Judging Bushbuck

Discussion in 'Judging Trophies' started by enysse, Apr 28, 2009.

  1. enysse

    enysse AH Ambassador

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    I will be hunting for a bushbuck in the East Cape in May. Are there differences in the size of horns and color of the cape...between the East Cape and the Limpopo Province?

    I have read Boddington's book and he says the East Cape bushbuck is darker in color and has smaller horns, 12 inches would be good. The Limpopo bushbuck is lighter in color and horns can get to 17 inches, supposedly.

    I'd like to hear some experts in the field.

    Thanks for the input!
     
  2. Frederik

    Frederik AH Enthusiast

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    Am I mistaken but are you not going to hunt your eland in Limpopo province ? While you are there why not hunt your bushbuck ?

    Yes, there is a slight difference in colour between the two and I would not always say horn size as the eastern cape bushbuck are hunted hunt while on the other hand limpopo bushbuck are not.

    However you do get very dark colored bushbuck in Limpopo as well and lighter brown colour with less striking spots. I am lucky to have hunted 12 bushbuck rams in daylight on foot and it must be my favorite plainsgame antelope to hunt. My biggest to date is 17" I will go trough my pc to get some good pics for you.
     
  3. Frederik

    Frederik AH Enthusiast

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    BTW below please find an article that I wrote for Africa Hunter that came out a couple of issues back. And below some photos.

    Limpopo Bushbuck - Hunting

    Tragelaphus scriptus roualeyni or more commonly known as the Limpopo Bushbuck is I suppose my favorite plainsgame to hunt especially next to the Limpopo river. This sometimes, very wary and shy character can give you some uphill battle if you specifically hunt after them for a top trophy. They are found in the thick riverine bush next to the river and depending on time of the year you hunt them you might call it jungle.

    [​IMG]
    Typical Bushbuck habitat next to the Limpopo river.

    They quickly get use to humans and their surroundings, don’t get me wrong I’m not saying they get tame but get to use to the fact that they move in an area close to humans. Since farmers have fields and workers on the farm usually inhabits some good spots close to the river, they usually see and hear people. But let me tell you they can and do know the difference between a hunter and worker doing their everyday work and life. As soon as you step into the bush bordering the river they know you are after them. Most bushbuck shot by international clients are targets of opportunities hunting for other game and bumping into a good ram is not a difficult task and it all depends on your luck. Bushbucks become almost entirely nocturnal in areas where they are apt to be disturbed frequently during the day. When alarmed, individuals react in a variety of ways. Sometimes they will sink to the ground and lie flat, or they may bound away, making a series of hoarse barks. Although they move more at dawn and dusk they can be hunted anytime of the day and most of the good rams we have hunted was shot after 9am in the morning and late afternoon.

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    A very good example of mature bushbuck with spreading tips at 15 1/2".

    Basically what I’m getting at is that the bushbuck is really a very good adversary to hunt hard for and it’s all worth it. He is the smallest of the spiral horns and is also the most aggressive as well. Although I have never experienced it except for one ram which was shot in the liver (As we found out afterwards) I have never felt threatened or in danger with bushbuck. The ram was hit and we found it lying motionless, my dog a staffordshire terrier went closer and as soon as his snout touched the ram it suddenly came alive and instead of stabbing him with the horns gave him headbutt and went flying past him into the reeds where the second shot ended him. So I suppose if it was, me instead of my dog those horns could have given me a nasty surprise.

    [​IMG]
    My 17" shot when I was 17 in 1993.

    I have been lucky to have hunted quite a bit of bushbuck myself as well as with clients with good success. I’m also of the oppinion that the minimums setup for SCI and specifically for limpopo bushbuck are too low (Total score of 33). A ram with 12” horns and 4 1/2” bases will make the book for example. Most non-fully mature rams shot will make the book, so I hunt for bushbuck in the Roland Ward class, which bears a minimum of 15” for the longest horn those rams will be fully matured and would have enough time to spread their genes. I’m not saying you can only shoot 15” rams as not all mature rams grow horns that long, but as long as the horns are around 13 ½” in length and have thick bases of around 5” + it is mature and easily qualifies for the book and gets a total score of 37. That is where I would like the minimum to be around 37 instead of 33. Bushbuck horns vary a lot in size and form some bushbuck or most of them form the nice spread of the outer points and some never really spread but just have a full spiral with horns pointing a little outwards. The ones with the tips and nice spread pointing outwards are very attractive. As a side note you will also see variations in coulour and the amount of spots as each bushbuck as got their unique markings. Old rams will look very dark but upon closer inspection you will see the lack of hair as they get older and you must be very careful when skinning the trophy like any other spiral horn antelope where hairslip is common. Bushbuck make for excellent full mounts and for their size they will fit in most trophy rooms with ease. Caracal and leopard being their biggest enemies, you will be surprised at the amount of young and smaller sized ewes you will see while hunting them, they are masters at escaping danger.

