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Out For Dassie…..

Posted by on July 1, 2017

I spent the first half of June at my buddy Robs ranch in South Africa, and had some great big bore airgun hunts for Wildebeest, impala, springbuck, bleesbuck, taking one wildebeest but several each of the other species using different guns and ammo. I also got in a fair bit of small game and pest shooting in, and one of my favorite of these is always rock hyrax, also called dassie. These are strange animals, with many similarities to ground hog or prairie dogs, but in fact their closest surviving relative is the elephant! Dassie live in most of the rocky cliffs, and many start to migrate out into the flat lands, especially as populations increase. I had an impala down that morning and was not going back out for plains game until late afternoon, so grabbed my .22 and headed out on a hyrax hunt.

I’m on the lookout for him…. while he’s on the lookout for me! A dassie down on the flats, note how they tear up the ground around their burrows.

The gun I carried was the pre-released Umarex Gauntlet, and in my pack I had my shooting sticks, range finder, water, and extra pellets, and I had my 10x binos strapped to my chest. I glassed the area looking for a population of the animals, and once located I hiked into range. As I moved in, they dropped down their holes, which is exactly what I expected to happen. I found a place where I could tuck into the shadows of a stunted tree, and waited until they started resurfacing. I put a couple down cleanly, and missed a couple as well, it was windy and I had make some on the fly adjustments. I am happy to say that misses, like my hits, were clean. Stop by my youtube channel if you’d like to see the video footage, click here.

The rocky cliffs were home to the largest concentrations of hyrax….. not called rock hyrax for nothing!

This dassie heads for the hills as we see each other at the same time.

I ran into some snobbery about hunting small game, and sometimes also hunting with air rifles, as I stared talking about the experience on social media. In all fairness, these folks of negative attitude never know what they are talking about when it comes to airguns, and generally are guys I don’t think could make it as airgun hunters. But as far as airgun hunting, if you are successful with an air rifle (in my opinion), you are on par with bow hunters and miles ahead of most firearms hunters when it comes to your core field craft and ability to close with your prey. With respect to small game, I contend that the closer you get to the bottom of the food chain, the more wary the game becomes. I certainly had as much challenge, and as much fun, with the small stuff as I did with the large!

I used both .22 and .30 caliber guns, both were effective but the smaller caliber required ne to close the distance under windy conditions, and be more selective with shot placement (the head). Like a lot of burrowing animals, you need to shut down their nervous system or you’ll loose them down the hole, even with a killing shot.

I’m out to Japan next week on business, and while there will indulge another of my hobby’s…. fishing. And more to the point, Tenkara or Japanese fly fishing. I actually don’t know if I’ll have breaks from my meetings, but at the very least will go in search of a famous Tenkara fly shop in Ueno, the district where I’ll stay for my last night before flying home. Back at home, I’ll be off for a few days of prairie dogs in South Dakota, a pig hunt in Texas, and then in September it will be blackbuck and oryx with my buddy Chacho out in West Texas. There will be several other hunts this year, but I am definitely going back to Arizona for another Aberts squirrel hunt as well!

I hope that you are all getting out and doing a lot of shooting, and hunting if you are lucky enough to be in a location with summer quarry. I would really be interested to hear what your summer looks like and what kind of summer hunting or pest control is available to you. In part I am interested to hear about your experiences, but also in part because I am always on the search for new places to go and game to hunt….. you might put some ideas into my head. The other thing that I’d like to leave you with is my thought on small game and pest hunting. This year I’ve taken a few dear, several hogs, a couple javalina, a couple turkey and several heads of African game, and got to watch my buddy Rossi take a bear…. I’ve also had my fill of small game hunting, in fact much more, for squirrel, rabbit, Eurasian doves and pigeons, quail, ground squirrel, prairie dogs and predators….. and hunting these smaller quarry can be every bit a challenging and as rewarding….. Not to mention a lot more opportunity….. grab your rifle, pellets, and gear and get out there! Americans have more opportunity for more types of small game than just about anywhere in the world. Even if you live in a more urban area, you can find productive areas to hunt, take advantage of the opportunity!

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3 Responses to Out For Dassie…..

  1. Scott Dellinger

    Jim, let me know when you are going to AZ to hunt squirrels. I’ll be there in November and maybe earlier for the EBR. Enjoy your posts on hunting. You are a lucky man and I see you work hard at it. Later, Scott

  2. Wyeth Hecht

    Jim you’ve had quite an eventful year, are you going back the same place where you at in may?

  3. Jeff Streck

    I respect your skill with an airgun and your promoting of the sport…but airgun hunting is much easier than bow hunting..I love it all..Have even taken a couple deer with a longbow..Believe me it’s day and night..Forget about effective range. Yes I can hit a whites vitals every time at 90 yards with my compound bow..Many men can…In my opinion only those who don’t respect there animals try. Way to many variables..I bowhunt for the extra challenge. I’ll save the 90yrd shots for black powder or pistol..Just as you would save the 250 yard shots for a center fire rifle..Respect for God’s animals if you spiritual…or simple respect for the animal as well as your own self respect..Ummmm I’m rambling…lol Good luck God bless.

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