Hunting Springbok in Africa

Hunting Springbok in Africa

The springbok (Antidorcas marsupialis) is the national animal of South Africa.  A medium antelope, it prefers open plains with grass tall enough to hide in if threatened by a predator.  It is extremely fast, hitting speeds of 60+ miles per hour, and can leap 12 feet through the air.  Male African springboks weigh 70 to 105 pounds, stand 27 to 35 inches at the shoulder, and measure 60 to 77 inches total length.  Both males and females have horns.  The ram is slightly larger than the ewe, and his horns are thicker than the ewe’s longer horns.  Average horn length for both sexes is 14 inches.

African springbok habitat covers inland areas of South Africa, Namibia, and Botswana.  Their numbers are estimated at 2,500,000 in South Africa alone where they are found on the grasslands of The Free State, and the Greater and Smaller Karoo.  They inhabit most of Namibia and the Kalahari Desert in Botswana.

African springbok feed by grazing and browsing depending on when the grass is fresh.  They can fill most of their water needs through the food they consume.  African springbok are most active at first light and after the heat has gone out of the day.  During times of high temperature they will feed at night and seek shade during the hottest hours.  It has been reported that under extreme conditions African springbok can go their entire life without drinking water.  They graze early, usually before dawn when the leaves and flowers are freshest and covered with dew.

African springboks mate anytime during the year.  Gestation lasts 170 days and a single   calf is born.  Rarely are twins produced. The calves are hidden under bushes while the ewe feeds nearby.  African springbok calves usually leave the protection of the ewe between six and twelve months of age.  Females mature sexually at seven months; males at 24 months.  Life expectancy is up to ten years in the wild.

African springbok hunting has gone on since man hunted with stone and spear.  They are hunted today throughout their habitat in Namibia, Botswana, and South Africa.  Their meat is highly prized and their hides are highly valued.  The African springbok population is actually on the increase, partly due to ranchers farming them.

Hunting springbok in Africa requires a great deal of patience, skill at stalking, a solid shooting support, and a fast, flat shooting rifle.  These animals are small, and from a head on position offer little target profile.  They have eyes like 4 power binoculars, and will run and leap at the slightest provocation, making them hard to approach.  Average range for African springbok shots varies from 100 yards out to where they resemble little brown dots.  For that reason, a rifle shooting the 7 mm Magnum, or any of the real flat shooting .30 caliber magnums - 300 Winchester Magnum, .308 Norma Magnum, et all - is best.  The 243 Winchester will do an admiral job on these little antelopes, but only if the range is kept reasonable. 

When hunting springbok in Africa a good quality telescopic sight is mandatory.  If you prefer fixed power scopes, then a six power would work well.  Most hunters use some sort of variable power scope.  In that case something like the Leupold VX-6 in 3-18x44mm would be ideal.  Practice off of shooting sticks - practice a lot.  Side shots on African springbok at distance are hard enough, but if you have no choice but a quartering, or head on shot, the skill level goes up exponentially.  Best practice when hunting springbok in Africa is to wait until a side shot is available.  This will take time, crawling and watching the wind, but it can be done.