GEMSBOK - Oryx gazella
A quick look at the habitat of the gemsbok immediately draws a realisation of the inherent strength and survival capabilities of this animal. It ranks as one of Southern Africa's most sought after species, an exotic looking trophy compared with many of the other more common antelope.
Forming mixed herds of 12 or more dominated by a herd bull, gemsbok are most active at dawn and dusk especially around water. They are often easily spotted due to their preference for open areas and their black and white masked faces are easy to pick out. Mature Gemsbok bulls become solitary and are territorial although clashes are seldom fatal. Female Gemsbok hide their young for the first few months after birth before being introduced to the herd.
Both females and male Gemsbok have the long, straight, ringed horns used successfully and effectively against predators like lion and leopard. Males typically have shorter stout horns with heavy bases while females sport the classic long razor sharp horns.
Ranging primarily through the expanse of the Kalahari and its fringes, the Gemsbok is adapted for desert and semi-desert life in unique ways. They can go for extended periods without water, have large hooves for even weight displacement in the sand and a unique temperature mechanism which allows their body heat to rise to dangerously high levels.
Gemsbok hunting tips - the hunt
Gemsbok are tough animals with a survival instinct un equalled in other antelope. Your first shot has to count and must hit a vital area. Therefore it is essential to get in close and have a good shot. They feed mostly in the mornings and tend to hole up in the shade during the heat of the day, often lying down. They blend very well with their natural surroundings and one will often not see them until they burst away.
Gemsbok hunting tips - the caliber
A good medium to heavy long shooting plains game caliber is needed such as the 300's and 7mm Magnums although 270's and 30-06's are also perfectly good calibers. Modern soft nosed or partition bullets in the 130 - 180 grain class are recommended.
Gemsbok hunting tips - the trophy
Both males and females make good trophies with males carrying heavier bases but on average shorter horns. It is difficult to distinguish between males and females, particularly at a distance or in thicker cover. Often males horns tend to form a slight cup-like shape from just above the bases and may flow slightly backwards when viewed from the side.
The quickest way to judge a good trophy is to compare the ratio of smooth horn to ringed horn. Older animals will have a longer portion of smooth horn above the ringed section which should start from wide bases. More than half of the total horn length should be smooth and often PHs will refer to a good set of horns as shining, denoting prolonged use and an older animal.
hunting tips - where Gemsbok
The classic ship of the desert in southern Africa, the Gemsbok is endemic to the open expanses of the Kalahari which covers numerous provinces in South Africa. For the essential experience hunt in the true Kalahari duneveldt where great herds of these magnificent beasts wander in solitude. Head to the towns of Kuruman, Kimberly or the best option - Upington near the Kalahari Gemsbok national park and the bushman clans surrounding it.