Hunting Coke's Hartebeest in Africa

Hunting Coke's Hartebeest in Africa

The Coke’s Hartebeest (Alcelaphus buselaphus cokii) is sometimes known as the kongoni.  It is a species of antelope found in Kenya, where hunting is closed, and northern Tanzania where hunting Coke’s hartebeest in Africa is permitted.  The name “hartebeest” comes from the Africaans word “hertebeest” meaning “deer” and “beast”, as the Boers who were descendants of the Dutch who thought the animal looked like a deer.  The Coke’s hartebeest has a long, narrow head, high shoulders and tends to be taller than most African antelope. 

It’s one of the smallest subspecies of hartebeest, weighing up to 20% less than the red hartebeest and being somewhat shorter.  It leads a sedentary lifestyle, and is normally found in medium to tall grasslands.  It feeds almost exclusively on grass, only consuming melons or tubers if there is no free standing water available.  It isn’t too selective about the quality of grass it eats, and can survive well on scrub grass and low quality food.

Both sexes of the Coke’s hartebeest have horns that rise out and up and are curved back away from the head.  The current population of Coke’s hartebeest is right around 28,000.  There are a surprisingly small number of predators hunting Coke’s hartebeest in Africa.  Leopards and the other big cats will prey on them, but the Coke’s hartebeest doesn’t account for much of their diet.  Only a lion will take on a mature adult; the rest of the cats will go after the young, but not often. 

Coke’s hartebeest live on open savanna and wooded grasslands.  They form herds of up to 20 antelope, consisting of the dominant male, females, and their young.  If they stay in one area too long, they will exhaust their food supply and be forced to migrate to locate another food source.  They will form herds numbering from the low hundreds to many more when they migrate.  Their lifespan in the wild is between 10 to 12 years.

Adult male Coke’s hartebeest are territorial and will acquire harems for mating.  Dominant males will fight to maintain their breeding harem.  They will use their horns to attempt to gore the other male until it submits and breaks off the fight by departing.  A winning male can hold his harem for 5 to 7 years before a younger male drives him off.

Hunting Coke’s hartebeest in Africa calls for a good quality flat shooting rifle.  The hunt will be in Tanzania on the open plains, so be prepared to reach out 200-250 yards for the shot.  The .300 magnums, be they Winchester, Weatherby, or one of the other .30 caliber rifles, loaded with 180-grain bullets will certainly do the job.  Because the Hartebeest can weigh close to 300 pounds, using something heavier, like a .338 Winchester Magnum with a 225 grain Barnes bullet, or even the .340 Weatherby Magnum with a similar bullet would not be overkill.

Another important point about hunting Coke’s hartebeest in Africa is choosing the right optics for the possibility of long-range shots.  Any good quality scope from Leupold, Nikon, Burris, or Schmidt & Bender will work as long as it has at least 3x9, or better, magnification. 

A good Coke’s hartebeest trophy will have very thick bases, a good, deep outward curl and long points running back to shining tips. It is necessary to see the front and profile of the animal before a good judgment can be taken and best left to your PH to say take him.