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    Another very good bushbuck shot on the banks of the Limpopo.

    The rams vary a lot in body weight from 50kg to 80kg live weight while the females hardly ever touch the 40kg mark. They are not particularly tough to kill but with their habitat you always don’t have a clean shot trough brush and shadows. So examine their vitals and killing zone very thoroughly as you will not have a lot of time to place the shot. Bushbuck hunting is not for everyone it takes a lot of patience and slow walking trough thick bush constantly looking for the twitch of an ear the shine of a horn or the swing of a tail. Unlike kudu they will keep their ground until you are too close and then run off to the next thick bush with a bark which sometimes get you by surprise for that will be the first time you will see them. Running after them or going after the same animal again is mostly futile as they will keep an eye on you and by the time you think you have outwitted the ram he will be somewhere else vanished into the shadows. With bushbuck you have to spot them first, there is hardly a second chance. The good thing however is that bushbuck enjoy, staying in a certain area so you could go after him again later in the hunt. I would recommend a slower velocity caliber of around the .30 class with an180gr bullet the shot will be close mostly under 100 meters and will be in thick cover. A 6mm bullet will also kill them very easily but with fast light bullets deflecting easily on brush why go trough the trouble.

    [​IMG]
    An almost fully matured ram at 14".

    A funny thing happened to me when I was 17, by that time I have shot 2-3 nice bushbuck rams the biggest one around 15” and that is when I decided to have my next ram mounted. I saved up for the R400.00 needed that time to do a shoulder mount for the bushbuck. Two weeks after my decision I was sitting very quietly on a side of a hill when I spotted a beautiful bushbuck ram almost pitch black with the white striking marks standing out. He was slowly moving up the hill and there was a nice open shooting lane where he would pass and the shot would be about 50 meters. Sitting down and resting the 303 Enfield over my knee I waited for the ram and what felt like hours which probably was a couple of seconds only he cleared into the lane and I fired. The ram crashed down and as quickly as he dropped he ran directly opposite from me and vanished into the thick stuff all the time I could hear him going trough the brush and then finally crashing down again. I slowly stood up and moved to the spot where he was at the shot and found good amounts of blood. With rifle at ready I followed the track and spotted the ram lying down where he crashed and not taking any chances I picked up a rock and threw it at him with no reaction. I marveled at this specimen exactly what I was looking for and later before skinning measured the horns at 16 ½” a side. Perfect he was almost pitch black and the horns where nicely pointing outwards, that afternoon my father took me to the taxidermist and I paid him for the shoulder mount very proud and very happy. The following week I was out hunting again for some meat for staff working on our house that we were building looking for kudu mostly. Unsuccessful and on my way back I spotted a bushbuck ram lying down and had to make a quick decision before he decided to take action I could see by his ears he was picking up some danger but didn’t know the exact location as I stood completely still. He was lower than me on a ridge and I picked up the 303 Enfield again aimed and squeezed of the shot. The ram jumped up and made as much ground away from me as possible when suddenly everything went quiet. Did the ram fall over dead or just stopped to wait for me? Slowly moving my way closer I spotted him lying on the ground with his backside towards me. This was also an exceptional ram not as dark as the other one but it had a bigger body and the horns didn’t turn outwards at all. But wow what horns he had extremely thick bases and long, I was in heaven two very big rams hunted properly on foot in less than 9 days, I was sitting with a problem though I only had R400.00 for one mount but I so wished I could get both mounted. After skinning it the official score on the second ram was 17”. Pleading with my father he told me that I could only get one of them mounted and I was going to choose between them. The other ram was better looking pitch black and super horns but this one was 17” in the end length won and we took the road to the taxidermist again.

