Hunting Gemsbok is a thrilling and challenging pursuit that has attracted sportsmen from around the world for centuries. As one of Africa’s most iconic and impressive antelope species, the Gemsbuck is known for its striking appearance, with long, straight horns and a unique blend of gray, white, and black markings on its robust body. Inhabiting arid regions of southern Africa, these animals have evolved to thrive in some of the continent’s most unforgiving landscapes. We take a look at a hunt in South Africa for Gemsbok.

Gemsbuck Hunting in South Africa - Female hunter and trophy Gemsbok
Hunting Gemsbok - Gemsbuck herd in the open

Description and Characteristics

The Gemsbok (Oryx gazella), is a striking and resilient antelope species native to the arid regions of southern Africa. Renowned for their distinctive appearance, Gemsbucks boast an elegant fusion of gray, white, and black markings on their muscular bodies, which can weigh between 180 to 240 kilograms (400 to 530 pounds). A characteristic feature is that both sexes carry long horns, which can reach up to 47 inches in length, often used for self-defense or dominance displays during territorial disputes. These desert-dwelling ungulates are a native of the Kalahari and have evolved numerous adaptations to thrive in their harsh environments, including a specialized network of blood vessels in their nasal passages to cool down the blood and prevent overheating. They are also equipped with broad, splayed hooves that enable them to traverse the loose, sandy terrain with ease. As primarily grazing herbivores, they consume a variety of grasses, shrubs, and succulents, absorbing moisture content from their food to minimize their need for water, they can go without surface water for months at a time. The male’s horns are thicker that those of female Gemsbok, remember that the cow’s horns tend to curve slightly when you are looking for a bull. There are no seasonal restrictions and hunting is available year round. Gemsbok have excellent eyesight and can see you across the open plains from a good distance away.

Gemsbuck Trophy Size

A trophy Gemsbok is highly sought-after among collectors, with the size and quality of the horns being the primary criteria for determining its trophy value. Both bulls and cows possess impressive horns, which can reach lengths of 47 inches in exceptional specimens. In general, a good sized Gemsbok will measure at around 35 inches in length. Ideally, a trophy Gemsbok will have long, straight, and evenly matched set, with a thick base and sharp, unblemished tips. For many sportsmen, securing a sizeable and symmetrical animal is a testament to their skill, patience, and respect for this magnificent species. Both Safari Club International and Rowland Ward maintain record books for this species, SCI requires a score of 81 and Rowland Ward a minimum length of 40 inches for inclusion.

World Record

The world record Gemsbuck, or oryx, has etched its name in to history books with an impressive 49 4/8 inches of horn length, a feat acknowledged by the Rowland Ward Records of Big Game. This measurement stands as a testament to the potential growth of this unique African species.

Best Locations for Gemsbok Hunting in South Africa

The best locations for Gemsbuck are spread across the arid regions of the African continent, where these iconic antelope species naturally thrive. Namibia, in particular, is renowned for its exceptional Gemsbok populations, with the Kalahari Desert and the vast, rugged terrain of the Namib-Naukluft National Park providing ideal habitat since they do not require surface water. South Africa also offers excellent opportunities for them, especially in the Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, open country ranches and concessions of the Free State and Limpopo Provinces, where hunting outfitters offer hunts for this plains game species. Botswana’s Central Kalahari Game Reserve and the Tuli Block region in the eastern part of the country are other notable destinations that harbor healthy herds.

Gemsbuck trophy bull in the Kalahari
Gemsbuck Hunting - Gemsbok Trophy

Rifles and Calibers for African Gemsbok Hunts

Selecting the appropriate rifle and caliber to hunt Gemsbok is imperative to ensure a swift, humane harvest of these majestic animals. Given the Gemsbok’s robust build and tenacity, hunters should choose a rifle with sufficient power and accuracy to deliver a clean, ethical shot at varying distances, often out to 350 meters. Flat shooting rifles such as the 270 caliber Winchester, .308 Winchester, .30-06 Springfield, and the 300 Winchester Magnum are popular choices, as they offer a suitable balance of power, trajectory, and manageable recoil. Bullet selection is equally important, with premium, controlled-expansion bullets being the preferred choice to ensure adequate penetration and energy transfer upon impact. A 160 to 180 grain bullet is ideal to put these animals down, they can be dangerous when wounded.

Rifle Scopes and Optics for Gemsbok Safaris

Rifle scopes play a vital role in ensuring a successful and ethical Gemsbok hunting experience. Given the vast, open landscapes of the African savannah and the potential for long-range shots, choosing the right scope with suitable magnification is essential. A variable power scope in the range of 4-12x or 5-15x is often recommended. This will provide a versatile and adaptable solution for varying shooting distances and conditions. High-quality glass and coatings in the scope ensure optimal light transmission, sharpness, and color fidelity, which are particularly valuable during early morning and late afternoon hunts when light conditions may be less than ideal.

Opting for scopes with a reliable and straightforward reticle design, such as a duplex or mildot, will aid in quick target acquisition and shot placement. Furthermore, a well-built scope with solid weather resistance will protect against dust, moisture, and temperature fluctuations. Ultimately, investing in a high-quality rifle scope that matches the hunter’s specific needs and preferences will enhance their chances of a successful and ethical Gemsbok hunt.

