Dove Pie. by Colin Partridge.

Dove Pie 1 (1 of 1)

The time had come for another long awaited holiday at my Mother’s Cousin’s farm, near to Uncle Pat’s town and I was going to be able to run loose for a while again.

Not that I was exactly constrained at home but even when we went off fishing, my mother wouldn’t allow us to cook and eat the carp we caught in the golf course dams, despite our pleas. These dams were fed by the ‘Jukskei’ river and although it looked deceptively beautiful when pooled and fringed by weaver-nest festooned willow trees, the metal ‘catch grill’ through which it entered the golf course told another story. Here the plastic bags, empty cans, occasional dead dog and other detritus from the city piled up and that wasn’t even counting the unseen and unknown spills from the industrial area further upstream.

I suppose it was also not a good idea having us kids running around with pellet guns upsetting the neighborhood, in a suburban setting. So even though we enjoyed our catapults, lovingly made with forks cut from the neighbor’s ‘Pride of India’ tree, it didn’t quite have the same tang of adventure that striding through the veld with your trusty pellet gun has.

From my then narrow perspective, life on the farm was uncomplicated and exciting and I was fortunate that the adults who populated my world at that time, allowed me to turn this illusion into reality.

The farm has been in the same family for three generations and consequently, has that comfortably mature look. The old house sits on a very gentle rise looking east, down the dirt access road that stretches straight away for nearly a kilometer, before curving down to the unseen tar road. On either side of the dirt road, lie some mielie fields, which in turn lie below the old fruit orchards and some rickety farm buildings. You have to go over a few cattle grids to get to the house and these were designed with elephant in mind, because they very nearly stopped my Dad’s Chev as well.

The old farmhouse sits in the middle of a large garden surrounded and screened on three sides, by a variety of densely growing mature trees. The number of birds attracted to the garden is astounding; just about everyone’s favourites, were the Lesser Striped Swallows that nested under the eaves each year. Mine though, were the small Laughing Doves that thronged the surrounding trees and filled every morning and afternoon with their slightly mournful cooing. The sound of their call today, is still enough to bring on a bout of nostalgia.

People built solid homes in those days, but they were not always particularly pretty or even well designed and as a result, some of the high ceilinged rooms were hardly ever used, being very cold in winter. Consequently, one part of the sunny ‘stoep’ or veranda had been bricked off, a fireplace installed, filled with overstuffed furniture and books and called, ‘The Snuggery’. This is where adults, dogs, cats and children congregated on winter evenings and where knitting, reading, dreaming and snoozing got done.

Behind the house, the rest of the farm stretched up to a far ridge of low hills on one side and up to the tip of a higher point on the other. You could see a very long way from this point and sometimes, it even snowed up there in winter. Since it was primarily a cattle farm, the only cultivated fields were the mielie lands and these were surrounded by natural grassland, cut through with thorn-tree lined dongas. Small farm dams, stocked with bass by Uncle Pat, were dotted around as sources of water for the cattle. There was even an atmosphere of history lingering around, because if you looked long and hard enough, you could still find old cartridge cases from some long forgotten skirmish during the Boer war and the one boundary was a stone wall built way before posts and wire were available.

We arrived late on a Saturday afternoon, after what seemed an interminable drive – there appears to be a limit to the adult sense of humor when a boy enquires for the hundredth and fifty-second time, ‘are we nearly there yet?’, so it was with relief on all sides that we poured ourselves out of the Chev and stretched our legs.

Some adults have the gift of talking to children in such a way, that the child feels important, so when Nora smiled and told me how happy she was to see me, I started melting. When she admired my pellet gun and told me she was really glad that I had brought it along because she just couldn’t get anyone to supply some doves for a pie she had been thinking of making, she had me deep in her pocket. It was with a sense of purpose and responsibility that I set off early the next morning.

Red-eyed Dove juv

Cattle were moaning in a far paddock, a black cuckoo was giving its characteristic, drawn-out ‘mid-mar…sloooop’ call way off in the bluegums and my pocketful of lead pellets felt reassuringly heavy as they made my khaki shorts sag to one side. I was after Red-eyed Turtle Doves, which although being rather wary and not nearly as plentiful as the Cape Turtle Doves that also lived there, they are plump and designed to fill a pie – I was to learn the virtue of perseverance that day.

