I am hoping to go on my first African Plains Game Safari soon, and I wanted to acquaint myself with some of the animals I may be hunting while there. I’ll start with Judging Blue Wildebeest, they’re pretty cool in their unique ugliness. I guess I have a fondness for the “weird looking” animals. Another of my favorites are warthogs.
According to an African legend, God made this animal from bits and pieces that were left over after He had finished creating all the other animals. He gave it the face of a mule, a goat’s beard, the horns of a cow, and the body of a horse.
He goes by a variety of names. The Afrikaners call him “wildebees”, the Dutch call him “gnoe”, in Kiswahili it is “nyumbu”, the Xhosa say “i-ngu”, and the Bushman know him as “!nu”. This animal, known by the ancient ones as “The Old Fool of the Veld”, is the unmistakable Blue Wildebeest of Africa. The name “Blue Wildebeest” derives from the silvery blue sheen on his short-haired hide, differentiating this species from the more drab Black Wildebeest.
Weight: 440 – 600 lbs (male); 370 – 516 lbs (female)
Height: 46 – 57 inches
Our PH says that Blue Wildebeest are tough, and fairly hard to put down. A 30-06 or larger caliber is advised, but I hope to be doing most of my hunting with my bow. Wildebeest are usually found in bushy areas and shots can vary from 70 up to 200 yards in the more open areas. Blue Wildebeests can tolerate dry conditions, but they require a drink every day or so. If you wound one, be prepared for a long day as they can cover a lot of ground in a surprisingly short period of time.
Judging Blue Wildebeest
While judging Blue Wildebeest trophy size, my recommendation would be to first start observing at the overall look of the horns. There are several factors that need to be taken into account in judging the horns of the Blue Wildebeest. A combination of spread, bases (known as the boss), depth of the curl, length of the points and thickness of the are the key to an amazing trophy. Measure the outside spread from the tip of one horn moving down the outside following along the curl and up to the base then continue straight across the forehead and follow the same path all the way up to the tip of the other side.
Probably the first thing that hunters are conditioned to look at while judging a Blue Wildebeest is the straight out length of the spread of the horns when the Wildebeest is looking directly at you, basically checking to see if the horns reach the end of the tip of the ears before hooking up and back. Comparing the outside horns spread to the tip of the ears gives gauge as to the size of the trophy. If the straight outside spread of the horns reaches the tips of the ears, the straight outside spread measurement should be bigger than 24 inches (60.96 cm) and can be considered a good starting point for a mature trophy animal. The farther the horns pass the tip of the ears, the better the trophy bull will be. A straight outside spread measurement greater than 27 inches (60.96 cm) makes for a great trophy.
The horns of the Blue Wildebeest will usually not meet or fuse together, however the size of the gap between the two horns is a good indication as to the circumference of the bases. The smaller the gap between the two horns the greater the measurement of the bases circumference will be and how much the circumference of the bases will make a big difference in the total measurement of the overall trophy, often adding several inches for a trophy with bigger bases. Note that the pronounced bump, also known as the boss, sometime seen at the bases of the horns is not a reliable indication of the circumference of the bases themselves. Bases of a good Wildebeest will have a circumference of 12 inches (30.48 cm) to 14 inches (35.56 cm).
The depth of the curls of the horns on a Blue Wildebeest will have only a bit of an impact on the overall size of the trophy. Some animals will have no depth of curl in their horns making their horns appear to shoot straight out, looking almost flat. This does not mean that the Wildebeest will not measure well, though it usually is a sign of lesser measurement in the spread of the horns. It is a different shape of horns which does not necessarily mean that the animal is immature.
If I get one, I think I will just do a European Mount. I’ve seen the tanned hides before and they make great rugs with the subtle blue shine. I might think about that too… but I need to be aware of my budget on this trip. I’ll be featuring more of the species I hope to hunt on this trip soon…