Hornady GMX: Use enough bullet

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The scene before me could’ve been clipped from the Discovery Channel’s “Planet Earth” television program, except the prism through which I viewed it was Swarovski’s 12-power version of HD, and the commentary was provided by a burly Boer whose breath—and breadth—were vastly different, I imagine, from those of a Hollywood honey-mouth. We’d spied a herd of gemsbok as it milled nervously across one of seemingly endless grassy valleys partitioned by wavy ridges of windswept sand. These burnt-red beaches are the Kalahari’s trademark; the lack of visible water beyond them could be the reason why Sigourney Weaver types glean their filtered knowledge of this sun-baked place from shadier locales. As it was, I was separated from a mature gemsbok bull not by time, television or thousands of miles, but merely by four American football fields, a German No. 4 reticle and a sappy layer of sunblock.

“Shoot the big one,” said Johan simply, as dictated by his rancher-turned-hunter pragmatism.

At 375 pounds on the hoof, Oryx beisa, also called gemsbok or beisa in other regions, is not the biggest African antelope, but it’s likely the toughest. This animal’s Ray Lewis-like muscle structure, water-storing body and Refuse-to-be-a-Victim mind-set make it hell on bullets. You can’t outrun them when they decide they’ve had enough of you, and with 55-inch horns that look like inverted ebony icicles, it’d be unwise to challenge ol’ clown-face to a fencing match if you don’t prefer to whistle while you walk.

Therefore my foil was a .30-06, firmly rested, doped in and affixed midway up the front shoulder of a splendid old bull. It stood, swishing its tail, proud but so aware of our weighty eyes that Johann felt it’d put miles between us in another swish if we didn’t take it now. Four hundred yards is hardly calling myself a hunter, but when the PH says shoot, it’s bad form to say no.

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