The hunt started by scouting the old orchards and then through and around the mielie lands. There were certainly enough doves about, but despite careful stalking, they were on the lookout and I watched in frustration as they craned their necks in my direction before taking off with a clattering of wings just as I got within range. Uncle Pat’s trusty BSA had seen a lot of action and the spring was so weakened, that if you shot straight up into the air the pellets’ flight path was easily visible to the naked eye against the light background. This meant that any successful shots further than twenty meters out, were verging on being miraculous and I had only managed to work one miracle before lunch. Now a pie needs more than a single bird, but Nora told me not to be discouraged as she was sure I’d get enough in due course but that she’d ‘put a roast in the oven just in case’. Her cheerful faith in my ability to feed the ravenous hordes, had me really determined and excusing myself from the lunch table quickly.

The day had grown hot and the sweat tickled down my back as I headed off behind the house to explore the thorn-clad dongas, where succulent aloes grow in the open patches and the water runs fast and muddy after heavy rain. That day though, the ground was dusty and the air had become still. Grasshoppers flew up with a ‘click-click’ and a ‘whirrrrr’, to land ahead of me, only to repeat the process as I got closer again. As a couple of hawks soared lazily high above me, the only other sounds were a low, scolding chattering from a sunbird and the scuttling of a lizard as I went by.

Eventually, by way of another minor miracle, a second careless dove fell to my shot, snagging high in the branches of a thorn bush. Fifteen minutes and many scratches and youthful curses later, I emerged from the embrace of the thorns to consider my options; at the rate things were going, certain starvation stared us in the face.

Sitting on an anthill gloomily contemplating this state of affairs, I absently watched two Red-eyes circling and then dropping to ground towards the old implement shed far away in the distance, to the side of an old orchard. I took a bit more notice when another dipped in two minutes later and really sat up when they were followed in by three more. The old BSA again felt light and the scratches forgotten, as I hurried with renewed energy to take the most direct route to the shed.

A prospector finding a fat nugget, probably gets close to the feelings I felt, as my eyes slowly inched over the top of the grass separating me and the area in front of the creaky old building. There must have been at least forty-five dove-pie ingredients pecking over the heap of bare maize cobs strewn over the ground. After a long aim to calm my pounding heart, the closest bird slumped at the shot and the rest took off in mild puzzlement to a nearby tree, only to reappear in dribs and drabs soon after. A quick reload and I was another bird richer.

Red-eyed Dove

Not being able to see me, they never became alarmed enough to get going permanently. Instead, the interval between the ‘thwap’ of the pellet gun and their return just took a bit longer as time went on. I stopped at twelve doves, reckoning that a grand total of fourteen had dented the population enough for then, while at the same time ensuring that hunger would not be a factor for that day at least.

The guineafowl were calling each other and it was starting to get cold fast, as I slowly made my way up to a warm kitchen and some adults, who for some reason looked surprised at the pile of birds tipped onto the kitchen table. After dinner, I plucked doves till my fingers ached, and then staggered off to bed and one of those toasty, feather eiderdowns that they don’t seem to make anymore.

The following evening after a long day fishing in the farm dams, I returned to the farmhouse to some tantalising smells and later, a large, oven-blackened dish covered with brown, crisp, flaky pastry emerged from the kitchen. Inside, fourteen plump doves simmered in dark gravy, together with kidneys, potatoes, onions and some other magic ingredients. When this fragrant mixture was served over rice, accompanied by large hunks of fresh bread smothered in salty farm-made butter, silence descended on the table till the last lip-smacking morsels were gone – the left-over lamb roast was put back in the refrigerator untouched.

Thinking back, that pie was so good it has made me scour my memory for the recipe and it goes like this:

Firstly take one small, keen boy. Send him to a farm where plump doves live and…….

Cookery Book from family

The Last Great Adventures.

Mozambique

I am sat here at the weekend contemplating hunting as perhaps ‘the last great adventure’.  In this modern world of super communication and internet many of the worlds once wild places have become easily accessible and where once there was great adventure getting to them, most have become easy to get to and ‘no great wonder’.

As hunters we are the very lucky few who really get to see some of the last remaining wild places on earth.  They are often very difficult to get to which requires a determination I have really only seen in sportsmen.  By way of example two very good friends who also happen to be clients of mine have just returned from a memorable trip in British Columbia where they both managed to achieve through true hard work 2 magnificent trophy Stone Sheep and 2 great Mountain Goats.  What I found most interesting in listening to their story is that the valley they actually took their trophies in had not been hunted for 18 years!  The whole area was remote and still very much untouched by man.

