Have you ever seen the movie, where the guy takes his trusty 50BMG and knocks out a huge threatening helicopter armed to the hilt? I’m thinking, as precise as a helicopter is and the rotor is probably the most important part of the machine, and as big as the bullet is on this particular type weapon, then maybe this is not too farfetched.
Now, have you ever hunted Nilgai, and hit one, like you wanted, only to see he or she leave the scene, possibly to never be found or seen again. Or maybe even got lucky and found one anchored down where you wanted them, with a happy ending to an eventful hunt. At either rate, our normal hunting practice is the spot and stalk method. With this method, we try and get as close as possible for the best shot. Close being the key word!
Just recently, I received a phone call from an old friend and customer Blanton Wofford, which last time he hunted with us, brought a 458 Lott, which proved to be enough gun for the task. Although the big bull shot clean through behind the shoulders, still got up and traveled another 30-40 yards but leaving blood trails that a young child could have followed. On this hunt, Blanton and I discussed the problem with Bulls out in the wide open that could see you coming for miles and just standing out there appearing to say nana nana boo boo you can’t get me here. Anyway, Blanton had a new plan which was, to bring a 50 BMG, with the possibilities of using it at longer ranges. After discussing the guaranteed shot and drawing blood policies that we have, I told him that we could give it a try.
Blanton and his friend Ron were right on schedule for the hunt. We were helping them get their gear unloaded, when Blanton heaves out this Barrett 50. Equipped with a scope as long as my leg! Man, what a gun!! And the thoughts on my mind were, with a bad shot could this caliber still turn out to be good. In the back of my mind I knew things needed to go right. While handling and drooling over the 50, Ron is pulling out this other gun which caught my eye and it was a Barrett 98B with all the bells and whistles. It was a first for me. I’m already saving my pennies.
Blanton admitted that he had not had time to practice or shoot the 50. But Ron stated that between he, and the folks at Barrett, they had the gun set up for 600 yards. So we left to shoot the gun at the sand dunes, to get a little practice in, and sure enough the gun was good to go. Now, the only thing I had to do; was to find a big bull at 600 yards; that was willing to stand there long enough for us to get set up and pull off a shot. Piece of cake!! After an hour or so, we stopped and were glassing all around where we could see for two miles, and could see nothing. As I turned around to get back into the jeep, there stood a huge bull, which I guess had been laying down. I ranged him at 640 yards and told Blanton to get set up. And the bull just keeps standing there looking at us. While the whole time, I’m thinking how lucky can we get! Well, just seconds from taking the shot, the bull decides to move along and walks away over the ridge he was on. From time to time I could see the bull traveling west at a non-alarmed pace.
With Nilgai being so direct, not wanting to change their directions, once their minds are made up, I told Blanton why don’t we go around another road and get set up, and see if he shows up. So, we eased around to a likely spot and got set up. After a short while with us glassing, the bull shows up with only his head visible. He got to one point where he could see us. But I think he had made up his mind that we were “friendly folks” and kept on coming. I told Blanton, that if he stays on the same course, he should cross a clearing where he might give us a shot. The bull did just that! Once again the bull stopped out in the opening, with the range being 454 yards. I then asked Blanton, what he was going to do about the yardage. Blanton explained; with his “cheat sheet” in hand, equipped with a sharp pencil, having it figured, he had to aim 36 inches low. This! is when I thought we may have the S.W.A.G. going on. That would be a “Scientific Wild Ass Guess”. Oh man! Things are running through my head, just like any other time just before the shot is taken. Due to these animals being so tuff, with so much stamina, the only thing that I could hope for was the caliber being used, if a bad shot happened, maybe it would just do so much devastation things would be fine.
OK! Blanton tells me the time has come! Fire in the hole! Put the kids in the closet and latch the hatches. And with a roar the shot was off, with it echoing across the wide open plains, I’m sure that the fishermen on the bay had crawled under their consoles. The bull appeared to be jabbed in the ribs with a pipe; never taking him off his feet; he went kicking and bucking over the ridge and out of sight. I knew he was hit, but how bad? And I knew we may have our work cut out for us. Blanton, not being able to see impact due to recoil, asked if he had hit him. I told him that he definitely hit him! He then asked where is he? I advised Blanton that he had hurt the bull’s feelings, and he had left the scene. We both thought it was rude of the bull to be hit with a 50BMG hosting a 668 grain bullet and not sticking around.
After directing Blanton to the spot by foot, I followed behind with the jeep. Upon arriving, I see Blanton still looking, and once again I had a sinking feeling. We spread out, looking for blood and trail, and within minutes Blanton looked ahead, noticing the bull, lying there some 60-70 yards from ground zero. After examination of the bull, we found the entry hole just perfectly behind the shoulder to be the size of a ball point pen with the exit through the off shoulder being a 2.5”x 1” gash. And I may add there was not a drop of blood at either place. I then asked Blanton to help me back track the animal, just to see if we could find any blood for future information; we came up with nothing.
But we had a huge impressive bull on the ground, which green measurement indicated 35 3/8, and “TWO” happy campers.
I certainly do not want this article to seem like a Barrett commercial. It just happened to be the weapon used. But it was still educational to see what the 50BMG would do.
Happy Hunting All, and Stay SAFE!