There are some things in this world that defy conventional description, where language can fall short of communicating these experiences or the complex meanings behind them. In the same way that an inspiring dream or revelation can evade articulation, I’ve always found it difficult to describe my love for Africa to someone who has never been. However, that has never stopped me from trying to understand the root of this passion that has inspired so many artists, writers, adventurers, hunters and conservationists over the centuries.
In my experience there is little sentimental middle ground; one either can’t endure the harsh elements, relentless insects, and logistical chaos, or one absolutely loves it and the charms sink deep into one’s bones, never to leave. Africa becomes a calling that must be answered and many have pursued it relentlessly even to their demise. But what is it exactly that we love so much? Ask anyone who’s spent an extended amount of time in the bush and they’ll probably tell you that it’s small observations of the senses that provide the vibrant source of what we know Africa to be. These are things you often don’t realise until later, having to reflect on the source of mild melancholy that creeps in once you return home.
When I first arrived at Westley Richards, one of the areas that really impressed me was the quality and depth of photography the company had produced over the years. This in large part began with Simon Clode, the former Chairman & Managing Director of the company, who as a young man developed a keen interested in the medium while studying art at the British Institute in Florence. It was during this time of experimentation with cameras, darkrooms and composition that Simon established his uncompromising eye for fine detail and appreciation of aesthetics.
Yet another first calibre wise for us recently was the completion of this heavy barrel plains game rifle in .270 Winchester Short Magnum. The .270 WSM is one of those cartridges born of the ‘magnum’ craze and was introduced in 2002 by Winchester. Based on the .300 WSM (introduced in 2001) it has the same case necked down to accept .277″ bullets in the 110 to 150 grain range. Compared to the original .270 Winchester the long time favourite of gun writer Jack O’Connor, the more modern magnum version of the .270 unquestionably has greater velocity and a flatter trajectory.
This particular rifle is intended for shooting plains game out to longer ranges and has been built with a heavier barrel contour and recessed muzzle crown to assist with both stability of the rifle, whilst eking out every last ounce of accuracy.
Scotland is without doubt one of those magical places where sportsmen armed with rifle, gun and rod can still pursue quarry in some of the most outstanding scenery found anywhere in the world. On an island now heavily populated and ever more restricted, Scotland remains one of the last bastions of the wilderness, a place where the environment and weather are still capable of reminding you that nature is a force to be reckoned with.
‘Sporting Estates’ as they are known became fashionable in Victorian times and even with the current political climate they remain the favoured retreats of sports men and women from around the world. Last May we were lucky enough to head up to a small private estate in Aberdeenshire for a spot of roebuck stalking, in particular looking for bucks out on the open hill.
Danny with his trusty Watson Bros..450 No.2 Double Rifle. Originally built in 1907 at a cost of £21 this rifle has certainly proved worth every penny! This photo was taken by Diggory Haddoke whilst we were all on safari in Tanzania in 2015.
Anyone who is anyone who has ever wanted to hunt in Africa or has hunted in Africa should certainly have heard of Professional Hunter, Danny McCallum. Now that might sound like a dramatic introduction, but truth be told Danny is one of the legends of African hunting having been a fully licensed PH there for 53 years.
Born in Arusha, Tanzania in August 1947, Danny is from a family of Professional Hunters (his father and grandfathers were all PH’s) and after qualifying with his full ‘Unrestricted’ licence in 1967 has led a successful career as one of Africa’s most sought after PH’s. Danny is one of those PH’s who has been lucky enough to hunt in Kenya, Tanzania, Zaire, the Sudan, the CAR, Zambia, Namibia, Botswana and more recently Uganda. His experiences are almost unparalleled today, especially where Africa’s dangerous game is concerned.
Just as important as “location” is to the value of real estate, so is “condition” to the value of a gun. The common rule is, the closer the gun remains to its original factory condition, the more desirable it is among collectors.
Another important factor to a gun’s value can be its rarity. Guns can fall into the “rare” category if they are found in a configuration seldom produced by a maker. Another reason a gun could be considered “rare” is if it remains in high original condition despite its age or intended purpose. If you look long enough and have a lot of good luck, you might even encounter a gun in a rare configuration that is also in high original condition.