    [​IMG]
    A very nice 16".

    The taxidermist could not believe my luck two very big bushbuck shot so close to each other, in the end he mounted both and sold the pitch black ram and I went home with the 17”. I wish I had enough money to have both but that gives me a good reason to go find a perfect pitch black bushbuck ram again. Unfortunately when I started my hunting career photos didn’t matter too much and I never took a photo of the other bushbuck but at least I have a good old photo of the big 17”. A word of warning bushbuck hunting is addictive and once you get the hang of it you will not look back. It takes patience and strategy to outwit those rams they haven’t grown that size being stupid. Best of luck to all of you going after this super trophy animal.

    [​IMG]
    A very old and battered ram of 17" notice the lack of hair.
     
  4. Calhoun

    Calhoun AH Enthusiast

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    Frederik... those are some fine trophies you show there!! I never have had any success hunting Bushbuck.. I have hunted them many times in the river bottoms along the Limpopo River.. I have seen many, many 11" & 12" bushbuck but the guide always said we can do better! I agree but they have eluded me! They are fun to hunt and like you say addicting!! I know when I finally get lucky & shoot a nice one it will probably be my hardest earned & proudest trophy from Africa!!! The only mature one I have seen was about a 17" bushbuck standing across the river in Botswana!!
     
  5. Frederik

    Frederik AH Enthusiast

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    Calhoun,

    They are fun to hunt and I have been lucky so far not to send a client back home without one when they were serious in getting one.
     
  6. enysse

    enysse AH Ambassador

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    Hi Frederik,

    I bought a package hunt for the East Cape, for Kudu, bushbuck, impala and blesbuck...and I'm going to try to get Nyala and a red lechwe too.

    I also bought a package for the Limpopo for Zebra, Tsessbe, and Waterbuck. I also thought I'd add Eland since I never know when I'll be back to Africa. I would like a Eland but know there in Namibia and Zimbabwe and a lot of other places. Bushbuck could be on the hunt in the Limpopo but the trophy fee is close to $1000 compared to $350 in the East Cape. And I'm short on cash right now.
     
  7. Skyline

    Skyline AH Fanatic

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    Frederik............great post. I have yet to take one, but bushbuck is high on my list of prioroties. I have seen a few, however the rams just were not old enough. One of these days. I find hunting them is addictive and I enjoy it as much as hunting whitetail deer.

    Good luck enysse............will look forward to seeing the pictures.
     
  8. J P Baker

    J P Baker AH Member

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    Very nice collection of rams.
     
  9. Arild Iversen

    Arild Iversen AH Member

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    A very good write up Frederik, and some great bucks!

    So far I have been lucky and got my bushbuck, but it took me two trips to Limpopo before I could anchore this one.

    [​IMG]

    We where stalking along a path beside the Limpopo River and got a glimpse of him when he crossed the almost dry river from the Botswana side, jumping from sandbank to sandbank.
    My PH estimated where he would be crossing the path and we sat up the sticks for an ambush.

    He was crossing the path abouth 50 meters in front of me, and I had just this couple of seconds to nail him before he disapered into the dense riverine forest again.

    I hit him a little bit behind the left leg, and was not to pleased by myself.
    At the spot we found drops of light red blod with air bubbles in it, and I felt more secure that it was a good lung shot.

    After tracking the spoor approx 20 meters we found him dead.
    A beautifull beast, and a very pleased hunter.

    The old Limpopo River where I hunted my bushbuck.
    And I feel the urge to be back one day and stalk along the banks in this breath taking scenery looking for another old devil ;)
    [​IMG]
     

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  10. owenowen

    owenowen AH Veteran

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    info

    Busbuck in the Limpopo are lighter in colour and have longer horns in general. Eastern Cape Bushbuck rams that live in the very bushy green areas and in the mountains get very dark i ave seen many pitch black one's. The ewes are light brown (yellowish colour ) . Please be careful bushbuck are extremely dangerous when wounded and their horns are like razor daggers.
     
  11. Arild Iversen

    Arild Iversen AH Member

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    All the rams I saw along the Limpopo banks had this brown / reddish color, and very pronounced white spots.

