see if maybe I should instead hunt Buffalo with a double.
Over the next months I put 250 rounds through the rifle. I became passably proficient with it...but not enough that I felt I should abandon the No 1.
Once I realized that Cody had a case of rifle lust, we made a plan and it became his.
I went back to the No 1, which was dutifully waiting in the safe. At least, until a shiny RSM in 458 Lott came available, and I bought it!
I promptly put 250 rounds through the Lott, got it sorted, then decided a 458 caliber rifle could use a little more case capacity.
I sold the Lott when I found a drop-dead gorgeous AHR 450 Dakota.
So now I am on rifle number 4 for a hunt that has only been a little over a year in the making.
After about 200 rounds through the Dakota, I was hooked. This was going to be my Buffalo rifle.
One issue...ammo would be unobtanium should my ammo not arrive...but what were the odds of THAT happening?
By the time we left Houston, I had nearly 400 rounds through the Dakota and I was confident. Especially after sending it back to Wayne for the new thin mag box that kept round number two from flying out of the mag when ejecting empty number 1!!! Yes...3 weeks prior to the hunt, I sent my AHR to Wayne for a new mag box. So yeah...Cody and I like to live on the edge!
I had no idea how long it was going to take to get my ammo, so with John's 300 Mag in tow, we spent time checking water holes and making our way around the southern half of Nengo, just checking things out. We saw plenty of PG, but I was content to just get acclimated, while enjoying John's company and viewing the scenery of the BVC.
It became evident that my ammo was not going to arrive on day 2, so we shifted gears a bit and made a hunting plan.
Zebra is worth hunting for the Zebra (I took three in 2015...so yeah, I like me some Zebra) but this was going to be Zebra with a purpose....Hyena bait!
We saw a small herd paralleling the road about a quarter mile off the Bubye River. We parked and disembarked and began to follow them at a distance, thinking that they were eventually going to head to the river for water.
That's exactly what they did. While they were down in the bottom drinking, we closed to about 80 yards of where they dropped into the thick stuff and waited behind a thorn bush.
Soon enough they made their way back out of the river bottom, with a Stallion and some Blue Wildebeest the first to pop out. One 180gr TTSX through the Sergeant's Strip brought a mad dash to a gully and the Zebra was down and out.
Another Zebra rug (you cannot have too many) and some needed Hyena bait!
On the afternoon of day 3 we spot a couple Kudu off the trail, off to the left in the shadow of the mopane materializes two buffalo! We move around to try and get a better look at them as they start moving into the thick bush.
As the bulls are going up a hill out of the river bottom we can see horn on either side of his big old belly and an ass the size of Michelle Obama’s, this guy might be the one! We follow them until dark but never get a good frontal look at the bulls. We backed out as the wind was swirling down between the Kopjes and we were afraid of blowing the bulls out of the country! I went to bed excited to try to find the two bulls tracks in the morning.
We took up the tracks in the morning but the wind was in our face one minute and on the back of our necks the next. We had followed the bulls up onto a kopje where we located a hidden drinking hole in the rock formation, smart old buggers had themselves a secret water hole that kept them from leaving tracks around the pans! Dave decided that we climb another kopje adjacent to where the bulls had gone to see if maybe we could lay eyes on them from above and to keep the wind from spoiling our game. As we were climbing, I expected to see bighorn sheep or mountain goats at any moment as we neared the top! What a view we had from up there! The bottom of the valley was full of game, giraffes, wildebeest, zebra and a Kudu bull that Dave estimates at 57” and was still not yet completely turned out! What a dream bull he will make for someone next year! The top of the kopje had spoor from a bunch of animals as well, bushpig, hyena and leopard all seemed to favor the lovely view as well from up there.
We climbed down off the far end of the kopje and walked to a pan that we had visited that morning to check tracks and sure enough the two bulls had visited in between us checking it and our mountaineering exercise! Praying for the wind to hold for us, we take up the tracks. The bulls walked their random pattern between mopane and thorn as they fed, we moved very slowly and carefully as we followed them, Dave and the trackers knew we were going to bump into them and I was getting excited, I just knew that the Obama bull was going to be awesome just from the way Dave acted the night before. We had looked at quite a few buffalo by this point and Dave had not gotten excited about anything yet, he really wanted a good look at this bull from last night though. I knew I was probably going to get my chance to kill a buffalo if we could get on these guys! Everyone stops Doobi and Thomas spot the buffalo ahead of us and they are still feeding and unaware of our presence. Dave and I start closing the distance between at a snails pace, every damn thing under my Courtney’s seems to be amplified and I’m waiting for that look from the PH that silently says quit making so much noise dumb ass! One bull is to our left and looks at us, he is not our bull. As the bull puts his head back down to feed Dave moved us into what I’m sure was the only open lane to shoot in that whole area and whispers that the other bull will join his buddy and wait for him to come out. Just like Dave said our bull walked out and looked dead at us, I’m on the sticks, ivory bead on the shoulder settled perfectly in the shallow V-notch of the Express sight, this bull was old and nasty! I quit looking at his head and went back to the sights waiting for Dave to say the word. “When you are ready, shoot him”. I let the bull put his leg forward to take a step and pulled the front trigger, the bull ran my left barrel cut down trees as I sent the round while swinging on the running bull in the thick bush! Reload and then we heard the death bellow! Over 30 years I have waited for that sound! We circle around to come in from behind the motionless bull, Dave has me put one from each barrel between the shoulder blades for insurance. Our bull is dead and I was for once in my life pretty damn speechless!
This bull had everything I have ever dreamed about and we hunted him the way it was meant to be done! Took awhile for it to all soak in!
The mass on this bull really made his width hard to judge, I was honestly thinking 37-38”
Dave later measured him to be 41-1/4” with 16” bosses! If I die tomorrow my last thought will not be that I never took a great buffalo!
We radioed in the shots and location to headquarters and immediately heard from John and Tim with congratulations.
Dave went and got the truck as the guys started clearing trail from the nearest road.
About then I noticed that my grip on the rifle may have been less than tight. Lol
Hello Milan, I just watched your video on disassembling/reassembling the CZ 550. I have spent days looking for something like this. I now have no reservations taking apart my rifle. I like to do this with all my guns so I understand them "inside and out". Thank you very much for the information. It is greatly appreciated.