Trophy Hunting the Damara dik-dik
The Damara dik-dik is found primarily in Southwest Angola and northern Namibia. It is one of the “tiny ten” antelopes of southern Africa. The name, “dik-dik”, originated from the noise they make when whistling through their noses. They weigh between 10-12 pounds and stand 15-16 inches at the shoulder. Male life expectancy in the wild is nine years. In Namibia, Damara dik-diks prefer the rocky limestone country, and are found in the highest density from Grootfontein, to the Waterberg Mountains, south towards Omaruru, and Karibib in the Erongo Mountains. They also can be found in Angola, however most hunting takes place in Namibia
Only the rams have horns that are straight and point slightly backwards. Their coloration ranges from yellow gray to light brown with a white belly. Their coloration, and tendency to hide makes them hard to locate when trophy hunting dik-dik. They can stand absolutely still which makes locating one difficult. When spooked, they rush off, darting from side to side, then freeze when they find cover. They have excellent hearing and eyesight, and a finely-developed sense of smell. Their natural enemies include jackals, badgers, snakes, baboons, and big cats that inhabit their arid range.
Damara dik-diks can be found in pairs, or as a single animal. They have been known to herd with up to four individuals. They do not need to drink water, but will if it is available. The best months for hunting Damara dik-dik are from May through November.
The Damara dik-dik Hunt
While hunting Damara dik-diks look for dung piles and spore. They are very territorial, and tend to use the same dung pile on a regular basis. This is one of their methods of marking their territory which can be as much as 9 acres. Damara dik-diks are browsers. Look for freshly-chewed leaves, fruit or green grass stems. They feed in the early morning, or through the late afternoon, preferring to lie up in shade during the hottest part of the day.
Hunting trophy Damara dik-dik in Namibia is usually done by one of three methods. The first involves locating the dik-dik’s territory, or dung pile where it comes to defecate on a regular basis. This method of hunting a trophy ram works best in the early morning or late afternoon when the animal is moving. You will have to scan the bush carefully, looking for the dik-dik to enter your vision. Or, you can find an open area near a watering source or bush where there are indications that the animal is traveling through.
The second method of hunting Damara dik-dik involves walking or driving through an area where it has its dung pile or is known to inhabit. Or, look for the animal itself during a slow stalk.
The third method is somewhat similar to the second. Once you have sign that the Damara dik-dik is in a certain area, set up a stalk by slowly and quietly walking the ground while searching carefully for fresh tracks, or the animal itself. Remember, the Damara dik-dik will usually freeze if it senses danger, and then run. Keep your eyes down low as the animal will blend in with the bush. Don’t look too far ahead, or the only sight of the animal you will get is as it bounds away. If you see a female, take time to look for the male, as dik-diks often travel in pairs. Dik-diks will whistle or snort when alarmed. If you hear one, stop and carefully check the area where the sound originated.
When you spot a trophy Damara dik-dik you will only have a short time to take the shot. The odds are that the antelope has already seen or winded you, and will run out of sight in a very few seconds. If the animal bolts, or you can’t get a shot, you can return to the same area the following day, because as it is very territorial, and will probably be close to where you first saw it.
Due to the rocky nature of the Damara dik-dik’s habitat, it can be difficult to follow a blood trail. It is important that you can locate where the ram was standing when shot. It helps to have a second person stand where the ram was sighted while you search for the animal. If hit properly, it should not travel more than a few yards.
Judging Trophy Damara dik-diks
A Damara dik-dik is considered to be mature at four years of age. Older, trophy rams have horns with thick rings on their bases. The rings are visible above the forehead hair. Horn tips can be broken or worn with a typical length of 2-1/2 inches to 4 inches. Roland Ward’s Record book shows the longest Damara dik-dik horn to be 4-1/8 inches. Horns are measured from the front of the horn from the lowest edge of the base to the tip. Horns of equal length are ranked by circumference at the base and tip to tip measurements. Safari Club International measures the length of each horn taken along the center of its front surface from tip to base, and the circumference of the horn at the base. Currently, SCI shows the #1 dik-dik to be 11-10/16 inches total score. To qualify as Gold, the SCI minimum is 9-15/16 inches.
Judging horn length in the field with the dik-dik head on is difficult as the bottom of the horns can be obscured by a tuft of hair the dik-dik has on its forehead. Because the terrain is rough and the vegetation is thick, a moving dik-dik can be hard to judge due to limited views. If the horns are level with the ear tips, they are in the 3-inch range. If above the ear tips, don’t hesitate as they are record-book material.
Three things that indicate a mature trophy Damara dik-dik are that the rings or ridges of the horns are exposed above the forehead hair tuft; broken or worn horn tips; or horns that splay outward as they rise.
Firearms and Equipment for Damara dik-dik Hunting
When it comes to caliber and bullets for hunting trophy Damara Dik-Diks, just about everything from .22 long rifle to .375 H&H magnums with 300-grain bullets have been used. Shots will happen anywhere from 10 yards to a maximum of 100 yards. Because the dik-dik is close to the ground and is hard to see in the thick bush they prefer, fast shooting will be necessary. Your rifle should be one that you are quite familiar and comfortable with. Sometimes a shotgun is used; choice of shot size being #2 to #4, but usually the rifle is preferred, as the shotgun pellets can do a lot of damage to the hide.
Sometimes the dik-dik is seen while out hunting for a different species. Then it’s just use whatever rifle you have handy. If your hunt is a “tiny ten” hunt, then your choice of firearm can be specific for the animal. Any caliber with bullets traveling under 2,400 feet per second will work provided that you use either premium soft points or monolithic solids. Due to the heavy brush encountered and the possibility of having to shoot through a small hole in a large bush, a bullet between 140-grains and 180-grains would be a better choice. All bullets will be deflected by striking a twig, but the heavier bullets will be less-affected than the lighter ones. The fast-moving 75-90 grain .243 bullets can explode when they impact small branches at close range.
Damara dik-dik Shot Placement and Optics
Any shot from 1/3 to ½ up the chest right behind the foreleg will impact the vitals. The total area of the chest is about the size of a fist, so accurate shooting is necessary. For the ranges involved, an adjustable scope from 3-9 power is preferred. A fixed power scope in the 3x to 4x range will work for close (under 50 yards) shots, but because of the Damara dik-diks small size, a higher range magnification would be a better choice when the range gets past 70 yards.
Good binoculars are a necessity for sexing the dik-dik, judging horn size, and scouting the bush. The shot could have to be taken from any position from standing to lying in the dirt. Proper clothing is important as the Damara dik-dik habitat comes equipped with some very healthy thorns that can make for some very interesting scars.
The hunt is as important as the trophy. When you come upon a mature Damara dik-dik, be ready to take the shot. If you happen to find a ram with a pair of trophy horns, take it and be proud of the trophy. Make sure the dik-dik is the one you want, and will be proud to display it in your trophy room.