Blesbok Hunting in South Africa

Blesbuck or Blesbok (Afrikaans) hunting is a popular and exciting activity for those interested in an African safari. Blesbok are a medium-sized species native to South Africa, known for their distinctive white blaze on their forehead and their reddish-brown coat. A Blesbok hunt can be a challenging and rewarding experience, requiring sportsmen to navigate the rugged terrain of the African grassveld and stalk their quarry with skill. In this introduction to Blesbok, we will explore the key aspects of this thrilling pursuit, including the best techniques, equipment, package hunts and prices.

Description and Characteristics of Blesbok

The Blesbok (Damaliscus pygargus phillipsi) is a medium-sized antelope endemic to South Africa, recognized for its distinctive white face and forehead which contrast sharply with the rest of its dark brown to reddish-brown body. On average, Blesbok stand about 85 to 100 cm tall at the shoulder and weigh between 55 to 80 kg, with males being slightly larger and heavier than females. The males are slightly larger than the females, and both rams and ewes have prominently ringed horns that can grow up to 18 inches in length. Blesbok are predominantly grazers, favoring short grasslands and open plains, and are well-adapted to the highveld habitat, able to tolerate severe weather cold. They live in large herds with complex social structures, including separate bachelor herds and breeding herds led by dominant males. Known for their stamina and speed, Blesbok are capable of maintaining a fast galloping run over considerable distances, making them challenging prey for predators. They are closely related to Bontebok. There are no seasonal restrictions on hunting this game species, they can be harvested year round.

Blesbuck Safari - Happy Hunter with trophy
Blesbok Ram a member of the Plains Game family

Trophy Blesbok Hunting in South Africa

The size of a Blesbok trophy is typically determined by the length of its horns, which are the main component in trophy measurements. A good Blesbok will have horns that exceed 15 inches in length. The circumference of the base is also taken into account, with thicker bases indicating a more mature, and thus more desirable, trophy. In addition, the overall symmetry and condition of the horns impact the trophy quality. Both Rowland Ward and Safari Club international keep records of Blesbok. Minimum for Rowland Ward entry 16 4/8 and SCI minimum is a score of 40 and 35 if hunted with archery equipment.

World Record

The world record Blesbuck stands as proof of the growth potential of this species under ideal conditions. With an impressive RW (Rowland Ward) measurement of 20 5/8 inches, and another monster boasting a SCI (Safari Club International) measurement of 52 7/8 inches, these two massive individuals show how perfect genes produce unique specimens.

Best Areas in South Africa for a Blesbok Hunt

The best areas for Blesbok are predominantly concentrated within South Africa, where this magnificent animal is endemic. The Eastern Cape, Free State, North West and Mpumalanga provinces are among the top locations for Blesbok due to their abundant populations and ideal habitat conditions. These regions offer vast expanses of open grasslands and highland plateaus, bushveld and game farms providing perfect hunting grounds for spotting and stalking this fleet-footed and agile antelope. In addition to private hunting concessions and conservancies, several South African national parks also permit regulated hunting.

Hunting Rifles and Calibers for Blesbok

Choosing the right rifle hunting caliber is crucial when hunting Blesbuck to ensure a humane and effective shot. Given the medium size of the Blesbok, a medium to high caliber rifle is generally recommended. Popular choices often include the .270 Winchester, .308 Winchester, and the .30-06 Springfield, all of which offer sufficient power and accuracy at the typical ranges encountered while hunting these animals. The .243 Winchester can also be a good choice, especially for less experienced shooters, as it provides a manageable recoil with ample power for a Blesbok. When choosing a bullet, a good quality soft point or controlled expansion bullet is preferred. This ensures the bullet expands properly upon impact, causing enough internal damage for a quick and humane kill. A well-placed shot with a smaller caliber is often more effective than a poorly placed shot with a larger one.

Rifle Scopes and Optics for Africa

Optics play a crucial role in hunting Blesbok, aiding in accurate shots, particularly at longer ranges. Given the open grasslands that Blesbok typically inhabit, shots can often be at distances of 200 yards or more, so a good quality rifle scope is a must have. A scope with variable magnification, around 4-12 x or 6-15x, is often preferred as it provides versatility for both shorter and longer range shots. The quality of the glass and the light transmission are also essential, with higher-end scopes offering better clarity and brightness, which can be beneficial during early morning or late afternoon. Beyond rifle scopes, binoculars are another important optical tool for a Safari. A good pair of binoculars can help in spotting and identifying Blesbok from a distance.

Shot Placement on Blesbuck

Proper shot placement is critical in ensuring a quick, humane kill when trophy hunting Blesbok in South Africa. Given their medium size and sturdy build, the most effective shot is typically the heart-lung area, which provides a larger target and results in rapid blood loss leading to a quick death. This can be achieved by aiming directly on or behind the shoulder of the Blesbok when it is standing broadside. This shot will disrupt the heart and lungs, causing the animal to go down within a short distance. Headshots are generally discouraged due to the small target area and the risk of wounding the animal if the shot is not precise. As always, knowing your rifle, understanding the ballistics of your chosen cartridge, and practicing at various ranges can greatly increase the chances of a well-placed shot.