Tracking a dry riverbed in remote Mozambique

In the last year I myself was lucky enough to hunt in South Africa, Tanzania, Alaska and the USA, whilst also visiting India. All were adventures in their own way, but Tanzania and Alaska stand out as truly wild places.

As another good friend and client heads out to Mozambique with his fine collection of vintage rifles we should count ourselves lucky that we have the interest, passion and will to pursue game in the wildest of places.  It is in our interest to share the stories of our adventures with the next generation so that they might pursue game in these places, for to remain remote and wild they need to be appreciated and more often than not real passion only comes from the sportsman.

A high point for viewing the land.

 Images from one of our Safari’s in remote Mozambique by Mark Hall.

Hunting with Open Sights.

Up Close

One of the greatest experiences in the hunting world has to be approaching dangerous game with a large calibre rifle intent on using only the open or ‘iron’ sights to aim.  The need to stalk in really close, as quietly as possible, often under tough conditions really adds a physical and mental element to the hunt and certainly heightens all the senses of the hunter!

Long before man had perfected the telescopic sight the majority of big game was hunted with open sights.  Long range target competitions were shot with open sights, as were nearly all military weapons.  As the telescopic sight improved for sporting arms so man learnt to shoot his game more accurately and humanely, often at more extreme ranges. Where dangerous game was concerned, buffalo in particular could be shot out to longer distances.

A Westley .577 goes in close in Tz.

At this point the question of ‘sport’ raises its head.  Dangerous game was traditionally hunted very up close and personal.  As those of you who have hunted dangerous game will know, part of the sport in this type of hunting is the element of danger associated with being in close proximity to such game and that if all goes wrong then you really may be required to shoot your way safely out of a very tight situation.

Hunting with open sights may not be for everyone, but for a growing number of keen enthusiastic hunters it is. Certainly, say when hunting one buffalo on a safari it is better to enjoy the days with stalking and chase than taking a long distance shot on the first day that doesn’t even get the adrenalin flowing. I would prefer a ‘shitty’ buffalo and an exciting hunt any day, as opposed to a long distance better quality one. If of course a monster comes out a different decision may need to be made!

Tz 2014

Hunting with a double I have always felt puts a different perspective on the hunt, it does force you in closer where you can take a safe accurate shot, practise with the rifle being the key here. Similarly with smaller game, hunting with say a classic .318 or .275 with open sights is immense fun and I always take greater satisfaction from taking a trophy in this manner.

For any PH’s out there wincing at these words, sorry, I know it makes you have to work a little harder but even you’ll agree it makes for a far more exciting hunt.  Ultimately this is one of the very reasons for a hunter coming to Africa and the reason so many return.

Good luck hunting!

A Used, Cased, Westley Richards .375 Take Down Rifle – A Rare Opportunity to Acquire One of Our Recent Take Down Model Rifles.

Westley Richards .375 Take Down Used Guns

This is the first of our modern take down rifles that I have noticed come to the market. A package we produced in 2010 for a client who was a regular African and worldwide hunter. The rifle has made some trips and has the knocks and bruises to tell the stories which I am not going to remove at this point in time. People have different opinions, some like their rifles immaculate and clean whilst others relish the patina gained by use in the field. I tend to fall into the latter category myself and will leave the final decision to the person who first feels he can’t live without it!

Mechanically totally sound, the rifle will be fully serviced, shot and tested. The only work decisions to be made are the refurbishment of the stock and blacking of parts. The Westley Richards bespoke case is a later addition and was made 2 years ago and is in immaculate condition, I also feel these canvas and leather cases are the most appropriate for this type of ‘working and travelling’ rifle.

Westley Richards .375 Take Down Used Guns

Cased Westley Richards .375 TD

Cased Westley Richards .375 TD

Westley Richards Take Down Bolt Action Rifle No.43617 in .375 H&H Magnum  – Completed 2010.

22 1/4″ barrel with Quarter rib, one fixed and one folding leaf rear express sight regulated at 100 and 200 yards. Westley Richards combination foresight. Swarovski Z6i 1.7-10×42 scope on Smithson QD mounts.

Very well figured stock with 14 1/2″ LOP, full pistol grip with grip trap cap, cheekpiece, leather covered recoil pad.

Weight of rifle – 9lbs 13oz – with scope on 11lbs 3oz

Westley Richards Bespoke Canvas and leather border case with accessories.

