In the last African Expedition Magazine, I wrote
about using the new VorTX ammunition, and now want to continue on
with more experiences. On the previous trip, I used 225-grain Barnes
VOR-TX ammo in my .338 Winchester Magnum with wonderful success.
This year I used the same Barnes VOR-TX ammo in the .338 Winchester
Magnum, but this time with their newer 210-grain TTSX bullet.
Here is a picture of my 5th Bush Pig taken in
is my 500th African animal.
You know what? It made no difference to the
Wildebeest, Gemsbok, or Kudu whatsoever. When the lighter 210-grain
bullets went through their lungs, they died as quickly as with the
I then used my old .300 H&H Magnum with Barnes
168-grain TTSX bullets over Hodgdon H 4831 SC powder at 3,065 fps,
and whoa, what a job that load did! The recovered bullets weighed
167.1 and 166.9 grains. I think that higher velocity bullets are
even more effective on game than the heavier bullets in the .338
Magnum. One Gemsbok in particular seemed to be stunned to point of
looking paralyzed, and then just fell over dead. My PH was
Not only was this the reaction of this Gemsbok, but
also several Blue Wildebeest who just went down at the shot.
I then tried some of Hornady’s new 165-grain GMX
bullets in the .300 H&H and was quite happy with them as well. I
recovered 3 bullets, which weighed 137.0, 163.9, and 155.2 grains,
then shot 7 more animals where the bullet went right through, with
most of them going down at the shot. These did not retain as much
weight as the 168-grain TTSX did, but certainly no reason not to use
When these monolithic bullets first hit the market
several years ago as the old "X" bullet from Barnes, I was
skeptical, but after using them now almost every year since then,
they have proven themselves over and over. Do you remember the old
saying, "Home Sweet Home"? You know, the older we get, the more this
saying is the absolute truth. As much as we anticipate these trips,
there is a time to go home.
old saying is, "If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it". Well, our trips
seem to have developed into what works. So, we always use United
Airlines to fly from Grand Rapids, Michigan, to Chicago, Illinois,
and then on to Washington/Dulles airport, continuing on South
African Airlines (SAA) to Johannesburg, South Africa (JNB).
While we were arriving at Washington/Dulles airport,
we had the chance to watch a NASA 747 land next to us with the Space
Shuttle Enterprise on it. The Space Shuttle Fleet has been retired,
and the Enterprise was flown to it final resting place at the
Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C.
Wednesday April 18th
On arrival in Johannesburg, we were met by a
representative from Air-2000
www.hunterssupport.com, who escorted us
quickly through Immigration and Customs, then over to the South
African Police Service office (SAPS) where our guns were waiting for
us. All we had to do was open the gun case, verify the serial
numbers, and we were out the door in 15 minutes.
Our old friend, Marius Kruger, from African Dawn
was waiting for us at the SAPS office, and we were soon on our way
to his house for the evening. Marius’ house is our Home Away From
Home, since we leave all our clothes, boots, binoculars, and bi-pods
there each year when we go home. We only need to retrieve our gear
and we were ready to go. It really helps save luggage weight on the
plane ride over.
The next morning we are off to his ranch, which is
about a 3-hour drive northwest, near the town of Vaalwater. At least
we were arriving in drier conditions than last year, although the
grass was still very high.
This year I’m field testing more of the new Barnes
VorTX ammunition loaded with their 210 grain Tipped Triple Shock
Bullets (TTSX) in .338 Winchester Magnum, along with the new Hornady
165 grain GMX bullets in .300 H&H Magnum.
at African Dawn, I took a warthog, a kudu bull with a broken horn, a
zebra, an impala male with a skewed horn, a blue wildebeest, and a
waterbuck cow. Both the VorTX and the GMX bullets performed
Soon our week was over, and we moved further north
up to Polokwane with Shi-awela Safaris
and our good friends Ken & Jo Ball. We met them about halfway there,
so no one had to drive too far.
