Top 5 Animals To Hunt In South Africa

We put together our Top 5 animals to hunt in South Africa on your first trip and the reasons why we chose them plus our main piece of advice for each!

1. Buffalo

If you going to begin you might as well go big, and there isn't many animals bigger or badder than the Cape Buffalo. 

With nicknames such as The Black Death, Dagga Boy and The Tank, the Buffalo demands respect and is a worthy opponent in the African bush. Generally a high priced animal, the thrill and adrenaline of hunting these huge beasts is certainly worth the price tage.

Whether you are tracking them along the muddy banks of a river, peering through the thick Acacia trees to locate an old bull or glassing at one from high atop a rocky ridge, you are always guaranteed a memorable hunt with Buffalo.

Tip: Whether you are using a rifle or a bow, make sure you use the correct calibre and arrow/broadhead weight. Practice shot placement before hand. You don’t want to be chasing a wounded Buffalo!

2. Kudu

Without a doubt this animal tops the list of every hunter's wish list when they first come to Africa.

Dubbed the Grey Ghost, this large animal can literally disappear on you. Many hunters believe with such a large body, long legs and tall curly horns that a Kudu will be easy enough to see. But that isn’t the case as Kudu are often found in thick bush and are extremely cunning when it comes to hiding themselves.

They have incredible hearing, a keen sense of smell and almost binocular vision.

Tip: Bigger bulls will prefer to hide or hang back, rather than run when spooked. So if you see a group of Kudu cows breaking from cover and running away, chances are the bull has stayed behind. Be patient and take your time glassing.

3. Gemsbok

Tougher than dried Elephant skin, these animals are made out of pure muscle. Just have a look at that strong stocky neck! With a long spear like horns, a Gemsbok is a prized animal to hunt.

Preferring the drier more arid regions of Africa, the Gemsbok move in herds out in the open and more inclined to run long distances when bumped by hunters. Shot placement is key on these animals as they are very tough and have been known to run up over mountains and through valleys when wounded. So unless you enjoy tracking for days on end, be sure to hit the right spot.

Tip: Both males and females have horns and when the adrenaline starts pumping or you find a herd in thick bush it can make things difficult to tell them apart. Gemsbok bulls have generally shorter and thinker horns than the female. If in doubt you can always look for the “belly button” of the bull. If in doubt rather don’t pull the trigger.

4. Springbok

These flighty little animals can either make for an exciting hunt or one of the most frustrating times of your life. Springbok love to run and often for no reason at all. Which can really put a damper on your hunt when you have painstakingly crept over rocks and shrubs to close the distance to 200 yards, only to see your prized ram go sprinting off for no reason.

Springbok live in similar habitats to the Gemsbok but they would much rather stay in the open flat areas. In my opinion they have the sharpest eye sight out of all the plains game species and can spot a hunters movement from 400 yards out. Moving slowly and quietly is key when going after South Africa’s national animal.

Tip: Practice shooting and be comfortable at 200 to 300 yards, as that is the average distance for springbok hunting. Use a fast flat shooting calibre such as a .222-50 up to a .270

5. Zebra

It’s not a horse! Some of the most challenging hunts I have ever guided have been on Zebra. These striped animals are just as worthy an opponent as a Kudu, Nyala, Impala, Springbok or even a Buffalo. They are strong, like to run, have incredible senses and are very adaptable in their environment.

If you want to be challenged while in Africa, then go after a Zebra. You won’t regret it.

Tip: The stripes on a Zebra’s leg run horizontally and as they move up to the shoulder they begin turning vertically making an almost triangle shape. That’s your shot placement. Find that “triangle” and hit it.

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