Hunting Roan in Africa

Hunting Roan in Africa

The African roan antelope (Hippotragus equinus) is found in southern Africa and areas in the east and west.  It is a horse-like antelope, uniform brownish gray lightning to white on the belly.  The roan is sometimes mistaken for a female sable antelope.  The male weighs between 570 pounds and 700 pounds; females run between 490 pounds to 620 pounds.  Both bulls and cows have horns, with the female‘s being smaller.  The male roan antelope’s horns can be up to three feet long and arch backwards over their head. 

African roan inhabit savannah woodlands and grasslands near water similar to the central Zambezian woodlands where the African roan can drink daily.  Usually the roan associate in herds of from five to 12 animals.  Dominant males will defend the females and often engage in combat with other males.  African roan fight on their knees.  Injury is rare, however the roan is a large, powerful animal and some of the engagements can end in a fatality if one of the bulls doesn’t yield.  When hunting roan in Africa the hunter has to be aware of the animal’s horns and take precaution not to get injured by a back sweep of the African roan’s head.  Just make sure it has expired before reaching down to handle it.

African roan antelope need lots of space to thrive and breed.  They are seldom seen where there is a high density of other animals.  They do best if their habitat consists of high grasses and succulent plants.  This environment provides grazing and protection for the African roan calves.  They can survive where the soil is poor as long as there’s water nearby.

Finding multiple mature African roan antelopes in a herd is very rare.  However, finding a large herd of dozens of females with one dominant male isn’t uncommon.  The younger males and the old roan males are fairly common but live outside the herds.  Rather than shooting the dominant male out of the herd, it’s better to hunt the African roan loners because it can take nearly a year for the herd to take on another male.

Hunting roan in Africa should begin in areas near water.  Look for spoor around the waterhole and be there at daybreak when the African roan is out in the open feeding.  When hunting the African roan, remember the old adage “use enough gun”.  The roan is a tough, large, aggressive antelope; is a potentially dangerous animal, and can charge you if wounded. 

The male African roan antelope can have quite an attitude and just stand and watch you as you approach.  Be cautious on an African roan hunt because the bull is fast and can be on you in a flash.  It is legal to hunt African roan with a rifle in the .260/7mm/.300 calibers, but with a 600-700 pound animal, you would be much better off with a .338 class magnum.  A better choice is something like the 9.3x57mm or the old standby, the 375 H&H.  Choose a well- constructed bullet like either the Barnes 300 grain Triple Shock, or Nosler’s 300 grain Partition.

An average African roan trophy has 25 inches of horn.  A good trophy is anything above 26.5 inches.  If the African roan hunt yields a set of horns that measures 27.6 inches or better, that is an excellent trophy.  In the county of Benin, where African roan populations are high, over an eight year period of time, the average horn length of roan harvested was 25.2 inches.

When hunting roan in Africa, the high heart/lung shot will drop the roan and put him in the salt.  For a neck/spine shot on your African roan, aim at the center of the neck.  Set your crosshairs dead center on the chest for a frontal shot.