At Shi-awela, I used the Barnes 210 grain VorTX in
my .338 Winchester Magnum to take my 500th game animal in Africa,
which of all things was a bush pig. 99% Of all bush pigs are taken
at night, as they are nocturnal, but… this was the fifth one I have
taken in daylight. The weather was quite nice all week, with clear
skies at night showing millions of stars.
While we were there, our friend, PH Nicole Martin,
and his wife Karia stopped in for a few days to visit, and we had a
chance to play with their two little boys.
Wednesday, May 2nd
Our time in South Africa was already over, so it was
time to move on. We were flying from Polokwane back to Johannesburg,
and were were staying overnight again at Marius Kruger’s house.
While there, re-supplied and got ready for our trip
to Namibia. We did not need to take our complete inventory with us
for the two weeks in South Africa, but now we needed to bring
everything, especially ammo, for our month in Namibia.
Our SAA flight to Windhoek, Namibia, was at 10:00
AM. Arriving in Windhoek at 11:00 AM gave us adequate time to get to
the ranch in time for lunch. The weather was beautiful and the
flight was not full. Although it was only a two-hour flight, SAA
served us a complete lunch and beverage service. It was a far cry
from the ‘pop and pretzels’ we sometimes get on flights in the USA.
Upon arrival in Windhoek, the police department was
quite efficient in completing our gun permits. Soon, our hosts
Bennie & Esmarie Beukes, from Keerweder Safaris came over to pick us
I had quite a shoot-fest there, taking 17 animals,
which consisted of the usual springbok, blue wildebeest, gemsbok and
zebra. The VorTX with Tipped Triple Shock Bullets and the Hornady
GMX continue to perform flawlessly in my rifles.
Friday May 11th
weather this morning was perfect, and we are on the move to go "next
door" to meet our friends Danie and Ansie Strauss from Kowas
We arrived at their ranch at 9:00 AM. After
unpacking, we had some lunch, took a nap, and then went for a ride
to see what we might be able to find before dark. As luck would have
it, we found a very large and old kudu bull with a broken horn. My
PH Mathews asked, "Can you walk hard for 30-40 minutes? If so, we
can catch up with him and get a shot before it gets too dark". So
walk we did, and sure enough I got a shot at this old bull, with the
.338 Winchester Magnum using the 210 grain Barnes VOR-TX ammo, and
down he went. What a great way to start off the week at Kowas
While at Kowas Safaris, I took a total of 10 animals
consisting of four springbok, two blue wildebeest, one kudu bull,
and three gemsbok. Danie and Ansie are extraordinary hosts and their
ranch has plenty of game.
The sun came up without a cloud in the sky and it
looked like another perfect day. The temperature at noon was 74˚
Fahrenheit with only 39% humidity, and throughout the week, every
morning was "Another Day in Paradise".
We finished up hunting a day early, so we went to
Windhoek and stayed overnight so Danie and Ansie could do some
shopping before we went fishing.
Thursday May 17th
We left early at 6:00 AM to drive up north for tiger
fishing on the Okavango River in what is known as the Caprivi Strip.
This is a 14-hour drive with miles and miles of empty terrain.
On the way up, we stopped in the town of Otavi where
our next PH, Larry Bussey, met us. We gave him the rifles and all
the extra clothes and gear we would not need for fishing.
We stayed at the Mahangu Safari Lodge
right on the Okavango River. It was a beautiful place, with
everything well looked after, plus great food and accommodations.
However, the fish were not so accommodating. Late
rains kept the river higher that usual, and the tiger fish were
scattered and tough to come by. We did catch a few tigers and also
some very large catfish, plus a few bream (or bluegills as we
Americans call them). They are a beautiful fish, and remind me more
of a smallmouth bass than a bluegill.
