PROFESSIONAL HUNTER – JOHN SHARP
LIZ EDGAR/RIGBY & CO
Those of you who have had an interest in African hunting over the past 30 years, will need little by way of introduction to professional hunter (PH) John Sharp, known to many as the African version of Crocodile Dundee. With freeflowing hair and skin tanned by years spent hunting under the glare of the African sun, he’s often found wading across some remote river or trekking the Zimbabwean plains with his Rigby .470 N.E. double balanced over his shoulder.
In his three-plus decades of hunting in Africa, John says the Bubye Valley Conservancy (BVC) in the south of Zimbabwe, where he’s now based, is truly the finest area he has encountered. John is a passionate conservationist, with a deep understanding of the natural world, a true ambassador for the sport and has a lifestyle we all secretly aspire to.
LizEdgar(forJohnRigby& Co) spoke to this legendary PH to find out a bit more about his trusted rifle, as well as his experiences in the African bush.
John, tell us a bit about yourself.
I got my Learner Professional Hunter’s Licence in 1978. Soon after that Zimbabwe gained its independence from Britain, so I decided to return to Cape Town to watch from afar what the new government would do. In Cape Town, I bought the Hard Rock Café and ran that for three and half years before I sold it in December 1982. Early in 1983 I returned to what had become Zimbabwe and did my proficiency test, kick-starting my career as a full-time PH, and I’ve been hunting ever since.
Have you always hunted in Zimbabwe or have you hunted in other parts of Africa as well?
I’ve hunted extensively in Tanzania, Zambia, Mozambique, Botswana and Zimbabwe, and before I was a PH, in Namibia. You could say I’ve been around, but Zimbabwe has always been my favourite country and I’m pretty much settled there now.
Tell us about the Rigby you’ve hunted with.
I have a Rigby .470 N.E. double, which was built in 1927 but re- barrelled by Holland & Holland in the 1960s, so it lost its collector value. A client of mine bought it for me about 20 years ago and I’ve been using it ever since.
How often have you had to use your Rigby in a professional context? Have you ever had to back anyone up?
Yes, many times. These things are inevitable in the life of a PH and have happened mostly with buffalo and elephant, and the odd lion over the years. For leopards I use a three-and-a-half inch 12-gauge shotgun. A leopard can come from any direction, and with a few people milling around on the follow-up, I don’t want to be firing a heavy projectile that could wound or kill more than the leopard.
How has your Rigby performed for you?
My Rigby is an extension of myself – as much a part of me as my arm. If I am in the bush and not carrying it I feel naked, and I’ve been told that I look naked too. It has never let me down.
Can you recall a time the Rigby .470 N.E has ever saved your life?
Each and every time I shoot an incoming dangerous animal, that rifle saves my life, and the lives of others, and I have shot many. In the early stages of a PH’s career plenty of mistakes are made, and luck is too often a factor, but one learns. As the years become decades in an older PH’s life, that experience translates into a rich safari without unhappy dramas – only the
Legendary PH John Sharp.