Plains Game Species Selection for a First Timer

Michael Dean

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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.

Instead of making a list an attempting to fill that list chronologically, I suggest familiarizing yourself with the various species and make a mental list of animals you want. When you go out to hunt there will be opportunities for different animals. When the opportunity arises you'll already know if the animal is on your list and take advantage of it. Trying to fill a list chronologically is only going to frustrate you. If you just get out in the bush and hunt you can take advantage of the animals as they come along. Often times that list is going to change as different opportunities avail themselves.
 

SticksMcKinley

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Instead of making a list an attempting to fill that list chronologically, I suggest familiarizing yourself with the various species and make a mental list of animals you want. When you go out to hunt there will be opportunities for different animals. When the opportunity arises you'll already know if the animal is on your list and take advantage of it. Trying to fill a list chronologically is only going to frustrate you. If you just get out in the bush and hunt you can take advantage of the animals as they come along. Often times that list is going to change as different opportunities avail themselves.

Thanks for your reply! I'm not thinking of gathering species chronologically or really even according to a hard and fast list - other than kudu and likely impala, but I'm even flexible on the latter. What I'm really interested in finding out is what plains species you like to hunt and why. For instance, if you like hunting eland in Limpopo, please tell me what it is about eland that you like over hunting impala...or wildebeest or whatever. Is it because of their size, behavior, habitat? Or, do you like hunting them in the Kalahari of Namibia and why? That's what I want to know. I'm just trying to get a feel or habitats and animals that I've never seen in person as I make a plan from afar. I hope that makes sense.
 

Bsto270

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I can say I did SA (Eastern Cape) and had a blast. If you like hunting whitetail, you owe it to yourself to try bushbuck hunting. It is tough, and they are skittish. Remind me a lot of eastern US whitetails. Impala is a lot of fun too, spooky and a lot of eyes in a herd of them. I hunted Mountain Reedbuck and Bushpig, neither are typical first safari critters, but both are unique hunts. Bushpig in particular as you get to pull off a night hunt in a blind. The reedbuck got me a day up in the hilly country in the Karoo, and that alone is worth seeing. I can say if I ever get back, I was amazed how challenging it could be to get close to zebra, and although they did not bother me when I was planning, they haunt me now.
 

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I think that on the question of this topic, there is no really wrong answer.
The answer is individual.
My way of thinking before first safari, on this subject was:

Kudu - number 1, this was one of main goals of Hemingway and Ruark, with spiral horns, one of the most exotic simbols of Africa. Of Kudu, I learnt form these two

Wildebeest, number 2, simbol of african great migations.

Oryx, number 3, simbol of red sand subsaharan deserts.
 

SticksMcKinley

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I can say I did SA (Eastern Cape) and had a blast. If you like hunting whitetail, you owe it to yourself to try bushbuck hunting. It is tough, and they are skittish. Remind me a lot of eastern US whitetails. Impala is a lot of fun too, spooky and a lot of eyes in a herd of them. I hunted Mountain Reedbuck and Bushpig, neither are typical first safari critters, but both are unique hunts. Bushpig in particular as you get to pull off a night hunt in a blind. The reedbuck got me a day up in the hilly country in the Karoo, and that alone is worth seeing. I can say if I ever get back, I was amazed how challenging it could be to get close to zebra, and although they did not bother me when I was planning, they haunt me now.

That's absolutely perfect - thank you so much!
 

SticksMcKinley

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I think that on the question of this topic, there is no really wrong answer.
The answer is individual.
My way of thinking before first safari, on this subject was:

Kudu - number 1, this was one of main goals of Hemingway and Ruark, with spiral horns, one of the most exotic simbols of Africa. Of Kudu, I learnt form these two

Wildebeest, number 2, simbol of african great migations.

Oryx, number 3, simbol of red sand subsaharan deserts.

That's why kudu is #1 on my list! Thank you!
 

curtism1234

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It depends on your personal preferences. I wouldn't shoot something I didn't want on my wall.

Personally I like a huge impala, long straight gemsbok, kudu, waterbuck, red hartebeest, warthog tusk, and black wildebeest. To me a zebra too large of a rug and I'd rather put a deer like animal than a horse head on the wall. I am in the minority but I would only shoot a blue wildebeest if it was a monster - a representative animal looks small to me when shoulder mounted and I don't personally like the look of the euro.

Good luck
 

Michael Dean

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Take what the bush offers you. Have a general list of animals you'd like to shoot and if one on that list presents itself ans is acceptable in quality take advantage of the opportunity. Trying to follow a list in chronilogical order is a recipe for disappointment. When opportunity presents itself, take it.
 