This rifle will be posted on our used gun shortly. Immediate enquiries to theexplora@westleyrichards.co.uk

The African Shooting Sticks – Accurate Shooting in the Bush.

Tanzania 2006

Any of you who head to Africa for safari will encounter, on your first visit, the use of shooting sticks, these are carried by the PH and provide an instant and stable rest for your rifle. I know I was unfamiliar with this practise 25 years ago when I went on my first safari, using them correctly took some time and practise, the height, the grip and flexibility all take getting used to. I don’t recommend taking expensive screw apart tripod sticks to Africa, it is weight and bulk you don’t need, rely on the PH and his sticks as he will place them fast and effectively giving you chance to concentrate on your quarry. I do however recommend practise with simple sticks which can easily be made at home.

I asked my long time friend Robin Hurt, one of the most respected Professional Hunters practicing today, who has carried the shooting sticks for many a mile, to write a short piece about the importance and use of the sticks which he has kindly done.

Robin Hurt with Shooting Sticks Close to hand (1 of 1)Robin Hurt with his 20 year old shooting sticks close to hand.

Accurate rifle shooting is all about a steady position and trigger squeeze. Without these two basic principals, most people will have difficulty in shooting rifles accurately. An unsteady rest leads to trigger snatching and a resulting badly placed shot. In the hunting field a good rest for ones rifle is crucial as no hunter worth his salt wants to injure or wound an animal – the objective is to hunt the animal in a sporting and fair chance manner and to take a deliberate clean shot.

The problem is that good natural rests to support and steady the rifle are not always at hand, for example an ant hill or a tree trunk. Also one is often faced with long grass or low scrub bush, making a lying down or sitting position shot impossible . This is where the African Shooting Sticks come in handy. The sticks can be set up in seconds, at the precise time the quarry is seen, without the need to possibly spoil the stalk by casting around looking for a rest. Off hand shooting, except at close range under 50 yards and on wounded game, is not to be recommended for most hunters.

My first shooting sticks were made for me by my Wata ( Waliaingulu ) elephant hunter tracker in 1963. In fact it was a simple bi pod of two wooden limbs of just under 3/4 inch diameter, 5 1/2 feet long, lashed together with strips of car tyre inner tubing. The lower tips of the thin poles were sharpened, so as to give proper purchase on the ground and not slip. It was an effective tool – but not perfect. All professional hunters at that time used these wooden bi pods.

Lekini a tracker with the shooting sticksRoger Hurt’s Tracker ‘Lekini’ with his shooting sticks and hearing protection.

Then there was a natural progression to more effective tri pods; using the same materials, but with two of the limbs being 4 to 5 inches longer and a shorter middle limb in the centre, again bound together with strip rubber tubing to give flexibility and strength when opening the sticks. This tri pod had now became an effective rest, for as steady a shot as possible in normal hunting conditions and used daily by most professional hunters.
To this day I carry wooden shooting sticks, home made by my trackers, using car tubing strips to hold the top sector together. My current sticks are now over twenty years old and used on every hunt. They never leave my hunting car and are as essential to my equipment as is a high lift Jack! The advantage of the natural materials is quietness. I have no problem with the commercial shooting sticks available, other than that they can be noisy, being made out of plastic or light metal tubing. But, they are useful for practice.

XD1C1032Robin Hurt following client HH Al Thani out of the bush, sticks to hand as always.

The way it works is that I always carry the sticks personally, and set them up according to my clients stature; by spreading the legs wider or closer together simply adjusts the rifles rest height as the need may be. The client follows close by and directly behind the professional, allowing quick and easy access to the rest.

Another huge advantage of the shooting sticks is that if your quarry is moving or partially blocked by bush or other cover, you can simply rest your rifle in a ready position until such time as an opportunity presents itself, set up immediately to take the shot . By the way, one of the biggest mistakes made by hunters is moving too quickly and in a rushed manner to place the rifle on the sticks. Quick movements are immediately spotted by game . Preferably a slow fluid movement of the rifle on to the sticks is what one should
practice .

Tanzania 2006Roger Hurt and client on the sticks. Note the forefinger grip on the forend.

Practice shooting off sticks will prove invaluable to better coordination and accurate field shooting . Practice standing , sitting and kneeling using the sticks . For sitting and kneeling I use one of the upright limbs and use my hand and fore finger to lock the rifle in position. For standing shots I personally also like to anchor the rifle on to the sticks by wrapping my left hand fore finger around the rifles barrel / fore end and holding the sticks where they are bound together, with the rest of my hand .