White Blesbuck Trophy, taken on a plains game hunt
Blesbuck on the African Plains

Bow Hunting Blesbok in South Africa

Bow hunting Blesbuck in Africa is an exciting challenge that requires a combination of skill, patience, and a thorough understanding of the animal’s behavior. Due to the Blesbok’s keen senses and the relatively close range required for archery hunting hunters often employ ground blinds or tree stands near frequented grazing areas or watering holes.

Blesbok Shot placement, as with rifle hunting, is vital. The heart-lung area, directly behind the shoulder when the Blesbok is broadside, is the preferred target. African shots will typically be taken at distances of 20-40 yards, so practice at these ranges.

Bow Hunting Equipment for Blesbok

The selection of the right bow hunting equipment is important for a successful Blesbok hunt in Africa. The choice of bow, whether compound, recurve, or crossbow, largely depends on the hunter’s personal preference and proficiency.

Compound bows are often favored for their power and accuracy. A bow with a draw weight of at least 55 pounds is recommended for sufficient penetration through the Blesbok’s ribs and into the vital organs. Arrows should be of high quality carbon and matched to the bow’s draw weight for optimal flight and penetration. Broadheads, preferably the mechanical open on contact types with a cutting diameter of at least one and a quarter inch, are preferred for their ability to inflict significant damage to the animal’s vital areas, ensuring a quick and humane kill.

A quality bow sight and a reliable release aid will enhance accuracy and consistency.

African Blesbuck Prices

Day fees cost $ 350.00 per person per day if hunting 2 on 1 and $ 450.00 if you would prefer to have the services of the professional guide to yourself.

Hunt Package that Includes a Blesbok

  • Blesbok plains game packages start from $ 2 350.00 for a 5 day hunt including one Blesbok ram.
  • A package including 7 hunting days, fees for 1 X Blesbok, 1 X Impala and 1 X Warthog – hunting 2 on 1 will cost $ 4 350.00.
  • A Hunting Package including 7 days hunting and fees for 1 X Blue Wildebeest, 1 X Zebra, 1 X Blesbok and 1 X Warthog will cost $ 6 300.00 if hunting 2 on 1.
  • A Package hunt including 7 days hunting and fees for 1 X Blue Wildebeest, 1 X Nyala, 1 X Impala, 1 X Blesbok and 1 X Warthog will cost $ 7 800.00 if hunting 2 on 1.

The above are all inclusive African hunting Safari package hunts and include: 

  • Accommodation in a hunt lodge,
  • meals,
  • drinks,
  • the services of a professional guide,
  • skinning and field preparation of your animals and
  • road transportation to and from Johannesburg International Airport.

Some of these plains game packages include Wildebeest hunts

White Blesbuck Hunt in South Africa

FAQ’s Frequently Asked Questions

How much does a Blesbok hunt cost?

The cost of hunting African Blesbok can vary widely based on several factors including the location of the hunt, the duration of the safari, the inclusion of any additional species, and the level of accommodation and services provided. A typical hunt in South Africa will range from $350 to $450 USD per day for a fully guided experience. This includes the services of a Professional guide and his tracker, accommodation, meals, and transportation.

In addition to the daily rate, there is typically an animal fee for each animal harvested. For a Blesbok, this is $ 600 USD. Therefore, a typical 5-day Blesbok Safari will cost anywhere from $2,350 to $2,850 USD in total, not including airfare, taxidermy, and shipping of the mount.

Keep in mind that prices can vary significantly, and it’s always best to check directly with hunting outfitter for the most accurate and up-to-date pricing. Also, remember to inquire about what is included and what is not in the package.

What does a Blesbok package hunt with 2 other species cost?

A package hunt including 7 days of hunting, animal fees for 1 X common Blesbok, 1 X Impala and 1 X Warthog – hunting 2 on 1 will cost $ 4 350.00.

What is the best shot on Blesbok?

The best shot for Blesbok, like most other antelope species, is the heart-lung area for a quick, humane kill. This vital area can be targeted by aiming directly behind the shoulder when the Blesbok is standing broadside. This shot, if accurately placed, will hit the heart or lungs, causing massive internal damage and rapid blood loss, which will bring the animal down quickly.

It’s important to note that African Blesbok have a relatively high shoulder line and a large stomach, which means that the heart lies a bit higher in the chest than it might appear. Therefore, it is crucial to aim slightly higher on the chest than you might on other similar-sized game to ensure a hit to the vital area.

Adrian Anderson has been a Licensed Professional Hunter and Hunting Outfitter for 32 years

Adrian Anderson first obtained his Professional Hunters license in 1991. He is a Big Five and Dangerous Game licensed Professional Hunter and Hunting Outfitter. He has a tremendous love for wildlife and the African bush and enjoys sharing his knowledge with the hunting clients that he guides. Guiding hunters in Africa’s wild places is a passion and seeing them succeed with their goals brings satisfaction. With knowledge of the Safari industry built up over 32 years he is well qualified to give guidance to his hunting clients.