Most safaris are usually done with a rifle. The most common size rifle used for plains game hunting is a .308 and a .243 for night and small animals. It is the decision of the hunter to decide which size caliber will be used for the specific hunt. The average shooting distance on the safari is 70-150 yards. It is recommended that you zero your rifle at 100 yards. Rifle hunting are done by walk and stalk and hunting vehicles.
Rifle Hunting is conducted on foot (spot-and-stalk). Herds will be located by driving around the hunting area and spotting the animals. From there a stalk is initiated to get within shooting range. Shots are typically taken off tri-pod shooting sticks.
The question of which caliber is best and which rifle to bring on safari can be a topic of endless discussion. Bolt action rifles is by far the most popular form of hunting in South Africa. If it is dangerous game that you are after, the .375 caliber is the minimum prescribed by law in most African countries. For the average hunter coming to Africa for plains game, bring a rifle that you are completely familiar with and comfortable shooting. Any calibers in the 300-class (308, 30-06, 300 WSM, 300 WM and others) will be more than enough gun for all our plains game species. The right rifle will, in many instances, largely depend on the bag of trophies you are interested in taking.
A word about bullets – as a general rule, premium quality, heavy-for caliber bullets are your best choice. Many fine bullets are on the market today; the Nosler Partition, the Swift A-Frame, Woodleigh Weldcore, Barnes X & Triple Shock, just to name a few. Many of these fine bullets are available in factory-loaded ammunition and can also be hand-loaded, if you possess those skills. African game seems to be a bit tougher than game found elsewhere in the world. Perhaps this is due to evolution and the extensive predation to which they are subjected, so do not “skimp” on ammunition.
SHOT PLACEMENT is the most important aspect of any discussion regarding hunting with a rifle. Shot placement is as critical as the ammunition that shoots well from your rifle. Spend quality time at the shooting range making sure your rifle fires at point-of-aim. A badly placed shot with even the largest of rifles and the finest bullets available will result, at best, in a very long day of tracking and, at worst, a lost trophy. The loss of a fine trophy can be a big disappointment but, in case you haven’t heard: if you make it bleed, you pay for it.