Judging Kudu

Discussion in 'Judging Trophies' started by Thunder head, Apr 8, 2009.

  1. Gerhard

    Gerhard AH Veteran

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    Oli,

    I tend to agree with you on that subject.

    I would not mind to hunt that broken horn kudu or even this one....

    [​IMG]
     

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  2. enysse

    enysse AH Ambassador

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    I like the one on the far right on the water tank picture. I can't see what his buddy looks like behind him...but he is good enough for this hunter. The kudu in the leaves looks like a monster. Good curls and white tips.

    I guess I look for white tips, full curls, mass and length. If it looks good to you then shoot and be happy. Most mature kudu are a dream to have in your trophy room!
     
  3. Calhoun

    Calhoun AH Enthusiast

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    Several of these make some great trophies & whether to shoot broken horn ones are entirely up to the hunter. Myself the Kudu trophies I really like are the ones with real tight curls that go straight up! The outfitter i hunted with said those are very tough to score in the field & I could see that had i found one similar to this it would have more than likely been my call as he wasn't really comfortable! So Thanks again to all of you for your judging tips!!
     
  4. HennieV

    HennieV New Member

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    What do you (the hunter) classify as a trophy?
    1. Rowland Ward
    2. SCI
    or 3. A representative of a the specie?

    I look for:
    1. Deep curls
    2. Long horn tips
    3. Thick bases.
    4. The animal must be in good condition.

    Work with the ear length (12'') as a field scale.
     
  5. Gerhard

    Gerhard AH Veteran

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    Thats what I look for too.

    But then it gets nasty when the client does not want to shoot anything under 55 inch.....
     
  6. Skyline

    Skyline AH Fanatic

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    Hennie............I am an official measurer for both, but hunters today get way too caught up in awards, medals, slams and record books. Some of the measurements in both books have encouraged the taking of young animals and not the older ones. Too much has become a 'look at me' and not what is the best management practices.

    Record books have their place, but when they become the all consuming issue then perhaps we have lost sight of what it is all about.

    I prefer a past prime, but fully representative of the species.
     
  7. HennieV

    HennieV New Member

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    Kelly...I can not agree more. The best trophy is a good representative of the specie but the REAL trophy is the memories, photos, the experience, the new friendships and the knowledge. Records books CAN be "evil"., it also can lead to the lost of focus of much more important things.
     
  8. Ozondjahe Hunting Safaris

    Ozondjahe Hunting Safaris SPONSOR AH Veteran

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    The Greater Kudu is definitely one of Africa's most sought after trophies and has become the ultimate plains game trophy for many sport hunters.

    When discussing Greater Kudu horn measurement here, I refer to horn length for a Kudu in it's simplest form which is taking the measurement of the longest horn from the base along the spiral ridge to the tip only. This, of course, is an easy method but for a primer on How To Measure Your Trophies you can read AfricaHunting.com article by clicking here.

    I should start by saying that being able to consistently and accurately judge Kudu trophy size, quality and maturity is particular difficult and the most reliable way to get the trophy that you are looking for is to heed the advice of your Professional Hunter. Ultimately it requires having seen, taken and measured an awful lot of Kudus to become adept at judging this species.

    Kudu usually have well matched symmetrical spiral horns, although the spread of the horns can vary greatly, from a narrow almost parallel look to a prominent wide "V" shape. Most often a prominent wide "V" shaped set of Kudu horns will look a lot more impressive. However the type of spread you prefer for your Kudu trophy is a matter of personal preference, many hunters really look for the wide "V" shape but you should know that the spread of the horns of a Kudu does not correlate to the length of the horns themselves.

    [​IMG]
    01. This is a very prominent wide "V" shape spread on this Kudu
    that appeals to many hunters.


    [​IMG]
    02. This Kudu trophy has a narrow spread almost parallel look to
    the horns and is still an exceptional trophy in every way... curl,
    length, tips, mass; it's all there
    .

    Using Rowland Ward Methods Of Measurement for spiral-horned antelopes (Method 8) does require taking the spread measurement from horn to horn into account. However, using Safari Club International Methods Of Measurement for spiral-horned animals (Method 2) does NOT require taking the spread measurement into account.

