What African Plains Game Hunting Species Do You Want to Hunt?
African plains game hunting safaris bring more hunters to Africa each year than all of the “Big Five” Africa hunting species combined. Southern Africa can boast of more species of mammals than any other place on the globe. African plains game hunting can be mind boggling fun!
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Africa offers a plethora of plains game species to hunt.
While most often thought of as a “target of opportunity”, many African professional hunters / outfitters offer baboon hunts or safaris, usually as an add-on species to your plains game hunt. Some hunters who have been to Africa many times, prefer hunting baboons over plains game OR dangerous game… tough to believe, I know.
Baboons are hated by the villagers in many parts of Africa. They spread disease, destroy entire crops and can be very aggressive/dangerous, especially to young children.
Black Wildebeest hunts may seem rather easy, as on the open plain where he is often found, he will be relatively easy to locate.
Excellent senses and herd instincts make hunting Black Wildebeest quite a challenge. The black wildebeest is most often hunted spot-and-stalk style, but their daily dependence on water makes them particular susceptible to an archery hunt from a ground blind at a waterhole. Smaller than the blue wildebeest, the black wildebeest, also known as the “white tailed gnu”, or “clown of the veld” is a popular species taken on African plains game hunts.
Blesbok hunts take place on the open plains of the South African highveld.
The blesbok or blesbuck is an antelope native to South Africa. It has a distinctive white face and forehead. Once near-extinct, blesbuck antelope have been reintroduced on the game farms and African plains game hunting operations of southern Africa and now number somewhere in the hundreds of thousands. Blesbok are a true conservation success!
Hunting Blue Wildebeest or the “old fool of the veld”, as he is also known, can be most exciting and is often referred to as the “poor man’s buffalo”.
While blue wildebeest numbers have dwindled somewhat in many areas, they are as plentiful as ever on the Serengeti ecosystem and the plains game hunting operations of southern Africa where numbers exceed one million. Learn more about the blue wildebeest here.
Bontebok are very similar to the blesbok however, their coloring is far more striking with pure white facial, stomach and rump blazes.
At one time, the bontebok population in South Africa was fewer than 40 individuals. Thanks to hunters though, the bontebok now has a huntable population. Bontebok are only found in South Africa and their endangered status and higher trophy fee does not make them an immediate choice for many plains game hunters.
The Bush Pig is the African equivalent of the European wild boar.
He bears similarities to the feral hogs common in many areas of the US. Bush pigs are mainly nocturnal, however daylight sightings do occur. Bush pigs are very sensitive to any nearby human presence… or any predator for that matter, making them a very difficult animal to hunt. The most effective way to hunt bush pigs is over bait at night. Give your PH plenty of advance if you would like to add a bush pig hunt to your plains game safari.
Bushbuck hunting can be challenging as he is shy and extremely elusive.
The bushbuck is the smallest member of the spiral horned antelope, is solitary, active at night and prefers forested areas. Bushbuck hunting can be compared to whitetail deer hunting in North America.
Caracals, also called sometime African Lynx. Caracal hunting can be a challenge.
Hunting the Caracal is more often than not a chance encounter. A spotlight at night over bait can sometimes be effective. You will probably have to shoot from a blind and be extremely still and quiet. Predator calls can also be employed and can be an effective method to getting this wary feline to show himself. While not legal everywhere, the Caracal can be hunted with dogs in the Eastern Cape.
When hunting Duiker, trophy evaluation can be difficult as most often only fleeting glances will be offered.
Horn tips level with the top of the ears are about 4 inches in length; if the horns extend beyond the ear tips by an inch or more, you are looking at a fairly high scoring trophy. Hunting Duiker can be extremely difficult; this mini-antelope has extremely refined senses, small size, camouflaged coloring, and a habit of staying in or close to the long grass and thick brush.
There are three subspecies of eland in southern Africa: Cape Eland, Livingstone Eland, and East African Eland, all of these subspecies are easier to hunt than the Giant Eland or Lord Derby Eland from central and west Africa.
