The Mankazana Valley, near the town of Adelaide in the Eastern Cape, is a place of breathtaking beauty and abundance. The area has a vast array of plant and animal species, and is blessed with a natural bounty found in few other parts of our country. It is one of the only places in South Africa, where blue duiker and vaal rhebok can occur naturally on the same property, or where stands of 500-year-old sneezewood trees (Ptaeroxylon obliquum) are found, giving the area an almost mystical and magical quality.
I am privileged to call this wonderful area ‘home’, and have been lucky enough to live and hunt here for the past 15 years or so. Although I have experienced many special and memorable hunts in the valley, one hunt in particular, stands out from the rest. It took place in mid-2016, towards the end of the open hunting season for kudu.
Joe Dabney, an American client and good friend, was hunting with me for the umpteenth time. This hunt, however, was a little different from the rest. Being from the land of Davey Crockett and having grown up hunting squirrels in the woods of Tennessee, Joe had decided that he was going to hunt in Africa with a real, North American flintlock. The weapon of his choice, was in .54 cal- ibre, modelled precisely on a gun produced by a gunsmith called Isaac Haynes, who was based in Pennsylvania in the 1770s.
The weapon fires a lead ball weighing about 210gr, with a muzzle velocity of 1 850fps. As Joe explained, the major limitation of the flintlock was not so much its accuracy or bullet drop (about four or five inches from 30 yards to 100 yards), but the decrease in the ball’s energy − about 1 675 foot-pounds (ft-lb) at the muzzle that drops to a mere 600ft-lb at 100 yards. It was for this reason that Joe limited his shooting distance to about 60 yards.
Joe’s shooting skills had always impressed me − squirrels are small targets − and his range session this time was no different. At a distance of 50-60 yards, he was consistently hitting an impala-sized target behind the shoulder. After the fourth or fifth successful shot, he turned to me and said “A huntin’ we shall go”. Although I was satisfied with Joe’s shooting on the range, I could not help feeling a little apprehensive, as conditions in the veld would almost certainly be trickier, and it was unlikely that we’d have as much time to make a shot. Joe had also stipulated that his priority was a kudu bull!
Read the full article in the September 2017 issue of Magnum.