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Definition of Big Game

This is a discussion on Definition of Big Game within the Hunting Africa forums, part of the HUNT AFRICA category; What is the definition of big game in an African context? What in terms of species, size, weight is the ...

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    Shallom's Avatar
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    What is the definition of big game in an African context? What in terms of species, size, weight is the seperation point between Big Game and non big game? Please enlighten me on a common concept as i know there are many varried personal guidelines. Ahsante sana.
    Ryan Shallom (CEO)
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    For the most part I believe it is the size of the animal and I will count Elephant, Hippo, Rhino, Buffalo and maybe Giraffe under big game, all have very thick skin and will take a shot very well!
    Lammie Potgieter
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    Thanks for your input Lammie... i agree with you on the size, thickness of the skin and ability to take a shot. But do you agree that it is a somewhat relative classification? Generally the factors we both agree with are genuine guidelines, but there is no specific designation still... I personally prefer it this way as it allows the hunter to have his/her decision on what is big game and what is not. Similar to Dangerous Game, which is another whole matter of discussion. Cheers.
    Ryan Shallom (CEO)
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    It is all very subjective.....over here in North America most people classify anything from Pronghorn Antelope up as big game. Dangerous game would be the big bears and wild bison. Small game has typically referred to varmints and critters like rabbits and such.

    If you used that sort of classification then springbok (gazelle family) up would be big-game in Africa, but we also see the terms big game, thick skinned game and dangerous game thrown into the mix. Eland and giraffe get a bit of special attention in the cartridge and bullet selection department due to their immense size............as should elk, moose and bison on this side of the pond.

    I guess I tend to view things as big game being whitetail deer sized animals and up and then the sub-category dangerous game for the applicable African species we all know and love. If there were other common terms it would seem appropriate to split the big game into two different size categories as there is a big difference between the class of animals like Grant's, Tommies and springbok.................and sable, roan, oryx and eland.
    Last edited by Skyline; 02-14-2009 at 10:51 PM.

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    For me what constitutes Big Game is synonymous with Dangerous Game and the Big Six - Elephant, Rhino, Buffalo, Lion, Leopard and Hippo.

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    Thanks for all the input... I suppose it is a very subjective topic. I usually judge all game to be taken with a 30 calibre or above as big game and anything that can bite and hit back as dangerous game. Snakes not included though i will say i would rather face a raging buffalo bull than a black mamba. To me anything impala size and above qualifies as big game and buffalo/lion/leopard/elephant/rhino/hippo/crocodile qualify as dangerous. Cheers and happy to have a broader knowledge of this matter from fellow hunters.
    Ryan Shallom (CEO)
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    It can also depend on the region you live in. Here in georgia there are 3 different animals on your big game license. Whitetail deer, black bear and turkey. I dont realy consider a turkey as big game. Of course after you throw a 20+ pound turkey over your shoulder and tote him up and down a couple of ridges, he seems to get bigger by the minute.
    I think springbok up is a good divider as far as big game. Then all the dangerous game in another catogory all to themselves.
    I have walked in the tracks of the elephant, heard the lion roar and met the buffalo on his terms. I shall never be the same.

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    I hear you about the little ones getting heavier - I had a red-duiker that we had to walk out of the forest with... after half an hour, the little duiker felt like a cape buffalo on my back!

    Geography does play a big role on classification though. Dangerous Game deserves it own category indeed. Keep those turkeys coming...
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    When you hear an African PH say big game he is referring to the dangerous seven! Leopard, lion, cape buffalo, rhino, elephant, crock and hippo!

    All else are called plains game regardless if they are on the plains or not, and it includes the very small antelopes.

    Then you have the non-game animals like rabbits, and other small things not on license, or protected.

    I always have to laugh when I hear folks call a little whitetail big game.
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    It seems to me that the term 'Big Game' has been hi-jacked in recent years, to include anything that isn't a very small animal. An illustration of this is the forum 'BigGameHunt.net', on which the home page has a picture of a couple of Turkeys and the subsequent alphabetical Big Game list starts at Alligator, ends with Wolf and includes Turkey, Goat, Whitetail and Hog.

    Classically, Big Game was closely aligned with African Dangerous Game, which is of course the big five: Elephant, Lion, Leopard, Buffalo and Rhino, plus Hippo and Crocodile as later additions (hunting the five is truly dangerous whereas hunting hippo and croc is usually less risky).

