Big Game Hunting photo

The other night I had the pleasure of listening to a talk by Tony Sanchez-Arino who, at age 82, is about to begin his 60th season as an African professional hunter. In addition to countless safaris, he was also an ivory hunter and, I would guess, a game-control shooter. His numbers of animals taken are staggering: just under 1,300 elephant, 2,044 Cape buffalo, and 322 lion. His talk dealt with the three questions he is most often asked.

Which is better, a double rifle or a bolt action?

Answer: “They’re both good. You go with whatever is most familiar to you. Don’t go to Africa with a rifle that’s new and strange.”

What’s the most dangerous animal?

“That’s impossible to answer, because a lot of it depends on the country in which you hunt them. For example, Cape buffalo in open country are as easy to kill as cattle, but in heavy cover they’re something else. I can tell you what is most likely to kill you if it gets hold of you, and those animals are, in order, elephant, Cape buffalo, and lion.”

What’s the toughest animal to stop?

“The Cape buffalo is by far the toughest. Sometimes when you’re shooting them it seems like you’re giving them vitamin pills. Lions can be difficult because they’re so fast; a lion can cover 100 meters in 6 seconds. People get in trouble because they shoot at them from too far away. Get close and you won’t have a problem. Elephants are comparatively easy to drop.”

And as a side note, Sr. Sanchez-Arino’s favorite bullet is the Swift A-Frame (which is true for a number of PHs I’ve talked to) and the rifle he uses most is a .416 Rigby bolt-action.

He’s contemptuous of a number of things: “Ballistics tables, all these formulas and numbers, anything you read on the Internet, and ‘experts.’ All you need is a bullet with enough penetration to reach the vitals of whatever you’re hunting. The rest is nonsense. And never believe anything you read on the Internet, or anything you hear from an ‘expert.’ From them, you get horse***t in industrial quantities.”

He has never, in the course of all his years in the profession, gotten so much as a scratch.