    For a Kudu bull's horns to be fully grown, completing the second spiral is essential, however that does not necessarily mean that the Kudu bull is entirely mature when this occurs. It is important also to say that some Kudu horns will never come to a point and some points will never come out into their third curl either.

    [​IMG]
    03.Here is an example of a fully matured excellent Kudu trophy
    that the horns completed the second spiral however never
    came to a point and would never have achieve that anyway.
    left horn 53 1/2 inch (136 cm) - left base 10 3/4 inch (27.5 cm)

    [​IMG]
    04.
    Here is an example of a immature Kudu bull that the horns
    completed the second spiral however it's not finished growing
    yet and still needs some time to grow and would have come to
    a point
    .

    I am a bit surprised at the amount of discussion about the white tips on the Kudu horn and it's importance in judging trophy size or maturity. I am of the opinion that white tips have no relevance in judging trophy quality or maturity what-so-ever, it is merely a genetic trait just as coat color or amount of neck fringe are, it is sometimes prominent and other times almost non-existent and none of these traits have any bearing on the quality of the trophy itself.

    Thickness of the bases of the horns certainly can add a few inches to a SCI or Rowland Ward measurement as they take this into account, however there is no relationship between the thickness of the bases and the length of the horns. It is not uncommon to see a Kudu with incredibly long horns that are not particularly massive at the base, and this is no reason to pass up such a trophy. It may be aesthetically appealing to some hunters which is just a matter of personal preference.

    [​IMG]
    05. Here is a super example of a spectacular Kudu trophy that
    does not have thick horns but is a great trophy in every way.
    right horn 54 1/2 inch (138 cm) - right base 10 1/2 inch (27 cm)


    Usually if the tips of the horns are still very sharp and have a thin pointedness, the Kudu is either still growing or is just in its' prime. When Kudu bulls horns are past their prime they do not loose as much length as they age as some species do, such as Gemsbok / Oryx (see Judging Gemsbok / Oryx article by clikcing here), and their horns on the way down will often appear thicker at the top as their tips wear down.

    [​IMG]
    06. Judging from the very sharp tips of this fine mature Kudu
    bull, it could have gone a couple of years prior to being
    harvested
    to have become a well aged bull.
    left horn 50 1/2 inch (128.5 cm) - left base 11 inch (28 cm)


    [​IMG]
    07. Looking at the thick tips of this great Kudu bull, you can see
    that he is well aged and still has great length, he is just past his
    prime and perfect for harvesting.
    left horn 48 1/3 inch (123 cm) - left base 11 1/3 inch (29 cm)


    Judging Kudu horn size simply based on the visual appearance of the length of the horns can be quite misleading. Kudu horn size can be very deceptive because of the optical illusion that is created by several factors combined. Here below are the aspects to look for.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    08. Here is a good representation of visual trophy appearance,
    while the top Kudu does not appear as impressive in length
    using the back line as a guide
    , it's horn size however is probably
    of similar length because of the depth of the curl as compared
    to the Kudu below with tighter curls.


    Probably the most important factor is the depth of the spiral which makes a tremendous difference in overall length of the horns. Kudu horns with less openess in the curl will keep the measurement down while Kudu horns with very deep curls (open spirals) will add tremendous length to the horns. In my opinion, this is where most really exceptional Kudu trophies are made...

    [​IMG]
    09. Clearly in this split image, you can see the Kudu on the left has much less
    open curls than the Kudu to the right with very pronounced deep curls adding
    a lot of length.


    Looking down the length of different Kudu horns from the tip through the center of the spiral, the size of the opening would vary tremendously depending upon the size of the curl. An extremely tightly curled horn could have an opening the size of a cherry, while a Kudu with very deep curl (open spirals) may have an opening the size of a grapefruit; that can add a lot of inches.

    [​IMG]
    10. A good representation of a typical spiral curl.

    If a Kudu bull's head is down to the ground and the horns reach or extend above the back line this can be a sign of an incredible trophy if coupled with a more prominent "V" shape.

