Hunting Lord Derby Eland

morioc

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Hunting Lord Derby Eland

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52.5 inch Lord Derby Eland

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Lord Derby Eland in Central African Republic

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Lord Derby Eland Bull in Central Africa

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52.5 inch Lord Derby Eland

We don't know much about the Lord Derby Eland, also known as Giant Eland, as it is difficult to find surveys. The subject here is to share what I've noticed during the long walks chasing them since I have been hunting them for a long time now. Lord Derby Eland is one of the biggest antelope in Africa and on the contrary it is not easy to observe. Carrying a great trophy, it is an exceptional species for all the hunters who have enjoyed and who will never forget his tracking and stalking.

It is not easy to truly imagine what it's like when you have never seen one in the wild. Just picture a big and elegant ghostly shape of 600 kg (1,300 pound), 1.8 meter (5.9 feet) in height with a smooth coat reddish brown to chestnut in color with several well defined white stripes on both sides of the body, a huge black haired neck extending to a large pendulous dewlap and a beautiful curly, massive set of horns drifting in and out the bush.

As a savanna antelope they are primarily diurnal. Gregarious specie (up to 100 in herds), only the older bulls disband the herd in the wet season. Highly nomadic with a large home range they spend long hours walking looking for fresh leaves, salt licks and waterholes where they sometimes drink and where the bulls roll in the mud to protect their skin.

Hunting Eland is for me one of the most beautiful experience for one simple reason: he is shy, crafty, clever and you track him. Everyone can hunt a Giant Eland when they are in a good number in an area, it depends on his ability of walking and concentration.

The Eland hunting day always begin by driving around a chosen area, checking the tracks on the roads and salt licks. We don't look for tracks by the water as they don't come often. As you find the tracks, the first thing is to check the freshness of the spoor, dung, leaves and branches by the team and then look for a big bull track, large, square in the front side of the mark, deep on the ground promising a heavy bull.

Before following the trail you have to pack 8 liters of water, camera, rounds, load your rifle and get your mind ready for a long walk. On my side I always boost the morale of the trackers especially the main one because even for them it is a hard hunt. Without a good team of trackers you can forget your Eland unless by a lucky encounter. Their skill, for the best trackers, of following Eland tracks on hard gravel or on burnt terrain is something remarkable. Even for me after many years where I don't have trouble to follow Buffalo, on Eland I lose the trail of 40 animals very easily. While we follow the tracks we always check the different signs; if the dung is green and wet you know they are close, if the leaves and broken trees has moisture on it you know they are close. At that time you have to look for a flicking tail but the trackers will see it long before you. Open your ears to try to catch the noise when they brake the trees or better try to catch the sound of a bull smelling their odor of a strong anise.

Then you hear the tracker going: pssssst... You stop dead still in your tracks and scan and scan again the thick bush you have been walking through for many long hours. Instantaneously you are covered by sweet bees, in your eyes, nose, mouth, ears. You chase them but all of us look at you and you hear, "don't MOVE they are 100 meter in front of us? You wear your head net and are relieved You make one and two steps through the thicket and you point at them with your arm and again I say "don't MOVE..."

We check the swirling midday wind and try to get closer. You think that they are feeding quietly but be sure that with their big ears and eyes, one or two of them have already caught you moving!! They start trotting away in a big cloud of dust... We take the advantage and run towards the cloud to get into a shooting position because they should stop and look back in a moment. You are ready for the first time and at last you see them, you even see the big bull walking broadside 60 meters away between the trees, ruff and dewlap swaying from side to side... Your finger reaches for the trigger of your favorite 375 HH and here you are at the last moment and you instantly forget the last 5, 6, 8 or 9 days of the hard walking pursuit. What great hunting... you have chased the ghost!

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Big Lord Derby Eland Bulls

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Trophy Lord Derby Eland Bulls

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Trophy Lord Derby Eland Bulls

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Trophy Lord Derby Eland Bulls

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Check out the size of the necks in the early season...

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Check out the size of the necks...

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Trophy Lord Derby Eland Bulls

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Lord Derby Eland Bull and Cow

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Trophy Lord Derby Eland Bull on the left

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Lord Derby Eland Bulls running

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48 inch class Lord Derby Eland

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48 inch class Lord Derby Eland

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48 inch class Lord Derby Eland

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Lord Derby Eland curls

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Lord Derby Eland herd

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Medium Lord Derby Eland

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Young Lord Derby Eland Bull

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Time to try...

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Salt lick

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Adding salt

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Lord Derby Eland country

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Lord Derby Eland spoors and dung

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Skinning Eland

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Lord Derby Eland heart

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The Festivities of a Derby Eland Hunt

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A trophy of a lifetime...
 
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James.Grage

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Christopher

And how did the fight start....well you see officer i was looking at going on a Lord Derby Eland hunt and my wife said where do you think you are going...and it went down hill from there...

Great story and beautiful photographs...you are great at what you do and a person would need to be in great shape...