    I think PHs can be forgiven for agreeing with a client who wants to call his Steenbok hunt a quest for Big Game; after all, in any business the customer is always right! Deep down though, I think the common sentiment is that the top five species of Dangerous Game, plus Hippo and Crocodile constitute Big Game.

    I agree with Jerome and Dugaboy1

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    Well I think this entire topic (my second post) is very subjective as said by Shallom.

    It is very obvious that many Africans (and I mean born and raised, not clients who wish they were) view 'big game' pretty much the same as the term 'dangerous game' used to identify the big 5 and croc and hippo. I see a few variations in how things are viewed
    Now Dugaboy1, coming from Texas i can see why you would consider whitetail as small game.....but ours weigh as much as some caribou, not like your hill country whitetail that are smaller than or equal to a pronghorn. And on that note....what about a pronghorn, impala or springbok sized critter. You may not view the tiny little whitetail from Texas as big game but I can assure you they are seen as such by most hunters in North America. In fact when you look at most info from provincial and state wildlife agencies.........many refer to deer, black bear, elk, etc as 'big game'. So am I to assume that everyone over here is wrong on what constitutes big game and thus how they view what is and isn't big game in Africa?

    As I mentioned previously part of the problem is local and terms used by the 'locals'.

    When I shoot a 325 pound whitetail buck, a 600 pound black bear or a 2400 pound wood bison............what should I call them?

    Now I know this next comment is going to draw a lot of heat.....I am old and do not care.......but the small antelopes that I simply have no interest in ......what do we call them so that we know what we are talking about on both sides of the ponds. Mini-lopes, royal game, small game (over here that means rabbits, squirrels, etc.).

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    In my mind I would call it the Dangerous 7 and Plains Game!!

    ..Technically I would consider Duiker on up as Big Game but it seems as though everyone has an opinion and no ones budging!! Just like I don't consider Turkeys Big Game!! Migatory birds & other birds are considered small game - unless we are talking Ostrich or Emu!!

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    I like to keep my life simple..In the USA anything bigger than a coyote is big game...

    In Africa anything bigger than one of those funny little Rockchucks that look like an elephant (Dassie) is big game..Duiker on up..

    If I am shooting a big game rifle then big game is the prey. In this case size doesn't matter!

    Dangerous game is the big 5....
    RAY ATKINSON

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    Arizona law defines the ten big game animals in our state as elk, mule deer, white-tailed deer, bighorn sheep, pronghorn antelope, black bear, mountain lion, bison, javelina and turkey.

    Our law also defines small game, non-game, game birds, migratory birds, non-game birds, and protected species.

    In Africa, where truly big and dangerous game animals are encountered, I've always considered "big game" to be the Big Five, plus crocodile and hippo.

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    That about sums it up Bill for us NA hunters.

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    Default when in Rome....

    Many counties and states have game laws that define their animals as "big" or "small" game, Fur bearers, Varmints, Dangerous, etc.

    But since the original question was;
    What is the definition of big game in an African context?
    I would be inclined to agree with; Dartobowhunt,
    For the most part I believe it is the size of the animal and I will count Elephant, Hippo, Rhino, Buffalo and maybe Giraffe under big game, all have very thick skin and will take a shot very well!


    However, many folks I know consider themselves to be Big Game hunters when shooting critters that won’t readily fit into a game pouch!

    And one particular hunter I encountered, though not out of site of his Safari car, would likely have tipped the scales at 400+ and I’d definitely call that a “big” game hunter!
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    You are correct that the African context is the key to this particular question. That said, the historical and regional context are what drive the answers. The notion of "high" and "low" game goes back to medieval Europe and that game reserved for royalty. In that context, the Red Stag and wild boar were "Hochwild" or high game and, for instance, the Roe Deer was available to great unwashed. That division has persisted to the modern era where we have large and small game, fortunately without a royal privilege involved (though if trophy and lincense fees keep increasing, I may have to rethink that). In Africa, I think we may have an evolution taking place as well where certainly the big five are "big" game. But now we also speak of the big seven. And where do trophies such as the Sable and Lord Derby Eland fit into the mix? They certainly are something other than an Wildebeast.

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    and.... to make things more interesting, anything smaller than a blesbuck is a "ram" and anything larger a "bull"

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    I always thought of big game as anything you'd have to shoot with a .243 rifle or larger. That being US standards.

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    Big Game can be defined as How much does it cost to hunt See how simple that was.

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