My son Derek, a professional in Tanzania, carries two sets of sticks – a short pair for sitting and kneeling shots and a normal long set for standing shots . His tracker carries the shorter pair and simply passes them to Derek when needed. I am too set in my ways to learn new tricks and only use one pair that I adjust as needed!

For longish or difficult shots on windy days , over 150 yards, I will often offer extra support to the hunter; by holding the sticks with both my hands and my body bent in a slightly crouched position, that in turn gives my shoulder as an added rest for the shooters elbow . This in effect gives a two position rest .

226Lunchtime picnic use for the tripod!

Shooting sticks have other uses – they can be used as snake tongs to capture snakes ( not advised ! ). On one occasion in South Sudan I used the sticks as a spear to impale an unfortunate forest Guinea Fowl when I didn’t want to disturb the area by shooting! Here in the Namibian mountains, they make a useful walking stick in our difficult steep terrain! I often use them to carry small game as on a pole hung between two people ! Last season one of our P Hunters fended off a furious warthog with his sticks , when they surprised it charging out of its resting place in an Aardvark’s hole! I have used them as a make shift fishing rod by tying some line with a hook on one end! Yes, they have all manner of uses apart from being a splendid rifle rest!

Some further tips that may be found to be useful are :-

– Never rest the barrel on the sticks – always the fore end. Metal contact with the sticks will result in the shot going high.
– For standing shots, stand with your legs well apart. This will help stabilize your shooting position.
– For sitting shots, bring up your knees so that your elbows are rested. This will greatly improve your shooting.
– To make your own sticks, choose saplings that are strong and straight, about 3/4 of an inch thick. Strip off the bark. Hold the sticks upright, and cut to length. As a height measurement, cut them at the level of your eyes. The centre limb should be 4/5″ shorter . Bind all three pole’s with rubber strops tightly at about 1 1/2 inches below the top of the shortest sapling. You can tape or rubberized the twin stabilizer arms on the longer poles for added quietness and support.
– Get in the habit of taking off the rifles safety in one movement in time with placing your weapon on the shooting sticks.
– Don’t place your rifle on the sticks with the fore end and your hand grip too far forward as this creates a seesaw effect.
– If your making your own shooting sticks, try to find hard wood poles that are as straight as possible. Any bends found after de barking can easily be sorted by holding over a fire and straightening the heated sapling .
– Lastly practice makes perfect. Make or buy your sticks and make yourself familiar with them and their use. Go to the rifle range or some other safe place and practice shooting off them.

Good hunting !
Robin Hurt

XD1C0808Robin has 2 very successful hunting operations in Africa where he operates from Namibia and Tanzania. Please follow the links for further information.

I will be discussing with our stick makers in England the manufacture of simple sets of these tripod shooting sticks with some details by our leather shop for protecting the rifle.

Kalahari Calling. Guest post by Colin Partridge.

Khalahari Post (4 of 7)

“You must come to the Kalahari with me. It’s hunting the way it should be, walk and stalk. It’s also real camping, so you’ve got to take practically everything with you. You’ll love it.”

They say all good things come to those who wait. After Paul’s invitation (issued after his second trip to the Kalahari in 1992), a personal change of career and circumstance, meant it took twenty three years before I could call him and ask if his offer was still good. It was and what a trip it turned out to be.

A vast semi-desert of over 900,000 square kilometers, the Kalahari covers most of Botswana and vast parts of Namibia and South Africa and is spectacularly beautiful, especially the sunsets. But to the uninitiated, perhaps looking out the window of a moving car, it can seem monotonously similar in both colour and topography for many kilometers and hours of travel. But when you turn off the main road, it starts to weave its magic.

Khalahari Post (7 of 7)

We arrived at our camp on a huge tract of some 25000 hectares of red land not far from Askham. As part of a land restitution process it had been handed back to the ǂKhomani San tribe who are descended from the bushmen who had roamed the area in centuries gone by. As a sustainable way of earning money for their people, they had removed all internal fences and were guiding paying hunters during the season. A tank holding 500 litres of water, three sacks of ‘Kameeldoring’ firewood and a cleanly swept campsite is provided. It was all we needed because as Paul said, he had brought everything else along.

We pitched tents and arranged the supplies with the help of our two guides and trackers, ‘Blade’ and ‘Arries’. They would be our companions for the time we hunted there and from the banter that started right after we arrived, I knew it was going to be an entertaining five days.

