The blue wildebeest is a large, muscular species of antelope found across most of Africa. Keep reading to learn more about blue wildebeest hunting in Africa.
Along with the zebra and impala, the blue wildebeest is one of the most common and widely distributed animals in Africa. Not surprisingly, it is another animal that is commonly identified with hunting in Africa. This is for a good reason: the blue wildebeest is one of the toughest and most satisfying species of plains game to hunt. These characteristics, along with their relatively plentiful numbers and reasonable cost to hunt, make them another "must-have" species for most African plains game hunts.
SEE ALSO: 6 Animals In Africa You Need To Hunt
Blue Wildebeest Description
Scientific Name: Connochaetes taurinus, also known as the brindled gnu, the common wildebeest, and the poor man's Cape buffalo
There are four recognized species of blue wildebeest that are hunted today: the white-bearded wildebeest (Kenya and Tanzania), the Nyasa wildebeest (Tanzania and Mozambique) the Cookson wildebeest (Zambia), and the common blue wildebeest (Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Zambia, South Africa, Botswana, Namibia). All of the sub-species are pretty similar in appearance, with slight differences in body size and coloration.
All blue wildebeest are large animals, with a mature bull (male) weighing around 600 pounds and standing four to five feet tall tall at the shoulder. Females are slightly smaller, but can still weigh over 500 pounds. Most wildebeest have a have a coat that ranges in color from deep silvery grey to brownish (which varies among the various sub-species) and have a mane consisting of long, black fur.
Blue wildebeest are grazing animals and prefer to live in open grasslands. However, they can sometimes be found in forested areas as well. They are herd animals and live in herds ranging in size from dozens to hundreds of animals.
Grass is their primary food, but they will eat shrubs and leaves when necessary. They must drink water daily and will drink more often than that if they have access to a good source of water. Because of this they will always be found within a reasonable distance of water and do not tolerate drought conditions very well.
Blue Wildebeest Sex Determination
Since they both have horns, males (bulls) and females (cows) are pretty difficult to tell apart. Bulls (top) usually have larger and thicker horns than females and grow out of the forehead. The horns on a cow (bottom) tend to grow out of the sides of their head. Also, bulls often are bigger bodied, have thicker necks, and have a highly visible penis and testicles.
Recommended Calibers for Blue Wildebeest Hunting
Blue wildebeest have a well-deserved reputation for being extremely tough and difficult to take down, which is how they got their nickname "the poor man's Cape buffalo." If you're going to hunt blue wildebeest, you must take them seriously and hunt them with a powerful enough rifle cartridge. Due to their incredible strength and endurance, I consider the .308 Winchester (using premium 180 grain bullets) to be the absolute minimum acceptable cartridge for blue wildebeest hunting.
For those that want to use more powerful cartridges, the .30-06 Springfield, .338 Winchester Magnum, .375 H&H Magnum, or even .416 Rigby are all great choices as well. As long as you can accurately shoot your chosen rifle, I don't think it is possible to use "too much gun" on one of these extremely tough animals.
If you want to bowhunt blue wildebeest, you should use an arrow weighing at least 500 grains and shoot it from a bow with at least a 70-pound draw weight.
Blue Wildebeest Hunting Methods
Most blue wildebeest are hunted via walk and stalk. One popular strategy is to walk or drive roads and look for where a herd of blue wildebeest crossed during the night. After finding a promising set of tracks, follow them until you catch up with the herd. Another method is to hunt from a blind overlooking a water hole, like in the video below. This is an especially common tactic during the afternoon (when it's hottest) and for bowhunters.
Blue Wildebeest Shot Placement
As stated earlier, blue wildebeest are very tough animals, which makes shot placement extremely important. If you mess it up, it is difficult to put into words how much punishment a blue wildebeest can absorb before going down. Though they aren't extremely aggressive animals like Cape buffalo, wounded blue wildebeest do occasionally charge and injure hunters. So like I said, make your shots count when pursuing blue wildebeest.
Fortunately, good shot placement on blue wildebeest isn't very complicated. On a the standard broadside shot, aim at the center of the shoulder about one third the way up the body (this goes for both rifle and bowhunters). As demonstrated in the video above, a shot placed as indicated will hit the top of the heart and the lungs, which is a debilitating shot to any animal, even one as tough as a blue wildebeest.
Remember to adjust your aiming point if the animal is quartering towards or away from you. Aim slightly forward of the shoulder and aim slightly to the rear if it is quartering away. A bowhunter should be very cautious about taking a shot on a blue wildebeest that's standing quartering towards you. However, a quartering away shot is an almost ideal shot with a bow. Regardless of if you're hunting with a rifle or a bow, make sure your shot is unobstructed by any vegetation that might deflect your shot.
Cost to Hunt Blue Wildebeest
Even though demand for blue wildebeest is relatively high among hunters in Africa, luckily, blue wildebeest are relatively plentiful. The price of a blue wildebeest hunt varies from country to country, so the trophy fee for a blue wildebeest ranges from $900-$1,500, with an average of around $1,000. All things considered, this is a fantastic deal for hunting such a magnificent animal.
Ready to go blue wildebeest hunting?
All images, unless specified, courtesy of Big Game Hunting Adventures
Like what you see here? You can read more great hunting articles by John McAdams at The Big Game Hunting Blog. Follow him on Twitter @TheBigGameHunt.