With the right preparation, you can go zebra hunting easier than you think.
Practically every multi-animal African safari includes zebra hunting. The zebra is one of the most recognizable and common big animals on the entire African continent.
Everyone knows what a zebra looks like. It’s that black and white striped horse, right? Well, that is true, but there are a few physical traits that we would do well to know. The old thinking about zebras was that they were white with black stripes.
However, embryological evidence indicates that the zebra’s base color is black and the white stripes and bellies are additions superimposed over the top of that foundation.
It is thought, among other reasons, that the stripes may serve to camouflage the animal when the zebras are grouped together. They may serve to disrupt a predator’s ability to pick out a single zebra from the group, insofar as the moving stripes create a vibrating mass that makes it difficult to single out any particular animal.
Zebras generally stand anywhere from three-and-a-half to four-and-a-half feet high at the shoulder, and have a total body length of six-and-a-half to eight-and-a-half feet long. They weigh in at 750 to 800 or so pounds.
But there’s no need to go all the way to Africa to hunt this big game animal.The plains zebra is the most common and widely distributed, and is the one imported to the United States for exotic ranch hunting.
Many African animals, including zebra, are located and live in large expanses of open country like that found at Texas’s Ox Ranch. With over 18,000 acres of wild country, and a plethora of exotic and native big game animals, hunting Ox Ranch is much like hunting the African plains themselves.
Zebras tend to congregate in small family groups of seven to ten animals, and there is a lot of communication that goes on within the group. They whinny, nicker, snort, bark, bray, lean against one another and communicate with the position of their ears. When threatened they run quite quickly and with great stamina, zigzagging to avoid capture.
They are gifted with excellent eyesight, and can see in color. They also have ears that can rotate like radar dishes to capture sound.
Zebras are grazers, feeding primarily on grasses, and have a special fondness for the green grasses that grow in areas where a recent fire or rain has taken place. They are never far from water and must drink almost daily in order to survive. They will, in fact, guzzle from 14 to 21 liters of water a day.
They are animals of the grasslands and sparse woodlands; the savannahs of Africa or Texas.
Hunting the zebra
Hunting zebra is done mostly in one of two ways: spot and stalk or in a blind covering a water hole. Spot and stalk usually involves driving the backcountry, glassing the plains and shrubbery of the country, or looking for tracks in the dirt from a vehicle. Once a track is found it is followed until the zebras are located, then a deliberate stalk is put on until one is within shooting range.
Blind sitting over a water hole is the other option, and is especially preferred by bowhunters, where getting within short bow range is necessary. This method requires patience and alertness, but can be very effective on zebra as the animals invariably need to come to a water hole to drink each day. The trick is to pick the right water hole and to remain quiet and vigilant.
Zebra meat is part of your trophy, of course, but it is really the hide that hunters are after. A zebra hide makes for a stunning trophy. Proper field dressing and care of the hide is paramount. At Ox Ranch, and experienced hunting guide can help with this. Some hunters prefer the hide to be in pristine condition and will choose a zebra based on that. Others will prefer a battle scarred hide, often from an old stallion, that shows the character and history of battles and close calls with predators.
In either case, a zebra hide rug is a beautiful addition to any trophy room.