After a long time of looking and more than my share of good luck, an exceedingly rare and extremely well preserved Westley Richards 562 Grade Hammerless Combination Shotgun and Rifle chambered in 12g and .500 Black Powder Express recently landed at the U.S. Agency. This is the type of gun collectors can spend a lifetime looking for.
The elegant lines of the Westley Richards magazine rifle in .450 Rigby calibre.
A first just completed by us is this detachable barrel Westley Richards magazine rifle in .450 Rigby. Over the years we have built magazine rifles in all manner of cartridge, but this is the first to be built in .450 Rigby.
The cartridge has an interesting history as it is one of very few ‘new’ cartridges introduced by any of the British rifle makers over the last three decades. The concept for the cartridge came from Paul Roberts former owner of J.Rigby & Co back in the 1990’s. Paul is acknowledged as one of the most experienced big game hunters in the UK and still continues to build rifles for a small and loyal clientele under the Roberts name in the south of England.
As promised, after a fantastic response to our recent ‘The Greatest Adventurer’ competition, I wanted to share some other inspiring entries. Stories that differ in their style and origins, but end with the all too similar love affair of the Westley Richards Courtney Boots.
Westley Richards became the USA & UK importer of the exclusive range of Courteney Safari boots in 1998 and continue to this day to have a very good working relationship with the factory in Zimbabwe, which is managed by Gale Rice.
Over these years we have sold many hundreds of pairs of boots and have lots of satisfied customers who are still wearing the first boots they purchased from us 15 years ago. The Courteney range of footwear is built to be comfortable and to last, very similar to the philosophy behind our guns, which makes this a great partnership.
I would like to say a huge thank you to all who contributed to our competition, we have had a wonderful array of entries from across the globe and it truly has been difficult to select a winner. We will endeavour to feature as many as possible on The Explora in the coming weeks for you at home to enjoy yourselves.
After much deliberation from the Westley Richards team, we all agreed John Fahl’s intrepid tales on safari with his father, the worthy winner of our Sutherland travel bag. His winning entry is presented below.
John Fahl’s Winning Entry
I happen to know Westley Richard’s greatest fan and adventurer… I am not that person, but I am an adventurer and a fan of Westley Richards. I’ve only been on three safari trips to Africa. Each I’ve come prepared thanks to Westley Richards. My gear consists of:
1906 Westley Richards .318
40 rounds of mixed soft and hard-tipped ammunition
1 heirloom knife and 1 custom made knife (just in case)
1 Westley Richards 5 round .318 cover belt pouch
1 Westley Richards wallet
1 Pair of Courteney boots that I wear everywhere
Clothes, flashlight, binocs, a proper hat and a lot of luck.
This post was originally put up by Simon Clode back in 2013 and it seems more relevant now that we all have more time on our hands!!!! A few newer titles have been released by the modern hunting book suppliers including Kai-Uwe Denkers ‘About The Spirit Of The African Wilderness’ available from Trophy Room Books, and Robin Hurts ‘A Hunter’s Hunter’ available from Safari Press. Both of these books are destined to become hunting classics and if nothing else they should get us in the spirit for our next safari adventure!
Now to Simon’s original posting.
There are literally 1000’s of books on the market which touch on our sport, in one way or another. Be they on guns, rifles, wing-shooting or big game hunting the choice is far and wide. Here at Westley Richards many of us have collected books on our sport since an early age and are often showing off to each other the ‘rare book’ we have just managed to acquire. It seemed appropriate to ask a few other well known book collectors, writers and sellers what their 10 best books were, the ones they feel every sportsman should read and have in their library. I hope it proves informative and helpful.
Anthony Alborough-Tregear “Trigger” runs the gunroom and production at Westley Richards and has been collecting books on guns and hunting since the age of 15. His list is biased towards Africa and the hunting of Elephants to which he has now progressed after many years obsessively stalking Roe deer.
African Rifles & Cartridges – John ‘Pondoro’ Taylor
Modern Sporting Gunnery – Henry Sharp
The End Of The Game – Peter Beard
African Hunter – James Mellon
The Maneaters Of Kumoan – Jim Corbett
The Wanderings Of An Elephant Hunter – W.D.M.Bell
The Adventures Of An Elephant Hunter – James Sutherland
Travel And Adventure In South East Africa – F.C.Selous
White Hunters – Brian Herne
Elephant Hunters – Men Of Legend – Tony Sanchez Arino