An elephant (loxodonta africana) is considered to be the ultimate African safari trophy and especially a bull topping 100 pounds in ivory. Even though elephants are the largest and appear to be the slowest trophies to hunt they provide one of the hardest challenges in any hunter’s career. The SCI minimum score for an elephant is 100 pounds in ivory, both tusks. The thickest part of the tusk is usually at the lip.
Once again the mantra of - Don't Panic, Shoot Straight, and Live - comes into play. All happens very quickly in elephant hunting. The best shot is a brain shot at very close range with heavy grain solids from a large calibre rifle, either a frontal or a side on shot. It is a difficult shot to take due to size and the location and position of the brain. From the side the brain is located in a line between the bottom of the ear-hole slits and the eyes. The ideal shot should be placed on this line about 4 inches in front of the ear-hole slits. Remember to compensate for angle according to how close you are from the elephant. The frontal brain shot is more difficult due to factors that will influence your point of aim, factors such as the elephant’s height, the shooting distance and then the angle at which the elephant is holding his head – high or low. As the brain is located in line with, and forward of the ear-hole slits, you should draw an imaginary line through these ear-holes and visualize the passage of your bullet through the head to this line... some will say to visualise a broom stick through the bottom part of the ear-holes, then at any angle, to shoot at the broom stick, to cut it in two, exactly between the ears. There is also no reference point to work from on a frontal brain shot.
On the brain shot the elephant will collapse by falling hind quarters and a lifting trunk. An elephant going down after a brain shot need to be shot in the heart/lung area right after the elephant had collapsed.
When a shot is taken on an elephant and it run away, irrespectively where you aimed to put the shot, the elephant will run away and the hunter have a few options to stop it, either go for an anchoring shot on the hip bones, or simply wait for the elephant to turn his head to look back where the danger coming from as elephant most likely will do on running away, then the hunter can go for a shot into the brain from this angle.
For the inexperienced hunter it might be a safer and surest option to put the shot towards the heart/lung area. How ever, your PH will go through all these until you are sure about the exact location of the vitals.
Some countries may state a minimum calibre of .375 H&H, South Africa have no calibre requirement, except that when hunting thick-skinned animals the bullet must be a full metal jacket or monolithic solid construction. However for Dangerous Game Hunting the adage of always using enough-gun applies. The more realistic minimum would be at least a .416 Rigby with heavier calibres as being the better choice. Good options would be .470 Nitro Express the .505 Gibbs and .500 Jeffery. Only good solids should be used on elephant. Solids such as Barnes, Woodleigh, A-Square and similar solids (monolithic) would be ideal.
Hunting elephant is mostly done on foot... following fresh spoor until the right animal is located. With a favourable wind, you should be able to approach to within 30 yards. Hunting a bull out of a herd is very dangerous as you might easily provoke a charge from a cow.
Red Ivory Safaris is in possession of concessions that produces 100lb ivory a side and more, but unfortunately these come at a price. So if you are interested in taking elephant not less than 100lb, please make sure to contact us directly in order to get you set up for such a safari.
However, taking an elephant today in the 40lb to 80lb range are more realistic, with a 70lb as a good indicator... with Red Ivory Safaris one can take ivory of 70lb consistently.