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I would recommend attending one of the SCI banquets if you haven’t already. A lot of experience there along with outfitters to ask questions and opinions. Plus could land a good hunting package during the auction.
 

SticksMcKinley

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I would recommend attending one of the SCI banquets if you haven’t already. A lot of experience there along with outfitters to ask questions and opinions. Plus could land a good hunting package during the auction.

Good idea, thanks!
 

SticksMcKinley

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Take what the bush offers you. Have a general list of animals you'd like to shoot and if one on that list presents itself ans is acceptable in quality take advantage of the opportunity. Trying to follow a list in chronilogical order is a recipe for disappointment. When opportunity presents itself, take it.

Thanks for your reply. It's definitely not about making a list and trying to follow it. I'm just trying to get an idea of what various plains species are like to hunt to understand where I might be more interested in going and what I might like to hunt best. For instance, Marius suggested Cape Bushbuck in his area and Mountain Zebra in Namibia. Bsto270 suggested bushbuck as well. That's really what I'm looking for - what makes a species unfamiliar to me interesting to hunt.
 

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Sticks, I had the same dilemma, I was looking at the wall I planned to hang the mounts and thought "How would that look there?".
Google the different species and price list, see what animals are offered at different operations and talk to PHs.

I had 6 animals chosen (Springbok and Impala scream AFRICA! As does Buffalo and Zebra and warthog)
After much searching and thinking (and budgeting) I chose Springbok, Impala, Warthog, Mountain Reedbuck, bushbuck and blesbok. After I contacted the PH and sent the deposit, I added a Nyala on a special deal. My son and daughter in law joined me - she took a zebra, and my son took Impala and Duiker.

My taxidermy fee was more than the safari (minus air fare). I suggest you contact MArius at KMG - it's a great adventure and Marius is a true hunter.

Mountain Reedbuck - not typically a first time hunter's choice but I really like hunting open country and stalking - they're a lot like the coues in Arizona and fantastic on the grill.

If I can help, PM me and we'll talk - I can talk for hours about the hunt and experience.

The Springbok in my avatar is the first African animal I harvested.
 

SticksMcKinley

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Sticks, I had the same dilemma, I was looking at the wall I planned to hang the mounts and thought "How would that look there?".
Google the different species and price list, see what animals are offered at different operations and talk to PHs.

I had 6 animals chosen (Springbok and Impala scream AFRICA! As does Buffalo and Zebra and warthog)
After much searching and thinking (and budgeting) I chose Springbok, Impala, Warthog, Mountain Reedbuck, bushbuck and blesbok. After I contacted the PH and sent the deposit, I added a Nyala on a special deal. My son and daughter in law joined me - she took a zebra, and my son took Impala and Duiker.

My taxidermy fee was more than the safari (minus air fare). I suggest you contact MArius at KMG - it's a great adventure and Marius is a true hunter.

Mountain Reedbuck - not typically a first time hunter's choice but I really like hunting open country and stalking - they're a lot like the coues in Arizona and fantastic on the grill.

If I can help, PM me and we'll talk - I can talk for hours about the hunt and experience.

The Springbok in my avatar is the first African animal I harvested.

Great, thanks for the advice on the Reedbuck - that helps!
 

joker2400

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In my opinion, the bushbuck is Africa's version of the whitetail. The big rams are solitary and secretive and always on edge. Damn tasty too.

Warthogs are probably my favorite animal to hunt. The big boars are tough to take. They are also very fun to watch from the bow bind as well. No trip is complete without 2 or 3.

Chasing kudu around the eastern cape is always challenging. In my 2 trip to the eastern cape they have been the toughest animal to take. Both times it has been the last animal in the salt despite starting out pursuit on day 1.

Monkeys and baboons don't get the respect they deserve. 4 trips and I have yet to connect with either of them, despite devoting time and effort into getting one.
 

SticksMcKinley

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In my opinion, the bushbuck is Africa's version of the whitetail. The big rams are solitary and secretive and always on edge. Damn tasty too.

Warthogs are probably my favorite animal to hunt. The big boars are tough to take. They are also very fun to watch from the bow bind as well. No trip is complete without 2 or 3.

Chasing kudu around the eastern cape is always challenging. In my 2 trip to the eastern cape they have been the toughest animal to take. Both times it has been the last animal in the salt despite starting out pursuit on day 1.

Monkeys and baboons don't get the respect they deserve. 4 trips and I have yet to connect with either of them, despite devoting time and effort into getting one.

Thank you for the info - that really helps! That's exactly what I want to know.
 

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