Gunslingers of the Cape

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For the hunter Africa is like magic. The lore of Africa is rife with adventure, drama, exotic cultures and challenges. Most who go there arm themselves with flat-shooting, powerful rifles launching heavy bullets because one never knows what the day will bring. Venture out in the morning with the diminutive impala or perhaps bushbuck in mind, and you may find yourself dealing with a 2,000-pound eland or a 1,200-pound zebra. Choosing a handgun for your armament is like adding jalapeños to a dinner recipe.

A handgun hunter must get considerably closer to his or her quarry than a rifle-shooting counterpart, although some handgunners, like Bill Booth of Blue Heron Communications, can shoot a heavy revolver right alongside a lot of riflemen. My handgunning skills pale in comparison to his; nonetheless he and Paul Pluff of Smith & Wesson invited me to join them on a plains-game hunt in the Eastern Cape of South Africa using X-frame revolvers.

The Eastern Cape is very different from the quintessential savannas and brushy veldts normally associated with Africa. Its climate is quite mild due to its proximity to the Indian Ocean. Even several miles inland it isn’t rare to catch a refreshing whiff of ocean breeze. But while the climate may be languid, the terrain can offer plenty of challenges. Most of the game country is mountainous, and while it does not rise to the lofty levels of the Alps or the Rockies, it is steep and treacherous, packed tightly with brush and timber.

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