How big is big enough? (Property)

Charles de Ribeau

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Over the years, I've heard hunters and outfitters talk about the size of the farm or concession where they hunt. I know one outfitter who has four properties that together comprise more than 1 million hectares. That's almost 2.5 million acres or 3,800 square miles! I've talked with another who had only a few thousand acres. As with other things in life size isn't everything, but if a property is too small, your safari is going to feel like a canned hunt.

Personally, everything else being equal, I prefer larger areas over smaller ones, but of course, terrain and cover matter a lot. I've never tried to put a number on it before this post. I suppose, that for me 25,000 acres (100 square miles) is at the low end of what I prefer. After all, we are not hunting whitetails in the neighbor's 40 acre wood lot at home. I'm assuming a spot and stalk hunt for plains game. Hunting certain animals will, necessarily, have different minimums (some greater and some less).

What do you folks have to say about this?
 

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For RSA (all I've hunted in Africa)...I prefer to hunt a 5k+ acre ranch at a minimum assuming good cover and stalking for smaller antelope and game. For larger PG or if more bakke time is needed, 10k-20k acres + at a minimum is nice.
All that said, Ive hunted a 3k acre ranch for 2 days and never got a shot opportunity on what I was after, rather only opportunistic shots.
 

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Over the years, I've heard hunters and outfitters talk about the size of the farm or concession where they hunt. I know one outfitter who has four properties that together comprise more than 1 million hectares. That's almost 2.5 million acres or 3,800 square miles! I've talked with another who had only a few thousand acres. As with other things in life size isn't everything, but if a property is too small, your safari is going to feel like a canned hunt.

Personally, everything else being equal, I prefer larger areas over smaller ones, but of course, terrain and cover matter a lot. I've never tried to put a number on it before this post. I suppose, that for me 25,000 acres (100 square miles) is at the low end of what I prefer. After all, we are not hunting whitetails in the neighbor's 40 acre wood lot at home. I'm assuming a spot and stalk hunt for plains game. Hunting certain animals will, necessarily, have different minimums (some greater and some less).

What do you folks have to say about this?


i get what your saying but being a land guy i cant help myself 100 square miles is 64,000 acres not 25,000 acres but once you pass the 5,000 to 6,000 acre range thats a pretty good hike to cover even a part of it in a day on foot.
 

Charles de Ribeau

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i get what your saying but being a land guy i cant help myself 100 square miles is 64,000 acres not 25,000 acres but once you pass the 5,000 to 6,000 acre range thats a pretty good hike to cover even a part of it in a day on foot.

You are sooo right about the conversion of sq miles to acres. I even know that. It's ~25,000 hectares not acres.
 

Charles de Ribeau

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For RSA (all I've hunted in Africa)...I prefer to hunt a 5k+ acre ranch at a minimum assuming good cover and stalking for smaller antelope and game. For larger PG or if more bakke time is needed, 10k-20k acres + at a minimum is nice.
All that said, Ive hunted a 3k acre ranch for 2 days and never got a shot opportunity on what I was after, rather only opportunistic shots.

I suppose my inclination is shaped by where I live. I'm in Colorado. I'm used to big ranches, rugged mountains and seemingly endless national forest land and BLM land to hunt. Honestly, I have trouble picturing what 3,000 acres would look like. I know, it's a like a square a little over 2 miles on a side, or 4.6 sections. Now, a section, or multiple sections, I can visualize (silly, isn't it?).

I hunted once a ranch in RSA that was huge. The cover was dense and the land was relatively flat. The only animal that I saw, was the one that I was specifically there to hunt. One day, after I got my animal, I tagged along in the bakke with another hunter for the afternoon hunt. Neither, me, the hunter nor the PH saw a single thing. So, again, size isn't everything. While I did enjoy my hunt there, but had I been hunting for everyday plains game, I would not have enjoyed it at all.
 

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I agree with your sentiment. If pressed for a number 20,000 acres would be a good number for Africa.
 

