Plains Game Species Selection for a First Timer

SticksMcKinley

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I've been doing a bit of research for our first safari, hopefully to transpire in 2020 or 2021. I'm looking at countries, species lists, outfitters, etc. Thus far, I've got Namibia in the #1 slot with RSA holding #2. Either one would be a plains game hunt - probably around 5 species.

My question is, without having the benefit of experience, what's a good way to learn more about the plains-type species in these areas? I'm thinking about behavior, habitat, methods for hunting them, etc. For instance, how do I know whether eland or zebra should be on my list? Or which 'bok or 'beest? At home, I like hunting whitetail deer a lot more than wild turkeys. I also greatly enjoyed my first pronghorn hunt last year. But, I don't know how that applies to the wide variety African plains game - if it applies at all.

I realize that once in the field, it will likely become obvious which species I like to hunt best. But in the absence of experience and great literature for plains game hunts, beyond random remarks in the Big 5 books like, "and then we killed a zebra for dinner," I wonder how you decided on the species you wanted to target for your first plains game hunt. I'd appreciate your advice, thank you.
 

Hogpatrol

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Are you planning on taxidermy? What's your budget? Answering those two questions will help in your selection of first time animals.
 

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Buy a package and then add days and animals as you like. Waterbuck are great mounts. Kudu is a must. Warthog is good as is Impala and springbok. Blue wildebeest is a must and Black wildebeest is also very nice. Red Hartebeest, Blesbok, are nice. Depending on your tastes the Zebra is a must or just nice. I like the Gemsbok very much. I have also taken Eland, Baboon(one for a full size mount), monkey, Nyala, Bushbuck, Steenbuck, Duiker, common/white/black springbok on my 2 trips.

If I go back I want a Black Backed Jackal, Bat eared Fox and a list I have started along with a Croc.

I suggest a hunt package and then look at photos of animals in your hunt area and think about what you want mounts of or memories of most. Beside what you do not get this trip you can work on next trip. That happened to me on my "one and only trip" in 2013. I went back again in 2017 and probably will return again.
 

SticksMcKinley

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Thanks for the replies. Yes, I will do taxidermy. Shoulder mounts and/or skull mounts. I’m budgeting around $5-7k for trophy fees at this point.

The animals I’m thinking of targeting are kudu, impala and I don’t know what else. Kudu and impala feel like the classics, so they’re solid entries, but what I’m asking about others is:

What would you include and why would you include them? Do you like the way they look (understandable, of course) or is there something about hunting those species that you really enjoy? For example, why do you prefer blue wildebeest over black or even hartebeest? That’s where I’m going with this if that makes sense. Thanks.
 

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Read reports from various members for those countries. You will see distinct hunting differences from the Cape, to Limpopo, to Namibia. Which do you prefer?

Look at images of the various plains game...what intrigues you?

As @Hogpatrol mentioned, figure in what you want to budget. For both animals taken and potential taxidermy wants.

These may help you decide. My first trip I had Kudu as my main focus. The rest came with opportunities presented.
 

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Robertson’s book The Perfect Shot has pictures and discussion of where to find them. I agree, get a package and take what the bush gives you! Have a great time.
 
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Alright, so here are my two rand. 1: I love the RSA. Had a ton of fun, but I wouldn't hesitate to try Nambi either. 2: "The Perfect Shot" book is a wonderful resource. It will tell you all you want to know and more. 3: If you have your eyes set on a Kudu and a Impala I'd settle on 1 more trophy (my vote would go for a Nyala, personally) then let the rest of the hunt go as a "pop up" hunt. See what Africa offers so to speak. When I went I wanted a Zebra, and an Impala . The Eland came up and I decided to try it. It was my best memory by far out of a bushel of great memories. Don't over plan, get your budget, your top 2 or 3 animals then see what happens. It's an adventure after all!
 

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There are some really good priced packages being offered by many of the forum's sponsors. You can check them out at Deals and Offers. https://www.africahunting.com/community/deals-offers.105/ . I believe the best bang for the buck will be in RSA but there are outfitters in other countries who offer competitive package deals too. Whatever you budget for animals, figure the same amount for taxidermy.
 

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@SticksMcKinley,
I would add that you should speak to the outfitters you are interested in possibly using, and ask them what their area is known for. If you were to hunt with us down here in the Eastern Cape, I would say that the top specie on your list should be a Cape Bushbuck. If you were to hunt Namibia, then Mountain Zebra. Each area is known for a couple of species, and I think you will have great fun going after these iconic species from their respective areas.

Take Care,
Marius Goosen
 

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When I went on my first Safari last September I had a “list” with a few musts and then took what Africa gave me.
I took kudu, gemsbok, blesbok, springbok and impala.

Kudu and Gemsbok were at the top of my list but I was not willing to settle for an immature male of either just to harvest one

To me impala are the whitetail of Africa. My kudu was an amazing hunt and a prized trophy but my hardest earned and favorite of the hunt was my 37” gemsbok bull.

First I wanted to hunt primarily species native to The area I was hunting.

Springbok are really neat critters and don’t take up a lot of real estate you might consider a trophy for the wall and a cull/mgt for a flat hide.

Blesbok are also fun to hunt have a beautiful hide and are pretty cheap as far as trophy fees so definitely worth looking at

Next trip I will still be looking for a warthog, blue wildebeest another impala and then whatever Africa gives me
 

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Don't get hung up on what you absolutely must have.
Relax and don't put pressure on yourself or your PH.
Take what comes along and enjoy the experience for your first time.

