Hunting in South Africa Part Two: Red Hartebeest

Species: Red Hartebeest
Scientific Name: Alcelaphus buselaphus
Average Mass: 150kg
Average Shoulder Height: 1.25m

Both males and females have horns, the males' horns are thicker at the base and have more mass. They prefer open savannah areas and open woodlands. The Red Hartebeest is the second fastest antelope and can reach speeds of up to 80 kph: roughly 50 miles per hour. They have great stamina and can run for vast distances. They are a tough animal as well so good shot placement is critical, as well as the proper projectile.

On our five or six mile trek of Blesbok approaching, we tried to zone in on two good Red Hartebeest bulls spotted earlier in the day. Professional Hunter Karel had a plan, but this time the plan didn't work out as hoped. One large bull was alone, the other was with a small group of females. We hiked and climbed up the rocky hills to where we “knew” they were headed, but the Hartebeest apparently had different plans, plans of their own.

Although there were over one hundred fifty head of hartebeest in various groups we had already glassed, at the end of the day they had all completely vanished. I guess that's what you should expect from an animal that looks like an Egyptian god of malicious mayhem and mischief: something that with the proper robes Yul Brynner could have spent some time praying to. A bigger antelope compared to a Blesbok, for example, they are in the 150 kg / 330 lb. arena, and all muscle. Visually stunning and distinctive, they are perhaps my favorite African game animal and they also do quite well on the dinner plate as we can personally attest.

Though the vanish of all the Hartebeest remains a mystery, the next morning Karel had a plan. It is always good to have one, even if it doesn't work. This time, we spotted what seemed to be the same group of six or seven animals moving through the tall grass up into the hills, but we couldn't be sure. It was time to try to get ahead of them, doing a little rock climbing to see if they ended up where they were supposed to. On the overlook on top of the hill, there they were. We were well-covered by brush, and I crawled on my belly to the first of two larger rocks, still cloaked by grass and brush. Karel slid my rifle down to me and now it was a matter of finding the big bull we had seen the day before. He was there alright, with his butt towards us, grazing away in the tall grass, inside two hundred yards. There was some wind, but it was manageable.

Although there was “no rush,” according to Karel, actually there was a bit of a complication. The bull moved to the right, I was shooting through grass as it was, and the shooting window was narrow, for just a few more steps to the right and the opportunity would be gone. When you have “the” bull in front of you, at last, with the safety off and the scope on him, moments can seem like hours. Ideally, he would pose broadside but there was no guarantee of that at all. He started to turn a couple of times, sticking his neck in the right direction, but quickly returned to the narrow raking shot angle. It was the same type of shot I had passed up on the Blesbok ram the day before, although the wind was far stronger, the distance greater, the Blesbok was moving, and was a smaller target as well.

The first image is on the rock, keeping close watch on the Hartebeest bull below. The second image, a video frame grab, is the bull 1/10th of a second before the shot.

The Hartebeest bull had no clue we were there, going straight down with an InterBond through the center of his neck. The next order of business was figuring out how to get to him, which we eventually took care of. It was another fabulous guiding job by Karel Haefele, a fine trophy, and a memorable hunt.

A couple of days later, at a completely different 22,000 acre prairie hunting area, my 85 year old father put the bullet in the right place and dropped his own Hartebeest trophy as well.

See Ke Monati Safaris at to plan your next hunting adventure with Karel.


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


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