Hunting Waterbuck in Africa

Hunting Waterbuck in Africa

The waterbuck (Kobus ellipsiprymnus) is a large antelope found widely in sub-Sahara Africa in Angola, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Namibia, South Africa, and other countries. Males are larger than females, weighing between 430 and 580 pounds, and standing 47 to 54 inches at the shoulder.  Females weigh 350 to 470 pounds and reach a height between 40 to 47 inches at the shoulder.  The long spiral horns found only on the male can reach 39 inches in length.  The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists the waterbuck as “Least Concern”.

Waterbucks are rather sedentary in nature, though some migration may occur with the onset of the monsoon. They form herds of up to 30 animals for defense against predators hunting waterbuck in Africa.  The various groups consist of the bachelor herd, the nursery herd, and dominant males.  Herd size maxes out in summer, then fragments with onset of winter, possibly due to lack of food.  Males start to show dominance and become territorial by age five, but are most dominant from age six to nine. 

The waterbuck cannot tolerate lack of water, especially during hot days, so it stays in areas with a good supply of water.  The waterbuck is primarily a grazer with grass making up almost all of its diet.  It will consume reeds or newly grown rushes.    In the dry season, up to 30 per cent of the day is spent browsing for leaves, small fresh shoots and fruit, but no time is spent browsing during the wet season. 

Waterbucks are slower than other antelopes in the rate of maturity.  While males become sexually active at six years of age, females reach the same point in two years.  In habitat near the equator, breeding takes place year round, and births peak during the rainy season.  However, breeding is seasonal in the Sudan, occurring within a four month season.  Breeding in areas of southern Africa can last even longer.  Gestation lasts eight months, with the birth of a single calf.  Twins are possible, but rare.  Calves stay hidden for up to two months, and are weaned at eight months.

There are not a lot of predators hunting waterbuck in Africa.  The animal’s sweat glands produce a horrible discharge that keeps the coat dry, but stinks up the meat something terrible.  When hunting waterbuck in Africa, a good pair of binoculars will be essential, as the animal can be spotted from quite a distance on the open grasslands and flood plains where they tend to stay. They have excellent eyesight and hearing, but are not hard to approach, due to their sedentary nature. 

When hunting waterbuck in Africa, the choice of caliber is important.  Trophy males can weigh 550 to 600 pounds and take a bit of work to get in the salt.  The .270 caliber is minimal, but the 7mm Magnum or one of the big .30 calibers with good expanding bullets are a much better choice.  If a broadside shot is available when hunting waterbuck in Africa, aim right behind the foreleg and one-third up the body for a good heart/lung shot.  Should the waterbuck be facing you, aim for the point where the neck touches the chest, and shoot right into dead center.  The hardest shot, and one that should only be taken if it looks like it won’t improve, is the front or rear quartering shot.  This will involve aiming for the quartering away leg on the opposite side of the waterbuck and shoot through the body.  This should insure that the lungs get hit, and probably the heart also.