Everything was in its place by midday so we decided to start hunting straight away. We had two gemsbok, four springbok and one red haartebees on our permit, none of which I had hunted before. I had once enjoyed succulent springbok venison made by Paul’s wife Eliese, so I was really after springbok and was using Paul’s little custom made 6×45mm. He carried his 7×57mm Mauser in case we came upon gemsbok.

I quickly found my prior efforts to gain fitness for hunting the Kalahari should have been a bit more rigorous, because that red sand is soft. You also need good ankle high boots or else that fine sand finds its way through your socks and causes blisters. The dunes which traverse the landscape are separated by the hollows between them called ‘strate’ (or streets), where the game is most often found grazing or loafing. Dunes vary greatly in height and each has to be laboriously climbed to gain a vantage point to scout for game in the straat below. I was amazed however, at how fast one can pick up a bit of fitness after a few days when pushed.

Although there was a good amount of game, abundance is a relative term due to the low carrying capacity of the veld and they were by no means in every straat, so a lot of up and down hiking took place before Arries pointed out a lone springbok ram on the side of a dune across from the one we had crawled up. I was breathing hard and sweating freely as I lay and settled into the sand to aim and finally squeeze the trigger. It had been a long time since I had hunted and I was incredibly relieved when the ram dropped where it stood. Paul’s range finder said 180 meters so I was quite pleased with myself, but it was pushing the truth when Arries said “Man jy’s nes a sniper!” I was to prove him very wrong the next day.

Despite the bitterly cold mornings, we rose at 5.30am each day to get the fire going. We then had coffee and rusks at about 6am and were driving to put some distance between us and camp by 6.30am just as the Eastern horizon lightened. Once we switched off the bakkie’s engine, the silence was as vast as the land we stood in and we waited a while, soaking it all in. Then we would start walking.

Khalahari Post (3 of 7)

That second morning we eventually found a relaxed group of springbuck after an hours walk and I crawled closer to take a long downhill shot at a ram standing off to one side. The ram fell over at the shot but got up immediately and started running with the herd. We could not find a single drop of blood at the spot, but there was no doubt he had been hit. “Nou begin die werk” Paul said, which turned out to be an understatement, and we started tracking the herd of about 40 springbuck.

We hoped to find the ram lagging to one side or even lying dead as we tracked the herd up and over numerous dunes. But no such luck. Distances are big in the Kalahari and when we did get the herd in sight from time to time, they were just moving dots to the naked eye and it was only with binoculars that we could actually see any detail. Eventually Arries noticed a small bit of the plume of white hair (which runs the length of the back and is called a ‘pronk’ in Afrikaans), was raised on one buck when on the others it lay flat. Although that animal was easily keeping up with the rest, we felt it was the wounded ram exhibiting some discomfort and it gave us renewed hope. After another hour tracking and following, Arries said he thought he could see a small red mark high up on the shoulder and we became pretty certain it was my ram and we pressed on harder because the herd kept moving steadily, covering ground at a surprising pace.

Eventually the herd split and we were undecided which group my ram had run with. Paul and Arries opted for the left, leaving Blade and myself to check those that had veered to our right. Eventually we heard Paul’s Mauser boom in the distance and we turned back towards the sound. I could see the smile on their faces from a long way off and a feeling of relief rushed through me before we met beneath a camelthorn.

There is no glory or fun about wounding an animal, but there is a sense of satisfaction in working hard for the next best outcome. It took us an hour to find the herd of springbuck. Then from the time of my first shot to Paul’s coup de grace, it was five and a half hours of hard slog. Then another two hours of direct, sweaty walking back to the bakkie, which we would have struggled to find without Blade and Arries showing the way. Then another hour to drive, pick up the ram, drop it at the cold rooms and finally get back to camp. Never has a beer tasted so good!

Khalahari Post (5 of 7)

I think Paul is right when he said that hunts often tend to be more memorable for the cockups than the success stories. Over the next three days, he got a springbuck and two gemsbok with good shots and after a long stalk I got another big springbuck ram and dropped it where it stood, but the details of retrieving the wounded ram are clearer than all the rest. We never got close to those cunning hartebeest though and I would love to make them a mission for another day.

It’s not only the hunting that makes a trip memorable and two incidents were out of the ordinary; the name Kalahari is apparently derived from the Tswana word Kgalagadi, meaning ‘a waterless place’. Well, it started raining softly, late one afternoon and a rainbow arched in the East as the sun set in the West. There is nothing quite like falling asleep in a tent, in the middle of nowhere, to the patter of rain.

