Hunting in South Africa Part Three: Wildebeest


The blue wildebeest, more correctly the brindled gnu or black-tailed gnu, can hit eight feet in length head to rump, up to 4.8 feet tall at the shoulder, weighing up to the 640 pound or so area. While it may look like a crazed, strange, maverick cow, it is an antelope. The sub-family Alcelaphinae is a group of large, nomadic antelope native to Africa: the brindled gnu is related to red hartebeest and the blesbok that are also from the Alcelaphinae sub-family. They may look clumsy, yet they have been clocked at over 50 miles per hour.

If you've watched some of the nature documentaries, you might think that most everything eats the wildebeest: certainly lions, cheetahs, jackals, hyenas, and crocodiles do. With their synchronized birthing, 500,000 wildebeest calves are born over a 2 to 3 week period in February. The calves can stand within six minutes of birth and follow their mother within 15 minutes, so nature has deployed some very effective countermeasures here. Wildebeest are considered to be the largest migration in the world, of large land mammals. The zebra coexists well with the wildebeest, eating the same plants but different parts. Zebras, or “pajama donkeys” as Karel calls them, with their better sight and hearing, can effectively sound the alarm for the wildebeest as well.

They have been given the moniker of the “Poor Man's Buffalo” and their meat is highly valued. The dark humor about the wildebeest is that they are born sick and get healthier with every lead pill that hits them. They are tough, well-muscled, tenacious animals with little question. Yet, some of the wacky ideas about the cartridge needed to do a quick, clean job is baffling. An appropriate bullet in the right spot at its working velocity invariably works well. Something in the wrong spot doesn't work well, if at all. I was looking forward to using the .270 Winchester on a brindled gnu, with the load that shot the best out of my X-Bolt: the 130 grain Hornady Superformance InterBond.

On the last full day of hunting, Karel managed to get us within 300 yards of an excellent, old brindled gnu bull. He was broadside: the frame grab above shows his reaction to the shot. It was a complete pass-through. The wildebeest was already dead, but didn't know it until a few moments later when he died on his hooves, dropping stone cold dead.

The Hornady 130 grain InterBond, that had already displayed impressive deformation and cavitation on the much lighter white Blesbok, did a superlative job on the wildebeest as well making a large wound track the entire width of the animal, having more penetration than needed as the bullet easily exited.

It is hard to ask for a better hunting experience, thoroughly enjoying being with countless thousands and thousands of wild game all across the spectrum. All told it was a grand total of five shots fired resulting in five memorable trophies. Superlatives are perhaps given out a bit too freely, but in the case of Karel Haefele and Ke Monati Safaris, it is quite richly deserved.

We hunted with Karel in 2006, he was outstanding then and he is, if possible, even better now. If I go back to the same professional hunter, you can believe he is far better than just good. You can do no better than to say yes to adventure and plan your next hunt with Karel Haefele. For more information and to contact Karel, check out Ke Monati Safaris at .


© Copyright 2003-2013 by Randy Wakeman. All Rights Reserved.


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