Timing is one of the great things about an African safari. Because the hunts occur in the Southern Hemisphere, I get to test all of the equipment in our summer (their winter) and know exactly what gear I’ll be using on elk and deer this fall. Animals such as wildebeest, gemsbok, kudu, and eland are all larger than our whitetail deer and just as difficult to bring down. If equipment works on African game, I want it in the back of my truck. Here’s a roundup of the gear that worked well.
C4C Elevation Jacket: Easton’s Core 4 Element elevation jacket is designed to be the ultimate down jacket for camp and the farthest reaches of the back country. It will actually repel water while maintaining its loft and insulation value. I needed a durable, warm jacket for this fall’s elk hunt, and so I relished the opportunity to test the C4C jacket in Africa. Since space is a problem when packing for a safari, I loved that the down coat will nearly fold into my pocket; it makes a great camp pillow when stuffed. C4C has several advantages over regular down, including the ability to dry 68% faster. In addition to that, the jacket is highly breathable and has the highest weight-to-warmth ratio. I loved it and wore it every day.
Lost Camo: If ever there was camo for a cause, Lost is it. Matt McPherson, the man behind Mathews Archery, set out to create a versatile, blending camo pattern. Once created, the company’s Lost Camo pattern was chosen to serve as a fundraiser, with all proceeds from the pattern going to charity. “We support more than 700 missionaries around the world, but mostly in Africa,” says Mathews executive Keith Jennings. “It’s the Mathews way of giving back; the program has been very effective.”
ElimiTick Clothing: The clothing I wore as an outer shell contained “Insect- Shield” technology under the label ElimiTick. Gamehide builds the product, which contains .5% treatment of Permethrin, the most effective insect repellent for ticks, chiggers, ants, flies, and midges (no-see-ums). It not only repels ticks but is odorless, and the treatment will last for 70 washings, easily the life of most hunting garments. I wore it every day. It was quiet, functional, blended well, and kept the bugs at bay. Not a single biting bugger got me.
Mathews Creed XS: This is one exciting bow, and it has a bundle of great hunting features built right in. The bow is incredibly light, weighing just 3.4 lbs. It’s compact and measures just 28 inches axle to axle. The brace height of 7.5 inches makes it very shooter friendly and a fistful of quieting gear like Harmonic Dampeners and monkey tails keeps the shot whisper quiet. I selected the Mathews Creed XS for its power at my short-draw length. Using Easton’s Injection shafts, I could shoot completely through a GlenDel Rutting Buck target. I’ve never shot a bow with that kind of penetration. I killed three animals with the Mathews and Draw-Loc combination and two with the bow at reduced poundage. One professional hunter loved it so much he wanted to buy it. For more information, check out this informative video:
Draw-Loc In-Line by Hickory Creek: As a card-carrying senior citizen, I lack the strength to pull the draw weight that I could in yesteryear. I wanted to shoot a powerful bow, but knew that I could not pull the 70-lb. draw weight of the Creed XS. The Draw-Loc seemed the perfect solution. The Draw-Loc In-Line has a stirrup like a crossbow and allows you to use both hands to draw back the bow. Pull the bow string along the tubular arm of the Draw-Loc until it latches on the release, move the safety to “on,” and sight like a regular bow. The trigger pulls at about 4 lbs. with little creep, and you sight through a peep sight as you would with any bow. The trigger has a crisper feel if you set the draw length of the bow at the top of the valley, where the poundage drops off. As a result, you can add an inch to your regular draw length and maintain your shooting form. The Creed was under 6 lbs. with the Draw-Loc added on, and was a most versatile package. I took three animals with it. Check out this video, which explains more about the In-Line:
Easton Injection Shafts: I took two bows on the safari — a Limbsaver Proton set at #55 pounds and the Mathews Creed XS/Draw-Loc, set at 70 pounds. With just a 27-inch draw length, I needed to make the most of every foot pound of energy, so I opted for Easton‘s carbon Injection shafts. Not only do they fly extremely well, but the carbon material keeps the shaft straight in less-than-perfect practice gear in Africa. I was in one camp where the practice butt was a bag of rocks and you were expected to practice with broadheads. (Honest.) Even with the modern foam targets made available from Agagia Safaris, shafts can be bent in great excitement. Furthermore, the small diameter allows for less friction after the shot and increases penetration at my moderate draw weights. The bow setups required two spine strengths, the 400 and the 480, each with a straightness tolerance of .003.
Big Nasty Deep Six Broadheads: This very aggressive, cut-on-contact broadhead is ideal for complete penetration and was designed by New Archery Products for Easton Injection shafts. Together, the pair provides incredible penetration, even with my moderate bow poundage. I’ve used these heads from their introduction with excellent success. Unlike expensive mechanical heads, I feel confident practicing with a head, resharpening it, and then using it on game. Even after several shots at foam targets, the edges are almost too sharp to touch and the needle point will poke any careless user.
TRUGLO Storm Sight: The darker a ground blind on the inside, the more effective it is at concealing human movement. African water hole blinds are built for maximum darkness. This can be a problem with standard pin sights, but the TRUGLO Storm has a multitude of benefits. At the suggestion of a professional hunter, I raised the green 20-yard pin above the rest to make it a one-pin design. That, along with the LED light, made the sight incredible in our dark blinds. The toolless design made adjustments a breeze.
Optimizer Single Pin Sight: A single pin sight makes perfect sense for an ambush hunt, because your shot will most likely be at 20 yards, give or take a few. At close range, provided by your great concealment, it’s easy to have pin confusion spoil what would have been an easy shot. Additionally, the single HHA pin is exceedingly bright and helps focus your attention on the exact desired location of your shot. With its dial adjustment, changing range is easy should you need to launch at longer range. This sight is ruggedly built and easy to adjust. If your arrows begin to shoot high or low, you can adjust the aiming point with the turn of a dial, a process that requires no tools. This set-up was perfect for the dark environment of a blind; next, I’ll set it up for a long-range elk hunt.
Limbsaver Bow: As you would expect, the Limbsaver Proton DT is one very quiet bow and shoots extremely well. Although my draw weight is just 55 lbs., the bow has enough energy to bury the Easton shafts nearly through a foam target. It’s light, short, and handles well in a tight spot. Despite the moderate draw weight, I shot completely through a gemsbok bull and nearly through a warthog on at a quartering-away angle. It’s performance was amazing.
Irish Setter Boots: I chose the Irish Setter Vaprtrek boots for their light weight and the Mossy Oak camouflage that completely enveloped them. They are so light and soft, you’d think they were sneakers. But I was concerned about the spine penetration of the African bush. Would they hold up? They did, and extremely well. Despite a soft outer shell, they repelled the myriad of thorns like armor. I’ll definitely be using these boots on my elk hunt this fall.
Vortex Binoculars/Halo Rangefinder: Optics are extremely important on any hunt, but doubly so on an African safari. The beasts are so big you must know the exact range. Fortunately, my Halo rangefinder kept me accurate nearly to the inch. The Halo is so small that it easily fits in the zipper breast pocket of any hunting shirt or jacket; it was always at my finger tips. I used Vortex binoculars for the first time last year and was immediately sold. They were my choice for this safari and served me well, especially when a professional hunter asked to borrow them. In every case, they were as impressed as I was.