Sure, have an idea of a few animals that you prefer but don't miss your adventure because you worried about having to shoot a certain animal.
I wanted to hunt a Springbok and Impala but it took until my third and fourth safari respectively to achieve this and it really doesn't matter.

If you are going to Namibia, I would suggest a Kudu, Hartmann's Zebra, Gemsbok, Warthog, Blue Wildebeest, Red Hartebeest and Springbok should be on your list along with perhaps Steenbok and Duiker.

That should give you plenty of hunting opportunities and enough to work with.
Whatever you don't get the first time, you go back for. Simple.
 

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Sticks, you have already received some excellent info! I’m going to add a little and reiterate some.
My first trip I got a package deal. It didn’t include a kudu. The last day a 50” kudu showed himself and Africa offered him, so I took him. No regrets. Each time I’ve returned I’ve planned for such a situation and Africa has offered them up.
Specific animals, I like zebras for one. Tough as nails! Hard to stalk. And they make awesome rugs!
Namibia (haven’t made it there yet, but in my plan for 2020) has the mountain zebra which is on my list. They have some of the finest gemsbuck! Eland are a true difficult trophy to get there. A worthy Namibia trophy!

As Marius indicated, talk or email your possible outfitters and discuss what they think the best trophies in their areas are.
Your going back trust me, so if it’s not the right trophy, hold off.
Best of luck on your grand adventure!
 

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Kudu and gemsbok are always favorites. If bushbuck is available( east cape, Limpopo or KZN) I would suggest trying for one. Eland seem to be a favorite but I have yet to hunt one.

My first trip was kudu, springbok, red hartebeest and Gemsbok X2. Was a great group of animals to hunt together.

2nd trip was KuduX2, Nyala, bushbuck, ImpalaX2, warthog and duiker.

Next trip package is similar to first trip with some extras. Kudu, gemsbok, hartebeest, springbok, blue and black wildebeest, steenbok, warthog, mountain zebra, and baboon/jackal.
 

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Waterbuck makes a great shoulder mount, as does Gemsbok. I have a 57" Kudu and its a big mount, it's really too big for a shoulder mount.
 

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Lots of solid advice here, I would also suggest not to overlook some of the large wild areas in Zim, Zambia, or Mozambique. Nothing like hearing Lions roar all night, catching a peek of a Leopard, dodging elephants while tracking, seeing Buffalo herds, etc. Some of these area's have reasonable plains game rates and trophy fees that are very competitive. As far as animals go the Eland would be on the list for sure, find somewhere you can track them and it will be the highlight of the trip for sure. Some of the glamour antelope or spiral horns are great to take but very expensive, the Zebra is a must have, don't forget about the little guys. Duiker, Oribi, Grysbok, etc are extremely challenging.
 

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I would second Marius' comment about bushbuck. We had a pretty legendary scrap with one on my first hunt with KMG a couple of years ago...they are not to be taken for granted. I initially wasn't all that enamored of impala, until I took one that turned out to be the best trophy of the trip! I would not rule them out. I also took a nice springbok...I think they're really cool looking, they're inexpensive, make a nice mount. And I took a zebra which became a nice rug for my living room, so I am reminded of Africa every time I walk in my front door. I didn't go for kudu last time, as I have a small house and wasn't sure how I'd fit the mount if I took one...but my hunting buddy took a great one and changed my mind. Heading back to KMG next year with kudu at the top of the list!
 

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Discuss it with your outfitter/PH. They can tailor a package to fit your desires and wallet. Once you get there and start hunting you can change or add species. I did that on my first hunt, not being familiar with African pg. I had a list as a guide and also some "targets of opportunity"that I could take if I wanted. I would say budget and wall space will be a good guide. Whatever you take for mounts, go dip and pack and have your local taxidermist do the work at home where you can have control.

Good luck and have fun.
 
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Lots of great advice already. Here is some (probably not great) from a fellow rookie.
My first trip was an auction hunt with Impala, Warthog, and Blue Wildebeest.
My main targets were Kudu and Gemsbok. I considered the package items secondary.
I got a great Kudu and will always remember that hunt, but after the hunt I would say the Wildebeest was my most enjoyable memory and Impala is now one of my favorite Africa animals.
And Steenbok is high on my list for trip 2, something I never even thought of hunting.
So my advice is get a few definites like your Kudu and Impala you mentioned- know your budget, and don’t overlook anything or miss an opportunity just because it wasn’t on your “list”.
 

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I've been doing a bit of research for our first safari, hopefully to transpire in 2020 or 2021. I'm looking at countries, species lists, outfitters, etc. Thus far, I've got Namibia in the #1 slot with RSA holding #2. Either one would be a plains game hunt - probably around 5 species.

My question is, without having the benefit of experience, what's a good way to learn more about the plains-type species in these areas? I'm thinking about behavior, habitat, methods for hunting them, etc. For instance, how do I know whether eland or zebra should be on my list? Or which 'bok or 'beest? At home, I like hunting whitetail deer a lot more than wild turkeys. I also greatly enjoyed my first pronghorn hunt last year. But, I don't know how that applies to the wide variety African plains game - if it applies at all.

I realize that once in the field, it will likely become obvious which species I like to hunt best. But in the absence of experience and great literature for plains game hunts, beyond random remarks in the Big 5 books like, "and then we killed a zebra for dinner," I wonder how you decided on the species you wanted to target for your first plains game hunt. I'd appreciate your advice, thank you.

Its really about budget and which trophies you really like
I personally love the look of a red hartebeest but the next guy may not
The variety of species is quite overwhelming for a first timer. Like the first time you go into a big candy store or toy store

Enjoy and let us know if i can help with anything

Regards

Stuart
 

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