Varmint Truck Gun

Back in the days of yore (when I still lived in Seffrica that is), I had occasion to rent a cottage in what was then bush country, somewhere between Johannesburg and Pretoria.  While sorta-developed, the area still had dirt roads, and the property sizes were of a type called a “smallholding” — anywhere from five to twenty-five acres, as memory serves.  It looked something like this:

…and yes, people still rode horses around, either for recreation or to go shopping for groceries and such at the little general dealer on the main road.

The problem with living out there, as anyone who’s done it can attest, is that the place is alive with critters — even though you’re thirty or so miles away from Johannesburg and a little more from Pretoria, Africa can turn from city to bush very quickly in terms of its wildlife.  (I remember a leopard once being trapped in the Wanderers Cricket Ground, which would be like finding a mountain lion in the Rose Bowl stadium in Pasadena.)

So on the far outskirts of Kyalami (just south of the Formula 1 track, as it happens), a night-time drive along the dirt roads would often reveal anonymous glowing eyes in the darkness on either side, and only in the next day’s light could you see in the dirt the tracks of jackals, rabbits and so on, but especially the former.  Jackals (larger than foxes but smaller than coyotes) were a particular pest, and while usually solitary scavengers, sometimes also hunted in small family groups.


And while skittish about humans, that didn’t stop them from preying on other small animals like, say, household pets, which they regarded pretty much as candy, and they would wreak havoc in the chicken coops, of which there were many in the area.  Only large farm dogs like ridgebacks or boerboels were more or less safe…

…unless, of course, the jackal had rabies (very common) in which case nothing  was safe.  Shooting them, in other words, was very much a public service at that time and in that area.

So of an evening I would sometimes sit on the little front porch of my cottage armed with a six-pack of Castle Lager, a lantern and my faithful old .22 Winchester Model 63, and shoot at them as they scampered through the fence and onto the property.  (I should add that the ground sloped down towards a stream called the Jukskei River, the trees and dense bushes forming an impenetrable backstop at the property line.)

The only problem with hunting in Africa is that the animals are tough as nails, and no matter what caliber you’re using, it never seems to be quite enough.  And this was the case with jackals and the .22 LR.  Unless you got a heart shot (and a jackal’s heart is not large), all you’d end up with was a yelp and a puff of dust.  Shit.  Now to track a wounded animal through tall veld grass, in the dark, across a stream and over property fences into the neighbors’ plots of land, which were guarded by the aforementioned ridgebacks and boerboels.

Not an optimal situation, I think we can all agree.

Then on a business trip to Bloemfontein down in the Orange Free State, I was sitting having a sundowner with a client in his office one evening.  He was an older man, an Afrikaner who’d grown up on a farm;  and when the subject turned to shooting, as it often did with him, he just shook his head when I told him about shooting jackals with a .22 LR.

“Use a .22 Magnum,” was his advice.

So the next day I stopped in at a gun store in downtown Bloemfontein on my way to the airport and looked for something in .22 WinMag.  And there it was, on pegs just behind the counter, an exact replica of this Brno 611 semi-auto.

And it had been sold only a half-hour before I walked into the store.  (Back then in Seffrica, there was a waiting period while your license application was being processed by the police, so you had to leave the gun behind in the store.)

Shit shit shit.

I’ve had occasion to shoot the Brno 611 several times since then, and to this day I’ve always wanted one.  Only the nosebleed prices thereof have stopped me — and the magazines are almost as costly as the damn guns themselves, because CZ stopped making them many years ago.  The one in the pic is at Collectors, and runs for just over a grand.  If you have a spare G lying around, treat yourself to this beauty for Christmas.  And by the way, it’s a takedown:

…so you can carry it in your truck as an almost-ready-to-go varmint killer.

And should you have buyer’s remorse — you shouldn’t, but hey — console yourself that you still have the perfect rifle for hunting the South African black-backed jackal.

Postscript:  the area I described in the above tale is now a bunch of housing developments, office buildings and a fucking golf course.



  1. Its a subdivision suburban development now.

    Wait a few years. It wont be long until it becomes a ghetto in the boonies.

    Then entropy will turn it back into bush.

    See zimbabwe.

  2. If it’s a truck gun I don’t see the point of being a take down.
    I have a Ruger 10/22 in my truck all the time and it sits with the barrel on the floor and the stock resting on the front edge of the seat, ready to go.