I am looking at different hunts i want to go on in the next few years before my knees and hips will not take the long hill climbs or death marches...

And i will tell you that this is one of those hunts of a life time...
 

James.Grage

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Christopher

And how did the fight start....well you see officer i was looking at going on a Lord Derby Eland hunt and my wife said where do you think you are going...and it went down hill from there...

Great story and beautiful photographs...you are great at what you do and a person would need to be in great shape...

I am looking at different hunts i want to go on in the next few years before my knees and hips will not take the long hill climbs or death marches...

And i will tell you that this is one of those hunts of a life time...
 

BRICKBURN

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Christophe, you provide the essence of that hunt here. You speak of that spoor and I wanted to see it... you have wanting to look at Eland scat.


I am really starting to think you are either my nemesis or messiah in this African hunting dream. Bongo and LD Eland......


Thanks for the great pictorial tour.
 

BRICKBURN

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Christophe, you provide the essence of that hunt here. You speak of that spoor and I wanted to see it... you have wanting to look at Eland scat.


I am really starting to think you are either my nemesis or messiah in this African hunting dream. Bongo and LD Eland......


Thanks for the great pictorial tour.
 

morioc

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Thanks,
Sure it is a great animal to hunt. You know when you start but you don't know when you will end it........ 1 hour or 10 days!!!! but where they are many you will be back with your trophy ... full of memories and some blisters....
Cheers
 

morioc

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Thanks,
Sure it is a great animal to hunt. You know when you start but you don't know when you will end it........ 1 hour or 10 days!!!! but where they are many you will be back with your trophy ... full of memories and some blisters....
Cheers
 

RLubin

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Hunting Lord Derby Eland
by Rudy Lubin from Rudy Lubin Safaris in Central African Republic

"Many seasoned hunters regard as Africa's grandest quarry the giant, or Lord Derby's eland." - James Mellon, AFRICAN HUNTER

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Every trophy room should reserve a special place for the Lord Derby eland. Weighing in at 2,000 pounds, standing 69 inches at the shoulder, carrying a distinguished thick black dewlap and "mane" and crowned by a majestic set of crew-like spiraling horns that can measure up to 56-inches SCI (48 inches straight up, Rowland Ward), it is the regal giant among its three Southern and East African cousins, Cape, Livingstone and Patterson elands.

If the sub-species Taurotragus Derbianus has almost disappeared from West Africa with only a remnant population in Senegal, the Central African Derby eland sub-species T. Gigas is still found in northern Cameroon, southern Chad and southwest Sudan; but the majority of the finest Derby eland trophies have always come- and still come-out of northern Central African Republic.

In northern CAR, the woodland savanna provides the eland with its preferred browse (isoberlinia, gardenia and terminalia, abundant water, rocky hills, and mineral-rich natural salt licks we call "salines".

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A top quality eland trophy is usually earned, and the hunt has a well-deserved reputation for its challenging and rewarding experience of tracking on foot, often in fairly rough terrain. Feeding mostly morning, evening, and at night (especially at full moon), unlike other species, eland hardly rest during the day's heat, and thus they can cover a lot of ground moving to salines or water.

But unlike smaller hunting concessions, throughout the entire safari season we can always locate several of the numerous resident herds in their mini-migration pattern. We find small mixed herbs of 12 to 25 animals, smaller bachelor herds of 3 to 5 males, solitary males. and occasionally herds of over 80. Hunting starts at dawn, picking up fresh tracks on trails crossed by eland, in saliness, or on isoberlinia-rich plateaus.

Eland slowly but insistently walk and browse, and walk and browse, and look for water, and walk and browse. Their typical path of crunched or broken low-lying bushes and their distinct odor is easily followed by experienced professionals.

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Enduring sweat flies, an increasingly hot sun, and the inevitable momentary apathy of a hunter unused to the demands of tracking, the several-hour advance the eland have on the hunter is finally conquered: A slow-moving line of handsomely-striped chestnut coats shimmers through the trees 60 yards ahead of the discrete, but heart-thumping little pack of armed homo sapiens

While scouting for the best trophy, it is absolutely vital to remain undetected by suspicious females who can in an instant, set the herd off in a fast trot, the confused male following her confident lead. Otherwise, the hunter loses precious time waiting for the herd's fantastic sense of smell, sight and hearing go off Red Alert.

Fair chase hunting means not shooting from comfortable air-conditioned vehicles. Motivation, good shooting skills and good luck usually mean success for hunters. Any hunter can be proud of the Lord Derby eland, western roan antelope, buffalo or bongo he takes fair chase with me.

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As Craig Boddington wrote, "The Derby eland is a strikingly handsome and impressive beast, and in sheer appearance I rate him second to none..."

But I remember my days on Derby eland tracks as being some of the longest hunting days in my career. On the plus side, it's real hunting in a very real and largely unchanged part of Africa. It is a prize well worth whatever effort he requires.
 
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