Issue 31 January 2022

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Scrub Bull Explora

An old Westley Richards still taking game in Australia.

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Shooting|December 2021

On the 16th of November 2021 I received two books from Diggory, 'The Explora' and 'Olly, the Life & Times of Frederick Oliver Robinson, 2nd Marquis of Ripon.'

I immediately indulged in some late night reading, absorbing the pictorial history of Westley Richards. This fired-up my desire to shoot my Explora again. (The Explora is a Westley Richards shotgun with rifled choked, designed to shoot a special 'LT' conical bulltet). As fortune would have it, an Aboriginal friend of mine, Lyle, rang for a yarn and we planned a hunt for the coming weekend.

In Australia we currently have all sorts of Covid lock-downs, city, town, suburb, regional, state etc (November 2021). Aboriginal communities also have theirs.Therefore, it was prudent to ensure I was clear to visit this Aboriginal community. Being double vaccinated, I got the all clear.

As I hunt normally weekly, my equipment is always ready to go and it only took a short time on Saturday afternoon to prepare for an early start Sunday at three in teh morning. I packed three firearms; my trusty 22 WMR Anschutz with set triggers, a 12-bore Thomas Woodward SLNE snap-action underlever, and a 12-bore Westley Richards, 'Explora', with double-triggers, drop-locks and ejectors.

I have bullets custom made for the Explora by my gunsmith of 45 years, Vic Pedersen, a man of vast experience working with Paradox guns and shooting them. The trip out was uneventful and we arrived early morning in time for coffee and some steak. Then, we were out into the field. (Aboriginals are great meat eaters).

Whilst travelling to our target hunting area, Lyle asked if I'd like to see some bilby holes/dens? ( A bilby is a desert-dwelling marsupial omnivore, now seriously endangerd). Absolutely I was up for this, as I've only seen one in fifty-plus years of hunting.

It continues to amaze me how bush Aboriginals have an ability to know where they are without usual reference points or GPS. After a couple of roadside checks, Lyle soon located the Bilby holes/dens and I was fortunate to photograph them for the first time!

We continued on and soon left the main road for a two-wheeled track meandering through virgin desert bushland towards an isolated soak with rainforest. As we approached the soak, Lyle cautioned there were scrub bulls present & almost immediately the closest galloped off towards a rainforested creek on the far side of the soak.

I sped up, driving around the opposite side of the soak and reached the gap before the creek ahead of him, whereupon he pulled up and stood there ALERT, balefully contemplating us.

I quickly shot him behind the left shoulder & he immediately took off again & I shot him again as he sped past. His adrenaline was up & he was off to safer habitat, I followed him to the creek which he had run through and I was able to maintain visual contact all the time.

...crept in for a finishing shot at six metres & fired for his brain. 'POOF', and the bull still very much alive...

I forded the creek and soon was in shooting range again and shot him behind the left shoulder again. This run went only 25 metres before he presented his right side, allowing me to put the forth 735 grain bullet behind his right shoulder, at which he collapsed, but was very much alive and potentially dangerous.

Using the thick bush along the creek I crept in for a finishing shot at six metres & fired for his brain. 'POOF', and the bull still very much alive so I shot him in the brain with the second barrel and it was 'lights out'.

There's a lesson in this about the safety value of two barrels and in situations like this that second barrel is worth it's weight in gold! I opened the Explora & both cases ejected. Upon inspecting bores, the left barrel was blocked! (NO POWDER). Anyway I'm four hours' drive from home & my cleaning rods, so located a strong green saplin, just thin enough to go down the bore.

I quickly established that the wad & projectile were only about 200mm from breech face, so only about 125mm from the chamber. I put the green sapling gently down the muzzle & tentatively pushed the projectile ad it moved with mild pressure until wad and projectile exited the chamber.

I collected the components and set the Explora up alongside a mature bull hoof print with the bullets, wad and projectile, and green sapling in the bore and photographed it all.

Going back to the scrub bull, I discovered the second shot, taken whilst galloping, hit in left hindquarter & realised I'd shot for nitro rifle velocity rather than the much slower 12-bore, hitting at least a metre too far back!!!! We managed with some creative driving in four-wheel-drive to get the Toyota troop carrier to within eight metres of the deceased bull.

...found the killing head shot projectile having penetrated completely...

Lyle set-up to start retrieving meat and found the sand so HOT we had to lay a bed of leaves to stand on! As the meat was coming off I'd load it into a 100 litre Esky with ice. Upon cutting off the head, Lyle found the killing head shot projectile having penetrated completely through the skull to tough neck muscle.

I've been most fortunate to hunt truly wild scrub bulls & water buffaloes on a scale greater than "Olly"the Marquis of Ripon, but hunts like this aren't planned and are a lucky once-in-a-lifetime event.

This was the third 'alpha male' scrub bull I've shot with the Explora & learned to shoot behind the shoulder & penetrate the lungs, but I still need to learn to lead far more on those galloping shots!

I'll be working on it.

Stephen Barnes

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Shooting|December 2021

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