Best Shot Placement on Gemsbuck

Achieving the best shot placement on a Gemsbuck is important for ensuring a quick, humane, and ethical harvest. A well-aimed shot should target the animal’s vital organs, specifically the heart and lungs, to minimize suffering and ensure a swift kill. When the animal is standing broadside, aim for the area just behind the shoulder, approximately one-third of the way up from the bottom of the chest. This placement will provide a high likelihood of penetrating both lungs, leading to rapid blood loss and the animal’s quick collapse.

If presented with a quartering-away shot, adjust your aim to allow the bullet to pass through the rib cage, angling forward and inward towards the opposite front shoulder. In this position, the shot should enter the chest cavity, striking the heart and lungs for optimal results. Quartering-toward shots are not recommended, as the shoulder bone and other structures may impede the bullet’s path to the vitals. However, if this shot is the only option, it is important to carefully angle your shot to bypass these obstacles and still reach the vital organs.

Patience and discipline are essential in waiting for the ideal shot opportunity on a walk and stalk or spot and stalk. A well-placed, ethical shot not only showcases the hunter’s skill and respect for the animal but also contributes to the overall success and satisfaction of the hunt experience.

Hunt Gemsbuck with a Bow

Bow hunting Gemsbuck presents a thrilling and demanding challenge that requires an exceptional level of skill, patience, and perseverance from the hunter. Unlike rifle hunting, bow hunting necessitates getting much closer to the animal, typically within 30 to 40 yards, to ensure an accurate and ethical shot. This calls for a deep understanding of the habits, movements, and favored terrain, as well as a keen awareness of factors like wind direction and scent control to avoid alerting the animal.

By taking advantage of natural cover, shadows, and the animals moments of inattention, hunters can carefully close the distance and position themselves for the ideal shot. Most Bow hunted Gemsbok are taken from a bow blind set up over water or feeding areas.

Gemsbuck Safari - Good Gemsbok trophy and happy hunter.
Gemsbuck standing in open bush.

Bow Hunting Equipment for Gemsbuck

Selecting the right bow hunting equipment for is essential to ensure a successful and ethical experience. A powerful and accurate compound bow, recurve bow, or crossbow with a draw weight of at least 55 to 70 pounds is necessary to deliver an effective shot on these robust animals. High-quality, razor-sharp broad heads are critical for achieving proper penetration and a quick, harvest; fixed-blade or mechanical broad heads with a cutting diameter of at least one and a quarter inch are recommended.

Arrows should be matched to the specific bow setup and have adequate weight and spine stiffness to ensure optimal flight characteristics and energy transfer upon impact. An arrow weight of 400 to 500 grains is generally suitable for medium sized game.

A good pair of binoculars, a rangefinder, and a compact backpack to carry essential gear are also important components of a bow hunter’s equipment list. Ultimately, investing in high-quality gear and familiarizing oneself with its proper use will enhance the chances of a successful and rewarding bow hunting experience for in Africa’s captivating bushveld.

Gemsbuck Prices and costs of a Hunting Safari

The standalone price or trophy fee for a Gemsbok is $ 1 500.

The Daily rate is $ 350 per person per day for hunting 2 on 1 (2 clients with one guide).

So 5 day’s including a Gemsbok will cost $ 3250.

The Daily Rate will include the following:

  • Accommodation in a lodge or camp
  • Meals
  • Drinks
  • The services of a Professional guide
  • Field preparation of animals
  • Road Transportation to and from Johannesburg International Airport.

Gemsbuck Packages

Hunting packages that include a Gemsbok are available and prices start from $ 6 000.00. A Gemsbok can be added to just about any South African safari package at a cost of $ 1500. Springbok and Bushbuck are also available to add.

Gold plains game hunting package Price $ 10 350.00 (2 on 1)

This is an all inclusive hunt for one person in South Africa. Hunting either 1 X 1 or 2 X 1. This package price includes Accommodation, meals, the services of a Professional guide, Skinning and field preparation of trophies, road transportation to and from JHB International Airport, All day fees for 7 days and animal fees for 5 X plains game animals.

FAQ’S Frequently asked Questions

How much does it cost to hunt Gemsbok?

The standalone price or fee for a Gemsbuck is $ 1 500. Add the hunting fee of $ 350 per person per day for as many days as you would like to book for the total final cost. So 5 days including a Gemsbuck will cost $ 3250.

What is the best rifle Caliber for Gemsbuck?

The best rifle caliber for Gemsbuck is a 7 mm Remington Magnum for shooting at longer ranges and more open grasslands. The 7mm Remington with 150 – 170 gr controlled expansion bullet has the trajectory, penetration and hitting power to cleanly harvest these animals at any distance you will encounter.

For areas where shooting distances are closer, say a maximum of 250 meters, something like a 30-06 Springfield will be perfectly adequate.

What is the best shot placement on Gemsbuck?

The best shot placement on a Gemsbok is on or just behind the shoulder. When the animal is standing broadside, aim for the area just behind the shoulder, approximately one-third of the way up from the bottom of the chest. This placement will provide a high likelihood of penetrating both lungs, leading to rapid blood loss and the animal’s quick demise.

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.