Khalahari Post (6 of 7)

In June the swarms of sociable weavers were widely dispersed and other bird species are fairly quiet. Nights are cold and insect life is practically dormant, but miracles of nature occur when least expected. One night, a large, pale colored moth landed on the lip of my wine glass and literally quivered in excitement. I poured a small bit of red wine into the palm of my hand and it then alighted on my thumb, unfurled its proboscis and sipped long and contentedly. Where had it been hiding and how on earth did it smell that fruity liquid and find it so accurately? Once it had drunk its fill, it flew off into the night and I fancied it did a barrel roll just as it left the firelight thrown by the burning camelthorn logs.

Westley Richards .318 “Light Model” with Detachable Stock for Portability.

Lightweight Take Apart .318 Westley Richards

 

I seem to be losing out in purchasing these scarce Westley Richards rifles recently, the .425 in Las Vegas and now the only rifle of interest at the British Shooting Show, this .318 Light Model take down. This was acquired  by a member of my own internal team, namely Trigger ‘for myself, so I can hunt with a Westley Richards’! I will not be sending him on any buying trips for the company in future!

I have only come across a couple of these rifles whilst here at WR, whilst not as nice in my opinion as the true bayonet type take down, it is an interesting rifle and I think the forend catch shows clearly that it is a take apart rifle which the Holland system may not to the uninitiated. The rifle comes apart with the release of the catch and the unscrewing of the front mag box screw which can be done with a small coin. This particular rifle is fitted with an original set trigger, standing and 4 folding leaf sights and the Westley Richards patent front sight assembly.

Westley Richards Light Model .318

WR .318 Light Model-21931

Another Year and Another Monteria.

Monteria in Spain

This year the wonderful estate of Torrejon De Modua, a 75 minute drive north of Madrid, was the setting for our first day of Monteria in Spain. We were a team of 17 guns from all around the world, France, Lebanon, Qatar, England, South Africa, Namibia, Spain, Germany, Switzerland and Mexico. We were outfitted as usual by the person I consider the most professional and enthusiastic hunter I have ever had the pleasure of knowing and hunting with, Diego Satrustegui one of three partners owning Espacaza, a company we have recommended for a long time to many of our customers who enjoy hunting in Spain and elsewhere in the world.

Monteria in Spain

The day starts with a traditional Monteria breakfast named ‘Migas’, a mixture of fried breadcrumbs with garlic, onions and pepperoni topped with fried eggs, a furness of carbs to keep you warm during the 5 hour hunt, all washed down with coffee and Rioja.

Monteria in Spain

Once fed, Diego gives a thorough safety talk, 17 rifles out in the field together requires everyone to abide by a strict set of rules to ensure the safety of every member of both the shooting line and dog handling/game driving line.

Monteria in Spain

Following the safety talk, prayers are held for the success of the hunt and for hunters, especially for those who have passed. A loud ‘Viva Espana’ follows the prayers and then the draw for ‘posts’ is held, the post being the number of your stand for the day, there are normally a series of lines of guns covering the estate. A card or envelope is selected by the individual guns from the pile on the table and the organisers will record your position in the draw.

The map of the estate showing the lines of shooting posts.

The map of the estate showing the lines of guns. My post was El Buho 1. The dark blue arrows show the direction and starting point for the teams of dogs.

Admiring rifles before the hunt.

After breakfast a moment to compare hardware before the hunt. The Westley Richards 300 win mag in Carbine format in the left hand received much praise and envy!

El Lobo 1 My Post for the day North

El Buho 1, my post for the day occupied by Jose Maria Pascual who has guided me for the past few years. A competent and enthusiastic ‘Secretario’ is for me, essential for an enjoyable day. I have never been able to concentrate on a shot and select from 6 running animals which is the better or correct target, the quiet and confident ‘3rd from front’ sort of call, is for me, essential. You can see from this shot that the area which you cover with your rifle is about 200 yards long, in this case to the north with a width of about 50 yards. Animals will both cross the open area and run down it.

El Lobo 1 My Post for the day  South

The southerly view from my post.

