Any expedition that involves a trio of Rigbys is odds-on to be exciting; add a charging buffalo into the mix and you can bet that adrenaline levels will be off the scale. Pour yourself a drink and take a few moments to share the thrills of Rigby client Tom Shaffer’s recent South African safari.
Set the scene for us, Tom: when and where did the hunt take place?
“It was mid-October 2021, in the Eastern Cape of South Africa, near Tarkastad and Port Elizabeth. I was hunting for Cape buffalo, black impala, mouflon, steenbok, mountain reedbuck, and red lechwe. For outfitters, I used Ezulu Adventures, owned by Charles Price PH. Charles’s son, Grant, is also a PH. Both were my companions for this trip. I’ve hunted with Ezulu twice before and had very good experiences, so the outfitter was an obvious choice this time.”
Three seems to be the magic number for this trip, tell us about the rifles you took.
“This was what I’m calling the ‘Rigby Safari’: I took three rifles, and all were Rigbys. The oldest was a .470 Nitro Express Best Grade double made in 1925. This was a gift from my mother, who purchased it while on a trip to London in 1997, when Paul Roberts was running Rigby. I’ve taken some big animals with it, and it has always performed beautifully. The second was a .416 Rigby Big Game, purchased in April 2015 through Lee Le Bas in Minden Nevada, who represented Rigby in the United States at that time. This has proved itself to be one of the most accurate guns I own. The third – the youngest – was a .275 Rigby London Best that the current Rigby team built for me. It was delivered in September 2021, just in time for this Safari, and what a pleasure it was to carry it in the field! I have it to thank for all the plains game I took on this trip.”
How did things pan out?
“Conditions were ideal from the start, in fact, for the whole nine days the weather was great, with sunshine and intermittent winds. The safari was split between three camps, with 5-star accommodation and food at each one. Camp one, located in rolling savannah, is blessed with lots of plains game as well as good numbers of buffalo. It was here I shot my first buff of the trip with the .470, along with a beautiful black impala. It was a great start, but things were about to get a whole lot more intense.
The plan took us up into the mountains, where the going was steep and we had to push our way through trees scrub bush. Here, near the Swartkie River, we found our second camp at the house of Charles Price. Here I took steenbok, mouflon, mountain reedbuck, and red lechwe. However, the main event, and the most memorable moment of the whole trip, was the second buffalo.
I was shooting my .470 double and Grant the PH was at my side shooting my .416 Big Game. My first shot was at 20 yards on the sticks. I hit him with a 500 grain Swift A Frame right on the shoulder. When he spun and charged us, we had to wait for him to crest the gully, then we both fired. My second shot was a 500 grain Swift Breakaway solid, which went all the way through him – we later recovered the bullet from his back hip. He kept coming though, crashing through the shooting sticks. Once he had passed us, Grant shot a second time with the .416, using a 400 grain Swift Breakaway solid, while I reloaded the .470. The buffalo kept going. Charles, the second PH, who had been backing us up to one side, had tripped and fallen into the gully, and was unable to assist.
With hindsight, the buffalo was almost certainly dead at this point, but he had enough momentum to carry him on until he and crashed into Zig Mackintosh, our cameraman. As quickly as we could, Grant and I pulled the animal’s head off Zig, so could drag himself away to safety while I put another round in just to make sure.
Needless to say, our adrenalin was in high gear and we thanked God that Zig wasn’t badly hurt. He had a pretty good scrape on his shin from the buff’s boss riding up it when it hit, as well as some impressive bruises from the impact on his diaphragm.
Later, back at the lodge, the carcass was butchered and distributed to the camp, while we enjoyed the backstraps and reflected on the whole experience. We managed to stand our ground and did what was required of us now, and referred to ourselves as the “Buffalo Brothers”. I don’t ever want to go through that again, but if I do I want a Rigby in my hand.
The third and final camp brought a welcome couple of days of calm on the sands of the Indian Ocean near Port Elizabeth. On my previous Ezulu trips, this proved to be a fine place for plains game, but I didn’t hunt this time as I had already collected what I’d come for.
Do you have plans to go back?
I always have plans to return! This was my 10th African safari, and my third with Ezulu. I’ve been to Tanzania twice, Botswana twice, Zimbabwe twice, Zambia, and South Africa three times, but I’m not done yet. On the first one, I took my son and one of my grandsons, who was 16 at the time. The second trip was 13 years later with two grandsons, who are brothers, then aged 16 and 19. I have plans to return in 2023 with my youngest grandson, who will be 15.
I feel it is extremely important for these young people to see other parts of the world and the people and cultures which are so different from what they’ve known up to this point in their lives. I elected to wait until they were old enough to grasp these differences in the people, the animals, and the land. It also gives them a perspective on who their grandfather is first hand. Spending this personal time with each of them is definitely one of the high points in my life.
For more information:
Office phone: 27-0-72-179-4370,
Zig Mackintosh, The Osprey Filming Company
Cell: 27(74) 219-7356