I was talking to one of my friends over in South Africa this morning, asking what the conditions were like and how the wildlife had made it through the hot summer months, when he mentioned that there were lots of Guinea fowl over on one of our other buddy’s properties. This piqued my interest, as these large birds are one of my favorite African small game species to hunt with an airgun …. And also the first animal I shot in Africa with an airgun many years ago.
Guinea fowl have the body size of a goose, but are shaped rather like a huge polka dotted quail, with a cartilage helmet on their heads and a bright red moustache. They travel in flocks, sometimes very large flocks, and travel over the ground foraging. When threatened they will take off on a fast run, only exploding into the air as a last resort. Talk about confusing a predator, if you’ve ever kicked up a covey of quail, imagine 20 or 30 birds the size of a small turkey bursting into the sky all around you! These birds are as wary as turkey, but instead of 5-6 sets of eyes on look out you have 10 or 20 times that number watch for signs of danger. It is a challenge to sneak up on, or get in front of and ambush, actively feeding birds.
I’ve hunted these birds in the bush on the Eastern cape, at a family friends vineyard down south, and as pest control quarry in my mother in laws garden down near the Capetown coast line. My favorite technique, and the most productive, is to figure out out where the birds are feeding and get into position wearing full camo so that an ambush can be set. You need to wear gloves and a face mask, and be perfectly still. Like turkeys, they will pick up on the slightest motion. I haven’t tried calling them yet, but am looking for a sound to go on my FoxPro, and would like to try next September on our trip down. They are vocal birds and have a unique call, I just can’t replicate it.
I’ve used a range of guns for Guinea fowl over the years; Quackenbush .25, .308, .457 (over-kill), Marauder .177, .22, and .25, my Dragonslayer .50 with roundball, Falcon .22, and a number of other rifles of varying power and caliber. While the larger calibers let you reliably take body shots and drop birds consistently, I like a standard caliber gun and taking head shots or hitting them at the base of the neck, which is also my preferred shot placement for turkey. In standard caliber guns, my preference is for a medium to heavy round nose pellet, and I’ve had a lot of success with JSB Exacts and Crosman Premiers.
On my next trip, I will use the Verminator in .25 caliber and think the arrow barrel and carbon fiber bolts will be especially effective, but we’ll see come September. I haven’t decided, but think the Wolverine .303 will travel with me on this trip as well, which will also be an interesting Guinea fowl gun, as I think the .303 JSB pellets will be the right blend of penetration, energy transfer, and generation of a large wound channel …. But again we’ll see!
Just got back in from an interesting hunt in North Dakota over the weekend; I shot a coyote (with my .223 ) and got lots of Richardson’s ground squirrels, which look and act like small prairie dogs. I was shooting about 60-70 per day, and put the Verminator and the Brocock specialist to work. Both were effective and accurate, but the big .25 caliber pellets out of the Verminator were really impressive! Will write up more on this trip later. Currently selecting the site of my next hunt ……