The Magnificent Seven
The Seven deer size antelope we hunt - and the magnificent one we do not
Bushbuck (Tragelaphus sylvaticus). The sharp horns and aggressive disposition towards humans render the bushbuck very dangerous when wounded. The bushbuck is a close relative of the kudu and the nyala. In height they are 33” at the shoulders and have a maximum mass of 120 lbs. On males their body markings become more visible during their rut displays when they arch their backs and slowly circle one another, walking in a tense, high-stepping gait. These highly ritualised displays usually make fighting unnecessary and alongside this a rigid age-based hierarchy keeps younger males in check.
Impala (Aepyceros melampus). This is the most common antelope of the bushveld regions of South Africa. A very graceful, rufous-fawn antelope, with white underparts, measuring approximately 38” at the shoulders. Rams weigh around 130 lbs and ewes 90 lbs. A black stripe extends from the top of the rump down the back of each thigh. The lower hind legs have glands beneath tufts of black hair. Only the rams have horns which are lyre-shaped, and reach an average length of 28”. The visitor to game country will often see the sight of a few impala flying across the road from nowhere in the long jumps they are known to do.
Blesbok (Damaliscus pygargus phillipsi) is an antelope endemic to South Africa. Males and females have the white face and forehead which inspired the name - bles is the Afrikaans word for a blaze such as one might see on the forehead of a horse. Physically, rams and ewes are remarkably similar. Their mass can be as much as 190 lbs. A characteristic of the blesbok is the blaze and a horizontal brown strip which divides this blaze above the eyes. Body colour is brown with a lighter-coloured saddle on the back, and the rump an even lighter shade. The legs are brown with a white patch behind the top part of the front legs. Lower legs are whitish. Both sexes carry horns, ringed almost to the tip. The blaze on rams looks more "dirty" as shown here and the lighter frontal horn ribs show the wear from sparring.Female horns are slightly more slender but this is not obvious unless in company of males, to be compared. Nature is cruel: the brown horisontal line above the blaze is where the bullet must go for a frontal brain shot. This is the way at least 80% of all blesbok are shot between 100-200 yards
Reedbuck (Redunca arundinum). A distinctly classy looking antelope. Weighs up to 150 lbs and rams have a 38” shoulder height. Ewes are smaller and only measure 31” at the shoulders and weigh about 125 lb. Pelage is grey-brown with white underpants. Tail is bushy and white tipped. Distinctive black hairless glandular patch below the ears. Only rams have horns of up to 19” in length. They live in wet grassy plains. Reedbuck have inguinal glands in the groin which secrete a waxy substance, rams have one pair and ewes sometimes two. These glands are related to territory marking. Reedbuck blow a loud whistling sound when they sense danger. Due to their preference for 3-4 ft high swampy grass buck are a challenge to hunt as the heart is often obscured. A bullet from a mere guess shot to where the heart is often gets slowed down so much that it may be way too low and break the upper leg and the animal will never be found.
Grey Rhebuck (Pelea capreolus). They weigh up to 66 lbs with a shoulder height of 31 inches. This is a slender, long necked, medium sized antelope. It has long narrow ears with a bulbous nose and a woolly coat with white underparts. Only rams have upright, straight, spike-like horns of 8-10 in length, ringed at the bases. They prefer mountain slopes. Maybe the only antelope in South Africa that is not good eating.
Mountain Reedbuck (Redunca fulvorufula). The Mountain Reedbuck is a medium-sized, graceful and shy antelope. Rams attain a mass of about 69 lbs and measure 30” at the shoulder. Ewes are smaller at 63 lbs. Fur is predominantly grey but the head and shoulders are a reddish-brown. It has a fluffy white tail and striking white underparts. Forward curved horns are only found on rams. This species has long, narrow ears and prefer steep mountain slopes with brush.
Springbok (Antidorcas marsupialis). Rams may weigh up to 120 lbs, and ewes only up to 80lbs. Their striking body colour renders them easily recognisable. Shoulders appear lower than the hindquarters. Cinnamon coloured upper body, white underparts and a broad dark brown stripe on either flank stretching from the front legs to the rear legs. The short white tail is brown tufted. The rump is marked by a triangular-shaped white patch, framed by a dark brown stripe with the apex on the top of the hindquarters. Horns of ewes are more slender and shorter than those of rams. The Afrikaans name spring bok means bouncing on stiff legs like if on pogo sticks. The rump hairs are opened in a fluff during the rutting season. Without the fluff the bouncing is a danger signal to others. With a perfect heart shot they often jump like that and fall dead.
#8. Bontebok (Damaliscus pygargus pygargus). Endemic to South Africa the bontebok is a tall standing, medium-sized antelope 36 to 39 in high at the shoulder. Body mass can vary from 170 to 342 lb. Males are slightly larger and heavier than females but only evident when seen together. The bontebok is a chocolate brown colour with a white underside and a white stripe from the forehead to the tip of the nose. The name is Afrikaans and alludes to "distinctly differing colouring". The bontebok also has a distinctive white patch around its tail (whence the Latin name), while this patch is light brown/tan in blesbok. The horns are clearly ringed. They are found in both sexes and can reach a length of 18”. Due to its high visibility and excellent meat this antelope was hunted to virtual extinction. When South Africa declared itself independent from England in 1961 full protection was awarded this beautiful animal and an extensive national park dedicated to its protection was established.