Anyone who is anyone who has ever wanted to hunt in Africa or has hunted in Africa should certainly have heard of Professional Hunter, Danny McCallum. Now that might sound like a dramatic introduction, but truth be told Danny is one of the legends of African hunting having been a fully licensed PH there for 53 years.
Born in Arusha, Tanzania in August 1947, Danny is from a family of Professional Hunters (his father and grandfathers were all PH's) and after qualifying with his full 'Unrestricted' licence in 1967 has led a successful career as one of Africa's most sought after PH's. Danny is one of those PH's who has been lucky enough to hunt in Kenya, Tanzania, Zaire, the Sudan, the CAR, Zambia, Namibia, Botswana and more recently Uganda. His experiences are almost unparalleled today, especially where Africa's dangerous game is concerned.
The Watson Bros. .450 No.2 double rifle is a wonderful old rifle with a patina that can only come with years of service in the bush. Thankfully the rifle is being left just as is, so conserving years of safari and adventure.
Interestingly the shoulders of the rifle have a matted 'anti-glare' finish which is not commonly found on double rifles. This is very much a 'professional's' rifle.
The traditional engraving pattern is wonderfully executed with a neat border around the action cover plate.
Recently Danny's favourite double rifle returned to us for a health check and service so we took the opportunity to take a few photos before it heads back to East Africa. It should be noted that Danny is one of the few PH's to remain unscathed through a long, eventful and at times dangerous career.
In Danny's own words:
"My .450 No2 Watson Bros ( apologies that it was not a Westley, but not my fault) was owned by my Father Owen McCallum which he acquired just after the 2nd war in 1946. Where he got it is unknown to me. It was known amongst the hunting fraternity in those days as the “drainpipe”. When my Father died in 1964 all his possessions were sold in order to pay towards school fees and debts. Tony France a White Hunter bought my Fathers drainpipe. I was 15 years old at the time, and Tony said to me, that if I was intending to follow my Fathers and Grandfathers careers, that I could have the drainpipe once I got my unrestricted hunters license. I left school at the age of 16 and came back to do my apprenticeship with Glen Cottar in 1965. I finally qualified and was issued an unrestricted hunting license in 1967. I immediately contacted Tony France and he told me that if I bought a .458 Brno for him, I could have the drainpipe. I managed to borrow 60 pounds (as I was only earning 5 pounds a month) and pay for a new .458 Brno bolt action rifle which I delivered to Tony and he gave me the old drainpipe and you can imagine how proud I was to be able to own my Dad’s old rifle. The old drainpipe has looked after me these past 53 or so years. I am not the best shot in the profession by any means, but she managed to keep me out of trouble. We have had quite a few incidences together and fairly close encounters with rhino, elephant, lion, leopard and especially buffalo but she managed to point in the right direction and deal with the problem. One particular case was about three years ago when we (trackers and myself) had been following a wounded buffalo the afternoon before until dark. Went back the next morning and picked up his track again. Followed him until midday when he went down into an overgrown gully covered in incredibly thick green foliage. Lerotet was beside me on my left and Eli the other tracker was beside him. We could not see more than 4 feet in front of us. Any how the buff heard us and gave one snort and came. I did not see him until his head broke cover in front of us and I fired. He dropped right there by our feet and so I gave him the second barrel just to make sure that he would stay down. The front of my shirt was covered in blood spatter from the beast. My trackers were still in place and had not moved. The old drainpipe lived up to her reputation. Enough of that BS for now, until we meet around the camp fire up in Northern Kenya."
The express sights on Danny's rifle say it all. No point in having extra leafs when the likelihood is you will be shooting something at point blank range!
The Watson rifle weighs in at a hefty 12lb 6ozs which would make it comfortable and steady to shoot. There is barely a trace of original blacking on the barrels or action furniture, with all the case colour hardening long since worn from the action. While the rifle appears well used it has never been abused. The bores are still superb and it shoots perfectly.
Philip Wolstenholme on May 26, 2020 at 3:50 pm
Enjoyed reading about this old beast!
All the best
Bill Jones on May 26, 2020 at 11:41 pm
Hi Trigger, I first met Danny in Tanzania in the mid 1980s, hunting with Robin Hurt’s new areas. I have many hilarious and fun stories about Danny. His brother is also a PH. Sister is a great pilot. He worked with Robin for over 25 years. Lots of clients think the world of Danny. He’s a true legend, in many areas. Great story. Best , Bill Jones
Trigger on May 31, 2020 at 9:18 pm
Very good to hear from you and I hope you still have a few more of your own adventures to share with us some time.
All the best
Jehangir Devitre on May 27, 2020 at 9:50 pm
Excellent and entertaining article.
neil mcveigh on May 28, 2020 at 9:54 am
Never have met Danny but seen him a few times.What a great story surely there is a book in Danny that would doubtless be a best seller.Nice blog Trigger,keep them coming!
Richard Gontier on May 28, 2020 at 3:22 pm
très bel article sur ce grand monsieur de la chasse africaine....bravo.a lui et ses disciples Gontier richard
Peter Buckley. on May 30, 2020 at 12:22 pm
What a great read about this guy, even his face tells a thousand stories, what great service the Watson Bros. double has given Danny and his father, just love people like this no nonsense type of guy !
Gripping tales, fantastic double rifle, loved it all.
This is what the “Explora” blog is all about.
Very best regards
Trigger on May 31, 2020 at 9:17 pm
That face certainly tells more than a thousand stories! Lets hope the new generation of Professional Hunters will have something to compare!
All the very best
Lorian McCallum on May 31, 2020 at 9:37 am
Thanks for posting this article - great read and brings back many happy memories of following the old man for endless hours through long grass. Somehow, no matter the situation, the sight of Dad with the drainpipe always made me feel 10 foot tall and I would follow him anywhere. They have a deep bond and trust forged by countless adventures.
Trigger on May 31, 2020 at 9:16 pm
Great to hear from you and I am sure that the old man will appreciate your comments. He is a legend to hunt with and I am sure will never tire of spending time in the bush.
All the very best
Pablo Nogues on June 4, 2020 at 12:45 am
I stilll have your exelent double 318 serial 17685
During those golden passed years you mention, I hunted in Tanzania with TAWICO 5 times , 3 in their Selous MA1 and U3 blocks and 2 in north bordering Serengetti .
Just kindly tell Danny that I had not the plaeasure of meeting him , but maybe he remembers Andrew Kisiri and Lazaro Mmasi ,both exelent Tawico PH . Lazaro used a WR 425 magazine and a WR shotgun for cat close quarter support . He only had, maybe, 8 rounds of 425 ammo ¡¡
Tawico had its problems , but these hunters were exeptional .
Your 318 was not permited in big game , but ,,, I can say that buffalo and lion , in normal circumstances , fall to the 250 grain with perfect satisfaction.
Best regards and congtatulations for your fine guns
Trigger on June 5, 2020 at 3:17 pm
Many thanks for your comment and interesting words. Great to hear the use of so many WR's in the field, exactly where they belong!
All the very best
David Hodo on June 17, 2020 at 4:16 am
A great story that will probably never be written again. And that is sad.