The Cape Eland are the largest species of the spiral horned antelope and eland hunting makes for an impressive hunting trophy. As well as being huge, the eland is skittish by nature and will run at the slightest sign of danger. A trophy eland bull can easily weigh over 2,500 pounds. Due to their widespread distribution, most hunters take the Cape Eland subspecies on their plains game hunt in South Africa or Namibia. Eland hunting is usually included in a Plains Game package with other species. We have many hunts for eland available.
Hunting Gemsbok requires a good pair of boots, as you are apt to cover a lot of country.
Gemsbok are tough to hunt. they have a survival instinct stronger than any of the other African antelope species you will encounter on a plains game hunt. Both males and females make good trophies, with males carrying the shorter, but heavier horns. The best way to quickly judge a good trophy gemsbok is to compare the ratio of smooth horn to ringed horn. Older animals will have a longer portion of smooth horn on top.
Gyrsbok are small antelope which consist of several subspecies. Cape Grysbok and Sharpe’s Grysbok have coarse speckled coats which vary from light brown to dark orange. The Sharpe’s Grysbok is smaller in size with rounded ears and a more pointed muzzle.
Grysbok hunts can take place at night with a shotgun as they are nocturnal, although they are most often an incidental species that you will come across on your plains game hunt.
Impala hunts are on the agenda for just about every hunter who sets foot in Africa for a plains game hunt.
Found in many areas of Africa, impala are often the dominant species. They are very adaptable being both browsers and grazers. Most hunters will not hunt Africa without hunting impala and they are often used as leopard bait. There are three subspecies of impala, the East African Impala, the Southern Impala and the Black Faced Impala.
While not many hunters go on “standalone” jackal hunts, they are often shot incidentally by hunters on a plains game safari.
The Black-backed Jackal is most common and hunted throughout Southern Africa, and the Side-striped Jackal lives in northern Namibia, Botswana and parts of Zambia. Jackal hunting is very similar to hunting coyotes in North America.
Klipspringer hunts can be very challenging because of the terrain that this little antelope frequents. Be in shape and bring a good pair of boots if you wish to hunt klipspringer on your plains game safari.
The tiny klipspringer, is commonly used as leopard bait and can always be found in rocky, arid mountainous areas and usually in pairs or small family groups.
Kudu hunting is at the top of the list for just about every plains game hunter who comes to Africa.
The kudu rut takes place in May and we encourage any serious kudu hunter to come during that time. The kudu is probably second only to the Impala as Africa’s most sought after trophy.
The “gray ghost,” ubiquitous cliche that it is, is still about the best description anyone has come up with to describe the greater kudu. A kudu doesn’t emerge from the bush, it materializes; they do not walk into deep cover, they vanish like smoke in a stiff breeze. …there is no more impressive single trophy to be had than the horns of a mature greater kudu.” ~Terry Wieland, Spiral Horn Dreams
The red lechwe is a beautiful, medium-sized, semi-aquatic plains game antelope. Red lechwe prefer to live around a floodplain or body of water. They will feed in water up to shoulder height, and often dunk their heads underwater to eat aquatic plants.
Red lechwe hunts can be difficult mostly because of the terrain that they live in. A trophy red lechwe ram will have thick bases running sideways and up from the head, flaring out wide before starting a forward curve. The tips should continue upwards and be smooth and shiny. While some game ranches in South Africa have the highly sought after red lechwe, they live primarily in Botswana, Namibia and Zambia. They are mostly hunted in the floodplains of the Okavango Delta in Botswana.
The beautiful, elegant and slender nyala is a spiral-horned antelope native to Zululand. The nyala’s name translates in the Zulu language to “shifty one”, descriptive of his elusive nature.
Nyala hunts can be very difficult as they are elusive and skittish. A trophy nyala will have bell shaped horns with ivory tips flaring outwards. On a typical 10-day plains game safari, a 25″ nyala bull would be a good bar to set for yourself. Anything over 28″ should be considered an exceptional trophy nyala.
The Oribi is a small antelope, very similar in appearance, but slightly larger that the Steenbok.
