Now’s the time: learn what you can about kudu hunting.
Kudu are seen by many exotic big game hunters as the keystone animal in safari style hunting. Big, challenging, abundant, and with a set of horns that drop your jaw, they are a much sought after and valued trophy.
Fortunately, they are plentiful enough that bagging one is almost a sure thing, if you put in the time and have the skill to place your shot where you need it to go.
There are two species of kudu, the lesser kudu and the greater kudu. We will concern ourselves here with the greater kudu. Native to sub-Saharan Africa, kudu or “grey ghost” are large African antelope. They’ve been brought into Texas ranches as exotic big game animals and are doing quite well in the Texas woodlands and bushlands environment.
Kudu are one of the largest species of antelope, with bulls generally standing from 48 to 60 inches at the shoulder. Body and head length runs from six to eight feet. They weigh from 400 to a hefty 600 pounds. Females can be half that size, which is still impressive, weighing in at around 250 on up to 400 pounds, and standing around 40 inches in height.
The coat of a kudu is of a pale grey or brownish grey coloration, with four to twelve narrow, vertical white stripes. The head is usually darker than the coat, and they have a distinctive white chevron that runs between their eyes. They also sport a pronounced hump at the shoulders, with a pronounced mane. They have keen senses, with a nose like a bloodhound, eyes of an eagle and radar dishes for ears.
But the most distinctive feature of the kudu are those magnificent corkscrew-like horns. The horns grow throughout the life of the animal. In mature bulls the horns curl a full two and a half times, and reach lengths of 40 to 60 inches. In rare cases you will have three full curls, and a length approaching 70 inches (the record is, I believe, slightly over 73 inches). Any bull with horns over 50 inches is a true trophy, but every mature bull is also a trophy to be proud of.
Kudu are primarily leaf eaters, consuming leaves, fruits and young shoots. They prefer woodlands and dense brush into which they can disappear at signs of trouble, thus earning the “grey ghost” moniker. They generally feed and drink in the early morning, getting their water from watering holes or from the fruit and tubers they feed on. But kudu will walk for miles to get to a watering hole, particularly in the dry season. In the heat of midday they like to take cover in thick vegetation.
Males can be quite vocal, barking, grunting, hissing and the like. It is a common report among hunters that when stalking a bull they will hear a deep throated bark followed by the noise of crashing vegetation, as they have been detected. Kudu are very athletic, running swiftly through and jumping over dense vegetation and small trees and bushes.
Males are generally solitary creatures, while females form matriarchal herds. Males only join the herd during the mating season. Kudu are not territorial, but rather inhabit home ranges or areas of several miles.
Hunting kudu is usually a walk and stalk affair or a conventional blind over water hole situation. Kudu will often be found close to a watering hole in late afternoon, so setting up an ambush at such a location is a good way to find success. This method is especially good for bowhunting, as getting within bow shot is much easier if the animals are coming to you.
The walk and stalk method can prove successful in the early mornings when kudu are browsing and moving through a feeding area. Finding tracks and following them through thick cover is the norm, though moving quietly through the undergrowth will be the challenge. Opportunities for a shot may be fleeting, but that’s part of the appeal.
A persistent and motivated hunter should find some opportunity using this method, but as the elusive kudu are keenly equipped with superb ears, eyes and nose, walk and stalk presents a magnificent challenge.
Your Ox Ranch guide will also assist you in proper shot placement, an important consideration when targeting kudu. They are a large bodied animal and the vitals occupy a smaller portion of the body mass than they do on, say, a whitetail. Your shot opportunities will likely be brief, so make that shot count.