Hunting Steenbok in Africa

Hunting Steenbok in Africa

The steenbok (Raphicerus campestris) is a small African antelope found in southern and eastern Africa.  It stands 15 inches to 24 inches at the shoulder.  Males have non-curving horns about 6-7 inches long standing straight up off their skull.  The African steenbok male is a solitary animal, and only associates with a ewe during mating.  It is most active during the early morning hours, or after the day cools down.  If the African steenbok habitat is compromised, the antelope will become nocturnal.

The African steenbok in east Africa lives in central and southern Tanzania and Kenya.  It prefers semi-desert like the edge of the Kalahari Desert where it subsists on a diet of low vegetation and roots that it digs up. Steenbok are found in many parts of South Africa all the way south to the Eastern Cape.  African steenbok satisfy most of their liquid needs through the moisture in their food, and rarely will they drink water.  If the day is cool, the African steenbok stays fairly active.  If the climate is hot, the antelope will seek out shade where it dozes and grooms itself.

Both sexes of African steenboks are quite territorial and will defend against all intruders.  The younger African steenbok will run and hide when an adult approaches.  Females mature at six to eight months; males at nine months.  Breeding can occur at any time during the year with most of the fawns born in November or December.  Some females breed twice within 12 months.  Gestation period is 170 days, with a single offspring produced.  The female African springbok will hide her young under bushes for the first 15 days.  African steenbok have an average life expectancy of 7-8 years.

If an African steenbok is threatened it will first lie flat in the grass to escape detection.  Should this fail, the African antelope will dart away and run in a zig-zag pattern to elude predators.  African steenboks have a habit that is common among plains game antelopes.  They will run a ways, then stop and look back at the danger.  If a hunter expects this, a shot could be taken then, but it would have to be fast.  African steenboks are preyed on by African wild cats, caracals, pythons, eagles, leopards, and jackals.  African steenboks will use other animals to hide from predators.

Hunting steenbok in Africa requires a slow stalk due to the antelope’s habit of hiding in the grass until the last moment, then flushing out of the grass and heading away at high speed.  This antic is guaranteed to give the hunter a double dose of adrenaline, and a pounding heart.  But this is when the African steenbok might do his stop-and-look routine, so the hunter has to be ready to shoot.  Hunting steenbok in Africa can be an intensive hunt.  Other nearby animals can create problems just by their presence.  Patience is necessary when hunting steenbok in Africa.  Like other small antelope, the steenbok has excellent sight, hearing and sense of smell.  Add to this his coloration and his habit of going to ground, and you get a challenging hunt.

Unless a hunter is hunting steenbok in Africa specifically, they can be taken by opportunity during the course of hunting for a different animal.  Here’s where this type of hunt gets interesting.  If you are hunting for wildebeest, it is pretty sure that your rifle will be loaded with some sort of soft point bullet weighing 150-180 grains.  If a steenbok should happen to jump in front of your scope, what’s left after you pull the trigger could be packed away in a small envelope.  It’s best to have a solid up the spout if you don’t want to blow big holes in the antelope’s hide.  A good scope will help, but it needs to be set at, or below, four power.  Shots will be in the 50-80 yard range and happen fast.  You will need a wild field of view to follow the African steenbok’s zigs and zags.  Plus, if the little antelope gets out much past 70-80 yards, it will be the next best thing to impossible so see or shoot it.