Hunting in South Africa: Part 1 by Jim Chapman

Introduction
As an outdoor writer, and moreover one specializing in hunting airguns, I get to shoot a lot of airguns. There are many good rifles being produced today, and a few great ones. But what we have been missing is a great hunting airgun at a price point most hunters can afford. In a marketplace that is populated by guns starting at over a thousand dollars, not to mention the cost of adjunct gear such as filling equipment, it is difficult for new shooters to enter the sport. That is why I got excited when Crosman entered the precharged pneumatic arena, first with the Discovery then following with the Marauder.
The Discovery is a single shot PCP rifle that has everything the airgun hunter needs in an entry level gun; it is accurate, powerful, and reliable, fills to a low charge pressure with a handpump, and can run on CO2 for lower powered indoor shooting. But the truly compelling thing with this rifle is that packaged with a handpump it cost far less than anything else the airgun hunter could buy. I was lucky enough to be sent one of the first pre-production guns to shoot, hunt with, and give some feedback on. But truth is that I think the engineers and market research people got it just about perfect and delivered exactly what the market wanted and needed. However, there was room for a higher tier rifle that bridged the simple no frill design requirement of the Discovery and the more sophisticated (and much more expensive) rifles at the high end of the price/performance spectrum. While I really like the Discovery, I thought it would be perfect if there was an option to get it with a shrouded barrel, and if there was an option for a premium trigger to be installed by their custom shop (even if that cost a few hundred dollars more), and if there was a multi-shot version. That was the point; this gun hit so close to the mark that the only thing needed to make it a better gun were features only found on much more expensive rifles!

Then a couple years later I received word that Crosman had a new PCP rifle in development, and again was offered a pre-production gun for evaluation. The Marauder was unveiled at the 2009 SHOT Show in Orlando; and what was introduced to the airgunning world was a rifle offering features previously found only on much more expensive models. The Marauder has a 10 shot rotary magazine, a sophisticated match grade adjustable trigger that is a dream, and comes standard with a shrouded barrel that is whisper quiet. This in addition to the Marauder’s intrinsic accuracy and the power to take any small game from squirrels to woodchucks, has resulted in a gun I love to carry in the field. As a matter of fact, I selected the Marauder as my small game rifle for an airgun safari in South Africa’s Eastern Cape, which in past years has been a challenging testing ground requiring a gun to shoot with precision, hit hard, and be reliable. When you’re thousands of miles from home, it makes sense to only carry gear you believe in. The Marauder has proven itself to me.
My intention with these hunts was to demonstrate that the Marauder is the real deal for small and medium game hunting, and that they can be used to make one shot kills that cleanly anchor the tenacious small game and pest species in this hunter’s paradise. Even though this book was based on hunting in Africa, the experience speaks directly to the guns suitability for hunting anywhere in the world.

Hunts were setup over a five week period in South Africa, and I planned to make the most of the hunts. My friends and professional hunters Rob Dell and Andrew Myers were contacted to organize the trip. From my Indiana based office I was phoning sponsors; Crosman for guns, scopes, and pumps to be drop shipped for pick up on my arrival to the Eastern Cape, Pyramyd Airgun, arguably the biggest and one of best airgun supplier in North America came through with financial support, and Adventures in airguns supplied additional equipment. It all came together and formed one of the most enjoyable hunts of my life.
In this small booklet my objective is to share several facets of hunting with the Marauder, relating our experiences regarding the guns, the gear, the people, and the game. And in the end I believe you’ll see that if you own a Crosman Marauder, you have a gun that takes you anywhere you want to go.

Hunting with Airguns
There is a long tradition of hunting with pre-charged pneumatic (PCP) air guns, dating back to the late 1600s when big bore air rifles were used by European nobility to take large game animals. In more recent years, spring piston airguns became available to the masses, and after World War II there was a dramatic increase in the availability of guns. The sport has continued to grow in much of the world, especially in those locales where gun ownership is not an option for the civilian population. In Europe there is a tradition of high quality airgun manufacturing, especially in Germany and the United Kingdom.
As a matter of fact, the UK has arguably been the center of the modern airgunning world. They produce many of the finest spring piston and PCP airguns in the world; and support a vibrant airgun hunting community with a couple popular magazines dedicated to reporting on and promoting the sport. And while the range of available guns offered to the market comprises both spring piston and PCP power plants, there has been an upsurge in the popularity of precharged pneumatic guns in the market over the last decade.

In the United States serious airgun hunting has been relatively unknown, and even less so when it comes to PCPs. However, as Americans are faced with increased urbanization, the attraction of the air powered hunting arm becomes ever more apparent; providing a means of hunting in areas that are more densely populated where firearms are a no-go. While many hunters feel that PCPs are easier to shoot accurately and tend to be more powerful than spring piston guns, the fact that there has been a dearth of appropriately priced PCP guns for the American sportsman has blocked a lot of new hunters from entering the sport. With Crosman’s release of the Discovery and the Marauder, this is going to change in my opinion!

In this book I will examine how these new Crosman guns can be used for field work, and relate some firsthand experiences coming out of our five week airgunning trek in South Africa, in which I relied solely on the Marauder and the Discovery for small game hunting.

Why Hunt With Airguns?
As stated previously, in Europe and much of the world airguns are the only option available to people wishing to hunt. They simply are not allowed to possess firearms, or the population densities are so high that there is not enough open land to hunt over. But there are several reasons that shooters everywhere appreciate; airguns are relatively quiet (in the case of the Marauder, less than a whisper) and have a limited carrying range, they can therefore be used to perform pest control duties and hunt in fairly populated areas, and due to the limited range can even be shot safely in the backyard or down in the basement. The cost of airgun projectiles is much lower than even .22 rimfire ammunition, with pellets costing a penny or two per round. The challenge of the hunt is increased with airguns, because to ethically take game the hunter must close the distance which requires honed hunting skills. In this respect airgun hunting offers many parallels to bow hunting while incorporating traditional marksmanship.

The modern PCP airgun is capable of tack driving accuracy out to sixty or seventy yards, while most springers can be used with confidence out to thirty five or forty yards. Another benefit is that the hunter can get in a great deal of practice. I will often go down to my basement range and put a couple hundred rounds through a gun I’m getting ready to take with me into the field. You’re not going to be able to do this with a firearm unless you happen to live on a ranch in Montana.
The last reason on my list is the least tangible …. Airguns are cool! There is something about the engineering that goes into these guns, along with the diversity in designs available that makes airguns a highly addictive past time. The airgun uses a tiny puff of air to send a fifteen or so grain piece of lead down range to anchor their quarry! This is a fact that always amazes me…

by Jim Chapman

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All right folks that is all for part one, we will be posting the rest of the book a few chapters at a time over the next few months. After that the full book will be available to download.

Thanks for reading.

Joshua

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