The dogs and Dog handler

At 11am with everyone safe on their post, the dog handlers release their dogs and proceed to walk the estate driving or moving the game, it takes about 4 hours for the handlers to walk their section of the estate and return to where they started. During this time game will suddenly appear so the rifles need to be in a constant state of readiness, sit down and it’s a given a boar or stag will race past, you won’t have time for a shot having gathered yourself up. Each day will have a quota for each gun to shoot, this day each gun had the opportunity to shoot 2 fallow deer, 1 stag and 6 boar. If we liked we could swop one fallow for another boar. The Monteria is in essence an estate cull, the keeper and owner will decide what needs to be taken off the land that year and this will be sold and taken by the group of hunters, a balance of providing income for the estate and managing the herd. This is not trophy hunting and the estate need the cull also to work efficiently. Every estate will give a different quota according to their requirement, it could be 2 stag and 4 hinds if the numbers dictate that. In Spain Red Stag, Fallow, Boar and Mouflon are the main species encountered on Monteria.

The Hunting Dogs

The Hunting Dogs

The hunting Dogs

The hunting dogs are a fearsome and motley bunch. They work hard, often to the point of exhaustion.

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I was fortunate to take 5 boar and 2 Fallow deer from my quota this day. This shot of a Fallow shows the distance to the post where Jose is sitting, across the ride.

Boar

The finest ‘big tusker’ boar of the day. My host Sheikh Sultan Al Thani took a very fine gold medal Fallow outclassing my mere possible bronze! The days bag was 77 boar, 10 Fallow and 12 stags.

The Monteria is a very fine and exciting hunt, bathed in tradition it is an experience I can recommend very highly and one which I return to enjoy year after year.

For details on hunting please speak to Diego Satrustegui at Espacaza in Madrid, I am quite certain he will look after you!

In Pursuit of The Best Gun 1812 – 2012. The History of Westley Richards by Jeremy Musson with Photographs by Terry Allen. The Second Edition.

Westley Richards, In Pursuit of the Best Gun 1812 -2012.

The new cover is revealed! Earlier in the year in a post I offered up some suggestions and asked for advice on which cover to use from the scamps that Colin Townsend had prepared. I am not sure if I followed the advice exactly as there were people who liked each version. Certainly a very strong contender on the original post was this crop of the oil painting of the Bishop of Bond Street. I hope everyone agrees that it has ended up a fitting cover for the second edition.

The book itself is little changed but has an additional 32 page final chapter written by Jeremy Musson with 35 new images. These illustrate the guns that were in production at the time of the last publication and which were not ready to be photographed. In all other respects the book is the same, we have used the same printer and binder, same quality paper throughout and the book will be sent out in the same crush proof  box with logo as we used last time. The only things that have changed are that the book is larger and it is now less expensive!

The 2nd edition will be priced at £75 and a special offer is available to readers of ‘The Explora’ to pre-order a copy at a 20% discount. Please follow this link ‘In Pursuit Offer’ to  pre order a copy at £60 and enter discount code EXPLORA1812167 at the checkout. The books will ship late September early October. My thanks in advance for your kind orders.

In Pursuit of the Best Gun Westley Richards. In Pursuit of the Best Gun Westley Richards. In Pursuit of the Best Gun Westley Richards. In Pursuit of the Best Gun Westley Richards.

Westley Richards, In Pursuit of the Best Gun 1812 -2012.

The Perfect Pair. Courteney Boots and Falke socks.

Courteney boots & Falke socks

I recall well my first safari and buffalo hunt, it was in the northern delta of Botswana a most fabulous concession called Vunumtiki which, the following year, unfortunately went to being a photographic camp, it was fabulously rich in game. I arrived with my new Russell boots, a .470 and .275 rifle.

We left the vehicle at about 8 in the morning and tracked a small herd of Buffalo all day until about 4pm when I had to call a halt. I had blisters the size of dinner plates on my feet and couldn’t walk another step. This was the result of a bad combination of boot and socks which rendered the whole day unsuccessful, we had to give up ‘for a stupid reason’ after putting so much hard work in.

It was a good lesson for me and with safari costing so much I made sure that this would not happen again. Good footwear is as essential as an accurate rifle. I researched the socks that were available and found the Falke brand of Left-Right specific hiking socks which we have been selling ever since. I and many of our customers have been using these since that time, and I for one, have never had a further similar problem with blisters and judging by the repeat business on these socks neither have our customers.

The combination of the Courteney boot and Falke sock is one we have promoted for many years now and one we have complete trust in. Currently we have an offer on for a free pair of socks with any Courteney boot order so for anyone who has yet to try the combination, now is a good time!

Courteney Boots in the bush.