  3. My love affairs always seem to start with the cartridges. 22mag has been one I long for. I also enjoy watching these days Biathlon matches. That combo got me to the russkie izhmash biathlon in 22 mag. Seems fast, handy and damn rare. Occassionally you see them on gunbroker. But dang they are expensive at around 900 bucks !

  4. The BRNO ZKM 611 was a grail gun for me, and yeah, the 10 round magazines go for nosebleed prices. Mine came with the standard 6 rounder. It’s what a 10/22 wants to be when it grows up.

    1. I would have to say that a 10/22 wants to be a Mini 14 Rancher when it grows up. Which would be my go to for a truck or boat gun, esp in stainless.

  5. During my working sojourn in Johannesburg in 71-72, I had the good luck to meet a local looking for a roommate and moved out of the airport Holiday Inn into his house. He was in the travel business, and I think knew everybody and every place worth seeing in southern Africa. Through him, I was able to partake of the local social scene, going to several dinner parties a week. There was no TV then, so good conversation, singing, playing music and drinking games were very much a part of the evening. Kinda like America in 1955.

    One day we went to a friend’s house in suburban Jo’burg. It was a beautiful place – Gary Player’s house was right across the road.
    The owners had a peach orchard out back. They suggested we go pick some, but I was uneasy, because the grass was uncut, about 12″-18″ tall, and my friend, like Kim, had cautioned me about wandering about or swimming in unfamiliar places because there were all kind of not-so-nice beasties and bugs pretty much everywhere. While we were out back picking peaches, their little dog tagging along, the dog suddenly screamed and started flip-flopping all over the place. I looked, and there was what appeared to me to be a cobra raised above the grass. Quick as a flash, the owner pulled out a small auto pistol – .25 or .32? – and shot the snake, scooped up the dog, ran into the house and started washing out the dog’s eyes with milk. My roommate told me the snake was a ringhals, commonly known as a spitting cobra. The dog recovered nicely to my amazement, and the incident reinforced my friend’s warnings.

    I later saw the ringhals demonstrate their skills in a reptile zoo in Durban. It was spooky how well they followed your eyes as you moved about outside the glass, and then launched their venom right in your line of sight to them.

    Another time, on a long drive to meet some friends in Mozambique, I saw a mamba cruising through some tall grass along side the road, and of course in many areas, baboons were as ubiquitous as squirrels are here. They’re cute until they get up close and you see their incisors, longer than those of any dog I’ve seen.
    Even today, watching a movie of some tourists riding through the bush in an open truck gives me the whim whams.

  6. Old time are the best. I have looked at the farm I had my formative years on and everything that gave it character is gone. Looks kind of barren from google maps. Sad that 200 acres no longer sustains a farm family. 6,000 is the ball park now. that is a lot of ground.

  7. And I guarantee you that housing development still has jackals, who are most pleased at the extended pet buffet provided. Kind of like coyotes and bobcats right here in Plano TX, come to think of it.

    1. Last year I’ve read of Coyotes in Los Angeles, and a few years ago there was a mountain Lion in the People’s Republic of Santa Monica. Sadly no reports of Leftists getting eaten, but when it was sent to the great beyond there was the usual Leftist bilge about it being here first. Too few house pets — I mean furry “Children” went missing for adult realism to prevail

  8. My truck gun has varied from time to time, but for the last 4-5 years it’s been a Savage Model 24C-DL 22Mag / 20ga De-Luxe. Actually, it’s a Ford Transit Connect XLT cargo van gun, since I can no longer hump my broke ass up into the bed of a 4wd pick up truck, but I got an easy access mount on the roof behind the front seats. Got a javelina on Monday with it that had been bothering the quail I fed corn to.

    He ain’t bothering them no more.

  9. I am a bit late to this party, but only because I am truly torn. Short version: This little hot rod puts check marks in many boxes–

    Yeah I know, tube magazine. I didn’t say it checks ALL the boxes. Still—

    I am torn because, on the bottom end 22LR ammo is available with a 40gr copper plated HP rated at 1400 fps, and the variety of platforms is nearly endless. On the top end, well, why not just go with a really fast 22, aka 223/5.56? That puts check marks in All the boxes, twice in a few of them. And, I’m looking at just one of my AR builds as I type this. Decisions, decisions.

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