The kudu bull had already eluded us once. Now on the last evening of my safari in the Kalahari region of the Northern Cape, South Africa, it looked as if we might get one last chance at the bull.
While a kudu bull had not been the primary goal on this, my second safari in Africa, a kudu is always on the agenda, especially once you see those beautiful spiraling horns in the bush with a rifle in hand.
In a recent article, Plains Game, Guns & Gear: A Field Review from Africa , I discussed a recent hunting excursion to South Africa. Much of that article described a beautiful Christensen Arms Mesa FFT rifle in .300 Win Mag that I took several species of plains game with.
I would be remiss however to not make a more dedicated mention of my second rifle on safari, a Winchester Model 70 in .270 Win caliber.
There have been volumes written about the .270 cartridge since its introduction in 1925, almost 100 years ago. Hunters in that long-ago era started noticing that the .270 Winchester caliber cartridge was capable of shooting flatter than the popular 30–06.
With the increasing use of hunting scopes post WWII, the .270 Winchester began to flourish in the hunting community.
Renowned writer and big game hunter, Jack O’Conner began using the .270 and soon was writing praises of the cartridge in the pages of Outdoor Life magazine. There was little doubt the .270 became O’Conner’s favorite caliber and that he took everything from sheep to elk to plains game in Africa with the cartridge.
The .270 Win is still one of the most popular loads because of its acceptance worldwide. Internationally, ammunition and firearms manufacturers offer this chambering in a wide range of firearm action types and ammo.
On my African hunt in May of 2023, I wanted to utilize the .270 specifically for a grand slam of springbok, the common, copper, white and black color phases that exist in South Africa today.
Trying one of Remington’s newest loads for the .270, 130gr Core-Lokt Tipped I found outstanding accuracy was achievable. This factory round leaves the muzzle at just over 3000 feet per second and I was shooting sub-MOA groups off the bench with my stock Model 70 Winchester.
As mentioned above, in May 2023, I found myself in the Kalahari region of South Africa hunting with Stephen Bann of SB Hunting Safaris. On day one I took a nice Black Springbok ram, the first of my Springbok color phase slam with a single shot from my .270 Win off the shooting sticks at 125 yards.
Over the next week, I completed my Grand Slam on Springbok with the .270. One exception was the Common Springbok that I took at close to 400 yards with the .300 Win Mag, only because that was the rifle I had in hand at the time.
But back to my last day kudu. As mentioned, a kudu has always been on the wish list and it just so happened that on the last evening on safari a nice kudu bull presented an opportunity (pictured at the top).
With .270 Winchester in hand, an initial stalk proved that these animals have earned their reputation for being elusive as the bull gave us the slip through the red sands and brushy hills of the Kalahari.
Climbing quickly to a vantage point we were able to spot the bull, very distinct with a wide set of spiraling horns amidst the camel- and blackthorn along the edge of a long savannah.
At 700 or 800 yards out, it required a fast-paced dash to close the distance all the while attempting to keep brush between us and the bull to cover our approach.
Finally, with the wind and a near-setting sun in our favor, we closed the distance to within 150 yards of the kudu bull. One shot from my .270 using a solid rest and the iconic African antelope was down.
End results, three springbok and one kudu all taken with a single shot from the .270 Win. Despite all the debates over the years surrounding the .270 Winchester versus other calibers of the day much less all the new calibers in today’s world…the .270 Win still shines.