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I think "it depends"...

what game are we talking about? and what are the conditions?

if youre talking a particular species of plains game that is known to travel significant distances each day.. then I'd certainly want a large property that allows them to free range and requires me to work during the hunt.. Most places I have hunted in SA have been 5000-7000 acre properties.. I've also hunted a couple of 25,000 acre properties though.. while the 25,000 acre places offered more areas to go search before seeing the same places a second time.. I cant say that any 5000 acre place I have been on gave the quarry any more or less of an advantage or disadvantage than a 25,000 acre place..

if we're talking something like a warthog though... something that really doesnt know a boundary and that isnt held in by fences, etc... I'd be perfectly comfortable hunting a much smaller property..

Im not suggesting a 1 acre pen..

But a 1500 acre property isnt going to hold a warthog in or out anymore than a 15,000 acre property.. and if youre trying to hunt them on foot, youre not going to cover an entire 1500 acres (or 15,000 for that matter) in a day of hunting anyway.. they have plenty of room to run.. and plenty of places to go..

In colorado I hunt a 25 acre property.. there are no fences though.. and the property backs up to a 250,000 acre piece of land.. I just have hunting rights on the 25 acres though (my own place).. since I typically sit on top of a ridge there and wait in ambush for muleys, its more than enough land.. and is just a short walk back to the cabin to fetch tools if I am fortunate enough to get something :)
 

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Tough one there, I know what 5 sections feel like and can honestly say I don't believe ive ever killed any of my N. American game outside those limits. That being said, that acreage doesn't hold the same amount of game that an African property might stock/raise ect. Assuming proper layout, heavy foilage and at or below maximum animal carrying capacity, I think I could live with 5 sections (3,200 acres) to hunt on.
 

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I don’t think it’s 10 or 10,000,000 that matters. To me it’s what is the natural range of the animal you are going to hunt. That’s the size I would want. In Texas that’s 640 for a white-tail (normally). For a Cape Buffalo that’s 12 miles from a body of water (24 miles by 24 miles).
 

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Good question, no idea on this one. Being from BC, Canada where we hunt I can walk miles and miles without crossing any road so could say spoiled. During my last Namibian Safari we stayed at the fenced farm, 20,000 acres, I did not think it small but we mostly hunted the conservancy, 1 000 000 acres? Next summer a SA Kalahari lion hunt so a ranch, I will have a better idea on how big a property should be after next summers excursion. I will pay attention to this thread.


MB
 

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i get what your saying but being a land guy i cant help myself 100 square miles is 64,000 acres not 25,000 acres but once you pass the 5,000 to 6,000 acre range thats a pretty good hike to cover even a part of it in a day on foot.

Amen!
 

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To remind, there is a lot of fabulous and affordable hunting on the continent of Africa that is not behind a fence of any type.

I am only interested in hunting an environment where the farm has adequate space to sustain breeding herds of the animals hunted. I have no interest in participating in a buy, stock and shoot operation. I should note, elements of that can be found on even some large operations where a stock pond may contain a couple of transplanted hippo or crocs for some "sportsman" to plug and use to form the basis of a tale of daring do on the African continent.

There is a video here on the site where some brave archer in the back of a truck is "charged" by two young buffalo bulls. They were obviously acclimated to a truck bringing fresh provisions for their too small enclosure and obviously were simply running up to see what was on the day's menu.

In my experience, and depending upon terrain, an adequate environment probably begins around 10K acres. As @Philip Glass notes, 20K is much better.
 

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Very good questions Charles and good discussion.

Also don't forget that different areas , terrain , topography makes huge difference.

You can't compare a 5000 acres bushveld property with a 5000 acres Karoo or Kalarhari property.a big bushveld area with varied terrain can keep you busy for a while.A property in the Karoo , Kalahari , and more arid areas like some areas in Namibia ,depending on terrain and vegetation , should be 3 - 4 times the size for comparison.

Another point to consider is that if our animals have their basic needs in a certain area they don't necessarily use their full range.

Even in the Kruger Park with 2,4 million hectares you will find Elephant , buffalo bulls and other plains only utilising a small area when their needs are met.You can see them frequenting the same waterholes on numerous occasions in a short time, think of old dagga boys bulls using the same waterhole.It is wel documented on the Magnificent Seven Elephants ( big tuskers) from the Kruger Park. Some of them even derived their names from the areas that the frequented and where normally seen.