    Owen.
    I was a bit surprised when the PH told me to be ready with the rifle when we went into the bush tracking the one I shot.
    He said that they could attack like lightning and they usually went for the groin.

    It did put a little spice on those 20 meters tracking :)
    (the closest I have been to DG hunting so far :D)
     
  12. crs

    crs AH Member

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    On my ten day Limpopo Safari, the bushbuck was the the most challenging hunt. I am extremely proud of the 14 1/2 incher that I finally did shoot. Below is a pic of the bushbuck, me, and my PH, Hannes Els, Owner of Limcroma Safaris.
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    I was humbled by the 19 1/2 inch bushbuck on the wall in Hannes den - seen below:
    [​IMG]

    Hannes took this on his farm which is bordered by the Crocodile, Merico, and Limpopo rivers. His brother has an 18 1/2 incher and one of his PH friends has a 17 1/2 incher, all taken along the Crocodile / Merico confluence.
    [​IMG]
    A great place to hunt bushbuck and even then, they are never easy.

    South Africa Safari - Limcroma Safaris for first class African bow hunting, rifle hunting and wing shooting.
     

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  13. buffybr

    buffybr AH Veteran

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    I got addicted to Bushbucks on my first African hunt with this Limpopo Bushbuck.
    [​IMG]

    I took this Chobe Bushbuck in Zimbabwe.
    [​IMG]

    And this Cape Bushbuck in the Eastern Cape of RSA.
    [​IMG]

    These are all about 14".
    Good luck and have fun on your hunt.
     
  14. AfricaHunting.com

    AfricaHunting.com FOUNDER AH Ambassador

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    Bushbuck Species

    buffybr, Very nice collection of Bushbuck there, it's great to see them all together to see their differences...

    Here are some more Bushbucks that can be hunted in Africa if you want feed your addiction...

    East African Bushbuck found in Tanzania

    Harnessed Bushbuck found in C.A.R., Benin, Cameroon and Burkina Faso

    And for the jackpot, Ethiopia where you can hunt these three rare species; Abyssinian Bushbuck, Menelik Bushbuck, Nile Bushbuck.

    Keep us posted! :D
     
  15. buffybr

    buffybr AH Veteran

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    Jerome, Thanks for the info on all the various bushbucks. After I got my first bushbuck, I did some research on them, and the local variety of bushbuck was high on my want list on my subsequent trips.

    And like I wrote in my introduction post, this Forum is a great place for starting dreams.:)
     
  16. DLS

    DLS AH Member

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    Here's a very nice bushbuck shot by Ernest Dyason of Spear Safaris earlier this year.

    [​IMG]
     

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  17. enysse

    enysse AH Ambassador

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    East Cape Bushbuck

    I finally posting a picture I wish I could have a while back. Now I'm married to a gifted wife and she helped post my bushbuck taken with Russ Field Safari in May 2009. Johan was the PH on that day and we shot it at 9:30 am. It was a hard shot but I ended up with a great trophy!

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     

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  18. TERMINATOR

    TERMINATOR AH Enthusiast

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    What is considered "Average", "Above Average" and "Exceptional" for trophy size on the Bushbuck in Southern Africa?

    I have not hunted Bushbuck yet but will be and was wondering what I should be looking for trophy wise.

    Thanks
     
  19. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR GOLD BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    Terminator lots of Bushbuck trophies on this site.

    But as far as judging is concerned with record books in consideration:
    Rowland Ward 15 inches to enter and the record is 21 inches.
    SCI 33 inches to enter and the record is 41 1/2 for the Bow ???
    SA Measuring System 15 inches

    Bushbuck are about 31.5 inches on average at the shoulder.
    (From the life size mounts I have seen close up they seem pretty similar to a yearling White tailed doe in size.)

    Bushbuck ear length are 6 inches

    Now judging the wave:

    "If the horns have a large bell and are pointed outwards, their length will generally be 15 to 16 inches. If the horns are still pointing inwards they a re generally 13 to 14 inches in length "
    CHASA Manual

    My two cents:

    You will also have to pass up a lot of trophies to claim that exceptional one. Good luck.
     
  20. TERMINATOR

    TERMINATOR AH Enthusiast

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    As I stated in the Nyala thread, I don't care about record books but knowing what the minimim entry is and have some field judging pointers gives me an idea of what to look for

    Thanks again!!!
     

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