Lupo Safaris - New World Record!
"EVERYMAN'S DREAM, AN AFRICAN QUEST"
By Vincent R. Lupo
On June 11, 2002, 13 months after I had begun my first safari and had taken a fantastic Cape Buffalo, and 7 months after my second safari, when I managed to take a huge male Leopard and break my ankle, I found myself getting off an S.A.A. airplane at Johannesburg Airport, were I was once again greeted by my good friend and veteran Professional Hunter Danie Clifford sr. Over the previous seven months, Donny and I had worked out a plan that would allow me to complete my quest for the African Dangerous Game Big Six over a 4 week Safari. During those fabulous 4 weeks I would have to take an Elephant, a Rhinoceros, a Hippopotamus, and a Lion. None of this would be easy and we knew going into it that it was problematic that we would finish our objective. Each of these 4 fantastic animals is different in temperament, location, size, aggressiveness, behavior, and most of all, what I will call find ability! As before, I would be using my 45-70-lever action Marlin rifle loaded with 540gr Garrett Cartridge Hammerheads for the Elephant, Rhino, and Hippo, and 420gr Hammerheads for the Lion.� Ambitious to say the least! But I had every confidence in the folks at Mahlapholane Safaris and in particular my Professional Hunters, the Clifford's, Danie senior and junior.� Donny sr. had divided the 4-week safari into 4 separate segments each built around one of the four main animals that we were to hunt. Along the way, they would guide me through the taking of some pretty special plains game trophies, including; 2 Zebra, a large Blue and a huge Black Wildebeest, 2 trophy Oryx one bigger then the other, a large male Baboon, a Common and a White Blesbuck, 2 Warthogs, 3 Springbucks 2 Common and one Black, and the most fantastic trophy bull Nyala that I have ever seen. First on the list was the African White Rhinoceros. The only way I can describe a Rhino is to compare it to an amour plated tank with 2 fierce horns sticking from the middle of its' 6 foot long head! It is more agile then one would believe and has an acute sense of smell and hearing. Our trackers had indicated that they had located several bulls and that they believed they had put us on the tracks of the largest bull in the area. We followed print and spore for quite some time and finely the trackers who were some distance ahead of us motioned us to come quickly. When I got there they were pointing through some thick bushes down into a small open meadow about 100 yards away and kept gesturing that the Rhino was there. To their amazement and consternation, I saw "nothing"! Now more excited then ever both they and Donny jr. kept pointing down the meadow and for the life of me I could see absolutely NOTHING! Then all of a sudden I saw an ear and a huge Rhinoceros head move not 10 or 12 feet in front of the right bush that I had been looking BETWEEN! Once my knees stopped knocking, I instantly put the crosshairs of my 45-70-Marlin just behind his front left shoulder and let fly with a 540gr Garrett Cartridges Hammerhead. At that short range my aim was absolutely perfect and I immediately followed up with another shoulder shot that had the huge bull swaying from side to side. There was no doubt that he was going to go down. But he began to stagger forward towards a small ravine and I immediately moved to the front of him to try and finish him so that he would not end up in the ravine. It took a side brain shot to place him down and out. What a fantastic Rhino. His horns measured a clean combined 90 inches (the addition of the two bases and the two heights) that made him a solid gold medal Rhino! That night, what a party!
Week two, and hopefully, my Elephant! We got a call that 3 bull Elephants had broken out of Kruger National Park and had damaged a small village as they cut through it. We managed to get there the next day and after meeting with the villagers we trekked off in the general direction of the bulls. Fortunately, we had hired a micro-light airplane that had taken off and followed the animals' path of destruction. They later landed and gave us a very ruff idea of about where the Elephants were headed. After a long and hard walk through some pretty impressive bush, we closed in on them and saw that one of the bulls was truly exceptional. We realized that with 3 large bull Elephants standing side by side, "life would not be easy". Given the swirling wind, and the high level of sensitivity of Elephants, we could only stalk up to about 60 yards. We could not chance moving in any closer. As the largest bull turned his head to the left, I sent a 540gr Hammerhead slamming into his left side temple followed immediately by a second shot to his rear spine as he fell to his right. The other 2 bulls trumpeted and headed off at a quick pace. We circled to the front of the Elephant were at about 10 feet I placed an insurance frontal brain shot. His large tusk weighed in at 68lbs and his smaller one at 46lbs for a total of 114lbs! We donated about 10 tons of meat to a very happy village that immediately started a huge party!
So far, my luck was holding out, I sorely remember breaking my ankle and ending my second safari well short of my goals. The third week and if all went well, I would get my Lion and at least complete the Big Five! The hunt for the Lion on the open plains was everything you could imagine it to be and then some. The trackers pointed down to dinner plate sized paw prints. I laid a 420 grain 45-70 Garrett Hammerhead Cartridge down alongside of the paw print and it looked like it was a lowly 22 short! I took a picture of it, which's how much it impressed me. In no time at all the trackers had put us within 100 yards of a huge dark mane male Lion feeding on a Blesbuck that he had taken. I was able to stalk to within 60 yards of him and inched up about another 10 yards when I slung a 420gr Hammerhead into his left front shoulder sending him straight up into the air doing a full 180 while airborne. He landed with a roar and took off about 20 yards, turned and charged straight at me causing me to do the only thing I could. I immediately sent another 420gr Hammerhead straight into his brain to the right of his left eye. It knocked him back and bowled him over with his feet straight up in the air. I had done it, the Big Five with a 45-70 lever- action Marlin rifle loaded with Garrett Cartridges! You want to talk about party? Man what a party!
Week four and they tell me that they have tracked down a monster of a bull Hippo. We find him alone and feeding alongside of a small lake. Carefully testing the wind, we managed to quietly stalk up to about 5 yards from him. He is facing me broadside with his head to my left. I raised my Marlin loaded with 540gr Hammerheads to place a clean side brain shot, eased the hammer to the full back position, and gently squeezed the trigger. In one single instant I am in trouble up past my ears! In my excitement I had not taken the safety off and the loudest click you have ever heard in your life shattered the morning silence! Instinct took over as I immediately pulled the hammer back and pushed the safety off. But this time I was looking straight between the eyes of an extremely upset bull Hippopotamus who had turned to face and charge me. At less then 10 feet (recorded on video) I slammed a 540gr Garrett Cartridges Hammerhead cleanly between his eyes dropping him instantly in his tracks! I followed almost immediately with an insurance brain shot 2 inches to the right of the first one. I have never met Mr. Garrett, of Garrett Cartridges, but I swear to God if he were there at that moment I would have kissed him! I HAD DONE IT! THE FIRST MAN IN HISTORY TO TAKE THE AFRICAN DANGEROUS GAME BIG SIX WITH A LEVER ACTION MARLIN RIFLE WITH GARRETT CARTRIDGES 45-70 HAMMERHEADS! I am awaiting confirmation of that fact from the Guinness World Record Book people. Now do you want to talk about PARTY!