Judging Waterbuck

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  1. AfricaHunting.com

    AfricaHunting.com FOUNDER AH Ambassador

    Oct 1, 2007
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    Judging Waterbuck

    When discussing Waterbuck horn measurement here, I refer to horn length for a Waterbuck in its’ simplest form which is taking the measurement of the longest horn from the base along the inside/front of the curved horn 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 Waterbuck trophy size, quality and maturity is not so difficult. Ultimately judging this species can truly only be done properly from a frontal view as one can better assess the length and mass of the horns.

    01. Judging Waterbuck trophy size from a side profile is not
    recommended as one cannot properly assess the length, mass
    and shape of the horns

    Waterbuck usually have well matched symmetrical horns, although the spread of the horns can vary greatly, two basic types of horn shape from a more straight upward look to a more prominent wide "V" shape can be found. Most often a more prominent wide "V" shaped set of Waterbuck horns will look more impressive. However the type of spread of a Waterbuck does not correlate to the length of the horns themselves.

    02. This is a prominent wide "V" shape spread on this Waterbuck

    03. This is a more straight upward look on this Waterbuck.
    right horn 26.57 inch (67.5 cm) - right base 9.05 inch (23 cm)

    The horns from the base project backwards then curve upwards and inward to finally come back forward at the tips. The curve of the horns is more pronounced in some bulls compared to others. The horns are heavily ridged almost all the way to the tips.

    04. Ridges are very prominent and pronounced.
    left horn 29.13 inch (74 cm) - left base 9.45 inch (24 cm)

    Using Rowland Ward Methods Of Measurement for species with unbranched and uncurled horns (Method 7) does require taking the spread measurement from horn to horn into account. However, using Safari Club International Methods Of Measurement for most animals with simple horns (Method 1) does NOT require taking the spread measurement into account.

    Usually if the tips of the horns are still very sharp and have a rather thin pointedness, the Waterbuck is either still growing or is just in its' prime. When a Waterbuck 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 clicking here), and their horns on the way down will often appear thicker at the top, gaining mass, as their tips wear down.

    05. Waterbuck Male, a perfect mature bull with thick bases,
    mass through the length of the horns and has been loosing
    horn length, the perfect if you want it all, an old, thick, long
    horned bull.
    left horn 29.92 inch (76 cm) - left base 9.84 inch (25 cm)

    06. Here is an example of mature Waterbuck bull at its' prime,
    the horns have finished growing in length though the mass of
    the tip has not yet occurred.
    left horn 28.15 inch (71.5 cm) - left base 10.24 inch (26 cm)

    07. A good Waterbuck bull with thick bases.
    right horn 26.58 inch (67.5 cm) - right base 9.84 inch (25 cm)

    08. Here is a good example of a young, not fully grown and
    completely immature Waterbuck bull that has no length or
    mass and thin tips.

    In terms of trophy size when it comes to mature Waterbuck bulls, taking a top class 34 plus inch (86.36 cm) Waterbuck is something incredible. I would say that horns above 30 inches (76.2 cm) make for an amazing trophy, horns above 28 inches (71.12 cm) make for a great trophy, horns above 26 inches (66.04 cm) make for a good trophy and horns below 26 inches (66.04 cm) make for a beautiful trophy and great memories!

    09. An amazing trophy Waterbuck.
    left horn 32 inch (81.30 cm) - left base 9.45 inch (24 cm)

    All of these Waterbuck 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...

    Note that trophy size can differ from region to region and what may easily be found in one area may be unexpectedly large in another. As with most animals there is always localities where the bigger trophies tend to be found.
    Last edited: May 23, 2014

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