    [​IMG]
    11. Beautiful trophy with prominent "V" shape coupled with
    exceptional length reaching the back line with generously open
    spiral curls and above average tip length reaching to the third
    spiral.


    Length of the tips, this is where many incredible trophies are made, gaining several inches with well above average length of tips.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    12. These two beautiful Kudu trophies are very similar in all
    ways except that the top Kudu has slightly above average
    length tips and the Kudu on the bottom clearly has exceptional
    length tips and gains several inches on the other trophy just
    because of that one factor
    .

    In terms of trophy size when it comes to mature Greater Kudu bulls, the holy grail is taking the elusive monster 60 inch plus (152.4 cm) Greater Kudu which is something that does happen to a lucky few, however it is the result of the hunting gods smiling down upon you. I would say that horns above 55 inches (139.7 cm) make for an amazing trophy, horns above 50 inches (127 cm) make for a great trophy, horns above 45 inches (114.3 cm) make for a good trophy and horns below 45 inches (114.3 cm) make for a beautiful trophy and great memories!

    [​IMG]
    13. Monster Kudu bull 64 inches, perfect in every way, has all of
    the elements to make an exceptional trophy, great open spiral
    curls combined with awesome length and extra long tips and a
    wide open "V" spread.


    [​IMG]
    The greatest Kudu of all is, of course, my first!
    Thirty years later, I can still remember it as if
    it were yesterday, it was not about the trophy
    just about the moment.


    All of these Kudu trophy photos came from my place in Namibia, Ozondjahe Hunting Safaris, I included numbers for each picture if anyone wanted to comment or refer to an image...
     
  9. Safari Chick

    Safari Chick AH Veteran

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    Wow, great judging Kudu post!

    Jerome, thanks for another super informative post on how to judge plains game!:hail: I may have to look at it a few times to take it all in, but since Kudu is on my list I want to know as much as possible before I go...the pictures really add to the explanation in a way words can't do alone.
     
  10. Safari Chick

    Safari Chick AH Veteran

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    BTW, cute picture of you as a kid!:)
     
  11. Skyline

    Skyline AH Fanatic

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    Jerome...........now that is what I was looking for!!! Excellent article and great information. I can't speak for the others but I was lead to believe from talking to other hunters over there that the white tips were from the tips of the horns wearing down..............but it sounds like that may not be the case.
    I have always been under the impression however that very sharp pointy tips is a good indication of a young animal and does indeed seem to be true.

    Many of the points you made in judging the horns on a kudu have some similarities to judging the horns on mountain sheep.

    Anyways, great pictures, great explanation.
     
  12. Ozondjahe Hunting Safaris

    Ozondjahe Hunting Safaris SPONSOR AH Veteran

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    Skyline,

    I am glad that you liked the post, I wish I could have posted it sooner...

    I actually was going to include these pictures in the original post but started thinking that it was getting a bit long, so I decided to post it without.

    Looking for white tips as a criteria for assessing maturity or horns wearing down is not relevant when white tips will also be seen on fully grown but not fully mature Kudu bulls and even sometimes on not fully grown and completely immature bulls. You can also find well aged bulls past their prime with good wear on their tips with barely any noticeable whiteness at all, therefore this leads me to believe it is just a genetic trait.

    [​IMG]
    Here is a good example of a not fully grown and completely immature Kudu bull that already has white tips.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    Here are two good examples of completely mature bulls, the one on the bottom a nicely well aged bull showing some wear on the tips with almost non-existent whiteness.
     
  13. Frederik

    Frederik AH Enthusiast

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    Some pics of kudus taken over the last 2 hunting seasons.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    A 60" they dont fall out of every tree.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    A 62" Monster

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     

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  14. Gerhard

    Gerhard AH Veteran

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    WOW Frederik....

    You guys are growing them big in your area!!!!

    Really nice trophies
     
  15. Skyline

    Skyline AH Fanatic

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    Frederik.......................very nice! Some great bulls.
     
  16. Calhoun

    Calhoun AH Enthusiast

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    Frederick... Those are some monsters!! Wish One of those were mine!!
     
