Steenbuck Hunting in South Africa

Description and Characteristics

The Steenbuck (Raphicerus campestris), is a small, solitary antelope native to the grasslands and bushveld of sub-Saharan Africa. With a shoulder height averaging 19 to 24 inches and a weight typically between 20 and 26 pounds, it’s one of the smallest antelope species. Characterized by a reddish-brown coat that stands out against the African landscape, the Steinbuck also boasts large, expressive ears, an undersized tail, and white underbelly. Males are distinguishable by their sharp, straight horns, which typically measure 3 to 4 inches in length. Despite its small size, the Steenbok is renowned for its agility and speed. It has a unique defense mechanism whereby it freezes when it senses danger and then darts off in a zigzag pattern to confuse predators. This elusive, primarily nocturnal creature is also known for its monogamous mating habits and territorial behavior, often marking its range with scent glands located beneath its eyes.

Trophy Size

When it comes to the trophy size it is primarily determined by the length of the rams horns. Considering their small stature, with males weighing around 24 pounds and standing approximately 20 inches tall at the shoulder, their horns are relatively lengthy. A trophy Steinbok typically has horns measuring between 3 to 4 inches in length. The Safari Club International (SCI) record for Steenbok horns is 5.3 inches, a testament to the individual variation that can be found within the species. Remember that the trophy quality is not solely determined by length, but also the condition and symmetry of the horns. A symmetrical pair of horns on a mature Steenbuck is often considered a prized trophy. Minimum for entry into Rowland Wards record book is 4 ½ inches while SCI require a score of 11.

Best Locations for Steenbuck Hunts in South Africa

South Africa offers numerous prime locations for hunting Steenbok, thanks to its diverse ecosystems and large tracts of preserved bushveld. The Limpopo Province, in particular, is renowned for its abundance of Steenbuck. The vast, open grasslands and thorny bush of this region provide ideal habitats for this diminutive antelope. The Eastern Cape, with its mix of dense bushveld and open plains, is another popular location among hunters. The Free State Province, known for its wide, open spaces and grassy plains, is also home to a significant number of Steinbuck. Many private game reserves and hunting concessions across South Africa offer Steenbuck hunts, ensuring a rewarding and ethical hunting experience.

Hunting a Steenbuck Ram in South Africa.
Steenbok Trophy Ram

Rifles and Calibers

Choosing the right rifle and caliber for a Steenbok safari requires consideration due to the animal’s small size. As a general guideline, smaller caliber rifles are typically preferred to ensure a humane kill without unnecessary damage to the trophy. Calibers in the .243 to .260 range are commonly recommended for Steinbok hunting, offering a good balance of trajectory and precision without being overly destructive. A popular choice among many hunters is the .243 Winchester due to its flat trajectory and mild recoil. The 6.5mm Creedmoor is another excellent option, known for its accuracy over long distances and manageable recoil. It’s also important to choose a rifle that you’re comfortable with, as quick, accurate shooting is often required when targeting the fast and elusive Steenbuck on a rifle hunt.

Rifle Scopes for Steinbuck Safaris

Given the small size and nature of the Steenbuck, having the right rifle scope and optics can significantly enhance a hunter’s chances of success. A high-quality variable power scope is typically recommended for this type of hunting. A scope in the 4-12x or 5-15x magnification range is usually sufficient, providing enough magnification to accurately aim at a small target at varying distances. The larger end of the magnification range can be particularly useful when hunting in open plains where shots can be longer. Quality glass and a clear reticle are essential for spotting and aiming at the small Steinbok, especially in low light conditions when these animals are most active. A good pair of binoculars can be invaluable for spotting Steenbuck in the wide open grassveld before setting up for the shot

Best Shot Placement on Steinbok

When hunting Steenbuck, shot placement is important to ensure a quick, ethical kill. Given the small size of this antelope, a precise shot is necessary to avoid unnecessary suffering. The preferred shot for most hunters is the heart-lung shot, aimed directly behind the shoulder of the Steinbuck when it is standing broadside. This shot targets the vital organs, leading to a rapid death. Always remember, it’s better to wait for a clear, broadside shot rather than risk poor shot placement on an African hunting Safari. A well-placed shot not only ensures an ethical hunt but also preserves the quality of the trophy.

Steenbuck in thick bush - hunting steenbuck
Steenbuck ram in the open

Bow Hunting Steenbuck

Bow hunting Steenbuck presents an intriguing challenge, it requires not only a mastery of archery but also a keen understanding of this diminutive antelope’s habits. With bow poundage ranging between 40 to 60 pounds, the equipment is capable of delivering a quick, humane kill, provided the shot is accurately placed. However, given the Steenbuck’s small size, accuracy is tremendously important. The target area for a clean, ethical shot is relatively small, so precise shot placement is required. The Steinbuck’s wary nature and exceptional senses mean that bow hunters must be extremely stealthy, often requiring a well-concealed blind or careful stalking to get within effective range. Mastering the art of Steinbok bow hunting involves much more than just shooting accuracy. It’s a mental game of patience, observation, and understanding the quarry, making a successful bow hunt for this tiny antelope a truly rewarding achievement.

Bow Hunting Equipment

When bow hunting Steenbuck, choosing the right equipment can significantly increase your chances of success. Given the small size and quick reactions of this antelope, you’ll need a fast and accurate bow. Both compound bows, crossbow and recurve bows are popular choices among hunters, though the former often offers greater speed and accuracy. A bow with a draw weight of between 40 to 60 pounds is typically sufficient to ensure an ethical kill. Arrows should be fitted with razor-sharp broad heads to maximize damage and ensure a clean pass-through shot. A quality rangefinder is essential to accurately gauge distance. A well-concealed bow blind or tree stand can provide a strategic advantage, allowing for a clear, unobstructed shot at this elusive antelope.

Prices and costs of a Hunting Safari

The standalone trophy fee or price to hunt a Steenbuck is $ 800.

This price does not include the hunting day fee of $ 350 per hunter per day, hunting 2 on 1 (Two hunters sharing one Professional Hunter).

A five day hunt including the day fee and trophy fee will cost $ 2 550.

Steenbuck Packages

A Steenbok and Grey Duiker hunting package will cost $ 3 950.00.

This is a 7 day hunting package including a trophy Steenbuck and Grey Duiker.

Included in this package hunt:

  • Accommodation in a hunt lodge
  • Meals
  • Water and soft drinks
  • The services of a Professional Hunter
  • Field preparation of trophies
  • Delivery of trophies to the Taxidermist
  • Road transportation to and from Johannesburg International Airport

This is a fully guided hunt. Consult your hunting outfitter as prices can change.

FAQ’S Frequently asked Questions

Steenbuck, is it legal to hunt?

Steenbok hunting is perfectly legal in South Africa, there is no seasonal restriction in the Limpopo Province or Eastern Cape. Providing that all nonresident hunters are accompanied by a Professional Hunter and that the hunt is organized by a hunting outfitter.

What does it cost to hunt a Steenbok?

The standalone trophy fee or price to hunt a Steenbuck is $ 800.

A five day hunt including the day fee and trophy fee will cost $ 2 550.

What is the best rifle caliber for Steenbuck?

The best rifle caliber for hunting Steenbuck is the .243 Winchester due to its flat trajectory and mild recoil. The .243 Winchester with top quality controlled expansion bullets has all the power necessary to reliably put down a Steenbok every time providing that the shot is well placed in the vital triangle.

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.