Hunting South Africa Part 1-of-3 – Ultimate Reloader

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One of the wonderful things about shooting, hunting, and the outdoors is that it can connect you to a network of friends you’d otherwise never meet. I met Piet Malan of Impact Shooting at the SHOT Show several years ago, and despite being 10,000 miles apart, we’ve maintained a close friendship. He came to the United States this spring to compete in the Rock Chuck Olympics and I traveled to South Africa to hunt with him this summer. 

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The Journey

Having Piet in the United States at the Ultimate Reloader Ranch gave him an opportunity to truly experience my world. It was time for me to experience his. I’d already harvested a black bear, deer, and other animals in North America – South Africa was a new frontier. 

The trip from Washington state to South Africa was a marathon. Three different flights and layovers later, my wife and I ended nine hours ahead in time below the equator.

We spent some time in Cape Town first – amazed by the food and sights, before driving five hours (on the other side of the road!) to meet up with Piet and his family. 

Gavin and his wife with Piet’s family

Our hunting lodge was Groot Sleutelfontein, GSF for short. The living quarters, swimming pool, and grounds were not only beautiful but immaculate. After getting settled in, I needed to zero the rifle. I borrowed one of Piet’s builds, a 6.5 Sherman Short with a BAT bumblebee action, International Barrels carbon-wrapped barrel, APW braked warbird suppressor and an MDT LSS XL chassis.

We used Berger’s 6.5mm 156 grain EOL bullet for all of the animals on this hunt!

I was able to get consistent hits on steel at 100, 200, and 300 meters off a Vortex tripod. 

The Hunt 

Our first morning of hunting was crisp and cold, just below freezing. In the first ten minutes of our bumpy ride into the field, we saw a wild herd of giraffes. It was surreal to see these animals outside of captivity. Piet and our guide, A.J Bezuidenhoudt., were continually glassing for animals. It wasn’t long before we located an entire herd of kudu and began to stalk them. We hiked for some time through a dry riverbed, circling downwind of the kudu so they wouldn’t detect us. Along the way we spotted a variety of exotic African animals. I had the opportunity to upgrade my hunting package on the spot to harvest a golden wildebeest, but decided against it. As we rounded the final corner, I was dismayed to hear the herd of kudu run away, far out of reach. A.J. used this opportunity to educate me on animal tracks, showing me that the softer the ridge in the center of the track is, the fresher the track is. 

Shortly after the kudu disappointment, we were rewarded with a herd of impala and a lone springbok.

Gavin about to take the Springbok

We deployed the tripod and A.J. walked me through the 200 meter (220 yard) front shoulder shot. The springbok dropped in five seconds. It wasn’t long before Piet spotted an impala near where I shot the springbok, about 175 meters/190 yards away.

Gavin about to take the Impala

I shot the impala and the animal dropped within seven seconds. These two harvests happened within a single minute of one another! Piet pointed out this was extremely lucky, but explained he’s observed similar things before. Hunting with a silencer, while it’s not hearing-safe, reduces the sound enough to confuse other animals in the area so they don’t run. 

I was extremely happy with the gun’s performance and my cool under pressure. Both shots were perfect. 

Circle of Life

Hunting is about much more than the shot it takes to harvest an animal. It’s about the meaning of life and dates back to the earliest of times. Traditions still abound in modern day. As a new hunter on the African continent, I had to eat a small piece of the liver from my first harvest, the springbok, and get some face paint. 

It’s also important to note that GSF Safaris implements sustainable hunting practices. All parts of the harvested animals are utilized, with priority given to the health and viability of the species/population. 

Oryx/Gemsbok

After a hearty lunch, we were back in the field, this time looking for oryx, also known as gemsbok. This animal was on the top of Guy Miner’s list when he was planning his trip to Africa. It took a number of miles in the land cruiser to find a herd, but it only took moments to confirm which animal I wanted to take, and make the shot.

L to R: Piet Malan and Gavin with the downed Oryx

The gemsbok was at 320 meters/350 yards, my furthest shot in Africa yet (that will be topped in part 2 of this series!). He dropped right where he was standing. 

Conclusion

My next video covers my second full day of hunting and my search for a Kudu bull. I would like to fast forward to day three of the hunt to mention what was my fastest hunt ever. After only ten minutes of driving we spotted a herd of springbok. We hiked a very short distance and I made another successful shot, this time broadside at 325 meters/355 yards. 

Stay tuned for the remainder of coverage from my African hunt and be sure to follow Piet Malan @impactshooting!

Get the Gear

Book your own South African hunt with Groot Sleutelfontein.

BAT bumblebee action

International Barrels carbon-wrapped barrel

APW Warbird Suppressor

MDT LSS chassis

Berger Bullets (156 EOL 6.5mm used for this hunt)

Colorado School of Trades

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Thanks,
Gavin Gear

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