  17. Frederik

    Frederik AH Enthusiast

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    Calhoun,

    I can be of help to line them up but I cannot pull the trigger for you! :D
     
  18. Ray Atkinson

    Ray Atkinson AH Enthusiast

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    Trophy Kudu judging

    The Kudu to the untrained eye looks like the holy grail of trophies regardless of his size, so its always best to put yourself in the hands of your PH..

    That said, I have some specific ideas about the "kind' of Kudu I like and I have some argueable ideas about judging Kudu... One is the idea that a good Kudu must have the tips of his horns pointed outward and I have seen too many massive Kudu with the tips pointed inward to buy off on that. I believe that is a gene pool thing... I prefer a wide spread with smaller curls to a tight curl no spread Kudu, but the tight curled Kudu will almost always score better, so if your looking for a record book bull keep that in mind... I look for mass as that to me makes a Kudu bull.

    Like buffalo or any other hunted animal, after you have hunted them for awhile, looked at many of them, it won't take you long to know a good bull the minute you see him. If your after a world class trophy then you need to look him over really carefully and in many instances he will disappear while your trying to make a determination... I have never had this problem as I don't carry a tape in my pocket, and to me the hunting is what its all about, but I appreciate the true trophy hunter, I just don't happen to be one... That said I have shot many Kudu over 55 inches and several in the 58 to 62 inch category and even assisted in the kill of a 65 inch bull some years ago.

    Next to Cape Buffalo, I probably prefer hunting Kudu a distant second,
     
  19. Karl Stumpfe

    Karl Stumpfe AH Veteran

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    What makes a kudu a mature trophy?

    Hi all. I started this post on another website a while back, under "What makes a kudu a mature trophy?"

    Here's my take (copied from that site):
    A lot has been said about shooting green/ soft bossed buffalo, but it seems like no one ever says anything about the huge % of immature kudu bulls that are shot. Looking at recent hunting magazines, posts on internet hunting forums, etc. made me decide that someone has to speak up about it. As I have mentioned on another post, I think its worse to shoot an immature kudu than a soft bossed buffalo, as in the case of a buffalo, at least your taxidermist can make him look “hard.” An immature kudu will ALWAYS look incomplete. As a matter of interest, I took the latest African Outfitter magazine (Dec/ Jan issue), and counted 20 kudu where you can see the whole length of at least 1 horn. This included mounted specimens, hunted animals, as well as live animals. Of the 20 I counted, at least 7 were immature. Now I have done it before, and let a client under pressure of time shoot a slightly immature animal, but to be honest, I should not have done it, and neither should other PH’s allow the shooting of immature bulls FOR TROPHIES. A kudu bull takes 6-8 years to become a real trophy, and if we start shooting immature ones like the 40% in the mentioned magazine, we are actually starting to shoot next year’s trophies.

    Now to be considered mature, I believe a kudu bull should have one of the following horn shapes:

    a) long, sharp points that point upwards, not inwards anymore
    [​IMG]

    b) shorter, blunt points that point upwards
    [​IMG]

    c) Long or short points that point out again.
    [​IMG]


    If the horns are still pointing to each other, that bull is immature, and should be left to breed, especially if it is very long (not that we spared this bull...).
    [​IMG]


    If that tips are pointing up but short,or still pointing to the back, the bull should be left alone, as above.
    [​IMG]


    Please note that I am talking strictly about trophy hunting. I have shot literally hundreds of other young bulls on huge open areas for meat only. Also, this is not a dig at anybody, just my opinion. If you have a different opinion, share please.
     

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  20. Ozondjahe Hunting Safaris

    Ozondjahe Hunting Safaris SPONSOR AH Veteran

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    Karl Stumpfe,
    Thank you for bringing up this very important topic. I agree that there are far too many immature Kudu bulls being taken as trophy animals, that are not just tittering on the brink of being mature, but way too immature. You clearly see way too many immature bulls being passed of in magazines, brochures, websites and even in books as "trophy" animals when in fact, as you put it, it's next years' trophy (or more).
     

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