Carol and Kerry O’Day have sent me quite a few rifles to review. Their firearms work really well. I once reviewed a first firearm for another custom builder and it didn’t work well. I wrote that. They still don’t speak to me. Carol’s and Kerry’s firearms work. The rifles shoot straight, are light (I need that more and more these days), and they don’t have objectionable recoil – even the .416 Taylor they built for me. This 7mm Remington Magnum did the same. Check it out here.
Man, I use to really hate writing book reviews in school. That’s why I am so surprised by the enjoyment I get from writing them now. But, then again, the books I read in school often held little interest for someone in love with the writings of Ruark, O’Connor et al…
My newest review discusses the autobiography of the great elephant hunter, ‘Karamojo’ Bell. Bell’s claim-to-fame was the use of what would be considered ultra-light calibers for taking the toughest of Africa’s game animals. I hope you enjoy my foray into Bell’s life as a hunter. Check it out here.
This ‘hunting’ story or more accurately, ‘preparation for hunting’ story, was very enjoyable to write. It allowed me to dream of using my late-Dad’s custom built rifle to take a Cape Buffalo. It is yet to be seen whether that dream will become a reality, but I’m going to give it a go this November. Hope you enjoy this article as much as I did putting it together. You can check it out here.
“As usual, I was anxiously waiting for my SKB double-rifle guncase to appear after my flight from Johannesburg into Atlanta’s Hartsfield International Airport. I breathed a sigh of relief as the agent brought it into the check-in room on the other side of the glass partition.
“If my brother had not grabbed my arm, I would have been pounding on the glass a few seconds later. Instead of placing the guncase onto the empty spaces on the shelf, or setting it down on the floor, she raised it up to chest height and dropped the case onto the concrete. I guess she was making it crystal clear that she was anti-hunting…
“That episode made me start wondering if there was another option available that might act to camouflage my firearms a bit better than my beloved SKB carrier…”
My latest book review, this one on Taylor’s African Rifles and Cartridges, just appeared. This is a text I return to over-and-over-again when researching rifles and cartridges for hunting in Africa, and elsewhere. I hope you too love this classic Africana!
“Let’s go hunting.” It was as simple, and complex, as that. My brother, Randy, and I had been chatting on the phone. I think he knew I was in trouble. Of course, he knew that I had received my diagnosis of Stage 4 cancer. He also knew that the prognosis was bleak. And, I think he knew that I was despairing of not living out my so-called ‘allotted time’ – not walking my daughter down the aisle, not ever seeing my grand-kids, not celebrating my 50th wedding anniversary…The list went on.
Honestly, I wasn’t despairing about not seeing another hunting trip. But, Randy’s statement sent a slight thrill through the body that had been cut open twice and, most recently, poisoned with drugs designed to kill the mutated cells. He was suggesting a trip to the Western US, a region we both loved. I thought for just a moment and then asked, “What about going to Africa?”
Though my brother had been on a Safari, I had never seen the continent where many hunters are said to find their dreams fulfilled. It took only the briefest discussion for us to decide to investigate whether a Safari was possible – financially for both of us, physically for me.
I first went to Frances my, [very] long-suffering, wife of 40 years. We discussed the financial cost, and then we discussed the big question – would I be able to handle the physical side of the Safari. This latter issue might seem like an odd concern for those of you who know that Frances and I had just spent 10 days in the Himalayas, trekking all the way up to ~16,000 feet in elevation. Also, just prior to my diagnosis, I had been a runner for 20+ years. So, why the discussion about being physically able to hunt?
The answer was that the treatment for my particular cancer had knocked out most of my endocrine system. This left me without the capability of producing the molecules needed to keep living, especially when in the midst of physically-demanding activities. But, there were medications that could help.
Shortly thereafter, Frances and my children used the Arnold penchant for sarcasm-in-love and indicated their vote for the Safari with this shirt:
So, Randy and I planned our trip, with my brother making the suggestion that we hunt with Blaauwkrantz Safaris out of Port Elizabeth, SA.
In the midst of the planning, I realized that I needed to let the folks at Blaauwkrantz know about my situation. I was a bit concerned that they might not be very excited about my particular malady, especially given that my prime species would be the Vaal Rhebok, an animal found only in mountainous regions.
My concerned message was met with “Mike, we will take very good care of you.”
Remembering my sarcastic bent, you will understand that I interpreted this to mean that they would send me out with a PH capable of carting my carcass out of the mountains when I fell off my perch.
That latter inference was accurate in that my PH, Arnold Claassen, was a former Rugby player. And, since he was capable of carrying whole Impala down hills, he could have easily handled my limp body.
Fortunately, Arnold never had to test his human-body-carting capabilities on our Safari. Though, early in our Safari, as I struggled up the slope to find the Vaal Rhebok, he noted my gasping and asked if I wanted him to carry my rifle. I stopped, popped another Hydrocortisone tablet, and demurred.
We found our trophy, and Arnold didn’t need to roll me down from the top of the mountain.
You may be asking what the point of this post might be? Here it is. If you are facing a diagnosis that is dire, and you are a passionate hunter, consider going hunting.
No, I don’t believe hunting saved my life, thus far giving me almost three years of clear scans. I believe that is attributable to God and modern medical treatments.
However, my wife and children’s love, my brother’s love, and the care of Arnold Claassen and all those at Blaauwkrantz provided this cancer-challenged man with an adventure that lifted his spirits in a way that no other experience likely would have. The memory of that one adventure has continued to buoy my desire to fight this disease.
By the way, Randy and I head back to Africa in 2020 to share another Safari, this time in Mozambique – and Frances is going along for her first taste of Africa.
Hey Guys. Hope you will check out my latest product review of the Nightforce SHV 4-14×56 Riflescope that sits atop my Model 700 in 7mm Remington Magnum. It’s proven its worth over-and-over again! You can find it at TheTruthAboutGuns.com using this link.