Tuesday May 22nd
Danie and Ansie took us to meet with Larry Bussey
from Tambuti Safaris in the little town of Otavi about 1:00 PM.
is an American who purchased this ranch as an abandoned cattle farm
in 1994, and has transformed it into one of the finest game ranches
I have ever seen.
The ranch is thick and brushy, but Larry has cleared
out a lot of the area over the past years. Even today, his bulldozer
was busy keeping the brush under control and making sure the roads
were in great condition.
Arriving in camp about 2:30 PM, we had a quick snack
after unpacking, and then headed out for the rifle range, and to see
if we could find something to shoot before dark. We saw lots and
lots of game, but since I was on a management hunt, most of them
were TOO BIG. By any standards, the game we saw were really great
Sure enough, we found a magnificent kudu bull whose
horns did not look ‘just right’, so Larry said, "Shoot him". My .338
Winchester Magnum, again with the Barnes VorTX ammo, took the kudu
right in the armpit behind the front leg and he took off like a
rocket. It was getting dark fast, so Larry put his faithful Jack
Russell terrier on the blood trail and right away "Impy" found him.
After taking some pictures and loading him up, we
did not go 50 feet when we blew a tire. Change a tire in the bush
with a flashlight is the way life goes on a hunt. Dinner will be
served when we get back to camp, simple as that.
We had five more wonderful days at Tambuti taking a
total of 20 animals, consisting of kudu bulls, blue wildebeest,
gemsbok, and a warthog.
of the game shot was evenly split between the .300 H&H Magnum with
Barnes 168 grain TTSX bullets and the .338 Winchester Magnum with
Vor-TX ammo. This year, I recovered fewer bullets than I usually do.
However, that was OK, since I really want all my bullets to go
through the animals, leaving an exit hole that bleeds and is easy to
Sunday May 27th
Tonight was pack-up night, as we are leaving the
ranch at 7:00 AM and driving back to Windhoek for our 3:00 PM flight
back to Johannesburg.
Monday May 28th
We arrived back in Johannesburg at 6:00 PM and were
met by our friends from Air-2000 since we had to clear our firearms
again with the SAPS. Marius Kruger was waiting for us as usual, and
soon we are off to his house for the night.
Tuesday May 29th
We spent the day repacking and deciding what we are
going to leave with Marius for next year, and what we needed to take
Our SAA flight back home left at 6:20 PM, so we had
plenty of time to lounge around.
The flight home was basically an endurance contest
to see if it was your back or your butt that died first. The ride
seems to get longer and longer each year, and each time I swear I am
going to start flying business class regardless of the additional
cost. Then, my Dutch nature takes over, and I forget about it in the
anticipation of the hunt and book the cheap seats again.
We arrived back in Washington DC with the
temperature at 64˚ and 88% humidity at 6:00 AM, then continued on to
Chicago and connected back to Grand Rapids, Michigan.
While waiting at Chicago’s O’Hare airport, we had
the chance to witness a freak airplane collision. An EVA Airlines
Cargo 747’s wing hit the tail of an American Eagle jet parked at the
ramp. As the 747 was coming towards us, I said to my wife, "Watch
this, he is going to hit that other plane". Sure enough, a few
seconds later the 747 clipped the Eagle’s tail.
Blauwkamp is a lifelong hunter and a veteran of many
African safaris. His reloading expertise extends beyond
the standard American calibers to metric and classic
It seemed that in a matter of seconds, there were
fire trucks coming from everywhere. I am sure they were worried
about the 747 having a hole knocked in its wing, allowing fuel to
leak out and catch fire. Fortunately, nothing leaked out and there
was no fire or casualties.
However, I just can imagine the finger pointing and
legal wrangling about who was in the wrong. Personally, I think the
747 was right, and the American Eagle caused the problem by parking
too far back.
There really is no place like home, and eventually we did get
there about 5:30 PM. Nothing is better than sleeping in my own bed,
having enough lights in the bathroom, and not living out of a duffle
bag, BUT, I am always anticipating next years trip.