Wildebeest bulls for example with the best areas where there are enough water and feed will stay in a relatively small area and waiting for cows to enter.Best areas will get the best cows.Same with Waterbuck and other antilope. The chance of seeing these bulls on more than one occasion will be good while you are in that area.

Area size can be relative , I think a better questions can be ,like some comments above , how much area can you cover in a day with your hunting methode.If you use a vehicle to acces and area on a property , most roads only cover a small portion of that property.

Keep safe

Regards

Rouan
 

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Size of property and free ranging is one thing, frequently discussed on the forum.
A hunter will have to do due diligence, and research before taking to Africa for safari.
So far, so good. We have established that.

Now, there is no reason why on a large fenced property the owner would not do "put and take" operations.
The helpful questions that come to mind are following:

1) How a (non)suspecting hunter can determine if some animals are released just before he came, if he saw one?
Is there anything in behavior or appearance of animal that can point to this animal being released just recently?

2) What species are most often used in put and take operations?

3) What species are rarely used in put and take operations?

4) And what species are never used for put and take operations? (like leopard, or warthog, etc)
 

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I guess it's where you are. I am in Australia and have been on a cattle property of 1,200,000 acres, pretty big. I have managed public land of 300,000 acres and 56,000 acres both with different terrain, vegetation, facilities, improvements and cultural and conservation assetts
It's all relevant to the area, terrain and business.
In South Africa we stayed on a game ranch. I don't recall the size of the immediate holding we were on but there was a lot of game but no domesticated stock eg. Sheep and Cattle as I would see on grazing country like I am used to so they would have a higher population of native, huntable African species. The exotic stuff that we travel to hunt. Here livestock is the industry there hunting is the industry.
How big is big enough, it's all subjective.
Around the area I live and region I live in smaller properties start at 80,000 acres to be viable. When my wife said we covered a lot of the same country on my SA hunt I said "We never left the house paddock". Putting it In perspective of where I have worked and travelled.
 

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While I agree in principal with absolutely everything said on this topic I will advise of one thing people do forget. In my experience the most challenging stalk to get close to animals occurs in smaller high fence operations. The animals know they are being hunted and because of the fence, man has become their biggest danger. Now granted, you screw up the stalk and the animal is on the other side of the property for this afternoon hunt but they are harder than free ranging animals.
 

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Each time I go to South Africa I decide to increase my minimum desired acres for my next trip.I am not happy when we drive over the same ground or hunt same places day after day.
My next trip 2022 is on a contiguous 35,000 acre property. I would be careful of hunting multiple concessions if a lot of pavement involved.
I would target 20,000 .
 

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I think something else a hunter should take into consideration is how many trophies are harvested per annum on a spesific property
Hunting a 5-10k acre property that is well managed you are gonna hunt "free range" self sustaining animals. This may be small for some people but your hunting experience will be real.

Then i can take you to a 20 000 acre or larger property but every second outfitter hunts there. Then that large property will be a put and take operation. Is it then really better hunting a larger property?

And as Rouan has said the type of terain plays a big part. Hunting 5000 or 10 000 acre in the free state or karoo cannot be compared to hunting the same size property in the Northen Bushveld parts of the country.

Happy hunting
Gerrit
 

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I find it amazing that people have no issue hunting exotics on 2000 acres fenced in the states, Texas to be more specific, boust about it here but have a major issue hunting PG on a much larger property in SA ......makes no sense....
 

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I find it amazing that people have no issue hunting exotics on 2000 acres fenced in the states, Texas to be more specific, boust about it here but have a major issue hunting PG on a much larger property in SA ......makes no sense....

I was at an SCI dinner and a plains game hunt in the Otavi area (Namibia) came up for auction. 8 hunting days, all inclusive with 6 trophy fees. No one bid, I finally put my hand up and paid $500 for it. It was an outstanding hunt with massive low fenced properties. The next hunt was a high fence whitetail hunt on a small property in the Midwest. It sold for over $5,000. There is no explaining some people.
 

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