Ron Spomer writings inspired me to write about the newest addition to The Powder Keg AFRICA COLLECTION, a custom break-down with Mauser action in calibres 338 Laupa Magnum and 416 Rigby. I have immense respect for Ron, and seldom disagree with his writing, BUT

Ron is big on choosing light recoiling calibres for hunting over heavier recoiling calibres because he says you shoot more accurately with less recoil and shot placement is more important than the bullet energy.

My response to Ron’s blog about “the best deer rifle is the rifle that you have”, was never published. I agreed that shot placement is a critical factor in clean kills but my point is that few hunters practice sufficiently, or have enough field experience to shoot precisely in the moment every time.

Flinching is more mental than the result of physical discomfort. Those who flinch with large calibres are likely to flinch with smaller calibres also because of the anticipation of noise and recoil. I personally choose larger calibres for hunting because I shoot equally well (or badly) with more recoil and a bigger bullet diameter (higher energy) gives me greater certainty of a clean kill.

Shooters that are averse to recoil are potentially better equipped choosing a larger calibre for hunting and fitting a silencer in countries where this is permitted or a brake where silencers are not allowed.  For the Ales Spendal break-down gun we chose a 338 for large plains game hunting and a 416 for dangerous game. These calibres share the same family of case, important in such a build.

Passion and attention to detail is evident in every Ales Spendal custom build. I am yet to see a gun from another gun maker of such high functional quality, and art to lovers and collectors of fine guns. This gun has beautiful elephant theme engravings.

The Powder Keg wanted a break-down gun with the proven Mauser action for dangerous game situations and a double square bridge to ensure the gun, mount and optic are one.  Lower cost Blaser and Mauser Mo3 break-downs are available but when choosing that one bolt action gun we chose the Mauser action.

This break-down is easily transported because it can be fit into a smaller carry case, similar to shotguns. Barrels are easily and quickly screwed in with a distinct “click” when the barrel is locked into place.

Shooters concerned about recoil google comparison values of recoil for the different calibres. Felt recoil is largely influenced by the build and stock design. The 416 barrel was fitted with a break but after shooting without the brake we were so astonished by the low felt recoil that we cut the barrel thread off.  This also eliminated any risk to mistakenly fit the 338 brake to the 416 barrel.

The Powder Keg is proud to have this Ales Spendal fine gun in our offer for high discerning customers. Perfect in the field and later an heirloom that will ensures legacies live on.  Cars and property inherited are sold over time but fine guns stay in families for many generations.

We departed Ljubljana 3 am and arrived in Pakrac (150 km south of Zagreb) well ahead of our 7 am schedule. This gave us time to enjoy a cheese Burek at a local bakery which is eaten in combination with a yogurt to help digest the cheese Burek (oily).  Maybe my age but I find one Burek enough to last me a few months.  The picture below is the main building of the hunting family we were hunting with.

A driven hunt in Autumn is unusual, hot for beaters and dogs and the forests still dense with leaves.  We were asked to help cull pigs because the hunting family was incurring escalating farmer damages.  The hunt was planned for 16 of us from Slovenia with each of us contributing Euro 100 to the hunting family.

Typically the area where pigs hold up in is thicker bush areas, often separated by a dust road and more open forest on the other side of the road. When I first hunted pigs I was too slow, distracted by the amount of trees in your field of view as the pigs ran. The right advice I got was “there is more open space than trees so follow and shoot”.

Knowing that visibility in the forests would be far worse than in winter I gave greater care to my own visibility.  Blaze orange or reflective green are compulsory for visibility but I found the green much less suitable given the summer conditions of leaves.  At times it was hot, forcing us to take jackets and hats off and placing them on high branches to increase visibility.

The success of our hunt was impacted by many locals searching mushrooms in nearby forest areas. After weeks of rain the conditions were perfect for mushrooms and the locals were having a “feast” of a time.

The hunt for the day consisted of 3 driven hunts, meaning we would travel to 3 separate areas and each time we were set-up in a line with beaters and hunters driving the pigs out. There is a lot of luck involved because pigs group and if they are not in the hunted block then that drive yields no pigs.

Waking up at 2 am was fair reason for a nap in the forest, but keeping your visibility never compromised.

The hunt yielded fewer pigs than normally. I never saw a pig but that did not distract from my enjoyment of the nature and the camaraderie. The wealth and fame of Zagreb is only a 90 minute drive north yet many villages such as Pakrac are poorer. There are reminders everywhere of the fierce fighting between Croats and Serbs 18 years ago; houses remain with bullet holes and many homes owned by Serbs are still abandoned. A stark reminder that there are no winners in war.

After every hunt it is customary to meet back at the hunting family premises where shot animals are laid out and various thanks expressed. The tradition here is that every hunter who shot a boar buys a case of beer; the reason that you see the beer placed in front of each boar. Hanging up and out of picture was another big boar shot earlier in the morning.

A contrast I find hunting in Croatia is that there is ZERO woman involvement. I believe differently, but then who am I to express a view on other nations cultures and practices; suffice to say that in my opinion and in order for responsible and ethical hunting to prosper we must be open to positive influences and change. I do believe that woman are fundamental to the future of hunting and shooting.

You only have to live in Shanghai to witness how a male dominated culture is now being reversed by a new generation of woman and China will be much better for that.

The hunt for the day ends with the local hunting family members serving a spicy meat soup and cooked wild boar. The locals of Pakrac are incredibly hospitable; this was my highlight of the day and making 7 hours of driving worthwhile.

In every collective hunt there is bound to be some incident that creates tensions. This day it was about a hunter accused of moving forward of his line thereby encroaching on the shooting area of hunters on his flanks. I notice that hunters familiar with the territory get themselves into the most favorable positions; something I consider selfish and not sporting.