Oribi are part of the “Tiny 10″ and any hunters who would like to hunt Oribi should indicate this when booking their safari, as Oribi quota is limited and permits have to be applied for before the hunter’s arrival.
The red hartebeest is also known as the “Harley Davidson” of the antelope, because of the configuration of his horns, this “beest” is truly a strange looking creature.
Red hartebeest hunts can be tough because they have an excellent sense of smell and hearing, but their sense of sight is poor. When alarmed, they tend to mill about in seeming confusion, snorting nervously before running, zigzagging and bouncing. They are normally associated with open country, occurring on various types of grassland, in semi-desert bush savannah and in some cases open woodland.
The Common or Southern Reedbuck is a medium sized antelope usually hunted near water and especially on the floodplain’s.
Hunt Common Reedbuck near the water as they are water dependent and always found were water is abundant. They will usually present themselves in pairs, but may be found in larger herds especially during the winter months.
The rhebok is a medium-sized plains game antelope found only in mountainous areas of South Africa. Also it is known as the Vaal rhebok or grey rhebok.
Vaal rhebok hunts are among the most challenging South African antelope to hunt. They are a fairly rare game animal that is not found in many collections. Hunted mainly by glassing (they blend in very well) and stalking on foot.
Sable are one of the most majestic of the antelope species. A sable makes for a spectacular hunting trophy.
The horns of a trophy sable bull are truly spectacular and the longest of any African antelope with the exception of the kudu. Sable live in herds of up to 30 or more in open and sparsely wooded areas near water.
The Springbok is the only true gazelle found in Southern Africa. Once their numbers were in the millions however today they are confined mostly to the game reserves and game ranches.
In South Africa springbok live in the grasslands of the Free State and the shrublands of the Karoo. In Namibia, springbuck hunts take place in the grasslands of the south, the Kalahari desert to the east and the dry riverbeds of the northern bushveld of the Windhoek region. In Botswana they live in the Kalahari Desert. An unusual characteristic of the springbuck is it’s ability to lift a “flap” that causes long white hairs under the tail to stand up in a conspicuous fan shape. This ritual is known as pronking from the Afrikaans, meaning to boast or show off.
The Steenbok is the largest of the mini antelope associated with the “Little Five”.
Patience is the key to Steenbok hunts, like the rest of the mini antelope species, his super refined senses, small stature, natural camouflage and secretive nature, make steenbok hunting a challenge.
A small antelope species, Suni lives in the coastal regions of Natal Province in South Africa, most of Mozambique, and further northward into the Zambezi Valley.
Suni hunts usually are best along game trails, where they can be ambushed from ground blinds. Your weapon of choice for suni hunting should be the shotgun.
The Tsessebe is the fastest of all African antelope species.
Related to the blesbok and bontebok, tsessebe are very social animals and are often found in the grasslands with large herds of zebra, wildebeest, and sometimes ostriches. The tsessebe has a beautiful hide, but unimpressive horns. Most tsessebe are hunted incidentally by hunters on a plains game safari.
The Warthog is fairly common in Africa. A distant cousin of the European boar, warthogs are near the top of the list for many plains game safari clients.
Bigger than most hunters expect, Warthogs weigh up to 250 lbs and they are tough! Hit them well. Archery hunters should beware that they are surprisingly fast and are notorious string jumpers. Their meat is delicious and the tusks make great trophies. They are also a common species hunted for leopard bait.
A highly prized trophy species, the Waterbuck is big, impressive and never found very far from water.
The best waterbuck trophies have horns with thick, prominent bases which are best judged from the side. They run up and outwards for a considerable length before curling inwards and forward. Often longer narrow horns showing a considerable curl when viewed from the side are a better trophy than horns which run out very wide and upwards from the bases.
Hunting Zebra is usually best in the early morning or late afternoon from a ground blind at a waterhole. Zebras are regular drinkers.
If the trophy you seek is a zebra skin, be warned that the old stallions will be battle scarred and worn. A young male or a mare often makes a better trophy. Zebra a VERY tough, and a well placed shot is critical.
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