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Monday, November 12, 2007

Rowland Ward's Records of Big Game

For over a century Rowland Ward's Records of Big Game has been the "go to" book of records for big game trophy hunters, especially African big game hunters. It is a comprehensive record of some of the most incredible trophies ever taken, or found in the wild.

The book differs a bit from SCI's record book as it does not rank the animals listed by class or numeric raking so there is no "award" system.

The Rowland ward measuring system differs depending on the species discussed. For instance horned animals are ranked in descending order according to the measurement of their longest horn. Other measurements such as circumference and tip to tip spread are also provided but only incidentally as they are not tallied as part of the animal's "overall score".

This measuring system is simple and very useful in the field. It is certainly easier to try to judge the overall length of a horn to determine an animal's maturity then it is to try to calculate the overall gross score. The book has the approximate height at the shoulder of each animal which assists in field judging horn length by allowing one to compare the horn to the size of the body. This measurement also can be very helpful in quickly calculating bullet drop at known distances. Especially since the measurement is at the shoulder.

I think the Rowland Ward system of measurement encourages the taking of mature male specimens of a given species, which is an integral part of wildlife conservation. We as sportsmen must regulate ourselves to take mature animals to ensure that they have already passed on their genes to the herd. Taking immature animals as trophies is antithetical to good conservation. The folks at Rowland Ward recognize this especially as it pertains to Cape Buffalo more properly known as "Southern Buffalo." The current scoring system ranks Cape Buffalo based on the width of the outside spread of it's horns. In my opinion and in the opinion of many others this has lead to the shooting of many immature soft bossed bulls. Because younger Cape Buffalo bulls will generally sport wider horns. As a buffalo ages the horns will drop and the overall width of the horns narrow

In order to encourage the taking of more mature bulls Rowland Ward sent out an email recently announcing they intend to change the way the minimum score is derived. This is from a recent email from Rowland Ward's Guild Of Field Sportsmen:

"The minimums for all recorded animals will include the longest horn or greatest outside spread as well as a composite measurement which will be derived from a combination of the outside spread or longest horn, as the case may be and the width of the biggest boss or the circumference of the longest horn, as the case may be, multiplied by two; "

This change will encourage the shooting of more mature bulls by including the width of the boss in the minimum measurement. This is an important step in encouraging hunters to shoot older bulls and I hope SCI will follow Rowland Ward's lead and adjust their scoring system as well. If we want to assure the future of healthy buffalo populations then we should embrace this change.

The book provides excellent descriptions of each species and how they differ from other species which are closely related. It also gives home ranges and countries where each species lives.

I also really like the classic style hand sketches of the animals in the book. The sketches remind me of the traditional naturalists who recorded their impressions of wildlife with a pencil. The "books" (because it is two volumes) are also very nicely bound and will look great on the shelf or on your coffee table.

To order Rowland Ward's Records of Big Game please visit their website at: Rowlandward.com or call them at (877) 423-3220

Todd J Rathner

Ultimate Ammunition Company

I have been hand loading ammunition for a number of years. I really enjoy it. There is just something about creating a load from scratch that works perfectly with you rifle and then using it to take a game animal.

Over the past couple of years I have become so busy with running a business and with our growing family that it has become very difficult to find the time to work up loads or even to load up some cartridges that I know work in a particular rifle.

Last year at the Dallas Safari Club show I met a fellow named Ricky Allen who owns a company called Ultimate Ammunition. I stopped at his booth to chat with him and realized pretty quickly that this guy knows what he is talking about when it comes to ammunition. We talked about the possibility of me sending him one of my rifles to see what he could do with it. Then a few months later one of my clients told me about some ammo he had Ricky work up for him and how well it shot in his rifle. He took a number of great trophies with it in Africa and suggested I keep in touch with Ricky. That was good advice.

This year about 3 weeks before going to Africa on my inspection trip I found myself with no time to put together my pet load for my 375 H&H. So I gave Ricky a call and asked if he was willing to try to match my load and see if I could test it before I left. He said he would do it and giving him the data a few days later I got some test cartridges from him.

I double checked the custom overall length I asked for and they were dead on and I pulled a bullet to check the powder charge and that to was dead on, so I was off to the range.

My 375 H&H is a custom pre-64 Winchester Model 70 and it can be a bit finicky so I was concerned that it may be difficult to make it shoot ammo I didn't load myself. That concern was dispelled after a few rounds at the range. Ricky was able to duplicate my pet load perfectly and the rifle shot just as well as if I had loaded the ammo myself.

I called Ricky and asked him to send me enough ammo for the trip and he got right on it. Unfortunately UPS was not nearly as efficient as Ricky and when the ammo was shipped UPS lost it! As the clock was ticking Ricky tried to have them find the package in time but as fate would have it UPS didn't find the package until I was well on my way to Africa with a few boxes of factory ammo to hunt with.

Luckily the factory stuff shot adequately in the rifle (but not nearly as accurate as Ricky's loads) and I had a great hunt. But I sure would have liked to use his ammo in the field. I have that ammo on my desk as I write this and will use it in the future. In the meantime I am sending my Kimber .308 Winchester to Ricky to see if he can work his magic with it before an Oklahoma deer hunt this year. You can bet we both agree that this time we will use FEDEX!

Visit their website at UltimateAmmunition.com or call (888) 235-3285.

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