Hunting Black Wildebeest in Africa

Hunting Black Wildebeest in Africa

The Black wildebeest (Connochaetes gnou) is sometimes referenced to as the white-tailed gnu.  It’s average weight runs between 250-425 pounds.  Shoulder height is four feet.  Overall length 65 inches to 90 inches.  The black wildebeest has a dark brown to black coat with a rather incongruous white tail. Males are darker than females.  Both sexes have forward-curving horns up to 30 inches long with the female’s being shorter but similar in shape to the male’s horns. 

It is a herbivore, existing almost exclusively on grass.  It needs to drink daily, but can survive if water is scarce.  Black wildebeest are active during the early morning hours and after the heat has gone out of the day.  This makes the early morning and late afternoons the best times to hunt black wildebeest in Africa.

Black wildebeest are capable of speeds of up to fifty miles per hour.  Life expectancy is 20 to 22 years in the wild.  Black wildebeest are prey to lions, hyenas, Cape hunting dogs, leopards, cheetahs, and crocodiles.  Crocodiles feed on sick, old, or young black wildebeest drinking at waterholes.  They rise out of the water and drag the unfortunate animal into the water where they will drown them.  Lions hunt the mature black wildebeest, while calves are hunted by hyenas and leopards..

African black wildebeests belong to one of three distinct groups.  The male herds consist of young males, or those past the breeding age.  The female herd consists of adult females with their calves.  Then there are the mature males who establish their own territory and maintain it throughout the year.  Male black wildebeest become sexually mature at three years of age; females at one or two years.  Black wildebeest breed annually.

A dominant male black wildebeest will control a number of females and not allow other males to breed with them.  Gestation lasts eight and one half months on the average, with births taking place from mid-November to the first week of January.  The calves weigh about 25 pounds at birth.  They are able to stand and run shortly after birth, which is necessary for survival.

Hunting black wildebeest in Africa at first glance looks fairly simple.  The animal, sometimes nicknamed “the poor man’s Cape buffalo”, lives on the open plains in vast herds.  Although easy to locate, he is anything but easy to stalk.  As the hunter tries to get within shooting range of the black wildebeest, the animal will turn and run in the opposite direction.  Sometimes it will run but a short distance, then stop and look back.  Sometimes the black wildebeest will run, jump, gyrate, spin, and leap into the air seemingly all at once.  Sometimes it will do all  of this for no discernible reason whatsoever. 

Expect shots to be long, up to 250-300 yards, unless the lay of the land allows stalking closer.  Look for a fold in the land, or some trees that will give some cover.  When hunting black wildebeest in Africa, some success has been had by approaching the black wildebeest at an angle, not looking directly at the animal, and seeming to walk parallel while actually closing on it. 

Determining sex when hunting black wildebeest in Africa will require good optics as the female and male are very similar.  Males have heavier horns than the females.  Rely on your Professional Hunter for advice.  Using shooting sticks helps when shooting at black wildebeest distances.

Choice of caliber when hunting black wildebeest in Africa is very important for two reasons, distance, and toughness of the animal.  They can be dangerous when wounded.  Minimum caliber should be a .270-.7mm with a premium 150 grain bullet.  A better choice would be any of the .300 Magnum - .338 Magnum family of cartridges, with a bullet weight between 180 grains and 225 grains.